2020 BAFTAs: The Nomadland Train Keeps Rolling

The road for Nomadland to Best Picture coronation at the Oscars keeps rolling today thanks to the BAFTAs (the United Kingdom’s version of the Academy Awards). Meanwhile, the Actor and Actress derbies got a bit more interesting while the supporting players continued its recent narrative.

Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland won Best Film and Director in what has become a common theme. However, Frances McDormand’s victory in Actress is her first major precursor in an Oscar race that has truly become a tossup. To break it down, the four significant precursors have all produced different results: McDormand for BAFTA, Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) at SAG, Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) at Critics Choice, and Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday) at the Globes. Bottom line: it’s going to be quite a chore to make a final predictions for the Academy’s ceremony two weeks from today.

Chadwick Boseman’s work in Ma Rainey had swept all the precursors, but that was interrupted this afternoon by Anthony Hopkins in The Father. This is not a huge upset since Hopkins is British royalty. Yet it does establish him as the surefire runner-up to Boseman and a potential threat.

The supporting races followed the SAG path with Yuh-jung Youn (Minari) in Supporting Actress and Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) continuing his sweep in Supporting Actor. Both can be considered favorites at the Oscars (especially the latter).

In the screenplay competition, The Father took Adapted over Nomadland in what could be a two picture race in two weeks. Promising Young Woman took Original honors (besting The Trial of the Chicago 7, which came up empty across the pond). Promising also took home Best British Film.

Unlike the other precursors, the BAFTAs cover most of the down ticket categories and I’ll simply say that all the victors below stand decent to very strong chances at repeating at the Oscars:

Animated Film: Soul

Documentary: My Octopus Teacher

Film Not in the English Language: Another Round

Cinematography: Nomadland

Costume Design: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Editing: Sound of Metal

Makeup & Hair: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Original Score: Soul

Production Design: Mank

Sound: Sound of Metal

Special Visual Effects: Tenet

My final Oscar predictions will be before you know it! Stay tuned…

Oscars 2020: The Case of Olivia Colman

My third Case Of entry for Supporting Actress hopefuls arrives at Olivia Colman in The Father. If you missed my first two posts for Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm) and Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), you can find them here:

Oscars 2020: The Case of Maria Bakalova

Oscars 2020: The Case of Glenn Close

The Case for Olivia Colman

Colman has been a fixture on the awards scene in recent years including as the Queen on Netflix’s The Crown. She’s shown the ability to surprise prognosticators before. In 2018, Colman took Best Actress for The Favourite at the Oscars in an unexpected win over the favorite Glenn Close (The Wife).

The Case Against Olivia Colman

While her fellow nominee Close in no longer the anticipated victor, Colman seems to have longer odds this time around. She has been shut out in the precursors in favor of Bakalova and Yuh-jung Youn in Minari. It’s also hard to imagine her taking the gold if her costar Anthony Hopkins doesn’t in Best Actor (where Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is garnering the attention).

The Verdict

In this unpredictable Supporting Actress derby, it’s a strange thing with Colman. When I did my nomination predictions, I actually felt she was most likely to get a nod and least likely to win. I still feel that way.

My Case Of posts will continue with Leslie Odom, Jr. in One Night in Miami…

Oscars 2020: The Case of Anthony Hopkins

The work of Anthony Hopkins in The Father is my third Case Of post for the five Best Actor contenders. If you missed the first two for Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal) and Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), you can find them here:

Oscars 2020: The Case of Riz Ahmed

Oscars 2020: The Case of Chadwick Boseman

The Case for Anthony Hopkins

Nearly 30 years after winning Best Actor for his iconic role as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, the 83-year-old Hopkins is receiving some of the best reviews of his career for Florian Zeller’s Alzheimer’s drama. This is his sixth nod overall and his second in a row after last year’s supporting turn in The Two Popes. Hopkins is a beloved actor who has been seen a strong candidate in this race ever since it debuted at Sundance back in January 2020.

The Case Against Anthony Hopkins

Simply put: Chadwick Boseman. All major precursors have bestowed their honors on the late performer’s role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. 

The Verdict

It’s hard to imagine Boseman not taking the gold at this point, but Hopkins and Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal) are looked at the only two potential spoilers. If Hopkins were to win BAFTA tomorrow, perhaps that will feed more speculation. However, Boseman is the heavy favorite.

My Case Of posts will continue with The Father costar Olivia Colman…

Oscars 2020: The Case of Chadwick Boseman

My Case Of posts have reached the second performer for Best Actor at the Oscars and that’s the late Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. If you missed my first post focused on Riz Ahmed in Sound of Metal, you can find it here:

Oscars 2020: The Case of Riz Ahmed

The Case for Chadwick Boseman

Despite acclaimed work in 42, Get On Up, Marshall, and Black Panther, his role as Levee Green in the Netflix drama marks Boseman’s first Academy nod. Premiering three months after his passing, critics hailed this as a career best performance. Boseman has swept the key precursors thus far such as the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards. If he wins the SAG Award this evening, that’s a clean sweep. One could even argue that his omission in Supporting Actor for Da 5 Bloods is a sign that voters will honor him here.

The Cast Against Chadwick Boseman

You have to go back 11 years since a Best Actor winner’s movie wasn’t nominated for Best Picture (Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart). All four of his fellow nominees are appearing in BP contenders. Of those four, Anthony Hopkins (The Father) and Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal) have their ardent supporters.

The Verdict

Best Actor is not a race in which upsets often happen. Anyone other than Boseman taking the gold would constitute one. He is likely to become the first posthumous winner in this category since Peter Finch in Network.

My Case Of posts will continue with Glenn Close in Hillbilly Elegy…

2020 SAG Awards Winner Predictions

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards airs this Easter Sunday evening in an abridged hour long ceremony and, as usual, it could carry significant Oscar implications as to who the frontrunners truly are. That means it’s time for me to put my forecasting hat on and give it my best shot with predictions.

Let’s break it down category by category, shall we? I’ll provide my runner-up selection as well.

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

Nominees: Da 5 Bloods, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Minari, One Night in Miami, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Analysis: Interestingly, the last two films in the big race (Black Panther, Parasite) won without a single nomination in the individual acting races. That had only happened two times previously between 1995-2017 with 1997’s The Full Monty and 2003’s Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. That will not happen for 2020’s selections as all five have at least one performer contending in a separate category.

However, in a rare occurrence, only two of the five ensembles here landed a Best Picture nomination from the Academy. Those are Minari and The Trial of the Chicago 7. Only once in SAG’s history has a movie emerged victorious here without a BP Oscar nod (1996’s The Birdcage). This serves as my annual reminder that SAG picks the best cast and not the best movie.

Truth be told, Da 5 Bloods is the only pic that I believe has little chance at winning here. Yet Ma Rainey and Miami are likely at a disadvantage due to precedent. That leaves us with Minari and Trial. The latter has seen its Oscar momentum stalled in recent weeks, but its sprawling cast could finally get the major precursor victory that it’s been missing. I’m tempted to pick it and it might be the safe choice.

Minari, on the other hand, has gained steamed recently and emerged as a potential upset winner at the Oscars against Nomadland (as has Promising Young Woman, which missed here). I’m choosing to go with the picture with the hotter hand.

Predicted Winner: Minari

Runner-Up: The Trial of the Chicago 7

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

Nominees: Amy Adams (Hillbilly Elegy), Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman), Frances McDormand (Nomadland), Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman)

Analysis: The Golden Globe winner in this category (Andra Day for The United States vs. Billie Holiday) isn’t featured here. Therefore we can take a precursor sweep off the table for Best Actress. Adams is the sole nominee without an Oscar nomination so she’s out of contention. Mulligan has the Critics Choice Award and is looked at as the prohibitive favorite from the Academy. She’s the most likely SAG winner. Davis and McDormand could upset, but I’m relatively confident with this pick.

Predicted Winner: Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

Runner-Up: Frances McDormand, Nomadland

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

Nominees: Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Anthony Hopkins (The Father), Gary Oldman (Mank), Steven Yeun (Minari)

Analysis: There’s a five for five match here with the Academy, but I find this SAG lineup to be a bit more complicated due to other factors. While Boseman has taken the Globes and Critics Choice, his nod in Supporting Actor with the actors guild for Da 5 Bloods (if he wins there) opens the door for either Ahmed or Hopkins. That wouldn’t totally shock me, but it’s hard to predict against Boseman and I won’t.

Predicted Winner: Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Runner-Up: Anthony Hopkins, The Father

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Nominees: Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm), Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), Olivia Colman (The Father), Yuh-jung Youn (Minari), Helena Zengel (News of the World)

Analysis: Now this is a tough one. The Supporting Actress derby in the precursors has been a true head scratcher. Like in Best Actress, Golden Globe winner Jodie Foster (The Mauritanian) is nowhere to be found (she missed at the Oscars too). Colman and Zengel are the two performers who are highly unlikely to take the prize. This is a genuine three person race between Bakalova, Close, and Youn. Bakalova seems to have momentum with a recent Critics Choice victory. SAG could certainly opt for Close’s baity role (the fact that they nominated her costar Amy Adams lends credence to that). Youn is without a major precursor, but Minari‘s upswing could sweep her in.

Simply put, I’ve very torn here. With Close, the Academy’s narrative for a win is that she’s without an Oscar and is looked at as overdue. SAG, on the other hand, has bestowed trophies for her twice including just two years ago for The Wife. Bakalova has the disadvantage of being in a comedy, but that hindrance may not matter much in this wide open field. I’m left with buying the Minari momentum for Youn. However, I can’t stress enough how feasible a win is for all three actresses.

Predicted Winner: Yuh-jung Youn, Minari

Runner-Up: Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Nominees: Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7), Chadwick Boseman (Da 5 Bloods), Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah), Jared Leto (The Little Things), Leslie Odom Jr. (One Night in Miami)

Analysis: This one is far simpler than Supporting Actress as Kaluuya has racked up the Globe and Critics Choice and is the heavy favorite. The only wrinkle, as mentioned above, is if SAG voters decide to honor Boseman here instead of in Best Actor. It probably won’t happen, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.

Predicted Winner: Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah

Runner-Up: Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods

And there you have it! I’ll have reaction up on Sunday evening. Until then…

 

The Father Review

Florian Zeller’s The Father takes us devastatingly into the mind of a man who’s losing his own to dementia. Based on the director’s 2012 play Le Pere, the film is not an easy watch due to both its emotional themes and often confusing storyline. However, the latter is on purpose as The Father is frequently told from the viewpoint of Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) as he has lost his grip on time, place, and reality.

Primarily taking place in a London flat, Anthony is being cared for by his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman) as the picture opens. It doesn’t take long to realize he suffers lapses in cognition. Anne tells her father that she will soon move to Paris because she’s fallen in love. Shortly thereafter we see Anne in the form of another woman (Olivia Williams) and she’s married to Paul (Mark Gatiss), which puts Anne’s recent tale of French relocation into question. Paul is later seen in the form of another being (Rufus Sewell) with Colman’s iteration of Anne back in the mix.

This is the puzzle piece in which we, the audience, are constantly piecing together. It’s soon apparent that we are subject to Anthony’s failing perspective. The Father covers the familiar issues involved with dementia in often unfamiliar ways: elder abuse, the exhaustive toll on family members, the brief moments of clarity that justify soldiering on.

There’s also the issue of another daughter who Anthony holds in high regard, but has seemingly disappeared from the scene. We see glimpses of Anthony’s gregarious personality when he lays on the charm for a prospective new caretaker (Imogen Poots). It coincides with his sometimes dismissive treatment of Anne.

All of this is held together by a masterful performance from Hopkins. Despite his movie star persona, it takes virtually no time in its 97 minutes for the Oscar winner to disappear into the role. The supporting cast is all first-rate, but our emotions rise and fall with Anthony’s own. For those with first-hand experience with this awful illness, The Father is a challenge to witness. For any moviegoer, it’s also an example of a unique take on the subject with a brilliant performance in the center of the tragic confusion.

***1/2 (out of four)

Oscars 2020: The Case of Riz Ahmed

Riz Ahmed’s performance in Sound of Metal is the first of the five Best Actor nominees up in my Case Of posts!

The Case for Riz Ahmed

Ever since Sound of Metal premiered way back at the Toronto Film Festival in 2019, Ahmed has been drawing raves for his work as a heavy metal drummer who loses his hearing. Metal did better than expected on Oscar nomination morning with 6 mentions. In addition to its lead, it was nominated for Picture, Supporting Actor (Paul Raci), Original Screenplay, Film Editing, and Sound. In the latter two races, it stands a solid shot at winning. Ahmed’s career has been growing in recent years with an Emmy victory in 2017 for HBO’s The Night Of. He also made history by becoming the first Muslin nominated in Best Actor.

The Case Against Riz Ahmed

All the precursor awards have been bestowed to Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and he stands as the frontrunner. So while Ahmed has achieved nods in all the important precursors, he’s yet to walk away with a significant win. At this juncture, it’s tough to imagine anyone else taking the gold.

The Verdict

Ahmed and Anthony Hopkins (The Father) are correctly thought of as potential spoilers to Boseman’s sweep. Yet it appears unlikely to happen.

My Case Of posts will continue with the first post on a Supporting Actress nominee: Maria Bakalova in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.

Oscars 2020: The Case of The Trial of the Chicago 7

My Case Of posts for the 8 Best Picture nominees concludes with Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7. If you missed the previous seven entries on the other contenders, you can peruse them here:

Oscars 2020: The Case of The Father

Oscars 2020: The Case of Judas and the Black Messiah

Oscars 2020: The Case of Mank

Oscars 2020: The Case of Minari

Oscars 2020: The Case of Nomadland

Oscars 2020: The Case of Promising Young Woman

Oscars 2020: The Case of Sound of Metal

The Case for The Trial of the Chicago 7:

When the Netflix drama began streaming in October, Sorkin’s sophomore directorial effort became an immediate player in the Oscar discussion and was considered a soft frontrunner for weeks. Along with The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Minari, Nomadland, and Sound of Metal, it scored six nominations. This is also the kind of effort that seems tailor-made for Academy attention. Sorkin is already a gold winner for his 2010 screenplay for The Social Network.

The Case Against The Trial of the Chicago 7:

Well… it’s grown recently. Trial couldn’t manage a Golden Globe or Critics Choice victory over Nomadland, which has become the favorite. In fact, all of its major nominations appear in jeopardy. Sacha Baron Cohen’s chances in Supporting Actor are behind Daniel Kaluuya’s for Judas and the Black Messiah. Original Screenplay seems iffy with Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman surging. Perhaps most notably, Sorkin missed the cut in Best Director.

The Verdict

While other nominees like Minari, Promising Young Woman, and Sound of Metal have gained momentum in recent weeks, Trial appears to be going in the opposite direction. There is a legitimate chance that it walks away with zero wins come Oscar night (Film Editing might be its best hope). I wouldn’t completely count out its chances to take Best Picture, but its prospects have undoubtedly dwindled.

My Case Of posts for Best Picture have wrapped up, but now it’s time for the directing and acting players. That begins with Lee Isaac Chung for Minari and that will be posted tomorrow…

Oscars 2020: The Case of Sound of Metal

Darius Marder’s Sound of Metal is next up in my Case Of posts for 2020’s Best Picture nominees. If you missed my previous entries, they’re linked here:

Oscars 2020: The Case of The Father

Oscars 2020: The Case of Judas and the Black Messiah

Oscars 2020: The Case of Mank

Oscars 2020: The Case of Minari

Oscars 2020: The Case of Nomadland

Oscars 2020: The Case of Promising Young Woman

The Case for Sound of Metal

While fellow nominees The Father, Minari, and Promising Young Woman were first unveiled back in January 2020, Sound of Metal was out of the gate way back in September 2019 when it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. Its road to the Oscar stage was more of a slow burn and that culminated with its December 2020 bow on Amazon Prime. On nominations morning, it over performed with six nominations: Picture, Actor (Riz Ahmed), Supporting Actor (Paul Raci), Original Screenplay, Film Editing, and Sound. Its 96% Rotten Tomatoes is near the top of the films selected and it’s been an audience pleaser.

The Case Against Sound of Metal

The nominations haul was better than expected, but Sound‘s miss for director Marder is a noteworthy one. Only twice in the past decade has a movie taken Best Picture without its maker being recognized. Another key omission is no nod for Best Drama at the Golden Globe Awards.

The Verdict

Critics saw Sound before any other nominee, but the late breaking surge has been impressive. The pic is unlikely to go home empty-handed on Oscar night. However, those victories are more probable in Editing and (especially) Sound and not the major races it’s up for.

My Case Of posts will continue with The Trial of the Chicago 7…

Oscars 2020: The Case of Promising Young Woman

My Case Of posts covering the nominees for Best Picture continues with Emerald Fennell’s directorial debut Promising Young Woman. This is my sixth write-up for the 8 nominated films. If you missed any of the previous entries, you may find them here:

Oscars 2020: The Case of The Father

Oscars 2020: The Case of Judas and the Black Messiah

Oscars 2020: The Case of Mank

Oscars 2020: The Case of Minari

Oscars 2020: The Case of Nomadland

The Case for Promising Young Woman

Like The Father and Minari, this jet black revenge dramedy premiered over a year ago at the Sundance Film Festival where it earned rave reviews. It landed five Oscar nods and that includes its director, Carey Mulligan in Actress (where she’s considered a soft frontrunner), Original Screenplay, and Film Editing. The screenplay and editing nods are precisely the nominations a picture needs to be considered a threat to win it all. Furthermore, Fennell’s script just took the Writers Guild of America honor. Promising Young Woman has done what it needs to do to establish itself a genuine threat to the favored Nomadland.

The Case Against Promising Young Woman

While it’s come on strong lately, Nomadland still enjoys its status as the movie to beat this season. If the PGA goes for an upset this week and picks this (or Minari or anything else for that matter), look for that narrative to shift. As of today, however, a Promising victory would be a pretty major upset.

The Verdict

Promising Young Woman could be assisted by its movie of the moment feel. That said, victories in Actress and Original Screenplay are more likely than the grand prize.

My Case Of posts will continue with Sound of Metal…