Venice Crowns Joker

The Venice Film Festival has drawn to a close and the awards bestowed today are sure to generate some controversy. The Golden Lion prize (equivalent to Best Picture) has gone to Joker, with its acclaimed performance from Joaquin Phoenix as the iconic villain. It won out over numerous foreign titles and Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, which drew raves and is anticipated to be a major Oscar contender.

A year ago, the Lion went to Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, which nabbed multiple Academy nominations including Picture. In 2017, the recipient was the eventual Oscar Pic winner – Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water.

I didn’t have Joker predicted as a nominee for the past couple weeks. Does the Venice action change the dynamic? Well it’s certainly a boost. I’m still skeptical it will make the final cut, but this publicity and its expected massive box office will be feathers in its cap.

Perhaps an even bigger shocker was the winner for the Grand Jury prize – essentially the runner up spot. It went to Roman Polanski’s An Officer and a Spy. Controversy surrounding the filmmaker is not the only reason for prognosticators being surprised. The pic currently sports a middling 56% on Rotten Tomatoes. Unlike last year’s Jury winner The Favourite, don’t expect this to be in the Oscar derby.

Acting races also showcased performers not on the Academy radar. Luca Marinelli took Best Actor for Martin Eden and Ariane Ascaride was named top Actress for Sweden’s About Endlessness. That film also saw its director Roy Andersson victorious in his race. A nod for Best International Feature is feasible for it.

All in all, Venice gave Joker a hoped for ace up its sleeve in precursor activity. Let’s see if momentum continues to grow…

Early 2019 Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

We’ve arrived at the biggest contest of all in my inaugural Oscar predictions for 2019 – Best Picture! If you missed my first takes on director and the acting categories, you can read them right here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/26/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-director/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/25/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-actor/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/25/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-actress/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/24/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-supporting-actor/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/24/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-supporting-actress/

As a reminder, Picture is the only race where the number of nominees can fluctuate anywhere from 5 to 10. In recent years, the magic number is normally 9. However, there were 8 movies up in 2018. My initial late August projections last year yielded three of the eventual 8: BlacKkKlansman, A Star Is Born, and Roma. Three other flicks nominated were mentioned in my other possibilities: Black Panther, The Favourite, and Vice. Interestingly, eventual winner Green Book wasn’t quite on my radar screen at that time.

I’ll go with nine for the time being. The multitude of film festivals starting Thursday and over the coming weeks will shape all races tremendously. My first ranked predictions in the top 6 categories will start this Thursday and be updated weekly.

Let’s get to it!

EARLY OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST PICTURE

1917

Bombshell

The Farewell

The Irishman

Little Women

Marriage Story

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Parasite

The Report

Other Possibilities:

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Ad Astra

A Hidden Life

Avengers: Endgame

Dark Waters

Ford v Ferrari

The Goldfinch

Harriet

Jojo Rabbit

Joker

Just Mercy

The Laundromat

The Lighthouse

Pain and Glory

Rocketman

The Two Popes

And there you have it! Expect a whole bunch of Oscar Watch posts stemming from Toronto, Telluride, Venice, and New York in the near future…

Early 2019 Oscar Predictions: Best Director

My initial Oscar predictions for the 2019 season continues with Best Director with Picture on the horizon! If you missed my first takes on the acting categories, you can find them right here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/25/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-actor/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/25/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-actress/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/24/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-supporting-actress/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/24/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-supporting-actor/

In 2018, my inaugural projections yielded 2 out of the 5 eventual nominees. That includes the winner Alfonso Cuaron for Roma and Spike Lee for BlacKkKlansman. My ten other possibilities section a year ago called out two additional nominees – Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite) and Adam McKay (Vice).

Here we go:

EARLY OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST DIRECTOR

Greta Gerwig, Little Women

Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite

Sam Mendes, 1917

Martin Scorsese, The Irishman

Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Other Possibilities:

Pedro Almodovar, Pain and Glory

Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story

Todd Haynes, Dark Waters

Kasi Lemmons, Harriet

Terrence Malick, A Hidden Life

James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari

Jay Roach, Bombshell

Steven Soderbergh, The Laundromat

Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit

Lulu Wang, The Farewell

Best Picture tomorrow!

The Favourite Movie Review

A trio of bold performances carries the striking look and bawdy humor of The Favourite, the latest effort from visionary filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos. Set in the early 18th century, it takes considerable historical liberties with its Queen and her subjects. It’s all in the service of a semi tragic comedy with the three leads seeking to hold and attain power.

Olivia Colman is Queen Anne, increasingly sickly and dependent on closest advisor Sarah (Rachel Weisz). A war with France is raging and Sarah deftly moves to provide strategic advice. Other than the 17 rabbits she keeps as pets, the Queen typically has that audience of one. That’s until Abigail (Emma Stone), a cousin of Sarah’s, arrives in the luscious grounds to seek employment and eventually stake her claim as a confidante. Her scheming succeeds. This sets up a love triangle and an ever evolving quest for Anne’s affections.

The men in these women’s lives are largely disposable. Harley (Nicholas Hoult) is a thorn on their sides as the politician undermines war efforts and serves as Abigail’s co-conspirator when it fits her needs. Samuel (Joe Alwyn) has social standing important enough for Abigail to take him as a husband and accentuate her lifestyle. They’re tolerated.

This is a period piece that is anything but stuffy. If anything, it’s positively randy in its exploration of sex and greed. From its costume and production design and cinematography, this is a gorgeous looking picture.

Colman has the most dynamic part of the three. Sad and vulnerable and unwell, she’s still the ultimate actor to wield dominance and she never forgets it. While Abigail is more myopic in her thirst for influence, Sarah’s royal connection is a bit more complicated and compelling. Weisz makes the most of her layered role.

The Favourite is short of great, but it is a feast for the eyes about people whose eyes are permanently fixed on their proximity to the throne.

***1/2 (out of four)

Early 2019 Oscar Predictions: Best Actress

Today on the blog, we continue with initial Oscar predictions in the six major categories. The supporting races were covered yesterday and if you missed them, you can find the posts right here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/24/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-supporting-actress/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/24/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-supporting-actor/

This brings us to Best Actress with a snapshot of the contenders before festival season kicks into high gear later this week. When I did my inaugural projections for this race in August 2018, it yielded two of the eventual nominees – Lady Gaga for A Star Is Born and Glenn Close as The Wife. In the other possibilities portion naming ten others, winner Olivia Colman for The Favourite and Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me? were named.

Let’s get to it!

EARLY OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST ACTRESS

Awkwafina, The Farewell

Cynthia Erivo, Harriet

Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story

Saoirse Ronan, Little Women

Charlize Theron, Bombshell

Other Possibilities:

Elle Fanning, Teen Spirit

Lesley Manville, Ordinary Love

Helen Mirren, The Good Liar

Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell

Lupita Nyong’o, Us

Natalie Portman, Lucy in the Sky

Kristen Stewart, Seberg

Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen and Slim

Alfre Woodard, Clemency

Renee Zellweger, Judy

Best Actor is next! Look for it later today…

Early 2019 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actress

And away we go with my very early initial Oscar predictions for the films of 2019! As has become tradition on this here blog, I make my first projections in the six top races (the acting categories, Director, Picture) in late August. This is right on the cusp of festival season (Toronto, Venice, Telluride, New York) when dozens of hopefuls will screen beginning Thursday and into the next several weeks. Expect a whole bunch of Oscar Watch posts coming your way!

At that time, the outlook will become considerably clearer when it comes to real deal contenders and pretenders. Beginning Thursday and through October, I will have a weekly column estimating my top 25 Best Picture possibilities and 15 entries in the five other races. They will be ranked unlike these first posts. Starting in November, that will dwindle down to 15 Pictures and top 10 predictions in all other categories weekly.

There is no doubt that these lists will fluctuate significantly as the year progresses. We begin with Supporting Actress. Last year, only one of my initial 5 predictions for this race ended up being nominated. It happened to be the winner… Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk. Of the 10 performers below the estimated five, two scored nods (Amy Adams in Vice and Rachel Weisz in The Favourite).

So without further adieu, Todd’s first Oscar calls for 2019!

EARLY PREDICTIONS: BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Annette Bening, The Report

Laura Dern, Marriage Story

Florence Pugh, Little Women

Margot Robbie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Shuzhen Zhou, The Farewell

Other Possibilities:

Anne Hathaway, Dark Waters 

Jennifer Hudson, Cats

Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit

Nicole Kidman, Bombshell

Nicole Kidman, The Goldfinch

Janelle Monae, Harriet

Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

Meryl Streep, The Laundromat

Meryl Streep, Little Women

Emma Watson, Little Women

Best Supporting Actor is next!

Tolkien Box Office Prediction

His fantastical literary works have made billions at the box office and now J.R.R. Tolkien gets the biopic treatment next weekend. Set during World War I, Tolkien casts Nicholas Hoult in the title role of the famed author behind Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Finnish director Dome Karukoski is behind the camera and costars include Lily Collins, Colm Meaney, and Derek Jacobi.

This is a rare headlining role for Hoult, sandwiched between supporting parts in The Favourite and XMen: Dark Phoenix. Critics have been decidedly mixed and its Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 54%.

The film has the distinction of being the first Fox Searchlight project distributed by new owner Disney. With zero awards buzz and a smallish theater count of approximately 1300, Tolkien will likely struggle to even see $5 million. Just because its subject matter’s novels are box office gold doesn’t mean this will be.

Tolkien opening weekend prediction: $3.1 million

For my Pokemon Detective Pikachu prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/04/30/pokemon-detective-pikachu-box-office-prediction/

For my The Hustle prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/04/30/the-hustle-box-office-prediction/

For my Poms prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/02/poms-box-office-prediction/