In a Valley of Violence Movie Review

For all I know, director Ti West was exposed to the films of Quentin Tarantino last week. I doubt it. His western doesn’t really like feel inspired by QT’s genre works like Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight.

Instead, it seems like Mr. West’s western could be a product of the fact that the filmmaker was a young teen when Pulp Fiction came out in 1994. Just maybe that teen wanted to make a genre pic that felt a bit like Tarantino – the sudden jolts of violence, the dialogue that sounds a little hipper than the time period, the cool vintage fonts on the title cards. In 1994, Pulp resuscitated John Travolta’s career. Here he’s cast as the nefarious Marshal ruling a deserted Old West town. Ethan Hawke became a Gen X star that year as well in Reality Bites. Here he’s the strong, silent, and complicated hero who must go up against him. Maybe I’m reaching for connections to make my point. However, that’s how In a Valley of Violence felt to me and it was an appealing experience. And I haven’t mentioned the super cool dog yet…

Paul (Hawke) and his dog Abbie (Jumpy) are making their way to Mexico (their motives are unclear for a bit) when he comes across the town of Denton. It’s sparse in both population and set design, allowing this to look like a low-budget old timey western from decades ago. Blumhouse, the studio that specializes in bargain basement priced horror flicks, is behind this so it makes some sense. It’s clear that Paul knows how to fight, but doesn’t want to. Unfortunately dim-witted deputy Gilly (James Ransone) rattles his cage in small ways at first and then big ones. Suddenly Paul’s trip south of the border is delayed for revenge purposes. And he must also deal with Gilly’s father, Travolta’s aforementioned Marshal.

Valley doesn’t take itself very seriously. There’s a lot of humor and much of it is well written and well placed. Travolta has been known to overact over the last couple decades since his comeback. Here he does it in a role that seems appropriate for it. Hawke plays the lonely cowboy straight and solidly. Taissa Farmiga provides a spark as a town resident desperate to get out. And it’s not often I’d mention the real name of the dog in a film, but Jumpy deserves the shout out for a real performance. More kudos go to composer Jeff Grace for a pitch perfect score.

Again, I have no idea if my Ti West/Tarantino hypothesis (who’s worked in horror before this) holds merit. No, it doesn’t reach the brilliant level of impact and the dialogue isn’t consistently as poetic as Quentin’s. There’s moments and enough of them, however, to make the connection worth mentioning.

*** (out of four)

 

 

Oscar Watch: LBJ

More Toronto Film Festival action as Rob Reiner’s LBJ has screened. The biopic of our 36th President casts Woody Harrelson in the title role with Jennifer Jason Leigh as Lady Bird. Other cast members include Richard Jenkins, Bill Pullman, and Jeffrey Donovan as JFK. The pic has yet to secure to a fall 2016 release date, but it will likely get some sort of qualifying awards run before year’s end. It will probably come up fruitless.

LBJ has received decent reviews, but they don’t suggest it will be any sort of player in Picture or Director. Any Oscar chatter for this political drama was more geared toward the performances. Early reviews have suggested Harrelson does a commendable job in the role, even if more than one critic has pointed out a total lack of physical resemblance. Leigh was nominated last year for Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight and a consecutive nod seems doubtful.

Where LBJ could suffer most in the minds of voters is that it could be looked at as the second best film this year about the man. HBO’s All the Way with Bryan Cranston earned plenty of Emmy nominations. The big screen version of LBJ faces an improbable road to do the same.

lbj

Ranking Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino made a little news recently when he indicated that he’s likely to direct just two more feature films. Whether this holds true or not – we shall see.

For loyal readers of this here blog, you may have picked up that Q.T. is my personal favorite director working today. It got me thinking – how would I list the nine pictures that this mad genius has directed?

Well, I went ahead and did it and it is sure wasn’t easy, but here goes…

9. The Hateful Eight (2015)

Last year’s Western – with a dash of Agatha Christie murder mystery thrown in – is the first and only Q.T. pic that I didn’t award four stars (it got three and a half). As I put it then – even Tarantino’s “worst” is better than most director’s “best”. That holds true here and it’s pretty darn solid.

8. Death Proof (2007)

One half of the double feature Grindhouse (the other is Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror), Death Proof is a gloriously fun homage to 1970s car racing features with a terrific twisted turn by Kurt Russell. One of the few Tarantino projects that flopped. It didn’t deserve to and is a must-see.

7. Django Unchained (2012)

It’s his highest grossing movie to date. Django is the controversial revenge flick set during slavery times that earned Christoph Waltz his second Oscar for a Q.T. entry and gave Leo DiCaprio a sinister role, showcasing a side of his we had yet to witness.

6. Jackie Brown (1997)

The pressure to follow-up Pulp Fiction was immense, but Quentin came through with this crime tale based off an Elmore Leonard novel. Not as ambitious as what came before, but it’s a dynamite genre piece with an amazing cast led by Pam Grier and Samuel L. Jackson in perhaps his career best performance.

5. Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004)

Fanatics are divided as to their preference between part 1 and 2. Volume 2 rates just a bit lower for me yet it’s remarkable nonetheless.

4. Reservoir Dogs (1992)

The one that started it all. A heist picture like we had never seen – Dogs educated us quickly as to what the Q.T. experience would be. Lots of pop culture references, first-rate acting, and bursts of violence. The opening credits sequence is one of the most memorable in cinematic history.

3. Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003)

The first edition of Bill truly has an aura of a filmmaker feeling completely free to do whatever the hell he wants. Mixing martial arts, blaxploitation, anime, Western themes, De Palma homages, and more – it’s a dizzying and exhilarating ride.

2. Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Q.T. is surely the only man with the cojones to change the ending of World War II and he does so in this brilliant and often hilarious tale with an Oscar-winning Christoph Waltz performance that is arguably the best performance in any Tarantino work.

  1. Pulp Fiction (1994)

The pinnacle. Containing every element of what makes Quentin the force he is, Pulp Fiction is not only my favorite work of his – it ranks behind only the first two Godfather films as my all-time best picture.

Let’s hear your order, blog friends!

P.S. – This post is likely to lead to another list in the near future: “The 25 Greatest Quentin Tarantino Movie Scenes”… stay tuned…

Oscars 2015 Reaction

Well – after months of prognosticating the nominees and the winners of the 2015 Oscars, the season officially came to a close last night. This was a truly unpredictable year at the Academy Awards and it bore out with my so-so performance at just 13/21 on predictions. There were some REAL surprises last night and plenty of races that went according to plan. Let’s break it down with my various takes on the telecast and the winners:

  • The three picture race for the top category was just that with Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight winning over presumed front runner The Revenant (which was my prediction). The journalistic expose won only one other category (Original Screenplay, which I correctly predicted) and it’s the first Best Picture winner to be victorious in only two categories since 1952’s The Greatest Show on Earth.
  • Speaking of history, expected recipient Alejandro G. Inarritu is the first Director to win (for The Revenant) twice in a row (2014’s Birdman) in 65 years.
  • The sixth time was finally the charm for Leonardo DiCaprio as he picked up a golden statue for The Revenant, as he was widely expected to.
  • The female acting competitions went according to plan: Brie Larson in Actress for Room and Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl in Supporting. Same goes for Foreign Language Film (Son of Saul), Animated Feature (Inside Out), Adapted Screenplay (The Big Short), and Documentary (Amy), even though I went with the upset pick of Cartel Land.
  • Sylvester Stallone was the heavy favorite in Supporting Actor for Creed, but the Academy instead went with Mark Rylance’s work in Bridge of Spies. This category has had a history of upsets (Alan Arkin in Little Miss Sunshine over Eddie Murphy in Dreamgirls circa 2006) and this is indeed another one.
  • It was a good night in the technical categories for George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road as it picked up six awards: Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Production Design, Costume Design, Editing, and Makeup and Hairstyling. It was nominated in Cinematography, but that went as anticipated to The Revenant. The big shocker in the tech categories was Ex Machina‘s out of nowhere win for Visual Effects. This truly was a massive upset as I would have picked it fifth to win over competitors Mad Max, The Revenant, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and The Martian.
  •  While Best Score went as planned to legendary Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight (for which he learned a long and deserved standing O), the Song category honored Sam Smith’s Spectre theme “Writing’s on the Wall” over expected winner “Til It Happens to You” by Lady Gaga from The Hunting Ground, just moments after her peformance was introduced by Vice President Joe Biden.
  • As for the show itself, Chris Rock’s handling of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy was handled with the edgy humor you’d expect from one of the greatest stand up comedians of all time. The telecast, per usual, was way longer than it should have been. The idea, however well intended, to allow winners to thank various people via a scroll at the bottom of the screen didn’t serve its intended purpose. Look for it to be gone next year. As solid as Rock was in his hosting duties, I couldn’t help but watch Louis C.K.’s brilliant introduction of the Best Documentary Short Subject race and hope that the Academy tabs him to host like… next year.

And there you have it! Another Oscar season that’s come and gone. Before we know it, I’ll be predicting the 2016 films and performers that could be recognized a year from now…

Todd’s FINAL 2015 Oscar Predictions

One week from tonight, the 88th Annual Academy Awards will air with Chris Rock hosting and unlike some other years, there is real and legitimate intrigue as to what will win the big prize in Best Picture. Meanwhile, other categories have strong front runners but upsets are always possible. So with seven days to go, here are my FINAL predictions for who will win in each categories, with the exception of the three short film races. Here we go!

BEST PICTURE

For Room, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, Brooklyn and Bridge of Spies – it’s an honor to be nominated. This is truly a close race between the trio of The Big Short, The Revenant and Spotlight and any one of them could easily emerge victorious. All have won important precursors. Of the three, my gut is that Short is running third in this tight derby. All week my inclination has been to pick Spotlight, but The Revenant seems to have the hot hand in these late proceedings.

FINAL PICK: The Revenant

Runner-Up: Spotlight

BEST DIRECTOR

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu looks poised to win his second directing prize in a row after 2014’s Birdman for his work in The Revenant. If so, he would be the first auteur to do that in 65 years. In my estimation, only George Miller could be an upset winner for Mad Max, but that’s doubtful. Inarritu has won the Golden Globe and the DGA and is a safe bet.

FINAL PICK: Inarritu

Runner-Up: Miller

BEST ACTOR

Speaking of safe bets involving The Revenant, Leonardo DiCaprio at last looks poised to win a gold statue. He is the heavy favorite over competitors Matt Damon, Michael Fassbender, Eddie Redmayne and Bryan Cranston.

FINAL PICK: DiCaprio

Runner-Up: Ummmm… Cranston? Seriously, Leo is a major favorite

BEST ACTRESS

Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn) and Charlotte Rampling (45 Years) could be spoilers, but the front runner is definitely Brie Larson’s turn in Room.

FINAL PICK: Larson

Runner-Up: Ronan

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

If the Academy doesn’t go for nostalgia here, you might see Mark Rylance win for Bridge of Spies. Yet I do believe Sylvester Stallone will knock out his foes for Creed.

FINAL PICK: Stallone

Runner-Up: Rylance

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs) has won some precursors and Rooney Mara (Carol) stands an outside shot, but Alicia Vikander had a big 2015 and I’ll pick her for The Danish Girl.

FINAL PICK: Vikander

Runner-Up: Winslet

For the remainder of the categories, I’m simply listing my picks with the runner-up:

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

FINAL PICK: Spotlight

Runner-Up: Inside Out

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

FINAL PICK: The Big Short

Runner-Up: Room

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

FINAL PICK: Inside Out

Runner-Up: Anomalisa

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

FINAL PICK: Son of Saul

Runner-Up: Mustang

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

FINAL PICK: Cartel Land

Runner-Up: Amy

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

FINAL PICK: The Hateful Eight

Runner-Up: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

FINAL PICK: “Til It Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground

Runner-Up: “Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey

BEST SOUND EDITING

FINAL PICK: The Revenant

Runner-Up: Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST SOUND MIXING

FINAL PICK: Mad Max: Fury Road

Runner-Up: The Revenant

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

FINAL PICK: Mad Max: Fury Road

Runner-Up: The Revenant

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

FINAL PICK: The Revenant

Runner-Up: Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

FINAL PICK: Mad Max: Fury Road

Runner-Up: The Revenant

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

FINAL PICK: Carol

Runner-Up: Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST FILM EDITING

FINAL PICK: The Big Short

Runner-Up: Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

FINAL PICK: Mad Max: Fury Road

Runner-Up: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Todd’s FINAL 2015 Oscar Predictions

Here we are folks! After numerous posts prognosticating on what and whom will be nominated for the Academy Awards honoring 2015’s best, we will all collectively find out tomorrow morning. This Oscar season has been filled with much intrigue and a great deal of uncertainty.

Many questions abound:

  • Will the performances of Rooney Mara (Carol) and Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) be recognized in lead Actress or Supporting Actress? That query alone makes predicting both of those races tricky this year. I will go with both being recognized in Supporting, but if Oscar voters go lead with one or both, it changes the whole dynamic. There’s also the possibility that Vikander could be honored in Supporting for Ex Machina and not Danish, which adds to the confusion.
  • Will the Academy nominate their first Star Wars pic (The Force Awakens) since the original 38 years ago? It’s already become the highest grossing film of all time and could certainly lead to even more eyeballs watching the telecast. That said, I have it narrowly missing the cut.
  • Will Leonardo DiCaprio finally win the gold statue for his work in The Revenant? Precursor awards including the Golden Globes point to yes. A nomination seems assured.
  • Is Spotlight truly the front runner or not? Many other possibilities are out there for an “upset” win. It is, at best, a soft front runner.
  • I’ll finally note that my predictions reflect a belief that Straight Outta Compton will be shut out. This goes against what several other predictors are saying and many have it being recognized in Best Picture. Another high profile offering that I have coming up empty: Black Mass.

As I’ve done for the last several weeks, I’m listing my predicted nominees and other possibilities in each category by likelihood of being nominated. Just because I have something listed as #1 doesn’t mean I’m predicting it to win (I’ll have my first blog post up predicting the winners this weekend). In parentheses after each entry is how far each predicted nominee/possibility has fallen from my previous predictions last week. On Thursday evening, I’ll have a post up letting you know how well (or not so much) I did.

Let’s get to it, shall we? My FINAL predictions:

Best Picture

As I see it, there are 21 films vying for anywhere from 5-10 spots. The magic number is usually 9 (last year it was 8). I’m going with 9 this year, though I believe 10 is more probable than 8. And strangely enough, my predicted nine has stayed the same over the course of the last month or so. Straight Outta Compton, Sicario, and even The Force Awakens have made some waves of late, but I still have them narrowly missing.

  1. Spotlight (No Change)
  2. The Big Short (No Change)
  3. The Revenant (+3)
  4. Mad Max: Fury Road (-1)
  5. The Martian (No Change)
  6. Carol (+1)
  7. Bridge of Spies (+1)
  8. Room (-4)
  9. Brooklyn (No Change)

Other Possibilities:

10. Straight Outta Compton (No Change)

11. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (No Change)

12. The Hateful Eight (No Change)

13. Sicario (+1)

14. Inside Out (-1)

15. Steve Jobs (+1)

16. Ex Machina (+2)

17. Trumbo (No Change)

18. Beasts of No Nation (-3)

19. Son of Saul (+1)

20. The Danish Girl (-1)

21. Creed (No Change)

Best Director

Tuesday’s Directors Guild of America usually provides a reasonably reliable snap shot of at least three or four of the nominees that will end up being recognized here. Their picks were Tom McCarthy, Ridley Scott, George Miller, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, and Adam McKay. Of those, McKay seems the most vulnerable (with Miller and Scott behind). I’ll keep my prediction for Todd Haynes in and there’s certainly a chance there’s a shocker nominee as we sometimes see in this category.

  1. Tom McCarthy, Spotlight (+1)
  2. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, The Revenant (+1)
  3. Ridley Scott, The Martian (+1)
  4. George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road (-3)
  5. Todd Haynes, Carol (No Change)

Other Possibilities:

6. Steven Spielberg, Bridge of Spies (+1)

7. Adam McKay, The Big Short (-1)

8. Denis Villenueve, Sicario (+5)

9. Lenny Abrahamson, Room (-1)

10. F. Gary Gray, Straight Outta Compton (+1)

11. John Crowley, Brooklyn (-2)

12. Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight (-2)

13. J.J. Abrams, Star Wars: The Force Awakens (-1)

14. Jay Roach, Trumbo (Previously Unranked)

15. Cary Fukanaga, Beasts of No Nation (-1)

16. Alex Garland, Ex Machina (Previously Unranked)

17. Laszlo Nemes, Son of Saul (-2)

18. Ryan Coogler, Creed (Previously Unranked)

19. Danny Boyle, Steve Jobs (Previously Unranked)

20. Tom Hooper, The Danish Girl (Previously Unranked)

Best Actor

This race is increasingly looking like ‘The Leo Show” with Mr. DiCaprio likely to nab (finally) his first Oscar. Only Leo seems to be a totally safe bet (though it would be a surprise to me if Redmayne and Fassbender don’t get in and probably Cranston too). I would say numbers 5-8 are practically interchangeable while anything 9 or below would be a fairly big surprise.

  1. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant (No Change)
  2. Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl (No Change)
  3. Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
  4. Bryan Cranston, Trumbo (No Change)
  5. Matt Damon, The Martian (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Steve Carell, The Big Short (-1)

7. Will Smith, Concussion (No Change)

8. Johnny Depp, Black Mass (No Change)

9. Ian McKellen, Mr. Holmes (No Change)

10. Michael Caine, Youth (No Change)

11. Michael B. Jordan, Creed (+1)

12. Geza Rohrig, Son of Saul (-1)

Best Actress

As previously discussed, all the rules go out the window if either Rooney Mara or Alicia Vikander are recognized here instead of in Supporting Actress. That said, I feel pretty confident about Larson, Ronan, and Blanchett. The rest? Not so much.

  1. Brie Larson, Room (No Change)
  2. Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn (No Change)
  3. Cate Blanchett, Carol (No Change)
  4. Jennifer Lawrence, Joy (+1)
  5. Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road (+1)

7. Helen Mirren, Woman in Gold (+1)

8. Emily Blunt, Sicario (+3)

9. Blythe Danner, I’ll See You in My Dreams (+1)

10. Sarah Silverman, I Smile Back (-1)

11. Maggie Smith, The Lady in the Van (Previously Unranked)

Best Supporting Actor

Bottom line: I feel like Rylance and Stallone are the only safe bets here. This category has been wide open for quite some time and all 12 performers listed here could get in. Very curious to see how this works out come tomorrow.

  1. Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies (No Change)
  2. Sylvester Stallone, Creed (+1)
  3. Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation (-1)
  4. Paul Dano, Love and Mercy (+1)
  5. Christian Bale, The Big Short (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Michael Keaton, Spotlight (No Change)

7. Michael Shannon, 99 Homes (No Change)

8. Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight (No Change)

9. Tom Hardy, The Revenant (No Change)

10. Jacob Tremblay, Room (+1)

11. Benicio del Toro, Sicario (-1)

12. Jason Mitchell, Straight Outta Compton (Previously Unranked)

Best Supporting Actress

Rooney Mara and Alicia Vikander seem like safe bets – as long as they’re nominated here and not in Actress. Kate Winslet (fresh off a Globe win) and Jennifer Jason Leigh should play here, too. The fifth slot is truly up for grabs, I feel.

  1. Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl (No Change)
  2. Rooney Mara, Carol (No Change)
  3. Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs (+1)
  4. Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight (-1)
  5. Helen Mirren, Trumbo (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Jane Fonda, Youth (-1)

7. Kristen Stewart, Clouds of Sils Maria (No Change)

8. Rachel McAdams, Spotlight (+1)

9. Joan Allen, Room (-1)

10. Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina (No Change)

11. Elizabeth Banks, Love and Mercy (No Change)

12. Marion Cotillard, MacBeth (Previously Unranked)

Best Original Screenplay

  1. Spotlight (No Change)
  2. Inside Out (No Change)
  3. Bridge of Spies (+1)
  4. The Hateful Eight (-1)
  5. Sicario (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ex Machina (-1)

7. Straight Outta Compton (No Change)

8. Love and Mercy (No Change)

9. Son of Saul (+2)

Best Adapted Screenplay

  1. The Big Short (No Change)
  2. Carol (No Change)
  3. Room (No Change)
  4. Steve Jobs (+1)
  5. Brooklyn (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Martian (No Change)

7. The Revenant (+1)

8. Beasts of No Nation (+1)

9. Trumbo (-2)

10. Mad Max: Fury Road (Previously Unranked)

11. Anomalisa (No Change)

Best Animated Feature

  1. Inside Out (No Change)
  2. Anomalisa (No Change)
  3. Shaun the Sheep Movie (No Change)
  4. Kahlil Gabran’s The Prophet (No Change)
  5. The Peanuts Movie (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Good Dinosaur (-1)

7. When Marnie Was There (No Change)

8. Minions (Previously Unranked)

Best Documentary Feature (First Time Predictions)

  1. Amy
  2. The Look of Silence
  3. Winter on Fire
  4. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
  5. He Named Me Malala

Other Possibilities:

6. Listen to Me Marlon

7. Best of Enemies

8. The Hunting Ground

9. Where to Invade Next

10. Heart of the Dog

Best Foreign Language Film (First Time Predictions)

  1. Son of Saul
  2. Mustang
  3. A War
  4. The Brand New Testament
  5. Embrace of the Serpent

Other Possibilities:

6. The Fencer

7. Labyrinth of Lies

8. Theeb

9. Viva

Best Production Design

  1. The Danish Girl (No Change)
  2. Mad Max: Fury Road (+1)
  3. Bridge of Spies (+1)
  4. Carol (-2)
  5. The Revenant (+4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Brooklyn (-1)

7. The Martian (Previously Unranked)

8. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (+3)

9. The Hateful Eight (-3)

10. Cinderella (-3)

Best Cinematography

  1. The Revenant (No Change)
  2. Mad Max: Fury Road (No Change)
  3. The Hateful Eight (No Change)
  4. Bridge of Spies (+1)
  5. Sicario (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Carol (+1)

7. Son of Saul (+2)

8. The Martian (-2)

9. The Assassin (-1)

10. Spotlight (Previously Unranked)

Best Costume Design

  1. The Danish Girl (No Change)
  2. Carol (No Change)
  3. Cinderella (+1)
  4. Brooklyn (-1)
  5. Far from the Madding Crowd (No Change)

Other Possibilities:

6. Mad Max: Fury Road (+6)

7. The Hateful Eight (-1)

8. Suffragette (-1)

9. The Revenant (No Change)

10. Mr. Holmes (Previously Unranked)

Best Editing

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road (No Change)
  2. The Big Short (No Change)
  3. Spotlight (+2)
  4. The Revenant (No Change)
  5. Bridge of Spies (+2)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Martian (-3)

7. Sicario (+3)

8. Steve Jobs (-2)

9. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (+3)

10. The Hateful Eight (-1)

11. Room (-3)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road (No Change)
  2. The Revenant (No Change)
  3. The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared (+1)

Other Possibilities:

4. Black Mass (-1)

5. Mr. Holmes (No Change)

6. Concussion (No Change)

7. Legend (No Change)

Best Sound Mixing

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road (No Change)
  2. The Revenant (+3)
  3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (No Change)
  4. Sicario (No Change)
  5. The Martian (-3)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Hateful Eight (No Change)

7. Bridge of Spies (Previously Unranked)

8. Jurassic World (-1)

Best Sound Editing

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road (No Change)
  2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (No Change)
  3. The Revenant (No Change)
  4. The Martian (No Change)
  5. The Hateful Eight (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Sicario (-1)

7. Jurassic World (+1)

8. Bridge of Spies (Previously Unranked)

Best Visual Effects

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road (No Change)
  2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (No Change)
  3. Jurassic World (No Change)
  4. The Martian (No Change)
  5. The Revenant (Previously Unranked)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ex Machina (-1)

7. The Walk (No Change)

8. Ant-Man (Previously Unranked)

9. Avengers: Age of Ultron (-1)

10. In the Heart of the Sea (-4)

Best Score

  1. The Hateful Eight (No Change)
  2. Carol (+1)
  3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (+2)
  4. Bridge of Spies (-2)
  5. The Danish Girl (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Spotlight (No Change)

7. Mad Max: Fury Road (+1)

Best Original Song

  1. “See You Again” from Furious 7 (+2)
  2. “Til It Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground (-1)
  3. “Writing’s on the Wall” from Spectre (+4)
  4. “Simple Song #3” from Youth (No Change)
  5. “So Long” from Concussion (-3)

Other Possibilities:

6. “Love Me Like You Do” from Fifty Shades of Grey (-1)

7. “Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey (-1)

These FINAL predictions reflect a belief that the following pictures will receive this number of nominations:

10 Nominations

The Revenant

9 Nominations

Mad Max: Fury Road

8 Nominations

Carol

7 Nominations

Bridge of Spies

6 Nominations

The Martian

5 Nominations

The Danish Girl, The Hateful Eight

4 Nominations

The Big Short, Brooklyn, Spotlight, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

3 Nominations

Room, Sicario, Steve Jobs

2 Nominations

Inside Out, Trumbo

1 Nomination

Beasts of No Nation, Cinderella, Concussion, Creed, Far from the Madding Crowd, 45 Years, Furious 7, The Hunting Ground, Joy, Jurassic World, Love and Mercy, The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, Spectre, Youth

And there you have it, folks! My final Oscar predictions! I’ll have an update posted tomorrow. Until then…

 

Box Office Predictions: January 15-17

The four week reign of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is likely to end this MLK weekend at three new entries join the box office fray: Kevin Hart/Ice Cube action comedy sequel Ride Along 2, Michael Bay’s true life military pic 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, and Arctic animated kid flick Norm of the North. You can read my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/01/07/ride-along-2-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/01/07/13-hours-the-secret-soldiers-of-benghazi-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/01/07/norm-of-the-north-box-office-prediction/

As I see it, Ride Along 2 shouldn’t have much trouble topping the charts and I’m projecting that 13 Hours will finish strong in the runner-up spot. That would push Star Wars and Golden Globe favorite The Revenant to third and fourth, unless Norm earns more than my estimate. Otherwise, I have it rounding out the top five.

And with that, my top five predictions for the weekend:

  1. Ride Along 2

Predicted Gross: $45.5 million

2. 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Predicted Gross: $29.3 million

3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Predicted Gross: $23.9 million (representing a drop of 43%)

4. The Revenant

Predicted Gross: $21.4 million (representing a drop of 46%)

5. Norm of the North

Predicted Gross: $9.3 million

Box Office Results (January 8-10)

In what was a closer than expected battle for #1, Star Wars: The Force Awakens held for the fourth week in a row with $42.3 million (below my $51.6M prediction). The juggernaut also became the highest grossing domestic earner of all time and its total stands at $812M.

#2 belong to freshly minted Golden Globe winner The Revenant, which expanded nationwide to a terrific $39.8 million, bearing past my $33.2M estimate. The Leonardo DiCaprio wilderness tale exceeded expectations and with its likely Oscar nominations coming Thursday, it should be in for a solid run ahead.

Daddy’s Home was third with $15 million (a bit shy of my $16.8M projection) for a three week haul of $116M. The critically panned horror pic The Forest actually did pretty well in fourth with a $12.7 million debut (I said $8.7M). Look for it fade quickly, however.

I incorrectly had The Hateful Eight in fourth with $10.5 million, but it fell a troubling 59% to sixth place in its sophomore weekend with $6.4 million for a lackluster total of $41M. That allowed Sisters with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to keep chugging along in fifth with $7.1 million for a $73M total.

And that’ll do it for now, my friends! Until next time…

**OK, one last thing. This blog is about movies as you know, with an occasional dip into the world of music. As movies continue to inspire me everyday, so have legions of musicians that I’ve had the pleasure of listening to all these years. As a young child, I’ll never forget wearing out the record (yes, record) of “Let’s Dance” by one David Bowie (and there was truly only one David Bowie). As I got older, I came to truly appreciate and adore his entire catalog. What a brilliant artist he was. May he rest among the stars.