After premiering at the Berlin Film Festival to solid reviews, crime drama The Outfit hits approximately 1200 screens on March 18th. Graham Moore, Oscar winner for penning the screenplay for The Imitation Game, makes his directorial debut. The cast is led by Mark Rylance with Zoey Deutch, Dylan O’Brien, Johnny Flynn, and Simon Russell Beale in the supporting cast.
While critical reaction is pleasing (92% on Rotten Tomatoes), the lack of star power and fairly low theater count makes me skeptical that this breaks through to domestic crowds.
I don’t believe this will average even $1,000 per location. If it fits in the $800-$900 range, it may manage to clear $1 million. I’m not even confident about that, but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.
We might be witnessing a right year and right movie matchup for Cumberbatch to nab his first Oscar. After being previously nominated seven years back for The Imitation Game, he’s starring in the Best Picture frontrunner and garnered career best reviews. He’s been mentioned in all key precursors such as the Globes, SAG, BAFTA and Critics Choice. Furthermore, he had an impressive 2021 beyond Dog with kudos for the title role in The Electrical Life of Louis Wain and appearing as Doctor Strange in box office behemoth Spider-Man: No Way Home.
The Case Against Benedict Cumberbatch:
Only 3 Best Actor recipients in the 21st century came from the BP winner. Yet the most compelling case against comes courtesy of Will Smith, who stands as the favorite for King Richard. This is Smith’s third try and Benedict’s second. Voters may figure Cumberbatch will have other opportunities. The Academy has three other options to bestow gold on the Dog cast (with the best possibility being Kodi Smit-McPhee in supporting actor).
Previous Nominations: 1
The Imitation Game (2014 – Actor)
I do believe Cumberbatch is a strong second to Smith at the moment. If Cumberbatch manages to grab the SAG or BAFTA, he could play the spoiler role that Anthony Hopkins (The Father) managed last year over the favored Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
My Case Of posts will continue with Supporting Actress and Ariana DeBose in West Side Story…
Graham Moore is an Oscar winner in Adapted Screenplay for 2014’s The Imitation Game. One year later, Mark Rylance scored an upset Supporting Actor victory for Bridge of Spies. Moore makes his directorial debut for the 1950s set crime pic The Outfit in which Rylance stars as a tailor serving dangerous types. The supporting cast includes Zoey Deutch, Dylan O’Brien, and Johnny Flynn.
The pic debuted at the Berlin Film Festival last weekend and is slated for theaters next month. Reviews from Germany are positive if not gushing and it holds a 91% score on Rotten Tomatoes. So is The Outfit suited for awards attention?
Probably not. However, Rylance is drawing some raves and there’s kudos for tech aspects such as production design. And I suppose any movie about a tailor (The Outfit‘s running time takes place in one setting) could be a hopeful for costume design. It’s also worth noting that Alexandre Desplat (who’s received 11 nominations and won 2) did the score.
I find it unlikely that voters will recall The Outfit later this year, but perhaps Focus Features will set their sights on a campaign. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
When King Richard came out in November, the preceding reviews and buzz pointed to a likelihood in the Best Actor race for this year’s Oscars – Will Smith would be on his way to his first gold statue. Playing Richard Williams, patriarch of the family that gave us tennis royalty Venus and Serena Williams, the film provides us multiple Academy bait scenes for the actor.
Mr. Smith has gone to the Oscars before as a nominee. 20 years ago, he was up for Ali (where to lost to Denzel Washington in Training Day). 15 years back, he scored his second nod for The Pursuit of Happyness (coming up short to Forest Whitaker in The Last King of Scotland).
This time around felt different. Obviously Smith is a beloved figure across the entertainment spectrum from movies to music to TV and he’s had blockbuster upon blockbuster in the last quarter century. Richard seemed like the right role for him to get that Oscar. Third time’s the charm.
That could still absolutely happen. In fact, I still have him ranked #1 in the Actor derby where he’s been perched for months. Yet I must admit, doubts are creeping in.
Why? A couple of reasons. First off, King Richard underwhelmed at the box office and that’s being kind. The sports drama has taken in less than $15 million. Part of the reason has to be due to its simultaneous release on HBO Max, but there’s no sugarcoating that it’s a subpar performance.
Secondly, there’s the rise of Benedict Cumberbatch in Netflix’s The Power of the Dog. The actor (who’s about to land his second nod after 2014’s The Imitation Game) is becoming the critical favorite and he’s picking up hardware from their associations. It also helps that Cumberbatch has been highly visible in 2021 with four pics (including financial behemoth Spider-Man: No Way Home).
In that sense, the 2021 Best Actor race is starting to look like what we witnessed in 2020. As an aside, I do see this a two-person competition at the moment (though Andrew Garfield from Tick Tick, Boom! may have a remote shot). There’s a head vs. heart vibe emerging. Last year, the sentimental favorite was the late Chadwick Boseman for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. The performance that was equally if not more hailed by critics came from Anthony Hopkins in The Father. And it was Hopkins who ultimately and somewhat surprisingly prevailed.
Could we see a repeat in 2021 and a slight upset by Cumberbatch over the favored Smith? Stay tuned…
As has become a late December tradition on the blog, I will highlight some performers who had a fruitful year either at the box office or in terms of awards contention. Our first entry fits the description for both.
Benedict Cumberbatch is at the top of the Oscar conversation for Best Actor for his work in Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog. The Netflix drama has already earned him some critics prizes and it appears he will vie for the gold statue along with Will Smith in King Richard or Andrew Garfield in Tick Tick… Boom! It will most certainly mark his second Academy nomination seven years after The Imitation Game.
The actor’s second streaming picture was The Electrical Life of Louis Wain. While the Amazon Prime pic drew mixed reactions, most write-ups praised Cumberbatch’s lead work as the kitten drawing artist.
And though his spy thriller The Courier (which opened last spring) flew under the radar, it generated solid reviews.
The box office potency, of course, comes from Spider-Man: No Way Home in which he reprises his role as Doctor Strange. The Marvel property scored the second largest domestic opening in history and has reignited a sleepy pandemic era marketplace. His appearance in Home should help with crowd anticipation for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the sequel to the 2016 original that hits multiplexes in March of next year.
Whether with Oscar voters or mass audiences, Cumberbatch had a visible presence in 2021. My Year Of posts will continue…
We come to Best Actor in my deep dive of the major Oscar races covering the four acting showdowns in addition to Picture and Director. If you missed the first two covering Supporting Actor and Actress, they’re here:
Looking at the past two years in my early November estimates in this competition, there’s a better track record than with the supporting categories. In 2019, with two months to go, I rightly had four of the five nominees pegged: winner Joaquin Phoenix (Joker), Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Adam Driver (Marriage Story), and Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes). Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory) was mentioned in Other Possibilities. For the 2020 experience, that number was three – winner Anthony Hopkins in The Father, Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), and Gary Oldman (Mank). The other two were named as possibilities – Riz Ahmed for Sound of Metal and Minari‘s Steven Yeun.
In 2021, it appears that three hopefuls have probably punched their tickets. The conversation begins with Will Smith. He’s a two-time nominee – once 20 years ago as Ali and 15 years past in The Pursuit of Happyness. As King Richard, it may well be the Fresh Prince’s time to be crowned for the true life sports drama that is said to be a massive crowdpleaser.
When Smith lost for Ali, it was to Denzel Washington in Training Day. The two-time winner looks to be back in the mix with The Tragedy of Macbeth. While I’m feeling confident in his nomination, I don’t see Mr. Washington emerging victorious here.
The other probable player is Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog, gunning for his second nod seven years after The Imitation Game. Several festival reviews are calling it career best work and I don’t see him sliding.
After that, there’s quite a few of performers vying for the remaining two spots. There’s a few in the “not yet seen” silo. That includes Bradley Cooper in Nightmare Alley. We are all waiting to see how big his supporting role is in Licorice Pizza. I’ve had Cooper listed #1 there for months. If he ends up falling shot in that one, he could rise with this.
Andrew Garfield’s performance in Tick, Tick… Boom! is a trendy selection. He’s also a possibility in supporting with The Eyes of Tammy Faye (though I’m skeptical he makes it through there).
We also have Leonardo DiCaprio for Don’t Look Up. I’m not as high on the film as some other prognosticators, but laudatory screenings could change that dynamic. There’s also Adam Driver for House of Gucci and Cooper Hoffman for the aforementioned Pizza. With all these gentlemen, time will tell and we won’t have to wait long.
Back to the performances we do know about. Nicolas Cage garnered some of the best notices of his career for Pig. He’ll have internet chatter on his side but I wouldn’t bet the farm on him making it. Speaking of web love, expect the same for Timothee Chalamet (Dune). I believe he’s less likely than Cage. Same goes for former MTV veejay Simon Rex in Red Rocket.
Belfast is the frontrunner for Best Picture and its quartet of supporting thespians (Caitriona Balfe, Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Ciaran Hinds) could all show up in their races. The film’s young lead Jude Hill is more of a long shot. Clifton Collins Jr. drew raves beginning at Sundance with Jockey. I would say Sony Pictures Classics needs to up their game with his campaign for him to enter this derby. There’s also a slight chance that Amir Jadidi could be a factor in A Hero (which could take International Feature Film).
For now, I’m sticking with two actors that I’ve had in my five for awhile. Peter Dinklage has gotten plenty of Emmy love for his Game of Thrones stretch and his musical and dramatic stylings in Cyrano could cause the Academy to take note.
Even though he won just two years back for Joker, Joaquin Phoenix could be up again for C’Mon C’Mon if none of the unseen candidates rise in the polls.
Bottom line: Smith (especially), Cumberbatch, and Washington are all relatively safe at press time. About a dozen others will vie for slots four and five. Here’s where I have it at this beginning of November time frame:
1. Will Smith, King Richard (Previous Ranking: 1)
2. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)
3. Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3)
Benedict Cumberbatch is primed to receive his second Best Actor nod (after 2014’s The Imitation Game) for his work in Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog. It screened at Venice this week, but it’s not the only title headlined by the star.
The other is The Electrical Life of Louis Wain where Cumberbatch plays the real life title character of the English artist known for his cat drawings. Will Sharpe directs and the supporting cast includes Claire Foy, Andrea Riseborough, Sharon Rooney, and Toby Jones. It hits theaters in mid October with an Amazon Prime streaming premiere in early November.
Early reviews are mixed. I don’t anticipate this getting any life with awards voters in any category. Bottom line: Cumberbatch should get a tuxedo or two or three ready for next year. And it will be for Dog and not the one about the guy known for cats. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…
When I did my Oscar predictions last week prior to the Venice Film Festival kicking off, Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog was perched at #1 in four of the eight races that I’m currently projecting. That would be Best Picture, Director, Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch), and Adapted Screenplay. Kirsten Dunst was listed in second for Supporting Actress with her real life hubby Jesse Plemons sitting in the same spot in Supporting Actor.
Dog has now screened at the Italian fest and the outlook is a bit cloudier. Some reviews are calling Campion’s early 20th-century set Western a masterpiece. Others are more mixed in their estimations. Some critics are hailing Cumberbatch’s performance as a career best. Others are saying he doesn’t quite pull the villainous role off.
It’s important to note that we are still in the early stages of Dog‘s awards road. By the time it hits theaters on November 17 and Netflix on December 1, the narrative could be clearer. Here’s where I’m at today based on the initial buzz. The pic’s Score (by Jonny Greenwood) and Cinematography (via Ari Wegner) appear to be shoo-ins. Cumberbatch is likely to nab his second Actor recognition after 2014’s The Imitation Game. Dunst is still a contender in Supporting Actress (it would be her first nomination). And I still feel confident that Picture, Director, and Adapted Screenplay are fairly safe bets.
With Supporting Actor, word-of-mouth suggests I may have been looking at the wrong actor (Plemons) for a spot. Kodi Smit-McPhee appears to have a more realistic shot (though I suppose they could both make it in). I wouldn’t count on it. Look for for Smit-McPhee to vault onto the charts of prognosticators.
Bottom line: The Power of the Dog could be a powerful force come Oscar time. Yet I question whether it remains in first position at any of the spots when I do my next weekly estimates (coming Monday). My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…
2014 was an admittedly sturdy year in the Best Actor category with Eddie Redmayne winning the prize for The Theory of Everything. The other nominees were Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), and Michael Keaton (Birdman). However, one could argue that Carell could have fit into the Supporting Actor derby (and he probably would have been nominated over his costar Mark Ruffalo).
So while all five contenders above turned in fine performances, I still cannot fathom how Jake Gyllenhaal’s work in Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler was left out. As a demented Los Angeles photojournalist, the actor (whose only Academy nod is for supporting in 2005’s Brokeback Mountain) turned in a career best performance. In fact, Nightcrawler itself is my favorite movie of its year and should’ve certainly been a Best Picture nominee too.
This was the second year in a row where I feel an obviously worthy turn was ignored. In 2013, it was Tom Hanks as Captain Phillips. Gyllenhaal’s exclusion is just as baffling and that’s especially true because he was nominated at the Critics Choice, Golden Globe, and SAG Awards.
Six years ago in Oscar history began an impressive two year run for filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu with Birdman emerging as the big winner of the evening. The film took Best Picture and Director over its major competitor – Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. This was a ceremony in which the largest category did have some suspense. Birdman took the prize over the aforementioned Boyhood and six other pics: American Sniper (the year’s top grosser), The Grand Budapest Hotel (marking Wes Anderson’s first and only Picture nominee), The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, and Whiplash.
In this blogger’s perfect world, Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler would have been recognized. It was my favorite movie of that year so get used to seeing it pop up in this post. Other notable selections from 2014 left on the cutting room floor: David Fincher’s Gone Girl, Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer, and Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher.
Mr. Miller did have the notable distinction of being nominated for Best Director despite his work not showing up in Best Picture (very rare these days). As mentioned, Inarritu took the gold over Miller as well as Linklater, Anderson, and Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game). Gilroy, Fincher, and Joon-ho might have warranted consideration in my view as well as Chazelle’s bravura debut in Whiplash.
One could argue that Nightcrawler isn’t your prototypical Picture contender. However, Jake Gyllenhaal being left out of the five Actor contenders stands as one of the noteworthy snubs in recent history. It was Eddie Redmayne emerging victorious for The Theory of Everything over his closest competitor Michael Keaton (Birdman). Other nominees: the three C’s of Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper, picking up his third nomination in a row), and Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game).
There is a voluminous list of solid performances beyond just Gyllenhaal’s that were left wanting. It includes Ben Affleck (Gone Girl), Chadwick Boseman (Get On Up), Bill Murray (St. Vincent), David Oyelowo (Selma), Joaquin Phoenix (Inherent Vice), Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner), and Miles Teller (Whiplash).
In Best Actress, Julianne Moore triumphed for Still Alice after four previous nominations without a win. She took the honor over Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night), Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), and Reese Witherspoon (Wild). Moore’s selection was one of the easiest to project as she’d been a sturdy frontrunner all season.
Looking back, how about Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow? Its action genre trappings probably prevented consideration, but she might have made my quintet. Amy Adams won the Golden Globe for Actress in Musical/Comedy, but missed here.
Another easy (and absolutely deserved) winner was J.K. Simmons in Supporting Actor for Whiplash over Robert Duvall (The Judge), Ethan Hawke (Boyhood), Edward Norton (Birdman), and Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher).
I will yet again mention Nightcrawler as I might have considered Riz Ahmed. There’s also Josh Brolin in Inherent Vice.
Boyhood nabbed its major race victory in Supporting Actress with Patricia Arquette. Other nominees were Laura Dern (Wild), Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game), Emma Stone (Birdman), and the always in contention Meryl Streep for Into the Woods.
As for others, I’ll start with (surprise) Rene Russo in Nightcrawler. Others include both Melissa McCarthy and Naomi Watts for St. Vincent in addition to Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year) and Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice).
My Oscar History will continue soon with 2015 as Mr. Inarritu will dominate the director race yet again while the Academy chose to spotlight something in Best Picture!