A Marvel Cinematic Oscar History: Best Actor

I was rewatching Avengers: Endgame over the weekend and it once again struck me how many famous actors are in that thing. I mean… seriously. It’s rather amazing. This got me thinking and yes, current world events may have given me an opportunity to do so:

Just how many performers that have been in Marvel Cinematic Universe entries have won Oscars or been nominated for Oscars? I knew the number would be high, but the answer still astonished me. In fact, you have to back to 1981 for a year where no actor that eventually appeared in the MCU didn’t receive a nomination.

If you count Marvel’s next two pictures (Black Widow, The Eternals) and then count the 23 movies prior that started in 2008 with Iron Man, it encapsulates 110 acting nominations and 20 wins! I am not yet putting Christian Bale in there though he’s rumored to be playing the villain in the fourth Thor flick. I’ll wait for confirmation on that. If you did count Bale, the numbers go to 114 nods and 21 Academy victories.

Due to this research, I’m writing 4 blog posts dedicated to each acting race and we begin with Best Actor:

The leading man category makes up 33 out of the 110 nominations with 6 wins. The victorious gentlemen are as follows:

Jeff Bridges, the main baddie in Iron Man, won in 2009 for Crazy Heart

William Hurt, who appeared in The Incredible Hulk and other MCU titles, took Best Actor in 1985 for Kiss of the Spider Woman

Anthony Hopkins, aka Thor’s Dad, was stage bound in 1991 for his iconic role as Dr. Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs

Ben Kingsley, who sparred with Tony Stark in Iron Man 3, is a 1982 recipient in the title role of Gandhi

Michael Douglas, who appeared in both Ant-Man pics, was Best Actor in 1987 for Wall Street

Forest Whitaker, who costarred in Black Panther, took gold in 2006 for The Last King of Scotland

Aside from the winners, here are the other 27 Actor nods:

Iron Man himself, Robert Downey Jr., for 1992’s Chaplin

Terrence Howard, who was in the first Iron Man, for 2005’s Hustle & Flow

Jeff Bridges scored two additional nominations for 1984’s Starman and 2010’s True Grit

Edward Norton, who was Hulk before Mark Ruffalo, for 1998’s American History X

William Hurt, like fellow winner Bridges, also landed two other nods for 1986’s Children of a Lesser God and 1987’s Broadcast News

Don Cheadle, who replaced Terrence Howard in Iron Man 2 and more, for 2004’s Hotel Rwanda

Mickey Rourke, the villain in Iron Man 2, for 2008’s The Wrestler

Anthony Hopkins, following his Lambs victory, was nominated twice more for 1993’s The Remains of the Day and 1995’s Nixon

Tommy Lee Jones, from Captain America: First Avenger, for 2007’s In the Valley of Elah

Jeremy Renner, aka Hawkeye, for his breakthrough role in 2009’s The Hurt Locker

Robert Redford, who was in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, surprisingly only has one acting nod for 1973’s The Sting. He is, however, a twice nominated director and won in 1980 for Ordinary People 

Bradley Cooper, Rocket in Guardians of the Galaxy, has been nominated thrice with no wins: 2012’s Silver Linings Playbook, 2014’s American Sniper, and 2018’s A Star Is Born

Benedict Cumberbatch, aka Doctor Strange, for 2014’s The Imitation Game

Chiwetel Ejiofor, also in Doctor Strange, for 2013’s 12 Years a Slave

Sylvester Stallone, who popped up in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, for his signature role in 1976’s Rocky

Michael Keaton, the villain in Spider-Man: Homecoming, for 2014’s Birdman

Matt Damon, who had a memorable cameo in Thor: Ragnarok, is twice nominated for 1997’s Good Will Hunting and 2015’s The Martian

Daniel Kaluuya, Black Panther costar, for 2017’s Get Out

Laurence Fishburne, supporting player in Ant-Man and the Wasp, as Ike Turner in 1993’s What’s Love Got to Do With It

Jude Law, from Captain Marvel, for 2003’s Cold Mountain 

Whew. And there you have it. I’ll be back at it shortly with the Best Actress nominees who got their Marvel on!

Best Actor: A Look Back

My look back at the major Oscar categories from 1990 to the present arrives at Best Actor today! If you missed my posts covering Actress and the Supporting races, you can find them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/31/best-actress-a-look-back/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/25/best-supporting-actor-a-look-back/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/20/best-supporting-actress-a-look-back/

As with those previous entries, I am picking the three least surprising winners of the last 28 years, along with the three biggest upsets. Additionally, you’ll see my personal picks for strongest and weakest fields overall.

As a primer, here are the winners from 1990 to now:

1990 – Jeremy Irons, Reversal of Fortune

1991 – Anthony Hopkins, The Silence of the Lambs

1992 – Al Pacino, Scent of a Woman

1993 – Tom Hanks, Philadelphia

1994 – Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump

1995 – Nicolas Cage, Leaving Las Vegas

1996 – Geoffrey Rush, Shine

1997 – Jack Nicholson, As Good As It Gets

1998 – Roberto Benigni, Life is Beautiful

1999 – Kevin Spacey, American Beauty

2000 – Russell Crowe, Gladiator

2001 – Denzel Washington, Training Day

2002 – Adrien Brody, The Pianist

2003 – Sean Penn, Mystic River

2004 – Jamie Foxx, Ray

2005 – Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote

2006 – Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland

2007 – Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood

2008 – Sean Penn, Milk

2009 – Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

2010 – Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

2011 – Jean Dujardin, The Artist

2012 – Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

2013 – Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

2014 – Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

2015 – Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

2016 – Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

2017 – Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Let’s begin with the three that I’m deeming as the non-surprise winners. Whittling this down to that number was a challenge. The double wins by Hanks and Penn and even last year’s winner Oldman could’ve easily been named here, too. Here goes…

3. Al Pacino, Scent of a Woman

The legendary thespian was 0 for 6 when it came to nominations and wins entering 1992. He picked up his 7th and 8th nods that year with his supporting role in Glengarry Glen Ross and lead role as a blind former colonel in this Martin Brest directed drama. By Oscar night, it was clear he was finally going to make that trip to the podium.

2. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Like Pacino, DiCaprio had been an Academy bridesmaid before… four times. His fifth nod for The Revenant guaranteed he’d finally be a winner against weak competition (more on that below).

1. Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

I could have named the Method actor’s victory in 2007 for There Will Be Blood as well, but his win five years later as the nation’s 16th President edges it out. From the moment the Steven Spielberg project was announced, Day-Lewis was the odds on favorite and it never changed.

Now – my selections for the upsets:

3. Anthony Hopkins, The Silence of the Lambs

While it might seem an obvious win nearly 30 years later, Nick Nolte’s work in The Prince of Tides had nabbed him the Golden Globe. Additionally, there was some controversy about Sir Anthony’s inclusion in the lead race due to his approximate 16 minutes of screen time. This is truly evidence of a performance so towering that it couldn’t be ignored.

2. Roberto Benigni, Life is Beautiful

The Italian director/writer/actor was an underdog against competition that included Nick Nolte (once again) for Affliction and Ian McKellen in Gods and Monsters. Mr. Benigni seemed a bit shocked himself when his name was called, as he famously bounded exuberantly to the stage.

1. Adrien Brody, The Pianist

The smart money in 2002 was with Jack Nicholson in About Schmidt or Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York. Brody’s win was pretty shocking, as was the giant smooch he planted on presenter Halle Berry.

When it comes to overall fields, I’m going recent history with both. For strongest, I’ll give it to 2012. That’s the year Day-Lewis won for Lincoln. All other nominees were rock solid as well with Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook), Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables), Joaquin Phoenix (The Master), and Denzel Washington (Flight).

For weakest, I’m picking 2015. This is the aforementioned year of DiCaprio’s overdue win. The rest of the field, however, was a bit lacking. It consisted of Bryan Cranston (Trumbo), Matt Damon (The Martian), Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs), and Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl).

And there’s your Actor look back, folks! Keep an eye out for Best Picture soon as the final post in this series…

First Man Box Office Prediction

With awards buzz lifting its potential box office prospects, Damien Chazelle’s First Man debuts next weekend. Ryan Gosling headlines as Neil Armstrong in the story of the journey that led him to walk on the moon. Costars include Claire Foy (in a role garnering Oscar chatter), Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll, Ciarán Hinds, Christopher Abbott, Patrick Fugit, and Lukas Haas.

Since premiering at the Venice Film Festival, First Man has received positive word of mouth with a current Rotten Tomatoes score of 88%. Like Chazelle’s last two pictures (Whiplash and La La Land), a Best Picture nomination is expected. Older audiences should turn out (and Gosling fans), but it could be a film that plays well for weeks as opposed to a huge opening.

October has been kind to space flicks, most notably Gravity and The Martian. They both launched to over $50 million out of the gate. First Man is not expected to achieve those numbers. Competition is serious with the second weekends of Venom and A Star Is Born in particular.

I’ll say this manages a low to likely mid 20s start with solid grosses continuing beyond.

First Man opening weekend prediction: $23.5 million

For my Goosebumps 2, Haunted Halloween prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/03/goosebumps-2-haunted-halloween/

For my Bad Times at the El Royale prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/03/bad-times-at-the-el-royale-box-office-prediction/

The Best Picture Wouldn’t Have Been Contenders: 2009-2017

A couple of days back on the blog, I speculated about what films in the 21st century would have been nominated for Best Picture prior to a rule change in 2009. As a refresher, nearly a decade ago, the Academy changed its Best Picture Nominees from a finite five to anywhere between five to ten. In that time frame, the magic number most years has been nine (it was actually a finite 10 for 2009 and 2010 before the fluctuation change). My recent post selected two pictures from 1990-2008 that I believe would have been nominated. You can find that post here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/08/03/the-best-picture-coulda-been-contenders-1990-2008/

Today comes the inverse of that column. What if the rule had never been altered? What if the last nine Oscar ceremonies honored just five features?

In making these picks, there’s obviously one extremely easy selection – the movie that won. In naming the other four, I’m looking at factors such as number of other nods it received. For instance, if a Director won that award for their work and the Picture went to something else, that director’s film is in.

So let’s get to it in this alternative Oscar universe. I’ll be reminding you all the pictures recognized and then showing my final five.

2009

The Actual Nominees:

The Hurt Locker (Winner), Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, A Serious Man, Up, Up in the Air

Had It Been Five:

The Hurt Locker, Avatar, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, Up in the Air

2010

The Actual Nominees:

The King’s Speech (W), 127 Hours, Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter’s Bone

Had It Been Five:

The King’s Speech, The Fighter, Inception, The Social Network, True Grit

2011

The Actual Nominees:

The Artist (W), The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, War Horse

Had It Been Five:

The Artist, The Descendants, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris

2012

The Actual Nominees:

Argo (W), Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty

Had It Been Five:

Argo, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook

2013

The Actual Nominees:

12 Years a Slave (W), American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, The Wolf of Wall Street

Had It Been Five:

12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Gravity, Nebraska, The Wolf of Wall Street

2014

The Actual Nominees:

Birdman (W), American Sniper, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash

Had It Been Five:

Birdman, American Sniper, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game

2015

The Actual Nominees:

Spotlight (W), The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Room

Had It Been Five:

Spotlight, The Big Short, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant

2016

The Actual Nominees:

Moonlight (W), Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea

Had It Been Five:

Moonlight, Arrival, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea

2017

The Actual Nominees:

The Shape of Water (W), Call Me by Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread, The Post, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Had It Been Five:

The Shape of Water, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

And there you have it with my posts on the “what if” Best Picture happenings in Oscar world!

Oscar Watch: All the Money in the World

When the Golden Globe nominations were announced early last week, there were three rather significant surprises. All the Money in the World, which is out Christmas Day, garnered a trio of nominations that no one really saw coming: Ridley Scott for his direction (even though the film itself failed to get a Picture nod), Michelle Williams for Actress, and Christopher Plummer for Supporting Actor.

This begged the question: could the Globes love translate to Oscar affection? The true-life kidnapping thriller had its review embargo lifted today and answers have become (somewhat) more clear. Early critical reaction is positive and it stands at 89% at the moment on Rotten Tomatoes.

Much of the praise is indeed focused on the direction and the two performers listed above (Mark Wahlberg will not factor into Best Actor). Yet we all know the picture has generated unexpected publicity in the last few weeks. Mr. Plummer took over the role of J. Paul Getty when Kevin Spacey became embroiled in scandal. The latter had already shot his entire supporting part and even a trailer was released with Spacey prominently featured.

Amazingly, it was a month and half ago that Plummer was brought in to replace him and director Scott has delivered the finished product in time for release. This unprecedented move has certainly brought Money a lot of attention. It’s certainly possible that the Hollywood Foreign Press (who bestows Globe nominations) were rewarding Scott for his quick turnaround and Plummer for his rapid filming of the role.

Will Oscar follow? Probably not. Many of the overall positive reviews have quibbled with script aspects and delivery. I do not see a Best Picture nomination as likely and that should put Scott out of the running. However, if Money somehow manages to be nominated in the biggest category, Scott would probably follow suit. I would not bet on it (even though many thought Scott was snubbed two years ago for The Martian).

As for the two actors nominated for Globes, Best Actress is incredibly crowded in 2017. It’s hard to dispute Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird), Meryl Streep (The Post), Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Margot Robbie (I, Tonya), and Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water) as the five front-runners for the five spots with performers like Jessica Chastain (Molly’s Game) and Judi Dench (Victoria and Abdul) waiting in the wings. I simply don’t see room for Williams at this point.

Plummer could be a different story. Supporting Actor is fairly busy, but I see only Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project) and Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards) as absolute sure things for nominations. My weekly Monday predictions will still probably leave Plummer on the outside looking in, but he’s definitely got a chance.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

 

Life Movie Review

Calvin Coolidge was our 30th President of the United States and he isn’t talked about too often in the general grand scheme of Presidential history. There will probably never be a biopic about President Coolidge, but he does receive the honor of having an alien named after him in Daniel Espinosa’s Life. The term mild-mannered comes up frequently in relation to the President. His extra-terrestrial namesake is nothing of the kind.

Life takes place entirely on the International Space Station (ISS) where a six-member crew is returning from a Mars mission. They’ve made quite the discovery: Matt Damon and they’re bringing him home with his disco music! Actually it’s a soil sample that turns out to be the first evidence of life outside Earth. School children are given the ability to name this historic being and the lucky winners hail from Calvin Coolidge Elementary – hence Calvin.

Jake Gyllenhaal is Dr. Jordan, who’s been stationed the longest and seems to have a slight case of space institutionalization. Ryan Reynolds is engineer Rory, who keeps the Reynolds patented wisecracks to a minimum. Dr. Miranda (Rebecca Ferguson) is the chief quarantine officer. Biologist Hugh (Ariyon Barake) is tasked with bringing Calvin out of his dormant status to life.

That turns out to be a bad idea because Calvin has only survival instincts in mind. The organism shows a mean streak when he wakes up and Life becomes all about the passengers on board clinging to their own.

Audiences have been treated (or in some cases subject to) a host of outer space themed pictures in recent years, from Gravity to Interstellar to The Martian to Passengers to name a few. Some of those titles had a hopeful tone about what lies beyond our planet. Life? Not so much.

The production design and technical elements are top-notch and the acting is just fine, even though no one really has a character to work with. Espinosa’s exercise is mainly an excuse to pay both loving homage and rip-off Alien, the granddaddy of this genre. In that sense, it does provide some genuinely scary moments and plenty of others that are just familiar territory. Life is competent if not memorable, which is also what some historians say about President Coolidge. 

**1/2 (out of four)

Passengers Movie Review

Morten Tyldum’s Passengers is a gorgeous looking experience starring two gorgeous people that nevertheless comes up empty in its overall execution. We are presented with two souls who are lost in space and find love, but the chemistry between the two giant stars never quite connects.

These subjects come in the form of Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt. They are two among thousands of Earthlings on a very long trip to a new planet. How long you might ask? 120 years, which means the passengers and the crew are in hibernation mode until they reach their destination. Jim (Pratt) is jarred awake one day from his slumber and realizes he’s the only one with his eyes open and there’s 90 years left on the journey. He makes it for a year on his own in the beautifully designed ship (props to the production design team), but his loneliness leads him to wake up talented writer Aurora (Lawrence). She thinks she’s woken up accidentally like Jim and he shares his secrets with the only other talking being on board – an android bartender in the form of Michael Sheen.

The duo spend their time trying to figure why the heck they’re such early risers while also falling in love. Jon Spaihts’s screenplay attempts to grapple with the understandable but also rather cruel choice by Jim to get Aurora up. Yet once certain revelations are brought out, the script follows a rather predictable and dull path.

Lawrence and Pratt are two performers who are rarely dull or predictable, but Passengers doesn’t do them any favors. No matter how hard they try, their characters are under developed and their chemistry is passable at best.

We’ve witnessed the stranded in space genre more recently and in much better fashion, from Gravity to The Martian. Speaking of gravity, there is a scene with a loss of just that that’s nifty. Ultimately though, Passengers doesn’t add much new or intriguing, even if it’s pretty to look at.

** (out of four)

Life Box Office Prediction

Movies with outer space/alien themes have been quite the hot commodity as of late with blockbusters such as Gravity, Interstellar, The Martian, and Arrival. Next weekend, Daniel Espinosa’s Life will try and join their ranks for what could be an uphill battle.

The pic pits a crew from the International Space Station against an alien creature who may have greater intelligence than they do. Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, and Rebecca Ferguson headline. This marks director Espinosa’s second collaboration with Reynolds after 2012’s Safe House.

Audiences have certainly had plenty of this type of material in recent years and I’m not sure the trailers and TV spots for Life stand out. It certainly appears unlikely to match the opening weekend grosses of the other genre titles listed above. On the other hand, the participation of Reynolds (hot off Deadpool) won’t hurt and a high teens to mid 20s lift off seems most probable. That should put it firmly in third behind the second weekend of Beauty and the Beast and premiere of Power Rangers.

Life opening weekend prediction: $19.1 million

For my Power Rangers prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/03/15/power-rangers-box-office-prediction/

For my CHiPs prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/03/16/chips-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Passengers

A week ago, the prospect of this Wednesday’s Passengers receiving some Oscar attention didn’t seem totally far fetched. After all, the Academy has shown some love to the science fiction space pic genre three years ago with Gravity and last year with The Martian as they both received Best Picture nods. In addition, their respective leads Sandra Bullock and Matt Damon were nominated in the lead acting races.

Passengers is director Morten Tyldum’s follow-up to The Imitation Game, which was in the Picture race two years ago and for which he received a directing nod. And this space opera boasts Jennifer Lawrence, who’s been nominated four times since 2010 and won in 2012 for Silver Linings Playbook. So, again, not so far fetched.

And then reviews happened late this week for the sci fi romantic thriller which costars Chris Pratt. The verdict? A rather troubling 32% on Rotten Tomatoes and its Oscar chances evaporating. Passengers still has a remote shot at Visual Effects, but in all likelihood the pic will be sitting on the awards sideline.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Arrival Box Office Prediction

Denis Villeneueve’s science fiction drama and potential Oscar contender Arrival lands in theaters next weekend, looking for a healthy run throughout the awards season. Amy Adams headlines a cast that includes Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, and Michael Stuhlbarg. Villeneueve has been on a roll (especially critically) in recent years with well-regarded titles such as Prisoners and last year’s Sicario.

With a relatively modest $50 million reported budget, Arrival debuted at the Venice Film Festival to many raves and it currently stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. It could find itself in the mix at the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Director, and Actress with Ms. Adams.

What could hinder Arrival from a huge debut is a relative lack of star power. While Adams and Renner are certainly recognizable names, they don’t carry the box office potency of Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in Gravity ($55 million opening  in 2013), Matthew McConaughey and director Christopher Nolan in Interstellar ($47 million in 2014), and Matt Damon and director Ridley Scott in The Martian ($54 million last autumn). Those similar genre pics premiered in a realm that looks to be unrealistic for this.

Arrival could manage to top $30 million out of the gate, but a relatively low screen count of 2200 screens should prevent that. I’ll say a low to mid 20s debut is more probable as it looks to play well in subsequent weekends based on buzz.

Arrival opening weekend prediction: $22.4 million

For my Almost Christmas prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/11/02/almost-christmas-box-office-prediction/

For my Shut In prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/11/02/shut-in-box-office-prediction/