Oscar Predictions: The Tragedy of Macbeth

The veil has lifted for a major awards hopeful with Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth. This version of the Shakespearian tragedy casts Denzel Washington as Lord Macbeth and Frances McDormand as Lady Macbeth and it is kicking off the New York Film Festival. Between the two leads, they have five Oscars between them. Do they need to find more room on their shelves?

With Denzel, news from the Big Apple indicates yes. Some early reviews are calling it among his career best work. In the Best Actor derby, it’s likely that Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog) and Will Smith (King Richard) have already punched their tickets to the dance. I believe we can add a third today with Mr. Washington.

With McDormand, it’s a bit more complicated. The answer may come down to whether distributor A24 elects for a campaign in lead or supporting. Based on the buzz, it sounds like a case could be made for either. My hunch is that Supporting Actress (which appears fairly wide open at the moment) will be the play. If so, McDormand probably stands a better chance for inclusion. I question whether her recent Best Actress victories (in 2017 for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and last year’s Nomadland) make her vulnerable to newcomers. Yet in Supporting Actress, I could easily see the Academy making room for her.

As for the rest of the cast, both Corey Hawkins and Kathryn Hunter are generating solid notices. However, their screen time could be a hindrance to make the cut (for Hunter, this definitely holds true if McDormand goes supporting).

Beyond Denzel, the cinematography is being heralded and it’s a safe bet Macbeth gets recognized there. Other techs like Production Design and Sound are feasible. Adapted Screenplay from Mr. Coen (making his first pic without brother Ethan) is in the cards. On the other hand, it’s said to deviate very little from the Shakespeare text and that may leave it off some ballots in that particular category.

Moving to the largest race of all, I’ve included Macbeth in my top ten for Best Picture all along. I don’t think it’s guaranteed a slot, but I don’t see myself moving it out based on the current buzz. Coen’s placement in Best Director is questionable but possible.

Bottom line: The Tragedy of Macbeth has elevated its lead actor and put itself in position for numerous other races. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Cannes Can’t Resist Titane

The big victor at the Cannes Film Festival turned out to be an anticlimactic announcement when jury president Spike Lee accidentally revealed it at the beginning of the evening. Julia Ducournau’s Titane, said to be one of the most shocking and viscerally thrilling entries coming out of the French Riviera, won the Palme d’Or (the fest’s equivalent of Best Picture).

This is a gift for distributor Neon as they will handle its domestic distribution. Sporting a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, could Titane enter the Oscar conversation in Best International Feature Film? The three previous Palme recipients from 2017-2019 managed to do so (The Square, Shoplifters, Parasite). Remember there was no competition in 2020. My feeling is that it’s a contender though I doubt it will cross over for Best Picture consideration (and a win) like Parasite did.

The Grand Prix award (basically runner-up) was split between Asghar Farhadi’s Iranian drama A Hero and Juho Kuosmanen’s Russian feature Compartment No. 6. Of those two, the latter has the best opportunity to break through with the Academy.

Leos Carax is best director for his opening night selection Annette. The musical drama starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard elicited strong reactions (mostly positive, some negative) from the French crowd and it is a major question mark heading into awards season.

Caleb Landry Jones, seen in numerous supporting roles recently like Get Out and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, was named Best Actor for the thriller Nitram. Winning over higher profile contenders like Driver and Simon Rex (Red Rocket), the eventual stateside distributor would need to mount quite a campaign for Jones to be in contention, but you never know.

Same goes for Best Actress Renate Reinsve in The World Person in the World, the Norwegian romantic comedic drama which had ardent admirers at the fest. This is a picture to keep an eye on as well that the international voters could pick up on.

Lastly, Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch was perhaps the most notable premiere, but it came up empty-handed when all was settled. It could still certainly be a factor at the Oscars despite not getting a boost here.

For my blog readers, expect more Oscar Watch posts in the coming days as I sort out all the Cannes action and that will include Titane, The World Person in the World, and more. Stay tuned!

Oscars 2020: The Case of Frances McDormand

The fourth contender is up in what has become the most fascinating competition at the Oscars (Best Actress) with Frances McDormand in Nomadland. If you missed coverage on the first three (Viola Davis in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Andra Day in The United States vs. Billie Holiday, Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman), they’re here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/03/27/oscars-2020-the-case-of-viola-davis/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/04/03/oscars-2020-the-case-of-andra-day/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/04/09/oscars-2020-the-case-of-vanessa-kirby/

The Case for Frances McDormand

She’s starring in the Oscar favorite for Best Picture and Director with one of her most acclaimed roles. That’s saying a lot. Nomadland marks McDormand’s sixth nomination overall. She’s been nominated thrice in supporting for Mississippi Burning, Almost Famous, and North Country where’s she 0 for 3. However, in her previous Best Actress plays, she’s 2 for 2 with Fargo and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Just this weekend McDormand took the award at BAFTA and there is a 9/10 Oscar match from 2010-2019. Added to that is the history she would make. By taking three Best Actress honors, she would become only the second woman ever to do so (Katherine Hepburn received 4).

The Case Against Frances McDormand 

This is as unpredictable a race as it gets. While McDormand’s BAFTA is a sure sign that’s she in this, other precursors have not followed suit. Viola Davis is the SAG recipient. Andra Day took the Golden Globes and Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) is the Critics Choice honoree. All stand reasonable chances and there could be a feeling that McDormand has been there and done that (twice). In an interesting stat, only one Best Actress winner in the 21st century has seen her film take the big prize (Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby).

The Verdict

The BAFTA vaults McDormand into even more serious consideration to take Oscar #3 in a race that seems to be coming down to the wire.

My Case Of posts will continue with Gary Oldman in Mank…

Oscars 2020: The Case of Daniel Kaluuya

The second contest in the Supporting Actor field is up next in my Case Of posts for the Oscars and that’s Daniel Kaluuya for Judas and the Black Messiah. If you missed my first post covering Sacha Baron Cohen in The Trial of the Chicago 7, it can be read here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/04/01/oscars-2020-the-case-of-sacha-baron-cohen/

The Case for Daniel Kaluuya

Ever since the trailer came out months ago for Judas, it was clear that Kaluuya’s performance as Black Panther Chairman Fred Hampton could be something special. When it was confirmed that he would compete in Supporting Actor, it was pretty much assumed he was an automatic hopeful. That buzz has only grown louder as Kaluuya (a previous nominee in Best Actor for 2017’s Get Out) has swept this race in the major precursors: Globes, SAG, and Critics Choice.

The Case Against Daniel Kaluuya

Perhaps the biggest surprise on Oscar nomination morning was Kaluuya’s costar Lakeith Stanfield garnering a nod here (especially since Warner Bros campaigned for him in the lead competition). So there’s always the chance that the two could cancel some of each other’s votes.

The Verdict

The vote splitting dilemma certainly didn’t hurt Sam Rockwell three years ago alongside Woody Harrelson in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It’s highly unlikely to hurt Kaluuya either as he feels like the safest pick in the four acting derbies.

My Case Of posts will continue with David Fincher’s direction of Mank…

Oscars 2020: The Case of Nomadland

Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland is next up in my Case Of posts for the 8 Best Picture nominees from the 2020 Oscar season. If you missed my posts on The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Mank, and Minari, you can peruse them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/03/16/oscars-2020-the-case-of-the-father/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/03/17/oscars-2020-the-case-of-judas-and-the-black-messiah/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/03/18/oscars-2020-the-case-of-mank/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/03/21/oscars-2020-the-case-of-minari/

Now to the business at hand:

The Case for Nomadland

Since its debut at the Venice Film Festival in September where it won the Golden Lion (the event’s top prize), Nomadland has been a serious contender that has managed to become the favorite. While many prognosticators predicted The Trial of the Chicago 7 would take the Best Drama category at the Golden Globes, Nomadland emerged victorious and it also won the Critics Choice Award recently. Other accolades include the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival and numerous regional critics group selections as the film of 2020. Nomadland tied with five other pics last week with 6 Oscar nominations and it landed in the expected races beyond Picture with Director, Actress (Frances McDormand), Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, and Editing. It is a contender to win them all.

The Case Against Nomadland

Being the frontrunner can be dangerous. It could be argued that the on paper favorites for three of the last ceremonies did not take the gold (2016’s La La Land lost to Moonlight, 2018’s Roma to Green Book, and 2019’s 1917 to Parasite). A narrative could certainly develop where a “surprise” winner (think Minari or Promising Young Woman, as well as the aforementioned Trial) could pose a serious threat.

The Verdict

Betting odds favor Nomadland as it’s done what it needs to be the picture to beat this year. That said, Oscar voters have had a way of recently upending the conventional wisdom.

My Case Of posts will continue with Promising Young Woman…

Oscar Watch: Mank

For two months now, I have had David Fincher’s Mank ranked at the top of the Best Picture contenders and that was with zero buzz about its quality. Why? The biographical drama, which tells the saga of Citizen Kane screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) and his battles with the bottle and the making of the film, sounded like Oscar bait from its announcement. Fincher is, of course, a heralded filmmaker who’s seen two of his pictures (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network) nab Best Picture nods. Neither won, but many (including this blogger) feel that Network should have done so over The King’s Speech a decade ago.

Ahead of its November 13th limited theatrical bow and December 4th Netflix streaming debut, Mank screened for critics yesterday. While the official embargo has yet to lapse, reaction is out. And it confirms that Fincher’s first pic in six years (since Gone Girl) should score plenty of nominations. As I’ve estimated for several weeks, you would be smart to bet that this will receive the most mentions on nomination morning.

Let’s break them down. Picture and Director appear to be foregone conclusions at this juncture. Gary Oldman is highly likely to get his third Best Actor nomination. That said, after winning just three years ago for Darkest Hour, I don’t foresee a victory. On a side note, the Best Actress winner from 2017 (Frances McDormand for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) also looks like a locked in nominee in 2020 for Nomadland. Amanda Seyfried appears poised for her first nomination in Supporting Actress in her role as Marion Davies. Supporting Actor is more murky. While Charles Dance as William Randolph Hearst could sneak in, the race is quite crowded. I wouldn’t count on Dance or costars Tom Pelphrey or Arliss Howard getting in over the considerable competition. Many come from the same streaming service like the cast of The Trial of the Chicago 7 (most notably Mark Rylance and Sacha Baron Cohen) and the late Chadwick Boseman in Da 5 Bloods. 

The screenplay is solely credited to the director’s deceased father Jack. An Original Screenplay nod is inevitable with the biggest competition so far being Aaron Sorkin for Trial. The tech race possibilities are plentiful: Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing, Production Design, Original Score (from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross), Sound, Makeup and Hairstyling. All in all, Mank could conceivably hit about a dozen nominations.

Now let’s get serious. Could it win Best Picture? Some early buzz suggests it might be too geared toward cinephiles and not a mass audience to achieve that. I’m not so sure. I would say the same could be said for recent winners like The Artist and Birdman. Hollywood loves features about its own industry and this might be the granddaddy of them all considering the subject matter. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mank is still listed in first place when I update my guesstimates next Thursday. I am confident it will never fall below the upper echelon. As for Fincher, he may well be in line for a Director victory and that’s even if Mank doesn’t win the biggest prize. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Nomadland

Ever since Nomadland was announced, it has been seen as a serious contender for the 2020 Oscars in multiple categories. This is Chloe Zhao’s follow-up to her acclaimed The Rider and it’s premiering all over the festival circuit this weekend (including Toronto and Venice) prior to its planned December 4th release. Based on reviews trickling out this afternoon, it’s living up to the hype.

The pic casts McDormand as a Nevada widow traveling the country in her van and critical reaction indicates it’s a tour de force performance from the two-time Best Actress winner. As you’ll recall, she took the gold statue in 1996 for Fargo and just three years back in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It might seem early for such proclamations, but I’m confident enough to go on record. Frances McDormand is going to get a nomination for this. Obviously, there are plenty more films to be screened as far as her competition. This includes potential nominees like Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Amy Adams (Hillbilly Elegy), Kate Winslet (Ammonite), and Michelle Pfeiffer (French Exit), among others. We shall see how that plays out, but today’s reviews opens the door for a third McDormand victory. If that were to occur, she would be just the second leading lady to win the prize more than twice. Katherine Hepburn did so four times.

David Strathairn is the other notable actor to discuss. The veteran thespian has one nomination to his credit for Best Actor in 2005’s Good Night, and Good Luck. I have had him ranked at #2 (behind the late Chadwick Boseman for Ma Rainey) in my Supporting Actor estimates for the last two weeks. However, indications are that his role could be smaller than I originally figured. He could still get in, but I’m nowhere near confident. I suspect he won’t be at #2 when I update my projections next Thursday. Whether he’s in the top five remains to be seen (especially with multiple actors vying for spots in Mank, The Trial of the Chicago 7, and One Night in Miami).

Nomadland also seems bound for a Best Picture nod and Zhao is certainly in line for attention with her direction. She would become just the sixth female to compete in that race and she could have company in 2020 with Regina King for Miami. Expect a wider audience to know Zhao’s name shortly as she’s making 2021’s Eternals for Disney/Marvel. Adapted Screenplay appears to be a lock and the movie’s Score and Cinematography and Editing could also be noticed.

Bottom line: Nomadland has stood as a contender for some time. The buzz out today elevates it even more, especially for Zhao and McDormand. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Early 2020 Oscar Predictions: Best Actress

My big announcement today is the selection of my first candidates for Best Actress in the 2020 Oscar field! If you happened to miss my predictions for the supporting categories and Best Actor, you can find them right here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/08/10/early-2020-oscar-predictions-best-actor/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/08/09/early-2020-oscar-predictions-best-supporting-actress/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/08/09/early-2020-oscar-predictions-best-supporting-actor/

Unlike Best Actor, none of my initial top 5 picks here have seen their pictures screened. As discussed in previous posts, 2020 is a mighty speculative year for these early August estimates. The potential contenders are certainly some heavy hitters and it was, frankly, hard to whittle the list to this quintet. 4 of my 5 choices here are past winners. Both Viola Davis and Jennifer Hudson are Supporting Actress victors for 2016’s Fences and 2006’s Dreamgirls respectively. Frances McDormand is a two-time lead Actress winner for 1996’s Fargo and 2017’s Three Billboards Outside, Missouri. Kate Winslet took this prize in 2008 for The Reader. The only non-winner is Michelle Pfeiffer and she’s been nominated three times. If she makes it here, it would mark her first nod in 28 years since 1992’s Love Field. 

This is in addition to acclaimed actresses such as Amy Adams, Jessica Chastain, and Julianne Moore as possibilities and up and comers like Jessie Buckley, Liu Yifei, and Rachel Zegler. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s the silver screen return of cinematic legend Sophia Loren. She last won an Oscar for Two Women some 60 years ago. Elisabeth Moss has two already released pics for which she’s received solid reviews. Of the two, Shirley seems more viable than the horror hit The Invisible Man.

In 2019, my original late summer projections yielded a whopping 4 of the 5 eventual nominees: Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story), Saoirse Ronan (Little Women), and Charlize Theron (Bombshell). In my ten other possibilities, I also identified eventual trophy recipient Renee Zellweger as Judy. 

Lots of intrigue in this race and here’s the first take:

EARLY OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST ACTRESS

Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Jennifer Hudson, Respect

Frances McDormand, Nomadland

Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit

Kate Winslet, Ammonite 

Other Possibilities: 

Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy

Jessie Buckley, I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Rashida Jones, On the Rocks 

Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead

Julianne Moore, The Glorias

Elisabeth Moss, Shirley

Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

Liu Yifei, Mulan 

Rachel Zegler, West Side Story

That completes the acting portions of the early predictions and Best Director is up next! Until then…

A Marvel Cinematic Oscar History: Best Supporting Actor

Continuing with my series showcasing the voluminous amount of Oscar nominees and winners that have appeared in the 25 Marvel Cinematic Universe pictures (including the upcoming Black Widow and The Eternals), we arrive at Best Supporting Actor.

If you missed my previous posts covering the lead performers in Actor and Actress, you can find them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/04/12/a-marvel-cinematic-oscar-history-best-actor/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/04/14/a-marvel-cinematic-oscar-history-best-actress/

Supporting Actor, of the four acting categories, contains the most nominees at 36. However, there are only 4 wins represented. As a reminder, the MCU has given us 110 total nominees and 20 golden recipients.

Let’s start with the four gentlemen who made a trip to the podium:

Sam Rockwell, who costarred in Iron Man 2, took gold in 2017 for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri 

Tommy Lee Jones, who appeared in Captain America: First Avenger, emerged victorious in 1993 for The Fugitive

Benicio del Toro, who memorably appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy, won in 2000 for Traffic

J.K. Simmons, who popped up in Spider-Man: Far From Home reprising his role as J. Jonah Jameson from the original Spidey trilogy, won in 2014 for Whiplash

And now the 29 additional performers who received nods:

Tony Stark himself, Robert Downey Jr., received a nomination in 2008 for Tropic Thunder

Jeff Bridges, the Iron Man villain, is a four-time nominee for 1971’s The Last Picture Show, 1974’s Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, 2000’s The Contender, and Hell or High Water in 2016

Samuel L. Jackson, who has played Nick Fury in numerous MCU entries, got a nod in 1994 for Pulp Fiction

Edward Norton, who was the Hulk before Mark Ruffalo, is a two-time nominee for 1996’s Primal Fear and 2014’s Birdman

Tim Roth, bad guy in Norton’s The Incredible Hulk, for 1995’s Rob Roy

William Hurt, whose MCU appearances also began in The Incredible Hulk, for 2005’s A History of Violence

Sam Rockwell was nominated a year after his Billboards win in 2018 for Vice

Anthony Hopkins, Thor’s dad, for 1997’s Amistad and last year’s The Two Popes

Stanley Tucci, also of Captain America: First Avenger, in 2010 for The Lovely Bones

Mark Ruffalo is a three-time nominee: 2010’s The Kids Are All Right, 2014’s Foxcatcher, and in 2015 for Spotlight

Jeremy Renner, aka Hawkeye, in 2010’s The Town

Ben Kingsley, from Iron Man 3, is a two-time mention for 1991’s Bugsy and 2001’s Sexy Beast

Benicio del Toro also received a nomination for 2003’s 21 Grams

Bradley Cooper, Rocket from Guardians of the Galaxy, for 2013’s American Hustle

Djimon Hounsou, who first appeared in Guardians, for both 2003’s In America and 2006’s Blood Diamond

John C. Reilly, another Guardians performer, for 2002’s Chicago

Josh Brolin, aka Thanos, for 2008’s Milk

Sylvester Stallone, who appeared in the Guardians sequel, for 2015’s Creed

Matt Damon, who had a cameo in Thor: Ragnarok, for Invictus in 2009

Jude Law, from Captain Marvel, received a nomination 20 years earlier for The Talented Mr. Ripley

Jake Gyllenhaal, villain for Spider-Man: Far From Home, for 2005’s Brokeback Mountain

And that does it for now, folks! I’ll have Supporting Actress up in short order…

 

 

Oscar Watch: Richard Jewell

Few directors have made two Best Picture Oscar winners, but Clint Eastwood did that with 1992’s Unforgiven and 2004’s Million Dollar Baby. The latter came along late in the year and shifted the conversation 15 years ago. So anytime Mr. Eastwood screens a potential contender in time for Academy consideration, it’s time to take notice. The AFI Film Festival premiered Richard Jewell last night and the biographical drama centers on the title character who was falsely accused of the 1996 Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta.

So what’s the verdict? Jewell is sporting an 89% Rotten Tomatoes score thus far, but critical reaction brings a question mark as to its viability. While some reviews indicate it could very well contend, others are a little more mixed.

Eastwood filmed his last nominee five years back with the massive hit American Sniper. Since then, his filmography of Sully, The 15:17 to Paris, and The Mule has garnered scant awards attention (save for a Sound Editing nod for Sully).

Chatter has focused on three performances. Paul Walter Hauser, memorable in supporting roles in I, Tonya and BlacKkKlansman, is garnering raves. Yet Best Actor is fiercely competitive in 2019. In my weekly predictions, he hasn’t been in the top ten as I’ve waited for reaction to come. I honestly feel all ten of my current possibilities could get in. Hauser will really need to gather momentum for any shot. It’s doable, but I feel it would be more doable in a different year.

The same can be said for Sam Rockwell as Jewell’s lawyer. Two years ago, the actor won Supporting Actor for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Last year, he was nominated again as George W. Bush in Vice. It would be a quite a story for him to get nods three years in a row. Like Hauser’s category, Supporting Actor is also chock full of contenders. I’m a bit skeptical he makes it as he might also split his own votes for his work in Jojo Rabbit. 

It could be Kathy Bates that manages to get in playing Jewell’s mother. That’s because Supporting Actress is not quite as packed as the races of her costars. Nearly three decades have passed since she won Best Actress for Misery. Bates has received two Supporting Actress recognitions since in 1998’s Primary Colors and 2002’s About Schmidt. 

So… how about the film itself and Eastwood? It’s certainly feasible that it nabs a Picture nomination, but it’s definitely an on the bubble candidate. Due to that, I’m not sure Eastwood can make the final five. He’ll just have to rest on his already considerable mantelpiece.

Bottom line: Richard Jewell put itself in the mix at AFI, but there’s also a chance it comes up empty handed. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…