Stillwater Review

Let me finish this page.

It’s a line uttered in a humorous way early on in Tom McCarthy’s Stillwater to Bill Baker (Matt Damon) by his mother-in-law trying to read her novel. He’s an Oklahoma oil rig worker living a mundane existence punctuated by extraordinary overseas excursions. Bill’s family circumstances are high-profile for such a low-profile man. Daughter Allison (Abigail Breslin) is in a French prison for the murder of her lover and roommate. Mom is tragically no longer in the picture. Mom-in-law seems to be footing most of the bill for Allison’s defense which appears hopeless after half a decade.

Bill is a stranger in a strange land each time he visits Allison, who steadfastly maintains her innocence. He’s searching for answers to free her and he has very few of them. They’re certainly not in French. Part of the struggle is his unwillingness to learn the language across the pond. Yet he also cannot seem to communicate well with his captive daughter and they both speak perfect English.

Stillwater attempts to be many things in its 140 minutes. It works best as a character study for Bill as he becomes more accustomed to his surroundings. This is especially true when he meets theater actress Virginie (Camille Cottin) and her adorable daughter Maya (Lilou Siauvaud). His relationship with Maya gives him a chance to be the father figure that he wasn’t before.

The screenplay makes a wise decision by presenting Bill as a deeply flawed, but determined seeker of truth. The unwise decisions that strained his relationship with Allison don’t stop in America. This isn’t Liam Neeson pulverizing European henchman on his way to saving the day. The script here has taken a far different route.

Where the picture occasionally struggles is with the thriller aspects. For a solid portion of the runtime, the case of Allison is an interesting enough one. There are obviously shades of the Amanda Knox international trial and imprisonment. Plot contrivances, especially in the third act, arise and they are familiar language for the genre. They serve somewhat as a barrier to Stillwater‘s overall success. Not every little twist and turn feels necessary. Perhaps some pages in this screenplay didn’t need to be finished.

Damon’s sturdy performance as Bill slowly moving towards a meaningful life keep this afloat – even if the procedural aspects of finding the real killers feels almost incidental.

*** (out of four)

Stillwater Box Office Prediction

Matt Damon is a Midwestern oil worker who treks to France to help his daughter (Abigail Breslin) on trial for murder in the crime drama Stillwater, out July 30th. Tom McCarthy (whose 2015 journalistic expose Spotlight) won Best Picture directs.

The pic recently debuted at the Cannes Film Festival to mostly positive notices. It stands at 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. Some reviews call it one of Damon’s finest performances and there’s even a chance he could garner awards buzz.

As far as box office prospects, I’m skeptical. I’m surprised Focus Features is putting this out in the heat of summer since this looks like more of a fall player. The counterargument could be that adults tired of sequels, sci-fi spectacles, family fare, and reboots will turn up. And certainly Damon’s star power helps.

That said, I suspect the verdict for Stillwater is a subpar start in the mid single digits.

Stillwater opening weekend prediction: $5.2 million

For my Jungle Cruise prediction, click here:

Jungle Cruise Box Office Prediction

For my The Green Knight prediction, click here:

The Green Knight Box Office Prediction

Oscar Watch: Stillwater

Matt Damon is a three-time nominee for his acting with leading nods for 1997’s Good Will Hunting and 2015’s The Martian and his supporting turn in 2009’s Invictus. He does have himself a gold statue for his cowriting of Hunting. The Cannes Film Festival has debuted his latest effort Stillwater where the Bourne star plays an Oklahoma dad transported to France when his daughter (Abigail Breslin, a nominee 15 years ago as Little Miss Sunshine) is accused of murder. So for those wondering – no, this is not about the fictional band from Almost Famous.

This marks the latest directorial effort from Tom McCarthy, whose 2015 journalistic expose Spotlight won Best Picture. Fun fact: McCarthy has to have one of the most unexpected follow-ups to a Best Pic recipient with the Disney Plus kiddie comedy Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made. 

Stillwater looks like more of an awards contender. However, Failure‘s 84% Rotten Tomatoes score currently outshines the 80% held by Damon’s French excursion. That said, early critical reaction is calling this one of the actor’s best performances.

Will that be enough to get Damon to the final five? I’m skeptical. Competition will likely be steep. This reminds me a bit of The Way Back from a year ago. It gave his Hunting writing partner Ben Affleck some of the strongest notices of his filmography and garnered him some buzz. Yet he ended up not making the cut.

Bottom line: Stillwater‘s only chance at Academy recognition seems to be with Damon, but he could face an uphill climb. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

2020 Oscar Predictions: October 1st Edition

As October begins, my weekly Oscar predictions get a major expansion as I am now including all categories covering feature length films! Additionally, I’m dwindling the listed prospects in all the top races. For Best Picture, it goes from 25 to 15. The directing, acting, and screenplay contests drop from 15 to 10. This is why you’ll see so many movies dropping out of contention.

Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch is rumored to be moving from the 2020 window. While this has yet to be confirmed, I have taken it out of the running at this time. Obviously once its release date is announced, I’ll adjust accordingly.

For the tech races and Animated Feature, International Film, and Documentary Feature – I’ve definitely learned that these estimates will be fluid over the next months. This is just a first glimpse at where my head’s at.

As for developments in the significant categories:

  • Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari makes it debut in my nine predicted Picture nominees and that takes out Pixar’s Soul (which is listed #1 in Animated Feature). The directing players remain the same.
  • I have switched Kingsley Ben-Adir’s performance in One Night in Miami from Supporting Actor to lead. He makes the five and that drops Tom Hanks in News of the World. The Best Actress estimates remain.
  • The Supporting Actress nominees also stay intact. However, Ben-Adir’s shift in Supporting Actor means I am now including three actors from The Trial of the Chicago 7: Mark Rylance, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Sacha Baron Cohen. I’m not at all confident this happens, but it’s where I am at the moment. I now have Leslie Odom, Jr. as the representative from One Night in Miami in the race. Lakeith Stanfield moves away from the top five.
  • There are no changes in the screenplay predictions.

As a bonus, I am including how many nominees from my initial full predictions in 2019 ended up getting nominated in each race to give you an idea of historical accuracy. I will note that I didn’t expand my estimates last year until October 17th, so I did have a bit more to go on.

And with all that, let’s get to it!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

4. News of the World (PR: 4)

5. One Night in Miami (PR: 5)

6. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 8)

7. The Father (PR: 6)

8. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 7)

9. Minari (PR: 12)

Other Possibilities:

10. Soul (PR: 9)

11. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 11)

12. Dune (PR: 10)

13. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 13)

14. Ammonite (PR: 16)

15. The White Tiger (PR: 14)

2019 OCTOBER ACCURACY: 8/9

Dropped Out:

The French Dispatch

Stillwater

The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Respect

The Midnight Sky

Annette

Next Goal Wins

Red, White and Water

C’Mon C’Mon

French Exit 

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. David Fincher, Mank (PR: 1)

2. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Paul Greengrass, News of the World (PR: 3)

4. Regina King, One Night in Miami (PR: 5)

5. Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Florian Zeller, The Father (PR: 6)

7. George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 8)

8. Lee Isaac Chung, Minari (PR: 11)

9. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 7)

10. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah

Ron Howard, Hillbilly Elegy 

Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch

Ramin Bahrani, The White Tiger

Tom McCarthy, Stillwater

2019 OCTOBER ACCURACY: 4/5

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

2. Frances McDormand, Nomadland (PR: 1)

3. Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 3)

4. Kate Winslet, Ammonite (PR: 4)

5. Michele Pfeiffer, French Exit (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 6)

7. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 7)

8. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 8)

9. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (PR: 11)

10. Meryl Streep, The Prom (PR: 9)

2019 OCTOBER ACCURACY: 4/5

Dropped Out:

Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead

Jennifer Lawrence, Red, White and Water

Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Rachel Brosnahan, I’m Your Woman

Marion Cotillard, Annette

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Anthony Hopkins, The Father (PR: 1)

2. Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods (PR 2)

3. Gary Oldman, Mank (PR: 3)

4. Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (PR: Not Ranked)

5. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Tom Hanks, News of the World (PR: 5)

7. Steven Yeun, Minari (PR: 8)

8. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (PR: 12)

9. Matt Damon, Stillwater (PR: 6)

10. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 7)

2019 OCTOBER ACCURACY: 4/5

Dropped Out:

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Courier

Michael Fassbender, Next Goal Wins

Adam Driver, Annette

Trevante Rhodes, The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Andrew Garfield, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Ben Affleck, The Way Back

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 1)

2. Olivia Colman, The Father (PR: 2)

3. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite (PR: 3)

4. Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 5)

5. Helena Zengel, News of the World (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Amanda Seyfried, Mank (PR: 6)

7. Audra McDonald, Respect (PR: 7)

8. Lily Collins, Mank (PR: 14)

9. Natasha Lyonne, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)

10. Abigail Breslin, Stillwater (PR: 8)

2019 OCTOBER ACCURACY: 2/5

Dropped Out:

Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans

Mary J. Blige, Respect

Toni Collette, I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Gaby Hoffman, C’Mon C’Mon

Kristin Scott Thomas, Rebecca

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

3. Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami (PR: 7)

4. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 6)

5. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Bill Murray, On the Rocks (PR: 8)

7. Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 5)

8. Tom Pelphrey, Mank (PR: 9)

9. Jonathan Majors, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 12)

10. David Strathairn, Nomadland (PR: 11)

2019 OCTOBER ACCURACY: 4/5

Dropped Out:

Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (moved to Lead Actor)

Frank Langella, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Richard Jenkins, The Humans

Tom Burke, Mank

Charles Dance, Mank 

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 2)

3. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

4. Soul (PR: 3)

5. Minari (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. On the Rocks (PR: 11)

7. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 6)

8. Ammonite (PR: 9)

9. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 10)

10. Stillwater (PR: 8)

2019 OCTOBER ACCURACY: 3/5

Dropped Out:

The French Dispatch

Respect

Pieces of a Woman

Red, White and Water

Never Rarely Sometimes Always 

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. One Night in Miami (PR: 2)

3. The Father (PR: 3)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 5)

5. News of the World (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 6)

7. Dune (PR: 8)

8. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 7)

9. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 9)

10. French Exit (PR: 10)

2019 OCTOBER ACCURACY: 4/5

Dropped Out:

The White Tiger

Next Goal Wins

The Humans

First Cow

The Midnight Sky

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soul 

2. Over the Moon

3. Wolfwalkers

4. Onward

5. The Croods: A New Age

Other Possibilities:

6. The Willoughbys

7. Connected

8. Rumble

9. Trolls World Tour

10. Ride Your Wave

2019 OCTOBER ACCURACY: 3/5

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Crip Camp

2. Boys State

3. All In: The Fight for Democracy

4. Dick Johnson is Dead

5. Spaceship Earth

Other Possibilities:

6. John Lewis: Good Trouble

7. MLK/FBI

8. The Truffle Hunters

9. Miss Americana

10. On the Record

2019 OCTOBER ACCURACY: 2/5

Best International Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. Quo Vadis, Aida?

2. The Disciple

3. Night of the Kings

4. Ema

5. Atlantis

Other Possibilities:

6. Another Round

7. The Life Ahead

8. Young Ahmed

9. A Sun

10. Memory House 

2019 OCTOBER ACCURACY: 3/5

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank

2. Nomadland

3. News of the World

4. Dune

5. The Trial of the Chicago 7

Other Possibilities:

6. Da 5 Bloods

7. One Night in Miami

8. Judas and the Black Messiah

9. Ammonite

10. Tenet

2019 OCTOBER ACCURACY: 4/5

Best Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank 

2. The Trial of the Chicago 7

3. Emma

4. Dune

5. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Other Possibilities:

6. Coming 2 America

7. Ammonite

8. News of the World

9. Mulan

10. The Personal History of David Copperfield

2019 OCTOBER ACCURACY: 2/5

Best Film Editing

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7

2. Mank

3. News of the World

4. Nomadland

5. Dune

Other Possibilities:

6. Da 5 Bloods

7. One Night in Miami

8. Tenet

9. Judas and the Black Messiah

10. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

2019 OCTOBER ACCURACY: 3/5

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank

2. Dune

3. Birds of Prey

4. Coming 2 America

5. Mulan

Other Possibilities:

6. The Trial of the Chicago 7

7. No Time to Die

8. Emma

9. Wonder Woman 1984

10. Ammonite

2019 OCTOBER ACCURACY: 2/5

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank

2. Soul

3. Da 5 Bloods

4. The Trial of the Chicago 7

5. Dune

Other Possibilities:

6. News of the World

7. The Midnight Sky

8. One Night in Miami

9. Over the Moon

10. Tenet

2019 OCTOBER ACCURACY: 4/5

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

1. “No Time to Die” from No Time to Die

2. “Free” from The One and Only Ivan

3. “Only the Young” from Miss Americana

4. “Hear My Voice” from The Trial of the Chicago 7

5. “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami

Other Possibilities:

6. “Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

7. “Rocket to the Moon” from Over the Moon

8. “Carried Me with You” from Onward

9. “Never Break” from Giving Voice

10. “See What You’ve Done” from Belly of the Beast

2019 OCTOBER ACCURACY: 3/5

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank

2. Dune

3. News of the World

4. Mulan

5. The Trial of the Chicago 7

Other Possibilities:

6. Ammonite

7. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

8. One Night in Miami

9. Tenet

10. Judas and the Black Messiah

2019 OCTOBER ACCURACY: 4/5

Best Sound

Predicted Nominees:

1. Tenet

2. Dune

3. Soul

4. Sound of Metal

5. Respect

Other Possibilities:

6. The Invisible Man

7. News of the World

8. No Time to Die

9. The Trial of the Chicago 7

10. Wonder Woman 1984

2019 OCTOBER ACCURACY: N/A – CATEGORY WAS SPLIT BETWEEN SOUND EDITING & SOUND MIXING

 

Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune

2. Tenet

3. Greyhound

4. Wonder Woman 1984

5. The Invisible Man

Other Possibilities:

6. Mulan

7. The Call of the Wild

8. No Time to Die

9. Free Guy

10. Birds of Prey

2019 OCTOBER ACCURACY: 4/5

And that gives us our first breakdown of how many nominations I believe we will see for each picture:

12 Nominations

The Trial of the Chicago 7

10 Nominations

Mank

8 Nominations

Dune

7 Nominations

News of the World

6 Nominations

Nomadland, One Night in Miami

5 Nominations

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

4 Nominations

Da 5 Bloods, The Father, Soul

2 Nominations

Ammonite, Minari, Mulan, Pieces of a Woman, Tenet

1 Nomination

All In: The Fight for Democracy, Atlantis, Birds of Prey, Boys State, Coming 2 America, Crip Camp, The Croods: A New Age, Dick Johnson is Dead, The Disciple, Ema, Emma, French Exit, Greyhound, Hillbilly Elegy, The Invisible Man, Judas and the Black Messiah, Miss Americana, Night of the Kings, No Time to Die, The One and Only Ivan, Onward, Over the Moon, Quo Vadis, Aida?, Respect, Sound of Metal, Spaceship Earth, Wolfwalkers, Wonder Woman 1984

Back at it next week, folks!

2020 Oscar Predictions: September 24th Edition

It’s a new week for Oscar predicting and there’s been some significant developments over the past seven days!

Of particular note is the news that Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story has been pushed back to December 2021. You will see it drop off all the categories where I had it as a possibility and that includes Picture (where I had it the final 9), Director, Actress, Supporting Actress, and Adapted Screenplay.

I am also jumping off the Dune train for now. Part of this is uncertainty as to whether it will be released by the February deadline. The other part is general uncertainty if it’s Oscar material. Hopefully we will find out sooner than later. I still have it listed as a possibility in Picture, Director, and Adapted Screenplay, but I’m holding judgment on having it make the final cut.

Now to the pictures that look like they will be released and we begin with The Trial of the Chicago 7. The Aaron Sorkin courtroom drama held industry screenings this week and the verdict is quite positive. It appears to be a shoo-in for a Picture nomination. I’m still listing it at #3 behind the unscreened Mank and Nomadland, but Trial is a threat to win the whole thing as I see it. Sorkin moves into the top five in directing. He replaces Dune maker Denis Villeneuve.

As for the actors in Trial, early reaction appears focused on four of them in the sprawling cast: Yahya Abdul Mateen II, Sacha Baron Cohen, Frank Langella, and Mark Rylance. I’m currently assuming everyone will be campaigned for in Supporting Actor, but that could always change. For the moment, I have Cohen and Rylance getting in (I struggled with this). In my Oscar Watch post, I even mentioned that three actors could make it. If that were to occur, we would see the first Supporting Actor competition with three performers from the same feature since The Godfather Part II in 1974. My shift to thinking it’s all a supporting play by Netflix takes Eddie Redmayne out of contention in the lead derby.

My Dune drop and the West Side delay means there are two new pics in my estimated nine Best Picture nominees. The risers are Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Pixar’s Soul.

In other developments:

  • Sofia Coppola’s On the Rocks, which reunites the director with her Lost in Translation star Bill Murray, opened the New York Film Festival. Reviews were mostly positive. If Supporting Actor weren’t so potentially crowded, I may have put Murray in my five (he sits in 8th). He could get in, but I also posited the theory that Apple TV might be wise to compete for him in lead actor because the Golden Globes would likely take notice in their Musical/Comedy race.
  • I wrote an Oscar Watch post for the documentary John Lewis: Good Trouble, which could absolutely be a factor in Documentary Feature. You can find my Watch write-ups for Trial, Rocks, and Trouble all linked below.
  • My Best Actress and Actor five remain the same from last week. Same with Supporting Actress.
  • In Supporting Actor, the aforementioned Rylance rises and that takes out his costar Mateen II for Trial.
  • In Original Screenplay, it’s Minari in and Judas and the Black Messiah out. The Adapted Screenplay five stays intact.

Finally, you will see big changes next Thursday with my predictions! First off – all categories covering feature films will be added from Animated Feature to Documentary Feature and International Feature to the tech races.

There will also be a dwindling of the numbers. My 25 Picture estimates will drop to 15 with all other races shrinking to ten predictions. It’s gettin’ serious, folks!

Here are the links to this week’s individualized Oscar Watch posts:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/22/oscar-watch-the-trial-of-the-chicago-7/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/22/oscar-watch-on-the-rocks/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/21/oscar-watch-john-lewis-good-trouble/

Give me a follow on Twitter @tthizz as I’m posting Oscar related polls. For example, 90% of respondents agree with me that Trial will nab a Best Picture nod. 59% believe Bill Murray will not be nominated for Supporting Actor.

And here we go with this Thursday’s estimates!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

4. News of the World (PR: 4)

5. One Night in Miami (PR: 5)

6. The Father (PR: 9)

7. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 7)

8. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 10)

9. Soul (PR: 12)

Other Possibilities:

10. Dune (PR: 4)

11. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 14)

12. Minari (PR: 16)

13. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 11)

14. The White Tiger (PR: Not Ranked)

15. The French Dispatch (PR: 15)

16. Ammonite (PR: 13)

17. Stillwater (PR: 17)

18. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 19)

19. Respect (PR: 20)

20. The Midnight Sky (PR: 23)

21. Annette (PR: 18)

22. Next Goal Wins (PR: 21)

23. Red, White and Water (PR: 22)

24. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 25)

25. French Exit (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

West Side Story

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. David Fincher, Mank (PR: 1)

2. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Paul Greengrass, News of the World (PR: 3)

4. Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 6)

5. Regina King, One Night in Miami (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Florian Zeller, The Father (PR: 7)

7. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 8)

8. George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 10)

9. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 4)

10. Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 11)

11. Lee Isaac Chung, Minari (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Ron Howard, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 12)

13. Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch (PR: 14)

14. Ramin Bahrani, The White Tiger (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Tom McCarthy, Stillwater (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Steven Spielberg, West Side Story 

Francis Lee, Ammonite

Best Actress 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Frances McDormand, Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

3. Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 4)

4. Kate Winslet, Ammonite (PR: 3)

5. Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 6)

7. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 7)

8. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 10)

9. Meryl Streep, The Prom (PR: 11)

10. Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead (PR: 14)

11. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (PR: 9)

12. Jennifer Lawrence, Red, White and Water (PR: 13)

13. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 12)

14. Rachel Brosnahan, I’m Your Woman (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Marion Cotillard, Annette (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Rachel Zeller, West Side Story 

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Anthony Hopkins, The Father (PR: 1)

2. Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 2)

3. Gary Oldman, Mank (PR: 3)

4. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 4)

5. Tom Hanks, News of the World (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Matt Damon, Stillwater (PR: 7)

7. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 8)

8. Steven Yeun, Minari (PR: 10)

9. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Courier (PR: 12)

10. Michael Fassbender, Next Goal Wins (PR: 11)

11. Adam Driver, Annette (PR: 9)

12. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (PR: 15)

13. Trevante Rhodes, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 13)

14. Andrew Garfield, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 14)

15. Ben Affleck, The Way Back (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Eddie Redmayne, The Trial of the Chicago 7 

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 1)

2. Olivia Colman, The Father (PR: 2)

3. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite (PR: 3)

4. Helena Zengel, News of the World (PR: 4)

5. Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Amanda Seyfried, Mank (PR: 6)

7. Audra McDonald, Respect (PR: 8)

8. Abigail Breslin, Stillwater (PR: 10)

9. Natasha Lyonne, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)

10. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 11)

11. Mary J. Blige, Respect (PR: 14)

12. Toni Collette, I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 12)

13. Gaby Hoffman, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 13)

14. Lily Collins, Mank (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Kristin Scott Thomas, Rebecca (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Ariana Debose, West Side Story

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (PR: 3)

3. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 2)

4. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 14)

5. Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6.  Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

7. Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami (PR: 6)

8. Bill Murray, On the Rocks (PR: 13)

9. Tom Pelphrey, Mank (PR: 10)

10. Frank Langella, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: Not Ranked)

11. David Strathairn, Nomadland (PR: 7)

12. Jonathan Majors, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 11)

13. Richard Jenkins, The Humans (PR: 12)

14. Tom Burke, Mank (PR: 9)

15. Charles Dance, Mank (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Jeremy Strong, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Glynn Turman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom 

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 2)

3. Soul (PR: 4)

4. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 3)

5. Minari (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

6. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 5)

7. The French Dispatch (PR: 6)

8. Stillwater (PR: 8)

9. Ammonite (PR: 7)

10. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 10)

11. On the Rocks (PR: 13)

12. Respect (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Pieces of a Woman (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Red, White and Water (PR: 14)

15. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (PR: 11)

Dropped Out:

Promising Young Woman

Palm Springs

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. One Night in Miami (PR: 4)

3. The Father (PR: 2)

4. News of the World (PR: 3)

5. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 7)

7. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 13)

8. Dune (PR: 6)

9. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 8)

10. French Exit (PR: 12)

11. The White Tiger (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Next Goal Wins (PR: 10)

13. The Humans (PR: 11)

14. First Cow (PR: 14)

15. The Midnight Sky (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

West Side Story

The Prom 

2020 Oscar Predictions: September 17th Edition

The Toronto and Venice Film Festivals have resulted in a number of Oscar Watch posts from last Thursday to now! And that means some changes are to be discussed.

The most notable film to debut was Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland, which solidified itself as a major contender in Best Picture, Director, Actress (Frances McDormand), and Adapted Screenplay. In fact, the pic remains firmly in 2nd place in Picture and Director and #1 with its screenplay based on its sterling critical reaction. McDormand, meanwhile, jumps to #1 in Actress. Time will tell if she remains atop the chart, but it seems a given that she’ll vie for her third win in the category.

News was more mixed for Francis Lee’s Ammonite. The mixed reaction to it has caused me to drop it from my nine predicted Picture nominees and from Original Screenplay. Yet Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan remain in my top five in the actress categories.

There were six other titles that I penned Oscar Watch posts about. None of them show up anywhere below. This includes the work of Rosamund Pike (I Care a Lot) and Naomi Watts (Penguin Bloom) and Mark Wahlberg in Good Joe Bell. It’s not impossible that they could surface later, but I’m not confident at the moment. As for Bell, perhaps the supporting work of Reid Miller could have a chance to enter my 15 names in Supporting Actor. When I expand my predictions to all categories covering feature pics in October, expect to see Wolfwalkers as it appears to be a shoo-in nominee in Best Animated Feature.

You can find all my posts from the past week here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/11/oscar-watch-nomadland/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/12/oscar-watch-ammonite/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/12/oscar-watch-the-devil-all-the-time/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/13/oscar-watch-wolfwalkers/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/13/oscar-watch-penguin-bloom/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/13/oscar-watch-i-care-a-lot/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/13/oscar-watch-concrete-cowboy/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/15/oscar-watch-good-joe-bell/

Let’s quickly walk through the latest changes and developments:

  • With Ammonite now falling from my nine predicted Picture nominees, that makes room for Florian Zeller’s The Father to make my final cut for the first time.
  • My 5 Director nominees remains unchanged, as does Best Actor. It is worth mentioning that there’s some talk that Kingsley Ben-Adir from One Night in Miami could be campaigned for in the lead race. This follows rumors of the same happening for Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. If that were to occur, it would absolutely upend my projections. For now, I’m keeping them both in supporting. Also – Clayton Davis of Variety confirmed today that Delroy Lindo will compete in the lead actor race for Da 5 Bloods. 
  • In addition to McDormand taking over the top spot in Actress over Viola Davis in Ma Rainey, I’m adding Vanessa Kirby’s work in Pieces of a Woman to my top 5. That means Jennifer Hudson in Respect drops out.
  • There’s a similar storyline in Supporting Actress with Ellen Burstyn in my five over Amanda Seyfried in Mank. Furthermore, Saoirse Ronan’s aforementioned work in Ammonite drops from #1 to #3 so we have Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy) in first. At #2? Olivia Colman in The Father and that could make for a juicy race as Colman upset Close in lead actress two years ago.
  • While Nomadland definitely nabbed major Oscar buzz, the supporting performance from David Strathairn may not be big enough. He drops from #2 to outside the top five and that means Lakeith Stanfield (Judas and the Black Messiah) is back in.
  • I mentioned Ammonite had dropped from Original Screenplay and that is also to the benefit of Messiah.
  • The five Adapted Screenplay estimates stay the same.
  • Finally, while there’s no confirmation and this could change back, I’m shifting Meryl Streep from supporting to lead for The Prom. She has yet to make the five.

And with that, let’s get to it!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

4. News of the World (PR: 5)

5. One Night in Miami (PR: 6)

6. Dune (PR: 4)

7. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 8)

8. West Side Story (PR: 9)

9. The Father (PR: 11)

Other Possibilities:

10. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 10)

11. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 13)

12. Soul (PR: 12)

13. Ammonite (PR: 7)

14. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 14)

15. The French Dispatch (PR: 15)

16. Minari (PR: 16)

17. Stillwater (PR: 17)

18. Annette (PR: 18)

19. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 19)

20. Respect (PR: 22)

21. Next Goal Wins (PR: 20)

22. Red, White and Water (PR: 21)

23. The Midnight Sky (PR: Not Ranked)

24. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (PR: Not Ranked)

25. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

French Exit

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

I’m Thinking of Ending Things 

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. David Fincher, Mank (PR: 1)

2. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Paul Greengrass, News of the World (PR: 4)

4. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 3)

5. Regina King, One Night in Miami (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 6)

7. Florian Zeller, The Father (PR: 11)

8. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods, (PR: 7)

9. Steven Spielberg, West Side Story (PR: 9)

10. George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 10)

11. Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 13)

12. Ron Howard, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 12)

13. Francis Lee, Ammonite (PR: 8)

14. Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch (PR: 14)

15. Tom McCarthy, Stillwater (PR: 15)

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Frances McDormand, Nomadland (PR: 2)

2. Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

3. Kate Winslet, Ammonite (PR: 3)

4. Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 8)

5. Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 6)

7. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 5)

8. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story (PR: 9)

9. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (PR: 7)

10. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 10)

11. Meryl Streep, The Prom (PR: Not Ranked – moved from Supporting)

12. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 13)

13. Jennifer Lawrence, Red, White and Water (PR: 11)

14. Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead (PR: 14)

15. Marion Cotillard, Annette (PR: 12)

Dropped Out:

Elisabeth Moss, Shirley

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Anthony Hopkins, The Father (PR: 1)

2. Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 2)

3. Gary Oldman, Mank (PR: 3)

4. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 4)

5. Tom Hanks, News of the World (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Eddie Redmayne, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 6)

7. Matt Damon, Stillwater (PR: 7)

8. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 8)

9. Adam Driver, Annette (PR: 9)

10. Steven Yeun, Minari (PR: 11)

11. Michael Fassbender, Next Goal Wins (PR: 10)

12. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Courier (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Trevante Rhodes, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 12)

14. Andrew Garfield, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 13)

15. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Ansel Elgort, West Side Story

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 2)

2. Olivia Colman, The Father (PR: 3)

3. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite (PR: 1)

4. Helena Zengel, News of the World (PR: 4)

5. Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 15)

Other Possibilities:

6. Amanda Seyfried, Mank (PR: 5)

7. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story (PR: 6)

8. Audra McDonald, Respect (PR: 10)

9. Natasha Lyonne, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 7)

10. Abigail Breslin, Stillwater (PR: 8)

11. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 12)

12. Toni Collette, I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 11)

13. Gaby Hoffman, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Mary J. Blige, Respect (PR: 14)

15. Kristin Scott Thomas, Rebecca (PR: 13)

Dropped Out:

Meryl Streep, The Prom (moved to lead)

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 5)

3. Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (PR: 4)

4. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

5. Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami (PR: Not Ranked)

7. David Strathairn, Nomadland (PR: 2)

8. Jeremy Strong, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 7)

9. Tom Burke, Mank (PR: 11)

10. Tom Pelphrey, Mank (PR: 10)

11. Jonathan Majors, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 13)

12. Richard Jenkins, The Humans (PR: 12)

13. Bill Murray, On the Rocks (PR: 8)

14. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 9)

15. Glynn Turman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Brian Tyree Henry, Red, White and Water 

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 2)

3. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 5)

4. Soul (PR: 4)

5. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. The French Dispatch (PR: 6)

7. Ammonite (PR: 3)

8. Stillwater (PR: 9)

9. Minari (PR: 7)

10. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 11)

11. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (PR: 15)

12. Promising Young Woman (PR: 10)

13. On the Rocks (PR: 13)

14. Red, White and Water (PR: 12)

15. Palm Springs (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Annette

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. The Father (PR: 5)

3. News of the World (PR: 2)

4. One Night in Miami (PR: 3)

5. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Dune (PR: 6)

7. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 7)

8. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 9)

9. West Side Story (PR: 8)

10. Next Goal Wins (PR: 11)

11. The Humans (PR: 13)

12. French Exit (PR: 10)

13. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 12)

14. First Cow (PR: 15)

15. The Prom (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Respect 

2020 Oscar Predictions: September 10th Edition

We have arrived at the third week for my Thursday Oscar predictions in the eight major categories and the biggest change so far can be summed up in four words: One Night in Miami.

The historical drama, which marks the debut feature film from actress Regina King, made waves when it screened this week at the Venice Film Festival. It has vaulted into the following categories for a nomination prediction: Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, and Adapted Screenplay.

As for that supporting race, there are actually four contenders vying for attention. I’m currently giving the nod to Kingsley Ben-Adir for his portrayal of Malcolm X over his costars Leslie Odom, Jr. (Sam Cooke), Eli Goree (Cassius Clay), and Aldis Hodge (Jim Brown). Yet this could be a fluid situation and don’t be surprised if those other performers make their way to the list in future postings.

Speaking of the supporting actor race, there has been some speculation that the late Chadwick Boseman may actually be campaigned for in the lead Actor competition with Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. As for now, I’m keeping him ranked first in Supporting Actor. We’ll see what transpires in the weeks ahead. If Boseman does go lead, it could open the door for Glynn Turman to get a supporting nod for the picture.

As for the week that was, my Oscar Watch posts focused on Miami, as well as some other titles that debuted as Venice. Most noteworthy is Pieces of a Woman, which has caused some chatter for its lead Vanessa Kirby and her costar Ellen Burstyn. Kirby also costars in The World to Come, which garnered solid reviews but isn’t identified in my current rankings. Other write-ups this week included The Duke (which could catch the attention of the Golden Globes for Jim Broadbent) and the heist comedic drama Kajillionaire. You can read all those detailed posts here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/07/oscar-watch-one-night-in-miami/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/07/oscar-watch-pieces-of-a-woman/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/07/oscar-watch-the-world-to-come/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/05/oscar-watch-the-duke/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/09/oscar-watch-kajillionaire/

With Venice still rolling along and the Toronto Film Festival set to open, this Friday will see the initial screenings of two major contenders – Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland and Francis Lee’s Ammonite. Expect Oscar Watch posts on both hopefuls this weekend.

The loser of the week is Tenet. I’ve taken it out of consideration for Picture, Director, and Original Screenplay. On the flip side, expect to see its name pop up again in October when I begin estimating all feature film races as it will surely nab some tech nods.

As for other developments since last Thursday:

  • My eight predicted Best Picture nominees from the past two weeks remains the same, but now it’s become nine with the addition of One Night in Miami.
  • Regina King’s inclusion in Best Director knocks out Aaron Sorkin for The Trial of the Chicago 7.
  • My five Best Actress predictions remains the same, Both Vanessa Kirby and Jennifer Lawrence (Red, White and Water) join the overall mix with Julianne Moore (The Glorias) and Jessie Buckley (I’m Thinking of Ending Things) falling out.
  • Anthony Hopkins (The Father) takes over the #1 spot over Delroy Lindo (Da 5 Bloods) in Best Actor. There are no changes in the top five. Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal) makes his first appearance at #14 with Jesse Plemons (I’m Thinking of Ending Things) dropping out of the top 15.
  • Amanda Seyfried (Mank) enters the top 5 in Supporting Actress over Ariana DeBose for West Side Story. Ellen Burstyn enters the fold at #15 with Debra Winger’s work in Kajillionaire exiting the top 15.
  • As mentioned, Kingsley Ben-Adir vaults from 12th to 4th in Supporting Actor and he replaces Lakeith Stanfield in Judas and the Black Messiah. The top 15 marks the first appearances for Brian Tyree Henry (Red, White and Water) and Glynn Turman for Ma Rainey. Dropping out are Lucas Hedges in French Exit and David Alvarez in West Side Story. 
  • In Original Screenplay, Never Sometimes Rarely Always gets its first mention since Tenet travels out of the race.
  • In Adapted Screenplay, One Night in Miami gets in over Dune in the top 5. First Cow makes its inaugural appearance in 14th with The Eyes of Tammy Faye dropping.

You can read the full slate of guesstimates here:

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

4. Dune (PR: 4)

5. News of the World (PR: 5)

6. One Night in Miami (PR: 13)

7. Ammonite (PR: 6)

8. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 7)

9. West Side Story (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

10. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 9)

11. The Father (PR: 16)

12. Soul (PR: 10)

13. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 14)

14. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 11)

15. The French Dispatch (PR: 12)

16. Minari (PR: 15)

17. Stillwater (PR: 18)

18. Annette (PR: 17)

19. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 19)

20. Next Goal Wins (PR: 23)

21. Red, White and Water (PR: Not Ranked)

22. Respect (PR: 20)

23. French Exit (PR: 24)

24. Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (PR: Not Ranked)

25. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 25)

Dropped Out:

Tenet

The Midnight Sky 

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. David Fincher, Mank (PR: 1)

2. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 3)

4. Paul Greengrass, News of the World (PR: 5)

5. Regina King, One Night in Miami (PR: 10)

Other Possibilities:

6. Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

7. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 6)

8. Francis Lee, Ammonite (PR: 7)

9. Steven Spielberg, West Side Story (PR: 8)

10. George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 11)

11. Florian Zeller, The Father (PR: 14)

12. Ron Howard, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 12)

13. Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 13)

14. Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch (PR: 9)

15. Tom McCarthy, Stillwater (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Christopher Nolan, Tenet

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Frances McDormand, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Kate Winslet, Ammonite (PR: 3)

4. Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit (PR: 4)

5. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 6)

7. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (PR: 7)

8. Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story (PR: 8)

10. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)

11. Jennifer Lawrence, Red, White and Water (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Marion Cotillard, Annette (PR: 11)

13. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 10)

14. Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead (PR: 15)

15. Elisabeth Moss, Shirley (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Julianne Moore, The Glorias

Jessie Buckley, I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Anthony Hopkins, The Father (PR: 2)

2. Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 1)

3. Gary Oldman, Mank (PR: 3)

4. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 4)

5. Tom Hanks, News of the World (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Eddie Redmayne, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 6)

7. Matt Damon, Stillwater (PR: 8)

8. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 7)

9. Adam Driver, Annette (PR: 9)

10. Michael Fassbender, Next Goal Wins (PR: 11)

11. Steven Yeun, Minari (PR: 10)

12. Trevante Rhodes, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 13)

13. Andrew Garfield, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 12)

14. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Ansel Elgort, West Side Story (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Jesse Plemons, I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite (PR: 1)

2. Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 2)

3. Olivia Colman, The Father (PR: 3)

4. Helena Zengel, News of the World (PR: 4)

5. Amanda Seyfried, Mank (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story (PR: 5)

7. Natasha Lyonne, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 10)

8. Abigail Breslin, Stillwater (PR: 9)

9. Meryl Streep, The Prom (PR: 7)

10. Audra McDonald, Respect (PR: 11)

11. Toni Collette, I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 8)

12. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 12)

13. Kristin Scott Thomas, Rebecca (PR: 15)

14. Mary J. Blige, Respect (PR: 14)

15. Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Debra Winger, Kajillionaire 

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. David Strathairn, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

4. Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (PR: 12)

5. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 5)

7. Jeremy Strong, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 10)

8. Bill Murray, On the Rocks (PR: 7)

9. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 9)

10. Tom Pelphrey, Mank (PR: 6)

11. Tom Burke, Mank (PR: 8)

12. Richard Jenkins, The Humans (PR: 11)

13. Jonathan Majors, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 14)

14. Brian Tyree Henry, Red, White and Water (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Glynn Turman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Lucas Hedges, French Exit

David Alvarez, West Side Story 

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 2)

3. Ammonite (PR: 3)

4. Soul (PR: 5)

5. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. The French Dispatch (PR: 6)

7. Minari (PR: 7)

8. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 8)

9. Stillwater (PR: 9)

10. Promising Young Woman (PR: 10)

11. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 12)

12. Red, White and Water (PR: 14)

13. On the Rocks (PR: 13)

14. Annette (PR: 11)

15. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Tenet

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. News of the World (PR: 2)

3. One Night in Miami (PR: 9)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 5)

5. The Father (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Dune (PR: 3)

7. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 6)

8. West Side Story (PR: 8)

9. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 7)

10. French Exit (PR: 11)

11. Next Goal Wins (PR: 12)

12. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 10)

13. The Humans (PR: 13)

14. First Cow (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Respect (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

The Eyes of Tammy Faye 

And that does it for now, folks! I’ll be back at it next Thursday…

Early 2020 Oscar Predictions: Best Director

My first round of Oscar predictions in this topsy turvy time known as 2020 arrives at Best Director. If you missed my initial take on the four acting races, you can find them all here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/08/11/early-2020-oscar-predictions-best-actress/

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/

I’ve already discussed the challenges of making these August projections and many of them are the same as any other year. Yet it’s even trickier now due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ever shifting release dates that accompany it. This is why I’ve left off Wes Anderson and The French Dispatch as its premiere is especially in flux. If word comes out in the near future to its unveiling, he would almost certainly be in the top 15.

Some of the pictures and their makers listed here will (at least right now) be seen in the next few weeks at festivals. As for Tenet, the latest from Christopher Nolan is expected to be out in limited fashion stateside by month’s end.

2019 was a bit more stable and I correctly identified 4 of the eventual 5 nominees in my first late summer predictions. That includes winner Bong Joon-Ho (Parasite), Sam Mendes (1917), Martin Scorsese, (The Irishman), and Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood). My only miss was Todd Phillips for Joker and I didn’t even have him in the 10 other possibilities.

Let’s get to it with my introductory look at the players vying for behind the camera accolades!

EARLY OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST DIRECTOR

David Fincher, Mank

Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods

Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Denis Villeneuve, Dune

Chloe Zhao, Nomadland

Other Possibilities:

Sofia Coppola, On the Rocks

Paul Greengrass, News of the World

Ron Howard, Hillbilly Elegy

Charlie Kaufman, I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah

Francis Lee, Ammonite

Tom McCarthy, Stillwater

Mike Mills, C’Mon C’Mon

Christopher Nolan, Tenet

Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

I’ll have the big daddy of them all – Best Picture – up in short order! Stay tuned…

A Boost for The Revenant

Last night, the Directors Guild of America bestowed their Best Director honor and it went to Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for his work in The Revenant. It follows his win at the Golden Globes. This is the second year in a row that the DGA has honored Mr. Inarritu after his victory for Birdman in 2014.

So what does this mean for the Oscars taking place three weeks from today? Well, it certainly gives Inarritu a leg up over over his competitors George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road), Adam McKay (The Big Short), Tom McCarthy (Spotlight), and Lenny Abrahamson (Room). The DGA winner and Oscar winner have matched 21 out of 25 times since 1990. That’s 84%, folks. It is probably reasonable to say that he is the front runner to win come Oscar night. If so, he will be the first auteur to win back to back golden statues in 65 years, since Joseph L. Mankiewicz in 1949 and 1950.

As for whether that translates to a Best Picture win for The Revenant, that question is murkier. While the Picture recipient matches up more often than not with the Director victor, that hasn’t been the case for two of the last three years. While Inarritu’s Birdman did win the big prize a year ago, Ang Lee took Director in 2012 for Life of Pi while Argo won Picture. In 2013, Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity work made him a winner while 12 Years a Slave took Picture. As I see it, 2015’s Picture race is still a close call between The Revenant, Spotlight, and The Big Short.

Bottom line: the DGA provided a boost for The Revenant’s maker to be honored in three weeks for the second time in as many years.

Spotlight Movie Review

“If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one.”

This line best encapsulates the theme of Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight, which matter of factly tells the riveting true story of the Boston Globe’s slow uncovering of the Catholic Church priest sex abuse scandal. It also tells a small town coverup tale and that “small town” is Boston, where some of the reporters run in the same circles of the church hierarchy and people who protect them.

Spotlight refers to a four person investigative reporting team at the Globe led by Robby (Michael Keaton). The rest of the gang is played by Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, and Brian d’Arcy James. They are worried about their ability to take their time on stories and do things their way when new editor Marty (Liev Schrieber) is brought in from Miami. Their fear is confirmed not in the way they expect – Marty wants them to delve even deeper into their stories and he doesn’t fret about hometown repercussions. And the story he wants them to spotlight is allegations of priests molesting children over many decades and the victims who are living with their past experiences.

The reporters soon eventually uncover a plot with a scope previously unimaginable. Like that line of dialogue spoken by Stanley Tucci’s dedicated and overwhelmed attorney character, many in Boston’s village knew what was occurring. Yet few of them felt it was their responsibility to blow the whistle. Those who did often found it fell on deaf ears. This extends to the Globe as some of their personnel saw traces of the horror to be revealed later. McCarthy’s film admiringly recounts the process that journalists go through to uncover the story, but it doesn’t totally absolve some of them for their failure to act sooner. In fact, some of the principals on the other side involved wonder what took them so long.

Spotlight is filled with a sterling cast with superb performances down the line. It’s led by Keaton’s hometown boy who seems to know everyone and wants to do the right thing. Schrieber impresses in his role as the outsider who isn’t interested in a one day article. He and the team from Spotlight soon find their story is widespread and terrifying. It drives the point home that in these circumstances, often it’s assumed that someone else will say something and soon it’s a village of people not doing so or not listening. Spotlight expertly tells us how these reporters got to the point where silence was no longer acceptable and the noise you’ll hear at the end of this story will feel like powerful vindication.

***1/2 (out of four)