Nightmare Alley Review

Guillermo del Toro has been making geek shows geared to movie geeks for years. In Nightmare Alley, based on a 1946 novel and the picture that followed it a year later, he gorgeously opens up his stylistic bag of tricks to give us a film noir where the scariest creatures are of the human sort. Geek shows take on a different meaning as the traveling carnivals where we spend the first act features one. That’s where spectators with jaws agape watch a drug addled performer (“geeks” in the show’s vocabulary) bite the heads off of chickens. All for the price of a quarter or two!

We meet Stan Carlisle (Bradley Cooper) in 1939 as he happens upon the larger road show filled with psychics, strongmen, and beautiful ladies with electrical currents running through them. He’s destitute and jobless and picks up menial duties from Clem (Willem Dafoe), who runs the demented circus. Stan is an audacious fellow who’s not fearful of romancing good-natured performer Molly (Rooney Mara) or picking up mentalist tips from the alcoholic Pete (David Strathairn) or his clairvoyant (with help from cue cards) wife Zeena (Toni Collette). He occasionally takes pity on the resident geek (Paul Anderson) but it’s clear Stan is mostly looking out for himself. An opening flashback sequence shows a strained relationship with his deceased father who was also a fan of the drink. While dad, mentor Pete, and that poor chicken feeder suffer from substance abuse, Stan’s vices are hubris and power.

The opening scenes of Alley explore this fascinating world with the exquisite production design, cinematography, and impeccable lighting that we would anticipate from its maker. This is constantly a visually striking experience. When we flash forward two years later, Stan has used the teachings of his colleagues to move up to the big city (Buffalo) and deem himself a psychic. With Molly as his assistant and companion, his dinner theater act attracts the attention of the city’s elite. Dr. Lilith Ritter (Cate Blanchett), a psychologist, tries to unmask Stan’s schemes during such a performance. It only serves to fool more of the attendees. The two decide to team up and swindle movers and shakers like a judge (Peter MacNeill) mourning a son and his devastated wife (Mary Steenburgen). For a price, Stan will convince them that their loved one is with them in spirit. The doctor provides the backstory from such grieving former patients.

Stan and Ritter also engage in therapeutic sessions that occasionally crackle with intensity. The two actors are up to the task with Blanchett picture perfect as the femme fatale and Cooper’s aw shucks Southern drawl cloaking his wild ambitions. Mara’s Molly gets lost in the shuffle as Stan’s pining is not just for a quick buck, but for the bad doc as well.

The ladder climbing of his consultations leads to Ezra Grindle (Richard Jenkins) and, at last, Stan may have bitten off more of an assignment than he can chew. Not a typical crime boss type of figure, the calm but firm Grindle looks for otherworldly messages from a former love. If Stan doesn’t produce, he may lose more than the fee.

Nightmare Alley is worth seeing for its look alone. Mr. del Toro is known for his onscreen creatures (from Cronos to Pan’s Labyrinth to his Oscar-winning The Shape of Water). We don’t see those types in his latest, but there’s monsters around and Stan is among them. Their habits are often just as frightening. When Dafoe’s Clem explains how the geeks are hired, it’s a tad hair raising.

Not all is as pleasing as the aesthetics. del Toro is clearly having a blast playing in the noir sandbox. So much so that he doesn’t seem to realize that these genre excursions should be lean and mean in their running time. Alley plods along for 150 minutes. Plenty of the characters are mean though it’s not so lean in execution. There are sequences that land effectively after the carnivorous first act but plenty that don’t match their potency. On the plus side, it’s got a humdinger of an ending with its darkly appealing beginnings and that makes it worth the price of admission.

*** (out of four)

Oscar Predictions: Resurrection

It’s happened a lot lately where films in the psychological thriller/horror realm feature lead female performances that have social media buzzing for their awards attention. Think Toni Collette in Hereditary or Lupita Nyong’o for Us. 

We could see that happen again with Rebecca Hall in Resurrection, which played at Sundance over the weekend. From director Andrew Semans, the dark tale features Hall confronting an ex flame and abuser (Tim Roth). The critical reaction is a bit mixed (76% currently on Rotten Tomatoes). However, the most positive reviews are really positive and nearly all write-ups praise Hall’s work (as well as Roth).

A quick study of the reviews will indicate this is not an Academy friendly experience. Don’t be surprised if there’s an Internet drumbeat for Hall to be recognized. She’s coming off a strong 2021 – making her directorial debut in the praised Passing and starring in the horror flick The Night House. 

Yet Collette and Nyong’o couldn’t make the Oscar cut and I wouldn’t expect Hall to. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Nightmare Alley Box Office Prediction

The last time Guillermo del Toro was behind the camera, 13 Oscar nominations came his way with 2017’s The Shape of Water (including wins in Picture and Director). His follow-up is Nightmare Alley, a remake of a 1947 pic which was based on a 1946 William Lindsay Gresham novel. The noirish thriller boasts an impressive cast led by Bradley Coper (in his first starring role since 2018’s A Star Is Born). Costars include Rooney Mara, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Ron Perlman, Mary Steenburgen, and David Strathairn.

Long looked at as an Oscar contender, the recent review embargo lapse made the situation a bit murkier. The 83% Rotten Tomatoes score is decent, but some critics are griping that it’s a disappointment. Its standing in the Best Picture race is questionable.

Stronger awards buzz could have pushed this to higher numbers, but that’s not the only challenge. Plenty of moviegoers will be distracted with the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home, which looks to blow away pandemic era records. Alley is only opening on about 2000 screens (about half of Spidey’s). It’s normal for projects in the December time frame to open relatively small and hope to play well in subsequent frames. That is likely to be the case here and low to mid single digits is my forecast.

Nightmare Alley opening weekend prediction: $3.3 million

For my Spider-Man: No Way Home prediction, click here:

Spider-Man: No Way Home Box Office Prediction

Oscar Predictions: Nightmare Alley

Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley is likely to be the final film screened that could contend for Best Picture at the 2021 Oscars. That happened tonight and its social media embargo has lifted. This is the filmmaker’s follow-up to 2017’s The Shape of Water, which won four gold statues including Picture and Director. A remake of a 1947 noir thriller, Alley has a cast filled with familiar faces led by Bradley Cooper and Rooney Mara (who are slated to contend in the lead races). The supporting cast includes Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Ron Perlman, Mary Steenburgen, and David Strathairn.

Reaction out tonight offers plenty of praise. Unsurprisingly, this is being lauded for its technical aspects. Production Design and Cinematography sound like shoo-ins (and might challenge Dune for the victories). Other down the line derbies such as Sound, Costume Design, Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, and Score (though that’s gotten awfully crowded) are feasible.

How about the big dances? Early word solidifies its opportunity to get a Best Picture nomination and for del Toro’s behind the camera work. I had it ranked 8th yesterday and my early hunch says that’s about right. There’s enough mixed buzz in reaction tweets to make me think it’s not a threat to win. Adapted Screenplay is probable.

As for the actors, Cooper and Blanchett are the recipients of the most acclaim. The former’s path will be fascinating to track. I had him ranked #1 in Supporting Actor for weeks before Licorice Pizza was unveiled. That race, as has been discussed on the blog, is wide open. His limited screen time in Pizza could cause him to miss there. The question is whether Best Actor is already too packed (Will Smith as King Richard, Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog, Andrew Garfield for Tick Tick… Boom!, Denzel Washington in The Tragedy of Macbeth, Peter Dinklage in Cyrano, Leonardo DiCaprio for Don’t Look Up). Is there enough space for Cooper? Precursors will tell. Supporting Actress is also filled with hopefuls and Blanchett will also need some early love from either critics groups or SAG or the Globes. Best Actress is also overflowing and I don’t see enough Mara talk for her to be viable.

Bottom line: Alley helped itself. It might be the “last in” but I feel decent about a Picture nod and definitely tech competitions. Cooper and Blanchett are more of a mystery. My Oscar Predictions posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actress Race

The 2021 derby for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars might have a bit more clarity than the currently wide open Supporting Actor race, but not much. I’m doing a deep dive on the four acting races as well as Picture and Director. If you missed the first post covering Supporting Actor, you can peruse it right here:

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actor Race

At this point when I was projecting the race in 2019 and 2020, I correctly identified three out of the five eventual nominees. Two years ago, that included the winner Laura Dern in Marriage Story as well as Florence Pugh (Little Women) and Margot Robbie for Bombshell. Scarlett Johansson was mentioned in Other Possibilities while I didn’t have Kathy Bates (Richard Jewell) listed. Last year, the trio of Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), Olivia Colman (The Father), and Amanda Seyfried (Mank) were in my five. Eventual victor Yuh-jung Youn (Minari) and Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm) were in Other Possibilities.

Since 2010, there have been three instances where two actresses for the same picture made the cut here. In 2010, it was Melissa Leo (who won) and Amy Adams in The Fighter. A year later, Octavia Spencer took gold for The Help while costar Jessica Chastain also got in. In 2018, both Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz were nominated for The Favourite. 

The best chance of that happening in 2021 lies with Caitriona Balfe and Judi Dench for Belfast. The former could be considered the frontrunner at press time. I’m confident that Balfe will be in the quintet of hopefuls. My Supporting Actor forecast has both Jamie Dornan and Ciaran Hinds in for Kenneth Branagh’s period drama. It might be foolish to bet against Dench and she could absolutely get her 8th nod. I do, however, feel the competition is steeper than Supporting Actor at the moment and she could miss out.

Other double nominee possibilities lie with Jessie Buckley and Dakota Johnson in The Lost Daughter, but I could just as easily see lead Olivia Colman garnering all the attention. The as yet unscreened Nightmare Alley could see either Toni Collette or Rooney Mara competing.

Then there’s Mass. Ann Dowd looks to be a better bet than Martha Plimpton. If the acclaimed drama catches on with the Academy, there could be room for both. For now, I’m far more confident in Dowd receiving her first nod after her somewhat surprise omission for 2012’s Compliance. 

With Balfe and Dowd penciled in, Kirsten Dunst also appears headed for her inaugural inclusion at the dance for The Power of the Dog. She could even be a threat to win.

After that, it gets murky. There’s plenty of hopefuls. 50 years ago, Rita Moreno took gold as Anita for West Side Story. The forthcoming remake could see Ariana DeBose nominated for the same role in Steven Spielberg’s remake. Marlee Matlin (35 years after taking Best Actress for Children of a Lesser God) got fine reviews for CODA. If the film registers with voters, she could be swept in. King Richard is anticipated to give Will Smith a solid chance at his first Oscar crowning and Aunjanue Ellis (as the mother of Venus and Serena Williams) could share in the wealth. Salma Hayek is part of the House of Gucci ensemble. She hasn’t been visible in the trailers and that gives me pause. Online chatter will be heavy for Rebecca Ferguson in Dune, though I question whether any of its cast makes its way in. Also worthy of mention: Olga Merediz (In the Heights), Gaby Hoffman (C’Mon C’Mon), Kathryn Hunter (The Tragedy of Macbeth), Sally Hawkins (Spencer), and Jayne Houdyshell (The Humans). All are feasible but will need lot some critics prizes to elevate their chances.

Meryl Streep is gunning for her 22nd (!) nomination for Don’t Look Up. Playing the President of the United States in the political satire, it feels strange to leave her out of the top 5 for such a high profile role. Let’s see what the critics think before I more carefully consider her.

One performer who seems to catching on is Ruth Negga for Passing. Nominated for Actress five years back for Loving, I was basically down to a coin flip between her and Aunjanue Ellis for a current slot. I’m leaning toward Negga in what would probably be the film’s sole nod.

Bottom line: right now I have Balfe, Dunst, and Dowd as (fairly) safe bets with the other two spots up for grabs. Here’s where it shakes out as October closes:

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Caitriona Balfe, Belfast (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

3. Ann Dowd, Mass (PR: 3)

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

5. Ruth Negga, Passing (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard (PR: 4)

7. Judi Dench, Belfast (PR: 7)

8. Marlee Matlin, CODA (PR: 9)

9. Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up (PR: Not Ranked)

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

Dropped Out:

Rooney Mara, Nightmare Alley

Next up: Best Actor!

2021 Oscar Predictions: October 3rd Edition

My weekly Oscar predictions enters the month of October with no changes in my forecasted Picture and Director nominees. However, we do have movement in the acting derbies:

    • The five spot in Best Actor seems to change every Sunday. This time I’m swapping out Bradley Cooper (Nightmare Alley) for Joaquin Phoenix (C’Mon C’Mon) once again.
    • In Actress, Jennifer Hudson (Respect) falls out in favor of Olivia Colman for The Lost Daughter. 
    • Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard) makes my Supporting Actress five for the first time at the expense of Jayne Houdyshell (The Humans).

My #1’s in the biggest competitions stay put with Belfast (Picture), Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog (Director), Kristen Stewart in Spencer (Actress), Will Smith in King Richard (Actor), Caitriona Balfe for Belfast (Supporting Actress), and Bradley Cooper in Licorice Pizza (Supporting Actor).

You can peruse all the activity for all the races below as I now have Belfast and Dune tied for garnering the most nods.

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Belfast (Previous Ranking: 1) (E)

2. Nightmare Alley (PR: 2) (E)

3. The Power of the Dog (PR: 3) (E)

4. Licorice Pizza (PR: 7) (+3)

5. Dune (PR: 4) (-1)

6. King Richard (PR: 9) (+3)

7. House of Gucci (PR: 5) (-2)

8. West Side Story (PR: 8) (E)

9. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 6) (-3)

10. Spencer (PR: 10) (E)

Other Possibilities:

11. Don’t Look Up (PR: 11) (E)

12. Flee (PR: 12) (E)

13. CODA (PR: 13) (E)

14. Mass (PR: 14) (E)

15. A Hero (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Humans

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog (PR: 1) (E)

2. Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley (PR: 2) (E)

3. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast (PR: 3) (E)

4. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 4) (E)

5. Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ridley Scott, House of Gucci (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 6) (-1)

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

9. Pablo Larrain, Spencer (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee (PR: 9) (-1)

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Kristen Stewart, Spencer (PR: 1) (E)

2. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter (PR: 7) (+3)

5. Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers (PR: 6) (E)

7. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 5) (-2)

8. Jodie Comer, The Last Duel (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley (PR: 10) (E)

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Will Smith, King Richard (PR: 1) (E)

2. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2) (E)

3. Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3) (E)

4. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano (PR: 4) (E)

5. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Adam Driver, House of Gucci (PR: 7) (E)

8. Nicolas Cage, Pig (PR: 8) (E)

9. Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Clifton Collins, Jr., Jockey (PR: 9) (-1)

Dropped Out:

Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Caitriona Balfe, Belfast (PR: 1) (E)

2. Ann Dowd, Mass (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story (PR: 4) (E)

5. Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Marlee Matlin, CODA (PR: 7) (E)

8. Ruth Negga, Passing (PR: 8) (E)

9. Judi Dench, Belfast (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Kathryn Hunter, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Toni Collette, Nightmare Alley

Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Bradley Cooper, Licorice Pizza (PR: 1) (E)

2. Jamie Dornan, Belfast (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Richard Jenkins, The Humans (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Jason Isaacs, Mass (PR: 4) (E)

5. Jared Leto, House of Gucci (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog (PR: 6) (E)

7. Andrew Garfield, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 10) (+3)

8. Jon Bernthal, King Richard (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Corey Hawkins, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Troy Kotsur, CODA (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Belfast (PR: 1) (E)

2. Licorice Pizza (PR: 2) (E)

3. King Richard (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Mass (PR: 3) (-1)

5. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Spencer (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Don’t Look Up (PR: 6) (-1)

8. A Hero (PR: 8) (E)

9. The Hand of God (PR: 9) (E)

10. The Worst Person in the World (PR: 10) (E)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (PR: 1) (E)

2. Nightmare Alley (PR: 2) (E)

3. House of Gucci (PR: 3) (E)

4. The Humans (PR: 4) (E)

5. The Lost Daughter (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 6) (E)

7. West Side Story (PR: 9) (+2)

8. Dune (PR: 7) (-1)

9. CODA (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Passing (PR: 10) (E)

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Flee (PR: 1) (E)

2. Luca (PR: 2) (E)

3. Encanto (PR: 3) (E)

4. The Mitchells vs. the Machines (PR: 4) (E)

5. Belle (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Vivo (PR: 6) (E)

7. Raya and the Last Dragon (PR: 7) (E)

8. Ron’s Gone Wrong (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Where Is Anne Frank (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Charlotte (PR: 8) (-2)

Best International Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. A Hero (PR: 1) (E)

2. Flee (PR: 2) (E)

3. The Worst Person in the World (PR: 5) (+2)

4. The Hand of God (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Petite Maman (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Parallel Mothers (PR: 6) (E)

7. Happening (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Drive My Car (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Compartment No. 6 (PR: 8) (-1)

10. 7 Prisoners (PR: 9) (-1)

Dropped Out:

I’m Your Man

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Rescue (PR: 1) (E)

2. Flee (PR: 2) (E)

3. Summer of Soul (PR: 6) (+3)

4. Attica (PR: 3) (-1)

5. The Lost Leonardo (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. President (PR: 4) (-2)

7. The First Wave (PR: 9) (+2)

8. Becoming Cousteau (PR: 10) (+2)

9. Julia (PR: 7) (-2)

10. Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Sparks Brothers

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 2) (+1)

2. Dune (PR: 1) (-1)

3. Nightmare Alley (PR: 3) (E)

4. Belfast (PR: 4) (E)

5. The Power of the Dog (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. West Side Story (PR: 6) (E)

7. Spencer (PR: 7) (E)

8. Licorice Pizza (PR: 8) (E)

9. No Time to Die (PR: Not Ranked)

10. The French Dispatch (PR: 9) (-1)

Dropped Out:

The Hand of God

Best Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Spencer (PR: 1) (E)

2. Cruella (PR: 4) (+2)

3. House of Gucci (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Dune (PR: 3) (-1)

5. West Side Story (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

6. Nightmare Alley (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Licorice Pizza (PR: 8) (+1)

8. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 6) (-2)

9. The French Dispatch (PR: 9) (E)

10. Cyrano (PR: 10) (E)

Best Film Editing

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune (PR: 1) (E)

2. Nightmare Alley (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Belfast (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Licorice Pizza (PR: 4) (E)

5. West Side Story (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities: 

6. King Richard (PR: 9) (+3)

7. The Power of the Dog (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Don’t Look Up (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Spencer (PR: 10) (+1)

10. House of Gucci (PR: 8) (-2)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Predicted Nominees:

1. House of Gucci (PR: 1) (E)

2. Dune (PR: 2) (E)

3. The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Spencer (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Cruella (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Nightmare Alley (PR: 5) (-1)

7. The Suicide Squad (PR: Not Ranked)

8. West Side Story (PR: 8) (E)

9. Licorice Pizza (PR: 9) (E)

10. The Green Knight (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Cyrano

The French Dispatch 

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune (PR: 1) (E)

2. Spencer (PR: 2) (E)

3. The Power of the Dog (PR: 3) (E)

4. Nightmare Alley (PR: 6) (+2)

5. The French Dispatch (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Licorice Pizza (PR: 7) (+1)

7. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 4) (-3)

8. King Richard (PR: 10) (+2)

9. Belfast (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Luca (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Cyrano

Don’t Look Up

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

1. “Be Alive” from King Richard (PR: 1) (E)

2. “No Time to Die” from No Time to Die (PR: 2) (E)

3. “Colombia, Mi Encanto” from Encanto (PR: 4) (+1)

4. “Down to Joy” from Belfast (PR: 3) (-1)

5. “So May We Start” from Annette (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities: 

6. “Here I Am” from Respect (PR: 5) (-1)

7. “Every Letter” from Cyrano (PR: 7) (E)

8. “Believe” from The Rescue (PR: 8) (E)

9. “Anonymous Ones” from Dear Evan Hansen (PR: Not Ranked)

10. “At the Automat” from The Automat (PR: 10) (E)

Dropped Out:

“Don’t Look Up” from Don’t Look Up

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nightmare Alley (PR: 1) (E)

2. Dune (PR: 2) (E)

3. The French Dispatch (PR: 4) (+1)

4. West Side Story (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Belfast (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

6. Spencer (PR: 5) (-1)

7. The Power of the Dog (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Licorice Pizza (PR: 8) (E)

9. Cyrano (PR: 10) (+1)

10. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 9) (-1)

Dropped Out:

House of Gucci 

Best Sound

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune (PR: 1) (E)

2. West Side Story (PR: 2) (E)

3. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 5) (+2)

4. Belfast (PR: 6) (+2)

5. No Time to Die (PR: 8) (+3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Nightmare Alley (PR: 4) (-2)

7. The Matrix Resurrections (PR: 3) (-4)

8. A Quiet Place Part II (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Eternals (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Cyrano (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Don’t Look Up

King Richard

Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune (PR: 1) (E)

2. The Matrix Resurrections (PR: 2) (E)

3. Eternals (PR: 3) (E)

4. Godzilla vs. Kong (PR: 4) (E)

5. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

6. Don’t Look Up (PR: 5) (-1)

7. The Suicide Squad (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Spider-Man: No Way Home (PR: 6) (-2)

9. Free Guy (PR: 9) (E)

10. Jungle Cruise (PR: 10) (E)

And that equates to these pictures gathering these numbers in terms of nominations:

10 Nominations

Belfast, Dune

7 Nominations

Nightmare Alley, The Power of the Dog

6 Nominations

House of Gucci, West Side Story

5 Nominations

King Richard, Licorice Pizza, Spencer, The Tragedy of Macbeth

3 Nominations

Flee, Mass

2 Nominations

C’Mon C’Mon, Cruella, Encanto, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, The French Dispatch, The Humans, The Lost Daughter, No Time to Die

1 Nomination

Annette, Attica, Belle, Cyrano, Eternals, Godzilla vs. Kong, The Hand of God, A Hero, The Lost Leonardo, Luca, The Matrix Resurrections, The Mitchells vs. the Machines, Petite Maman, The Rescue, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Summer of Soul, The Worst Person in the World

2021 Oscar Predictions: September 26th Edition

My weekly Oscar predictions has at last expanded to all categories covering feature films! That means we have counts on how each picture will fare and I have Dune and Nightmare Alley leading the way to 10 nods apiece.

There are changes to ponder as Don’t Look Up takes the biggest fall. I have been toying with removing the Netflix disaster drama from Best Picture contention for a couple of weeks. A clip from the pic circulated yesterday and drew some criticism, but I wouldn’t judge it from that brief glimpse. This is more of a hunch that Up might not going for a BP vibe. So it’s out with Up and in with Spencer. Additionally, C’Mon C’Mon rises in Original Screenplay over Adam McKay’s latest.

In other developments:

    • The Tragedy of Macbeth premiered at the New York Film Festival Friday and solidified its BP viability. Same goes for Denzel Washington. There’s still a question mark as to whether Frances McDormand will be placed in lead or supporting (sounds like a case could be made for both). For now, I’m putting her back in Best Actress and saying she gets in. Same goes for Jennifer Hudson in Respect. Their inclusion knocks out Penelope Cruz (Parallel Mothers) and Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter).
    • I’m back to projecting Bradley Cooper as a double nominee. His placement in Actor for Nightmare Alley removes Joaquin Phoenix (C’Mon C’Mon).
    • The Supporting Actress derby seems to be getting a new #1 each week. This time it’s Caitriona Balfe for Belfast. 

Lots more to peruse in the inaugural expanded listings below!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Belfast (Previous Ranking: 1) (E)

2. Nightmare Alley (PR: 3) (+1)

3. The Power of the Dog (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Dune (PR: 4) (E)

5. House of Gucci (PR: 5) (E)

6. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Licorice Pizza (PR: 6) (-1)

8. West Side Story (PR: 8) (E)

9. King Richard (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Spencer (PR: 12) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

11. Don’t Look Up (PR: 9) (-2)

12. Flee (PR: 16) (+4)

13. CODA (PR: 13) (E)

14. Mass (PR: 14) (E)

15. The Humans (PR: 11) (-4)

Dropped Out:

The Hand of God

The French Dispatch

Tick, Tick… Boom!

A Hero

The Lost Daughter

C’Mon C’Mon

Being the Ricardos

Cyrano

Passing 

Parallel Mothers

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog (PR: 1) (E)

2. Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley (PR: 2) (E)

3. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast (PR: 3) (E)

4. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 4) (E)

5. Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Ridley Scott, House of Gucci (PR: 6) (-1)

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

9. Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee (PR: 12)

10. Pablo Larrain, Spencer (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up

Paolo Sorrentino, The Hand of God

Reinaldo Marcus Green, King Richard

Asghar Farhadi, A Hero

Stephen Karam, The Humans

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Kristen Stewart, Spencer (PR: 1) (E)

2. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: Not Ranked) – moved from supporting

5. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers (PR: 4) (-2)

7. Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter (PR: 5) (-2)

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

9. Jodie Comer, The Last Duel (PR: 13) (+4)

10. Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley (PR: 7) (-3)

Dropped Out:

Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos

Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World

Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up

Emilia Jones, CODA

Halle Berry, Bruised

Tessa Thompson, Passing

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Will Smith, King Richard (PR: 1) (E)

2. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2) (E)

3. Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3) (E)

4. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano (PR: 4) (E)

5. Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Adam Driver, House of Gucci (PR: 7) (E)

8. Nicolas Cage, Pig (PR: 11( (+3)

9. Clifton Collins, Jr., Jockey (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up (PR: 8) (-2)

Dropped Out:

Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom!

Ben Foster, The Survivor

Jude Hill, Belfast

Cooper Hoffman, Licorice Pizza

Amir Jadidi, A Hero

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Caitriona Balfe, Belfast (PR: 2) (+1)

2. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Ann Dowd, Mass (PR: 1) (-2)

4. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story (PR: 4) (E)

5. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Marlee Matlin, CODA (PR: 11) (+4)

8. Ruth Negga, Passing (PR: 14) (+6)

9. Toni Collette, Nightmare Alley (PR: 9) (E)

10. Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up (PR: 12) (+2)

Dropped Out:

Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth – moved to lead

Rooney Mara, Nightmare Alley

Judi Dench, Belfast

Martha Plimpton, Mass

Dakota Johnson, The Lost Daughter

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Bradley Cooper, Licorice Pizza (PR: 1) (E)

2. Richard Jenkins, The Humans (PR: 2) (E)

3. Jamie Dornan, Belfast (PR: 3) (E)

4. Jason Isaacs, Mass (PR: 4) (E)

5. Jared Leto, House of Gucci (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog (PR: 6) (E)

7. Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog (PR: 10) (+3)

8. Corey Hawkins, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Jon Bernthal, King Richard (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Andrew Garfield, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 14) (+4)

Dropped Out:

Mark Rylance, Don’t Look Up

Ciaran Hinds, Belfast

Willem Dafoe, Nightmare Alley

David Alvarez, West Side Story

Troy Kotsur, CODA

Reed Birney, Mass

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Belfast (PR: 1) (E)

2. Licorice Pizza (PR: 2) (E)

3. Mass (PR: 4) (+1))

4. King Richard (PR: 5) (+1)

5. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Don’t Look Up (PR: 3) (-3)

7. Spencer (PR: 7) (E)

8. A Hero (PR: 10) (+2)

9. The Hand of God (PR: 8) (-1)

10. The Worst Person in the World (PR: 12) (+2)

Dropped Out:

The French Dispatch

Parallel Mothers

Being the Ricardos

Last Night in Soho

Annette

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (PR: 1) (E)

2. Nightmare Alley (PR: 2) (E)

3. House of Gucci (PR: 4) (+1)

4. The Humans (PR: 3) (-1)

5. The Lost Daughter (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 6) (E)

7. Dune (PR: 7) (E)

8. CODA (PR: 8) (E)

9. West Side Story (PR: 9) (E)

10. Passing (PR: 10) (E)

Dropped Out:

Cyrano

Tick, Tick… Boom!

The Last Duel

The Green Knight

In the Heights

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Flee 

2. Luca

3. Encanto

4. The Mitchells vs. the Machines

5. Belle

Other Possibilities:

6. Vivo

7. Raya and the Last Dragon

8. Charlotte

9. Ron’s Gone Wrong

10. Where Is Anne Frank 

Best International Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. A Hero

2. Flee

3. The Hand of God

4. Petite Maman

5. The Worst Person in the World

Other Possibilities:

6. Parallel Mothers

7. Drive My Car

8. Compartment No. 6

9. 7 Prisoners

10. I’m Your Man

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Rescue 

2. Flee

3. Attica

4. President

5. The Lost Leonardo

Other Possibilities:

6. Summer of Soul

7. Julia

8. The Sparks Brothers

9. The First Wave

10. Becoming Cousteau 

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune

2. The Tragedy of Macbeth

3. Nightmare Alley

4. Belfast

5. The Power of the Dog

Other Possibilities:

6. West Side Story

7. Spencer

8. Licorice Pizza

9. The French Dispatch

10. The Hand of God

Best Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Spencer

2. House of Gucci

3. Dune

4. Cruella

5. Nightmare Alley

Other Possibilities:

6. The Tragedy of Macbeth

7. West Side Story

8. Licorice Pizza

9. The French Dispatch

10. Cyrano

Best Film Editing

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune

2. Belfast

3. Nightmare Alley

4. Licorice Pizza

5. West Side Story

Other Possibilities:

6. The Power of the Dog

7. Don’t Look Up

8. House of Gucci

9. King Richard

10. Spencer

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Predicted Nominees:

1. House of Gucci

2. Dune

3. Spencer

4. The Eyes of Tammy Faye

5. Nightmare Alley

Other Possibilities:

6. Cruella

7. Cyrano

8. West Side Story

9. Licorice Pizza

10. The French Dispatch

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune

2. Spencer

3. The Power of the Dog

4. The Tragedy of Macbeth

5. The French Dispatch

Other Possibilities:

6. Nightmare Alley

7. Licorice Pizza

8. Cyrano

9. Don’t Look Up

10. King Richard

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

1. “Be Alive” from King Richard

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

3. “Down to Joy” from Belfast

4. “Colombia, Mi Encanto” from Encanto

5. “Here I Am” from Respect

Other Possibilities:

6. “So May We Start” from Annette

7. “Every Letter” from Cyrano

8. “Believe” from The Rescue

9. “Don’t Look Up” from Don’t Look Up

10. “At the Automat” from The Automat

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nightmare Alley

2. Dune

3. West Side Story

4. The French Dispatch

5. Spencer

Other Possibilities:

6. House of Gucci

7. Belfast

8. Licorice Pizza

9. The Tragedy of Macbeth

10. Cyrano

Best Sound

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune

2. West Side Story

3. The Matrix Resurrections

4. Nightmare Alley

5. The Tragedy of Macbeth

Other Possibilities:

6. Belfast

7. Don’t Look Up

8. No Time to Die

9. A Quiet Place Part II

10. King Richard

Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune

2. The Matrix Resurrections

3. Eternals

4. Godzilla vs. Kong

5. Don’t Look Up

Other Possibilities:

6. Spider-Man: No Way Home

7. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

8. The Suicide Squad

9. Free Guy

10. Jungle Cruise

And that gives us the first take on how many nominations the various pictures will receive:

10 Nominations

Dune, Nightmare Alley

8 Nominations

Belfast

7 Nominations

The Power of the Dog

6 Nominations

House of Gucci, Spencer, The Tragedy of Macbeth

5 Nominations

Licorice Pizza, West Side Story

4 Nominations

King Richard

3 Nominations

Flee, The Humans, Mass

2 Nominations

Encanto, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, The French Dispatch, The Matrix Resurrections, Respect

1 Nomination

Attica, Belle, C’Mon C’Mon, Cruella, Cyrano, Don’t Look Up, Eternals, Godzilla vs. Kong, The Hand of God, A Hero, The Lost Daughter, The Lost Leonardo, Luca, The Mitchells vs. the Machines, No Time to Die, Petite Maman, President, The Rescue, The Worst Person in the World

2021 Oscar Predictions: September 19th Edition

Thanks to the Toronto Film Festival, we have a new #1 atop the charts in Best Picture and it’s Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast. 

The coming-of-age drama won the festival’s People’s Choice Award and that is no minor development. 12 of the past 13 victors have received a BP nod. Five of them have won. And that’s enough to allow Belfast the designation of soft frontrunner (with lots of time to go and lots yet to be seen). However, the fact of the matter is, you have to go back to 2006’s The Departed to find a BP winner that didn’t screen at one of the higher profile festivals.

The Power of the Dog was a runner-up for the People’s Choice prize and it slides just one spot. Director Jane Campion  maintains top billing in her category.

There are further developments to point out:

    • King Richard is back in my top 10 BP projections edging out The Humans. The Will Smith sports drama also enters Original Screenplay over C’Mon C’Mon.
    • Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza) is in for Best Director over Ridley Scott for House of Gucci.
    • The praise for Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye is enough to put her at #2 in Actress. It’s not enough to dislodge Kristen Stewart (Spencer) from her ruling perch. I will admit that the subpar box office grosses for Faye this weekend doesn’t help, but I’m relatively confident at this juncture that she’s in.
    • The revolving door that is slot #5 in Best Actor lands on Joaquin Phoenix (C’Mon C’Mon) over Bradley Cooper (Nightmare Alley).
    • Big changes in Supporting Actor as Jamie Dornan (Belfast) and Jared Leto (House of Gucci) are in. Dropping are Dornan’s costar Ciaran Hinds and Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog).
    • While the Supporting Actress five stays intact, I’ve vaulted Ann Dowd (Mass) back to the top spot.

By this time next Sunday, we will know the buzz for Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth as it opens the New York Film Festival this Friday. Stay tuned for my Oscar Predictions post on that next weekend.

You can peruse all the action below and the forecasts will be updated next Sunday!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Belfast (Previous Ranking: 4) (+3)

2. The Power of the Dog (PR: 1) (-1)

3. Nightmare Alley (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Dune (PR: 5) (+1)

5. House of Gucci (PR: 3) (-2)

6. Licorice Pizza (PR: 7) (+1)

7. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 6) (-1)

8. West Side Story (PR: 8) (E)

9. Don’t Look Up (PR: 9) (E)

10. King Richard (PR: 12) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

11. The Humans (PR: 10) (-1)

12. Spencer (PR: 15) (+3)

13. CODA (PR: 11) (-2)

14. Mass (PR: 14) (E)

15. The Hand of God (PR: 13) (-2)

16. Flee (PR: 17) (+1)

17. The French Dispatch (PR: 16) (-1)

18. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 19) (+1)

19. A Hero (PR: 18) (-1)

20. The Lost Daughter (PR: 20) (E)

21. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 24) (+3)

22. Being the Ricardos (PR: 22) (E)

23. Cyrano (PR: 23) (E)

24. Passing (PR: 21) (-3)

25. Parallel Mothers (PR: 25) (E)

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog (PR: 1) (E)

2. Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley (PR: 2) (E)

3. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ridley Scott, House of Gucci (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 7) (E)

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

9. Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up (PR: 9) (E)

10. Pablo Larrain, Spencer (PR: 11) (+1)

11. Paolo Sorrentino, The Hand of God (PR: 10) (-1)

12. Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee (PR: 13) (+1)

13. Reinaldo Marcus Green, King Richard (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Asghar Farhadi, A Hero (PR: 14) (E)

15. Stephen Karam, The Humans (PR: 12) (-3)

Dropped Out:

Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Kristen Stewart, Spencer (PR: 1) (E)

2. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers (PR: 4) (E)

5. Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 6) (E)

7. Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley (PR: 7) (E)

8. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World (PR: 13) (+3)

11. Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up (PR: 12) (+1)

12. Emilia Jones, CODA (PR: 10) (-2)

13. Jodie Comer, The Last Duel (PR: 11) (-2)

14. Halle Berry, Bruised (PR: 15) (+1)

15. Tessa Thompson, Passing (PR: 14) (-1)

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Will Smith, King Richard (PR: 1) (E)

2. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2) (E)

3. Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3) (E)

4. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano (PR: 4) (E)

5. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Adam Driver, House of Gucci (PR: 7) (E)

8. Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up (PR: 8) (E)

9. Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Clifton Collins, Jr., Jockey (PR: 9) (-1)

11. Nicolas Cage, Pig (PR: 11) (E)

12. Ben Foster, The Survivor (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Jude Hill, Belfast (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Cooper Hoffman, Licorice Pizza (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Amir Jadidi, A Hero (PR: 12) (-3)

Dropped Out:

Adam Driver, Annette

Filippo Scott, The Hand of God

Simon Rex, Red Rocket

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ann Dowd, Mass (PR: 2) (+1)

2. Caitriona Balfe, Belfast (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog (PR: 1) (-2)

4. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 6) (E)

7. Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Rooney Mara, Nightmare Alley (PR: 10) (+2)

9. Toni Collette, Nightmare Alley (PR: 9) (E)

10. Judi Dench, Belfast (PR: 11) (+1)

11. Marlee Matlin, CODA (PR: 7) (-4)

12. Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up (PR: 12) (E)

13. Martha Plimpton, Mass (PR: 14) (+1)

14. Ruth Negga, Passing (PR: 13) (-1)

15. Dakota Johnson, The Lost Daughter (PR: 15) (E)

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Bradley Cooper, Licorice Pizza (PR: 1) (E)

2. Richard Jenkins, The Humans (PR: 2) (E)

3. Jamie Dornan, Belfast (PR: 7) (+4)

4. Jason Isaacs, Mass (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Jared Leto, House of Gucci (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog (PR: 4) (-2)

7. Corey Hawkins, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Ciaran Hinds, Belfast (PR: 3) (-5)

9. Mark Rylance, Don’t Look Up (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog (PR: 9) (-1)

11. Willem Dafoe, Nightmare Alley (PR: 12) (+1)

12. David Alvarez, West Side Story (PR: 13) (+1)

13. Troy Kotsur, CODA (PR: 11) (-2)

14. Andrew Garfield, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Reed Birney, Mass (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Timothy Spall, Spencer

Benny Safdie, Licorice Pizza

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Belfast (PR: 1) (E)

2. Licorice Pizza (PR: 2) (E)

3. Don’t Look Up (PR: 3) (E)

4. Mass (PR: 4) (E)

5. King Richard (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Spencer (PR: 7) (E)

8. The Hand of God (PR: 9) (+1)

9. The French Dispatch (PR: 8) (-1)

10. A Hero (PR: 12) (+2)

11. Parallel Mothers (PR: 10) (-1)

12. The Worst Person in the World (PR: 13) (+1)

13. Being the Ricardos (PR: 11) (-2)

14. Last Night in Soho (PR: 14) (E)

15. Annette (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Blue Bayou

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (PR: 1) (E)

2. Nightmare Alley (PR: 2) (E)

3. The Humans (PR: 3) (E)

4. House of Gucci (PR: 4) (E)

5. The Lost Daughter (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 6) (E)

7. Dune (PR: 7) (E)

8. CODA (PR: 8) (E)

9. West Side Story (PR: 9) (E)

10. Passing (PR: 10) (E)

11. Cyrano (PR: 11) (E)

12. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 12) (E)

13. The Last Duel (PR: 13) (E)

14. The Green Knight (PR: 15) (+1)

15. In the Heights (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

2021 Oscar Predictions: September 12th Edition

With the Venice and Telluride Film Festivals having just wrapped and Toronto going strong, there are fresh updates to my Oscar predictions in every category but Director!

Of course, the big question from the past week might be: Will a movie with the word “pizza” in it finally get a Best Picture nomination? That’s more possible than ever since Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest (which had the working title Soggy Bottom) is now apparently called Licorice Pizza. It makes perfect sense if you research the setting.

It’ll be a while before we know how much of a contender that one actually is.   There is some movement based on actual buzz and it starts with Stephen Karam’s The Humans, which has screened at Toronto. I believe it could make the BP cut and I’ve got it in. I’m also returning West Side Story to the top ten. Dropping out are CODA and King Richard, though either could certainly find themselves back in the mix.

In other developments:

    • Penelope Cruz’s Venice win for Best Actress gets her back in the top five. Falling out is Jennifer Hudson for Respect.
    • I now have Bradley Cooper as a double nominee. In addition to him maintaining the top spot in Supporting Actor for Pizza (that’s gonna take some getting used to), he’s listed in Actor for Nightmare Alley. He takes the place of Adam Driver in House of Gucci. 
    • With category placement still in flux for certain pics, I’ve chosen to put the ensemble for Belfast all in supporting. That means Caitriona Balfe is in for Supporting Actress over her costar Judi Dench. I’m also elevating Jayne Houdyshell (The Humans) and dropping Marlee Matlin (CODA). Furthermore, I have Frances McDormand moved to supporting from lead and she sits just on the outside at #6. Kirsten Dunst takes over the #1 position over Ann Dowd in Mass.
    • Jamie Dornan (Belfast) also enters the competition in supporting instead of lead, but he’s not in my five. There is one change: Jason Isaacs (Mass) over Jared Leto (House of Gucci).
    • C’Mon C’Mon gets the 5th slot in Original Screenplay over Spencer. And Belfast is now listed first instead of Pizza. 
    • In Adapted Screenplay, The Humans and The Lost Daughter make the cut over The Tragedy of Macbeth and CODA. The latter did not have a good week as you can see (dropping out of Picture, Supporting Actress, and here).

We are mere hours away from knowing whether Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye) deserves her #3 placement in Actress. Those developments and more will be available when I update next Sunday. Until then, you can peruse all the movement below!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Nightmare Alley (PR: 3)

3. House of Gucci (PR: 2)

4. Belfast (PR: 4)

5. Dune (PR: 6)

6. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 5)

7. Licorice Pizza (PR: 7) – formerly Soggy Bottom

8. West Side Story (PR: 11)

9. Don’t Look Up (PR: 8)

10. The Humans (PR: 14)

Other Possibilities:

11. CODA (PR: 10)

12. King Richard (PR: 9)

13. The Hand of God (PR: 17)

14. Mass (PR: 12)

15. Spencer (PR: 13)

16. The French Dispatch (PR: 19)

17. Flee (PR: 16)

18. A Hero (PR: 15)

19. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 20)

20. The Lost Daughter (PR: Not Ranked)

21. Passing (PR: 24)

22. Being the Ricardos (PR: 22)

23. Cyrano (PR: 18)

24. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 25)

25. Parallel Mothers (PR: 23)

Dropped Out:

The Last Duel

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog (PR: 1)

2. Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley (PR: 2)

3. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 3)

4. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast (PR: 5)

5. Ridley Scott, House of Gucci (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza (PR: 6)

7. Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 7)

8. Steven Spielberg, West Side Story (PR: 10)

9. Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up (PR: 8)

10. Paolo Sorrentino, The Hand of God (PR: 15)

11. Pablo Larrain, Spencer (PR: 9)

12. Stephen Karam, The Humans (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee (PR: 13)

14. Asghar Farhadi, A Hero (PR: 11)

15. Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Reinaldo Marcus Green, King Richard

Sian Heder, CODA

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Kristin Stewart, Spencer (PR: 1)

2. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci (PR: 2)

3. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 3)

4. Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers (PR: 6)

5. Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 5)

7. Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley (PR: 11)

8. Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos (PR: 10)

9. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story (PR: 15)

10. Emilia Jones, CODA (PR: 13)

11. Jodie Comer, The Last Duel (PR: 8)

12. Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up (PR: 12)

13. Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World (PR: 14)

14. Tessa Thompson, Passing (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Halle Berry, Bruised (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth (moved to Supporting Actress)

Caitriona Balfe, Belfast (moved to Supporting Actress)

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Will Smith, King Richard (PR: 1)

2. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

3. Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3)

4. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano (PR: 5)

5. Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

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

7. Adam Driver, House of Gucci (PR: 4)

8. Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up (PR: 6)

9. Clifton Collins, Jr., Jockey (PR: 9)

10. Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 10)

11. Nicolas Cage, Pig (PR: 12)

12. Amir Jadidi, A Hero (PR: 13)

13. Filippo Scott, The Hand of God (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Simon Rex, Red Rocket (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Adam Driver, Annette (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Jamie Dornan, Belfast (moved to Supporting)

Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos 

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

2. Ann Dowd, Mass (PR: 1)

3. Caitriona Balfe, Belfast (PR: Not Ranked – moved from lead)

4. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 6)

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

Other Possibilities:

6. Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: Not Ranked – moved from lead)

7. Marlee Matlin, CODA (PR: 4)

8. Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard (PR: 7)

9. Toni Collette, Nightmare Alley (PR: 8)

10. Rooney Mara, Nightmare Alley (PR: 12)

11. Judi Dench, Belfast (PR: 3)

12. Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up (PR: 10)

13. Ruth Negga, Passing (PR: 9)

14. Martha Plimpton, Mass (PR: 11)

15. Dakota Johnson, The Lost Daughter (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Nina Arianda, Being the Ricardos

Olga Merediz, In the Heights

Jessie Buckley, The Lost Daughter 

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Bradley Cooper, Licorice Pizza (PR: 1)

2. Richard Jenkins, The Humans (PR: 4)

3. Ciaran Hinds, Belfast (PR: 3)

4. Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

5. Jason Isaacs, Mass (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Jared Leto, House of Gucci (PR: 5)

7. Jamie Dornan, Belfast (PR: Not Ranked – moved from lead)

8. Corey Hawkins, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 7)

9. Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog (PR: 8)

10. Mark Rylance, Don’t Look Up (PR: 9)

11. Troy Kotsur, CODA (PR: 13)

12. Willem Dafoe, Nightmare Alley (PR: 10)

13. David Alvarez, West Side Story (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Timothy Spall, Spencer (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Benny Safdie, Licorice Pizza (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Reed Birney, Mass

Simon Helberg, Annette

J.K. Simmons, Being the Ricardos

Adam Driver, The Last Duel

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Belfast (PR: 2)

2. Licorice Pizza (PR: 1)

3. Don’t Look Up (PR: 3)

4. Mass (PR: 4)

5. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 10)

Other Possibilities:

6. King Richard (PR: 6)

7. Spencer (PR: 5)

8. The French Dispatch (PR: 9)

9. The Hand of God (PR: 11)

10. Parallel Mothers (PR: 7)

11. Being the Ricardos (PR: 12)

12. A Hero (PR: 8)

13. The Worst Person in the World (PR: 13)

14. Last Night in Soho (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Blue Bayou (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Annette

Best Adapted Screenplay 

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (PR: 1)

2. Nightmare Alley (PR: 2)

3. The Humans (PR: 6)

4. House of Gucci (PR: 3)

5. The Lost Daughter (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 4)

7. Dune (PR: 8)

8. CODA (PR: 5)

9. West Side Story (PR: 12)

10. Passing (PR: 11)

11. Cyrano (PR: 10)

12. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 13)

13. The Last Duel (PR: 9)

14. The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 14)

15. The Green Knight (PR: 15)

2021 Oscar Predictions: September 6th Edition

Where to even begin? It’s been 11 days since I updated my Oscar predictions (a longer break than normal) but there’s good reason. A lot has transpired since then. That would be the Venice and Telluride Film Festivals where numerous contenders have been unveiled.

That means there are significant changes in all of the 8 major races that I’m currently forecasting. Let us count the ways:

    • Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog was certainly one of the most awaited arrivals. Before Venice, I had it placed #1 in Picture, Director, and Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch). The reviews do not automatically indicate it will win the prize. However, they were enough raves that I have not moved it out of the top spot in Picture and Director. Yet there is a new #1 in Actor…
    • That would be Will Smith in King Richard. While Cumberbatch only slips to #2, the reaction to Smith’s work has me thinking a narrative could develop where he sweeps the season.
    • Richard also moves into the top ten in my Best Picture rankings. So does Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast, another major story of the past few days. I didn’t have the black and white period drama getting any nods a week and a half ago. It’s now listed in Picture, Director, Supporting Actress (Judi Dench), Supporting Actor (Ciaran Hinds), and Original Screenplay. There is a question with how the studio will figure out placement for its ensemble. I currently have Caitriona Balfe and Jamie Dornan as possibilities in the lead derbies with both falling short.
    • The two newcomers in Best Picture takes out West Side Story and The Hand of God. Branagh’s rise in Director removes Joel Coen (The Tragedy of Macbeth).
    • In Actress, the festival praise for Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter) has me thinking she’s in at this juncture. Falling off the top five: Frances McDormand in The Tragedy of Macbeth. I nearly put McDormand in Supporting Actress and I wouldn’t be surprised if she contends there instead.
    • Another development in Actress is the vaulting of Kristen Stewart (Spencer) to the #1 slot over Lady Gaga (House of Gucci). The Venice love indicates she’s the strong frontrunner to win gold.
    • Peter Dinklage’s title role as Cyrano makes the top five in Actor to the detriment of Leonardo DiCaprio (Don’t Look Up).
    • Judi Dench’s inclusion in Belfast for Supporting Actress has Jayne Houdyshell (The Humans) on the outside looking in. I desperately wanted to put Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard) in the five and wouldn’t be surprised if she makes it in soon. I just couldn’t decide who to take out.
    • There are two changes in Supporting Actor. The Power of the Dog buzz provided a bit of a shocker. Kodi Smit-McPhee appears to hold a better chance at getting in over Jesse Plemons (who falls out of the mix). Also, the addition of Ciaran Hinds removes Corey Hawkins (The Tragedy of Macbeth). For those keeping score, that’s two Supporting Actor hopefuls in the five that weren’t even ranked 11 days ago.
    • In Original Screenplay, it’s Belfast and Spencer in and The French Dispatch (whose fortunes are falling in my opinion) and The Hand of God out. In Adapted Screenplay, I have put CODA back in (sorry to The Humans… which we’ll know more about when it debuts in days up in Toronto).

Whew. Got all that? You can peruse all the movement below. And you can bet that I’ll be posting about all the fresh updates from Toronto. Until then…

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. House of Gucci (PR: 2)

3. Nightmare Alley (PR: 4)

4. Belfast (PR: 14)

5. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3)

6. Dune (PR: 7)

7. Soggy Bottom (PR: 5)

8. Don’t Look Up (PR: 6)

9. King Richard (PR: 21)

10. CODA (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

11. West Side Story (PR: 8)

12. Mass (PR: 13)

13. Spencer (PR: 17)

14. The Humans (PR: 11)

15. A Hero (PR: 15)

16. Flee (PR: 16)

17. The Hand of God (PR: 10)

18. Cyrano (PR: Not Ranked)

19. The French Dispatch (PR: 12)

20. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 19)

21. The Last Duel (PR: 20)

22. Being the Ricardos (PR: 24)

23. Parallel Mothers (PR: 22)

24. Passing (PR: 23)

25. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 25)

Dropped Out:

Last Night in Soho

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog (PR: 1)

2. Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley (PR: 2)

3. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 5)

4. Ridley Scott, House of Gucci (PR: 4)

5. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast (PR: 12)

Other Possibilities:

6. Paul Thomas Anderson, Soggy Bottom (PR: 6)

7. Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3)

8. Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up (PR: 7)

9. Pablo Larrain, Spencer (PR: 15)

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

11. Asghar Farhadi, A Hero (PR: 10)

12. Reinaldo Marcus Green, King Richard (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee (PR: 14)

14. Sian Heder, CODA (PR: 13)

15. Paolo Sorrentino, The Hand of God (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch 

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Kristen Stewart, Spencer (PR: 4)

2. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci (PR: 1)

3. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 3)

4. Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter (PR: 14)

5. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers (PR: 6)

7. Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 2)

8. Jodie Comer, The Last Duel (PR: 7)

9. Caitriona Balfe, Belfast (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos (PR: 8)

11. Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley (PR: 9)

12. Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up (PR: 12)

13. Emilia Jones, CODA (PR: 10)

14. Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World (PR: 11)

15. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story (PR: 13)

Dropped Out:

Halle Berry, Bruised

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Will Smith, King Richard (PR: 3)

2. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog (PR: 1)

3. Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 2)

4. Adam Driver, House of Gucci (PR: 4)

5. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano (PR: 14)

Other Possibilities:

6. Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up (PR: 5)

7. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 6)

8. Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley (PR: 7)

9. Clifton Collins, Jr., Jockey (PR: 9)

10. Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 8)

11. Jamie Dornan, Belfast (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Nicolas Cage, Pig (PR: 11)

13. Amir Jadidi, A Hero (PR: 10)

14. Adam Driver, Annette (PR: 13)

15. Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Steven Yeun, The Humans

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ann Dowd, Mass (PR: 1)

2. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

3. Judi Dench, Belfast (PR: 11)

4. Marlee Matlin, CODA (PR: 3)

5. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 5)

7. Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard (PR: 15)

8. Toni Collette, Nightmare Alley (PR: 6)

9. Ruth Negga, Passing (PR: 10)

10. Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up (PR: 9)

11. Martha Plimpton, Mass (PR: 8)

12. Rooney Mara, Nightmare Alley (PR: 7)

13. Nina Arianda, Being the Ricardos (PR: 13)

14. Olga Merediz, In the Heights (PR: 12)

15. Jessie Buckley, The Lost Daughter (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Rebecca Ferguson, Dune

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Bradley Cooper, Soggy Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog (PR: Not Ranked)

3. Ciaran Hinds, Belfast (PR: Not Ranked)

4. Richard Jenkins, The Humans (PR: 3)

5. Jared Leto, House of Gucci (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Jason Isaacs, Mass (PR: 6)

7. Corey Hawkins, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 5)

8. Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

9. Mark Rylance, Don’t Look Up (PR: 7)

10. Willem Dafoe, Nightmare Alley (PR: 8)

11. Reed Birney, Mass (PR: 13)

12. Simon Helberg, Annette (PR: 11)

13. Troy Kotsur, CODA (PR: 10)

14. J.K. Simmons, Being the Ricardos (PR: 14)

15. Adam Driver, The Last Duel (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Jonah Hill, Don’t Look Up

Idris Elba, The Harder They Fall

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soggy Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Belfast (PR: 7)

3. Don’t Look Up (PR: 2)

4. Mass (PR: 4)

5. Spencer (PR: 11)

Other Possibilities:

6. King Richard (PR: 15)

7. Parallel Mothers (PR: 6)

8. A Hero (PR: 8)

9. The French Dispatch (PR: 3)

10. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 9)

11. The Hand of God (PR: 5)

12. Being the Ricardos (PR: 10)

13. The Worst Person in the World (PR: 13)

14. Blue Bayou (PR: 14)

15. Annette (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Last Night in Soho

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (PR: 1)

2. Nightmare Alley (PR: 4)

3. House of Gucci (PR: 3)

4. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 2)

5. CODA (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Humans (PR: 5)

7. The Lost Daughter (PR: 12)

8. Dune (PR: 7)

9. The Last Duel (PR: 8)

10. Cyrano (PR 13)

11. Passing (PR: 9)

12. West Side Story (PR: 11)

13. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 10)

14. The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 14)

15. The Green Knight (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Dear Evan Hansen

Back at it next week!