Oscar Predictions: Sanctuary

Zachary Wigon’s Sanctuary premiered at the Toronto Film Festival eight months ago to sizzling buzz, but it’s just hitting screens in limited fashion tomorrow. The two-hander casts Margaret Qualley as a dominatrix with Christopher Abbott as her wealthy client.

Reviews for the satirical thriller are impressive and it sits at 98% on Rotten Tomatoes with over 40 reviews in. Neon picked up the distribution rights after it debuted up north. Critics are praising the two leads and the original screenplay from Micah Bloomberg.

Despite the love, I doubt this will dominate next year’s Academy Awards. The subject matter may simply be a little much and it could simply fade away given the early release date. Don’t be surprised, though, if Qualley and the script pop up in some critics groups mentions a few months down the line. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Chevalier

After premiering at the Toronto Film Festival last September, Chevalier finally moves into multiplexes on April 21st. The musical biopic is directed by Stephen Williams, known best for his TV work on shows like Lost. Kelvin Harrison Jr. stars as famed 18th century violinist Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. The supporting cast includes Samara Weaving, Lucy Boynton, Marton Csokas, and Minnie Driver.

When it premiered at TIFF, critics mostly sang its praises. The Rotten Tomatoes score is 95%. While nearly all reviews are positive, they are not to a level where Best Picture consideration at the Oscars is feasible (the April release date basically confirms that).

The Golden Globes could be a different story. If distributor Searchlight slots Chevalier in Musical/Comedy (which would be the wise play), both the movie and Harrison’s work could contend.

Given the period setting, the Academy could look at Production Design or Costume Design (perhaps even Sound). It’s also possible that it ends up lost in the shuffle at year’s end. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: How to Blow Up a Pipeline

The environmental heist thriller How to Blow Up a Pipeline debuted in limited release over Easter weekend to solid results. From director Daniel Goldhaber, this is a fictionalized adaptation of Andreas Malm’s nonfiction 2021 novel. The cast includes Ariela Barer (who also co-scripted), Kristine Froseth, Lukas Gage, Forrest Goodluck, Sasha Lane, Jayme Lawson, Marcus Scribner, Jake Weary, and Irene Bedard.

Pipeline first screened at the Toronto Film Festival to impressive reviews and was quickly snatched up by Neon for distribution. The Rotten Tomatoes meter stands at 95%. I would not be surprised if its distributor (who shepherded Triangle of Sadness to a BP nom last year) make a serious campaign push here.

It could be a long shot for BP, but I wouldn’t totally discount it. This could also be a contender for an Adapted Screenplay nod. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Moving On

From 9 to 5 over four decades ago to Netflix’s recent Grace and Frankie to the very recent midsize hit 80 for Brady, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin clearly enjoy collaborating. They’re back at it again this weekend with the limited release of Moving On. The comedy comes from filmmaker Paul Weitz, who directed Tomlin to a Golden Globe nom in 2015 for Grandma. Costars include Malcolm McDowell, Richard Roundtree, and Catherine Dent.

Moving first surfaced last fall at the Toronto Film Festival to mixed reactions. The Rotten Tomatoes score is 65%. Even though Brady has a slightly lower RT rating at the moment (62%), it has a better chance at Oscar recognition due to the song “Gonna Be You” from frequent nominee Diane Warren. This follow-up from the legendary actresses is highly unlikely to generate any Academy (or Globes) attention.

My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

95th Academy Awards: Ranking the Best Picture Nominees

The 95th Academy Awards air tomorrow and, just in the nick of time, I have seen all ten Best Picture nominees courtesy of my Netflix viewing of All Quiet on the Western Front today.

If you missed my predictions for who and what I believe will win at the ceremony, you can access that here:

Now that I’ve seen the group of pics vying for BP, I will rank them according to personal preference. Just as in 2019 with Parasite, my #1 happens to match the movie that I’m projecting to take the biggest prize.

In 2022, I was ecstatic to attend the Toronto Film Festival for the first time. It is there that I saw future nominees The Banshees of Inisherin, The Fabelmans, and Women Talking. At the theater in my home state of Ohio, I took in Avatar: The Way of Water, Tár, and Top Gun: Maverick. Home sweet home is where I viewed All Quiet on the Western Front, Elvis, Everything Everywhere All at Once, and Triangle of Sadness.

This is how I’d rank them!

10. Triangle of Sadness

9. Avatar: The Way of Water

8. Elvis

7. All Quiet on the Western Front

6. The Banshees of Inisherin

5. Tár

4. Women Talking

3. The Fabelmans

2. Top Gun: Maverick

1 . Everything Everywhere All at Once

Oscars: The Case of Women Talking

Women Talking is the final Case Of post for the Best Picture nominees at the 95th Academy Awards. Will we be talking about Women gathering Oscars come March 12th? Let’s get into it.

The Case for Women Talking:

Sarah Polley’s adaptation of the 2018 Miriam Toews novel generated awards buzz out of the gate when it premiered at Toronto. At the Critics Choice Awards, it had a respectable showing with six mentions including BP and Director with a victory in Adapted Screenplay.

The Case Against Women Talking:

There’s a lot. For starters, its total of two nominations is the lowest of the candidates (it’s rare for a BP contender to have only one other nom). Women was ignored in Director, Original Score, and for any of its performances and it was once thought to be in contention for all. BAFTA totally ignored it. The Golden Globes only put it up in two races (Screenplay and Score) and it lost both. Its SAG count is one category. That was in Ensemble with individual players like Jessie Buckley, Claire Foy, and Ben Whishaw left out. Box office grosses have been subpar.

Other Nominations:

Adapted Screenplay

The Verdict:

Women Talking does stand a chance of becoming the Adapted Screenplay recipient. Perhaps this can cling to the hope that CODA took BP last year and it tied for the least numbers of nominations among the ten. Realistically there is just about zero chance of this becoming Best Picture.

While my Case Of posts for BP have concluded, I will now move to the filmmakers and thespians in Director and the four acting derbies. That will begin with the Daniels and their direction of Everything Everywhere All at Once!

If you missed my Case Of posts for the other BP nominees, you can access them here:

Oscars: The Case of The Fabelmans

My Case Of posts will for the ten Best Picture hopefuls is past the halfway point as we consider the pros and cons of our sixth competitor The Fabelmans.

The Case for The Fabelmans:

Steven Spielberg’s 13th movie to be nominated for BP (only Schindler’s List won) is his most personal as arguably today’s most iconic director gets autobiographical. It was first seen at the Toronto Film Festival where it took the People’s Choice Award. That’s a prize shared by later Oscar winners such as The King’s Speech, 12 Years a Slave, Green Book, and Nomadland. At the Golden Globes, it had a big night as it was bestowed Best Motion Picture (Drama) and Spielberg nabbed the directorial trophy. A victory here could be seen as a genuine thank you for its maker’s cinematic contributions.

The Case Against The Fabelmans:

That genuine thank you could just as easily come with Spielberg being Best Director and BP going to something else. Despite the Globes love, BAFTA was shockingly dismissive as its sole nomination is for screenplay. At Critics Choice, it went a mere 1/11 with Gabriel LaBelle as Best Young Actor (a non-existent Academy race). While the seven nominations are decent, there were notable omissions including Film Editing and Cinematography. It’s also undeniably a box office dud with $16 million at press time.

Other Nominations:

Director (Spielberg), Actress (Michelle Williams), Supporting Actor (Judd Hirsch), Original Screenplay, Original Score, Production Design

The Verdict:

There is a universe in which The Fabelmans gets BP and Director, but I would put it behind Everything Everywhere All at Once and The Banshees of Inisherin right now. An Ensemble win at SAG could help momentum. It may be behind the aforementioned at that ceremony too.

My Case Of posts will continue with Tár!

If you missed my previous posts in the series, you can access them here:

Oscar Predictions: Alice, Darling

The psychological drama Alice, Darling takes Anna Kendrick out of Pitch Perfect mode and into darker territory. Marking the directorial debut of Mary Nighy (daughter of Bill), Kendrick plays a domestic abuse victim coming to terms with the danger of her circumstances. The supporting cast includes Kaniehtiio Horn, Charlie Carrick, and Wunmi Mosaku.

Darling premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. Early reviews have given it an 86% Rotten Tomatoes rating. It debuts December 30th for an awards qualifying run before an AMC Theatres exclusive release beginning January 20th.

Kendrick is a previous Oscar nominee in Supporting Actress 13 years ago for Up in the Air. Initial critical reaction has praised her work. However, distributor Lionsgate has not mounted a visible campaign in an Actress field that’s already crowded.

Bottom line: the director’s dad appears headed for an Actor nod for Living. Darling‘s prospects aren’t up in the air. They’re non-existent. My Oscar Predictions posts will continue…

The Fabelmans Box Office Prediction

Drawing on his own upbringing, Steven Spielberg’s coming-of-age drama The Fabelmans opens semi-wide over the long Turkey Day frame. After its September premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, the film has been seen as a major Oscar contender with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 94%. Newcomer Gabriel LaBelle (essentially playing young Spielberg), Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, and Julia Butters are among the ensemble.

The ode to family and cinema debuted November 11th on four screens with a fair though not impressive $40,000 per theaters average. That’s a little under what fellow awards hopeful The Banshees of Inisherin made in the same amount of venues a few weeks back.

Spielberg’s most personal work to date expands to approximately 600 screens on Wednesday, November 23rd. That meager count could mean a floor as low as $2 million for the three-day and $3 million for the five-day (if it goes any lower that would be considered a massive flop). A rosier picture could mean $5-6 million for Friday to Sunday and higher single digits when factoring in Wednesday and Thursday.

My gut says to be on the lower end of that scale as it’ll hope for solid holds throughout the holidays.

The Fabelmans opening weekend prediction: $2.8 million (Friday to Sunday); $4.1 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Strange World prediction, click here:

For my Devotion prediction, click here:

For my Bones and All prediction, click here:

Devotion Box Office Prediction

Sony Pictures is hoping Thanksgiving moviegoers fly with Devotion when it opens Wednesday, November 23rd. The true life tale of Korean War fighter pilots stars Jonathan Majors, Glen Powell, Joe Jonas, and Christina Jackson. J.D. Dillard directs the reported $90 million production.

Reviews were decent after it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September. The Rotten Tomatoes score is 85%. The pic hopes to bring in an older audience for the long holiday frame. It could help that Top Gun: Maverick and its naval storyline is the biggest blockbuster of 2022. There could be a carryover effect and it might not hurt that Powell (who played Hangman in Maverick) is in this.

That said, Devotion isn’t a sequel to an iconic 80s film and Tom Cruise is nowhere to be found in the cockpit. Considering the budget, this seems on course to flop. I’ll project the Friday to Sunday earnings fall under $10 million with the five-day in the lower teens.

Devotion opening weekend prediction: $7.2 million (Friday to Sunday); $10.7 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Strange World prediction, click here:

For my Bones and All prediction, click here:

For my The Fabelmans prediction, click here: