Oscar Watch: Radioactive

In 2014, Rosamund Pike received her first and only Oscar nomination for David Fincher’s  Gone Girl. The British actress has since appeared in a string of Indies that have garnered some critical kudos with scant awards attention. These titles include 2016’s A United Kingdom and 2018’s A Private War.

In the biographical drama Radioactive from director Marjane Satrapi, Pike portrays Nobel prize winning physicist Marie Curie. The film originally played at last year’s Toronto Film Festival and is now available for streaming today on Amazon Prime. It’s received generally positive reviews and stands at 69% on Rotten Tomatoes. Even the write-ups gearing more toward the negative praise Pike’s performance.

Gone Girl was a blockbuster and that helped the actress nab her Academy nod. The other projects just never broke through enough with mainstream audiences to get on the awards radar screen. That may well certainly apply to Radioactive as well. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Cannes Do Spirit

The Cannes Film Festival, originally scheduled for May in the French Riviera, was canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, an announcement today confirmed that the long running fest will exist in some form. And like everything in 2020… it’s a little confusing. A lineup announcement of 56 pictures was put out as being in the Cannes fold. However, these titles will premiere at various other events scheduled later in the year such as the Toronto and Telluride festivals, among others.

Awards watchers know that Cannes is a fertile breeding ground for Oscar hopefuls. Just last year, Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite won top Cannes prize the Palme d’or and eventually won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Some other titles (among many) that premiered at Cannes and got Oscar attention include Apocalypse Now, The Piano, Pulp Fiction, and The Pianist. 

So what are some significant 2020 Cannes contenders that could vie for Oscar gold? I’ll give you a quintet and we start with Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch. The latest effort from the acclaimed filmmaker is his live-action follow-up to 2014’s The Grand Budapest Hotel which nabbed a leading nine nominations at that year’s Oscars. The cast is filled with familiar faces and many Anderson regulars including Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Timothee Chalamet, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Willem Dafoe, and Anjelica Huston. It is obviously high on the list for potential players throughout awards season.

Ronan also costars in Ammonite, a period drama from director Francis Lee. Her costar is Kate Winslet and between the two of them they have 11 Academy nominations. Expect plenty of chatter as to their viability in the performance races.

Steve McQueen is premiering not one, but two pictures with the Cannes label – Lovers Rock and Mangrove. The director saw his 2013 pic 12 Years a Slave awarded Best Picture. Both of his new titles focus on race relations in the United Kingdom.

Finally, Pixar is in the mix with Soul. Originally scheduled for summer, it was pushed back to November and is rightfully seen as a top tier contender in the Animated Feature derby. Featuring the voices of Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey, Soul is directed by Pete Docter. He’s responsible for two of the studio’s most acclaimed entries and Oscar winners – 2009’s Up and 2015’s Inside Out.

I would suspect that the 51 other Cannes selections could wind up in the mix as well (especially in the International Feature Film race). Time will tell, but the Cannes label will carry on in 2020 (albeit under unforeseen and unique circumstances).

Oscar Watch: Hope Gap

Alongside Glenn Close and Amy Adams, Annette Bening could be the most high profile and acclaimed actress that has yet to win Oscar gold despite multiple nominations. She is a four time nominee – once for Supporting Actress in 1990’s The Grifters and thrice nominated in the lead race with 1999’s American Beauty, 2004’s Being Julia, and 2010’s The Kids Are All Right. In both 1999 and 2004, Bening was likely the runner-up and lost both awards to Hilary Swank (for Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby, respectively).

There’s a feeling that her time may come, but this year’s Hope Gap is unlikely to get her there. The drama premiered last fall at the Toronto Film Festival. Focusing on her strained marriage with Bill Nighy, Gap is directed by William Nicholson. He’s known most for his screenwriting with credits including the Oscar winning Gladiator as well as Shadowlands, Nell, and Les Miserables (2012 version).

So while the Oscar pedigree is certainly present, reviews are decidedly more mixed. The Rotten Tomatoes rating stands at a so-so 63% after Gap forewent a theatrical release and went straight to VOD. Perhaps Bening will have a bite at the Supporting Actress apple with October’s Death on the Nile, the follow-up to Murder on the Orient Express. As for Gap, there’s scant hope. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Oscars Go Streaming

The COVID-19 pandemic has obviously changed the operation of movie theaters for the past two months and that looks to continue into the foreseeable future in many states across the nation. For someone who has a blog that focuses on a lot on Oscar forecasting, this has raised numerous questions. The primary one is: could there really be an Oscar telecast for 2020 pictures next year if there’s little product being released? And I certainly don’t think Sonic the Hedgehog or Birds of Prey will sweep the ceremony in February 2021.

A significant part of the answer to that question was revealed today. The Academy, after an internal Zoom conference, announced that streaming and VOD product will indeed be eligible for Oscar consideration. You may ask – weren’t Netflix and other streamers already being nominated? After all, 2019 saw Best Picture and/or acting nods for The Irishman, Marriage Story, and The Two Popes. Well, not really. The previous rule was that each streaming entry had to screen in Los Angeles for a one week awards qualifying run. That rule (at least for 2020) has been abolished.

So what does that mean? The uncertainty surrounding the opening of theaters could mean a lot more features hitting Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and any other VOD platforms. We have witnessed this already with Trolls World Tour landing on small screens when it was supposed to hit multiplexes. That’s not all. Just yesterday, Judd Apatow’s latest comedy King of Staten Island starring Pete Davidson skipped its theatrical run and opted for a June VOD date. The Lovebirds, which reunites Kumail Nanjiani with his The Big Sick director Michael Showalter, arrives May 22 on Netflix. The Seth Rogen comedy An American Pickle will now premiere on HBO Max.

With today’s announcement, I suspect we could see many Oscar contenders (especially lower budget ones) make the streaming move. And with the uncertainty regarding film festivals like Cannes, Venice, Toronto, and Telluride (typically the launching pads for such content), this could be the easiest way to get such features to the masses around the same time frame.

My Oscar coverage, when it’s available, will continue here!

Just Mercy Box Office Prediction

After opening in limited release over the holidays, true life legal drama Just Mercy expands nationwide next weekend. From director Destin Daniel Cretton, the pic stars Michael B. Jordan as attorney seeking to free wrongfully imprisoned Jamie Foxx. The supporting cast includes Brie Larson, Rob Morgan, Tim Blake Nelson, and Rafe Spall.

Mercy premiered at the Toronto Film Festival back in September to mostly positive reviews. It stands at 81% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, it never managed to achieve any significant awards chatter with the exception of a SAG nod in Supporting Actor for Foxx. He might still get an Oscar nomination (even though that’s iffy), but that should be the extent of any Academy attention. More buzz for top tier nominations could have assisted with the box office.

In the Christmas weekend, this got a per theater average under $30,000 on four screens. That’s less than other rollouts for prestige projects. I will estimate that Mercy barely doesn’t reach double digits as it hits over 2000 venues.

Just Mercy opening weekend prediction: $9.8 million

For my 1917 prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/01/1917-box-office-prediction/

For my Like a Boss prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/01/like-a-boss-box-office-prediction/

For my Underwater prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/02/underwater-box-office-prediction/

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Box Office Prediction

Tom Hanks dons the iconic red cardigan next weekend in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. The feel good drama casts the double Oscar winner as childrens host Mister Rogers, just one year after Won’t You Be My Neighbor? became one of the highest grossing documentaries of all time. Marielle Heller (who directed Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant to Academy nods last year in Can You Ever Forgive Me?) is behind the camera. Matthew Rhys stars as a journalist doing a story on Rogers with Susan Kelechi Watson and Chris Cooper in the supporting cast.

Since Day debuted at the Toronto Film Festival a couple months back, solid buzz followed and its current Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 97%. It appears probable that Hanks will receive his first Oscar nomination (in Supporting Actor) since 2000’s Cast Away. The aforementioned 2018 doc likely helps its visibility, as does casting one of our biggest movie stars as one of America’s most beloved figures.

There is the matter of Frozen II, which could siphon some family audiences away. Beautiful also arrives on the pre Thanksgiving long frame and some filmgoers may simply choose to spend time in this neighborhood at that time.

While I do believe a premiere of over $20 million (maybe even $25 million) is feasible, I’ll say  high teens with weekends of strong holds ahead is the play.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood opening weekend prediction: $18.6 million

For my Frozen II prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/11/12/frozen-ii-box-office-prediction/

For my 21 Bridges prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/11/15/21-bridges-box-office-prediction/

Harriet Box Office Prediction

Once looked at as a potential Oscar contender, buzz for Harriet has significantly dwindled since its debut at the Toronto Film Festival back in September. I suspect this autobiographical tale of abolitionist Harriet Tubman will suffer at the box office as a result. Widows actress Cynthia Erivo stars in the title role with a supporting cast including Leslie Odom Jr., Joe Alwyn, and Janelle Monae. Kasi Lemmons directs. 

Its premiere in Canada yielded mixed reviews and it currently stands at a middling 61% on Rotten Tomatoes. Best Picture seems like a lost cause and Erivo (once looked at as a sure fire contender) may have a tough time making the cut for Best Actress. 

Based on those factors, I foresee Harriet struggling to hit double digits for its start. 

Harriet opening weekend prediction: $8.2 million 

For my Terminator: Dark Fate prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/10/22/terminator-dark-fate-box-office-prediction/

For my Motherless Brooklyn prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/10/23/motherless-brooklyn-box-office-prediction/

For my Arctic Dogs prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/10/23/arctic-dogs-box-office-prediction/

The Current War Box Office Prediction

Historical drama The Current War has experienced a very bumpy road on its journey to the big screen. The film in September 2017 at the Toronto Film Festival with Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Shannon starring as Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, respectively. Once looked at as an awards hopeful, it failed to electrify critics and it currently sports a dim 31% Rotten Tomatoes score. To add insult to injury, War was being distributed by The Weinstein Company and its co-founder’s legal issues put its release on hold.

That ends this Friday as Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s effort is out with trailers calling it the “Director’s Cut” (an odd choice considering only reviewers and Toronto goers saw it two years back). Costars include Katherine Waterston, Tom Holland (who’s appeared as Spider-Man several times since making this), and Nicholas Hoult.

Simply put, I see no little anticipation here and there’s plenty of actual Oscar contenders out in limited or wide release for adults to attend. There’s no screen count yet and that could alter my estimate, but I believe this will lucky to even reach $2 million.

The Current War opening weekend prediction: $1.7 million

For my Countdown prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/10/16/countdown-box-office-prediction/

For my Black and Blue prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/10/17/black-and-blue-box-office-prediction/

2019 Oscar Predictions: September 19th Edition

It’s Thursday and that means my weekly Oscar predictions are updated! Some events from over the last week:

  • By Friday next week, The Irishman will have screened and we will know how much of a contender it truly is. I’ve held it as a placeholder in first since I started my projections a month ago. I’m shaking it up a bit and sliding the picture and Martin Scorsese to third. That means Marriage Story takes over in slot one for Pic and Quentin Tarantino is first for direction.
  • Winning the Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival, Jojo Rabbit got just the shot in the arm it needed after mixed reviews. 10 of the past 11 Toronto recipients have nabbed a Best Picture nod. So it’s back in my mix. It replaces Waves.
  • In Director, Sam Mendes is back in with James Mangold out.
  • No changes to the top five in Best Actor. . In Actress and Supporting Actress – same story as even 1-5 rankings remain consistent.
  • In Supporting Actor, it’s Willem Dafoe returning to the predictions over Sterling K. Brown.
  • The five Adapted Screenplays haven’t changed while in Original, it’s The Farewell over Waves. 

WINNER OF THE WEEK: Jojo Rabbit 

LOSER OF THE WEEK: Waves 

Let’s get to it!

BEST PICTURE 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Marriage Story (Previous Ranking: 2)

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 3)

3. The Irishman (PR: 1)

4. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 5)

5. Parasite (PR: 6)

6. 1917 (PR: 10)

7. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 14)

8. The Two Popes (PR: 4)

9. Joker (PR: 8)

10. Little Women (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

11. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 11)

12. Waves (PR: 9)

13. The Farewell (PR:12)

14. Just Mercy (PR: 13)

15. A Hidden Life (PR: 19)

16. Bombshell (PR: 18)

17. The Lighthouse (PR: 20)

18. Pain and Glory (PR: 16)

19. Booksmart (PR: 22)

20. Dark Waters (PR: 17)

21. The Report (PR: 15)

22. Knives Out (PR: 21)

23. Ad Astra (PR: 25)

24. Rocketman (PR: 24)

25. The Good Liar (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Queen and Slim 

BEST DIRECTOR 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

2. Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story (PR: 3)

3. Martin Scorsese, The Irishman (PR: 1)

4. Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite (PR: 4)

5. Sam Mendes, 1917 (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 5)

7. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 13)

8. Greta Gerwig, Little Women (PR: 7)

9. Fernando Meirelles, The Two Popes (PR: 9)

10. Pedro Almodovar, Pain and Glory (PR: 8)

11. Marielle Heller, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 11)

12. Terrence Malick, A Hidden Life (PR: 12)

13. Todd Phillips, Joker (Not Ranked)

14. Lulu Wang, The Farewell (PR: 15)

15. Trey Edward Shults, Waves (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Todd Haynes, Dark Waters 

BEST ACTOR 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Adam Driver, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Joaquin Phoenix, Joker (PR: 3)

3. Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes (PR: 2)

4. Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 4)

5. Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Robert De Niro, The Irishman (PR: 6)

7. Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 7)

8. Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name (PR: 8)

9. Taron Egerton, Rocketman (PR: 9)

10. Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems (PR: 13)

11. Ian McKellen, The Good Liar (PR: 11)

12. Michael B. Jordan, Just Mercy (PR: 10)

13. Brad Pitt, Ad Astra (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Mark Ruffalo, Dark Waters (PR: 12)

15. Robert Pattinson, The Lighthouse (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Daniel Kaluuya, Queen and Slim 

BEST ACTRESS 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Renee Zellweger, Judy (PR: 2)

3. Saoirse Ronan, Little Women (PR: 3)

4. Cynthia Erivo, Harriet (PR: 4)

5. Alfre Woodard, Clemency (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Awkwafina, The Farewell (PR: 6)

7. Charlize Theron, Bombshell (PR: 7)

8. Lupita Nyong’o, Us (PR: 8)

9. Lesley Manville, Ordinary Love (PR: 10)

10. Helen Mirren, The Good Liar (PR: 9)

11. Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen and Slim (PR: 11)

12. Felicity Jones, The Aeronauts (PR: 14)

13. Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell (PR: 12)

14. Kristen Stewart, Seberg (PR: 13)

15. Elle Fanning, Teen Spirit (PR: 15)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Predicted Nominees:

1. Laura Dern, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Annette Bening, The Report (PR: 2)

3. Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers (PR: 3)

4. Shuzhen Zhou, The Farewell (PR: 4)

5. Margot Robbie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Meryl Streep, Little Women (PR: 8)

7. Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Florence Pugh, Little Women (PR: 6)

9. Nicole Kidman, Bombshell (PR: 9)

10. Penelope Cruz, Pain and Glory (PR: 10)

11. Meryl Streep, The Laundromat (PR: 7)

12. Jennifer Hudson, Cats (PR: 11)

13. Anna Paquin, The Irishman (PR: 13)

14. Anne Hathaway, Dark Waters (PR: 12)

15. Ana de Armas, Knives Out (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Renee Elise Goldsberry, Waves 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 1)

2. Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 2)

3. Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes (PR: 4)

4. Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse (PR: 6)

5. Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Al Pacino, The Irishman (PR: 7)

7. Sterling K. Brown, Waves (PR: 5)

8. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 11)

9. Joe Pesci, The Irishman (PR: 10)

10. Alan Alda, Marriage Story (PR: 8)

11. John Lithgow, Bombshell (PR: 9)

12. Shia LaBeouf, Honey Boy (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Tracy Letts, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 12)

14. Chris Evans, Knives Out (PR: 14)

15. Jamie Bell, Rocketman (PR: 13)

Dropped Out:

Aldis Hodge, Clemency 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. Parasite (PR: 4)

4. The Two Popes (PR: 3)

5. The Farewell (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Waves (PR: 5)

7. Booksmart (PR: 10)

8. Pain and Glory (PR: 8)

9. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 9)

10. The Report (PR: 7)

11. Knives Out (PR: 11)

12. Bombshell (PR: 12)

13. The Lighthouse (PR: 13)

14. 1917 (PR: 14)

15. Honey Boy (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Queen and Slim 

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY 

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 5)

3. Little Women (PR: 2)

4. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 3)

5. Joker (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Just Mercy (PR: 6)

7. Dark Waters (PR: 7)

8. Downton Abbey (PR: 13)

9. The Laundromat (PR: 8)

10. Judy (PR: 11)

11. The Good Liar (PR: 15)

12. Luce (PR: 10)

13. Hustlers (PR: 9)

14. Toy Story 4 (PR: 12)

15. Motherless Brooklyn (PR: 14)

Back at it next week!!

Jojo Takes Toronto

Buckle up Oscar prognosticators because we are in for a heckuva awards season over the next few months!

One week after Joker took the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and increased its Oscar chances for Best Picture, Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit has emerged victorious in the People’s Choice Award in Toronto.

A very solid argument can be made that this particular designation is even more key in determining an eventual BP nod. Why? The odds are certainly in its favor. 10 out of the last 11 winners have received a nod in the big race come Oscar time. Four of them – 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire, 2010’s The King’s Speech, 2013’s 12 Years a Slave and last year’s Green Book – ended up winning BP.

What makes the Jojo victory surprising is the mixed critical reaction it’s garnered. The buzz for this award was centered on titles like Parasite (which was a runner-up), Marriage Story (another runner-up), and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Conventional wisdom in the last few days has been that Jojo is an on the bubble BP contender at best. The Toronto audience love shows that its admirers are passionate. And that might be enough to overcome the naysayers.

There is no doubt that this is exactly the kind of prize Jojo needed to keep its Oscar viability alive. And now Jojo and Joker have more in common than their alphabetical proximity. They’re contenders.

My Jojo Rabbit review can be found here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/09/10/jojo-rabbit-movie-review/