Oscar Watch: Portrait of a Lady on Fire

After premiering in its home country in May at the Cannes Film Festival, the historical love story Portrait of a Lady on Fire will make its North American debut at the Toronto Film Festival shortly. It marks the fourth directorial feature for Céline Sciamma and it made a splash with its European rollout. Set in 1770, Portrait centers on a forbidden romance between a would be bride and the woman commissioned to paint her portrait.

It won the Best Screenplay award at Cannes and currently has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film was acquired by Neon and Hulu for stateside distribution later this year. It stands an excellent chance at being France’s official selection for the Best International Feature category at the Academy Awards. Based on its sizzling buzz, its inclusion in that race is a strong possibility. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The 2019 Oscar Season Cometh

As the summer season winds down, the movie industry and this blog’s attention will soon turn to the Oscar race. And if you think it’s too early to do that, consider that less than a month from now – an avalanche of Academy hopefuls will be unveiled at film festivals. Toronto, Venice, Telluride, and the New York festivals are on deck. The programmers behind those events have already released the names of many of the pictures premiering. Here are some of the pictures wishing for Oscar glory that are hitting the circuit:

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Tom Hanks is iconic children’s host Mr. Rogers in director Marielle Heller’s follow-up to last year’s Can You Ever Forgive Me?, which nabbed nods for Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant. Premiering at Toronto.

Ad Astra

James Gray has made multiple critical darlings, but has yet to pop up on the awards circuit radar screen. Could this sci fi drama with Brad Pitt and Tommy Lee Jones change that? Premiering at Venice.

An Officer and a Spy

It will need serious acclaim to overcome the baggage that comes from its maker Roman Polanski, but this historical thriller will attempt to do so in Venice.

Dolemite Is My Name

Prior to its anticipated Netflix launch, Craig Brewer’s biopic of comedian Rudy Ray Moore portrayed by legendary comic Eddie Murphy will bow at Toronto.

Ema

Pablo Larrain has had his pics No and Jackie attract awards nods and this Chilean drama hopes to follow suit. Premiering at Venice.

Ford v Ferrari

Matt Damon and Christian Bale star in James Mangold’s 1960s set tale of the flashy automotive industry. Premiering at Toronto.

Harriet

Cynthia Erica was a breakout in last year’s Widows. This year she has an Academy baity role as abolitionist Harriet Tubman in this historical epic from Kasi Lemmons. Premiering at Toronto.

Jojo Rabbit

This concoction from Taika Waititi is set during WWII with a dark comedic premise finding a young child with an imaginary friend who happens to be Hitler. The filmmaker himself plays Hitler. Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell are among the cast.

Joker

Heath Ledger won a posthumous gold statue as the comic book villain in The Dark Knight. Joaquin Phoenix will attempt the same here. Premiering at Venice.

Judy

It’s been awhile since Renee Zellweger had a role receiving awards buzz. This biopic of Judy Garland could alter that. Premiering at Toronto.

Just Mercy

This drama about a falsely accused prisoner features Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, and Brie Larson. Premiering at Toronto.

Knives Out

Rian Johnson’s murder mystery has a sprawling cast of hopefuls including Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, and Michael Shannon. Premiering at Toronto.

Marriage Story

Noah Baumbach is a favorite of the critical community. This drama is headlined by Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver and hits Venice and other fests before its Netflix premiere.

The Goldfinch

Brooklyn director John Crowley adapts this drama based on a well-known 2013 novel. The cast includes Nicole Kidman and Oakes Fegley. Premiering at Toronto.

The Irishman

Rightly kicking off the New York Festival, Martin Scorsese directs this gangster saga starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci.

The Laundromat

Oscar winner Steven Soderbergh directs this dramatic thriller with Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, and Antonio Banderas. Premiering at Venice.

The Personal History of David Copperfield

Lion nominee Dev Patel is the Charles Dickens character with a supporting cast including Tilda Swinton and Hugh Laurie. Premiering at Toronto.

The Two Popes

Jonathan Pryce is Pope Francis and Anthony Hopkins is Pope Benedict in this Netflix effort from director Fernando Meirelles. Premiering at Toronto.

Followers of this blog know that I’ll do Oscar Watch posts on each of these and many others as they screen in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

 

Oscar Watch: Wild Rose

After premiering at the Toronto Film Festival last fall, Wild Rose was released stateside in limited fashion this weekend. The musical drama casts Jessie Buckley as an ex con and mother of two who aspires to be a country crooner. Tom Harper directs and costars include Julie Walters and Sophie Okonedo.

Reviews have been strong and the pic stands at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. Special attention has especially been paid to Buckley, who is also among the cast of HBO’s huge miniseries hit Chernobyl.

Rose struggled to blossom at the box office this weekend on four screens. It’s doubtful it will post significant numbers in multiplexes. Yet there could be a sizable push for Buckley to nab a Best Actress nod (and maybe Nicole Taylor’s original screenplay). My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: The Biggest Little Farm

After playing the festival circuit last fall and early this year, The Biggest Little Farm cultivated a decent limited release debut this weekend. The documentary follows a married couple who move from Los Angeles to agricultural country in SoCal to pursue farming. John Chester, whose short docs on Oprah Winfrey’s network has earned him Emmys, directs.

The film has garnered praise from critics (94% on Rotten Tomatoes) and environmentalists.  As mentioned, Farm first screened last fall in Toronto and has played at multiple fests since including Telluride and Sundance. Neon picked up distribution rights and a theater count expansion is planned for Friday.

If this manages to stay on the radar screen for Academy voters, it stands an outside shot at a Documentary Feature nod. That could be a tall order if competition heats up as the year rolls along, which is probable. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Teen Spirit

Last fall, the musical drama Teen Spirit premiered at the Toronto Film Festival to some acclaim that especially focused on its lead Elle Fanning. The film casts her as a shy teen who dreams of pop stardom. The soundtrack finds her covering tunes by the likes of Katy Perry, Ariana Grande, and Annie Lennox. It marks the directorial debut of Max Minghella, whose late father Anthony earned a gold trophy 23 years ago for making The English Patient. Zlatko Buric and Rebecca Hall are in the supporting cast.

With a Rotten Tomatoes score of 70%, Spirit is in no contention for a Best Picture nod. Yet some critics have made a point to single out Fanning, who’s had well received supporting roles lately in The Beguiled and 20th Century Women.

A little box office attention could’ve helped but Spirit completely stalled in its limited release over the weekend. Some reviewers may call Fanning a dark horse candidate months from now, but I expect this to end up like last year’s Vox Lux with Natalie Portman. While different in tone, that picture also centered on a pop singer and had its supporters. They did not include Academy voters. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Hotel Mumbai Box Office Prediction

The true life action thriller Hotel Mumbai expands nationwide this weekend after its limited engagement over this past one. Recounting the 2008 Taj Mahal Palace Hotel terror attacks in India, the film marks the directorial debut of Anthony Maras. Dev Patel and Armie Hammer headline with costars including Anupam Kher and Jason Isaacs.

Mumbai was originally screened at the Toronto Film Festival last fall to mostly positive reviews. It stands at 77% on Rotten Tomatoes. Over the weekend, it managed a per theater average of over $20,000 on four screens.

That’s pretty decent, but that average should dip significantly as it’s scheduled to hit about 800 this weekend. The number is lower than other new wide releases like Unplanned and The Beach Bum. However, Mumbai could top the grosses of those titles – making it the biggest earning newcomer that isn’t named Dumbo.

Hotel Mumbai opening weekend prediction: $3.4 million

For my Dumbo prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/20/dumbo-box-office-prediction/

For my Unplanned prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/24/unplanned-box-office-prediction/

For my The Beach Bum prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/24/the-beach-bum-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Gloria Bell

After premiering last autumn at the Toronto Film Festival, Gloria Bell hits theaters in limited fashion on Friday. The film is a remake of Sebastian Lelio’s 2013 Chilean comedic drama that was met with acclaim. Those strong reviews have greeted the American version (100% on Rotten Tomatoes), which again features Lelio behind the camera. It’s the filmmaker’s follow-up to 2017’s A Fantastic Woman, which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Feature.

Julianne Moore plays the title role and critics have lavished praise for her work. Costars include John Turturro, Michael Cera, Brad Garrett, Holland Taylor, Sean Astin, Jeanne Tripplehorn, and Rita Wilson.

A24 acquired Gloria after its screening up north. Even with the March release, it’s likely that the studio will make a significant push for Moore to receive her sixth Oscar nod. Her fifth nomination was the lucky one in 2014 when took the statue in Best Actress for Still Alice. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the sole focus is on Moore being recognized, similar to Glenn Close in 2018 for The Wife.

Bottom line: it’s early, but Moore could be in the mix yet again. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…