Oscar Watch: Toy Story 4

The fourth edition of Toy Story is unveiled in theaters next weekend and reviews are out today. It is the 21st film for Pixar that began in 1995 with… Toy Story. And when it comes to Oscar voters honoring the studio’s works, there’s a rich history.

Critics so far have given a 100% stamp of approval to the sequel. The Academy established the Best Animated Feature in 2001. There’s been 18 winners and half of them are Pixar pics. The studio has also nabbed two nods in Best Picture with 2009’s Up and 2010’s… Toy Story 3.

First things first: there is approximately zero doubt that part four will get Animated Feature recognition. And unless something special comes along in the second half of the year (perhaps Frozen 2?), it has an excellent shot at winning. It’s also feasible that it could land Pixar’s third Picture nod, but that is far less certain at this juncture.

Another category where Toy Story 4 could contend is Best Original Song. There’s two possibilities: Randy Newman’s “I Can’t Let Yourself Throw Away” and “The Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy”, which was written by Newman and is performed by country superstar Chris Stapleton.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Toy Story 4 Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (06/19)… and it’s a significant one. Revising my estimate down from to $191.5 million to $167.5 million.

With the release of Toy Story 4 next weekend, Pixar should have no problem having the top three animated openings of all time. The big question is whether or not it manages to have the largest so far. The sequel arrives nearly a quarter century after Toy Story kicked off the Disney owned Pixar phenomenon and nearly a decade since Toy Story 3. The iconic characters of Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz (Tim Allen) return along with the vocal works of Annie Potts, Joan Cusack, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Estelle Harris, and the late Don Rickles. New actors joining the party include Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Tony Hale, Christina Hendricks, and Keanu Reeves. Josh Cooley makes his directorial debut.

Each chapter in this cinematic universe has seen its overall domestic gross increase with each entry. Part 3 took in $110 million in its first frame and legged out to $415 million. That predecessor currently has the fifth highest animated start ever. Toy Story 4 is in line to easily top that and more.

Last summer’s Incredibles 2 nabbed the record for the genre by a wide margin when it took in $182 million. Pixar also holds the #2 spot with 2016’s Finding Dory with $135 million. I don’t see Woody and Buzz’s fourth go round having any issue topping that and it could definitely hit the #1 designation.

I’ll say it falls just a manages a few million over the Incredibles sequel for a historic start.

Toy Story 4 opening weekend prediction: $167.5 million

For my Child’s Play prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/13/childs-play-box-office-prediction/

For my Anna prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/13/anna-box-office-prediction/

Best Year’s Ever

As one year turns to the next in short order, it got me thinking. What are some examples of actors and directors who had remarkable calendar frames over the past few decades? The guidelines are pretty simple – the individual must have had two (and in a couple of cases, three or more) pictures that made an impact during 19(fill in the blank) or 20(fill in the blank).

And wouldn’t you know it? My ruminations quickly turned into a lengthy list that I’ve paired down to a top 25. Let’s call this Best Year’s Ever and count down from #25 to #1!

25. Channing Tatum (2012)

It was a busy year for the performer to say the least. Tatum was in Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire, but three major roles made him the star he is today. There was the hit romance The Vow, hit comedy 21 Jump Street, and his signature and semi-autobiographical title role in the summer sleeper Magic Mike (also from Mr. Soderbergh).

24. John Travolta (1996)

Two years following his major comeback in Pulp Fiction and a year following his Golden Globe nominated lead in Get Shorty, Travolta’s hot streak continued with three hits: John Woo’s action thriller Broken Arrow and fantasy dramas Phenomenon and Michael.

23. Clint Eastwood (1971)

The last two months of 1971 were fruitful for the legend. In November, he made his directorial debut with the well-reviewed psychological thriller Play Misty for Me. This began a career of dozens of behind the camera works, including Best Picture winners Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby. In December, Eastwood starred as Dirty Harry which spawned his lucky cop franchise.

22. Sigourney Weaver (1988)

Weaver won two Golden Globes 30 years ago – Best Actress (Drama) for Gorillas in the Mist and Supporting Actress for Working Girl. She would be nominated for two Oscars as well, but come up short. All part of a remarkable decade that included Ghostbusters and Aliens.

21. Joe Pesci (1990)

Pesci won an Oscar for his unforgettable supporting work in Martin Scorsese’s GoodFellas. That same fall, he was a burglar terrorizing Macaulay Culkin in the holiday classic Home Alone.

20. Kevin Spacey (1995)

Current scandals aside, there’s no denying Spacey was the movie villain of 1995. He won an Academy Award as (spoiler alert!) Keyser Soze in The Usual Suspects and as a demented serial killer in Seven. Earlier in the year, he costarred with Dustin Hoffman and Morgan Freeman in  Outbreak and headlined the critically approved indie comedy Swimming with Sharks.

19. Nicolas Cage (1997)

Leaving Las Vegas awarded Cage his Oscar two years prior. By the summer of 1997, he was a full-fledged action hero with two blockbusters in the same month: Con Air and Face/Off.

18. Will Ferrell (2003)

Ferrell’s transformation from SNL favorite to movie star happened here with the spring’s Old School as Frank the Tank and in the winter as Buddy in Elf.

17. Morgan Freeman (1989)

The nation’s Narrator-in-Chief had a trio of significant roles nearly three decades ago – his Oscar nominated chauffeur in the Best Picture winner Driving Miss Daisy, a dedicated and stern principal in Lean on Me, and a Civil War officer in Glory.

16. Steven Soderbergh (2000)

The prolific filmmaker made two Best Picture nominees with Erin Brockovich and Traffic (he would win Best Director for the latter). Both surpassed the century mark at the box office and Julia Roberts won Best Actress for Brockovich and Benicio del Toro took Supporting Actor in Traffic.

15. Halle Berry (2001)

Ms. Berry had a revealing role in the summer action fest Swordfish. She then became the first (and thus far only) African-American to win Best Actress for Monster’s Ball. This was all sandwiched between XMen hits.

14. Hugh Jackman (2017)

Berry’s XMen cast mate Jackman retired his Wolverine character to critical and audience admiration with Logan in the spring. At the end of the year, his musical The Greatest Showman was an unexpected smash.

13. Leonardo DiCaprio (2002)

Five years after Titanic, the jury was still out as to whether DiCaprio’s leading man status would hold up. His roles in Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York and Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can left little doubt. He’s been one of Hollywood’s most dependable stars since.

12. Francis Ford Coppola (1974)

In 1972, Coppola made perhaps the greatest American film of all time with The Godfather. Two years later, its sequel came with enormous expectations and exceeded them. Like part one, it won Best Picture. As if that weren’t enough, he made another Picture nominee in ‘74 with the Gene Hackman surveillance thriller The Conversation.

11. Michael Douglas (1987)

His signature role as greedy tycoon Gordon Gekko in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street won him an Oscar and gave him one of the most famous cinematic speeches ever. He also lit up the screen in the blockbuster thriller Fatal Attraction, which was the year’s second largest grosser.

10. Julia Roberts (1999)

She started the decade with a smash star making turn in Pretty Woman. Julia Roberts ended it with two romantic comedy summer $100 million plus earners: Notting Hill with Hugh Grant and Runaway Bride (which reunited her with Pretty costar Richard Gere). She’d win her Oscar the next year for Erin Brockovich.

9. Tom Cruise (1996)

1986 wasn’t too shabby either with Top Gun and The Color of Money. Yet it’s a decade later that serves as Cruise’s year with the franchise starter Mission: Impossible in the summer and Cameron Crowe’s Jerry Maguire, which earned Cruise a Golden Globe award and an Oscar nod. They were the third and fourth biggest hits of the year, respectively.

8. Sandra Bullock (2013)

Nearly two decades after her breakout role in Speed, Bullock had a banner 2013 alongside Melissa McCarthy in the summer comedy The Heat and her Oscar nominated turn as a stranded astronaut in the fall’s Gravity.

7. Sylvester Stallone (1985)

Sly was the undisputed champion of the box office (not to mention sequels and Roman numerals) in 1985, notching the second and third top hits of the year behind Back to the Future. They were for his two signature characters with Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rocky IV.

6. Robert Downey Jr. (2008)

A decade after all the wrong kind of headlines for his drug addiction, Downey Jr. pulled off perhaps the most impressive comeback in movie history. 2008 saw him as Tony Stark in Iron Man, the film that kicked off the MCU in grand fashion. Later that summer came Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder, which earned Downey a rare Oscar nod for a comedic performance.

5. Tom Hanks (1993)

There’s more than one year to consider for Hanks… 1995 (Apollo 13, Toy Story) comes to mind. Yet 1993 saw him with Meg Ryan in the now classic Sleepless in Seattle and winning an Oscar in Philadelphia as a lawyer diagnosed with AIDS. His status as a romantic and dramatic lead was solidified in a matter of months. A consecutive Academy Award followed in 1994 for Forrest Gump.

4. Mel Brooks (1974)

The director managed to make two of the most beloved comedies of all time in one year… Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. The two features combined contain some of the funniest scenes ever filmed.

3. Jennifer Lawrence (2012)

Already an Oscar nominee two years prior for Winter’s Bone, Lawrence’s road to superstardom was paved in 2012. In March came The Hunger Games, the year’s third top earner that spawned three sequels. In December came Silver Linings Playbook, where she won Best Actress.

2. Jim Carrey (1994)

In 1993, Carrey was known as a great cast member of Fox’s groundbreaking sketch show “In Living Color”. By the end of 1994, he was the most bankable comedic star in America as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber all hit screens.

1. Steven Spielberg (1993)

In a list filled with lots of choices, the #1 selection was rather easy. The highest grossing filmmaker of all time’s 1993 was astonishing. Dino tale Jurassic Park in the summer was a marvel technical achievement that began a franchise. At the time of its release, it became the largest grosser in history with the top opening weekend yet seen. Six months later, Holocaust epic Schindler’s List won seven Academy Awards (including Picture and for Spielberg’s direction).

I hope your New Year is your best yet, readers! Have a happy one…

Oscar Watch: Incredibles 2

This should come as no surprise, but reviews out today for Incredibles 2 (out Friday) are pretty encouraging. The sequel from Pixar/Disney arrives 14 years after the original, which stands as one of the vaunted studio’s high marks. The current Rotten Tomatoes score for part 2 stands at 97%.

As I would with any Pixar offering, we turn to its Oscar viability and that takes us on a trip down memory lane. The Best Animated Feature category at the Academy Awards has been around since 2001. That means the first three Pixar tales (Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2) existed in a time when the category did not. I would say all three would have been nominated had the race been around (and the Toy stories likely both would have been victorious).

Since 2001, Pixar pics have won 9 times and they are as follows:

2003: Finding Nemo

2004: The Incredibles

2007: Ratatouille

2008: Wall-E

2009: Up

2010: Toy Story 3

2012: Brave

2015: Inside Out

2017: Coco

There have been two occasions where a Pixar movie was nominated and lost. In 2001, Monsters Inc. couldn’t get over Shrek. In 2006, Happy Feet took the prize over Cars. 

Five Pixar features have failed to garner a nomination. Four were sequels. The only outlier is 2015’s The Good Dinosaur. The others:

2011: Cars 2

2013: Monsters University

2016: Finding Dory

2017: Cars 3

Which brings us back to Incredibles 2. So where does this stand? Note that this sequel is the only one to a predecessor that won before. And seeing that early reviews are overwhelmingly glowing (even though some say it doesn’t match #1), I’ll predict this Pixar sequels makes the final five come next year. The director, Brad Bird, is also responsible for two of the Pixar statues (The Incredibles and Ratatouille). There will certainly be competition (Isle of Dogs was already released and seems assured a spot) and its possibility to win is still a giant question mark. Yet these superheroes seem primed for a return engagement down the red carpet.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

What’s Your Favorite Pixar Movie?

For 18 years now, Pixar has been the leader when it comes to animated features and there seems to be no sign of them slowing down. So far, there have been 14 Pixar titles and this begs the question: what’s your favorite?

2013: The Year of Tom Hanks

In 1993, Tom Hanks literally made a dramatic shift to more serious projects with Philadelphia, which brought the AIDS epidemic front and center to a more mainstream audience. For his performance, Hanks won an Oscar and forever changed moviegoers perceptions of him from a comedic actor to a jack of all trades.

The following year, Forrest Gump turned into a smash hit and Hanks would win his second Best Actor trophy in a row (a feat that hadn’t been accomplished since Spencer Tracy in the late 1930s). The rest of the 1990s would see the performer headlining one prestige project after another that connected with critics and audiences alike. Apollo 13. Saving Private Ryan. The Green Mile. Cast Away. In addition, he starred in a pair of hit rom coms with Meg Ryan – Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail.

The last decade or so for Hanks could be described as spotty at best. After a mostly well-received turn in Sam Mendes’ Prohibition era pic Road to Perdition (where he cast against type as a hitman), there was Steven Spielberg’s The Terminal, which failed to make a major impression with audiences. The actor’s biggest financial successes were with adaptations of Dan Brown novels, 2006’s The Da Vinci Code and 2009’s Angels and Demons. Neither pictures were particularly beloved by critics. Of course, there was also the animated smash hit Toy Story 3 in 2010. And a supporting turn in Catch Me If You Can, another collabo with Spielberg that turned out well. However, there were disappointments as well. 2004’s Coen Bros remake The Ladykillers was a box office disappointment. 2007’s Charlie Wilson’s War was expected to be an Oscar player, but wasn’t. His directorial effort Larry Crowne costarring Julia Roberts didn’t resonate with audiences or critics. And last year’s Cloud Atlas was a financial dud domestically.

Two decades after Hanks achieved double Oscar glory, 2013 will be seen as a return to form. October’s Captain Phillips (the tale of the 2009 Somali hijacking incident) earned the actor his best reviews in years. The project (from director Paul Greengrass) gives Hanks his greatest chance for an Oscar nod in the last 13 years. He hasn’t been recognized by the Academy since 2000’s Cast Away. Audiences responded well to Phillips, too. It’s earned $102 million domestically at press time.

Captain Phillips would probably be enough to earn Hanks a spot in this blog series, but there’s another feature coming this month that should only add to his solid year. John Lee Hancock’s Saving Mr. Banks casts Hanks (recently named America’s most trusted person in America) as iconic studio head Walt Disney. The film focuses on the making of 1964’s Mary Poppins and stars Emma Thompson as author P.L. Travers. Attention is already focused on Hanks receiving a Best Supporting Actor nod for his turn as Disney. If that happens, the performer may well be a double nominee as this year’s ceremony. Banks also seems likely to be a commercial hit.

While the last few years have been a mixed bag commercially and critically for Mr. Trustworthy, audiences and critics (and probably Oscar voters) entrusted Hanks at a level in 2013 not seen in a while. Hanks has no projects lined up for release in 2014, though expect Toy Story 4 and The Lost Symbol (another Dan Brown adaptation) in the future.

Part three of my six-part series on performers who had a profound impact in the movies in 2013 continues tomorrow with an actress who gave a performance that was literally out of this world.