Oscar Watch: Val

Despite acclaimed performances in The Doors, Tombstone, and others, Val Kilmer has never been on the radar screen of awards voters. He’s also appeared in blockbusters like Top Gun, Batman Forever, and Heat, but his career faded in the late 90s after reports of him being difficult to work with became more prevalent. This week at the Cannes Film Festival, a documentary which Kilmer mostly shot himself could kick off an unexpected career resurgence (that and this fall’s Top Gun: Maverick). Val debuts in theaters on July 23 before its Amazon Prime streaming premiere on August 6.

Directed by Leo Scott and Ting Poo, this is a look at the performer’s life onscreen and off and it’s primarily derived from Kilmer himself being a prolific amateur videographer. Early reviews indicate it’s a unique and often moving portrait of a complicated figure. It stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Will the documentary branch of the Academy take notice? It’s certainly possible. After all, Hollywood in general digs features about their own. Val, from initial buzz, sounds like a fascinating one. And it could finally put its subject in the Oscar chatter. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Shoulda Been Oscar Contenders: Denzel Washington in Philadelphia

My latest Shoulda Been Oscar Contenders post completes a trio of supporting actors that warranted attention in 1993. That was an already impressive year in that category with Tommy Lee Jones winning for The Fugitive. The other nominees: Leonardo DiCaprio (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape), Ralph Fiennes (Schindler’s List), John Malkovich (In the Line of Fire), and Pete Postlethwaite (In the Name of the Father). The other performers mentioned in previous write-ups were Val Kilmer for Tombstone and Sean Penn in Carlito’s Way. 

My final contestant is Denzel Washington in Jonathan Demme’s Philadelphia. The AIDS drama, of course, gave Tom Hanks his first Best Actor win of two in a row (taking the prize the next year for Forrest Gump). There was little doubt at that time that Hanks would walk away with the gold and his acceptance speech remains an Oscar highlight.

That makes it even more confounding that his costar didn’t get more chatter. Washington was already a victor in supporting four years earlier for Glory. In 1992, he nabbed a Best Actor nod for Malcolm X. He would take Best Actor eight years later for Training Day and has been nominated three times since. However, the legendary actor’s role as Hanks’s reluctant attorney was critical to the success of the film and in many ways equaled the performance of the lead.

Keep an eye out for future posts of hopefuls that didn’t make the cut on the blog soon!

Shoulda Been Oscar Contenders: Sean Penn in Carlito’s Way

Continuing with my new series covering performances that could have warranted some Oscar attention, I move to my second post in the Supporting Actor race of 1993. The first one centered on Val Kilmer as Doc Holiday in Tombstone. As a reminder, the actual five nominees were a strong grouping with Tommy Lee Jones emerging victorious for The Fugitive. The other nominees: Leonardo DiCaprio in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Ralph Fiennes for Schindler’s List, John Malkovich for In the Line of Fire, and Pete Postlethwaite for In the Name of the Father. 

Another notable performance for that derby: Sean Penn in Brian De Palma’s Carlito’s Way. Almost unrecognizable as a sleazy coked up lawyer with an unforgettable hairdo, Penn managed to steal scenes from Al Pacino’s title character. Had his work been included here, it would have marked his first nod. Two years later, he achieved that with Dead Man Walking. Four more nominations (all in Best Actor) would follow with two victories in 2003’s Mystic River and 2008’s Milk as well as 1999’s Sweet and Lowdown and 2001’s I Am Sam. 

Yet his rare supporting turn alongside Pacino would have been fine with me for a sixth mention – even with the solid competition nearly three decades ago.

My Should Been Contenders posts will continue with another sturdy supporting turn from 1993…

Shoulda Been Oscar Contenders: Val Kilmer in Tombstone

1993 was an exceptionally strong year in the Supporting Actor category with five worthy nominees in the mix: Leonardo DiCaprio in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Ralph Fiennes for Schindler’s List, Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive, John Malkovich for In the Line of Fire, and Pete Postlethwaite for In the Name of the Father. Jones would ultimately walk away with the prize.

However, there are three other performances that come to mind in that particular year and they will be showcased in my next Shoulda Been Contender posts. It starts with Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday in Tombstone. Nearly 30 years later, you may not remember that there were two competing Wyatt Earp pics happening. Lawrence Kasdan’s Wyatt Earp with Kevin Costner and Dennis Quaid was the 1994 summer release that was a potential Oscar contender and blockbuster. It turned out to be neither. Tombstone, released in December 1993, wasn’t so eagerly anticipated.

Yet audiences liked what they saw when it debuted. It was a rock solid action western with Kurt Russell in the commanding lead as Earp. It become a high earner and remains an enduring favorite with moviegoers. As good as the picture is, Kilmer’s work was great with endless quotable lines and character quirks. Having already made a name for himself in Top Gun, Willow, and his uncanny impression of Jim Morrison in The Doors, Kilmer’s Holliday may still stand as his most memorable role. And that deserves mention in a year full of notable supporting turns.

As mentioned, I’m not finished with this category in 1993. Stay tuned…

Batman Forever Ago: A Quarter Century Box Office Report

Earlier this week (on Tuesday), Batman Forever celebrated its 25th anniversary of release. For those who may not recall, this was when Joel Schumacher took over the franchise from Tim Burton and Val Kilmer replaced Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader. Tommy Lee Jones (coming off an Oscar for The Fugitive) and Jim Carrey (the hottest comedic star in America after the one-two-three punch of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber) costarred as villains Two-Face and The Riddler, respectively. Nicole Kidman was in the mix as Bruce Wayne/Batman’s love interest and Chris O’Donnell was introduced as Robin. Sounds like a recipe for a box office bonanza right? Indeed it was.

In mid June 1995, Forever scored the best opening weekend of all time and was the first feature to make over $50 million in its first three days. The $52.7 million tally topped the previous record holder from two summers before (a little something called Jurassic Park). Forever would hold the title for two years before being toppled by… The Lost World: Jurassic Park. 

The all-time premiere record has since changed 11 times, including in 2008 with another Batflick The Dark Knight at $158 million. The current holder is Avengers: Endgame at $357 million. And that right there shows how much times have changed. In a quarter century, the first frame of Endgame made 7x that of Forever. Higher ticket prices are certainly a factor. Yet in 25 years, Val Kilmer’s grapples with Jim Carrey went from a highest ever start to now 225th. By the way, 224th place belongs to… The Lego Batman Movie! And now, Forever lags behind such forgettable material as The Nun, The Karate Kid remake, Valentine’s Day, and DC’s own hugely disappointing Green Lantern.

Speaking of disappointing, I’m certainly of the opinion that Forever was just that as far as quality. It’s not nearly as bad at what followed with Schumacher’s sequel Batman & Robin. However, it was a big letdown from what Burton accomplished before and what Christopher Nolan achieved a decade later with the start of The Dark Knight trilogy. What remains is an interesting snapshot in time when a $50 million debut was new territory and it took the Bat Signal (even a rather mediocre one) to get there.

Daily Streaming Guide: April 7th Edition

A late 1970s set comedic crime caper is featured in today’s streaming guide and is available through HBO’s services:

Shane Black’s The Nice Guys casts Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling as private eyes who team to find a missing teen played by Margaret Qualley, who broke out last year with her role in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The writer/director is known for his private eye tales. If you haven’t seen Black’s 2005 effort Kiss Kiss Bang Bang with Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer, mark it down as a must watch too.

Guys incorporates Black’s humorous touches with some hard edged bits. The chemistry of Crowe and Gosling works well and this is another solid effort from a talented filmmaker.

That does it for now, folks! Until next time…

Daily Streaming Guide: March 28th Edition

In these times, it’s certainly important to laugh and today’s Streaming Guide gives us two goofy comedies currently available on HBO’s viewing services:

2010’s MacGruber is a feature-length treatment starring Will Forte’s inept MacGyver type character that he originally debuted on SNL. It was not a hit upon release, but has found many fans over the past decade. I found it to be frequently uproarious with memorable supporting turns by Kristin Wiig and Val Kilmer. There’s also an, ummm, love scene between Forte and Wiig that won’t leave your psyche anytime soon.

2004’s Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story was a blockbuster a decade and a half ago. Headlined by Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller, this silly sports tale about something we all played in gym hits more than it misses. In hindsight, the inspirational scene with Lance Armstrong towards the end seems… dated. Yet this is certainly good for some laughs.

That does it for now, folks! Until next time…

Best Supporting Actor: A Look Back

Continuing on with my look back at the major categories from 1990 to the present at the Oscars, we arrive at Best Supporting Actor! If you missed my post regarding Supporting Actress, you can find it right here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/20/best-supporting-actress-a-look-back/

As I did with that blog entry, I’m picking the top 3 least surprising winners (performers who essentially sailed right through awards season) and the 3 biggest upsets in each race. I am also selecting the strongest and weakest fields overall.

As a primer, here are the 28 actors whose support earned them a golden statue:

1990 – Joe Pesci, GoodFellas

1991 – Jack Palance, City Slickers

1992 – Gene Hackman, Unforgiven

1993 – Tommy Lee Jones, The Fugitive

1994 – Martin Landau, Ed Wood

1995 – Kevin Spacey, The Usual Suspects

1996 – Cuba Gooding Jr., Jerry Maguire

1997 – Robin Williams, Good Will Hunting

1998 – James Coburn, Affliction

1999 – Michael Caine, The Cider House Rules

2000 – Benicio del Toro, Traffic

2001 – Jim Broadbent, Iris

2002 – Chris Cooper, Adaptation

2003 – Tim Robbins, Mystic River

2004 – Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby

2005 – George Clooney, Syriana

2006 – Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine

2007 – Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men

2008 – Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

2009 – Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

2010 – Christian Bale, The Fighter

2011 – Christopher Plummer, Beginners

2012 – Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

2013 – Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

2014 – J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

2015 – Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

2016 – Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

2017 – Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 

There are plenty to choose from as far least surprising winners, but here’s my top ones:

3. Gene Hackman, Unforgiven

Clint Eastwood’s Western picked up a slew of awards on Oscar night and Hackman’s inclusion in that race was never really in doubt. It was his second statue after winning Best Actor 21 years previously for The French Connection.

2. Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

It was director Christopher Nolan giving numerous awards speeches on behalf of the late Ledger, as his work playing the iconic villain swept all precursors as well. This remains not only the only win in the omnipresent superhero genre in the 21st century, but the only nomination.

1. Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men

Like Ledger, Bardem created a bad guy for the ages in the Coen Brothers Oscar-winning picture. He picked up all the precursors as well for his role.

And now the upsets!

3. James Coburn, Affliction

There was clearly no front-runner in 1998 as a different actor was honored in each preceding awards show. Ed Harris took the Golden Globe for The Truman Show, Billy Bob Thornton (A Simple Plan) was victorious at the Critics Choice Awards, Robert Duvall’s role in A Civil Action was honored at SAG, and Geoffrey Rush (Elizabeth) was the BAFTA recipient. Surely one of them would win the Oscar, but it instead went to Mr. Coburn.

2. Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

In 2015, the general consensus was that Sylvester Stallone would punch out the competition in his signature role for Creed. That would have been quite a feat after Rocky took Best Picture in 1976 – nearly four decades prior. Yet it didn’t materialize when Rylance made the trip to the podium.

1. Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine

Along the same lines, Eddie Murphy was the strong favorite for his rare dramatic work in Dreamgirls. With Jennifer Hudson as a sure thing for Supporting Actress (which did happen), the musical looked safe for a supporting sweep. The Academy surprisingly went another route by honoring Arkin.

And now to the fields overall and choosing a strongest and weakest. For the least impressive of the bunch, I’m going with 2011. Here were the nominees:

Christopher Plummer, Beginners (winner)

Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn

Jonah Hill, Moneyball

Nick Nolte, Warrior

Max Von Sydow, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

When it comes to best overall field, I chose 1993. This is the year that Tommy Lee Jones got the gold in The Fugitive. That’s a rare acting win for an action flick. It was deserved in my view and the other four nominees were very strong as well. They were:

Leonardo DiCaprio, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

Ralph Fiennes, Schindler’s List

John Malkovich, In the Line of Fire

Pete Postlethwaite, In the Name of the Father

Furthermore, I could keep going with other deserving actors that year, including Val Kilmer in Tombstone and Sean Penn for Carlito’s Way. 

The next trip down memory lane will be Best Actress and it will be up soon!

The Snowman Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Update (10/18/17): I am revising my prediction for The Snowman from $10.8 million down to $8 million

Next weekend, Universal Pictures will find out whether The Snowman gets a hot or icy reception at the box office. The thriller is based on a bestseller and stars Michael Fassbender as a detective chasing a serial killer who goes by the title. Tomas Alfredson, maker of critically acclaimed pics Let the Right One In and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, directs. The supporting cast includes Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, J.K. Simmons, Toby Jones, Chloe Sevigny, James D’Arcy, and Val Kilmer.

While the director’s previous efforts have met with critical approval, reviews for this aren’t so good. It stands at just 27% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. Additionally, there are other pics opening directly against it that could compete for an adult crowd like Only the Brave and Geostorm. 

The marketing has attempted to stress a horror vibe, so it’s only hope could be genre fans coming out. That said, I’ll estimate this just manages to reach double digits for a rather cold opening.

The Snowman opening weekend prediction: $8 million

For my Boo 2! A Madea Halloween prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/10/11/boo-2-a-madea-halloween-box-office-prediction/

For my Only the Brave prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/10/11/only-the-brave-box-office-prediction/

For my Geostorm prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/10/12/geostorm-box-office-prediction/

This Day in Movie History: December 31

As you could probably imagine, not many movies open on New Year’s Eve so I’ll use today – December 31 – in Movie History to briefly discuss something happening right now.

2013 will turn out to be Hollywood’s biggest year yet, by just a hair. When all is said and done, box office receipts for the year should come in at approximately $10.9 billion, edging out 2012’s $10.8 billion. Per usual, the top grossing features of the year were filled with sequels (Iron Man 3, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Fast and Furious 6) and animated titles and sequels (Despicable Me 2, Monsters University, Frozen), and remakes and reboots of franchises (Man of Steel, Oz the Great and Powerful). The only truly original title in the top ten is Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, which could win Best Picture at the Oscars (though 12 Years a Slave may have something to say about that).

It’ll be interesting to see if 2014 can top 2013. When you look over the list of big pics coming out next year, it seems as if it may not but you never know. One early prediction: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part I (out in November) is a strong contender for highest grosser next year.

As for birthdays, Anthony Hopkins is 76 today. The actor broke through in a huge way to American audiences in 1991 with his Oscar winning performance as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. Hopkins would reprise the role twice more in 2001’s Hannibal and 2002’s Red Dragon. He’s also played more real-life people than practically anyone – from C.S. Lewis in Shadowlands to Dr. Kellogg in The Road to Wellville to Richard Nixon in Oliver Stone’s Nixon to Pablo Picasso in Surviving Picasso to John Quincy Adams in Amistad to Alfred Hitchcock in Hitchcock last year. Hopkins was also a favorite of the Merchant/Ivory team with acclaimed performances in Howards End and The Remains of the Day. Other notables roles: Magic, The Elephant Man, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Legends of the Fall, The Edge, The Mask of Zorro, Meet Joe Black, Mission Impossible II, The Human Stain, The Wolfman, and Thor and its sequel.

Val Kilmer is 54 on this New Year’s Eve. He’s played a few real-life people as well, most notably as Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone’s The Doors. There’s also his bit role as Elvis Presley in True Romance and porn star John Holmes in Wonderland. Then there’s his amazing performance as Doc Holliday in Tombstone. I’m still mad he didn’t get a Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for that movie. There’s also Top Gun and his turn as the Caped Crusader in Batman Forever. Other notables: Top Secret!, Real Genius, Willow, Thundeheart, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Ghost and the Darkness, The Saint, Spartan, Deja Vu, and MacGruber. A personal favorite of mine: his wickedly funny comedic turn in 2005’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang alongside Robert Downey, Jr.

As for Six Degrees of Separation between the birthday boys, it’s an easy one:

Hopkins and Kilmer were both in Oliver Stone’s Alexander

And that’s today – New Year’s Eve – in Movie History! This will be my last blog post of 2013, my friends, and I appreciate your readership so much. See you in 2014 and have a safe New Year’s!