Oscars 2019: The Case of Joker

Part 4 of my Case of posts laying out the pros and cons for nominees to win the big Oscar races continues with Joker in Best Picture. If you missed the first three covering Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, and Jojo Rabbit, you can peruse them here:




The Case for Joker

The grim comic book adaptation has the most nominations of any film with 11. Even heavy hitters The Irishman, 1917, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood followed with 10. Of the nine pictures featured, it’s easily the box office king with $334 million domestically and over a billion dollars worldwide. Joaquin Phoenix appears to be the front runner in Best Actor. The film’s awards chatter exploded when it won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. Joker is further proof that the Academy has warmed to the genre after Black Panther was the first comic book flick to get a Picture nod in 2018.

The Case Against Joker

Many of the reasons listed above can actually be used against it. The picture with the most nominations fails to win Best Picture more often than not. Same goes for the movie that made the most money. Director Todd Phillips got the Oscar nod, but missed the Directors Guild final five. Furthermore, the 69% Rotten Tomatoes is awfully low for a potential Picture recipient. While Joker certainly has its fervent defenders, it was also subject to plenty of controversy about its subject matter.

The Verdict

The thought of Joker winning Best Picture seemed unlikely a short time ago. However, its chances due to the volume of nominations has certainly increased. Ultimately its best bet is for Phoenix to make it to the podium, but this a Picture victory that can’t be totally discounted.

Up next in my Case of posts… Little Women!

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:


2019 Oscar Predictions: September 12th Edition

Well, a lot has certainly transpired on the Oscar prognostication front in the past week! Most notably would be the Toronto Film Festival and as usual, it helped some pictures and performers and threw shade on the hopes of others.

For blog followers, you’ve seen a whole bunch of Oscar Watch posts over the last few days. Various rankings in the eight major categories have shifted as we arrive at today’s predictions with some newcomers hitting predicted territory.

Let’s go through some highlights:

  • One of the more unexpected events from up north was the love for Hustlers, out tomorrow. The attention was particularly centered on the performance of Jennifer Lopez. She goes from unranked all the way to #3 in Supporting Actress.
  • The Two Popes is gathering more admirers as it plays the circuit. I now have it #4 in my BP derby (up five spots). This could change, but I think it’s one of a handful of pics that could win top prize.
  • Joker surprised many by emerging victorious for the Golden Lion at Venice. It now enters the fray as a predicted nominee in BP and Adapted Screenplay, in addition to Joaquin Phoenix.
  • Like Popes, Waves is also making a festival splash and it enters my projected BP recipients in ninth.
  • My projections in the lead acting categories remains the same ten, albeit with some jockeying from last week to this one.
  • In Supporting Actor, lots of movement. Tom Hanks was heralded for his portrayal of Mister Rogers in Toronto for Marielle Heller’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. I also have Sterling K. Brown in Waves pulling a J-Lo and going from not ranked to nominee. And Jamie Foxx in Just Mercy is drawing acclaim so he joins the shortlist. They replace Willem Dafoe, Al Pacino, and Taika Waititi in a crowded field.
  • Speaking of Waititi, Jojo Rabbit was met with wildly divergent opinions in Toronto. I now have it only receiving an Adapted Screenplay nod, but expect its journey to Oscar attention or no attention to be an ongoing story.
  • Harriet seemed to be a bit of a Toronto disappointment. While I’m still listing Cynthia Erivo’s work as the title character in Actress, the movie itself has dropped completely out of my top 25.
  • There is no doubt that the badly reviewed The Goldfinch has seen its Academy dreams totally vanish.

Keep reading on to see how I have everything shaking out at the moment and I’ll have updates forecasts next Thursday!


Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Marriage Story (PR: 2)

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

4. The Two Popes (PR: 9)

5. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 4)

6. Parasite (PR: 5)

7. Little Women (PR: 7)

8. Joker (PR: 15)

9. Waves (PR: 12)

10. 1917 (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

11. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 14)

12. The Farewell (PR: 11)

13. Just Mercy (PR: 21)

14. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 8)

15. The Report (PR: 10)

16. Pain and Glory (PR: 13)

17. Dark Waters (PR: 17)

18. Bombshell (PR: 18)

19. A Hidden Life (PR: 16)

20. The Lighthouse (PR: 19)

21. Knives Out (PR: Not Ranked)

22. Booksmart (PR: Not Ranked)

23. Queen and Slim (PR: 23)

24. Rocketman (PR: 22)

25. Ad Astra (PR: 25)

Dropped Out:


The Laundromat


Predicted Nominees:

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

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

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

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

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

Other Possibilities:

6. Sam Mendes, 1917 (PR: 5)

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

8. Pedro Almodovar, Pain and Glory (PR: 7)

9. Fernando Meirelles, The Two Popes (PR: 11)

10. Trey Edward Shults, Waves (PR: 9)

11. Marielle Heller, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 12)

12. Terrence Malick, A Hidden Life (PR: 13)

13. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 10)

14. Todd Haynes, Dark Waters (PR: 14)

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


Predicted Nominees:

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

2. Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes (PR: 4)

3. Joaquin Phoenix, Joker (PR: 5)

4. Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

5. Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

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

7. Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 6)

8. Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name (PR: 9)

9. Taron Egerton, Rocketman (PR: 8)

10. Michael B. Jordan, Just Mercy (PR: 15)

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

12. Mark Ruffalo, Dark Waters (PR: 10)

13. Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems (PR: 12)

14. Daniel Kaluuya, Queen and Slim (PR: 13)

15. Robert Pattinson, The Lighthouse (PR: 14)


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: 9)

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

10. Lesley Manville, Ordinary Love (PR: 13)

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

12. Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell (PR: 15)

13. Kristen Stewart, Seberg (PR: 12)

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

15. Elle Fanning, Teen Spirit (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Natalie Portman, Lucy in the Sky


Predicted Nominees:

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

2. Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 6)

3. Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy (PR: 11)

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

5. Sterling K. Brown, Waves (PR: Not Ranked)

Other Possibilities:

6. Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse (PR: 2)

7. Al Pacino, The Irishman (PR: 3)

8. Alan Alda, Marriage Story (PR: 7)

9. John Lithgow, Bombshell (PR: 12)

10. Joe Pesci, The Irishman (PR: 8)

11. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 5)

12. Tracy Letts, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 15)

13. Jamie Bell, Rocketman (PR: 10)

14. Chris Evans, Knives Out (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Aldis Hodge, Clemency (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Kelvin Harrison, Jr., Waves

Gary Oldman, The Laundromat

Matt Damon, Ford v Ferrari


Predicted Nominees:

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

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

3. Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers (PR: Not Ranked)

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

5. Margot Robbie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Florence Pugh, Little Women (PR: 5)

7. Meryl Streep, The Laundromat (PR: 6)

8. Meryl Streep, Little Women (PR: 7)

9. Nicole Kidman, Bombshell (PR: 11)

10. Penelope Cruz, Pain and Glory (PR: 8)

11. Jennifer Hudson, Cats (PR: 12)

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

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

14. Ana de Armas, Knives Out (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Renee Elise Goldsberry, Waves (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Janelle Monae, Harriet

Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit

Taylor Russell, Waves


Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Little Women (PR: 3)

3. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 6)

4. Joker (PR: 7)

5. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 2)

Other Possibilities:

6. Just Mercy (PR: 8)

7. Dark Waters (PR: 4)

8. The Laundromat (PR: 5)

9. Hustlers (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Luce (PR: Not Ranked)

11. Judy (PR: 15)

12. Toy Story 4 (PR: 11)

13. Downton Abbey (PR: 14)

14. Motherless Brooklyn (PR: 12)

15. The Good Liar (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

The Goldfinch

The King


Predicted Nominees:

1. Marriage Story (PR: 1)

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

3. The Two Popes (PR: 3)

4. Parasite (PR: 4)

5. Waves (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Farewell (PR: 6)

7. The Report (PR: 5)

8. Pain and Glory (PR: 7)

9. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 9)

10. Booksmart (PR: 10)

11. Knives Out (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Bombshell (PR: 12)

13. The Lighthouse (PR: 11)

14. 1917 (PR: 14)

15. Queen and Slim (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:


Dolemite Is My Name

Ad Astra Box Office Prediction

Mr. Pitt goes to space next weekend in James Gray’s Ad Astra and the reported $80 million plus budgeted sci fi pic hopes for a stealthy launch. Brad Pitt is an astronaut who leaves Earth to find his lost father (Tommy Lee Jones). Costars include Ruth Negga, Liv Tyler, and Donald Sutherland.

Astra premiered last month at the Venice Film Festival to mostly positive critical reaction. It stands at 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, but seems to lack the awards buzz that could help its grosses. Competition for male moviegoers could be hindered a bit by the opening of Rambo: Last Blood.

A debut above $20 million is certainly feasible and Pitt is fresh off Quentin Tarantino’s hit Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which is earning him Oscar chatter. However, I’ll say high teens is where this lands with a similar number to last fall’s First Man.

Ad Astra opening weekend prediction: $16.9 million

For my Rambo: Last Blood prediction, click here:


For my Downton Abbey prediction, click here,


Oscar Watch: The Goldfinch

John Crowley’s The Goldfinch looks like a picture made for Oscar consideration. It’s a prestige drama based on a well known novel (from Donna Tartt). This is the follow up to the filmmaker’s Brooklyn, which did receive a nod in the biggest race four years ago. Nicole Kidman is in it, as is Ansel Elgort in his first headlining role since Baby Driver.

Yet I found it curious that Warner Bros didn’t screen it last weekend in Venice or Telluride. After all, its Toronto screening today is a mere five days ahead of its stateside release. That’s not much time to build awards buzz.

Now we know why. The Goldfinch is being savaged by some critics and the Rotten Tomatoes score is at 22%. So while numerous movies have increased their visibility on the voter circuit in the last few days, this would be a casualty. If anything, perhaps Roger Deakins (who at last won a gold statue two years ago for Blade Runner 2049) could see his cinematography noticed. That would be the extent of it. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Venice Crowns Joker

The Venice Film Festival has drawn to a close and the awards bestowed today are sure to generate some controversy. The Golden Lion prize (equivalent to Best Picture) has gone to Joker, with its acclaimed performance from Joaquin Phoenix as the iconic villain. It won out over numerous foreign titles and Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, which drew raves and is anticipated to be a major Oscar contender.

A year ago, the Lion went to Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, which nabbed multiple Academy nominations including Picture. In 2017, the recipient was the eventual Oscar Pic winner – Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water.

I didn’t have Joker predicted as a nominee for the past couple weeks. Does the Venice action change the dynamic? Well it’s certainly a boost. I’m still skeptical it will make the final cut, but this publicity and its expected massive box office will be feathers in its cap.

Perhaps an even bigger shocker was the winner for the Grand Jury prize – essentially the runner up spot. It went to Roman Polanski’s An Officer and a Spy. Controversy surrounding the filmmaker is not the only reason for prognosticators being surprised. The pic currently sports a middling 56% on Rotten Tomatoes. Unlike last year’s Jury winner The Favourite, don’t expect this to be in the Oscar derby.

Acting races also showcased performers not on the Academy radar. Luca Marinelli took Best Actor for Martin Eden and Ariane Ascaride was named top Actress for Sweden’s About Endlessness. That film also saw its director Roy Andersson victorious in his race. A nod for Best International Feature is feasible for it.

All in all, Venice gave Joker a hoped for ace up its sleeve in precursor activity. Let’s see if momentum continues to grow…

The Goldfinch Box Office Prediction

Based on a 2013 novel by Donna Tartt that elicited mixed reaction, The Goldfinch arrives in theaters next weekend. The drama is director John Crowley’s follow up to his Oscar nominated 2015 effort Brooklyn. Ansel Elgort headlines with a supporting cast that includes Oakes Fegley, Aneurin Barnard, Finn Wolfhard (currently also costarring in It Chapter Two), Sarah Paulson, Luke Wilson, Jeffrey Wright, and Nicole Kidman.

The film will have its premiere this weekend at the Toronto Film Festival. Interestingly, it skipped both Telluride and Venice. Those earlier screenings could have provided the opportunity for any awards chatter and I’m curious to see if Warner Bros knew that might not materialize.

For those unfamiliar with the source material, I’ve found the trailers to be a bit too mysterious and a tad lackluster. We’ll see if reviews this weekend could possibly change the dynamic, but I currently see The Goldfinch struggling to reach double digits. That unimpressive result would put it in third place behind the aforementioned It sequel and Hustlers.

The Goldfinch opening weekend prediction: $5.7 million

For my Hustlers prediction, click here: