Oscars: The Case of Brendan Fraser in The Whale

As a morbidly obese English teacher attempting to reconnect with his daughter, Brendan Fraser’s performance in The Whale is next up in my Case Of posts.

The Case for Brendan Fraser:

After a three decade career with films as varied as Encino Man, George of the Jungle, Gods and Monsters, The Mummy, and Crash, Darren Aronofsky’s latest gave Fraser an acclaimed comeback narrative. Since the premiere in Venice, he’s been at the forefront of Best Actor chatter. This resulted in pending noms at SAG and BAFTA and a victory at the Critics Choice Awards.

The Case Against Brendan Fraser:

Reaction to the film itself has been as varied as the lead’s filmography. It missed a Best Picture and Adapted Screenplay nomination. The last Best Actor winner whose movie missed the BP cut is Jeff Bridges from Crazy Heart in 2009. Austin Butler (Elvis) and Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin), who each took the respective lead Actor competitions at the Golden Globes, don’t have that problem.

Previous Nominations:


The Verdict:

The narrative of a Fraser podium trip might be too enticing for voters to pass up. However, The Whale‘s divisive reaction throws real doubt as to whether he goes all the way.

My Case Of posts will continue with Kerry Condon in The Banshees of Inisherin!

If you missed the previous posts for the Actor hopefuls, you can peruse them here:

Bones and All Box Office Prediction

MGM/UA hopes younger viewers are hungry for some cannibal love when Bones and All opens wide on Wednesday, November 23rd. Based on a 2015 novel by Camille DeAngelis, Taylor Russell and Timothee Chalamet headline the road flick from director Luca Guadagnino. Costars include Mark Rylance, Michael Stuhlbarg, Andre Holland, Chloe Sevigny, David Gordon Green, and Jessica Harper.

The subject matter could be a challenging one for holiday crowds though Chalamet has a rabid fanbase that could turn up. The Thanksgiving release (it’s out five screens November 18 before the expansion) is also the only holiday newbie geared toward teens and young adults. Strange World is for the kids while Devotion and The Fabelmans skew older. Reviews are pretty appetizing with an 89% Rotten Tomatoes score following its September debut at the Venice Film Festival.

With a reported count of around 2500 venues, I’ll say Bones gets to mid single digits for the three-day and for the five.

Bones and All opening weekend prediction: $3.5 million (Friday to Sunday); $5.3 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Strange World prediction, click here:

For my Devotion prediction, click here:

For my The Fabelmans prediction, click here:

The Banshees of Inisherin Box Office Prediction

Director Martin McDonagh reunites with his In Bruges leads Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson in The Banshees of Inisherin. The black comedy set a century ago in Ireland expands to approximately 800 screens next weekend after a solid limited debut. Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan costar in McDonagh’s follow-up to 2017’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri which garnered six Academy nods.

Since its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, Inisherin has been subject to its own awards chatter (all four actors could get nominations). The Rotten Tomatoes meter is 97%. In 58 venues this past frame, Banshees took in over $500,000 with a per screen average approaching $10,000.

That could bode well for the early November buildout. On the other hand, we’ve seen platform release like Tár and Till struggle mightily as their counts grow. Banshees could have a slightly broader appeal. I’ll say anywhere between $2-3 million is the reasonable guesstimate.

The Banshees of Inisherin opening weekend prediction: $2.2 million

For my One Film: Red prediction, click here:

Oscar Predictions: Amsterdam

From 2010-13, David O. Russell made three pictures (The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle) that collectively earned an astonishing 25 Oscar nominations. This included acting wins for Christian Bale, Melissa Leo, and Jennifer Lawrence. The filmmaker himself has yet to receive a gold statue and his previous effort (2015’s Joy) nabbed just 1 Academy nod for its lead Lawrence.

His latest is Amsterdam and the comedic mystery will be lucky to garner any attention during awards season. It was a curious decision when Russell’s first feature in seven years skipped the festival circuit of Venice, Telluride, and Toronto. Now we may know why.

Early reviews for the October 7th release are not encouraging. There’s only a handful of official reviews which show a 20% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Yet we also have plenty of social media reaction claiming this is a high profile disappointment. The impressive cast is led by Bale, Margot Robbie, and John David Washington with tons of other familiar faces including Robert De Niro, Zoe Saldana, Taylor Swift, Anya Taylor-Joy, Rami Malek, Michael Shannon, and Chris Rock (to name some). I wouldn’t expect any to compete in the acting derbies. Bale and De Niro are getting some decent notices, but it shouldn’t matter (maybe Bale could show up at the Globes for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy if competition is light).

As I see it, Costume Design and/or Production Design are the only possibilities for Amsterdam to be an Academy player. It’s entirely feasible that it won’t show up at all. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Argentina, 1985

Focused on the brave legal battle against the title nation’s brutal dictatorship, Argentina, 1985 premiered at the Venice Film Festival prior to its limited release Friday. An Amazon Prime streaming release is October 21st. The historical drama comes from director Santiago Mitre with a cast including prolific Argentine star Ricardo Darin, Peter Lanzani, Alejandra Flechner, and Norman Briski.

Reviews from Italy were strong and it stands at 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. The native country has unsurprisingly selected it as their submission for International Feature Film at the Oscars. In 2009, Argentina’s The Secret in Their Eyes won that race. Their last nominee was 2014’s Wild Tales. 

The international race already has some potential heavy hitters like Decision to Leave, All Quiet on the Western Front, and Close. Yet 1985‘s initial reaction makes it a possibility to make the eventual quintet. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Saint Omer

The French cinematic community had some choices as to which pic to submit for their International Feature Film contender at the Oscars. There’s critically appreciated efforts such as Mia Hansen-Love’s One Fine Morning and Romain Gavras’s Athena. Yet they (unsurprisingly) went with Alice Diop’s Saint Omer. Making her first non-documentary film, Diop has already garnered buzz for the legal drama.

Omer received the Grand Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival (basically the fest’s second place award). That positive reaction continued in Toronto and it holds a Rotten Tomatoes score of 100%.

2015’s Mustang and 2019’s Les Miserables are the only two French IFF hopefuls of the past decade. I currently have Omer listed in fourth position behind Decision to Leave, All Quiet on the Western Front, and Close. It’s a long shot to win, but it has a great shot to make the cut. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: The Eternal Daughter

British director Joanna Hogg’s last two efforts were the critically heralded semi-autobiographical pics The Souvenir (2019) and The Souvenir Part II from last year. Both Souvenir‘s featured Honor Swinton Byrne and her mother – Oscar winner Tilda Swinton.

Mom is back in The Eternal Daughter, a mystery with supernatural themes that premiered in Venice and also played Toronto. Besides Swinton, the cast includes Joseph Mydell and Carly-Sophia Davies. It’s flown a bit under the radar on the fest circuit, but the Rotten Tomatoes score is a sturdy 91%.

The A24 release could garner some mentions on year end critics lists. Like her earlier titles, I question whether the Academy will get on board. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Don’t Worry Darling Box Office Prediction

Much has been written about the behind the scenes happenings with Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling over the past several weeks. Her follow-up to 2019’s Booksmart, it has been a favorite of gossip pages. This involves everything from whether or not Shia LaBeouf was fired or quit before filming began or whether Wilde and Florence Pugh are on speaking terms. There was also SpitGate which focused on whether Harry Styles spat on costar Chris Pine at the Venice Film Festival. Spoiler alert: probably not. Will this ink mean pleasing returns when Darling debuts on September 23rd?

Wilde’s sophomore effort stars Pugh and Styles with costars including Wilde, Gemma Chan, KiKi Layne, Nick Kroll, and Pine. Said to be a Stepford Wives like psychological thriller, early reviews have been rather lackluster. Its Rotten Tomatoes meter is 40%.

Pugh is a rising star and, obviously, Styles has his legions of super fans. Yet that translates to music for the latter and we’ve yet to see if his pop star status can translate to big box office numbers. If you subscribe to the “all publicity is good publicity” theory, Darling could manage to top expectations and gross over $20 million for its start. I’m not so sure. I think the current projections of mid to high teens sounds about right.

Don’t Worry Darling opening weekend prediction: $18.9 million

For my Avatar prediction, click here:

Avatar Box Office Prediction

Pearl Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (09/14): I’m revising my estimate up from $2.4 million to $3.4 million.

Shot in secret during the filming of this spring’s horror pic X, Ti West’s prequel Pearl is in theaters Friday. Mia Goth returns in the villainous title role with a supporting cast including David Corenswat, Tandi Wright, and Matthew Sunderland. It premiered at the Venice Film Festival days ago to pleasing reviews (87% on Rotten Tomatoes). That’s just slightly under the meter of its predecessor which nabbed 94%.

While had the critics on its side, its box office performance was so-so. The $4.3 million opening culminated in an overall domestic gross of just under $12 million. While that might seem low, it’s a tidy profit for A24 considering the reported $1 million budget.

I’m sure Pearl wasn’t pricey either, but I suspect this won’t even reach figures. I’ll say between $2-3 million sounds about right.

Pearl opening weekend prediction: $3.4 million

For my The Woman King prediction, click here:

The Woman King Box Office Prediction

For my See How They Run prediction, click here:

See How They Run Box Office Prediction

Oscar Predictions: Blonde

While she received two Golden Globe nominations in her short-lived career, the Oscars never recognized Marilyn Monroe. Could the Academy honor the performance of Ana de Armas in the biopic Blonde as the icon? Arriving in limited release on September 16th before its September 28th Netlix stream, Andrew Dominik’s pic comes with a rare NC-17 rating and a near three hour runtime. Adrien Brody, Bobby Cannavale, Xavier Samuel, and Julianne Nicholson costar in the adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’s 2000 novel.

This is Dominik’s first feature since 2012’s Killing Them Softly (his 2007 Western The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is considered by many to be a modern day classic). It premiered at Venice and early buzz is that this is a dark and rather sleazy and often enthralling exploration of the price of fame. The Rotten Tomatoes meter is at 84%.

I’m dubious that the Academy will embrace this as a BP contender. The real question is whether de Armas can make the cut. Based on initial reaction, she certainly can but it’s no guarantee… unlike, say, Cate Blanchett (Tar) or Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once). Her potential inclusion is probably contingent on how competition for slots plays out in the next four months. My Oscar Predictions posts will continue…