Movie Perfection: Did Ya Smile?!?!?

Gene Hackman can be very funny onscreen (rewatch The Birdcage or The Royal Tenenbaums or his sole scene in Young Frankenstein for a reminder). Yet if there’s a trait that I most frequently attribute to the two-time Oscar winner, it’s intensity. Few actors display it in the way that Hackman does. We can see it in The French Connection or Crimson Tide and Unforgiven. 

Nowhere is that hair raising intensity more potent than in a barbershop sequence in 1988’s Mississippi Burning. A historical drama based on real events, the pic recounts the investigation into the murders of three activists in 1964. It casts Hackman as an FBI agent who cut his teeth as a sheriff in the title state. He’s paired with a younger agent (Willem Dafoe) and the two don’t exactly see eye to eye when it comes to interrogation tactics.

This is most evident during the aggressive questioning of Brad Dourif’s small town deputy. Hackman’s Agent Anderson does so with by employing close shave methods and I’m confident Dourif didn’t have to act much to look as terrified as he does. It is my favorite example in his long and impressive filmography as to just how menacing Hackman can be. This time around, you’re rooting for him. The scene also expertly shows (in that brief glimpse of when Dafoe tries to enter the business) the difference between the two protagonist’s means to their ends.

Mississippi Burning earned seven Oscar nominations and is notable for being Frances McDormand’s first nod as Dourif’s abused wife that Anderson assists. He’s not in the mood to help her husband in that barber shop. He’s out to scare the daylights out of him and the whiskers off his racist face. It’s a sequence that’s Movie Perfection due to Hackman’s brilliance and I smile just thinking about it.

Oscar Predictions – Spider-Man: No Way Home

When Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man trilogy kicked off nearly 20 years ago, it managed to nab a Best Visual Effects nod (losing to Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers). Two years later, the 2004 sequel won the prize. Since then, the five Spidey features that followed (Maguire’s third, both Andrew Garfield iterations, and the first two Tom Holland MCU flicks) didn’t show up in the race. Will Spider-Man: No Way Home change that?

The 27th entry (and fourth this year) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe debuts Friday and I have it pegged for the fourth best domestic opening of all time (behind Avengers: Endgame, Avengers: Infinity War, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens). The review embargo lifted early this morning and it stands at an impressive 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.

While nearly all critical notices are positive, I don’t think this will be the second MCU title to nab a Best Picture nomination behind Black Panther. While Best Sound is feasible, Home‘s best hope at Academy inclusion is in Visual Effects. MCU movies vying for that prize is not unusual. The inaugural pic in the biggest franchise of all (2008’s Iron Man) made the cut. So have Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Infinity War, and Endgame. None have won.

So despite the last quintet of web slinger sagas not being honored for their effects, Home should have no problem? I don’t think it’s quite that simple. There are two Warner Bros sci-fi extravaganzas (Dune and The Matrix Resurrections) that should get in. That leaves three slots. Warner has another hopeful with Godzilla vs. Kong. Marvel itself has Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Eternals (and Black Widow to a lesser degree) vying for spots. Shang-Chi especially could get in (the Critics Choice Awards included it on their ballot). Don’t Look Up, Finch, and No Time to Die are other possibilities. It’s worth noting that whether Home makes the five, Dune is the very heavy favorite to take gold.

Here’s my hunch: by the time Academy voters cast their final votes, Home appears bound to have heightened box office numbers to their highest achievements in the pandemic era. That fact alone might get it some recognition from the Oscars and that would be for its visuals. Another interesting stat: of the ten current largest stateside premieres ever, only two (Avengers: Age of Ultron and Jurassic World) didn’t score at least one nomination from the Academy. That puts this in a decent position. My Oscar Predictions posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Nightmare Alley Box Office Prediction

The last time Guillermo del Toro was behind the camera, 13 Oscar nominations came his way with 2017’s The Shape of Water (including wins in Picture and Director). His follow-up is Nightmare Alley, a remake of a 1947 pic which was based on a 1946 William Lindsay Gresham novel. The noirish thriller boasts an impressive cast led by Bradley Coper (in his first starring role since 2018’s A Star Is Born). Costars include Rooney Mara, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Ron Perlman, Mary Steenburgen, and David Strathairn.

Long looked at as an Oscar contender, the recent review embargo lapse made the situation a bit murkier. The 83% Rotten Tomatoes score is decent, but some critics are griping that it’s a disappointment. Its standing in the Best Picture race is questionable.

Stronger awards buzz could have pushed this to higher numbers, but that’s not the only challenge. Plenty of moviegoers will be distracted with the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home, which looks to blow away pandemic era records. Alley is only opening on about 2000 screens (about half of Spidey’s). It’s normal for projects in the December time frame to open relatively small and hope to play well in subsequent frames. That is likely to be the case here and low to mid single digits is my forecast.

Nightmare Alley opening weekend prediction: $3.3 million

For my Spider-Man: No Way Home prediction, click here:

Spider-Man: No Way Home Box Office Prediction

Spider-Man: No Way Home Box Office Prediction

Bloggers Update (12/16): revising prediction up to $213.7M The Marvel Cinematic Universe is poised for the largest opening weekend of the pandemic era with Spider-Man: No Way Home out December 17th. In fact, it could debut higher than the current two record holders (Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Black Widow) combined. The 27th feature in the massive MCU franchise, this is officially the third entry in this Spider-Verse starring Tom Holland as the web-slinger (though he’s appeared in Avengers tales too). Jon Watts directs again and returning faces include Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei, and J.B. Smoove. That’s not all. Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange is in on the action and villains of previous Spidey series come to the party. They include Alfred Molina, Willem Dafoe, Jamie Foxx, Thomas Haden Church, and Rhys Ifans. There’s also the possibility of other Spider-Men turning up.

This has led to No Way Home having the distinction of being the event film of the year with the most moneymaking potential. It might be the fourth MCU title in 2021 (after Widow, Shang-Chi, and Eternals), but it’s easily the most breathlessly anticipated. Early ticket sales indicate we’ll see grosses not witnessed since 2019. Two and a half years ago, Spider-Man: Far From Home kicked off during the long July 4th weekend and earned $185 million. 2017’s Homecoming made $117 million over a traditional Friday to Sunday rollout.

The pre-Christmas unveiling should prove to be shrewd timing. Some estimates having this going north of $200 million. That would be music to the ears of an industry that needs it after almost two long years. I’m not quite ready to declare $200 million and I’ll hedge with just under it.

Spider-Man: No Way Home opening weekend prediction: $213.7 million

For my Nightmare Alley prediction, click here:

Nightmare Alley Box Office Prediction

 

Oscar Predictions: Nightmare Alley

Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley is likely to be the final film screened that could contend for Best Picture at the 2021 Oscars. That happened tonight and its social media embargo has lifted. This is the filmmaker’s follow-up to 2017’s The Shape of Water, which won four gold statues including Picture and Director. A remake of a 1947 noir thriller, Alley has a cast filled with familiar faces led by Bradley Cooper and Rooney Mara (who are slated to contend in the lead races). The supporting cast includes Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Ron Perlman, Mary Steenburgen, and David Strathairn.

Reaction out tonight offers plenty of praise. Unsurprisingly, this is being lauded for its technical aspects. Production Design and Cinematography sound like shoo-ins (and might challenge Dune for the victories). Other down the line derbies such as Sound, Costume Design, Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, and Score (though that’s gotten awfully crowded) are feasible.

How about the big dances? Early word solidifies its opportunity to get a Best Picture nomination and for del Toro’s behind the camera work. I had it ranked 8th yesterday and my early hunch says that’s about right. There’s enough mixed buzz in reaction tweets to make me think it’s not a threat to win. Adapted Screenplay is probable.

As for the actors, Cooper and Blanchett are the recipients of the most acclaim. The former’s path will be fascinating to track. I had him ranked #1 in Supporting Actor for weeks before Licorice Pizza was unveiled. That race, as has been discussed on the blog, is wide open. His limited screen time in Pizza could cause him to miss there. The question is whether Best Actor is already too packed (Will Smith as King Richard, Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog, Andrew Garfield for Tick Tick… Boom!, Denzel Washington in The Tragedy of Macbeth, Peter Dinklage in Cyrano, Leonardo DiCaprio for Don’t Look Up). Is there enough space for Cooper? Precursors will tell. Supporting Actress is also filled with hopefuls and Blanchett will also need some early love from either critics groups or SAG or the Globes. Best Actress is also overflowing and I don’t see enough Mara talk for her to be viable.

Bottom line: Alley helped itself. It might be the “last in” but I feel decent about a Picture nod and definitely tech competitions. Cooper and Blanchett are more of a mystery. My Oscar Predictions posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actor Race

Starting on the blog today, I’m taking a deeper dive into the four acting derbies at the Oscars as well as Picture and Director. It begins with Supporting Actor.

If I could use a couple words to describe this particular race – “very open” immediately comes to mind. With just two months left in the calendar year, I would go as far to say that not I’m not 100% certain on any performer discussed below making the final five. That’s rare.

Before I delve into the many hopefuls, let’s take a look at where my projections were at in 2019 and 2020 during the same time frame. Two years ago, I had already correctly pegged four of the five eventual nominees: winner Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time Hollywood), Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), Anthony Hopkins (The Two Popes), and Al Pacino (The Irishman). The other contender was Joe Pesci (also for The Irishman) and I had him listed at #6 in Other Possibilities. In hindsight, Supporting Actor was well on its way to being established with two months remaining in 2019.

Not so much for 2020. Last year was more difficult than perhaps any before it in figuring out who’d make the cut (much of that uncertainty was due to COVID and the constantly shifting release schedule). On November 1, 2020 – my forecasted five contenders yielded just two of the eventual nominees: Sacha Baron Cohen in The Trial of the Chicago 7 and Leslie Odom, Jr. for One Night in Miami. I still had the winner (Daniel Kaluuya in Judas and the Black Messiah) listed for the lead Actor competition. Both Lakeith Stanfield (Judas) and Paul Raci (Sound of Metal) were not yet mentioned in Other Possibilities.

With that context, we arrive in 2021. And I would say this year looks more like the previous one as opposed to 2019. There has been one constant since I began projecting the race back in the summer: Bradley Cooper for Licorice Pizza (known as Soggy Bottom just a couple of months ago). I’ve had him listed at #1 the whole way and it’s a prediction based mostly on gut since no one has seen the picture (that’ll change shortly). Cooper is a four-time acting nominee (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, American Sniper, A Star is Born). He’s yet to take the gold. Pizza looks like it should be a juicy role for him. On the other hand, we do not yet known just how big (or small) his role is. When reviews come out, he could solidify himself as the frontrunner or drop out altogether. There’s also the possibility that one of the other supporting players (Sean Penn or Benny Safdie) could rise. For now, I’m still hangin’ with Mr. Cooper until the word-of-mouth tells me otherwise.

Shifting gears – here’s a fun fact. In three out of the last four years, we’ve seen two actors from the same movie recognized here. In 2017, it was Sam Rockwell (who won) and Woody Harrelson in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. For 2019 – you had Pacino and Pesci in The Irishman. Last year, it was the victorious Kaluuya and Stanfield for Judas.

Could that happen again? Absolutely and the best chance for that right now appears to be Belfast. A strong contender to win Best Picture, we could also see Jamie Dornan and Ciaran Hinds punch their tickets here. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see it happen. Dornan seems likelier to make it in, but Hinds is getting plenty of laudatory chatter as well.

There are other scenarios to make it four out of five years and some lie with pictures still not screened. Don’t Look Up has Jonah Hill, Rob Morgan, and Mark Rylance. Willem Dafoe and David Strathairn are viable for Nightmare Alley. And then there’s Jared Leto and Al Pacino in House of Gucci. The latest trailer features the latter more than the former. That disrupts the consensus that Leto has a better shot. I’m still going with Leto above Pacino, but when Gucci screens that dynamic may shift.

The double nominee situations don’t end there. Yet they both have actors that I believe have a significantly better chance than the other. For Mass, Jason Isaacs has been in my five while Reed Birney hasn’t made the top ten in some time. After The Power of the Dog was unveiled on the festival circuit, the narrative unexpectedly shifted to Kodi Smit-McPhee having a clearer path than Jesse Plemons. The Tragedy of Macbeth buzz solidified Corey Hawkins over Brendan Gleeson (though I’m skeptical either get in).

Now is a good time to point out that it’s been ten years since a Supporting Actor winner didn’t come from a Best Picture nominee (Christopher Plummer in Beginners). That’s why I find it a stretch that Ben Affleck (The Tender Bar), Idris Elba (The Harder They Fall), or Troy Kotsur (CODA) will be making trips to the podium. They could still get in, but their paths are tougher and they will all need heavy critics awards love to make the dance. There’s been some mentions for Jeffrey Wright in The French Dispatch, but (somewhat surprisingly) no Wes Anderson directed performance has been Academy nominated and I don’t see this being the first.

One actor where an exception could occur is Richard Jenkins in The Humans. I doubt it will land a Pic nod, but Jenkins is drawing raves for his work. Twice nominated before for The Visitor and The Shape of Water, I could see the veteran becoming a threat to win if Cooper falls.

Others worthy of mention include Jon Bernthal in King Richard. The attention could be so focused on Will Smith (who appears to be in the driver’s seat to take Actor) that his supporting cast fails to get in (that logic also applies to Supporting Actress hopeful Aunjanue Ellis). It’s also totally feasible that Richard is so popular with the Academy that it sweeps them all in. Andrew Garfield picked up solid notices for The Eyes of Tammy Faye. He might stand a better shot in lead for the upcoming and yet to be screened Tick, Tick… Boom! Timothy Spall for Spencer is doable, but Kristen Stewart is just as likely to be the sole nominee (and maybe the winner in Actress). The work of David Alvarez (West Side Story) and Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos) has yet to be seen and is worth keeping an eye on.

So how does that all shake out? Truth be told, the five predicted performers listed below could look quite different a couple months from now. Here’s my best guesstimate for the moment:

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Bradley Cooper, Licorice Pizza (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Richard Jenkins, The Humans (PR: 3)

3. Jamie Dornan, Belfast (PR: 2)

4. Jared Leto, House of Gucci (PR: 5)

5. Ciaran Hinds, Belfast (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Jason Isaacs, Mass (PR: 4)

7. Jon Bernthal, King Richard (PR: 6)

8. Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog (PR: 7)

9. Al Pacino, House of Gucci (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Troy Kotsur, CODA (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Ben Affleck, The Tender Bar

I’ll have my analysis on the current state of Supporting Actress up next!

The French Dispatch Box Office Prediction

Wes Anderson’s latest comedy The French Dispatch is being delivered to 52 theaters on October 22nd before its wide release the following weekend. The anthology pic arrives a year after its COVID delay. It received a premiere at the Cannes Film Festival over the summer.

Like most of his unique tales, Dispatch features a massive cast (many of whom have appeared in multiple previous works from the director). That list includes Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Timothee Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park, Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston, Elisabeth Moss, Liev Schrieber, Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton, Fisher Stevens, Henry Winkler, Bob Balaban, Rupert Friend, Griffin Dunne, and three actors from No Time to Die (Lea Seydoux, Jeffrey Wright, and Christoph Waltz).

There is no question that Anderson has an ardent fanbase. However, there’s some drawbacks. Reviews are not quite up to the level of other features like Moonrise Kingdom or The Grand Budapest Hotel. The Rotten Tomatoes score is 79% and it is not thought to be an awards contender. That’s unlike his previous live-action film Hotel, which was nominated for nine Oscars and won four. It ended up with $59 million domestically after a long and leggy run in multiplexes. This might be fortunate to nab a couple of tech nods from the Academy.

Dispatch‘s wide release on October 29th comes with caveats in terms of my prediction. I have yet to see a theater count and that could easily alter my projection once known. However, I’m leaning towards this being one of Anderson’s lesser earning titles. This is somewhat of a placeholder estimate, but I’ll say $3-5 million seems likeliest.

The French Dispatch opening weekend prediction: $3.8 million

For my Last Night in Soho prediction, click here:

Last Night in Soho Box Office Prediction

For my Antlers prediction, click here:

Antlers Box Office Prediction

For my My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission prediction, click here:

My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission Box Office Prediction

For my A Mouthful of Air prediction, click here:

A Mouthful of Air Box Office Prediction

The Card Counter Review

For a filmmaker who always focuses on loners, it stands to reason that Paul Schrader’s newest picture is about playing cards. That’s not really what The Card Counter is ultimately about as the emotional damage inflicted upon the man at the poker and blackjack table is the real story.

William Tell (Oscar Isaac) follows the archetype of many a Schrader creation. Emotionally distant and more comfortable on his own, he spends considerable time in casinos across the nation. Tell, as the title suggests, knows how to count them. He also knows when to fold them. Tell could cash in big, but prefers modest winnings and even more modest motels (where he covers all the room’s decor in plain white sheets that he provides). His existence seems to suggest not wanting to be noticed at all.

William’s orbit expands when he happens on a global security convention during a gambling spree and meets Cirk (Tye Sheridan). They share a connection. Cirk’s father is deceased ex-military who was present at Abu Ghraib. So was Tell. The speaker at the conference is Major John Gordo (Willem Dafoe), who’s now a private contractor. He escaped any blame for the horrific actions overseas. Tell did not and flashbacks show us the subhuman conditions he witnessed, participated in, and was incarcerated for. In Cirk, our card counter attempts to help a troubled soul by winning him some some cash and paying off debts. Tell enlists La Linda (Tiffany Haddish, going for no laughs), a players manager on the mission.

From Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver to Ethan Hawke’s pastor in First Reformed, Isaac’s Tell fits the mold of the auteur’s central figures. These are damaged figures tired of what the world have to offer while making last ditch attempts to help another troubled soul. The problem with The Card Counter is that there’s not much in this example that we haven’t witnessed before from the same author. Most distressing is that the players around Tell simply aren’t compelling. In Schrader’s Light Sleeper (see that one), Susan Sarandon provided a captivating counterpart to Willem Dafoe’s lonesome drug dealer. Haddish’s character is barely written and her late inclusion as a love interest seems forced. So too is the case with Sheridan’s mopey apprentice. Dafoe’s character here hints at a fascinating backstory that’s unexplored.

Isaac’s performance, as we’ve come to anticipate, is quite good. Yet his tale isn’t nearly as gripping as others in the director’s previous works. We catch a glimpse of Tell’s training as a torturer and it is riveting and brief. With First Reformed, Schrader is righteously angry at political events. In that predecessor, it involved the Earth’s destruction via environmental means. In The Card Counter, it’s the hell on Earth that Tell witnessed in an Iraqi prison.

The screenplay offers not enough exploration of its universe. Had Schrader delved into the redundant and seedy world of casino dwellers more deeply, perhaps it could have paid off. After all, few writers have succeeded better in their other scripts penning depraved figures. The plot just never seems to properly call its ideas to fruition and the result feels unfinished. That’s rare when Schrader is at the table and it makes The Card Counter all the more disappointing.

** (out of four)

2021 Oscar Predictions: September 26th Edition

My weekly Oscar predictions has at last expanded to all categories covering feature films! That means we have counts on how each picture will fare and I have Dune and Nightmare Alley leading the way to 10 nods apiece.

There are changes to ponder as Don’t Look Up takes the biggest fall. I have been toying with removing the Netflix disaster drama from Best Picture contention for a couple of weeks. A clip from the pic circulated yesterday and drew some criticism, but I wouldn’t judge it from that brief glimpse. This is more of a hunch that Up might not going for a BP vibe. So it’s out with Up and in with Spencer. Additionally, C’Mon C’Mon rises in Original Screenplay over Adam McKay’s latest.

In other developments:

    • The Tragedy of Macbeth premiered at the New York Film Festival Friday and solidified its BP viability. Same goes for Denzel Washington. There’s still a question mark as to whether Frances McDormand will be placed in lead or supporting (sounds like a case could be made for both). For now, I’m putting her back in Best Actress and saying she gets in. Same goes for Jennifer Hudson in Respect. Their inclusion knocks out Penelope Cruz (Parallel Mothers) and Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter).
    • I’m back to projecting Bradley Cooper as a double nominee. His placement in Actor for Nightmare Alley removes Joaquin Phoenix (C’Mon C’Mon).
    • The Supporting Actress derby seems to be getting a new #1 each week. This time it’s Caitriona Balfe for Belfast. 

Lots more to peruse in the inaugural expanded listings below!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Belfast (Previous Ranking: 1) (E)

2. Nightmare Alley (PR: 3) (+1)

3. The Power of the Dog (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Dune (PR: 4) (E)

5. House of Gucci (PR: 5) (E)

6. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Licorice Pizza (PR: 6) (-1)

8. West Side Story (PR: 8) (E)

9. King Richard (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Spencer (PR: 12) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

11. Don’t Look Up (PR: 9) (-2)

12. Flee (PR: 16) (+4)

13. CODA (PR: 13) (E)

14. Mass (PR: 14) (E)

15. The Humans (PR: 11) (-4)

Dropped Out:

The Hand of God

The French Dispatch

Tick, Tick… Boom!

A Hero

The Lost Daughter

C’Mon C’Mon

Being the Ricardos

Cyrano

Passing 

Parallel Mothers

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog (PR: 1) (E)

2. Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley (PR: 2) (E)

3. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast (PR: 3) (E)

4. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 4) (E)

5. Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Ridley Scott, House of Gucci (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Steven Spielberg, West Side Story (PR: 8) (E)

9. Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee (PR: 12)

10. Pablo Larrain, Spencer (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up

Paolo Sorrentino, The Hand of God

Reinaldo Marcus Green, King Richard

Asghar Farhadi, A Hero

Stephen Karam, The Humans

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Kristen Stewart, Spencer (PR: 1) (E)

2. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: Not Ranked) – moved from supporting

5. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers (PR: 4) (-2)

7. Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter (PR: 5) (-2)

8. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story (PR: 8)

9. Jodie Comer, The Last Duel (PR: 13) (+4)

10. Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley (PR: 7) (-3)

Dropped Out:

Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos

Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World

Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up

Emilia Jones, CODA

Halle Berry, Bruised

Tessa Thompson, Passing

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Will Smith, King Richard (PR: 1) (E)

2. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2) (E)

3. Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3) (E)

4. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano (PR: 4) (E)

5. Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Adam Driver, House of Gucci (PR: 7) (E)

8. Nicolas Cage, Pig (PR: 11( (+3)

9. Clifton Collins, Jr., Jockey (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up (PR: 8) (-2)

Dropped Out:

Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom!

Ben Foster, The Survivor

Jude Hill, Belfast

Cooper Hoffman, Licorice Pizza

Amir Jadidi, A Hero

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Caitriona Balfe, Belfast (PR: 2) (+1)

2. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Ann Dowd, Mass (PR: 1) (-2)

4. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story (PR: 4) (E)

5. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Marlee Matlin, CODA (PR: 11) (+4)

8. Ruth Negga, Passing (PR: 14) (+6)

9. Toni Collette, Nightmare Alley (PR: 9) (E)

10. Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up (PR: 12) (+2)

Dropped Out:

Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth – moved to lead

Rooney Mara, Nightmare Alley

Judi Dench, Belfast

Martha Plimpton, Mass

Dakota Johnson, The Lost Daughter

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Bradley Cooper, Licorice Pizza (PR: 1) (E)

2. Richard Jenkins, The Humans (PR: 2) (E)

3. Jamie Dornan, Belfast (PR: 3) (E)

4. Jason Isaacs, Mass (PR: 4) (E)

5. Jared Leto, House of Gucci (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog (PR: 6) (E)

7. Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog (PR: 10) (+3)

8. Corey Hawkins, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Jon Bernthal, King Richard (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Andrew Garfield, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 14) (+4)

Dropped Out:

Mark Rylance, Don’t Look Up

Ciaran Hinds, Belfast

Willem Dafoe, Nightmare Alley

David Alvarez, West Side Story

Troy Kotsur, CODA

Reed Birney, Mass

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Belfast (PR: 1) (E)

2. Licorice Pizza (PR: 2) (E)

3. Mass (PR: 4) (+1))

4. King Richard (PR: 5) (+1)

5. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Don’t Look Up (PR: 3) (-3)

7. Spencer (PR: 7) (E)

8. A Hero (PR: 10) (+2)

9. The Hand of God (PR: 8) (-1)

10. The Worst Person in the World (PR: 12) (+2)

Dropped Out:

The French Dispatch

Parallel Mothers

Being the Ricardos

Last Night in Soho

Annette

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (PR: 1) (E)

2. Nightmare Alley (PR: 2) (E)

3. House of Gucci (PR: 4) (+1)

4. The Humans (PR: 3) (-1)

5. The Lost Daughter (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 6) (E)

7. Dune (PR: 7) (E)

8. CODA (PR: 8) (E)

9. West Side Story (PR: 9) (E)

10. Passing (PR: 10) (E)

Dropped Out:

Cyrano

Tick, Tick… Boom!

The Last Duel

The Green Knight

In the Heights

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Flee 

2. Luca

3. Encanto

4. The Mitchells vs. the Machines

5. Belle

Other Possibilities:

6. Vivo

7. Raya and the Last Dragon

8. Charlotte

9. Ron’s Gone Wrong

10. Where Is Anne Frank 

Best International Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. A Hero

2. Flee

3. The Hand of God

4. Petite Maman

5. The Worst Person in the World

Other Possibilities:

6. Parallel Mothers

7. Drive My Car

8. Compartment No. 6

9. 7 Prisoners

10. I’m Your Man

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Rescue 

2. Flee

3. Attica

4. President

5. The Lost Leonardo

Other Possibilities:

6. Summer of Soul

7. Julia

8. The Sparks Brothers

9. The First Wave

10. Becoming Cousteau 

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune

2. The Tragedy of Macbeth

3. Nightmare Alley

4. Belfast

5. The Power of the Dog

Other Possibilities:

6. West Side Story

7. Spencer

8. Licorice Pizza

9. The French Dispatch

10. The Hand of God

Best Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Spencer

2. House of Gucci

3. Dune

4. Cruella

5. Nightmare Alley

Other Possibilities:

6. The Tragedy of Macbeth

7. West Side Story

8. Licorice Pizza

9. The French Dispatch

10. Cyrano

Best Film Editing

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune

2. Belfast

3. Nightmare Alley

4. Licorice Pizza

5. West Side Story

Other Possibilities:

6. The Power of the Dog

7. Don’t Look Up

8. House of Gucci

9. King Richard

10. Spencer

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Predicted Nominees:

1. House of Gucci

2. Dune

3. Spencer

4. The Eyes of Tammy Faye

5. Nightmare Alley

Other Possibilities:

6. Cruella

7. Cyrano

8. West Side Story

9. Licorice Pizza

10. The French Dispatch

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune

2. Spencer

3. The Power of the Dog

4. The Tragedy of Macbeth

5. The French Dispatch

Other Possibilities:

6. Nightmare Alley

7. Licorice Pizza

8. Cyrano

9. Don’t Look Up

10. King Richard

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

1. “Be Alive” from King Richard

2. “No Time to Die” from No Time to Die

3. “Down to Joy” from Belfast

4. “Colombia, Mi Encanto” from Encanto

5. “Here I Am” from Respect

Other Possibilities:

6. “So May We Start” from Annette

7. “Every Letter” from Cyrano

8. “Believe” from The Rescue

9. “Don’t Look Up” from Don’t Look Up

10. “At the Automat” from The Automat

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nightmare Alley

2. Dune

3. West Side Story

4. The French Dispatch

5. Spencer

Other Possibilities:

6. House of Gucci

7. Belfast

8. Licorice Pizza

9. The Tragedy of Macbeth

10. Cyrano

Best Sound

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune

2. West Side Story

3. The Matrix Resurrections

4. Nightmare Alley

5. The Tragedy of Macbeth

Other Possibilities:

6. Belfast

7. Don’t Look Up

8. No Time to Die

9. A Quiet Place Part II

10. King Richard

Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune

2. The Matrix Resurrections

3. Eternals

4. Godzilla vs. Kong

5. Don’t Look Up

Other Possibilities:

6. Spider-Man: No Way Home

7. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

8. The Suicide Squad

9. Free Guy

10. Jungle Cruise

And that gives us the first take on how many nominations the various pictures will receive:

10 Nominations

Dune, Nightmare Alley

8 Nominations

Belfast

7 Nominations

The Power of the Dog

6 Nominations

House of Gucci, Spencer, The Tragedy of Macbeth

5 Nominations

Licorice Pizza, West Side Story

4 Nominations

King Richard

3 Nominations

Flee, The Humans, Mass

2 Nominations

Encanto, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, The French Dispatch, The Matrix Resurrections, Respect

1 Nomination

Attica, Belle, C’Mon C’Mon, Cruella, Cyrano, Don’t Look Up, Eternals, Godzilla vs. Kong, The Hand of God, A Hero, The Lost Daughter, The Lost Leonardo, Luca, The Mitchells vs. the Machines, No Time to Die, Petite Maman, President, The Rescue, The Worst Person in the World

2021 Oscar Predictions: September 19th Edition

Thanks to the Toronto Film Festival, we have a new #1 atop the charts in Best Picture and it’s Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast. 

The coming-of-age drama won the festival’s People’s Choice Award and that is no minor development. 12 of the past 13 victors have received a BP nod. Five of them have won. And that’s enough to allow Belfast the designation of soft frontrunner (with lots of time to go and lots yet to be seen). However, the fact of the matter is, you have to go back to 2006’s The Departed to find a BP winner that didn’t screen at one of the higher profile festivals.

The Power of the Dog was a runner-up for the People’s Choice prize and it slides just one spot. Director Jane Campion  maintains top billing in her category.

There are further developments to point out:

    • King Richard is back in my top 10 BP projections edging out The Humans. The Will Smith sports drama also enters Original Screenplay over C’Mon C’Mon.
    • Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza) is in for Best Director over Ridley Scott for House of Gucci.
    • The praise for Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye is enough to put her at #2 in Actress. It’s not enough to dislodge Kristen Stewart (Spencer) from her ruling perch. I will admit that the subpar box office grosses for Faye this weekend doesn’t help, but I’m relatively confident at this juncture that she’s in.
    • The revolving door that is slot #5 in Best Actor lands on Joaquin Phoenix (C’Mon C’Mon) over Bradley Cooper (Nightmare Alley).
    • Big changes in Supporting Actor as Jamie Dornan (Belfast) and Jared Leto (House of Gucci) are in. Dropping are Dornan’s costar Ciaran Hinds and Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog).
    • While the Supporting Actress five stays intact, I’ve vaulted Ann Dowd (Mass) back to the top spot.

By this time next Sunday, we will know the buzz for Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth as it opens the New York Film Festival this Friday. Stay tuned for my Oscar Predictions post on that next weekend.

You can peruse all the action below and the forecasts will be updated next Sunday!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Belfast (Previous Ranking: 4) (+3)

2. The Power of the Dog (PR: 1) (-1)

3. Nightmare Alley (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Dune (PR: 5) (+1)

5. House of Gucci (PR: 3) (-2)

6. Licorice Pizza (PR: 7) (+1)

7. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 6) (-1)

8. West Side Story (PR: 8) (E)

9. Don’t Look Up (PR: 9) (E)

10. King Richard (PR: 12) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

11. The Humans (PR: 10) (-1)

12. Spencer (PR: 15) (+3)

13. CODA (PR: 11) (-2)

14. Mass (PR: 14) (E)

15. The Hand of God (PR: 13) (-2)

16. Flee (PR: 17) (+1)

17. The French Dispatch (PR: 16) (-1)

18. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 19) (+1)

19. A Hero (PR: 18) (-1)

20. The Lost Daughter (PR: 20) (E)

21. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 24) (+3)

22. Being the Ricardos (PR: 22) (E)

23. Cyrano (PR: 23) (E)

24. Passing (PR: 21) (-3)

25. Parallel Mothers (PR: 25) (E)

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog (PR: 1) (E)

2. Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley (PR: 2) (E)

3. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ridley Scott, House of Gucci (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 7) (E)

8. Steven Spielberg, West Side Story (PR: 8) (E)

9. Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up (PR: 9) (E)

10. Pablo Larrain, Spencer (PR: 11) (+1)

11. Paolo Sorrentino, The Hand of God (PR: 10) (-1)

12. Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee (PR: 13) (+1)

13. Reinaldo Marcus Green, King Richard (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Asghar Farhadi, A Hero (PR: 14) (E)

15. Stephen Karam, The Humans (PR: 12) (-3)

Dropped Out:

Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Kristen Stewart, Spencer (PR: 1) (E)

2. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers (PR: 4) (E)

5. Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 6) (E)

7. Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley (PR: 7) (E)

8. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World (PR: 13) (+3)

11. Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up (PR: 12) (+1)

12. Emilia Jones, CODA (PR: 10) (-2)

13. Jodie Comer, The Last Duel (PR: 11) (-2)

14. Halle Berry, Bruised (PR: 15) (+1)

15. Tessa Thompson, Passing (PR: 14) (-1)

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Will Smith, King Richard (PR: 1) (E)

2. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2) (E)

3. Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3) (E)

4. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano (PR: 4) (E)

5. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Adam Driver, House of Gucci (PR: 7) (E)

8. Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up (PR: 8) (E)

9. Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Clifton Collins, Jr., Jockey (PR: 9) (-1)

11. Nicolas Cage, Pig (PR: 11) (E)

12. Ben Foster, The Survivor (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Jude Hill, Belfast (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Cooper Hoffman, Licorice Pizza (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Amir Jadidi, A Hero (PR: 12) (-3)

Dropped Out:

Adam Driver, Annette

Filippo Scott, The Hand of God

Simon Rex, Red Rocket

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ann Dowd, Mass (PR: 2) (+1)

2. Caitriona Balfe, Belfast (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog (PR: 1) (-2)

4. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 6) (E)

7. Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Rooney Mara, Nightmare Alley (PR: 10) (+2)

9. Toni Collette, Nightmare Alley (PR: 9) (E)

10. Judi Dench, Belfast (PR: 11) (+1)

11. Marlee Matlin, CODA (PR: 7) (-4)

12. Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up (PR: 12) (E)

13. Martha Plimpton, Mass (PR: 14) (+1)

14. Ruth Negga, Passing (PR: 13) (-1)

15. Dakota Johnson, The Lost Daughter (PR: 15) (E)

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Bradley Cooper, Licorice Pizza (PR: 1) (E)

2. Richard Jenkins, The Humans (PR: 2) (E)

3. Jamie Dornan, Belfast (PR: 7) (+4)

4. Jason Isaacs, Mass (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Jared Leto, House of Gucci (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog (PR: 4) (-2)

7. Corey Hawkins, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Ciaran Hinds, Belfast (PR: 3) (-5)

9. Mark Rylance, Don’t Look Up (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog (PR: 9) (-1)

11. Willem Dafoe, Nightmare Alley (PR: 12) (+1)

12. David Alvarez, West Side Story (PR: 13) (+1)

13. Troy Kotsur, CODA (PR: 11) (-2)

14. Andrew Garfield, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Reed Birney, Mass (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Timothy Spall, Spencer

Benny Safdie, Licorice Pizza

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Belfast (PR: 1) (E)

2. Licorice Pizza (PR: 2) (E)

3. Don’t Look Up (PR: 3) (E)

4. Mass (PR: 4) (E)

5. King Richard (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Spencer (PR: 7) (E)

8. The Hand of God (PR: 9) (+1)

9. The French Dispatch (PR: 8) (-1)

10. A Hero (PR: 12) (+2)

11. Parallel Mothers (PR: 10) (-1)

12. The Worst Person in the World (PR: 13) (+1)

13. Being the Ricardos (PR: 11) (-2)

14. Last Night in Soho (PR: 14) (E)

15. Annette (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Blue Bayou

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (PR: 1) (E)

2. Nightmare Alley (PR: 2) (E)

3. The Humans (PR: 3) (E)

4. House of Gucci (PR: 4) (E)

5. The Lost Daughter (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 6) (E)

7. Dune (PR: 7) (E)

8. CODA (PR: 8) (E)

9. West Side Story (PR: 9) (E)

10. Passing (PR: 10) (E)

11. Cyrano (PR: 11) (E)

12. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 12) (E)

13. The Last Duel (PR: 13) (E)

14. The Green Knight (PR: 15) (+1)

15. In the Heights (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Eyes of Tammy Faye