Jojo and Parasite Get the Writers Approval

The Writers Guild of America held their awards ceremony this evening and it serves as a significant indicator for the direction Oscar voters might go for the Adapted and Original Screenplay categories.

In Original Screenplay, this race was looked at as a showdown between Marriage Story and Parasite. The other nominees (1917, Booksmart, Knives Out) weren’t much in contention. For awards followers, you might notice I didn’t say Quentin Tarantino’s script for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. There’s a reason as the filmmaker is not a member of the guild and therefore not eligible for recognition. In the 2010s, we’ve already seen that factor come into play once when his Django Unchained screenplay wasn’t listed (Zero Dark Thirty won instead). Quentin went on to Oscar victory.

This evening, it is Bong Joon-Ho and Han Jin-won taking the prize for Parasite. My feeling is that the recipient between that and Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story now has the upper hand to compete with Hollywood at the Academy ceremony next weekend. So it’s a good night for the Parasite team.

Adapted Screenplay was definitely one to watch. Two nominees – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and Joker – were looked at as long shots at best. This one came down to The Irishman (Steve Zaillian), Jojo Rabbit (Taika Waititi), and Little Women (Greta Gerwig). That holds true for Oscar (the five nominees here match the Academy’s). Waititi is the victor for Rabbit. The film most negatively affected is The Irishman, as Adapted Screenplay looks to be its most viable chance for a major category pickup. The narrative lately is that Gerwig could win the Oscar, especially since she was snubbed for Director. Yet Waititi’s trophy tonight puts him in the soft front runner position.

Look for lots more Oscar coverage on the blog as we are eight days away from the event itself!

1917 Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (01/05): The film’s victory for Best Drama at the Golden Globes is pushing my estimate up… from $26.8 million to $31.8 million

1917 blasts onto screens next weekend and hopes to generate its awards buzz into a rousing first frame at multiplexes. The World War I epic comes from Sam Mendes, Oscar winning director of American Beauty who’s been busy with the Bond franchise lately with Skyfall and Spectre. Cast members include George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman, Mark Strong, Andrew Scott, Richard Madden, Colin Firth, and Benedict Cumberbatch.

Critics have been on its side as 1917 currently sports a 90% Rotten Tomatoes score. The film is expected to nab several Oscar nods (including possibly Picture and Director and tech nods) on the Monday following its wide release. In the limited rollout over the holidays, it held a sturdy per theater average of over $50,000.

War movies have done well in January over the past few years. The high water mark is American Sniper, which made nearly $90 million out of the gate five years ago. This isn’t anticipated to be anywhere near that, but there are other decent comps to consider. In 2013, Zero Dark Thirty took in $24 million in its expansion.

This is right in the range where I see 1917 landing in the mid 20s (SEE BLOGGER’S NOTE ABOVE).

1917 opening weekend prediction: $31.8 million

For my Just Mercy prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/01/just-mercy-box-office-prediction/

For my Like a Boss prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/01/like-a-boss-box-office-prediction/

For my Underwater prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/02/underwater-box-office-prediction/

Oscar History: 2012

It’s been quite some time since I’ve done an Oscar History post (about two and a half years) and I’m at 2012. It was a year in which Seth MacFarlane hosted the show – fresh off his comedy smash Ted. Here’s what transpired in the major categories with some other pictures and performers I might have considered:

The year saw nine nominees for Best Picture in which Ben Affleck’s Argo took the top prize. Other nominees: Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook (my personal favorite of the year), and Zero Dark Thirty. 

Many Wes Anderson fans would contend that Moonrise Kingdom should have made the cut. And I could certainly argue that The Avengers (perhaps the greatest comic book flick and the year’s biggest grosser) was worth a nod.

The nominations in Best Director were a huge surprise at the time. While Argo won the top prize of all, Affleck was not nominated for his behind the camera efforts. It was the first time since Driving Miss Daisy‘s Bruce Beresford where an Oscar-winning Picture didn’t see its filmmaker nominated.

Instead it was Ang Lee who was victorious for Life of Pi over Michael Haneke (Amour), David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook), Steven Spielberg (Lincoln), and Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild).

In addition to Affleck, it was surprising that Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) was not included. And I certainly would have put in Tarantino for Django.

The race for Best Actor seemed over when the casting of Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln was announced. And that’s exactly how it played out as he won his third Oscar over a strong slate of Bradley Cooper (Playbook), Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables), Joaquin Phoenix (The Master), and Denzel Washington (Flight).

The exclusion of John Hawkes in The Sessions could have been welcomed, but I’ll admit that’s a solid group.

Jennifer Lawrence won Best Actress for Silver Linings over Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark), Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts), and Naomi Watts (The Impossible).

Again, no major qualms here. I did enjoy the work of Helen Mirren in Hitchcock (for which she did get a Golden Globe nod).

Supporting Actor was competitive as Christoph Waltz won his second statue for Django (three years after Inglourious Basterds). He was a bit of a surprise winner over Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln. Other nominees: Alan Arkin (Argo), Robert De Niro (Playbook), and Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master).

Here’s a year where there’s a lot of others I thought of. Waltz won, but I think the work of Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson in Django was equally impressive. There’s Javier Bardem as one of the greatest Bond villains ever in Skyfall. Or John Goodman’s showy role in Flight. As for some other blockbusters that year, how about Tom Hiddleston in The Avengers or Matthew McConaughey in Magic Mike? And my favorite comedic scene of that year was due to Giovanni Ribisi in Ted…

In Supporting Actress, Anne Hathaway was a front-runner for Les Miserables and there was no upset. Other nominees: Amy Adams (The Master), Sally Field (Lincoln), Helen Hunt (The Sessions), and Jacki Weaver (Playbook).

Judi Dench had more heft to her part as M in Skyfall that year and I’ll also give a shout-out to Salma Hayek’s performance in Oliver Stone’s Savages.

And there’s your Oscar history for 2012! I’ll have 2013 up… hopefully in less than two and a half years!

The Best Picture Wouldn’t Have Been Contenders: 2009-2017

A couple of days back on the blog, I speculated about what films in the 21st century would have been nominated for Best Picture prior to a rule change in 2009. As a refresher, nearly a decade ago, the Academy changed its Best Picture Nominees from a finite five to anywhere between five to ten. In that time frame, the magic number most years has been nine (it was actually a finite 10 for 2009 and 2010 before the fluctuation change). My recent post selected two pictures from 1990-2008 that I believe would have been nominated. You can find that post here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/08/03/the-best-picture-coulda-been-contenders-1990-2008/

Today comes the inverse of that column. What if the rule had never been altered? What if the last nine Oscar ceremonies honored just five features?

In making these picks, there’s obviously one extremely easy selection – the movie that won. In naming the other four, I’m looking at factors such as number of other nods it received. For instance, if a Director won that award for their work and the Picture went to something else, that director’s film is in.

So let’s get to it in this alternative Oscar universe. I’ll be reminding you all the pictures recognized and then showing my final five.

2009

The Actual Nominees:

The Hurt Locker (Winner), Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, A Serious Man, Up, Up in the Air

Had It Been Five:

The Hurt Locker, Avatar, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, Up in the Air

2010

The Actual Nominees:

The King’s Speech (W), 127 Hours, Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter’s Bone

Had It Been Five:

The King’s Speech, The Fighter, Inception, The Social Network, True Grit

2011

The Actual Nominees:

The Artist (W), The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, War Horse

Had It Been Five:

The Artist, The Descendants, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris

2012

The Actual Nominees:

Argo (W), Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty

Had It Been Five:

Argo, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook

2013

The Actual Nominees:

12 Years a Slave (W), American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, The Wolf of Wall Street

Had It Been Five:

12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Gravity, Nebraska, The Wolf of Wall Street

2014

The Actual Nominees:

Birdman (W), American Sniper, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash

Had It Been Five:

Birdman, American Sniper, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game

2015

The Actual Nominees:

Spotlight (W), The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Room

Had It Been Five:

Spotlight, The Big Short, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant

2016

The Actual Nominees:

Moonlight (W), Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea

Had It Been Five:

Moonlight, Arrival, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea

2017

The Actual Nominees:

The Shape of Water (W), Call Me by Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread, The Post, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Had It Been Five:

The Shape of Water, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

And there you have it with my posts on the “what if” Best Picture happenings in Oscar world!

Oscar Watch: Molly’s Game

Jessica Chastain has landed two Oscar nods over the years – for Supporting Actor in 2011’s The Help and in lead actress in 2012’s Zero Dark Thirty. Since then, she’s been in the mix but didn’t land nods for films such as A Most Violent Year and Miss Sloane.

Screening at the Toronto Film Festival yesterday, it appears Chastain is back in the fold once again for Molly’s Game. The pic marks the directorial debut of acclaimed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and tells a true life tale that features Chastain running a high-priced and eventually dangerous underground poker empire.

Reviews for Game have been mostly positive and it stands at 86% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. Costars include Idris Elba and Kevin Costner, who appear to be long shots for Supporting Actor. If that changes, expect Elba to get the attention. The film itself is unlikely to play in Best Picture.

For Chastain, it’s a different story. Critical notices have noted she carries Game and could well find herself recognized in an extremely competitive Best Actress field. I had her listed in my initial round of early Oscar predictions last week and that will almost surely hold true this week.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Detroit Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (08/03): My estimate has been revised down just a bit to $11.6M on eve of release.

Director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal team up for the third time next weekend with Detroit. Their first collaboration resulted in a Best Picture win and Bigelow being the first female to win a gold statue for direction with 2009’s The Hurt Locker, focused on the Iraq War. 2012 follow-up Zero Dark Thirty also received a Best Pic nod, among other nominations, as it zeroed in on the hunt for Osama Bin Laden.

Their third feature goes back 50 years in history to the Algiers Hotel Incident and race riots in the title city. John Boyega of Star Wars fame stars alongside Will Poulter, Algee Smith, Jason Mitchell, John Krasinski, and Anthony Mackie. Early critical reaction has been strong – it stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes currently. Oscar attention could potentially come its way as well.

Detroit seems like the kind of title where solid word of mouth could allow it to play well throughout the month of August , where competition isn’t overly fierce. The strong reviews could propel it to a high teens gross under a best scenario out of the gate. However, I think it’s more likely it will debut in the low double digits to low teens with hopes of smaller drop-offs in follow-up weekends.

Detroit opening weekend prediction: $11.6 million

For my The Dark Tower prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/07/26/the-dark-tower-box-office-prediction/

For my Kidnap prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/07/26/kidnap-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Detroit

Detroit is one of those pictures that’s been earmarked for an Oscar Watch post ever since its announcement. After all, this is the third collaboration between director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal. The first was 2009’s The Hurt Locker and it won Best Picture and made history when Bigelow was the first female to win Best Director. Boal won Original Screenplay and the film received three other technical victories. Their follow-up, 2012’s Zero Dark Thirty, received Picture and another Screenplay nod for Boal, though Bigelow was surprisingly not nominated. It also won Sound Editing and was nominated for overall Editing. These collaborations also resulted in a Best Actor nod for Jeremy Renner for Locker and Best Actress nom for Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark.

So it goes without saying that their third teaming merits awards chatter. That picture is Detroit, which opens on August 4. The period drama recounts the Algiers Hotel incident during the city’s riots of 1967. The review embargo lifted today and early notices are positive (it’s at 100% at the moment on Rotten Tomatoes). For those who say the August release date could be problematic, don’t forget that Hurt Locker hit in the summer as well. That said, some critics have said it doesn’t quite measure up with the first two Bigelow/Boal efforts. If there’s any acting attention, perhaps John Boyega could here his name bandied about in Best Actor. There may be a better chance for costar Will Poulter in Supporting (he’s said to be a standout).

Based on very early reaction, the Picture itself, Bigelow, and Boal look to be in the mix for nominations. Yet it doesn’t seem as slam dunk as eight years ago and maybe not even five years ago.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…