Monday, November 25, 2019

Monday Oscar Odds

I’ll only be seeing one big movie that could have a big awards impact – “Waves” – this week, though I may find time for a few entries available on home video or streaming services in the midst of Thanksgiving travel. For now, I have some changes to make based on what I’ve seen this week.

The biggest film I saw was “1917,” which screened for its first audiences on Saturday in New York and on Sunday in Los Angeles. I had been doubting this film for a while, and I now think that it’s almost guaranteed to show up in Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Score, and likely a handful of other technical categories. I think it could well win Best Picture, since it seems to have impressed a lot of people and is opening much later in the year than, say, “Dunkirk” a few years ago. Screenplay is a possibility too, but for now I’m swapping Sam Mendes, who won this category twenty years ago for his debut feature, “American Beauty,” in for Best Director and taking out Noah Baumbach for “Marriage Story,” even though I still think he might make the cut.

Two other big contenders I saw were “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” and “Bombshell.” The former wasn’t quite as family-friendly as I would have thought but was still charming, and I do think that Tom Hanks will probably be nominated for an Oscar this year for the first time since 2000, despite high-profile snubs for “Saving Mr. Banks,” “Captain Phillips,” “Bridge of Spies,” and “Sully” in the interim. The movie itself should still manage a Best Picture nomination, though that’s far from guaranteed, and a screenplay bid also seems likely. I wouldn’t expect anything else, however. “Bombshell” reminded me a lot of “Vice,” though I liked it more than that film, and I assume that will make it appealing to Oscar voters. I’m definitely keeping Charlize Theron in, not putting Nicole Kidman anywhere, and not so sure about what’s going to happen with Margot Robbie, who I think might end up with twin Golden Globe nominations in the same category. I’m going to put it in on the Best Picture list and also in the Best Original Screenplay race, replacing “Waves,” though I might reverse that after I see that film tonight.

There are a few other films that I think are worth mentioning. I streamed “Dolemite Is My Name” on Netflix and really enjoyed it, and I think that Eddie Murphy stands a good chance of being nominated. I’m putting him in for Best Actor and taking out Antonio Banderas for the moment. I think the film is likely to earn a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical and a SAG bid for its ensemble cast, but a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars doesn’t feel like it’s going to happen. “Queen and Slim,” which opens this week (review coming very soon), is certainly an experience, though I don’t think it’s one that’s going to translate to Oscar attention. Two contenders for Best International Feature, “The Whistlers” from Romania and “Traitor” from Italy, could well end up on the ten-wide finalist list which will be announced three weeks from today, but I’m not so sure.

The Film Independent Spirit Awards nominations were announced last Thursday. The only film to score bids for Best Feature and Best Director was “Uncut Gems,” a Safdie brothers feature starring Adam Sandler. I didn’t love the film but the audience I saw it with last week loved it, so it’s possible it could impress more mainstream voters. I don’t think that’s the case, with Sandler likelier to end up as the sole nominee from the film. If it does well at the Golden Globes, I may change my tune, but not just yet. Alfre Woodard also got a big boost with a bid for herself and one for “Clemency” in the Best Feature category.

As for monitoring buzz on other films, “Ford v Ferrari” is one that I’ve heard people loved, and I’m thinking that it’s probably smart to anticipate it doing well. I’m putting it in for Best Picture over “The Farewell,” which saddens me, but that’s what I’m thinking right now. I’m keeping Christian Bale off the Best Actor list, but he could easily show up there.

I’m still eager to see “Richard Jewell” and “Little Women,” and plan to see both within the next two weeks. I’ll be screening other films as well, in addition to beginning Golden Globe and SAG predictions later this week. Check back next Monday for more. Two weeks from today, Golden Globe nominations will be announced, and a week later, all of the Oscar finalists in the designated categories. Stay tuned!

Current predictions:

Best Picture
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Ford v Ferrari
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Marriage Story
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best Director
Martin Scorsese The Irishman)
Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit)
Sam Mendes (1917)
Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)
Bong Joon Ho (Parasite)

Best Actor
Robert De Niro (The Irishman)
Adam Driver (Marriage Story)
Eddie Murphy (Dolemite Is My Name)
Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)
Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes)

Best Actress
Awkwafina (The Farewell)
Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story)
Charlize Theron (Bombshell)
Alfre Woodard (Clemency)
Renée Zellweger (Judy)

Best Supporting Actor
Sterling K. Brown (Waves)
Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood)
Al Pacino (The Irishman)
Joe Pesci (The Irishman)
Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

Best Supporting Actress
Laura Dern (Marriage Story)
Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit)
Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers)
Margot Robbie (Bombshell)
Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)

Best Original Screenplay
The Farewell
Marriage Story
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best Adapted Screenplay
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Little Women

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
The Irishman

Best Animated Feature
Frozen II
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Toy Story 4
Weathering with You

Best Documentary
American Factory
The Apollo
Apollo 11
The Biggest Little Farm

Best International Feature
Les Miserables (France)
Out Stealing Horses (Norway)
Corpus Christi (Poland)
Parasite (South Korea)
Pain and Glory (Spain)

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