Friday, April 30, 2021

Weekend Movie Recommendations with Abe

Every Friday, I'll be uploading a Minute with Abe: Weekend Movie Recommendations Edition, surveying new releases on DVD, and on streaming services. Check it out, and subscribe to the movieswithabe channel!


New to Theaters: Limbo, Cliff Walkers, Four Good Days
New to Virtual Cinemas: In Silico
New to Digital and VOD: The Outside Story
New to DVD: Cowboys, Beast Beast
New to Netflix: The Mitchells vs. the Machines
New to Amazon Prime Video: Without Remorse
New to Amazon and Hulu: Arrival
New to Hulu: Breaking Fast, Wild Mountain Thyme

Movie with Abe: Limbo

Limbo
Directed by Ben Sharrock
Released April 30, 2021

Leaving a person’s home comes with many emotions. Even if the experience of living there was plagued by negativity and malicious forces, there can still be a melancholy when that lifelong tie is severed. The opportunity to relocate to somewhere with a promise of a better future is rarely a simple process, and the time spent waiting to achieve success or some semblance of permanence may hinder a recognition that optimism and fortune still lie ahead. There’s no better word to describe that state of being than the title of this film, one which paints such a portrait of the in-between time and state of mind.

Omar (Amir El-Masry) is a musician from Syria seeking asylum. While he awaits a decision on his request, he lives on a Scottish island far from any other civilization. He befriends Farhad (Vikash Bhai) and other fellow asylum seekers as he struggles to cope with the slow-moving monotony that has replaced the danger he used to feel back home. Frequent phone conversations with his mother, who is never positive about his future, and a complicated relationship with his brother haunt him as he learns about European culture and what to expect from an existence that for him may never come.

This film, in the same way that Omar is made to feel by the lack of any news about the progress of his application, is in no rush to get anywhere. Scenes move particularly slowly as Omar takes in the silence and blandness around him. The classes he takes simulate scenarios that feel all too distant and unlikely, and Omar’s trip to a grocery store that sells only ketchup and mustard, not any of the familiar spices he seeks, remind him of his isolation. But he does also forge productive connections, like with the initially cold but gradually inviting kindred spirit in the Pakistani man who runs that same grocery store.

This film works best because of El-Masry’s muted performance, one that allows him to observe events around him just as the audience does, inviting them to appreciate them from his perspective. He blends in well with the scenery that has a particular beauty to it, but only if time is truly spent to stop and appreciate it, something that can rarely be done when hope is grim. This film manages to be particularly poignant in its depiction of Omar’s ties to his family and his home, enriching a decent narrative with a powerful and resonant finish.

B+

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Movie with Abe: The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Newly available tomorrow on Netflix is “The Mitchells vs. the Machines.” I really enjoyed this animated film and had the chance to review it for Cinema Daily US. Head over there to read my review.

Movie with Abe: Without Remorse

Without Remorse
Directed by Stefano Sollima
Released April 30, 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)

A title like “Without Remorse” doesn’t leave too much to the imagination. Any character who is introduced at the start of such a film isn’t likely to be happy for long, and it’s reasonable to expect a chain of devastating events that leave a protagonist with no option other than to get even with those who have destroyed their lives. Without remorse can also imply without limits, as someone who believes they have nothing left to lose will do anything they can to settle a score and try to fill a void. That doesn’t always lead to an invigorating or triumphant cinematic experience, and this film fails to distinguish itself from similar action or revenge projects.

Michael B. Jordan is John Kelly, a Navy SEAL who returns home from a tour in Syria and manages to survive an assassination attempt that kills a number of his fellow team members and his pregnant wife. Determined to get answers, Kelly heads back into the field with a loyal SEAL ally (Jodie Turner-Smith) to uncover the truth, crossing paths with an uncooperative CIA player (Jamie Bell) and the Secretary of Defense (Guy Pearce) along the way.

This film’s full title includes the name Tom Clancy, likely so audiences will associate it with the universe in which it is set, that of Jack Ryan, a successful property who anchored several films and is currently the star of his own show with John Krasinski on Amazon Prime Video. Ryan doesn’t appear in this film but the source material with Clark associates them. There is plentiful action to be found here, but the pacing is rather expected and unengaging, presenting fight scenes and hand-to-hand combat without much real interest in their outcome given Clark’s apparent physical prowess.

Jordan is no stranger to taking over spinoff franchises, like the very popular “Creed” series whose next installment he is set to direct. Here, his acting talents are wasted in a thinly-conceived role that gives him little to do other than look angry and walk around with a gun. Turner-Smith, Bell, and Pearce are similarly strong performers without much purpose in this film, one that is clearly a setup for a sequel and other future endeavors whose contents will likely be much more interesting and worthwhile than this unextraordinary introductory effort that doesn’t aim very high and leaves much to be desired.

C

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Interview with Abe: The Outside Story

I was delighted to be able to talk to director Casimir Nozkowski and stars Sunita Mani and Olivia Edward about their work on the new film “The Outside Story.” Check out my great conversation with them at Awards Radar. Read my review of the film here!

Movie with Abe: The Outside Story

The Outside Story
Directed by Casimir Nozkowski
Released April 30, 2021 (Digital and VOD)

There is a certain comfort that comes with being within a person’s own home, closed off from the outside world with doors to lock and lights to turn off. That isn’t completely separate from that which exists beyond it, and sounds may permeate it, especially in an apartment building or on a busy street. Yet especially in the current moment where many have spent months working from home in sweatpants, there is something daunting about the prospect of leaving and greeting an unknown universe. That monumental step will have to happen at some point, and it’s likely to come at exactly the wrong time, as it does in this lighthearted and entertaining film.

Charles (Brian Tyree Henry) is reeling from a breakup with his live-in girlfriend Isha (Sonequa Martin-Green). As he puts the finishing touches on an in-memoriam video for a famous actor who appears to be hours if not minutes from death, he finds himself locked out of his apartment with no shoes and little hope of getting inside. His general antisocial nature doesn’t serve him well as he struggles to find a way back in, which includes striking up a friendship with a young neighbor (Olivia Edward) and clashing with an irritable police officer (Sunita Mani) patrolling the neighborhood.

This film feels like a trip back in time to an antiquated New York City, set in a Brooklyn full of friendly personalities who spend their days sitting out on their stoops with all the time in the world to interact with anyone who passes by. It’s a welcome return to a nostalgic moment where law enforcement is villainized merely for handing out far too many tickets and consequences, like Charles getting fired because he cannot finish his timely assignment, seem far-off and unlikely to stick. That’s part of the appeal of this film, which plays out like one increasingly annoying day that its protagonist just wants to end even as it helps him to realize important things about his attitude and perspective.

Henry is a talented actor known for “Atlanta,” “Widows,” and other projects, and here he’s playing a lackluster everyman, someone who doesn’t try very hard to help others and softens considerably when he’s the one in need of assistance. He’s well-supported by an ensemble that includes a spirited Mani, typically precocious Edward, and other players like Asia Kate Dillon and Maria Dizzia. This film feels like it has an increased symbolism right now as a way of wandering back out into the world, shifting expectations and taking stock of what still matters, relevant themes to enhance the viewing experience and guide its main character along his equally frustrating and amusing journey.

B+

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

AFT Awards: Best Production Design

This is the eighth category of the 14th Annual AFT Film Awards to be announced. The AFT Awards are my own personal choices for the best in film of each year and the best in television of each season. The AFT Film Awards include the traditional Oscar categories and a number of additional specific honors. I’m drawing only from films that were either released or playing at a film festival in the 2020 calendar year. Nominees are pictured in the order I’ve ranked them. Click here to see previous years of this category.

Runners-up:
Wendy
Mank
Alice Junior
Ema
The Trial of the Chicago 7

The winner:
Sylvie's Love (Mayne Berke) made its city setting come alive with the passion of its two romantic partners from one location to the next.

Other nominees:
I'm Your Woman (Gae S. Buckley) – my interview with Gae
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (Mark Ricker) –my interview with Mark
News of the World (David Crank) – my interview with David
Promising Young Woman (Michael Perry)

AFT Awards: Best Cinematography

This is the seventh category of the 14th Annual AFT Film Awards to be announced. The AFT Awards are my own personal choices for the best in film of each year and the best in television of each season. The AFT Film Awards include the traditional Oscar categories and a number of additional specific honors. I’m drawing only from films that were either released or playing at a film festival in the 2020 calendar year. Nominees are pictured in the order I’ve ranked them. Click here to see previous years of this category.

Runners-up:
Mank
Charm City Kings
Dear Comrades
The 40-Year-Old Version
Tenet

The winner:
Nomadland (Joshua James Richards) tapped into the perspective of its main character, capturing the beauty around her and conveying it beautifully to the camera.

Other nominees:
News of the World (Dariusz Wolski)
I Carry You with Me (Juan Pablo Ramírez)
The Killing of Two Lovers (Oscar Ignacio Jimenez)
Wendy (Sturla Brandth Grøvlen)

AFT Awards: Best Adapted Screenplay

This is the sixth category of the 14th Annual AFT Film Awards to be announced. The AFT Awards are my own personal choices for the best in film of each year and the best in television of each season. The AFT Film Awards include the traditional Oscar categories and a number of additional specific honors. I’m drawing only from films that were either released or playing at a film festival in the 2020 calendar year. Nominees are pictured in the order I’ve ranked them. Click here to see previous years of this category.

Runners-up:
Nomadland
The Tobacconist
The Father


The winner:
One Night in Miami (Kemp Powers) constructed a superbly engaging narrative for its four main characters to come alive and argue about their beliefs.

Other nominees:
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (Ruben Santiago-Hudson)
Charm City Kings (Sherman Payne, Chris Boyd, Kirk Sullivan, and Barry Jenkins)
Downhill (Jesse Armstrong, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash)
Martin Eden (Maurizio Braucci and Pietro Marcello)

AFT Awards: Best Original Screenplay

This is the fifth category of the 14th Annual AFT Film Awards to be announced. The AFT Awards are my own personal choices for the best in film of each year and the best in television of each season. The AFT Film Awards include the traditional Oscar categories and a number of additional specific honors. I’m drawing only from films that were either released or playing at a film festival in the 2020 calendar year. Nominees are pictured in the order I’ve ranked them. Click here to see previous years of this category.

Honorable mentions (in alphabetical order):
Alice Junior, Breaking Fast, Ema, Herself, Honeymood, Mank, On the Rocks, S#!&house, Sound of Metal, Summertime, The Best Years, The Killing of Two Lovers, Welcome to the USA

Runners-up:
Dating Amber
Ellie and Abbie (and Ellie’s Dead Aunt)
The Trial of the Chicago 7
Nine Days
Blast Beat

The winner:
The 40-Year-Old Version (Radha Blank) was wonderfully fresh and totally committed to its main character’s enthralling and marvelous journey.

Other nominees:
Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell)
Palm Springs (Max Barbakow and Andy Siara)
The Climb (Michael Angelo Covino and Kyle Marvin)
The King of Staten Island (Judd Apatow, Pete Davidson, and Dave Sirus)

Monday, April 26, 2021

AFT Awards: Best Actress in a Supporting Role

This is the fourth category of the 14th Annual AFT Film Awards to be announced. The AFT Awards are my own personal choices for the best in film of each year and the best in television of each season. The AFT Film Awards include the traditional Oscar categories and a number of additional specific honors. I’m drawing only from films that were either released or playing at a film festival in the 2020 calendar year. Nominees are pictured in the order I’ve ranked them.. Click here to see previous years of this category.

Honorable mentions:
Amanda Seyfried (Mank), Lily Collins (Mank), Maude Apatow (The King of Staten Island), Zazie Beetz (Nine Days), Ellen Burstyn (Pieces of a Woman)
 
Runners-up: 
Marsha Stephanie Blake (I'm Your Woman)
Alma Noce (The Best Years)
Saoirse Ronan (Ammonite)
Gayle Rankin (The Climb)
Freya Mavor (The Keeper)

The winner:
Sarah Gadon (Black Bear) subtly crafted a marvelously compelling character who wasn’t what she seemed and then became something else entirely.

Other nominees:
Shira Haas (Asia)
Bel Powley (The King of Staten Island)
Eve Hewson (Tesla)
Aubrey Plaza (Happiest Season)

AFT Awards: Best Actor in a Supporting Role

This is the third category of the 14th Annual AFT Film Awards to be announced. The AFT Awards are my own personal choices for the best in film of each year and the best in television of each season. The AFT Film Awards include the traditional Oscar categories and a number of additional specific honors. I’m drawing only from films that were either released or playing at a film festival in the 2020 calendar year. Nominees are pictured in the order I’ve ranked them.. Click here to see previous years of this category.

Honorable mentions:
Arliss Howard (Mank), Bill Burr (The King of Staten Island), Bill Murray (On the Rocks), Charles Dance (Mank), Jens Albinus (My Little Sister), Kim Rossi Stuart (The Best Years)

Runners-up:
Aldis Hodge (One Night in Miami)
Eddie Redmayne (The Trial of the Chicago 7)
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (The Trial of the Chicago 7)
Glynn Turman (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom)
Frank Langella (The Trial of the Chicago 7)

The winner:
Alan Kim (Minari) was the heart of his movie, affectionately conveying his youthful experience through curiosity, rebellion, and heartwarming interactions with his family members.

Other nominees:
Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7)
Orion Lee (First Cow)
Leslie Odom Jr. (One Night in Miami)
Colman Domingo (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom)

AFT Awards: Best Actress in a Leading Role

This is the second category of the 14th Annual AFT Film Awards to be announced. The AFT Awards are my own personal choices for the best in film of each year and the best in television of each season. The AFT Film Awards include the traditional Oscar categories and a number of additional specific honors. I’m drawing only from films that were either released or playing at a film festival in the 2020 calendar year. Nominees are pictured in the order I’ve ranked them.. Click here to see previous years of this category.

Honorable mentions:
Laure Calamy (My Donkey, My Lover and I), Kiera Allen (Run), Zora Howard (Premature), Emily Skeggs (Dinner in America), Frances McDormand (Nomadland), Jessie Buckley (I'm Thinking of Ending Things), Jo Ellen Pellman (The Prom), Madeline Grey DeFreece (Tahara), Rachel Brosnahan (I'm Your Woman), Saltanat Nauruz (Welcome to the USA), Sarah Paulson (Run), Sophia Loren (The Life Ahead), Sophie Hawkshaw (Ellie and Abbie (and Ellie’s Dead Aunt)), Tessa Thompson (Sylvie's Love), Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman), Viola Davis (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom)

Runners-up:
Avigail Harari (Honeymood)
Aubrey Plaza (Black Bear)
Radha Blank (The 40-Year-Old Version)
Alena Yiv (Asia)
Cristin Milioti (Palm Springs)

The winner:
Clare Dunne (Herself) delivered a wonderfully endearing portrait of a young mother desperate to do whatever she could to protect her family. You can watch my great interview with her here.

Other nominees:
Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman)
Anne Celestino Mota (Alice Junior)
Lola Petticrew (Dating Amber)
Micaela Ramazzotti (The Best Years)

AFT Awards: Best Actor in a Leading Role

This is the first category of the 14th Annual AFT Film Awards to be announced. The AFT Awards are my own personal choices for the best in film of each year and the best in television of each season. The AFT Film Awards include the traditional Oscar categories and a number of additional specific honors. I’m drawing only from films that were either released or playing at a film festival in the 2020 calendar year. Nominees are pictured in the order I’ve ranked them.. Click here to see previous years of this category.

Honorable mentions:
Kingsley Ben-Adir (One Night in Miami), Sarm Heng (Buoyancy), Cooper Raiff (S#!&house)

Runners-up:
Pete Davidson (The King of Staten Island)
Eli Goree (One Night in Miami)
Jahi Di’Allo Winston (Charm City Kings)
Andy Samberg (Palm Springs)
Fionn O'Shea (Dating Amber)

The winner:
Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom) tuned into the passion and ego of a man best equipped to express himself through music and equally capable of doing so through words. It’s a formidable final performance.

Other nominees:
Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal)
Clayne Crawford (The Killing of Two Lovers)
Bartosz Bielenia (Corpus Christi)
Gary Oldman (Mank)

Oscar Reactions


It was definitely an interesting show tonight, though I'm not sure I loved everything about it. Having some people in person and others not was strange, especially when it came to acceptance speeches, and I would have liked to see more clips and montages. Overall, I scored 16/23, which is about on par with how I usually do. Head over to Cinema Daily US to read my short take on the night and see all the winners!

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Your Guide to the Oscars

For the fourth year in a row, I managed to see every single film nominated in every category. I feel confident and ready in some categories and completely at a loss in others.

The past five years have seen unpredictable ceremonies with uncertain Best Picture victors, and this year doesn’t have that. “Nomadland” is far ahead of anything else, and while a surprise is possible, it’s certain other categories that are completely unknown, like Best Actress. The other truly competitive races are Best Supporting Actress, Best Documentary, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Song. While it's worth noting that Riz Ahmed won Best Actor at the Spirit Awards and Anthony Hopkins triumphed at BAFTA, I still think that Chadwick Boseman will win that prize.

I’m betting on “Nomadland” to lead with four wins, followed by “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” with three and “Soul” and “Sound of Metal” with two. Of the Best Picture nominees, I think that “The Father” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7” will go home empty-handed, though they could easily win their respective screenplay races.

I’ve detailed the nominees and their chances in each of the categories below, and you can click on each race heading to read my full Oscar winner predictions. Predicted winners are in bold. Click on film titles for full reviews of each, and make sure to read any linked interviews too. Happy watching!

Best Picture
The Father
Judas and the Black Messiah
Mank
Minari
Nomadland
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7 - Interview

Best Director
Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round) - Interview
David Fincher (Mank)
Lee Isaac Chung (Minari)
Chloé Zhao (Nomadland)
Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman)

Best Actor in a Leading Role
Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal)
Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom)
Anthony Hopkins (The Father)
Gary Oldman (Mank)
Steven Yeun (Minari)

Best Actress in a Leading Role
Viola Davis (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom)
Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday)
Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman)
Frances McDormand (Nomadland)
Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7)
Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah)
Leslie Odom, Jr. (One Night in Miami)
Paul Raci (Sound of Metal)
Lakeith Stanfield (Judas and the Black Messiah)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm)
Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy)
Olivia Colman (The Father)
Amanda Seyfried (Mank)
Yuh-jung Youn (Minari)

Best Original Screenplay
Judas and the Black Messiah
Minari
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal - Interview
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Adapted Screenplay
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
The Father
Nomadland
One Night in Miami
The White Tiger

Best Cinematography
Judas and the Black Messiah
Mank
News of the World
Nomadland
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Production Design
The Father
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom - Interview
Mank - Interview
News of the World - Interview
Tenet

Best Costume Design
Emma
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Mank - Interview
Mulan
Pinocchio

Best Film Editing
The Father
Nomadland
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal - Interview
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Original Score
Da 5 Bloods
Mank
Minari
News of the World
Soul

Best Original Song
“Husavik” (Eurovision Song Contest)
“Fight for You” (Judas and the Black Messiah)
“Io Si” (The Life Ahead)
“Speak Now” (One Night in Miami)
“Hear My Voice” (The Trial of the Chicago 7)

Best Sound
Greyhound - Interview
Mank
News of the World
Soul
Sound of Metal - Interview

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Emma
Hillbilly Elegy
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom - Interview
Mank
Pinocchio - Interview

Best Visual Effects
Love and Monsters
The Midnight Sky - Interview
Mulan
The One and Only Ivan
Tenet

Best Animated Feature
Onward
Over the Moon
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
Soul
Wolfwalkers

Best Documentary Short Film
Colette
A Concerto is a Conversation
Do Not Split
Hunger Ward
A Love Song for Latasha

Best Animated Short Film
Burrow
Genius Loci
If Anything Happens I Love You
Opera
Yes-People

Best Live Action Short Film
Feeling Through
The Letter Room
The Present
Two Distant Strangers
White Eye

Best Documentary
Collective
Crip Camp
The Mole Agent
My Octopus Teacher
Time

Best International Feature
Another Round - Interview
Better Days
The Man Who Sold His Skin
Pain and Glory
Quo Vadis, Aida?

Friday, April 23, 2021

Weekend Movie Recommendations with Abe

Every Friday, I'll be uploading a Minute with Abe: Weekend Movie Recommendations Edition, surveying new releases on DVD, and on streaming services. Check it out, and subscribe to the movieswithabe channel!


New to Theaters: Together Together
New to VOD and Digital: We Broke Up
New to DVD: Crisis
New to Amazon Prime Video: The Artist
New to Hulu: Modern Persuasion, The Place of No Words

Oscar Winner Predictions: Best Picture

The competition: The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Mank, Minari, Nomadland, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Previous winners: Parasite, Green Book, The Shape of Water, Moonlight, Spotlight, Birdman, 12 Years a Slave
My winner: Promising Young Woman
The facts: Last year, “Parasite” capitalized on its SAG win and took the top prize from “1917,” the expected winner. This year, it’s hard to believe that anything could derail “Nomadland,” which has won the PGA, DGA, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and more, but let’s go through it all anyway. Unlike last year, when four films earned ten or more nominations, just one achieved that this time: “Mank.” Six of the remaining nominees earned six bids each, while “Promising Young Woman” got five. SAG chose “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” but its only competition from this list was “Minari.” Four of these films – “Mank,” “Minari,” “Nomadland,” and “Promising Young Woman” – are nominated for Best Director, while “The Father,” “Nomadland,” “Promising Young Woman,” “Sound of Metal,” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7” contend for Best Film Editing, a nomination that in most cases has been a historic necessity to win this prize.

Nomadland” took the top prize at the Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards, BAFTA, PGA, and DGA. It wasn’t nominated at SAG, where “The Trial of the Chicago 7” eclipsed “Minari,” or WGA, where it wasn’t eligible. It’s hard to see anything that would prevent it from winning at this point, though there are three other films that could feasibly be popular enough to potentially overtake it. “Minari” is a real crowd-pleaser and will benefit from positive buzz for supporting actress Yuh-jung Youn, who is the frontrunner to win, but its chances would be much better had it, like “Parasite” last year, won the SAG ensemble prize. “The Trial of the Chicago 7” missed out on a directing nomination, and it likely would have done much better in terms of its total bids if it had a shot at taking home the top award. “Promising Young Woman,” my favorite film of the year, will have plenty of people ranking it as their #1, and it is, aside from “Nomadland,” the only film to score both directing and film editing nominations. But I still argue that there’s nothing going against “Nomadland,” and it feels like the safest winner this category has seen since “12 Years a Slave” back in 2013.

What should win: “Promising Young Woman,” “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” and “Mank” are my top three films of 2020. Honestly, this list is solid, and I’m fine with “Nomadland” winning even if it wasn’t my number one cinematic experience of the year.
What will win: It’s going to be Nomadland, though I’d pick “Minari” as the potential spoiler if I had to.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Oscar Winner Predictions: Best Director

The competition: Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round), David Fincher (Mank), Lee Isaac Chung (Minari), Chloé Zhao (Nomadland), and Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman)

Previous winners: Bong Joon Ho (Parasite), Alfonso Cuaron (Roma), Guillermo Del Toro (The Shape of Water), Damien Chazelle (La La Land), Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (The Revenant), Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Birdman), Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
My winner: Coming soon! 
The facts: This slate is refreshingly new, with only one returning nominee. That’s Fincher, who contended in 2010 for “The Social Network” and in 2008 for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” His film is the nominations leader, with ten bids. Vinterberg’s film is also nominated for Best International Feature. The other three honorees here are also up for other prizes: Chung as screenwriter, Fennell as screenwriter and producer, and Zhao as screenwriter, producer, and editor. Zhao has dominated this awards season, sweeping almost every group and guild. The few times she didn’t win resulted in a victory for someone not nominated here or, in the case of the Austin Film Critics Association, Chung. With the exception of when Ben Affleck wasn’t nominated for an Oscar in 2012 for “Argo” and last year, the DGA winner has gone on to win this award every year for the past fifteen years. If you haven’t already, check out my interview with Vinterberg the week before he got nominated!
 
Who should win: I’m completely on board with Zhao winning. My personal pick would probably be Fincher or Fennell, but there’s no bad choice here.
Who will win: This is the surest win of the night, for Zhao.

Oscar Winner Predictions: Best Film Editing

The competition: The Father (Yorgos Lamprinos), Nomadland (Chloé Zhao), Promising Young Woman (Frédéric Thoraval), Sound of Metal (Mikkel E.G. Nielsen), The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Alan Baumgarten)

Previous winners: Ford v Ferrari, Bohemian Rhapsody, Dunkirk, Hacksaw Ridge, Mad Max: Fury Road, Whiplash, Gravity
My winner: Coming soon!
The facts: Zhao is also nominated this year for writing, directing, and producing her film. Baumgarten contended previously in 2013 for “American Hustle.” This was the exact lineup that contended at BAFTA, where “Sound of Metal” prevailed. All but “The Father” were up for the ACE Eddie Award, which, somewhat surprisingly went to “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” Four of the last ten Oscars winners didn’t win either ACE Eddie. The winner of this award hasn’t gone on to win Best Picture since “Argo” in 2012, and it’s actually much more common for the two not to match up, though all but two of the last ten winners were nominated for the top prize. All five of these films are nominated for Best Picture.
Who should win: “Promising Young Woman”
Who will win: I’ll stick with Sound of Metal to win here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Oscar Winner Predictions: Best Costume Design

The competition: Emma. (Alexandra Byrne), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Ann Roth), Mank (Trish Summerville), Mulan (Bina Daigeler), and Pinocchio (Massimo Cantini Parrini)

Previous winners: Little Women, Black Panther, Phantom Thread, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Great Gatsby
My winner: Coming soon!
The facts: Byrne was previously nominated for “Mary Queen of Scots” in 2018, “Finding Neverland” in 2004, “Elizabeth” in 1998, and “Hamlet” in 1996. She won for “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” in 2007. Roth was nominated in 2002 for “The Hours,” in 1999 for “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” and in 1984 for “Places in the Heart.” She won in 1996 for “The English Patient.” The other three contenders are all first-time nominees. At the Costume Designers Guild Awards, “Mulan” defeated “Pinocchio” in the sci-fi/fantasy category, and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” beat “Emma” and “Mank” in the period race. Make sure to check out my interview with Trish Summerville about her incredible work in “Mank” if you haven’t already.
Who should win: “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Who will win: It looks like 89-year-old Roth will triumph for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

Oscar Winner Predictions: Best Cinematography

The competition: Judas and the Black Messiah (Sean Bobbitt), Mank (Erik Messerschmidt), News of the World (Dariusz Wolski), Nomadland (Joshua James Richards), The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Phedon Papamichael)

Previous winners: 1917, Blade Runner 2049, La La Land, The Revenant, Birdman, Gravity
My winner: Coming soon!
The facts: This is the first nomination for everyone but Papamichael, who was previously here for “Nebraska” in 2013. Since the ASC has existed, its winner has only gone on to win the Oscar fifteen out of thirty-four times, and six times in the past decade. “The Trial of the Chicago 7” was the only film not nominated by BAFTA, where “Nomadland” won, while “Judas and the Black Messiah” wasn’t in contention at the ASC Awards, where “Mank” unexpectedly triumphed. A Best Picture nominee has won this award every year over the past decade except for in 2017.
 
Who should win: I’d vote for “Nomadland” or “News of the World.”
Who will win: While it’s tempting to pick “Mank” given its ASC win and nominations-leader status, I think Nomadland will ultimately prevail here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Before the Gold: Best Production Design

I was excited to get the opportunity to participate in a special Awards Radar series called Before the Gold, spotlighting great previous work by this year's nominees in each category. Speaking to multiple production designers - including three nominated artisans - helped prepare me to cover Best Production Design. Head over there to read my rundown of strong projects to check out if you liked the work that earned these artisans Oscar nominations this year.

Oscar Winner Predictions: Best Production Design

The competition: The Father (Peter Francis and Cathy Featherstone), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Mark Ricker, Karen O'Hara, and Diana Stoughton), Mank (Donald Graham Burt and Jan Pascale), News of the World (David Crank and Elizabeth Keenan), and Tenet (Nathan Crowley and Kathy Lucas)

Previous winners: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Black Panther, The Shape of Water, La La Land, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Great Gatsby
My winner: Coming soon!
The facts: O’Hara won in 2010 for “Alice in Wonderland” and was nominated in 1986 for “The Color of Money.” Burt won in 2008 for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” Pascale contended in 2005 for “Good Night, and Good Luck.” Crowley was previously nominated for “First Man,” “Dunkirk,” “Interstellar,” “The Dark Knight,” and “The Prestige,” making this the fourth time a Christopher Nolan film has earned him a spot here. Lucas was also nominated for “First Man.” At both the Art Directors Guild Awards and Set Decorates Society of America Awards, “Mank” defeated “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “News of the World” in the period film category, while “Tenet” won the fantasy prize. I had the opportunity to speak with three of the artisans nominated in this category – Ricker, Burt, and Crank – so make sure to click through to read those pieces.
 
Who should win: I’d vote for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “News of the World,” or “Mank.”
Who will win: This feels like a likely win for Mank though it could also be “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”

Monday, April 19, 2021

Before the Gold: Best Makeup and Hairstyling

I was excited to get the opportunity to participate in a special Awards Radar series called Before the Gold, spotlighting great previous work by this year's nominees in each category. Speaking to multiple hair and makeup artists - including two nominated teams - helped prepare me to cover Best Makeup and Hairstyling. Head over there to read my rundown of strong projects to check out if you liked the work that earned these artisans Oscar nominations this year.

Oscar Winner Predictions: Best Makeup and Hairstyling

The competition: Emma (Marese Langan, Laura Allen, and Claudia Stolze), Hillbilly Elegy (Eryn Krueger Mekash, Matthew W. Mungle, and Patricia Dehaney), Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal, and Jamika Wilson), Mank (Gigi Williams, Kimberley Spiteri, and Colleen LaBaff), and Pinocchio (Mark Coulier, Dalia Colli, and Francesco Pegoretti).

Previous winners: Bombshell, Vice, Darkest Hour, Suicide Squad, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Dallas Buyers Club
My winner: Coming soon!
The facts: Mungle was previously nominated for “Albert Nobbs,” “Ghosts of Mississippi,” “Schindler’s List,” and “Dracula,” which scored him a win. Dehaney was nominated for “Vice.” Coulier has a perfect track record, with wins for “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “The Iron Lady.” I had the opportunity to interview the nominated teams from both “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “Pinocchio” – follow these links to read them! Those two films happened to be the big winners at the Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild, scoring trophies for period makeup and period hairstyling, and special make-up effects, respectively. It’s worth noting that “Emma” wasn’t nominated in any of those races. Six winners in the last ten years in this category have been Best Picture nominees, with “Mank” being the only one with that distinction this year.
 
Who should win: I’d give this to “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” but “Pinocchio” is also very impressive. Talking to the artisans helps to show just how impressive their work is.
Who will win: I think this is probably going to Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Interview with Abe: Manny Perez

I had the pleasure of chatting with actor Manny Perez about his long career, playing villains, and his new film, “Night of the Sicario.” Check out my great conversation with him at Cinema Daily US.

Oscar Winner Predictions: Best Sound

The competition: Greyhound (Warren Shaw, Michael Minkler, Beau Borders, and David Wyman), Mank (Ren Klyce, Jeremy Molod, David Parker, Nathan Nance, and Drew Kunin), News of the World (Oliver Tarney, Mike Prestwood Smith, William Miller, and John Pritchett), Soul (Ren Klyce, Coya Elliott, and David Parker), and Sound of Metal (Nicolas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michelle Couttolenc, Carlos Cortés, and Phillip Bladh)

Previous winners: Sound: 1917, Bohemian Rhapsody, Dunkirk, Hacksaw Ridge, Mad Max: Fury Road, Whiplash, Gravity / Sound Editing: Ford v Ferrari, Bohemian Rhapsody, Dunkirk, Arrival, Mad Max: Fury Road, American Sniper, Gravity
My winner: Coming soon
The facts: Minkler has twelve previous nominations and three wins, for “Dreamgirls” in 2006, “Chicago” in 2002, and “Black Hawk Down” in 2001. Borders contended in 2013 for “Lone Survivor.” Double nominee Klyce has seven previous nominations, including bids both for three other David Fincher collaborations, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Social Network,” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” Double nominee Parker, who has nine previous bids, also worked on those three films, and he won in 2007 for “The Bourne Ultimatum” and in 1996 for “The English Patient.” Kunin was nominated for “Bridge of Spies” in 2015 and “Life of Pi” in 2012. Tarney was nominated for “1917” last year, for “The Martian” in 2015, and “Captain Phillips” in 2013. Smith also worked on “Captain Phillips.” Pritchett was nominated for “Memoirs of a Geisha” in 2005 and for “Road to Perdition” in 2002.

This category combines Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing into one. All five of these films were nominees at the Cinema Audio Society Awards and all earned bids at the Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Awards. At the former, “Soul” won the animated prize, and “Sound of Metal” took the live action award. At the latter, “Soul” also took the animated prize and “Greyhound” was the only winner among this bunch. “Sound of Metal” won the corresponding BAFTA prize, where all but “Mank” were in contention. 

Who should win: I would go with either “Greyhound” or “Sound of Metal.” You can check out my articles on each film's talented team of artisans.
Who will win: This feels like a safe win for Sound of Metal since “Greyhound” isn’t nominated in any other category.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Oscar Winner Predictions: Best Original Song

The competition: Husavik (Eurovision Song Contest), Fight for You (Judas and the Black Messiah), Io Si (The Life Ahead), Speak Now (One Night in Miami), Hear My Voice (The Trial of the Chicago 7)

Previous winners: I’m Gonna Love Me Again (Rocketman), Shallow (A Star is Born), Remember Me (Coco), City of Stars (La La Land), Writing’s on the Wall (Spectre), Glory (Selma), Let It Go (Frozen)
My winner: Coming soon!
The facts: Odom Jr. is nominated for his performance in “One Night in Miami” in addition to his bid here. Warren is the only previous nominee, with an astounding eleven past nominations. This is her fourth consecutive nomination in this category after songs from “Breakthrough,” “RBG,” and “Marshall,” and she earned her first bid back in 1987 for a song from “Mannequin.” At the Golden Globes and the Hollywood Music in Media Awards, “Io Si” triumphed. The last eight Golden Globe winners have gone on to be nominated here, with six of them triumphing.
 
Who should win: I enjoyed and appreciate “Husavik” but found a particular resonance to both “Speak Now” and especially “Io Si.”
Who will win: It very well could be “Husavik,” but I think Warren finally wins for Io Si.

Oscar Winner Predictions: Best Original Score

The competition: Da 5 Bloods (Terence Blanchard), Mank (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross), Minari (Emile Mosseri), News of the World (James Newton Howard), and Soul (Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Jon Batiste)

Previous winners: Joker, Black Panther, The Shape of Water, La La Land, The Hateful Eight, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Gravity
My winner: Coming soon!
The facts: Blanchard was nominated for his last collaboration with Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman,” in 2018. Double nominees Reznor and Ross won this prize in 2010 for another David Fincher film, “The Social Network.” Howard has eight previous nominations, two of which are for songs. His most recent bids were in 2008 for “Defiance,” 2007 for “Michael Clayton,” and 2004 for “The Village.” This is the first nomination for Mosseri and Batiste. The most recent double nomination in this category was in 2014, when Alexandre Desplat beat himself. That doesn’t tend to happen, as John Williams, who achieved two score bids in one year eight times and won on only one of those occasions. The last animated film to win this prize was “Up” in 2009, the first time that happened since the 1990s domination of classics like “The Lion King” and “Beauty and the Beast.” In the past two decades, this award has gone to a film not nominated for Best Picture only twice. At the Hollywood Music in Media Awards, “News of the World” beat “Da 5 Bloods” and “Mank,” while both “Minari” and “Soul” each claimed separate prizes. “Soul” won at the Golden Globes and BAFTA.
 
Who should win: I would have said “Tenet,” but of course that isn’t nominated. I think I’d choose “News of the World,” but they’re all good choices and I don’t have a strong preference.
Who will win: This looks like it’s all set to go to Soul.