Sunday, October 15, 2017

2017 American Music Award (AMA) Nominees

Bruno Mars
The Chainsmokers
Kendrick Lamar
Ed Sheeran

James Arthur
Niall Horan
Julia Michaels
Post Malone
Rae Sremmurd

“Closer” – The Chainsmokers feat. Halsey
“Despacito” – Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee feat. Justin Bieber
“I’m The One” – DJ Khaled feat. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper & Lil Wayne
“Don’t Wanna Know” – Maroon 5 feat. Kendrick Lamar
“Starboy” – The Weeknd feat. Daft Punk

Bruno Mars
Ed Sheeran

Lady Gaga
Alessia Cara

The Chainsmokers
Imagine Dragons

“Starboy” – The Weeknd
“24K Magic” – Bruno Mars
“More Life” – Drake

“Despacito” – Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee feat. Justin Bieber
“Shape Of You” – Ed Sheeran
“Closer” – The Chainsmokers feat. Halsey

Bruno Mars
Donald Glover
The Weeknd


“24K Magic” – Bruno Mars
“Awaken, My Love!” – Donald Glover
“Starboy” – The Weeknd

“That’s What I Like” – Bruno Mars
“Location” – Khalid
“Starboy” – The Weeknd

Kendrick Lamar

“More Life” – Drake
“DAMN.” – Kendrick Lamar
“Culture” – Migos

“I’m The One” – DJ Khaled feat. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper and Lil Wayne
“HUMBLE.” – Kendrick Lamar
“Black Beatles” – Rae Sremmurd feat. Gucci Mane

The Chainsmokers
DJ Snake
Calvin Harris

Sam Hunt
Thomas Rhett
Keith Urban

Miranda Lambert
Maren Morris
Carrie Underwood

Florida Georgia Line
Little Big Town
Old Dominion

“They Don’t Know” – Jason Aldean
“From A Room: Volume 1” – Chris Stapleton
“Ripcord” – Keith Urban

“Body Like A Back Road” – Sam Hunt
“Dirt On My Boots” – Jon Pardi
“Blue Ain’t Your Color” – Keith Urban

Imagine Dragons
Linkin Park
Twenty One Pilots

Bruno Mars
Shawn Mendes
Ed Sheeran

Lauren Daigle
Chris Tomlin

Daddy Yankee
Luis Fonsi

“That’s What I Like” – Bruno Mars
“Shape Of You” – Ed Sheeran
“Despacito” – Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee feat. Justin Bieber

Garth Brooks

Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2: “Awesome Mix Vol. 2”

The Oscar Narrative: Post-Festival Predictions - Best Actor

Post-Festival Predictions
Timothee Chalamet "Call Me By Your Name"
Daniel Day-Lewis "Phantom Thread"
Jake Gyllenhaal "Stronger"
Hugh Jackman "The Greatest Showman"
Gary Oldman "Darkest Hour"

Other Contenders - Tom Hanks "The Post", Andrew Garfield "Breathe", James Franco "The Disaster Artist", Jeremy Renner "Wind River", Daniel Kaluuya "Get Out", Sam Elliott "The Hero", Steve Carell "Battle of the Sexes", Steve Carell "The Last Flag Flying", Denzel Washington "Roman J. Israel, Esq", Kumail Nanjiani "The Big Sick", Christian Bale "Hostiles", Ryan Gosling "Blade Runner 2049", Chadwick Boseman "Marshall", Hugh Jackman "Logan", Miles Teller "Thank You For Your Service", James McAvoy "Split", Matt Damon "Downsizing", Kevin Spacey "All the Money in the World", Javier Barden "mother!", Robert Redford "Our Souls at Night", Kenneth Branagh "Murder on the Orient Express", Robert Pattinson "Good Time", Joel Edgerton "It Comes At Night", Tom Cruise "American Made", John Boyega "Detroit", Adam Sandler "The Meyerowitz Stories", Donald Sutherland "The Leisure Seeker"

Commentary - After the fests, one name stands out among the pack. Of course I am speaking of Gary Oldman. He has everything going for him: overdue status, brilliant performance, biopic, film with overall Oscar potential. Can something unseat him? Of course! It is only mid-October and the next three months or so could change a lot. But Oldman feels like one of those inevitable contenders, and so far, it looks like everyone is happy to go along for the ride. A surprise contender is Jake Gyllenhaal. He was not really on my radar, but Stronger has earned him raves. In a race that I actually think is rather weak, he is a previous nominee who recently missed out for some great roles, and this is the type of role that actors love. I think he finally earns himself a second Oscar nomination. While younger actors have always struggled here, I think that Timothee Chalamet, who is apparently just awesome in Call Me By Your Name can be an exception to the rule, if the film continues to play well. The last two slots I am saving for sights unseen. Daniel Day-Lewis is re-teaming up with Paul Thomas Anderson in what he says will be his last film. And Hugh Jackman gets to sing, dance, and play a real life character. Plus he also has a stunning performance in Logan to bolster him. I think that, on paper at least, these look like perfect roles for two beloved actors. My first alternate slot goes to Tom Hanks. Like always, folks are rushing to predict him, but then I go back to Captain Phillips and Bridge of Spies, and so many other performances in the last fifteen years that have been overlooked. So for now, I am leaving him out. Beyond those six, the field, in my opinion, gets muddled. You have previous winners and nominees like Jeremy Renner, Andrew Garfield, James Franco, Steve Carell, Denzel Washington, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Matt Damon, Kevin Spacey, Javier Bardem, Robert Redfrod, Kenneth Branagh, and Tom Cruise. But in each of their cases, there is something that makes me hesitate. It's either the film is not well-received, or the film is too small, or to controversial, or lacking buzz. But for whatever reason, none have risen to the top. YOu have legends like Sam Elliott and Donald Sutherland doing great late-career work, and young talents like Chadwick Boseman, Daniel Kaluuya, Kumail Nanjiani, Miles Teller, Robert Pattinson, and John Boyega patiently waiting for Oscar breakthrough. But right now, they all need more buzz to breakthrough.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Oscar Narrative: Post-Festival Predictions - Best Actress

Post-Festival Predictions
Sally Hawkins "The Shape of Water"
Frances McDormand "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"
Margot Robbie "I, Tonya"
Emma Stone "Battle of the Sexes"
Meryl Streep "The Post"

Other Contenders - Kate Winslet "Wonder Wheel", Saoirse Ronan "Lady Bird", Jessica Chastain "Molly's Game", Judi Dench "Victoria and Abdul", Annette Bening "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool", Michelle Williams "All the Money in the World", Carey Mulligan "Mudbound", Daniela Vega "A Fantastic Woman", Gal Gadot "Wonder Woman", Diane Kruger "In the Fade", Claire Foy "Breathe", Jennifer Lawrence "mother!", Salma Hayek "Beatriz at Dinner", Debra Winger "The Lovers", Helen Mirren "The Leisure Seeker", Jane Fonda "Our Souls at Night", Charlize Theron "Atomic Blonde", Isabelle Huppert "Happy End"

Commentary - This race is packed this year, and it will take a while to really sort out the top five. First, we have to make room for the obligatory Meryl Streep slot. Sometimes she does make it in, but she does more than she doesn't, and I discounted her last year for most of the season and I was wrong. Plus she is pairing up with Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. Sounds like Oscar gold. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri's Toronto prize is a big deal, and previous winner Frances McDormand is ripe for an Oscar comeback. Despite being a mute performance, I think the power and popularity of Shape of Water, and her performance, will put Sally Hawkins back into the Oscar race for the first time since Blue Jasmine. Margot Robbie has been on the verge of Oscar for years now, and her role in I, Tonya has been earning raves. Finally, while a lot of Oscar prognosticators have written off Battle of the Sexes as a "crowd-pleaser", that is exactly why I am keeping it in a lot of these races. It is the kind of feel-good film like Hidden Figures last year, that wins the hearts of voters. Emma Stone is last year's winner, is fantastic as Billie Jean King, in a film I think Oscar voters will love. I say she earns her third nomination. Beyond those five though are some potent contenders. Kate Winslet is apparently fantastic in Wonder Wheel, although early reviews have been mixed. Saoirse Ronan earned raves out of the fests for Lady Bird, Jessica Chastain sizzles in Molly's Game, Annette Bening is the reason to watch Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool, and Judi Dench is, well, Judi Dench. Those only make my top ten, and there are still plenty of names to think about. Gal Gadot deserves some love for Wonder Woman, Carey Mulligan is still searching for that second Oscar nomination, Michelle Williams is overdue, and names like Diane Kruger, Claire Foy, Jennifer Lawrence, Jane Fonda, Isabelle Huppert, and Debra Winger will inspire support.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The 2nd Annual Critics Choice Documentary Award Nominations

Best Documentary
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Beware the Slenderman
Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds
Chasing Coral
City of Ghosts
Cries From Syria
Dawson City: Frozen Time
Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis
Ex Libris: The New York Public Library
Faces Places
One of Us
Strong Island

Best Director
Evgeny Afineevsky – Cries from Syria
Amir Bar-Lev – Long Strange Trip
Matthew Heineman – City of Ghosts
Bill Morrison – Dawson City: Frozen Time (
Doug Nichol – California Typewriter
Jeff Orlowski – Chasing Coral
Irene Taylor Brodsky – Beware the Slenderman
Ceyda Torun – Kedi
Agnès Varda & JR – Faces Places
Frederick Wiseman – Ex Libris: The New York Public Library

Best First Documentary
California Typewriter
Nowhere to Hide
Strong Island
Whose Streets?

Best Political Documentary
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
City of Ghosts
The Reagan Show

Best Sports Documentary
Speed Sisters
Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton

Best Music Documentary
Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of our Live
Contemporary Color
Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis
I Called Him Morgan
Long Strange Trip
Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World

Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary
The Cats of Istanbul – Kedi
Etty – One of Us
Al Gore – An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power \
Laird Hamilton – Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton
Dolores Huerta – Dolores
Gigi Lazzarato – This is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous
The Sung Family – Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

Most Innovative Documentary
Casting JonBenet
Dawson City: Frozen Time
Karl Marx City
Last Men in Aleppo

Best Song in a Documentary
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power – “Truth to Power” – OneRepublic
Chasing Coral – “Tell Me How Long” – Kristen Bell
Cries From Syria – “Prayers for This World” – Cher
Dina – “Best I Can” – Michael Cera featuring Sharon Van Etten
Served Like a Girl – “Dancing Through the Wreckage” – Pat Benatar
Step – “Jump” – Cynthia Erivo

Best Limited Documentary Series (TV/Streaming)
The Defiant Ones
Five Came Back
The Keepers
The Nineties
Planet Earth II
The Vietnam War

Best Ongoing Documentary Series (TV/Streaming)
30 for 30
American Masters
Independent Lens

The Oscar Narrative: Post-Festival Predictions - Technical Categories

Best Cinematography
Roger Deakins "Blade Runner 2049"
Hoyte van Hoytema "Dunkirk" 
Dan Laustsen "The Shape of Water"
Steve Yedlin "Star Wars: The Last Jedi"
Edward Lachmann "Wonderstruck"

Other Contenders - Bruno Delbonnel "Darkest Hour", Paul Thomas Anderson "Phantom Thread", Seamus McGarvey "The Greatest Showman", Rachel Morrison "Mudbound", Linus Sandgren "Battle of the Sexes", Sayombhu Mukdeeprom "Call Me By Your Name", John Mathieson "Logan", Anthony Dod Mantle "First They Killed My Father", Ben Davis "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri", Matthew Jensen "Wonder Woman", Tobias A. Schliessler "Beauty and the Beast", Vittorio Storaro "Wonder Wheel", Ben Richardson "Wind River", Masanobu Takayanagi "Hostiles", Dion Beebe "The Snowman", Dariusz Wolski "All the Money in the World", Michael Seresin "War for the Planet of the Apes"

Best Costume Design
Beauty and the Beast
Darkest Hour
The Greatest Showman
Murder on the Orient Express
Victoria and Abdul

Other Contenders - Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Film, Wonderstruck,The Beguiled, Blade Runner 2049, Mudbound, Wonder Wheel, Dunkirk, Battle of the Sexes, The Shape of Water,  Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Wonder Woman, The Post, The Death of Stalin, Suburbicon, Marshall, Hostiles, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, The Glass Castle, Breathe, Call Me By Your Name, Ladybird, Detroit, Goodbye Christopher Robin

Best Film Editing
Blade Runner 2049
The Post
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Other Contenders - Call Me By Your Name, Darkest Hour, Get Out, Wonder Woman, Battle of the Sexes, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, Mudbound, The Greatest Showman, Logan, Wonderstruck, Wonder Wheel, Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Film, Victoria and Abdul, Detroit, War for the Planet of the Apes, I, Tonya, Hostiles, All the Money in the World, Stronger, Downsizing, Last Flag Flying

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Beauty and the Beast
Darkest Hour
The Greatest Showman

Other Contenders - Logan, The Shape of Water, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Dunkirk, The Beguiled, All the Money in the World, Wonder, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Battle of the Sexes, Victoria and Abdul, I Tonya, Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Film, Thor: Ragnarok, Wonderstruck, Detroit, Hostiles, It, The Post, Logan Lucky, Justice League, mother!

Best Original Score
Dario Marianelli "Darkest Hour"
Alexandre Desplat "The Shape of Water"
Thomas Newman "Victoria and Abdul"
John Williams "Star Wars: The Last Jedi"
Hans Zimmer "Dunkirk"

Other Contenders - John Williams "The Post", Carter Burwell "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri", John Debney, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul "The Greatest Showman", Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer "Blade Runner 2049", Michael Giacchino "War for the Planet of the Apes", Michael Giacchino "Coco", Carter Burwell "Wonderstruck", Marco Beltrami "Logan", James Newton Howard "Detroit"

Best Original Song
I will wait till the contenders list is released, this category always has surprises left off or included.

Best Production Design
Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049\
Darkest Hour
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Other Contenders - Murder on the Orient Express, Victoria and Abdul, The Greatest Showman, Dunkirk, Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Film, Wonder Wheel, Battle of the Sexes, Mudbound, The Post, Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Logan, Thor: Ragnarok, Marshall, Call Me By Your Name, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Justice League, Detroit, War for the Planet of the Apes, Hostiles

Best Sound Editing
Blade Runner 2049
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Wonder Woman

Other Contenders -  The Shape of Water, Justice League, Beauty and the Beast, Detroit, Battle of the Sexes, The Greatest Showman, Get Out, War for the Planet of the Apes, Coco, Transformers: The Last Knight, Thor: Ragnarok, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Baby Driver, Atomic Blonde, The Post, Mudbound, Hostiles, Kong: Skull Island, Darkest Hour, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Thank You For Your Service, Mudbound, Okja, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Murder on the Orient Express

Best Sound Mixing
Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Wonder Woman

Other Contenders - The Shape of the Water, Justice League, Logan, Detroit, Battle of the Sexes, The Greatest Showman, Get Out, War for the Planet of the Apes, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Coco, Transformers: The Last Knight, Thor: Ragnarok, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Baby Driver, Atomic Blonde, The Post, Mudbound, Hostiles, Kong: Skull Island, Darkest Hour, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Thank You For Your Service, Mudbound, Okja, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Murder on the Orient Express

Best Visual Effects
Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes
Wonder Woman

Other Contenders -  Justice League, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, The Shape of Water, Dunkirk, Thor: Ragnarok, Kong: Skull Island, Okja, Life, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Murder on the Orient Express

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Oscar Narrative: Post-Festival Predictions - Best Adapted Screenplay

Post-Festival Predictions
James Ivory "Call Me By Your Name"
Armando Iannucci, David Schneider, Ian Martin, and Peter Fellows "The Death of Stalin"
James Mangold, Scott Frank, and Michael Green "Logan"
Aaron Sorkin "Molly's Game"
Dee Rees and Virgil Williams "Mudbound"

Other Contenders - John Pollono "Stronger", Brian Selznick "Wonderstruck", Sofia Coppola "The Beguiled", Hossein Amini, Peter Straughn, and Soren Sveistrup "The Snowman", Richard Linklater and Darryl Ponicsan "Last Flag Flying", Lee Hall "Victoria and Abdul", Rian Johnson "Star Wars: The Last Jedi", Hampton Fancher and Michael Green "Blade Runner 2049", Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber "The Disaster Artist", Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber "Our Souls at Night", David Scarpa "All the Money in the World", Jason Dean Hall "Thank You For Your Service", Steve Conrad "Wonder", Allan Heinberg, Zach Snyder and Jason Fuchs "Wonder Woman", Matt Bomback, Matt Reeves, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver "War for the Planet of the Apes", Michael Green "Murder on the Orient Express"

Commentary - This category is so weak this year, in terms of pure Oscar bait contenders, but I'm hopeful that it leads to some of the thought provoking blockbusters that deserve recognition to finally make the cut here. For example, so far, I think Logan is in this race, and could go where other Marvel films have come up short (including Deadpool last year, despite a WGA nod). It is the type of character arch that writers will enjoy, and it is way more than its action. I thought about Blade Runner 2049, but so far its praise is for its direction and technical prowess, not its story. But Wonder Woman, The Last Jedi (hopefully), War for the Planet of the Apes, and Blade Runner, are all making the case that big sometimes does mean better, and with a lack of normal writing contenders, one of these might sneak in. Right now, my bet is Logan. Beyond Logan, I have probably what are considered the three "Oscar bait" scripts. Sorkin is a previous winner here, and Molly's Game has decent reviews. In a tough year, it might have had the same fate as Steve Jobs did a few years ago, but with less choice, Sorkin is an easy spot to fill. Call Me By Your Name continues to heat up the Oscar race since its premiere at Sundance in January, and right now I would consider it the front runner. Finally, Mudbound still has a tough hill to climb if Netflix doesn't play the game, but once again, in a weaker race, it may not matter in this category. In the final slot, I have a real wild card. I remembered that not that long ago, In the Loop, another Armando Iannucci comedy snuck into this race by surprise. The Death of Stalin got great reviews, and is just the kind of curve ball contender that could attract some writers to its cause. Beyond those five (and the potential blockbusters), I would watch out for Stronger, which is mostly getting buzz for its performances, but is a solid film with good buzz. Wonderstruck feels like it belongs here, but we need more consensus after its mixed festival launch. The Beguild is probably dead in terms of the Oscar race, but it will have supporters, the team of Neustadter and Weber have been flirting with Oscar recognition for years, and now have two more attempts this year. David Scarpa is writing for Ridley Scott, Jason Hall is a previous nominee, Victoria and Abdul could inspire older voters. But I think the two that we all really need to watch out for are Last Flag Flying and The Snowman. Last Flag Flying has mixed reviews, and The Snowman looks too genre for Oscar voters. But with names like Richard Linklater and Peter Straughn, both previous nominees in this category, on board, they could end up surprise screenplay contenders.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Academy Announces 92 Foreign Language Film Submissions

Afghanistan, “A Letter to the President,” Roya Sadat, director;
Albania, “Daybreak,” Gentian Koçi, director;
Algeria, “Road to Istanbul,” Rachid Bouchareb, director;
Argentina, “Zama,” Lucrecia Martel, director;
Armenia, “Yeva,” Anahit Abad, director;
Australia, “The Space Between,” Ruth Borgobello, director;
Austria, “Happy End,” Michael Haneke, director;
Azerbaijan, “Pomegranate Orchard,” Ilgar Najaf, director;
Bangladesh, “The Cage,” Akram Khan, director;
Belgium, “Racer and the Jailbird,” Michaël R. Roskam, director;
Bolivia, “Dark Skull,” Kiro Russo, director;
Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Men Don’t Cry,” Alen Drljević, director;
Brazil, “Bingo - The King of the Mornings,” Daniel Rezende, director;
Bulgaria, “Glory,” Petar Valchanov, Kristina Grozeva, directors;
Cambodia, “First They Killed My Father,” Angelina Jolie, director;
Canada, “Hochelaga, Land of Souls,” François Girard, director;
Chile, “A Fantastic Woman,” Sebastián Lelio, director;
China, “Wolf Warrior 2,” Wu Jing, director;
Colombia, “Guilty Men,” Iván D. Gaona, director;
Costa Rica, “The Sound of Things,” Ariel Escalante, director;
Croatia, “Quit Staring at My Plate,” Hana Jušić, director;
Czech Republic, “Ice Mother,” Bohdan Sláma, director;
Denmark, “You Disappear,” Peter Schønau Fog, director;
Dominican Republic, “Woodpeckers,” Jose Maria Cabral, director;
Ecuador, “Alba,” Ana Cristina Barragán, director;
Egypt, “Sheikh Jackson,” Amr Salama, director;
Estonia, “November,” Rainer Sarnet, director;
Finland, “Tom of Finland,” Dome Karukoski, director;
France, “BPM (Beats Per Minute),” Robin Campillo, director;
Georgia, “Scary Mother,” Ana Urushadze, director;
Germany, “In the Fade,” Fatih Akin, director;
Greece, “Amerika Square,” Yannis Sakaridis, director;
Haiti, “Ayiti Mon Amour,” Guetty Felin, director;
Honduras, “Morazán,” Hispano Durón, director;
Hong Kong, “Mad World,” Wong Chun, director;
Hungary, “On Body and Soul,” Ildikó Enyedi, director;
Iceland, “Under the Tree,” Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson, director;
India, “Newton,” Amit V Masurkar, director;
Indonesia, “Turah,” Wicaksono Wisnu Legowo, director;
Iran, “Breath,” Narges Abyar, director;
Iraq, “Reseba - The Dark Wind,” Hussein Hassan, director;
Ireland, “Song of Granite,” Pat Collins, director;
Israel, “Foxtrot,” Samuel Maoz, director;
Italy, “A Ciambra,” Jonas Carpignano, director;
Japan, “Her Love Boils Bathwater,” Ryota Nakano, director;
Kazakhstan, “The Road to Mother,” Akhan Satayev, director;
Kenya, “Kati Kati,” Mbithi Masya, director;
Kosovo, “Unwanted,” Edon Rizvanolli, director;
Kyrgyzstan, “Centaur,” Aktan Arym Kubat, director;
Lao People’s Democratic Republic, “Dearest Sister,” Mattie Do, director;
Latvia, “The Chronicles of Melanie,” Viestur Kairish, director;
Lebanon, “The Insult,” Ziad Doueiri, director;
Lithuania, “Frost,” Sharunas Bartas, director;
Luxembourg, “Barrage,” Laura Schroeder, director;
Mexico, “Tempestad,” Tatiana Huezo, director;
Mongolia, “The Children of Genghis,” Zolbayar Dorj, director;
Morocco, “Razzia,” Nabil Ayouch, director;
Mozambique, “The Train of Salt and Sugar,” Licinio Azevedo, director;
Nepal, “White Sun,” Deepak Rauniyar, director;
Netherlands, “Layla M.,” Mijke de Jong, director;
New Zealand, “One Thousand Ropes,” Tusi Tamasese, director;
Norway, “Thelma,” Joachim Trier, director;
Pakistan, “Saawan,” Farhan Alam, director;
Palestine, “Wajib,” Annemarie Jacir, director;
Panama, “Beyond Brotherhood,” Arianne Benedetti, director;
Paraguay, “Los Buscadores,” Juan Carlos Maneglia, Tana Schembori, directors;
Peru, “Rosa Chumbe,” Jonatan Relayze, director;
Philippines, “Birdshot,” Mikhail Red, director;
Poland, “Spoor,” Agnieszka Holland, Kasia Adamik, directors;
Portugal, “Saint George,” Marco Martins, director;
Romania, “Fixeur,” Adrian Sitaru, director;
Russia, “Loveless,” Andrey Zvyagintsev, director;
Senegal, “Félicité,” Alain Gomis, director;
Serbia, “Requiem for Mrs. J.,” Bojan Vuletic, director;
Singapore, “Pop Aye,” Kirsten Tan, director;
Slovakia, “The Line,” Peter Bebjak, director;
Slovenia, “The Miner,” Hanna A. W. Slak, director;
South Africa, “The Wound,” John Trengove, director;
South Korea, “A Taxi Driver,” Jang Hoon, director;
Spain, “Summer 1993,” Carla Simón, director;
Sweden, “The Square,” Ruben Östlund, director;
Switzerland, “The Divine Order,” Petra Volpe, director;
Syria, “Little Gandhi,” Sam Kadi, director;
Taiwan, “Small Talk,” Hui-Chen Huang, director;
Thailand, “By the Time It Gets Dark,” Anocha Suwichakornpong, director;
Tunisia, “The Last of Us,” Ala Eddine Slim, director;
Turkey, “Ayla: The Daughter of War,” Can Ulkay, director;
Ukraine, “Black Level,” Valentyn Vasyanovych, director;
United Kingdom, “My Pure Land,” Sarmad Masud, director;
Uruguay, “Another Story of the World,” Guillermo Casanova, director;
Venezuela, “El Inca,” Ignacio Castillo Cottin, director;
Vietnam, “Father and Son,” Luong Dinh Dung, director.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Oscar Narrative: Post-Festival Predictions - Best Original Screenplay

Post-Festival Predictions
Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjani "The Big Sick"
Anthony McCarten "Darkest Hour"
Greta Gerwig "Lady Bird"
Paul Thomas Anderson "Phantom Thread"
Martin McDonagh "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"

Other Contenders - Guillermo Del Toro and Vanessa Taylor "The Shape of Water", Christopher Nolan "Dunkirk", Mark Boal "Detroit", Simon Beaufoy "Battle of the Sexes", Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor "Downsizing", Liz Hannah and Josh Singer "The Post", Matthew Aldrich, Adrian Molina and Lee Unkrich "Coco", Simon Baker and Chris Bergoch "The Florida Project", Jordan Peele "Get Out", Taylor Sheridan "Wind River", Darren Aronofsky "mother!", Jenny Bicks, Michael Ardnt, and Bill Condon "The Greatest Showman", Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymius "The Killing of the Sacred Deer", Joon-ho Bong and Jon Ronson "Okja", Edgar Wright "Baby Driver", Woody Allen "Wonder Wheel", Michael Haneke "Happy End", Steven Soderbergh "Logan Lucky"

Commentary - This is a really tough race, as quality contenders keep piling up. By the way, this is good news that this race is so tough. In the era of sequels, prequels, and unnecessary remakes, its nice to know there are still a few great original ideas left in Hollywood. So let's start with my current five. The Big Sick is just the kind of comedy that writers enjoy, and the fact that its based on the true story of its writers adds an extra layer of appeal. Out of the fall film festivals, three contenders have emerged in many categories: Darkest Hour, Three Billboard Outside Ebbing Missouri, and Lady Bird. These three have wowed critics, and all could end up with Best Picture nominations, or at least many across the categories. Plus, Oscar winner Martin McDonagh, Oscar nominee Anthony McCarten, and indie superstar Greta Gerwig, are all names that writers will recognize as awards worthy. Finally, Paul Thomas Anderson gets a writing nomination almost every film he releases, and Phantom Thread, with Daniel Day-Lewis at its lead, feels like it has Oscar written all over it. I know what your thinking: what about The Shape of Water? Genre pieces have trouble getting into non-technical categories, and even those that love the film think that some of its storylines are not the best. Del Toro has been nominated here before for genre work, and he is getting raves for his latest. But for now, I'll take my chances on leaving him out. I am also, begrudingly leaving out the perennial nominees of Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor. Downsizing still has a lot of potential, but its mixed reaction from the film festivals means it has an uphill climb. Battle of the Sexes is a crowd pleaser, that, as it has opened around the country, is getting rave reviews, and Simon Beaufoy is an Oscar winner. But this feels like a film that writers will not find as worthy as other branches. Steven Spielberg's latest is in the running, but screenplay doesn't always tag along. Detroit was a box-office dud, but its visceral and Mark Boal is an Oscar winner, so don't count him out. Coco could join other past Pixar favorites, The Florida Project is set to be an indie contender, Wind River features an Oscar-nominated screenwriter, The Greatest Showman could be more than its title, mother! could inspire writers who respect Aronofsky, and never count out previous nominees/winners Woody Allen, Michale Haneke, Steve Soderbergh, and the team of Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymius Filippou. Finally, Get Out is going to get a well-deserved Oscar push, and Jordan Peele is definitely one to watch for.

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Oscar Narrative: Post-Festival Predictions - Best Supporting Actor

Post-Festival Predictions
Armie Hammer "Call Me By Your Name"
Ben Mendelsohn "Darkest Hour"
Jason Mitchell "Mudbound"
Sam Rockwell "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"
Michael Stuhlbarg "Call Me By Your Name"

Other Contenders - Kevin Spacey "All the Money in the World", Mark Rylance "Dunkirk", Tom Hardy "Dunkirk", William Dafoe "The Florida Project", Harrison Ford "Blade Runner 2049", Garrett Hedlund "Mudbound", Patrick Stewart "Logan", Woody Harrelson "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri", Ray Romano "The Big Sick", Idris Elba "Molly's Game", John Hurt "Darkest Hour", Sterling K. Brown "Marshall", Josh Gad "Marshall", Christoph Waltz "Downsizing", LilRey Howery "Get Out", Tracey Letts "Ladybird", Richard Jenkins "The Shape of Water", Will Poulter "Detroit", Michael Shannon "The Shape of Water", Mark Hamill "Star Wars: The Last Jedi", Laurence Fishburne "Last Flag Flying", Bob Odenkirk "The Post", Lucas Hedges "Lady Bird", Timothee Chamalet "Lady Bird", John Boyega "Detroit", John Boyega "Star Wars: The Last Ledi", Chris Pine "Wonder Woman"

Commentary - So I initially thought that they would campaign Armie Hammer for co-lead for Call Me By Your Name. But it looks like they are going to campaign him as co-supporting with Michael Stuhlbarg. Right now, I actually have them both making the cut. This film continues to garner support, the Moonlight win shows they are not afraid of gay storylines, and both are well-liked veteran actors with rave reviews. Now they could fall out as newer contenders emerge, but 9 months after it premiered at Sundance, both are still top of mind, which is good news after the onslaught of the fall fests. Jason Mitchell continues to hold on to his slot from Sundance as well. Mudbound has a lot of the potential with the potential with the Academy, but I will constantly reinforce that Netflix has to have the right strategy or it will get lost in the shuffle. Out of the fests, emerged Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri which after its Toronto win has skyrocketed in people's Oscar predictions. Woody Harrelson is reliably great, but the raves have been saved for Sam Rockwell (and Frances McDormand). He is a veteran, has been excellent for years, and is way overdue for some awards recognition. Finally, after winning a surprise Emmy, and building a quality indie film cred over the last couple of years, Ben Mendelsohn's role as King George VI is earning raves out of the fests, and Darkest Hour is a huge Oscar contender. Beyond that, this category has a lot of question marks. Is Kevin Spacey just makeup or more in All in the Money in the World? Is Dunkirk going to inspire the acting branch, or just the tech ones? Is The Florida Project going to get enough attention for William Dafoe? Will genre contenders like Patrick Stewart, Harrison Ford, Mark Hammil, LilRey Howrey, Michael Shannon, John Boyega or Chris Pine breakthrough? What about Tracey Letts, Lucas Hedges, and Timothee Chamalet from the well-liked Lady Bird? Or Garret Hedlund joining his co-star? Or the guys from Marshall, Detroit, Christoph Waltz, Laurence Fishburne, Ray Romano, or Bob Odenkirk? In a few months, all of these questions will be answered, but for now, this race is a toss up.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Oscar Narrative: Post-Festival Predictions: Best Supporting Actress

Post Festival Predictions
Mary J. Blige "Mudbound"
Allison Janney "I, Tonya"
Laurie Metcalf "Lady Bird"
Kristen Scott Thomas "Darkest Hour"
Michelle Williams "The Greatest Showman"

Other Contenders - Carrie Fisher "Star Wars: The Last Jedi", Octavia Spencer "The Shape of Water", Melissa Leo "Novitiate", Hong Chau "Downsizing", Kristen Wiig "Downsizing", Holly Hunter "The Big Sick", Michelle Pfeiffer "mother!", Lesley Manville "Phantom Thread", Margot Robbie "Goodbye Christopher Robin", Catherine Keener "Get Out", Sarah Paulson "The Post", Carrie Coon "The Post", Julianne Moore "Wonderstruck", Lois Smith "Marjorie Prime", Kate Hudson "Marshall", Juno Temple "Wonder Wheel", Julia Roberts "Wonder", Nicole Kidman "The Killing of the Secret Deer", Chloe Sevigny "Lean on Pete", Penelope Cruz "Murder on the Orient Express", Judi Dench "Murder on the Orient Express", Dafne Keen "Logan", Rosamund Pike "Hostiles", Rebecca Feguson "The Greatest Showman", Rebecca Ferguson "The Snowman", Tiffany Haddish "Girls Trip", Michelle Williams "Wonderstruck"

Commentary - I have moved Carrie Fisher out of the top five for a moment, but I still have hope that Oscar voters will finally recognize this role and this incredible woman. In the post-festival world, some previously unknown contenders have emerged. Laurie Metcalf and Allison Janney are known more for their television and stage work, but both are beloved veteran actresses with impeccable resumes. Both have emerged out of the festivals with career-best work, and rave reviews. This category can favor veteran actors, and first-time nominees, so both have a great show if the buzz can be sustained. After Darkest Hour premiered, it was clear that this would be a hit with Oscar voters, so I moved Kristen Scott Thomas into this race. She is a previous nominee, and plays Clemmy Churchill, which is a role that has earned other actresses many accolades. The other two are still hanging from my original summer predictions. If Netflix pushes Mudbound right, it could be a big Oscar contender, including singer Mary J. Blige who earned raves out of Sundance. But Netflix just lost big at the Emmys, and I wonder if their release and marketing strategy will work with Oscar voters. Finally, I am holding out a spot for perennial nominee Michelle Williams. If The Greatest Showman is good enough, she could easily be the front runner. We have seen the narrative of "overdue" play well in recent years with wins from the likes of Viola Davis, Julianne Moore, and others. Williams definitely fits into that category. Beyond those five, there are plenty of contenders waiting in the wings. Octavia Spencer is yet again a scene-stealer in The Shape of Water, which earned raves out of Venice. Melissa Leo is always well-liked, Hon Chau and Kristen Wiig might overcome Downsizing's mixed reviews, Holly Hunter is the best contender from the first half of the year, and despite mixed reactions, mother! could earn Michelle Pfeiffer another Oscar nomination. Lesley Manville is an overdue veteran in a PTA film, Lois Smith is a legend, television stars Carrie Coon and Sarah Paulson could rise with The Post, Julia Roberts could return as the mom in Wonder, Kate Hudson could finally make an Oscar comeback, and Nicole Kidman could make it back to back nominations following her first Emmy win. Also, watch out for the blockbuster contenders Catherine Keener, Dafne Keen, Penelope Cruz, and the fantastic Tiffany Haddish.