Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die is a film that has definitely grown on me. When I first watched it, I thought it was intriguing but perhaps a bit too cutesy and enamored with itself. However, I’ve subsequently come to realize that, actually, Jarmusch finds just the perfect tone for his look at our zombie-saturated culture.
In the scenes below, Bill Murray, Chloe Sevigny, and the wonderful Adam Driver all deal with the inevitability of doom that comes with being a character in a zombie film.
It’s that time of the month again! It’s time for me to make my early Oscar predictions.
This year, the Cannes Film Festival really didn’t clear much up. TheFrenchDispatch was acclaimed but, in every review, there was an admission that, for everyone who absolutely loved it, there would probably be someone else who would absolutely hate it. I did decided to include RedRocket on my list of predictions, based on the Cannes reaction. I’m still not a 100% convinced that it’s going to be a contender, of course. But the idea of a Simon Rex movie being nominated for best picture was just too wonderfully strange for me to ignore. That’s the same logic that led to me including Pig as a best picture nominee, by the way.
On the Ridely Scott front, the overacting in the trailer for HouseofGucci really turned me off so I dropped it from all of my predictions. TheLastDuel looks like it might have a chance, however.
Anyway, the main thing to remember when looking at these predictions is that the majority of them are just random guesses, based on hunches and past Academy behavior. So, as always, take them with several grains of salt.
If you’re curious to see how my thinking has developed, check out my predictions for March and April and May and June!
Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel has been a project that has had several projected release dates. It was originally expected to be a 2020 Oscar contender but, like many highly anticipated films, it kept getting moved back due to the Coronavirus pandemic. That was unfortunately, though I am ultimately glad that the film waited for the theaters as opposed to going the streaming route. One thing that all Ridley Scott films, good or bad, have in common is that they’re best viewed on a big screen.
This October, we should finally get to see The Last Duel. The film tells a a true story and features such Oscar-friendly actors as Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Adam Driver. Though Gladiator may have won best picture, Ridley Scott is still in the hunt for his first directing win. This year, he not only has The Last Duel in the hunt but he’s also going to have House ofGucci, featuring Lady Gaga, Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, and, once again, Adam Driver.
The trailer for TheLast Duel was released today. From what I saw on social media, the reaction was a bit mixed, with many pointing out that the visuals had a bit of a washed-out look to them. Indeed, watching the trailer, one wonders if it ever stopped snowing in 14th century France. Personally, though, I’m a little bit more concerned with Ben Affleck’s hair. Adam Driver and Matt Damon are usually well-cast in period films but, in the past, Ben Affleck has always come across like he can’t wait to catch the next train back to Boston. That said, there was a lot about the trailer that I did like. The sets look impressive and it really does seem like the type of story that usually brings out the best in Ridley Scott as a director.
Plus, I have to say that I really like the film’s poster, which has something of a Ken Russell feel to it. If anything, the poster actually has me more excited about seeing the film than the trailer does.
With all of that said and in mind, here’s the trailer for Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel!
It’s the end of the month and that means that it’s time for me to post my monthly predictions!
What has chanced since I last made my predictions in May? Though it was acclaimed by critics, the box office failure of InTheHeights has probably ended that film’s time as an Oscar contender. For all the musicals that are coming out this year, only Spielberg’s WestSideStory really seems like a good bet to emerge as a major contender. DearEvanHansen was pretty much eliminated from consideration as soon as its trailer dropped. Tick, Tick….Boom seems to be destined to be loved by theater kids while being dismissed by everyone else. I’d love to see Joe Wright and Peter Dinklage nominated but my instincts are telling me that Cyrano will probably not be a huge contender. In the end, WestSideStory seems like the most likely musical nominee.
I’ve been reading up on Jane Campion’s ThePoweroftheDog, which is set to premiere at Venice and then be released via Netflix. Based on a novel by Thomas Savage, this sounds like the type of film that could potentially be a strong contender, depending on what approach Campion takes the story. The main character of Phil Burbank is the type of bigger-than-life role that could lead to Oscar glory. (The closest recent equivalent to Phil would probably be Daniel Day-Lewis in ThereWillBeBlood.) Phil is a sharply intelligent but cruelly manipulative Montana rancher, the type who brags about castrating cattle while quoting Ovid and who goes out of his way to bully anyone who he considers to be effeminate. Of course, there’s a secret behind all of Phil’s cruelty and how the film handles that secret will have a lot to do with how strongly the film comes on during awards season. Phil is being played by Benedict Cumberbatch, which is …. interesting casting. (Personally, I probably would have begged Michael Fassbender to take the role.) Still, it seems like Phil could be the type of change-of-pace role that, should Cumberbatch’s casting pay off, could lead to Oscar glory.
Coming up in July, we’ve got Cannes and we’ll be getting our first look at contenders like Wes Anderson’s TheFrenchDispatch. Though Cannes is hardly a reliable precursor, the Oscar race should start to become a bit clearer as the festival start up and the contenders — many of which we’ve been waiting to see for over two years — will finally start to be released. Until then, take all predictions with a grain of salt!
If you’re curious to see how my thinking has developed, check out my predictions for March and April and May.
It’s that time of the month again! It’s time for me to go out on a limb and attempt to predict what will be nominated for the Oscars. Of course, trying to do this early in the year is a fool’s errand. We all know that. That’s actually part of the fun.
As of right now, the list below is full of familiar names, a few films that were acclaimed at Sundance, and a few random guesses. A lot of the predicted nominees are films that were expected to be Oscar contenders last year but which were delayed due to the pandemic. (Looking at you, West Side Story.) Some of them are contenders that I personally would just like to see nominated, even though it probably won’t happen. (I’m not going to jinx anything by pointing out which nomination about which I’m specifically thinking. You’ll probably be able to guess for yourself.) Over the next few months, the Oscar picture will become a bit clearer. Many of the contenders listed below will be forgotten about. Meanwhile, new contenders will emerge. My point is, take it all with a grain of salt and don’t put down any money just yet.
Two big developments to keep in mind:
First off, the Academy is officially going back to having a set a number of nominees. Next year, ten films will be nominated for best picture. Not seven. Not nine. Ten. Personally, I’m thrilled by this development. Nothing irritated me more than when they used to announce those weird, seven-picture lineups. (As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t like odd numbers.)
Secondly, the Academy is going back to the old eligibility dates. Yay! What that means is that only films that are released between March and the end of this year will be eligible to compete for the Oscars. More importantly, it means that the best film of 2021 will not be released in 2022.
Anyway, here are my predictions for this month! Don’t take them too seriously. If you want to see how my thinking has evolved, check out my predictions for March and April.
Well, now that the latest Oscar ceremony is out of the way, I guess it’s time to focus on predicting what will be nominated next year.
(Well, it’s not really time but if you’re an Oscar-obsessive like I am, you really have no choice. Oscar speculation is an addiction that’s easily shaken off.)
Below, you’ll find my predictions for April. As always, these should be taken with several grains of salt.
First off, I haven’t seen any of these films and some of them might not live up to expectations.
Secondly, I’m not even sure whether the Academy is going to go back to the old rules of using the end of December as their eligibility cut-off or if they’re going to continue with the extended release window that they used last year.
Third, the Oscar picture is never anywhere close clear until November or December rolls around. Right now, I can only predict what I know is going to be released between now and December 31st. Obviously some of the movies below might have their release date changed and several movies will be picked up from the various film festivals. In all probability, next year’s big Oscar winner isn’t even on anyone’s radar right now. (Let’s not forget that, up until February of this year, most people were still predicting that Da 5 Bloods would be a huge Oscar player.)
Also note, the Academy is finally going back to having a set number of best picture nominees so no more of this stupid 7 or 9 nominees nonsense. In theory, that’s good news for film like Dune, which will probably get a lot of technical nominations but which probably would have struggled to make the final best picture lineup under the former rules. Of course, the Academy is also about to institute their inclusion requirements so it will be interesting to see if any of the expected contenders are disqualified from competing for best picture.
If you want to follow how my thinking has developed, be sure to check out my predictions for March!
There was also the trailer for Annette, an upcoming French musical that stars Marion Cotillard and Adam Driver! Annette is due to be the opening film at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. According to the film’s press kit, “The film tells the story of a provocative stand-up comedian (Adam Driver) and his wife, a world-famous soprano (Marion Cotillard). Their glamorous life takes an unexpected turn when their daughter Annette is born, a girl with a unique gift.”
So, there you go. A comedian. A soprano. And a girl with a unique gift. I’ll watch Cotillard and Driver in anything. Here’s the trailer!
The Oscar nominations for 2020-2021 were finally revealed earlier this month. They weren’t particularly surprising. To be honest, they were kind of boring. But, with those nominations now revealed and the Oscars sets to be awarded at the end of April, that means it’s time to start looking forward to next year!
Of course, it’s hard to say what’s going to happen next year. Most of the films that are scheduled to come out later in 2021 were originally scheduled to come out in 2020. (And they were made in 2018 and 2019, which means the first big releases of 2021 are already dated.) Right now, most of the probable nominees are films that I originally expected to be contenders last year, like Spielberg’s West Side Story and Dune. Needless to say, new contenders will emerge over the next few months. Quite frankly, I’m skeptical of West Side Story because it sounds like the type of project that will bring out all of Spielberg’s worst instincts as a filmmaker. But, until it’s released, it’ll be a contender because he’s Spielberg.
As of right now, we don’t even know what the eligibility window is going to be for the next set of Oscar contenders. Is the Academy going to go back to a December cut-off or are they going to continue to extend the eligibility window. Are we predicting the 2021 Oscars or are we predicting the 2021-2022 Oscars? Again, as of now, we just don’t know. Personally, I’m hoping they return to a December cut-off but I have a feeling that the Academy will disagree.
About the only thing we do know for sure, right now, is that the Academy is going to go back to a set number of nominees. 10 films will be nominated. No more of this maybe 7 or maybe 8 nominees. It’s about time.
Anyway, the list below is based on the assumption that the Academy’s going to go back to the old eligibility window, which means that only films released between the start of March and the end of December will be eligible for Oscar consideration.
It’s also based on the presumption that the Oscars can be predicted this far out. They can’t. But I enjoy making lists and I love the Oscars. Doing these predictions has become a part of my monthly ritual. You know how much I love a good ritual.
So, here are my potentially worthless predictions for what will be nominated next year!
The Report premiered at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it was a hit with the critics who saw it. Amazon acquired the distribution rights and, for the first part of 2019, The Report was one of those films that was regularly discussed as being a potential Oscar nominee. Not only was it based on a true story but it starred Adam Driver and Annette Bening. There are several online film critics and award bloggers who are convinced that any film featuring Annette Bening will automatically be an Oscar contender, despite the fact that it rarely seems to work out that way.
Certainly, that ended up being the case with The Report. Despite all of the hype from Sundance, The Report kind of fizzled when it was finally released. That it didn’t do much business at the box office makes sense because it was only given a limited release and everyone knew that it would soon be available to stream on Prime. But even after it was made available on Prime, The Report never really seemed to make much of a dent in the public consciousness. When the Oscar nominations were announced, The Report was not mentioned once. Adam Driver did receive a nomination for Best Actor but it was for Marriage Story.
What happened to The Report? It may have been too low-key for audiences (and, let’s be honest, critics) who have come to expect even a movie about a Senate committee to be experimental and overly stylized. It could be that, even though the film was critical of the CIA and the War on Terror, it wasn’t angry enough for the same people who thought Adam McKay’s Vice was a brilliantly conceived work of political cinema. A more realistic explanation is probably that, in this hyper political age, people didn’t want to watch a 2-hour movie about a senate staffer. Instead, people wanted an escape from all that.
It’s understandable but it’s also a shame because The Report is a very good film. I mean, I usually hate films like this but I was surprised by how much I liked it.
The Report deals with the efforts of Senate staffer Daniel Jones (Adam Driver) and the members of the Senate Intelligence Committee to investigate the CIA’s use of torture in the aftermath of 9-11. Skipping back and forth through time, the film shows us how Jones was first assigned to lead an investigation into the CIA’s activities in 2005 and how, over the course of seven years, Jones puts together not one but two reports that absolutely nobody wants released. Along the way, Jones goes from being a generally idealistic and optimistic staffer to eventually becoming the type of paranoid and obsessive man who meets with reporters in underground garages and who considers leaking classified information. Daniel has what he believes to be proof that using torture is not only unethical but also counter-productive but, as he discovers, even the members of his own political party aren’t particularly interested in releasing his report. Adam Driver gives a memorably intense performance of Daniel, playing him as someone whose obsession with his report sometimes threatens to push him over the edge and transform him from being a crusader to being a zealot.
Annette Bening plays Daniel’s boss, Sen. Dianne Feinstein. It’s interesting casting and, to be honest, it doesn’t quite work. I almost feel like it would have been better for the film to have either kept Feinstein off-screen or to have at least minimized her role. The problem is that Dianne Feinstein is a widely-known figure and it’s jarring to see Annette Bening, another well-known figure (at least among film fans), in the role. Bening plays Feinstein as being a ethical and serious-minded stateswoman and she does what she can with what the film gives her but, at the same time, it’s still kind of a boring performance. The film presents Feinstein, a not uncontroversial figure, in a positive light and I’m sure some, on both the Right and the Left would say that it’s perhaps a bit too positive. One gets the feeling that Feinstein’s main role in the film is to assure us that the system works but we just have to take one look at Adam Driver losing his mind to realize that it doesn’t.
That misstep aside, The Report still works far better than I was expecting it too. Taking obvious inspiration from All The President’s Men, Scott Z. Burns directs the film as if it were a thriller and the deeper that Adam Driver gets into his research, the darker and more shadowy Washington D.C. seems to become. Even though the film clearly has an agenda, Burns gives the other side a chance to make their case without presenting them as being cartoonish villains. In other words, this is the opposite of an Aaron Sorkin or Adam McKay-style diatribe. Instead, this is an intelligent movie about intelligent people. It’s a film that makes some of the same points as many other similarly liberal films but it makes them without taking cheap shots or resorting to a heavy hand. Long after Vice has been forgotten, The Report will be remembered.