Tag Archives: Oscars

Box Office Report: ‘Happy Death Day’ kills ‘Blade Runner 2049’ for top spot

Blade Runner 2049 had a chance at repeating at the top spot in its second weekend, considering its outstanding reception from both the critics and the general public. However, financially, the sci-fi blockbuster is fairing similarly to the original: not well. It only made an estimated $15.1 million this past weekend, bringing its domestic total to just over $60 million. Worldwide, Blade Runner 2049 has taken in $158.5 million, and, with a budget of $150 million, it’s looking as though the film’s best hope is to barely break even. It would have to make approximately $300 million worldwide to do so.

What ended up killing the Denis Villeneuve film was the new Groundhog Day-esque horror film Happy Death Day, which won the weekend with an estimated $26.5 million. Horror films are often successful in their opening weekend, and this was no exception. Add in the relatively favorable reviews, and the film should stay in the top five for at least another weekend, but likely longer.

Behind Blade Runner 2049 was the Jackie Chan action flick The Foreigner, which took home an estimated $12.84 million in its opening weekend. Overseas, the film has already made an additional $88.4 million for a $101.24 million total. On a $35 million production budget, The Foreigner is already profitable.

Rounding out the top 5 were It, making an estimated $6.05 million, and The Mountain Between Us, earning approximately $5.65 million. The Stephen King adaptation continues its dominance, with just over $630 million worldwide, while the Idris Elba and Kate Winslet romantic adventure thriller is struggling intensely.

One of the other new releases, Professor Marston & the Wonder Women, failed historically this past weekend. The film made only $737,000, one of the worst debuts for a release in over 1,000 theaters. With a fantastic 87% on RottenTomatoes, its financial disappointment may point to failures in marketing. Granted, it still is only its opening weekend, and things could change with word of mouth and expansion.

However, A24’s The Florida Project, which opened in just 4 theaters last weekend and expanded to 33 this weekend, took home an estimated $401,141 for a total of $623,949. Assumedly, the small independent film should have a rather small budget, meaning that it’s shaping up to turn profitable as it continues to expand. It’s also one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year, and a hot contender for Best Picture at the Oscars.

*All weekend numbers are domestic, meaning that they’re from theaters in the US and Canada, and are also estimates, reported by Box Office Mojo, with actuals coming out in the next few days.*


Featured image via Universal Pictures.

2018 Oscar Predictions

The Oscars are finally here. The competition truly started over a year ago in January 2017, when Call Me by Your NameGet Out and Mudbound premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. So to say that it’s been a long road to this day is an understatement (especially because the Academy felt like dragging it on even longer than usual by pushing back the broadcast into March).

One of the most exciting periods, though, is that roughly month and a half between Oscar nominations and the Oscar broadcast, as other areas of the awards season play out and hint — sometimes aggressively, sometimes incredibly ambiguously — at how Oscar night might go.

Tracking the awards season and predicting the Academy Awards is almost a science. But last year, when Moonlight stunned with a Best Picture win, that science proved more vulnerable than we had thought.

This year, it’s all up in the air. While precursors might suggest something, nothing is truly set in stone until a name or a film is called (and even then, we have to double check).

This year, predicting the nominations is a bit more complicated. We have to be smart and still know when there’s an obvious winner, but we also have to think far outside the box for categories that are even remotely fragile — especially Best Picture.

So, without further ado, here are our Oscar predictions for the 90th Academy Awards:

Best Motion Picture

Best Lead Actor

Best Lead Actress

Best Supporting Actor

Best Supporting Actress

Best Director

Best Original Screenplay

Best Adapted Screenplay

Best Animated Feature

Best Production Design

Best Cinematography

Best Costume Design

Best Film Editing

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

Best Sound Mixing

Best Sound Editing

Best Visual Effects

Best Original Score

Best Foreign Language Film

Best Documentary Feature

Best Original Song

The Shorts


Featured image via Universal Pictures.

2018 Oscar Predictions: Best Sound Editing

“Sound editing” is a term not widely understood by the general public. Basically, it is the creation of sounds for a film. The noise of a blaster or a tie fighter in a Star Wars film? That’s sound editing. The explosions of bombs in war films? That’s sound editing.

There aren’t a whole lot of precursors for this award, as BAFTA’s Best Sound category points more toward Best Sound Mixing than it does toward this one.

There is the award handed out by the Motion Picture Sound Editors group. The group opted for Blade Runner 2049, so a pick there would have a decent amount of reason to back it up.

But Dunkirk does seem to still have a lead here regardless. War films are popular in this category, with American SniperZero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker all winning here in the last decade. In addition, BAFTA has ended up predicting this category and not Best Sound Mixing before; in fact, that happened just last year when Arrival took home the BAFTA and went on to win here. So Dunkirk‘s BAFTA win certainly does hold weight.

Finally, one of the biggest aspects of Dunkirk that audience’s unanimously rave about is its sound, it being more intense and overwhelming than most films in the genre. The film will likely take the other sound category, and if any film were to take both — the sounds are split a decent amount of the time — it would be Nolan’s.

The Nominees
Richard King, Alex Gibson — Dunkirk
Mark Mangini, Theo Green — Blade Runner 2049
Ren Klyce, Matthew Wood — Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Julian Slater — Baby Driver
Nathan Robitaille, Nelson Ferreira — The Shape of Water 

Will win: Dunkirk
Could win: Blade Runner 2049
Should win: Dunkirk
Should’ve been nominated: War for the Planet of the Apes


Featured image via Warner Bros.

2018 Oscar Predictions: Best Foreign Language Film

There’s one film that has stood out from the field for a while now. While The Square may have won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and Loveless may be the most critically acclaimed of the bunch, A Fantastic Woman has been the foreign language film of note ever since reviews came out and especially because of the push for lead actress Daniela Vega that many made before nominations were announced. With its focus on a transgender woman and the difficulties she faces in the face of tragedy, the film could also be a very timely winner.

It’s tough to completely rule out The Square, and the film is certainly one that would be a passionate pick for many. It’s notoriety could’ve also helped it during voting.

What could win, however, based on word of mouth from the industry and from professional awards writers, is The Insult. The Lebanese film apparently picked up steam toward the end, but whether that could be enough to steal it from A Fantastic Woman is unclear.

The Nominees
The Square
A Fantastic Woman
The Insult
On Body and Soul

Will win: A Fantastic Woman
Could win: The Insult


Featured image via Sony Pictures Classics.

2018 Oscar Predictions: Best Documentary Feature

After shocking snubs of supposed heavyweight contenders Jane, the PGA winner, and City of Ghosts, the DGA winner, and the BAFTA being given to a 2016 US release, I Am Not Your Negro, the documentary feature category is, essentially, without precursors to illuminate a likely winner.

In this case, it comes down to politics and buzz. A producer of Last Men in Aleppo, for a period of time, was not going to be able to attend the ceremony because of President Trump’s travel ban. Last year, The Salesman director Asghar Farhadi was also barred, and the narrative pushed his foreign film to a win. The producer ended up obtaining a Visa, but it wasn’t announced until after voting had closed. The same type of narrative could’ve cleared a path for the film to win.

Faces Places isn’t the most overtly political film, but it is certainly a contender because of the personality of Agnes Varda. Varda is a legendary filmmaker and a beloved figure, and many might want to see her take home an Oscar.

Strong Island might gain some traction, as it is a documentary about the murder of a young Black man and filmmaker Yance Ford is the first transgender director to receive an Oscar nomination.

And Abacus: Small Enough to Jail is about the Wall Street crash and the local, family run, Chinatown-based bank that ended up being the only bank the US government attempted to prosecute.

But the pick I’m going with is Icarus. The film comes from Netflix, a definite documentary force, and the voting period hit almost exactly at the same time as the Winter Olympics, an event many Russian athletes were banned from because of the very events that the film tracks. And with “Russia” in the headlines almost daily, voters might’ve been drawn to Icarus pretty easily.

The Nominees

Faces Places
Strong Island
Last Men in Aleppo
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

Will win: Icarus
Could win: Faces Places
Should win: Icarus
Should’ve been nominated: Jane


Featured image via Cohen Media Group

Opinion: ‘mother!’ shows when cinema goes too far

Trigger Warning: Sexual and physical violence

Warning: I spoil the movie. It may be difficult to fully understand some of what I mean here as I don’t fully explain the plot. Wikipedia has a good summary, if you don’t care to see the movie.

No one has ever made a movie like mother! In terms of craftsmanship, the film is masterful on every single level. The cinematography, editing and sound design all coalesce into a climax that shouldn’t visually work, but somehow does in the most exhilarating of ways. The actors — every single one of them — commit to the story and the “vision” of director Darren Aronofsky. If the Oscars were judged solely based on merit and skill, Aronofsky would be the undeniable Best Director winner.

But it pains me to say all of that because mother! is, at least to me, a deeply horrifying and disgusting film. mother! shows when cinema goes too far.

Aronofsky has a message in his latest film. Well, he has a lot of messages. He comments on humanity both generally and in various specific ways. He shows humanity’s destructive nature on both the individual level and the large scale, through an intimate eye and an epic scope. It’s a message sent and a message received. To some, that message is valuable, and what makes the film so special. In my eyes, it becomes harmful.

Films can absolutely showcase and comment on the terrible aspects of people, on how people can be grossly and horribly damaging. But, as I see cinema, I feel that it is the responsibility of the filmmaker to indict, to firmly make a statement that those things are morally reprehensible, and not just show people being morally reprehensible.

Yet, Aronofsky avoids doing this, specifically in regard to sexual harassment and sexual assault. On many occasions, Jennifer Lawrence’s character is looked at inappropriately, called incredibly offensive things and even groped. Most audiences members, hopefully, will be disgusted by this. And because Aronofsky is making this grander statement that humanity is destructive, for a second, it slips by as another destructive aspect. But there is no indictment. It’s presented as though it’s obvious, as easy to reject. But Aronofsky has the moral responsibility to do the rejecting himself, and he never makes that indictment himself. It’s one thing to show that humanity is destructive. It’s another to indict them for being so.

And that leads me to a larger problem with the way this film presents its commentary. Like I said, it’s stated as obvious. Aronofsky shows us the horrors of mankind as the state of things, as the inner nature of humanity, as inevitable and cyclical. And some may see that as a poignant depiction. In our current times, it’s difficult not to be pessimistic.

But, as I see cinema, a filmmaker can’t just take that stance because a film is inherently subjective. Film is inherently something that the filmmaker presents as their opinion. When Aronofsky offers his opinion — simply, “this is the state of things” — without indictment and without a morality check, it becomes a lazy and regressive opinion.

Don’t get me wrong. A film can end on a pessimistic note. A film can say that things suck and that innocent people are unfairly affected. But — again, this may just be me personally — I have to at least feel that indictment. Think about The Wolf of Wall Street. Some people didn’t like that film because it didn’t sufficiently indict Jordan Belfort for his heinous acts. On the other end, think about Fruitvale Station. The film ends with the tragic death of Oscar Grant at the hands of cops. But the entire film leading up to that point is an indictment of the people and forces in society that could allow for that tragedy to occur.

Indictment can be in theme. It can be in a single moment. It can lie within a single character. It can be presented in its structure or even by a single line of dialogue. Something has to be there. And with mother!, I saw nothing. I felt nothing. Others may have gotten something. But I felt an excessiveness meant to beat us over the head, and I asked “For what cost? Why is this worth it?”

I got no answers.

What I did find, however, was tone deaf male privilege in how Aronofsky approaches his film. Again, filmmakers can make commentary on the poor state of things, and they can use shocking, disturbing and upsetting imagery to do so.

But there’s some imagery that goes too far. There’s some imagery that we should never see, as no message should be worth presenting things so vile — at least in the way that it’s done so here.

As a man, Aronofsky might have given little thought to depicting Jennifer Lawrence’s character being horrifyingly beaten by a crowd, and called a “cunt.” He might’ve thought that it served his message well.

As a man, Aronofsky might have given little thought to depicting a very physical death of an infant. He might’ve thought that it served his message well.

And while, as a man, I don’t personally have connection to these things and I’m not an authority to make a declarative statement, I can understand that there needs to be restraint and extreme care when tackling such content because these are realities and fears of women and mothers. And, as a man, Aronofsky had a responsibility to at least consider his approach because he is not an authority in understanding the impact of those images.

But he presents them so explicitly, directly and viscerally. I don’t know exactly what it is, but there is undoubtedly a way of portraying these things in all three ways, but with a sense of restraint and extreme care, with an awareness that he cannot show these images with singularity. I don’t care how hard it would be to figure out how to do that because it’s his responsibility to.

Some have spoken about how mother! is a subversive studio film, about how critics should think before slamming it as it would discourage a studio from making an original movie that’s so out of the ordinary, that breaks all of the system’s rules.

But I’ll gladly rail against mother! because I don’t want subversive films like this. Movies are more than just their craft. They’re more than just having a message. mother! fails to rectify itself in offensive and embarrassing fashion, and to uphold it as Aronofsky’s masterpiece is, in my opinion, ignorantly ironic. Javier Bardem’s character is a poet and writes a supposed masterpiece. This leads to unbelievable fame that proves incredibly harmful to Jennifer Lawrence’s character. Yet, Bardem’s character shows no care, acknowledgement or awareness of these effects.

In fact, Lawrence’s character literally hands over her heart as she dies so that Bardem’s character can literally restore life from its ashes and do it all again to another woman. He’s not punished. He’s unchanged. It was a moment where Lawrence’s character could’ve rejected him, resulting in indictment and punishment — but Aronofsky is oblivious to that.

Don’t hand over your praise, your hearts to Aronofsky. Don’t let him harm people. Don’t let him do it again. “For the sake of the art” is not a good enough reason.

Redemption, redefinition and renaissance: When actors change their path

This Friday, Michael Keaton will appear in ‘American Assassin,’ and we are forever grateful that he is continuously gracing the big screen today. For a long while, Keaton seemed to be an actor of the past, someone stuck with the haunting specter of ‘Batman’ and ‘Beetlejuice.’ But in ‘Birdman,’ one of the most meta films of recent memory, a comeback tale informed by the past of the actual man himself, prompting the actor’s own comeback tale, Keaton returned to prominence. And that got us thinking.

There are so many brilliant stories of similar nature: actors who fell off the map only to gloriously resurface, actors who redefined themselves in entirely unexpected ways, actors who turned their careers around with that one special performance.

In honor of Michael Keaton, we posed the following question: What are your favorite redemption or redefinition acting stories? Here are our answers:

Channing Tatum — 21 Jump Street

Sony Pictures/Columbia/Courtesy

We almost all were aware of Channing Tatum prior to 21 Jump Street. He was the guy from the Step Up movies and one of the many charming male leads of a Nicholas Sparks adaptation, his being Dear John. There were rather judgmental notions of him, but it’s fair to say that, at that point, he hadn’t displayed particularly strong acting talent, and he hadn’t appeared, at least notably, in genres outside of romance and action.

But then came Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s comedy with Tatum and Jonah Hill — and an entirely new side of Tatum was unveiled, along with a massive hotbed of potential moving forward. Granted, Lord and Miller’s script and direction, the source material and Jonah Hill all provide much of the circumstance within which Tatum is able to shine. But it’s Tatum who, himself, also elevates Hill and the material. It’s the revelation of his intensely perfect comedic timing, of his pitch perfect rapport with an actor familiar with the genre that is so shocking from someone who hadn’t showed any indication of such. And, even better, it all comes with a film that works, a rated-R vehicle that can not only show off these comedic talents, but display them in their peak form.

Many may point to Foxcatcher for Tatum, which is undoubtedly a fascinating dramatic turn. But the build of the dramatic seemed to be more evident. 21 Jump Street through us all for a loop. It was perfect chemistry, almost as if one particle of unobtainium had a nuclear reaction with a flux capacitor — carry the 2 (of course) — changing its atomic isotoner into a radioactive Channing f*cking Tatum.

— Kyle Kizu

Steve Carell — Foxcatcher

Sony Pictures Classics/Courtesy

When you’re casting the role of millionaire murderer and recluse John du Pont, one doesn’t think to gravitate toward an actor who’s played a regional manager of a paper company, a mid-life virgin or the world’s greatest villain or, in Steve Carell’s case, all three. Known worldwide for his comedic chops, the actor had begun delving into more dramatic parts in such films as Little Miss Sunshine and The Way, Way Back when he was cast in Bennett Miller’s biographical drama, Foxcatcher. As the psychologically and socially stunted du Pont, Carell sheds any hint of past comic stylings while commanding the screen with a somehow paradoxically timid yet forceful performance. In lieu of caricature, upon which, arguably, his career was founded, he crafts a portrayal of subtlety – both exuding and manipulating pathos for du Pont’s own unnerving ends. Though he was denied a Best Lead Actor ‘W’ at the 87th Oscars, Carell’s grace in transitioning from comedy to drama was not lost on his long-time and newfound fans alike. He made doing something really hard look easy as hell (that’s what she said).

— Sanjay Nimmagudda

Kristen Stewart — Clouds of Sils Maria

Sundance Selects/Courtesy

In Kristen Stewart’s defense, she actively resisted falling into a boring Twilight acting rut from the very first movie, with mixed results. The world may have seen her as lovably awkward Bella Swan for a good five years after she first swooned at Robert Pattinson, but Stewart herself never got that memo. Between starring in increasingly bad installments of the Twilight saga, Stewart started exploring indie roles in Adventureland and The Runaways. It took a few years after her final Twilight performance, however, for Stewart to really reinvent herself as one of the most surprising, talented young actors in Hollywood. The words “Kristen Stewart” and “Oscar buzz” would have seemed preposterous in 2012, but after a turn in Olivier Assayas’ Clouds of Sils Maria in 2014, those were the exact words on everyone’s lips. Since then, Stewart has re-teamed with Assayas in Personal Shopper, turned heads in Certain Women and Cafe Society, and has a long list of prestigious projects lined up (starring opposite Laura Dern in a JT Leroy biopic? Yes please.) It’s worth noting that Stewart has also thrown off the expectations that her early roles placed on her personal life — from adopting an androgynous personal styl  to speaking out about her sexuality. A recent hosting stint on SNL earlier this year prompted the iconic line, “I’m, like, so gay, dude.” You do you, Kristen.

— Kate Halliwell

Robert Downey Jr. — Iron Man


Robert Downey Jr’s comeback might be partly responsible for the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and there are almost as many ramifications as there are MCU films. So that means something in the ballpark of 57,328,000 ramifications for the film industry. Obviously, not all of them are good — Universal threatened us with the Dark Universe, and studios’ focus on building cinematic universes takes resources away from mid-budget films. Whatever the long term consequences of the first Iron Man movie may be, RDJ’s comeback in that film heralded the modern age of comic book movies. He heralded it with the same all-in enthusiasm of a Stan Lee “excelsior!” Since this week’s question is about a favorite comeback acting story, I couldn’t respond with anyone besides RDJ, since his tenure as Iron Man has yielded the onscreen realization of my geek dreams, time and time again. Kevin Feige might be the mastermind of the MCU, but without RDJ’s first performance as Iron Man, I doubt we’d have gotten modern comic book gems like Deadpool or Wonder Woman. On a more personal note, my love for the MCU kickstarted my general love for film, so thanks RDJ, for bringing me into a world of blogging, trailer-analyzing, Oscar-predicting and pretentiousness.

— Harrison Tunggal

Featured image via Fox Searchlight.

‘Dunkirk’ receiving Oscar push with Toronto International Film Festival IMAX screening

Christopher Nolan has a storied history with the Oscars. Many point to the snub of both The Dark Knight and Nolan as the reason why the Academy expanded the number of possible nominees to ten for the year after that film’s release. Most also call the omission of Nolan from Best Director for Inception a major snub of its year.

So, as Dunkirk was approaching, many felt that even if the film was great, it might have trouble being recognized at the Academy Awards. But when Dunkirk dropped, reviews raved not quite like they ever have for Nolan, with The Hollywood Reporter calling it an “impressionist masterpiece” and IndieWire claiming it as “the best film he’s ever made.” It also stands as his most well-received film on Metacritic, amassing a monumental score of 94, 12 points higher than his next best, The Dark Knight, at 82.

Currently, 9 out of the 20 experts on Gold Derby are predicting Dunkirk as the Best Picture winner with every expert expecting it to get nominated. Out of those same experts, 16 of them are predicting Christopher Nolan as the Best Director winner. Their predictions factor in festival premieres they’ve already seen and anticipate the strength of yet-to-be-released Oscar hopefuls, so it’s clear that, with its wide inclusion, Dunkirk has already stamped itself as a serious threat.

But Nolan isn’t one to campaign for awards, his films rarely showing up at festivals, so Dunkirk seemed like it would have to hold and hold strong — as summer releases generally have a harder time getting nominated — once the festival circuit fired up and the fall season began. It looks like, though, in a move that acknowledges the film’s potential, Dunkirk will be joining them.

Nolan’s World War II epic will screen at the Toronto International Film Festival (via The Hollywood Reporter), which takes place September 7-17 and is where Nolan’s first film, Following, premiered. It won’t be a typical festival appearance, however, as it was IMAX who approached Warner Bros. to organize an IMAX 70mm screening of the film at the world’s first permanent IMAX theater, Cinesphere, in honor of the company’s 50th anniversary.

But the exposure should be just as ripe. TIFF’s director and CEO, Piers Handling, will introduce the film and its artistic director, Cameron Bailey, will host a Q&A with Christopher Nolan himself.

In a statement, Handling said the following:

“Dunkirk is quite remarkable. It sets a new standard for the visualization of war. Its form and structure is immersive and experiential and its attention to detail exemplary. This is a story for the times – one of resilience against all odds, ordinary people surviving amidst chaos. Christopher Nolan captures this seminal moment in history with an artist’s eye.”

Dunkirk is currently still in theaters, but will start to exit IMAX venues this Thursday. If the film is nominated for Best Picture, which a majority of critics expect, then it may return to screens at the beginning of 2018.

Featured image via Warner Bros.