Friday, December 28, 2018

The Christmas Chronicles (2018) Review

Directed by
Clay Kaytis

In The Christmas Chronicles, Netflix has found a new holiday classic that has a chance of becoming this generation's Santa Clause, even if it is only marginally better than a Hallmark movie.

I am always looking for something new to watch that can be viewed by the whole family.  On Christmas Eve, it was an obvious choice to turn on Netflix's new holiday film, The Christmas Chronicles.  It is hard to go wrong with kids when Santa is the focal point, and this was no exception as my toddler was riveted to the TV from start to finish.  So it definitely passed the "toddler test" (which is an important test to pass), but let's talk about this film.

The Christmas Chronicles follows Teddy and Kate Pierce, a brother and sister that are dealing with their first Christmas without their dad.  When they decide to spend some rare quality time together on Christmas Eve, they catch Santa in the act, sneak into the sleigh, and cause Santa to crash putting into question whether he could finish his Christmas duties.  With the help of Teddy and Kate, Santa has to track down his reindeer and toy sack, while running from the police, to get his Christmas Eve back on track so everyone can get their presents.

When it comes to production value, this film is barely better than a Hallmark movie, especially at the beginning.  As Netflix continues to improve in the content they put out, a film like this definitely does not meet expectations.  The plot points are predictable, and the acting is marginal at best.  There is one thing and one thing only that makes this movie better than the countless sappy holiday movies you find playing constantly on TV throughout the month of December:Kurt Russell.  Russell's portrayal of Santa is one of the best I have seen as he plays a brash, stereotype-busting version of St. Nick.  As soon as Santa shows up on screen, the magic begins.  The story picks up and everything becomes more entertaining as Russell adds a certain legitimacy to film that it otherwise is lacking.

This film is not a great movie, but thanks to Kurt Russell it is not a bad movie.  The plot is still pretty predictable, much of the dialogue (not spoken by Santa) is corny, and it works way too hard to try and tug at the heartstrings.  With all that said, when it comes to a Christmas movie it is easy to forgive some of that.  It may have been predictable, corny, and way too feel-good (even for me), but it didn't bother me that much.  You let some of that go when it comes to the holidays (maybe that is why so many people love the Hallmark movies).  I found myself with a smile on my face throughout the movie, even when I knew exactly what was going to happen (including the cameo at the very end).  Kurt Russell gives us the best Santa on film since Tim Allen in the classic Santa Clause franchise.

I said this has a chance to be a new holiday classic.  There are several reasons for that.  First, as a Netflix original film, it will easily available every year come holiday season.  I am sure we will be watching it again come next December in our house.  Second, and more importantly, it has the magic and entertainment value you want out of a family holiday film.  It's not a great movie by any stretch, but it is definitely worth a watch to build some Christmas spirit.

2 stars

View the trailer here:

Sunday, December 2, 2018

8 Team College Football Playoff: It's Time

I feel like every year when we see the reveal of the College Football Playoff field of 4 teams, I am one of what seems like a vast majority of college football fans that are pleading either for their team to have a shot or for an expanded playoff field.  I have been saying for years that an expanded playoff of at least 8 and maybe even 16 is needed.  I feel this season, maybe more than any other, proves that it is time for this to happen.

Here is the craziest part of this realization: the CFP committee got it right this year.  There were 3 or 4 teams that had a legitimate claim on that final playoff spot.  Ohio St. had possibly the best win of anyone this season, demolishing Michigan in embarrassing fashion.  Georgia had 2 losses, but they were the only team to even compete with Alabama, who needed another miracle comeback to pull out the SEC Championship.  UCF just finished their second straight perfect season.  However, Oklahoma seemed most deserving after avenging their one and only loss by beating Texas in the Big 12 Championship game.  I look at the 4 teams that will be playing for the championship, and they are exactly who they should be.  However, the fact that these four are the right four show that the system is flawed and needs to be fixed.

This is the fifth year of the College Football Playoff, and something that has been an issue since its inception is how in the world can you have a playoff a four when you claim to have a "Power 5" conference group.  It makes no sense.  One of your conferences, who are all said to be of equal standing, is guaranteed to be left out of the playoff.  On top of that, this is the second straight year only three conferences will be represented in the Playoff (Alabama made it as a non conference champ last year, Notre Dame is conference-less this year).  Both years, the Pac 12 and Big 10 have been the conferences left out of the party.  Ranking these top teams not only is judging the quality of that team, but also the quality and priority of a conference.  For instance, the SEC will never be left out of the CFP no matter what the best record is coming out of the conference.  There is a definite priority of some conferences over others.  I'm not even going to touch the fact that Notre Dame is still allowed to exist outside of the conference system.

Another argument I have always made for an expanded is the fact that about 2/3 of the college football landscape in FBS starts their season knowing they have no chance at winning a national championship.  UCF just finished their 2nd straight undefeated season, even destroying a team that ended up in the ACC Championship Game this season, and they were never even considered a serious option.  There must be a way that every team can have a legitimate shot at winning a title every year.

A lesser issue I have with the current system, and actually how the system has always worked, is the fact that we now have to wait a month to see these top teams play again.  I have always found this odd.  No other sport would even consider taking a month off between its regular season and postseason.  All momentum is gone, all continuity is gone, teams come out rusty as if they were playing the first game of the season.  It really produces a product that is less than the best.

This really is an easy problem to fix I think.  Go to an 8 team playoff.  Everything currently in place can stay the same.  It would just add one wild weekend of football to set up the current four team format.  This weekend would take place two weeks after championship weekend, which is the current start of bowl season already.  There wouldn't be a need for more travel and neutral site games as the first round can simply be a home game for the top seed.  The field would consist of the conference champs from the Power 5 conferences, the top Group of 5 team, and two at large teams.  The committee can continue to do what it is doing, however their primary function would shift to choosing the last three teams and seeding the playoff.  If this were to take place this year, here is what it would look like.  Tell me this doesn't sound worth it!

1.  Alabama (SEC Champ)
2.  Clemson (ACC Champ)
3.  Notre Dame (at large)
4.  Oklahoma (Big 12 Champ)
5.  Georgia (at large)
6.  Ohio St. (Big 10 Champ)
7.  UCF (Group of 5 team)
8.  Washington (Pac 12 Champ)

On Saturday, December 15th, here would be the quarterfinal matchups.

Washington at Alabama
Washington proved earlier this year that they are not afraid to play in the south and go toe to toe with a big bad SEC team.  The Huskies started this season beat up, playing a sloppy game, and still almost beating Auburn in Atlanta.  They are now at full strength, playing their best football, and would give Bama a run for their money.  I'm not saying they could win in Tuscaloosa in a game like this, but it would be worth the watch.

UCF at Clemson
This game would be a lot more intriguing if McKenzie Milton hadn't tried to get his leg ripped off a couple weeks ago.  With that said, the Knights have shown the last two weeks that they are much more than Milton as they have continued their winning streak.  So you would have the most hungry team in the playoff facing, potentially, the most untested team in the field.  Clemson played their way through a weak ACC without ever really needing to break much of a sweat.  It would make an interesting dynamic for a playoff game for sure.  It definitely would add some weight to UCF's game on the big stage; much more weight than the Fiesta Bowl against LSU, who has been irrelevant since their loss to Bama last month.

Ohio St. at Notre Dame
No one would argue about seeing these two powerhouses face off in a playoff game!  Notre Dame and Ohio St. share something in that they are the only two teams to defeat Michigan this season.  This would be a fun game to watch for sure!

Georgia at Oklahoma
Which team deserved to make it to this year's playoff?  Well, this rematch of last year's semifinal classic would help determine which team truly is best.  Honestly, I think Georgia is the better team, but Oklahoma is the more deserving team.  It would be fun to see Kyler Murray and that Oklahoma offense go up against an SEC defense (which we will see when they play Bama).  It would also be fun to see an SEC team Georgia have to go on the road to Norman and play the Sooners.

You are crazy if you think this wouldn't be beneficial to the sport.  Everyone wants to see it, all 8 of these teams have earned their opportunities to play for the title.  How is this a bad thing?  Make it happen NCAA!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Review: The Old Man & the Gun (2018)

Directed by
David Lowery

In what he has said is his last film role, Robert Redford gives us a throwback classic performance that reminds you why a milestone like this is worth celebrating.

The Old Man & the Gun tells the "based on a" true story of Forrest Tucker, an elderly man who robs banks and escapes prisons.  This is not your typical heist film though.  It does not have the misdirection or scale of one of the Oceans films, and it does not have the violence and tension of a film like The Town.  On the contrary, Forrest Tucker is gentleman who uses his age, manners, and calm demeanor to often rob banks without anyone but one or two people noticing.  One bank robbery even takes place with the lead detective in charge of catching him (played by Casey Affleck) in the bank he robbed.  Even simpler than his strategy is his motivation for doing it; he finds it fun.  He spends his time either robbing banks, scouting his next robbery, or enjoying a date with his girl (played by Sissy Spacek).  Tucker almost feels like a man that loved playing cops and robbers as a kid and never grew out of that phase.  Whenever he is caught, he put his hands in the air with a wry smile on his face that tells the cops, "You got me."  Then he breaks out of prison and goes back to what he was doing before.

What separates this film from other heist films is its purpose.  The Old Man & the Gun is more of a character study than a film about bank robberies.  Forrest Tucker exudes a sense of calm and trust, which makes him so effective at his craft.  Because of these factors, the stakes seem lower than most heist films, making it feel like a true throwback to classic films of the past; films a younger Robert Redford probably starred in.

Writer and director David Lowery, whose previous films included A Ghost Story, Pete's Dragon, and Ain't Them Bodies Saints, had a difficult task on his hands.  Knowing this was Redford's last acting endeavor, he had to decide how much of his film was going to just telling the story and how much was going to be a celebration of the career of one of the greatest Hollywood legends alive.  Luckily for Lowery, the story lent itself to celebrating its star as the film celebrated the life and legend of its main character.  This allowed the filmmaker to truly give Redford a proper swan song without distracting from the film itself.

To be honest, knowing this was Redford's last film added to the movie-going experience.  It made watching a simple story about a small-time crook feel like something greater.  You were watching an icon show us all why he is an icon.  Redford's performance is like most of his performances: natural and captivating.  You could tell he was enjoying himself as he dug into this role.  It was a perfect sendoff.

Overall, The Old Man & the Gun was an enjoyable film.  The lack of the action usually associated with films of this nature was distracting at first, but quickly became charming.  This would be a slightly above-average film if it weren't for the added weight given to it.  Most times, such circumstances would not affect the quality of the film.  With that said, this was such a perfect marriage of legend and role for this particular milestone that its significance was impossible to ignore.  If you have the opportunity, go see The Old Man & the Gun to see one of the best work one last time.

3 stars

View the trailer here:

Friday, September 21, 2018

2019 Oscar Predictions: September

At last, I have an update to my Oscar predictions! Since my original article in January, a lot has happened. A new category was introduced and then removed. The date has fluctuated. The Irishman is officially a 2019 release. Some movies got new titles (My Abandonment was released as Leave No Trace, The Untitled Dick Cheney Project is now known as Vice, etc.). The Favourite might still be just that. Read up on what the Oscar race looks like right at the commencement of the fall movie season…

The Predicted Five
1. If Beale Street Could Talk – Barry Jenkins – The trailer for the Oscar-winner’s new movie looks beautiful and important. A nomination here is fairly assured, and it should be the frontrunner to win.
Image result for if beale street could talk
2. A Private War – Arash Amel – This movie is really under-the-radar, which is a good place to be entering awards season. It is directed by an Oscar-nominated documentarian and is about the rebellious war correspondent Marie Colvin.
Image result for a private war
3. First Man – Josh Singer – The movie has gotten incredible reviews and it looks really intense. Singer is a previous winner, and Chazelle will direct his script with grace and flash.
Image result for first man movie
4. Boy Erased – Joel Edgerton – The movie is about a gay conversion program faced by the son of a Baptist preacher. It looks incredibly emotional and something right up the Academy’s alley.
Image result for boy erased
5. Crazy Rich Asians – Peter Chiarelli, Adele Lim – The movie would have been a shoo-in for a Popular Film nomination. The movie has exceeded expectations at the box office and critically. It feels more like an Original Screenplay nominee, but it is worth mentioning here.
Image result for crazy rich asians movie
Others in contention
6. A Star Is Born – Bradley Cooper, Eric Roth, Will Fetters – Musicals always have a tough time getting nominated for screenwriting, despite this excellent group of writers. It will be in the running regardless, being one of the favorites in all categories.
7. Beautiful Boy – Luke Davies, Felix Van Groenignen – The film appears to be just devastating. Groenignen is an Oscar-nominated filmmaker, and Davies is a nominated writer. It is one to watch throughout awards season.
8. Widows – Gillian Flynn, Steve McQueen – It has a terrific trailer, almost in a The Town kind of way. It seems twisty and atmospheric, but I’m just not completely convinced of its true Oscar merit.
9. BlacKkKlansman - Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel, Kevin Willmott – The movie is crazy, tightly-written, furious, funny, entertaining. It feels like a nominee, but this category is absolutely stacked.
10. The Land of Steady Habits – Nicole Holofcener – It was one of my favorites in my January predictions. It got picked up by Netflix, which could hurt its chances, but if enough people see it, then the popular Holofcener’s film could make a few appearances.
11. 22 July – Paul Greengrass – Greengrass’s movies should always have our attention. It is about the Oslo terrorist attack in 2011.
12. Wildlife – Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan – It is about a declining marriage through the perspective of a young boy. Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal are an interesting pair, as are this group of writers.
13. The Old Man & The Gun – David Lowery – This is Lowery’s highest profile film to date, and if given the right type of release, it could be a sleeper Oscar hit.
14. Galveston – Melanie Laurent ­– There isn’t a whole lot of talk about this movie, but I am keeping it on the longlist. I have faith in the project and in the talent of Laurent.

The Predicted Five
1. The Favourite - Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara – The trailer looks bananas, but it also looks really dramatic and interesting. It feels like an easy screenplay contender.
Image result for the favourite movie
2. Roma – Alfonso Cuaron – Cuaron hasn’t made a movie since his Oscar win in 2013, and this is a stripped-down and personal story of a Mexico City family in the 1970s. Basically the opposite of Gravity.
Image result for roma movie cuaron
3. Sunset - Laszlo Nemes, Clara Royer, Matthieu Taponier – Nemes previously won an Oscar for his country for Son of Saul, and this movie seems even more Oscar-friendly than that film.
Image result for sunset movie 2018 nemes
4. Eighth Grade – Bo Burnham – The screenplay is pure Original Screenplay nomination stuff. It is so awkward and painfully funny. It should coast to a nomination.
Image result for eighth grade movie
5. Vice – Adam McKay – The story of Dick Cheney is going to be a tough sell, but the cast is incredible, and it seems a lot less silly than W. was. McKay is coming off an Oscar win in the Adapted category.
Image result for dick cheney movie
Others in contention
6. Stan & Ollie – Jeff Pope – The story of Laurel and Hardy officially got a release date and jumped into all kinds of predictions. Pope was nominated in the past for Philomena.
7. Hotel Mumbai - Ben Collee, Anthony Maras – This movie just feels like an Oscar-friendly story and setup, but word on the project is really quiet as of now.
8. Mid90s – Jonah Hill – The trailer was outstanding, and since everyone loves Hill as an actor, his directorial debut will be given every avenue to succeed.
9. Peterloo – Mike Leigh – Leigh is a staple in this category. This movie doesn’t feel completely like Leigh, but it is obviously worth keeping an eye on.
10. Tully – Diablo Cody – The movie was a big hit during its summer release, but we will have to see if people remember the twisted comedy in December.
11. On the Basis of Sex – Daniel Stiepleman – RBG has gotten a good run from a documentary about the figure, and this movie has a good chance at being a big hit if it doesn’t have too much of a made-for-TV feel from the Emmy-winning filmmaker.
12. Can You Ever Forgive Me? – Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty – It is based on the memoir of Lee Israel, a famous celebrity biographer. It is a great writing duo, and it is directed by accomplished filmmaker Marielle Heller.
13. Sorry to Bother You – Boots Riley – The movie was a smash hit critically and in the indie circuit. In a lesser year, it would easily be a major contender in this category.
14. Outlaw King - Mark Bomback, Bathsheba Doran, David Harrower, James MacInnes, David Mackenzie – It is directed by Hell or High Water filmmaker David Mackenzie, and it is about the Scottish-English conflict in the 14th century.
15. Newsflash – Ben Jacoby – It is the story of Walter Cronkite, directed by David Gordon Green and starring Seth Rogen. It is worth a look.
Image result for vox lux16. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – Ethan Coen, Joel Coen – The main issue with it is that it is a Netflix project, but if anyone is going to be able to overcome the Academy bias against the media giant, it is these two beloved filmmakers. But this movie still seems too weird.
17. Vox Lux – Brady Corbet – This movie has my full attention. The early word sounds like it could be a Black Swan-type hit. Corbet has a lot of talent as a filmmaker, but we will have to see if anyone cares just yet.
18. The Public – Emilio Estevez – Bobby was a big hit for Estevez, and this one feels like a return to form. It is about library patrons who turn the library into a homeless shelter.
19. What They Had – Elizabeth Chomko – It feels like a somewhat sappy road trip movie, but sometimes the Academy falls for these kinds of movies.
20. The Happy Prince – Rupert Everett – The acclaimed actor wrote, directed, and stars in this movie about Oscar Wilde. Early festival word is ecstatic about the project.

The Predicted Five
1. Cynthia Erivo -Widows This is her first film appearance, and she is said to be the scene-stealer. It might be a little premature to predict her to win, but the other nominees could cancel each other out.
Image result for cynthia erivo widows
2. Emma Stone – The Favourite I find it difficult to believe that the studio will campaign three lead performances from this movie the way most prognosticators have suggested. The movie appears to be a little more about Colman, so I am placing this obvious nominee here.
Image result for emma stone the favourite
3. Rachel Weisz – The Favourite As well as Weisz. It is weird that she hasn’t been nominated since her win 13 years ago. It feels like time to validate that surprise win.
Image result for rachel weisz the favourite
4. Regina King – If Beale Street Could Talk She has not been cited much as a nominee, but she has been in and around Best Picture winners giving quality work for the better part of two decades. She also just won an Emmy. The industry might finally shower her with love all around.
Image result for regina king if beale street could talk
5. Meryl Streep – Mary Poppins Returns It is Streep, she is probably going to be nominated regardless of the movie.
Image result for meryl streep mary poppins returns
Others in contention
6. Margot Robbie – Mary, Queen of Scots She could be lead, but I feel like they will split up her and Ronan. She is a hot commodity right now, she could easily get nominated or win.
7. Thomasin McKenzie – Leave No Trace Her proper placement would be in lead, but they won’t put her there. This would be a wonderful, refreshing nomination.
8. Nicole Kidman – Boy Erased She seems to have become the ultimate also-ran in the category. If the movie is as big of a hit as it can be, then this could be an obvious nomination.
9. Julia Roberts – Ben Is Back The movie appears to be incredibly sad, and she will likely have her share of weeping scenes. That could be enough to get her in.
10. Claire Foy – First Man She just won an Emmy, and she plays the wife role in one of the big frontrunners. She also has her Lisbeth Salander film. It could be her year.
11. Kathy Bates – On the Basis of Sex She is still a beloved actress, despite being absent from the ceremony for 16 years. Her role will likely be pretty juicy, so a nomination here is entirely possible.
12. Amy Ryan – Beautiful Boy She isn’t the one being singled out, but she if her role is big enough, she could easily be swept in with the momentum and validate her nomination a decade ago.
Image result for laura harrier blackkklansman13. Laura Harrier – BlacKkKlansman She gave a great performance in the huge Spike Lee hit. If the film is remembered come Oscar time, don’t be surprised if it nabs multiple acting nominations.
14. Annette Bening – Georgetown The movie really has no buzz, but that is ok at this point. If enough people see it, then I can see the beloved actress making a run at it.
15. Blythe Danner – What They Had I feel like she is always predicted to be a contender, but she has never gotten a major film nomination. This movie could be her ticket, but I’m holding back my expectations.
16. Mackenzie Davis – Tully She was outstanding in the movie, but I am not convinced that the movie will remembered in December and January.
17. Amy Adams – Vice She plays Lynne Cheney, and it appears to be a transformation. She always is in the running.
18. Katherine Waterston – Mid90s I do not know much about her role, but it is just a gut feeling that she could surprise and be in a contender.

The Predicted Five
1. Timothee Chamalet – Beautiful Boy He nearly won a year ago, but this performance looks and feels like the type of emotional turn that wins in this category.
Image result for timothee chalamet beautiful boy
2. Mahershala Ali – Green Book The movie has been a huge hit at the festivals, and he is an easy nominee at this point.
Image result for mahershala ali green book
3. Aaron Taylor-Johnson – Outlaw King The reviews are not great for the David Mackenzie movie, but he got a bizarre snub for Nocturnal Animals last time he was contending, so maybe the Academy makes up for it here.
Image result for aaron taylor-johnson outlaw king
4. Russell Crowe – Boy Erased It has been forever since he has been nominated. There are several contending performances that can get in from this film, but my gut says that Crowe will be the one playing against type.
Image result for russell crowe boy
5. Sam Elliott – A Star Is Born He has been consistently singled out by reviews. He is a great actor who has never been close to getting nominated, but this feels like the one.
Image result for sam elliott a star is born
Others in contention
6. John C. Reilly – Stan & Ollie His physical transformation is unreal, and he is a past nominee. It is time for his second nomination.
7. Oscar Isaac –At Eternity’s Gate Nothing has really been said about his performance, only Dafoe’s amazing lead role. He could ride that train to a nomination.
8. Richard E. Grant – Can You Ever Forgive Me? He has been doing great work for years, and the reviews are just as good for him as they are for McCarthy’s lead role.
9. Daniel Kaluuya – Widows He looks really sinister in the trailer, and I am sure that the movie will showcase his immense talent.
10. Adam Driver – BlacKkKlansman He gave a really good performance, and my gut is that the movie will be an Oscar hit. If it is, he could become a real contender for his first nomination.
11. Dominic West – Colette The accomplished TV actor could receive his first major film nomination for this true story. He plays the dominating husband role opposite Keira Knightley.
12. Justin Theroux – On the Basis of Sex He always gives good work, and the movie will likely be one of the most talked about movies of the fall.
13. John Turturro – Gloria Bell His role was singled out several times in the original version, and since he has never been nominated (which is ridiculous), he could be a contender if the movie is good enough. Word is quiet right now.
14. Corey Stoll – First Man He plays Buzz Aldrin. He isn’t exactly featured in the trailer, so that could either mean they are hiding him or his role really isn’t all that significant.
15. Mark Ruffalo – Newsflash He is always in the running, and if Seth Rogen is a contender for lead, then I have to believe he will be a major reason why.

The Predicted Five
1. Lady Gaga – A Star Is Born She absolutely torches the trailer, and it feels like her big moment. She could easily win for Original Song as well.
Image result for lady gaga a star is born
2. Olivia Colman – The Favourite She is one of the most underrated actresses in the world, and here she finally has her big starring role where she can be featured.
Image result for olivia colman the favorite
3. Julianne Moore – Gloria Bell This is such a juicy role for Moore. If the movie translates well to English, then this will be pretty easy for the Academy.
Image result for julianne moore gloria bell
4. Viola Davis – Widows She looks like the dominating performance in the big ensemble cast. I can’t really see a scenario where the beloved actress doesn’t get nominated here.
Image result for viola davis widows
5. Rosamund Pike – A Private War She is the star of the movie that appears to be in position to make a run at Best Picture. She has been nominated once before. She can become a regular with the right roles.
Image result for rosamund pike a private war
Others in contention
6. KiKi Layne – If Beale Street Could Talk It is the first performance for the young actress, but this category is usually open to debuts.
7. Hilary Swank – What They Had She hasn’t been nominated since her second win over a decade ago. She has made a run at it on occasion, but this feels like her best work in years.
8. Natalie Portman – Vox Lux It looks like some crazy Black Swan type stuff, which could be a good or bad thing for the Oscar winner.
9. Melissa McCarthy – Can You Ever Forgive Me? It is good to know that she is actually taking chances in her career. If she gets nominated here, then her first one will be a little less off-putting.
10. Claire Foy – The Girl in the Spider’s Web She looks every bit as insane as Rapace and Mara were in the role. I like her chances to get nominated here or supporting for First Man.
11. Felicity Jones – On the Basis of Sex Playing Ruth Bader Ginsberg is a huge role for the past nominee. She is going to be amazing; we just need the film to be widely seen.
12. Saorise Ronan – Mary, Queen of Scots This could easily be her incredible fourth nomination. I just feel like the Academy, if pressed, will side with the similarly plotted The Favourite.
13. Glenn Close – The Wife I don’t think the movie will be big enough, but Close is beloved. If nominated, she could easily come away with her long-deserved Oscar.
14. Carey Mulligan – Wildlife If Dano is taken seriously as a director, then this nomination could become a real possibility. She looks outstanding in the trailer.
15. Elle Fanning – Galveston She has given like a dozen nomination worthy performances in the last five years, but she cannot break through. If the movie is a hit, then she could make a run at it.
Image result for judi dench red joan16. Keira Knightley – Colette The reviews for her performance are raves, but not so much for the movie overall. We will see if this is the big performance piece that the Academy takes to.
17. Judi Dench – Red Joan She is Dame Judi Dench, and she is playing in a biopic. She is always worth mentioning.
18. Susanne West – Sunset She is the lead in what is likely going to be the biggest foreign film of the year. She has done some great work in the past, and if the movie is a Best Picture contender, look for her to be cited several times throughout awards season.
19. Charlize Theron – Tully When it came out, everyone was talking about her getting nominated. We will need to see how it is remembered in a few months. Sometimes these types of movies pop back up and surprise us.
20. Toni Collette – Hereditary She is somewhat over-the-top in the movie, but reviews were almost unanimous. This is the type of role that would have been a huge contender decades ago, but we will have to see if this Academy gets rid of their horror movie bias.
21. Emily Blunt – Mary Poppins Returns The original movie won in this category, but that was a different time. Blunt needs to get nominated at some point. I feel like I say that every year.

The Predicted Five
1. Robert Redford – The Old Man & the Gun The reported final performance for the all time great actor appears to be the vehicle where he can finally win his acting Oscar. He has only been nominated once.
Image result for robert redford old man and the gun
2. Ben Mendelsohn – The Land of Steady Habits He has been doing great work for the better part of a decade, and this leading role appears to be his best chance at a nomination yet. It is a Netflix movie, so it will be seen. The Academy is going to have its hands full with all these quality movies being released by the streaming giant.
Image result for ben mendelsohn land of steady habits
3. Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born His preparation for the role has been well documented, and he is becoming a regular in this category. It is one of the frontrunners, this should be an easy nomination.
Image result for bradley cooper a star is born
4. Willem Dafoe – At Eternity’s Gate He is playing Vincent van Gogh in Julian Schnabel’s film. That is about as perfect of a role on paper as any this year.
Image result for willem dafoe at eternityĆ¢€™s gate
5. Viggo Mortensen – Green Book The movie won big at Toronto, and Mortensen gets in when he is making quality movies.
Image result for viggo mortensen green book
Others in contention
6. Steve Carell – Beautiful Boy This is a tough category. Typically this type of emotional role would be an easy nomination, but he could get upstaged by his costar and get left off for more high profile roles.
7. Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody The transformation into Freddie Mercury is awe-inspiring. The movie needs to be decent for him to really have a shot at this.
8. Lucas Hedges – Ben Is Back, Boy Erased These two big leading roles for the recent nominee could cancel each other out, or one could be anointed. I lean with Boy Erased, just because his father is directing the other, and those types of things rarely line up at the Oscars.
9. Ben Foster – Leave No Trace He is one of the best actors without a nomination, and this is arguably his best work. The release date could wind up being the film’s undoing.
10. Ryan Gosling – First Man He is usually really understated, so getting nominated is always an uphill climb for him. The movie will need to be something truly special for him to eclipse some of these other performances.
11. Christian Bale – Vice Playing Dick Cheney is an interesting step for Bale. The project is kind of a mystery, but I have a hard time thinking McKay will screw this up.
12. Christoph Waltz – Georgetown He is directing himself, which could be a good or bad thing. The role sounds so perfect for his personality, though. I have to think he will be amazing.
13. Dev Patel – Hotel Mumbai He is now a nominee, so we have to start taking these types of roles seriously. The movie sounds like Oscar stuff, but word is quiet as of right now.
14. Hugh Jackman – The Front Runner He plays Senator Gary Hart in Jason Reitman’s second movie of the year. Reviews are not great, but he is always in contention.
Image result for robert pattinson high life15. Robert Pattinson – High Life It is a sci-fi movie, but one that is told in completely seriously. Almost more like science-reality, and Claire Denis always makes great movies. He is proving to be one of the most underrated actors in the world the past few years.
16. Steve Coogan – Stan & Ollie He and Reilly are such a strange pair, but I can absolutely see this movie being a huge hit. I can’t think of two better actors for Laurel and Hardy.
17. Chris Pine – Outlaw King His last time being directed by Mackenzie was his best performance ever. This sounds like a more Oscary role. It will need a decent box office and better reviews than the festivals have given.
18. Seth Rogen – Newsflash He is playing Walter Conkite, which is so weird and perfect that I have to mention it here.
19. Rory Kinnear – Peterloo The Mike Leigh movie hasn’t gotten great marks so far, but his movies are always in the running. He has never gotten an actor nominated before though.
20. Jamie Dornan – A Private War I am not sure if he is lead or if he can really even act, but this role in this movie has to be mentioned on the longlist.

The Predicted Five
1. Yorgos Lanthimos – The Favourite Lanthimos is a wild director, and he will put his stamp on this costume drama and make it something much more than it appears on paper.
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2. Barry Jenkins – If Beale Street Could Talk Jenkins missed out on Best Director a couple years ago. They have been splitting Director and Picture a lot recently, so they can reverse his awards this time.
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3. Alfonso Cuaron – Roma Cuaron is a recent winner in this category. It appears to be a very personal and stripped down film, but his directorial talent will be showcased regardless. This reminds me a bit of Alexander Payne’s Nebraska.
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4. Damien Chazelle – First Man He won Best Director and lost Best Picture to Barry Jenkins. This should be a no-brainer nomination. It will be cool if he and Jenkins continue to make films every other year and go at it during awards season.
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5. Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born Are they ready to give him a Director nomination? If needs to be one of the top few movies for Picture for him to get this recognition. I think it will be. Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor, multiple songs…he could set a record.
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Others in contention
6. Matthew Heineman – A Private War The director of Cartel Land has one of films with the highest potential this season. We will see how well he can handle a narrative film. It doesn’t always transfer over that well.
7. Joel Edgerton – Boy Erased He does have a lot of talent as a filmmaker, he definitely learned a lot from David Michod. This will be an interesting showcase for him.
8. Spike Lee – BlacKkKlansman He has never been nominated in this category. There are clear Spike Lee things in the movie, but it doesn’t feel like one of his movies. That might be a good thing for his chances.
9. Laszlo Nemes – Sunset He could be the next great foreign director if he is able to get nominated here after his win in the Foreign Language Film category for Son of Saul.
Image result for paul greengrass directing10. Paul Greengrass – 22 July His direction is always distinct and showy, and this movie should be no different.
11. Claire Denis – High Life The only issue facing Denis is that there have been some pretty awesome and popular sci-fi films in recent years. Also, First Man could steal her glory.
12. Paul Dano – Wildlife The movie is one of the most talked about from the festivals, but it doesn’t feel like a movie that has too much of a chance in this category…unless it is a clear Best Picture contender.
13. Adam McKay – Vice McKay has a nomination on his resume, and this movie is going to be a step out for him. If it really hits, then this could be an easy choice.
14. Felix Van Groenignen – Beautiful Boy The director of The Broken Circle Breakdown has his first big Hollywood movie with a fantastic cast. There are other weepy movies that could overshadow his movie, but I would not be shocked if this is the standout.
15. Mimi Leder – On the Basis of Sex These types of biopics have been out of style in recent years, but RBG is a point of conversation this year.
16. David Mackenzie – Outlaw King Mackenzie arguably should have been nominated for Hell or High Water. I could see this sort of throwback epic being his ticket to the big time.
17. Melanie Laurent – Galveston There are so many high profile projects directed by actors this year. The movie sounds fascinating, and she is worth mentioning here.
18. Anthony Maras – Hotel Mumbai The movie feels like an Oscar nominee, but we will need to see how it performs in the film critics circuit. Maras could become an easy nominee if it hits with audiences.

The Predicted Ten (I predict 8 will get nominated)
1. The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos) – It has to be the favorite at this point. Reviews have been strong, the star power is undeniable, and it is just a little different than everything else.
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2. If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins) – The movie has the importance and style to be the most talked about movie during awards season.
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3. A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper) – It is clearly one of the frontrunners from the festivals, and with the trailer it has established itself as the most anticipated movie of the season.
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4. Boy Erased (Joel Edgerton) – Edgerton’s film feels like a movie of our times. The cast is to die for, but it is all going to be about how well he can handle the material.
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5. A Private War (Matthew Heineman) – It is the only real war movie in contention. It has a lot of things going for it, but the buzz needs to start.
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6. First Man (Damien Chazelle) – The festival reviews are glowing. It almost feels to easy to predict it to win big, but I would be a fool to not put it in here.
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7. Roma (Alfonso Cuaron) – The Netflix bubble might finally pop with Cuaron’s low scale personal film. I can see the movie actually getting a decent box office run if the streaming service wants to give it a shot.
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8. BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee) – The movie is absolutely popular enough with audiences and critics, but we will see how it plays in Hollywood. I suspect that it will be shown a lot of love.
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9. Vice (Adam McKay) – I am holding back my expectations for this movie a bit. I was convinced W. was going to be a big hit too.
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10. Widows (Steve McQueen) – The movie feels a bit too popcorn to be a real contender here, but if it is as good as it can be, then that won’t matter.
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Others in contention
11. Sunset (Laszlo Nemes) – Foreign films always have a hard time breaking through here, but it usually comes to directors who have won before. Nemes is one of them.
12. Wildlife (Paul Dano) – There’s always a dramedy in there somewhere, and this seems like the one that has the best chance.
Image result for black panther poster13. Beautiful Boy (Felix Van Groenignen) – I feel like it is this or Boy Erased. I wouldn’t count it out, but it definitely has its rival throughout the season.
14. 22 July (Paul Greengrass) – Netflix! Eventually one of these movies is going to really hit. The closest thing was Beasts of No Nation, but that still wasn’t a smash hit.
15. On the Basis of Sex (Mimi Leder) – The Ruth Bader Ginsberg film has the potential, but Leder is a TV director making a biopic. It could come off as cheap.
16. Hotel Mumbai (Anthony Maras) – It has the cast and pedigree to hit big, but it is a first time director and the buzz is quiet.
17. Galveston (Melanie Laurent) – It will need to overcome some mediocre reviews to make it to the ceremony.
18. Outlaw King (David Mackenzie) – Same as Galveston.
19. Black Panther (Ryan Coogler) – The squashing of the Popular Film category opened up this possibility again. It doesn’t deserve it, but it feels like it could happen because people are still somehow talking about it.
20. High Life (Claire Denis) – I feel like the movie could come up just a bit too small to get in, but it is going to be one of the best reviewed and most revered movies of the season regardless.

Thoughts? Omissions? What are your predicted nominees? What do you want to see nominated? Let me know in the comments!