Thursday, January 16, 2014

Why They Weren't Nominated

Taking a look at the movies and people who missed out on nominations.  Not snubs per say, because this post is not about what should have been nominated or movies that I liked more than others.  This is just analyzing some contenders that had Oscar potential and missed out this year.

You can also check out my predictions from last week, I was pretty accurate only missing one or two nominations in m major category.

The big upsets for Best Picture were Philomena and Dallas Buyers Club.  Both were late releases and fresher in people's minds.  Philomena was just the type of good movie that people latched on to and supported, despite its lesser amount of box-office or precursor nominations.  Its screenplay most likely helped it out too.  Dallas Buyers Club has two very strong acting nominations which brought it quite a bit of attention.  Its screenplay and editing nomination shows that it was a movie that hit with voters.  Probably a combination of release date, star power, being related to a real issue and campaigning.

The big exclusion was Saving Mr. Banks.  A lot of that may be Disney's inexperience in campaigning, very few movies from Disney or Touchstone have ever received a best picture nomination.  This also did not have a strong enough reception, it is doubtful that many voters placed it at number one.  The lack of a directing contender hurt it too.  But also, as evidenced by Meryl Streep's accusations against Walt Disney last week, Walt is a polarizing figure that people easily latch onto inaccurate rumors about.  The movie did not convince people of the truth and that definitely had a factor in it missing out on best picture, actress, supporting actor, original screenplay and editing.

I probably overestimated Fruitvale Station's chances, but it seemed like the most likely early release.  Early releases did not do well this year, which may be do to none of them receiving astonishing reviews or box-office and the Oscar season being exceptionally strong.  The movie just got forgotten about.  As did The Butler, which had all of the right ingredients for the Oscars but there was enough persistent controversy to keep it down and it may have been released too early.  Also the awkward official title may have something to do with it.  I am still placing the blame for the general absence of Inside Llewyn Davis on CBS Films as a weak, inexperienced distributor.  The movie was also very small among a year of very big films and it just did not stand out enough.

My directing predictions were spot on.  Her was not strong enough to get Spike Jonze attention for his direction.  Paul Greengrass certainly had a decent chance after his DGA nomination, but Captain Phillips was not as strong of a contender as many felt.  Ryan Coogler, Lee Daniels and others were not getting in without best picture nominations.

Leonardo DiCaprio made it in, showing that Wolf of Wall Street is a stronger contender this year.  He has been considered snubbed before, which helps.  This is also a career best performance, his role in Great Gatsby helped bring him more attention this year too.  Also Christian Bale was able to ride the hype of American Hustle to a nomination.  His weight gain probably helped.  Both of these performances are broader and flashier than many of the more understated snubs, they were probably just easier to recognize.

The big exclusion was Robert Redford, which was a possibility after missing with SAG.  His film was too small and for whatever reason he has never done well with acting at the Oscars.  Bruce Dern most likely took his veteran slot.  Captain Phillips must have not had enough support, because it missed out in this category too.  The earlier release and potential vote splits with Saving Mr. Banks cost Tom Hanks here.  With The Butler not doing well with voters Forest Whitaker missed out, even with a SAG nomination.  This was a year for established players leaving Michael B. Jordan and Oscar Isaac without much of a chance.  Joaquin Phoenix just did not receive enough attention for Her to be a major contender.

This category was always focused on six actresses.  There was little room for other actresses, most notably Adele Exarchopoulos, Brie Larson and Julie Delpy.  Many pundits had left off Amy Adams, but she is too well liked and had too flashy of a role in one of the year's biggest contenders.  I expected that after Meryl Streep won a third Oscar and August: Osage County was poorly received that she would be the one left out.  But the actress is absolutely revered and she had a showy role in an Oscar type movie.  Voters seem to just default to her.

The big snub was Emma Thompson for Saving Mr. Banks.  She is much less popular of an actress than the other nominees which probably factored.  Also her character may have just come across as too unlikable.  But the movie's lack of nominations shows that it just did not work for voters, because it did not get any notable awards and that unfortunately hurt her chances.

This was the toughest category to figure out as Jared Leto and Michael Fassbender were the only sure things.  But the voter's love of American Hustle and the likability of Bradley Cooper earned him a nomination many did not think he would receive.  Barkhad Abdi was an unknown actor that just had the right movie and role for him to breakthrough with awards attention.  The amount of fairly consistent precursor nomination most likely put him on voter's radar and definitely paid off for him.  The big surprise however was Jonah Hill who rode the apparent good will for Wolf of Wall Street and has been making good enough career choices to be nominated a second time.

Daniel Bruhl received key precursor notice, but Rush did not and the movie was pretty much shut out. Again, Saving Mr. Banks did not click with voters and Tom Hanks was never the major contender many though he would be for this role.  Posthumous nominations are rare and Enough Said did not get on the voter's radar enough for James Gandolfini to get a nomination.  The buzz about Nebraska being focused on Bruce Dern seems to have harmed Will Forte.  His performance was likely too subtle for this category and he just never quite clicked with precursors for whatever reason.

Sally Hawkins was a surprise for Blue Jasmine, which the movie must have been received well enough because she got in in addition to the screenplay.  Jennifer Lawrence was not a sure thing, but American Hustle is just that strong of a nominee to carry four of its actors.  Her career and popularity and buzz about this being a scene stealing revelation also helped.  June Squibb stood out enough as a memorable character in Nebraska.  Julia Roberts and Lupita Nyong'o were locks.

But Oprah was also a lock.  The only main precursor she really missed was the Globes, which is not the most accurate predictor.  It is She may have peaked too early and her return to the screen just ended up being forgotten.  This is the oddest omission, because it is difficult to figure out why she was not nominated.  There must have just been a problem with campaigning The Butler, because the Oscars shut it out.  Also shut out is Fruitvale Station.  Octavia Spencer had too small of a role in a forgotten film and her precursor season did not go far past her National Board of Review win.

Frozen and The Wind Rises were locks and are the two contenders to win animated feature.  The Croods made enough money and was good enough to get a nomination.  Ernest and Celestine played well with the animation industry and GKids has been very good at campaigning small foreign, hand drawn films.  The type of movies that the Oscars should help out.  The surprise animated feature nominee was Despicable Me 2, the first nomination for Illumination Animation.  The incredible box-office most likely was the main factor, but there is a chance that voters are obsessed with irritating little yellow idiots that speak oddly like everyone else seems to be.

The movie that was shockingly left out was Monsters University.  Pixar missed out for Cars 2, but that movie was not good.  The expectation for this to be bad probably factored into it.  People seem to have a backlash for Pixar doing sequels (or in this case prequels) and expect them to be bad.  They were most likely not viewing Monsters as its own movie, but did not like it because it did not feel like a Pixar movie.  However reception was not overly incredible and the movie has not been for everyone.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

2014 Box Office Predictions

I love analyzing the box-office.  Even though I am not good with numbers it is fun to predict and seeing what fails and what succeeds.  I took a look at the movies coming up this year and figured out what has the best chance at being the 50 highest grossing movies of 2014.  Of course there are always surprises.  There will be indie movies and Oscar bait films released that I am unaware of and most likely horror movies that will surprise.  But these are the fifty with the best shot.  These are all domestic estimates.

2014 Box-Office Predictions (Over $200 million)

10. Transformers: Age of Extinction (Paramount, 6/27)- $200 million
The last two Transformers passed $300 million, but as The Hobbit, X-Men and Pirates of the Caribbean has shown continuing a series after a trilogy can feature a pretty large drop.  Starring Mark Wahlberg should help this to stay in the public's eye, but there has been little marketing so far and audiences tend to move on quickly.  This series does have its strong fan base, but I think there is enough competition to keep this from doing too incredibly.

9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Disney, 4/4)- $215 million
Last year's two sequels have done better than the originals.  This should be around Thor: Dark World's total.  Captain America: The First Avenger was Marvel's second lowest grossing film, but after The Avengers and raising the stakes in this film this should do significantly better.  The early release should help it from getting swallowed up and this definitely feels more like The Avengers than last year's movies.

8. Big Hero 6 (Disney, 11/7)- $220 million
Will not reach Frozen's totals, but the combination of the Marvel and Disney brands should make this one of the highest grossing animated features of the year.  Should do a little better than Wreck-It Ralph.  Disney has a good hold on November.  Still need to see the characters and the voice cast, but Disney is definitely putting a lot into this one.

7. The Hobbit: There and Back Again (WB, 12/17)- $260 million
Harry Potter and Twilight had a box-office bump in their final installments and this trend should continue with the final Lord of the Rings.  After Desolation of Smaug not doing as incredible as previous Lord of the Rings movies this will not cross $300 million.  The cliffhanger ending of Smaug will either bring people back or make this less accessible.  It will make money, but still underperforming by the standards of this franchise.

6. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Columbia, 5/2)- $270 million
Sony got a hold of the weekend Marvel Cinematic Universe usually dominates.  Amazing Spider-Man did well, but not as well as the previous Spider-Man series.  However the trailer has been well received, even though the new villains are not all that popular.  Spidey remains a dependable character and he will do well, but probably only a bit better than the previous movie unless this is really good.  It will bring in a lot of people for opening weekend, but it will need to bring them back.

5. Interstellar (Paramount, 11/7)- $275 million
I may be overestimating this, but this is Christopher Nolan's follow-up to the Dark Knight trilogy.  This has an impressive cast that is headlined by the popular Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway.  The November release could mean Oscar potential.  Right now I am estimating between that it will make somewhere between the totals of Gravity and Inception.  There is still a market for original sci-fi if they are really good.

4. X-Men: Days of Future Past (Fox, 5/23)- $290 million
This is another tough one to judge.  There is a lot of hype and marketing in this.  The stakes are incredibly raised, but the X-Men movies have made less each film released since 2006.  Featuring Jennifer Lawrence post-Hunger Games should help its total in addition to combining the casts.  This has people excited, but it needs to live up to the excitement.  If it disappoints it may gross a bit lower.  But Fox is calculating this one pretty well.  They will make it a hit, just not sure how much of one.

3. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (Fox, 6/13)- $325 million
The original How to Train Your Dragon was a huge critical and commercial hit.  A big part of that was that it used 3D really well and followed Avatar.  But Dreamworks has been keeping the franchise in the public's eye with a TV series and holiday specials.  The stakes are raised in this one and the characters have grown.  If it is impressive enough in its visuals and storytelling people will keep coming back.  However I am potentially misjudging this as the audience could skew too much older and this is a lot to predict for an animated movie that isn't a stupid comedy.  Despicable Me 2 did incredible because of the Minions, this lacks that simple attraction.

2. Guardians of the Galaxy (Disney, 8/1)- $350 million
I am playing a hunch on this because there is really nothing to compare it too.  But Marvel is clearly being very careful and intentional with this one.  This is following Gravity as a successful space movie and is a Marvel movie that raises the stakes from The Avengers.  Disney will not only use this as the lead in for Avengers: Age of Ultron but also Star Wars Episode VII.  They will be able to turn Rocket Raccoon and Groot in to marketable characters.  The August release worries me, as I am predicting well above Rise of the Planet of the Apes numbers.  But the hype is high and Marvel seems to be extremely confident in this.

1. Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (Lionsgate, 11/21)- $430 million
Easily going to be the highest grossing movie of the year.  Catching Fire just passed Iron Man 3 domestically.  People loved it and have went back to see it several times.  That movie ended on a  huge cliffhanger and a promised of stakes being raised.  People love the books and these movies have turned out incredibly.  I may be underestimating this total, but it will be an incredible sum.