2018 Oscar Season Preview Wrap-Up: November

Below is a wrap-up of the predictions I made several months ago, an exploration of what succeeded and what failed, and how I observe things to have gone.

November 2, 2018

Bohemian Rhapsody

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. While the Best Actor category is starting to solidify, there might still be room for a performance form Rami Malek if the film is even remotely good.”
Oscar Results: Major Success. Not only did it come from behind to become a major Oscar nominee, it won four of its nominations, including Best Actor.
Box Office Prospects: $65 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. There are a lot of Queen fans, but is this movie really something they’ve been clamoring to see. The first trailer did enthuse some, but will that be enough to make it a hit.”
Box Office Results: $215.9 (STILL IN LIMITED RELEASE) M
Thoughts: [Major Success] With the popularity of Queen’s music and the magnetic performance of Rami Malek, the film managed to strike the right chord with audiences, becoming a far bigger success than anyone anticipated.

Nobody’s Fool

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: None.
Box Office Prospects: $60 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Decent. Is Tiffany Haddish the next big thing to hit cinemas? Possibly, though in a muted way. Although Girls Trip was a huge success, her most recent film, Night School was a more muted success. That said, I cannot imagine this doing more than respectable business at the box office.”
Box Office Results: $31.7 M
Thoughts: [Flop] The target audience didn’t seem that interested in this film, which resulted in a fairly weak performance.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Good. The production design and costumes look amazing and it is sure to take up the now almost annual Disney spot in the Production Design and Costume Design categories. Wins might not happen, though.”
Oscar Results: Failure. While it did manage a nomination at the Costume Designers Guild, the film was ultimately ignored by the Academy, which is a huge blow considering how rich the costuming and production design were.
Box Office Prospects: $150 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Good. While the film does stem from a successful Disney animated property, it has that kind of feel. While it will undoubtedly do better than A Wrinkle in Time, I doubt it does as well as any of the other live-action versions of Disney animated films.”
Box Office Results: $54.9 M
Thoughts: [Major Flop] Disney has few misfires, but they most often occur with films that don’t have a built-in audience. The trailers never quite sold the film as much and the reviews weren’t great.

Boy Erased (Limited)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Good. Although the film has been said to be “take your medicine” important, that doesn’t always play well with Oscar voters. That said, its cast is sure to contend as is the screenplay.”
Oscar Results: Failure. While early in the season, it seemed like a decent player, reviews weren’t great and first supporting actor Russell Crowe disappeared from the conversation, then star Lucas Hedges and finally supporting actress Nicole Kidman who seemed to be in the hunt right up to the end.
Box Office Prospects: $25 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. Can a small film about gay conversion therapy really sell to wide audiences? I suspect it won’t even if it plays well to Oscar.”
Box Office Results: $6.8 M
Thoughts: [Unexceptional] Although it got strong word coming out of the festival circuit, the premise just didn’t energize audiences. While this result would be terrific for a regular indie film, one with this star wattage should have been a much bigger success.

A Private War (Limited)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. Best Actress is filled with stiff competition this year and this is one of the performances that might falter because of that. Rosamund Pike’s received solid notices for her role in the film, but without a boost at the box office, I suspect it may be forgotten.”
Oscar Results: Failure. While there were minor rumblings through Oscar season that star Rosamund Pike and the film’s original song could be in play, Pike fell by the wayside pretty early and the song couldn’t manage to hold out to a nomination.
Box Office Prospects: $15 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Weak. A film about a war correspondent isn’t exactly the kind of film that lights up the box office. It could do well if word spreads, but I suspect it will hang out at the specialty box office for awhile, then close unless Oscar pays attention.”
Box Office Results: $1.6 M
Thoughts: [Minor Flop] For a film with few prospects and good reviews, A Private War was overshadowed by other year-end releases that sucked all the air out of the room, leaving little for it.

November 9, 2018

The Girl in the Spider’s Web

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: None.
Box Office Prospects: $70 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. With the solid performance of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo at the box office seven years ago, it would be surprising if a follow-up didn’t do well. That said, the director and cast are gone and what remains may be unfamiliar to most audiences, especially if they want to make it a box office hit.”
Box Office Results: $14.8 M
Thoughts: [Major Flop] Without David Fincher’s flair for style, there was nothing to draw audiences to the theater. That they skipped the more popular and familiar books in the series to tackle a later one probalby hurt it as well.

The Grinch

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Good. With the paucity of animated films so far this year, especially after the glut of recent years, there’s not a lot of Oscar competition, putting this one easily into contention.”
Oscar Results: Failure. At first, it was thought to be one of the few films to be in play for a Best Animated Feature nomination, but in the end, the film collapsed.
Box Office Prospects: $200 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Good. There’s zero chance at this film flops at the box office, and even more evidence to suggest it will soar thanks to a lack of animated films at the box office combined with a lack of competition.”
Box Office Results: $270.6 M
Thoughts: [Success] Never underestimate the power of Dr. Seuss or the Grinch, but of which traded on satisfactory reviews to become one of the year’s biggest animated successes.

Overlord

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: None.
Box Office Prospects: $35 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Weak. There hasn’t been a lot of advertising for this one and the premise doesn’t exactly strike one as the foundation for box office success.”
Box Office Results: $21.7 M
Thoughts: [Unexceptional] The advertising was anemic and apart from good reviews, the film never materialized into the must-see genre romp of the year.

Peterloo (Limited)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. Never count out Mike Leigh at the Oscars. That said, this film has gotten limited traction so far, which might be a sign that it’s not playing as well as it needs to. Still, never count out Mike Leigh at the Oscars.”
Oscar Results:
Box Office Prospects: $4 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. Mike Leigh’s biggest box office success came 22 years ago with Secrets & Lies, which made a then-solid $13 million at the box office. Since then, his films have consistently performed in the $3 to $4 million range. That means this film is likely to follow suit.”
Box Office Results: $ M
Thoughts: Did Not Release

November 16, 2018

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Good. While the first film in this new series looked like it might go home without an Oscar, it managed to win for Best Costume Design out of its two nominations. I suspect the film may be nominated in both films again, possibly even other craft categories, but I don’t think lightning will strike twice in terms of winning.”
Oscar Results: Failure. The first film in the new series became the first in the entire Harry Potter universe to win an Oscar. This film was sure to play in most of the same categories, but came up short in every one of them.
Box Office Prospects: $250 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Excellent. While the prior film wasn’t as big as the latter Harry Potter outings, it was a still impressive $234 million. Now that fans have had a chance to warm up to the film, I suspect the second film will be an even bigger success.”
Box Office Results: $159.6 M
Thoughts: [Flop] Fans were unimpressesd. Critics were unimpressed. All of this resulted in the weakest performance of any film in the Wizarding World.

Instant Family

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: None.
Box Office Prospects: $120 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Good. What might surprise most filmgoers is that Rose Byrne has amassed a surprisingly strong raft of box office hits. Seven of her films have topped $100 million at the box office. Some of those were with her as a minor character. That said, she’s co-starred in four $100 million-plus films. That’s nothing to sneeze at. Her comic ailities are a part of that success. Thus, I suspect this will be another in her cap.”
Box Office Results: $67.4 M
Thoughts: [Minor Success] While the studio likely wanted something bigger, this result, espsecially up against Fantastic Beasts was still solid.

Widows

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Unlikely. While the film has gotten strong reviews out of the festivals, I suspect Oscar voters have more than their fair share of films to review for the year-end awards and other than a left field Best Actress citation for Viola Davis and a potential Film Editing nomination, the film doesn’t have a lot of Oscar potential.”
Oscar Results: Failure. The first film for 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen since that film five years ago was thought to be a major Oscar contender. It even picked up tons of support from critics. Then it flopped at the box office and the Oscars just couldn’t muster up any interest in the film at that point.
Box Office Prospects: $85 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Good. Heist films often do well at the box office, but this one, said to be incredibly well made, is sure to be a fairly strong performer at the box office based on its strong first trailer, killer cast, and interesting premise.”
Box Office Results: $42.4 M
Thoughts: [Flop] Audiences love a good heist film. The problem for this one was that it was slower moving than most in the genre and that’s a good thing for everyone but audiences.

At Eternity’s Gate (Limited)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Good. Willem Dafoe is beloved in Hollywood and his failure to win last year for The Florida Project two prior supporting nominations show he has built up a lot of good will with Hollywood. They will also want to award him fairly soon and this kind of film might just be that opportunity, and in the lead category to boot.”
Oscar Results: Success. Willem Dafoe was one of the early contenders for Best Actor. Some even thought he could parlay that into a win. The film never managed to fly in terms of critics or audiences, but Dafoe held on to the very end, securing the film’s only nomination. He didn’t win.
Box Office Prospects: $5 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Weak. Period biopics, even of famous painters, even as Oscar contenders, seldom do well at the box office.”
Box Office Results: $2.3 M
Thoughts: [Unexceptional] An art film about the art world, specifically the late life of Vincent Van Gogh, was never going to appeal to wide audiences, but even Willem Dafoe’s Oscar nomination couldn’t bolster the film’s tally.

November 23, 2018

Creed II (releases on Nov. 21, 2018)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Unlikely. Although the first film earned attention as a potential major Oscar player, it ended up with a single nomination for Sylvester Stallone in Supporting Actor. Lightning is unlikely to strike twice for the film, especially with the Academy’s aversion to sequels.”
Oscar Results: Failure. The first film didn’t do as well as expected when it pulled in a single nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The second film was already a longshot going in, but the film’s failure to quite live up to expectations may have hindered its chances, though its Oscar fortunes were never strong to begin with.
Box Office Prospects: $120 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Good. The first film did solid work at the box office. This sequel is likely to do as well or possibly even better.”
Box Office Results: $115.7 M
Thoughts: [Success] It’s rare that a sequel outperforms its predecessor, but by about $6 million, that’s what happened here. Which should guarantee a sequel.

Green Book (releases on Nov. 21, 2018)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. The Audience Award at Toronto is a good sign of Oscar contention, especially its long recent track record. However, that’s no guarantee. There are a lot of films out there that could take up similar socially conscious slots at the Oscars and it will need above average box office numbers and a strong outpouring of support from critics to do that well at the Oscars.”
Oscar Results: Success. Not only did it manage to secure several Oscar nominations, it ultimately won three, including Best Picture.
Box Office Prospects: $40 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. Good word out of the festival circuit could help the film, but it’s the kind of period drama that hasn’t always done well at the box office. The Audience Award winner at Toronto could still do decently, but won’t likely be a break-out success.”
Box Office Results: $83.9 (STILL IN LIMITED RELEASE) M
Thoughts: [Success] This middling film about a New York bigot driving a black man through the south was sure to be successful with some audiences. It did much better than expected, but looking back at similar films released thirty years ago, it was a rather anemic performance.

Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 (releases on Nov. 21, 2018)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. The first film should have won the Oscar. Unfortunately, the Academy’s antipathy towards sequels also extends towards animated films, which have performed poorly in that regard, seldom taking slots in the Best Animated Feature race. That said, there isn’t a lot of competition this year, so it could end up with a slot it might otherwise have missed out on in a stronger year, regardless of quality.”
Oscar Results: Success. The sequel curse didn’t hurt Ralph too much as it managed to pull in a deserved Best Animated Feature nomination. It didn’t win, but it was never expected to.
Box Office Prospects: $200 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Good. The first film took in $189 million at the box office. With little else in its way and the Thanksgiving holiday to boost its numbers, I suspect it may do even better than its predecessor.”
Box Office Results: $200.9 (STILL IN LIMITED RELEASE) M
Thoughts: [Success] The first film made over $189 million at the box office. Its sequel easily toppe that, though adjusted for inflation, it slightly under performed (roughly $15 million). That makes it a success.

Robin Hood (releases on Nov. 21, 2018)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: None.
Box Office Prospects: $100 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. Taron Egerton hasn’t had a lot of opportunities to prove he’s a box office draw. This might be our first indication if his popularity extends beyond the Kingsman films.”
Box Office Results: $30.8 M
Thoughts: [Flop] No one asked for this film and certainly no one was interested in it, even with the bankable Taron Egerton and Jamie Foxx in tow. The film just couldn’t come out of the shadow of myriad past, better offerings.

November 23, 2018

The Favourite (Limited)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Good. Olivia Colman is already being talked about as a guaranteed Oscar nominee. Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone could also be dragged along, as could the film’s costumes.”
Oscar Results: Success. It earned several nominations and even managed to win for Best Actress in a surprise upset over Glenn Close, the only Oscar it managed.
Box Office Prospects: $5 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. Yorgos Lanthimos’ films haven’t been successes at the box office. While this film looks more like a traditional narrative than his past outings, that might not bolster its chances. That said, the Oscars may boost the film beyond predictions.”
Box Office Results: $34.1 (STILL IN LIMITED RELEASE) M
Thoughts: [Major Success] A film that should have been a minor success on the indie circuit became an outsized hit there.

Shoplifters (Limited)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Good. That Palme d’Or could help the film make it onto the shortlist for a Best Foreign Language Film nomination and a win might not be out of the question.”
Oscar Results: Success. All the film could hope for was a Best Foreign Language Film nomination and it got it.
Box Office Prospects: $0.5 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. Hirokazu Koreeda has never made a box office hit, which speaks more to the appeal of indie foreign films at the specialty box office. This film could do better as it’s currently being discussed as a major Oscar player this year Palme d’Or win at the Cannes film festival”
Box Office Results: $3.3 (STILL IN LIMITED RELEASE) M
Thoughts: [Minor Success] It’s not often that foreign language films perform this well at the indie box office, so you have to give the film credit.

November 30, 2018

If Beale Street Could Talk (Limited)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Good. Barry Jenkins’ star is ascendant and he is very likely to make another Oscar showing with this period drama about pride and social justice. The first trailer is superb and Oscar voters will certainly want to recognize it.”
Oscar Results: Unexceptional. In spite of stellar reviews, the film never ignited with Oscar voters. While it managed three nominations and a win in Best Supporting Actress, it should have been all over the place, including Best Picture, and it wasn’t.
Box Office Prospects: $30 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Decent. Barry Jenkins made his debut with Oscar winning Best Picture Moonlight two short years ago. His follow up will likely be an Oscar player even if it’s not a major hit at the box office.”
Box Office Results: $14.9 (STILL IN LIMITED RELEASE) M
Thoughts: [Minor Flop] It should have been a major hit. The critics loved it. Audiences just couldn’t evoke the same kind of love and admiration for it.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.