Academy Awards

Oscar Predictions 2015: Chi-Raq and Trainwreck Enter the Fray

Hey all! Back for another predictions update!

In case you missed them, here are some news bits that may prove relevant during the awards season:

Photo (via TIME) by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

Amazon Studios to give Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq Oscar-qualifying run in December. The film, based on the classical Greek comedy Lysistrata, will have an official opening after the new year. The theatrical release will precede its streaming debut, in order to avoid a Beasts of No Nation-esque conflict. The film focuses on a woman (played by Teyonah Parris) who goes on a sex strike to protest black-on-black gun violence in Chicago.

The Amy Schumer-led, Judd Apatow-helmed Trainwreck soars. The acclaimed comedy surpassed its mid-teens expectations with $30.2 million – the second-best for an Apatow film, just behind Knocked Up (2007)’s $30.9 million debut. Universal Pictures may push Schumer’s original screenplay for awards consideration; the actress-writer may also find herself in the best-actress conversation – at least at the Golden Globes, right?

Bill Condon’s Mr. Holmes wins the specialty box office. The film, led by Ian McKellen as an aging Sherlock Holmes battling senility and grappling with an unsolved case, made $2.49 million from just 363 locations. If the drama continues to succeed in the coming weeks, we may have another legitimate contender for the best actor Oscar.

Fox Searchlight sets Jean-Marc Vallée’s Demolition for April 6, 2016. With Jake Gyllenhaal as the lead and Naomi Watts and Chris Cooper in supporting roles, this looked like another awards magnet for Vallée, but maybe this will be a commercial hit next year. The distributor still has contenders in Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth, John Crowley’s Brooklyn, Luca Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash, and Noah Baumbach’s Mistress America.

Sony Pictures Classics pulls The Lady in the Van from its 2015 slate. Once set for limited release on December 11, the drama looked like an Oscar vehicle for Maggie Smith, who reprises her Olivier Award-nominated role as a woman who lived in a man’s driveway for 15 years. No word on a new release date, but I imagine it will make its mark early next year. SPC probably pushed Lady back to make room for other best-actress contenders.

Now, this week’s predictions:

 
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Jean-Marc Vallée’s Demolition to Arrive in 2016

jakegyllenhaal_demolition-setA photo of Jake Gyllenhaal on the set of Jean-Marc Vallée’s Demolition (via Lainey Gossip)

Fox Searchlight has set Jean-Marc Vallée’s Demolition for theatrical release on April 6, 2016. Jake Gyllenhaal leads the Bryan Sipe-scripted dramedy as an investment banker who disconnects from life following his wife’s tragic death; Naomi Watts and Chris Cooper also star in the film.

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Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq for Amazon Gets Oscar Run

spikeleeA photo of Spike Lee (via Sportsnaut)

Amazon Studios will give Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq, which updates the classical Greek comedy Lysistrata, an Oscar-qualifying theatrical run in December and an official opening after the new year, according to The Hollywood Reporter. This theatrical release will precede its streaming debut, in order to avoid a situation similar to major exhibitors’ boycott of Netflix’s Beasts of No Nation.

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The Lady in the Van Held Up in Traffic, Pushed to 2016

maggiesmith_ladyinthevan2Maggie Smith as she appears in Nicholas Hytner’s The Lady in the Van (via The Guardian)

Sony Pictures Classics has pulled Nicholas Hytner’s The Lady in the Van from its 2015 slate, according to Deadline Hollywood. Once set for limited release on December 11, the film looked like an Oscar vehicle for Maggie Smith, who plays a woman who lived in a man’s driveway for 15 years. She originated the role in the Olivier Award-nominated West End play in 1999. No word on a new release date, but I imagine it will make its mark early next year.

SPC probably pushed Lady back to make room for other best-actress contenders, such as Marielle Heller’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl with Bel Powley, Paul Weitz’s Grandma with Lily Tomlin, and James Vanderbilt’s Truth with Cate Blanchett – all of which may make waves in additional races. James Kent’s Testament of Youth with breakout star Alicia Vikander may turn some heads, too.

I will update my Oscar-predictions pages accordingly over the next few days. In the meantime, check out the trailer for Lady below and see how you feel about the delayed release.

Oscar Predictions 2015: Minions Wreak Box-Office Havoc

minions_pic“Well, I’ve already won an Oscar, but I suppose you three might get a nomination.”

Hey all! Back for another predictions update!

In case you missed them, here are some news bits that may prove relevant during the awards season:

Minions marks the second-biggest opening of an animated feature. The Despicable Me spinoff raked in an estimated $115.2 million over the weekend, easily trumping fellow openers The Gallows and Self/Less. Critics found less to enjoy in Minions than audiences, but it’s foolish to write it off as an animated feature contender, as Despicable Me 2 (2013) sneaked in due to its commercial success.

Baltasar Kormákur’s Everest will kick off the Venice Film Festival. This gig puts Everest in the company of fellow Venice openers Birdman (last year’s best picture winner), Gravity (2013 picture nominee), and The Ides of March (2011 adapted screenplay nominee). Universal Pictures will release the film in IMAX and premium-large format 3D theaters on September 18, 2015, and in theaters across the United States on September 25, 2015.

Netflix dates Cary Fukunaga’s Beasts of No Nation. The child-soldier drama gets a day-and-date release on October 16, 2015 – the same day Bridge of Spies, Crimson Peak, and Goosebumps hit theaters nationwide. Netflix will team up with distributor Bleecker Street for theatrical distribution, though major exhibitors are reluctant to carry the film due to the day-and-date release.

Ennio Morricone will score Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight. The auteur dropped this news at Sand Diego Comic Con last week; it will be Morricone’s first score for a Western in 40 years. Update your original score predictions accordingly.

Dr. Dre commissioned new music for Straight Outta Compton. The soundtrack for the N.W.A. biopic will feature original music from Dr. Dre as well as Eminem (who also exec produced the soundtrack for this year’s Southpaw) and Kendrick Lamar; no clue on whether they feature on or get their own tracks. Regardless, expect one or two tracks to gain original song buzz if eligible.

“See You Again” from Furious 7 tops the Billboard Hot 100 for a 12th week. It now ties the Black Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow” (2009) and Eminem’s Oscar-winning “Lose Yourself” (2002) as the longest-leading rap No. 1 in the history of the Billboard Hot 100. This can only help Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s rap ballad stand out among the power players (Diane Warren, for instance) in the mix.

Now, this week’s predictions:

 
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Netflix Dates Beasts of No Nation

elba_beasts

Netflix has set Cary Fukunaga’s child-soldier drama Beasts of No Nation, starring Idris Elba and Abraham Attah, for a day-and-date (i.e., streaming and theatrical) release on October 16, 2015. The streaming company has teamed with film distributor Bleecker Street for the theatrical release, though most major exhibitors refuse to screen Beasts due to its day-and-date release.

The film opens the same day as fellow Oscar contenders Bridge of Spies from Steven Spielberg and Crimson Peak from Guillermo del Toro as well as the Jack Black-led Goosebumps film. One wonders whether the unlikelihood of a nationwide theatrical release will hurt Beasts‘s chances at Oscar glory. (Maybe if Netflix reports its streaming numbers…)

Venice Film Festival Begins with Everest

everest_pic

Baltasar Kormákur’s Everest will kick off the Venice Film Festival on September 2, 2015. This prestigious gig puts the disaster pic in the company of previous openers Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman (last year’s best picture winner), Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity (2013), and George Clooney’s The Ides of March (2011). Then again, Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist opened the fest in 2012…

So, is Everest a contender or a pretender? It almost goes without saying that the film focuses on how a severe snow storm devastates a climbing expedition on (what else?) Mt. Everest. Keira Knightley, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Robin Wright star in the film. Universal Pictures will release the film in IMAX and premium-large format 3D theaters on September 18, 2015, and in theaters across the United States on September 25, 2015.