2019 Oscar Season Preview Wrap-Up: December

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.

December 6, 2019

The Aeronauts

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. While the production certain looks like something that could compete in Production Design and Costume Design categories, the wind hasn’t caught this balloon and sent it into the Oscar stratosphere, so it’s probably not getting anything in that regard.”
Oscar Results: Failure. The film ultimately didn’t make a sufficient impression to earn Oscar consideration.
Box Office Prospects: $35 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. This aeronautical adventure might have been a box office draw two decades ago, but today, it all sounds too odd to make much of a run at the box office.”
Box Office Results: $N/A M
Thoughts: The film saw a limited release, but not in a theater that reported box office numbers.

A Million Little Pieces

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $2 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Weak. There has been little in the way of advertising for this film and the subject matter might be too depressing for a massive box office success, especially with no Oscar buzz to go with it.”
Box Office Results: $N/A M
Thoughts: The film saw a limited release, but not in a theater that reported box office numbers.

Playmobil: The Movie

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None. The film wasn’t even submitted to the Academy for Consideration.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $80 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. Animated films, even bad ones, have proven potent at the box office in recent years, but I cannot fathom a film based on an intellectual property that’s hardly popular could be much of a success.”
Box Office Results: $1.1 M
Thoughts: [Major Flop] With almost no advertising and a property that doesn’t lend itself well to mass audience approval, this film was a sensational flop.

Marriage Story (Limited)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Excellent. This film has been building all the right buzz and is sure to be one of the year’s prominent players.”
Oscar Results: Success. The film did incredibly well with Oscar voters, but managed to go home with a single trophy for Best Supporting Actress (Laura Dern)
Box Office Prospects: $30 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Good. In terms of the specialty box office, a film like this can ride buzz and Oscar attention through a platform release to strong box office numbers. I expect that to occur.”
Box Office Results: $N/A M
Thoughts: As a Netflix release, it was never pushed to theaters.

December 13, 2019

Black Christmas

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $75 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Good. While the 1980s had a lot of strong Christmas-themed horror premises, the offerings since have been minimal, giving this film a strong chance of making a lot of money if it’s any good.”
Box Office Results: $10.4 M
Thoughts: [Flop] This Christmas-themed horror film didn’t seem to click with audiences.

Jumanji: The Next Level

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $350 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Excellent. The first film was a huge success at the box office, hence the sequel. The chances for this film to soar at the box office are high.”
Box Office Results: $316.8 M
Thoughts: [Success] It wasn’t quite as successful as expected, but the end result is still strong.

A Hidden Life (Limited)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. It’s the best reviewed Terrence Malick film in years, but hasn’t been building as much buzz as it should have by now. Cinematography, like with all Malick films, should be considered even if the film isn’t competing elsewhere.”
Oscar Results: Failure. The film just couldn’t pick up enough steam going into the Oscars where several slots seemed to be locked.
Box Office Prospects: $8 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Good. Terrence Malick has a fanbase that should turn out regardless. If the film is an Oscar nominee, it might goose the final tally some as well.”
Box Office Results: $1.7 M
Thoughts: [Unexceptional] It isn’t surprising that the film didn’t quite appeal to audiences, but with no consideration for Oscar, it didn’t have a chance to get a boost.

Richard Jewell (Limited)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. Never underestimate a late-year appearance by Clint Eastwood. However, the film doesn’t have the kind of subject matter that usually appeals to the Academy and Eastwood hasn’t had a major Oscar success in a few years.”
Oscar Results: Minor Success. The film managed to secure a single nomination for Best Supporting Actress (Kathy Bates) and it had no chance at winning.
Box Office Prospects: $35 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Weak. Clint Eastwood’s films can be box office juggernauts, but usually only if there’s a major star at the front. This film doesn’t have that and the subject matter doesn’t make it sound like much of a box office player.”
Box Office Results: $22.3 M
Thoughts: [Major Flop] You would think that a Clint Eastwood film that excoriates the media and the FBI would have been catnip to a certain demographic, but they long ago proved that they won’t show up to just anything.

Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (Limited)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None. The film wasn’t submitted for Oscar consideration, so it’s out.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $20 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Unexceptional. The first adaptation of the TV series wasn’t terribly successful, so I wouldn’t expect much from it sequel.”
Box Office Results: $N/A M
Thoughts: The film never ended up in general release.

Uncut Gems (Limited)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. Everyone seems to keep buzzing about Adam Sandler being a contender, but so far I’ve not seen a materialization of support. If he makes a run through the critics awards, that might change the narrative.”
Oscar Results: Failure. In spite of strong approval by critics, Adam Sandler couldn’t downplay his comic persona enough to get Oscar voters to take him seriously. If he does another film like this, they just might.
Box Office Prospects: $15 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. There aren’t a lot of examples of dramatic films that Adam Sandler’s done to give us an idea of how this will perform. The best is his performance in Punch-Drunk Love and I don’t expect this one to perform that well.”
Box Office Results: $50 M
Thoughts: [Success] With a limited release, the film managed to earn a sizable box office tally without being a typical box office draw.

December 20, 2019

Bombshell

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. The film has the kind of subject matter that the Academy might jump on with enthusiasm. With four Oscar-nominated/winning actors in the cast, that’s an even bigger boon. Yet, the film hasn’t caught on in a measurable way yet, which might suggest it isn’t a competitor after all.”
Oscar Results: Success. The film earned three Oscar nominations, two in acting and one in the category it eventually won: Best Makeup & Hairstyling. The film wasn’t well liked, so this was probably the best it could have hoped for.
Box Office Prospects: $65 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. It’s a film for the times, which could elevate its popularity with audiences, but it could just as easily not matter much to them. Can this one perform like Adam McKay’s The Big Short or will it perform like McKay’s Vice. My inclination is to believe the former, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the latter.”
Box Office Results: $31.8 M
Thoughts: [Flop] Everything about this film just felt like it was trying too hard to please numerous people and ended up pleasing none, thus the failure at the box office.

Cats

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Unknown. The film has a lot of Oscar nominees and winners in its cast and the director is an Oscar winner, but no one ha seen hide nor hair of the film ahead of its mid-December release, which either means that the Visual Effects are still being tinkered with or the film is a dud and will be savaged by critics.”
Oscar Results: Failure. The film really didn’t have a lot going for it going into the Oscars and the disastrous reviews and anemic box office solidified its lack of success.
Box Office Prospects: $150 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. This is the biggest unknown of the year. With critics not having seen it, and a trailer that has left some cold and others excited, it’s impossible to tell which way the wind will blow. If the critics ravage it, then it could still do well, just not as well as something like Chicago once did. If the critics declare it to be the best thing since sliced bread, it could be a blockbuster, which would then make it an Oscar contender.”
Box Office Results: $27.2 M
Thoughts: [Major Flop] When critics destroy you and audiences don’t understand you, even one of the most popular musicals in theater history cannot overcome bad word of mouth.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Good. While this film franchise has had an uneven history with the Academy, each film has competed in a number of categories. This being the last of the third trilogy could bolster its potential in several categories. That said, unless they want to give parting nominations to John Williams or any of the cast, the likelihood of it picking up more than a couple nominations isn’t great.”
Oscar Results: Success. While the film didn’t win any awards, it earned three expected nominations in Original Score, Sound Editing, and Visual Effects.
Box Office Prospects: $700 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Excellent. While The Last Jedi was savaged by fans because it was too dark and did other things they didn’t like, this new movie is sure to have “learned the lesson” of its predecessor. That it’s directed by J.J. Abrams whose lack of creativity allows him to mimic every other film director out there, thus impressing audiences (but not necessarily critics), it’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Whether it can top its predecessors remains to be seen, though.”
Box Office Results: $515.2 M
Thoughts: [Success] The mediocre reviews and the fickle nature of Star Wars fans ultimately led the film to a rather disappointing tank even though it was still a huge success.

December 25, 2019

Little Women

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Good. Early word is strong for this film and Greta Gerwig is a previous Oscar nominee for Directing. That alone gives the film a bit of gravitas. This is likely to be a solid Oscar contender this year even if Oscar wins aren’t necessarily likely.”
Oscar Results: Success. Six Oscar nominations were secured by this well received the film, including Best Picture, but once again its director was ignored by the sexist Directors Branch of the Academy. It managed to pull off one award for Costume Design even though it deserved many more.
Box Office Prospects: $50 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Good. With director Greta Gerwig’s prior success Lady Bird and the literary work’s familiarity and continued popularity, this film is sure to perform in line with both Lady Bird and the 1994 version’s numbers”
Box Office Results: $108.1 M
Thoughts: [Major Success] While a moderate success was expected, it far exceeded expectations.

Spies in Disguise

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. While it has been submitted to the Academy for consideration in Animated Feature, the film itself hasn’t screened yet, which isn’t a good sign. Further, the Animated Feature race is rather off-kilter this year, so it could either be a contender or be ignored. The critics might make that determination for the film.”
Oscar Results: Failure. With mediocre reviews and a fairly set slate for Best Animated Feature, the film never really seemed to have a chance.
Box Office Prospects: $200 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Good. Even though it looks rather silly, that’s just what audiences like when it comes to animated features and although it’s a far cry from the quality output of Pixar or Laika or DreamWorks or other better studios, this Blue Sky release is sure to earn lots of box office receipts even if it’s not very good.”
Box Office Results: $66.8 M
Thoughts: [Major Flop] Without critics in your corner, even notable talent cannot make a success out of something that was destined to fail.

1917 (Limited)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Good. Sam Mendes’ World War I film has gotten solid early reviews and has all the earmarks of a major Oscar contender.”
Oscar Results: Major Success. An impressive ten Oscar nominations greeted Sam Mendes’ Best Picture frontrunner, but the film’s annointment by the Academy was not to be where it had to settle for three Oscars for Cinematography, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects.
Box Office Prospects: $65 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Good. War films can do well at the box office even when they are about wars the US didn’t participate in. There’s a universality of the struggles of soldiers on the battlefield that make them engaging. While it won’t be as successful as something like Saving Private Ryan or Dunkirk, it should do quite well if it’s bolstered by strong reviews, unlike the recent release Midway.”
Box Office Results: $159.2 M
Thoughts: [Major Success] It was a bit of a stretch to suggest a film like 1917 could be a box office hit, especially since it was a British-set World War I film. Yet, it managed to parlay its strong reviews and Oscar contention into a very sizable box office take.

Just Mercy (Limited)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. While there has been some chatter about the film’s Oscar potential, namely for its leads, the early buzz from the festivals has largely died out as bigger films had emerged since. That doesn’t mean the film is out of luck, but it needs to rebuild its support quickly if it wants to contend.”
Oscar Results: Failure. Although the film received decent reviews, the Academy had already formed much of its slate by the time this film released and without a box office success, it just couldn’t materialized consideration.
Box Office Prospects: $40 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. There is a lot of potential here if the film is well managed and, especially, if it becomes an Oscar contender, but it’s also the kind of film that will do decently, but not exceptionally as the final numbers roll in.”
Box Office Results: $36 M
Thoughts: [Unexceptional] The film just couldn’t overcome its TV series-inspired style and that was likely its biggest weakness.

December 27, 2019

Clemency (Limited)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. Alfre Woodard has received terrific reviews for her performance, but the Best Actress race is fierce this year, so it’s possible, even probable, that she’s ignored.”
Oscar Results: Failure. There wasn’t a likelihood of Woodard pulling off a nomination, which makes this result unsurprising.
Box Office Prospects: $15 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. Like Just Mercy, this film about legal injustice has potential, but while Alfre Woodard is a great actress, she’s not as much of a box office draw as Just Mercy‘s Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx are, thus the lower prediction threshold.”
Box Office Results: $0.365 M
Thoughts: [Flop] The film was poorly advertised and there never seemed to be enough interest in the film even if it had decent reviews.

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