2019 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 1, 2019

Arctic Dogs

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: None.
Box Office Prospects: $20 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Weak. This terrible-looking animated feature didn’t even show up on the Academy’s list of Animated Feature submissions, suggesting it’s either too awful to be selected or is about to get pushed into next year. Whatever the reason, it looks like a flop in the making.”
Box Office Results: $5.8 M
Thoughts: [Minor Flop] This animated adventure looked terrible from the start. It’s no surprise it didn’t inspire audiences to give it a shot.

Harriet

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Weak. Early Oscar buzz has faded dramatically after it was seen at the Toronto Film Festival thanks to lukewarm reviews. Cynthia Erivo coud still be a Best Actress contender, but her chances are quite diminished.”
Oscar Results: Nominated. The film received nominations for Best Actress and Best Original Song. It went home empty-handed.
Box Office Prospects: $35 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. Why this film is releasing wide is anyone’s guess. A platform release might generate more success. That said, it’s just not the kind of film that does blockbuster business. Even 12 Years a Slave, which got significantly better reviews, only made $56 million and it was an Oscar contender. That said, it’s entirely possible that the far more famous Harriet Tubman could generate sufficient business, but I’m doubtful.”
Box Office Results: $43.1 M
Thoughts: [Minor Success] The film wasn’t well marketed and critics weren’t incredibly supportive, but the film did well with its target demo.

Motherless Brooklyn

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Weak. Edward Norton’s film received a tepid response from critics, which pretty much dooms a film that no one had high expectations for in the first place.”
Oscar Results: None.
Box Office Prospects: $2 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Weak. This film was never a likely contender for a box office crown. It’s currently listed as a potential wide release, but my suspicion is that it’s dropped to limited release or flops miserably in wide.”
Box Office Results: $9.3 M
Thoughts: [Unexceptional] Actor Edward Norton’s second directorial effort in 19 years wasn’t beloved by critics, but it made a decent run at the specialty box office.

Terminator: Dark Fate

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. The second Terminator film was a big player at the Oscars in the tech categories, but a lot has changed and the effects are no longer revolutionary, which could hinder its chances this year.”
Oscar Results: None.
Box Office Prospects: $200 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Good. The Terminator frachise, even when not living up to expectations, still pulls in a decent amount of money at the box office. This one could be particularly impressive since it brings in the original cast.”
Box Office Results: $62.3 M
Thoughts: [Flop] Recapturing the success of the first two films has proven impossible for this franchise even bringing back original stars Arnold Schwarzeneggar and Linda Hamilton didn’t move the needle any.

Waves (Limited)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Good. The film earned strong reviews at Telluride and Toronto festivals and has a pretty decent shot of being one of the year’s big players. A strong box office performance could boost the film.”
Oscar Results: None.
Box Office Prospects: $10 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. Releasing limited and platforming could be a viable strategy for a film like this, building buzz into Oscar season. That said, it will need to make a lot of money fast to generate box office numbers beyond expectations.”
Box Office Results: $1.7 M
Thoughts: [Flop] It was an excellent film with soldid reviews; however, it seemed like the studio didn’t know hot to market it, so rather than becoming the next Moonlight, it became quickly forgotten.

November 8, 2019

Doctor Sleep

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: None.
Box Office Prospects: $50 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. Stephen King films have had an uneven history at the box office. While It and its sequel did huge business, the remake of Pet Sematary was a flop. This film, based on a late-career novel by King may not have the cachet of his earlier works, which will hinder its box office prospects.”
Box Office Results: $31.6 M
Thoughts: [Flop] Stephen King isn’t the balm to soothe all box office maladies. Although his It adaptation did terrific box office, his Shining sequel couldn’t materialize interest in audiences.

Last Christmas

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: None.
Box Office Prospects: $65 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. The November release seems ill-advised for a film that is set during the Christmas holidays. So, its chances might be muted a bit, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a lot of box office potential.”
Box Office Results: $35.2 M
Thoughts: [Flop] A Christmas romantic comedy released in November, the studio had to realize it was botching the roll out. The poor reviews may have explained that reasoning, though.

Midway

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. This is an uncharacteristically weighty subject for an Emmerich film, so it could have potential, but only if critics support it. The film could make inroads in some tech categories, but again disastrous reviews or box office could kill it, especially against a likely superior effort in 1917, a film from a different war, but from a more respected filmmaker.”
Oscar Results: None.
Box Office Prospects: $100 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Good. Roland Emmerich is nothing if not a showman and his films, even if they aren’t always the highest of quality, can often perform well at the box office when they delve heavily into the action. This film looks like standard-issue Emmerich fare, which means it has a decent shot at box office glory, even without critical support.”
Box Office Results: $56.8 M
Thoughts: [Flop] Roland Emmerich isn’t the box office draw he once was. Even tackling a World War II drama with heavy action sequences wasn’t enough to stoke support from the public.

Playing with Fire

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: None.
Box Office Prospects: $85 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. John Cena is trying his damnedest to follow in the footsteps of Dwayne Johnson, but his efforts have largely been in vain. While he’s following a similar trajectory, films like this don’t boost his credentials, especially since it looks particularly cheesy. That doesn’t mean it won’t succeed. It just means that it won’t be a huge blockbuster.”
Box Office Results: $44.5 M
Thoughts: [Flop] Arnold Schwarzeneggar’s box office rein in the late 1980s and early 1990s and the modern surge in popularity of Dwayne Johnson have made it seem like other former wrestlers can make a go of it and with predictably terrible success. Take for example this John Cena flop.

November 15, 2019

Charlie’s Angels

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: None.
Box Office Prospects: $100 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. When the TV series Charlie’s Angels was first adapted to the big screen, it generated $125 million at the box office. That was with big names like Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore in the cast. This time, the biggest name is Kristen Stewart and I’m not sure that’s enough. That said, it coud still do quite well if it’s even marginally good.”
Box Office Results: $17.8 M
Thoughts: [Major Flop] The original TV series is cherished. The Drew Barrymore/Lucy Liu/Cameron Diaz films were quite popular. Yet, with three actresses of unproven box office flair managed to make this poorly-planned and advertised reboot a huge flop.

Ford v. Ferrari

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. The film hasn’t gotten enough press, but it’s a prestige picture and that should bolster its chances at the Oscars. That the critics have liked it should give it a small boost.”
Oscar Results: Nominated & Won. Nominated for Best Picture along with three other nominations. It won two categories, Film Editing and Sound Editing.
Box Office Prospects: $70 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. It’s a prestige pic, but it’s being advertised as a piece of mass entertainment. That could be just enough to make it a modest hit.”
Box Office Results: $117.6 M
Thoughts: [Success] Racing films haven’t had a lot of success recently, but this Matt Damon/Christian Bale us vs. them drama managed to pique the curiosity of many a moviegoer and a surprise hit was born.

The Good Liar

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. Bill Condon is a terrific filmmaker, but his films haven’t been Oscar contenders since Dreamgirls. This might be a return to form for him, though the film’s lack of screening on the festival circuit might suggest trouble. At least its stars should be in competition if nothing else.”
Oscar Results: None.
Box Office Prospects: $25 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. Bill Condon is a terrific filmmaker, but his films rarely ever do well at the box office, and this one doesn’t seem to have the kind of cachet needed to do much business.”
Box Office Results: $17.2 M
Thoughts: [Flop] Bill Condon isn’t a box office draw. He’s made movies that have done well at the box office, but he wasn’t the reason for those successes. As such, this adaptation, which wasn’t well advertised, didn’t get the greatest reviews and was roundly ignored by audiences.

November 22, 2019

21 Bridges

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: None.
Box Office Prospects: $65 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. We’ve seen a number of cop dramas like this in the past and there’s little in the trailer to suggest much is different, so other than a marginal success, I wouldn’t expect too much.”
Box Office Results: $28.5 M
Thoughts: [Flop] Releasing ahead of Thanksgiving can be a box office boon for some films, but against an animated titan and a gentle exploration of quiet strength, this thriller just couldn’t carve out enough interest from the public.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Good. The pedigree of the film and the cast is enough to propel it into consideration. Early reviews are incredibly strong making it a major contender.”
Oscar Results: Nominated. It pulled of a single nomination for Tom Hanks in Best Supporting Actor. He did not win.
Box Office Prospects: $45 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. It’s starting wide just prior to Thanksgiving, that could give it a chance, but Frozen II might drown it out at the box office. That said, it’s the kind of feel-good film that could buck expectations and become a bona fide adult holiday hit.”
Box Office Results: $61.7 M
Thoughts: [Minor Success] It wasn’t bound to be a huge success because the biopic subject matter isn’t often catnip for audiences. Yet, this film managed to pull of a strong box office outing thanks in large part to the affability of supporting actor Tom Hanks and part due to the subject matter, namely the legendary Fred Rogers.

Frozen II

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Good. With lukewarm competition so far this year, a nomination should be all but assured. A win might be more difficult, but is still highly possible.”
Oscar Results: Nominated. While it did pick up one nomination, it was only in Original Song, not in the Animated Feature category.
Box Office Prospects: $375 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Excellent. While there might not be a gargantuan hit song out of the film like the predecessor’s “Let It Go,” that shouldn’t stop the film from being a huge hit over the Thanksgiving holiday and well into the Christmas season.”
Box Office Results: $477.4 M
Thoughts: [Major Success] You had to expect a sequel to a major animated hit would be a box office smash and it was, outstripping my personal expectations by $100 million.

Dark Waters (Limited)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. No one has seen it yet, but Haynes has made a lot of terrific films and his films have gotten several Oscar nominations. Yet, Wonderstruck proved that critics and even Oscar voters don’t always bite. That said, the important topic at the heart of the film could help with its Oscar chances, especially if critics are in love with it. Its absence from the festival circuit, though, could be a problem.”
Oscar Results: None.
Box Office Prospects: $10 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Weak. Todd Haynes’ biggest box office success was Far from Heaven in 2002. That film made $15 million ($24 million by today’s standards). His second most popular film, and the only other one to top $10 million, was Carol four years ago. This film looks slightly more accessible than those films, but without critical acclaim, I doubt the film crackes $10 million.”
Box Office Results: $11.1 M
Thoughts: [Unexceptional] If only Todd Haynes’ box office capabilities matched his cinematic artistry, his films would be huge successes. That said, this one performed about as expected for one of his movies, especially one that could have been an Oscar player, but never turned into one.

November 27, 2019

Knives Out

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Nominated. It received one nomination for Original Screenplay. It did not win.
Box Office Prospects: $70 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. Rian Johnson’s only major box office success was as director of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Beyond that, he’s only got three prior films and two were poor performers at the box office. His closest comparison here is Looper, which pulled in $66 million seven years ago. That’s enough to suggest that he can create popular entertainment and with this cast, he could do about as well this time too.”
Box Office Results: $165.4 M
Thoughts: [Major Success] Rian Johnson, hot off his Star Wars success returned to the smaller-scale style with this murder mystery comedy that proved surprising successful even if it wasn’t as clever as it thought it was.

Queen & Slim

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: None.
Box Office Prospects: $7 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Weak. Releasing the weekend after Thanksgiving isn’t generally a good sign and this film doesn’t have the kind of compelling magnetism that would allow it to be much of a hit.”
Box Office Results: $43.8 M
Thoughts: [Success] This is not the kind of film that’s easy to market and the black Bonie and Clyde concept wasn’t probably the greatest idea. That said, on a smaller budget with low expectations, this film rode its praise to surprise small-scale box office success.

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