The Oscar Project
For everyone in the United States, happy Thanksgiving a few days early!
This week brings the largest list of wide releases since mid-summer and there are some true contenders in the pack. I would say at least half of the films releasing this week in wide OR limited outings will be in consideration for Oscar nominations come January with several being complete shoe-ins for their categories.
I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and that you get to see some movies over the long weekend!
The Rocky franchise returns to the big screen this holiday week with the sequel to 2015's Creed which featured Michael B. Jordan as the son of Rocky's friend and in-ring foe Apollo Creed. In this film, we pick up in a similar spot as we did early in the Rocky films with Adonis (Jordan) starting to build a reputation and a family, thus giving him more to lose when he faces his fiercest foe yet, the son of Ivan Drago, the man who killed his father in Rocky IV.
It's clear that these films have taken on a more serious tone than what we saw with the original Stallone films in the 70s and 80s, and we can also see that Jordan has been working out, putting on some weight and plenty of raw muscle to transform himself from Killmonger in Black Panther to the Adonis Johnson we see in this film.
In terms of the Oscars, I'm not sure that there will be any nominations coming for this film. Stallone received a nomination for Best Supporting Actor for the first Creed film, but I feel like that was a one time thing and won't be repeated with this film. Jordan is usually very strong, but I'm not sure he can sustain the character enough for a nomination for the Lead Actor category against other strong options.
The Front Runner
I feel like we haven't heard from Hugh Jackman in a little while, but I"m excited to see a film like this be his return to the big screen. I am personally a little young to remember details of Gary Hart's run for president in 1988, but the information I've read about leading up to this film makes me want to learn more.
Jackman plays Gary Hart, a senator from Colorado who was running for president in 1988 before dropping out of the race amid allegations of an extramarital affair. What intrigues me about a film like this is that we've seen so many examples of behavior like this from other politicians, including one who was already IN the White House. Some have evaded the scandals while others fall to the pressure and attention their actions bring, but the one thing that often gets left out of the picture is the impact on the families involved.
I think there is a tie for the film releasing this week that I want to see most and this is one of the two. I love seeing actors that I'm familiar with in one type of role take on something completely different and I think that is true of both Mahershala Ali playing pianist Don Shirley and Viggo Mortensen playing Tony Vallelonga in this film.
I loved Ali in Moonlight and totally believe he deserved the Oscar win from two years ago. Having also seen him in the last two Hunger Games films, the image I have of his roles is a bit harder than what he portrays in Green Book. Similarly, the visions I have of Mortensen are overwhelmingly of him with long curly hair and a worn face as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings films and as the cruel Master Chief in G.I. Jane so to see him with a thick New York accent, and having put on a few pounds to boot, is a bit of a shock to the system.
In terms of Oscar potential, I'm not sure if this falls into Best Original or Best Adapted screenplay, but either one will see a good chance of a nomination. Ali and Mortensen could both be nominated, though hopefully not against each other both in the Lead Actor category. The film has already won a bevy of awards across the festival circuit and I have a feeling some nominations are forthcoming from The Academy as well.
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Yes, this is the OTHER film releasing this week that I have been looking forward to seeing ever since hearing about it. I am a huge fan of the original from 2012 with it's myriad references to classic video and arcade games that I grew up playing and loving. This film looks to take that feeling and expand it to something else I've loved using and playing with over the past 20 years, the internet!
Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) return and must go on an adventure to the internet to find a part to replace the broken steering wheel of Vanellope's game, Sugar Rush. Also returning at Fix-It Felix (Jack McBrayer) and Calhoun (Jane Lynch) from the original cast while we see a number of new faces including Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, and Alfred Molina joining the voice cast.
The one thing I think we can count on for this film is plenty of inside jokes and pop culture. You've likely heard about the inclusion of all of the previous Disney princesses having a slumber party with Vanellope which brings back most of the original voices and there is at least one trailer which features another Disney property, stormtroopers from Star Wars. Beyond this though, I think there will be a greater message about our society and our reliance on the internet that will go over the heads of most children, and unfortunately many adults.
In terms of the nominations, you can bet on Ralph receiving a nomination for Best Animated Feature and I think it will give Incredibles 2 a strong run for its money for the win in that category. The only other potential category I could see would be an Original Song or Original Soundtrack nomination. I would personally love to see Imagine Dragons get nominated for their song "Zero", just to be able to see them perform it live at the Oscars in February.
As if we didn't need another Robin Hood film, Hollywood is happy to oblige every few years. I did a quick search on Wikipedia and came up with no less than 11 films about the famous Robin of Loxley including the 1938 version with Errol Flynn, the animated version Disney released in 1973, Kevin Costner's 1991 Prince of Thieves, and of course Mel Brooks's parody from 1993, Men in Tights.
This newest version features Taron Egerton (Kingsman, Sing) in the title role with assistance from Jamie Foxx as Yahya/John, Tim Minchin as Friar Tuck, and Jamie Dornan as Will in their fight against Ben Mendelsohn's evil Sheriff of Nottingham. While I appreciate the ability to endlessly adapt the Robin Hood story for film, I have doubts as to whether this version can hold up to Prince of Thieves as the modern gold standard. It's hard to find a better supporting cast than Morgan Freeman and Christian Slater in the band of merry men, fighting against Alan Rickman's classic portrayal of the Sheriff of Nottingham. And top that off with Sean Connery showing up as King Richard and you pretty much hold all the cards. The only possible exception was Patrick Steward as Richard in Men in Tights, but we're splitting hairs at that point.
I'm just a film buff who wants to watch great movies. Where else to find the best, than the list of those nominated by the Academy each year?