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OSCAR CIRCUIT: ‘Lady Bird’ Flying High for the Awards Season, Harrelson Joins Rockwell in Supporting Actor

The box office argument has circled the awards community for years, splitting it in whether or not “money matters.”  You can point to examples like “Titanic” and “Avatar” as their place on the all-timers list likely led to their Oscar embrace.  However, you can then look at something like “The Avengers” that was not helped in the slightest at the time, only mustering a single nomination.

Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird” has been a joy to watch on the moneymaking side of the season as it cracked the Top 10 this past weekend in just 37 theaters with a $32,000 per theater average.  Still sitting at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, with 116 reviews counted, it’s becoming the story of the year.  In the latest Oscar Predictions update, it was hard not to be tempted to put the screenplay in the #1 spot in Original Screenplay, and I took the bait.  The film seems positioned to become a possible critical darling a la “Sideways” in 2004.  When a film like that starts plowing through the season, a “consolation-type” prize comes through, and it usually occurs in Screenplay.

The problem with this theory is that “Lady Bird” will be going against the presumed Best Picture frontrunner “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.”  For four out of the last five years now, we’ve seen the Best Picture and Director prizes split, and a heavy consensus feels like we could be in for it yet again (with Guillermo del Toro possibly nabbing the trophy for “The Shape of Water“).  The larger question is, what other awards could “Three Billboards” take home?  Sam Rockwell currently stands at the top in Supporting Actor, recently accompanied by his co-star Woody Harrelson who will become the first pair to be nominated from the same film since “Bugsy” in 1991.  Outside of that, the film hopes to contend with Frances McDormand in Best Actress, Jon Gregory in Film Editing, and perhaps even Carter Burwell in Original Score.

Back to the original point regarding “Lady Bird” and what it could win — Looking back at the 2014 awards season where “Birdman,” “Boyhood,” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” we all looked for a way for writer/directors Alejandro G. Inarritu, Richard Linklater, and Wes Anderson to all walk out with Oscars.  In the end, Inarritu walked out with three big prizes (Picture, Director, and Original Screenplay).  I bring this up because Patricia Arquette’s performance of “Boyhood” ended up being the film’s sole recognition.  In a wide open Supporting Actress race this year, we could be moving towards the recognition of “Lady Bird” becoming Emmy winner Laurie Metcalf as the spicy and overbearing mother.

I’ve maintained that “Last Flag Flying” would have a good shot at a Best Picture nomination if it took off at the box office.  While the film hasn’t lit up the box office in limited release, I still believe that middle America will eat the film up, emulating the “American Sniper” route of the awards season.  It’s still valid for nominations in the acting categories namely Steve Carell and Bryan Cranston, along with a near assured Adapted Screenplay nod considering the weakness of the group.

Offering my “expert services” to studios in the form of this column, I would tell NEON to put the pedal to the floor for “I, Tonya” – considering the film can catch on big with the Academy as the “lighter” choice.

Warner Bros. needs to continue to push “Dunkirk” but don’t forget about “Blade Runner 2049,” which could easily snag anywhere between three and six tech nominations easily, which would benefit a run for director Denis Villeneuve and Best Picture.

Tom Hanks (as Ben Bradlee) and Meryl Streep (as Kay Graham) star in Twentieth Century Fox’s THE POST. Photo Credit: Niko Tavernise.

20th Century Fox is ready to unveil Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” this upcoming weekend, and with a massive embargo in place (until further notice), you’ll have to read into the prediction shuffle after Sunday to try to decipher our thoughts.

A representative for A24 has said they have “made it their mission” to get James Franco an Oscar nomination for “The Disaster Artist” and they have a great shot considering he looks primed for a Golden Globe win in Best Actor (Comedy or Musical).  Keep it up A24.  The film could do even more we suspect.

Annapurna Pictures is ready to make their mark on the year with “Detroit” getting a re-release and I think we’re underestimating Will Poulter’s chances, which can come back around a la Daniel Bruhl in “Rush,” another contender who we thought was dead until he popped up with Golden Globe, SAG, and BAFTA nods.

Paramount Pictures seems determined to get their slate recognized as its the final for the late Brad Grey, who passed away earlier this year.  While “Downsizing” seems to be on a wing and a prayer for Hong Chau, “mother!” can come roaring back, capturing some tech nods and perhaps even a major for Michelle Pfeiffer and Jennifer Lawrence.  The international Academy members are rumored to be responding very positively to the film and could also surprise in Best Picture with these new voting members.

As a friendly reminder to AMPAS voters who are reading this, I feel an obligation to remind them of some great films and performances they should consider:

Jeremy Renner’s work in “Wind River” is one of the summer’s big highlights and I hope the Weinstein stench doesn’t keep him from getting a fair shot in the race as his work is fantastic.  Also, please don’t sleep on Tatiana Maslany’s work in “Stronger,” who is the film’s emotional pillar.

Oscar Predictions have been updated while new Golden Globe predictions have been revealed.  This update also includes a full listing of Original Song and Documentary Feature contenders in case you missed it last week.

Share your thoughts and predictions in the comments below!



What do you think?


Written by Clayton Davis

Clayton Davis is the esteemed Editor and Owner of Born in Bronx, NY to a Puerto Rican mother and Black father, he’s been criticizing film and television for over a decade. Clayton is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association where he votes and attends the kick off to the awards season, the Critics Choice Awards. He also founded the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association, the first Latino-based critics’ organization in the United States. He’s also an active member of the African-American Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Online, International Press Academy, Black Reel Awards, and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association. Clayton has been quoted and appeared in various outlets that include The New York Times,, Variety, Deadline, Los Angeles Times, FOX 5, Bloomberg Television, AOL, Huffington Post, Bloomberg Radio, The Wrap, Slash Film, and the Hollywood Reporter.


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