A “Really Like” Redux in Three Parts

According to Dictionary.com, a redux is something that has been brought back. Today I’m bringing back three posts for updates based on recent news.

According to Dictionary.com, a redux is something that has been brought back. Today I’m bringing back three posts for updates based on recent news.

In August 2016, I published a data-based study of the careers of Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. So far, it is the most reviewed post I’ve written. At the time I was unaware that Streep and Hanks would be co-starring for the first time in The Post which was widely released in January. Since my 2016 article Meryl Streep has received two more Best Actress nominations for The Post and last year’s Florence Foster Jenkins. Tom Hanks, on the other hand, was unable to convert two award worthy performances (The Post and Sully) into a single nomination. Hanks hasn’t been nominated in seventeen years. During that period Streep has been nominated nine times. Why has Hanks lost his Oscar “mojo”? I don’t have an answer. Well-reviewed performances in Oscar-worthy roles have clearly not been enough to get him over the top.

In August of 2017 I wrote about MoviePass and its viability for the average moviegoer. Well, MoviePass, which recently hit two million subscribers, is in the news again. It has announced another new pricing plan that slashes the average monthly price to $7.95 from $9.95 for new subscribers and they will throw in a year’s subscription to the streaming service Fandor. There is a catch, though. MoviePass wants you to pay a year’s worth of monthly fees up front. And, they are adding on a processing fee of $19.95. This processing fee almost wipes out the $2 a month savings from the reduced price. MoviePass wants its money upfront because they are cash poor. According to this recent article in Yahoo News the parent company of MoviePass is desperate for cash and has recently put out a sizable stock offering to raise it. So, my previous analysis doesn’t change much. If you are honest with yourself and you are sure you will go to the movies more than a dozen times a year, this can be a good deal. If you are a fan of independent movies, Fandor will be a plus. Just be aware that, while MoviePass is doing a great job attracting new subscribers, its business viability is not a sure thing.

In my 100th post this past July, I mentioned that for Dunkirk to be considered great it would need to compare favorably to Saving Private Ryan. We are a couple of weeks away from the Academy Award presentations and Dunkirk is a viable Best Picture possibility. Let’s revisit how it is doing with its other benchmarks. While Dunkirk has turned in a solid 8.1 on IMDB, it significantly lags the 8.6 average rating of Saving Private Ryan. Dunkirk also lags on Cinemascore by an A- to A score for Saving Private Ryan. The critics have a more favorable view of Dunkirk. Rotten Tomatoes gives both movies a Certified Fresh 92%. Metacritic gives Dunkirk the slight edge 94 to 90. Finally, Saving Private Ryan has a slight edge so far in the Oscar race with 11 nominations to 8. All in all, Dunkirk holds its own with Saving Private Ryan. I might give the technical edge slightly to Dunkirk. In terms of audience appeal, though, Saving Private Ryan has a solid advantage.

I hope you enjoyed my little Redux. Adieu.

If January Makes You Shiver with Every Movie They Deliver, Then Stick with the Oscar Bait.

What do the movies Molly’s Game, The Post, Phantom Thread, and Hostiles have in common? For one thing, they all hope to receive Academy Award nominations when they are announced on January 23rd. Secondly, after going into limited release in December to qualify for 2017 movie awards, most of the world will finally get a chance to actually see these movies this January. Thirdly, these movies are the early front-runners for the 2018 Objective Top Twenty. Finally, they will be your very best bets for “really like” movies released in January.

What do the movies Molly’s GameThe PostPhantom Thread, and Hostiles have in common? For one thing, they all hope to receive Academy Award nominations when they are announced on January 23rd. Secondly, after going into limited release in December to qualify for 2017 movie awards, most of the world will finally get a chance to actually see these movies this January. Thirdly, these movies are the early front-runners for the 2018 Objective Top Twenty. Finally, they will be your very best bets for “really like” movies released in January.

Why do movie producers push some Oscar contenders into January and sometimes even into February? Are these movies artistically worthy but with limited audience appeal? Sometimes. That may be the case with Hostiles, for example. I’ve heard that the beginning of the movie is intensely violent which might turn off audiences, particularly women and older audiences. The overall IMDB rating is 7.1 but the male/female split is 7.2 and 5.3 respectively. The age demographics in IMDB reflect similar polarization. Voters under 30 give it a 7.6 so far while voters 30 and older give it a 6.5. Like the similarly violent The Revenant, which also went into wide release in January, it may have a better chance to find it’s audience away from the family dominated audiences of December.

Phantom Thread is another movie that might not appeal to wide audiences. This is a Paul Thomas Anderson directed film and, to say the least, he is an acquired taste, a taste that I have yet to acquire. The last time he collaborated with Daniel Day-Lewis was for the film There Will Be Blood, a movie I hated. Personal opinion aside, it has been reported that Phantom Thread may be the most mainstream movie that Paul Thomas Anderson has ever made. Early IMDB ratings are strong with an average rating of 8.8. Sometimes the selection of a release date is nothing more than superstition. There Will Be Blood opened on Jan 25, 2007, which is approximately the same weekend (Jan 19th) when Phantom Thread will open.

Molly’s Game, which I was fortunate to see already, is definitely not a January holdover because it lacks audience appeal. It’s IMDB rating is 7.6 and it is consistently strong across all demographic groups. This is an under-buzzed movie and sometimes the strategy is to roll out a movie slowly to build up the buzz.

The Post, on the other hand has all the buzz and star power it needs. With Spielberg, Streep and Hanks, along with a topical storyline, this movie screams Best Picture. So why slide this movie into January. It’s strategic. The producers hope that this will be the movie that everyone is talking about when Oscar voting is taking place. The strategy is to have the buzz be about The Post just as the buzz is winding down for other Best Picture contenders like The Shape of Water and Lady Bird.

So what about the rest of the January releases. Well, you might find a diamond in the rough but the odds are against you.

% with IMDB Rating 7+ Probability You Will “Really Like”
Prior Year Oscar Contender Jan. Wide Release 84.3% 75.39%
All Other January Wide Releases 51.3% 64.81%
Movies Released in All Other Months 72.0% 71.20%

The high IMDB ratings go to the prior year hold-overs and not the movies being released for the first time in January. The movies held over from the prior year are better, on average, than the movies produced over the remaining eleven months. The remaining January movies are significantly worse.

To avoid the January shivers on your next trip to the Cineplex, stick to the Oscar bait from last year, whenever it was released.