movies fantasy league

It’s Finally Trophy Time for the MFL

Photo-Illustration: Vulture ; Photo: Disney

This is the latest edition of the Movies Fantasy League newsletter. The drafting window for this season has closed, but you can still sign up to get the newsletter, which provides a weekly recap of box-office performance, awards nominations, and critical chatter on all the buzziest movies.

As the saying goes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” (Vanessa Carlton, I believe?) That’s how it feels in the early stages of the awards phase of the Movies Fantasy League. By winning Best Feature at the Gotham Awards on Monday night, Celine Song’s Past Lives picked up 25 MFL points. Yes, that’s six fewer points than were brought in over the weekend by Wish, a flop that has people talking in existential terms about Disney animation. But as I’ve discussed in past newsletters, everyone’s current scores have a significant box-office lean. Starting now, the scales will begin to balance out little by little. Last season, awards points had a disproportionate impact on the final standings; it remains to be seen whether that will be the case again or if the points banked from movies like Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour and The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes will hold up.

Speaking of which, the Thanksgiving-weekend box office helped keep Hunger Games drafters in the driver’s seat and then the Gothams gave a points bump to a handful of the year’s awards-oriented movies.

Box Office: Wish, Wish, Bish

Bad news speaks louder than good, so the box-office cratering of Wish — a scant $31 million over the five-day holiday weekend, good for just third place — has overshadowed the fact that The Hunger Games earned its second straight week at the No. 1 spot. That distinction earned The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes 20 bonus MFL points for another top finish, and since the film’s grosses are up to $98 million, drafters get 20 more points for clearing the $50 million threshold. By the time you read this, it will have passed $100 million, but those points will get added next week.

The weekend’s big surprise was that Ridley Scott’s behemoth Napoleon finished in second place, pulling in $32 million (+32 points) despite having fewer screenings than its competitors owing to its 158-minute run time. For the moment, the film has its sights set on awards-season conquests, and with some populist cachet behind it, maybe it can invade that conversation. But even if it doesn’t, the folks who paid a hefty $25 will at least get some kind of return.

Other notable box-office news includes Thanksgiving reaching $24 million after only two weeks, giving anyone who took a flier on the $1 Eli Roth film the cheapest 24 points they’ll ever get.

The Holdovers finished in seventh place, bringing its cumulative box-office total to $12 million. Awards season is where that movie’s story will ultimately be told, though it’s worth noting that Focus Features is releasing it on VOD next week. While the movie will still be playing theatrically, it’s disappointing that its box-office progress is going to be slowed by at-home availability.

Awards: The Heroes Gotham Needs

The Gotham Awards were handed out on Monday night, and, as mentioned, Past Lives picked up the night’s top honor. Lily Gladstone’s win for Best Lead Performance was not for Killers of the Flower Moon but for the Morrisa Maltz film The Unknown Country, which wasn’t draft eligible, so those points will go unclaimed. But May December drafters got a nice 25-point boost from Charles Melton’s win for Best Supporting Performance.

Elsewhere, Anatomy of a Fall won two awards (Screenplay and International Feature) for +30 points, and the Sundance hit A Thousand and One earned the Breakthrough Director Award for A.V. Rockwell and +15 points for anyone who drafted it as a $5 buy.

In addition to the competitive awards, the Gothams got silly with a series of “Icon & Creator Tribute” prizes. They sounded bullshitty as hell (a Visionary Icon & Creator Tribute for Air! An Icon & Creator Tribute for Innovation for Ferrari!) but nevertheless gave 15-point boosts to those movies plus Maestro (Cultural Icon & Creator Tribute), Barbie (Global Icon & Creator Tribute), Killers of the Flower Moon (Historical Icon & Creator Tribute), and Rustin (Icon & Creator Tribute for Social Justice).


After trailing last week by two points, team Cruz Control moves ahead of tj23 and into first place. Since both of those rosters overlapped on the big guns (The Hunger Games, The Eras Tour, Five Nights at Freddy’s), the differentiating factor turned out to be Cruz’s selection of Trolls Band Together, which crossed the $50 million threshold this past weekend and has pulled in 84 total points. As always, we thank the Trolls for their service to the entertainment community at large and the MFL in particular.

You can see the full leaderboard here on the main MFL landing page.

Looking Ahead

Beyoncé announced the Renaissance concert film too late for it to be added to the League, and as a result, next weekend will be noteworthy not for the arrival of Beyoncé points but the absence of them. But there will be waves of points next week on the awards front as this Thursday’s New York Film Critics Circle awards, next Tuesday’s Film Independent Spirit Awards nominations, and next Thursday’s National Board of Review awards will add a bunch of points into the mix. We’ll be back with a newsletter at the end of next week containing a roundup of all three.

Here, the rest of the awards calendar through December:

➼ Thursday, November 30: New York Film Critics Circle winners announced
➼ Tuesday, December 5: Film Independent Spirit Awards nominations announced
➼ Wednesday, December 6: National Board of Review winners announced
➼ Sunday, December 10: Los Angeles Film Critics Association winners announced
➼ Monday, December 11: Golden Globe Awards nominees announced
➼ Thursday, December 14: Critics Choice Awards nominations announced
➼ Thursday, December 21: Oscars shortlists announced

You can check out our landing page for the full schedule of awards announcements.

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It’s Finally Trophy Time for the MFL