The MFL Podcast League Spotlight

Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photo: MGM

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.

Before we dive into this week’s MFL update, can we all take a moment to be thankful that the Grammys aren’t under our points umbrella? Sure, Barbie would have picked up a few more points for the Billie Eilish song winning Song of the Year, but we’d have to dig through oh-so-much Taylor Swift commentary to get there.

We’re still a few days away from the awards calendar shaking off its winter slumber, which gives us another week to take stock of where the Fantasy League stands before the Oscars stretch run. This week, we’re taking a look at the Podcasters League — because in this day and age, what is more prestigious than a competition between podcasters?

But first, we box office.

Chocolate Coins

Wonka crossed the $200 million threshold this week. As previously mentioned, next season I’m going to introduce more box-office bonuses. Maybe we’ll add bumps for clearing the $150 and $200 thresholds (right now we only offer $50 and $100 million bonuses), or possibly simply extra points for every $50 million earned. Now that making money in Hollywood is hard again, such an accomplishment really ought to be rewarded.

Speaking of the bonus thresholds, George Clooney’s The Boys in the Boat (a movie that stars Callum Turner and not Josh O’Connor, a fact that I discovered only last week) is so tantalizingly close to the $50 million mark. If you drafted that movie, you’re likely disappointed by its output, considering it didn’t get any kind of awards attention at all. But $50 million in box office is probably more than we all expected.

Poor Things ($28 million total) and American Fiction ($15 million) continue to be the movies that have enjoyed the biggest box-office nudge from their Oscar nominations, as both remain in the top ten for another week. And The Zone of Interest creeping up north of $4 million continues to be an incredible accomplishment relative to its subject matter. With a little bit of luck, it will become Jonathan Glazer’s highest-grossing film in the United States — it’s already passed Under the Skin’s $2.0 million total, is approaching Birth’s $5.0 million, and with another month of Best Picture buzz could clear Sexy Beast’s $6.9 million.

Podcasters Delight

Podcasters, they’re just like … well, you, since I’m a podcaster … which means that the leaderboard for the Podcasters League naturally fluctuated all season. Now, only a month away from the Oscars, we stand with my own This Had Oscar Buzz co-host Chris Feil at the top of the heap. But his position is precarious. Allow me to break it down, starting with the top ten:

1. Chris Feil (This Had Oscar Buzz): 4,328 points
2. Katey Rich (Little Gold Men): 4,209
3. Dom Nero and Adam Volerich (Eye of the Duck): 4,073
4. Joe Reid (This Had Oscar Buzz): 4,049
5. Sean Clements (Subtitles On): 3,999
6. David Sims (Blank Check): 3,941
7. Justin Khoo (Cows in the Field): 3,918
8. David Canfield (Little Gold Men): 3,917
9. Bob Book (Film and Whiskey): 3,910
10. Rebecca Ford (Little Gold Men): 3,904

In terms of which movies will end up determining who ends up on top, we should note that every one of these rosters has Poor Things, so that’s a wash. And every roster except Dom and Adam’s has American Fiction. Instead, the films that will determine who wins this league are likely to be:

Oppenheimer: Crucially, Chris holds a 100-plus point lead over the next closest contender, but he does not have Oppenheimer. Of the current top ten, only Katey, David Sims, Justin, and I drafted Nolan’s latest. Considering Oppenheimer is poised to win the most awards from here on out, this feels important.

Anatomy of a Fall: This is the movie Chris needs to win multiple awards from here through Oscar night in order to stay afloat. He and three other podcasters (Dom and Adam, David Canfield, Rebecca) have this on their roster. It’s notable that those three teams all have Anatomy paired with Killers of the Flower Moon.

Past Lives: Dom and Adam, David Sims, and Bob Book all drafted Celine Song’s film, and it’s poised to do really well at the Independent Spirit Awards. But will it be enough?

Barbie: Only Chris, Katey, and I have this on our roster, so we’re positioned to reap the windfall of a wave of support following the Big Snubs.


Minimal points changes means the seven-way tie at the top of the leaderboard remains for another week. Special shout-out to ninth-place Ares, who is the only member of his league, The Fellowship, at the top of the leaderboard. Good for Ares, though there’s a bit of melancholy at the idea of just one team from a league called The Fellowship standing near the top. Did the fellows fall along the way, as was prophesied in Scripture? Did Ares strike out ahead, willing to walk this lonely path alone? Will Ares have the strength to throw the One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom or succumb to the temptation of its power? Stay tuned!

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

Looking Ahead

The DGA announces its winner this Saturday, February 10. After that, the pace really picks up:

February 10: DGA Awards
February 18: BAFTA Awards
February 24: SAG Awards
February 25: Independent Spirit Awards
February 25: PGA Awards
March 10: 96th Academy Awards

Questions? Feedback? Can’t find your team or mini-league on the leaderboard? Drop us a line at [email protected].

tags: movies, movies fantasy league, vulture sports, wonka, poor things, american fiction, the boys in the boat, podcasts

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