Paul Rudd is a freakishly affable human being. There are actors whose sheer talent makes all things possible for them. Rudd has built an entire comedic legacy out of being possibly the most likable person alive. Working in TV and Movies since his early twenties, dRudd has an extremely impressive resume of comedy hits in an era that has not been known for producing reliable laughs. Rudd managed to become the unofficial “seventh friend”, marrying Lisa Kudrow’s character in the final two seasons of Friends. His film career took off after the success of 2004’s Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. Rudd is one of Judd Apatow’s favorite actors, teaming with the director for The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up. Adding size-changing to likability, Rudd picked up another superpower when he joined the MCU as Ant-Man in 2015.
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I have rarely, if ever, been more wrong about a TV show than I was with The Good Place. Honestly, it’s not entirely my fault. The show’s advertising looked awful. I couldn’t imagine how anyone was going to be able to sustain a show about the afterlife, but then I didn’t know how much of a genius Michael Shur was. Not only did he manage to create a genius sitcom that takes place in religion-neutral Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, but he’s written most of the episodes. The show isn’t just funny, it’s seriously addictive. I watched each of the first two seasons in two annual sittings. Ted Danson is taking a victory tour as one of the best comedic actors in TV history as Michael, the architect of The Good Place. In the show’s pilot, Michael gives an orientation to the recently deceased as to how their life’s actions have gained the entry to this elite post-death paradise. As good as the orientation is, you need to pause and read all the hundreds of scoring criterion that pop up during his speech. If you’re in a show hole during the summer TV doldrums, this is one you definitely need to catch up on.
Tommy Lee Jones has a career of crusty and cantankerous curmudgeons stretching back nearly 50 years. From working oil rigs in Texas, Jones ended up at Harvard rooming with eventual US Vice-President Al Gore. Despite some early successes in The Coal Miner’s Daughter and The Executioner’s Song, the veteran career actor really didn’t become a star until the early 1990s: after over 20 years of putting in his dues. Lonesome Dove, JFK, Under Siege, and then his Oscar-winning turn in The Fugitive turned him into one of Hollywood’s most reliable actors. Jones’s Texas roots always give him a grounded authenticity whether he’s playing a Man in Black, an ally of Lincoln, a military man or a grieving father. He is a master of economy with emotional range, allotting just enough for what the scene requires, but always leaving the audience with a feeling that there’s more going on behind his steely gaze. Quite simply, if you see Tommy Lee Jones is in a movie, you have to pay attention to it.
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Star Wars: Rebels is over now. The fourth and final season of the animated series aired earlier this year, and Dave Filoni & Co. are moving on to tell the stories leading up to the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in their next series – Star Wars: Resistance. Rebels continued the excellence begun in The Clone Wars, and the two series were largely responsible for keeping Star Wars fandom alive in the period in-between Episodes III and VII.
One of the best innovations Rebels brought to Star Wars canon was the introduction of the Inquisitors into the lore of the Empire. While Darth Vader spearheaded the destruction of the Jedi, it was always a little far-fetched that even Vader could have wiped out the remnants of the Order with no help. The Inquisitors were Vader’s hand in dealing with threats to the Sith monopoly on Force dominance. The Grand Inquisitor (voiced by Jason Isaacs) was a great first “big bad” for the series, and his final showdown with Kanan and Ezra is another stellar lightsaber duel to add to the highlight reel from Filoni’s time as Star Wars Animation Czar.
Bradley Cooper’s best role may be as an weapons-obsessed, semi-homicidal raccoon, but the actor has put together a solid list of performances in which he is not knee-high and betailed. When Alias exploded on ABC, everyone thought Jennifer Garner was going to be the breakout star from the cast, but, over the years, Cooper has emerged as the most talented member of that fantastic ensemble cast. He’s hit or miss as a leading man, with his best solo performance undoubtedly being sniper Chris Kyle in American Sniper. Where Cooper shines is as part of an ensemble. He works best when paired with other high caliber actors (American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook) and can easily do drama, comedy, or action. His achievement with Rocket is not glib praise. Cooper completely transforms his voice to play one of the MCU’s most popular characters, and manages to make a character that is silly in concept, a hysterical, often moving example of voice acting at its finest.
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