Chris Evans is an actor who has made a career about either being the best part of bad comic book adaptations (Fantastic Four), or one of the best things about ones you instantly recognize (MCU) or ones you may now know are comic book adaptations (Scott Pilgrim, The Losers and Snowpiercer). Evans is certainly most recognizable for his seven appearances as Steve Rogers/Captain America. The Captain America films have been the best individual trilogy of any Marvel Cinematic Universe solo hero, and Evans’s principled, evolving Rogers has been the moral fulcrum of the Avengers. The actor tends to make smaller films when not in superhero mode, the best of which (Gifted) really show both the humor and talented dramatic skills Evans brings to every film in which he takes part.
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Octavia Spencer was primarily a career TV guest star for the first 20 years of her career. There aren’t many dramas or comedies from the late 1990s to early 2000s that don’t have a guest appearance from Spencer. She picked up the odd role in films, but it wasn’t until her Oscar-winning turn in The Help that he exploded into one of the best character actresses in Hollywood. Spencer is almost never the star, but any film is immediately elevated by her presence, versatility, and strength as an actress. Equally comfortable with drama or comedy, Spencer has a deceptive intensity. When she fixes her gaze on the target of her character’s focus, she commands not only their attention, but transfixes the audience as well. With multiple Oscar nominations since breaking out in The Help, Spencer has become one of the most sought after additions to any ensemble cast. Continue reading Octavia Spencer’s 10 Best Movies
Tilda Swinton is a true chameleon. In her three decades of acting she’s played white witches, greedy corporate shills, eccentric women of every variety, androgynous ancient wizards, archangels, and decrepit old men. Her best known films: Michael Clayton, Narnia, and Doctor Strange, all featured her, but she usually pops in out of the blue made up in a completely different way than you’ve ever seen her before in a small role that always adds something to the film. Her crowning achievements, though, are her Oscar-winning role as the desperate corporate lawyer in Michael Clayton and, they may reboot the Narnia series, but they’ll never get a White Witch as dangerous and cunning as Swinton’s. I always enjoy seeing her name in a cast list, because half the challenge will typically be recognizing which role she played; odds are, it’ll be a standout performance.
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We’ve lost another wonderful actor. Sir John Hurt has passed away. John Hurt may not be an instantly recognizable name to casual film fans, but everyone who has seen a fair number of movies has seen his work. He was Mr. Ollivander in the Harry Potter series. He was The Storyteller in Jim Henson’s wonderful and too-short-lived eponymous series. He was nominated twice for Academy Awards in 1977 for Midnight Express, and for what is probably his most indelible performance, that of the title character in 1980’s The Elephant Man. He was also the unfortunate victim in one of the most famous scenes in film history: the “chest burster” dinner scene in Ridley Scott’s Alien. He brought gravitas and dignity to every project he participated in, and I always was instantly more interested in a film when his name appeared in the credits. Below is a wonderful obituary of Sir John written by Liz Miller from IndieWire. Hurt was 77. Continue reading R.I.P. Sir John Hurt (1940 – 2017) “Another Consummate Actor Leaves Us”
I know I bashed it all year, but truly 2014 was the most mediocre year at the movies I’ve experienced in my lifetime. As such, I haven’t published my TOP 10 until now, not because I don’t have ten good films, but because I keep waiting for all the films that are supposed to be Oscar favorites to come to my theater and -thus far- they haven’t. Now, next week the Academy will announce the 2015 Oscar Nominations and I will, no doubt, be hopping up and down mad just like I am every year. But that recognition, will bring those films to more markets and my Top 10 may look significantly different by the time we hand out our own version of the Oscars: The 3rd Annual Renaissance Film Awards. What film will follow The Dark Knight Rises and Gravity as Best Picture winners? How much will this list change in a month? Right now, here are my Top 10 Films of 2014 with links to my full reviews. Continue reading KILLING TIME’S TOP 10 FILMS OF 2014 *UPDATED WITH AMERICAN SNIPER*