If you watch enough movies and TV (and I watch way, way, way too much), over time you start to notice certain names. Sometimes it’s a writer, sometimes an actor or actress, sometimes a director, even a cinematographer or composer that always seems stuck to something you enjoy. Drew Goddard is one of my favorite names to see pop up on a project. Pretty much everything Goddard is attached to is stellar from his TV work as a writer/producer on Buffy, Angel, Alias, Lost and The Good Place to his film work on the Cloverfield series, The Martian, and his last directorial turn in 2012’s The Cabin in the Woods. Chris Hemsworth’s best non-MCU film is probably still Cabin and he could badly use a non-MCU hit at this stage in his career. Goddard has an intriguing premise and a really strong ensemble for Bad Times at the El Royale, and his past successes are more than enough to get me to give it a shot when it opens on October 12, 2018 (even though it’s likely to get squashed by First Man).
Matt Damon burst onto the Hollywood scene when he and his friend Ben Affleck (whom you may also have heard of) came out of nowhere with a script they co-wrote and starred in: Good Will Hunting. One of the best Oscar moments in recent memory is the two of them going bezerk after winning Damon’s only Oscar to date for the film’s screenplay. Damon has gone on to be one of Hollywood’s biggest stars in The Bourne movies, Ocean’s trilogy, Saving Private Ryan, The Martian, Interstellar, and more than a dozen other huge hits. Post-The Martian, Damon has been in a bit of a slump, and it remains to be seen how much his career will be hurt by his ties to disgraced Hollywood mogul and sexual predator Harvey Weinstein (Damon has admitted he knew of Weinstein’s atrocities and did not come forward). On-screen, he’s one of the most versatile and talented actors of his generation. Time will tell what his sins of omission will do to his career going forward.
Jessica Chastain is one of the most underutilized leading ladies in Hollywood. I’m not sure why Chastain doesn’t get more vehicles, but when she does, she’s absolutely riveting. She’s creating strong, complex characters in films like Molly’s Game, Zero Dark Thirty, and Miss Sloane. She’s also been a critical part of some of the best ensembles in recent memory in The Martian, The Help, and Interstellar. Chastain excels at creating layered characters that exude strength and vitality and her presence on the screen is the equal to any actress of her generation, so hopefully more quality opportunities will come her way as her career continues to progress. Continue reading Jessica Chastain’s 10 Best Movies→
The Martian was my favorite book of 2014, so when it quickly was turned around into a huge movie the following year, I was a little nervous they could get it right. Especially so, because Ridley Scott, who used to be one of the most dependable directors in Hollywood, was helming it and was riding a decade long dry spell. Fortunately Scott was able to summon up a final science fiction masterpiece (no, I don’t hold out any hope for further ones) aided by perhaps the performance of Matt Damon’s career, an amazing ensemble cast, and fundamentally awesome source material (you can read my full review here).
One of the reasons that the story of Damon’s botanist, stranded on the Red Planet when his crew thinks him dead and leaves him behind, works so well is that it is 1) grounded in science and 2) as filled with funny moments as the novel is. Damon doesn’t have to quite do the amount of solo camera time that Tom Hanks did in Cast Away, but this is probably the closest to that feat that any other actor has come. Like Hanks did with Wilson (the greatest prop in movie history), Damon uses his logs to come up for an excuse for essentially breaking the fourth wall and talking to the audience. My favorite of these log rants begins with Damon using Vicodin as a condiment and ends with a convoluted explanation of how Mars now belongs to him under maritime law and that he is, in fact, a space pirate.
By the way, Andy Weir’s second novel (Artemis) hasn’t even been released yet and has been snapped up by a studio with The LEGO Movie team of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller attached to direct.
It was never even close. The Killing Time Community Film of 2015 by a 40 point margin is Star Wars Episode VIII: The Force Awakens!!! I agree and named it Best Picture when the Renaissance Awards went up yesterday (click here to review). Mad Max: Fury road finished a distant second and The Revenant (which I suppose is the Community’s pick amongst those films actually in the running tomorrow) finished third.
What I thought was great was that every single one of the 15 nominated films got votes. Even if Star Wars wasn’t your favorite film this year, there was a film(s) that will stick with you and I think the breadth of the voting once you got past the juggernaut in first showed that. Tomorrow night is OSCAR NIGHT! Tune in so you can understand what I’ll be screaming about on Monday. It’ll be interesting to see if host Chris Rock addresses Spike Lee’s boycott. I think the thing I’m most rooting for is for John Williams to win Best Score for Star Wars with his 50th Oscar nomination (FIFTY). It may be the last chance for the maestro, and he legitamitely deserves it. Our look back at 2015 has ended (though expect a mega lightning review bomb next week of the films I watched to catch up) and it’s time to begin 2016 in earnest. See you at the movies!
Here are our legacy winners (all PG-13, huh): 2012: The Dark Knight Rises 2013: Gravity 2014: Guardians of the Galaxy 2015: Star Wars Episode VII