Domhnall Gleeson, son of brilliant actor Brendan Gleeson, is only in his mid-30s, but he’s already put together an impressive resume. Breaking out in 2015 when he starred in The Revenant, Ex Machina, AND Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the actor has become one of the my favorite additions to any ensemble. He’s also completely capable of playing the leading man, as he did in About Time and Good-bye Christopher Robin. It’s not enough that he’s a part of Star Wars, Gleeson is also a member of the Wizarding World, appearing in the final two Harry Potter films as the most ginger-friendly family in fiction: The Weasleys. Incredibly versatile and as hard-working as his dad, Gleeson’s future looks very bright.
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Leonardo DiCaprio in his mid-40s has already had a career spanning a quarter century. From a child star on Growing Pains, DiCaprio quickly became a young actor to watch in films like A Boy’s Life, Marvin’s Room, and then rocketed to one of the most famous people on the planet after the Titanic phenomenon. DiCaprio, very smartly, took a good break after Titanic to separate himself, and then started learning. He attached himself to directors, most notably Martin Scorcese, and started honing his craft. The thing about DiCaprio is: he gets better after every film. He takes something from it. He pushes himself. He’s always trying to add to his already formidable bag of tricks. While the projects he chooses don’t always pan out, it’s never because of a lack of effort from DiCaprio, and he’ll take things even from imperfect films and grow. Inception, The Revenant, Catch Me If You Can, Blood Diamond, The Departed, Shutter Island, The Wolf of Wall Street…..DiCaprio’s just getting warmed up, and I don’t think we’ve seen his best performance yet.
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Charlize Theron is the queen of action right now in Hollywood, which isn’t a bad title to attain after 20 years playing mostly deeply serious character roles. Theron, who is originally from South Africa, doesn’t have as deep a resume as some of the actresses from her generation, but it’s not lack of talent that prevents her, more a tendency to take on misguided “message” projects that fall flat. Additionally, if you look for Monster among her 10 Best, you won’t find it as it is one of the few films in my life I’ve walked out of because I found it so deeply unpleasant. Doesn’t mean that she wasn’t outstanding in her acting; just means that there’s only so much hooker/serial killer I can take (and from the eventual director of Wonder Woman….who knew?). She’s on a serious career upswing in the wake of stealing Mad Max: Fury Road (where’s our Furiosa spin-off?) and re-establishing her action dominance in Atomic Blonde. She looks 20 years younger than her actual age, and can beat you up, so it’s unlikely this actress is going to fall prey to the gender wall that eats so many careers. I’d like to see her do more comedy though. She has great timing, and that’s something you can’t teach.
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Tom Hardy has, for an actor only 15 or so years into his career, put together a top 10 list of projects that would be the lifetime envy of most. Rarely the leading man, Hardy seems most comfortable in a high-class ensemble where he can build indelible characters that steal movies. Even before he became part of the “Nolan Troupe”, joining the director for Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, and Dunkirk, Hardy was firmly established as a consummate character actor. Even in films like Mad Max: Fury Road, in which he’s the title character, he was content to let Charlize Theron’s Furiosa steal the movie while he provided the constant and the result was the Academy actually nominated a cool movie for Best Picture. Hardy is one of many actors that had their first high-profile role in Band of Brothers (one of the five best things ever to air on TV) along with James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and others. Hardy doesn’t stick just to films, having returned to TV for the massively underrated Peaky Blinders and beginning his own starring vehicle in FX’s Taboo. He’s a chameleon (compare skinny Band of Brothers Hardy with Bane), but at the core of all of his characters is a fierce anger that sometimes burns hot or cold, but it’s always an asset to whatever project he’s undertaking.
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Anyone who wondered if Chris Rock was going to address the controversy surrounding the lack of minority nominees in his second, turn as Oscar host, had about six seconds to wonder. Rock, in a monologue so strong that it reminded everyone why he’s the best stand-up comedian today, absolutely blasted the Academy, the boycott, racism in general and did it all in such a wise and hysterical way that I don’t think anyone else could have. In fact, the first half of the show was pretty much The Chris Rock Variety Show With a Special Focus on Race….and it was (with a few exceptions) pretty brilliant. Before we get to the actual awards, which were every bit as bizarre as the rest of the night, here’s Rock’s monologue:
Continue reading 2016 Oscar Winners and Recap of the Wildest Show in Recent Memory