When you get right down to it, there’s something delightfully surreal about watching our generation’s best actors tie themselves to the ceiling and spout metaphysical gibberish at the camera. Doctor Strange may not be my personal favorite superhero movie, but it’s undeniably the one with my favorite cast; Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Mads Mikkelsen would represent an embarrassment of riches for any movie, let alone one focused on time travel and temperamental capes.
With Oscar season just around the corner, now is the time for all the smaller award shows to announce their big annual winners. Earlier this weekend, we saw the Directors Guild of America give their biggest honors to movies and television shows such as La La Land, Game of Thrones, Veep, and O.J.: Made in America. And now it’s time for the animation industry to share their selections for the best animated films and television shows of 2016.
With everyone’s feeds full of horrible news stories these days, you’ve probably already forgotten about the video of alleged animal abuse on the set of A Dog’s Purpose. Back in January, TMZ shared leaked footage of animal handlers aggressively dragging their canine star into a tank of water. The clear signs of the dog’s panic caused an internet firestorm, with star Josh Gad distancing himself from the project and PETA calling for an immediate boycott of the film. A Dog’s Purpose still performed well enough in its opening weekend, but the scandal no doubt cost it ticket sales at the box office.
Like most cinephiles, I was vaguely aware that Joe Pesci has been retired from acting for a while now, but I assumed that meant he had made a few low-budget movies in the early 2000s and walked away. Imagine my surprise, then, when I realized that Pesci has made exactly two live-action movies since Lethal Weapon 4 in 1998. One was The Good Shepherd, the Robert De Niro-directed 2006 drama about the early history of the CIA. And if a close friend can lure Joe Pesci out of retirement once, maybe he can do it again.
With James Cameron caught in an endless loop of Avatar rumors and delays, it’s become fashionable for some fans to treat the director like a Hollywood has-been. I don’t get it. Even if you think the original Avatar is a hollow mess of special effects, it’s still a fun entry in Cameron’s ‘Soldiers vs. Monsters’ filmography. Are we so awash in incredible action directors that we can afford to dismiss Cameron’s eye for spectacle and clean action scenes? I think not.
Even if you’re not the biggest fan of CGI actors returned from the dead, you probably had to appreciate the ways that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story director Gareth Edwards tried to bring the events of Star Wars: A New Hope more directly into his film. In several key sequences, Edwards was even able to feature unseen footage from the original 1977 film, causing fans to wonder where that new footage came from (and why they hadn’t seen it before). Are there entire archives of unseen footage that Lucasfilm has been hiding from fans for all these decades?
Just about six months ago, I wrote my very first ScreenCrush news item about actor Michael Sheen stepping into the director’s chair for Green River Killer, a film about the notorious Washington state serial killer and his decades-long exchanges with local police officers. I never would’ve guessed back then that my career as a news item writer would outlast Sheen’s career as an actor, but today, news broke that the actor would be stepping away from Hollywood indefinitely to shift into political organizing in his hometown of Port Talbot.
Al Gore is one of those people who gets me thinking about legacy. When Gore’s time on the earth comes to a close, how will he be remembered? As a solid vice president who lost one of the most hotly disputed elections of all time? Or as a champion of environmental conservationism? From the outside, it certainly appears that Gore is angling for the latter. Just this past weekend, it was announced by Paramount Pictures (via Variety) that Al Gore has been working on a sequel to his 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth and that the film was set to be the opening night film at next year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Look, we get it. Even with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story set to hit theaters next week, some of you just prefer your Star Wars stories to be part of the main story. And although we might be as caught up as everyone else in talking about the prospect of prequels and standalone movies, that doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten how to give you some good, old-fashioned Star Wars: Episode VIII gossip. Here’s one we know you’ll like: rumors are circulating that the title of the next film popped up in the most unlikely of places.
Even as an aging action star, Sylvester Stallone has kept up a steady pace. The actor has spent the past few years alternating between action vehicles and voice over work on children’s movies, always outpacing Hollywood obsolescence with his incredible work ethic and his willingness to not deviate from the ’80s action formula that helped make him a star. And while plenty of Stallone fans were pleased to see the actor pull in a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Creed, with Stallone’s latest production troubles, one cannot help but wonder if this will have an effect on the types of movies he makes going forward.
I’d be hard-pressed to name a Disney villain I like as much as Beauty and the Beast’s Gaston. In addition to being a Sondheim-esque twist on the traditional idea of a fairy tale prince — vain, violent, and eager to confuse chivalry with misogyny — the character of Gaston has also become something of a method actor’s dream for Disney theme park employees. Remember the time that Gaston challenged a kid to a push-up contest? Or how about the time that Gaston got shouted down by a young girl? It turns out that no one goes viral like Gaston, either.
While die-hard fans of the Harry Potter universe probably would have been happy if Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them simply gave some screen time to characters from the franchise’s vast lore, it turns out that author J.K. Rowling had something bigger in mind for her latest film. Fantastic Beasts retroactively raises the stakes by quite a bit, introducing a powerful enemy of wizards everywhere and hinting that the story of Newt Scamander and his companions had just begun.
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