I’m not going to waste much time here, since I have a lot of film to talk about, but let me just say something about 2017: it was absolutely god-damn ridiculous. No joke, this might be one of the best years for movies I’ve ever lived through or, at the very least, seen since I started writing about the medium on the internet. The amount of absolutely great (many all-time great) movies released in the last 12 months verged on the insane, and made the formation of such a Top 10 list seem like such a foolish endeavor. I could have had a Top 30 list and still not had enough room to fit everything I loved. That’s how good this year was.
But, hey, I love needless list-making, and I’m a stickler for set rules. Plus I’m lazy, and don’t really want to put the work into writing blurbs for 30 films (though I might publish a separate list of honorable mentions in the coming days — we shall see.) So, instead, I had to go about the painstaking process of whittling down my list to only 10 movies, the cream of the cream of the cream of the crop’s cream, as it were. And by initiating the doctrine of “No Givesies Backsies,” these 10 choices will now remain set in stone. Without further ado, here is my finalized list of the Top 10 films of 2017.
10. The Florida Project
Logic would dictate that the hardest position to decide on a Top 10 list would be the #1 spot…but in my near-decade of writing these lists, I’ve never found that to be the case. No, the hardest one for me has always been the number 10 spot — and that’s never been truer than in my Top 10 movies of 2017 list. There’s literally a dozen (if not more!) films all fighting for inclusion on the list, and the number 10 spot serves as the big gateway to it. For that reason, I think I’ve changed my number 10 pick every week for the past two months. There’s just too many good films.
But, ultimately? I went with Sean Baker’s The Florida Project, a beautiful and devastating drama about life on the poorest end of the poor. A premise like that would seem to lead itself to mawkishness, but it speaks to Baker’s skill as a filmmaker that everything in The Florida Project felt true-to-life, and achingly real in a way that lends itself to the stunning filmmaking at play. The acting from the two unknowns is absolutely unbelievable (especially young Brooklynn Prince in a star-making turn), and Willem Dafoe brings to life one of my favorite film characters in recent years. The Florida Project is a film that destroyed me emotionally, but only in ways that a powerful drama can. And, on that note, the ending is very good and fits the film well — I don’t care what any of you say!
9. War for the Planet of the Apes
Guys. Just…guys. This new Planet of the Apes trilogy is crazy. Never in a million years did I expect a rebooted Planet of the Apes to end my favorite trilogy of the 21st Century so far — but I think it just might be it. Really, the whole thing is a marvel — how director Matt Reeves managed to steer this thing into a deeply powerful, action-packed, wholly cinematic sci-fi masterpiece is beyond me. But with his one-two punch of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes, I completely believe he has. And even though the latter film isn’t quite up to the level of greatness that Dawn was, it’s still bloody great and, more than anything, more ambitious than I ever thought possible. I still can’t believe that Fox gave money to Matt Reeves to make his weird-ass quasi-western mood poem starring Andy Serkis pretending to be a primate. It’s unbelievable that this movie exists, and more unbelievable that it absolutely worked. War for the Planet of the Apes was as fitting an end to this trilogy as I could possibly imagine, and very much cements its status as a blockbuster series we’ll be talking about for decades to come. Plus, Bad Ape. Gotta love that Bad Ape.
8. John Wick: Chapter 2
A good action movie is surprisingly hard to come by these days, what with the world of blockbusters eating up the genre and spitting it back up torn to pieces. The 80’s this is not, and to find a straight-laced, balls-to-the-wall action movie that doesn’t involve someone with superhero powers or magical abilities is, well, quite the challenging task. Except for in February 2017, in which a man by the name of John Wick came to remind us all how invigorating the genre can be. Encapsulating everything a good action movie should be (and a good sequel, for that matter), John Wick’s second turn-at-bat outdid the first in every way. More explosive, dynamic action. A faster-paced plot that never slowed down for even a second. And even more of the batty, silly, but ultimately commendable world-building that makes this entire franchise so unique, even amongst other action movies. John Wick: Chapter 2 is a high water mark for the genre I haven’t seen since the likes of The Raid, and with a more engrossing story to boot. If the original John Wick was the birth of a new action franchise, then John Wick: Chapter 2 served as proof that he was very much here to stay. Bring on John Wick: Chapter 3 — 2019 can’t come fast enough.
7. The Shape of Water
I like Guillermo del Toro a lot, and find most of his movies to be very good (except Hellboy II, which was very fucking great), but he’s not a director that often inspires much passion for me. I can certainly recognize his talents, and appreciate his love of the medium, but even his best stuff (Pan’s Labyrinth, probably) often fails to get an emotional rise out of me. But that very much changes with The Shape of Water, his monster movie love story that is 100% perfect, unfiltered Del Toro. And I pretty much loved it completely. A mesmerizing, magical experience, The Shape of Water is a delight from start to finish. Featuring a whole cast giving fantastic performances (special shout-out to Richard Jenkins, proving how essential he is to any movie he becomes a part of) and boasting some amazing effects (you can always count on Del Toro for that, at least), The Shape of Water has a lot going for it. But like all wonderful movies, it’s how everything coalesces that makes the movie so damn great. And very few movies coalesce as well as The Shape of Water does. It’s my favorite of Del Toro’s work, and a high watermark for his career so far (just let me have that pun, okay? I’m very proud of myself for it.)
6. Your Name
If you want to get technical about it, Your Name is actually a 2016 release, with its initial blockbuster launch occurring all over the world then, including theaters in Los Angeles and New York (for last year’s Oscar qualifications, naturally.) Usually, I’m a stickler for such rules when it comes to making my list…but you know what? Fuck it, Your Name is so fantastic I’m throwing my rules to the side this time around. Regardless of if it is a 2016 or 2017 release, Your Name is a treasure. Funny, exciting, heartwarming, thought-provoking, and absolutely beautiful — Your Name manages to be all these things without even breaking a sweat. And considering how much plot the film ultimately goes through, that’s pretty much a marvel. Your Name is like if Charlie Kaufman decided he wanted to make an anime and, trust me, that’s quite the high compliment. The whole world fell in love with this movie (its made hundreds of millions of dollars, after all), but of course silly Americans and their aversion to Japanese animation failed to pay it much attention. But, hey, their lost. Your Name is a new anime classic, and absolutely should not be missed.
5. The Big Sick
I see a lot of great movies in any given year, but very few of them are so great that they leave me seething with jealousy. A happy seething, mind you (a gleething?), but still just pure, uncut jealousy. Because the only thing I could think about after watching The Big Sick was how Kumali Nanjiani, Emily Gordon, and Michael Showalter just made the perfect modern romantic comedy, and exactly the type of movie I could only dream of making. It’s rare for a filmmaker to so heavily tap into what drives me as a creative, but The Big Sick managed to do that…in addition to being gut-bustingly funny and emotionally satisfying to boot. The Big Sick really has it all, and I can only hope that its success will lead to more films like it down the line. It’s the best Judd Apatow-ian film in years, and that’s including like a decade of the directors own work. And, please, Hollywood — don’t skip on making Kumali Nanjiani a star. After he solidified his talents with this film, the ball is very much in the industry’s court.
4. Lady Bird
A lot of what I wrote above can also be applied to Lady Bird — if not slightly more so, what with the film scoring a rank higher on the list. Lady Bird made me laugh, it made me emotional, it made me awestruck, and most importantly in the film’s favor, it made me reflect on my own life in a way that only a deeply personal, impactful film can. The magic of Lady Bird isn’t in its fabulous performances (though, wow, everyone in that cast) or in its fantastic script (though, wow, Greta Gerwig) or in its great direction (what the fuck were you thinking with that snub shit, Golden Globes?), but in how it manages to impact every single person who sees it. Like every good coming-of-age film, there’s a mix of relatability and nostalgia at play that can elevate the genre at the best of times. I am not a teenage girl from Sacramento who attended a Catholic high school, nor have I ever been one (pretty sure.) But I didn’t have to be in order to find Lady Bird’s story to be achingly, awkwardly, beautifully real. In many ways, I was Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson. Hell, weren’t we all at one point? Many films fail to connect with their viewer in such a powerful way, but Lady Bird does it with ease. And, for that, is one of the best coming-of-age stories ever told.
3. Baby Driver
I am tempted to just insert the “Hocus Focus” foot chase as proof to why Baby Driver is my number 3 film of 2017, but even that I feel wouldn’t do the film enough justice. On my birthday this year, I got the best gift imaginable — Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver, a pop-rock action-opera that is unlike anything else I have ever seen in my life, and makes for some of the most magical 113 minutes of film I’ve seen all year. It’s a film that Wright has been working towards his entire career, and encapsulates everything about him that makes him one of the best filmmakers around: the energy, the humor, the creativity, the insane editing — this is all Edgar Wright at his absolute best. I could watch Baby Driver at pretty much any time in my life, and have a complete and utter blast with it the whole way through. Very few films can do that, but having watched the entire thing over half a dozen times at this point, I’m pretty confident that Baby Driver makes the list. Also, seriously though…that “Hocus Pocus” chase.
The fact there’s also, like, a dozen other moments just as amazing just speaks to how wonderful this little action musical is. Thank god for Edgar Wright. The world of film would be a far less fun place without him.
2. Blade Runner 2049
Trust me, I’m surprised to see Blade Runner 2049 this high on my list as you are. Even after coming out of my first viewing of the film and being extremely high on it, I didn’t think it would be able to get this far up on my overall list for the year. But the more I come away from Blade Runner 2049, the more I love it even more. We simply don’t get this kind of huge, thoughtful, beautiful science fiction that often, especially in this day-and-age. I mean, just look at the film’s box office, and you’ll very much see why. But while it’s disappointing to see Blade Runner 2049 fail to find a huge audience, that’s literally the only disappointing thing about it. Literally every other single factor in Blade Runner 2049 is A+ work. The direction, the cinematography, the production design, the acting, the writing, the action, the special effects — seriously, damn near everything. On top of all that, the film has something very interesting to say about the nature of artificial intelligence, and has the time to also provide a useful and throught-provoking twist on the standard hero’s journey. Blade Runner 2049 is everything I could want from a piece of science fiction, and that’s something coming from a guy who doesn’t even love the original. Everyone always says that Blade Runner is a masterpiece, and I’m just left kind of shrugging my shoulders at the concept. But if they say that Blade Runner 2049 is a masterpiece? I would high-five them effusively, because they are 100% goddamn right.
But, alas, there were TWO masterpieces of film released in 2017…both of which, coincidentally, were co-written by Michael Green (that dude is my MVP of the year, that’s for sure.) But as much as I loved Blade Runner 2049, no film in 2017 had a larger impact on me than James Mangold’s Logan. Which, like Blade Runner 2049, surprised the hell out of me. I liked Mangold’s previous The Wolverine a lot, and thought Logan had a lot of promise in the first trailers, but damn — I never expected to fall head-over-heels in love with the film as I have. It’s the kind of movie that I watch pretty much awe-struck the entire time, absolutely captivated by what is unfolding on the screen in front of me, and mesmerized by how pitch-perfect it all is. The final journey of the X-Men’s flagship character does not deserve to be this incredible, or this unique, or this as emotionally devastating. I was not prepared for how gob-smackingly great Logan would be when I saw it the first time and, after it was done, I just sat in my seat in silence as I took it all in. It was my favorite movie of the year at that point, but of course it was only March — I figured that would change as the weeks went on.
It never did. While my list adjusted wildly on a day-to-day basis (hell, I’ve even made a few switcheroos while writing it right now), Logan never shifted from the top spot of it. Just to make sure I wasn’t inflating my opinion of the film, I rewatched it again (purchasing the $30 Best Buy steelbook version of the Blu-Ray, a rare home video splurge for me that I don’t regret in the slightest.) And I loved it just as much, if not more, the second time. This is everything I love about superhero movies, and apocalyptic stories, and just damn good character dramas. The action is incredible, the writing is incredible, the performances are incredible (goddamn you Academy for ignoring Patrick Stewart’s heartbreaking performance as the dementia-riddled Professor X), and the central relationship at the core of the film is so powerful and true that the final few minutes leaft me a destroyed, emotionally abused mess…in the best way possible, of course. Few pieces of pop culture have left an impact on me as strongly as the ending of Logan did. But it took two hours of other perfect storytelling to get me there, and that alone makes Logan a masterpiece of the superhero genre — and my favorite film of 2017.
But, once again, it was a stacked year, so the competition was fierce for the title. But going into 2018, I can only hope for half as many great films as we got in the past twelve months. Like 2017, we’re going to need it if we hope to make it through another goddamn year of Donald Fucking Trump. Here’s to entertainment in 2018 — may you coddle us all up in a blanket of sweet, sweet comfort for as long as humanly possible.
Also published on Medium.
The Captain Marvel Teaser Trailer Is Here, And…It’s The First Trailer for A New Marvel Movie, All Right
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
The release of the Captain Marvel teaser trailer has been pretty hotly anticipated, arguably more so than many of the other Marvel movie trailers that have come before it. The primary reason for the excitement is of course due to the conclusion of Avengers: Infinity War, which I’m going to spoil because come on now, you’re reading this article, I know where your interests lie. Suffice to say, the downer ending of Inifinty War, in which seemingly all of Marvel’s newest characters up and fade away into nothing, has fans buzzing to see what is coming next. And with the trailer for Avengers 4: Titles Are Dumb still many months away, Captain Marvel represents our best shot yet at seeing just what Marvel intends to do with this universe going forward, and how the titular character will ultimately factor into it.
But even removing the snap from the equation, there’s plenty of reason to be eager about Captain Marvel on its own merits. This has been one of those MCU movies that was seemingly announced forever ago, and to paraphrase Marvel’s other big female superhero with her name in the title, it’s about damn time we actually get to see Marvel Studio’s first female-fronted superhero project. It might come as a shock to no one that the trailer shows the answer to that being, well…a Marvel superhero movie. Whether or not that excites you largely depends on your attachment to the brand overall.
Myself? I’m already in the bag for this cinematic universe so, really, this trailer could have been two minutes of Kevin Feige jet-skiing on his bag of money while smoking a very well put together Dollar Bill Blunt™, and I still would have had the movie on my list of most anticipated films of 2019. And with the MCU on a hot streak of, like, ten good-to-great movies in row, I would feel no regrets at all about doing so. As I have written many times in the past, Marvel Studios has earned my trust, in pretty much everything they do.
But to dive into the nitty-gritty of the trailer itself? It’s perfectly fine. It follows the modern blockbuster teaser trailer to a T, with the loud symphonic music playing over a bunch of vague money shots of CGI and action moments, paired with an equally vague but well-delivered monologue about, well, anything really. The fact that said monologue is coming out of the mouth of Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury (as they so often do in the MCU) is extra points, though. Paired on top of that is the fact that said Nick Fury is looking all young and two-eyed, with disturbingly little uncanny effect to speak of in digitally recreating a mid-90’s Samuel L. Jackson. Which I’m aware is ironic, considering that the Uncanny Effect in and of itself speaks to the idea of something being so photo-realistic that the human mind, in turn, perceives it as unnatural. This is so photo-realistic and natural in the moment that, only upon true reflection, do I get really creeped out. Call it the Uncanny Uncanny Valley Effect Effect.
Oh right, the Captain Marvel trailer! So yeah, it’s one of those things where the most noteworthy aspect of the trailer lies in how unnoteworthy it is. Really it’s hard for me to gauge what exactly this movie will be, with the two-minute teaser doing little to fill in the tone or mood of the piece outside of “new superhero movie.” There’s some weird stuff going on timeline wise which, in the movie, might be really cool and unique. In the trailer, however, it’s kind of so jumbled up in editing that I’m not entirely sure what’s going down (so Carol Danvers has amnesia, or…?) Even more disappointing is the lack of a real “trailer moment,” something big and memorable ala Thor’s reaction to Hulk’s arrival in the Thor: Ragnarok tease, or Black Panther’s car flip, or even the lie that was the Avengers running together in the Infinity War trailer. The closest this trailer comes to a noteworthy shot is Carol Danvers sucker punching an old lady which, really, is only memorable for the “WTFness?” alone. I did like the brief image of Captain Marvel running up the side of the train, though, and some of the rotation shots at least point to an interesting style that directors Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden could be employing. That’s really the only hint of a unique approach or style in this trailer, though.
Lack of style isn’t exaclty bad, really, but not exactly fodder for overwhelming excitement either. Compared to something like Guardians of the Galaxy’s first trailer (where the “Hooked on a Feeling” scored edit made clear just exactly what kind of film we were dealing with) or Avengers: Age of Ultron’s first trailer (which wowed through pure mood and imagery alone), Captain Marvel falls short. Not bad, just short.
All that being said, it’s not like being merely “good” puts Captain Marvel significantly behind the first looks of other MCU films. In fact, I would say the majority of first trailers for Marvel Studios films have only been good, with only a few really strong ones being truly excellent in my mind. And with all but a handful of those films being great at the end of the day, I have no doubt Captain Marvel has the goods to keep Marvel’s winning streak going. We’ll find out when the film hits theaters March 8, 2019.
Also published on Medium.
James Gunn Fired From Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Over Offensive Tweets…And Fuck If I Know How To Feel About It
Is it the right thing? Is it the wrong thing? Does it even matter? Who the fuck knows.
Ever since Weinstein (or longer, really, with the Film Twitter outing of people like Devin Faraci and Harry Knowles feeling like the true kick-off in my mind,) I’ve become accustomed to seeing people I admire be suddenly and without much warning outed as bad people, and dropped like a hot potato from Hollywood at large. For a while there, it almost became something of a daily ritual: wake up, take a shit, find out someone I love is shit, put out a shitty response on a shitty certain network (you know the one), and continue with my day. It might hurt for a while, but ultimately I’ve viewed this entire #MeToo thing as a necessary pain for both the industry and our culture: bad people being outed and shamed for doing bad things, from Louis C.K. to Roseanne, was a necessary step in the betterment of our society. Even if things debatably went “too far,” (which I would argue was rarer than the alternative), I was pretty resolute in my opinion that everything going on was “right.”
I still feel this way, in regards to #MeToo. But today’s piece of Hollywood shaming is not about #MeToo, at least not directly. This isn’t an example of a person mentally or physically abusing someone, and getting away with it for years. Nor is it an example of a person saying something offensive or reprehensible, and facing swift punishment for it. No, James Gunn getting fired from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 comes in the form of tweets….really bad tweets…from over a decade ago.
The background, just in case you need it: James Gunn has been the writer/director of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise thus far, a task he has handled with aplomb. They are critical hits, audience hits, and box office hits. And perhaps more than any other current MCU series (give or take a Thor: Ragnarok), Gunn’s unique voice is clear throughout both films, in the musical choices (all his) to the jokes and gags (mostly his.) He puts one hell of a unique stamp on the MCU, and even if the Guardians movies aren’t my absolute favorite of the franchise overall (hint: you can see where they both rank here), they are dependably great in large part because of him. So regardless of the reasons for his firing, this would be a damn shame, and a massive blow to the future of the MCU post Avengers 4.
But the circumstances of his firing turn things into, frankly, a clusterfuck of political and ethical and moral quandaries that I’m far figuring out my exact position on. I will make one thing completely clear though: the tweets in question that lead to Gunn’s firing are UNACCEPTABLE. They are in incredibly poor taste, stink of someone trying way too hard to be “edgy” (one of my least favorite character traits in a person, really), and are not even the slightest bit funny. Even just putting the morality of the tweets aside, everything about the ethos behind the tweets represents someone I would never want to encounter, nor want to support. Not just because the subject matter is bad, but because the sentiment behind it (SHOCKING and IN YOUR FACE and NOT AFRAID TO GO THERE humor) is so unbearable.
All that being said…this is a lot more complicated than simply being about bad tweets. The timetable for one is important, as pretty much all the tweets are from nearly a decade ago, and Gunn hasn’t exhibited the same penchant for that type of “humor” in the years since joining Disney and Marvel. Gunn also seems to be expressing remorse about the jokes, lauching a Twitter thread owning the horrid nature of the jokes, while still trying to explain how he has moved forward as a person and changed in the years since making them:
2. It’s not to say I’m better, but I am very, very different than I was a few years ago; today I try to root my work in love and connection and less in anger. My days saying something just because it’s shocking and trying to get a reaction are over.
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) July 20, 2018
4. For the record, when I made these shocking jokes, I wasn’t living them out. I know this is a weird statement to make, and seems obvious, but, still, here I am, saying it.
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) July 20, 2018
5. Anyway, that’s the completely honest truth: I used to make a lot of offensive jokes. I don’t anymore. I don’t blame my past self for this, but I like myself more and feel like a more full human being and creator today. Love you to you all.
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) July 20, 2018
He was equally as remorseful in a written statement he released following Disney’s official decision to cut ties with him:
My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative. I have regretted them for many years since — not just because they were stupid, not at all funny, wildly insensitive, and certainly not provocative like I had hoped, but also because they don’t reflect the person I am today or have been for some time.”
“Regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today. Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then. All I can do now, beyond offering my sincere and heartfelt regret, is to be the best human being I can be: accepting, understanding, committed to equality, and far more thoughtful about my public statements and my obligations to our public discourse. To everyone inside my industry and beyond, I again offer my deepest apologies. Love to all.”
So yeah: the tweets were bad then, are bad now, and everybody involved is aware of this. But is Gunn’s stupid jokes from a decade ago enough to take everything away from him? Furthermore, the tweets were a matter of pubic record for years: did Disney really not search Gunn’s history to see examples of his past public behavior? Did Gunn really not consider, in his years of reflection, that these tweets were terrible and should be purged before they got him in trouble? Apparently not, although I’m sure both parties will consider that a high priority moving forward. We’ve seen people get in trouble for bad tweets, even ones that were many years old (I remember Trevor Noah’s sexist “controversy,” do you?), but this is the first time I can remember that a studio actually had to respond to it in such a strong manner. Like with Roseanne before him, Disney has shown they are willing to cut ties with people they deem to be even a little bit controversial…for better or worse, really.
Of course, I can’t ignore the political angle of this, which adds just another shit nugget to the entirety of the proceedings. The main reason these tweets came to light in the first place was due to a concentrated effort of right-wing trolls (led by human diarrhea bag Mike Cernovich) to basically knock Gunn down a peg, and show that the outspoken director was guilty of his own bad behavior in the past. I want to make it clear: nothing that Cernovich or his ilk do, in my mind, is “right.” But the unfortunate, ugly truth of the matter is that this outcry had the desired effect — Gunn lost his job, and has been Publically Shamed on the Internet™. This counts as a gross win for them, but should we just pretend this is better than it is, because it benefits a bunch of people who are awful?
While there’s certainly a part of me that wants to rally against the forces that conspired to take down Gunn, it’s a lot harder to do that when actually looking at some of the tweets that he made. Would it not be hypocritical of me to cheer on the collapse of Roseanne Barr, while at the same time trying to defend Gunn and his actions? One of my least favorite things in the whole goddamn world is hypocrisy, and there’s plenty of that all-over today. Case in point: the alt-right cheering on the public shaming of an “enemy” over the “jokes” he made, when the same fuckers probably would be bemoaning about policial correctness and “social justice warriors” if it was someone they viewed to be on their side. Equally as hypocritical is some of the response I’ve seen from more left-leaning people: now they are the ones using the tactics of “it was a long time ago!” and “they were just jokes!” and a myriad of other ways of rationalizing Gunn’s behavior. That shit hasn’t excused past people celebrities who were Publically Shamed on the Internet™, and I don’t think it’s right to give Gunn the benefit of the doubt just because we like him.
On the same token…they were tweets. From a decade ago. And I’m not comfortably completely crucifying the man over them. But if it was someone I disliked…would I be? Would we all be? This matter is complicated as hell, and I’m not sure who is right or wrong here, or even if there is a true right or wrong. This kind of situation requires more nuance than I, or probably anyone sounding off on Twitter and the rest of the internet, can probably muster. All I know is that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is going to suffer big time for this, and that Marvel is going to have to work hard on restoring the damage to the brand. I return to the business and fanboy matters because, honestly, that’s all I can rationalize without feeling like I am wrong in some way. Because when it comes to the mortality and ethics of what happened here today, I’ll reiterate:
Fuck if I know.
Also published on Medium.
10 Other Members of The Americans Cast Who Should Be Put In A Star War (And The Roles That They Could Play)
Keri Russell should just be the start of alum from FX’s hit spy drama joining the Star Wars universe.
The talk of the fanboy town this weekend was Keri Russell, a frequent J.J. Abrams cohort, joining the cast of Star Wars: Episode IX (or whatever it might end up being titled.) The think pieces came fast and furious from nearly the moment the casting was first announced, which shouldn’t be too much of a surprise: when any new detail drops about one of these Star Wars films, people will inevitably spend way too much time theorizing about what is to come, for better or (mostly) worse. But when it comes to my initial reaction to the casting, I only had two thoughts: 1) oh my god what is J.J. Abrams going to do to Keri Russell’s hair this time and 2) it’s so damn great to see The Americans cast get work.
Coming off of five years of being perhaps the best dramatic ensemble on television, I truly would be happy to see all of the cast members of The Americans land roles in huge films following the conclusion of the show. And not just huge films, mind you — I’m talking Star Wars huge films. Truly The Americans cast is versatile enough to land any role they could want in the galaxy far, far away, and with Russell’s casting, all I could think about (aside from how amazing she’s going to end up being in the movie, of course) was what her fellow cast members could also bring to the extended franchise.
And I’m a silly person who happens to have a blog so, sorry, you have to be present for my ramblings on such niche, unasked subjects! So here are 10 other members of The Americans cast who deserve a shot at a Star Wars gig and, for the hell of it, the character archetypes they would be great for in the universe. Thank me later, Kathleen Kennedy!
Matthew Rhys (Philip Jennings):
I’ll let my first post-Keri Russell casting tweet speak for itself here:
Since we've gotten this far, can we go the whole nine yards and have Matthew Rhys cast as a roguish "Han Solo" type in one of these? Welsh accent included, of course.
— Matthew Legarreta (@mattlegarreta) July 6, 2018
Holly Taylor (Paige Jennings):
Rey’s previously unmentioned bestie/roommate back home on Jakku. They stay up all night chowing down on dehydrated bread and talking about desert problems, as you do.
Noah Emmerich (Stan Beeman):
Maybe it’s recency bias, but I can’t help but imagine Emmerich playing a tough bounty hunter character. That being said, it will be pretty tragic when he realizes his co-pilot and best friend was his target the whole time. What a dramatic scene they will end up having in the Star Wars equivalent of a parking garage, though.
Brandon J. Dirden (Dennis Aderholt):
Brandon J. Dirden holds himself up with such calm and levelheaded prestige as an actor…making him a perfect choice to play a hapless senator trying to do the right thing, but missing the fact that OOPS an electric wizard is in control now. Bummer!
Costa Ronin (Oleg Burov):
I can definitely see Costa Ronin playing the cool, confident gangster type. He’ll also have a robot arm, for some reason. And he should keep his Season 6 beard, because DAMN does he rock the hell out of it.
Alison Wright (Martha):
Padme in a set of prequel remakes. Because if anyone could sell the anguish of being betrayed by someone they deeply loved for years, only for them to end up being a completely different person than who they thought they were, it would be her. Poor Martha…
Margo Martindale (Claudia):
It’s Character Actress Margot Martindale! Let her be whatever she wants! A Jedi master, a Sith Lord, a crime boss, a droid, a wookie, a gungan — she can do it all, dang it!
Frank Langella (Gabriel):
Let him be the kindest Jedi master ever. OR the most evil Sith Lord to ever exist. Frank Langella is somehow capable of channeling both.
Mail Robot (Mail Robot):
The new official droid mascot of Star Wars, duh! NEXT.
Keidrich Sellati (Henry Jennings):
…He can also be present.
Also published on Medium.
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