As the fall draws closer, it brings with it the start of Oscar season, when every studio unveils its biggest, buzziest and most dramatic films in an attempt to earn some recognition on the biggest night in Hollywood. And while every year does turn out a great deal of excellent films and incredible performances, at a certain point they all start to feel the same, with one domestic drama blending into another and period pieces all attempting to outshine each other. But there is some variety hidden amongst the Oscar bait, with some films providing original, interesting stories or creative twists on classic plots. In case you’re looking to add some variety to your fall film lineup, we’ve run down the best, most original awards bait hitting theaters this fall. Once December hits, however, it's every moviegoer for himself.
Interstellar Smack dab in the middle of Oscar season, Christopher Nolan will finally unveil his latest epic, Interstellar. Part post-apocalyptic drama, part space opera, part Hollywood blockbuster, and Phase II of the McConaissance, the film follows a group of explorers who set off in for a wormhole that will allow them to travel from one solar system to another in search of resources that can save the earth now that it’s run out of food. So, you know, just your usual low-key, easy to follow, low-stakes story. Opens: November 7
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby Every year, there’s at least one Oscar baity film the centers on a relationship falling apart, but The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby puts a new spin on that old classic by creating an epic, two-part film that tells the story from both his (James McAvoy) and her (Jessica Chastain) perspectives. Since premiering at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival to rave reviews, we’ve been waiting impatiently for our chance to see the film. As it turns out, we’ll actually get two: a one-film version which blends both sides together will be released along with the original two-film version. Opens: September 12
The Boxtrolls Of all the films being released at the end of 2014 – war epics, biopics, highly-anticipated comebacks – one of the most exciting is an animated film about the friendly trolls who live under the sewers of a small English village. That’s because The Boxtrolls is the latest film from Laika, the stop-motion studio that has made such wonderful films as Coraline and ParaNorman. Like its predecessors, The Boxtrolls looks like an incredibly detailed, magical, funny adventure, but unlike them, we’re hoping that the studio will finally be able to get the recognition they deserve for their labors of love. And with no Disney or Pixar films to compete, they might finally have a shot. Opens: September 26
Gone Girl We know, we know: you’re probably sick of hearing about Gone Girl. But the buzz surrounding the film, its stars, the book it’s based on doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon, so you might as well embrace it. Besides, it gives us yet another opportunity to study the enigma that is Ben Affleck’s career. Will he get a third Oscar for this? Will it finally make people take him seriously as an actor and filmmaker? Are we all going to stop praising him the second the first trailer for Batman V. Superman comes out? Nobody knows. Opens: October 3
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Fury It wouldn’t be awards season without a World War II drama, and 2014 is no exception. However, in addition to the typical slate of inspiring biopics and domestic dramas about the home-front, Brad Pitt and David Ayer are offering Fury. It’s a small-scale – well, as small scale as a world war gets – film about the lives and missions of a single tank crew tasked with venturing behind enemy lines, and it features a cast of acclaimed, yet underappreciated actors like Logan Lerman, Jon Berenthal, and Michael Pena. Just when you thought you’d seen every single war drama that’s been made, there finally comes one that’s actually intriguing. Opens: November 14
Kill the Messenger His Avengers co-star Robert Downey Jr. might have a higher-profile film opening that day, but we’re much more interested in Jeremy Renner’s Kill the Messenger. Based on the true story of Gary Webb, a reporter who uncovered the CIA’s connection to the Nicaraguan drug trade, the film centers on the manhunt that Webb became a part of after going public with his evidence. It’s the biggest, most intense role that Renner has had since The Hurt Locker, and after years of being overlooked in favor of his showier co-star, we’re excited to see him get some of the attention he deserves. Opens: October 10
Birdman Everyone love a comeback story, right? Well, how about one that’s a little more surreal? That’s what Michael Keaton is going for with his upcoming film Birdman, which takes places over the course of the several days in which washed-up actor Riggan Thompson, who made his name as superhero, attempts to mount a comeback with a play that he wrote, directed and is starring in. With Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu at the helm and a cast featuring Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, and Edward Norton, we’d be interested in this even if it weren’t Keaton’s first big film in years. Opens: October 17
Beyond the Lights After winning over audiences everywhere with her breakthrough role in Amma Asante’s Belle, Gugu Mbatha-Raw is set to prove that she can do more than just period pieces with Beyond the Lights. Mbatha-Raw plays Noni, a Rihanna-like pop star struggling with being a puppet for her pushy stage mom and greedy record executives, who finds joy in a relationship with down-to-earth cop Kaz (Nate Parker). The story might be familiar to anyone who saw Britney Spears’ “Lucky” video, but it’s the perfect opportunity for Mbatha-Raw to really showcase her talent with a role that requires her to sing, dance, fall in love, and break our hearts. Opens: November 14
August: a month for last-minute vacations, frantic back to school shopping and the biggest television event of the year. No, not the Super Bowl or the season premiere of Game of Thrones; we're referring to the Emmy Awards, the one night when the best performances and shows of the past year are honored with awards and a host that will inevitably be compared to Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. With just two weeks to go until the ceremony, people are already predicting whether they think Matthew McConaughey will manage to unseat Bryan Cranston's reign of terror or if this will finally be the year that someone besides Jim Parsons get a win, but we're not interested in who will take home the trophies. We'd much rather shed the spotlight on who we think should win, highlighting the actors and shows that have entertained, thrilled and kept us glued to our TV sets all year long. First up in our series — and likely in the show itself — we take a look our picks for the Best Supporting Actor and Actress in a Comedy Series. And the nominees are...
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Nominees:Fred Armisen, Portlandia Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine Ty Burrell, Modern Family Adam Driver, Girls Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family Tony Hale, Veep
Who Should Win?Andre Braugher, as the majestic deadpan police captain Ray Holt on Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Though it took Brooklyn Nine-Nine a little while to settle into the hilarious ensemble comedy that it’s become, they’ve always had an ace up their sleeve in the form of Braugher’s Captain Ray Holt. Thanks to his pitch-perfect deadpan delivery that somehow manages to convey everything from condescension to amusement to excitement to devastation, and his ability to lend some gravitas to even the most ridiculous of situations, Braugher quickly emerged as one of the show’s funniest performers. Nine-Nine played off of his reputation for intensely serious characters, but also allowed him moments of weirdness – like the episode where he carried two puppies around for no reason, or the sweet afro and moustache that he gets to rock in flashbacks – to create a character that’s full of surprises and is always hard to read. Despite being a supporting actor, Braugher has handily carried several episodes of the first season, and his skill at playing off of everyone else in the cast in hilarious, unexpected ways has helped the writers find the right way to balance all of the strong personalities.
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Nominees:Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory Julie Bowen, Modern Family Anna Chlumsky, VeepAllison Janney, MomKate McKinnon, Saturday Night LiveKate Mulgrew, Orange is the New Black
Who Should Win?Anna Chlumsky, as the vice president's just-barely-hanging-on Chief of Staff Amy Brookheimer on Veep.
This is a tough category, and there are several actresses (Janney, McKinnon, and Mulgrew) that we’d be thrilled to see take home the trophy on Emmy night. Still, it’s Chlumsky’s workaholic, foul-mouthed, Hendrix-texting chief of staff Amy Brookheimer who really stands out, thanks to a season in which she competed for, lost out on, and then earned back the role of managing Selina’s presidential campaign. Though her ability to deliver a well-timed insult or profanity-laden one-liner gets most of the attention, Chlumsky’s also brilliant at playing the quieter moments, when stress, anxiety, disgust or boredom are clear on Amy’s face. Season 3 also gave her the ability to play off of some new characters, and her high-strung frustration is the perfect counterpoint to both Dan’s hyper-competitive nature and Gary’s awkward passiveness. Every time she’s onscreen, Chulmsky seems to be functioning at 120 percent and her performance is intense, exhausting and hilarious, week after week.
It's August now, which means that days are getting shorter, movie theaters are trading explosions for emotional drama, and fall television premieres are fast approaching. Sure, you could spend these last few weeks enjoying the sunshine or going to the beach, but wouldn't it be more fun (and productive) to use the longer days to finally have that Scandal marathon you've been meaning to get to? Once September comes, you'll have a hard time finding the time in your schedule and space in your DVR to keep track of all of the biggest, buzziest, and most addicting shows on television. In order to help you use the end of summer wisely, we've run down all of the shows you should make time to catch up on before they return in the fall. After all, do you really want to be the only one who can't quote Luther the Anger Translator? We thought not.
Scandal: Returns September 25 at 9 pm The fun of watching Scandal consists of one part shouting at the television (“No, Olivia! You’re better than him!”), one part attempting to keep up with the crazy twists and turns, and one part live-tweeting the show with a glass of wine. Don’t be the only person on you timeline not keeping up with Olivia, Fitz, and Mellie just because the last season started giving you a headache. Besides, this is your shot to try and catch all of the ridiculous ways that the show tried to conceal Kerry Washington’s pregnancy with drapey cardigans and well-placed props. Where to Catch Up: Netflix Instant
Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Returns September 28 at 8:30 pm We know, we know: you’re not a fan of Andy Samberg. That’s okay, you’re still going to love Brooklyn Nine-Nine anyway. Though the first few episodes were focused more on his character, Jake Peralta, the show quickly settled into an ensemble comedy that balanced out his over-the-top traits to find a remarkably self-assured sitcom, despite only producing one season. Come on, you know you want to watch Andre Braugher deadpan his way through a conversation about hula hopping, Terry Crews attempt to put together a princess castle and Joe Lo Truglio talk about “mouth feel.” (It’s less gross than it sounds.) Where to Catch Up: Hulu Plus
Parks and Recreation: Return date TBA We’ll be the first to admit that the sixth season of Parks and Rec wasn’t the show’s strongest. Still the back half had plenty of strong episodes and hilarious moments – including Ben drunkenly attempting to climb a fence and Donna threatening to embarrass her cousin, Ginuwine, at the Unity Concert - and the season finale shook everything up before the seventh and final season. And let’s be real, you probably still haven’t hit Chris Pratt overload yet, and there’s no greater joy than watching him run around a store in giddy excitement because Leslie let him get two candies. Where to Catch Up: Netflix Instant, Hulu Plus
Key and Peele: Returns September 24 at 10:30 pm If you don’t fall into spasms of laughter every time you hear a football player’s ridiculous name or don’t understand why people keep pluralizing “Liam Neeson,” you definitely need to watch Key and Peele. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are masters of sketch comedy, and every episode has something for everyone, whether you’re interested in political satire, poorly-financed music videos, or substitute teachers prone to rage blackouts. Even President Obama watches Key and Peele, so you really should too. Where to Catch Up: Comedy Central.com, YouTube, Amazon
Sleepy Hollow: Returns September 22 at 9 pm The surprise hit of last year, Sleepy Hollow is the perfect mix of ridiculous, over-the-top camp and intense, twist-heavy drama. Maybe you never took it seriously in the first place, or maybe you couldn’t get into the first few episodes, but now’s the time to embrace the cheesy, supernatural excitement in order to add a little fun to your fall TV schedule. Trust us: it’s worth following for Nicole Beharie and Tom Misom’s chemistry alone. Where to Catch Up: Hulu Plus
Arrow: Returns October 8 at 8 pm Just in case you haven’t had enough superheroes, the CW has a few small-screen options as well. Arrow has everything you love about superhero movies, like handsome men, well-choreographed action sequences, wisecracking supporting characters, and the campy ridiculousness that comes with a show that features long sequences of Stephen Amell working out, on an addicting, weekly basis. All it’s really missing is a talking tree. Where to Catch Up: Netflix Instant, Hulu Plus
Parenthood: Returns September 25 at 10 pm Sometimes you want a television show that will keep you on the edge of your seat, sometimes you want a show that will make you laugh, but sometimes you want a show that will make you cry your eyes out and maybe call your mom. Parenthood is that show; it’s charming, relatable, heartwarming and tear-jerking and will help you recover from a bad day at work with a nice, cathartic cry. And for Friday Night Lights fans, there’s the additional benefit of trying to find the connections to Dillon. Where to Catch Up: Netflix Instant, Hulu Plus
The Mindy Project: Returns September 16 at 9:30 pm The Mindy Project isn’t a perfect show, but between seasons one and two, it’s improved drastically thanks to the addition of Xosha Roquemore and Adam Pally and the charming, goofy chemistry between Mindy Kaling and Chris Messina, which helped transform Danny Castellano from a handsome curmudgeon to a genuine romantic lead. Sure, the episodes are still a bit hit and miss and Ed Weeks deserves more than a B-plot, but there’s plenty to love about The Mindy Project, even if it is a bit difficult to get past the idea of Dennis Reynolds wooing a girl without the D.E.N.N.I.S. system. Where to Catch Up: Hulu Plus
Every Nicholas Sparks movie follows a similar formula. There are good looking people who fall in love, usually by a lake, and are separated by unforeseen circumstances – sometimes war, sometimes cancer, sometimes overprotective parents, sometimes all of the above. Eventually, they reconnect and fall back in love, only for a shocking twist to tear them apart again. Usually their love manages to transcend all obstacles. And every single time, without fail, you will cry.
Sparks’ latest film, The Best of Me, follows that formula to a T. (That’s not necessarily a bad thing; sometimes you just want something familiar and comfortable to cry to on rainy Saturday.) This time around, the pretty people that fall in love by the lake are named Amanda and Dawson (sadly not played by James Van Der Beek), and their relationship endures both her interfering father and his near-death experience. There is, of course, also a shocking twist... it’s just not the kind you’re thinking of.
See, for much of the trailer, you’re under the impression that this is going to be the tale of the star-crossed love between a teenage girl and her older, bad boy-with-a-heart-of-gold boyfriend. All the clues point to this being the plot: Amanda spots him brooding on his car by himself, he reads to her in trees, he dresses in the classic “tight shirt and jeans” uniform, her father wants to keep them apart for her own good. Oh, and Luke Bracey looks at least 15 years older than Liana Liberato. But then you keep watching the trailer, and it hits you. This isn’t a story about age being nothing but a number. In fact, they’re supposed to be the same age, despite the fact that he looks like he’s in his mid-30s and she’s clearly in high school. Even Dawson’s Creek did a better job of casting people who looked like they could be taking Algebra together, and most of that cast had been over the legal drinking age for years.
Once you get over that shock, you discover that Bracey is meant to be playing the younger version of James Marsden’s character — which is something of a problem, considering the fact that they look nothing alike. They don’t even have the same color eyes. And most bizarrely, whoever edited this video decided to highlight the disparity between the male leads with a slow dissolve from one to the other. Instead of thinking “Oh, how sweet, he always loved her,” you’re instead left going “Wait… does James Marsden actually look younger than his teenage self? What the hell?”
It’s strange. It’s bizarre. It jars you right out of whatever gooey, romantic thoughts about love overcoming time and parental disapproval and searching for clues to see if you can predict which character ends up having the terminal illness. It’s also the most fascinating a Nicholas Sparks movie has ever been, so maybe it was all done on purpose. Maybe his character has Benjamin Button’s disease and that’s why they can’t be together. It would, at the very least, be an exciting change from his standard cancer/war/dementia bag of tricks.
Hopefully we’ll be able to figure this whole thing out when The Best of Me opens on October 17.
Discovery Channel/Chris Fallows
Though we try our hardest to heed Tracy Jordan's advice, Discovery Channel's Shark Week is sadly a once-a-year phenomenon. It's the one time when everyone from kids to grandparents gather in front of the television to celebrate the ocean's most dangerous, fascinating, and surprisingly lovable creatures. You want shark attacks? Shark Week's got them. You want fascinating documentaries about scientific phenomena? They're here too. How about following brave, insane people into the darkest parts of the ocean to find the deadliest sharks in the world? There's one airing every two hours. Whether you're a newcomer to the joys of watching sharks bite cameras for four hours — it's much more entrancing than it sounds, trust us — or you've spent weeks pouring over the evidence of the Megalodon's existence, Shark Week's got something for you. We've broken down the network's prime time programming for the next six days to bring you a handy guide to the shark shows you really can't miss. Cue up the Jaws theme...
Most Likely to Make You Reevaluate Your Vacation Plans: Great White Serial Killer Part of the fun of Shark Week is learning about some of the legends and myths surrounding shark appearances, but Great White Serial Killer might top them all. See, according to locals, Surf Beach in California might be haunted by a great white shark that appears every year — on almost exactly the same day — to tear everything in sight to shreds. It’s the Jack the Ripper of Great Whites. If you were headed to California this year, you might want to see if your travel plans are flexible.Airs: August 11 at 8 pm
Proof that Everything is Better With Celebrity Appearances: Shark After Dark Regardless of how you might feel about after-shows like Talking Dead or After the Rose or Talking Bad, a Shark Week after-show will blow the rest of them out of the water. (For one thing, it doesn’t feel the need to shove the word “talking” into the title.) After all, the only thing better than discussing giant monster sharks with your friends is watching famous funny people talk about giant monster sharks. Don’t you want Sharknado survival tips from Tara Reid? Of course you do, you’re a human being.Airs: August 10 – 14 at 11 pm
Most Likely to Inspire a SyFy Movie: Alien Sharks: Return to the Abyss After two sharknadoes, a sharktopus, and a pteracuda, where else can SyFy turn to find inspiration for another terrifying shark hybrid than outer space? Granted, the actual show is about a search for the elusive ghost shark, a species that has thus far never actually been spotted in person. But just imagine what the makers of Sharknado would be able to do with the idea of an alien shark. We’re thinking lasers of some kind, telekinesis, and the ability to survive on land thanks to differing conditions on their home planet. They wouldn’t even have to change the title.Airs: August 12 at 9 pm
(Runner Up: Lair of the Mega Shark, because if you’re dumb enough to jump into a Sharknado, you’re probably dumb enough to venture into a demon shark lair. Airs: August 12 at 10 pm)
Most Enticing Use of the Phrase “Pregnant Shark”: Spawn of Jaws 2: The Birthing Sure, the title sounds like a B-horror movie that will probably haunt your dreams for years to come, but Spawn of Jaws 2 actually centers on a surprisingly intriguing topic: baby sharks in the wild. Is there anything in this world more adorable and terrifying than the idea of tiny, infant sharks swimming around, biting everything they come across? You might have to watch a shark give birth first, but everything in life has a trade-off. Do it for the baby sharks.Airs: August 13 at 10 pm
Least Recommended to Watch with Dinner: I Survived Jaws 2 You know what pairs best with a nice bowl or a pizza and some beer? How about horrifically gruesome shots of people’s limbs being bitten off while the ocean around them slowly turns red with their blood? You’re probably going to find it impossible to look away from the television, but we can guarantee that by the time the first commercial rolls around, you’ll have lost your appetite. Do the smart thing and eat first, and then, give thanks for all of your limbs.Airs: August 14 at 9 pm
Best Opportunity for Drinking Games and Drunken Live-Tweeting: Megalodon: The Extended Cut and Megalodon: The New Evidence Look, nobody actually believes that the Megalodon exists. Like Sasquatch and the Loch Ness Monster before it, the Megalodon is the kind of ridiculously campy urban myth that makes it the perfect Shark Week programming to make fun of on social media. Real-life shark attacks are too serious and gruesome, sharks giving birth are too weird, shark hunts are too boring, but a 60-foot shark that should have gone extinct thousands of years ago but might still be lurking in the ocean’s depths? That’s Twitter and drinking game gold.Airs: August 15 at 8 pm and 10 pm, respectively
When you make your name in a huge, international film franchise it can be difficult to get audiences to see you in a different light. When that franchise happens to be as incredibly divisive as the Twilight series, it’s going to be even harder to shake the vampire sparkles from your screen persona. It’s no surprise then that since wrapping the final film Kristen Stewart has stuck primarily with small, indie films in order to add some variety to her resume and find the chance to leave Bella Swan behind for good. And even if her latest film, Camp X-Ray, doesn’t quite manage to do that, it will likely mark a start in a different stage of her career.
In the film, which premiered to positive reviews at Sundance, Stewart plays Private Amy Cole, young guard at Guantanamo Bay who builds a relationship with one of the prisoners that forces her to question both her job and her beliefs. It’s a difficult, complex subject – in fact, it might be one of the few topics that cause just as many divided Internet comments at the Twilight series – and based on the trailer it appears as if neither the film nor the cast will be shying away from portraying a lot of those complexities. Stewart in particular seems to bear the bulk of those complicated elements, and the trailer hints at an interestingly subtle performance. Of course, since of the major criticisms of the Twilight series was the stiff, wooden acting that might not sound like a compliment but in Camp X-Ray, Stewart appears to be making deliberately restrained choices, allowing her face to do the majority of the acting. Choosing a part that requires so much focus on what goes unsaid is a risky choice for her, but if it succeeds, it could be exactly what she needs to build a great career.
Amy is a completely different character than anything we’ve seen Stewart play so far. Having spent most of her career playing teenagers with various degrees of angst, it will be interesting to see her step into a more adult role as a character with a great deal of responsibilities, baggage and conflicting feelings. She’s dealing with questions of right and wrong and international law rather than the issues that come with dating a vampire, and she’s doing it all in a situation where she’s not free to outwardly question authority. Audiences need to see Stewart play complex characters like this in order to finally let go of the awkward, sullen girl they’re familiar with, and indies are the best way for her to build up a resume of roles like Amy.
A major studio film is likely going to want to bank of Stewart’s fan base in order to produce the next iteration of the Twilight Saga and make absurd amounts of money. Even if she gravitates towards more serious, dramatic films, studios are still going to be hesitant to market her in a role that’s completely against-type. After all, audiences know and love Bella Swan, so why change things up? Indies like Camp X-Ray and Clouds of Sils Maria, however, are less likely to force Stewart into any particular role, as just her presence in the film would be a big enough boost in terms of attention and marketing. Therefore, they’re offering her a wider variety of characters that will challenge her as an actress and challenge the audiences’ perceptions. They also offer less risk if the final product isn’t well-received, as the film probably won’t be on most moviegoer’s radar.
Stewart’s already lined up an impressive slate of films, acting opposite actors like Julianne Moore, Glenn Close and Juliette Binoche. If even one of those films does well enough to garner a decent amount of press attention, it could help audiences take a chance on seeing her in a different light, which will help her move away from Twilight and the baggage that comes with it. They’re also likely to help her gain the attention of major directors and producers, who would then be more likely to cast her in a prestigious film, which would also go a long way into changing the way the public sees her. It might even get her some awards attention (hey, Jonah Hill’s an Oscar nominee. You never know.)
Even if she doesn’t ever make it into the Oscar conversation, films like Camp X-Ray are the best way for her to build a solid, varied career, and that’s what tends to keep actors working, and working in great projects. The film might be a complete disaster, but the choices she’s making will still be enough to keep her moving towards new characters, new projects and hopefully, new fans. In the end, that’s really all an actor needs to build an admirable career.
Camp X-Ray opens in theaters on October 17.
Getty Images/John Ricard
Now that they're done sailing on a boat, hugging it and quitting it, and doing the Creep, The Lonely Island boys are finally ready to tackle their biggest project yet: a feature film. The comedy group, made up of Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer, and Golden Globe-winner Andy Samberg, is set to star in and produce a musical comedy for Universal (via Variety). Shaffer and Taccone will also be stepping behind the camera to co-direct the project, and Judd Apatow has also signed on as a producer. Thus far, no information about the project's plot or title have been released, but based on the three comedy albums and hundreds of Digital Shorts that the team has created over the past decade, it seems likely to contain plenty of celebrity cameos, hip hop influences and people's junk in inappropriate places. In fact, it wouldn't be much of a surprise if the group decided to look to their musical sketches for cinematic inspiration; after all, the trio has produced a great deal of ridiculous and memorable characters and more than enough absurd premises to provide the basis for a full-length film. We decided to take a look back at Lonely Island's 10 best sketches in order to see if we could predict who (and what) is most likely to appear in the upcoming movie. Something's got to work better than Hot Rod, right?
10) “YOLO” Like most of the group's sketches, “YOLO” relies on a one-joke premise: treating the phrase “YOLO” as a cautionary tale rather than a celebration of adventures. But it’s a great example of Lonely Island's ability to build on that one joke, moving slowly from “be careful” to “never leave your house” to a terrifying shot of them smiling gummy smiles after pulling out all of their teeth. It also happens to be an incredibly well-crafted pop song, which shows how far the group has come in terms of musicality. Could It Be a Movie? There might be enough in the premise in order to create a funny side character, but it’s hard to see how much further the guys would be able to take a joke that ends with them cowering toothless in a boarded-up house.
9) “Great Day” “Great Day” is a rapid-fire barrage of jokes, but what’s great about them is that they all build on each other to tell a complete story. From the first moments when the camera pans through Dennis’ dirty apartment, you already know that the actual song won’t be as upbeat and cheery as the background music. The juxtaposition between the Sesame Street nature of Dennis' adventure through the streets and what he’s actually singing makes it even funnier when he finally loses it and starts climbing trees and pretending he’s in the Matrix. Could It Be a Movie? Maybe not a full-length movie, but there’s probably enough tragedy and insanity in Dennis’ life to make an interesting short film.
The Lonely Island - Great Day from Mike Oxbig on Vimeo.
8) “3-Way (Golden Rule)” There’s a lot that goes into making “3-Way” such a solid sketch: the idea that these guys would do just about anything to hook up with a girl, the fact that it finally establishes them in a pre-cell phone era, the plethora of multi-colored outfits, the fact that Justin Timerlake’s character met their cutie at a Payless, and then the final reveal that they’re much more interested in each other than in the girl they came to see. It takes the original “D**k in a Box” joke to absurd new heights and throws in a bunch of tiny, subtle jokes to create a sketch that actually gets better the more you watch it. Could This Be a Movie? Are you kidding? We’d watch anything with Timberlake and Samberg’s R&B wannabes in it, and an epic tale about their love and the girl who came between them has great cinematic potential.
7) “Like a Boss” “Like a Boss” is another great example of The Lonely Island’s ability to turn a single joke into a chronicle of one man’s breakdown. However, it owes just as much to Seth Rogen, whose incredulous looks punctuate every unbelievable claim that Samberg makes perfectly. It kind of fall apart towards the end as the Boss’ actions escalate, but it’s that middle bit, where Samberg first starts to hint at how messed up he is and Rogen just starts to get uncomfortable, where this sketch truly shines. Could This Be a Movie? Probably not. The Lonely Island managed to do everything it possibly could with that one joke in two minutes, and any longer would probably ruin things.
The Lonely Island like a boss from lewroll21 on Vimeo.
6) “I’m on a Boat” Look, “I’m On a Boat” is a pretty dumb song as a whole, but the lyrics are some of the finest Lonely Island has ever written. They’re generally simple – the chorus is just “I’m on a boat” repeated over and over again – but the verse slowly builds from the standard party rap song to rhyming about nautical-themed pashmina afghans in a way that’s truly clever and inventive. Simplistic enough to stick in your head, but complex enough to make you laugh, it’s no wonder it became one of their biggest hits. After all, when was the last time you managed to resist singing this song anytime you were in the same vicinity of a boat? Could This Be a Movie? Only if it’s about the love story between T-Pain and that mermaid; that’s what we really want to see more of.
5) “Space Olympics” Less a song than a sketch that happened to have been run through auto-tune, “Space Olympics” is a truly ridiculous, truly epic piece of work that’s most remarkable for the sheer world-building it does in the confines of three minutes. Sure, it’s mostly a joke about the dumb events that would make up a future Olympics, but the glimpses of a resource-lacking, poorly-run sporting event and the incompetent bureaucrat put in charge is a clever, well-crafted piece of satire. Could This Be a Movie? Definitely. We’d pay good money to see Samberg’s ridiculous ambassador attempt to rebuild the Space Olympics on his own. It’s true underdog story.
The Lonely Island - Space Olympics from Jeff Wiggles on Vimeo.
4) “Dear Sister” Anyone can parody a soapy teen drama like The O.C., but “Dear Sister” manages to take the single most ridiculous, shark-jumping moment in that show’s history and make it even more absurd and melodramatic. The close-ups, the music, the slow-mo – it all comes together to make a wonderfully surreal sketch that is just the right amount of dumb. Plus it contains what is perhaps the finest performance of Shia LaBeouf’s career. Could This Be a Movie? Unfortunately, no, but it would make for an incredibly dramatic climax.
3) “D**k in A Box” Perhaps the greatest use of a one-joke premise in The Lonely Island’s career, “D**k In a Box” is remarkably clever for a song about a dude gifting his junk for the holidays. But as hysterical as the facial hair and smooth falsettos are, the true highlight of the song is its two breakdowns. The ending where the gifting occasions slowly become more and more inappropriate is one of Lonely Island's best uses of escalation. But it’s the second verse, where the lyrics basically explain the whole joke of the song with slow jam earnestness, that’s the real triumph, as instead of killing the whole premise, it actually just heightens the ridiculousness of the situation. Could This Be a Movie? You mean someone’s not already making a film about these two idiots?
2) “Lazy Sunday” The Digital Sketch that kicked everything off, “Lazy Sunday” has everything that would eventually become The Lonely Island’s hallmarks: a simplistic premise, clever rhymes that tell a story about a slightly unusual character, plenty of pop culture references, a catchy, repetitive chorus, and old-school video effects. The jokes might be somewhat dated now, but the sketch as a whole holds up well. Even all these years later, it's a modern classic. Could This Be a Movie? It would be a relatively uneventful one... but sure, why not? We’d love to see The Lonely Island attempt a full-length character study.
1) “Mother Lover” Like Spider-Man 2 before it, “Mother Lover” proves that sometimes the sequel is, indeed, better than the original. Unlike “D**k in a Box” and “3-Way,” it immediately introduces a conflict into the situation (they need a last-minute Mother’s Day present) and reveal some important character backstory about the characters (they were raised by single moms who are lonely, and happen to like baths with chamomile) before reveling in the absurd solution they come up with. They might think it’s the second best idea that they’ve ever had, but thanks to the goofy lyrics, dramatic delivery and the way Susan Sarandon and Patricia Clarkson ham it up in increasingly dumb situations, it’s definitely the best sketch The Lonely Island has ever written. Could This Be a Movie? We’re ready to buy tickets the second they go on sale. Come on, Timberlake, this could finally make you a movie star. You know you want to make this movie.
Looks like prisons and politics are a lot more profitable than they first appeared. After spending the last few years battling to see whether Netflix or HBO was truly the superior subscription TV network, the Internet has finally triumphed in terms of subscriber revenue. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings revealed in a Facebook post on Thursday that the online streaming service made $1.146 billion dollars in the last quarter, finishing just ahead of HBO's $1.141 billion earnings. Though he acknowledged that Netflix still had a long way to go before it could surpass the cable giant in terms of overall profits and awards recognition, it was still an important victory for the little guy... if the little guy is also a billion dollar business. In order to determine just how close this David is to overtaking the prestige drama Goliath, we decided to pit the two networks against each other to determine once and for all, whether HBO really is better than Netflix.
Number of Subscribers: Netflix has been coming out on top in this category for some time now, having reached 50 million subscribers from the United States in July of 2014. The latest numbers for HBO, which were released back in January of this year, revealed a smaller total of 29 million. Of course, the large discrepancies in the numbers could be because all of those people “borrowing” HBOGO aren't actually eligible be counted. Winner: Netflix
Original Programming: Despite breaking into the field of original programming only recently, Netflix has amassed a library of 31 titles that are currently available to stream, including original series, documentaries, specials and one-off seasons of hit shows like Arrested Development and The Killing. And though HBO only has 24 original series currently airing, it does have an incredible back-catalog of 111 programs, including specials and miniseries that were created specifically for the channel. Granted, they started producing original content in the ‘90s and Netflix was only founded in 2007, so it wasn’t really a fair fight. Winner: HBO
2014 Emmy Nominations: With two of the most talked about series in recent years – House of Cards and Orange is the New Black – both eligible for awards this year, Netflix came away with a respectable 31 nods, which was more than many established cable and network channels got. Still, it couldn’t come close to the whopping 99 nominations that HBO pulled in, likely due to one-two punch of Game of Thrones and True Detective. And Veep. And Girls. And… well, basically everything it’s currently airing. Winner: HBO
Movies Offered On Demand: In addition the many films and TV show scheduled to run during the day on its various channels, HBO offers over 70 films available to watch anytime, On Demand. However, since Netflix was built for that exact purpose, they have a library of over 6,000 films to choose from on Netflix Instant. Sure, for every Oscar winner of cult favorite there are six more crappy, B-movies in which a random household object some to life and goes on a murderous rampage, but that’s what you get with over 85 times as many options. Winner: Netflix
Subscription Costs: Because it comes as a cable package that depends on what options you choose and how much your service provider charges, it’s hard to get a proper reading on the cost of HBO, although for just the channel, with no extras or Internet, it’s generally somewhere between $15 and $20 a month. That is, if you can actually get the channel by itself. Though Netflix has recently raised their prices, it only costs $8.99 for a streaming subscription, plus an additional $8.99 if you’d like DVDs delivered to your house as well. Let’s be real, though: neither one costs you anything because you’re just going to use the log in information of your one friend who actually pays for them. Winner: Nobody, really. They're equally frustrating processes.
Buffering and Connection Problems: Thanks to the millions of people who are just “borrowing” HBOGO from a friend, the service tends to have a lot of problems, specifically during major premieres or finales or any time a major character gets killed on Game of Thrones. On the plus side, your Twitter timeline likely explodes, dude to the combination of people posting about the shows and complaining about the streams being down, and those people who like to post spoilers just ruin things for everyone. Netflix has had its share of problems as well, and the increased traffic around the premieres of House of Cards and Orange is the New Black tends to increase buffering time and made things load slowly, but generally, as long as your internet connection is good, so’s Netflix. So it’s all your fault, really. Winner: Netflix
So who comes out on top? Despite the Emmys and revenue headed towards HBO, it seems to be Netflix that wins in the end. Throw Amazon Prime into the ring, however, and things might change. They have every season of The Wire on demand!
Getty Images/Andrew Toth
By now, everyone knows Daniel Radcliffe as the absolute delight of a human being who played Harry Potter for most of his (and our) lives. We like him best sporting a pair of round glasses and a lightning bolt scar on his forehead. But Radcliffe is muti-faceted, both in terms of his personality – He’s eloquent! He’s funny! He’s charming! He loves football! – and his talent – He acts! He dances! He sings! He can do a pretty solid American accent! – and so it’s unfair to reduce him down to just one character, even if it’s his most famous one of all. With Radcliffe about to firmly shake off the hold of Harry Potter for good, thanks to a series of varied, interesting roles, like charming everyman Wallace in the upcoming rom com What If, we felt inspired to look back on everything that he's achieved outside of Hogwarts. Sure, some of his non-Potter characters are extra funny or self-aware thanks to how he became a household name, but they're just as complex and compelling in their own right. After all, Harry Potter will always be there, but Cripple Billy could use all the love he can get.
David Copperfield Before he was Harry, Radcliffe made his acting debut as another famous orphan in the 1999 BBC adaptation of David Copperfield. It’s not the most polished performance of his career, but it’s remarkable for how effortlessly compelling he is as an actor, and it’s easy to see the spark that Potter producer David Heyman saw before asking Radcliffe to audition for the Boy Who Lived. Plus, with those big blue eyes and chubby cheeks, it’s by far his most adorable performance.
Extras Radcliffe’s comedy chops were evident way back in 2006 when he appeared as a version of himself in Ricky Gervais’ show Extras, as a lewd, over-confident teenager. Watching him awkwardly try to hit on every woman who crossed his path could have been embarrassing, but he plays it with the right amount of self-awareness to make it hilarious when he inevitably turns the tables to get the adults on set in trouble. The David Brent-like cockiness coming from such a familiar face is just jarring enough to be comedy gold.
My Boy Jack Proving that he has talent for inhabiting titular characters, Radcliffe starred in this television adaptation of David Haig’s play in 2007. As John, the son of author Rudyard Kipling (Haig), Radcliffe got his first truly adult role, playing the determined but unprepared officer in World War I. It’s a complicated role to play, as it balances both the weightiness of a war drama with the domestic conflicts of the father-son relationship, but Radcliffe handles them all adeptly, alternating between earnest and haunted, and finding ways to quietly echo his on-screen father. The mustache, however, was less successful.
The Woman in Black For his first post-Potter role, Radcliffe decided to dip his toe into the horror genre with The Woman in Black, where he played Arthur Kipps, a widower and a lawyer who leaves his young son behind to investigate the affairs of a remote village, and stumbles across a violent spirit. He spends most of the film alone on-screen, wandering through the haunted, abandoned house, and it’s a testament to his charisma that you’re never once bored. It’s a tough feat to accomplish given he often has nobody to react to or bounce off of, but he still manages to deliver a complex, endearing and terrifying performance that leaves you rooting for him to be reunited with his son.
Kill Your Darlings Radcliffe playing iconic beat poet Allen Ginsberg shouldn’t make any sense, but he made it work, somehow, delivering an incredible performance that’s due just as much to his own natural talent as to his incredible, searing chemistry with Dane DeHaan. As Ginsberg, Radcliffe is sensitive and compelling, adding the right amounts of jitters and neuroses and helping the audience to fall in love with Lucien Carr along with him. At its heart, the film is about the relationship between Ginsberg and Carr, and likewise, the performances are all about the way that Radcliffe and DeHaan play off one another.
The Cripple of Inishmaan In his third West End and Broadway production, Radcliffe took on the physically and emotionally demanding title role in Martin McDonagh’s black comedy. As Billy, a cripple boy in 1930’s rural Ireland who wants to watch a film shoot on the neighboring island of Inis Mor, Radcliffe is equally hilarious and heartbreaking. Billy is, by turns, earnest, desperate, frustrated, lovesick, heartbroken and bitter, and Radcliffe plays them all perfectly, never letting any one of them overtake his nuanced performance. With an arm bent in on his side and a foot dragging behind him, he completely disappears in the role, inhabiting even the most subtle elements of the character to create a full-realized, complex, haunting person.
Vote for your favorite non-Potter performance in our poll below!
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
The team behind the new Terminator film has kept almost everything tightly under wraps. With the exception of a series of nerd-friendly casting announcements — Emilia Clarke, Matt Smith, Dayo Okeniyi, Jai Courtney, Arnold Schwarzenegger — and the absolute minimum of plot details — it's not a direct follow-up to 2009's Terminator Salvation — fans have been kept in the dark about the latest installment. And considering what Schwarzenegger revealed on Wednesday, perhaps that was for the best. See, the new film isn't called Terminator: Genesis as we had all originally assumed. No, the correct spelling (and we do use that phrase lightly) is Terminator: Genisys.
Just allow that to sink in for a second. Revel in the rage it brings your grammatically-correct heart, and wait for the twitch in your eye to die down. That is indeed the title of the fifth installment of the Terminator franchise. Why is it spelled this way, other than send every copy editor on the planet into a tail-spin of frustration, we have no idea. What we do know, however, is that this is just the latest in a long long of aneurism-inducing misspelled titles — so while you're all worked up, why not take a look at some of the most incomprehensibly obnoxious movie title misspellings of all time. If it makes you feel better, you can print out this article and go over it with a red pen. We don't mind.
Terminator: Genisys Is It Relevant to the Plot? There’s no way to know just yet, but it better be. If we wasted all of our energy getting excited over this cast just to find out that it was given an obnoxiously misspelled title for no reason, we’re going to be pretty angry. Granted we’ll still probably see the movie, but it will gnaw at us. Degree of Annoying: Like when your worst friend (you know, the one you can only handle in small doses) tells you she wants to name her kids something like McKynzee or Laydien so they can be unique.
The Pursuit of Happyness Is It Relevant to the Plot? Kind of. It’s appears as some graffiti outside of Chris Gardner (Will Smith)’s son’s school, and he briefly comments on it. Ironically, that comment is about how it’s misspelled. Degree of Annoying: Like reliving that three month period where everyone was singing those two lines of “Whip My Hair” over and over all over again.
Se7en Is It Relevant to the Plot? Yes, especially since the film centers on two cops hunting down a serial killer whose crimes are related to the seven deadly sins, and the number plays a significant role in several key scenes in the film. But there’s still a less obnoxious way of getting the point across. You know, like just titling the film “Seven.” Degree of Annoying: Like when you find out that your best friend’s pretentious new boyfriend spells his band name L!kE tHi$ to be ironic.
Inglourious Basterds Is It Relevant to the Plot? Not at all. It’s basically just Quentin Tarantino being Quentin Tarantino. Degree of Annoying: Like when your roommate spills beer on the kitchen floor RIGHT AFTER you Swiffered.
Pet Sematary Is It Relevant to the Plot: Not really, but it is explained in the book it’s based on. The title refers to a sign the kids write at the beginning, and since they’re too young to know the correct spelling, that’s why they came up with. Degree of Annoying: Like sitting through a “concert” your toddler cousins are putting on, only to discover that they’ve got almost all of the words to “Let It Go” wrong.
Biutiful Is It Relevant to the Plot: Yes, it appears in the film when Uxbal (Javier Bardem) is helping his kids with their homework, written the way a native Spanish speaker would phonetically spell the word. Degree of Annoying: Like enduring a presentation from your temperamental boss where they’ve made the same grammatical error multiple times, and being unable to speak up.
Charly Is It Relevant to the Plot: Yes, that’s how Charly, who is mentally handicapped, spells his name. Degree of Annoying: Like picking up your coffee at a cafe, only to discover they’ve left off three vowels and added an unnecessary “y” to your name.
Peeples Is it Relevant to the Plot: Yes, that’s how Kerry Washington’s family spells their last name, presumably because their big fans of animal-shaped marshmallows. Degree of Annoying: Like being the barista who now has to smile their way through a confrontation with a very annoyed customer who doesn’t understand why it’s so hard to get the spelling of Jaxxsone right.