Looks like they won't be "live from New York" any longer. After a difficult, uneven season that saw an influx of new cast members, controversy and the loss of Head Writer and "Weekend Update" host Seth Meyers halfway through the year, Saturday Night Live is by cutting down its slate of featured players down to a more manageable size. Brooks Wheelan announced that he would be leaving Tuesday morning on Twitter (via a joke, natch). Later in the day, it was announced that Noël Wells and John Milhiser also wouldn't return after they failed to make an impression with audiences this year. Those announcements come about a month after Nasim Pedrad, one of the current longest-running cast members, would be leaving to work on Mulaney.
But just because they won't be on SNL any longer, that doesn't mean that it's the last we'll ever see of Wheelan, Wells, Milhiser and Pedrad. There are plenty of people who only lasted a couple of seasons on the show and then went on to become major stars: Sarah Silverman, Damon Wayans, Rob Riggle, and Iron Man himself, Robert Downey Jr., to name just a few. With that in mind, we decided to take a look back at their tenure on SNL in order to best predict what's next for Wheelan, Wells, Milhiser and Pedrad. Although if any one of them is going to wind up playing a superhero, our money's on Heshy.
Brooks Wheelan What’s Next: Wheelan doesn’t have a lot lined up at the moment, though he does have a short film titled Lose Yourself, Save Yourself, where he plays Fighter 2. His Strengths: Possibly because he comes from a standup background rather than a sketch one, Wheelan didn’t create very many memorable characters, and his most significant moments on the show were his two appearances as himself on “Weekend Update,” where he would warn audiences against the dangers of getting terrible tattoos and binge drinking. Where We See Him: Wheelan seems to embody the same kind of “goofy, wisecracking All-American” guy that actors like Jake Johnson or fellow SNL alum Jason Sudeikis trade on. We could easily see him bringing some of the energy to a sitcom where he plays the sarcastic straight guy to a group of off-the-wall characters. Still, his weirdly funny exterminator bit with Ed Norton proves he’s capable of some truly strange characters, and so we could see him playing smaller, supporting roles in films for a while as a variety of strange, obnoxious characters. And of course, there’s always his stand up career to fall back on…
Noël Wells What’s Next: Wells has the TV series Gentleman Lobsters, which is slated for a 2014 premiere. She’s also a photographer in her spare time, and her work has been showcased in exhibitions and been printed in magazines. Her Strengths: Though they were slightly hit and miss – her Nancy Grace was four minutes of eye twitches and catchphrases – Wells made the biggest impact on the show through her impressions, most notably, playing Lena Dunham in the season premiere’s parody of Girls. Where We See Her: Though her talent with impressions and slightly offbeat characters would serve her well on another sketch show, something along the lines of Inside Amy Schumer or Key and Peele, Wells most reminds us of two other early SNL departures: Jenny Slate and Casey Wilson. Like them, Wells has a quirky charm to her that would serve her well in indie films (she actually earned solid reviews for her work in last year’s Forev) and in an ensemble sitcom, where she would be free to play up her weirder side.
John Milhiser What’s Next: Like Wheelan, Milhiser has a short film on his slate, Little Horribles, and he also starred in the indie film Camp Takota, which is available online. His Strengths: Milhiser didn’t get much of a chance to make an impression on audiences, although eh did show off a pitch-perfect Jon Cryer impression during a Family Feud sketch. He did, however, have one highlight during his tenure, a sketch where he and Lady Gaga played “encouraging” stage parents helping their child through a talent show performance, which let him show off his goofier side, and his ability to execute a high kick. Where We See Him: Milhiser strikes us as a Ben Falcone or Nat Faxon-type, someone who pops up in different things all the time, playing characters with varying levels of insanity and oddity. He’s definitely shown that he can play both weird and silly characters, but since he didn’t make that much of an impression, he’ll probably be “that guy from that thing” for a while, until he manages to find the right project to help him break out.
Nasim Pedrad What’s Next: After five years on SNL, Pedrad is leaving in order to play Jane, the roommate of John Mulaney’s character on the FOX sitcom Mulaney. Her Strengths: During her time on the show, Pedrad played a wide variety of characters, including Kim Kardashian, Arianna Huffington, Bedelia, the awkward teenager whose best friend is her mother and Shallon, the world’s most dangerous fifth grader. Though she never made the kind of impression that Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon have, she’s become a vital part of the ensemble over the past five years, thanks to her ability to inhabit both the sanest and the oddest human beings. Where We See Her: Hopefully, her role on Mulaney will be exactly what she needs to properly break out, since she never quite managed to on SNL. From there, we could see her following a similar career path to Wiig or Tina Fey, playing both broad comedy and more serious roles in both television in movies. Alternatively, she could become more of a Michaela Watkins/Ana Gasteyer- type, and becoming the go-to actress for slightly odd, scene-stealing characters.
Universal Pictures via Everett Collection
The sex comedy is a very tricky genre of film to get right. If it's too focused on the raunchier side of things it becomes an endless string of gags, all attempting to be outrageous for the sake of being outrageous. But if it's too worried about being over-the-top, it might as well be any other generic romantic comedy. Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel are the latest to try their hands at it with their latest film, Sex Tape, which hits theaters on Friday. In the film, they play a married couple who film themselves in the act in an attempt to spice up their lives... only to accidentally forward the explicit video to all of their family members, friends, and colleagues. Normally, we'd be a bit wary of any upcoming sex-focused comedy, but both Segel and Diaz are old hands at the genre, thanks to their experience in films by Judd Apatow and the Farrelly Brothers. Therefore, we can only hope that Sex Tape will be the latest film to join the highly-competitive pantheon of sex comedies that are actually good movies. It's a small group, but a prestigious honor to behold. Here are our picks for the films that have already earned the title:
The 40-Year-Old Virgin The film that helped Judd Apatow break into the mainstream and established Steve Carell as a movie star, The 40-Year-Old Virgin has a pretty obvious premise: Andy has made it to 40 without having sex, so his buddies try and help him step up his game. It could have been an unfunny, over-the-top movie about a loser and his creepy friends, but Apatow managed to subvert all of our expectations (well, maybe not the creepy friends), and create a movie with just as much heart as humor. A lot of that is due to Carell, whose Andy is not just awkward and nerdy, but also endearing, goofy, and a genuinely good guy.
Superbad The rare sex comedy that doesn’t actually feature any sex, Superbad was the movie that put Jonah Hill on the path to becoming a two-time Oscar nominee, made Michael Cera the face of awkward teenagers everywhere, and made everyone overuse the McLovin joke for a solid month or so. Much of its success is due to its ability to transform a tired plot – teenagers go on a mission to impress girls so they’ll sleep with them – into a love story between two best friends. Surprisingly sweet and heartfelt but still hysterically funny, Superbad proves that sometimes, a little heart can go a long way.
Easy A Like in her breakthrough film, Superbad, Emma Stone’s character doesn’t actually have sex in Easy A, but that doesn’t stop her from telling everyone she did in order to bolster her reputation. Where most teen sex comedies focus on the guys who are trying desperately to get some, Easy A takes a different approach and looks at the effects that rumors of promiscuity can have on a high school girl’s social standing, and the hypocritical ways that we, as a society, treat sex. A sharp, smart, and endlessly charming film, it’s no wonder that it was the film to turn Stone into a proper movie star.
Don Jon Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial and screenwriting debut centers on Jon, a Jersey-bred bartender who only cares about his friends, his family, his looks, and his porn. His attempt at a relationship with Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), a rom-com-obsessed bombshell, fails when he refuses to give up his Internet addiction for her, and so he is forced to confront his perceptions of what sex and love are. Though the best parts of the film are centered on Johansson, Don Jon is also worth a watch for its original, humorous take on the typical romantic and/or sex comedy.
Screen Gems via Everett Collection
Friends With Benefits/No Strings Attached We’re going to tackle these two together since they’re pretty much the same movie, with slightly different casts. Both focus on wise-cracking, good-looking friends who are hooking up, eventually realize that they want more, and come together at the end for a slightly cheesy ending. But even though they cover a lot of the same material, they’re both funny, entertaining flicks starring two incredibly talented actresses – Mila Kunis, as sharp and funny as always and Natalie Portman, refreshingly relaxed and charming – that tackle that whole friends/hookup partners/couple dynamic in a realistic, goofy way.
Risky Business The second Tom Cruise slid across the screen in Ray Bans and tighty-whiteys, he became a star. Not just a movie, but a landmark moment in his career, Risky Business is also one of the best sex comedies ever made. From the dancing to the car crashes to the slapstick-laden Princeton interview, Cruise is at his best in this film: a little brash, plenty arrogant, and incredibly charismatic. It’s no wonder America instantly fell in love with him.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High Fast Times at Ridgemont High has become iconic for two things: a young Sean Penn playing the school slacker and the scene where Phoebe Cates climbs out of a pool in a red bikini. But Fast Times has endured hanks to its realistic portrayal of teenagers, their challenges, and their experiences. It’s hilarious, it’s awkward, it’s sometimes moving, but most of all, it’s relates to the teenagers it’s trying to appeal to, and the adults who can look back on it more fondly than their own high school experience.
There’s Something About Mary It seems only fitting to discuss Diaz’s latest sex comedy in relation to her first. As Mary, the irresistible object of everyone’s affections, Diaz is effortlessly funny and completely winning, but the rest of the film is excellent as well. The Farrelly Brothers’ signature gross-out humor is balanced by a healthy dose of heart, which helps us to sympathize with Ted and his quest to win back his dream girl. We get why everyone loves Mary, we get why these tree idiots would be willing to fight over her, and we get a hilarious, weird, and wonderful two hours of entertainment out of it.
Here are this week's highlights from VH1, Celebuzz, Flavorwire, and Hollywood.com:
***Flawless (Vacation) Summer's in full swing, which means you're probably counting down the days until your vacation, even if you're currently stuck inside, at your desk. Luckily, Beyonce's here to brighten up your week and give you some vacation inspiration — nobody holidays better than Bey and Jay — with Celebuzz's gallery of Beyonce's best summer photos.
Kanye West... Soccer Star? The World Cup may be over, but that doesn't mean it won't live on in our hearts, and on the Internet. But if you thought that you spotted some familiar faces while watching the final between Germany and Argentina, you weren't alone; VH1 has a gallery of the biggest stars in the World Cup and their celebrity doppelgangers.
The Engine Really Is Eternal The thrilling, terrifying film Snowpiercer takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where all of humanity exists on on train, which makes a complete circle around the world every year. As it turns out, we in the real world might not even have to wait for a new ice age to take a few trips around the globe ourselves, thanks to a cruise ship called The World. Flavorwire has everything you need to know about the futuristic luxury liner.
Jenny Lewis' A-List Backing Band We've seen them all glammed up on the red carpet, but if you've ever wondered what Kristen Stewart, Anne Hathaway, and Brie Larson would look like with a bit more of a masculine edge, Jenny Lewis' new music video should satisfy your curiosity. In fact, Hollywood.com argues that you might even like them more with a mustache.
Of all the actresses in Hollywood, nobody inspires the kind of anger, vitriol, and mean tweets that Kristen Stewart and Anne Hathaway recieve every time they release a film, attend a premiere, appear on a talk show, or just leave the house. We get it; who wouldn’t start to snap after having to endure intense arguments about the merits of Jacob versus Edward, or being forced to listen to that dreadful Oscar speech over and over again for months on end? By now, just the sight of their faces is enough to send some people into a rage spiral... which is why Jenny Lewis’ new music video might be just what they need to finally embrace Stewart and Hathaway.
For her song “Just One of the Guys,” Lewis recruited the former Bella Swan and Mia Thermopolis, along with indie darling Brie Larson (who everybody already likes) to play some backup guitar and portray some obnoxious members of the opposite sex. Wait, wait, hear us out, because the final product makes Stewart and Hathaway seem rather endearing, actually. The girls playing guitar and keytar behind Lewis are the starlets as we’re used to seeing them: Stewart is serious and confrontational and Hathaway makes a series of overly-dramatic faces at the camera. But then, they put on some tracksuits and stick-on mustaches and something magical happens.
They become absolutely ridiculous. Stewart, rocking a vintage-Bieber bowl cut, struts around the stage, gesturing come-ons to the camera and laughing at herself – see? It is possible! – and Hathaway, writhing around on the floor, pretending to breakdance is the kind of self-mocking we love to see from celebrities. Look at that dramatic, single tear. Does it feel rehearsed? Of course. Is it dumb and kind of hilarious? Definitely. If this was Jennifer Lawrence or Emma Stone, we’d be all over it. We’d make it this year’s Halloween costume.
And hey, they’re hanging out with Larson and Lewis, so they must be kind of cool, right? Do you think either of those champs would hang out with anyone who wasn’t secretly awesome? Even if they weren’t before the video shoot, they certainly are now. The Larson/Lewis brand of cool is the kind that transfers through association. If we can put our faith in their songwriting abilities or choice of film projects, surely we can also put our faith in their choice of co-stars.
Come on, Hathaway is playing the keytar! Do you really think anyone who takes themselves too seriously would actually play the keytar? It’s the official instrument of ‘80s tribute bands and precocious teenagers everywhere. Even the tuba is a cooler instrument. Don’t make Anne Hathaway play the tuba for your affections, America. She’s atoned enough. Allow Lewis’ catchy song to help mend this rift between you, Stewart and Hathaway. They just want to entertain you, and that’s exactly what they’re doing in this video. Besides, once we put these differences behind us, we can move on to more important things, like the fact that Larson looks like a long lost Tenenbaum in drag.
20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection
Over the course of her career, Cameron Diaz has played everything from an ogre princess to a crime-fighting angel to the most irresponsible teacher of all time. But though she's best known for starring in goofy, raunchy comedies, Diaz's resume is filled with varied compelling roles that don't get talked about nearly as much as her underwear dance in Charlie's Angels. In fact, we'd go so far as to say that over the course of her career, Diaz has steadily delivered surprising, awards-worthy performances that often get overlooked by both the press and the public. In honor of her latest film, Sex Tape, arriving in theaters Friday, we've taken a look back at Diaz's life and career to pinpoint every single performance that shocked, moved, and impressed us... and, in a just world, would have impressed the Academy as well.
The CounselorLet’s get this out of the way: yes, Diaz’s character does have sex with a car. It’s a shame, though, that the hubbub surrounding that scene overshadowed everything else about her performance, which is insane in the best possible way. As Malkina, the calculating girlfriend/partner in crime to Javier Bardem’s Reiner, Diaz turned everything up to 11 to give an over-the-top, off-the-wall performance that is more entertaining than attempting to figure out what’s happening with Bardem’s hair. Despite a star-studded cast and a script by Cormac McCarthy, Diaz was easily the most memorable thing about The Counselor, as well as the most compelling.
ShrekOkay, so the Oscars don’t honor voice over work. That doesn’t mean that Diaz’s work as Princess Fiona isn’t worthy of praise. With anyone else voicing her, Fiona would probably turn out to be another cookie-cutter animated princess – kooky, sure but not downright weird, and probably not willing to convince a bird to sing itself to death or having a burping contest with an ogre. Diaz gives Fiona an absurd amount of personality, depth and fun, making her feel as alive as she would if it actually ere Diaz up on that screen.
My Best Friend’s Wedding Julia Roberts get all of the attention, but her Julianne Potter would be nothing without Diaz’s sweet, warm-hearted Kimmy Wallace. A character like Kimmy could have easily been one-dimensional: an unrealistic perfect girl meant to make the protagonist jealous. But Diaz’s Kimmy is a fully realized person; she’s not just sweet, she’s also naïve and awkward and genuinely open-hearted. And her ability to turn what would otherwise be a painfully embarrassing karaoke scene into an endearingly goofy moment deserves much more credit than Roberts letting Dermot Mulroney go.
USA Films via Everett Collection
Being John Malkovich And you thought The Counselor was a strange movie. In Being John Malkvoich, Diaz plays Lotte, the unhappy, pet-obsessed wife of John Cusack’s Craig, who enters into a relationship with Craig’s work crush Maxine (Catherine Keener) while inside the head of John Malkovich. It would be easy to let the craziness of the plot outshine the characters, but Diaz, wearing a horrendously frizzy wig and a series of unflattering outfits, uses the opportunity to give a weird, intense, complex performance that is, unfortunately, often forgotten in favor of her comedic ventures.
There’s Something About Mary The Mask may have put her on the map, but it was the Farrelly Brothers’ comedy that really made Diaz a star. The entire movie hinges on her being the most irresistible woman in the universe, so she needs to win over the audience in addition to the characters. Diaz does exactly that. Her performance is bright, charming and effortlessly funny, and it’s not hard to see why everyone fell in love with her hilarious and heartwarming character.
In Her Shoes In Her Shoes is a much better movie than it appears in its trailer, and much of that is due to Diaz’s performance as Maggie, the free-spirited wild child sister of Toni Collette’s Rose. It would be easy to turn Maggie into a flighty, one-dimensional character, but Diaz manages to turn a somewhat trite reveal – Maggie is dyslexic and has trouble reading and doing basic math – into an opportunity to showcase the insecurity, doubt, and hurt that has turned Maggie into the frivolous party girl that she is. It’s a surprisingly layered performance for a light-hearted movie about the relationship between sisters, and Diaz easily holds her own opposite Collette and Shirley MacLaine, both of whom received more attention.
Vanilla Sky Whether you loved Vanilla Sky or found it impossible to get past Tom Cruise’s melted face, there’s no denying that Diaz’s performance was the standout of the film. As Julie, the suicidal, jealous ex-girlfriend of Cruise’s David Aames, Diaz is simultaneously terrifying and heartbreaking, showcasing all of the hurt, anger, and instability that drive her to extreme measures. More than just the femme fatale or the vindictive ex, Diaz’s Julie is a tour de force performance that unfortunately got overshadowed by some terrible prosthetics.
The Fourth of July has come and gone, which means that the best time of year for movies is in full swing. From the end of the month through the New Year, theaters will be packed with some of the biggest, best, and most explosive movies of the year, thanks to the summer blockbuster and winter awards seasons growing ever closer each fall. With so many movies competing for your attention and your money, it can be difficult to keep your Oscar-baiting dramas from your superhero franchise sequels from your sentimental, romantic tearjerkers... and let's not forget about the little indies that are hitting at the end of the summer, hoping to gather enough buzz and box office steam to make it to the Golden Globes in February. In order to help you keep it all straight and plan out the rest of your year accordingly, we've rounded up every movie that the second half of 2014 has to offer and organized them by genre so that the next time you're in the mood for an action flick, a nail-biting thriller or a goofy comedy, you'll know exactly where to turn.
Action/AdventureWe might be nearing the end of Summer Superhero Movie Season (only Guardians of the Galaxy and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are left to keep us safe) but the rest of the year still has plenty of films packed with explosions, witty banter, and dizzying fight sequences to satisfy your adventurous side.
Hercules, July 25 Lucy, July 25 Guardians of the Galaxy, August 1 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, August 8 Into the Storm, August 8 The Expendables 3, August 15 Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, August 22 Step Up: All In, August 25 November Man, August 27 The Maze Runner, September 19 A Walk Among the Tombstones, September 19 The Equalizer, September 26 Left Behind, October 3 Dracula Untold, October 17 Kingsman: The Secret Service, October 24 Interstellar, November 7 The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, November 21 Exodus: Gods and Kings, December 12 The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, December 17 Barely Lethal, TBA
Highlights: While we can't wait for Marvel's crime-fighting band of misfits, Guardians of the Galaxy, we're equally pumped for Scarlett Johansson's action hero turn in Lucy, Christopher Nolan's mysterious Interstellar, and Colin Firth's performance as a spy mentor in Kingsman: The Secret Service.
Comedy Whether you prefer them raunchy and in-your-face, quiet and filled with high emotional stakes, or likely to get the whole country blown up (thanks, James Franco and Seth Rogen!), 2014 has a comedy for every mood, person and sense of humor.
Sex Tape, July 18 The Fluffy Movie, July 25 Magic in the Moonlight, July 25 Wish I Was Here, July 25 What If, August 8 Let’s Be Cops, August 13 Life of Crime, August 29 This is Where I Leave You, September 19 The Interview, October 10 Birdman, October 17 St. Vincent, October 24 Dumb and Dumber To, November 14 Horrible Bosses 2, November 28 Hot Tub Time Machine 2, Christmas Untitled Cameron Crowe Project, Christmas
Highlights: Well, if it makes North Korea that angry, it's got to be good, so we're excited to see The Interview. We're also looking forward to Daniel Radcliffe's hilarious rom com debut in What If and Michael Keaton's big comeback performance in Birdman.
Animation and Kids’ Movies Whether you need to keep a younger sibling quiet and amused for a few hours, or you're just particularly young at heart yourself, the second half of the year is when all of the big hitters in children's entertainment and animation come out to play. Will one of them manage to finally bring Frozen's reign to an end?
Planes: Fire and Rescue, July 18 Island of Lemurs: Madagascar, August 22 Dolphin Tale 2, September 12 The Boxtrolls, September 26 The Hero of Color City, October 3 Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day, October 10 The Book of Life, October 17 Big Hero 6, November 7 The Penguins of Madagascar, November 26 Night At the Museum 3, December 19 Annie, December 19 Paddington, Christmas
Highlights: Everything Laika painstakingly creates is a joy to watch, so we're counting down the days to The Boxtrolls, which looks completely charming. Ditto the gorgeous and elaborate The Book of Life and the adorably action-packed Big Hero 6.
Sony Pictures Classics
Dramas Whether you're looking for a biopic, a musical, a musical biopic or just an intense, moving cinematic experience, now is the best time to check out your movie theater's more dramatic offerings. Besides, at least half of these films are likely to be in play come Oscar night, and you'll want to be on top of things before the trophies get handed out.
Get On Up, August 1 The Hundred-Foot Journey, August 8 The Giver, August 15 If I Stay, August 22 When the Game Stands Tall, August 22 One Chance, August 29 Addicted, September 5 The Drop, September 12 The Identical, September 12 Hector and the Search For Happiness, September 19 Jimi: All Is By My Side, September 26 The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, September 16 Gone Girl, October 3 The Good Lie, October 3 The Judge, October 10 Kill The Messenger, October 10 The Best of Me, October 17 Reach Me, October 24 Theory of Everything, November 7 Foxcatcher, November 14 Fury, November 14 Beyond the Lights, November 14 McFarland, November 21 The Imitation Game, November 21 Wild, December 5 Inherent Vice, December 12 Unbroken, Christmas Big Eyes, Christmas Selma, Christmas Into the Woods, Christmas A Good Marriage, TBA
Highlights: From the looks of things, Foxcatcher might be the film to give Channing Tatum his own "McConaissance," even if we never do manage to figure out a catchy nickname for it. And if you're looking for more superheroes in serious films, try The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, which tells one story from two distinct perspectives (and stars Professor X himself, James McAvoy).
Sony Pictures via Everett Collection
Indie If you're tired of blockbusters and Oscar bait, and instead want a more low-key way to spend your afternoon, this is the best season for indie movies. Comedies, dramas, romances, dramedies, action, musicals, characters that wear giant fake heads - there's something for everyone, and they're all worth checking out.
I Origins, July 18 Mood Indigo, July 18 Happy Christmas, July 25 Very Good Girls, July 25 Calvary, August 1 The Trip to Italy, August 15 The One I Love, August 15 Life After Beth, August 15 Frank, August 15 Two Night Stand, August 22 Love Is Strange, August 22 The Congress, August 29 The Skeleton Twins, September 19 Laggies, September 26 Whiplash, October 10
Highlights: There are plenty of Sundance darlings hitting theaters soon, but the most exciting one for us is probably the weirdest: Frank, which stars Michael Fassbender as a musician who wears a giant fake head at all times. A bit more normal is the zombie romantic dramedy Life After Beth, which highlights the challenges of dating the undead. Plus, there's Whiplash, which is set to remind us all just how terrifying J.K. Simmons can be.
Open Road Films
Horror As summer winds down, that means only one thing: Halloween is approaching. And what better way to celebrate ghosts, ghouls, goblins and everything that goes bump in the night than with one of the many upcoming horror movies that 2014 has to offer?
The Purge: Anarchy, July 18 Cabin Fever: Patient Zero, August 1 The Possession of Michael King, August 22 Jessabelle, August 29 Leprechaun: Origins, August 29 The Green Inferno, September Untitled New Line Horror Project, October 3 Annabelle, October 3 Ouija, October 24 Paranormal Activity 5, October 24 See No Evil 2, TBA
Highlights: This list is packed with sequels, but the one we're most anticipating is an original: Eli Roth's The Green Inferno, about a group of Amazonian explorers who are taken captive by a tribe of cannibals. If we know anything about Roth's work, it's probably going to be intense, gory and potentially a little scarring.
Thriller More intense than a drama, but with a better story than a horror film, thrillers are the perfect indoors-y alternative to rock climbing, roller coasters and water sports. It's all of the thrill without the risk of sunburn.
Aftermath, July 18 A Most Wanted Man, July 25 The Prince, August 22 As Above, So Below, August 29 Addicted, September 5 No Good Deed, September 12 Before I Go to Sleep, September 12 The Two Faces of January, September 26
Highlights: A Most Wanted Man was one of Philip Seymour Hoffman's final films, and it promises to be an intense roller coaster of a film featuring what we're sure is a powerhouse performance from one of the greatest actors of his generation. Later in the year, there's The Two Faces of January to look forward to, which will see Viggo Mortensen and Oscar Isaac go toe-to-toe.
Lately, it seems like a franchise is not truly a franchise until it’s gotten its gritty reboot. Superman had Man of Steel, Batman had the Christopher Nolan trilogy, and Doctor Who now has Twelve to bring some dark realism to a show about a man who travels around space and time in a mysterious flying police box. Previous seasons have seemed to mix the show’s campier, sillier side with a few serious moments, but the first full trailer for Peter Capaldi’s time at the helm of the TARDIS promises a season that is decidedly darker than Matt Smith or David Tennant’s runs.
But Doctor Who is not a show that has exactly shied away from darkness before. Between the horror that creatures like the Weeping Angels or the Silence bring and the show’s many tragic deaths and departures, not to mention the ramifications of the Time War that haunted the Doctor for years, there has always been plenty to temper the more ridiculous aspects of the show. However, this time around, the show seems to be re-focusing on the darker functions of the Doctor’s story, with goofier elements like dinosaurs rampaging through London taking a backseat to questions about the Doctor’s morality.
In fact, this darker edge seems to be the selling point for the new Doctor. That’s most likely due to the fact that Capaldi is an established dramatic actor, and we as an audience are used to seeing him play darker moments or roles. Even his most famous character, the aggressive and very profane Director of Communications Malcolm Tucker was arguably more of an anti-hero than a straight-forward good guy. Though Capaldi is often funny, both on and off screen, he’s better known for being brash, mean and sometimes evil.
Doctor Who started to take a darker turn towards the end of Smith’s tenure, with much of his happy-go-lucky façade slipping to reveal the guiltier, tortured side he hid underneath. Bringing in Capaldi gives the show a better opportunity to explore some of those more serious elements, as Eleven always needed to hold on to his goofier side. Twelve, however, is a blank slate, which allows the writers to properly delve into the grittier side of space and time travel, and being responsible for the fate of an entire planet. And since the anti-hero is so popular right now, it makes sense for Doctor Who to hop on the tortured male lead bandwagon with someone who is adept at playing that role.
Of course, no matter how good Capaldi will be as Twelve – and given everything we’ve seen him in thus far, it’s likely to be a fantastic performance – it remains to be seen how well Doctor Who as a whole will be able to pull off its gritty reboot. Recently, the show’s darker moments have been somewhat hit-and-miss, so it would be a challenge for the writers to maintain such a serious tone for the entire season. Recently, the show has struggled to ensure that its serious moments have the right amount of impact, thanks to show runner Steven Moffat’s disregard for continuity and love of resurrecting characters from the dead. A tone like this requires consequences in order to be effective. Audiences need to be worried about the fate of Clara and the Doctor, scared by their actions or the actions of the enemies they face, and since Moffat doesn’t seem to be the biggest fan of lasting consequences, it doesn’t bode well for the new season.
However, if Doctor Who is able to maintain its balance between camp and drama, it should be able to ensure a memorable run for Capaldi. The goofiness will offset some of the tension, allowing audiences time to relax, breathe and enjoy the time they’re spending with these characters, as well as taking some pressure off of the consequences of the show’s darker moments, while the grittier elements will be able to raise the show’s stakes as well as allowing them to explore new territory with the Doctor, both in terms of location and character development. Although, if they really run out of options, they could always just have Twelve verbally eviscerate the Daleks. That should help them find the ideal blend of comedy and darkness.
The eighth season of Doctor Who premieres on August 23 on BBC One.
Touchstone Pictures via Everett Collection
Summer: it's a time to relax, soak up the sun, eat mountains of ice cream and tackle the massive pile of books you've been meaning to read. Whether you need to make your way through hundreds of pages of classic literature before school starts up again or you've just been putting off the heavier tomes on your shelf until you have some more free time, reading the classics can sometimes be a slog in the summer. But it's a task well worth undertaking, and not just because it's good to broaden your literary horizons. Many of your favorite films are actually twists on well-worn tales. Sure, they're enjoyable on their own, but the only way to really pick up on the humor of Jane Austen or the references to Shakespeare in a suburban high school rom com is to read the books first. We've rounded up the best movies that become even better, funnier and more charming after you've read the works their based on. Consider it a well-earned reward for a book well read.
10 Things I Hate About YouBased On: The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare.Most Drastic Change: Aside from the high school setting, he plot was simplified to reduce the amount of characters and false identities. For example, Joey Donner was originally two characters, Gremio and Hortensio. Best Reference to the Source: After Kat almost hits Michael with a car, he calls her a “shrew”; Michael also quotes Shakespearean sonnets several times throughout the film, and Cameron quotes the play itself (“I burn; I pine; I perish”). And there's that one girl who is oddly in love with "William."You’d Only Notice This if You Read the Book: Almost every name in the film is a reference to something else. Padua High School refers to Padua being the location of the play, and Patrick’s last name, Verona, is where Petruchio is originally from. Kat and Bianca’s last name – Stratford – is a reference to Shakespeare’s hometown.
Clueless Based On: Emma by Jane Austen Most Drastic Change: Updating the film to be about ‘90s Valley girls; none of the character’s names are similar to Austen’s characters.Best Reference to the Source: The wedding fake-out at the end of the film. Since Austen wrote a great deal about the marriage plot, all of her novels end with the heroine getting married. You’d Only Notice This if You Read the Book: While most of the characters have Austenian equivalents, Dionne is an original character, although it could be argued that she represents Ms. Weston. Also, Amy Heckerling cut out the character of Jane Fairfax completely. She is the main obstacle to Emma and Frank Churchill’s relationship; his Clueless doppelganger, Christian, is gay instead.
Bridget Jones’ Diary Based On: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen Most Drastic Change: Instead of the large family that Elizabeth Bennet has in the book, Bridget is an only child, and has a large group of friends to give her advice, all of whom vaguely resemble her sisters. Best Reference to the Source: Casting Colin Firth as Mark Darcy. Author Helen Fielding has said that she based the character (both in name and looks) on his portrayal of Mr. Darcy in the 1995 BBC miniseries. You’d Only Notice This if You Read the Book: Instead of Darcy making two proposals, he only makes one; Bridget’s speech when she finds out that he is moving is a reflection of his second confession of love.
She’s the Man Based On: Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare Most Drastic Change: In the play, Viola just pretends to be a man, and calls herself Cesario, rather than specifically impersonating her brother Sebastian. Best Reference to the Source: The character of Malcolm, who is based on the character of Malvolio, has a pet tarantula named Malvolio. You’d Only Notice This if You Read the Books: Like 10 Things I Hate About You, all of the names are either adapted from those of the characters - Duke Orsino is the modern-day equivalent of Orsino, who is a duke, and the restaurant they frequent is called Cesario – or the locations – the school’s name Illyria, is where the play takes place.
Screen Gems via Everett Collection
Easy A Based On: The Scarlett Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne Most Drastic Change: In the book, Hester is ostracized for cheating on her husband with a priest; she got pregnant during the affair. In the film, Olive only pretends to sleep with people. Best Reference to the Source: The foreign film that Olive goes to see, courtesy of one of her fake hookups, is called Der Scharlachrote Buchstabe, which translates to The Scarlett Letter.You’d Only Notice This if You Read the Book: The film is up-front about many of its similarities to Hawthorne’s book, as Olive is studying it in class. Though Olive doesn’t have an affair with anyone, Hester and Arthur Dimmsdale’s relationship is paralleled in the affair that Mrs. Griffith has with Micah.
ScroogedBased On: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens Most Drastic Change: At the end of the film, Frank reunites with his love, Claire. However, in the book, too much time has passed for him to reconcile with Belle, and so he is instead content with becoming part of the Cratchitt family. Best Reference to the Original: In addition to Frank Cross joking about “scaring the Dickens out of people,” one of the TV shows he produces is called “Scrooge,” which was an alternate title that Dickens published the story under. You’d Only Notice This if You Read the Book: The Bob Cratchitt part is played by two different characters: Frank’s overworked assistant Grace Cooley and the much-abused yes-man Eliot Loudermilk.
O Brother, Where Art Thou? Based On: Homer’s The Odyssey Most Drastic Change: Instead of journeying home after a great war, Ulysses has escaped from a prison chain gang. Best Reference to the Source: The film is filled with references to the epic, but the cleverest is the repeated use of the song “Man of Constant Sorrow,” as the name Odysseus (the Greek equivalent of Ulysses) means “man who is in constant pain and sorrow.” You’d Only Notice This if You Read the Book: In order to win Penelope’s hand in marriage, all the suitors must string Odysseus’ bow and shoot an arrow through a dozen axe heads, but only Odysseus is strong enough to string the bow. In the film, Ulysseus also strings a bow in order to prove that he is who he says he is, and not an imposter.
Ruby Sparks Based On: Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw.Most Drastic Change: In the play, Higgins “makes” Eliza by transforming her from a flower girl into a lady, but in the film, Calvin physically creates Ruby, as she is a product of his imagination.Best Reference to the Source: At the end, Ruby becomes her own person, and leaves Calvin behind to do what she wants and become who she wants, which reflects the controversial ending of the play, in which Eliza leaves Henry behind in order to marry Freddy, even though Henry disapproves. The ending of Shaw's play was very controversial when it was first performed, but it was important to him that Eliza doesn't marry Henry. You’d Only Notice This if You Read the Book: Calvin’s brother, Harry, repeatedly warns him to be careful with what he’s doing, and not to disregard Ruby’s emotions, just like how Henry’s friend, Colonel Pickering, constantly warns Henry to be kind to Eliza and to treat her like a real person, rather than an experiment.
Nothing says “Christmas” quite like an epic story of struggle, survival and triumph over impossible odds... at the movies anyway. This holiday promises to be just as stirring and emotional thanks to Unbroken, the latest directorial venture from Angelina Jolie. Based on an incredible true story, the film charts the life of Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell), an Olympic track star who was gunned down during World War II, stranded at sea, and kept as a prisoner of war at a Japanese internment camp until the end of the war. It’s a dark, intense and incredibly inspiring story, but unfortunately, the first full trailer only serves to highlight one of those elements.
There’s no doubt that the trailer gives plenty of attention to the darker moments of Zamperini’s experiences – the scene where soldiers line up to punch him in the face should be enough of an indication of the terrible conditions that he endured – but there’s something about the way the clip is cut together that makes Unbroken look a bit, well, cheesy. Maybe it’s the swelling violins in the background, maybe it’s the dramatic text overlay, or maybe it’s the washed-out filter that the first half of the trailer has, but the trailer gives off the impression that Unbroken is just a generic, corny tearjerker.
To an extent, we get it. It’s already difficult to cut a trailer the shows off the best aspects of the movie, teases more to come, and showcases what the film is about without completely giving away the plot. For a film like Unbroken, which is centered on someone who most moviegoers might not be familiar with and whose story is epic and wide-spanning, it’s even more challenging, as the trailer needs to outline who Louis Zamperini is, what he went through, and why we should care, while at the same attempting to make it look like an attractive, entertaining experience. But the trailer doesn’t make his story look unique; it just makes it look like another Oscar baiting film that will probably make you cry.
It’s still disappointing though, primarily because it plays down the more compelling parts of the story in favor of sweeping, emotional beats and moments of patriotism designed to appeal to the widest, most mainstream audience possible. And while it makes perfect sense that studios would want to make the trailer as inoffensive as possible in order to attract a larger audience, it keeps Unbroken from standing out amongst all of the other emotional, life-affirming dramas that will flood movie theaters around the same time. Mostly though, the cheesy trailer makes us worried that the film itself is the same kind of pandering, melodramatic Oscar bait that the winter months have become famous for. We’re not interested in seeing an interesting, complicated, moving true story simplified in order to try and win awards. We want to see a movie about Zamperini because we’re interested in his story, no matter how dark or depressing it might be at times.
Of course, trailers are never a good indication of what the final film actually looks like, but watching the teaser for Unbroken, we can’t help but hope that the story was cheesed-up for advertising purposes only. Maybe for the next trailer, the editors could try a little less violin?
Unbroken opens in theaters on Christmas day.
The Emmy awards inspire more conflict, shock and outrage than possibly any other major awards show on the circuit. It makes sense; we spend so much time getting to know these characters and their struggles that we become incredibly invested in the show's success. But with so many channels, platforms, programs, stars and prestige dramas on the air right now, it’s going to be impossible to please everyone. Of course, that knowledge doesn’t stop us from waiting impatiently every year, hoping that our favorite performances from the past year will be recognized with an Emmy nomination. And every year, we end up with a new list of nominations that surprise and delight us, or send us into a spiral of rage, heartbreak and Twitter ranting. The 2014 nominations were no different, and these are the biggest shocks of the year.
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy: Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine Despite its critical acclaim and Golden Globe wins, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is still something of an underdog in terms of ratings and public attention, so we weren’t expecting the Television Academy to take much notice of the Fox show. Which is why we were so delighted to read Braugher’s name on the list of nominees this morning for his work as the magnificently deadpan Captain Ray Holt. Brooklyn Nine-Nine might have only gotten one major nod, but it was for the single best part of the show, and for that we’re endlessly grateful. We know it might be hard to read, but we are... ecstatic.
Best Actress in a Drama: Lizzy Caplan, Masters of Sex Masters of Sex probably tops the list of brilliant shows that nobody pays enough attention to, but for all of its high points – the costumes, the dialogue, the chemistry between Masters and Johnson, the tense, quiet drama, the brilliant guest starts – much of the show’s excellence can be credited to Caplan’s performance as Virginia Johnson. It’s a complex, layered, funny, sexy, compelling role and it’s thrilling to see her work rightfully acknowledged as one of the best performances of the year.
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy: Allison Janney, Mom Mom is a complicated show. It’s ostensibly a typical Chuck Lorre comedy, with lots of inane jokes and strange plots, but it also devotes a great deal of time to the dramatic, difficult relationship between mother and daughter, both of whom are recovering addicts. It doesn’t always work, but when it does, it’s usually thanks to Janney, who transforms what could have been a stereotypical over-the-top, obnoxious character into a flawed, layered, realistic human being.
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy: Fred Armisen, Portlandia While it’s sad not to see Armisen’s co-star and co-writer Carrie Brownstein on the list of nominees as well, we’re excited to see the Television Academy finally pay attention to this weird, hilarious show and the weird, hilarious characters who inhabit it. Whether he’s learning the history of hip hop before a big concert or playing a feminist hippie who hates the customers in her shop, Armisen’s always original, funny, and just a little strange.
Best Comedy Series: Silicon Valley Another critical favorite that didn’t seem to get a lot of mainstream attention, Silicon Valley had an excellent first season, skewering the tech industry, the people who aspire to be part of it, and the people who make fun of it. Although airing on HBO automatically got the Emmys’ attention, it wasn’t the cultural phenomenon that some of its network-mates have become, and so it was good to see that a show doesn’t necessarily need A-list stars or famous directors in order to get attention.
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy: Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live This season of SNL got bogged down by an influx of new cast members, the loss of its head writer halfway through the year, and controversy over the diversity of its cast. But there was one cast member who held things together, who was consistently hilarious and able to rescue just about any sketch just by being in it, and that cast member was Kate McKinnon. From Bieber to Ellen to “Dyke and Fats” to doing it on a twin bed, McKinnon was definitely this year’s MVP, and we’re happy to see the Emmys recognize that as well.
Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie: Kristen Wiig, The Spoils of Babylon To be honest, we never expected this weird, awkward and often hilarious miniseries to even be on the TV Academy’s radar, let alone the nominations list, but Wiig’s performance as Cynthia Morehouse, who endures poverty, war, an unhappy marriage, and a forbidden romance with her adopted brother in outrageous, strange and hilarious fashion was one of the funniest things on TV this year. Not quite on the same level as Lady Anne, but we imagine it would be a little awkward to nominate a mannequin for an Emmy.
Best Supporting Actress and Guest Actress(es) in a Comedy: Kate Mulgrew, Laverne Cox, Uzo Aduba, and Natasha Lyonne, Orange is the New Black Orange Is the New Black swept the nominations this year, and while we’re happy to see it get recognized for Best Comedy and Taylor Shilling’s lead performance as Piper Chapman, it’s the supporting cast who we’re really thrilled for. Between Mulgrew’s transformative work as Red being included in the Supporting Actress category and three of the finest, funniest and most heartbreaking actresses (Aduba, Lyonne, and Cox, who is the first transgender Emmy nominee) crowding everyone else out of the Guest Actress category, don’t be surprised if Orange takes home plenty of gold on Emmy night.
Tatiana Maslany Gets Snubbed… Again Apparently, playing eight distinct characters, all of whom are equally complex, interesting, and fully-realized is not enough for the Emmy voters to take notice of Maslany’s incredible performance on Orphan Black, and both she and the show were snubbed for a second year. Since the tension between Helena and Sarah or the complicated relationship between Allison and Donnie or Cosima’s fight through her debilitating illness wasn’t enough, it seems the only way that Maslany will ever a nod is if she plays every single character on True Detective Season 2.
The Emmys Don’t Care About The Americans Despite turning out some of the most compelling, interesting, thrilling drama that has aired on television in the past year, The Americans was almost completely ignored by Emmy voters, earning one nomination for Margo Martindale’s guest spot. And though we pretty much expected the show not to make the Best Drama Series cut, we’re mostly shocked that Matthew Rhys’ incredible performance this season was also completely ignored by the Academy. Clearly the Emmys have a hard time looking past some bad wigs to see the brilliance underneath.
Really, Jeff Daniels Again? Don’t get us wrong, the once and future Harry Dunne does good work on The Newsroom, but it’s nothing special, especially compared to both what his fellow Best Actor in a Drama nominees turned out this year, and the performances of so many other actors who didn’t make the cut. But considering how much the Emmys seem to love him, we think Bryan Cranston and Matthew McConaughey might want to hold off on writing their acceptance speeches.
Ricky Gervais Gets Nominated For… Derek? We loved Gervais’ arrogant, deluded David Brent on The Office. We’re still laughing about his performance as the rude, frustrated and sometimes desperate Andy Millman on Extras, and we’d watch him bicker with Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington all day. However, we weren’t as crazy about his work on Derek, the saccharine, gentle-hearted sitcom where he plays the saccharine, gentle-hearted nursing home caretaker Derek, so we’re surprised to see just how vastly the Television Academy’s opinion about the show differed from ours. Still, at least we know we’re guaranteed a hell of a show if he actually wins.
Downton Abbey Keeps Racking Up the Nominations We get it: Maggie Smith is an international treasure. That doesn’t mean that the Emmys have to nominate her every single year, without fail. And just because Downton Abbey is a British period piece, that doesn’t mean it’s better than any number of excellent dramas who continue to be overlooked just because everyone on the show speaks with a British accent. It’s okay not to nominate them, Emmys. Everyone will still think you’re smart and worldly, we promise.
The Wrong People from Shameless Get Nominated, as Per Usual Here’s the good news: Shameless finally got more than one nomination! The bad news, though, is that they went to the actors with the most name recognition – William H. Macy, who is up for Best Actor in a Comedy and Joan Cusack, whose Guest Actress hot streak continues – rather than the ones who carried the show this year – Emmy Rossum, Jeremy Allen White and Noel Fisher, to name just a few. But, hey, it seems like that category switch actually paid off, even if it means nominating the actor whose character was in a coma over the ones who were struggling with jail time, balancing college and caring for his family and coming out and looking after his bipolar boyfriend.
Somehow, House of Cards Got 13 Nominations There are only two possible explanations: either the Emmy voters thought that, like Orange Is the New Black, they were voting based on the first season of the show, or they didn’t actually watch the new season of House of Cards, and they decided to throw a bunch of nominations its way to cover up that fact, since it’s an “important, prestige” drama.