September 02, 2015

Tag Archives: Tom Cruise

What were the Ten Best summer releases of 2015?

We’re in the final days of August, which means that the summer movie season has basically come to an end. As is the case when things wrap up, I like to rank them, and this is no exception. September is right around the corner, so it’s a perfect time too. Below you will see what I feel were the ten best releases during the summer, which I’ve extended to potentially include April and May releases as well, since that’s part of the now expanded season, cinematically speaking. Take a gander, remember that it’s just my opinion here, and as always…I hope you enjoy my list!
Here now are what I feel were the best that the summer of 2015 had to offer us:
10. Avengers: Age of Ultron – Perhaps a disappointment to some, this mega sequel still delivered what it promised and was rather satisfying, so it deserves a spot on the list. Joss Whedon and his superhero team know how to entertain, so even if it wasn’t the second coming, it did do its job, so credit where credit is due. Marvel does this sort of thing like no other.
9. Spy – A bit of a pleasant surprise, though by now the team of Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy is basically a sure sign of comedic gold. As effective a an action flick as it is a parody of spy movies, this is a comedy that does just about everything right. Could it have been slightly funnier? Sure, but now we’re just splitting hairs. It was a hit and deservedly so.
8. Ant-Man – One of the summer’s riskier blockbusters (and certainly a gamble for Marvel, to say the least) was also one of its more troubled productions, yet when push came to shove…it was another very solid comic book movie. An origin story for a second tier character, Peyton Reed took what Edgar Wright developed, and along with Paul Rudd, made it something a bit different. It wasn’t always as neat as it could have been, but it certainly worked.
7. Tomorrowland – I know folks were pretty mixed on this one, but I really appreciated the ambition on display here. Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof made a summer sci-fi epic that dares to encourage creativity, hope, and optimism for the future, and that’s a rare breed indeed. It probably was always going to be too expensive to be financially successful, […]

Tom Cruise’s Ten Best Performances

Few A-list movie stars these days have been as durable as Tom Cruise. He can take a licking and keep on ticking, while still showing us something new from time to time. With the release this weekend of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, I wanted to take a look at the career of Cruise and pick out his very best acting jobs. As such, below you can find what I feel to be his top ten performances to date. While he’s focused on action roles of late, I think the next stage of his career will return him to drama, which is exciting, as he’s overdue an Academy Award. As always, this is just my take on things, but I do hope that you enjoy!
Here now are what I think are the ten best performances of Cruise’s so far…
10. Lions for Lambs – Not the best film he’s ever been involved in, but Cruise is almost too perfect as a Republican politician. The million dollar smile that occasionally can seem on the empty side is used to terrific effect here. It’s an incredibly underrated performance and one of the last times he’s attempted straight drama over the past decade or so.
9. A Few Good Men – Cruise spouting Aaron Sorkin dialogue is really a joy for me, and if he doesn’t have the flashiest part in the flick, he still makes his work rather memorable. He gets to go toe to toe with Jack Nicholson in court, as well as have a number of humorous lines that break up tension. It isn’t usually mentioned among his best works, but it should be.
8. Risky Business – The role that really made Cruise a star, it’s a strong performance that’s comedic, but also a bit of a straight man part as well. It’s a teen sex comedy, but one with a darker underbelly and a sense of maturity at times that I think is rare for the genre. As soon as he danced around in his underwear in that iconic scene, you knew that he was rocketing to the A-list. It was only a matter of time.
7. Collateral – A rare villainous turn by Cruise, it shows his magnetism used for evil instead of good, to great effect I might add. Intense and somewhat haunting with all of his liability stripped away, he still manages to be incredibly captivating. It’s the sort […]

Ranking the films of Cameron Crowe

I’m a big fan of positivity, especially when it comes to the film industry, since it seems to be at a premium most of the time. Two weeks ago, filmmaker Cameron Crowe’s latest movie Aloha opened to rather poor reviews, some of which began to look back and degrade his canon on the whole. In an attempt to keep it positive, I wanted to look back on Crowe’s filmography and rank his work to date, especially since I’m one of the few who feel that he’s basically never had a true “bad” movie. Some of his films are better than the others, of course, but they all have value…
Here’s my ranking of the films from writer/director Cameron Crowe:
1. Almost Famous – Crowe’s masterpiece and one of the best films of the last 25 years (along with one of my five favorites of all time), this is basically a perfect piece of cinema. A passion project based on Crowe’s childhood, it’s just brilliant on every single level. Multiple scenes are forever engrained in my mind, and I know I’m not alone. As a bonus, this is one of the few films that only gets better when you see more of it, as the three hour “Untitled” extended edition proves.
2. Jerry Maguire – One of the more quotable movies ever, this is Crowe at his most crowd pleasing. Armed with Tom Cruise in perhaps his peak form, at least charisma wise, it’s impossible not to fall in love with this romantic dramedy. By the time you hear “You had me at hello”, the film already has you. It’s probably the outing of Crowe’s that I’ve revisited most, due to just how pleasing it is, on pretty much all levels.
3. Say Anything – A very good film on its own, it’s made even better by the now iconic scene of John Cusack holding a boombox over his head, to the tune of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes”. Crowe was making his directorial debut here, after making a name for himself by writing the book and screenplay adaptation for Fast Times at Ridgemont High, so he was a work in progress. Still, this is an incredibly accomplished debut, full of hints that he was going to one day become the best in the business.
4. Elizabethtown – Here’s one that I love way more than almost anyone else. I have a soft spot in […]

The Ten Best Action Movies of the New Millennium

Who doesn’t love a good action movie? They’re among the most fun that Hollywood has to offer, particularly when they’re of a high quality. Later on this week, a reportedly amazing new one in Mad Max: Fury Road is hitting theaters, so to prep us all for that experience (I see it later on today, so yay for that), I wanted to do a countdown of the recent best that the genre has to offer. Essentially, every action flick since 2000 was eligible, and I whittled that down to a top ten list. It’s hardly the definitely “new millennium action movie” list, but I think it’s a pretty solid one, to say the least. You’ll be able to see the list below, which could very well be amended once Mad Max: Fury Road comes to town…
Here now are my picks for the ten best action films since the year 2000:
10. King Kong – Peter Jackson’s unneeded remake of the classic action adventure turned out to be my favorite version of the story, go figure. The special effects are extraordinary and watching Kong interact with the world through Andy Serkis was a real joy. I may be in the minority here, but I absolutely loved it. It manages to stand alongside the all time classic original.
9. Kick-Ass – It hasn’t quite held up as well as the initial viewing suggested, but Matthew Vaughn’s deconstruction of the superhero origin story is a ridiculous amount of fun. The main pleasures are watching Nicolas Cage not play Batman, along with Chloe Grace Moretz giving a nomination worthy supporting turn as Hit-Girl. That initial magic wasn’t captured by the sequel, but that takes nothing away from this one.
8. Looper – Not only is this a great action flick, it’s also the best film of Rian Johnson’s career so far and a amazing time travel tale as well. It’s nearly perfect, offering up one of the best performances to date from both Joseph Gordon-Levitt as well as Bruce Willis. A modern classic, it basically demands that you honor it for its inventiveness and effectiveness.
7. Black Hawk Down – I’d have put this higher if not for the fact that it’s less fun due to the tragic real life story that inspired it. Still, this is one of Ridley Scott’s best and the most effective war movie since Saving Private Ryan. It’s so visceral and well made, […]

Veteran actors who can follow the Tom Cruise/Liam Neeson action hero path

Between last week’s Liam Neeson release Run All Night marking one of the final times that Neeson will play an action hero and yesterday’s debut of Tom Cruise defying age in the new Mission: Impossible trailer, I got to thinking about who could take their places going forward. Obviously, Neeson is almost done and Cruise won’t be kicking ass forever, so there must be an heir apparent or two out there, right? Well, no one who is out and out gunning for that gig, but there’s plenty of middle aged actors who have at least dipped their toes in the water. As such, I came up with a list of actors who could certainly take the mantle from these two, perhaps even pushing this sub genre of action to a slightly new level. It’s mostly a list in good fun, but there’s certainly some truths contained within. Hey, maybe in a few years I’ll have been proven prescient about a couple of career arcs!
Below you’ll see the ten gentlemen I’ve selected, listed alphabetically:
Javier Bardem – Most people acknowledge that Bardem can do just about anything, including turning in a couple of terrific villain turns, so why not an action hero? One of those turns is especially iconic (No Country for Old Men) and he even has a part in the recently released action flick The Gunmen, so he’s orbiting that action hero planet in a big way. I think he’d do a great job too.
Kenneth Branagh – Here’s another actor who has tried out the villainous role, but Branagh seems tailor made to perhaps play a veteran spy. He’s firmly entrenched in his directing career, which makes this a long shot, but anything is possible. Maybe he could be given his own franchise to headline both in front of and behind the camera? That might do the trick.
Kevin Costner – For a while Costner was an action hero, of course, but those days have passed him by. If he were to return, it’d be as a second generation hero, which certainly has an appeal. There’s a risk of having this feel like someone who fell out of The Expendables, but Costner has played around in the action genre recently, with last year’s 3 Days to Kill (which had the aforementioned Branagh as the bad guy) as one example. I hope he sticks with it, in addition to his strong dramatic […]

The films that will sadly be shut out on Oscar nomination morning

In less than two weeks, the mystery is going to be solved in terms of who and what receive Academy Award nominations (with some mystery going away earlier today with the announcement of the Producers Guild of America nominations, but I’ll chime in on that tomorrow). At the same time, we’re also going to find out about the films and performances that are going to be snubbed for Oscar love. In some cases, movies are going to be shut out entirely. Most of the time, it’s more or less deservedly so, but their are always contenders that should have fared better in the awards season. Today, I wanted to shed some light on the flicks that almost assuredly are not going to be cited in any way, shape, or form, by members of the Academy. Sure, Oscar voters could surprise you, but I wouldn’t hold my breath…
Here now are ten films that are unfortunately set to be shut out when nominations are announced:
10. Tusk – No Kevin Smith film has ever competed at the Oscars (though rumor has it that Chasing Amy was the number six in Best Original Screenplay that year) and this horror-comedy won’t change that run, only in part due to mostly poor reviews (even if I dug it). At the same time though, Tusk features old school monster movie makeup and a rubber suit costume that I would have loved the Academy to have noticed/recognized. It won’t happen, but I’d do backflips if a Best Costume Design nomination came through.
9. Draft Day – A theme you’ll see a few times here in this column today is unfairly maligned films, with this sports drama being another prime example. It’s got a good enough script to have at least competed in Best Original Screenplay, though that field is obviously stacked. Ivan Reitman’s flick was unjustly ignored, something his son can also sympathize with this year as well (more on that below). It deserved a better fate than it received, plain and simple.
8. Edge of Tomorrow – Now, there’s a small chance that a tech nomination could come through for this Tom Cruise vehicle, but in a fairer world it would be a lock for a Best Film Editing nomination. Doug Limon’s movie didn’t do quite the business most expected it to, but it was a critical favorite and one of the more satisfying blockbusters of 2014. It might […]

Spotlight on Billionaire David Ellison

NAME: DAVID ELLISON
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Family
BIO: Son of Oracle’s Larry Ellison, whose net worth is estimated between 41.8 billion (Bloomberg) and $48 billion (Forbes). Brother of uber-producer Megan Ellison. USC film school graduate. Accomplished acrobatic pilot.
MARITAL STATUS: Married to actress/singer Sandy Modic.
HOLLYWOOD CONNECTIONS: His father once co-owned the 450-foot, $200 million yacht Rising Sun with fellow billionaire and DreamWorks co-founder David Geffen. David Ellison began career as an actor, appearing in and co-financing the 2006 MGM flop “Flyboys.” Founded Skydance Productions label, named for his love of flying. Raised $350 million to co-finance movies with studio partner Paramount Pictures. Re-upped co-financing pact with Paramount through 2018.
FILMS OF NOTE: “True Grit,” “Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol,” “Jack Reacher,” “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” “Star Trek Into Darkness,” “World War Z.” Combined, those films have made more than $2.4 billion at the global box office—Deadline.
FILM PROJECTS IN THE WORK:
*“Terminator: Genesis.” Director: Alan Taylor. Cast: Emilia Clarke, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jai Courtney. Producers: Ellison, Dana Goldberg.
*“Mission: Impossible 5” Director: Christopher McQuarrie. Cast: Tom Cruise, Paula Patton, Jeremy Renner. Producers: Ellison, J.J. Abrams, Tom Cruise.
*“Top Gun 2” Cast: Tom Cruise.
*”Geostorm” Cast: Gerard Butler. Director: Dean Devlin. Producers: Ellison, Devlin, Goldberg, Rachel Olschan, Marc Roskin.
*Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” Cast: Tom Cruise.
REAL ESTATE VENTURES: Skydance Productions purchased the historic Santa Monica post office on Fifth Street which was opened as part of FDR’s Works Project Administration in the ‘30’s, but was shuttered last year after walk-in traffic dwindled, according to Santa Monica Daily Press. No price was disclosed.
QUOTABLES: “I got sick my first flight.”—2006 Q&A with Air & Space magazine.
SCIENTOLOGY CONNECTION: All those Tom Cruise movies. TMZ featured a 2011 video of Cruise doing the worm during a “dance battle” at Ellison’s Palm Springs wedding.

Spotlight on the Stars: Tom Cruise

For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to take a look at a real A-lister, and that happens to be Tom Cruise. For some, he’s become just an aging action hero, while others long for the days when he still did drama. Personally, I’m still enamored with the star power of Cruise in anything he does. He also happens to be an underrated actor, which you wouldn’t have believed just a decade ago when he seemed poised to finally win an Oscar. Yes, he does seem mostly geared towards action these days, but Cruise built his career working with A-list filmmakers. He got to the top by acting in the movies of the best in the business.
Cruise has worked with a lot of top notch directors over his career. Names like J.J. Abrams, Paul Thomas Anderson, Brad Bird, Cameron Crowe, Brian De Palma, Stanley Kubrick, Michael Mann, Robert Redford, Rob Reiner, Martin Scorsese, Tony Scott, Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone, John Woo, and Edward Zwick litter his resume, and they’re not the only ones. This weekend’s Edge of Tomorrow adds Doug Liman to that list as well. If you look at his best performances, they often come from real auteurs like Anderson, Crowe, Kubrick, and Spielberg. I’d argue that the man has never given a bad performance, but those top tier ones have come from the biggest names in Hollywood.
If you look at his work, he’s shown an ability to do just about everything. He’s obviously become a tremendous movie star, and it was partially because he wasn’t pigeonholed. He was an action star in films like the Mission: Impossible franchise and something like Top Gun, a romantic lead in comedy/dramedy work like Jerry Maguire and Risky Business, a dramatic lead in awards bait like Born on the Fourth of July and Rain Man, and even could completely disappear into a supporting role in films like Magnolia and Tropic Thunder (where he demonstrated real comedy chops too). I’d argue there’s nothing that the man can’t do. He just needs to mix it up more. I’m fully confident that if he committed himself to doing a drama or an indie film every other year or so, he’d have another Oscar nomination before long and he’d probably be on pace to eventually win himself an Academy Award.
Overall, Cruise is an incredibly talented actor who still has a ton of miles still to […]

Leonardo DiCaprio: Who’s the most overdue for an Academy Award?

A lot of times during the months directly following the Academy Awards telecast, people talk about who’s overdue for an Oscar nomination, but I think the more interesting conversation is to discuss who’s already been nominated repeatedly by the Academy but has yet to win an Oscar. It’s one thing to fight for that first nod, or to have a nom to your credit but nothing else, but what of the people who’ve been cited with nominations multiple times by Oscar voters but never seem to make it to the finish line? Recently, I was thinking about just that, and actually came up with a list of some of the folks in the industry that are most overdue for a win.
Below you’ll find a group of ten previously nominated by the Academy that I think should have won by now. They consist of actors, actresses, filmmakers, and technical craftsmen, all of whom define the word “overdue” to me. There are many others, like Ridley Scott for example, but I limited it to ten. Take a look:
10. David O. Russell- With five nominations to his credit now, Russell is undoubtedly on a hot streak right now, and it’s firmly entrenched him as someone due for a win. The Academy clearly is enamored with him, so it really seems to only be a matter of time now. Not everyone is thrilled with that prospect, but I’m not among them. He’s more than deserving at this point in his career.
9. Julianne Moore – A quartet of nods later, Moore is very high up on many lists of the actresses who desperately need an Oscar. I obviously don’t have her quite as high up on this list, but she’s clearly only one great role away from being on that stage accepting the statue. My guess is that it’ll be for a supporting performance, but time will ultimately tell there.
8. Christopher Nolan – Despite often snubbing Nolan in some key categories, the Academy has still cited him a trio of times, though without any sign of a win yet. They’ve notably kept him far away from the Best Director field, so when his first win comes, I suspect that it’ll be for a Screenplay category…that’s just a guess though. Perhaps Interstellar this year can do it for him?
7. Tom Cruise – There was a time when it was inconceivable to think that Cruise wouldn’t have […]

Early IMAX release of Tom Cruise’s ‘Oblivion’ cancelled

Having rather loathed Tron: Legacy, I’ve had to work myself up in order to get excited about Joseph Kosinski’s Oblivion.
Yes, Tom Cruise usually makes sure that his big-scale pictures are a cut above and yes the film looks better with each trailer, but the biggest cause for hope was its release schedule. The film’s national release was set for April 19th, but the film was also going a full week early in IMAX only, giving paying audiences a week-long sneak preview in IMAX and other larger-screen formats. But alas, that promising move by Universal has been cancelled.
Chalk it up to Cruise wanting to do international press for the film’s overseas debut on the 12th and the film’s US debut on the 19th, chalk it up to Universal wanting an extra week of play for their 3D reissue of Jurassic Park on April 12th, but audiences will not be seeing Oblivion: The IMAX Experience one week early after all. Color me genuinely disappointed.

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