Solo: A Star Wars Story’s production was so troubled, it is a miracle that the film even got made. Announced in 2015 to lukewarm reception from fans who believed that any attempt at explaining the smuggler’s backstory would do injustice to the character’s enigma, Phil Lord and Chris Miller were announced as directors but were fired after filming nearly two-thirds of the movie, citing “creative differences” with Lucasfilm. Ron Howard was quickly brought on and, in under eleven months, re-shot almost 70 percent of the film and miraculously finished it in time for its May release date. Yet perhaps this unconventional path to the big screen is fitting for a character like Han Solo; a rebel before Jyn Erso could utter the word in Rogue One, he was never known to follow the rules and had a knack for getting himself into tight situations before escaping or finding success in the end. Sadly, despite Solo’s underdog status, it is never quite able to beat the odds stacked against it.
When you consider what the Oscars are about — ranking our favorite movies of the year — they should really be a lot more fun. So let’s drop some boring categories (I’m sure everyone would be absolutely devastated if we got rid of Best Song and Best Makeup and Hairstyling) and add some fun ones, like Best Practical Effects, Best Ensemble Cast and Is Your Picture A Wildly Entertaining Horror/Thriller/Comedy That Doubles As A Nuanced, Thought-Provoking Metaphor For The Hardships Faced By Minorities In America? Another such fun award would be Best Scene. It’s the perfect way to both reflect on the standout sequences from some of the Best Picture front-runners as well as reward moments of brilliance in flawed films that would otherwise go unacknowledged at the Oscars. For reference, here are the scenes I would have picked each year for the past decade:
2016 – Moonlight – “What’s a Faggot?”
2015 – Furious 7 – Double Skyscraper Jump
2014 – Whiplash – Final Concert
2013 – Gravity – Opening Debris Sequence
2012 – Django Unchained – Dinner Monologue
2011 – Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol – Tom Cruise Scales the Burj Khalifa
2010 – Inception – Rotating Hallway Fight
2009 – Up – Married Life Montage
2008 – The Dark Knight – Literally Any Scene
2007 – No Country For Old Men – Coin Toss
We’re looking for instantly memorable scenes that are essential to their film’s success and have the chance to become iconic years down the road.
I got to review The Last Jedi when it came out, along with some other Arts & Entertainment writers. To sum it up, we all pretty much said the same thing: it was a film of highs and lows. The overarching theme of balance the movie sought to explore shone through in its quality: good balanced against bad. But this isn’t a movie review. This is a “rewrite” of sorts, in which I will attempt to suggest a few small tweaks that had the potential to improve a movie.
On Sunday night, Casey Affleck stood on the stage of the Oscars wearing a very nice suit and a very nice beard and a very nice ACLU ribbon on his jacket, and accepted the Academy Award for Best Actor. A number of journalists have written detailed accounts of Affleck’s sexual intimidation, harassment and physical assault of Amanda White and Magdalena Gorka on the set of his 2012, I’m Still Here. You can read the entirety of Gorka’s lawsuit here, and an excellent analysis of the controversy here. Whether or not you knew that Casey Affleck was a sexual predator, the members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences assuredly did, and still decided that his profoundly middling performance as a very sad janitor was worth more than women’s dignity. Personally, I am still waiting to see a film so good that it is worth legitimizing sexual violence in order to reward it; a movie more compelling than my own humanity.
When Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released in December 2015, to say that it had to live up to high expectations would be a tremendous understatement. A decade had passed since the last live-action Star Wars movie was released, and the trailers had promoted the film as an exciting new take on the galaxy far, far away while also promising plenty of nostalgic moments, evidenced by the inclusion of John William’s iconic soundtrack and appearances from Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Princess Leia, C-3PO and R2-D2. Although The Force Awakens was by no means a bad film, time and nostalgia made audiences and critics willing to forgive its more egregious flaws: mainly that it was a recapitulation of the Star Wars: A New Hope’s storyline albeit with superior special effects. However, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story does not benefit from the same circumstances that surrounded The Force Awakens. The familiar glow of a lightsaber or an incredulous rendition of “I’ve got bad feeling about this” are not enough to satisfy fans anymore.
Yes, we have to wait until 2017 for Star Wars: Episode VIII, but, thankfully, there are some pretty fun movies to look forward to in 2016. There’s a new Star Trek installment by the director of Fast Five, who might be my favorite person on the planet. Liam Neeson is starring in a Martin Scorsese film, so we’ll see if he’s still capable of ever making a movie where nobody gets taken, because it’s debatable at this point. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is doing a comedy called Central Intelligence with Kevin Hart, which has the chance to be either really stupid or incredibly stupid. For some reason, someone thought it was a good idea to have a live-action Jungle Book and a live-action Tarzan come out within three months of each other.
J.K. Rowling refuses to let it go. Every few months, she takes to Twitter and drops some bombshell of authorial intent — Harry and Hermione should have gotten together, Voldemort is actually pronounced Voldemort — in some attempt to change what was published and beloved by children for almost 20 years now. Yes, she wrote the most successful series of books of all time, but it’s been almost a decade since The Deathly Hallows was released. Isn’t it time to move on? Some have accused Rowling of writing mere glorified fan-fiction, a criticism leveled not just at the upcoming stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, but at the endless stream of redactions and footnotes streaming forth from her Twitter.
Given the dramatic events across campus over the course of this week, rumor has it that Hollywood executives have been seen mucking it up in Libe Cafe this week, asking about potentially turning the week’s happenings into the next Oscar-bait movie for Leonardo DiCaprio to star in if he doesn’t win an Oscar for his performance in The Revenant. According to some sources who may or may not have overheard the conversations between the studio suits and students heavily involved in the week’s happenings, these are the potential movie angle and titles being thrown around by those involved in the film franchise’s development. Rumor has it that they’re also trying to build off some of the post-Star Wars hype as well. The Hollywood machine at its finest. Attack of the Trustees: Starring former Disney Channel heartthrobs, this film will chronicle how a tonedeaf board of trustees came to the decision to form a College of Business on Cornell’s campus and not divest in fossil fuel industries while trapped in underground bunkers without a way to hear feedback from the people whom the decision will actually affect in the real world.
By ETHAN BERKOWITZ
It’s a moment many of us have been waiting for. Ever since The Walt Disney Company announced a new trilogy, starting with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, fan excitement has been mounting, reaching a fever pitch last month when the full trailer was released. Now, we are almost one month away from Star Wars gracing the big screen yet again . Without a doubt, people of all generations will don their best Jedi and Stormtrooper attire and take to the big screen to bask in J.J. Abram’s newest addition to the epic saga. However, there is one super fan who will likely not be in attendance on opening night.