Daily Streaming Guide: April 5th Edition

Available via Netflix, today’s streaming guide highlights a Depression era gangster pic that took its star out of his typical comfort zone:

2002’s Road to Perdition casts Tom Hanks as a 1930s hitman whose family falls victim to his professional choices. The pic comes from Sam Mendes as the follow-up to his Oscar winning American Beauty. The supporting cast includes Paul Newman in one of his final onscreen appearances, Jude Law, and a pre 007 Daniel Craig (Mendes would direct him later in Skyfall and Spectre).

This was a rather bold choice for everyman Hanks and it paid off with solid reviews and robust box office. If you missed it the first time around, it’s well worth a view.

That’s all for now, folks! Until next time…

Oscars 2019: The Case of Sam Mendes

My second Case of post discussing the directors up this year brings us to Sam Mendes for his World War I epic 1917:

The Case for Sam Mendes

The Englishman who became known for his theatre work became a Best Director winner with his first feature 20 years ago – American Beauty. Since then, he’s made a slew of pictures that never quite achieved full Academy attention: Road to Perdition, Jarhead, and Revolutionary Road among them. Over the past decade, he’s been in 007 land after making the last two Bond adventures Skyfall and Spectre. His latest effort has brought him back to serious contention and he’s got the hardware to prove it. Mendes has won the Golden Globe, Directors Guild of America, and BAFTA awards for his direction. Those three prizes alone puts him in the driver’s seat for a second Oscar 20 years apart. That, by the way, would be the longest stretch between a filmmaker taking the trophy.

The Case Against Sam Mendes

From a pure precursor standpoint, there really is no case against him. Yet there’s a lot of love for Bong Joon-Ho and his critically heralded Parasite. He serves as the chief competitor.

The Verdict

It is very hard to ignore the fact that Mendes has won everything that needs to be won in order to emerge victorious here.

My Case of posts will continue with Joe Pesci in The Irishman!

Oscars 2019: The Case of Tom Hanks

The Case of posts for the pictures, directors, and performers nominated for this year’s Oscars brings us to our first Supporting Actor player – Tom Hanks for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Let’s look at the pros and cons for the legendary actor:

The Case for Tom Hanks

Well, he’s Tom Hanks. His work as beloved TV host Mister Rogers in Neighborhood brings him his sixth Oscar nod. He famously won back to back for Best Adtor in the 1990s with Philadelphia and Forrest Gimp, in addition to being nominated for Big, Saving Private Ryan, and Cast Away. Hanks is one of the most recognizable and appreciated movie stars in the world. Voters just witnessed him giving a touching and funny lifetime achievement speech at the Golden Globes.

The Case Against Tom Hanks

You might be surprised to learn that his nomination from the Academy is his first in 19 years. He was bypassed for such performances as Road to Perdition, Charlie Wilson’s War, Captain Phillips (I’m still salty about that snub), Saving Mr. Banks, Bridge of Spies, Sully, and The Post. In other words, Oscar voters may feel the two gold statues on his mantle are sufficient. As for the picture itself, Hanks’s inclusion in Supporting Actor is the sole nomination as Neighborhood couldn’t break out anywhere else with the Academy. While he snagged Globe and SAG mentions, he lost both to Brad Pitt from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. 

The Verdict

While it’s good to see Hanks back in the mix, all signs point to this award winding up in Pitt’s neighborhood this year.

Up Next in my Case of posts… Kathy Bates in Richard Jewell!

2013: The Year of Tom Hanks

In 1993, Tom Hanks literally made a dramatic shift to more serious projects with Philadelphia, which brought the AIDS epidemic front and center to a more mainstream audience. For his performance, Hanks won an Oscar and forever changed moviegoers perceptions of him from a comedic actor to a jack of all trades.

The following year, Forrest Gump turned into a smash hit and Hanks would win his second Best Actor trophy in a row (a feat that hadn’t been accomplished since Spencer Tracy in the late 1930s). The rest of the 1990s would see the performer headlining one prestige project after another that connected with critics and audiences alike. Apollo 13. Saving Private Ryan. The Green Mile. Cast Away. In addition, he starred in a pair of hit rom coms with Meg Ryan – Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail.

The last decade or so for Hanks could be described as spotty at best. After a mostly well-received turn in Sam Mendes’ Prohibition era pic Road to Perdition (where he cast against type as a hitman), there was Steven Spielberg’s The Terminal, which failed to make a major impression with audiences. The actor’s biggest financial successes were with adaptations of Dan Brown novels, 2006’s The Da Vinci Code and 2009’s Angels and Demons. Neither pictures were particularly beloved by critics. Of course, there was also the animated smash hit Toy Story 3 in 2010. And a supporting turn in Catch Me If You Can, another collabo with Spielberg that turned out well. However, there were disappointments as well. 2004’s Coen Bros remake The Ladykillers was a box office disappointment. 2007’s Charlie Wilson’s War was expected to be an Oscar player, but wasn’t. His directorial effort Larry Crowne costarring Julia Roberts didn’t resonate with audiences or critics. And last year’s Cloud Atlas was a financial dud domestically.

Two decades after Hanks achieved double Oscar glory, 2013 will be seen as a return to form. October’s Captain Phillips (the tale of the 2009 Somali hijacking incident) earned the actor his best reviews in years. The project (from director Paul Greengrass) gives Hanks his greatest chance for an Oscar nod in the last 13 years. He hasn’t been recognized by the Academy since 2000’s Cast Away. Audiences responded well to Phillips, too. It’s earned $102 million domestically at press time.

Captain Phillips would probably be enough to earn Hanks a spot in this blog series, but there’s another feature coming this month that should only add to his solid year. John Lee Hancock’s Saving Mr. Banks casts Hanks (recently named America’s most trusted person in America) as iconic studio head Walt Disney. The film focuses on the making of 1964’s Mary Poppins and stars Emma Thompson as author P.L. Travers. Attention is already focused on Hanks receiving a Best Supporting Actor nod for his turn as Disney. If that happens, the performer may well be a double nominee as this year’s ceremony. Banks also seems likely to be a commercial hit.

While the last few years have been a mixed bag commercially and critically for Mr. Trustworthy, audiences and critics (and probably Oscar voters) entrusted Hanks at a level in 2013 not seen in a while. Hanks has no projects lined up for release in 2014, though expect Toy Story 4 and The Lost Symbol (another Dan Brown adaptation) in the future.

Part three of my six-part series on performers who had a profound impact in the movies in 2013 continues tomorrow with an actress who gave a performance that was literally out of this world.