2019: The Year of Eddie Murphy and Adam Sandler

One of the welcome cinematic storylines of 2019 involves two beloved Saturday Night Live vets who accomplished some of their finest film work, have garnered Oscar attention, and both returned to the show that made them after many years away.

I’m referring to Eddie Murphy and Adam Sandler and they both get spots in my Year of 2019 posts. Murphy had been absent from the silver screen since 2016’s drama Mr. Church. Over the past several years, he was known more for his family comedies then the raunchy comedian that sold out stadiums in the 1980s. 2019 saw a return to form with Netflix’s Dolemite Is My Name, his critically hailed recounting of Rudy Ray Moore’s contributions to movies. The pic has given Murphy his best reviews since 2006’s Dreamgirls and gotten him back into the Oscar conversation. We also witnessed the legendary performer host SNL for the first time in 35 years. 2020 will showcase Murphy returning to stand-up (something he hasn’t done since the late 1980s) and reprising his Prince Akeem character and others in Coming 2 America, which again teams him with Netflix and Dolemite director Craig Brewer.

Mr. Sandler also hit the 30 Rock building to headline SNL. He hadn’t been back in that role since being fired from the show in the mid 90s and embarking on his own wildly successful film career. The SNL gig saw him perform a humorous and touching tribute to cast mate Chris Farley. His partnership with Netflix includes this year’s Murder Mystery with Jennifer Aniston. There’s already a sequel planned for it. And the critical kudos came with crime thriller Uncut Gems, which opens wide on Christmas. That pic, from directors Ben and Josh Safdie, has Sandler picking up awards precursors and, like Murphy, in the mix for Academy attention. He’ll return to his preferred streaming service next year with Hubie Halloween.

For SNL, 2019 will be remembered as a time when two of their most famous alumni returned. For Murphy and Sandler, it’s a time when they gave us some of the most memorable onscreen work.

2019: The Year of Jennifer Lopez

This year, Jennifer Lopez kept up her judging duties on the reality show World of Dance, hosted Saturday Night Live, and embarked on a nationwide tour performing her many hit songs. She also turned 50 and got engaged to baseball legend Alex Rodriguez. However, 2019 will likely be known as the year J-Lo made a commercially and critically successful return to the big screen.

Her role as seasoned stripper turned business savvy crime lord Ramona in Lorene Scafaria’s Hustlers has already earned her precursor awards love. And the film, which grossed over $100 million domestically against a meager $20 million budget, should earn her a first trip to Academy Awards as a nominee for Supporting Actress. She’s even got a real shot to win.

It’s been over two decades since Lopez’s most acclaimed roles in Selena and Out of Sight. Over the past few years, her cinematic work has consisted of forgettable thrillers like The Boy Next Door and middling rom coms such as Second Act. That dynamic changed with her fierce Hustlers work and earns her a welcome spot among the block of memorable performers this year.

Oscar Watch: Love, Gilda

In a year filled with documentaries focused on legendary figures, Friday sees the limited release of Love, Gilda. The pic recounts the life of original SNL cast member Gilda Radner, including her time on that landmark show, her marriage to Gene Wilder, and her battle with cancer. It features interviews with her contemporaries and admirers including Chevy Chase, Melissa McCarthy, Amy Poehler, Martin Short, Maya Rudolph, and Bill Hader.

Gilda first screened last spring at the Tribeca Film Festival to positive, if not overly praising reviews. It sits at 83% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. As mentioned, from Won’t You Be My Neighbor? to Quincy to RBG to Jane Fonda in Five Acts to McQueen, 2018 has been loaded with high-profile docs.

Bottom line: while Gilda may well please her many fans, I don’t see this making the cut in this year’s loaded race.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

2017: The Year of Tiffany Haddish

Like yesterday’s Year of 2017 honoree Kumail Nanjiani, Tiffany Haddish started 2017 as a stand-up comic not known to a large swath of the American public. Yet as the year draws to its close, Haddish is now quite well-known due to her scene stealing performance in the summer’s comedic sleeper hit.

Alongside Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, and Jada Pinkett Smith, it was Haddish who garnered the most buzz in Girls Trip, which surprised all prognosticators when it grossed $115 million. It was 2016’s Keanu that gave Haddish her first notable role, but that picture was largely ignored. Yet her raw, profane and outlandish Dina character gave the actress a showcase filled with standout moments.

Critics groups and Hollywood have certainly taken notice. Haddish became the first African American comic to host “Saturday Night Live” this fall. In 2018, she will reunite with Trip director Malcolm D. Lee for Night School with Kevin Hart.

Expect to see lots of Haddish in the coming years and 2017 was unquestionably her breakout.

Movie Perfection: A Shagadelic Therapy Session

“In the spring, we’d make meat helmets.” – Dr. Evil

In this week’s example of “Where has the time gone?”, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery celebrated its 20 year anniversary. In May of 1997, this creation of Mike Myers wasn’t expected to be the cultural milestone it turned out to be and spawn endless catchphrases. The SNL alum had not capitalized on the wild success five years earlier of Wayne’s World. Myers experienced two box office disappointments in his follow-ups – So I Married An Axe Murderer (which would achieve minor cult status later) and the Wayne’s World sequel.

Not much was expected from Powers, but the James Bond spoof immediately achieved its cult status and over performed expectations by grossing $53 million domestically. That was a pleasing number, but not a total runaway hit. It took home video to expand its audience and expand its audience it did. By the time Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me was released two summers later, it made $54 million… in its first weekend. Goldmember, the third installment, would make $73 million out of the gate in 2002.

Yet it’s the original from two decades past that remains the best. And in this edition of Movie Perfection, I focus on what was my favorite scene 20 years ago and remains so today. That would be the therapy session between Myers’ Dr. Evil and his son Scott (Seth Green).

This sequence finds the late Carrie Fisher as a shrink offering advice to fathers and their teenage boys. The group quickly finds the bald mastermind and nemesis of the title character has the strangest relationship with his estranged offspring. Dr. Evil is, in fact, actually trying to kill him. And Scott’s aspirations of working with animals doesn’t gel with Dad’s idea of it.

The entire scene is hilarious but it builds to an epic climax with Dr. Evil’s description of his own bizarre childhood. Burlap bags, luge lessons, webbed feet, and the laziness of chestnuts are all incorporated into an uproarious monologue that solidifies why Dr. Evil was always the greatest character in the franchise.

Carrie Fisher is pitch perfect in her cameo. It’s crazy to think her work here arrived almost exactly 20 years after her first appearance as Princess Leia and now it’s been 20 years since her participation in this fantastic sequence.

So, as we celebrate two decades since this memorable series, today’s Movie Perfection honors its best scene.

Top 25 SNL Cast Members of All Time: Nos. 5-1

Well folks, we’ve reached the end of my personal list of Top 25 Saturday Night Live Cast Members of All Time. If you haven’t had a chance to peruse numbers 25-6, the links may be found here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/03/08/top-25-snl-cast-members-of-all-time-nos-25-21/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/03/09/top-25-snl-cast-members-of-all-time-nos-20-16/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/03/09/top-25-snl-cast-members-of-all-time-nos-15-11/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/03/10/top-25-snl-cast-members-of-all-time-nos-10-6/

This leads us to the Top 5 and the crème de la crème, at least in my view. Here they are:

5. Kristin Wiig

http://screen.yahoo.com/kristen-wiig-snl-skits/

4. John Belushi

http://screen.yahoo.com/john-belushi-snl-skits/

3. Phil Hartman

http://screen.yahoo.com/phil-hartman-snl-skits/

2. Eddie Murphy

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1. Will Ferrell

http://screen.yahoo.com/will-ferrell-snl-skits/

And there you have it, my friends! Feel to comment and quibble (or agree) with my choices.

Top 25 SNL Cast Members of All Time: Nos. 10-6

We have entered the Top Ten of my personal list of Top 25 Saturday Night Live cast members of all time! To peruse my three previous posts covering numbers 25-11, click the following links:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/03/08/top-25-snl-cast-members-of-all-time-nos-25-21/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/03/09/top-25-snl-cast-members-of-all-time-nos-20-16/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/03/09/top-25-snl-cast-members-of-all-time-nos-15-11/

Let’s get to it, shall we?

10. Chevy Chase

http://screen.yahoo.com/chevy-chase-first-ford-impression-000000832.html

9. Darrell Hammond

https://screen.yahoo.com/celebrity-jeopardy-sean-connery-anne-000000916.html

8. Gilda Radner

http://screen.yahoo.com/gilda-radner-snl-skits/

7. Dana Carvey

http://screen.yahoo.com/church-chat-reincarnation-000000141.html

6. Chris Farley

Ladies and gents, I’ll brings you to my top five tomorrow!