Top 25 SNL Alumni Performances: Numbers 15-11

My top 25 personal favorite cinematic performances by the alumni of Saturday Night Live continues with part 3 covering numbers 15-11! If you missed the first two posts, you can find them right here:

Let’s get to it!

15. Dan Aykroyd & John Belushi, The Blues Brothers (1980)

This is the first spin-off movie from the show and it’s certainly one of the best. Aykroyd and Belushi sold out stadiums with their musical act and their car chase friendly comedy was a major box office success as they embarked on their mission from God.

14. Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems (2019)

Now is the time to address what many might consider to be oversights on the list. This is the only Sandler entry. That’s right – no Billy Madison or Happy Gilmore or The Wedding Singer or any of his other blockbusters. While I certainly admire some of his work in those features, my Sandler preferences lie with his rare dramatic work. I could have given the nod to 2002’s Punch-Drunk Love, but last year’s Gems absolutely floored me and I believe it represents his best performance yet on the big screen.

13. Bill Murray, Lost in Translation (2003)

Speaking of comedic actors doing less humorous work, Murray nabbed his only Oscar nomination here. The Sofia Coppola directed critically acclaimed pic perfectly pairs its star with Scarlett Johansson and is further evidence of just how versatile Murray is. And he’s not done on this list…

12. Chevy Chase, Caddyshack (1980)

Be the ball.

At his best, no one pulls off smarmy charm better than Mr. Chase. I could have gone with Fletch as the selection, but he’s at his smarmy peak in this now revered classic.

11. Christopher Guest, Waiting for Guffman (1997)

Guest was only on SNL for one season alongside Billy Crystal and Martin Short. He had already starred in the fantastic mockumentary This is Spinal Tap, which set the standard for that type of film. Guest would go on to direct his own treasured pics in the genre including Best in Show and A Mighty Wind. As far as his own performances, my favorite is his dedicated community theater director Corky St. Clair.

We’ll get to the top ten in short order! Until then…

The Beguiled Movie Review

Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled is a more satisfying exercise in atmosphere than in storytelling. A remake of an early 70s Don Siegel/Clint Eastwood production, the film sets us three years into the Civil War in Virginia at a nearly abandoned girls school. The inhabitants consist of just five students, head teacher Miss Farnsworth (Nicole Kidman), and other instructor Edwina (Kirsten Dunst).

Their quiet existence is jolted when wounded Union soldier Corporal John McBurney (Colin Farrell) seeks refuge to recover from his injuries. This is when a series of ulterior motives plays out over an hour and a half. Miss Farnsworth runs her enterprise with an exacting demeanor that the Corporal’s presence alters. Edwina is looking to escape the confines of the Southern mansion’s trappings and sees the Corporal’s presence as that chance. Alicia (Elle Fanning) is the feisty student and the Corporal’s presence awakens her desires for further rebellion. As for the Corporal? His motives are an ever-changing guessing game as he charms his way through the lonely home and the people in them.

The Beguiled is ultimately a tale of empowerment told in a melodramatic and brisk manner. Clocking in at just over 90 minutes, writer/director Coppola hits the mark creating the claustrophobic setting. There may be a massive war going on around them that’s affecting their lives, but the picture sets its sights solely on the drama in the home. That said, the action happening inside is only somewhat intriguing. That may just be a matter of a rather simple concept that can only go so far in dramatic weight.

The performances are uniformly fine, but it’s Kidman who has the best material to work with in shaping her character. You question where her actions come from and how her back story informs them. Not so much with the rest of the players. Ultimately The Beguiled is a bit of a disappointment that still evokes an often interesting sense of time and place.

**1/2 (out of four)

The Beguiled Box Office Prediction

After a sizzling start in limited release over the weekend, Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled expands its theater count Friday to approximately 550 screens. The Civil War era dramatic thriller has been garnering buzz ever since it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and bestowed its Best Director award for Coppola. Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning headline the loose remake of the 1971 Clint Eastwood effort.

Reviews have mostly been strong and it stands at 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. There is some Oscar nod potential for its director, Kidman in Actress, and Kirsten Dunst for Supporting Actress. It played in just four theaters over the weekend and amassed an impressive $240,000 from those showings.

If The Beguiled can average close to $7,000 per screen in its expanded release, that would give it just under $4 million for the frame ahead.

The Beguiled opening weekend prediction: $3.8 million

For my Despicable Me 3 prediction, click here:

For my The House prediction, click here:

For my Baby Driver prediction, click here:

Oscar Watch: The Beguiled

Sofia Coppola burst onto the film scene with two highly regarded directorial efforts – 1999’s The Virgin Suicides and 2003’s Lost in Translation. The latter scored multiple Oscar nods, including Picture. Since then, Coppola has been off the awards radar screen for the most part (2006’s Marie Antoinette did win Best Costume Design).

Yet Coppola’s name came up over the weekend as her latest, The Beguiled, won her the Best Director prize at the Cannes Film Festival. The period piece drama/thriller is actually based on a novel that served as source material for a 1971 Clint Eastwood flick. Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning headline.

The Beguiled hits stateside screens on June 23rd and reaction from the French fest was positive. It stands at a decent 76% on Rotten Tomatoes. If it manages to over perform at the box office, perhaps there could some chatter for Coppola getting Academy attention, though it’s doubtful. One wild card could perhaps be Kidman, who seems to garnering some raves for her performance. And who knows? Perhaps a Costume Desjgn nod.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…