Top 25 SNL Alumni Movie Performances: Numbers 25-21

It’s time for another list on this here blog of mine and Saturday Night Live has been on the mind lately. With The King of Staten Island garnering solid reviews and serving as a launching pad for the film career of current cast member Pete Davidson, I’ve decided to compile my own personal list of top 25 performances from the 45 years of SNL alumni.

And this is sure to be a list where many moviegoers would have their own choices that do not reflect my own. Obviously SNL has a rich history of performers that have made the transition to the big screen and there are lots of notable comedic (and some dramatic) highlights.

A couple of notes before we start with numbers 25-21:

  • There are couple well-known actors that I chose to leave on the cutting room floor due to their very brief tenures on the show. Ben Stiller was a cast member for only 4 episodes and Laurie Metcalf was a not ready for prime time player for exactly 1 show. That didn’t seem like enough to include them. In short, if you lasted a season or more on SNL, you are eligible.
  • This list is undeniably dominated by men. That’s just a fact. On the other hand, if I did a list that included TV (which I may after this), you would certainly see a more substantial presence of former female performers. Think Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and their acclaimed small screen work.
  • We have a couple of cinematic legends like Eddie Murphy and Bill Murray and I could have chosen plenty of their roles for inclusion. I tried to limit that, but you will see them make quite an impact in the top 25.

And with that, let’s get to the list!

25. Jan Hooks, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)

OK, maybe this is cheating a little bit since Ms. Hooks (who was brilliant on SNL) gets about three minutes of screen time in Tim Burton’s team-up with Paul Reubens for his iconic character. Yet her work as the cheery tour guide with the southern drawl is so memorable that I couldn’t leave it off. Six words: “There’s no basement at the Alamo!”

24. Bill Hader, It Chapter Two (2019)

Hader has been one of the most versatile cast members in recent times and has had memorable film roles in Superbad and Trainwreck, among others. I include this horror sequel because he was the undeniable bright spot in an otherwise inferior sequel.

23. Will Forte, MacGruber (2010)

Count me in as one of the ardent defenders of this SNL spin-off featuring Forte doing a feature length version of his idiotic MacGyver like role. MacGruber was a box office flop upon release but has since turned into a deserved cult classic (with a rumored sequel happening).

22. Tina Fey, Mean Girls (2004)

Before her fantastic work on 30 Rock, Fey wrote this hit comedy that has spawned a massive following and a Broadway musical. Her work as a teacher here served as a springboard to an impressive TV and movie career.

21. Billy Crystal, When Harry Met Sally… (1989)

Crystal has certainly had his share of hits, but I’ll give the nod to his romantic leading man role opposite Meg Ryan in Rob Reiner’s blockbuster.

That does it for now, folks! I’ll continue the list with numbers 20-16 in short order…

Cannes Do Spirit

The Cannes Film Festival, originally scheduled for May in the French Riviera, was canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, an announcement today confirmed that the long running fest will exist in some form. And like everything in 2020… it’s a little confusing. A lineup announcement of 56 pictures was put out as being in the Cannes fold. However, these titles will premiere at various other events scheduled later in the year such as the Toronto and Telluride festivals, among others.

Awards watchers know that Cannes is a fertile breeding ground for Oscar hopefuls. Just last year, Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite won top Cannes prize the Palme d’or and eventually won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Some other titles (among many) that premiered at Cannes and got Oscar attention include Apocalypse Now, The Piano, Pulp Fiction, and The Pianist. 

So what are some significant 2020 Cannes contenders that could vie for Oscar gold? I’ll give you a quintet and we start with Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch. The latest effort from the acclaimed filmmaker is his live-action follow-up to 2014’s The Grand Budapest Hotel which nabbed a leading nine nominations at that year’s Oscars. The cast is filled with familiar faces and many Anderson regulars including Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Timothee Chalamet, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Willem Dafoe, and Anjelica Huston. It is obviously high on the list for potential players throughout awards season.

Ronan also costars in Ammonite, a period drama from director Francis Lee. Her costar is Kate Winslet and between the two of them they have 11 Academy nominations. Expect plenty of chatter as to their viability in the performance races.

Steve McQueen is premiering not one, but two pictures with the Cannes label – Lovers Rock and Mangrove. The director saw his 2013 pic 12 Years a Slave awarded Best Picture. Both of his new titles focus on race relations in the United Kingdom.

Finally, Pixar is in the mix with Soul. Originally scheduled for summer, it was pushed back to November and is rightfully seen as a top tier contender in the Animated Feature derby. Featuring the voices of Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey, Soul is directed by Pete Docter. He’s responsible for two of the studio’s most acclaimed entries and Oscar winners – 2009’s Up and 2015’s Inside Out.

I would suspect that the 51 other Cannes selections could wind up in the mix as well (especially in the International Feature Film race). Time will tell, but the Cannes label will carry on in 2020 (albeit under unforeseen and unique circumstances).

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Box Office Prediction

Tina Fey headlines the war comedy Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, out next weekend and the 30 Rock star hopes to capitalize on the goodwill audiences gave with her Christmas time hit Sisters. Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the directors of Crazy, Stupid, Love and Focus, are behind the camera with Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton, and Alfred Molina amongst the supporting players.

The Afghanistan set pic could benefit with solid reviews (they’re not out yet). Even if Foxtrot receives them, it likely faces an uphill battle to open big out of the gate. Sisters started rather slow at $13.9 million, but eventually grossed nearly $90M domestically (it did open against something called Star Wars: The Force Awakens, to be fair). However, that film had Fey’s partner in hilarity Amy Poehler alongside her.

I believe this should manage to open higher than Fey’s Admission, which flunked out with a $6.1M opening three years ago. Whether it reaches double digits is a legit question and I’ll predict it falls a bit under that.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot opening weekend prediction: $8.4 million

For my Zootopia prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/02/25/zootopia-box-office-prediction/

For my London Has Fallen prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/02/25/london-has-fallen-box-office-prediction/

For my The Other Side of the Door prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/02/25/the-other-side-of-the-door-box-office-prediction/

Sisters Movie Review

The effortless chemistry of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler worked like a charm on Weekend Update but generated a disappointment in their first feature, 2008’s Baby Mama. Sisters is a generally more satisfying experience that finds its stars (specifically Fey) playing against type. The pic rarely wants to be anything more than a raunchy party comedy and it works well enough on that level, even while we know these players are capable of much more.

Sisters casts Poehler as Maura, a nurse who’s always trying to help and inspire people, often to a “bit too much” degree. Fey is Kate, an irresponsible stylist whose own teen daughter doesn’t wish to be around her very often. When the siblings parents (James Brolin and Dianne Wiest) decide to sell the Orlando home where the girls grew up, they don’t take it so well. Their frustration eventually results in one last blowout party like they had in high school. This time though, Maura decides to let her freak flag fly while Kate is dubiously tasked with being the responsible one.

The screenplay by SNL writer Paula Pell occasionally gets emotional with messages about family and Fey and Poehler help greatly in selling it. As mentioned, however, this is content to be a fun R rated laugher complete with some sex, drugs supplied by John Cena, and early 90s hip hop like “Informer” by Canadian rapper Snow. There’s an obligatory romantic subplot for Maura with handyman James (Ike Barinholtz) that feels slightly forced but does produce a memorable moment with a music box. The script also finds some amusing moments for its stellar supporting cast, including Maya Rudolph as Kate’s old high school nemesis, Rachel Dratch as an eccentric old classmate, and Bobby Moynihan as that old friend constantly telling lame jokes. And a shout out to Greta Lee as nail salon worker Hae Won, who shines in her small role and has one of the pic’s funniest scenes with Poehler. On the other hand, John Leguizamo’s loser ex classmate role may have been the victim of the cutting room floor as he has little to do. And while Fey is always stellar, I’ll admit that I never fully bought her in this role.

We have seen both lead actresses do seriously terrific stuff on TV, whether on SNL or their shows “30 Rock” and “Parks and Recreation”. Sisters doesn’t match those achievements but provides two hours worthy of their talents and provides a party worth checking out.

*** (out of four)

Sisters Box Office Prediction

Nearly eight years after they had a decent size hit with Baby Mama, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler team up again for Sisters, out next Friday. The modestly budgeted $30 million comedy also stars Maya Rudolph, John Leguizamo, Ike Barinholtz, John Cena, James Brolin, and Dianne Wiest.

Universal Pictures is hoping that Sisters will appeal to a female demographic that may not be chomping at the bit to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which this bravely opens against. The two stars certainly have their fans and the strategy may work. 2008’s Baby Mama earned $17.4 million out of the gate and an eventual gross of a sturdy $64 million.

Based on the competition alone, I feel Sisters will struggle to reach that opening number next weekend yet it could manage close to Mama’s grosses if it performs well over the subsequent holiday weekends.

Sisters opening weekend prediction: $13.9 million

For my Star Wars: The Force Awakens prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/12/08/star-wars-the-force-awakens-box-office-prediction/

For my Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/12/10/alvin-and-the-chipmunks-the-road-chip-box-office-prediction/

David Letterman’s Goodbye Begins

This evening brings the beginning of the end for the longest tenured late night host in the history of the television medium. After 33 legendary years, David Letterman’s final run of programs kicks off tonight with five and a half weeks and 28 shows left.

A CBS press release confirmed what many suspected: the final Dave shows will be a very star studded affair. Many Letterman regulars will make their pilgrimage over the next month and change (his swan song is Wednesday, May 20).

That impressive list includes Bill Murray, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Howard Stern, Steve Martin, Jerry Seinfeld, Robert Downey Jr., Sarah Jessica Parker, Martin Short, Don Rickles, Ray Romano, George Clooney, Scarlett Johannson, Will Ferrell, Alec Baldwin, Michael Keaton, Jack Hanna, John Travolta, Bruce Willis, Tina Fey and Billy Crystal, among others. Not too shabby. Musical guests include Elvis Costello, Mumford and Sons, and Dave Matthews Band.

The press release promises more names not yet revealed over the last 28 hours of Letterman’s TV existence. Who could that be? Let’s start with the easy. Foo Fighters are Dave’s favorite band and it is likely they could be the final musical performance. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Dave’s late night brothers come to pay their respects. That list includes Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Jon Stewart and Letterman’s successor Stephen Colbert. I also anticipate an appearance by Jay Leno – something that would truly be an event after their over 20 year history of being rivals and their battle for The Tonight Show after Dave’s idol Johnny Carson retired in 1992.

Furthermore, it wouldn’t surprise me to see politicos such as Hillary or Bill Clinton or even President Obama appear. I will have one more post timed to Letterman’s departure to pontificate on what his show has meant to me and, frankly, my sense of humor. It’s not insignificant.

Until then, it’s going to be an interesting few weeks of Dave bidding America farewell.

Monkey Kingdom Box Office Prediction

DisneyNature unveils their latest animal documentary this Friday with Monkey Kingdom, narrated by Tina Fey. The doc follows a number of similarly themed pics put out by the studio in recent years, including Chimpanzee and Bears.

Chimpanzee faired well upon its release in 2012 with a $10.6 million debut. Monkey Kingdom would love to replicate that number. It might be tough. Last year’s Bears managed only $4.7 million out of the gate when it premiered on the same April weekend.

It could boil down to something as simple as this: do kids like monkeys more than bears? Probably and I believe that means Kingdom should beat the Bears opening, but not by much and not very close to what Chimpanzee accomplished.

Monkey Kingdom opening weekend prediction: $5.9 million

Golden Globe Winner Predictions

We are deep into awards season with Oscar nominations coming Thursday and my final predictions arriving Tuesday. The second most notable awards show arrives tomorrow evening with trusty hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler returning to host the Golden Globes. Here are my guesses for what will win at that show in the major categories.

As you may know, unlike the Oscars, the Globes split the Picture and leading performance races between Drama and Musical/Comedy. Here we go!

Best Film (Drama)

Nominees

Boyhood

Foxcatcher

The Imitation Game

Selma

The Theory of Everything

PREDICTED WINNER: Boyhood

POTENTIAL SPOILER: The Imitation Game

 

Best Film (Musical/Comedy)

Nominees

Birdman

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Into the Woods

Pride

St. Vincent

PREDICTED WINNER: Birdman

POTENTIAL SPOILER: The Grand Budapest Hotel

 

Best Actor (Drama)

Nominees

Steve Carell, Foxcatcher

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game

Jake Gyllenhall, Nightcrawler

David Oyelowo, Selma

Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

PREDICTED WINNER: Redmayne

POTENTIAL SPOILER: Cumberbatch

 

Best Actress (Drama)

Nominees

Jennifer Aniston, Cake

Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything

Julianne Moore, Still Alice

Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl

Reese Witherspoon, Wild

PREDICTED WINNER: Moore

POTENTIAL SPOILER: Jones

 

Best Actor (Musical/Comedy)

Nominees

Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel

Michael Keaton, Birdman

Bill Murray, St. Vincent

Joaquin Phoenix, Inherent Vice

Christoph Waltz, Big Eyes

PREDICTED WINNER: Keaton

POTENTIAL SPOILER: Fiennes

 

Best Actress (Musical/Comedy)

Nominees

Amy Adams, Big Eyes

Emily Blunt, Into the Woods

Helen Mirren, The Hundred-Foot Journey

Julianne Moore, Map to the Stars

Quvenzhane Wallis, Annie

PREDICTED WINNER: Blunt

POTENTIAL SPOILER: Adams

 

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees

Robert Duvall, The Judge

Ethan Hawke, Boyhood

Edward Norton, Birdman

Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher

J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

PREDICTED WINNER: Simmons

POTENTIAL SPOILER: Norton

 

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees

Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year

Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game

Emma Stone, Birdman

Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

PREDICTED WINNER: Arquette

POTENTIAL SPOILER: Stone

 

Best Director

Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel

Ana DuVernay, Selma

David Fincher, Gone Girl

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman

Richard Linklater, Boyhood

PREDICTED WINNER: Inarritu

POTENTIAL SPOILER: Linklater

…. And there you have it friends! Let’s see how the Globes turn tomorrow!

 

This Is Where I Leave You Box Office Prediction

It’s got all-star cast and a director who’s had his share of successful comedies, but I have my doubts as to whether This Is Where I Leave You will have much of an impact with audiences. Shawn Levy, the man behind the Pink Panther reboot, the Night at the Museum franchise and Date Night, is behind the camera. The family comedy’s cast includes Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Dax Shepard, Connie Britton, Kathryn Hahn, Timothy Olyphant, and Abigail Spencer.

Yet my take is that the TV spots and trailers haven’t made this look like a must-see and reviews are mixed. This is the exact type of flick that audiences might wait to watch at home in a few months. The high-profile cast could theoretically push it to a bigger opening that I’m imagining, but my gut says it won’t even reach the mid teens and be a box office disappointment like Levy’s last outing, The Internship.

This Is Where I Leave You opening weekend prediction: $12.3 million

For my prediction on The Maze Runner, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/09/14/the-maze-runner-box-office-prediction/

For my prediction on A Walk Among the Tombstones, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/09/14/a-walk-among-the-tombstones-box-office-prediction/

Muppets Most Wanted Box Office Prediction

Kermit, Missy Piggy and company are back nearly two and a half years following their well-received return in The Muppets with Muppets Most Wanted, out Friday. Over the Thanksgiving holiday in 2011, The Muppets took in $29 million over the Friday to Sunday portion of the weekend and $41 million over the five day holiday frame. The pic went on to gross a respectable $88 million.

Director James Bobin and cowriter Nicholas Stoller are back though original stars Jason Segel and Amy Adams do not return. Most Wanted features Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey, and Ty Burrell, but what really matters is our favorite Muppets are all returning. Some prognosticators are pegging this to gross around $30 million or more this weekend. It certainly wouldn’t be a surprise, but I have a gut feeling that the franchise Jim Henson built will have underwhelming results this time around.

Family audiences have had no shortage of quality flicks to enjoy recently – including blockbusters Frozen, The LEGO Movie, and the current #1 Mr. Peabody and Sherman. Entering its third weekend, Peabody should still post solid numbers and could take a bite out of the Muppet pie. Teenagers will likely be distracted by Divergent, which is primed for a big opening.

My prediction reflects a belief that Muppets Most Wanted will fall under what its predecessor did for only a so-so debut.

Muppets Most Wanted opening weekend prediction: $22.8 million

For my Divergent prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/03/16/divergent-box-office-prediction/