Tom vs Tom

I have spent days, possibly years, of my life watching Tom Cruise movies. I know him better than I know members of my own family. Yesterday was Tom Hanks Day and as I became reacquainted with the man’s work, a nagging thought kept entering my mind. What if this was Tom Cruise?
Where does that leave the other Tom? Not out in the cold but just… on another path. Consider this: in the 80s, both actors were known for their boyish charm and charisma. Hanks embodied a more wholesome, boy-next-door vibe while Cruise channeled a roguish, devil-may-care attitude, but they were drawn to similar projects. If Hanks makes Risky Business and Cruise makes Bachelor Party, how does it affect the rest of their careers?
In 1988, Hanks easily replaces Cruise in Rain Man. It’s a cakewalk for him to play the annoyed, put-upon younger brother of a man with a developmental disability and he still secures his first Academy Award nomination. Tom Cruise stars in Big, his first serious role. He certainly has the ability to be earnest and vulernable. Ultimately, I think he surprises us and triumphs here as well.
Fast forward to 1992. It’s “There’s no crying in baseball!” versus “I want the truth!” There are no losers here. Both men are great yellers. Cruise’s Jimmy Dugan is slightly more attractive and Hanks’ Lt. Daniel Kaffee is slightly more bumbling but both films are well received and acclaimed. Moving on!
In the mid-to-late 90s, Tom Hanks wins an Academy Award for shouting “Show me the money!” Tom Cruise gets a Best Actor nom for playing Jim Lovell (no shouting but he does put some extra mustard on “Houston, we have a problem”) and loses to Nicholas Cage. Cruise shines in Saving Private Ryan and Hanks disappears in Magnolia. Both are considered career best performances. Cruise goes on to charm audiences opposite Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail and Hanks makes Vanilla Sky with frequent collaborator Cameron Crowe.
rain man
Next up, Cruise launches an action franchise as the symbologist Robert Langdon and Hanks stars in yet another Spielberg movie, War of the Worlds. Hanks carries himself well as the deadbeat dad trying to save his kids while Cruise gets to do some serious stunt work as he solves ancient puzzles in Europe. In 2007, Hanks finally stars opposite Meryl Streep in Lions for Lambs playing a shady senator (I can’t remember anything about this movie but it feels right for him) and Cruise plays a congressman in Charlie Wilson’s War. 
In 2013, Captain Phillips comes out, yet another Tom Cruise action vehicle. The next year we see Edge of Tomorrow, starring Hanks as a military suit with no combat experience who gets thrust into a ruthless battle against an mysterious, alien enemy. Tom Hanks gets his crack at a riddle-solving treasure hunter in 2017’s The Mummy (in this timeline it will be appreciated for its genius) and Cruise switches back to serious mode with The Circle and The Post.
minority report
I think the biggest lost to society will be the Mission: Impossible franchise. I think Hanks makes the first one but without Cruise’s drive for stunts, there isn’t much need to continue. However, Cruise turns a lot of would be dry dramas into fast-paced thrill rides. In Cast Away, he gets off the island almost immediately and then seeks revenge on the men who put him there. Imagine Road to Perdition, imagine Bridge of Spies, but with, you know, action. Also imagine Tom Hanks singing “Pour Some Sugar on Me” in Rock of Ages and you too will be wondering about the roads not taken.

Trailer Radar: Oscar Bait Edition

You guys… it’s almost that time of year again!

The Farewell

If this doesn’t get at least a screenplay nom then idk, Hollywood might actually have a race problem. I would also love to see Awkwafina nominated. I think she’s a fascinating performer and this looks good as heck.

Once Upon A Time in Hollywood

I’m so annoyed with myself that I want to see this and I am low-key only going for Timothy Olyphant, okay.

The Joker

I was not excited for this at all… until I saw this trailer. It looks like Taxi Driver starring the Joker and honestly sign me up.


Well god damn. I said GOD DAMN. Renee where have you been?!!?

Lucy In The Sky

Move the fuck over First Man


Talkin’ Television

I’m just stealing everything from Christa this week. I signed up for Crave for the month so I could watch the Deadwood movie and I haven’t even done that yet. I’ve been too busy watching everything else! This is the era of Peak TV and I am LIVING FOR IT.


I started with Difficult People, the three-season series from Julie Klausner where she and Billy Eichner play fictionalized version of themselves. A little less successful and lot more bitter, the two terrorize New York with one goal in mind: making it big. I love Billy on Parks and Recreation and twitter so I had a hunch I would enjoy this and it’s even greater than I imagined. James Urbaniak and Andrea Martin are fantastic as Julie’s boyfriend and mother but the real MVPs in the supporting cast are Shakina Nayfack and Gabourey Sidibe as Billy’s co-worker and boss. It’s fun, it’s camp, it’s everything I love about New York, Broadway, and comedy, all in one show.

Next up was the HBO series Camping, from Girls creators Jenni Konner and Lena Dunham. I’m not the biggest Dunham fan these days but the cast was intriguing to me so I decided to give it go.


Jennifer Garner and David Tennant are oddly well-matched as Walt and Kathryn, a married couple attempting to bury their demons and enjoy his birthday camping trip. To celebrate, they’ve invited all their friends! Four couples, each with their own unique baggage and resentments, simmering just below the surface, ready to blow at any second. Juliette Lewis is of course the stand out here as Jandice, an interloper who was not technically invited but came along with her new lover Miguel who has recently separated from his wife. She disrupts Kathryn’s perfect weekend, throwing the itinerary out the window, and encourages the group to connect with themselves on a deeper level, to disastrous results.

I didn’t know when I got Crave that I Am the Night was on there. I had tried to watch it on TNT before but it wasn’t available in my area. I didn’t actually know what it was about, just that Chris Pine was there and I feel like my record is clear on how much I love him.


It’s based on the true story of Fauna Hodel, a young woman who was tenuously linked to the Black Dahlia murder, which is something I had heard about but didn’t know well. The story of her life turns out to be even more dark and twisted than that description suggests but I don’t want to give anything away. Just know that Chris Pine is terrific as disgraced reporter Jay Singeltary, a man who has been obsessed with uncovering the truth about George Hodel, even as it leads to his own downfall.

The big series this year is Chernobyl. Everybody’s talking about it. Considering there’s only five episodes and it covers a period of time that most of us remember, this is an impressive achievement.


The show did a fine job of capturing the tragedy of the Chernobyl disaster as well as the noble human sacrifice that saved countless lives and introduced reform to the nuclear industry across the globe. Jared Harris is the heart of the series as Valery Legasov, a scientist whose conservation efforts helped contain the radiation damage. His narrative provides the thru-line to the show and he gets to explain the inner workings of a nuclear reactor to various audience surrogates and then, in the final episode, before a jury of his peers. The sequence is terrifying, sickening, and staggering in its simplicity. How exactly does an RBMK reactor explode? How indeed.


In a lot of ways, my Crave experience has come full circle. The first time I signed up, it was to watch season two of True Detective and now here I am watching season three. I have controversial thoughts on the series to date (I think season two was great and season one was fine) and so far season three is hit and miss. The hits are any time Mahershala Ali and Carmen Ejogo are on screen together, Scoot McNairy as the grieving father, and the scenes between Hays and his son Henry (Ray Fisher) have been quite sweet and touching. The misses are the entire case (so far) and Hays and West’s partnership. I think they’re fine individually but they just don’t have the chemistry of some of the previous seasons’ pairings.


That said, I love the concept of the series and I can only hope they keep making them with more and more prestige actors. Viola Davis for example I think would be good. Robert Downey Jr., seems like he might have some free time coming up. Oscar Isaac already won a Golden Globe for an HBO series but why not go for an Emmy.

Black and White and Here Forever

Borrowing a concept from Christa, I had a think about my favourite black and white films. I actually had to do some googling because only a few immediately came to mind. Despite my years of loving cinema I haven’t seen many of the “classics” and I know this is a personal failing.

His Girl Friday


This is the first one I thought of and it’s also one of my absolute favourite movies. I love Walter and Hildy and how perfect they are for each other. I also love any movie about journalism. It’s funny, witty, and has tremendous heart. What’s not to like?


Annex - Grant, Cary (Holiday)_02

I know I’m picking two Cary Grant movies but so what, it’s my list. Holiday is sorely underrated. I think because it came out at the same time as Bringing Up Baby, it was overlooked but it’s definitely my favourite Hepburn/Grant joint.



I’ve lost touch with Kevin Smith films lately but I’ll always have a special place in my heart for his early stuff. And Clerks is genuinely good. Work friendships are some of the most rewarding and fraught relationships you’ll have and that dynamic provides an excellent backdrop for some ridiculous shenanigans. Randal is one of my favourite characters still and Dante did kind of redeem himself in Clerks II so I’ll give him a pass.

Frances Ha


I truly love this movie. Frances is such a relatable figure and she breaks my heart over and over. There’s something about this film that perfectly captures the poetic chaos of living in New York (I’m guessing) and being young and having everything in front of you. Greta Gerwig is incredibly compelling as Frances. May her spirit and her belief in herself be an inspiration to us all.

Trailer Radar: International Women’s Day Edition

Is this different from my “YAS QUEEN” Edition? Not really. Who cares?

Wowww I didn’t know how much I needed this. I love Mindy, love Emma, and LOVE late night talk shows! Sign me up!

Charlize Theron is the president we need right now and if Kate Beckinsale and Pete Davidson have taught us anything, women love funny guys. Also JUNE DIANE RAPHAEL.

I love everything these two women have ever done (TRY ME) and I love movies about con-artists and I love remaking things with all women casts because they are always great (I KNOW WHAT I SAID) so of course I will be front row centre for this opening night.


FanCasting: Hobbs & Shaw Edition

I’m not worried about Hobbs & Shaw being good. I know it will be. It can’t fail. And because it’s going to be so good and make a billion dollars, they’re going to make more of them. Which means they’ll need to cast more people. Which is where I come in. In addition to bringing back Luke Evans and Helen Mirren to round out the Shaw fam, may I present, the following:

Eva Mendes

She’s technically already in the Fast & Furious franchise, it’s just high time they bring her back. She’s the one who told Hobbs that Letty was still alive so we know they have a relationship and the next time he’s stateside and he has to call in a favour, we know who he’ll call.

Tom Hardy

Is it weird for anyone else that Jason Statham and Tom Hardy haven’t already been in a movie together? Not even once. Not even by accident. The world needs this team-up and it also needs an Idris Elba/Tom Hardy reunion because we know how these movies go and in the next one, Idris will be with the good guys, fighting a new bad guy. Might as well be Shaw’s old pal, thick as thieves they once were, like brothers, closer than brothers, until Shaw went rogue and Tom stayed on the straight and narrow but now, oh how the tables have turned. Honestly these things write themselves.

John Boyega

He already played Idris’ son, technically, in Pacific Rim: Uprising, but this time they’ll actually share screen time and it’ll be 100% better. I don’t know if they need to be related exactly but I wouldn’t be mad if they were. I mean, these movies are all about family. Also as far as I know this team doesn’t have a hacker yet and I think he’d be perf.

Emily Blunt

She kicks ass in everything all the time and she’s already worked with The Rock once in the upcoming Disney’s Jungle Cruise so we know they get along. I see her as maybe an ex of Owen Shaw’s who started her own outfit and now is going after the family or something. Except she’s working for their mom, Helen Mirren, who always liked her more than her own kids.

Naomie Harris

I know everyone hated Rampage but sadly you’re wrong because it was great and also Naomie Harris and The Rock had amazing chemistry which I, for one, would like to see again. And she was fantastic in the Bond movies. She could be an Interpol agent or MI5 or MI6 or an assassin or honestly anything it doesn’t matter.
Chris Morgan, call me. I have literally dozens of ideas.

Girl Gang: 2018 Edition

I can’t make a proper top ten list because every movie I saw this year was my favourite… until I saw another movie. Beyond being a great year for movies in general it was an amazing year for women in movies. They were everywhere! And as I am nothing without my girl gangs, I will recount for you now a select few of my faves.

Colette from Colette


I knew absolutely nothing about Colette before seeing this movie and I left completely in love with her. Her whole life people keep trying to tell her what to do and how to act and guess what, it doesn’t work! She ends up ghost-writing the Harry Potter of her time for her creatively bankrupt husband and then deals with him sleeping with other women by… also sleeping with other women? We love a pansexual literary icon! And don’t worry, she got the rights to those books back.

Sarah from Game Night


First of all, I love that she agrees to go to a complete stranger’s game night with the dumb pretty boy from work just because she low-key wants to sleep with him. And in the end, she makes him fall in love with her anyway! Even after she loses interest! What. A. Legend. I love that she never pretends to be young or hip; she is just so effortlessly herself and it’s honestly inspiring. That scene with the $17 is still one of the very funniest things to happen in any movie this entire year as well.

Natasha from Avengers: Infinity War


Is it just me, or does it seem like Nat is the only thing keeping Cap and Sam going? Like, they would have been caught instantly if they were on their own. They were not trained as covert operatives. She was literally a Russian spy. And when she’s scolding Wanda and Vision for almost getting themselves killed, you can tell she was the one who came up with that plan because this is WHAT SHE DOES. She may not have any “powers” but she is easily the toughest and smartest of all the Avengers. And yes that includes Tony because he’s made a lot of dumb mistakes for a supposed genius.

Morgan and Audrey from The Spy Who Dumped Meimage.jpg

I feel bad for people who don’t think they liked this movie because it was actually flawless. This is a story about friendship, discovering hidden talents, and learning to choose yourself. I love how they work together to problem solve and the unconditional care and love they have for each other. And that they become full on spies at the end because I always need more spy friends.

Astrid from Crazy Rich Asians


Crazy Rich Asians was already jam packed but I would have loved just a little bit more Astrid. She deserved so much better. I can’t believe someone can be that rich, stunning, and KIND and still be treated so poorly. Men really are trash. Apparently she has a much bigger part in the sequel which I hope they’re already making because I can’t wait to dive back into that crazy rich life!


Lightle-tainers of the Year 2018

Brian Tyree Henry


If you went to any movies this year, you saw (or heard) Brian Tyree Henry. If you’re me, you even saw him in Lobby Hero on Broadway opposite Chris Evans and Michael Cera and I can confirm he really is that good. His measured voice and imposing figure can be terrifying or beguiling, whatever the occasion calls for. I’ve also heard he’s great in Atlanta which I haven’t watched yet but mark my words: this kid’s got it and he’s going places.

Bradley Cooper


Look, I’ve been a Cooper stan since 2005 and unless we find out something awful about him, I’m not going to stop. As if his stellar voice work in Avengers: Infinity War wasn’t enough, he pulled off the wildest of flexes by directing himself and Lady Gaga in Oscar-worthy performances and dropping a full-length soundtrack of absolute bops. If you haven’t listened to “Shallow” in the dark while sobbing, you’re a liar. A Star is Born didn’t have to be as good as it was but he gave us that because he loves us and wants us to be happy.

Emily Blunt


How does one go from one of the best horror movies of the year (and one I actually liked!) to the best Mary Poppins movie ever? If you’re Emily Blunt the answer is *effortlessly*. And if the Mary Poppins Returns soundtrack isn’t enough for you, she’s also partially responsible for this gem which I personally have watched ~27 million times.

John Legend


In his own words, John Legend “began the year playing Jesus and ended the year playing Santa.” He also won an Emmy (completing his EGOT), released A Legendary Christmas which features the all-time best new holiday song “Bring Me Love” and continued to be a model husband and father. He’s honestly one of the most gifted performers working today and consistently stands up for what he believes in while remaining unbelievably kind. A TRUE LEGEND.

Tessa Thompson


Tessa Thompson had a very busy year. Between Annihilation, Sorry to Bother You, Creed II, Furlough, Westworld, and appearing in Janelle Monáe’s Dirty Computer, she basically did it all, and how! She’s funny and smart and I love it when she talks and looks like she’s almost going to cry but doesn’t and then someone else cries and it’s pure poetic cinema. I’m constantly in awe of her talent and badassery and how vocal she is about socio-political issues. I can’t wait to see what she blesses us with in 2019, starting with this:

A Very Downey Christmas

It’s hard to imagine our lives today without Robert Downey Jr. His name and face have become synonymous with the Marvel Cinematic Universe; his Tony Stark/Iron Man is the fulcrum upon which all the Avengers pivot. But there was a time when his career was in serious jeopardy, owing to his drug addiction and tendency to run afoul of the authorities while high.

Ally McBeal ran from 1997-2002 and helped launch the careers of Lucy Liu, Portia de Rossi, and Jane Krakowski. It also tried to launch the comeback career of RDJ, who spent much of the late 90s in prison or rehab. He was fired from the series after being arrested again in April 2001 so we only got one, glorious season with Larry Paul. I still sometimes wonder if Ally and Larry would have gotten married if he had stayed. Lord knows she could have used the stability.

Season four blessed us with not one but two Christmas episodes. Episode six, “Tis the Season” begins with Larry and Ally carrying a tree and commenting that the Christmas season seems to start earlier and earlier and Ally finding out that Larry hates Christmas. She finds out his aversion to the holiday season is due to missing his son while John (Peter MacNicol) defends a man who was fired for announcing on the news that Santa Claus isn’t real. And then this happens.

Robert Downey Jr – River (Ally McBeal) from MaKaElectric on Vimeo.

This recording actually made it on to the show’s holiday album A Very Ally Christmas and it is a joy that you can re-live every year until the end of time. Some other stuff happens and Ally finds Larry in the end and they sing “White Christmas” together.

Episode eight, “The Man With the Bag” starts with Nelle (de Rossi) asking John to help her father who has been wrongfully terminated because he believes he’s Santa Claus. We first see Larry trying to woo Ally with his over-the-top Christmas office decor but they are rudely interrupted by his ex Jamie (Famke Janssen) who’s in town for one night only, so of course he invites her to the office Christmas party! After a bunch of talking and more singing, Ally and Larry end up dancing together, stronger than ever.

In 2005, Downey Jr. launched another comeback by starring in Shane Black’s noir-caper Kiss Kiss Bang Bang alongside Val Kilmer and Michelle Monaghan.

This wasn’t Bob’s first movie since being “back” but it was definitely the best one, or at least the one that has held up over time and become a cult classic on its own. It may not be a festive film in the traditional sense but it is certainly Christmas-adjacent. It starts with our hero Harry (RDJ) trying to find a Christmas present for his nephew… by robbing a toy store. While evading capture, he stumbles into an audition and is so emotionally unhinged that he gets a callback.

Harry runs into his high school friend Harmony (Monaghan) at a holiday party in LA. They go to a bar to catch up and it looks like they’re going to spend the night together but, movies being movies, they don’t. Meanwhile, Harry starts his “detective lessons” with Gay Perry (Kilmer) and they stumble upon a murder that only they can solve. The report among the three is terrific, with Downey as the neurotic centre and Kilmer and Monaghan hovering around him as a source of jaded wisdom and wide-eyed enthusiasm, respectively. After several misunderstandings, more murders, and some very dark comedy, everything gets wrapped up in a neat little bow because the real Christmas spirit was the friends we made along the way.


By 2013, RDJ had been sober for over a decade and already made three MCU movies. He was well-established as a big box-office draw and known for consistently bringing charm and pathos the franchise. For the third stand-alone Iron Man film, he re-teamed with Shane Black for a vaguely Christmas-themed instalment which also explored Tony’s PTSD following the attack in New York. This was also back when the scope of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was a little more… earthbound.

The story begins on New Year’s Eve in 1999 in Bern, Switzerland. Tony is about to bed Maya Hansen and inadvertently makes an enemy of Aldrich Killian.  We continue to the present day and find Tony in the R&D Department of Stark Industries, dealing with his anxiety by building more and more suits that he can control remotely. He’s testing a new suit that comes via a flick of the wrist and rocking out to “Jingle Bells” because, ’tis the season.

Tony has lunch with his best buddy Colonel James Rhodes aka War Machine aka Iron Patriot to find out about the new terrorist in town, The Mandarin. After signing an autograph for a child (and making a crack about A Christmas Story) he suffers a panic attack and runs away. Classic Tony. He’s also having problems with Pepper and after an attack on his home, ends up in Rose Hill, Tennessee with a busted Iron Man suit and no way to get home.


This is my favourite Iron Man movie for two reasons. One, it shows that Tony still is a worth adversary without the suit. He doesn’t need to be Iron Man, he just is. And two, I just love it. It’s funny, it’s heartbreaking, it’s got a great supporting cast and interesting villains. And it ends with Tony blowing up all his suits as a gesture of love for Pepper because, hey, it’s Christmas. Don’t worry though, I have a feeling he’ll make a few more.




Bringing the Figgy Pudding

When you think of contemporary Christmas music you may think of your Michael Bubles or your Mariah Careys but they’re all hot garbage compared to the masterpiece A Christmas Together by John Denver & The Muppets. 1*b5qmbgf4dA0lBrGIcsk6wQ.png

The Muppets have always had a relationship with Christmas. From numerous specials to their take on A Christmas Carol (which is the best one imo) and it just isn’t the holidays without this merry group of Muppets, accompanied by the dulcet tones of John Denver. And if you don’t think John Denver is relevant anymore, let me turn your attention to the cinematic landscape of 2017.

Some standouts on the album for me are “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” and “Little Saint Nick” which I genuinely believed was a Muppets original for…probably too long. The album ranges from goofy fun (“Christmas is Coming”) to poignant and moving (“The Peace Carol”). The music, especially on the tried and true classics, is expertly performed and presented. I can’t imagine “Twelve Days of Christmas” without hearing Miss Piggy belt out “FIVE GOLD RINGS” and I wouldn’t have it any other way.