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The A-List: Emma Stone

Before anyone accuses me of jumping the gun on this one, let me state right up front that Emma Stone is not yet on the A-List.  What she is is a rising star with a lot of potential.  Hollywood is littered with with the hopes and dreams of starlets who never quite made it to the top.  I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that Emma Stone will not be one of them.

The last couple of weekends, I have been catching up with movies I missed when they were in theaters.  I had been thinking about writing up a Best of the Year list, but there were a few films available on video that I wanted to see before writing up that list. 

I didn’t know a lot about these films except that they had both received positive reviews.  I knew Crazy, Stupid, Love was a romantic comedy starring Steve Carell.  And I knew The Help was a civil-rights era drama with a largely female cast.  I had no idea Emma Stone was in either movie.

As it turns out, I enjoyed both films immensely.  And Stone was great in both of them.  Which is pretty impressive given the vastly different tones of the two movies.

Stone first caught audiences attention in 2007’s Superbad.  Superbad was a surprise hit that launched the careers of its teen male leads… not quite to superstardom.  But it made Jonah Hill and Michael Cera into names.  Stone, as Jonah Hill’s dream girl, didn’t get quite the same push.  But Hollywood certainly took notice of the striking red head.

In 2008, Emma Stone appeared in two comedies.  The Rocker starred Rainn Wilson from TV’s The Office.  And House Bunny starred Anna Faris from the Scary Movie films.  Expectations were low for both films.  But reviews were surprisingly kind.  And House Bunny turned into a sleeper hit.  I have not actually seen either film.  But retroactively, my interest is piqued.  I may have to go back and seek them out.

In 2009, Stone appeared in a supporting role in The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.  This Matthew McConaughey film didn’t do anyone any favors.  But Zombieland certainly put Stone in the spotlight.  Zombieland was an unlikely comedy/horror mash-up that helped cement Jessie Eisenburg, Abigail Breslin and Stone as stars to watch.  It also marked something of a comeback for Woody Harrleson and Bill Murray.

In 2010, Stone snagged her first lead role in the high school comedy, Easy A.  Easy A put a new spin on Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter in the same way Clueless was a reinvention of Emma.  Only, it wasn’t quite as clever as Clueless. 

Easy A was clearly modeled after Mean Girls, the movie that briefly put Lindsey Lohan on the A-list.  But it wasn’t as smart, funny or quotable as Mean Girls.  Still, Easy A got mostly good reviews and was a hit for Stone.  It didn’t quite put her on the A-list, but it showed she could hold a picture together on her own.

2011 was a big year for Stone.  She had supporting roles in Friends With Benefits and Crazy, Stupid, Love.  Crazy, Stupid, Love is a really strong romantic comedy which is a rare thing these days.  If you haven’t seen it, I recommend checking it out.  Crazy, Stupid, Love got good reviews and was a surprise hit in a summer filled with robots and super heroes.

But the big movie for Stone was The Help.  The Help was one of the lone bright spots for Hollywood in the late summer.  Absolutely nobody expected this movie to be a hit.  Some even worried that the subject matter might be offensive.  But The Help received glowing reviews and word of mouth made it one of the biggest surprises of the summer.  There is even talk of The Help being a contender come awards season.

Next year, Stone will have another big year.  She’ll be playing the role of Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-man.  Ironically, the role of Gwen was played by Stone’s co-star from The Help, (and daughter of director Ron Howard) Bryce Dallas Howard in Spider-man 3.  The Help should be subtitled “Battle of the Gwens”.

It’s early to say for sure, but with such a strong track record and Spider-man right around the corner I feel confident that Emma Stone has a long career ahead of her if she wants it.  I think we’ll be seeing her on the A-List in the near future.

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Posted on January 9, 2012, in A-List, Movies and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. It will be interesting to see Stone as Gwen. Her look and attitude just scream Mary Jane Watson. Kirsten Dunst had good chemistry w TM in the Raimi flicks, but she never really seemed like the Mary Jane from the books. Then again, I sort of welcome any twist they could put on Gwen because, let’s face it, the most interesting thing about her is how she died.

    Stone definitely stands a chance to have a full, mature career, in part because her personality and voice suggest that she is pushing 30, when she’s actually only 23.

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    • I didn’t love the Raimi Spider-Man films. There were moments in part 2 where things seemed to be working right, but overall I felt that he gave it a golly-gee treatment that departed from the comics. I also felt that the lead should have been played by a different actor. I grew tired of the spaced out look on Maguire’s face throughout the films. Never (and I mean NEVER) did I feel as though I was watching Peter Parker. The saving grace was the actual Spider-Man scenes which were well done, despite complaints from my CGFX pals who mocked the “weightlessness” of Spider-Man and his enemies. The scenes of Spider-Man battling Doctor Octopus along the side of the building felt like they came right out of the comic book. But then he (Raimi) does something silly, like having Parker eat a piece of cake in a scene. What was that?

      I initially had high hopes for the reboot, but I’ve heard some things about it that aren’t that promising. I think that one of the best parts of the Raimi films was JK Simmons’s portrayal of JJJ. There is no JJJ in the reboot. Boo. Big Boo!

      One thing that I like so far about the reboot is the return of the artificial web shooters. What in the hell was Raimi thinking?

      Anyway, I’m sure it will have it’s good and bad points. They just can’t seem to nail these for some reason. Perhaps the fact that it’s quite an undertaking to translate a comic book to live action on the big screen.

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  2. I’m definitely a bigger fan of the Raimi Spider-Man flicks than it sounds like you are (minus #3). While I agree w you about the web shooter situation, I liked Maguire as Peter Parker. Unfortunately, if you cast Peter Parker to actually look like does in the comics, you lose what makes him appealing to his core fans. His origin as an awkward guy remains with us when you cast Maguire. The other actors mentioned publicly at the time would have left that part of the character far behind, and that would’ve been a shame in my book. The first pic was a little simplistic in spots, but Spider-Man 2 is, quite simply, the best comic book movie yet made. Raimi really seemed to understand the spirit and imagery of the classic books. Then they forced Venom on him for the third film and we got a fiasco.

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    • I guess I’m in the between you guys on the Spider-films. Tobey didn’t bother me as Peter Parker. And I think he probably was one of the better candidates although in retrospect I have to wonder if Jake Gyllenhal might have been a better way to go.

      Raimi got a lot right in the first two Spider-man films. But like Geo said, some things stick out like a sore thumb. The whole chocolate cake sequence in 2 is a head-scratcher. And I think we can all agree that 3 was a mess.

      But, I have to take issue with your assertion that Spider-man 2 is the best comic book movie made. First, there are several non-super hero comic book movies that I would put ahead of Spider-man 2. But even among super hero movies, it’s not my favorite.

      I have an affection for the first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies that blinds me. Superman: The Movie will likely always be my favorite super hero movie. It birthed the genre. It made me believe a man could fly in a why non of the CGI era super hero movies have.

      X-Men 2 is at least on par with Spider-man 2. The first Iron Man is simpler, but more fun. I think Batman Begins is probably more engaging than Spider-man 2. I’m just going to assume you forgot about the Nolan Batman films when you made your comment about Spider-man 2. Because The Dark Knight buried any claim Spider-man 2 might have had to being the best super hero film.

      I have avoided info on the Spider-man reboot. Really? No JJJ. I guess if you can’t cast Simmons, there’s no point. They should have just cast Simmons and recast everyone else. I do think the new cast looks good. And I liked 500 Days of Summer a lot. So, I am cautiously optimistic. Wish they weren’t doing the origin story again though.

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    • I agree with you about how tough it is to cast Parker for the big screen, but I don’t think that if they found someone who happened to look like comic book Parker, and who also played the part well, that you’d have any complaints from Spidey fans. I don’t see how that would be unappealing to fans.

      But I’m really not talking about just looks. When Maguire acts awkward, it seems like he’s “trying” to act awkward which is obviously a knock to his performance. And again, the spaced out Parker thing didn’t work for me at all. That’s totally Maguire and had really nothing to do with the original comic character. Had Maguire played it true to the comic book, I wouldn’t be complaining at all.

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  3. No, I wasn’t thinking about the Nolan Batman films, and The Dark Knight certainly has an argument. Batman Begins didn’t do much for me. Perhaps I am also blinded by my love for Spider-Man in general.
    I actually want a little of a “comic book” feel in these films, but without giving up on treating the characters seriously, and that’s what I felt like Raimi did so well.

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    • Yeah, I’m not huge on Batman Begins. And I get what you mean about the Nolan films lacking a bit of that “comic book” flavor. The thing is, he’ll strip away a lot of ridiculousness. But some of that is inherent in the concept. So some things just look even sillier in contrast. For example, the bad guy plot in Batman Begins is just ridiculous. I wouldn’t bat an eye at using a laser to weaponize fear gas in the Gotham water supply (or whatever they were trying to do) in a more traditional super hero movie. But after an hour of setting Batman Begins in a more realistic universe, the comic book bad guy plot kind of stood out like a sore thumb.

      Spider-man 2 is up there for me. But I give Donner’s Superman the edge for sentimental reasons. And of the new age of super hero movies, Dark Knight is just such a reinvention of the genre! After those two, it’s a close call among Spider-man 2, X-Men 2 and Iron Man for me. As a Cap fan, the Captain America is also in there somewhere. But I will readily admit it’s not quite in the same league.

      I may have to write this up. Feels like I’ve done half the work already.

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      • Sounds good to me!
        By the way, since this post was about Emma Stone, what do you think of her as Gwen Stacy? As much as I like her, she seems to be too much of a cool tomboy type. Jennifer Lawrence seems more appropriate, for example, even though she’s already been Mystique.

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        • Not having the same affection for the character that die-hard Spider-fans have, I am relatively easy to please. For example, the organic web shooters never bothered me one way or the other.

          Gwen Stacy is a cipher to me. The coolest thing about her was her death in the Silver Age. I don’t think I’ve ever read a comic where Gwen Stacey was alive. Basically, she’s a cute blonde Peter had a crush on in high school. I think Emma Stone is crush-worthy. With the blonde ‘do, she’s got the Gwen look.

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  4. she looks like a young sally torrence.

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  5. 10 Actors Whose Credibility Suffered The Most In 2015

    http://whatculture.com/film/10-actors-whose-credibility-suffered-the-most-in-2015.php/4

    Emma Stone

    Hollywood loves Emma Stone; in their eyes, she can do no wrong. Until she can. And does. Which happened in 2015, by the way.

    Stone was subjected to a rather hefty backlash over her casting in Cameron Crowe’s recent filmic travesty, Aloha, a movie that has no reason to exist and yet kind of just did anyway. The film, set in Hawaii – and co-starring Bradley Cooper – pegged Stone as a character who is “half-quarter Chinese and half-quarter Hawaiian.” This was perceived as something of an ill-judged move, and prompted a big conversation about racial equality in Hollywood.

    It wasn’t Stone’s fault, exactly – Cameron Crowe later apologized for the blunder – but all of a sudden one of Hollywood’s biggest actresses was the at the center of a fairly sizeable controversy that consumed the internet for many weeks. And inevitably, it was a critical and commercial flop.

    Stone eventually expressed the opinion that she’d been “miscast.”

    Later in the year, Stone starred opposite Joaquin Phoenix in middling Woody Allen flick Irrational Man – it received mixed reviews, and Stone’s performance was deemed to be rather forgettable and uninspired. A long, long way from last year’s Birdman, that’s for sure.

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