1998 is right in the middle of an era in cinema that I have great affection for. The success of former video store employee Quentin Tarantino had been hugely influential and motivated a general expanded interest in independent film and in the value of both movie trivia and the expertise of your local hole-in-the-wall movie rental clerk. Many of the bigger studios had scrambled to put together projects and promote filmmakers who would help to bolster their street credibility and make them seem in tune with the times. While at moments this resulted in some movies that only had the markers associated with the sort of stuff they thought we wanted to see, but none of the genuine connection with the material that had made it interesting to begin with, I’d say the overall result was positive. Creative and idiosyncratic efforts were more likely to get the green light, and I consider that to be a good thing. At the same time, we were still getting a lot of very mainstream movies with pretty varied results, which served to remind us both of the value of earlier studio approaches and of the corporate malaise that independent films were in part a reaction against. It was a fine time to be a movie fan.
Today we’re looking at a couple of crime-themed flicks with pretty different styles and tones. But both are pretty darned entertaining, aren’t they? Let’s take a look at Ronin and Out of Sight and decide which gang of thieves should move forward in our 1998 bracket!
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Stephen Moyer is turning 48 today. He graduated from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and worked in English theater for several years. He began working in British television in the early 1990s, and made his film debut in 1997. Two of his early film roles involved starring in a pair of period piece/swashbucklers, Prince Valiant (opposite Katherine Heigl) and Princess of Thieves (opposite Keira Knightley). His subsequent film roles have been supporting roles for the most part—unlike his television career.
After around fifteen years of work in film and television, Moyer got his big break in 2008. He was cast in HBO’s adaptation of Charlaine Harris’s The Southern Vampire Mysteries novels—titled True Blood for television—in the role of Bill Compton. Not only did he remain with the series for its entire seven-season run, he ended up marrying his costar, Anna Paquin. Since the end of True Blood’s run, Moyer has had major roles on FX’s The Bastard Executioner and Fox’s Shots Fired, before landing a starring role on Fox’s just-premiered The Gifted.
Joan Cusack celebrates her 54th birthday. She spent a year on the cast of Saturday Night Live in the mid-1980s, and over the years has appeared in supporting parts in several of her brother John’s films, such as Say Anything… and Grosse Pointe Blank. She emerged as a major actress in her own right in 1988, with significant roles in Stars and Bars, Married to the Mob, and most importantly, Working Girl, which brought her her first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress:
Jeff The Wildman recently ranked his favorite adaptations of Elmore Leonard’s works. It was a bit different from the usual worst to first in that several of the adaptations are quite obscure, so the rankings were not comprehensive. As always, we gave readers the chance to rank ten of their favorite movies based on Leonard’s novels. Here’s what you came up with.
Elmore Leonard is one of the most iconic novelists of the second half of the twentieth century, so it’s natural that his work would be frequently adapted by Hollywood. However, many adaptations of his work fall short or even worse. The prime problem is that it’s easy to forget that Leonard’s novels and stories aren’t plot driven: the primary focus is on the characters, dialogue and overall attitude. Quentin Tarantino gets this. So does screenwriter Scott Frank and directors Steven Soderbergh and Barry Sonnenfeld. But many times, those adapting his work do not. Hence why of the numerous adaptations of his films, only a few truly succeed.
Look at me. Today is the twentieth anniversary of the release of Barry Sonnenfeld’s adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s novel, Get Shorty. To celebrate, I’m going to be the guy telling you the way it is as we review the totally awesome facts that you absolutely need to know about Get Shorty.
We’re looking back at the movies from 1995. What was hot twenty years ago? Which movies dominated the awards? And which movies have stood the test of time? In the Movies of 1995 bracket game, we’re pitting 16 of the biggest and best-remembered movies of the year against each other. Readers will vote until only one movie reigns supreme.