Showing posts with label stars i love. Show all posts
Showing posts with label stars i love. Show all posts

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Salute to a King - Chadwick Boseman (1976 - 2020)

photo by Neil Krug

Very few stars in Hollywood shine so brightly. After a handful of roles under his belt, Chadwick Boseman accomplished more in his massive skyrocket to fame than many are ever able to. It's only fitting that Esquire once declared, "Chadwick is telling America's greatest stories." But how these stories were told is just as illuminating and important as Chadwick being the chosen one to tell them.

With three historical figures under his belt - Jackie Robinson in 42, James Brown in Get On Up, and civil rights activist Thurgood Marshall in Marshall - Boseman never played these influential figures as self-aware legends. Approaching them with a deliberate focus to live and breathe on screen as they were, he slipped into every role was an effortless feat, rarely carrying any evidence of the weight his portrayal would conjure. Instead of these stories hiding in the shadows, he was apart of bringing them to light - an assured and conflicting patience as first African American to play in Major League Baseball, that's completely uprooted with the electrifying energy of Brown, and then the tactical poise of Marshall. Only a true actor could achieve the transition between each role and not make you second-guess their innate vulnerability and courage.

Though Boseman's roles outside of Marvel are just as important and delivered a hopeful promise of where his career could soar, his role as T'Challa changed something - for Black culture, for the film industry, for fans.

It was only a few years ago that the original Avengers' arcs were coming to an end. The expiration date for the initial cast was coming to a close and newer faces were were stepping up to the plate. As their time started to come to a close, the next phase needed to be revived in order to keep the momentum going. I love Cap, as you all know, but my time with Marvel was coming down to who else was going to move the next phase along - who was going to infuse it with a new energy and direction. After 20/21 movies, Marvel finally decided to adapt Black Panther, and that changed the game. 

While most of Captain America: Civil War focuses on the beef between Tony Stark and Captain America, it also starts drawing out the newer Avengers for their own spin-offs- Peter Parker, Vision, Wanda Maximoff, Scott Lang, and T'Challa. Not only was T'Challa a glimmering transition into a Post-Avengers world, but mainly, it was Boseman as T'Challa who changed everything. Less than a minute together - T'Challa greets his father King T'Chaka (John Kani) at the United Nations signing of The Accords before Zemo attacks, leaving his father dead. Their love and respect bound together in such a heartbreaking, beautiful greeting and loss that sets their whole story motion for his own film. As The Avengers quarrel over the Accords,  it's T'Challa's release of vengeance against Zemo for killing his father that is the pivotal moment of a solid character arc. Whether he was obscured by Black Panther costume or not, the layers of emotions he conveyed was unmatched, and I was hooked.

I had at least a two-hour conversation with Denzel after he saw the movie,” Boseman recalls. “He saw all of us onscreen and it was like, ‘Yes, finally! This is what I’ve been working for. ’. . . When you see someone in his position—a star, a leader—don’t take it for granted that they’re struggling against the system to hold that position in order to express things a certain way without compromise. Think about the things they’ve turned down in order to be that person.(x)

T'Challa was a royal prince, but he approached him with the charisma, empathy, and determination that exuded an quiet strength - a universal character you could relate to no matter where you come from. It's his turn as the character that marked memorable moments for me in half the time of all The Avengers movies - his premiere in Captain America: Civil War; the scope of Black Panther to weave stories of African diaspora, colonialism and white supremacy with a breadth of characters continues to teach me something new; the fight against Thanos in Wakanda made me so nervous in the theaters the first time I saw it and his death in The Snap makes me cry just thinking about Okoye's reaction; how seeing his return in Endgame and Wakanda celebrating The Blip offered so much hope for his sequel. 

Black Panther, the film itself and the character, wasn't just a Marvel reset, but a cultural one that won't be repeated again - a billion dollars at the box office with a Black led cast and crew and an opportunity for generations to witness their first Black superhero. From his own childhood admiration of T'Challa to telling nods from the universe that Marvel would tap him to cast, it seemed like Chadwick was destined to change the world. None of the detail or layers of T'Challa's arc - everything from how he talked to building Wakanda from the ground up wouldn't be possible without the dedication and the attention to detail director Ryan Coogler with the crew, but also for the lead to set the tone for what Black Panther could be. Marvel might've reached out to him to play T'Challa, but similar to all of his roles, Boseman made it his own.

Ironically, Boseman didn't start as an actor - he instead wanted to be a director and was encouraged to try acting to understand the whole film-making process. After picking up tidbit roles before landing 42, it's strange to wonder what film would've been like without him in front of the camera. His impact is evident in the projects he chose that elevate Black actors and characters to be more than stereotypes - picking up the mantle from Sydney Poitier to Denzel Washington to Viola Davis, and running with it in every direction he could. That's a symbol of power that just can't be compared.

To say, Boseman will be missed feels like a vast understatement giving how his influence and presence is immeasurable. To say, I know how to comprehend his passing is something I don't. I don't know if many will fully know how to digest the news until 2020 is well in our rear-view mirror. It feels greedy to think of the roles he had yet to fulfill and the impact he had yet to achieve because he had already achieved so much - all the while facing his own battles with colon cancer that remained private with his family until his passing. He wasn't just a chameleon with so many roles left to give, but someone who was working behind the scenes to live up to the legacy of a superhero by visiting patients in hospitals and maintaining friendships with children who will and looked up to Black Panther. The incredible strength and grace he emanated off-screen and in his work leaves questions as much as it does inspiration. He soaked up every second with the time that he had, and what he delivered is a rare spark of true human royalty.

Rest in peace, King.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Stars I Love: Emily Blunt

Richard Phibbs Harpers Bazaar UK January 2019
Richard Phibbs - Harpers Bazaar UK January 2019

Emily Blunt can do no wrong. While I’m sure this isn’t entirely true because we’re all human and have imperfections, every time I watch one of her films, I’m always taken aback by her pure talent and ability to mold into different characters and seamlessly move from genre to genre. We never quite know what direction she'll take her career next, and half the excitement is watching her filmography unfold year after year. For me (and her husband John Krasinski), I guess you can say, I think she can do no wrong. And it's mind-boggling to think that she almost didn’t become an actress.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Stars I Love: Taylor Swift

If you had told me a year ago, let alone five years ago, that I'd be doing a whole post on Taylor Swift I wouldn't believe you. It's not that I was a certified hater. Her music was the inadvertent soundtrack of my adolescence, but bopping along in the car to her latest hits wasn't nearly enough to make me a bonafide Swiftie.

Other than being aware of her music growing up, one of the first memories I have was attending a sold-out showing to Valentine's Day. The theater was filled with lots of couples on dates, but it was also filled with teenagers my age. While I was convinced at the time it was the star-studded cast that might've attracted young adults to the movie, or the fact that it was a holiday, I look back and think now that it was all about Taylor. For a few reasons: that theater has never been that packed since (excluding superhero movies), and every time Taylor showed up on-screen, those different groups of girls were in full-fangirl mode - not just when her characters' boyfriend (Taylor Lautner) was on-screen but also when she had a few small individual moments of her own.  I was in the middle of Taylor's influence and didn't even quite realize it.

And, that's how the next several years of my life went: Taylor could be heard in every retail store, on the drives to and from school, seen on award shows and in movies or tv shows, but I didn't become hardcore about it.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Stars I Love: Sarah Paulson

Usually when I begin my Stars I Love posts, I have all kinds of things to gab about and how much I love them. I have the same butterfly feelings for Sarah Paulson as I do for a lot of my past favorite stars, but I don't have any way to put my feels into words. It's strange because I could've summed up my love for Ryan Gosling as a human unicorn or Chris Evans as an adorable meatball, but instead, those posts went on for about 5,000 words total. And I just want to sum it up with: I love Sarah. So here we are.

Being speechless about Sarah is probably the reason why I'm in love with her. Having spent most of her life acting as much as possible, she's visibly one of the most talented actresses right now, but she didn't come into her fame or success until her forties. From television shows to indies, to now major Hollywood films, the Tampa native (the only good thing to come out of Florida, TBH) worked her way up the ladder just wanting to be a good actress. For years, she was existing on theater roles and pilots until someone came along to give her bigger opportunities (Thank you Ryan Murphy). All the while she kept questioning if she could really become a good actress. Her talent is one you have to see in action to get it.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Stars I Love: Dakota Johnson

Dakota-Johnson Nino-Muñoz Glamour UK March-2017
At first glance, Dakota Johnson has become recognizable as the face of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy and the granddaughter to Hollywood legend Tippi Hedren and daughter to Melanie Griffith. Though these are easy facts to Google about her skyrocket to stardom over the past few years, Johnson has managed to take Hollywood by storm on her own terms that defies expectations.

Despite her direct connection to Tinseltown through her family, Johnson got her start in movies and tv like other break-out stars. Working her way up the ladder, she posed in Got Milk? commercials as a child alongside her mother and siblings to later becoming an awards presenter at the Golden Globes. After failing to get into Juliard with a Radiohead-inspired audition, she started earning small parts in movies. From the Academy-Award nominated The Social Network to rom-coms like Date and Switch and The Five Year Engagement (she even had a stint on The Office in its eleventh hour), she created a small variety of characters that showed off her comedic and dramatic side.

And then came the role of a lifetime....

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Stars I Love: Sam Claflin

Sam Claflin Glamour UK photographer Matt Holyoak
Glamour UK / Matt Holyoak
Many male stars starting out in Hollywood are known for their pretty faces and washboard abs. That's actually how Australian native Sam Claflin spent his early days in some of the biggest franchises like a lovestruck rebel in Pirates of the Caribbean and Snow White's childhood friend William in Snow White and the Huntsman. In 2013, he hit the jackpot as Finnick Odair in The Hunger Games, which is one of my favorite book characters, and it's been fascinating to see his career grow over the past five years.

One of my favorite qualities about Claflin is that I never know where he is going to turn up next and I always forget what I've seen him in before - in a good way. He surprises me by the amount of different roles he's taken on in only seven years. His characters are never quite the same, nor is he particularly attached to one genre or another. (And like another one of my favorites Chris Pine, Claflin often works with female directors and his characters support heroines to do their own thing....) In a celebration of his birthday, here are my five favorite roles of his so far. What are your favorite Sam Claflin movies? Feel free to share in the comments below!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Stars I Love: Chris Evans

If Ryan Gosling is the king of Canadian Charm, there's truly only one option for the All-American Human Unicorn. And that is Chris Evans. Not only has he played Captain America with nothing short of charisma and charm, but underneath the blue eyes and oggle-worthy muscles, he's compassionate, pragmatic, and sensitive. So, settle into your Captain America suit, because in celebration of his birthday, we're digging into the Superhero Who Walks Among Us Chris Evans.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Stars I Love: Saoirse Ronan

It's hard to believe we've been watching Saoirse Ronan on-screen for more than a decade. Breaking out in her first award-worthy performance in 2007 for Atonement, she grabbed Hollywood's attention as a young teenager whose wild imagination has devastating consequences. And she's been collecting more acclaim ever since.

When we take a deeper look at the young Irish actress's work, it's hard to believe she's only twenty three years old and she's been nominated for three Academy Award nominations, slipping in and out of playing characters as swiftly as veterans like Meryl Streep and Viola Davis.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Stars I Love: Carrie Fisher

Despite being a huge geek, Star Wars wasn't a fandom I easily connected with growing up. My mom and sister have always been obsessed with George Lucas's space opera. Even though they took me to the prequels released in theaters, always had the original trio playing on tv, and even attended conventions to meet a parade of castmates, The Force failed to click with me.

Even though I didn't get the hype of the original movies, the iconography of the damsel-without-the-distress was a simple concept to love. My interest in the Star Wars realm wasn't strong, but I hugely admired Carrie Fisher.
When it’s out, it’s someone else’s version of what’s the matter with me. I want it to be my version of what it is. My recourse is to do my version. (x)
In 2015, when the original cast was announced to return to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, knowing Carrie Fisher would be on press tours and much more involved in the public than she had been was an absolute gift for me. If there was one person I looked forward to hearing from, it was her - that sharp humor, vulnerable candor, and unvarnished approach to life in and out of Hollywood.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Stars I Love: Ryan Gosling

Art Streiber New York Magazine
How do you describe Ryan Gosling? I've unceremoniously given him the nickname Canadian Sugarcube, but that's just my massive crush talking. (The Twelve Days of Ryan Gosling is up to two threads on twitter and has only just begun...) But critics have called him one of the best actors of his generation, while almost anyone familiar with The Gos calls him charming, talented, smart, personable - to say the least. Settle into your onesie, in celebration of his birthday, we're digging into the charisma of his career and what makes him so lovable. Or, all of the reasons why he's one of my favorite stars - if not my TOP favorite.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Stars I Love: Chris Pine

Dujour / Photographed by Blair Getz Mezibov
It's a truth universally acknowledged that Hollywood is full of Chrises, but there's only one crooning action hero who goes by the name of Chris Pine. Taking Hollywood by storm with his blue-eyes, he's become quite the chameleon to break out of the pack of similar-looking heartthrobs. In celebrating his birthday today, I'm just going down a few reasons why he's so easy to love.

Though Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, and Chris Pratt have been tethered, in not so many words, to their comic book franchises, Pine has managed to accomplish a lot outside of helming blockbusters. In the early 2000s, Pine was the first of the group to claim young fangirl's hearts with romcoms like Princess Diaries: A Royal Engagement, Just My Luck, and Blind Dating. In the midst of consistently playing a charmer, he's been able to finesse his heroic romantic lead in a variety of roles.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Stars I Love: Nicole Kidman

Actress Nicole Kidman
Since I was a teenager head over heels for Moulin Rouge, Nicole Kidman has always been a star that I've loved. Known for her eccentric, classy red carpet style and longstanding career, she's never been far from the limelight or committing to various projects.

From a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination in Lion to her praise-worthy performance in HBO's Big Little Lies,  and festival support for Sofia Coppola's remake The Beguiled, 2017 has been quite a fabulous year for the acclaimed actress. Since today is her birthday and has been on my fangirl heart lately, it's time to rave about the Australian native.