September 2, 2011

MRQE Rewind: Found Footage Films

Director Gonzalo López-Gallego’s Apollo 18 comes out in theaters today and bases its plot on the discovery of some harrowing footage captured by two astronauts on a 1974 secret mission to the moon. Does this storyline sound familiar? Well, that would be because “found footage” flicks, first made famous with Cannibal Holocaust in 1980 and three decades later by the notorious The Blair Witch Project, are now an established genre of filmmaking. A substantial part of those films is presented as an edit of recovered footage, left behind by missing or dead protagonists The success of the “found footage” genre depends on the audience feeling that what they are seeing is real--cue the shaky camerawork and banal locations and characters for added realism. So, try to engage in a willing suspension of disbelief long enough to read the following list of films!

August 31, 2011

Trailer Watch: The Hunger Games, The Artist, The Skin I Live In, The Rum Diary

As Fall draws near, we are starting to see more and more trailers for movies that will surely be on a lot of critics' minds during awards season. French director Michel Hazanavicius takes us back to the silent age of cinema. Pedro Almodóvar delivers a creepy thriller. Johnny Depp takes another turn with a Hunter S. Thompson adaptation. But we start off with a teaser for the anticipated adaptation of The Hunger Games.

August 29, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up: "The Help" unfazed by Hurricane Irene

Zoe Saldana is ruthless in "Colombiana," but no match for
"The Help" and Hurricane Irene.

Hurricane Irene created havoc in the box-office this weekend with combined domestic grosses totaling a measly $91.0 million, as most theaters on the East Coast closed down. The only movie not to suffer was The Help, which grossed $14.3 million, down just 28.4% from last weekend, now tallying a 19-day gross of $96.6 million, no doubt “helped” by terrific word of mouth.

August 22, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up: Box-office bloodbath for Conan the Barbarian and Fright Night

The ladies of The Help are looking pretty darned pleased with themselves...
Rightly so!

The Help climbed to the top spot over the weekend, due to a combination of strong word of mouth, weak new releases, and being played in an additional 156 theaters, while Rise of the Planet of the Apes dropped to the second spot, dipping 41.4% but grossing a hefty $133.8 million overall in 17 days. Although The Help eased 21 percent from the previous week, the movie earned a respectable $20.4 million this week, lifting its total to $71.8 million in 12 days. Expect the female-driven book adaptation flick to have a strong hold in the top ten in the weeks to come…

August 18, 2011

MRQE Rewind: Best and Worst Movie Gimmicks

This weekend Spy Kids: All the Time in the World 4D hits theaters, with the all-new Aroma-Scope!  Don't "Ooh" and "Aah" all at once!  Director Robert Rodriguez's newest installment offers viewers scratch-and-sniff cards during the feature; when you rub the corresponding circle, you will experience whatever the characters smell onscreen!  Neat, right?  Alright, alright, it may not be for you.  But it's certainly an interesting way to spend the afternoon if you're six years old.  And if you are 26, 46 or 66, you may remember a gimmick or two from your childhood that helped pave the way for today's cinema novelties.  The Movie Gimmick is that extra step a movie marketer will go to make his film stand out from the rest, for better or worse...mostly worse.  Here's what we have:

August 17, 2011

Trailer Watch: Immortals, Abduction, A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas, 50/50, The Woman in Black

The trailer gods have bestowed upon us a stylized trailer for Immortals, filled with Greek Gods and warriors. The contemporary-set action movie also presents a trailer for itself with the Taylor Lautner-starring Abduction. With those, we have a new Harold and Kumar movie, a dramedy starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen, and Daniel Radcliffe’s departure from Harry Potter and into the Horror genre.

August 15, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up: "Planet of the Apes" Fends Off Death To Stay On Top

Despite a 48.5% drop, Rise of the Planet of the Apes managed to stay on top of the box office, despite the arrival of four major new releases: The Help, Final Destination 5, 30 Minutes or Less, and Glee: The 3D Concert Movie, packing in an estimated $27.5 million for the week-end and a total of $104.8 million in 2 weeks. Word-of-mouth also remains strong for the latest installment in the long-running franchise with Flixster users giving it a 90% approval rating.

August 11, 2011

MRQE Rewind: Race Against Time

30 Minutes or Less (coming out this Friday) stars Jesse Eisenberg as Nick, a pizza delivery guy with a bomb strapped to his chest and only a few hours to rob a bank or else.... Sounds familiar yet? Yes, it’s crunch time again, your palms are getting sweaty and the tension is getting unbearable. Sounds like the perfect time (ha!) to revisit iconic storylines revolving around a race against the clock or beating a looming deadline. Ready, Set, Go! The following flicks are guaranteed to get your adrenaline pumping.

August 10, 2011

Trailer Watch: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Anonymous, Coriolanus, Like Crazy, The Sitter

This week the British take over movie trailers. We have a gripping trailer for a famous thriller with an all-British prestige cast, two very different Shakespeare projects - Anonymous and Coriolanus - and a romance between a British and an American student. Additionally, David Gordon Green tries to cast away his most recent failures with a new Apatow-esque comedy, The Sitter.

August 8, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up: "Planet of the Apes" Rises to the top

Rise of the Planet of the Apes goes ape at the box office.
Thanks to enthusiastic word of mouth and a dynamic online marketing campaign featuring plenty of dramatic simian action, Rise of the Planet of the Apes grossed an impressive $54 million in its opening week-end. Nevertheless, this new installment was less popular than Tim Burton’s 2001 remake Planet of the Apes, which made $68.5 million in its opening weekend; a case of milking a franchise to death maybe?

August 5, 2011

MRQE Rewind: Body Swappin' Movies

This weekend, The Change-Up hits theaters, starring Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds, two very popular actors in recent years that tend to be confused with one another. So why not produce a movie that does the mixing up for you? The Change-Up is a classic body swap story. Bateman plays a husband & father who, after urinating in a magical fountain, switches bodies with his best friend (Reynolds), a single ladies' man. Let the hilarity ensue as Bateman experiences the promiscuous lifestyle he missed out on before marriage. And Reynolds’s selfish bachelor learns a thing or two about commitment and responsibility. The storyline seems absurdly simple, and for good reason. This is a bankable premise for a summer comedy, with major cross-demographic appeal (I minored in Marketing; I know some jargon.) Without further ado, MRQE presents the most memorable body swaps at the movies, from rappers to comics to Disney characters.

August 2, 2011

Trailer Watch: In Time, The Ides of March, Chip-wrecked, Tower Heist, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, Twixt

Studios this week brought us trailers for the usual group of sequels, but also the original properties of In Time and Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. We also have Tower Heist, the newest action/comedy from the director of the Rush Hour series, and a gripping political drama from George Clooney. Additionally, Francis Ford Coppola brings some inventive visuals with his new horror movie, Twixt.

August 1, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up: "The Smurfs" Get Narrowly Lassoed In by "Cowboys" at Box Office

Cowboys & Aliens edges out The Smurfs in a tight Box Office race.
Hot off the press: Cowboys & Aliens officially beat The Smurfs by the narrowest of margins (36.4 million versus $35.6 million) after both movies squared off with estimates of $36.2 million apiece over the weekend in one of the closest box office race in recent memory.

July 28, 2011

MRQE Rewind: Iconic Genre Mashups

Cowboys and Aliens mixes up two genres: the alien invasion science-fiction movie and the Western. Genre mashups are nothing new to cinema – as long as there have been genres, they have been mixed – and over time they have produced fascinating results. This week, MRQE Rewind takes a look at some of cinema’s most iconic mashups!

July 27, 2011

Trailer Watch: The Amazing Spider-Man, Drive, Margin Call, Haywire, Happy Feet 2, Battleship

To take advantage of the buzz over Comic-Con, a trailer for one of the biggest superhero movies next summer was released: The Amazing Spider-Man. Alongside that, we have exciting new trailers for an Indie alien comedy, a gritty thriller starring Ryan Gosling, an upcoming action-packed Steven Soderbergh flick, and, um, Battleship.

July 25, 2011

Movies Revisited: Manhattan (1979)

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A generation of filmmakers including George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorcese and the director of this week's Movies Revisited, Woody Allen, have on many occasions, attributed the critical praise and admiration for their work to the influences of their cinematic idols. In numerous sit-down interviews, these men fondly recall the movies that wowed them in their youth. And it is good, important gushing, not only as a celebration, but also as a reminder to fans: to know the history of cinema, and to preserve it.

Weekend Wrap-Up: "Captain America" outmuscles "Harry Potter"

Captain America aces the Box Office in its first week.
It comes at no surprise that the eagerly awaited Captain America: The First Avenger topped this week-end’s box-office with an estimated $65.8 million on approximately 7,100 screens at 3,715 locations. The comic book adaptation attracted a mostly masculine audience with a 64% share, and the movie scored this summer biggest superhero debut by overpowering Thor ($65.7 million) and Green Lantern ($53.2 million).

July 21, 2011

MRQE Rewind: Best Alternate History WWII Films

Captain America: The First Avenger opens this weekend, replete with ultra-patriotic symbolism and the portrayal of the birth of a “perfect” American soldier during the Second World War. Over at the MRQE secret headquarters, this brought us to thinking about other cinematic instances portraying what would have happened during World War II if 'A' had happened instead of 'B.' Although the protagonists in the following movies are very disparate and range from animated puppets, womanizing archeologists, and greedy theater producers to demented flyboys, they are innovative and intriguing enough to warrant a place in our blog post. 

July 20, 2011

Trailer Watch: The Dark Knight Rises, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Hugo, John Carter, Contagion

This week brought us a great crop of trailers, including one for the final installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, an exciting Sherlock Holmes sequel, Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming horror-thriller, a 3D kids’ flick from Martin Scorsese, and a new live-action Sci-Fi epic from the director of Finding Nemo and WALL-E.

July 14, 2011

MRQE Rewind: The Last Hurrah - Final Installments at the Movies (or what should have been)

This weekend, the final installment of the Harry Potter series hits theaters. Millions of fans across the globe teeter between excitement and heartbreak. The movie franchise, adapted from the global literary phenomenon, is coming to a close. It seems like only yesterday when Daniel Radcliffe and a group of unknown little actors first debuted onscreen as the wizards-in-training at Hogwarts. Ten years later, after an astonishing seven films, it's a bittersweet goodbye. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 looks to be an epic finale. This week, MRQE looks back on the most memorable goodbyes at the movies: the last installments for some of our favorite franchises. Or in some cases, what should have been the last!

July 12, 2011

Movies Revisited: The River Wild (1994)

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The one memory I have of The River Wild, this week's Movies Revisited, is the Pay Per View ad they would loop on television back in the mid nineties. But the film, surprisingly, remains a staple of late-night cable today. So let's investigate:

July 7, 2011

MRQE Rewind: The Legacy of John Carpenter

A modern renaissance man as we know it, John Carpenter directed, wrote the screenplays, and composed some truly groundbreaking soundtracks for most of his movies. Although The Ward, his new offering, has gotten pretty dismal reviews so far (MRQE Metric: 36, at time of printing), Carpenter’s cinematic legacy is well worth exploring with this list of his most popular movies in order of ratings. The self-proclaimed "master of terror" created the "slasher" genre as we know it with Halloween, flirted with science-fiction with They Live and Dark Star, and kicked ass with action-adventure classics Escape from New York and Big Trouble in Little China. Kurt Russell fans rejoice, as he is featured in three of the following movies…

July 1, 2011

MRQE Rewind: Most Iconic Movie Robots

With Transformers: Dark of the Moon unleashed onto expectant theater goers earlier this week, we thought the timing was right to explore the complex interactions between humans and their robotic equivalents as told in cinematic forms. Spanning over the decades and ranging from zombie-like housewives, existentialist computers, diminutive droids, and pacifist war machines to robotic cowboys, we have lined up all of our most instantly recognizable, human-friendly or evil, mechanical devices in the following list.

June 29, 2011

Trailer Watch: Brave, Immortals, War Horse, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

This week we have a tease at Pixar's upcoming epic Brave, a deeper look at Tarsem Singh's swords-and-sandals flick Immortals, a peak into Steven Spielberg's War Horse, and the first official look at Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol.

June 27, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up: "Cars 2" races past "Bad Teacher" to the finish line

Despite dismal reviews, Pixar's Cars 2 finishes
in first at the box office.
Cars 2 still managed to ride on to the top spot despite lukewarm reviews, and grossed $68 million for the weekend, beating the first Cars installment’s $60.1 million opening weekend from June 2006. Cars 2 also delivered the fifth highest-grossing opening weekend yet for a Pixar movie.

Riding on the success of outrageous female-driven flick Bridesmaids, Bad Teacher edged to the second spot with a solid $31 million, largely thanks to the presence of highly bankable stars Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake. According to Sony Pictures, the comedy’s audience was 63% female and 57% aged 25 years and older

June 23, 2011

MRQE Rewind: Good and Bad Teachers on the Big Screen

This Friday, Bad Teacher hits screens nationwide. You may have seen the poster: Cameron Diaz's legs kicked back over a desk, shades hiding her sleeping state. She plays Elizabeth Halsey, an awful teacher recently dumped by her well-to-do hubby. When not disregarding her students or sleeping on the job, she tries to seduce her new co-worker, played by Justin Timberlake. The movie also stars Jason Segal as the school's gym teacher. Trailers for this film keep it fairly simple: expect some yelling, a little swearing and of course some questionable teaching! But teachers make up quite an interesting faculty of characters on film. This week, we look at the most memorable ones, both good and bad.

June 22, 2011

Pixar's Top 15 Movie Posters

Pixar comes out with Cars 2 this weekend. They've made consistently beautiful movies and their posters reflect that. Here's what we think are Pixar's 15 best movie posters.

Movies Revisited: Them! (1954)

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Watch on Netflix
This week, we go back to 1954 for the seminal sci-fi thriller Them! (MRQE Metric: 80), starring James Arness, Edmund Gwenn and James Whitmore.

Them! begins with a loud orchestra, and a title card that blasts over the screen in a bright red font (the only color in this black & white film). A local police officer (Whitmore) and his partner drive through the New Mexico desert in response to a distress call. They discover a little girl, walking alone in a state of shock. She has seen something, but we don't know what. The officers discover the girl's abandoned family trailer nearby; it has been torn apart, with a hole ripped out the side. The local general store is found destroyed as well. No evidence except a trail of spilled sugar and a large, peculiar footprint.

June 20, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up: Ryan Reynolds lights the way to the top with "Green Lantern"

Ryan Reynolds blasts his way to #1 in Green Lantern.
Despite dismal reviews and a poorly received marketing campaign, Green Lantern still managed to gross $52.6 million on 7,200 screens at 3,816 locations. The comic book adaptation attracted a mostly masculine audience with a 64% share, and early positive Twitter feedback as early Friday afternoon helped the Ryan Reynolds vehicle on its way to number one.

June 16, 2011

MRQE Rewind: DC Comics' Best Movies

Intergalactic superhero Green Lantern lands onto our screen this Friday, starring Ryan Reynolds as a test pilot charged with protecting planet Earth from super villain Parallax by the mysterious Guardians of the Universe. With the recent release of Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class, the spotlight has been on film adaptations of popular superheroes comic book franchises but how do DC Comics fare against popular Marvel Comics characters such as Spider-Man and Iron Man? From big hitters Superman and Batman to the lesser known half-faerie Tristan Thorne from Sci-fi/Fantasy flick Stardust, we take an in-depth look at how protagonists from the DC universe were brought to life on the big screen with often fascinating results. Below we highlight the Top 10, but check out the full list on MRQE.

June 13, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up: "Super 8" derails "X-Men" with an extra-terrestrial opening

#1 movie,  J.J. Abram's Super 8, derails the competition.
J.J. Abrams’ nostalgic ode to early Steven Spielberg movies defied expectations in its opening weekend: Super 8 grossed $37 million largely thanks to a last minute Twitter campaign from Paramount. This modest but solid start is comparable to 2009's District 9’s $37.4 million but it remains to be seen if the positive word-of-mouth will also contribute to the sci-fi flick’s staying power.

X-Men: First Class lost more than half of its revenue compared to the previous week but managed to hang on to the second spot with a $25 million gross. However, the mutant superhero team will face a tough competition next weekend with the highly anticipated release of Green Lantern, starring Ryan Reynolds in the eponymous role.

June 9, 2011

MRQE Rewind: Super 8 Movie Makers

Super 8 opens this Friday. The movie stars newcomer Joel Courtney as Joe Lamb, a young filmmaker in 1979 Ohio. A mysterious train crash occurs while Joe and his friends are shooting a film on Super 8. Soon Joe and the rest of the towns' inhabitants begin experiencing strange events and unexplained phenomena. Much has been kept secret concerning the film's plot, but the young auteur protagonist recalls a number of real-life filmmakers who got their start making home movies. This week MRQE looks at eight filmmakers who saw their cinematic aspirations take hold in their youth.

June 3, 2011

Movies Revisited: Midnight Express (1978)

"The concept of a society is based on the quality of mercy," pleads Brad Davis' character Billy Hayes in the film we're revisiting this week. Midnight Express, (MRQE Metric: 70) released in 1978, is a definitive prison drama/escape thriller. Before OZ, Prison Break or The Shawshank Redemption, it was this Oscar-winning screenplay written by Oliver Stone that shocked audiences with its graphic portrayal of an American's experience abroad in a Turkish prison.

The film starts with Billy Hayes, a brash young traveler making his way through a Turkish airport with his girlfriend, and some local hashish he has strapped to his chest with the intention of selling to friends back home. During a search, moments before boarding, authorities arrest Billy for smuggling. While in custody, Billy tries to negotiate his release by revealing the identity of his dealer. But he tries to escape during the planned operation. After re-capture, he is sentenced to four years and two months in a Turkish prison for drug possession.

June 2, 2011

MRQE Rewind: 1960's Flashback - Modern Movies Set in the '60s

X-Men: First Class opens this weekend, giving us as a look back at how it all began. We meet a young Professor X and a young Magneto, as the film explores their friendship, their eventual split, and the creation (or shall we say, founding) of X's Institute for Higher Learning, and Magento's Brotherhood of Mutants. The film is set in the 1960's, and from the trailers, we see Cold War era fears, a nod to the Civil Rights movement, and how the two play a part in how the mutants are received, and their role in protecting the globe. We also see period clothes, shots of JFK orating on a period TV set, and of course, many allusions to 60's era James Bond. As the new X-Men movie delivers a '60s flashback, tune in, drop out, and take a trip with us as we recall films from the past decade set in the decade that changed it all.

May 26, 2011

MRQE Rewind: Amnesia at the Movies

It is a trademark movie scenario: a central protagonist waking up in some strange place, not knowing how he got there. Sometimes, without any memory of his identity. Despite its heavy usage throughout film history, the amnesia episode has continued to be a successful plot device. Case in point, The Hangover Part II, which opens this Memorial Day weekend. This time, like the original, the formula as been exaggerated for outrageous laughs, with three friends mysteriously blacking out after a night of heavy drinking. But, in general the amnesia movie has remained effective because of its flexibility across genres. This week, MRQE looks back at the ten best amnesia flicks, ranging from thrillers to dramas to comedies.

May 24, 2011

Trailer Watch: The Muppets, Tintin, and Conan O'Brien

This week in trailers we see the return of Kermit, Miss Piggy, and the rest of the gang in The Muppets. A popular French comic gets re-imagined by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson in The Adventures of Tintin. And, Conan O'Brien takes us behind the scenes of his successful tour in Conan O'Brien Can't Stop.

May 23, 2011

Movies Revisited: Amadeus (1984)

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Rivalries are a spectator's delight. Two sides, with a history of jealousy, hatred, and dominance vacillating back and forth over a period of years like imbalanced weights on a scale. Or boxers in a marathon bout, exchanging blows, round for round with no end in sight. It makes for great drama. In sports: the Yankees and the Red Sox, Ali and Frazier, the Celtics and the Lakers. In music: The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, Biggie and Tupac, Mozart and Salieri.

Yes, that's right. Mozart and Salieri. Arguably one of the most epic music rivalries in all of history, told in wonderful fashion in Milos Forman's Oscar winning Amadeus (MRQE Metric: 89) from 1984.

Weekend Wrap-Up: 'On Stranger Tides' sinks, yet swims

Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz star in #1 Pirates of the
Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
The summer blockbusters have begun and Johnny Depp's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides took the weekend by storm, with an opening weekend gross of $90.1 million. While a big weekend--in fact, the biggest of the year, so far--this marks the lowest performance for the Caribbean franchise.

May 19, 2011

MRQE Rewind: The Most Iconic Pirate Movies

The big weekend release coming to us Friday is the highly anticipated fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, starring Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz. This is actually their second movie together since Blow. Anticipation is growing not only to see this duo on screen together again, but also because of the massive Pirates of the Caribbean fan base. And, with the swashbuckling Capt. Jack Sparrow staggering back onto theaters, we turn the tides and explore the great pirates that washed up onto the big screen. Although most of these don’t hold a match to the success of the Disney series, all are widely entertaining films.

May 13, 2011

MRQE Rewind: SNL Players Go Dramatic

This Friday, SNL invades theaters. Current cast member Kristen Wiig stars, along with former member Maya Rudolph, in Bridesmaids, the newest production from the Judd Apatow camp. Also in limited release this weekend is Everything Must Go, a new drama starring Will Ferrell. Now, I'm sure there will be a few raucous belly laughs from the ladies' antics, but let's get serious! This is a big step for Kristin Wiig and Judd Apatow, helming a female counterpart to the predominantly male, juvenile comedy movies that Apatow has made his trademark.

And what about Will Ferrell? Arguably the man with the goofiest presence in our Ron Burgundy quoting era is now tackling some dramatic fare. This calls for a MRQE Rewind! Let's see how some of the SNL greats have fared in their efforts to expand their appeal, and draw more than the easy laugh. Some say that comedy is more challenging for an actor than drama. But when you're this funny, the drama may be the real challenge.

Eddie Murphy in Dreamgirls (2006) -- MRQE Metric: 75

Let us start off with a comedy prodigy. Eddie Murphy started on SNL at the ripe age of 21! And he ruled comedy in the eighties, both on the tube and the big screen, with Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop and The Golden Child (a personal favorite). Eddie Murphy was always cool, and lightning quick, but throughout the 90s and early 2000s, he digressed into fat suits and bland family comedies. Then came Dreamgirls, the Bill Condon directed musical that cast Murphy as a Motown era soul singer that finds himself cast to the wayside. Not unlike his comedic fall from grace. Life imitating art! It was an affecting performance that garnered Murphy an Academy Award nomination. A nice excursion for Murphy...then he made Norbit.

Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love (2002) -- MRQE Metric: 76

The king of juvenile antics, with so many characters: Billy Madison, Bobby Boucher, Robbie Hart and Happy Gilmore, to name a few. Adam Sandler took his musical funny-man antics from the SNL stage to the box office register with freakish success that still has him cashing in on silly antics (although Grown Ups is certainly not on my Netflix queue). One of his biggest fans is Paul Thomas Anderson, who decided to cast Sandler in his first dramatic role in Punch-Drunk Love. Sandler delivers a surprising, and mesmerizing performance. He's a little crazy in this one, not unlike his zany comedy, but it works well in new light.

Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally... (1989) -- MRQE Metric: 84

Although Mr. Crystal was only on SNL for one season, it was all he needed to reach a larger audience. Billy Crystal has a universal, showman like quality that made him the perfect Oscar host for all those years. When Harry Met Sally shows off some of Billy's classic comedy chops. But, it also reveals a very sincere, emotional side to his acting. There are scenes where he is deadpan and you can't help but laugh, then there are scenes where he delivers surprising depth (such as the Giants Stadium talk, as well as the film's conclusion). He lost the Golden Globe that year in a tough race (Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, Steve Martin and Jack Nicholson, yikes). Any other year, Crystal would have been a lock.

Mike Myers in 54 (1998) -- MRQE Metric: 49

Another wacky, talented comedian that was part of the epic mid-90s SNL cast that included Sandler, Chris Farley, Chris Rock and David Spade. Myers became a superstar with the Shrek and the Austin Powers series and he hasn't really looked back. One is pressed to find a dramatic role in his latex and Cockney accent-filled career. However, if you were one of the few to see 54, you may have noticed Mike Myer's dramatic turn as famed club owner Steve Rubell. It's actually an impressive performance, for the simple fact that you forget it's Mike Myers. Sometimes, that's the best compliment.

Will Ferrell in Stranger Than Fiction (2006) -- MRQE Metric: 69

And of course, there's Will Ferrell. Everything Must Go is his second dramatic undertaking, after his impressive first go-around as Harold Crick in Stranger than Fiction. Crick is an IRS auditor who discovers a narrative voice that only he can hear, dictating his every action. Ferrell is fun to watch in Fiction. Although, his understated delivery is nothing new (Jim Carrey did it to greater effect, and praise, in The Truman Show), there's an everyman quality to Ferrell that I think will make his newest outing interesting to watch.

Dan Aykroyd in Driving Miss Daisy (1989) -- MRQE Metric: 78

Dan Aykroyd is an alum from the famed SNL '75 class. In addition to Ghostbusters, and being one "Wild and Crazy Guy," Aykroyd has amassed a very impressive film resume that includes over 90 films. It takes a little sifting but he too has a taste for the dramatic. In Driving Miss Daisy, he played Miss Daisy's son Boolie; and his performance earned him his only Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He followed that up with a bit part in Chaplin, but overall he remains a maestro of comedy. Look for him in Ghostbusters 3, which may arrive as early as next year.

Maya Rudolph in Away We Go (2009) -- MRQE Metric: 66

Like Adam Sandler, Maya Rudolph has also attracted praise from director Paul Thomas Anderson. Unlike Sandler, Anderson decided to marry Rudolph and have children with her. The famed filmmaker is obviously a man of great taste. Miss Rudolph has unique talents in both comedy and drama. In her seven years on SNL, she produced a wide range of hilarious characters. In Away We Go, she dropped all of those characters in favor of a low-key performance as a young pregnant wife who travels the country with her husband (John Krasinski) looking for a place to raise their family. Some were surprised to see Rudolph in a romantic-drama. I actually saw her understated performance as an easy extension of her talents. I'm still waiting for her big-screen Donatella Versace biopic. :)

Christopher Guest in A Few Good Men (1992) -- MRQE Metric: 69

Where would the mockumentary be without Christopher Guest, the master of understated comedy? From Spinal Tap to Waiting for Guffman, Guest basically formed a comedy universe around his talents. And of everyone on this list, Guest inhabits his characters the most fully, working in a very subtle comedic range that's fascinating to watch. If had to choose one dramatic role, it would be his performance as Dr. Stone in A Few Good Men. Guest takes the stand in one courtroom scene, going toe-to-toe with Tom Cruise, and delivers a cold, detached performance as a military doctor.

Bill Murray in Lost in Translation (2003) -- MRQE Metric: 84

There's only one Bill Murray, a comic genius who brought new edge to comedy along with the fellow freshman of SNL '75 (including John Belushi, Gilda Radner and Chevy Chase). It's hard to describe Murray. Unlike the other comics on the list, Murray didn't make his star with too many characters or popular sketches. His appeal is rooted in his own unique brand of improvisation that makes him so much fun to watch. Even in Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation, a romantic-drama in a mold all its own, Murray's portrayal of a jaded movie star is both endearing and somewhat heart wrenching. Murray works a very subtle acting instrument. Watch closely as he shifts from comedy to drama in a scene with ease. He makes it natural. Like I said, there's only one Bill Murray.

Chris Rock in New Jack City (1991) -- MRQE Metric: 62

Chris Rock was not as successful as his counterparts during his three-year SNL run. It would take a few years for him to build his reputation as the greatest stand-up comic to come out of Studio 8H. And early on, there were a few minor parts in feature films. None are too memorable, except for his turn as Pookie in New Jack City. Rock plays a drug addict to impressive effect in this drug crime thriller from the early nineties. His performance is certainly worth a look. If anything, it provides a nice sample of his work for his inevitable Kennedy Center career retrospective. That's far down the line however. Chris's career is one of the hottest on this list.

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