The Inaugural Rough Cut Draft Chat: Bankability
Cruise in the early 90s. Roberts in the late 90s. Clooney in the 2000s. Hugh Grant...always. Is there such thing as a sure thing in Hollywood anymore? We've endeavored to find out. In our first ever Draft Chat -- a recurring series where Rough Cut contributors will draft based on various movie-related topics -- we argue and make our picks for the most "bankable" people in tinseltown. If you disagree or want to suggest a topic for future drafts, let us know. The text below has been slightly edited.
Zach D'Amico: Welcome to the Rough Cut Draft Chat! As a reminder, this is our Most Bankable Draft -- the directors, actors, and other members of the filmmaking team who we think are the most "bankable" -- likeliest to produce big bucks at the box office and hardware come awards season. Rules are simple: everyone has to draft two directors, three actors, and three "flex" -- screenwriters, editors, cinematographers, or others Picks must be currently active, defined as 3 movies this decade, or, alternatively, all movies this decade if they are newer to the field. Carson, do we have our randomized draft order? Carson Cook: Yes we do - as follows: 1. Carson 2. Sara 3. Zach 4. Jonny Zach: still think you rigged it so you can take Deakins first but whatever Carson: Oh there's a CLEAR number one pick so I'm not complaining Sara Murphy D'Amico: Okay Carson, what's your pick? Carson: Alright, with the first pick in the draft... Christopher Nolan Sara: DAMMIT CARSON Zach: Don’t forget how much the Oscars love to overlook him and his movies Carson: He's gonna get a win eventually And he's always gonna be in the running for a nom Jonny Diaz: I think it’s a great pick. He’s one of the few brand name filmmakers that get audiences in seats, he’s had multiple screenplay noms, and he finally got over the director nomination hump. Zach: hit us, Sara Sara: Adam Driver for best actor of my heart and of the last ten years May he win in 2020 Zach: wow pull the knife out of my back Jonny: The big question with Driver, imo, is whether he can be a box office draw post-Star Wars but in terms of critical/awards potential, that’s a huge pick Carson: Totally depends on if he wants to keep making blockbusters Not sure he's as happy with it as some of the folks around him Zach: Even if he never reached superstar status, his project choice is so on-point that he'll have at least some box office success for sure Sara: I honestly love him in more low-key movies like Patterson but he excels at the more complex roles like in Marriage Story too so it's a win-win Jonny: Okay Zach, you’re up. Zach: America's sweetheart G R E T A Greta Gerwig Sara: EXCELLENT choice Carson: For what position?! I'm assuming actor Jonny: So I see the D’Amicos are leaning veryyyy indie early Zach: yes, Kylo Ren and the Director of the upcoming studio film Little Women -- very indie in case it's unclear, I'm going director Sara: really love that choice #ladybird Zach: I acknowledge it's a bit risky, but the academy and hollywood are clearly in love with her, they have a gender problem when it comes to nominating directors, and her movies play to a very strong base that will always be there plus with critical reactions for little women coming in, it appears she's 2/2 in a big way Sara: snaps for all of that Jonny: I’m with you on an accolades front, but I think there are much stronger box office picks--assuming we’re weighting both the same, I think it’s too early to take her. Which is why, with my pick, I’m going with Ryan Coogler Carson: 2nd on my board, great pick Jonny: and with my second, I’m going with Jordan Peele, in directing Carson: And 3rd, dammit Sara: Hahaha both good picks - especially Coogler Jonny: One of the big reasons I picked them both is that they’re both clearly on an upward trajectory. They’re early in their filmmaking careers, and seem poised to capitalize on past success Zach: I'm curious about how much of a box-office draw Coogler is without IP Sara: I wonder if Peele will break out of the horror niche or if he's going to keep burying himself in that space i'm fine with it but I bet he'd be good at doing com-drams too Zach: I think that's the risk with Peele, right? That he leans more into Us-like movies that don't interest the academy Jonny: I agree, but he already broke through once with horror, so we know he’s on the Academy’s radar. Plus, with the way he weaves social issues into his films, there will always be a “serious” angle to his work that Oscar voters can grab on to I’d love to see him go back to comedy on the big screen, even if just once Carson: I really think Coogler is going to be able to take his success and capitalize on it with more original projects "From the director of Black Panther" is going to have some real appeal Sara: Zach who's your next pick? Zach: Bradley Cooper actor Jonny: Great move Carson: That's a really excellent pick Zach: I don't think there are a lot of actors who can still bring people to the movies regardless of the film, but I think he's as close as we have plus the academy HAS to give him one soon??? for all our sanity Jonny: We can only hope Sara: honestly Carson: One of the last truly bankable capital-M Movie Stars Zach: hopefully someone can let him know he went in the second round and that will make up for everything you're welcome, Brad Jonny: I’ll text him, hold on He says he just wants to take another look at you Sara: I'm going to pick Saoirse Ronan Because she is brilliant and has been in a bunch of big/great movies recently Jonny: She feels almost certain to win an Oscar soon Sara: I think she's up and coming for sure Jonny: If she gets the nom for Little Women, she’ll be only the second person to get four nominations by age 25 Zach: I think her versatility is undervalued, too. She carried Brooklyn, a period love-story, and then helped launch a small, indie coming-of-age to nearly $100 million and a best picture nom Jonny: She had some misfires last year, but she’s so prolific and so talented. I think she’s a really solid bet. Zach: I'm so fascinated by what she chooses to do next -- you know she has the awards points, and depending on project choice, I could see her blowing up Carson: I have to thank the rest of you for leaving me with the top 2 actors on my board, both of whom I'll take now Michael B. Jordan and Margot Robbie Sara: Ethan Hawke and... NICE Jonny: UGH MBJ is an excellent choice Zach: agreed Margot is a bit riskier! Jonny: He feels like the Next Big Movie Star Sara: ^^^ I think Margot is a great actor, but she needs parts that give her the space to show her stuff Zach: This obviously isn't her fault, but the evidence isn't there that she can draw a huge audience as the sole lead in a movie I'm confident she can -- but will she get the chance? Will audiences respond? Carson: She hasn't necessarily shown it yet, but I think if we're looking to the future, she's the best bet to be successful in both worlds - the critical darling and the blockbuster draw Sara: I think I, Tonya broke her out of the shadows and now she just needs a role that's a little more mainstream Jonny: The new Harley Quinn/Birds of Prey movie will be a big text of her box office ability Sara: Are we ready for my next pick?? Because I'm ready ROGER DEAKINS FOR CINEMATOGRAPHER Zach: WOWWWWW Jonny: bad pick imo Sara: Look i don't believe in drafting directors first Carson: lol he's never getting another oscar, sorry Sara Sara: okay but he has 149 nominations Jonny: I don’t think the average audience member knows who he is though! Sara: who cares?? they see his movies all of them Zach: it's an interesting draft strategy take people who draw huge audiences because of how good their work is and who they work with, not because of their name Carson: For something like this, it doesn't matter that the audience doesn't know him Sara: right, that's why i picked him Jonny: fair enough Carson: I think it's a solid pick, he's decently high on my flex board Sara: phew what a ride Zach: more importantly, it's a FUN pick we need more DP grenades Sara: that's why you have me Zach: I've been inspired My pick: Hans Zimmer Sara: oooooh Carson: now THAT is a great pick Jonny: ugh, I had him very high on my board Sara: Excellent choice and excellent timing Zach: Scores so many of the huge blockbusters, consistently gets awards recognition more importantly, he's 22 years younger than John Williams Jonny: He’s incredibly only won one Oscar in his career Sara: and he had an asteroid belt named after him Jonny: I wasn’t going to take a composer so early, but you guys may have forced my hand so I’m going to go with Lin-Manuel Miranda, composer and Amy Adams Carson: BAD PICK Sara: LOL Jonny: HEAR ME OUT Zach: guys we have entered the hot take zone in a serious way and I'm so here for it also the world hates good things so Amy Adams will never win an Oscar, sorry Jonny: Hollywood is so thirsty to give him an Oscar. He’s got an adaptation of In the Heights in the can for next year, and he would’ve won for Moana if it had been any other year my dude is always working and has an incredible track record, it’s inevitable Sara: he is amazing but I don't think he's going to be blowing up the box office for the next ten years Carson: I don't think he's gonna do enough film work overall Jonny: We’ll see. I think he’s all in with Disney, who as we know is the only entity allowed to make movies now. Zach: what do folks think of the Adams pick? Carson: I like it in theory I think she'll get an Oscar eventually, but I'm worried she's slowing down a little Sara: Agreed Carson Jonny: Obviously we all know Adams’s awards track record, but I think she’s underrated as a box office draw too. Arrival made so many dollars Sara: like Margot I think she needs roles that allow her to act at her full potential Zach: Okay, for my pick: Emma Stone Sara: OOH interesting Jonny: good pick Sara: hard to go wrong with emma Zach: I think she's the perfect 50/50 split And while she isn't quite as big of a draw yet as some others on my board, she's still super young, so I bumped her up honestly every pick I have I'm deciding between seven people and then just pick a random eighth at the last minute in a moment of inspiration Interesting question: anyone in this draft that would've been taken if this was held, say, 15 years ago? The world looked so much different -- I imagine it'd be a lot more actor heavy Carson: Yeah - Zimmer the most likely candidate maybe? Once Johnny Williams was off the board of course Jonny: Adams and Nolan might have--they would’ve been coming just off of Catch Me If You Can and Insomnia, respectively--but they would’ve been late, “this person has high potential” picks Zach: Adams could've been the Robbie pick Nolan almost a Gerwig/Peele type pick fascinating anyway, Sara, go ahead! Sara: I choose Denis Villaneuve (director) Zach: that is both a good pick and an envy-inducing pick Sara: i'm excited to see what he does with Dune Jonny: interesting. Dune will be a big test for him. I feel like the perception of Blade Runner 2049 is that it was a disappointment, even though it made a ton of money and got Deakins that oscar Sara: I disagree about Blade Runner Carson: He slipped for me - he strikes the right chord with a ton of people (me included), but I'm not sure if he's a big enough draw in the end And Dune is a W E I R D property Sara: I think he's going to do a couple big box office movies and then start doing more indie-Oscar nom work Jonny: I like him a lot, but I’m not sure that the rest of the world does. Will he have another Arrival? Zach: He had one before -- Sicario I think the Sicario, Arrival, Blade Runner trifecta is pretty tough to compete with when it comes to balancing awards attention and box office + critical praise Sara: in my view he's on an upward trajectory Zach: Sicario and Arrival in particular are movies that I think could have easily bombed -- certainly in genres that are hit or miss -- but his quality brought people to the theater Jonny: That’s true! Zach: Your turn, Carson Carson: Ugh, I really don't feel great about what I'm about to do Sara: always a good sign in my book Carson: I'm gonna take two writers for my flex spots Quentin Tarantino and Adam McKay Zach: woahhh Sara: i wonder how many more movies Tarantino is actually going to make Jonny: Even with Tarantino’s self-imposed retirement? Zach: I assume in hopes that QT doesn't stick with his 10 movies and I'm done commitment? Carson: I think more than he currently says lol Zach: the team is critical, Carson Carson: I also think that even if he doesn't direct more movies, that doesn't mean he's not going to write more movies Jonny: Loophole! Zach: I don't think an auteur like him lets go of a script and lets someone do with it what they please unless it's like robert rodriguez Carson: In which case he'll just make them! But I think by taking him as a writer instead I hedge my bets Sara: i think McKay is a little niche sometimes with his work Zach: Sara, to your point, I wonder if people will get sick of his schtick it was novel with the big sick, started to grate on people with Vice, which didn't make as much money -- will it get old? will he diversify? Jonny: He can always go back to the comedy well Carson: ^^ that's the thing with McKay, there's always the possibility of Step Brothers 2 hanging out there And then I get box office AND oscar Sara, your turn Sara: I'm going to go with Justin Hurwitz (composer) Carson: oh GREAT PICK imo Sara: yes thank you Jonny: good pick, my only concern is whether he’ll work enough. Does he score anybody else’s movies besides Chazelle’s? That alone might be enough, to be fair Sara: not yet but I can't see him stopping now Jonny: It’s not a question of whether he can, just whether he wants to! Zach: should we divert this into a slack chat inside the mind of justin hurwitz? I'm game "I want to but I'm nervous about upsetting Damien -- did you see him on the stage when La La Land lost????" okay, with my pick: Aaron Sorkin, writer on the condition that he stops directing his own scripts Sara: hahaha Carson: Wait, are we just shitting on Molly's Game now? GOOD MOVIE Sara: It was FINE Jonny: I liked Molly’s Game! (I have blacked out all the parts with Kevin Costner) Zach: but PHENOMENAL SCRIPT Sara: yes exactly I think that's a solid pick Zach: I also think, to an earlier point, he's actually one of the few screenwriters who brings people to the movies Sara: He's an indisputably excellent writer and he will never stop writing Carson: Letterboxd ratings for Molly's Game: Zach - 4 stars Sara - 4 stars Carson - 4 stars Jonny - 3.5 stars Jonny: RECEIPTS Zach: Ratings for his prior 3 scripts Steve Jobs: 4.5 stars Moneyball: 4.5 stars Social Network: 5 stars Plus MG only made $30 mil how did I end up in the position of arguing AGAINST my pick?? Carson: lololol It's a good pick! I was supporting you! Zach: Okay Jonny, hit us with your double dip Jonny: I’m ready to make everyone super MAD because I’m taking HUGH JACKMAN Sara: meh Zach: I actually think it's a good pick Sara: he's talented and a box office draw Zach: he is, in fact, The Greatest Showman Carson: Except his best performance since the prestige is ineligible for the Oscars this year, which is tough Sara: honestly he was SO GOOD in bad education like really really great Jonny: Jackman single handedly carried Circus Musical to so much money he’s talented, he’s always working, and he seems to be genuinely well-liked in Hollywood Sara: wow all the teenage girls who love Zac Efron disagree Zach: hahahaha Carson: Guess I'm a teenage girl then Sara: HAHAHA honestly aren't we all Jonny: I’ll also take Alexandre Desplat, composer he’s so prolific, he works with great directors, the academy loves him, and he’s worked on major franchises Carson: good pick but not the best composer left Jonny: Maybe someday I’ll make a pick that doesn’t get ruthlessly mocked Zach: I think it's a good pick! your first two were roundly praised Jonny: That’s true, I guess I peaked early Zach: For my final director: David Fincher Jonny: I would love for him to go back to making movies Zach: he is? He's making Mank Carson: Theoretically Zach: it's in the middle of filming Sara: Ooh he's on my list too - great pick Carson: I'm just bitter because I love him and he keeps dropping out of stuff Zach: fair enough look, here's the deal if the Social Network 2 ever actually happens, I automatically win this draft because I'll have Sorkin AND Fincher Jonny: So devious Carson: Unless Danny Boyle directs it... I'll stop, I'm sorry Jonny: quick, someone grab Jesse Eisenberg! Zach: hahahah Sara, your turn! Sara: I'm gonna go Alex Garland for director Jonny: oh interesting Carson: oh damn, super solid pick Zach: impossible to deny his quality Sara: i like alien movie directors Zach: he just needs studios who are actually willing to market his movies Sara: A24?!?! are you reading this?!?! Jonny: His next project looks like it’s a Hulu miniseries Hopefully that lets him bounce back from Annihilation being absolutely buried at the box office Carson: Cool, can't wait to be excited about it and never watch it! Zach: That is also my relationship with 99% of television "that looks cool, guess I'll watch another episode of The Good Place or re-watch the office" Sara: ooh i would love to see him get into some original (movie) content on Hulu and Netflix Carson: Stop trying to kill the theatrical experience Sara Sara: thanks Marty Carson: BTW, this draft will be available in 70mm in select cities Zach: for three weeks but not YOUR city, just select cities, but nobody will be able to find it Jonny: Select Citywalk is a shopping mall in Delhi--that’s the only place this chat will be broadcast. Carson: Alright, with three picks left, I'm going to wait on my final director slot And go with Lupita Nyong'o Jonny: GREAT pick Carson: and Ludwig Göransson (composer) Jonny: I thought about Goransson, but I have the same hesitation with him as I have with Hurwitz will he make movies other than Cooglers? or will he just go back to producing Childish albums Carson: Nolan dropped Zimmer for the guy... Jonny: Oh, well that definitely changes things. Zach: I thought Zimmer chose Dune over Tenet Sara: BOOM my pick verified Carson: And Lupita is obviously going to be the world's biggest movie star Shhhh Jonny: If there’s any justice in the world, she should be Sara: Agreed, she's great Zach: plus you would've gotten double points for Us since she's in it twice Carson: Lol, if I had to bet on a film it'd be tenet over dune Sara Sara: Shhhh Jonny: You guys take Tenet and Dune, no one’s going to see them because we all know Cinema will conclude with CATS “You Will Believe” isn’t a tagline, it’s a threat. Zach: okay Sara, hit us Sara: Robert Pattinson Jonny: god dammit Zach: oh damn Jonny: genius Zach: he's batman Sara: and he's just incredible Jonny: honestly, how dare you Carson: I FORGOT ABOUT THE BATMAN Sara: in everything Zach: but also weird and will eventually get awards WE ARE ALL DUMB sara is our based goddess Carson: I literally thought "never gonna do a blockbuster again" Sara: honestly I thought about him five seconds ago and was like SHIT how have we not picked him?! Jonny: To quote myself, approximately one hour ago: “Once again, Sara outsmarts us all” Zach: you had a plan the whole time Can't wait till you get the team together Rob: "so she picked you before me, Roger? And you, Justin? Damn, did anyone get picked after me???" Jonny: Alright Zach, you’re up. Zach: Alright, going out on a limb just because I want written evidence when I am right The Person of 2019 Florence Pugh Jonny: Don’t you dare NO Sara: WOW bold move Jonny: Potential personified Sara: yes totally Zach: that's a great summary, Jonny Sara: and great alliteration too Carson: Hey, we're in the final rounds, might as well take some risks Zach: but if you can pull off a Stephen Merchant wrestling comedy, an Ari Aster swedish-hellscape, and Little Women in the same year caps off, take over the world now Jonny: I look forward to our new small overlord’s reign Zach: I know we were limited to 3 actors each but this draft indicates just how far actor power has fallen a ton of HUGE acting names still on the board Jonny: So I think we’re at an interesting inflection point where it’s not clear how much longer the BIG crop of movie stars will be steadily working, and it’s not quite clear who the heirs apparent are Zach: that's a great point Carson: Not to be too cynical, but the heyday of the movie star may have come and gone A real bummer, but I'm worried Zach: It's tough to know if it's cyclical, though Jonny: There are some people carrying big franchises, but it’s not clear if those actors can have box office life beyond the IP but my next pick has had box office success across multiple genres, and has been in the 6th spot for her first Oscar nom several times Carson: Didn't realize they let you see the nom counts! Jonny: so with apologies to my other choice (love you Jake Gyllenhaal, you’re still my dude) I’m going to take Emily Blunt Sara: Interesting choice Zach: I actually like it more than Jake, just cause I think he's at that point in his career where he's just saying "screw it, I want to be weird" Jonny: Blunt is incredibly popular, she jumps between horror, drama, and comedy, and she’s got to get a nom soon, right?? Zach: and she can SING! Sara: and dance Jonny: I’m just building a musical over here, no one mind me Sara: I would LOVE a movie with Blunt and Jackman You go right ahead Jonny Jonny: Jake and Emily are my dream cast for the film adaptation of Sunday in the Park with George I’ve always wanted, but I’ll take Hugh in a heartbeat Anyway, with my last flex spot, I’ll take fellow musical lover Rian Johnson, screenwriter Zach: that re-watch of The Last Jedi that FINALLY brought you around to the correct opinion is really influencing this pick Carson: Taking him off the director board you bastard Sara: LOVED Brick and also Knives Out so I have to applaud you Jonny: I get one of the best up and coming filmmakers around, and I also sabotage Carson so it’s a win win Zach: with my final flex, it PAINS me to pass over Spike as writer Sara: SIGH Zach: but instead he'll appreciate my last pick MASSACHUSETTS NATIVE Ruth Carter (costumer designer) Sara: LOVE I almost picked her Carson: good pick Sara: she's wonderful, can't say enough good things Jonny: she’s fantastic Carson: Alright Sara, last pick for you! Sara: My pick: Sandy Powell I was SURE no one was going to do a costume designer but now we have two Jonny: I didn’t even think about costume designers, but that’s a smart pick Carson: Yeah, I don't hate it Feels like there's just a handful that are shoo-ins for noms year after year Jonny: Okay Carson, close us out. Carson: Ok, here we go Jonny taking Rian Johnson has set this up to end with a bang For my final director I'm taking a true wild card Zach: if you finish with wes anderson I'll die Sara: please be schults please be schults Carson: Someone who can make a bazillion dollars or get oscar nominations when you don't even know he has a movie coming out CLINT EASTWOOD Sara: LOLOLOLOL Zach: audibly cackling Jonny: Jonny has exited the chat Sara: Carson he is almost NINETY YEARS OLD Carson: You laugh, but you LITERALLY NEVER KNOW with him Sara: and still running drugs Carson: Sara, he's made 9 movies THIS DECADE Zach: hahahah Sara: I mean I can't argue with those numbers but Jonny: Quantity =/= quality Sara: seems risky Carson: American sniper released in January and made 350 million domestic 5 YEARS AGO Zach: do you know who is making his EIGHTH movie of this decade and is almost TWENTY years younger??? STEVEN SPIELBERG Jonny: for every American Sniper or Sully, you get a J. Edgar or a Jersey Boys or that train movie Carson: Thought about him, Eastwood the better pick at this point, hate to say it Richard Jewell winning best picture, book it Zach: i need to take a walk Sara: honestly what an end Jonny: Disagree, Spielberg’s got a Best Picture nominee and a $500M+ grossing movie more recently than Clint Zach: jonny don't bring facts to a knife fight Jonny: sorry, I meant Carson you’re dumb and I hate you Carson: Lets count hardware though Sara: probably a replaced hip maybe a knee OH you meant oscars sorry Carson: It's a great pick, I win the draft Ok Sara, you win Joke of the night Zach: hahahahaha Carson: Let's do this again in 5 years and see how it's playing out