We're rapidly approaching the end of the year, which means two things: 1) Mariah Carey is coming out of her glitter well to shame mankind for not being festive enough and 2) studios are rolling out their most prestigious, awards-worthy selections. It's that time of year when new accents get taken for a tour, when late night interviews remind us how grueling various scenes were to film, and when social media is alight with debate over whether a famous person not looking like the famous person they're portraying makes the acting better or worse. (My most lukewarm take: I don't care about actors looking exactly like their characters, particularly if their characters are well-known. It's a movie, not Snatch Game. Nobody complains that neither Julia Roberts nor Katey Sagal look like Erin Brockovich. All we care about is that Veanne Cox's shoes in the movie were ugly.)
This season two wildly different auteur's are taking on two of our most iconic celebs. After masterfully plumbing Jackie O's grief and Natalie Portman's Boston accent in Jackie, he turns his florid eye to the People's Princess, Diana, played by Kristen Stewart in Spencer. Meanwhile Aaron Sorkin's Being the Ricardos, finds Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem explore the series side of the titular comedy icons during a week when Desi's infidelity was exposed and Lucile was accused of being a communist. While Nicole Kidman is already winning raves for her performance, Sorkin, the writer and director, gave a ponderous interview with The Hollywood Reporter in which he gave the ice cold take that he doesn't think I Love Lucy would be funny today. I don't have the time or energy to engage in spiritual warfare of this magnitude today, so I'll just pretend I do not see.
In addition to the two movies previously mentioned, we're looking forward to the future camp classic House of Gucci with Lady Gaga and the Williams Sister pater familias biopic King Richard with Will Smith. This is the season of the well-acted biopic, which is why when Pixar released the dramatic trailer for the backstory of "the real" Buzz Lightyear, it made perfect sense to me.
Lightyear is completely different from Spencer and Being the Ricardos, I know this in my mind. But my heart doesn’t understand. I see a gorgeously shot (or CGI’d) film that purports to tell a new side of a story that I know all too well (shout out to Taylor’s scarf), I immediately think prestige, Oscar-bait, desaturated palette, and Jared Leto doing some weird thing in a supporting role. The pieces are all here in this trailer: a dramatic instrumental score leading into a classic rock song, impressive camera work and expensive locations, a Hollywood actor--Chris Evans--showing his range (I assume; he doesn't say anything here but I believe in him nonetheless). And most importantly: the sudden and satisfying reveal of a familiar piece of pop culture lore. Buzz Lightyear's iconic suit bathed in light sits alongside Nicole Kidman's Lucy stepping into the grape vat or Kristen Stewart's Diana asking, possibly apocryphally, "do you think they'll kill me." I know that Lightyear probably has a slightly less lofty aim than these other pictures, but I deeply want to believe we're getting the prestige backstory that no one asked for and it's going to blow our minds.
So, yes, I expect all the big prestige-y things to happen in Lightyear: Buzz running through the rain; a long drone shot of Buzz driving down a long country road; Buzz having a very pronounced accent for no discernible reason other than Chris Evans worked really hard on it; someone telling Buzz "you can't do that!" and Buzz saying "nobody tells me what I can't do!" or something; a lot of words on the screen at the end of the movie that tell us what happened next in real life; Dame Judi Dench.
From the information available, it seems that the films gives us a glimpse of the origins of Buzz before he was a toy voiced by Tim Allen. If so, I’m confused about the timeline--is it set before the events of Toy Story? Are all the Toy Story movies set in our future? Will our toys suddenly start talking in 2023 or thereabouts? Am I living in my own backstory?!
Honestly, I think we should get more prestige backstories of fictional characters, a la Joker movie or the fictional biopic of a fictional character, Grouch, created by SNL.
In case Hollywood is jonesing for next season's Oscar-bait origin stories, I've taken the liberty of coming up with some suggestions.
Look, I am desperate for this. I will write it myself. She is a diva whose brother is a king who she kind of hates, so we've got shades of Princess Margaret here. Also, she dresses and talks like Elaine Stritch. She wears SO MUCH rouge! She runs a museum so the backstory has got to include all kinds of Indiana Jones-style adventures, if Indiana Jones was in Grey Gardens. This role is a guaranteed nomination for Sarah Paulson.
Why is he always trying to steal Domino's pizza? Why does he dress like that? Are there other Noids? Feels very Les Mis to me.
Stanley Tucci, I'll just leave this right here for ya.
She gave us such a range of emotions and then she disappeared. Okay, she didn't actually disappeared; Brittany Broski is still working and showing up everywhere. But the specific character of Kombucha Girl could use fleshing out. Why doesn't she like Kombucha? Or does she like Kombucha after all?! Let's take two hours to find out.
Picture it: an Oscar for Linda Cardellini!
I know she's not fictional but I would very much like to know what her deal is nonetheless. She has so much energy! And just think how much fun it would be to see Hollywood stars playing her many co-hosts. Tom Hanks as Regis Philbin! Andrew Garfield as Neil Patrick Harris! Anthony Mackie as Michael Strahan! And Best Supporting Actor: Zac Efron as Ryan Seacrest! We can make this happen!
Cover image design: Sean Simon
Logo design: Pernell Quilon
Editorial assistant: Sean Simon
Avatar: Top Hat
Previously On... is a weekly newsletter on pop culture obsessions and instant nostalgia. To read more and subscribe, go to previouslyon.bulletin.com.