Interesting things afoot at MGM, who announced on Tuesday a partnership deal with Annapurna that will see the studios’ return to theatrical distribution. Details are here, but the only thing you or I care about here is: does this mean Annapurna won the Bond 25 bidding war? They were a dark horse contender in those early talks; I’m excited to find out what else this means for the franchise.
In a move that seemed so significant I had to give it its own article, Christoph Waltz said he’s not coming back as Blofeld for Bond 25, but indicated that someone might be. As you all know, once he showed his face in You Only Live Twice, Blofeld has never been played by the same actor in more than one film. Will Eon pay homage to this goofy “tradition” and recast Blofeld? As much as we’d like to see them shelve Blofeld for the next film and, I dunno, ignore that whole last movie (another fine Bond franchise tradition), just in case we humbly offer these Blofeld casting suggestions, along with their bona fides:
Mark Strong: Good buds with Daniel Craig, as seen above; has villain chops, as seen in the otherwise lamentable Green Lantern; has recently been, uh, freed up from other franchise duties.
Werner Herzog: Wants to play a Bond villain. The end.
Hugo Weaving: Has already played two iconic villains. Physically similar enough to Christoph Waltz for some bullshit plastic surgery explanation to fly. Can sound exactly like Werner Herzog. I think we have a winner here.
This week Matt and Matt over at the James Bonding podcast get their hands on some seriously detailed info about the aborted third Timothy Dalton film, and proceed to fan cast the entire thing (I yelled at my phone for much of it). It's a hell of a listen, and an intriguing peek into what could've been, back in the early '90s. Dalton vs. fembots!
As I mentioned last week, damn near all the Bond films are on Amazon Prime and Hulu this month (Hulu’s also got the Everything or Nothing doc, as well as their original Becoming Bond). As we approach the holidays, will you marathon the films? Perhaps curate a selection for first-time viewers in your life?
Whatever you decide, it’s a good occasion to talk Bond rankings. Last year I was tasked by the good folks at Thrillist to rank all the Bond films. I did so, but in my mind it was more of a loose grouping according to categories that I made up. I argued that according to tastes, one whole category might rank higher for one individual than another, and the films WITHIN those categories were essentially interchangeable. Because I’m difficult. Anyway, Thrillist cut my category describers for space, so I submit them to you below.
Level One - The Essentials
These are the Bond flicks that fans wait years for, wading through the snoozers and the misfires, the ones we pray to get once or twice in our lifetime. These are the entries that make us judge the perfectly serviceable Bond films perhaps more harshly than needed. Damn it, why can't they all be this great?
Level Two - The Classics
Sometimes a Bond film can be more than two-plus hours of cozy distraction. Like that one friend who kills it at karaoke, these are the 007 adventures that hit every note and leave the crowd cheering, the ones that other Bond flicks dread having to follow on the mic.
Level Three - The Staples
24 (or 25) movies in 55 years means you’re going to get a fair amount of movies that are, well, fine. These are the Bond films that keep the franchise chugging along - neither shaking things up nor breaking our hearts, but simply marking time until the next one. With this many movies in a franchise, sometimes some comfy box-ticking is the best you can hope for.
Level Four - The Outliers
This is a tier that could easily be placed ahead of others listed, depending on why you come to a Bond film. Do you just want the familiar, the nods and winks? Do you just want that gunbarrel moment at the front of the film where it belongs? Or do you want to see the franchise mix things up and veer into weird, unfamiliar territory? If you chose the latter, this Island of Misfit Bonds is for you.
Level Five - Nap Time
Any Bond fan will tell you that there are no “bad” Bond films; it’s just that for some titles, the natural state of viewing them is on the couch, drifting in and out of consciousness. “Worst,” “dull,” “boring” - these words sound so critical, ad we're here to celebrate. These are the 007 adventures which are guaranteed to lull you to sleep.
Head to Thrillist to read my actual rankings (as of 2016; I’ve already changed my mind on a few).