The Ultimate Walt Disney Company Performances Bracket -- Round One, Day Twenty-Five
On the rocks! ...I mean ice!
We’re finally here, friends! That’s right, we’re…in the final quarter of the first round of the Ultimate Walt Disney Company Performances bracket! We started with 256 seeds, and we’re whittling it down to 160. By this time next week, we’ll be at 128 seeds, and on and on after that.
Today, specifically, is another Friday, and it’s the end of a week where I’ve actually had a fair bit of non-bracket-related writing. So before we do votes, it’s time to do some self-promotion.
There are a couple of marquee new streaming shows that start this week, each of which is slightly imperfect but very much worth your time. First, I did a overall season review of the new Apple TV+ dramedy Shrinking, which was co-created by Brett “Roy Kent” Goldstein and Jason Segel, the latter of whom co-stars with Harrison Ford and Jessica Williams. I hate to be the critic who tells you “This show doesn’t get good until after its pilot”, but…well, the pilot is the shakiest of the bunch. (I’ve seen nine of ten episodes.) Otherwise, it’s emotionally effective, very well-acted, and often very funny.
I’m not exclusive to this Substack, as you may know. (We’re in an open relationship.) I also am fortunate enough to contribute over at Episodic Medium, where this week, I’ve begun my reviews of each episode of Peacock’s Poker Face, starring Natasha Lyonne as a human lie detector who travels the country (for reasons) and solves murders. Some aspects of this show are very Columbo-esque, and I adore that show. I don’t quite adore this one, but am enjoying diving into the coverage. Check out my review of the first two episodes here.
It’s not just about TV this week — I’ve also reviewed two new movies, each of which you can stream right now on other streaming services. First up, on Netflix, it’s the new comedy You People, starring Eddie Murphy and Jonah Hill as, respectively, a dad and his prospective son-in-law. I will not lie — I laughed at a good number of bits in this movie. But there’s an underlying safeness to the arc of what could be a much thornier riff on Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. At its heart, this movie is a happy romantic comedy, which doesn’t always serve it well.
Another romantic comedy, and one I liked less (it didn’t make me laugh out loud at all, for one), is the new Amazon Prime film Shotgun Wedding, known as much for a) being That Movie Armie Hammer Was Originally Slated to Star In and b) adding action-movie heroics in the middle of a destination-wedding story. Jennifer Lopez is charming as always, but the material is not, save for Jennifer Coolidge (as Lopez’s mother-in-law) being Jennifer Coolidge.
Anyway. I’m also excited for these matchups. Let’s get into them!
(1) Bob Hoskins, Who Framed Roger Rabbit vs. (64) Bette Midler, Ruthless People: The question in my mind for this entire bracket is “Will Bob Hoskins win it all?” He’s won two performance-based brackets so far, but never one with so many competitors. There is, of course, no doubt that he will win in this specific matchup, but that’s almost by design. You will note that he’s going to have a couple of potentially notable hurdles amid the final set of seeds in this chunk of the overall bracket. (If you aren’t already aware, I will only remind you that Robin Williams’ voice work in Aladdin is up for a first-round vote in the next few days, and if those two face off eventually…well, that’ll be interesting.)
Anyway. Hoskins for now. We’ll see how long he lasts.
(32) Heath Ledger, 10 Things I Hate About You vs. (33) John Cusack, Grosse Pointe Blank: In some ways, these performers are well-matched, because both films are given a soft spot by different generations. (I like Grosse Pointe Blank, but I gather that Gen X’ers like it just a bit more.) But I cannot deny the immense and immediate charisma and talent of the late Heath Ledger. We can talk all we like about how much performances like this grow in the mind because the actor giving the performance is no longer with us. But even in theaters, I remember being gobsmacked by his innate charm in a teenage riff on Shakespeare. Ledger all the way.
(16) Bill Nighy, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest vs. (49) Shia LaBeouf, Holes: On one hand, it is true that a fair amount of what makes Davy Jones such a remarkably fierce and unnerving villain is due to some of the best special-effects work I’ve ever seen. (It’s been more than 15 years, and I am still largely in awe at the motion-capture work on Davy Jones.) But Bill Nighy is an actor very comfortable in playing someone fierce and unnerving, and even as the mo-cap heightens his natural squirrelly abilities as a performer, I remain very impressed at his work in Dead Man’s Chest. Sorry, Shia.
(17) Jonathan Freeman, Aladdin vs. (48) John Candy, The Rescuers Down Under: John Candy is one of the purest comic talents of the back half of the 20th century, and I’m still very sad at how much we lost when he passed away in 1994. And I like him as Wilbur in Disney’s first-ever animated sequel. (It’s been over thirty years, and I’m still not fully able to wrap my head around the idea that The Rescuers is what inspired Disney’s first animated sequel.)
I say all of this because…well, listen, if you’ve read these before, you know that I like to give a shout-out to the person who I’m not leaning towards in a given matchup first. Jonathan Freeman’s sly work as Jafar is so good that it cannot be replicated. When I say it cannot be replicated, I mean that Freeman not only played Jafar in the 1992 Aladdin but also in the direct-to-video sequels. And also in shows like House of Mouse. And also in the Kingdom Hearts series. And also in the original Broadway cast. (Yes, really.) Point is: He’s just that good. Gotta give it to him.