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Exclusive: Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale to Star in Cold War Spy Movie 'Best of Enemies' From 'American Hustle' Duo

Plus, my Oscars power rankings for Best International Feature, and a look at Amazon's 'Mr. & Mrs. Smith' series.

Happy Thursday, everybody! How many of you watched the finale of Squid Games: The Challenge last night and had your minds blown that a $4.56 million prize came down to a game of Rock Paper Scissors? We’re living in wild times, folks!

After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I watched the latest episode of Surviving Barstool, which boiled down to an intense game of Memory. It’s too bad whoever wins that competition will only get $100,000, as it’s every bit the battle that the Squid Game reality show is.

I also started reading David Mamet’s new book Everywhere an Oink Oink: An Embittered, Dyspeptic, and Accurate Report of Forty Years in Hollywood, which Mamet claims is hardly the same place anymore due to the rise of “digital media and the woke brigade,” according to his book jacket. The book also features original illustrations from the author, which are laced with his biting wit.

In today’s newsletter, you’ll find stories about Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper, and Jay and Silent Bob — don’t worry, the roles haven’t been recast — plus my Oscars power rankings for Best International Feature, and my thoughts on the Mr. & Mrs. Smith teaser featuring Donald Glover.

Read on for more… and since it’s the first night of Hanukkah, give the gift of The InSneider this holiday season. Just share this newsletter with a friend and tell them you’ll buy them a subscription when I begin charging next month.

Exclusive: Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale Line Up Best of Enemies; Netflix and Apple Circling

“Hmmm… Netflix, or Apple? Apple, or Netflix?”

Here’s a red-hot package that has the town in a tizzy…

I’m told there’s an American Hustle reunion in the works, as Bradley Cooper and Oscar winner Christian Bale are in talks to star in Best of Enemies, an adaptation of Gus Russo and Eric Dezenhall’s book Best of Enemies: The Last Great Spy Story of the Cold War.

American Hustle scribe Eric Warren Singer is writing the script, and Atlas Entertainment’s Charles Roven is producing the film, which is currently being shopped to studios and streamers, with Netflix and Apple considered the frontrunners for the prestige project.

Furthermore, I’m told that Cooper could very well wind up directing this one depending on the script. Who knows? Maybe it’ll turn out to be his Argo?

The story follows two Cold War spies — CIA case officer Jack Platt and KGB agent Gennady Vasilenko — who became improbable friends at a time when they should’ve been anything but.

They were both new arrivals in Washington D.C. in 1978 when their respective agencies assigned each man to seduce the other into betraying his country during the final days of the Cold War. Many years later, they helped discover the Soviet mole Robert Hanssen together and solved several other high-profile espionage mysteries.

As I understand it, Cooper would play Platt, while Bale would play Vasilenko.

Their American Hustle co-star, Robert De Niro, actually helped Gennady survive his incarceration in Russia after being falsely accused of spying for the Americans. Gennady was finally able to say goodbye to his prison cell following the 2010 spy swap that freed him from the evil clutches of the Soviets, whose leader, Vladimir Putin, envisions the new Russia to be quite similar to the old USSR.

Cooper wrote, directed, produced, and stars in Maestro, which begins streaming on Netflix on Dec. 20. It’s unclear what his next project will be as an actor, though it could be Steven Spielberg’s new take on Bullitt, as I’m told that the director is eager to put the pedal to the metal on that film.

Bale voices a role in Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film The Boy and the Heron, which is expected to top the box office this weekend. Otherwise, his schedule appears to be fairly open at the moment… at least publicly.

Roven is riding high off the success of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, which is the current frontrunner to win Best Picture. He’s also an EP on James Gunn’s Superman: Legacy, which is expected to hit theaters in 2025.

Singer co-wrote American Hustle with director David O. Russell and recently earned a writing credit on Top Gun: Maverick, which was the highest-grossing film of last year. Singer also created the Apple TV+ series Shantaram, and his other feature credits include Only the Brave and The International. He’s repped by Range Media Partners, and WME, the latter of which also reps Roven. Additionally, WME reps Bale, and Range reps Cooper.

Stay tuned to see where this A-list package lands…

$15 Bucks, Little Man. Put That Shit, In My Hand.

Look at these two lovable fucks. How can you say “no” to those stoned faces?

My boy Kevin Smith, who has been my boy since I watched Clerks as a pre-teen, is bringing back his signature characters, as he recently told PopCulture.com that he’s writing a new Jay and Silent Bob movie.

"Right now as we speak, I'm writing another Jay and Silent Bob movie. For me and Jay [Mewes] we always kind of have fun doing those and stuff, so I lost a bet with him. And so I'm writing another Jay and Bob movie,” Smith told PopCulture.

Now, there are a handful of things that I will pay for no matter what. A new Alex Cross book from James Patterson. A new album from Radiohead. It’s not a long list, but it does include new outings from my two favorite potheads, Jay and Silent Bob.

I know what you’re thinking… haven’t audiences had enough of these guys? Hasn’t their stoner shtick gotten old by now? Well, no… no, it hasn’t, largely because Jay and Silent Bob are wisely deployed in relatively small doses, outside of the ViewAskew movies that put them front and center.

And trust me, those movies are pretty cheap.

Smith isn’t breaking the bank, or spending $35 million on a niche passion project like other directors (coughAri Astercough). He works quickly and efficiently, and even though some of his recent movies have gotten a little goofy at times, at the end of the day, they typically work, usually because there’s a certain amount of heart to Kevin’s writing. You can make a movie that’s not very good, but if there’s one moment in it that genuinely touches someone, that’s what they’ll remember, not the rest of it.

Kevin has found a way to deliver those moments for 30 years, so his critics can call this a cash grab all they want, but I’m always down for more “Snootchie Bootchies.” Here’s hoping that Kevin’s haters choke on a chocolate-covered pretzel and that ol’ Silent Bob has found a clever way to bring back those two beloved characters in a story worthy of this little man’s $15 bucks.

And now, here are my latest Oscars Power Rankings, which forecast who’s up and who’s down each week…

Oscars Power Rankings: Best International Feature Is Deep This Year, and the Race Is Wide Open

Best International Feature

  1. The Taste of Things

  2. Society of the Snow

  3. The Teachers’ Lounge

  4. The Zone of Interest

  5. Perfect Days

  6. Fallen Leaves

  7. Io Capitano

  8. Godland

  9. The Promised Land

  10. Four Daughters

Analysis: First, an apology. The other day, I wrote that Oppenheimer was “a lock” to win the Oscar for Best Visual Effects. How could it not be? The movie looked awesome, and I wasn’t just talking about Hoyte van Hoytema’s cinematography. But, as it turns out, I was way off, as Oppenheimer failed to make the Academy’s VFX shortlist on Thursday — which includes 20(!) titles.

If you’d told me that Nyad was going to make the VFX shortlist over Oppenheimer, I would’ve laughed in your face, but here we are. So I apologize, because I should’ve reached out to my buddy in visual effects prior to posting. When we finally touched base today, he hadn’t yet heard of Oppie’s VFX snub, but he said he wasn’t surprised given that Christopher Nolan has spent a lot of time talking about practical effects and how so much of the film was done in-camera. However, he ultimately chalked it up to an issue of quantity, not quality.

But I digress…

I know I’m slacking on my international features this year. It’s not due to a lack of desire, but rather, a lack of access. Believe me, I’d love to watch The Teachers’ Lounge if someone invited me to a screening or offered me a link, as I’ve heard nothing but good things. Suffice it to say, that movie is definitely going to be nominated this year, though it’ll have to stave off some stiff competition.

As of this writing, I suspect that France’s The Taste of Things is the current frontrunner to win this award. It earned great reviews out of Cannes, and France’s nominating committee no doubt went with The Taste of Things over Anatomy of a Fall because they thought that the culinary tale represented a better chance to win. I liked the latter film, but it wasn’t quite the masterpiece I was expecting, and I could see why it might’ve been overlooked in favor of something a bit lighter and sweeter.

J.A. Bayona’s Society of the Snow blew me away and remains one of my favorite films of the year, so I can’t imagine a world in which it’s ignored outright, though it may be a bit much for some voters to, um, stomach.

Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest, which was once earning Best Picture buzz (LOL!), has cooled off considerably as pundits back away from that ambitious prediction. However, I still think it’ll have enough fans to hang on and crack the final five in this field.

For the 5-slot, I ended up going with Wim WendersPerfect Days, largely thanks to Neon being its distributor, but I acknowledge that any one of the films on my honorable mention list could land a nod, especially Fallen Leaves, which seems to be on the majority of Top 10 lists that I’ve read.

Bits and Bobs (A Daily News Roundup)

What if I told you that Poker Face was my favorite show on AFI’s list? Is that bullshit?

  • AFI Puts Its Thumb on the Scale - Here are the Top 10 lists: Film: American Fiction, Barbie, The Holdovers, Killers of the Flower Moon, Maestro, May December, Oppenheimer, Past Lives, Poor Things, and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. Netflix was the only distributor with two films on this list. Meanwhile, in the world of Television: Abbott Elementary, The Bear, Beef, Jury Duty, The Last of Us, The Morning Show, Only Murders in the Building, Poker Face, Reservation Dogs, and Succession. AFI lines up with the Oscars more than other precursors, yada yada yada, blah blah blah. You know how I feel about that stuff. That said, this does look awfully close to what I imagine will be the final list, though I don’t think Spider-Man will be recognized outside of the Animated Feature category. May December also feels like it’s surging at either just the right time — in time for critics to show it some love — or a tad too early.

  • A24 Movies Find a New Streaming Home - A24 has signed an exclusive multiyear output deal with Warner Bros. Discovery to bring its movies to HBO, Max, and Cinemax following their theatrical runs. Prior to this agreement, A24 movies went from theaters to Showtime. The two companies also extended their licensing deal for A24’s library titles on HBO and Max, such as Everything Everywhere All at Once and Uncut Gems. The new deal covers upcoming releases such as The Iron Claw and The Zone of Interest, as well as 2025 titles including Alex Garland’s Civil War and the Kristen Stewart movie Love Lies Bleeding.

  • SAG Back on the Defensive - After fighting off the AMPTP, the guild will now have to contend with more than 100 individual suits that have been filed by members who aren’t happy about the COVID-19 vaccination mandates that were put into place during the pandemic. Those who refused to get vaccinated didn’t have the opportunity to work. “SAG-AFTRA Members were forced to choose between their financial livelihood, breaking the law to obtain a falsified vaccination card or adhering to the acceptance of a foreign, not yet CDC approved, vaccine and boosters in their bodies against their will,” read one complaint. SAG, for its part, didn’t seem too worried, saying, “The claims are without merit and SAG-AFTRA will seek their dismissal.” Stay tuned to see how this legal battle fares for the guild…

  • Everybody Loves Raymond - The underrated Ray Romano is set to star in No Good Deed, an eight-episode dark comedy series that Dead to Me creator Liz Feldman has set up at Netflix. The series follows three very different families all vying to buy the same house, though they soon find that the home of their dreams can be a total nightmare sometimes. Romano will play a broke contractor who thinks that selling his beautiful Los Feliz home will solve his and his wife’s problems, though his past mistakes will continue to haunt him. Feldman will serve as showrunner and executive produce the show alongside Will Ferrell and Jessica Elbaum of Gloria Sanchez Productions, plus Christie Smith and Silver Tree, who will direct the pilot and additional episodes. Romano was last seen in Pete Davidson’s Peacock series Bupkis, and I quite liked his indie movie Somewhere in Queens, which he co-wrote, directed, and also stars in opposite the great Laurie Metcalf. Check it out!

  • But Everybody Hates Nuremberg - Oscar winners Russell Crowe and Rami Malek and two-time Oscar nominee Michael Shannon are set to star in the historical drama Nuremberg, which hails from writer-director-producer James Vanderbilt, who previously wrote Zodiac and the recent Scream movies. He also directed the Cate Blanchett-Robert Redford movie Truth. Bluestone Entertainment and Walden Media are teaming up to produce the film, which is based on Jack El Hai’s book The Nazi and the Psychiatrist. Production will start in February in Hungary. Malek will play American psychiatrist Douglas Kelley, who is tasked with determining whether Nazi prisoners are fit to stand trial for their war crimes. Kelley finds himself in a complex battle of wits with Hitler’s right-hand man, Hermann Göring (Crowe), while Shannon will play Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, who served as chief prosecutor of the Nuremberg trials. I’m not especially interested in Nuremberg but Vanderbilt has assembled a strong cast here, so count me in! I’m not holding those Scream sequels against him, even though I think he should hand that franchise off to someone else…

  • Hail, Marty! - 60 years after he was first honored by the PGA for his student film It’s Not Just You, Murray!, legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese has been named the recipient of the guild’s David O. Selznick Achievement Award, which has previously been given to Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Barbara Broccoli, Mary Parent, Brian Grazer, and Tom Cruise. Scorsese will accept the award on Sunday, Feb. 25 tied to his efforts in producing Killers of the Flower Moon, which is now available on VOD.

  • Empty Pockets - There’s a live-action TV show in the works based on the late ‘80s/early ‘90s toy brand Monster in My Pocket. The series is being developed by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Westbrook Studios along with Altar Rock Pictures, and the two companies are currently hearing takes from writers familiar with the toy brand, which features more than 200 monstrous characters. The brand has already been turned into an animated TV special on ABC and a Nintendo game, so there is a familiarity with it out there, though I’d rather see Hollywood revisit My Pet Monster, as I always liked that show as a kid…

  • Here Comes the Boom! - Here’s a fun item. Paramount Pictures has purchased a spec script titled Ok, Boomer from Eben Davidson, a former executive at the studio, where he rose to senior VP of acquisitions and production. It was in that role that he oversaw Paramount movies such as Arrival and Katy Perry: Part of Me. The project also marks a homecoming for former Paramount president Adam Goodman, who will produce Ok, Boomer via his Invisible Narratives banner along with Trevor Engelson of Underground and Davidson, who once served as Head of Creative at Invisible Narratives, where he and Goodman produced the movie Songbird along with Michael Bay. As for the logline, it follows an out-of-work dad who becomes a social media influencer after he accidentally goes viral online, much to the dismay of his teenage daughter. The question is, what did dear old Dad go viral for? I’m gonna need more information on this one, but needless to say, that one sounds like it’ll all come down to casting.

  • Minecraft Adds a Player - Emma Myers, who plays Enid Sinclair in the hit Netflix series Wednesday and can currently be seen in the streamer’s original movie Family Switch, has signed on to join Jason Momoa in WB’s Minecraft movie based on the popular game. She’s shaping up to be one to watch…

Trailer Time: Amazon’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith Series Looks Stylish, Smart, and Sexy

Amazon has unveiled the teaser for Mr. & Mrs. Smith, which pairs Donald Glover and Maya Erskine as spies in an arranged marriage who start to develop feelings (ew, gross!) for each other. I wasn’t sure that Erskine would be able to hold her own opposite Glover — I was worried his magnetism would blow her off the screen — but I’m buying them as equals here, even if he’s a bit more famous than her.

The supporting cast of guest stars looks fun, including The Batman duo of Paul Dano and John Turturro, plus Alexander Skarsgård, Sarah Paulson, Sharon Horgan, Michaela Coel, Eiza González, Ron Perlman, Parker Posey, and Wagner Moura.

The eight-episode series will begin streaming on Prime Video on Feb. 2 and I, for one, am excited to check it out and see my NYU classmate Glover in a very different role — one that allows him to show off his action chops.

That’ll do it for me, folks! I’m off to see The Color Purple, provided the screening isn’t too overbooked tonight. I’m expecting a packed house given all the talent on hand tonight for a post-screening Q&A…

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