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Exclusive: 'The Last of Us' Season 2 Eyes Kaitlyn Dever for Abby

Plus, a review of 'Ferrari' and my latest thoughts on the Best Picture race.

Is Kaitlyn Dever the Meryl Streep of her generation? Discuss.

Has HBO Caught a Case of Dever Fever?

Back in August, The Last of Us showrunner Craig Mazin told the L.A. Times that he had found an actress to play Abby Anderson in Season 2. To that end, I hear that Kaitlyn Dever is in talks to tackle the role.

Should a deal make, Dever would join Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey in Season 2, which is expected to premiere on HBO in 2025. In the game, Abby is positioned as a rival to Ramsey’s Ellie — a role that Dever herself was once eyed for, having done a table read as that character.

Mazin serves as an EP and co-showrunner alongside game creator Neil Druckmann, and Mazin did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Tuesday.

Druckmann has previously said that for the role of Ellie, they needed somebody who could be “tough and vulnerable and wise beyond their years, and also have a potential for violence.” Dever came oh-so-close to winning that role, so it makes sense that she’d be back in the mix for Abby, as Gamerant says “The two women are actually extremely similar.”

Dever also happens to be one of the 71 people Mazin currently follows on Instagram.

Sources say that Dever is poised to win the role on the strength of her bravura silent turn in Brian Duffield’s alien invasion movie No One Will Save You, which premiered on Hulu earlier this year. 

Dever is one of the most talented actresses of her generation, and I consider her casting a major coup for this series, as well as a solid career move for her — should it come to fruition, of course.

Best known for starring in Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart, her TV credits include the acclaimed limited series Unbelievable and Dopesick, as well as the long-running ABC series Last Man Standing. She’ll soon be seen in Dan Levy’s indie Good Grief, which co-stars Ruth Negga, Himesh Patel, Luke Evans, and Emma Corrin.

Dever is represented by UTA, which did not respond to a request for comment, while HBO declined to comment on the record, though insiders stress that no one has officially been cast in Season 2 just yet.

Dever doesn’t have anything on her schedule that would preclude her participation, as far as I know. Stay tuned…

And now, here are my latest Oscars Power Rankings, which aim to forecast who’s up and who’s down each week in the Oscar race. Today brings a closer look at Best Picture, and a different category will be featured in every newsletter. Best Director is on the docket for tomorrow.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Oscars Power Rankings: Oppenheimer Looms Large in Best Picture, But the Gold Is Still Up for Grabs

Best Picture

  1. Oppenheimer (+1)

  2. American Fiction (+3)

  3. The Holdovers

  4. Barbie (+2)

  5. Past Lives (+2)

  6. Killers of the Flower Moon (-5)

  7. Maestro (+2)

  8. Poor Things (-4)

  9. All of Us Strangers (+1)

  10. The Color Purple (NEW)

  11. Air

  12. Nyad (NEW)

  13. Origin (-5)

  14. Anatomy of a Fall (+1)

  15. The Iron Claw (NEW)

Analysis: OK, nuclear bomb to my head, I’ll take Oppenheimer in a squeaker right now, but I still think this race is wide open.

American Fiction, The Holdovers, and Past Lives are the small, wonderful movies that stand to take on this awards goliath, as well as Barbie, which is either being underestimated as a serious Best Picture contender or overestimated, depending on who you talk to.

I think that if this were a year with five Best Picture nominees — you know, like there should be — those would be your five nominees unless something like Maestro or Killers of the Flower Moon knocked off the more understated Past Lives.

Everyone keeps saying that there will be an international nominee, and if that’s the case then I suspect Anatomy of a Fall is better positioned than Jonathan Glazer’s Holocaust film The Zone of Interest, which will, I predict, be a very divisive movie. There’s no question that it’s more for fans of Under the Skin than the director’s earlier films such as Sexy Beast and Birth. I swapped it out of the last spot given The Iron Claw’s strong buzz this week following its Dallas premiere.

Origin feels like it could sneak into the Best Picture field, but Neon has to start screening that one more aggressively. All I know is that one underestimates Ava DuVernay at their own peril.

I’ll be rooting for inspirational films like Nyad and Air that almost harken back to the Disney sports movies that I grew up on, but for now, I’m giving the edge to Andrew Haigh’s All of Us Strangers, which provoked a devastating emotional response from the guest I brought to the screening.

All of Us Strangers, like Brokeback Mountain and Call Me By Your Name before it, is being dismissed as a “gay film” by critics who can’t resist putting labels on movies, but it’s far more than that — it’s a film for anyone who wishes they had told their parents more about themselves while they had the chance. It’s the kind of universal story that provokes genuine catharsis and I can’t dismiss the rather profound effect this film had on someone I care about.

I do wish I had room for May December on my chart, but I still haven’t seen the film, and the Golden Globes’ decision to label it a comedy has me a little worried, though I suppose that group has a broad definition of the term.

As for Poor Things, I’m sure it will be nominated, but I have little faith in its Phase 2 prospects, as it’s the kind of weird art film that could turn off older viewers. Then again, Everything Everywhere All at Once is the reigning Best Picture winner, and the Academy only recently gave its top prize to The Shape of Water, a movie about a woman falling in love with a fish, so who’s to say?

Maybe Film Twitter is right… maybe it’s only more likely to win now that I’ve publicly questioned its chances. I guess we’ll see…

Can someone cast this man in a superhero movie, please?

Review Corner: Ferrari Fails to Pick a Lane

Michael Mann’s Ferrari came up short for me, and trust me, I wanted to love it. Heat, The Insider, and Manhunter are three of my favorite movies. But unfortunately, I smelled trouble from the very start…

The film opens with old-timey black-and-white footage of Enzo Ferrari’s racing career, with star Adam Driver briefly behind the wheel. The point is to show the audience that Ferrari was a driver himself, and he understands the risk inherent in getting behind the wheel, but it’s an odd way to introduce the character.

We quickly understand that he’s having an affair with Shailene Woodley’s Lina Lardi, and that his wife, Laura (Penelope Cruz), doesn’t care too much about it, though she does expect him to abide by certain rules and carry about with a modicum of discretion.

Ferrari is having money problems that can only be alleviated by winning the Mille Miglia, a big race across Italy. That requires him to find a team of drivers with not just the talent to win, but the mental mettle as well. The team consists of five members, including determined rookie De Portago (handsome newcomer Gabriel Leone), fading veteran, Piero Taruffi (a well-coiffed, constantly smoking Patrick Dempsey, aka People’s Sexiest Man Alive), and reliable Brit Peter Collins (Jack O’Connell). At one point, Driver has a great scene in which Enzo relays the expectations he has of his racing team, and it’s those kinds of scenes I craved more of. 

As for the rest of the cast, Sarah Gadon has a thankless role as De Portago’s movie star girlfriend, and there’s a rival Maserati contingent that Ferrari is constantly measuring his company against.

Outside of winning the race and saving the company, the other dramatic thread here is Ferrari’s desire for an heir. He and Laura lost a child due to illness, but Lina has given him a second chance at fatherhood, and though he’s unable to acknowledge their child as his own publicly, he dotes on the young boy, whose existence has long been kept from Laura. 

The problem with Ferrari is that it’s a little too long and, yes, kind of boring. Yes, things pick up in Act 3 with the big race, but you’re never terribly invested in its outcome, as you already know that, win or lose, the Ferrari company will live to see another day. What else would rich assholes have to drive?

Much has been written about the big accident that occurs in Act 3 and its gruesome aftermath, and while I must admit that the sicko in me was strangely looking forward to that scene, I can’t say it did much for me in the end. Due to a freak accident, one of Ferrari’s cars barrels into a crowd, knocking everyone over like bowling pins, and the carnage is disturbing — body parts strewn about between the fresh corpses of several dead children. It’s a terrible tragedy, but the movie never truly grapples with the horror or the fallout that Ferrari faced.

Driver made headlines when he said “Fuck you” to an audience member at a recent Q&A after the man asked the actor for his take on what he believed to be a “cheesy” scene. While I loathe audience Q&As, and a good, strong moderator such as myself would’ve shut that question down before Driver could even answer, I must admit that the man had a fair point. It’s not so much that it’s “cheesy” as it’s just not of a piece with the rest of the film. I was also surprised that Mann used the same music from The Insider’s climax in Ferrari, which struck me as more of a lazy move than a directorial signature. 

Furthermore, when De Portago finds himself forced to confront his own mortality, you don’t really feel that moment, so when you see what becomes of him, the impact is nullified, nor do you truly feel for his girlfriend since their relationship hasn’t been well developed. The character’s death is treated more as a macabre sight gag than a real dramatic moment. 

Driver does a decent job as Ferrari, but you rarely feel the man’s pain, even when he sits by his son’s grave and cries. You feel it a bit more during a big blow-up with Laura in which he argues that he did everything he could to save his son, having tried every medical remedy, to no avail. Even with all the money in the world, the powerful Ferrari was no match for God, and for some reason, Laura has never forgiven him.

While some will gravitate toward the racing scenes, it’s the scenes between Driver and Cruz that really pop here, largely thanks to the latter’s supporting turn as the fiery Mrs. Ferrari. There’s no vanity to Cruz’s performance — if I recall, we only see her in full makeup once, when she’s happy — and she lets it all hang out there, so when she’s not onscreen, you feel her absence and can’t wait for her return.

She’s where the drama is — not the race. 

Speaking of the Mille Miglia, cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt does a great job of shooting it, particularly at night in the rain. The problem is that this movie doesn’t pick a lane, as Mann is torn between delivering a thrilling racing movie like the one he executive produced (Ford v Ferrari) and an emotionally charged marital drama. The result is a movie that does both things fine but neither one exceptionally, paying the price dramatically as it limps toward the finish line, concluding with a bunch of onscreen text that we don’t care about, like Enzo and Lina’s son becoming a successful Ferrari executive.

In the end, we may know what makes Ferrari’s cars special, but we never really know what makes him special, besides his will to win. I’m not sure I anticipate any Oscar nominations for this movie, though Cruz stands the best chance at a nod given her pedigree as a former Oscar winner.

Cruz won Best Supporting Actress for Vicky Cristina Barcelona and was nominated again the following year for Nine, plus she has two Best Actress nods for Volver and Parallel Mothers. Clearly, the Academy loves her and could be inclined to throw her a supporting nomination this year, so that’s where Neon should be spending its FYC dollars for this film.

Outside of the actual movie, I have to acknowledge the cold streak Driver is on following his fantastic turn in Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story. In 2021, he did Leos Carax’s bizarre musical Annette, which peaked with its opening number and went nowhere that awards season, as did The Last Duel and House of Gucci. The Last Duel was a hit with critics but it fizzled in theaters, grossing just $30 million worldwide on a $100 million production budget, while House of Gucci earned mixed reviews and was nearly shut out at the Oscars save for a makeup/hairstyling nod. 

Last year brought the far less successful Baumbach picture White Noise, which was a head-scratching choice, and though the top-secret premise of this year’s dinosaur movie 65 surely looked appealing on paper, the execution was spotty, and the $45 million film flopped on release, earning a 34 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and topping out at a disappointing $60 million worldwide.

Ferrari looks like another expensive box office disappointment, and I’m willing to make the same prediction for Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis, as much as I want to give the director of The Godfather the benefit of the doubt.

On one hand, I commend Driver for working with master filmmakers such as Mann, Coppola, and Ridley Scott, I just wish he was catching them in the prime of their careers — and I’m happy to be proven wrong on that front, too.

As for Mann, Heat 2 can’t come soon enough, even though I’m not convinced it’s a great idea. The book only half-worked for me, and I’m not sure it’s worth the risk of jeopardizing the original’s legacy with a lackluster prequel/sequel, though I suppose that Heat is immortalized in my heart and won’t be impacted by whatever the reception is to its follow-up.

Next year will mark 20 years since Mann made Collateral, which is the last movie of his that I really liked. Miami Vice is a slog for me, I’ve never revisited Public Enemies, and Blackhat was a real mess, no matter how many podcasts are recorded defending its honor. 

At 80 years old, I’m not sure how many more movies Mann has in him, but I sure hope he gets the chance to go out on a high note, as Ferrari isn’t quite the victory lap I had envisioned for his incredible career. There’s simply not enough under the hood of this rather muted biopic.

Grade: C+

See, she’s nothing like Superman because she’s totally jaded, right?

Bits and Bobs (A Daily News Roundup)

Supergirl Returns - After being hired on the QT last year to write a Supergirl spinoff movie for Sasha Calle before James Gunn and Peter Safran took over DC Studios and scrapped Walter Hamada’s slate, scribe Ana Nogueira is being brought back into the DC fold to write the standalone feature Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow.

The film will follow Superman’s Kryptonian cousin, Kara Zor-El, and it’ll be based on Tom King’s comic book mini-series that redefined the character — making her a bit more jaded, given her traumatic upbringing — when DC published it in 2021 and 2022. That story saw Supergirl and superdog Krypto get caught up in a young alien’s galaxy-spanning quest for revenge.

There’s no director attached to Supergirl just yet, though Gunn is expected to hire a female filmmaker. Meanwhile, in addition to hiring Nogueira to write a solo Supergirl movie, Gunn even gave her an overall DC writing deal. She’s also adapting Alice Sola Kim’s short story Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters for Warner Bros. and Shawn Levy’s 21 Laps banner.

The actress-turned-playwright and screenwriter is represented by CAA, and THR broke the news of her hiring.

Another Day, Another Space Opera - I’ve never heard of Alien Legion before, but apparently it’s a space opera comic book from the ‘80s, and Warner Bros. has picked up the rights to it even though it was initially published by Marvel Comics.

The story involves an intergalactic peace-keeping force that, to be honest, doesn’t sound unlike Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

Tim Miller (Deadpool) is attached to direct, and my old pal Don Murphy will produce under his Angry Films banner along with his wife, Susan Montford, and Aaron Ryder.

Murphy actually tried to mount this project once before back in the early 200s at Dimension, but they could never get the budget together. Jerry Bruckheimer then took over the rights and set up Alien Legion at Disney, even hiring David Benioff (Game of Thrones) to adapt the comic, to no avail.

Miller is currently preparing to direct the revenge movie Best Served Cold starring Rebecca Ferguson, but WB’s Michael De Luca believes in the potential of Alien Legion and is high on the property, so expect the studio to hire a writer soon.

I don’t know why Murphy is so hung up on dusty IP like Alien Legion, Buck Rogers, and The Day of the Triffids, but if that’s what floats his boat, so be it. I just won’t be surprised if his upcoming Faces of Death reboot proves to be more successful…

Master of WB’s Domain - Warner Bros. has inked a new multi-year co-financing deal with Atlanta-based Domain Capital in an effort to bolster the studio’s theatrical slate.

Last year, Domain announced a $700 million fund dedicated to entertainment and media, and with this new Warner Bros. arrangement, the company has already been kissed into the studio’s summer blockbuster Barbie, which grossed more than $1.4 billion worldwide. It never hurts to show a little gratitude upfront…

The deal includes upcoming WB releases such as Wonka, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, and The Color Purple.

“We believe this long-term relationship, and the ultimate library that it creates, will further our investment strategy,” Domain’s Pete Chiappetta told Variety, which broke the news.

I’m not sure how well co-financing arrangements have worked out for WB’s former partners, but hey, more power to the folks at Domain if they can help WB invest in theatrical at a time when the studio is throwing completed movies away for tax purposes.

You Can’t Spell Piaf Without “AI” - As SAG members continue to debate the AI language in their new tentative agreement, Warner Music Entertainment has announced that it’s teaming with the production company Seriously Happy to develop an animated Edith Piaf biopic that will be crafted by AI with the permission of the iconic French singer’s estate, which is also involved in the project.

AI technology will be used to recreate Piaf’s legendary voice as well as her image, and it has already trained on hundreds of voice clips of the singer — some more than 80 years old.

Julie Veille and Gilles Marliac wrote the script for Edith, and a proof of concept has already been created for the 90-minute biopic, though Warner Music is seeking a studio partner to help take the project forward, according to Deadline.

Everyone seemed up in arms about this news today, but this sounds more like an indie experiment that about a dozen people will see, so Hollywood denizens shouldn’t sweat it too much. Besides, if Piaf’s estate gave the go-ahead, who are we to judge?

Sheldon? More like Sheldone! - CBS has announced it will say goodbye Young Sheldon after seven seasons. I guess he got too old! I’ll pour out a juice box for him…

Say Hi to the Kai - Dexter alum C.S. Lee has joined the cast of the Netflix series Cobra Kai for its sixth and final season. He’ll play Master Kim Sun-Young, a character that has previously appeared only in flashback form in the original Karate Kid movie (played by Jun Chong). Master Kim is presumed dead in the world of Cobra Kai, so it remains to be seen whether Lee will appear strictly in flashbacks, but I think he’s a solid character actor and I’m happy he’s still out there doing his thing.

From Queens to the Amazon - Kevin James has announced a family-friendly comedy special that will debut on Prime Video this winter. Irregardless will be James’ third special and it’ll find the King of Queens alum talking about things like “how many Tater Tots he can fit in his mouth.” I bet it’s not more than me, Kevin! I had my molars removed for that express purpose…

Your 15 minutes start now…

Film Twitter’s Main Character of the Day

This is where I shine a light on the good, the bad, and the ugly tweets that Film Twitter is, well, already shining a light on. Whether you’re being hailed as a hero or a villain in this space, I hope all recipients of this esteemed award take it in the good nature with which it is intended. Just know that it takes one to know one, and honey, I’ve been there before…

Today’s Main Character is John DiLillo, who has been proudly anti-Birdman since 2014, and doesn’t care that Martin Scorsese has taken the opposite point of view. His tweet has been viewed a million times as of this writing.

Is he a hero or a villain? You be the judge!

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