The best casting choices are the ones where the character given to an actor reminds fans of a previous role the actor did successfully. We hear the news, consider the actor’s resume, compare that to the announced role and, if it all fits, we say yay. If, however, the role is something new or different than what we’re used to seeing from the actor, we say nay. The reality is, we say nay a lot more than we say yay. The reasons for this are threefold. For one, most of the time we don’t say anything about casting decisions, but when we do, it’s usually a character that we know well, and by complaining, we get to show off what we know and why the actor is wrong for the part. Two, different is scary and unless there’s an uncanny resemblance between the actor and the character in the source material, we shun the choice because it’s different. And three, we like complaining more than we like praising.
With all that in mind, we’re going to look forward at the upcoming films and TV series set for release in 2017 and we’re going to criticize casting choices. We will say that, for the most part, the casting decisions look pretty good on paper. Sure, many of the good-looking decisions will turn out to be horrible, just as many of the terrible decisions in this list will turn out to be surprisingly great. In fact, we hope that all of these decisions turn out to be just that. We love TV and we love movies and we don’t want to see any actors ridiculed or any TV shows or films suffer because of a bad cast. Let’s all win in 2017. Yay!
15. Bates Motel – Rihanna
When it was announced that Rihanna was to play the iconic character of Marion Crane in the Bates Motel TV series, fans of Rihanna’s singing everywhere celebrated. They sang “Diamonds” and “S&M” and whatever other songs she’s put out. Fans of the series, the original Psycho film, compelling television and acting in general were a little less enthusiastic. Will Rihanna be able to do justice to one of most memorable characters in film? Can Rihanna act at all? Is Janet Leigh turning in her grave? It remains to be seen how the singer does, but it is certainly a big risk putting her in a role that has such historical material to compare it to. This is a big step up from music videos and Battleship for Rihanna. Only time will tell how she handles it.
14. Ghost in the Shell – Scarlett Johansson
After it was announced that Scarlett Johansson was to play the lead role in the highly anticipated film, Ghost in the Shell, many people voiced frustration with Hollywood casting the very white Johansson as a character of a different race. Now Johansson has responded to her critics by saying, “I certainly would never presume to play another race of a person. Diversity is important in Hollywood, and I would never want to feel like I was playing a character that was offensive.” Well Scarlett, your character’s name is Motoko Kusanagi. It sounds like you’re playing a Japanese person to us. Somehow, Johansson and the filmmakers have turned the discussion into one of sexism, diverting attention away from the fact that Johansson is not a Japanese woman, not even close.
13. Hellraiser: Judgement
We are not purists. At least we don’t want to be. But even we were a little disturbed when we heard that the new Hellraiser: Judgement film was going forward without Doug Bradley playing Pinhead. This was upsetting news at first because a sequel to one of the longest-running horror franchises without its classic character has already proven to be a bad move, but then the news got worse. Not only will Doug Bradley not be in the film, but Pinhead, the character that he made into one of the most iconic villains, will, once again, be played by another actor, Paul T. Taylor, something that failed miserably the last time they tried it with Hellraiser: Revelations. This is all bad enough, but then the team behind this doomed film announced that Heather Langenkamp, the actress who is known for playing Nancy in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, will also be in the film. Nancy in Hellraiser. We say again, we’re not purists, but there’s tinkering with the originals and there’s spitting on the originals. It’s clear which route Judgement has chosen.
12. The Celebrity Apprentice – Arnold Schwarzenegger
When Donald Trump decided to become the President of the United States, he needed to put his TV show, Celebrity Apprentice, behind him. They replaced him with Arnold Schwarzenegger, another celebrity politician, but things haven’t gone as well for the Governator as they did for Trump in 2017. It was a bad decision to try and replace Trump in the first place, but they went forward with it anyways. After the ratings came in, Trump took time out of his busy schedule of running the United States of America to mock Arnold via Twitter, writing, “Wow, the ratings are in and Arnold Schwarzenegger got “swamped” (or destroyed) by comparison to the ratings machine, DJT.” There’s a lesson here. Even the President needs a pat on the back sometimes.
11. Iron Fist – Finn Jones
When it comes to the whitewashing backlash in Hollywood, the vast majority of criticisms come when a character of color is altered to allow for a white actor to take the role. This is not what’s taken place with Marvel’s upcoming show, Iron Fist. The backlash surrounding the casting of the white actor, Finn Jones, as Danny Rand, also the titular superhero, Iron Fist, is because many believe that Marvel got it wrong when they first created the character in the comic books. In the comic, Rand is white, but he is embroiled in a very Asian story. In many ways, the comic misappropriates Asian culture and traditions. Many felt that the TV show was a perfect opportunity to cast an Asian actor and reclaim the story for Asian people. They decided against it, so now we wait to see how bad of a decision this turns out to be.
10. Legion – Aubrey Plaza
The upcoming Marvel TV show, Legion, looks and sounds awesome in almost every way, except one. Aubrey Plaza. Now, there’s a fairly decently sized group of fans out there, almost all Parks and Recreation fans, who love Plaza. In the first episode that’s already played, she was pretty good. The problem with Plaza is that she has one character in her repertoire. The character’s name is Aubrey Plaza. She is incapable of acting as anyone else but herself. Now we’re not saying we don’t like her, we’re just saying she’s not technically an actress. She’s Aubrey Plaza. She’s a funny person who gets acting gigs. Acting in a dramatic series, even if she’s the comic relief, risks showcasing how bland her flavor is.
9. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Oprah
Call us crazy, but there’s a level of fame that one gets to where they transcend all characters. Their image is too big; their star too bright. Oprah has been here for a long time. Even though she’s had commendable performances in the past, there is no way that any audience members ever see her character. They only see Oprah. In fact, Oprah was originally up for the part that Viola Davis ended up landing (and nominated for an Oscar for) in Doubt. At least, Oprah wanted that role. But the director, John Patrick Shanley, had a problem with that. He said that the role was too small for him to be able to convince the audience that who they’re seeing isn’t Oprah. Well, as Oprah prepares to act in the upcoming film, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, we are here to say that no one will believe they’re seeing anyone else other than Oprah. She’s just too big for acting.
8. Power Rangers – Bryan Cranston
We love Bryan Cranston. We love him so much that we fear for this movie because it includes him. Here’s why. First, the Power Rangers film, what looks to be a cross between The Breakfast Club and Chronicle, almost can’t live up to inflated and nostalgic expectations. Regardless, let’s say it does. You have Cranston there playing Zordon. Either he’s barely in it and he becomes a distraction whenever he shows up, more novelty than necessity. Or he’s in it quite a bit, which means he’ll be acting next to a largely inexperienced cast, exposing their weaknesses. To us, having Cranston in this role seems like a losing battle for Power Rangers. Though it would be pretty cool to see him as a Power Ranger from the past if that’s the route they take.
7. Ocean’s Eight – Rihanna
So technically the Ocean’s Eight film doesn’t come out until 2018, but expect 2017 to be filled with controversy about it. Remember Ghostbusters and people were butthurt about women taking over roles that were traditionally male roles? Well, there’s going to be a lot more of that garbage as we get closer to the release of the female-led film, Ocean’s Eight. We don’t care about the genders of the actors. We care about their quality and, unfortunately for Rihanna fans, it’s about her again. We like Rihanna’s music. No, we don’t, but we respect her music. She’s incredibly talented… at singing and dancing and looking beautiful. But we’ve seen her acting. We’ve seen Battleship. We heard her in Home. She’s not good. She’s going to look even worse next to that all-star lineup, like Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sandra Bullock and Sarah Paulson. Nearly every one of the cast members has been nominated for an Academy Award. Then there’s Ri-Ri.
6. Justice League – Ezra Miller
Ezra Miller is wildly talented, so we aren’t really knocking Zack Snyder’s choice to cast him, but we do see a rough time ahead for Justice League if it doesn’t crush it out of the park. First of all, people have their doubts about the film already. Nearly every DC film not helmed by Christopher Nolan has struggled to impress critics. None of the films have been particularly bad, they just haven’t wowed people. Now consider that The Flash television show has done very well and Grant Gustin, the actor playing the title role, has been very well-received. This could be a problem for the film. Any time you have a contemporary character to compare to, you run the risk of being criticized. We won’t bet on Miller failing the character, but we will say that there’s a good chance that, of all the characters, people will criticize this casting decision the most.
5. The Mummy – Tom Cruise
It’s possible that The Mummy comes out and blows everyone away. If that happens, we will never reference this little entry ever again. Still, The Mummy reboot looks to be a darker take on what was a fun, and at times silly, film franchise. With Tom Cruise as the lead, we fear that the film will become more of the same that we usually see from Cruise, the standard running and jumping. That’s not to say that all Cruise movies are bad because that would be a complete lie. We just feel that with Cruise in the lead, there is more room for the film to get off track, either focusing too much on action and neglecting story or relying too much Cruise’s box-office power and making a gratuitous Hollywood reboot with no soul behind the film. We hope we’re wrong, but we’ve got a bad feeling about this one.
4. The Dark Tower – Idris Elba
You don’t often hear a racial argument that says a black actor shouldn’t get a role over a white one, but that’s been the story behind the decision to cast Idris Elba as Roland Deschain in the highly anticipated The Dark Tower. While some say that he simply isn’t right for the part, a lot of critics are pointing to the fact that, in the Steven King’s source material, Roland’s race (Caucasian) is a focal point. Now, supporters of the decision have said that “focal point” is stretch and that the change can be handled easily, but don’t expect that to relieve tensions. When asked about it, King stated, “He can be white or black, it makes no difference to me. I think it opens all kind of exciting possibilities for the backstory.”
3. Flatliners – Nina Dobrev
There’s really only two ways the upcoming remake of the 1990 cult-classic, Flatliners, can go. On the one hand, it could play on the campiness of the original and find a clever way to revisit that feel or, on the other hand, it takes itself and the concept too seriously. Technically, either route could be successful, but when it comes to casting decision of Nina Dobrev as one of the leads, only one option looks to bear fruit. If you’re a fan of Vampire Diaries, you will probably disagree, but Dobrev is a terrible dramatic actress. That being said, she was pretty damn good in The Final Girls because her style of acting blends in well with campiness. If Flatliners acknowledges that which made it great in the first place, Dobrev should fit in nicely. Otherwise, her acting chops are going to be badly exposed.
2. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets – Cara Delevingne
Put aside the fact that Dane DeHaan looks exactly the same in the trailer for upcoming film, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, as he did as the Green Goblin in The Amazing Spider-Man. That’s not the problem. In fact, DeHaan’s presence as lead in this film is why the decision to cast Cara Delevingne is the problem. It’s almost guaranteed to backfire. DeHaan is one of the most talented young actors in the business and the editors are going to be hard-pressed to fool people into thinking Delevingne can hold her own next to him. We aren’t alone in thinking that Delevingne is one of the worst out there, but that’s not all this movie has working against it. They also cast Rihanna. It’s official. Rihanna is apparently an actress.
1. The Great Wall – Matt Damon
Since it was announced, Matt Damon has taken some heat for accepting the role in The Great Wall. Yet, like Damon says, him taking the role isn’t affecting anyone else. “The whole idea of whitewashing, I take that very seriously,” he said. “It’s a monster movie and it’s a historical fantasy and I didn’t take a role away from a Chinese actor. It wasn’t altered because of me in any way.” We won’t question Damon’s honor here because it doesn’t seem like he’s in the wrong at all. That doesn’t change the fact that this movie looks insanely stupid. Since this movie takes place in China, you would think that the savior would be Chinese, but this is Hollywood after all. Only here does it make sense that the Chinese people would recruit a soldier from the streets of Boston to save their people.