Welcome to the world of entertainment news, where our king, Taika Waititi reigns supreme. The Thor: Ragnarok director had a great time at Toronto International Film Festival and is already looking towards yet another project. Meanwhile, Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira are making moves at HBO Max, the 45th Saturn Awards announced its slate of winners and Amanda Seyfried settles into a cursed farmhouse for her upcoming Netflix role. Oh, and the Russo brothers talked a bit about their upcoming Mosul and recently established new studio.

Before we dive in, some very quick headlines because I’m either getting more long-winded or it was just a busy weekend – you decide!

  • Over at the 45th Deauville American Film FestivalAnn Silverstein’s Bull swept up Revelation Prize for best first film and the Critics’ Prize. Meanwhile the highly anticipated and trippy The Lighthouse was awarded the Jury prize in a tie with Michael Angelo Covino’s The Climb. 
  • Beyoncé’s TV documentary, Making a Gift snuck onto ABC Monday night, providing viewers with a behind the scenes look at the making of Queen Bey’s Lion King: The Gift soundtrack.
  • The writer and producer of The Dark Knight and DaVinci’s Demons, David S. Goyer has signed a multiyear TV deal with Skydance. Along with his Phantom Four banner, Goyer is set to create, develop and produce original content for the studio.
  • If you were to mention the most popular movie and show of this year, you’d correctly guess the major winner’s of this year’s Saturn awards. Yes, Avengers: Endgame, bagged six awards on the movie side of things. Game of Thrones, meanwhile, took home four, one of which being best performance by a younger actor on a television series for Maisie Williams’ portrayal of Arya “Put the Team on my Back” Stark. Arya “Hold my Beer” Stark. Arya “I’m No Lady” Stark. If you want a full rundown of the awards, check out Ed’s coverage here.

Anyway, if you check your watch, you’ll notice it’s five ’till Taika.

Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit hops on home with the TIFF top award

jojo rabbit taika waititi
Taika Waititi as Hitler in JOJO RABBIT

Jojo Rabbit is exactly as good as it looks, according to Toronto International Film Festival attendees – oh, and this People’s Choice award from the event. Seemingly chained to the zeitgeist, Taika Waititi and his upcoming satire picked up the honor on Sunday and takes a confident step into the early Oscar discourse.

If you haven’t heard of Jojo Rabbit, welcome to internet! Also, don’t ever make a Twitter account. The film stars Waititi as Adolf Hitler as he appears in a young boy’s imagination. Taking place during World War II, it’s being called an anti-hate comedy with a cast also including Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson and Thomasin McKenzie. 

Waititi tells the Hollywood ReporterJojo Rabbit is a story of tolerance and understanding set in a time that lacked both, and I hope in making this film we can remind ourselves that it’s still possible to connect with each other even under the most chaotic of circumstances—no matter what age, religion, race or gender. It was an incredible experience making this film and I’m happy the world had the opportunity to see it for the first time at TIFF.”

Hell yeah, Taika.

As if that’s not enough, Waititi also ran off with the festival’s TIFF Ebert Director Award with the premiere of Jojo Rabbit. Plebeians like us will have to wait – but not too long! It hits theaters October 18.

In other Taika Waititi news, Michael Fassbender is slated to star in the director’s next picture

Michael Fassbender
Photo by Gage Skidmore/WikiMedia Commons

Oh, you thought we were dong talking Taika, huh. Nope! On Friday, the news came out that Michael Fassbender is all set to star in Waititi’s upcoming Next Goal Wins. The film is based on an eponymous 2015 documentary which follows the underdog story of coach Thomas Rongen as he devotes himself to pulling his soccer team, American Somoa, out of obscurity and into the winner’s circle.

Waititi will direct and is writing the script along with The Inbetweeners creator Iain Morris. Like the aforementioned Jojo Rabbit, Next Goal Wins is distributed by Fox Searchlight.

Now if you’re keeping tally, Waititi has quite the plate ahead of him. As of now, his plans are to shoot this movie before Thor: Love and Thunder, which is set to begin production in early 2020 and, if you take one step further back in time, you’ll recall that his Akira remake was also pushed back as a result of the Disney doctrine.

The directors of the original documentary, Mike Brett and Steve Jamison are on board to produce with Garrett Basch along with Imaginarium and Jonathan Cavendish and Andy Serkis.

Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira are teaming up for an HBO MAX series

lupita nyong'o dani gurira
Lupita Nyong’o (photo by Daniel Benavides/WikiMedia Commons) and Danai Gurira (photo by Gage Skidmore/WikiMedia Commons)

No more Taika- promise!

Before returning for the Black Panther sequel, the Wakandan warriors are set to reunite in Americanah. The 10-episode limited series stars Lupita Nyong’o while her cohort Danai Gurira handles the pilot script and showruns. Both will executive produce the show.

Per Deadline, Nyong’o has hoped to bring this project into production for quite awhile. Based on a novel of the same name by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the story follows the relationship between a young Nigerian woman named Ifemelu (Nyong’o) and her classmate, Obinze. Hoping to escape the military reign in their homeland, the couple heads to America. Ifemelu makes it; Obinze does not. Separated, Ifemelu is forced to deal with what it means to be black while Obinze, given no other option, heads to London as an undocumented immigrant.

Having first stepped into fame after snagging the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress with her 12 Years a Slave performance, this project is a fitting next step.

Americanah has been a passion project for me since I read Chimamanda’s beautiful novel in 2013. It’s a tale that is simultaneously timely and timeless,” Nyong’o says, “HBO Max is the perfect partner to bring this profound and celebrated story to life, and I’m thrilled that Danai will bring to the project her intelligence, wit, and understanding of the stories and the worlds of Americanah.”

The series is a collaboration between Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment, Nyong’o’s Eba Productions and D2 Productions.


Amanda Seyfried eyes the lead for Netflix’s Things Heard and Seen 

amanda seyfried
Photo by Glenn Francis/Wikimedia Commons

Coming hot off of the Blumhouse horror flick You Should Have Left, Amanda Seyfried has lined up her next film for the genre: Netflix’s Things Heard and Seen. It’s a supernatural thriller which is an adaptation of All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage; a book with tonal similarities to the streamer’s spooky hit series, Haunting of Hill House. 

Building on those parallels, Things Heard and Seen also fixates on a locale with a mysterious past. In this case, the movie kicks off as Seyfried’s character and her husband move into a farm in upstate New York. Where a murder happened. Yes, it’s cursed and, no, neither character has ever seen a horror movie. As the occult makes itself more apparent, so do the couple’s marital flaws.

Other names attached to the project include writer/directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini (American Splendor, 10,000 Saints) and producers Anthony Bregman, Stefanie Azpiazu, Peter Cron and Julie Cohen. The crew is set to begin production later this fall.

The Russo Brothers’ next project is Mosul: an arabic-language war film

Back at Toronto International Film Festival, though flying a bit under the radar compared to their fellow Marvel mastermind Taika Waititi, Joe and Anthony Russo premiered Mosul. According to an interview with the Toronto Sun, it’s the first in the brothers’ effort to step away from the high-octane and make films that “dig deeper on a global storytelling level.” Bold move coming from the guys who decided they were the perfect entry point for the MCU’s first queer character.

In large contrast to the films that made them, Mosul grounds itself in real life drama. Adapting a New Yorker article titled The Desperate Battle to Destroy ISIS by Luke Mogelson, the story follows an Iraqi swat team that fought back against ISIS in its 2016 terrorist efforts.

World War Z writer Matthew Michael Carnahan was tapped to script and direct the film, while Mohamed Al-Daradji is set to executive produce alongside the Russos.

Mosul will also be the first film produced under their independent studio, AGBO. Joe told the Toronto Sun a bit about what the two hope to achieve with this project, and future ones under this banner: “We certainly love telling stories on the Marvel scale, because we do think you can infuse those films with themes that are compelling and interesting and you can reach people all over the world with those stories. But this is who we are. We are politically-minded, global citizens. We are in a difficult time right now where we are divided into two groups: those looking out for themselves and those who are looking out for the community. We want to look out for the community and help tell stories that reflect the community.”

Correction: this section previously stated the incorrect title of the original New Yorker article and the film’s release date, though Mosul is still an acquisition title. 

A few trailers trickled out onto the internet this weekend

Typically, the phrase post-apocalyptic Netflix series wouldn’t arouse much excitement. But Daybreak, as you can surmise from this first trailer, has just enough of twist that it may stand out. Namely, that twist is the always fun addition of teen drama. After a nuclear blast renders adults catatonic, the world is left as a teenage wasteland. The local high school fractures along the lines of its cliques, pitting the Mad Max-esque jocks against Amazonian cheerleaders while our team of ragtag outcasts does its best to survive. Also, there’s a Kendrick Lamar track over this trailer.

Daybreak stars Colin Ford, Austin Crute, and Alyvia Alyn Lind. It hits Netflix on October 24.

Examining the life and legacy of Marie Currie, Radioactive also dropped its first teaser this weekend. The Marjane Satrapi directed picture stars Rosamund Pike as one of science’s most important women in a time when her presence in a lab was unheard of. Anya Taylor-Joy also makes an appearance as Irene Currie with Aneurin Barnard as Paul Langevin. Radioactive also adapts the eponymous graphic novel by Lauren Redniss. 

Another true story, Ford v Ferrari that spins out of the aftermath of Ford’s attempted buyout of Ferrari in 1963. Eventually, Matt Damon as Carroll Shelby becomes determined to build a car that can outpace the Ferrari and its driver, Ken Miles (Christian Bale). The flick is directed by James Mangold with a script by Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth and Jason Keller. See who wins when Ford v Ferrari hits theaters on November 15. Or, alternatively you could look it up because history, but that’s no fun.

That’s all for this week! Tune back in on Friday for the much anticipated return of Edward Douglas, probably with some more Taikia Waititi news, on Studio Coffee Run.