There are only six blockbuster movies still left on the schedule between now and Labor Day: Tenet (Christopher Nolan is going to pull a Newsroom at the first person who suggests the film comes out on VOD), Mulan, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, Wonder Woman 1984, Bill & Ted Face the Music (which barely counts as a “blockbuster,” but let me have this), and A Quiet Place Part II, already on its second release date. No wonder the internet went nutso over the first looks at Denis Villeneuve’s Dune. We’re starved for content (it’s our “the spice”) — and thirsty for the film’s cast, including Timothée “Timmy” Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Jason Momoa, Josh Brolin, and, most importantly, Oscar Isaac. Most importantly for me, at least.
me: I do not care about Dune, I will probably never care about Dune, cinema will be a dead by December
the internet: okay but Oscar Isaac is in it and looks like THIS
me: we need to SAVE cinema,,,it is CRUCIAL to to keep the machinery of society well lubricated,, pic.twitter.com/NC30qNR7ng
— joshua gutterman tranen (@jdgtranen) April 14, 2020
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say: Oscar Isaac, handsome man. Which makes it all the more baffling that he’s virtually unrecognizable in X-Men: Apocalypse, which might as well have been called X-Men: Anonymous for much I remember about it. I saw it opening night, and bits and pieces of it on cable afterwards, but four years later, the only thing I can recall about the movie is: why would you do THIS to Oscar Isaac?
It’s a classic example of hiring a famous hot person to play a role that could have been done by anyone, because you don’t see beneath the makeup and CGI. You’re paying for the goods, but not showing us them. (“The goods,” in this case, is Oscar Isaac’s beard.) I, an extremely shallow not-hot person, would have gladly played Apocalypse in an X-Men movie. Not for scale, though. I have too much pride for that. At least $2 million. Anyway, seeing all the Dune love led me to wonder if Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse is the most egregious example of a hot person being unrecognizable in a (recent) movie.
For this highly scientific exercise, I’m excluding any Hot People playing real-life figures (i.e. no Charlize Theron in Monster, Margot Robbie in Mary Queen of Scots, etc.) or animated movies, obviously, and mo-cap performances; also, they have to be actually unrecognizable. Michael Keaton — hot in the ’80s, still hot in the ’20s — is the pale-faced Ghost with the Most in Beetlejuice, but he’s still unmistakably Michael Keaton (that sounds meaner than I meant it to). Let’s go through some of the other possibilities.
Keri Russell in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
You: The Rise of Skywalker is a mediocre movie because of its pacing problems and silly plot twist and unearned emotional climax.
Me: The Rise of Skywalker is a mediocre movie because Keri Russell wears a helmet the entire time. While I’m happy that Russell got paid to be in a Star Wars movie, and she’s a talented physical actress with a pleasant voice, J.J. Abrams of all people should know better than to conceal her very famous hair. Rian Johnson would never.
Tom Hardy in The Dark Knight Rises / many movies
This piece might as well be dedicated to Tom Hardy, who apparently hates his face as much as we love it. As the Ringer wrote in 2018, “For whatever reason—a deep insecurity or just a pure love of characters in masks—Hardy’s upward trend toward full facial obscurity seems destined to continue. We can safely expect Tom Hardy to keep covering his face like he’s got a hickey or a hangover to hide, well into the future.” It was obscured in Dunkirk, it was obscured in Venom (when he wasn’t munching on a lobster, that is), it was obscured in The Dark Knight Rises, where we only see his full face, without the face-hugger over Bane’s mouth, for all of three seconds. Unacceptable.
Karen Gillan in Avengers: Infinity War / Endgame / Guardians of the Galaxy, etc.
Nebula is probably Karen Gillan’s most well-known role, but she’s rarely synonymous with the Marvel Cinematic Universe character, because so many people can’t tell it’s her. “I WAS TODAY’S OLD WHEN I FOUND OUT THAT NEBULA AND RUBY FROM JUMANJI ARE LITERALLY THE SAME PERSON WTF,” goes one tweet, while another adds, “I have just been informed that Amy Pond and Nebula are the same person and now my brain hurts.” Wait until that person finds out she was in Selfie, too.
Karl Urban in Dredd
I would also accept Sylvester Stallone in Judge Dredd, if you’re into codpieces.
Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire
Oh wait, Mrs. Doubtfire is based on a real person. Doesn’t count.
Ralph Fiennes in the Harry Potter movies
I can deal with the baldness and the “Saul Goodman in the most recent episode of Better Call Saul“-looking chapped lips and the blobfish skin, but it’s the nose. The nose is the thing that gets me.
[redacted] in [redacted]
Those are all bad, but honestly, this is a two (hot) person race.
Do you recognize who this is? I sent the image to three friends who a) find this individual very attractive, and b) saw the movie it’s from, and they all drew a blank. It’s Idris Elba, the one-time Sexiest Man Alive, in Star Trek Beyond. Krall (definitely had to look that character name up) makes Macavity look dignified by comparison, but is it worse than Oscar Isaac in X-Men: Apocalypse, the only other true competitor to “why would they do that to their beautiful face” throne? It is not. Oscar is the clear winner (loser?).
For two reasons:
1. Unlike Star Trek Beyond, and Avengers: Endgame, Harry Potter, The Dark Knight Rises, etc., X-Men: Apocalypse is a bad movie. I’m too busy enjoying Guardians of the Galaxy to be annoyed by Karen Gillan being unrecognizable, but all I could think about while watching Apocalypse is: why would they do this to Llewyn Davis? That’s probably not what the filmmakers were going for. The billboards only made a bad situation worse.
2. Here’s how Oscar Isaac described filming X-Men: Apocalypse:
“That was excruciating. I didn’t know when I said yes that that was what was going to be happening. That I was going to be encased in glue, latex, and a 40-pound suit that I had to wear a cooling mechanism at all times… I couldn’t move my head. And I had to sit on a specially designed saddle, because that’s the only thing I could really sit on, and I would be rolled into a cooling tent in-between takes. And so I just wouldn’t ever talk to anybody, and I was just gonna be sitting and I couldn’t really move, and like, sweating inside the mask and the helmet. And then getting it off was the worst part, because they just had to kind of scrape it off for hours and hours. So, that was X-Men: Apocalypse.”
Poor Oscar Isaac. X-Men: Apocalypse: the only movie that can make Dune look fun.