Back in July, when I infamously spawned Battle of the Toms in honor of Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks during their shared birthday week, it was intended to be an exercise rooted in nostalgia and critical re-appraisal. Times were simpler then, even just back just a few months ago. In the heat of a second COVID-era summer, what other things were there to talk about in the movie-scape? (It was a barren wasteland other than The Green Knight). While the conclusions and conversations around that thought exercise ranged from mildly controversial on up to downright hellfire fury-inducing, I stand proudly by the rigorous rubric I developed (and ultimately clung to for dear life) as my friends and family abanonded all regard for my liveihood and humanity when I crowned Cruise over Hanks. Time will tell whether that decision will age with any semblance of grace -- I'm not really counting on it (unless M:I 7 and Top Gun: Maverick manage to take over the world).
But we're not here to make friends. We're here to talk about capital-F Film. We're here to here to investigate. We're here to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before. No, wait that's just a quote from Star Trek, lol. Look at me just inadvertantly turning to the winner of the Chris Wars (Chris Pine for you uncultured swine who don't know that) to segue away from discussionaround my declared champion in the Battle of the Toms!! But the essence of that piece of Trekkie advice holds true: we are implored to explore all things cinema.
Well, today is a new today. And this month is a new month. Movies are friggin' BACK, and we have a lot to talk about. Regrettably, most our film-content-related discussion is on hold, because we are in the midst of a bubbling-under-the-surface-but-soon-to-be-smoldering-and-all-consuming pop culture conversation that very well could define our times as we know it.
And while today might be a new day, today is a also big day. After over a year of delays, both Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch and Denis Villeneuve's Dune will be premiere in theaters today. First of all, think about that for a second. They're being released on the same day, in the same month, of the same year. Now I'm not assuming anything about how well these movies will be in their deliverance, but I am confident in saying that this is, generally speaking, a pretty big deal overall. Anderson and Villeneuve Anderson are two of the biggest, auteurist directors working today, and I'm confident that both of these projects will have some staying power in the public conscious for at least awhile.
By the way, before I forget to mention this, Timothée Chalamet is the lead in both films. Ever heard of him? Well, you most likely have. Whether it be from his most recent odssey of press junkets or from some of his star-making performances over the past half-decade, he is without a doubt one of the most talented, young actors working in the film world today.
Have I buried the lead here? Just hang tight, okay? But back to the point -- movies are back! Everyday it seems great, new stuff is either being released or promoted. Take yesterday: on the eve of one of the biggest days in big, star-studded movie releases in recent memory, a trailer unexpectedly dropped that headlines another young, up-and-coming star. Ruben Fleischer's long-in-development Uncharted movie released its first trailer yesterday, which of course, stars everyone's friendly neighborhood Tom Holland. Ya know? Fucking Spider-Man. He's kind of a big deal -- people know him.
So not only can we say with confidence that movies are back, but I'll take it a step further and say that pettiness is back, too (and maybe even feuding?). Is this timing remotely suspicious to anyone else? Am I just reading the public-facing tea leaves incorrectly or is something brewing here? Let's throw on our Conspiracy Cape and consider this highly coincidental bit of Hollywood Hubbub (honestly, no one steal that because that could honestly be the name of the worst/best movie podcast ever created). Here's what I'm postulating:
There is a somewhat trivial, non-malicious, but very real rivalry brewing between Timothée Chalamet and Tom Holland. No I'm serious about this one, gals and guys! Don't dismiss this just yet. Please here me out.
There's more to this than you might initially realize or remember. Back in February of this year, in promotion of his new movie, Cherry, Holland was profiled in Esquire magazine. In the article, it is mentioned that Timothée Chalamet, along with a thousand other auditioning competitors, were passed over to be the next Spider-Man; Holland would go on to appear in the new batch of stand-alone Spider-Man movies, as well as some of the biggest Marvel Cinematic Universe films (and of the decade) It is also revealed by Holland that Chalamet "has since become a good friend." Umm okay? But am I actually inclined to believe that? That's a pretty vague and just-so-you-know way of dropping that piece of info -- especially coming from the person who had the better audition and got the part. Idk, maybe that just doesn't pass my sniff test -- it seems like a half-baked, lukewarm pleasantry -- aka it kind of smells of bullshit to me.
Around the same time that Esquire article came out, there was a lot of buzz about the pre-production and casting for the Willy Wonka origin story, wherein Chalamet and Holland were both auditioning for the titular lead; Chalamet was ultimately selected for the part in May. While this doesn't seem to be red flag on the surface, it does create another level of competitive juxtaposition between these two fellas. Maybe I'm just over-thinking this?
BUT ALSO... There is a critical detail to this story that I have failed to mentioned to this point -- and that critical, talented and beautiful detail is the lovely Zendaya. Wait, "who is Zendaya?" you ask? Ha psych, you're not definitely not asking me that. If anything you're asking me, "who isn't Zendaya?" Because Zendaya is, has been, and will be everywhere for until further notice. And let me say this straight away: she is anything but just a detail. Here's a brief Zendaya history lesson just in case you need it: she starred on Disney Channel's Shake It Up, was runner-up on season 16 of Dancing with the Stars (and lost to Kellie Pickler which was some Grade-A poppycock), sang and danced with Zac Efron and Hugh Jackman in The Greatest Showman (hold that thought), sat and watched John David Washington dance in Netflix's quarantine-drama Malcolm & Marie, and voiced Lola Bunny in LeBron's pitiful Space Jam: A New Legacy (good thing he got bounced in Round 1 of the NBA playoffs so he had plenty of time to prepare for this flop). Oh, and Zendaya portrays MJ in the new Spider-Man series, Peter Parker's love interest, which includes the forthcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home (set to release this winter) alongside... uh duhhh, Tom Holland -- whom she is (most likely?) dating. That's right. (Disclaimer: Let me say this now before I never have an opportunity to say it again: they are seeminlgy very cute together, appear to have a happy and healthy relationship(ish), and I wish them nothing but the best (sincerely)). Are you not buying what I'm selling here?
Now enter in the Dune press tour along with all the revelations that have come with the heightened publicity swirling around them. I can't believe I haven't mentioned this small nugget of information until now: Zendaya will be starring in Dune alongside... you remember... ah yes, Timothée Chalamet. Are you starting to notice any sort of trend or entanglement yet???
In their interviews, Zendaya and Chalamet have not only commented on their instant chemistry on screen, but they've clearly become legit close friends throughout the entirety of the Dune process. There's plenty of eyebrow-raising evidence to consider here:
Are you not getting a vibe? I mean c'mon. Is your head spinning yet?????
Maybe this is all conjecture and is a poorly composed piece of speculative gossip. And maybe this is all smoke and no fire. But I will say, I've just called attention to a shitload of smoke. Therefore, I'm refusing to source out the supporting evidence I just used in this article for two reasons: (1) this sort of conspiratorial ponitification is public domain as far as I'm concerned, especially when it concerns Zendaya's well-being and (2) I don't need to sit here convincing you of anything -- it's blantantly obvious that in some capacity and to some degree, Timothée Chalamet and Tom Holland are circling one another. There is so much young-pup, testerone-fueled energy that it's disarming. There's more juice here than a double-stuffed Gusher. These two are feverishly swimming laps in the same pool within our cultural waterpark -- in pursuit of the same roles that just-so-happen to be co-starring one of the most influential young women of current day -- and we're just sitting back litigating whether Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks had a better career? What the fuck is wrong with me? This now takes precedent.
There is a fascinating interplay between their career arcs and their creative interests seem simultaneously interwoven and contradictory. Needless to say, it's worth investigating.
Compared to the Battle of the Toms, I'm going to keep this section brief. This is comparison is a different assignment for too many reasons to state. Here are two, 25-year old actors in the peak of their young primes with their whole careers in front of them -- basically, none of this is final and with so much on the horizon, the results of this experiement might be woefully outdated in a few months time. Still, there is an undenaible and fascinating interplay between their respective filmographies and creative interests; two barely-Millenial-eligible rising stars whose career arcs seem interwoven but also contradictory. Needless to say, it's worth investigating.
In order to substantiate some chiseled objectivity, I've developed a series of movie-related categories to help measure the majority of both Timmy and Tommy's complete body of work and notable achievements (to this point). Each category will hopefully be stringent enough to aid in reasonable comparison but also fluid enough to allow for some degree of variance. When necessary, I'll spell out the limitations of my analysis (whether it's because I haven't seen some of the movies or because I made some sort of an executive decision). Here are the five categories we'll be working through:
It's time to establish a baseline. Timmy vs. Tommy -- a new chapter begins now.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: using the Golden Globes, Oscars, or any other film guild / award ceremonies can be a frivolous tool for comparison because these institutions are (for the most part) frivolous. However, their outcomes can "provide an important measuring stick for the drum beat of movie culture at a particular moment in time" -- is what I've previously said when analyzing the Battle of the Toms. We'll utilize these data points again, even if we're only going back a decade or less this time. I've chopped a lot of sub-categories to better account for the body of work from these two actors.
Nominated for an Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, SAG Award * Chalamet: 10 times * Holland: 1 time
Won an Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, SAG Award * Chalamet: 0 times * Holland: 1 time
Acted in a Film Nominated for Best Picture * Chalamet: 1 time * Holland: 0 times
Acted in a Film that Won Best Picture * Chalamet: 0 times * Holland: 0 times
Awards and Nominations Tally * Chalamet: 39 wins (92 nominations) * Holland: 17 wins (36 nominations)
Final Tally * Chalamet: 50 [+1] * Holland: 19
This category embodies an important career-arc-distinction between Chalamet and Holland to this point in their careers. Plainly said, Holland has been working primarily in a box office sphere, while Chalamet has been working on projects with aspirations for critical acclaim. Being attached to the MCU doesn't lend itself to much Oscar Buzz (but it does pay the bills). Holland has been an American Sweetheart but he hasn't been a mainstay on the award circuit; his recent attempts at more serious, high-brow cinema have been a series of misfires for the most part (The Devil All the Time, Chaos Walking and the aforementioned, Cherry), and he hasn't been able to break free of his Peter Parker persona since donning the Spidey suit. Conversely, Chalamet's savvy role selection and exemplary acting range in a few excellent critical darlings (Lady Bird, Beautiful Boy, Little Women, and of course, Call Me By Your Name) immediately launched him into the Oscars spin cycle -- it seems the question of when he wins Best Actor is a matter of "when?" rather than "if?" -- for the forseeable future. As of now, Chalamet owns this category, but it will be interesting to see if Holland shapeshifts and ring chases in the next phase of his career.
These two haven't been in enough movies to scrape the upper echelon of box office glory yet (or they work in an era where less people are going to the movie theater and instead stream everything from the comfort of their home). Even still, I'm using three sub-categories to broadly capture their profitability as A-listers to date1.
Top Stars at the Domestic Box Office Based on total amount of domestic revenue generated by all the movies a star has appeared in over their lifetime. * Chalamet: ranked 3,425th -- $426,914,460 (18 movies; $23,717,470 avg) * Holland: ranked 121st -- $2,948,739,845 (24 movies; $122,864,160 avg)[+1]
Top Stars at the International Box Office Based on the total amount of international revenue generated by all the movies a star has appeared in over their lifetime. * Chalamet: ranked 2,291st -- $794,859,188 (18 movies; $44,158,844 avg) * Holland: ranked 51st -- $5,926,168,289 (24 movies; $246,923,679 avg) [+1]
Top Stars at the Worldwide Box Office Based on the total amount of worldwide revenue generated by all the movies a star has appeared in over their lifetime. * Chalamet: ranked 2,291st -- $794,859,188 (18 movies; $67,876,314 avg) * Holland: ranked 51st -- $5,926,168,289 (24 movies; $369,787,839 avg) [+1]
Final Tally * Chalamet: 0 * Holland: 3 [+1]
These rankings and financial returns don't mean much in a vacuum, but under the umbrella of this exercise, it is without question that Holland has completely the dominated the box office compared to Chalamet as of today. His participation in the MCU and the stand-alone Spider-Man movies alone are enough to propel him past most of peers (Chalamet included). I don't expect this trend to end any time soon for Holland either; he's got another Spidey movie coming in December and Uncharted (as whack as that might potentially be) coming early next year. What is interesting is that maybe Chalamet closes the gap -- starting today. It's expected that Dune will be the most financially successful film he's made so far, and I'll be there will be at least one or more sequels coming down the pipeline if all goes well with this one. And lest we forget, Chalamet will also be starring in Wonka, slated to release in 2023. There's a clear emphasis on making him a bankable star, so we'll have to see how that plays out going forward. For now, Spider-Man will continue to rake in a lot of green, and so will Holland.
This is usually where things get a little gnarly. Not only are we relying on more subjective assessment, but this time, we can only look at a decade's worth of movies. We're going to use the audience and critic scores from both both actor's ten or so best movies (as measured on Metacritic, Rotten Tomatoes, etc.) like I have previously; I am again going to draw a distinction between scoring that incorporates Holland's franchise work from scoring that negates it. His involvement with the MCU should contribute to his overall score, but we need to try and fairly weigh it against the rest of his filmography (I'll replace those superhero movies with some of his other movies). Let me also note that Dune and The French Dispatch are not included in Chalamet's score for the sake of recency bias (plus I haven't seen either of them yet and I have integrity within this process waddup).
Critics' Top 10 Films (with Holland's MCU movies) * Chalamet: 70.40 [+1] * Holland: 65.28
Audience's Top 10 Films (with Holland's MCU movies) * Chalamet: 74.88 * Holland: 75.55 [+1]
Critics' Top 10 Films (without Holland's MCU movies) * Chalamet: 70.40 [+1] * Holland: 59.84
Audience's Top 10 Films (without Holland's MCU movies) * Chalamet: 74.88 [+1] * Holland: 71.11
Final Tally * Chalamet: 3 [+1] * Holland: 1
This might be a surprise for people. It certainly was for me. While I thought there was a good chance that Chalamet would be the presumptive frontrunner for the critics' sub-categories (he's been a critical favorite as we saw in the earlier Acting Awards & Accolades sub-category), I was surprised he beat Holland in 3/4 sub-categories. Holland won the Audience's Top 10 sub-category when his MCU movies were included, but otherwise, Chalamet cleaned up. While the superhero movies are a positive mark on Holland's total film resume, they still are only mildly revered by critics and exceedingly hot and cold with audiences. While Holland's Spider-Man does have a remarkably high approval rating, I think the jury is still out on how overwhelmingly great the movies have been (regardless of whether or not he's great in them). When you sprinkle in some other questionable choices he's made outside of the MCU (and that is putting it kindly), it's not surprising that his Critics' Top 10 score bottoms out while his Audience score does not. He's a beloved young talent with a ton of potential, so I only expect these numbers to climb. In the meantime, Chalamet holds a comfortable lead on this category (and again without the inclusion of Dune, The French Dispatch, and the Adam McKay's Don't Look Up, which is the acclaimed director's new project set to be released on Netflix in December).
Working with the best directors that Hollywood has to offer is oftentimes a bellwether for success on the big screen. The goal here is to distill down these two actors' filmographies and attempt to extrapolate an indicator of prestige from some of the notable directors they have worked with (in some cases several times over) in order to measure whether Timmy or Tommy hitched their wagon to more accomplished, thoroughbred talent. By using the list Best Director Oscar Nominations over the years and comparing it to each actors' list of movies, we'll hopefully be able to derive some measurement of "director clout," and we'll see which who garnered more opportunity and reverence from our best working directors. For the sake of this category, I included directors from upcoming projects (those about to be released and/or in post-, mid-, or post-production) just to gain a larger sample size.
Chalamet's Top-Tier Directors (Number of Best Director nominations) A. McKay (2); J. Reitman (2); W. Anderson (1); G. Gerwig (1); C. Nolan (1); D. Villeneuve (1)2
Holland's Top-Tier Directors (Number of Best Director nominations) R. Howard (2)
Chalamet's Other Notable Directors L. Guadagnino; P. King; D. Michôd
Holland's Other Notable Directors J. A. Bayona; J. Gray; S. Knight; A. & J. Russo; J. Watts
Final Tally * Chalamet: 8 nominations (6 different directors + 3 other) [+1] * Holland: 2 nominations (1 different directors + 5 others)
I'll be the first to admit that this category doesn't totally transfer over from the Battle of the Toms exercise. I'm not going to spend a lot of time mulling over these results, but I will say that Chalamet's next three movies are directed by (sorry to repeat myself) Wes Anderson, Denis Villeneuve, and Adam McKay. For that alone, I think he undoubtedly wins this category.
This category is dealer's choice, and I'm the dealer. I'm sure you'll disagree but because we're only dealing with nine years of movies, I will go through the extra work of defending each choice (for transparency's sake).
Final Tally * Holland: 5 [+1] * Holland: 4 * N/A: 1
No need for further explanation here - Holland outlasts Chalamet in this category because while Chalamet's filmography might be more diverse, Holland has just been consistently present in almost every year since 2015 (thanks to that brilliantly-timed, corporatized movie release schedule). The next ten years of this back and forth will be fascinating to watch.
There are no real winners and losers here (except for my editor and readers, all of whom had to endure this 4,000+ word write up) -- both Tom Holland and Timothée Chalamet are crazy talented and will have extremely decorated, sucessful careers up on the silver screen for many years to come. My only hope is that this op ed will add fuel to this budding rivalry for the better. And maybe Zendaya will read this and provide some notes -- that would be chill.
Final Tally * Chalamet: 3 * Holland: 2
Timmy vs. Tommy -- Round 1 goes to Chalamet.