Whether or not you’re working at home or in the office during the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s one thing that we all share in common — we’re all spending way more time indoors that usual. The added couch potato time has likely fed a lot of our interest browsing habits and (if you’re like me) has provided added opportunity to watch movies, movies and more movies.
Believe it or not, the University of Missouri has a pretty decent connection with the Hollywood community. It helps that one of the biggest movie stars of the past 30 years is one credit away from graduating (just get it done, Brad!), but it’s not on his strength alone. Mizzou actually boasts two more Oscar-winning actors as alumni (George C. Scott, who won for Patton in 1971 and Chris Cooper, who won for Adaptation, 2003) as well as a host of familiar faces like Jon Hamm, Kate Capshaw, Brent Briscoe, Robert Loggia and many others. You may not know these names by heart, but there’s a good chance you’ve seen many of their films.
So we, in our perpetual fight against boredom, decided that we might as well pick which of these films could make up the best box set of movies with Mizzou connections. We’re pleased to present the fruits of that exercise: The “Mizzou Movie” Box Set Draft!
Here are the rules!
- Each pick must have at least one connection to Mizzou through an actor, director, writer, etc. The only exception we’ll make is producers — production credits do not count!
- You cannot pick the same actor more than once unless the movie you’re choosing also has another tie to Mizzou. No loading up on Brad Pitt movies!
- Once a movie is picked, it’s off the board — no doubling up!
- The draft will operate like most fantasy drafts — snake-style. So the last person to pick in Round One will be the first to pick in Round Two. This will continue for five rounds.
Let’s get to it! First on the board is Nate Edwards.
Nate Edwards: Snatch (Brad Pitt). I understand that this is the “Eric Fisher to the Chiefs” level of Round 1 Pick 1 thought, but just like the Chiefs, I’m not drafting for you, I’m drafting for me. I understand that if you think, “Brad Pitt in an ensemble heist movie,” and you think the Ocean’s trilogy but Brad isn’t all that great, or prominent, in those films. Which is more Brad Pitt to you: suave criminal who eats all the time or unintelligible drunk who is a knock-out king in the boxing ring? Give me Snatch every day of the week and let the pikey ramblings lead you to sweet criminal bliss.
Josh Matejka: I have to hand it to Nate for sticking to his guns, but I really, really, really did not see Snatch going first in this draft — I didn’t even have it on my list! But I’ll gladly accept Nate’s choice because it leaves me with what should be one of maybe two or three unquestionable first round picks — Ocean’s 11 (Brad Pitt). Steven Soderbergh’s casino heist is a perfect movie, blending the suave drama of Rat Pack heist films with slick Hollywood meta-comedy. It’s also one of Brad Pitt’s best performances, making this endlessly rewatchable film a perfect header for my box set.
Karen Steger: I may have muttered an obscenity or two when Josh took my Brad Pitt pick (I JUST rewatched that movie!), but it all turned out okay because it meant that Anchorman (David Koechner) was still available! Koechner plays an asinine misogynistic sports reporter, Champ Kind (all-time name), and what more can you say about the guy who says things like, “It is an anchor MAN, not anchor LADY, and that is a scientific fact” or to Ron after he’s been spending too much time with his lady, “I need you. I’m a mess without you. I miss being with you. I miss being NEAR you. I miss your laugh! I miss your scent. I miss your musk. We should get an apartment.” I mean... that’s just absurd and hilarious.
Anchorman has all the makings of a great rewatchable— insane characters, fantastic comedic ensemble, action, infinitely quotable lines, and it’s just plain weird... and clearly worthy of a first round pick. Enough said.
Ryan Herrera: Major League (Tom Berenger) — This has to be the most rewatchable of all sports movies. Watching Rick Vaughn come to the mound with “Wild Thing” blaring on the speakers really gets the juices flowing — probably my favorite part of any scene of any sports movie. Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Wesley Snipes, and pretty much every one in this movie turned in some memorable performances, and holy cow was Bob Uecker just incredible as the Indians’ broadcaster. At over 30 years old, it’s one that definitely stands the test of time.
Ryan Herrera: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Kate Capshaw) — While not quite as beloved as the original Indiana Jones film, Temple of Doom still marks a high point in one of the top movie franchises in history. Harrison Ford’s franchises are the ones you can watch consistently and keep coming back for more. And come on, who will ever forget Short Round’s best line: “Okeedokee Dr. Jones, hold onto your potatoes!” Though this was Capshaw’s only role in the Indiana Jones films, and she even called her character, “not much more than a dumb screaming blonde,” this is still an easy movie to plop down on the couch and watch when you’re in a binge-watching mood.
Karen Steger: For Round 2, I went with another comedy with a fantastic cast and is perhaps the best female comedy of the decade (prove me wrong)— Bridesmaids, starring Mr. Jon Hamm. Hamm doesn’t do much in the movie aside from play a semi-villainous philanderer, Ted, but for someone who — up to this point in his career — was really only playing dramatic roles, it was great to see him play a complete idiot. At one point, Kristen Wiig’s Annie says to Ted, “I would rather get murdered out here than spend the next half an hour with you,” which really just goes to show that the movie isn’t about him. It’s clearly about the rest of the cast who really shines in this one, with awesome comedic performances from Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Melissa McCarthy, and Rose Byrne (whose comedy shtick always surprises me). Another endlessly rewatchable film for me, and no— I’m not picking all comedies.
Josh Matejka: No one has tapped Chris Cooper — possibly the best actor to come out of Mizzou — as of yet, and one of his biggest box office hits is still on the board — The Bourne Identity. The Bourne films capitalized on the Mission: Impossible wave by turning secret agent thrillers into grittier, more violent action flicks, and Chris Cooper was the perfect villain for the first entry. It also adds to the re-watchability of my set.
Nate Edwards: The Patriot (Chris Cooper). Is it good? No. Is it historically accurate? Absolutely not. Is it cringe-worthy playing America as the good guy and creating mini Hitlers out of the British? You bet! But even the least ardent patriots of this country can’t help but chant “U-S-A! U-S-A!” as Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger create family bonding moments by axe-murdering an entire company of His Majesty’s Royal Grenadiers.
As for Mr. Cooper, he plays Col. Harry Burwell (a Nathanael Greene replacement), the overwhelmed American rebel commander of the southern theater. Cooper is always great as “guy who wants to do good but is incapable of doing so and at the end of his rope” and of course nails it here. He’s like a parent taking care of a toddler on his own who can only get the kid to be still by watching Frozen but...just...can’t...stand to watch that damn movie even one more time...
...not that I’m pulling from personal experience or anything...
Nate Edwards: Scarface (Robert Loggia). Robert Loggia is great in Scarface. “Robert Loggia played a Cuban drug lord?” Yes, dear reader, the 1980s were a simpler time.
But really, I’m picking a Robert Loggia film only so I can shoehorn in the greatest commercial of all time. Behold:
Only one man in the world can turn a “sneak out of the house after a night of vigorous love-making before the rest of the family wakes up” escape into a seamlessly smooth lesson to young Billy about the values of consuming sugar water with orange with your daily breakfast. And look at the way the mom looks at our dear Bob...she remembers last night. Oh, she remembers. M-I-Z. Enjoy your breakfast. (Editor’s note: Did you pick a movie or are you just here to talk about a commercial, Nate?)
Josh Matejka: I’ve got another movie that I’d rather have, but I think it’ll fall to round four. So I’m going to take a risk and go with Inception (Tom Berenger). It’s probably the best film by Christopher Nolan, and the one that has culturally endured the most outside of The Dark Knight. It’s not as rewatchable as either of my first two choices, but it’s definitely the most cinematically polished. Best of all, it’s not pretentious — the dream within a dream within a dream stuff is mind-bending, but not so much that it’s a turnoff to more casual viewers.
Karen Steger: I’m appealing to the Rock M commentariat with this one, as I know y’all were just talking about this in the comments the other day. Next up, I pivot from comedy to the complete opposite with Training Day, a police crime thriller featuring Tom Berenger, Ethan Hawke, and a BAD DUDE played by Denzel Washington. Berenger’s part in this film is pretty small— he’s plays one of the higher ranking, seriously corrupt LAPD police officers they call the Three Wise Men— leaving the door open for the true stars of this movie. Washington, in his first role playing a bad guy, and Ethan Hawke both earned Academy Award noms (Denzel won) and definitely deserved it. As Washington’s Alonzo said, “King Kong ain’t got s— on me.” Mic drop.
Ryan Herrera: Fight Club (Brad Pitt) — Maybe not as rewatchable as my first two movies, but I’ll admit I was one of those people eager to watch it just because of the massive controversy around it. People either loved it or hated it. It seems like there’s really no in between. It really is more of a cult classic, not one that’ll go down as one of Pitt’s more glamorous roles but one that got the American public talking. Pitt was praised for his performance, rightfully so, and that twist on Tyler Durden’s identity is that cherry on top of this movie that should really get you thinking.
Ryan Herrera: Snakes on a Plane (David Koechner) — I think by far the most underrated movie you’ll see on this list, so criminally underrated that I almost forgot about it myself! The plot seems so implausible but it’s a fun thrill ride nonetheless. It’s not a movie you should really be worried about critiquing — the name of the movie is Snakes on a Plane for crying out loud — but just to sit back and watch Samuel L. Jackson work his magic. Koechner plays a secondary character as the co-pilot, but that’s not a bad thing. He is at his best in supporting roles, be it in this movie or others like Anchorman, Talladega Knights, Semi-Pro or Get Smart. It’s just one big, fun movie that’ll have you ready for action the moment Jackson utters his most famous NSFW line...
Karen Steger: Round 4 and I’ve yet to select a Brad Pitt role... Perhaps an odd choice on my part, but stay with me. With my 4th pick, I select the tearjerker and inspirational true story, Undefeated, winner of the 2012 Best Documentary Feature Academy Award, directed by Dan Lindsay. This film is about Manassas High School’s FOOTBALL (I’m using buzzwords to grab your football-starved attention) team in North Memphis, who, as of 2009, in its 110-year history, had never won a playoff game. The story centers around white head coach, Bill Courtney (Big Daddy Snowflake), who was brought in in 2004 to help the team, made up entirely of black athletes, reverse their fortunes, and the standout play and the lengths the coaching staff went to to help out OC Brown, a 315 pound 16-year old quiet kid who could bulldoze right through defenders, but had a heartbreaking home life. Sounds like another Blind Side, right? Kind-of, but even better. The human element to this documentary, and watching the team work through different life struggles individually is what makes it more than just a sports movie.
Dan Lindsay, as well as his co-director TJ Martin actually moved to Memphis to make the film, acting as both directors and editors, cutting some 500 hours of footage to 113 minutes. Living alongside their ‘characters’ in Memphis for so long led the film to have a familial quality to it. For the diverse film watcher, this documentary is a necessary part of my boxed set of awesomeness.
(side note: Dan Lindsay and I actually overlapped for several years at Mizzou, and I met him on a number of occasions — probably at Harpo’s — through a mutual friend).
Josh Matejka: My pick fell! I have to say thanks to you all for ignoring Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (George C. Scott) for this long. By adding this Kubrickian satire, I’m both diversifying my genres and eras and nabbing a film from one of the best directors of all time. Maybe I’m leaning too much into my love of film and not appealing to everyone, but if you leave a masterpiece on the table, I’m going to snatch it up.
Nate Edwards: Waiting (David Koechner). If you’ve never worked in food service you should absolutely see this movie. If you have worked in food service you’ve probably already seen this movie. No single piece of research or art has before, or since, come as close as Waiting did to display the trials and tribulations of your hourly food service worker. And just as Gary Cole nailed the middle manager of a cube farm, David Koechner consumes and amplifies the spirit of the restaurant manager: the community college degree, the power tripping, the inability to connect with his work force, the creepy usage of his power over the younger women, and the absolutely awful positive gimmicks paired with an inability to do the job of his employees. Everyone is excellent here, but Koechner is over-the-top elite.
Nate Edwards: Baby Driver (Jon Hamm). As a movie Baby Driver, the best movie with the worst name, works so well as an ensemble piece. But of the entire cast no one nails their role more than Jon Hamm does. It helps that he was involved in writing the character, sure, but Hamm’s performance is one of my favorites in an all-time awesome movie.
Josh Matejka: Honestly, this pick will probably lose me the draft because I only know three people who have ever watched Mulholland Drive (Brent Briscoe) and enjoyed it. But I couldn’t help myself — I love David Lynch and his bizarre stylings. If Dr. Strangelove wasn’t enough to appeal to the cinephiles out there, this should definitely help me snag the rest. Thank you to Brent Briscoe for appearing in this movie just so I could talk about it on Rock M Nation dot com one day.
Karen Steger: For my final pick, I had to go with my guy, Brad Pitt in the marvelously twisty-turny Quentin Tarantino-directed film, Inglorious Basterds. In what might be the best of Tarantino’s films, Basterds is part everything: WW2 film, short story, fantasy, drama, comedy, all while adding in that token QT gratuitous violence. It’s divided into 5 chapters, almost like a fairy tale, each one as awesome as the next... the fact that it happens to gloriously end with a great bit of revisionist history surrounding Hitler’s death makes it all the better. No one is claiming this is historically accurate, folks.
Pitt plays the leader of the Nazi hunters, Lt. Aldo Raine, complete with an over-the-top southern accent, and he is a delight. Pitt’s supporting cast is phenomenal too, led by the amazingly talented Christoph Waltz, playing a seriously sociopathic villain, and has great performances by Michael Fassbender, Eli Roth, and Zachary Quinto, among others. It’s a perfectly crazy and enjoyable film to round out my wide-reaching boxed set.
(Side note: I almost picked my favorite Brad Pitt movie ever here, but I was thinking no one would remember — or has seen — the 1996 movie Sleepers despite its all-start cast, and it is also super depressing)
Ryan Herrera: The Dark Knight Rises (Brent Briscoe) — As a fanatic of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises had to take this spot. The imaginative side of me loves the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I know that the truly great movies are the ones that feel like they could actually happen. Nolan’s trilogy is the most realistic of any superhero franchise out there, which makes these movies stand out among the rest. And The Dark Knight Rises was just the perfect way to end this era of Batman movies. Briscoe was a minor character here but even played that part well, being the veteran cop foil to Peter Foley’s smug attitude as Commissioner Gordon’s second-in-command. Just an incredible production from Nolan and Co. all around which came oh-so-close to matching the perfection that was The Dark Knight.
So here are the final box sets, y’all:
Nate Edwards: Snatch; The Patriot; Scarface; Waiting; Baby Driver
Josh Matejka: Ocean’s Eleven; The Bourne Identity; Inception; Dr. Strangelove or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb; Mulholland Drive
Karen Steger: Anchorman; Bridesmaids; Training Day; Undefeated; Inglorious Basterds
Ryan Herrera: Major League; Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom; Fight Club; Snakes on a Plane; The Dark Knight Rises
From here, we leave it up to you: Who built the best box set of Mizzou-connected movies?
Who built the best, "Mizzou Movie," box set?
This poll is closed