Thursday, December 29, 2016

Damien Chazelle and Ryan Gosling to re-team for biopic of astronaut Neil Armstrong

Damien Chazelle has only directed three feature-length films, but he's quickly becoming one of the hottest filmmakers in Hollywood. After starting his career with the decidedly low-key Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, Chazelle burst onto everyone's radar with Whiplash, a Sundance breakout that was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars and won a Supporting Actor trophy for J.K. Simmons. When a director catches their big break at Sundance, they tend to be swallowed up by the major studios, who employ their services for a massive blockbuster of some sort. Think of how Colin Trevorrow, Jordan Vogt-Roberts, and even Rian Johnson to a lesser extent have all made the jump from the indie scene to some of the biggest movies around. That's not necessarily a bad thing for those directors or the films, but it certainly is a major trend in Hollywood. Thankfully, Chazelle opted for a different route, using his newfound clout to get a passion project produced. Of course, that project was La La Land, the miracle of a modern Hollywood musical that has taken the world by storm this year. It's currently the Oscar favorite, and it's looking like Chazelle has a pretty good shot of walking away with that Best Director trophy. But with the film now in theaters across the country, the question can be raised- what will Chazelle do next?

After three films, he's already one of the most acclaimed filmmakers on the planet and a potential Oscar nominee. Chazelle can pretty much do anything that he wants, and for his next project, he'll be heading to Universal to tackle a biopic of astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon back in 1969. And for this mission (pun intended), Chazelle will be turning to Ryan Gosling, the star of La La Land, to play the iconic figure. The film is entitled First Man, and it's based on a book by James R. Hansen, which follows the journey of Armstrong during the time of the space program. The script was written by Oscar-winning Spotlight screenwriter Josh Singer, and the story will reportedly follow a "visceral, first-person account" of Armstrong's journey during the tumultuous decade that ended with the first moon landing in history. According to the synopsis in The Wrap's report, this will be another chance for Chazelle to explore the cost of personal success, although it will be in a much different format than his previous music-driven films. First Man will reportedly shoot in early 2017, with no release date in sight at the moment.

Chazelle has become one of my favorite filmmakers, and with good reason. Whiplash is a fierce, blisteringly intense film, a simple drama that carries so much weight and tension that it plays more like a thriller. On the other hand, La La Land is a gorgeous musical, a bittersweet ode to old Hollywood and the dreamers of Los Angeles that I feel has a chance to become one of the defining screen romances of this generation. Chazelle is a brilliant visionary who is able to channel both nostalgic and modern sensibilities, and any project that he boards will have my attention. I love the idea of a biopic of Neil Armstrong, and I'm honestly surprised that nobody has done it yet. And with the astonishing year that Ryan Gosling has had, thanks to his roles in The Big Short, The Nice Guys, and Chazelle's musical, this movie is even higher on my watchlist. This is only the beginning for what will surely be a hotly-anticipated project, and I can't wait to hear more.

Source: The Wrap
Images courtesy of Lionsgate

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