This week, the theme for Wanderer's Thursday Movie Picks Meme is movies starring people who died in 2016. 2016 was, unfortunately, a hard year for the business of film making. We lost so many iconic names it's hard to keep track. Some of them were people we didn't even realize were sick, or in some cases I didn't realize were even still alive. There has been a lot of commentary on just how many people we lost last year. In fact as New Years approached I heard a lot of talk about how there was going to be at least one more death before the year ended.
If it's any consolation there was one positive death that happened in 2016. We lost a lot of amazing people and that's unfortunate. But at least amidst all the performers we lost last year, there was one person that we're glad is finally dead: Ramsay Snow. So far he has been quite possibly the most evil character on the show, bad enough that he made Joffrey look okay (that's no easy feat). Say what you will about Joffrey, at least he was too selfish to have much of an impact anywhere outside of King's Landing. Ramsay Snow was like Joffrey but with intelligence to go along with it. And it just so happens that in 2016 he finally met his end at the hands of Sansa Stark. I don't think very many people will be missing him.
Anyway, I have been tasked with listing films that featured actors we lost in 2016. Now I could just pull out any random film that happens to feature someone we lost during the year, but I've decided to do something more meaningful. Here is what I've come up with...
The Producers (1968)
This weird satire of Hollywood's business practices marks a first on two fronts. It was the directorial debut of Mel Brooks, but it also started the career of one of his regular partners: Gene Wilder. The two would go on to work together in a number of films, with Wilder also getting recognition for playing the role of Willy Wonka. In The Producers, Wilder played a bumbling accountant who accidentally figures out a scheme by which theater producer Zero Mostel can make more money from a flop than a hit. Hilarity ensues as the two set off to produce the worst possible play (Springtime for Hitler), only to do such a good job they accidentally turn it into a huge hit. Sadly, Wilder died last year, and he was one of the last remaining members of Brooks' crowd (the director himself seems to be the only survivor now).
Star Wars (1977)
An interesting career path for Carrie Fisher, who both began and ended her acting career with the Star Wars franchise. Her big break came from playing the role of Princess Leia in the film that launched an entire franchise in 1977, and her final acting role will be in December when she returns as Leia for Star Wars: Episode VIII. The role of Leia is somewhat dated today. Her main function in Star Wars is clearly the damsel who gets kidnapped at the beginning and is eventually rescued by a group of white men.
For the time, on the other hand, Leia was a big deal. She was able to take action, could hold her own in a fight, and managed to resist repeated Imperial Interrogations to protect the Rebel Alliance. She was also established to be a figure of authority (although this could have been shown more often). She also got a few moments to herself in Return of the Jedi, most notably the fact that she single-handedly murders the most powerful crime lord in the galaxy. Naturally, it was great to see her return for The Force Awakens, where she becomes a general for the resistance and a mentor figure of sorts. Incidentally, before she died Carrie Fisher did approve of Leia's brief cameo at the end of Rogue One.
Eye in the Sky (2016)
This was Alan Rickman's last movie, and as far as I'm aware he didn't even live to see its release. In this film, Alan Rickman plays an army officer who becomes one of several people overseeing the surveillance of a terrorist meeting and a possible missile strike. This was an interesting film for showing an aspect of modern warfare that is often overlooked: the use of drones and the ethics that come with it. More specifically, Rickman is one of several people who struggle to deal with the bureaucracy that comes with the moral dilemma involved: weighing the risk of civilian casualties with the possibility of eliminating a group of dangerous terrorists. A variety of different perspectives are offered ranging from ethical to propagandist agendas as everyone tries to figure out the correct course of action in a situation where there doesn't seem to be a right answer.