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Let’s Get ‘Ocean’s Ocho’ Right

Ringer illustration
Ringer illustration

So you want to make an Ocean’s movie. That’s great! Only this time with women. That’s also great! And you got Sandra Bullock for the “Clooney” role. Sandy — a close personal friend — is great! And you got Cate Blanchett for the “Pitt” role. [extremely Kyle Chandler’s heteronormativity] I just want us to be a family again! And you’re calling it … Ocean’s Ocho? Under no circumstances!

Anyway, Ocean’s spinoff: This is a really good start. I love what you’re doing — and I’m proud of you, already, no matter what. But sometimes when I say “no matter what,” I don’t mean it. And this is one of those times.

Ocean’s Ocho: We have some notes.

1. Saw your title; hate it.

Eleven. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven. Fam: That’s the whole point of the movie. There are 11 of them. Do you honestly think that Sandra Bullock can’t handle 11 people? Sandra Bullock went from being a homeless teen to playing offensive line at Ole Miss. Sandra Bullock made a romantic drama with Keanu Reeves in which you can’t tell who’s who, and it’s definitely weird but still fine and just relax. Sandra Bullock has won an Oscar; gotten a hit out of pre-Deadpool Ryan Reynolds; VOWED NEVER TO STAR IN MUSICALS BECAUSE SHE HATES THEM; and invented ordering pizza online. So, you know, get out of here with Ocho. I speak Spanish; that’s eight. We’re doing 11.

2. Let Blanchett cook.

She’s won two Oscars. She’s played Katharine Hepburn, and the Queen, and someone Christian Bale got tired of fucking as a metaphor for convertibles or theoretical architecture or the beach or whatever. She’s one of this generation’s finest actors. She hasn’t done much comedy. Invariably, the temptation will arise to have her play the “straight man.”

Resist that temptation! That Blanchett is over. It was always only by reputation — but now, for anyone paying attention, it’s officially obsolete. It’s 2016. Cate Blanchett has unlocked the swag.

2010s’ Cate Blanchett is Carol in Carol, wearing three martinis and luxury fur and loud-whispering “Come thru” down Rooney Mara’s shirt. She’s Jasmine in Blue Jasmine, boat racing Xanax and negging San Francisco’s housing crisis with a smile. She’s Marissa in Hanna, brushing her gums until they bleed and walking out of a decorative animal’s jaw with a backup pistol aimed at a well-meaning orphan. 2010s’ Blanchett is big, swinging, unadulterated God mode — and she will steal this movie if given half a chance. She’s not your straight man. Let Cate cook.

3. Be major.

Gary Ross? I actually like Gary Ross a good amount — Pleasantville, Seabiscuit, sure why not — and even I can’t abide him directing this. You’ve got a Bullock–Blanchett team-up movie with the word “Ocean” in the title. Can’t we stop pretending this is an experiment — instead of a surefire-ass hit — and get someone major to direct?

While we’re at it, here’s one more question: Can we really not find a woman to direct the all-women’s Ocean’s spinoff??? (This same question goes for the Ghostbusters reboot.) It’s insane. Anyway, let’s kill two birds with one stone and make this 1,000 percent more exciting: There’s a female auteur out there who has not only won a directing Oscar — she’s also made one of the best heist movies of all time.

This one’s easy. Call Kathryn Bigelow.

4. Rob something cool.

A necklace from the Met Ball? Nah. Come on. Rob, like, a casino. Call me crazy, but I think it could work.

5. Jennifer Lawrence is not the answer.

Jennifer Lawrence has been rumored (and un-rumored and re-rumored) for weeks, but it’s time to get real: J-Law seems tired of franchise work — and honestly that’s fair. Let’s make sure we have an 11 that’s all in.

Here’s our supporting cast:

Mindy Kaling: Mindy Kaling has signed on, I like Mindy Kaling, dope.

Melissa McCarthy: Proven chemistry with Bullock, proven in an ensemble, the best comedic actor alive, and a genuine box-office draw.

Condola Rashad: Billions is currently the no. 1 rich people show on TV (I make up the rankings) and Condola Rashad might have been its first season’s MVP. Will be a movie star eventually; let’s make “eventually” now.

Martha Stewart: The old head.

The Olsen Twins: The money.

Rihanna: The Rihanna.

Dakota Johnson: Dakota Johnson is a genius, and her cadence is the humbling Hollywood deserves.

6. Bullock isn’t the Clooney.

I’m sorry — I know what I said at the top. And it’s true: Bullock is great, and everyone loves her. I love her. She did Speed 2 like a pro. I have a “Miss Congeniality sequel news” Google alert. The Heat is my Frances Ha.

But Bullock isn’t the Clooney.

Bullock is the Damon. I know you know that’s true, so let’s make this easy and move on.

7. Jennifer Lopez is the Clooney.

Steven Soderbergh cast Clooney in Ocean’s on the strength of an earlier collaboration: 1998’s Out of Sight. It’s easy to see why: Out of Sight is one of the best films of the ’90s, full stop — and represents a level that Clooney and Soderbergh arguably have yet to surpass. But Out of Sight also shares much of the essential Ocean’s DNA: hot people, stealing things, tropical clime — you can almost sense Soderbergh using it as a sort of blockbuster starter kit. On these terms, Clooney as Ocean was a no-brainer.

Also a no-brainer, to anyone who’s seen Out of Sight: Clooney only gives the second-best performance in it.

Jennifer Lopez is ICONIC in Out of Sight. She’s everything — and I mean that literally. You know how Out of Sight is one of those movies that gets a lot of mileage out of being “hard to pin down”? It’s smart, sexy, funny, tender, sad, exciting, romantic, and so on. It’s sui generis. Yeah, well: That’s Jennifer Lopez. J.Lo in Out of Sight is truly and galactically on one. J.Lo in Out of Sight is throwing pitches that don’t even exist — and then painting the corners with them. Again: Clooney is amazing in Out of Sight. And still there are parts where Lopez has to carry him. She seriously should have won an Oscar for it. Jennifer Lopez is better in Out of Sight than Meryl Streep has ever been.

And she deserves the Clooney part in Ocean’s Ocho more than anyone. Because she is the reason it’s the Clooney part at all.