Trailer Face-Off: Fifty Shades of Grey vs. Nightcrawler

Published July 31, 2014

Welcome to Thursday Trailer Face-Off, a feature in which we cast acritical eye on two similar upcoming film releases, pitting them againsteach other across a variety of categories to determine which is mostdeserving of your two hours. This week: Fifty Shades of Grey vs. Nightcrawlers: Two films about featuring handsome men, who have been somehow made to look less handsome, with dark obsessions.PremiseBiting one’s nails, watching reality television, eating an entire jar of Nutella with a spoon at 2 a.m… everyone has their less-than-stellar private habits. The upcoming films Nightcrawler and Fifty Shades of Grey both revolve around the secret, thrill-seeking hobbies of their male protagonists; these activities are a little darker than the ones that we mentioned—videoing violent crime scenes and BDSM, respectively—but they could always be worse. Christian Grey is a wealthy, attractive, 27-year-old businessman, the head of a large corporation that does… something lucrative. When 21-year-old Anastasia Steele interviews Mr. Grey for her college newspaper, he is polite, but enigmatic. Anastasia is drawn to him, but doesn’t think she’s attractive enough to warrant his attention. Fortunately (we guess) Mr. Grey is infatuated with the virginal Anastasia as well, and he asks her to sign a contract so they can begin a sexual relationship. Things happen, and Anastasia doesn’t sign the contract. Christian and Ana begin the spanking anyway.

While Fifty Shades of Grey is based on the highly successful novel of the same name, Nightcrawler is an original work of fiction (Nightcrawler the comic-book character is not featured in the film). A man named Lou Bloom gets involved in crime journalism in Los Angeles and quickly discovers he’s pretty good at reporting gruesome murders. From there, he manages to get himself a job in television news and becomes famous enough to repeat his catchphrase (“If you want to win the lottery, you have to make the money to buy the ticket”) five times within 90 seconds. Lou seems pretty weird to begin with, but he gets a lot more unhinged as the trailer progresses and, by the end, has possibly started murdering people. Most young adult books and a lot of pornos involve a naïve little girl falling for an attractive, rich, and potentially poisonous man; a murderous crime reporter is almost novel in comparison. Advantage: Nightcrawler

Leading MenLet’s not dance around the good stuff—people are interested in these two films for two main reasons: Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey and Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou Bloom (a few people might be interested in Nightcrawler for the plot, but shhh). Dornan, a former model from Northern Ireland, looked extremely handsome on the cover of our June/July issue, with his masculine beard and smattering of chest hair. In the Fifty Shades of Grey trailer, Dornan is free of all body hair and looks a bit like Joshua Jackson circa the early Pacey years. Oh, Hollywood, what have you done? That said, even Jamie-Dornan-the-’90s-teenager looks better than Jake Gyllenhaal with greasy hair and serial-killer eyes, and The Fall proved he isn’t a bad actor, so…Advantage: Fifty Shades of Grey

Leading LadiesBoth of these films contain women (zero points). There are more women in Fifty Shades of Grey (at least five!) than in Nightcrawler (only Rene Russo), but something tells us most of their conversations will revolve around boys and bondage, which can get a bit boring after a while. We do, however, like Jennifer Ehle and Marcia Gay Harden, and are curious to see how Dakota Johnson handles this potential-star making role, and whether Rita Ora is as bad an actress as we assume.Advantage: Fifty Shades of Grey

DirectorDan Gilroy wrote and directed Nightcrawler, and is married to Rene Russo. It’s his first film a director, but he’s written quite a few screenplays, including Two for the Money (2005), The Fall (2006), and The Bourne Legacy (2012). Fifty Shades of Grey is Sam Taylor-Johnson’s second feature  as a director, but her first one, Nowhere Boy, was well received and she was a pretty cool member of the ’90s YBA movement before that.Advantage: Fifty Shades of Grey

Odds of SuccessIf Nightcrawlers is unsuccessful, it will be forgotten instantly; if Fifty Shades of Grey flops, it will flop spectacularly—a catastrophe that no one saw coming. The book has a lot of fans (it has sold over 100 million copies), which could work against it if they are displeased, but how could they be? None of them would describe the book as well written or the characters as developed. Like the material on which it’s based, Fifty Shades of Grey the film doesn’t have to be good, it just has to be vaguely compelling and contain a lot of sex with a hot man. The filmmakers would have to actively try to make the film fail. Advantage: Fifty Shades of Grey

The VerdictNightcrawlers looks like it could be a good movie. We want to see it and would pay money to do so. To not see Fifty Shades of Grey, however, would make living in the pop-culture obsessed Western world very difficult.The Winner: Fifty Shades of Grey

Trailer Face-Off runs every Thursday. For more, click here.