Kumail Nanjiani on race and villainy

M3gan outperforms at the box office; Kumail Nanjiani says white people still get the good villain roles; Don Cheadle made a very quick decision to spend years in the MCU. All in today’s Movie News Rundown.

Box Office: Avatar: The Way of Water was No. 1 again with $45 million domestically, and the killer doll movie M3gan came in second with $30 million. This is all great news given that January is usually a sad time at the box office. The Way of Water has pulled more than $516 million domestically and $1.7 billion globally, and James Cameron assures us that as a result, he’ll reward us with more Avatar sequels.

M3gan Mini-Review: I saw it over the weekend and loved it. The premise is hilarious — every parent knows the temptation of letting technology baby sit — and the ramp-up of M3gan’s maniacal, mechanical meltdown is a perfect mix of dramatic and silly. My only disappointment was the finale, which I found a little too similar to that of [spooiler spoiler spoiler] James Cameron’s The Terminator. But still, fun and highly recommended.

More Golden Globes Presenters: The Golden Globes have announced more presenters for the ceremony, which is tomorrow. They include Claire Danes, Cole Hauser, Harvey Guillén, Henry Golding, Hilary Swank, Glen Powell, Jay Ellis, Jenna Ortega, Jennifer Coolidge, Jennifer Hudson, Letitia Wright, Mo Brings Plenty, Regina Hall, and Salma Hayek Pinault. They join the previously announced Ana de Armas, Ana Gasteyer, Billy Porter, Colman Domingo, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Natasha Lyonne, Nicole Byer, Niecy Nash-Betts, Quentin Tarantino, and Tracy Morgan.

Under Pressure: In a new GQ career retrospective, Don Cheadle says Marvel gave him an hour to decide whether he wanted to sign a six-picture deal to join the MCU. When he informed them that he was at his child’s laser-tag birthday party, they gave him an extra hour.  “So we played laser tag for two hours and I was talking to my wife and we just kind of thought about it and talked to my agent and tried to get as much information as we could and we just took a flyer and said okay, we’ll do it,” Cheadle said.

Kumail Nanjiani on Villains: The Welcome to Chippendales actor plays the villainous Steve Banerjee in the Hulu series, but believes Hollywood’s efforts at positive representation have led to a reluctance to hire people of color as villains. “And that’s just as limiting as anything else,” he tells Esquire in a new interview. “I want to play more bad guys.” He notes that Sebastian Stan, for example, gets to play both heroes and villains. “He does these big Marvel movies, and then he’ll play a psychopath. I was told that’s going to be hard because people don’t want to cast non-white people as bad guys.”

National Board of Review: The NBR handed out its annual awards yesterday, and the winners are… Colin Farrell (Best Actor, The Banshees of Inisherin); Michelle Yeoh (Best Actress, Everything Everywhere All at Once); Steven Spielberg (Best Director, The Fabelmans); Janelle Monae (Best Supporting Actress, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery); Martin McDonagh (Best Original Screenplay, The Banshees of Inisherin); Edward Berger, Lesley Paterson, Ian Stokell (Best Adapted Screenplay, All Quiet on the Western Front); Danielle Deadwyler (Breakthrough Performance, Till); Gabriel LaBelle (Breakthrough Performance, The Fabelmans); Charlotte Wells (Best Directoral Debut, Aftersun);  Santiago Mitre (Freedom of Expression Award, Argentina, 1985); Laura Poitras, Nan Goldin (Freedom of Expression Award, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed). Congratulations to all!

Comment of the Day: Here’s Stephen Tyrone Williams on DJ Dillard’s detailed piece about the making of his film Devotion: “Reading this article was the decision maker for me. New Years Day, I had the opportunity to see DEVOTION in NYC and I had a great time. The cast was solid, the script was compelling, and the direction was on point. He talks a bit about this in the Screenwriting section of this article, but Mr. JD discusses how racism has been depicted in film and I felt so seen. Instead of approaching it the way it’s been done (what Mr. Dillard calls “the 1993 way”), he turns it on its head and instead honors Brown’s humanity with a moment in the film (NO SPOILERS), that’s not only surprisingly poignant, but it tells the audience everything we needed to know about the pressures Brown was going though and about the acting chops of Jonathan Majors. Innovative. Storytelling.”

You Might Think: This is a great cover. I do.

Main image: Kumail Nanjiani and Murray Bartlett in Welcome to Chippendales.