Peele Packs A Punch

Famous comedian, actor, director steals spotlight


AP Newsroom/Invision/Evan Agostini

Jordan Peele poses at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards on Jan. 4 for his new horror science fiction movie Nope. “Peele has influenced society’s view of horror to an excessive degree by finally including the African American population into the lens of the horror film genre. The way he includes the experiences of Black Americans into philosophical horror stories has transported the genre into a more inclusive space,” junior Bonte Grangue said. “His main influence on me was the ability to view horror movies as a true artform with valuable story beats, elements and incredible film techniques and visuals.”

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From being a hilarious comedian to famous director, Jordan Peele became a household name for his skits along with his beautifully crafted movies that consistently star Black actors and actresses as main characters.

“His [Peele’s] movies are inspirational and he shows that you can go from doing small things to big things,” junior Jonessia Thompson said.

Getting his start in 2003 on MADtv, a sketch comedy show on Fox, Peele worked with Keegan-Michael Key for five seasons before he left in 2008. Later in 2012, the two started another comedy series called Key & Peele on Comedy Central which focused on dark humor and entertaining content. The show won multiple awards including a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series and a Peabody Award and eventually came to an end in 2015.

“My first impression was his series called Key and Peele. It is a bunch of satirical skits, very similar to the Chappelle Show so as you could expect, it is very funny,” sophomore Joshua Dale said. “It is super stupid at times but definitely binge-worthy and rewatchable.”

Peele’s success didn’t end with Key & Peele, in fact he really took off with his debut film called Get Out in 2017. Get Out follows Chris (played by Daniel Kaluuya) who has been invited by Rose (played by Allison Williams), his girlfriend, to her family’s home for the weekend to meet them for the first time. Chris notices their odd behavior but writes it off as them trying to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship. However, Chris uncovers a dark secret about this family.

Get Out is most likely my personal favorite of Jordan Peele’s movies. Get Out explores racism from an intense point of view. This film is a thriller about the experience of being black in an ever-growing racist America,” freshman Valeria Morales said. “The common motif of the eyes implies the imbalance of power and control in our country and how these issues may be invisible to those who do not go through them directly.”

Making $255 million worldwide on just a $4.5 million budget, Get Out quickly became the top 10th most profitable movie of the year. The impactful movie was nominated for 37 awards and won 17 of them including a Film Independent Award for Best Feature, a Stanley Kramer Award, an American Film Institute Movie of the Year Award, and so many more. Independently, Peele won an Academy Award for Original Screenplay, an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture, a New York Film Critics Circle for Best First Film, and several others.

Get Out is marvelously directed and Jordan Peele’s genius is observed in the movie’s reception,” Dale said. “The movie is, of course, exaggerated but many African Americans including myself related to the sense of uncomfortability while being the only minority in the room.”

Peele’s next notable movie, Us, hit theaters in 2019, centering around a family of four returning to a beachfront house where mother and wife Adelaide Wilson (played by Lupita Nyong’o) grew up. While Adelaide struggles with trauma from her past, she gets the growing feeling that something bad is going to occur. Adelaide’s concerns become real when four masked strangers break into the home with all-too familiar faces.

Us is a movie following the capitalist class system in our country. This movie takes very real situations and realistic problems and makes it into a surrealistic experience that still gets the message across,” Morales said. “I really like the symbolic attention to detail in the movie. Everything from the golden scissors – symbolic for the rise of the rich, to the movie title itself.”

This horror movie grossed $256 million worldwide and much like Peele’s first film, received many honors like an AAFCA Award for Best Picture, and Best Science Fiction/Horror from both Critics Choice Awards and Denver Film Critics Society. Peele won a variety of awards such as an Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films for Best Director and Bram Stoker Award for Best Screenplay. With so many people raving about Peele’s movies, a third one was bound to hit screens.

“I did not watch the movie until early 2021, but his work had me on the edge of my seat. Us is about how the class system disrupts society and puts the poor at a permanent disadvantage to those in power,” Morales said. “It is a work that details what would happen if we took those boundaries too far. His political themes inspired me to watch the rest of his films.”

Nope, Peele’s most recent film came out last year and featured returning actor Daniel Kaluuya who appeared in Get Out and widely known actress Keke Palmer. This story follows a brother and sister duo who discover an entity in the sky above their horse ranch. While the pair searches for answers, the owner of a nearby theme park sets out to gain fame and fortune from the floating mystery.

Nope is by far my favorite horror movie of 2022. As someone who is a fan of Cosmic horror, he did an amazing job. I have many theories, but I think I understand what Peele is trying to convey with the film,” sophomore Veronica Sandoval said. “The whole movie is an example of a spectacle. The alien is a spectacle. Even when it has destroyed lives and homes, we can’t help but not look away.”

Earning $171 million in the international box office, Nope was also met with plenty of honors such as an AFI Award for Movie of the Year, a Discussing Film Critics Award for Best Cinematography, and a PCA Award for Best Science Fiction Feature. While Peele hasn’t won any independently, he was nominated for multiple awards ranging from Outstanding Director to Best Original Screenplay.

“Every character is enjoyable and the entire premise of the movie is just so amazing. This entire movie focuses on ‘spectacle’, the astounding things we will focus our eyes on. Every time the movie brings in this idea of ‘spectacle’, what I think it’s really referring to is the act of exploitation,” sophomore Jonah Marquez said. “It’s all about the ‘money shot’ to people, and this film acts out this message subtly and perfectly.”

With his first three movies, Peele has shown his skills as a filmmaker while also littering impactful themes for viewers through his entertaining work. As a director, Peele has teased that he has four social thrillers that he wants to create and release in the next decade. Fans cannot wait to see what Jordan Peele has in store for the future.

“His work portrays our societal problems in an adequately gruesome way,” Morales said. “His movies have made me see the issues explored from a new lens. That lens gives people a horrible feeling, appropriate to the severity of the issue discussed.”