All NFL players are human beings. That means they enjoy things outside of their profession. They have hobbies and tastes and interests just like you and me.
For Redskins tight end Niles Paul, it's going to the movies.
As he rehabs and recovers from the ankle injury he sustained at the beginning of the preseason, he also has some more free time to head to the local theater and catch up on the latest flicks, his favorite pastime.
Every week or so I'll sit down with Paul and we'll converse about the most recent movies he's seen, debate about their strengths and weaknesses, needlessly scrutinize or praise actors and directors, analyze his Netflix queue, and, hopefully, find another window into Paul's personality.
In our latest conversation, we discuss some holiday movies, including "The Revenant," "The Hateful Eight" and the "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."
Redskins Blog: I saw "The Revenant" last night. You saw it recently. What was your initial reaction walking out of the theater?
Niles Paul: You've got two incredible actors in Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy. In my opinion, DiCaprio did an amazing job, but if we're comparing lead actors to co-actors, I feel like Tom Hardy almost had a bigger role than Leonardo did. His character was more important to the movie until it got towards the end, when everything started making sense. But they both committed to the character. Tom Hardy always commits. Leonardo always commits. This was just a different level. The bear scene was so authentic. He cut open a horse. As disgusting as it was, I was like, "Leonardo DiCaprio is all in." And, I'm for it.
He was literally clawing and crawling his way for an Oscar in this movie.
Literally showing why he should win an Oscar throughout the whole movie. Some people feel like we're just giving it to him to give it to him, which I feel like we should. He put so much on film that he should have won for, that this movie takes the cake. This man sold us on each scene, crawling throughout the woods. You see the pain, you see the commitment, and I just feel like he deserves it.
This movie just hooks you from it first scene and it carries on throughout.
Those are the best movies because they hook you at the beginning, and then they die down a little bit, and then they hook you again. They keep you interested. [DiCaprio] should have been dead. He fell off a cliff face first with a horse. Realistically, he should be dead. But I get it, because he tells his son to fight until you've got the last breath in you and symbolically, that message meant more to the movie than what people think. That's exactly what he did, he fought until the last breath in his body.
When you see movies that take place in these freezing, icy, snowy climates, does a cold football game come to mind that you had to play in?
Yeah, we played Missouri when I was in college. It was raining, kind of snowing, and it was so cold, and I didn't want to play football, man. We ended up winning that game but it was by the grace of God. Our hands were frozen. I had to keep rubbing mitts on them. And that was just in Missouri. I couldn't imagine where [the characters in "The Revenant"] were.
When you're in those conditions, how do you stay mentally alert?
That's the hard part. Any normal person probably would have given up a long time ago. Especially in this movie with Leonardo DiCaprio, how hard he fought, I don't think that was realistic, because I don't see that many people fighting that hard – they say it's based on a true story. If they did, I think they left a lot of things out. But the average person going through that would have accepted their fate. But once again, it goes back to that quote that he told his son. The revenge was driving him.
Another movie that took place in blizzard, freezing conditions was "The Hateful Eight." Between the two of them, which setting do you think was colder?
I've still got to go with "The Revenant." I think that was a different type of cold. He had to hide inside a dead horse to stay alive. [The Hateful Eight] found themselves a cabin.
Do you like Quentin Tarantino movies?
I do. They're always bloody, they're always interesting. In "The Hateful Eight," I love Samuel L. Jackson's character. Channing Tatum made a quick little cameo. Walton Goggins, he had me cracking up the whole time. I hadn't read anything about this movie, so I didn't know what "The Hateful Eight" was about.
The second half of this movie is very Tarantino, but it didn't resonate like his other films in my opinion.
I just feel like he wanted to put something out. I respect the CGI, the film, the actors, but I thought it was OK.
Tarantino doesn't let you latch onto a good character, because he makes them all evil in some way.
A lot of them try to play the good guy. None of them were the good guy. Maybe the old man playing chess, but he still wasn't [laughing].
It seems like a while ago, but you watched a "Star Wars" marathon to prepare for the "The Force Awakens."
Yeah, I watched them all. If I had to rank them, this would be one of my favorites. I think all around, when it comes to CGI, when it comes to story, I think they did a great job. I think they did a great job of manipulating viewers into trying to figure out "Who is this little girl? Is this Luke Skywalker's daughter?" My only issue with this movie is that Kylo-Ren -- he stopped a laser beam in the beginning. He was doing stuff that Darth Vader couldn't do. He was clearly the strongest in the universe. How did this girl – it took Luke Skywalker a while to pick up his force, but she picked it up instantly. Then controlled it instantly. Then beat Kylo-Ren. That doesn't make sense. But, I can give you a pass for some of the mistakes, as long as you make it make sense in the next movie.
I appreciate John Boyega. He's more important than what he's letting on. And I don't know if he's going to be the Han Solo role now or if he's going to be another Jedi. In the beginning, when he finally awoke, Kylo-Ren pauses and looks at him and then keeps moving and goes back to his leader and says the force has awakened.
So you think Boyega's character may have some Jedi in him?
They gave him moments with it. He could be the new Samuel L. Jackson of the series. He's more important than what we know right now.
It was nice to see a black man and a woman be protagonists of a huge franchise movie.
You see the gender roles and the stereotypes playing out. We're abolishing that in film. It's not abolished completely, but we're breaking down barriers. It even goes back to "Creed. We're breaking down barriers and we're giving the people what they want.
Did everyone in your theater cheer when the Millennium Falcon appeared?
Yes, that's when it happened. But in this "Star Wars," it paid tribute and you almost had to see all of them. You almost had to re-watch all of them, not the prequels, but the original ones, to understand it. If I didn't see the previous movies that week, I wouldn't have caught any of that.
This movie is similar to "A New Hope" in the way Luke learns about the force.
She was progressively faster than him though [laughing].
With the Oscar nominations out today, I'm curious if you saw a movie that a lot of people didn't talk about?
"Straight Outta Compton" had one of the best soundtracks, and I don't understand how it doesn't win the best soundtrack. It should have gotten more credit than what it does right now. I just feel like the people who are actually the voters, I would love to see the demographics. I think you should mix that up and get people from different spectrums. "Star Wars" sold out, "Star Wars" broke records, there's no reason that movie shouldn't get Oscars, or at least be nominated. I think we know there is a real issue in that community. I would love to learn what it takes to be an actual critic…But I know a good movie when I see a good movie.
I like watching the Oscars, but at some point I just turn it off.