The top Hand is wherein we pit unsuspecting entertainers versus one an additional to identify who at this time has a greater fixed on ns hearts and minds that America. That a long way of saying X > Y. It might seem reductive, or even unnecessarily competitive, to put our tenderness creators into uno squared circle, however it’s a useful exercise in seeing who is doing points right, who is doing points wrong, who is doing things differently, and, the course, that is winning. At the end, ns guest juez will hand down a verdict. Today’s combatants are Claire Lobenfeld, riding for Ben Stiller, y Eric Thurm, taking up arms because that Owen Wilson. Judging will be chris Ryan.

Tu lees esto: Ben stiller y owen wilson

The Contestants: Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson

Domestic box OfficeStiller: $2,790,227,515Wilson: $2,545,277,264

Biggest HitStiller: Meet the FockersWilson: Night at los Museum

Most Critically Acclaimed RoleStiller: Flirting with DisasterWilson: Midnight in Paris

Eric Thurm: Let’s acquire something fuera de of ns way, up front: Ben Stiller y Owen Wilson are at their ideal when they’re together. You can like their individual movies, but alguna one should be pretending the The secreto Life of Walter Mitty or Behind opponent Lines is coming all over close to Zoolander, The imperial Tenenbaums, or also Starsky & Hutch (but we’ll acquire to that). Today’s top Hand is basically un re-creation that Zoolander’s 2001 VH1 Fashion AwardsAn event that totally took place y was apparently important at los time.

">1 Male modelo of the Year competition, pitting ns established Stiller, who currently plays “serious” functions in movies directed by noah Baumbach, against los infinitely much more chill Wilson.

And just as in Zoolander, los faux–New Age, Sting-ignorant underdog deserves ns win. Anyone can say, “Oh, i love Ben Stiller in Dodgeball or whatever,” yet does he really deserve front-runner status here? does the hombre really know how to play serious roles? Owen Wilson’s talents room deeper (and maybe far better hidden), however that’s no going to prevent me from digging them up y thus ashamed you for entering into this upper Hand on behalf of Ben Stiller. Lug it on.

Claire Lobenfeld: Both Wilson’s and Stiller’s résumés are rife with trash. To discute two men who have both played love interests because that Jennifer Aniston, in equally humiliating movies — Marley & Me for being emotionally manipulation porn y Along came Polly for its sharts — is nearly silly. But to indicate that the Wilson belongs on some greater pedestal 보다 Stiller is ludicrous. Four words because that you: There’s. Something. About. Mary.

More upper Hand y Stiller’s character representar that film, Ted Stroehmann, brings me to my próximo point: gift chill is overrated, Eric. Stiller’s ability to do neurosis is dynamic, well past what we get from Wilson, ns dude who never grew fuera of his high institution dorkiness. You require heroin-addled creative neurotic? Bam, Stiller as Jerry Stahl in Permanent Midnight. How about someone do the efforts to admire his girlfriend’s parents while playing los straight male to Robert después Niro? Oh, here’s the Fockers trilogy. If you choose your high-strung personality to it is in one of the chosen people, allow me to suggest Greenberg. And in those flicks alone, we have actually four various kinds the appeal: gross-out humor, dark indie, family-friendly, y white civilization problems. Me gustaría have only begun to scratch ns surface, too. Now, please, I’d choose to check out some instances of Wilson’s variety beyond “frat young adjacent.” (Examples whereby Stiller isn’t additionally present. Yes, i know your boy remained in Permanent Midnight.)

Thurm: Owen Wilson is constantly Owen Wilson. He can be riffing on one archetype (the chillest the archetypes), however “range” is totally overrated together something we suppose actors come possess. Dude no need variety — he has actually star quality. Walk Gary Cooper have range? Did palanqueta Stewart? Hell, does mujer Nicholson have range? it’s all about being cast well and getting the most fuera de of the character. Sometimes you gain lucky, actors in un role that uno lot of other neurotic Jewish males probably could have traction off, in uno movie that fin up being yes, really good. (Yes, the is me throwing página eye in ~ Ben Stiller in There’s Something around Mary.) y that’s something because that which alguna one ever gives Owen Wilson suitable levels of credit.

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Francis representar The Darjeeling Limited? Yeah, he can have los spacey cadence that Owen Wilson is biologically y culturally compelled into always employing, yet he’s additionally playing up los earnestness of the gente you’re phone call “frat boy adjacent.” ellie Cash from Tenenbaums is great because he’s uno cocky, macho dude — or, as macho as one deserve to be con fringes top top one’s shirt — but he’s additionally trying to it is in an intellectual, and hiding part surprising depths. Also, when was the último time Ben Stiller go anything this worthy of a meme?

I can’t believe it also needs to it is in said, yet let’s talk Ned Plimpton. The Life Aquatic con Steve Zissou is los most underrated Wes Anderson movie; that deserves more credit for just how visually exciting it is, and also for the strength of ns perhaps paternal relationship between Ned and Bill Murray’s Zissou. Is there ns higher compliment you can pay an emitir than to take into consideration it plausible the he might be bill Murray’s son? i don’t think so. Might Ben Stiller be factura Murray’s son? Nah.

Are those every Wes Anderson movies? Yes. Over there is nothing wrong with knowing what you’re an excellent at and having regular collaborators. (Maybe Ben Stiller need to pull regreso on his collaborations con Shawn raise of Night at los Museum TRILOGY fame.) and if you want some real instances of range, let’s talk screenwriting. Wilson cowrote Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, and The imperial Tenenbaums con Anderson. Those screenplays are strong, and as lot as world like come mock Anderson because that having un well-defined style, they’re about un bunch of different things. As good as any other actors in those movies room (hello, Chas Tenenbaum), Wilson was los person creating their parts. Exactly how is anyone claimed to come regreso from that?

Lobenfeld: identificación completely know why she trying to draw attention away from the “range.” me gustaría would, too, if i were arguing against someone that starred in a classic eponymous sketch donar early in his career, that directed one of the most important Gen X films of all tiempo in Reality Bites, y who has his finger in the sweet, sweet Hulu pie as executive producer that Burning Love, proving he has alguno fear the the próximo generation that comedy greats. And you are totally right, Ben Stiller might not it is in passed off as factura Murray’s son. He’s as well busy being Jerry Stiller’s IRL progeny. (I’m no done, though. Friend can air your grievances in un minute.)

But when we’re on the subject the faux-fatherhood, I’d favor to suggest that Stiller in reality co-birthed Wilson’s career. After Bottle Rocket, what was Wilson’s next look? The Cable Guy, ns little film starring Ferris Bueller y the Mask, command BY BEN STILLER. My guy still hasn’t quit looking fuera de for the youth, either; he works con Jonah Ray y Kumail Nanjiani on their Comedy centrar show The Meltdown. What has Wilson done because that the next generation, aside representar getting a bunch of young guns to star in a movie that was basically a Google ad, or playing ns cowboy in uno kids’ movie trilogy? (You can pooh-pooh Stiller’s involvement in los Museum trilogy all you want, together if Wilson isn’t in every three …)

Thurm: “Range” is uno way we describe a bunch the smaller mountains clustering around ns bigger hill that anyone is actually on uno hiking expedition to climb, and that is ns definitive word on that. Speaking of smaller peaks, who cares about the youth? I’m around Owen Wilson, and will proceed to be around him, regardless of whether he entertains children with flashlights. That’s, at the most, ns glorified cameo in the Night at ns Museum movies. Let’s not pretend that Stiller isn’t the knight championing ns TRILOGY. Besides, ns most essential thing either of them can have done because that the niños was to develop Max Fischer.

All right, all appropriate (all right): I’m not going to deny the Ben Stiller works uno lot more 보다 Owen Wilson does, which means he’s statistically most likely to be in more things the succeed. However here’s los thing about Reality Bites, Permanent Midnight, Greenberg, and pretty much every various other Stiller movie you might throw in the isn’t un goofy comedy (looking in ~ you, Walter Mitty): lock supremely, obscenely self-involved, y ultimately an ext about the investigacion of one privado archetype (“being Ben Stiller”) than los films that Wilson’s career, which at least manage to asking what his cool-dude posturing method some of los time. The rest of los time, Wilson knows he’s in the for the money y isn’t do the efforts to do ridiculous Oscar bait (Walter Mitty, just get el fin of here). I’m all for Owen Wilson law him and being mindful of who y what he is. Stay in your lane, homey.

Lobenfeld: Stiller just has ns stronger will than Luke’s huge bro, as shown by his willingness to spread out himself across different elements of his field. Ben Stiller is a dedicated Knicks fan who still sit courtside, despite los fact that this is ns bunkest season in los history of ns franchise. Perform you recognize who has guts that steel? Blue (and orange) steel, if friend will? Knicks fans. We space trenchant fighters who have a stick-to-itiveness the rivals almost any other team’s fans, y I think that gumption is reflect in his breadth of work. (And, not to go regreso to ns dead-dog movie, but, like, calling characters who are depressive or heroin addicts “self-involved” is pretty gauche once Wilson is caking off of blatant emotionally manipulation that’s together craven as any type of Nicholas Sparks dreck.)

But me gustaría digress! You discussed Oscar bait and that is ns only area in which me gustaría will entrega to you: Midnight in Paris autumn 10-ton anvils on The secreto Life that Walter Mitty. You have actually me there. Y like un Stiller-esque Knicks fan, me gustaría am unafraid to admit when i have lost. Speaking of Knicks fans, however, stop slide into the present: ns Anna “Go new York, Go new York, Go!” Wintour–assisted, Zoolander 2–confirming Fashion week walk-off. We have tangible, in ~ least via YouTube, evidence regarding who, at this very moment, has the upper hand. Ns going come go el fin on a limb y say: Hansel — not so warm right now. Identificación mean, would we even be below if the weren’t because that Stiller?Thurm: If the was your azul Steel, here’s my Magnum. Because that Zoolander 2 to no be ns disaster of Mugatu-esque proportions, worse than those lookout models at ns Kennedy assassination or last night in los tearoom, it has to be funny. And for all that he can be good at doing significant “aging man” roles, Ben Stiller has forgotten exactly how to be funny. Ns world demands Hansel and his bewildering, near-magical capacity to not look prefer a completamente idiot while riding un Razor scooter — now an ext than ever.

Lobenfeld: Listen, Stiller has funny “aging man” functions in his pocket, too. Anyone that has the gall to take his mam on International Ghost Investigators is at least fun. You recognize what’s not fun? being in a paul Thomas Anderson–directed película adaptation of a Thomas pirichon novel. (OK, that’s entirely fun, yet not for ns masses.) Owen Wilson, as soon as he’s no bro-ing debajo with vince Vaughn, appeals to the midbrow almost always. I will admit that un lot that his occupational is very great — Inherent Vice, again, and his films with Anderson — but juego recognize game, y as uno fellow human being who demands to do All los Things, Stiller takes los cake. Y as the famously misunderstood Marie Antoinette quote goes: “Let castle eat cake.” i m sorry is also the name of an Arrested Development episode. I beg your pardon is additionally a donar Ben Stiller showed up on. Me gustaría think mine work below is done.

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The Verdict

Chris Ryan: the key to any Upper Hand juicio is to different your preference from your perspective. My preference is Owen Wilson. Here’s why:


That’s pretty lot where identificación need to get in my life, for this reason it’s tough to rotate my espalda on it. Wilson is by far my preferred emitir in this pairing. His ideal films are mil ahead that Stiller’s finest films. His funniest movie (Wedding Crashers) is los funniest comedy either has starred in. And he’s definitely given ns most interesting recent power of los two (Inherent Vice). But Claire provides an incredible case for Stiller, appropriate now, as uno comedy benefactor, director, movie star, y actor. I’m personally not crazy about the work, and Wilson definitely holds uno special place in my heart, yet there’s alguno denying that Stiller has ns Upper Hand.