3 Standout Blockbusters Of 2017

2017 has so far led me to become a blockbuster cynic who can only enjoy art house films, however there have been a few blockbusters that may save me from that fate. I truly believe that a great film can be delivered in the form of a high budget product because at the end of the day as long as the story and characters are engaging then that’s all that matters. Blockbusters can have depth or they are designed to switch off your brain and just enjoy them for what they are.

Here are three blockbusters that stood out for me this year for various reasons:

The Film X-Men Origins Should Have Been

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Now I’m going to say something controversial: I actually enjoyed X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009). It’s a fun, standard blockbuster. However unfortunately it is highly regarded as an embarrassment of the X-Men franchise; so that’s why I say Logan is the film that I’m sure people feel best portrayed Wolverine. So we’ve had the false start, the better but still not perfect Wolverine (2013) so in 2017 we see Hugh Jackman let go and embrace the character of Wolverine completely.

When I heard that Logan was going to be stripped back, showing “Old Man Logan” and that it was going to intentionally stand apart from the typical comic book film, I was excited. Finally a comic book film was going to take a risk and show how much can be achieved within the genre.

Logan was a solid effort which not only proved that a superhero film can have depth and be complex, but it also was a credible film in its own right. It was refreshing. That’s why I’m including Logan in this blog post about how it was a standout blockbuster, yet there was something in me from raving about it. This is not a criticism, but it by being very purposeful in being something else it almost felt calculated. Not to mention that the film could have shaved some time off because towards the end the heavy tone started to take a toll.

Overall, I still respect that director James Mangold and leading start Hugh Jackman stood out and were bold and took a risk with this film. I can’t fault them on that and that’s why I like the film. Hopefully it’ll inspire other comic book films to show the scope that you can cover within that “genre”. It certainly has worked as Logan has grossed over $612 worldwide and has received a 93% Rotten Tomato rating, what a great way to see Hugh Jackman wave goodbye to a role of a lifetime.

Fast and Furious 8

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I didn’t even come up with a witty subheading, that’s how easy going and fun Fast and Furious 8 is. I’ve always been cynical of the Fast and Furious franchise for being hollow and brainless (and this is coming from the guy who enjoyed the Michael Bay directed Transformers films), so I stayed away from the film series with no plan to watch them. However, after viewing the eighth instalment with a friend I was happy to be proven wrong. It was fun, brash, crazy, exciting and even though the characters weren’t exactly fleshed out they were formed in a way that allowed us as an audience to care for them and invest in them.

Up until that point no blockbuster this year allowed me to completely let go and suspend my disbelief to enjoy the ride. Does the franchise deserve to gross over $1 billion worldwide? maybe not. That being said, the reason why fans have responded to these films are because these films are the essence of what a blockbuster should be: crazy action and a true form of escapism. I have to give credit to Vin Diesel to producing a film series that has connected with audiences all across the world, not taking things too seriously and just having fun with these characters and crazy adventures.

Winning Wonder Woman

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76 years later after the world was introduced to Wonder Woman and she FINALLY has graced the big screen with her first solo film. After stealing the show from last years Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), fans were eager to see her lead her own film and it’s safe to say DC have a winner film on their hands. Already the film is breaking box office records and holds a 93% rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Wonder Woman has grossed over $100 million at the US box office which was the biggest weekend opener for a female director (Patty Jenkins), hopefully this will be a step in the right direction for equality of female representation in film and behind the camera.

Without a doubt Wonder Woman is not only the best blockbuster of 2017 but one of the best superhero films in over 5 years. It was refreshing to see a standalone superhero film which allowed the leading character carry the film solo and completely smash it in the process, I think the last time there was a true standalone superhero film was probably The Dark Knight Rises (2012). Gal Gadot is beyond perfect as Diana, showcasing her amazing acting talent portraying Diana’s incredible character arc with conviction and depth. Diana stands for love, justice and peace and I loved key moments where she didn’t take things lying down but stood up for what she believed in and didn’t think twice about helping others. The action scenes were slick, empowering and epic.

Fast and Furious 8 may be the blockbuster where you switch your brain off and have fun, but Wonder Woman is a blockbuster with heart, depth, emotion AND epic fight sequences and is a true spectacle. It is possible to make a blockbuster with thrills audiences but is also thought provoking and empowering for all. I’m enjoying this moment seeing a superhero film with just one superhero at front and centre before Justice League and co. take over (I am looking forward to Justice League but it’s a sad thought not knowing when the next standalone superhero film will be released).

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The exciting thing to note is that we still have the second half of 2017 to go in order to see what kind of blockbusters will be released. Even if it becomes a rubbish year for blockbusters overall (I doubt it) then at least 2017 gave us Wonder Woman.  

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4 Biggest Blockbuster Disappointments Of 2017

 

We’re approaching the halfway mark through the year so I thought it would be appropriate to review the blockbusters that have been released in 2017, sadly it hasn’t been a great year. 2017 isn’t over yet so we still have some potential saving graces in the form of Wonder Woman, Justice League, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Thor: Ragnarok etc. however I have to say that certain blockbusters that I have seen have not lived up to the hype.

If you want to look at 2017 UK film releases then you would include the multiple award winning films which have been my favourite films of the year, such as: La La Land, Moonlight, Lion, Jackie, Manchester By The Sea, Hidden Figures etc. and thank goodness for these beautiful films as I am starting to lose hope for big budgeted releases. I hope by the end of the year I am proven wrong and can say that great storytelling can be seen in all type of films.

Boring and the Beast

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Let’s start off with one of the most underwhelming and highly overrated release: Beauty and the Beast. Firstly let me state that I am supportive of Disney giving their animated classics the live action treatment (as discussed in my previous post)however with the release of Beauty and the Beast; originality and creativity died and instead it assured Disney to play it safe with their upcoming live action releases. I was excited for the film before its release and I was rooting for Emma Watson as I thought she’d be perfect as Belle, however because the live action took no chances there was no room for mystery and excitement of what was to come in the film.

Interestingly enough the film has become a huge success, which sadly gives Disney permission to keep on playing it safe. The film has revived positive reviews (71% from Rotten Tomatoes) and the film has grossed over $1.2 billion worldwide making it the 10th highest grossing films of all time. Obviously the film has resonated with audiences, so I will respect those who loved the film however I can’t understand how this film has entered the top 10 of the most successful films of all time. I think I’ll stick to the original 1991 animation.

The NOT So Awesome Mix-Tape

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I loved Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and so did everyone else as the film became a fan favourite and raked in $773 million worldwide. It was unapologetic in how it delivered on the fun and it was an antidote to the ‘serious superhero film’. The sequel had a lot to live up to following the surprise smash hit first film.

After an exhaustive marketing campaign for the sequel the hype and excitement to see the film wore off, but I still wanted to see the film and I really wanted to enjoy it…yet it failed to deliver on the fun and thrills. It went down the cliche route that sequels tend to go down, take what was funny in the first film and crank it up to the highest volume. The comedy was too obvious and stupid at times. I liked Groot in the first film but did I really need to see a baby Groot figure out how to play music against the backdrop of a potentially cool action sequence? and the story was pretty underwhelming. That being said, there were some good some small moments between Gamora and Nebula as well as Yondu and Rocket, these moments allowed for some character development and appreciation. Also I think that Ayesha the Golden Priestess was underused and could have been the main villain.

Of course the film has become a huge success and has grossed over $799 million worldwide (and counting) as well as receiving positive reviews (81% from Rotten Toamtoes)so again there has been a disconnect from what audiences have felt and how I have responded to the film. However despite the fact the sequel wasn’t my favourite Marvel film I am excited for the third film and it will be interesting to see the characters in the upcoming Avengers films, so I haven’t given up on the Guardians of the Galaxy just yet.

Alien: The Pretend Sequel To Prometheus

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I will hold my hands up and say I am not a die hard Alien fan, however I have seen Alien (1979), Aliens (1986) and Prometheus (2012) so I am familiar with the franchise. With Covenant promising to return to the horror element I was interested to see how this film would continue on with what was set out from Prometheus and how it would adopt a grittier and darker style from the previous Alien films. That was the problem, Ridley Scott has openly admitted that Covenant was addressing what die hard Alien fans disliked about Prometheus, basically because there was no huge weird alien lurking round a spaceship. When I watched Prometheus I hadn’t seen any Alien film and that was the time when marketing was saying how the film was not meant to be a direct prequel but a standalone film in the same universe, so I thought I was safe in watching it without feeling left out. Then all of a sudden it WAS part of the Alien franchise, meaning Covenant had to make some major changed to please Alien fans.

Covenant was released 5 years after Prometheus because they were trying to figure out whether to make a direct sequel to Prometheus or give in and be openly part of the Alien world. I was really looking forward to see Dr. Elizabeth Shaw meet the Engineers and find out questions that were posed in Prometheus, the tone of Prometheus was slick and futuristic but no without it’s shocking moments. All I got was some 5 minute YouTube video featuring Shaw and David and limp references to the “failed Prometheus trip”. I think that’s one of the main reasons why I didn’t love Covenant, because it tried to jump full throttle ahead of what was started in Prometheus and tried to connect this film to the Alien universe. However, I enjoyed some moments and Katherine Waterston was the best part about Covenant, and with THAT ending I’m definitely interested to see what Ridley Scott has planned for future instalments.

Kong: The Unnecessary Remake

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For me the ultimate King Kong film is the 2005 remake directed by Oscar winning director Peter Jackson. I remember seeing that film in the cinemas when I was 12 and being blown away, scared and emotionally invested in what was happening in the film. I had to except that a new King Kong was inevitable as it’s not restricted to the 1933 classic nor the 2005 remake but it is a cultural pop icon meaning each generation will revisit the character. That being said I still didn’t see the point of a new Kong film, but that’s just my personal opinion.

I have to give credit to the 2017 film as it was doing its own thing and it wasn’t a remake of any Kong film, that at least allows itself to be set apart and judged on its own merit. The other factor which excited me was how it was set against the backdrop of 1970’s Vietnam war meaning it would be a colourful and vibrant take on the classic monster character. Not to mention a great cast consisting of Oscar winner Brie Larson, John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston John C. Reilley etc. However what also retracted me from being full on excited for the film was how it was intended to be part of yet another cinematic universe.

Despite my reservations I have to say I was willing to go in with an open mind and enjoy the film, sadly I was right in not believing in the film. The script was so weak and it was painful seeing brilliant actors deliver superficial and unimagined lines, the story wasn’t engaging and the characters weren’t exactly three dimensional. Yes it’s not a type of film where it requires deep exploration of character however even if it’s up to a popcorn film level standard there has to be some reason to invest and care for any character, sadly I could not have cared less about the fate of the characters. I was most disappointed in Brie Larson as it was such a superficial role that it didn’t live up to the whole ‘having a three dimensional female character in a blockbuster film’, of course it was sad to see them all play uninspired characters.

Again, a blockbuster I didn’t like made money and critics had good things to say about the film; grossing $565 million worldwide and received a 77% rating 77% rating from Rotten Tomatoes.

The only thing I took away from the 2017 version was to watch the Oscar winning 2005 version.

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Hopefully with the release of the already positively reviewed Wonder Woman and future releases in the form of Thor: Ragnarok and Star Wars: The Last Jedi we can reflect upon the year and say there were some standout blockbusters in 2017.

For the next blog post I’ll be writing about the few blockbusters that have actually caught my interest, there’ll be a few surprises in there for you of which blockbusters I loved this year.

Let’s Talk About The Ending Of ‘Nocturnal Animals’ (2016)

*SPOILER ALERT*

 

Nocturnal Animals (2016) is a really interesting film directed by Golden Globe and BAFTA nominated director Tom Ford; it tells the tale of Susan (Amy Adams) receiving a book from ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal) which accounts dark and violent themes which makes Susan re-evaluate her life and relationships.

It’s not a perfect film but there’s a lot I admire and respect about it. I loved seeing Amy Adams in this kind of role; she wasn’t playing a likeable character or a character finding redemption but who is living in the shadows of her regrettable actions. Another thing I admired (and had to watch again to fully understand) was how Edward’s book mirrored his relationship with Susan.

Whilst not being perfect, Nocturnal Animals still captivated me by the elegant visuals and music and the hopefulness of seeing resolve and a satisfying conclusion. However the film ends abruptly and you feel like you’ve been lured in by the film only to be dropped suddenly with no warning. At first I was frustrated which evolved into perceiving the ending as a genius move; it shows the power of the film to have an audience feel so invested and immersed in the experience.

Remove The Armour

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Sometimes the best moments are found in the most subtle moments. Over the course of the film Susan has been depicted as unhappy and full of regret, yet she is a successful art gallery owner and she feels some guilt of not feeling happy about her success. She has become a different person from the Susan that we were introduced to in the flashbacks telling the story of the early years of her relationship with Edward. One could argue that in order to mask the hurt and unhappiness from her actions in life she puts on a front looking like she has it all together.

Then there’s a great moment where she removes her lipstick, and a brief smile follows. That simple action was like she was removing the armour that she has been wearing ever since the colossal downfall of her marriage with Edward. It could be argued that she’s hoping to find happiness again by removing her wedding ring and hoping that by reconnecting with him the wrongs of her past can be rectified.

It’s a powerful shot, a dark room with only Susan’s reflection in the mirror to show. Amy Adams can do so much with no words, it’s all in the facial expressions and the lingering shots that convey how she is thinking the evening will go. Will she recapture who she was before and will she learn from her mistakes if she gets a second chance?

The Wait

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This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for: seeing Edward in present day meet up with Susan. After everything that has happened what would they say to each other? The anticipation was high and personally I was intrigued to see how they would act around each other.

Susan rocks up to the most fancy restaurant and is seated at her table, she looks to the door excited to see Edward walk through the door and reconnect. This scene is laid out to be an expected conversational scene, potentially reflecting an earlier scene when they met up for the first time in a restaurant. There’s even a moment where we hear the waitress welcome a gentlemen whilst focusing on Susan’s face, we even hear footsteps only to be let down by finding out it wasn’t Edward. Both the audience and Susan had their hopes built up only to be let down.

Alas, hope fades and reality kicks in as time passes and Edward is nowhere to be seen. From the melted ice in her drink to the fading of her smile to the striking of her bare finger where she removed her wedding ring, Susan detects that this meet up isn’t going to plan.

There Are No Words

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The music by Abel Korzeniowski only amplifies the mood of this scene, starting with some beautiful elegant music which escalates into a more intense sound conveying the rising emotions and tragedy that follows. The heightened sound calms down into the simple sounds of the piano keys, until there is music no more whilst the camera fixates on the heartbroken face of Susan.

The film score perfectly conveys all the emotions that Susan is feeling as no words are spoken. The reason why the music is so elegant and beautiful at the beginning is because there is still hope and an uncertainty of what is to follow, this develops into a more intense sound because there is a worry that there won’t be any resolve for the scene. It’s that scary moment because there may not be a chance of reconciliation, but we can’t give up hope just yet. Then the simple piano key sounds matched with Susan’s distraught face only equates into one thing: She will have to live with the mistakes she has made for the rest of her life. It’s a incredible simple yet powerful moment where the penny has dropped for Susan and she knows there is no turning back and that there’s nothing she can do to make Edward forgive her.

Because there are no spoken words we see Amy Adams give an acting masterclass of saying so much through no dialogue. From her eye glances to her many facial expressions conveying hope, sadness, regret, uncertainty etc. As an audience member you are fixated on her face as you want to try and understand everything that Susan is feeling in that moment. Amy Adams does this perfectly and with the music to support her it all equals to an emotionally powerful and delicate scene.

Bold

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I loved the bold ending of showing Susan to have no redemption in her character arc. You watch the whole film seeing how Susan is living a life of deep regret which prevents her from finding peace and happiness even though on paper she has her life together. I love Amy Adams, she is one of the best actors around and I loved how she played a character who wasn’t meant to be likeable. Amy Adams played a character who not only makes mistakes but will never have the chance to make things right or tragically may not find happiness because our actions have consequences. It’s bold just leaving Susan alone in that restaurant letting everything sink in.

What did you think of the ending? Did you appreciate what Tom Ford was going for or would you like to have had more of a concrete ending. Feel free to comment and share your opinions.

3 Things Disney Need To Do In Order To Make The Live Action Remakes Work

Disney are riding high on the back of mega successful films that have easily sailed past the $1 billion worldwide mark at the worldwide box office; this is including the acquisition of LucasFilms Ltd. in 2012 leading to the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) which crossed over $2 billion worldwide at the worldwide box office. In addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe where each film keeps raking in the money; Disney have now hit the jackpot by giving beloved animated classics the live action treatment.

Most recently Beauty and the Beast (2017) reached the $1 billion worldwide milestone, meaning it is now the highest grossing musical of all time. Alice in Wonderland (2010) was the first Disney live action remake to reach that milestone and since then each remake has made a lot of money. So why write an article stating that Disney need to consider these 3 points to make the remakes work? Because it’s starting to feel like we’re giving critics of remakes a reason to hate them since Disney are playing it safe and not taking any risks.

1. Take Risks

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Alice in Wonderland (2010) and Maleficient (2014) received mixed reviews but made a lot of money for Disney. It could be argued that the success of these two remakes is down to the fact that Disney changed up the well known story lines and brought something fresh and unique to the table.

Alice in Wonderland cerated Alice into a warrior and injected a bit more action and adventure into the mix, meaning that it wasn’t trying to stomp over the 1951 animated classic but be set apart. Maleficent switched up the tale of Sleeping Beauty (1959) and allowed audiences to see a more complex and three dimensional character in Maleficent, it helped having Oscar winning actress Angelina Jolie bring depth to the eponymous character.

The danger Disney are in at the minute is with recent box office smash hit Beauty and the Beast they can see that playing it safe works for them. There have been rumours regarding Mulan where they might not use the songs from the 1998 animation and people thought this was a bad idea; my response to them is, “why don’t you want Disney to bring a fresh perspective to a beloved animation?” If you make the remakes too similar too the animations people will instantly compare the two when the remakes should represent the fact that they honour the animations whilst bringing their own spin on a well known tale.

(Since the rumours of Mulan featuring no songs emerged it has since been claimed that there will in fact be music….let’s hope it’s not a shot for shot take of the original like how they remade Beauty and the Beast)

2. Cast Directors With Diverse Styles

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Many would argue that Alice in Wonderland isn’t Tim Burton’s strongest work, yet no one deny the auteurship of Oscar nominee Tim Burton. His visual style is what sets him apart and adding in a dash of the gothic nature doesn’t hurt in making a well known tale your own.

Even Oscar nominee Kenneth Branagh directing Cinderella (2015) was a brilliant move, a director of his gravitas managing to stay true to what we loved about the original whilst making tweaks and managing to stand alongside the animated classic. Unlike Beauty and the Beast where it was a shot for shot remake (apart from those boring original songs everyone has probably forgotten about).

It’s exciting news to hear Niki Caro (Whale Rider – 2002) has been announced to direct the live action adaptation of Mulan (which will be released in November 2018). Bring a female director on board to this tale of an empowering heroine is a great move on Disney, however I’m hoping that she will take risks and make it an exciting action adventure ride that it could potentially be.

Bill Condon comes from a musical background so fair enough he played to his strengths with the Beauty and the Beast live action remake, however I hope that Disney allow each director to play to their strengths so all the remakes don’t feel similar or uninspired.

3. Know Which Animations To Give The Live Action Treatment

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I am not against remakes/sequels/reboots at all, but only if there is a need or a way to bring it back in a new and exciting way. With Alice in Wonderland, Maleficient and even Cinderella they all came back more fleshed out and gave reason for audiences to watch them again in a new format.

However this could be dangerous in making Disney throw away aims to create original work and revisit the films that made them who they are today. Just think about it; there are over 50 animations that Disney have made and worryingly there is a growing list of animations being given the live action treatment. Do we really need a Lion King remake? With the 1994 classic still engrained in our minds today with the help of the still popular Broadway/West End show? Dumbo is a classic which is 76 years old and it’s still arguably popular today, can’t we leave it in the past and is there really a demand to see it brought back to the big screen?

Of course all of these points are subjective and everyone will have their own opinion of which animations is deemed worthy of being made into a live action film, however the principal still stands that Disney should be more selective in their animations to remake. This would make the current remakes more impactful and special, now the notion of remaking a beloved Disney animation has lost its shine.

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In conclusion, I’m all for a Disney animated live action remake only if there is a need to do so and only if there is a way to make it unique and different to make it worth my while to watch it again. They can’t keep doing what they did with Beauty and the Beast, because in all honesty I wouldn’t bother with the live action again and I’d go straight to the 1991 animated classic. Let’s hope that Disney don’t lose that curious spirit to try new things when giving their own animations the live action treatment:

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

Beauty and the Beast (2017) Film Review

3/5 stars

Unless you’ve also been trapped in Beast’s castle then you’ll know that Disney are hard at work by revisiting their animated classics in live action format. This can be traced back to the billion dollar grossing Alice in Wonderland (2010) which was followed by Maleficent in 2014. Not crediting Cinderella (2015) completely to Disney’s now traditional approach to revisiting its animated classics, however since then we’ve seen Disney take less risks with remaking its animations.

Ever since the beginning of 2015 when Emma Watson was cast as Belle in the live action Beauty and the Beast, the hype has been high and audiences have been eagerly awaiting Disney’s new interpretation of it’s 1991 classic. For years I’ve been looking forward to this film, but months before once all of the promotional material was being released I had this sense that it wouldn’t be the grand and extravagant remake I was hoping for…sadly I was right.

TALE AS OLD AS TIME

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Starting with the positives I thought the film looked the part. Visually it was eye catching and I thought they captured the look and vibe of the original quite well. The characters of Lumière, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, Chip etc. were all effortlessly integrated with the live action characters (something I felt that The Jungle Book – 2016 failed to do with its CGI animals and live action characters) and I thought those characters were fun to watch and it wasn’t a huge let down from the animated versions of these characters.

With $462 million worldwide (against a $160 million budget) at the Box Office (so far) and with a 70% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, fans are clearly loving this film (for some reason). It is a tale that is as old as time (1991 feels like a century ago to most people) and since the animation’s release it has always been a part of people’s childhoods and it has grown up with people still retaining it’s relevant and popular appeal. My worry is that now Disney see that being unoriginal and not taking chances works, they’ll rehash it’s upcoming live action adaptations. I guess from a business point of view fair enough but where are the visionaries that want to do something exciting and new meaning that it can stand side by side with the originals and now replace them.

GASTON THE MOVIE: FEAUTRING BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

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If I had to single one performance out as the most committed and most convincing it was Luke Evans as Gaston. He played the arrogant bachelor to perfection, down to his singing and characterisation it was flawless. Out of all the cast I felt Luke Evans was the only one who gave 100% and the scenes with him in were more exciting than others…and that’s saying something when you’re meant to be watching the film for the leading performances of Belle and Beast.

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Speaking of the cast; Emma Watson is a great actress (she was amazing in Perks of being a Wallflower -2012 and The Bling Ring – 2013) and on paper she IS Belle. However, there were moments (especially the first half or so) where her performance felt half hearted. I know she’s singing about how everyone are peasants and she’s superior to everyone but even the animated Belle seemed more kind to the locals and in general the animated Belle was more fun to watch. It was rise and fall with Emma’s performance; the iconic ballroom scene and when she goes back to her provincial town to rescue her father were the highlights of her performance. She wasn’t bad but I expected more from her (no offence but after watching her performance as Belle I’m happy she dropped out of La La Land – 2016 for Oscar winner Emma Stone to replace her). I would say Dan Stevens as the Beast was slightly better with his performance, but I would argue that the animation team who worked on his look did an amazing job of effortlessly blending his character with the live action characters. Overall, not exactly the most exciting leading couple that have graced our screens.

TAKE CHANCES

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I will be that person that says that the animation is far more superior than the 2017 live action remake. The original is more atmospheric, dramatic, emotional, heartwarming and grand in everything from its characters to the look of the film. In 1992 Beauty and the Beast became the first animation to be nominated an Oscar for Best Picture, I seriously doubt this new version will have anywhere near that same impact today. This is why it should have done differently so that it honours the original but offers something new to today’s audience. Scenes like when Belle runs on the hill and sings, Beast offering Belle the library, even the iconic ballroom dance scene etc. were adapted half heartedly and it almost felt like they were just there because the audience were expecting them to feature in the film. The animation did all of those scenes and more with a sense of grandeur and wonder. The danger rehashing everything from the animation is the audience knows what to expect so there’s no sense of mystery and wonder.

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I understand that director Bill Condon was unapologetic about honouring the 1991 animation with only the addition of a few new songs (which added nothing new to the film) and Emma Watson’s few tweaks (which were hardly revolutionary to the character) however I would have loved it if Disney took a risk and brought something new to the table. The reason why Alice in Wonderland (2010) and Maleficent (2014) worked so well, in my opinion, was because they took a new approach to a tale that in embedded in our brains from childhood. I have no issues with remakes, only if they offer something unique and something that is worth watching again in a different format. I would have loved to see Guillermo del Toro’s version as he definitely would have bright a refreshing take of a tale so universally known and loved. Sadly he departed from the project a few years ago making way for Bill Condon to direct his unoriginal remake.

I’ve heard about a live action update for several years and I thought the decision to approach the remake in a more traditional manner was more down to the the success of Cinderella (2015) however I read that Bill Condon decided to take less chances after the success of Frozen (2013):

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“Before I arrived, they were rethinking Beauty and the Beast more radically, more like Snow White and the Huntsman. There was a lot of conversation about the War of the Austrian Succession that didn’t interest me. But then after Frozen opened, the studio saw that there was this big international audience for an old-school-musical approach. But initially they said, “We’re interested in a musical to a degree, but only half full of songs.” My interest was taking that film and doing it in this new medium — live action — as a full-on musical movie. So I backed out for a minute, and they came back and said, “No, no, no, we get it, let’s pursue it that way.” 

Even without Guillermo del Toro we could have seen a more radical and exciting version of Beauty and the Beast, because the story is far bigger than Disney itself so why not try something new?

I’ve expressed my fears for what impact the success of this film may have, however overall I would say it’s a enjoyable film which is easy and fun to watch. But it’s worrying that 26 years later Disney we’re basically seeing Disney revisit their greatest hits in the most unoriginal way possible. My advice is watch this film so you can tick it off your list, it’s not a total waste of your time, but please watch the original animation as it’s far more impactful than the 2017 version.

And The Oscar Goes To…(The 2017 Edition)

And that’s a wrap. Another year of awards season has come to a conclusion and what a conclusion it was. The 89th Academy Awards was one of the most exciting and memorable Oscar shows I have seen. I like Jimmy Kimmel and didn’t think he’d do a bad job but I didn’t realise how brilliant he’d be; he was so on point and hilarious with sharp with and really knew how to keep the audiences interest.

I’m also excited because there was quite a diverse range of films being honoured; La La Land received some big awards but so did Moonlight. Most of the winners I was so happy with and somethings it’s good for it to turn out the way you hoped but then there are some surprises which you have to go along with and are also happy about. I have to say on a less serious note I’m actually excited Suicide Squad is now an Oscar winning film, I’ll take anything for that film because I really enjoyed it.

LA LA LAND (6 WINS)

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  • Best Director (Damien Chazelle)
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Emma Stone)
  • Best Score (Justin Hurwitz)
  • Best Original Song “City Of Stars” (Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul)
  • Best Cinematography (Linus Sandgren)
  • Best Production Design (Dave Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco)

La La Land has been the front and centre during this awards season. Winning a record breaking 7 Golden Globes last month to grossing $369 million worldwide against a budget of $30 and receiving critical acclaim with score of 93% by Rotten Tomatoes, La La Land has caught people’s attention to say the least.

I am so thrilled for Emma Stone who gave such a memorable performance showcasing her hopes and dreams as well as vulnerability and bringing life to the screen. She’s a great actress in general so I’m happy she has been recognised with an Oscar win. Damien Chazelle is a visionary and created a lush and real world, it’s refreshing to see original work rewarded in this way. I loved Whiplash (2014) for which Chazelle was nominated an Oscar for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay so I was happy for him to win this year. La La Land had to win Cinematography and Production Design; such a vision of a film. Colourful, vibrant, full of expression and wonder. Not to mention that stunning soundtrack; it’s head creating anything modern that can be viewed as iconic and Justin Hurwitz did just that.

Now onto the moment everyone is talking about. Warren Beatty is on my enemy list now; I was watching the moment La La Land was announced at the “winner” until Moonlight became the eventual winner and I was thinking “What on earth Warren!”. Whether it’s his fault or not I’m not sure but I’m sorry, he didn’t really seem “with it” so….I was shocked and confused. However, at the end of the day La La Land won 6 Oscars and was recognised for Leading Actress, Director and Music so it won big awards and I’m pleased for that. So it may not have won Best Picture but it was nominated at the end of the day and the film still has had a huge impact on people.

MOONLIGHT (3 WINS)

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  • Best Motion Picture of the Year (Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner and Adele Romanski)
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Mahershala Ali)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay (Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney)

The ACTUAL Best Picture winner was a film that was made on a shoestring budget of over $1 million and now had grossed over $25 million and now is an Oscar winning film.

Personally I would have loved Dev Patel to win but I was still pleased that Mahershala won because he gave a sensitive and multi-dimensional performance as Juan. I’m so happy for Barry Jenkins as well, he may not have won Best Director but he walked away with an Oscar for bringing to life Tarell’s play and life story to the screen for Best Adapted Screenplay so I’m happy with that result. Lastly if any film was to beat La La Land it was going to be Moonlight and I’ve made my peace with the result because it was a beautifully raw and effortless film.

MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (2 WINS)

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  • Best Original Screenplay (Kenneth Lonergan)
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Casey Affleck)

Even though I was hoping La La Land would win Original Screenplay I think Manchester By The Sea is deserving of this award. I was so engaged and immersed with this world that you forgot that it’s not based on any previously written material but it was perfectly constructed story. Kenneth gave a delicate touch to a story of grief and loss, it wasn’t over dramatised or heightened in emotion but it was real and natural.

As the Oscars approached I thought Denzel Washington may win his third Oscar but I’m actually happy that Casey won in the end. Denzel was great in Fences, but it was a very loud performance and seemed quite self indulgent for Washington (to showcase what an amazing actor he is) that I appreciated the nuanced performance from Affleck more. Affleck gave a quite yet powerful performance and after winning the Golden Globe and BAFTA for the same role it was no shock that he would win Best Actor.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

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Viola Davis took away the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for Fences. The film was filled with great performances but Viola was the standout and gave such a heartbreaking performance of a woman who had hopes and dreams but eventually gave them up for her husband who should have treated her better. She holds back when she needs to but let’s go when she needs to stand up for herself. After being nominated twice previously (Doubt – 2008 and The Help – 2011) I’m happy Davis is now an Oscar winning actress.

Zootropolis won Best Animated Feature Film of the Year, it was up against fellow Disney nominee Moana but Zootropolis had a very timely message so I know why it won the Oscar. A deserving win for an animation that is unique and fun yet throughout provoking and appealing to all ages.

 
Well that’s it for another year. Here’s to the 90th Academy Awards in 2018!

And The Oscar Goes To…(Part 2)

It became clear to me that I had more opinions than I realised about the Oscars so that’s why I’ve had to do a second Oscar related blog post. As mentioned before, at the end of the day a nomination is still an honour and there’s more to a films success than winning an Oscar, however I still love the discussions that take place surrounding the Oscars and they do give a platform to smaller films and they do celebrate achievements in the film industry. If you want a recap of my previous Oscar themed blog post click here to read.

Queen Cate Blanchett

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Blue Jasmine (2013) should have basically been entitled: The Film Where Cate Blanchett Wins An Oscar. The comedy/drama directed by Oscar winning director Woodey Allen gave Cate Blanchett the platform to give a powerhouse of a performance which in turn earned her an Oscar win for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading role in 2014. Cate Blanchett is an incredible actress and gave such an authentic performance with conviction as a woman who has had her life stripped away from her and how she is coping with the choices she’s made.

Cate Blanchett has been nominated for seven Oscars and now is a two time Oscar winning actress (her first win was for her supporting role in 2004’s The Aviator). She is the only Australian actress to win two Oscars and is the only actress to be nominated twice for the same role (of Queen Elizabeth I).

In 2014 Amy Adams was nominated for her fifth Oscar (first for a leading performance) in American Hustle, a performance I loved as it showed a different side to Amy Adams and she played a complex character brilliantly. But as much as I love Amy Adams the Oscar had to go to Blanchett, Blue Jasmine wasn’t perfect and the brilliance of Blanchett’s performance was that she carried the film on her shoulders effortlessly and she kept you watching because her performance was captivating and magnetic. I was so happy for Blanchett’s Oscar win because as soon as I saw her performance in Blue Jasmine in the cinemas I thought that she had to win the Oscar, and thankfully she did.

Amazing Alice

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In 2015 Julianne Moore won her first Oscar for her leading performance in Still Alice (2014) after having been nominated previously four times (twice in 2003 for leading performance in 2002’s Far From Heaven and a supporting role in 2002’s The Hours). Did Julianne Moore deserve her Oscar win in 2015? Yes. It was an honest and raw portrayal of someone losing themselves to Alzheimer’s. This was very much Moore’s film and her moment to show her range in one film.

However, in 2014 Rosamund Pike gave a chilling performance in David Fincher’s Gone Girl for which she was nominated for first Oscar for her leading performance. Talk about range, the character of “Amazing Amy” had many layers and was a complex character. She had to be the loving wife and daughter, the best friend of her neighbour, the psychotic survivalist, she knew how to adapt and play to different people’s emotions. Rosamund Pike portrayed that brilliantly and I was so happy when she was nominated an Oscar.

Personally I would have loved to see Pike win the Oscar but I know people really wanted Moore to win as this was her moment and for what many thought a long overdue win. I’m glad Pike was nominated in any case and hope she finds another meaty role to gain further recognition as well. So in short I’m happy “Amazing Alice” had won the Oscar.

The Oscar Artist

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In 2011 a beautiful French silent film was released and took the world by storm. In one of my earlier blog posts I mentioned The Artist as one of my top 10 favourite films of all time, because it’s a breath of fresh air. At the 2012 Academy Awards The Artist won 5 Oscars; Jean Dujardin was the first French actor to win Best Actor and it was the first film to win Best Picture.

It was so good to see a film that was different and unique sweep up the Oscars and to have had a great critical and commercial response; the film grossed $133 million worldwide against a $15 million budget. I love it when the Academy gives platforms to these smaller films from other countries to bring it to the attention of audiences across the world. I was so happy to see Dujardin win for Best Actor as it was impressive to see the exuberant performance with no words, it was all through actions and facial expressions.

She Dreamed A Dream

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Anne Hathaway is one of my favourite actresses. She had been nominated an Oscar in 2009 for her leading role in Rachel Getting Married (2008) and in 2013 she won the Oscar for Les Misérables (2012) for her supporting role as Fantine. In all honesty Les Misérables wasn’t my favourite film, however Anne Hathway gave one of the most heartbreaking and stunning performances, her I Dreamed a Dream sequence had you completely locked into her performance.

Hathaway received some of the best reviews of her career from Les Misérables,
Christopher Orr from The Atlantic wrote that:

“Hathaway gives it everything she has, beginning in quiet sorrow before building to a woebegone climax: she gasps, she weeps, she coughs. If you are blown away by the scene—as many will be—this may be the film for you.”

That close up shot which was fixated on Hathaway’s face was the standout of the film, and it shows the power of the performance that in a film running over 2 and a half hours people still talk about that one scene. From Princess of Genovia to Oscar Queen.

The Prequel To My Oscar Experience

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As mentioned in my first Oscar blog post, it was 2011 when I started watching the televised Academy Awards however I was still aware of who won in various categories the previous years, the 2009 Oscars were almost like a prequel to my Oscar viewing experience. In 2008 Angelina Jolie gave on of the most convicting and captivating performances I had ever seen in Changeling. Based on a true story, Jolie plays a mother whose son goes missing only to be returned to her convinced that the boy is not her son. The obstacles and challenges her character faces are horrifying and you truly are rooting for her character and Jolie plays the role with such power and force you feel her emotions. I wanted her to win an Oscar for her leading peformance, yes she has won for her supporting role in 2000 for Girl, Interrupted (1999) but she should have won her second Oscar in 2009.

Again, I was only partially aware of what was going on in 2009’s Award season so I didn’t realise that Kate Winslet was the favourite to win for her leading role in 2008’s The Reader. When I heard Winslet won instead of Jolie I was shocked, upset and confused. Jolie gave everything to her performance and it was such a powerful story, what more could she have done to win? In 2009 I hadn’t seen The Reader but did years later, Winslet of course is amazing in it…but more Oscar worthy than Jolie in The Changeling? Not really. I wasn’t happy with Winslet (even though it wasn’t her fault but I was young and naive).

For the record I love Kate Winslet, she is a brilliant actress who selects interesting roles and is consistent in her work. She has been nominated for 7 Oscars, 11 Golden Globes (4 wins) and 8 BAFTA’s (3 wins) over the course of her career. As time has passed on I’m happy to say that she is an Oscar winning actress, however I still can’t see how her performance in The Reader was more deserving than Jolie in Changeling.

At this moment at time I’m at peace with what happened, however there is still a part of me that would have loved to see Jolie walk up to that state and collect the Oscar for one of my favourite performances from an actress.

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Feel free to share your opinions regarding previous Oscar winners and nominees, what are you expecting for at this years Oscars? Feel free to comment below. The 89th Academy Awards are on 26th February 2017.

 

I See The Light Of TANGLED (2010)

I See The Light has to be one of the most stunning Disney songs and is the part of the most breathtaking scene in the film. The song was nominated for an Oscar in 2011 (I love Toy Story 3 – 2010 but in my opinion I See The Light is superior to We Belong Together) and is the jewel of the film. Thankfully there are plenty of heartwarming, light, dramatic moments in the film and instead of doing a formal film review, I would like to single out three scenes that represent what a quality film Tangled is.

When Will My Life Begin?

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The opening song in this scene is a great way to kickstart what I would consider to be the best soundtrack to a Disney animation. Rapunzel is introduced to us as her teenage self, and she basically gives us a run down of her day to day activities in the most fun way possible. Whilst on the surface it seems like a nice montage, there’s a lot you can actually unpack.

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room; yes, many may question Rapunel’s spirited nature despite her oppressive circumstance. However, this is a Disney film and some could argue if that’s the only life she’s only ever known then I guess she is the walking example of ignorance is bliss (to be fair she has a nice set up).

As soon as you hear the first strums of the guitar strings, you’re instantly put in a good mood. I love the pop vibe that the soundtrack has, filled with hit worthy songs. I love the humour in this scene and that is credit to Pascal (my favourite sidekick, levelled with Maximus) as he doesn’t need to speak because his face says it all. There are moments in the song where Rapunzel uses him to be a puppet for ventriloquy purposes; from him holding a candle triple the size of him to my favourite part…him being in a dress. This shows the unique friendship between the two because Pascal is willing to do anything for Rapunzel. The montage is so quick that it’s only when you actually stop to think about those small moments that it makes you smile and laugh.

As mentioned previously, this scene does give the whole being “locked up in a tower” thing quite the glossy makeover. However Disney acknowledges the truth of her situation by representing her as someone who knows there is more in life. Despite the fact that Rapunzel has made the best out of her indoor situation she still longs for the outside world and her only dream is to see the lights that appear on her birthday. There’s something missing from her life and though she doesn’t know the details as to why, she has a basic understanding that there is something better for her out in the world.

I’ve Got A Dream

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This is such a hilarious scene; Rapunzel and her innocence captivates the group of thugs and eventually she unearths the soft core in all of them. My favourite moment of this scene is when Rapunzel silences the whole pub by summarising her dream of seeing the lanterns and appealing to them by exclaiming, “Find your humanity!” She shows courage and is not afraid to let anyone stop her from fulfilling her dreams.

What seemed to be a rough establishment actually transforms into an almost therapy-like session. Through song and dance, and through sharing everyone’s dreams, the scene counteracts the brutal outward appearances. I love the juxtapositions in this scene. We see a big rough guy singing about his love of being a pianist, others singing about their love of ceramic unicorns and baking. It’s a total subversion of the stereotypes of masculinity but overall the scene is a lot of fun.

In turn, I love how Rapunzel isn’t fazed by her surroundings and saw something in the thugs that others didn’t see. There’s a funny moment where Flynn’s confused facial expression on his face perfectly conveys his confusion as to why this rough crowd is singing about their hobbies all of a sudden. He’s basically mirroring the audience, and that’s what makes this scene genius, it turns expectations of their heads and shows how we can’t judge things from their outward appearance.

I See The Light

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This scene showcases the captivating power that animation has and in my opinion displays Disney as the forefront of animation. Watch it and you’ll understand why I’ve selected this scene to showcase why I believe Tangled is truly one of best Disney films.

There is such an innocence and heartwarming feeling. The fact that Flynn and Rapunzel are naturally falling in love with each other after spending quality time together beforehand makes it feels organic and natural. This scene, in a way, is also the emotional climax of the film in a way. Rapunzel asks Flyn what will happen if this dream she’s had her entire life doesn’t live up to her expectations, to which Flynn reassures her it will be. It is the most sincere moment of this scene:

“…and what if it is? What do I do then?”

Flynn: “Well that’s the good part I guess, you get to go and find a new dream.”

Cue the most mesmerising scene is animation with the glowing lanterns creating a warm and atmospheric feeling, not to mention the beautiful song that is being sung by the two leads. The film has been leading up to this moment and it means a lot to see Rapunzel being lost in the moment and achieving her dream.

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You may have guessed it but I would have to say Tangled is my favourite Disney film. I honestly could have written a lot more to further back up my claim but the best way to convince you is to watch the film itself. Of course films like The Lion King (1994), Beauty and the Beast (1991) and The Little Mermaid (1989) etc. are iconic and classics but Tangled incorporates classic Disney conventions whilst being modern and exciting (after all I did mention that it would be my Desert Island Movie in my previous post).

It would be criminal of me to leave out mentions of other brilliant moments from Tangled, so here they are in a nutshell:

Honorable Mentions

  • I am a despicable human being/BEST DAY EVERRR!
  • “Mother Knows Best” scene.
  • Rapunzel and Pascal interrogate Flynn.
  • Maximus and Flynn have to settle their differences for a day to make Rapunzel’s birthday one to remember.
  • “Rapunzel Know’s Best” scene.
  • THE WHOLE FILM!

And The Oscar Goes To….(Part 1)

As a self confessed film geek it’s easy to assume the Oscars are the most exciting time for film during the year. I’ve always been aware of the Oscars but it wasn’t until 2011 when I started watching the televised show (from 11:30pm until 5am the next morning in the UK). From that moment onwards I’ve been obsessed with all things Oscars and really enjoy discussing the list of nominees and debate who was deserving or more deserving of the award.

Instead of doing an in depth analysis of the 2017 Academy Award nominees I thought I would go through the past 6 years and pick out some highlights.

NATALIE PORTMAN – Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role 2011 – Black Swan (2010)

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During the first year of watching the Academy Awards live I was cheering on Natalie Portman to win the Oscar for her leading role in Black Swan. I think this is her strongest performance (Jackie – 2016 showcases yet another powerful performance however) as she effortlessly portrays the complexities and emotional range of her character Nina. She gives it everything and more for a bold performance with conviction. The third act where we actually see the performance of Swan Lake is like a mini film in itself and Portman gives a impacting performance that will be talked about (at least by me) for years to come. I can’t believe it was 6 years ago since she won.

This year Portman is nominated for her third Oscar for her leading performance in Jackie (2016). I would say that with Black Swan it was the journey of her character from a mindset of a little girl into becoming a woman and with Jackie it’s showcasing Portman at more of a mature and levelled performance of a headstrong woman. I would love for her to win her second Oscar but if Emma Stone wins for La La Land (2016) instead I’ll think, “…at least Portman has won an Oscar for my favourite performance from her.”

The King’s Speech v Inception: Dawn of the 2011 Best Picture Winner

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It’s exhausting to make a list of who was snubbed or deserved to win because at the end of the day it won’t make a difference and the world moves on. However, only on certain occasions will I voice my upset at injustices that occur on Oscar night.

First of all I love The King’s Speech (2010), it deserved the critical acclaim and Oscar nominations. Yet 6 years on and I still wish that Inception (2010) had won Best Picture and any award that Christopher Nolan was up for (I can’t believe he wasn’t nominated Best Director). This film was a spectacle that had a sense of realism and depth, Nolan had made an epic blockbuster that could be taken seriously and that was pure quality on every level.

That being said, I guess at the end of the day it’s not all about the awards and Inception is still an incredible film regardless…but still.

J-Law Reigns Supreme

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You’ll be shocked to know but in 2013 I only knew Jennifer Lawrence from The Hunger Games (2012) but knew she had been previously nominated in 2011 for Winter’s Bone (2010). Despite the fact I hadn’t seen Silver Linings Playbook (2012) I was still happy that she won because Jennifer Lawrence deserves all the Oscars in the world.

Since then I have watched Silver Linings Playbook and I’m glad to say she is deserving of the Oscar. She plays Tiffany who is bold and unapologetic yet still has insecurities and wants to be loved like everyone else, Jennifer Lawrence perfectly portrays the character which cemented her as the second youngest Oscar winner at the age of 22. She also broke records as being the youngest actress to have received 4 Oscar nominations in 2016 after being nominated for Joy (2015).

The Year I Learned To Pronounce Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Name

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2014 saw 12 Years A Slave (2013) take the Academy Awards by storm. The film won Best Motion Picture making history with director Steve McQueen being the first black director/producer to win the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture of the Year. A well deserved win for its brutal and honest portrayal of one of the most horrific times in history carried by stellar performances.

Amongst the nominees was Chiwetel Ejiofor, and it was in 2014 I finally learned to pronounce his name so I could tell people who I wanted to win for Best Actor. He won the BAFTA (Matthew McConaughey wasn’t nominated a BAFTA so that’s why, but Ejoiofor still deserved to win) but lost out on the Golden Globe and Oscar to McConaughey. In all honesty I haven’t seen Dallas Buyers Club (2013) so I can comment on McConaughey’s performance, all I can say is that Ejiofor gave one of the most convicting performances I have ever seen. So for him to lose out on the Oscar was quite disheartening, that being said at least he was nominated which is still an achievement. Oscars aside Ejiofor’s performance is still one that I remember as being one of the most captivating performances I’ve seen.

If anything the best thing I can take out of 2014 Academy Award experience is now I can correctly pronounce his name.

It Got Real

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2015/2016 wasn’t the best time for the Academy Awards. It was the years where no person of colour was nominated in the acting categories. I think it’s definitely a conversation that needed to take place and it’s great to see diversity in this years list of nominees, however people looked at the situation in a black and white perspective (sorry for the pun).

Yes the acting category was lacking in diversity however overall it was actually not as bad as people made it out to be. Here are some examples:

  • Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu won 3 Oscars for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014).
  • Oscar winning actress Marion Coitllard was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Two days, One Night (2014) who is French and her performance is entirely in the French language (her second nomination to do so).
  • Whilst Selma (2014) was criminally overlooked it was with great pride that John Legend and Common (both black musicians and actors) took home the Oscar for Best Original Song (Glory).
  • Alejandro González Iñárritu again took home an Oscar for Best Director in 2016 for The Revenant (2015).
  • Alicia Vikander, a Swedish actress, won Best Supporting Actress for her performance in The Danish Girl (2015).
  • Asif Kapadia, a British Indian director, won the Oscar in 2016 for Best Documentary – Feature for his work on Amy (2015).

I’m not saying that there wasn’t an issue and something to talk about however let’s not take away that special moment for these filmmakers and actors who are from diverse backgrounds. Diversity doesn’t just mean black and white but it means different walks of life being reflected. Chris Rock hosted the show in 2016 did a brilliant job at addressing the controversy. Basically he was saying how it’s interesting how now people are going mad and boycotting yet there has been harsher discrimination in the past, he also mocked the impact of Jada Pinkett Smith’s decision to boycott the Oscars and he concluded by saying basically all that needs to be done is actors of colour need to be given equal opportunities in securing roles.

That being said it’s so good to see so many great and diverse films being recognised this year: Fences, Hidden Figures, Moonlight, Loving, Lion etc. and may it long continue.

Leo’s Moment

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I loved all the memes where Leonardo DiCaprio was searching for his Oscar and of course all the jokes were based in the truth that he should have won an Oscar long ago. However, at the end of the day he is still an incredible actor; whether he is an Oscar winner or not. I would say let’s enjoy his work and appreciate it rather than focus purely on the awards, plus being nominated for 5 Oscars before The Revenant (2015) is impressive.

Then his most brutal, gruelling and committed performance was seen in 2015 with Oscar winning Alejandro González Iñárritu’s latest effort The Revenant. I remember reading reports of how the film had gone over budget and how it was taking longer than it had planned to due to the visceral filming conditions so it was a relief to see that not only was it a critical success but a box office hit, grossing over $530 million worldwide against a $135 million budget.

The Revenant was an spectacular; visually and performance wise. It may have not been the best film ever but it was more of a film that showcased the skills of Oscar winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and performances from the cast including Leonardo DiCaprio. This is the film that finally saw the legendary actor win an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading role in 2016. His Oscar glory came 22 years after first being nominated for his performance in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993). Many have said whilst he deserved it that really he should have won for other performances; to that I would say fair enough but if anything his performance in The Revenant showcased the level of sheer dedication and determination to fully immerse himself in a role. I don’t care what anybody else says, this was his moment and the moment the world had been waiting for. As his name was announced as the winner he received the loudest applause and a standing ovation, a touching moment showing how everyone was behind him and overjoyed for his win.

Funnily enough I never saw him as a serious actor until Inception (2010) and then discovered his work previously and have kept up to date with it since. Whatever your opinions of his relationship with the Oscars, the wait was worth it and he is a terrific actor Oscars or no Oscars.

To Be Continued

The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.

As I was writing this blog I realised I had a lot to say about my experience with the Oscars since I started watching them live in 2011. It won’t be in chronological order as I recount favourable or memorable moments but it will be a good overview of recognising incredible talent and interesting moments in Oscar history. Do you have any moments where you were happy or unhappy with a certain win? Feel free to post your comments and share this blog post.

 

Let’s Talk About ‘Passengers’ (2016)

2/5 Stars

 

*SPOILER FILLED POST*

 

 

Two months after its release and I’m still hurt by what I witnessed on screen. Passengers (2016) was meant to equate to an exciting film starring hugely successful actors who on paper are perfect for each other on screen. Not to mention the exciting concept of an original space adventure directed by Oscar nominee Morten Tyldum.

Sadly Passengers was a huge let down and has left me baffled as to why Chris Pratt and Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence would sign on to a film with a horrendous script.

I Can’t Look At Chris Pratt The Same Way Again

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Chris Pratt has smashed through Hollywood with Box Office hits such as Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and Jurassic World (2015). He’s an actor that can also do comedy (TV’s Parks and Recreation) and Drama (Her, Zero Dark Thirty and Moneyball), we’ll excuse Bride Wars (2009) and The Five-Year Engagement (2012) from our minds. So of course he was going to be a box office draw for Passengers…so we thought.

In Passengers we are introduced to his character Jim as a likeable everyday guy who unfortunately finds himself in a sticky situation (being awoken 90 years earlier due to a malfunction with his hibernation pod). Then time passes by and yes he’s still lonely and contemplates doing something unspeakable…waking up Jennifer Lawrence’s character Aurora just because he’s bored and is sure she’s his soulmate after staring at her in a hibernation pod one time. It’s that point in the movie that you think, “ok, he’s lonely and desperate so don’t blame him for thinking it but of course he won’t do something so unimaginably creepy and insane…” and then it’s that moment when you realise a film released in 2016 would follow through with this stupid narrative.

Throughout the whole film I lost a huge amount of respect for Jim and now can’t look at Chris Pratt as the all round good American hero.

Seriously J-Law? 

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Jennifer Lawrence can do no wrong…kind of. Her character Aurora was the only saving grace of a deeply flawed film…kind of. I’m struggling to understand why Jennifer Lawrence would sign onto this ridiculous film…the pay check must have made it easier.  Aurora is falling in love with a stalkerish creep which makes the whole “love story” hard to watch yet the moment where she discovers the truth behind their budding romance is the best part of the film.

Jennifer Lawrence has not a look of anger or horror but complete shock. It’s a powerful moment in the film which J-Law plays with conviction. Fast forward to when Jim can’t take a hint and speaks to Aurora over a tannoy to which she screams back her anger and frustration with his character. At this point in the film I’m thinking, “ok, I’m glad they’re acknowledging what a despicable human being Jim is.” Oh how I was wrong. That being said Jennifer Lawrence had the strongest performance in the film especially during the scenes where she is disgusted by Jim’s actions.

Again, Seriously J-Law? 

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Long story short Jim has to potentially sacrifice himself to stop the spaceship from blowing up. I’m thinking that he gets what he deserves but by this point Aurora is devastated and shouts, “If you die I DIE!”. Has she not seen the film and what Jim did to her?

So Jim survives (oh dear) however the film (again) has a chance to redeem itself. Jim figures out that the medical pod can act as a hibernation pod and offers the last one to Aurora. I’m thinking that Jim has found a way to redeem himself and all is forgiven. However Aurora stupidly turns his offer down and lives out her 90 years or so left on a spaceship with a guy who literally took her life, hopes, dreams and ambitions away from her. Jim is back in my bad books again.

I Hate You But I Love You

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Despite the many…MANY flaws with this film…I strangely enjoyed it because it made me laugh due to its ludicrous nature. As mentioned previously it was an unintentional comedy which looked the part of a space adventure. The whole flying in spacesuits scenes were really cool to be fair.

It also annoys me how the film lied to the audience in its marketing. It’s one thing trying to hide the spoilers and leave an element of mystery but it’s another lying and portraying it as a love story for all the ages.  The tag line should have been: Creepy Engineer goes all Sleeping Beauty of Aurora. Enjoy.

Strangely enough Passengers has become a moderate success at the Box Office (not with the critics). Forbes states that…“With $255m and counting worldwide, it is the biggest live-action “not based on anything” Hollywood release of 2016.” The article was written a few weeks ago and Passengers has now gone on to gross over $290 million worldwide. This film is still laughable and I’m shocked that this film was allowed to be made.