Top 10 Films of 2018

Selecting your top 10 films of the year is no easy feat. Out of all the films that have been released this year which ones can you hand on heart say are the best of the best. My list includes a varied array of titles from animations, blockbusters and independent films that convey my diverse film taste.

For this years list I have decided to select films that have been released in the UK during the year of 2018, so you will see titles that have been released in 2017 in other countries however they haven’t received a UK theatrical released until 2018. Also I’m going to start with number 10 and work my way to the best film that has been released this year:

10. Isle of Dogs

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Wes Anderson is a genre in himself; an auteur in his own right who is unashamedly himself when he makes films. I’ve seen Moonrise Kingdon (2012) and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) so I have an idea of his style yet I hadn’t seen his other animated work Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) so with his new animation I was intrigued and open minded about what I was about to see. Thankfully it did not disappoint and was one of the most refreshingly original films I had seen in a long time. The deadpan humour was razor sharp, I love how they continued the amazing art of stop motion and the film itself is charming and captivating because it is so uniquely Wes Anderson. If you have any hesitations please put them to one side and go in with an open mind and you won’t regret it.

9. Coco

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Pixar are bold in their animations and never have once spoken down to an audience and always has something deeply profound to say. They go all in when dealing with themes of family and how important human connection is and how important it it is support and encourage each other. The scene towards the end when Miguel sings “Remember Me” to Coco towards the end floored me; so emotionally pure and moving and there so many touching moments throughout the film which show how bold Pixar are. There’s also the fact that this is a colourful and vibrant film that embraces the Mexican culture in a sincere and fun way.

8. Black Panther

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I have a love/hate relationship with Marvel and superhero films in general. I still love the concept of a superhero film and there have been some incredible films that have moved the genre forward but the whole interconnecting aspect of these films feels tiresome to me. However with Black Panther, thankfully it has its own assured identity that yes is part of the MCU but it is so much more than that and is definitely one of the strongest jewels in the MCU crown. Ryan Coogler has made of the most exciting and important films of the year and its impact on the world and pop culture is indisputable. At the core of this film is a really cool superhero that fronts a film that is pure escapism and that’s great, but it’s so much more than that and that is why it has been a major success in every way.

7. BlackKkKlansman

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A strong and solid film that effortlessly blends humour with the harsh realities of society. I’m criminally unfamiliar with Spike Lee’s work however that doesn’t prevent me from seeing the brilliance of what he brought to this film; a tonally flawless film with assured performances from the cast. I can’t believe this is a true story; Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) a police detective infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan. Such an important film that I strongly recommend people to see as it is so enlightening and scarily relevant.

6. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

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Frances McDormand. That is all. Two-time Oscar winning actress Frances gives a blistering performance that is full of conviction and boldness of a woman navigating grief and trying to bring justice to her daughter. This film takes you on a journey that makes you believe it will end in a certain destination (narrative wise) and then it will surprise you in the best that that actually makes the film more impactful as a whole. Oscar winner Sam Rockwell also gives a phenomenal performance, he manages to bring empathy to initially an off putting character however over the course of the film you see his true character which is interesting to see unfold. This film is bold, brilliant and hilarious.

5. I, Tonya

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One of the most original narrative structures I’ve seen that is genius and allows the audience to truly think for themselves. Steven Rogers writes the screenplay from the perspective of both Tonya Harding and Jeff Gillooly of what really happened to Nancy Kerrigan. Margot Robbie gives one of the best performances of her career (resulting in an Oscar nomination) and allows us to see the whole picture of who Tonya was as a person. Allison Janney switches it up with a committed performance (resulting in an Oscar win) that is darkly funny. This film shows you the story you thought you knew but in a very different way; seeing how society and the media treated Tonya is shocking and tragic. Overall whilst this film is told from different perspectives and has many tonal shifts it still feels perfectly orchestrated.

4. Tully

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Charlize Theron at her best. The sign of a brilliant film is when you manage to emotionally connect to a film that on paper you have no connection with; this is a film about motherhood and yet by the end of the film I was in tears. I’ve written a post about why the film was so impactful (so please check that out) but the ending was genius and gives the film a whole new meaning when you watch it back again. Jason Reitman is a brilliant director; he finds power in the normalcy of everyday lives and along with Diablo Cody’s script tells a story we rarely see on screen. There’s so much to admire about this film but Charlize is a standout and gives such a powerful performance that I was so happy to see her work recognised when she was nominated a Golden Globe. This is a refreshingly emotional honest film that also does manage to find humour in what life throws at us.

3. Beast

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This was one of my surprise favourites of 2018. I remember seeing the trailer out of nowhere and instantly knew I had to watch it; thankfully I did because I saw one of the most original, bold and unflinching film of the year. Jessie Buckley shines in this film and plays a fully fleshed out character that evolves during this film in a fascinating way, and when she meets Johnny Flynn’s enigmatic character we are unsure of who we can trust and who is the true beast of the film. Michael Pearce (director/writer) flips the crime/thriller genre on its heads of what we expect from the characters and that’s what makes Beast one of the most fascinating watches of 2018.

2. Lady Bird

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Subtlety profound. Greta Gerwig directs/writes one of the most sincere, intimate and original stories that again will allow people to connect no matter what your background. It’s a coming of age story done in an way that isn’t trying to hard and that’s down to Saoirse Ronan’s Golden Globe winning/Oscar nominated performance as Lady Bird. What I love about this film is there is no sense of judgement or expectations of the characters; Greta writes characters who navigate coming into their own at their own pace. You don’t need to have experienced everything that the characters do to connect with the film, there is power in empathy and trying to understand different walks of life. This is a gem of a film that will stand the test of time for its raw emotional authenticity.

1. Phantom Thread

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Everything about this film is perfect. It surprised me in being of my favourite films that I have seen in a long time and definitely that it has remained my number one film of 2018 from when I saw it earlier this year in February. Daniel Day-Lewis of course brings it to this film and is committed as ever to the character of Reynolds Woodcock; someone who is very particular and talented who meets his match in the name of Alma (Vicky Krieps) who gives one of my favourite performances of the year. Phantom Thread allows you to believe it follows that familiar narrative of the younger woman being infatuated by an older and esteemed gentlemen but Paul Thomas Anderson flips that on its head and tells a story of a woman who is very clever in finding her place in the world of The House of Woodcock and her character will definitely surprise people as the film unfolds. Plus can we talk about how brilliant Lesley Manville is in this film as Woodcock’s sister, she’s cold in her exterior but does have a great sense of humour and is actually really a loyal person.

This film is so elegant and sophisticated in every way which makes it a dream to watch. The costume design is exquisite (resulting in a second Oscar win for Mark Bridges). being set in the 60’s in England gave the film its own character and sense of stature and the music was like a character in itself (resulting in an Oscar nomination for Johnny Greenwood), the music definitely had a presence in the film but not in an imposing way. Again, I love it when an original film is made and when it subverts certain film conventions and Phantom Thread does so brilliantly.

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(Oscar nominated filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson with Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis on the set of Phantom Thread) 

There are some films I thoroughly enjoyed that didn’t officially make it onto my top 10 list; Oceans 8, The Incredibles 2, A Quite Place, Widows, The Breadwinner and so many other titles. That being said I’m really happy with my top 10 and I would be interested to hear your thoughts on my list or films you think should have made the cut. The beauty of film is that it is subjective and one film can mean so many different things to different people. I’m looking forward to what 2019 has to offer in film!

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Don’t You Just Watch Disney?

Film taste can tell a lot about someones character. It’s fascinating when finding out people’s favourite film or genre and figuring out what it is about a certain film that intrigues them. You’ll also have conversations with people who will stay away from a certain genre because it may not reflect their personality and it may not keep their interest. However I’m sure there are people like me who has an eclectic film taste which may be harder to pinpoint who they are as people.

I’m writing this blog post because I’ve had lots of conversations with people regarding my film taste and I’ve been surprised by how confused or shocked they are about the films that I like. It’s not a daily occurrence where everyone expects me to only watch Disney films (which has happened on occasion) but it’s that people may be surprised that I enjoy darker films or even films from the 1930’s etc. I like to surprise people by showing them my varied film taste because it allows me to engage in more conversations regarding film because I’m not close minded.

In order to showcase my diverse film taste I’m going to highlight five films that are so different from each other (which will be scratching the surface) and hopefully it will help you to get to know me better and what it says about me as a human.

1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

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What is your favourite Disney film? That is a loaded question. In terms of animations there’s so many titles to choose from that mean so much to people for various of reasons. You could pick a classic from the 40’s or 50’s, you could select a one from the renaissance era like Beauty and the Beast (1991) or Aladdin (1992), or one from the 2010’s like Tangled (2010) or Moana (2016). So when someone asks me which Disney animation is my favourite it all boils down to which one captures the essence of Disney animations: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.   

First of all this film is an achievement (being the first full length animated film ever) which to this day is impressive and its impact is indisputable. This film is ingrained in my from childhood and there are so many iconic moments that I know off by heart, but also there’s something you get from the film watching it as an adult. I don’t know if it’s me but the music in this film evokes a lot of emotions, there’s almost an eerie quality to it which seems purposeful given that it’s about a Queen wanting to kill a young woman. There’s a lot I could say in terms of my love for this classic animation and without this film who knows what would have become of Walt Disney studios. That is how it captures the essence of Disney animations; something that appeals to all ages and that stands the test of time that no other animated company can replicate. This film represents my love for family friendly films that does not limit its appeal to children but to anyone with a heart.

2. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

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This film perfectly encapsulates my love for huge scale storytelling. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is pure escapism and reflects my love of fantasy storytelling, but it also has depth and Peter Jackson does a phenomenal job of allowing each narrative strand to breathe and for each character to have their moment. This has literally been my number one film for most of my life and I highly doubt it will change any time soon.

The trilogy is pure magic and I love the first two dearly; however it all boils down to the third film where everything that has been accumulated over the past two films and now it’s all or nothing. The huge battle scenes at Gondor and Mordor as well as seeing Eowyn defy what was expected of women by fighting for her land, Frodo continuing taking the burden of the ring on himself and of course seeing Aragon embrace his destiny. There is so much to unpack in this film and that is why it has always and will remain my favourite film; it’s exciting and thrilling yet emotional and engrossing. This film definitely represents my love of imagination and getting lost in different worlds.

3. Roman Holiday (1953)

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Audrey Hepburn strolling around in Rome during the 1950’s, what is there not to love about this film. I love classic films and I’m always on a mission to watch more but I have seen my fair share, and I think that surprises people but a film that is in black and white does not alienate me at all. This film is so beautiful and has a special place in my heart from watching it as a child on VHS and being mesmerised by this film but then watching it as an adult and seeing the depth that this film has emotionally and in its storytelling.

Many young people I know will not venture further back than the 1980’s in terms of what films to watch and that upsets me. Some of the greatest films can be found in the 1930’s and 1940’s; Gone with the Wind (1939), Citizen Kane (1941), Casablanca (1942) to name a few that have influenced cinema for generations to come. What you will discover should you give older films a chance is that you realise that all these stories are universal and can resonate with modern day audiences.

4. Gone Girl (2014)

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Contrasting my love for family friendly Disney animations I present….Gone Girl. If you’re familiar with David Fincher’s filmography and Gillian Flynn’s writing then you know you won’t be expecting a musical number in this film. Gone Girl is one of my favourite films because it’s such a layered, complex, deliciously dark film that has an incredible narrative structure. I remember reading the book and having a feeling of whiplash when the huge reveal happens halfway through and then it escalates and becomes something completely different from what you expected in the best way. The ending is powerful as well because it’s not what is meant to happen at the end of a crime thriller but that’s what makes it more scary and to a degree realistic (in a lose sense of the word).

People may be surprised that I like darker films such as Gone Girl but films like this that explore all natures of humanity and aren’t afraid to show the ugly side of what makes us human are bold and fascinating. If we stick to just one way of thinking how are we expected to understand the multi fascinated nature of who we are as people? Film allows me to take myself out of my bubble and realise that people have different experiences from each other and its important not to become complacent and think our experience is the only one that matters.

5. The Princess Diaries (2001)

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Anne Hathaway couldn’t have asked for a better way to introduce herself to people than through this gloriously fun film. The many quotable lines, the music, wishing your grandparents would come to your home and tell you you’re royalty (and that pear ice cream!) there’s so much to talk about when thinking of The Princess Diaries. A film that is part of my childhood but also a film that still retains its charm and feel good nature.

That’s what this film represents; that feeling of switching off your brain and wanting to just enjoy a fun film that doesn’t take itself seriously. Yes I love my critically acclaimed films and yes I love films that are dark and gritty yet you have to balance out with a touch of lightness to keep your mind open and to have a broad film taste.

 

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(La Vie en Rose – 2007) 

As I mentioned previously, these five films barely scratch the surface of best describing my varied taste in film. There are many other examples I could have used to illustrate how I watch films for other reasons; La Vie en Rose (2007) for my love of foreign language films, Transformers (2007) for my love of trashy switching your brain off type action films, Beast (2017) for my love of independent film and the list goes on.

The reason why I love watching films that reflect all different walks of life because it gives me a broader sense of the world, it allows you to be open minded and not be so restricted in our worldview. So referring back to my previous statement about how film can tell you a lot about someone’s character: I guess mine says that I am able to be empathetic and listen to different experiences that people face and not be afraid of any other experience than my own.

 

TULLY (2018)

Before knowing what Tully (2018) is about there are already many reasons why you need to see this film: It has Oscar winning Queen Charlize Theron (Young Adult, Mad Max: Fury Road, Snow White and the Huntsman) Directed by Oscar nominated Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air, Young Adult) and Oscar winning screenwriter Diablo Cody (Juno). It also features Mackenzie Davis which is exciting because I saw her in a film called Breathe In (2013) which is a small film which not many people know about (I was excited to find that’s how Reitman knew about her) but since then she’s worked on incredible films like The Martian (2015) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017) so it’s exciting seeing her in a prominent role alongside the icon that is Theron.

By now you should be pre-ordering your tickets to see the film but now we have the facts out of the way I can tell you that the main theme of Tully centres on motherhood. Charlize Theron gives a committed performance of a mother who is about to welcome her third child and her brother offers to pay for a Night Nurse to look after her newborn during the evening.

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I’ll explain towards the end of the article why this film moved me in a powerful way (don’t worry, I’ll warn you when the spoilers appear) but it basically confirms that no matter what the central theme is there is still something that everyone can relate to and that for me is when film can be at its most powerful.

It’s funny because I know that I have an eclectic film taste and have written many blog posts stating my favourite films and my love for foreign language films yet people still think I only watch Disney and U Rated films. So just to clear up those misconceptions I love watching films that tell stories from different walks of life so it can allow me to have a broader sense of life and step outside of the bubble of my own life and understand humanity just a little bit more. Obviously I’m not a mother, I’m not even a parent but I loved watching Tully just to have an insight to see what women really have to deal with when looking after children and understanding the pressures that society can put on them but also the beauty that comes with creating life. I have a sister who is a mother, obviously I’m not with her all the time but I have an inkling of what she has to go through and the strength that is found in motherhood.

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Charlize Theron in Young Adult (2011)

Also I loved what Reitman/Cody/Theron did on Young Adult so I knew Tully would be a great watch; they didn’t try too hard to push an idea but it’s very organic and natural and yet so deeply profound. When I was watching Tully I was thinking about how society can be so hard on us but also how hard we can be on ourselves trying to live up to a certain standard. There’s a scene where Marlo (Theron) orders a decaf and another customer calls her out by saying there’s still traces of caffeine in the mugs, to which Marlo ignores (much to the customers disgust) or when Marlo screams outside of the car after a frustrating meeting with her sons teacher. Marlo loves her children and her husband but we see her at a point in her life where it’s getting too much for her and the film also deals with our identity, who was Marlo before she had children and is she still the same person and if not is that ok?

This is when Tully (Mackenzie Davis) comes in. A Vibrant, youthful and forthright woman who is like a saviour for Marlo coming into her life and taking some of the load off her so that she can have a good night sleep and have some energy back. It’s a beautiful friendship that unfolds on the screen and not only does Tully inject some of that joy back into Marlo’s life but also Marlo cautions Tully of what time can do to a person. Both Davis and Theron work brilliantly together and their performances are so authentic which felt refreshing.

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Now here we come to the SPOILERS (Spoilers will be in ITALICS)

I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of how the film would play out but I was not ready for what was to come. So Tully takes Marlo out for some drinks and as they’re driving home they end up in an accident. Marlo wakes up in hospital and the doctor asks her husband if Marlo has suffered from mental illness in the past and then the twist that I was NOT EXPECTING happened: the doctor explained that Marlo was severely sleep deprived and as the audience we realise that Tully was not real…but a figment of Marlo’s imagination (her younger self coming back to help Marlo as Marlo’s maiden name was Tully) and I nearly cried. I wasn’t ready or expecting how emotionally impacted I would be by this Fight Club (1999) style of ending and I’ve reflected since to find out why because I’m only 24 and not a parent that has lived life but I remember just feeling true empathy for Marlo that all this time she was truly alone and basically was trying to figure out who she was and who she has become and what time can do to us. Tully comes back in the hospital room saying she has to go and Marlo agrees and the look on Mackenzie’s face in knowing she has to go is heartbreaking I could have cried again. It was very emotional but also in a good way because at the end Marlo is looking happier, with more energy and as Tully says before has gotten Marlo through the danger zone of looking after a newborn baby. Marlo is happy with who she has become and that’s a beautiful thing to see on screen. If I’m not making sense it’s because I’m still emotional thinking about it all. 

SPOILERS END:

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The meaning of the ending and how that helps you see the film in a different light is probably for another blog post as I thought it was incredible and totally different to what I was expecting, but basically what I loved about this film was how accessible it actually was. Everyone should give this film a chance, not just because of the incredible talent in front and behind the screen (though that is a main factor) but it can create conversation about our progress in life, who we were and who we have become and it’s always welcome to see an original film come to our screens.

RATING: 5 STARS

And The Oscar Goes To…

 

The best time of the year has passed and now we have to go into the rest of the year Oscar-less. So let’s celebrate the lucky select few that walked away with that famous golden statuette and let’s celebrate the incredible strong year in film. I’m sure that phrase has been used before in previous years however I truly believe that 2017 was a best year for film for a long time. Having films like Lady Bird and Get Out breaking the mound there was a lot to celebrate this year.

Even though there were some certainties I would have generally been happy if it had gone either way and there was a feeling this awards season that there was a true love for all films nominated because it was a groundbreaking year for film.

What I love about this year is that the Oscar winners (in the acting categories in particular) were seasoned actors and I love how the Academy recognised actors who have been around for a long time who have had an incredible career and won this year for powerful performances.

The Shape of Water (4 wins)

Best Motion Picture of the Year (Guillermo del Toro, J. Miles Dale)

Best Achievement in Directing (Guillermo del Toro)

Best Achievement in Music Written for the Motion Pictures – Original Score (Alexandre Desplat)

Best Achievement in Production Design (Paul D. Austerberry, Shane Vieau, Jeffrey A. Melvin)

This is a passion project for Guillermo del Toro who has always stood up for monsters and in this film in particular he speaks out for love and fairytales. Even though this wasn’t my favourite film out of the Best Picture nominees I do admire Toro’s artistry and vision for the film and I would actually like to watch it again because there were some strong themes and the ending was powerful. Now Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri had won at the BAFTAs and Golden Globes for Best Picture so I was expecting that film to win however The Shape of Water did receive 13 nominations and has received a lot of love this awards season so I was still happy with the result.

I’m so happy for Alexandre Desplat winning his second Oscar, the music in the film was almost like another character and was so lush and beautiful; perfectly capturing that Golden Age of Hollywood.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2 wins)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Frances McDormand)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Sam Rockwell)

I loved this film. Bold, strong, darkly comical with powerhouse performances from its cast. That’s why I was so happy with Sam Rockwell winning his first Oscar and especially happy with Frances McDormand winning her second Oscar (first win was Fargo in 1997), It’s great to see a seasoned actor rewarded in this way and she showed us why she is the great actress that she is. Also can she get a 3rd Oscar for her incredible speech please?! Best speech of the awards season for demanding equality and sharing her moment other other female nominees. Well deserved win for McDormand.

Now Three Billboards did win Best British Film and Best Film at the BAFTAs as well as Best Motion Picture – Drama at the Golden Globes so I was expecting for it to win at the Oscars but again with it being such a strong year for film I’m happy either way.

Darkest Hour (2 wins)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Gary Oldman)

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling (Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick)

My least favourite film of the year, however Gary Oldman rightly won the Oscar for his powerful and transformative performance as Winston Churchill. He had been nominated previously for the first time in 2012 for Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy (2011) and after having an incredibly successful career many were surprised he hadn’t won before so it was great seeing him being rewarded in this way.

Coco (2 wins)

Best Animated Film (Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson)

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures – Original Song – “Remember Me” (Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez)

I’m so glad I managed to watch Coco a couple of weeks ago! One of Pixar’s best outings which was emotionally poignant and I loved how respectful they were of the Mexican culture. Now I knew the film would win Best Animation but a pleasant surprise was winning for Best song. As a song itself “Remember Me” is not the strongest in the category, many people thought “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman would win, however in context “Remember Me” is powerful and in that case I’m really happy it won. Not to mention it’s the Lopez’s second Oscar win after winning in the same category for “Let it Go” from Frozen (2013) 4 years ago so well done to them!

Blade Runner 2049 (2 wins)

Best Achievement in Cinematography (Roger Deakins)

Best Achievement in Visual Effects (John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover)

Blade Runner 2049 was my favourite film of 2017 and I’m glad it received recognition for its strong visual elements. I would have loved more recognition in other directors (Denis Villeneuve was nominated Best Director at the BAFTAs at least) but at least it won some awards.

Most notably for Deakins who had FINALLY won as he had previously been nominated 13 times. So I’m glad he finally got recognised and especially for visually lush film like Blade Runner 2049.

Get Out (1 win)

Best Original Screenplay (Jordan Peele)

Jordan Peele made history on Oscar night for being the first African-American to win Best Original Screenplay. I’m so happy Get Out won an Oscar; the film had been nominated 4 Oscars (including Best Picture) bearing in mind it came out in February 2017 so that’s amazing.

Get Out is layered and with multiple viewings you’ll get more out of the film and you’ll love it even more. That’s down to Peele and his Screenplay so I’m happy for his Oscar win.

I, Tonya (1 win)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Allison Janney)

I, Tonya is a bold, brash, comedy/drama and I’m glad Margot Robbie was nominated for her incredible performance as Tonya Harding and in a another year she could have won, but this film was a moment for Allison Janney who has had a long and exciting career so this was her moment and a well deserved one as that. When you watch her in I, Tonya you realise it’s such a transformative role and you see how talented and amazing Janney is in that role.

Call Me by your Name (1 win)

Best Adapted Screenplay (James Ivory)

James Ivory, at the age of 89, became the oldest Oscar winner ever (having previously been nominated as Best Director 3 times) so it was a huge moment for him. It was an emotional moment when he was thanking people he had worked with who had recently passed which shows he’s had a long and successful career and he was rightly recognised for the Oscar this year.

Special Mentions:

(Phantom Thread)

Phantom Thread had been nominated for 6 Oscars (including Best Motion Picture) and it was one of my favourite films of the year, so thankfully it didn’t walk away empty handed as it won for Best Achievement in Costume Design (Mark Bridges) which was his second Oscar win after winning for The Artist (2011) 6 years ago. He even won a speedboat for the shortest Oscar speech so he was the big winner so well done to him!

Dunkirk won 3 Oscars for the technical awards (Sound and Film Editing) which it deserved however because I found the film quite boring I wasn’t really invested with the wins.

Also I’m proud I guessed 15 of the Oscar wins correctly against my friend who guessed 12 correctly so well done me!

The Good Showman

The Greatest Showman (2017) may have earned a 54% on Rotten Tomatoes (Branding the film as ROTTEN) however it has struck a chord with audiences grossing over $237 million worldwide (against an $84 million production budget). The majority of people I know who have seen the film absolutely love it and have seen it multiple times; it’s great to see how the film has had such an impact and brought joy to people.

The reason for this blog post is because I’ve heard people raving about The Greatest Showman and some have even compared it to the Oscar winning La La Land (2016) by saying it’s a stronger musical. To set the record straight I did like The Greatest Showman but if people suggest that it is a better musical than La La Land...then I don’t know what else to say than in my opinion it’s not. First of all they are different films but if I had to compare La La Land is my favourite of the two.

I’ll start by saying what I enjoyed about The Greatest Showman: the soundtrack is a solid effort from Oscar winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul delivering some standout original songs. I love the Golden Globe winning/Oscar nominated song “This Is Me”, “The Greatest Show”, “The Other Side”, “Never Enough” and “Rewrite the Stars”. The positive thing about this film is that it is assured in its identity as a musical that is meant to inject joy into audiences, it doesn’t try to be anything else and is clear in what its meant to be.

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Secondly, Hugh Jackman (who was nominated a Golden Globe for his role as P.T. Barnum) carried the film effortlessly on his shoulders. You can understand why because he was passionate about the role even to the point where he was involved in getting the project made for seven years! Hugh is no stranger to musicals on screen (he was nominated an Oscar for his performance in Les Miserables – 2012) and he relishes in bringing P.T. Barnum to the screen to bring audiences together for a fun ride.

Lastly it’s great how the film explores the themes of acceptance and embracing everyone from all different walks of life (which is encapsulated so well in the song “This Is Me”). Whilst it may have been done in a sugary affair, it’s still an important theme and a one that I believe has resonated with audiences, especially in such a divided world.

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However, the difference between La La Land and The Greatest Showman is that the former is stronger in every area of the film whereas the latter may be strong in its identity as a musical but as a story and character development it’s lacking. I understand you can’t approach The Greatest Showman as a full on biopic otherwise it may be a more morbid affair but in being brash in its musicality it does suffer from there being any grounded nature to the film and in turn it feels more lightweight. The film is definitely more about the songs than anything else. Also to compare numbers: La La Land grossed over $446 million worldwide (against a $30 million budget) and scored 92% on Rotten Tomatoes (Branding the film as FRESH). On top of wowing audiences AND critics the film had a clean sweep at the Golden Globes winning seven awards (the most won by a single film) and won six Academy Awards last year.

Now with La La Land it’s more intimate as it follows mainly two characters: Mia (Oscar winner Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling) in their relationship and their journey of trying to follow their dreams. The film starts off strong in embracing its identity as a musical with big songs such as “Another Day of Sun” and “Someone In The Crowd” however it doesn’t shy away from having tonal shifts to embrace the more real elements of life without it feeling jarring.

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I love how it is a full on musical but also an more focused film in terms of pacing and character study. The film evolves at its own pacing which doesn’t feel forced or rushed and then it becomes more about the decisions the characters have to make about their futures and reviewing their hopes and desires. One of my favourite scenes is when Sebastian surprises Mia with a meal when he comes home from tour, it’s a conversational scene where everything is explored (regarding where they’ve come from and where they hope to be in the future) that becomes an argument in a very mature and organic way. The dialogue doesn’t feel overtly sentimental or emotional, the tone is just right. The film can be strong in its musical scenes as well as its character scenes.

Also I love how throwback La La Land is, it has a strong Singin’ in the Rain (1952) vibe and the jazz infused soundtrack is classic and beautiful. Even the instrumental tracks are soothing and exciting, especially the “Epilogue” score. The Oscar winning cinematography is stunning with the vibrant colours and and striking settings (most notably when Mia and Sebastian first dance together after the party they’ve been to and when inside the Planetarium).  Not to mention the incredible Epilogue scene which was very bittersweet, giving the audiences what could have been whilst being bold by saying life doesn’t always go as planned.

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At the end of the day it’s all subjective and down to personal taste. For me The Greatest Showman was a good musical, but nothing more. Where as La La Land for me has so many layers, classic songs and visuals and Oscar winning acting/direction/cinematography. They are both different films in what they are representing and to both of their credit they are original musicals which is always welcome. By all means say how much you enjoyed The Greatest Showman but personally I don’t think it’s the masterpiece audiences have made it out to be.

Feel free to share your opinions!

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….(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.

 

Arrival (2016) Film Review

 

3 STARS

Arrival has received universal critical acclaim and has grossed $130 million worldwide at the box office against a $47 million budget. Arrival also received 2 Golden Globe nominations including a nomination for Amy Adams in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama category. One would assume that Arrival is a great film that everyone should see, I hate to say it but I was not blown away by this supposedly fresh and unique take on the sci-fi genre. I’m conflicted because there were aspects I appreciated and I think I know what they were aiming for, however it never really clicked with me.

WHAT I LOVED

AMY ADAMS

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Amy Adams was the standout. The 5 time Oscar nominated actress can do no wrong and deserves her Golden Globe nomination for her performance in Arrival. Amy Adams has to be one of my favourite actresses because she gives powerful and diverse performances in films such as Enchanted (2007), Doubt (2008), American Hustle (2013) and Big Eyes (2014). She isn’t afraid to tackle any genre as she takes on a role and gives it her all.

This time she strips it back and there’s power in the stillness of her performance; we meet her character Louise at a moment in her life where she is numb from the hardships that life has dealt her and when the aliens arrive she has to find her purpose again. Amy Adams is captivating because you’re constantly watching trying to decipher what her character is feeling and processing as she’s dealing with the current state of events as well as dealing with the repercussions of her past.

DIRECTION

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The only other film I’ve seen from Denis Villeneuve is the Emily Blunt fronted Sicario (2015) which I loved. There are similarities in terms of his direction; he doesn’t rush the pace or tone of the film and he lets moments just be. It may be slow for some but for me it’s Denis allowing the audience to be in the moment and take in every little thing in. As I was watching Arrival I could detect the sense of direction from Denis, however towards the end it never really took off and the pay off was quite anti-climactic (which I’ll expand upon later on) but on the whole I loved his directing style.

SUBVERTING GENRE

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The one thing Arrival has going for it is that it isn’t a flashy and loud sci-fi blockbuster extravaganza; it’s very stripped back and quiet. Going back to the points about Denis’ directing style and Amy Adam’s performance there is a stillness which is refreshing and the film does it’s best to try to be thought provoking and giving little bits away to keep the audience watching.

 

WHAT I DIDN’T LOVE

ALIENS (not the film)

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What were up with those aliens? The design of the aliens were so bland and unoriginal. The whole concept of the aliens were wasted and I was disappointed thinking that Arrival would offer something we haven’t seen before and yet it was very generic in design.

THE MESSAGE

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The overall message as well didn’t really connect as much as I wanted it to. I understood what the film was going for and there’s a moment where Amy Adams asks Jeremy Renner’s character Ian whether if he knew what life would deal him would he still go for it. Without giving too much away I understood what the film was trying to convey to the audience but found it pointless and a wasted opportunity be told through a sci-fi film; there was no need for aliens to come down and serve the purpose they served. I remember the film finishing and just thinking what on earth have I just watched? Because even though I understood the overall message of the film there were still some unanswered questions.

 

CONCLUSION

From the director who brought us Sicario (2015), featuring a great cast consisting of Amy Adams (American Hustle, Her, Enchanted, The Muppets) and Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, Avengers Assemble, American Hustle, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) and the fact Arrival had rave reviews I was left feeling very disappointed and didn’t feel the film delivered on what was being promised to the audiences. There are some positives to be taken away from the film viewing (as discussed previously) however ultimately it isn’t a sci-fi that is going to become a modern day classic. Dare I say that I’d rather watch Interstellar (2014) than Arrival.

The Light Between Oceans (2016) Film Review

4/5 Stars

Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander: two reasons why you need to see this film. I think they are incredible actors and they deliver committed performances. The Light Between Oceans tells the tale of a lighthouse keeper (Fassbender) and his wife (Vikander) who rescue a baby adrift off the coast of Western Australia. This is a film that has an engaging narrative and character development which will surprise audiences along the way.

The Light Between Oceans was an emotional roller coaster because it took you places you weren’t expecting or anticipating; I was an emotional wreck and I haven’t had an experience like that in a long time. I was invested in these characters and by the time they learn the true parentage of their adopted daughter you feel their pain and the moral dilemma they face.

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Bringing it back to the leading actors of the film; they were stunning. Oscar nominee Michael Fassbender portraying Tom Sherbourne, a emotionally closed off war hero who opens himself up to heartfelt local girl Isabel Graysmark played by Oscar winner Alicia Vikander. They have a lot to explore with their characters as the film covers a long period of time so you see the actors play around with the different seasons their characters go through and it’s exciting to see so much depth in a character.

Oscar winner Rachel Weisz appears later on in the film changing the mood of the film allowing the film to explore other issues and themes. The dynamic between the cast is so natural and they all blend so well together it’s great to watch. The emotion they managed to evoke is incredible and so natural.

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I can’t say much about the film as I don’t want to spoil the different avenues the film explores however I will say that you need to bring your tissues as it definitely isn’t easy on the heart. That being said what I love about the film is how it has a good pace, without the film feeling rushed or dragged along. I’ll also say that the tone of the film is consistent despite the fact events happen which changes the direction of the film yet the tone never feels uneven or abrupt; everything is connected and feels justified to be in the film. The themes explored can be heavy but they are explored delicately and there is no sense of judgement of the characters’ actions. There are so many layers to the characters which creates engaging discussions about how they cannot be easily defined.

You need to watch the film to see for yourself how intricate the narrative development is and how each character is substantial and says a lot about humanity and our need to feel belonged; to be with each other and not isolated. There’s so much I want to say about specific scenes which perfectly sum up the themes explored in the film but I won’t spoil it for you; so watch the film and then take a few minutes to process what you’ve just seen.

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