Fighting With My Family (2019)

I may be biased but I genuinely loved this film. I found it incredibly funny and heartwarming. It may be Rock-produced film focused on a huge American company, but a lot of the humour is incredibly British and snarky, Nick Frost’s character showing disdain at having to wear a t-shirt as it’s too posh for him etc.  Also, it’s probably the only film this year to have the line “dick me dead and bury me pregnant” in it (unless the sequel to Secret Life Of Pets takes a weird left turn).

This film is helped by the performances. Everyone really gets into their characters, to the point where you forget they’re playing characters. I’ve seen the person this film is based on, and followed their career for years, I still forgot it wasn’t actually her in the film. It’s weird as she doesn’t physically resemble her that much, but the way she performs as her completely convinces you (much like Michael Sheen in The Damned United).

I am aware of the background of this film, the happy ending of the film is one I remember watching and my knowledge actually makes me like the film slightly less. They discount a lot of the work she did prior to that and how highly regarded she was. This film makes it look like she was one step away from being fired and nobody knows who she is. When the truth is she was one of the most highly regarded performers for the developmental company, and the internet loved her and were begging for her to be called up to the main company. This is also shown in the ending. In this, she gets called up and is met with silence as nobody knows who she is. In reality, the reaction she got was loud as hell (caused partly by a large number of English fans who were in attendance) and everybody loved her. I see why they played with reality though, it makes the film much better and flows narratively more. I mean, “highly respected performer who is known as one of the best gets a promotion after impressing on shows for over a year” isn’t as compelling a narrative as “plucky underdog comes from nowhere”. The other thing that makes reality cheapen this film; a sex-tape joke. The person this film is based on suffered from a leak of a sex tape, which led to her suffering from suicidal thoughts and being hospitalised from stress-induced anorexia. So the fact a character refers to another as “sex-tape” because “he makes you famous” seems a bit….awkward. Especially since it SO easily could have been cut out, it wasn’t in the middle of an important piece of dialogue and NOTHING would have been lost if it got cut.

Also, she’s now retired. She suffered an injury which means if she wrestles again she risks paralysis. Although, again, I get why they didn’t put this in. It would have provided a real downer to what is essentially a feel-good movie. And this movie is feel-good. It’s charming, funny, and has the heart needed. That’s the forgotten part of a feel-good movie. If it’s just happy happy all the time the feel-good moments of it feel disingenuous. This film hits hard when it needs to. Yes, you see her succeed, but you see others fail. You see her rise, but you see the aftermath of someone else’s fall. You see her dream come true, but you see her brothers’ dream get torn away from him and he has to watch her succeed where he can’t.

The film also looks good. Apparently, Stephen Merchant was hand-picked to direct this, and I can’t see why. By which I mean I have no idea why he thought he’d be right for this, I mean, he is, completely. He nails every moment of this with a sleekness and brilliance. The way he cuts between a lot of the scenes is genius and I truly love it. I really hope he does more directing work as he’s REALLY good at it.

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Happy Death Day 2 U (2019)

First off, applause for that title. It’s the best/worst sequel title ever and I love it. Now, I LOVED the first movie. Yeah it wasn’t that scary, but it had a great plot and terrific performances, was truly one of the highlights of 2017. I heard initial reports that this one was a disappointment. Personally I liked it. I get why people wouldn’t though. It’s quite different from the first one, with a different emphasis which takes it away from the horror genre somewhat. It also wastes what would be a great plot in the opening 10 minutes where another character is trapped in the same day. Although part of me thinks that that plot wouldn’t have worked because it would have been incredibly similar to the first one. The moment where they find that character from another universe is in this one and trying to kill them definitely would have worked and it’s a shame they didn’t use it. I mean, the plot they used was incredibly good. She wakes up on the same day as the first one, but in an alternate universe where things are different. One of the major differences is that her mum is now alive. This sets up a brilliant sub-plot of whether she wants to stay in the new universe or go back to the one she knows.

I’m under no delusions that this is a great film. But it is a film I love already. Jessica Rothe  is damn amazing in this, and Phi Vu handles his increased duties incredibly well, stepping up from a one-note character to a fully-fleshed out supporting character. Quite a few minor characters from the first movie have increased roles this time. I mean, yeah it’s not the same as the first one, but it works great as a companion piece. They don’t feel too separated, they feel like they belong together naturally. Like this wasn’t a sequel, but was the second part of the first one. Crucially it didn’t need to do this. When you watched the first one it felt like a whole movie, you left it with questions, but not questions that distracted you from how much you liked the film. Your thoughts weren’t “but why did x happen?” it was “I liked that”. So this film wasn’t needed, but you’ll be very glad it exists.

Hasn’t been my longest review, or my best. This is a film that has to be seen to be believed. It’s really weird and worth your watch; even if only for Jessica Rothe’s performance. And the music. And the editing. Editing in movies are like drums in music, I tend to only notice them when they’re really bad (There’s a scene in Bohemian Rhapsody in particular that’s a mess) or really good (this). The montage editing is superb, flows brilliantly and has a great rhythm to it. The emotion this film manages to bring to the table should be commended too. Has genuine tear-causing moments. Which in a film THIS funny is something special. So yeah, go see it, especially if you loved the first one.

Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

Do you have an interest in seeing this film? Then see it at the cinema. Trust me, this is a cinema film. You’ll get a lot more out of seeing this on a big screen than you will by sitting on your sofa watching it. This is spectacle cinema at it’s very best. And like most spectacle cinema, you do feel it’s lacking something though.

It’s not the performances, they’re all fantastic. All of them, and there’s a lot of them. I think it has so many characters as this film was made with an eye towards a sequel. I mean, with the ending this film has, it has to have a sequel otherwise the story will just be unfinished. Christoph Waltz actually seems charming and not-evil in this film, which I didn’t know he was capable of (off topic, if they do a remake of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, he’s Judge Doom). The star of the show is definitely Rosa Salazar, who is so damn impressive in this it’s hard to believe. The way they kind of animate her eyes is genius, a beautiful blend of reality and CGI which is an incredible use of the technology. It’s not being used to replace or create reality, but to work alongside it, which is a technique which always works better.

Now the downside; the big one is the plot is kind of generic. The romance sub-plot seems kind of forced. A lot of the dialogue is just explaining plot points and character motivations to the audience, some of which could have been done a lot more subtly. It’s tonally all over the place, going from a film that’s seemingly aimed at children, to a dog being slaughtered then having its blood used as war paint before saying “fuck mercy” and killing someone. It’s a 12A which features a character being chopped in half at the waist, not a robot, a human. I’m not sure if being chopped in half would kill a robot in this film as it’s incredibly inconsistent when it comes to things like that. Sometimes having a limb chopped off leads to them being severely weakened and makes them as good as dead, and sometimes they just walk it off like it doesn’t affect them. It makes the action scenes difficult to get invested in as after every hit you’re not sure how to react, did that cause immense damage, or does it not matter? You have no idea until AFTER each hit, there are no rules set to tell you which makes it incredibly frustrating.

I feel I need to mention the motorball sequences. They’re the action highlights of the film and make you want to see a film based around it (wait, that exists, it’s called Rollerball and the original is awesome), in fact, I would be genuinely surprised if there’s not a video game based on that sequence, and kind of disappointed.

So should you see it? I’d say yes. The visual world-building is top notch and film-making like this deserves to be rewarded. So go buy a ticket and see it at the cinema, even if you’re not blown away, I highly doubt you’ll regret it either.

If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

This is one of the most critically acclaimed films I’ve seen so far this year. And I can see why; the performances are mesmerising, and the film looks beautiful. It’s an important tale of race and relationships. It just….it wasn’t for me. I found the story-telling too slow and fragmented. Things happen and then are forgotten about, 20 minute scenes cover what could take just 2 minutes, characters you think are going to be important end up appearing in one scene and then disappear.

It’s a shame as it is a wonderful film, you feel an entire universe in this film, every character seems to have a backstory you can’t wait to explore. It’s a fantastic slice of the characters life that we explore. It’s just narratively frustrating. Slice-of-life films are risky as they can end up lacking a definitive story. Some of them I do love (Ghost World in particular will always be a favourite), but some just kind of annoy me. This was in the second category. It’s mainly about someone in jail for a false rape allegation after he was framed by a racist cop (thank god THOSE aren’t a problem in America anymore). It feels like the story is building towards the trial, but that’s skipped over at the end and we go to about 3 years later. It’s a powerful ending as it illustrates how the system can just keep delaying trials to keep people incarcerated until they get frustrated and accept a plea bargain. It’s just a shame that it’s not done well; they give us this information by narration, and it doesn’t really feel natural. The film doesn’t really make us feel as frustrated at the system as it should to make that feel effective. It does it once or twice, but you never really get the sense that this is his only option.

I feel I need to mention the narration again. There’s waaaaay too much of it. The film doesn’t like silence or ambiguity, so if there’s a scene which would be silence and we have to actually think about what the characters motivations are, we get narration straight out telling us. It’s frustrating and doesn’t seem to mesh well with the overall aesthetic of the movie. Everything about this movie, from the story, to the look, to the name actors in small parts, just screams ARTHOUSE cinema, yet the needless narration makes it seem like it’s aimed at mass market. I suspect that’s not the case and it’s just the most effective way to get a lot of things from the book in. I just really wish they found another way.

This review has seemed overly negative I get that. But everything positive about is stuff you’ve already heard. I would recommend seeing this film, and I am glad I saw it, and I do know it was an absolute superb piece of film-making, it just wasn’t for me, and that’s okay. Everything is not for everyone, and that’s okay.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)

No, Melissa McCarthy, we can’t forgive you for Tammy, or The Boss, or Happytime Murders, or, damn McCarthy, you’ve been in a LOT of bad films. I mean, also been in St. Vincent, and that film was fantastic. I do like McCarthy, but I don’t trust her. Like I will never go and see a film because she’s in it. She can be really good but occasionally falls into scripts which just seem incredibly lazy and one joke (that joke being: woman swears and is violent, HAH!”. Thankfully this is one of her good ones. Full of emotion, warmth, and great characters. This film has had so many awards thrown at it that it begins to feel like an assault. But it earns every single one. Not just McCarthy’s performance, but Richard E. Grant finally seems to be getting the mainstream attention he deserves with a beautifully broken performance. I really hope this leads to him becoming a household name. I mean, he is a known name among people who like films, but I don’t feel he’s yet at the “recognised by people who watch one or two films a year”, and he should be, he’s immensely talented (also, how great a horror movie villain would he make?).

The script is also brilliant. It’s about a woman knowingly making forgeries of letters by famous people. That doesn’t exactly sound fascinating, does it? It sounds boring as hell. It also sounds like it will be hard to make the main character likeable. This manages it though (but I think McCarthy’s performance is part of what makes the character likeable too), the story is incredibly riveting, but it does make one misstep. It’s not a problem with the film, but with the marketing, or maybe even the story itself. The trailer showed us how she got found out and investigated for fraud. This doesn’t happen until into the closing section, so it’s odd to watch a film about a plan and KNOW it doesn’t work. I mean, it is kind of fascinating in a way to watch with the knowledge that it all goes to shit, but it does take away from the drama somewhat.

I did like this film a lot, didn’t love it for some reason. Think it might have been because of the aforementioned lack of narrative surprise. It might have just been that the story itself felt inconsequential. I mean, it was incredibly charming and delightful to watch, and if it’s on BBC over Christmas I’ll give it a watch, but I don’t need to buy it. It deserved the plaudits though, without a shadow of a doubt. I must check out the book some time.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019)

I genuinely enjoyed this film and will definitely buy it on DVD when it comes out. It was funny, heartwarming and had an incredibly well-crafted script that is suitable for children and adults. If you asked me during the first half of the movie my response would have been the opposite. I was kind of bored, the jokes were mainly from the trailer so were ones I’d heard before, and the songs were only okay. That songs gripe might not have been the film though, it is possible that the way the cinema set it up was the problem; the background noise and the music was louder than the lyrics so you couldn’t make them out clearly.

So yeah I was not a fan of the opening, it felt not quite as sharp as the first movie, and it sidelines a lot of the characters. Princess Unikitty for example was one of the highlights of the first movie and is not really in this one. The same goes for almost all of the characters from the first one with the exception of Emmet, Lucy, and Batman. This would be fine if the characters who replaced them were as good, and whilst there is nothing really wrong with them they just miss that spark.

One other issue is reality. In the first movie the fact that it was a kid playing with lego didn’t really matter until the very end of the movie. In this it goes throughout, which is both better and worse. It does mean that since you’re constantly aware that it’s kids playing with toys, your brain always thinks “ok, this is what’s happening in the film, now what’s REALLY happening?” so you can’t really get invested in it. The upside is how beautifully it ties into the ending. The final third of this film is amazing and WOULD NOT work without the reality subtext. It’s genuinely genius what it does, and what it means. Yeah this film is about kids playing with toys, but it’s about HOW they play with them. It’s the first film I’ve seen which kind of takes aim at the notion of everything having to be dark and gritty, that phase which every teenage male goes through where they feel everything they like has to be grown up. The idea that films they watch have to be dark and fully of guns. A concept which causes people to try so hard to appear to be mature that it comes off as juvenile. This film takes aim at that notion, and does so wonderfully. The way that reality bleeds into this film is a work of art and I commend it.

So yeah, go see this film, see it twice if you have to. It may not start great but it does achieve greatness when you stick with it. Has a few niggles, and there’s one live action moment which drags longer than it needs to. But it’s very funny with GREAT voice performances and is just as loveable as the first one

Escape Room (2019)

I love the premise of this. The idea that an escape room actually being a torture device that tests people’s wits and logical thinking? I love that! I did not love this film, mainly because they don’t seem to make to the most of the actual premise. It reminded me of Saw, and not in a good way. I insulted that series a lot, but when it was good, the storytelling was superb; when it was bad, it was just a mess. This is closer to the bad. It never gets quite as messy as the Saw movies, by which I mean in terms of how bad the storytelling of those films got, not by the gore. Although more mess in this film would improve it. It is lacking in gore. I’m not a fan of needless gore, but in a horror film, it’s kind of needed. You need some form of brutality to the physical pain to make the audience feel it. I don’t just mean “you need to see lots of blood,” but if you don’t see blood, you need to make up for it through either the performances or the sound design. Sound is an element which often goes underlooked in horror films. A lot of them know you have to use music but don’t really know how to use it effectively. Most of the time when they use music and sound it’s like this:

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quiet

quiet

LOUD NOISES.

Seriously, that is at least 80% of horror films approach to sound, and it sucks. But yeah, back to the point I was making. This film could have maybe worked if it had excellent sound design, excellent performances, excellent ANYTHING really. But it’s all just so plain. Some of the rooms are pretty unique (there’s one in a bar which is a particular highlight), but that just brings me to another issue I had with it. There are multiple rooms. The point of an escape room (not the singular room, not rooms) is you’re locked into one room and there are things which don’t make sense until you see them in a new context later on. It’s about making the most of limited and confined spaces to create terror. Now THAT’S a horror movie. What this one does is constantly move from one room to another. The rooms don’t really seem to link together well in terms of spatial geography. (Seriously, I’d like to see the architectural blueprints of the building this film takes place in.) So, not only does it not really work, but it also wastes a potentially great idea. Seriously. Think about it: a horror film with multiple deaths in a closed room would be incredible because you’d have a constant reminder of the deaths. As it is, because of this, the way it changes from one room to the next, as soon as somebody dies their body disappears and is never seen again, effectively making it like a video game. If it was a singular room, then all the deaths would have a constant presence in the film, which would give you a lot more interesting shots to work with. It could be used to justify almost any stupid decision the characters make. All it would take is someone looking sadly at one of the bodies and it would justify anything as you know they’re full of fear and panic.

So, the actual rooms/puzzles themselves? They’re okay, and some are better than others. I feel this would have been better if it wasn’t done by one director. If each room had a different director, then everything would have felt truly unique. Honestly, I would have LOVED a different writer for every room, too- have them written sort of like a series, then one person comes in and makes the characters consistent between each room. Then they could have had different kinds of scares in every room. They could have one that seemed very supernatural, one that was essentially a slasher, etc. It would have made this stand out in a crowded genre. Some of the rooms are okay. As I’ve already mentioned, the bar scene stands out as a true highlight for the film in terms of aesthetic, set design (similar to aesthetic, but more how everything WORKS together, not so much how it looks), the tense nature, and the absolute GENIUS use of music. It also seemed to be the best use of lateral thinking and intelligence, much more so than in the rest of the film. (There’s a moment where a key is trapped in ice and they use their body heat to melt the ice. It’s a group which contains 4 guys, and none of them suggests pissing on the ice to melt it.) The puzzles themselves are okay, I guess. But it commits a cardinal sin for a movie dependent on people doing puzzles like this: a lot of the time the audience arrives at the conclusion WAY before the characters do. The best example of this is the second room where they have to guess a certain word. The clue is “You’ll go down in history” and there are reindeer heads mounted everywhere. It takes longer than you think it would for them to figure this out. There’s no sense of “oh! so THAT’S the answer! I never would have guessed that! That’s so smart! Colour me impressed!” It’s just “well, obviously that’s the answer.” The disappointment continues to the ending, where we find out that the reason they’re all here is that *surprise* rich people are betting on them. Sigh. I know, rich sociopaths are awful, but you know what else is awful? Formulaic endings which would have been considered bland in the ’90s. It’s a secretive group which builds a high-tech building and kills people whilst watching them from a set of cameras at all times. OF COURSE it’s rich people, and of course they’re doing it to gamble, and of course, the audience realises this about 20 minutes in.

I do feel the performances need to be pointed out though, they’re pretty good. Taylor Russell could lead a Netflix drama series easily, Logan Miller would be a great “main characters best friend” in a sitcom (or just take the roles which TJ Miller won’t get any more due to him being TJ Miller), and I want to see more of Nik Dodani. It’s also great to see Tyler Labine in more stuff, although it does make me want to watch Tucker And Dale Vs. Evil. In fact, I think I will do that, I loved that film.

So in summary, I wanted this film to be smarter and it kind of frustrates me that it’s not. I’m not mad, I’m disappointed.

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019)

Hot damn this film looked good. There’s one moment where the characters are on a beach, making indentations in the sand, and you can almost FEEL the sand, it’s that beautifully animated. That doesn’t quite make up for the script though. It has its moments, but it feels incredibly generic. Unless this is the first film you’ve ever seen you will know exactly what’s going to happen before it does. This is not helped by the villain; who is incredibly unremarkable to the point where he’s forgettable. This is probably also due to how much of the time he spends off-screen, and when he’s not on-screen the shadow of him doesn’t really hang over the film. The main focus of the film isn’t the villain, it’s the female version of Toothless. It seems like the villain is just a method to get to THAT story, rather than the other way around. And the Toothless/Light Fury romance isn’t quite sweet enough to wash away the cynical feeling that it was geared towards toy sales (and yes, I know it was probably in the books first, but meh).

So all of that builds up to what is undoubtedly the weakest movie in the trilogy. The first one was REALLY good, the second one was also very good, and a worthy continuation of the series. This one? It just doesn’t have that inexplicable magic that the first two had. There’s something missing and that stops it being great, and means it’s just good. The ending is pretty great though. I hope it’s the ending anyway. I’d be incredibly disappointed if there’s a sequel to this as the ending to this provides perfect closure to the series as a whole. Maybe that’s my problem with it, it doesn’t seem like a series, just a sequence of films. There’s a few moments of connectivity between the films but they don’t really feel like they’re related. A lot of the characters are exactly the same as they have been throughout. If there was a sequel to this and someone watched that one, but missed out this one, there’s nothing they’d be surprised by. There’s no “wow, that character really changed in that movie I missed”.

I did like this movie, more than this review makes it seem. But put it this way; I don’t have the first one on DVD, and I do occasionally feel like my DVD collection is missing it. My collection will definitely not miss this. Also, the main characters looks way too much like Jake Gyllenhaal at the end.

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Also, I can’t help this but whenever I hear the title to this series I sing it to the tune of Paint Your Wagon

2018 Film Awards

The “Well I Liked It” Award

Gringo

I don’t get the hatred for this. The story was solid and the performances were great. It also looked fantastic. I could understand people thinking this film is just “okay”, but to score as low as it has genuinely confuses me and I don’t get it. I feel part of it is due to the (lack of) marketing which put the idea that this isn’t a good film in peoples heads.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 38%

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Best Scene/Moment

Blackkklansman – The Montage

I’ve touched upon it before but the closing montage is amazing and is one of the most devastating moments of the year. It really puts forward the idea that we, as a species, are kind of fucked up.

Deadpool 2 – Deadpool “fixes” things

That was hilarious and wrong and I loved it. It proved why Ryan Reynolds is the correct choice for Deadpool (as if there’s any doubt of that now) because he’s that willing to make fun of himself and admit his past superhero film mis-steps.

Game Night – Egg Keepaway

Was pretty much done as a one-shot, very well done and the scene made geographical sense in terms of what you saw about the layout of the house.

Creed II – The Of The Fight

It made me feel emotion for a complete bastard. I loved it.

Infinity War – The Snap

Possibly. I didn’t think they’d be crazy enough to actually fucking do it. Now let’s see how they handle the next step.

Hereditary – Charlie’s Death

Mainly because it came out of left-field and was so brutal and unexpected it literally inspired the words “what the cocking shit-fuck was that?” to be put in a blog. It side-footed almost everybody who saw it.

Winner

Halloween – Michael Myers Goes Through Houses

A brilliant piece of film-making. He just goes through houses killing people. He doesn’t do it in a flashy way, with lots of jump cuts and scary sound effects. He just casually walks in, stabs, walks on to the next house. It’s a great display of a serial killer being effective as you could hope for in cinema. It’s like he’s not killing out of hatred, but because he just feels like it.

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Worst Scene/Moment

Co-Winners

Truth Or Dare – The Ending

Obvious sequel hook is obvious. And it made the main characters seem like completely selfish dicks. Effectively the ending is “I will massacre millions of innocent people” and this is seen as “sweet”. Nah, it’s sociopathic.

Show Dogs – The grooming scene

The only film in this blog that i haven’t actually seen. But it has a scene which features someone telling the main character that if someone in authority is fondling his genitals he should just be quiet and go to his happy place until it’s over. Not to escape it, or to stop it, but simply to put up with it. What a fantastic message to send to children.

Biggest Disappointment

Downsizing

Okay, I don’t know exactly what I expect from this film but I know one thing, I expected SOMETHING. This was just really dull. It’s over two hours long and every minute of it drags like someone learning to swim through treacle. Important characters are just forgotten about. It has moments where it looks like it’s going to tell an interesting story but then backs away. There are a hundred different stories you could tell with this scenario, and this decides to tell none of them.

Red Sparrow

I like a great spy drama as they usually have great plotting and look amazing. They also usually are technically brilliant, a chance for directors to really show what they can do. This didn’t do any of that. It did nothing. It was flat, lifeless, and worst of all, dull. I never cared for the characters (which is a minor problem), and I didn’t care for the plot (which is a major problem). How disappointing was it? Put it this way; if I fell asleep half way through, I wouldn’t have checked wikipedia to see what I missed.

Winchester

It’s a horror movie with Helen Mirren, how could this not be great? *watches it* oh, that’s how.

Truth Or Dare

I do love a good teen horror as they’re usually pretty funny and well-done. This was not. The story was so boring and the characters were so annoying I was actively rooting for them to die. Most of them did, but you couldn’t get any satisfaction from their deaths as they were so heavily sanitised there was catharsis. Also, the ending reveals one of the characters to be a selfish bitch, and obviously sets up for the sequel. Ultimately this is one of the worst films I’ve seen of the year.

The Cloverfield Paradox

I don’t know why I was surprised by this. The second one was a disappointment too. But I thought this one would be different. It had a more obvious connection and had Chris O Dowd. But nope, still made a bland story that isn’t as smart as they think it is.

Winner

The Happytime Murders

I wanted this to be incredibly funny, crude, and, most importantly, made with love. This was just really dull. They didn’t even really make the most of the gimmick. They just used it really to make “puppets swearing is funny” jokes. It’s not just that this film is not great, or that it’s not even good, it’s actively bad and I genuinely didn’t expect that. A crushing wave of disappointment hit me relatively early on and never stopped. It’s a shame as a puppet-noir comedy would be great. It it was done well.

Funniest Film

Nominated

Game Night

I expected this to be thoroughly okay, yet I loved it. Yes, some of the laughs are in the trailer, but most of them that are then lead to something even funnier, or are funnier in context. I was laughing my ass off through some of the dialogue in this, and the physical comedy. It’s a great comedy of errors which can be difficult to pull off without annoying the audience.

I Kill Giants

It’s not funny continuously, but when it is funny it’s HILARIOUS (see also, Lady Bird).

Blockers

This film was filthy! And all the better for it. This would not have worked if it was heavily sanitised for a younger audience, the crudeness makes it. Plus, I’ve said it before and I WILL say it again, it’s refreshing to see a gynocentric teen sex comedy. It helps that it is REALLY funny with dialogue that’s endlessly quotable dialogue. This could have been forgettable, in the end it was memorable.

Winner

Deadpool-2-Banner-Cable-Banned-Disneyland-Photo

Deadpool 2

This film could be 90 minutes of somebody punching a kitten in the face, and the ending tag will still cause me to list it in one of the funniest films of the year. Okay, I am a sociopath but the point still stands. You spend so much time laughing here you miss jokes, which you then get the second time.

Scariest Film

Blackkklansman

Not a horror film, no, but that closing montage is fucking terrifying.

Halloween

This film made Michael Myers scary again. And showed why Jamie Lee Curtis is awesome. But it would have been for naught if it wasn’t actually a scary film itself. And it is. Everything about it works to create a classic horror film.

The Cloverfield Paradox

I’m a big fan of body horror when it’s done right, very few things can beat it. There are a few moments in here which are incredibly creepy and disturbing. It would have been creepier on a big screen though.

Ghost Stories

This wasn’t “something’s coming to get you!” scary. This was more “unending dread and feeling that something is not quite right” scary. It’s just so damn, “off” throughout. You constantly have the feeling that something weird is happening and you’re not entirely sure what. It keeps you on edge throughout and means you can never really get comfortable.

Winner

1785

A Quiet Place

Now this is “something’s coming to get you” scary. This wins this award for the effect it had on the audience. Everybody watching it is too scared to make any noise. The thing is, I’m not entirely sure the audience is aware of it. They just know not to make any noise during the screening. It’s a horror film which affects behaviour. Much like how Jaws made people scared of sharks, Psycho made people scared of showers, and Truth Or Dare made people scared of spending money on cinema tickets in case they see a film as bad as that again.

Best Animated/Children’s Film

Nominated

Early Man

By the team behind Wallace and Gromit, so you know you’re not going to get something bad. Aardman rarely make anything that’s not a lot of fun. They may lack the emotion of Pixar, but they’re more enjoyable a lot of the time. Not as good a film as Coco, but probably a better kids film.

Goosebumps 2

Horror is a genre which is difficult to aim towards kids, yet when it works it’s absolutely wonderful. Kids don’t mind being slightly scared, it’s why Scooby Doo works (and is probably most kids introduction to most of the staple horror movie icons; Frankenstein, Dracula etc). So I’m glad this film worked as it shows there’s life in the genre and will hopefully inspire more.

Isle Of Dogs

This one is here purely based on the animation. If I found out a kid liked this I’d assume that they’re actually an adult pretending to be a kid. It’s just too, I dunno, Wes Anderson-ey for kids I think. The animation is f*cking superb though. It looks absolutely breathtaking.

Spider-man: Into The Spider-Verse

Weirdly animated, there’s been nothing else which looks like this in a while. It’s not quite a comic book come to life, but it’s very reminiscent of the style. The story is also great, teaching kids about multi-verse theory is not something a lot of films do. The voice acting is also great with some weirdly a-list cast members in somewhat minor roles (although I am disappointed Spider-Ham wasn’t voiced by Jon Hamm).

The Incredibles 2

I watched this on a plane and still loved it (most of it anyway, the guy sitting next to me was about 40 seconds ahead of me watching the same film and it annoyed me as I’d never win that race). A great mix of satire, slapstick, and superhero greatness. And it looks amazing.

Winner

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Coco

Obviously, I was going to mention this. It’s Pixar, and I love Pixar. They’re seemingly incapable of making non-great films (when they don’t involve cars). This film is so great that it almost seems like an insult putting it in this category. This is not just great for animated film, this is a great film full stop. Emotionally engaging, funny, and beautiful to look at.

Best Film To Look At

Nominees

Game Night

Only for the moments where they made real houses look like game pieces. A subtle touch that was not necessary, but I loved it, it showed dedication to the craft.

Coco

The colours! Never has death looked so pretty. It’s the cinematic equivalent of looking through a kaleidoscope. I’m not 100% certain but I think you could enjoy this film with the sound off, just enjoying the visuals of the whole thing.

Mortal Engines

Purely for the genius in the set design.

Hotel Artemis

This film was beautiful in its ugly nature. It was dirty and grimy and felt like if you touched it you could catch something. It was brilliant.

Ready Player One

Not so much for the quality of the visuals, but for the amount of shout-outs and hidden references they crammed in in the background and didn’t draw your attention to.

Shape Of Water

A film you don’t so much watch, as absorb. A simply beautiful piece of cinema.

Spider-man: Into The Spiderverse

The animation for this made my eyes water with joy. So smooth, so distinct, and so…..right.

Winner

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Black Panther

The Afrofuturism look to Wakanda was SUPERB. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like this before. Marvel have had some criticism for their films but they seem to have a knack for picking the right director for a lot of their stuff lately. The film Ryan Coogler directed before this? Creed. Which, yeah, was GREAT, but in a completely different universe from this one, needed a different skill set so it was a risky move, but one that paid off.

Best Actor

Nominees

John Krasinski – A Quiet Place

“I love you, I have always loved you” scene alone would get him nominated for this. This film proves he’s more than just “Jim from The Office”. I think viewers of that show knew he was good, as that had a lot of emotional moments that reduced people to tears. But I don’t think many people expected him to be THIS good. A great performance, in a film that deserves it.

Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody

Playing Freddy Mercury is not something that’s easy to do. He had a certain other-worldness to him that a lot of people can’t pull off. You need to have the charisma so that if someone saw you walking through the street they’d know they are somebody. He doesn’t quite manage it all the time but gets so damn close you can’t help but admire it.

Woody Harrelson – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

He got nominated for a lot of awards because of this, and there’s a good reason for that, he was great in it. Playing the role with a great mix of sadness and anger that won’t be a surprise to anybody who saw his work in War For The Planet Of The Apes. In the last few years, he really seems to have found his niche as an emotionally conflicted actor, and this is one of the best examples of it you’re likely to see.

Michael B.Jordan – Creed 2

I was tempted to put him in for Black Panther instead, his performance in that almost overshadowed the main character, but a lot of that was also down to superb writing. A lot of performers I feel could have done that and made the character work. This, this had to be him. His facial acting is great. There’s one moment in particular which stands out. He’s arguing with Rocky and says something incredibly harsh, just by his facial performance you can tell that he regrets saying it but is too proud to apologise.

Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

It must have been so easy to play this for laughs. To make this character a one-note joke. For him to turn this character into one of the most compelling characters of the year deserves acclaim, luckily he achieved that with the number of awards he got nominated for/won for this role. It’s odd to me how when discussions of great actors are bought up, people don’t mention Sam Rockwell anywhere near as much as they should. Seriously, watch Moon, that film is basically him acting alongside himself for the entire duration, and it works wonderfully.

Paul Whitehouse – Ghost Stories

I’m not saying this is the best performance of the year, but it’s so notable that I felt it needed to be mentioned. I mainly know him from comedies, yet seeing him in this makes me wish he did a lot more drama. I could definitely see him doing work in the theatre.

Winner

Doug Jones – The Shape Of Water

There are two things which make it hard to give a great performance: 1) not being able to speak. 2) being under heavy makeup. Imagine how hard it must be if you do both? How he managed to do this I have no idea, but he created an absolutely compelling character with his performance here. Turning someone who visually is like the creature from the black lagoon into something lovable. Humans are essentially sociopaths who find it hard to feel empathy for those who aren’t like “them”, this is why it’s so easy for the press to demonise immigrants and people they deem “others”, because of a complete lack of empathy. So for us to feel this much for something that we know isn’t even of the same species is something truly incredible. Now all we need to do is get The S*n to go fuck itself.

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Best Actress

Nominees

Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

She is amazing in this. Turns what could be a hateful character into one you can’t help but root for, even when she’s doing terrible things. Nominated for Academy Award, and it’s almost impossible to argue with that. A great mix of fantastic storytelling, and simply superb performance.

Jodie Foster – Hotel Artemis

Because she’s Jodie Foster and you almost forget just how incredibly she is when she wants to be, and she clearly wants to be in this. Every part of her body is acting in this, even the way she walks tells a story. She knows her stuff, and it show.

Millicent Simmonds – A Quiet Place

A great performance, and hopefully leads to more deaf people being cast in films. Acting is a decidedly able-bodied job for some reason, casting directors would rather cast an able-bodied actor and put them in a wheelchair, than cast someone who’s in a wheelchair. It’s odd and makes no sense. But what does make sense is the sentence “Millicent Simmonds was AMAZING in A Quiet Place, I wonder what she’ll do next” (not the most subtle segue back, but meh, I’m taking it). The emotion she portrays in this film can bring tears to your eyes. She doesn’t have the easiest job this year, but she does it, and does it well.

Sally Hawkins – The Shape Of Water

Yet another strong performance by someone whose character could not speak. As such you lose all vocal nuance and subtleties, yet she still provides one of the most emotional performances you’re likely to see. I don’t often agree with film awards (I still maintain that Shakespeare In Love is not an Oscar-worthy movie in any aspect), but the plaudits and acclaim she got for this have been well deserved.

Hong Chau – Downsizing

Yeah, I was not a fan of the film. But her acting in this was brilliant and it’s criminal that she wasn’t even nominated for an Academy Award. The best way to describe her performance is she’s like a flower made of iron. You feel an urge to protect it despite how strong it obviously must be.

Winner

Toni Collette – Hereditary

Obviously this was going to be mentioned. And with good reason. Her performance is potentially game-changing for horror films as it means “well it’s just a horror” isn’t going to be an acceptable defence of bad performances. This is one of the only horror films I’ve seen lately where I’m genuinely surprised it didn’t get Oscar nomination. It definitely deserved it.

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Best Character

Lady Bird (played by Saoirse Ronan) – Lady Bird

Some people will find her annoying, I found her endearing. Yes her dialogue was a bit too “written” at times but I didn’t care, I enjoyed her that much.

Barbara Thorson (played by Madison Wolfe) – I Kill Giants

Spiteful, bitter, and sarcastic. What’s not to love? Also she gave me some of my favourite bits of dialogue of the year. It’s great because she started of as a real force to be reckoned with but as the film went on you saw her vulnerabilities and sadness. Most adult characters aren’t written as well as this.

Harold Soyinka (played by David Oyelowo) – Gringo

A film which nobody seemed to see last year, which is a shame as it’s a real hidden gem of 2018. Some of that is down to the MASTERFUL plotting, but most of it is down to just how damn likeable the main character is. A character who is shaped by his events with a definitive arc that seems real and human. A lesser actor would have made you pity him and view him as kind of pathetic. The way Oyelowo plays him, however, you’re with him all the way, it’s brilliant to watch.

Winner

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Killmonger (played by Michael B. Jordan) – Black Panther

It’s no secret that Marvel has struggled to make compelling villains. Most of the time they’ve just gone with “The hero, but bad!”. They’ve got slightly better lately; Vulture and Ego, in particular, were impressive, Hela, not so much. Killmonger, however, was utterly compelling. A great villain is one that you kind of agree with. Ones that you listen to them and you can see why they have people follow them. It makes them seem better characters so they have a bigger impact. This character is so compelling, and so, well, right, in his believes that you sort of feel like joining him yourself. You know who he reminded me of? Steve “Leopard” Leonard from The Saga Of Darren Shan books. A character motivated by hate who has done awful things, but his death still shocks you and makes you tearful as you feel he was never really in control of his own destiny.

Best Film

Nominees

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Not a nice story, but a very, very good one. Everything about this film just works. The script, the performances, everything. It’s not perfect, but the things I didn’t like about it are mainly just personal preferences. This is not an easy film to criticise, it’s the kind of film that could change you when you watch it. It’s ugly, but beautiful.

Coco

One of the first films I saw this year, and as soon as I saw it I thought “I should just stop going to the cinema now”, I feared that everything else would seem mediocre after watching this. This is Pixar at their emotionally devastating best.

Halloween

It stopped Michael Myers being considered a lumbering idiot. It essentially had to redo decades of mistakes. It did that, and then some.

A Quiet Place

A masterpiece of film-making. Scary, heartwarming and with great performances. Oddly enough the sound design is great too. I went in expecting to like this, and ended up loving it.

Winner

Searching

As much as I loved the other films on this list. NOTHING came close to this. Nothing. I’m aware there’s a difference between films I love, films which are good, and films which are impressive. This is all three. Not just one of the best films of 2018, genuinely in my top 10 movies of all time.

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So, that’s it, I’ll see you next time.

Glass (2019)

This was perfectly serviceable, but that’s it. I wish this was better. I really do. It had moments of a great movie. The plot is interesting as hell and it was great to see an Unbreakable sequel, and it was always going to be interesting to see that mixed up with Split. So why doesn’t this work? I think the main issue is the script. M.Night is great at coming up with ideas and concepts, but he really needs to find a writing partner who can iron out a few of his weaknesses. Maybe even just focus them down from 10 ideas to 2. It’s great to see Anya Taylor-Joy in anything, but her characterisation doesn’t really make much sense in this film considering what happened to her in the last one. It would be like if the Halloween sequel had Laurie Strode set up a shrine to Michael Myers. It doesn’t ring true and is kind of problematic.

That’s not my biggest issue with the script. Surprisingly my biggest issue isn’t even the obligatory twist ending (although I will go into that later on. You know what? Fuck it, I’ll go into it now. There are two twists, one is that James McAvoy’s character was killed in the train crash in Unbreakable. We already knew he died in a train crash, so everybody guessed it was the same one. The other twist is that Sarah Paulson’s character turns out to be evil, an ending which was figured by, I dunno, EVERYBODY who watched the trailer), no, the real problem is one that someone reading it really should have fixed. Most of the movie is about Sarah Paulson’s character convincing the main 3 that they are not extraordinary, and are in fact just normal members of the public with delusions. That the metal they bent was severely weakened etc. This would be a unique arc for a superhero film, if it wasn’t the third film. As it is, we’ve already seen what they can do, so we know they have powers. So it just seems like a massive waste of time. That wouldn’t matter if the story was compelling, but it’s incredibly dull with some quite bad dialogue. Actually the dialogue is a constant problem here as it doesn’t so much ignore the “show, don’t tell” theory, as talk it into submission. Almost every character explains their motives, explains their feelings, and (worst of all), explains the differences between this and a normal superhero story.

Also, the ending is kind of a damp squib. I feel the same way I felt after watching Unbreakable, disappointed at what I just saw, but really excited about what happens next. Which is good for the sequel, but bad for this films chances of me ever watching it again.

I do have to point out though that the idea is pretty good, McAvoy is the highlight of it (putting much more effort than Bruce Willis does, and is given more to do than Samuel L. Jackson), and the fact that M.Night self-funds his film is incredibly admirable. I just wish he spent more time fine-tuning the scripts.