End Of 2017 Film Awards

Our final look back at 2017, after this it’s onwards and upwards as we look forward to the wonders of 2018 (by which I mean, Coco, Ghost Stories, and Three Billboards, two of which I’ve already seen, so really the year is all downhill from here)

Best Actor

Winner

Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out

The entire film sinks or swims on his performance. If he doesn’t give a good performance then this entire film sinks. The writing, the directing, it’s all for nothing if you don’t buy the central performance. Fortunately, he’s superb. Not just vocally, visually he just owns this performance. Starting off seeming really cocky and arrogant, then ending up terrified. If this doesn’t lead to him leading more films then I officially give up on Hollywood.

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I know, the film that had this in the trailer ended up being creepy, who’d have guessed?

Other Nominees

Jason Sudeikis. – Colossal

Genuinely creepy and unsettling. Brilliant. I expected his performance to be comedic and one-note but he managed to turn in a magnificent performance that made him seem like the creepiest person on the planet, but believable. You could see his thought processes in play and knew why he was thinking like that. The revelation about his creepy persona makes sense because of how well it’s been set up. A sign of not only a great performance, but also great writing.

Hugh Jackman – Logan

This is a personal choice, because I didn’t think he could do as much as he did in this. The way he carries the character contains a lot of backstory. He’s no longer the invincible hero, he’s playing him as someone who knows his time is up. Someone who knows he’s not long for this world and is struggling to face his own mortality. It’s a depressing performance for a comic book film, but works wonderfully.

Best Actress

Winner

McKenna Grace – Gifted

Want to know how good this performance was? It was a performance by a child actor that I didn’t hate. The character is a know-it-all smartass. So it would be incredibly easy for her character to come off as annoying and pretentious. The way McKenna plays her, however, is great. She’s played as someone who knows the downside of her intelligence, someone who knows that whilst she is much smarter than her uncle/caregiver, that doesn’t necessarily mean she knows more than him. It’s played with a slight vulnerability to her which renders her incredibly easy to root for and support. No idea where she, as an actress goes from here but I’m intrigued.

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And she had great chemistry with Chris Evans

Other Nominees

Anne Hathaway – Colossal

I do love Anne Hathaway. She’s most known for romantic comedies sadly but has a phenomenal range. For proof of this watch Rachel Getting Married, she gives an amazing performance as a recovering addict haunted by her past choices. She’s just as good in this. Some of that is obviously down to the script, but a lot of it is down to the performance. She plays someone who is broken incredibly well, I’d like to see her as a psychopathic killer in a film.

Mandy Moore – 47 Meters Down

Yes, THAT Mandy Moore. What do you mean, who’s that and what’s that song? Do you people have no respect for late 90’s pop? Damn kids, get off my lawn! Anyway, in this, she was very, very, good. So good that I forgot I was watching a former pop star and just got heavily invested in the story. I kind of forgot I was an actress and felt I was watching actual people. That’s not the easiest thing to do.

Worst Film

Winner

Wish Upon

Very bad, but all the worst because it had a good concept. If a film is just bad, that’s okay, if a film is bad but has the potential to be good, I find that a lot harder to forgive. Even the good parts of the film seem to have come from other, better films.

Other Nominees

Sleepless

Dull, dull, dull. So boring. I’ve suffered from insomnia for years and this film almost put me to sleep. It almost feels like it would take effort to make an action film this dull, so in some ways, it’s actually quite impressive.

The Belko experiment

It runs out of ideas before the trailer has even finished. Would be a great short, but as a feature-length film, it’s an abomination.

The Dark Tower

“surely this isn’t as bad as everybody says?” It is. It really is. And serves as more proof that Idris Elba really needs to fire his agent.

Best Film Moment

Winner

Atomic Blonde: The Stairwell Fight

I am a sucker for a good really long shot. Especially in action sequences. I love nothing better than a fight scene where you can almost feel the impact of every hit, where’s there no cutaway before every impact. If one of those goes on for a minute I’m in heaven. I know that doesn’t seem long, but sit back and time that out, and picture a fight scene with no cuts lasting that long. Bit difficult isn’t it? This was NEARLY 10 MINUTES! Now this isn’t actually, one shot, it’s just edited like that, but it’s still a really impressive feat and is visually magnificent. The seemingly unedited nature of it means when the character hits someone, you really feel it. It feels like a fight, rather than a fight scene. It’s actually really great character work too. It means you don’t view Charlize Theron’s character as some kind of invincible hero, you view her as a human who is potentially one mistake away from being severely injured.

Other Nominees

Wonder Woman: No Mans Land

No Mans Land. If you want to explain Wonder Woman as a character, and as a feminist icon, show this scene. Without a doubt the best moment in the DC cinematic universe, by a long shot. This film may have been underappreciated when it comes to the oscars (which is something I don’t agree with, but I get why), but this scene is something that I feel deserves to be seen by everybody.

Spiderman Homecoming: The Car Scene

You know the one, where Michael Keaton’s character is taking Peter Parker to the school dance and slowly comes to the realisation of who he is. Marvel films have had great action set pieces in films lately, but this is a great character piece. It’s a testament to both the script and the performances that what could have been dull turned into one of the tensest scenes of the year.

A Monster Calls: The Stories

This was a great film, super depressing and wonderful. But there were moments throughout the film where it became magnificent. Whilst the Liam Neeson tree was telling stories (it’s an odd film) the art style switches from a normal live-action film to something which can be best described as a living water-colour painting. The images flow through each other like they’re made of water showing off a multitude of colours leaving the viewer gobsmacked at the pure unrelenting beauty of the whole thing. This is the one out of the three that you might not have seen, so here’s the scene in question:

Best Film

Winner

Get Out

Not just a good film, a very very important one too. This is like the fourth time I’ve had to talk about how much I love this film in these end of year blogs. It’s had almost everything you need. Great story, great actors, great script, great directing, not too many cliches. This film will be spoken about for years to come, and hopefully, lead to a resurgence in socio-political horror.

Other nominees

Logan

More than just a superhero film, a great western tale about morality and mortality, with a great performance by Dafne Keen too.

IT

Yes, Get Out is a better horror film. But this was more than that. This was a great coming of age film. Genuinely heartwarming with characters it’s impossible to not to love.

The Big Sick

I’m a sucker for romcoms, and I’m a sucker for depressing bleak films. Who’d have thought they’d be a film that can combine both? Made all the better for the fact it’s based on a true story. Also the winner of the “Most surprising cameo by a cast member of Crazy Ex Girlfriend” award, which doesn’t exist as an award, but if it did, this would win it, and Downsizing would win the award for 2018, and nothing else because it was dull.

The “Well I Liked It” Award

Winner

Murder On The Orient Express (Rotten Tomato Score: 57%)

The visuals alone should have merited a higher score for this. I think part of the dislike for this is just because it’s a remake. Every single remake has had people bitch that it’s different from the original (I bet back in the day people were complaining that DeNiro in Cape Fear wasn’t as good as Robert Mitchum in the original). Yes, the glut of remakes is a problem. Actually, no, strike that, the glut of lazy remakes is a problem. You can remake anything you want as long as you put the effort in. I would much rather watch a remake made with love than an original idea made “just because”.

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Nominees

Table 19 (Rotten Tomato Score: 26%)

I’d accept a low 50 score for this, but 26 is far far too low. Incredibly funny, great performances and a magnificent script. I’m a sucker for great dialogue, which this had in spades.

The Last Word (Rotten Tomato Score: 37%)

Do people just not appreciate dialogue any more? Yes, the story was cliche at times, but the way it told it was magnificent. Also it should be commended for promising something dark, and then delivering on it rather than just going for the happily ever after ending.

Best Film To Look At

Winner

Blade Runner 2049

Because LOOK AT IT!

https-blueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.comuploadscardimage544323446eb31c-fe20-47df-8552-01dd10cd480dDo I actually need to say anything else? It looks so gorgeous I almost made an audible response so many times. Almost every shot could be used as a poster.

Also nominated. 

Kong

Mainly because it proved that spectacle cinema can still work in this day and age. I’m a cynical person so assumed it would have no impression on me. Yet I was amazed when I watched it. Was sucked into the universe completely.

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2017 In Film: Part 5 (The Amazing)

47 Meters Down

Superbly done. Also had one of my favourite endings ever. It made it look like it had a “slightly unhappy but full of hope” ending, then it went the other way and made it super depressing. Most of the film takes place underwater, and it looks gorgeous. There’s one scene where a flare is going through the ocean water and you it’s almost complete darkness apart from the small flare making its way up, beautifully done. Since most of the film is underwater it relies heavily on performance. Luckily Mandy Moore completely knocks it out the arena with her performance in this

+Claustrophobic

-Getting a sequel. Because sequels to shark films always go well. Advice; don’t go 3D and hire Michael Caine.

A Monster Calls

This is not an easy film to watch on an emotional level, almost seems like it’s attempting to emotionally blackmail the audience. It’s kind of a mix between Pan’s Labyrinth and a Neil Gaiman book, sort of a modern-day fairy tale. There are moments whilst the tree is telling stories (it’s an odd film) where the film switches visual styles so it almost becomes a living watercolour painting, it’s awe-inspiring and genuinely new, never seen anything that was done like this (the closest is when Hermione was telling the stories of the Three Brothers in Harry Potter and the style switched to a weird animated one). The only previous film I’ve seen of the director was The Impossible, and that was in 2012 so can’t remember too much about it, but I can remember being really impressed with the way he directed certain moments in it and was really good at creating visual tension, which is a good sign for his next film; the Jurassic World sequel

+The art styles when the monster is telling the story

-Longer than it needs to be. Sigourney Weaver’s accent wavers.

Atomic Blonde

Like a companion piece to John Wick, looks superb and the music is brilliant. Had one of my favourite soundtracks of the year. And there’s one scene which everyone has to see; a single shot fight scene that lasts about 15 minutes, one of (in fact probably the) best fight scene I’ve seen all year. It doesn’t cut away before impact like most do, it’s mostly silent, no music so you hear every hit, and the fight has an effect on people, you can see them get gradually more exhausted as the fight goes on. Highly recommend seeing this.

+THAT scene. Also the soundtrack.

-Comparisons to John Wick are inevitable.

Baby Driver

The opening scene alone ranks it among one of the best films of the year. Very well done. Great films usually inspire you into film-making. I think this has the opposite, this is like “yeah we can’t match that”. Bound to inspire a lot of poorly-done imitators. Yes, the plot is wafer thin, but it’s so fun you don’t notice. You don’t sit there thinking “well I know how this story is going to end”, you think “oh my God! Did you see that?”. It’s a non-blockbuster version of spectacle cinema. Everything about the way it’s made just works, the way the music complements the action and vice versa, the way the car chases are impressive without being unrealistic, the fact that Jon Hamm continues to exist.

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Even Jamie Foxx agrees

The love and dedication that goes into this is obvious. This was not “film by committee”, this was a true passion project, and it shows through every inch of the screen. It’s also surprisingly American. The open road, the American dream, diners with endless coffee are all essential to the story, so it’s weird that such an American film was made by a Brit, this feels like the film where Edgar Wright has finally stepped away from under the shadow of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.

+A technical masterpiece.

-The plot is wafer thin. And the female characters are woefully underwritten. Oh, and it’s got Kevin Spacey in it which makes it an uncomfortable watch.

Blade Runner 2049

I have not seen the original film, don’t get me wrong, I am aware of the film, and it’s importance, and I understand a few references to it. This, combined with lots of people saying they didn’t understand this film and that it was too complex, made me think that I would hate this film. Not because of what the film is, but because I just wouldn’t get it. My response was going to be “it’s good, it’s just not for me, and I was really confused”. Well, I was confused, I was confused by the confusion. People are talking about it as if it’s a really complex plot where you have to pay close attention to everything in every scene and do a lot of research beforehand to understand, I knew nothing and still knew what was going on, it’s not that complex if you’re paying even the smallest amount of attention. I mean, I understood it and I’m basically a moron.

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“that fourth raindrop from the left is actually vitally important, if you miss that you miss everything”

Was surprised that Harrison Ford didn’t appear until MUCH later than I thought he would. I expected him to make an appearance at about the 1/3 mark. Nope, it was more like the 2/3 mark. Which was a bit strange as he was all over the marketing campaign and was the lead in the original, so a lot of people would have been waiting around him to appear. Although I suppose this did mean that by the time he did appear, everybody was already invested into the story, so he didn’t really take away from Gosling. Make no mistake, this is Gosling’s film, and he nails it. Although the supporting cast does a great job too, So many of your new favourite actress’s will be in this film. A lot of unknowns were cast, yet gave amazing performances. Ana De Armas and Carla Juri deserve special mentions. They both portray their characters with enough vulnerability to make them believable, yet enough determination that they fit this universe. Their characters were great too, you imagined they all had lives outside of this film, they exist on their own terms, not just related to the story.  It felt like you could write entire novels based around them.

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This scene is actually genuinely quite touching in the final film

The world itself was beautifully created as well, not just visually (although it was visually stunning), but also in terms of believability. Those of you who read the review of Valerian will know how important I consider world building to be, particularly in this genre, for films like this the universe it’s set in is almost a character in itself, so if you don’t do that well it really effects it. Done really well in this though, everything looks just dirty enough to be real, yet clean enough to be futuristic. On that note; this film looks SUPERB. You could pause this at almost any point in the film and use that as a poster. This, combined with Arrival last year must surely make Denis Villeneuve one of the best-regarded directors around.

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I also liked how the story threw a genuine curveball in the closing stretch. I do like a good twist if it’s well done. That’s the trouble with a lot of plot swerves, they come out of nowhere and make no sense. A good one makes sense, a GREAT one will be so logical you’ll feel stupid for not realising it sooner. So in summary, this is going to be one of those films that pretentious film buffs constantly try to show you, let them.

+LOOK AT IT! Seriously, just look at it.

-Not a “popcorn film”, in the slightest, so won’t appeal to everyone.

Colossal

Oh, it’s flawed as hell (particularly in terms of time and establishing exactly “when” certain scenes take place in relation to each other) but all those flaws do is take it from a 10/10 to a solid 8. Anne Hathaway gives a performance which equals Rachel Getting Married (which if you haven’t seen, you really should, it’s superb), and Jason Sudeikis is creepier than I ever thought he could be, the kind of performance which makes you think he could easily move into more dramatic roles, or play a serial killer. So well written too, so much so that I immediately looked into the writer and made a note to watch everything he’s done. It’s also extremely unique, I can’t think of a film to compare it too, stands alone in a genre of one, and I can’t see anybody doing it better.

+Unique story wonderfully told

-As creepy as the guy is, his motivations never really ring true.

Free Fire

“You know how films have gunfights between people? Imagine if that was an entire film” “you’re fired”. That’s what should have happened. Instead, we got this, and it is glorious. Definitely worth a watch as a curiosity. It is essentially a gunfight in a warehouse, for an entire film. But it’s done so well that you’re never bored, you never sit there waiting for it to end. It helps that the gunfights are really well choreographed, not every bullet hits, people conserve ammo when they need to, and bullets to the arms actually do damage as opposed to just “ouch, that arm is slightly weaker now”.

+It works. As a concept it really shouldn’t work, but it does, and it’s superb.

-Very unlikeable characters. Slightly unsatisfying ending.

Get Out

There’s a French film from 2002 called Irréversible, it’s a weird art-house psychological horror that’s apparently disturbing in many ways. During a large section of the film there’s a noise played throughout that’s played at such a frequency that it’s almost inaudible; this was done as a sound played at that level causes nausea and sickness. I should note there’s a chance that this is just an urban legend, but truth be told I don’t want to research it in case it’s not true, it’s too magical for me to find out it’s false. But what does that have to do with this film? Well that feeling, that sense of unease, is what this entire film is about. There’s not many scares in the traditional sense, it’s just almost two hours of something being slightly “off”.

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I know, the film that had this in the trailer ended up being creepy, who’d have guessed?

 

There’s a lot of VERY good eye-acting in this film. I know that sounds stupid but there’s a lot of moments in this film which are enhanced by the way the actors utilise their eyes. A lot of times things that ordinarily would take a lot of dialogue to say is done just via an eye movement. Tremendous showcase of acting skills, and luckily it’s in a very important film. Yes, this film does touch on a lot of racial issues, but not the usual “we’re from Alabama, and we don’t like those coloured folk”. The racism in here is very different, it comes not from anger or hate, but from a fetishisation of black people, a condescending view of them as being “genetically superior” but intellectually lacking. One which is like “think what they could do if they had the mind of a white person”. As such the film has a weird dynamic where the villains kind of worship the heroes. Very weird, very unique, and VERY well done.

GetOut

This film was written and directed by Jordan Peele, who I’ve only seen in Key & Peele (a sketch show on Comedy Central that I really need to get around to watching one day), one of the voices in Storks (animated children’s comedy that’s actually better than you think it would be), and Keanu (an action comedy film about someone getting a cat from a Mexican drug lord). As such I always thought of him as a comedic person, I never thought he’d be able to transfer his skills to horror so effectively. I was wrong, he did brilliantly, I’ll go as far as to say it’s one of the best directorial debuts I’ve seen in a long time, which considering he’s basically committing genre adultery is impressive. Don’t get me wrong, it is still very very funny and the mood whiplash between horror and comedy is very well balanced. Usually in films like this you run the risk of having the comedy make the horror seem less scary, it doesn’t enhance the film, it undercuts it and stops you taking it seriously, usually because the comedy comes from a character not taking the situation seriously, they’re being chased by a monster/demon/dishwasher and they stop to make jokes. The way they do the comedy in here is believable, you can tell the jokes are being made by the characters to help them deal with the situations, and most of them are made by a character who isn’t directly involved in it, so is literally distanced from the situation already. This isn’t comedy-horror done like a mid-90’s slasher film, this is comedy-horror done like An American Werewolf In London. Seriously, go see this film. In fact, you could say “Get Out, to go see this film”. You could say that, but you’d be making a really obvious comment and would just come off looking like an idiot.

+The sense of unease that’s present throughout. Its greatness increases on second watch.

-There are not more films like it.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 2

Did you enjoy the first one? Then you’ll enjoy this. Just as impressive, funny, and brilliant as the first one.

+Has the emotion that the first one was lacking.

-Apart from that, it’s not that different. Also, the pacing is all over the place.

Happy Death Day

This was just a lot of fun. Very, very, funny, and really well written. Some films you watch and you think “”this is so meh, I can’t imagine a writer thinking “I have to write this film”. You do with this, you can just imagine someone toiling over this night and day, a true passion project. One of the funniest films I’ve seen all year with a genuinely great story.

+Incredibly funny, and with a compelling central mystery.

-Not scary enough.

IT

Oh this was good. This was very good. Get Out was more of a social drama, and Happy Death Day was more comedy, but in terms of pure visceral horror, this one wins hands down. Eye openingly scary. So scary that clowns complained, yet manufacturers of red balloons didn’t, probably because it’s led to an increase of people buying them. Horror remakes are always hard, because they will be compared to the original, and people hate change so usually will detest anything different, but if you don’t do it differently then you end up with Gus Van Sant’s Psycho. So essentially you need to keep same tone, but add a new take on it. This does it, and does it well. Oddly enough it’s kind of sweet as well, but it does have to be because it’s SUCH a character driven film so you need to care for these characters.

John Wick Chapter 2

If you enjoyed the first one, you’ll enjoy this. It’s basically the first film, but more so and in a way that never feels like it’s walking in the same footsteps. One of the first times in a while I remember leaving the cinema and being incredibly excited for the sequel.

+Masterfully well made.

-Does occasionally seem like it was just done to set up a sequel.

Logan

This film was what I expected to be, and to be honest it’s what it needed to be; which is the first truly mature comic book film in a long time. Some people would say that Deadpool deserves that accolade, but I wouldn’t count that as mature. It had lots of blood and adult content, but it was very silly and lowest common denominator, don’t get me wrong, I do love that film (it was one of my favourites from last year), but it’s not mature at all. One of the best compliments you can give this film is that it is a fantastic film, not “fantastic for a comic book movie”, on its own terms it’s a fantastic film. There’s going to be a lot of people who find this film dull, it takes quite some time for certain things to happen but it’s brilliant. Not every film has to be fast food, designed to be satisfactory but finished quickly, this film is more like a three course meal at a restaurant, you savour every moment and really take your time with it, so that when it’s over you feel completely satisfied and all you can do is sit there and recover from the brilliance you just consumed. The ending of this film will be talked about, not here as you can’t without spoiling it. It is brilliantly done though, it’s an ending which this series has truly deserved, and it ends with a Johnny Cash song, which most comic book films wouldn’t be able to do but for here it fits. It is pretty much a modern western, a tale of a retired gunslinger coming back for one more gunfight, the last outlaw, in a time and place without purpose and that has moved on without him, causing him to need to go out in a blaze of glory.

+The first comic book movie I’d describe as a true cinematic masterpiece.

-Very underwhelming villains.

Spider-man: Homecoming

The plot was simplistic but it was still better than at least 50% of MCU films purely because it had a compelling villain. Michael Keaton’s character (he plays some sort of Birdman) makes sense. You’re not watching it thinking “what a terrible person, glad he’s not real”, you’re thinking “he’s actually making a lot of sense. I see where he’s coming from, and in a way, I agree with him”. He’s the most compelling villain in the MCU so far, and the performance matches the writing. A lot of comic book fans were disappointed that they changed his appearance for the films, I don’t particularly care about it to be honest, mainly because it would be really hard to take THIS seriously.

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I know that this talk about “taking it seriously” makes this sound like it’s attempting to be super serious and gritty, thank God they didn’t do that, this film is fun as hell. Even the colours are better than lots of superhero films. A lot of films have orange and blue as the main colours, but use them against dark backdrops, this uses those colours but uses them against light. It’s very summer-ey in appearance. It’s also really funny. The characters are well written and have great lines, Zendeya’s character, in particular, is a great collection of sarcasm and apathy which I really identify with for some reason. She has the best lines throughout and is one of the films many comedic highlights. In terms of comedy though, most of the best moments from the non-main characters belong to Jacob Batalon’s Ned, who absolutely owns his role as “guy in a chair”. He also helps provide an audience surrogate, since the film starts with Parker already as hero, many people expected the origin to either be ignored, or told in flashbacks. It did neither, it had Ned ask questions and we found out small details from that, not so much that we were re-covering old ground, and not so little that people new to the franchise were confused. So in summary; very good, very fun, and I think it’s safe to say that Tom Holland is the best Spider-Man, although part of that is due to the way he’s written, he’s actually written as an adolescent, the villains he faces aren’t ones who are going to destroy the world, the main villain is basically an unfriendly neighbourhood villain.

+Tom Holland is perfect.

-Not entirely sure it works as a standalone film. Bit too heavily indebted to other MCU films.

Table 19

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I enjoyed it, a lot. It’s what I deem “social mystery” film. Where the audience has to work out why certain characters are who they are, what caused them to be like that. It’s like an Agatha Christie murder mystery if the victim was good manners. It’s a hard film to describe the plot about without it sounding really bad, it’s mostly just people talking. But the characters are so well created and acted that it works. A lot of people dislike this film, and I kind of see why, nothing really happens. But to me, it was wonderful, one of the most emotionally honest films I’ve seen in a while.

+Really, really funny.

-Attempt at emotional heartpull seems a bit obvious.

The Big Sick

Incredibly funny, and with the right amount of heart. You’d need to be made of stone not to feel touched by this film. The characters are so well-written as well, every character seems fully fleshed out. They seem like they exist outside of the film.

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Probably because it’s based on his real relationship with his wife (pictured here
I know in these blogs I do come off as deeply cynical and incapable of love or any positive emotion towards others, but I do have a soft spot for the romantic comedy genre. I just hate a lot of them because they’re done badly, they’re usually really cliche and unoriginal. I like them when they do something new. Definitely Maybe is the film that fully cemented my Ryan Reynolds obsession, and Chasing Amy did the same for Ben Affleck. I think I like these films it’s because they’re usually very people-based. Action films are about the set-pieces, horror films are about the effects, but for a rom-com to work you need two things:
  1. Believable characters.
  2. Great dialogue.

They’re basically my kryptonite, especially dialogue. I’m a sucker for great dialogue. It’s also a genre that doesn’t really get affected too badly by the quality of the way you’re viewing it. Some genres are really badly affected by what you watch them on. Horror, for example, is not exactly something you can appreciate watching on a small television screen on an airplane. With advances in technology happening at an astronomical rate, visual spectacle fades, good writing doesn’t. The best rom-com’s; When Harry Met Sally, Annie Hall etc, all have one thing in common; fantastic writing. You can watch them again and again and still love them. They also have a wide audience. As much as I do love odd films like Buried (Ryan Reynolds in a box), Bogowie (a Polish film about heart transplant) and Four Lions (a comedy about suicide bombers), I’m not stupid enough to think they have mass appeal. They’re too weird. Rom-coms are for everyone though. They have universal themes that almost everybody can identify with. So where does this film stand compared to the greats of the genre? It’s a little difficult to tell at the moment, but I have a feeling that if I was to sit down in six years time and watch this, I’ll still love it. It also has the best 9/11 joke you’ll likely to hear all year.

+Will make you laugh cry.

– As much as he nails the performance 95% of the time, there are a few heavily emotional moments where Kumail Nanjiani looks like he’s desperately hiding a smirk, robbing the scene of some of the emotion

The Death Of Stalin

Incredibly funny and biting satire, which seems mostly historically accurate too. And it almost got banned in Russia, which is a bonus. Caused a Russian politician to describe it as a plot aimed at discrediting the figure of Stalin. Yeah, damn those films and their “anti-genocide” blinkered viewpoints.

+Satire that bites so hard it leaves teeth marks.

-Historically innacurate at times. Also, Jeffrey Tambor in it can make it difficult to watch in light of recent allegations.

The Last Word

Holy crap where did this come from? It’s like High Fidelity mixed with Christmas Carol. Really good. I really wish this film had a better marketing campaign so that more people would have seen it. Genuinely one of my cinematic highlights of the year. Seemingly just with me though, a lot of reviewers really hate. I loved it though, very dialogue and character-heavy. Genuinely sweet and heartwarming, there’s a scene near the end which is a bit “meh”, but other than that I loved it. A story about an elderly woman who hires someone to write her obituary before she dies, only a lot better than I made it sound.

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+The dialogue. Specifically, as it relates to the lead. So fantastic.

-Not promoted by the studio, like, at all.

The Lego Batman Movie

Usuall, it’s taken me about ten minutes into a film to think “okay I’m into this”, this film sold me in the first sentence. From the opening narration:

“Black. All important movies start with a black screen. And music. Edgy, scary music that would make a parent or studio executive nervous. And logos. Really long and dramatic logos. DC. The house that Batman built. Yeah, what Superman? Come at me bro. I’m your kryptonite”

That sets up exactly what type of film you’re about to watch; a film that’s very silly, and gloriously so. It then gets sillier, there’s an odd faux-mance between Batman and the Joker which culminates in Joker teaming up with Voldemort, Sauron, Godzilla and King Kong. Yes, this film is silly, but you can tell that whilst the film-makers are making jokes about Batman and the mythos, they do have a genuine love for the character and his world, they’ve clearly done their research. References to not only previous films, but also very very obscure villains (who’d have thought that Condiment Man would finally make an appearance?). The story is really good too. There’s a tendency in comedy films to think the story isn’t important, this is very very wrong. Perfect example of this is Airplane, that film only works because of the story, yes the jokes are funny, but they’re funny within the context of a serious situation, the story itself isn’t comedic, but it has comedic situations in it. My rule of thumb for determining whether a comedy films story is good is this: would the plot also as a serious film? I think this one would work, it’s a story about a lonesome superhero dealing with his isolation whilst also maintaining a mutually destructive rivalry with the Joker (which is also one of the themes from the seminal piece The Killing Joke). Since I saw it I’ve been trying to think how to sum it up in one sentence, and I think I’ve finally found it. The sentence which best describes everything about this film, so here it is: this film is basically Deadpool for children. And we all know how great Deadpool was.

Plus, there’s a Christian group in America protesting it and calling it “gay propaganda”, so you have to see it, even if only to annoy them.

+Trying to list all the references this film makes will make your head explode in nerdgastic joy.

-Not much of a sense of tension at any point.

War For The Planet Of The Apes

A stunning end to one of the best trilogies of the last few years. Some people considered the franchise dead in the water after the Tim Burton version, the knives really were out for Rise, but it managed to become highly regarded not just by fans of the franchise, but by the general public. It made weirdly concept sci-fi cool again.

+The ending that this trilogy deserves.

-The realisation that the trilogy has missed out on a lot of opportunities it will now never take.

Wonder Woman

I explained my thoughts on this here. Spoilers; LOVED IT! Even the closing credits were amazing. They were like a watercolour painting. I like when films take the time to attempt to do something with the credits, it shows a real dedication to what they’re doing, like they want to take every possible moment to leave a good impression on the audience. This film is every bit as fantastic as BvS was critically reviled.

+Gal Gadot. This is her film and she owns it.

-Pretty bad villain. Which I’ve just realised is consistent for a lot of superhero films lately. That’s odd as normally villains are the most interesting part, yet for last few years a lot of them have been really bland.

 

So, that’s 2017 in review. Next week will be the 2017 film awards, then it’s back to usual with random reviews and opinion pieces every monday. And to answer the question; I never got to see Disaster Artist.

2017 In Film: Part 4 (The Good)

The penultimate round-up blog. In here I’m putting, get this, films, which, are, good. I know, shocking, right? I bet you never guessed that from the title. My definition of good but not great for purposes of these is this: would I consider buying if they were on sale?

A Cure For Wellness

A very very good film. But not a very nice one. As you can read here I really liked it, but it made me want to self-harm. It’s basically this year’s Nocturnal Creatures, but not quite as great. I do wish Celia Imrie was in it more, she was in the trailer but her role in the film was really nothing more than an extended cameo. Mia Goth was superb however, as was Dane DeHaan (which reminds me, I really need to see Chronicle, I mean, I’ve had it on DVD for months but still haven’t got round to it.

+Doesn’t shy away from showing terrible things. There’s a scene where someone drills into a tooth and you see EVERYTHING. Just thinking about it sets my teeth on edge.

-A bit too slow in parts. Could do with being made slightly tighter.

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“Why don’t we do the poster for Slither, but sexy?” “Genius! More cocaine”

Gifted

A lot less Nicholas-Sparks than I thought it would be. Bit formulaic but it plays to the formula very well. Chris Evans is very good in it, but is overshadowed by Mckenna Grace, who is very very good, probably one of the best performances this year. Is it just me or are child actors getting better? Manages to do a performance which is funny, moving, and hits all the right spots in terms of body language and facial acting. Great performance. Jenny Slate was also REALLY good in it, but wasn’t in it as much as she should have been.

+Genuinely heartwarming.

-A little saccharine in parts.

Hidden Figures

It was good, I wouldn’t call it “Oscar Worthy”. The main trouble with these sorts of stories is it’s impossible to have a good villain. The key to a good villain comes in two separate flavours:

  1. The “nobody knows anything about him” (usually used in horror films)
  2. The “I can see his point, but he’s very very wrong”.

Because these films are character pieces you can’t have the villains be the first one, so you need the second one. But they never work in these films for one simple reason; there’s no logical defence of racism. There’s no way of seeing their point. I had similar problems with Selma too, the villains are so clearly wrong that they don’t make compelling characters. Now I know this is what it was actually like at the time, and it is a truly fascinating story, but it does mean as a cinema experience it never really stays with you. So really my problem isn’t with the film, it’s with reality not conforming to my expectations, so maybe the problem is me.

+An important story that needs to be told and seen.

-One watch may be enough, you’re highly unlikely to need to see it again.

Jumanji

Holy hell this was a lot of fun. I think I actually might prefer it to the original. Got some of the loudest and most consistent laughs from other people in the audience out of any film I’ve seen.

+The performances. All the main characters are basically avatars of other characters. So they have to be played the same way the original characters are (think the scene in Harry Potter where Hermione pretends to be Bellatrix, like that, throughout the entire film). Not the easiest thing to do, but they all do it really well. Jack Black in particular makes a fantastic teenage girl, and Karen Gillians “no idea how to flirt” scene was hilarious.

-The entire film you can’t escape the feeling that you miss Robin Williams.

Kingsman

Pretty much the first one again, but I liked the first one. Funny, violent, and great music throughout.

+Mark Strong’s final scene is brilliant. The new characters slot into the mythos easily.

-Too long, too unfocused, and Colin Firth’s resurrection was not handled that well.

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La La Land

I liked it, but I didn’t love it, and I feel it wanted me to love it. It looked fantastic, and the soundtrack was good, it just left me feeling nothing. Probably wasn’t helped by the fact that I felt Ryan Gosling’s character was a bit of a dick and the romance made zero sense. Its biggest flaw I feel is its dependence on music, if you took away the songs you’re left with a fairly average story. Whilst the songs were good, they all sounded a bit too familiar, every song sounded like another one, so when you listen to the soundtrack you just think “what song does this remind me of?”, “wait, this has same tune as the song from The Muppets sequel”, and “Seriously, what is this one? I think it’s Amanda Palmer but I’m not sure”. It was a bit like having sex with a singing nazi. It looked good, sounded good, but ultimately left you feeling rather hollow.

+Music which seems like it’s instantly recognisable and you’ll hum for days.

-Kind of a bland story.

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Life

Pretty darn good sci-fi. You watch it and think “you know what would be awesome? If x happens”, and then it does happen, or something better happens. Was worried when I saw the trailer that it would be another cliche “parasitic alien takes over people”, but nope, this is an alien beating people using pure brute strength. And the ending? So harsh, absolutely perfect for the genre. Definitely need to see it again, if only to see whether the opening scene was one shot or whether it just had minimal cuts.

+Pretty brave decisions made in the script.

-Stands very much in the shadow of those that have gone before it.

Manchester By The Sea

A lot has been said about the performances of this film, I feel enough hasn’t been said about how good the script is. It’s so good that the dialogue doesn’t feel written, it was like they just filmed people talking naturally. It was also the lack of words that was masterful, there were moments where most films would have had characters deliver impassioned monologues, the kind of monologues which sum up their characters and the film, monologues which are so masterfully written people will quote them for years. This film doesn’t have monologues in that moment, it condenses those moments down to a single line. But you understand everything in that sentence, you feel the weight of that sentence, how crushing it is and how much is held within it. Someone this year said “if you’re depressed, La La Land will cheer you up, but Manchester By The Sea will make you feel better”. That pretty much sums it up.

+So bleak. So, so bleak.

-Revelations about some of the cast members make it hard to watch.

Mindhorn

Disappointed I didn’t get a chance to see this at cinema. Ah well, have the DVD so all is good. Incredibly British and wonderful. Exactly what you’d expect from someone who was in The Mighty Boosh.

+Julian Barrett is having a hell of a lot of fun here. Some great cameos too.

-Doesn’t quite have enough substance to be truly great.

Murder On The Orient Express

I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. The biggest surprise is that it’s not Ewan McGregor as the lead role, a fact I didn’t find out until about a week after I saw the film. When I say “enjoyed this more than I thought” I don’t mean I thought it would be a terrible film. I mean it’s a mystery film, so to enjoy it surely you have to compelled to try to figure it out? Yet all I know about the original novel is how it ends (I have no idea how I know this, and only this). So would I be able to enjoy it despite knowing the ending? Also, the trailers made it look like Johnny Depp was in full Mortdecai mode. Hands up who saw that film. Now, keep your hands up if you enjoyed it. Right *loads shotgun*

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Et tu, bruti? (yes, in this scenario the cat is called Bruti, well, was until I shot it for liking Mortdecai)

Yet despite that (and the negative reviews) I thoroughly enjoyed this. A hell of a fun watch.

+Great ensemble cast.

-Some of the exterior shots look a little ropey.

Patti Cake$

A lot better than I thought it would be. Has both a great and not great soundtrack. I mean, the songs are fantastic, but the music/story integration could be done better. You don’t really get the feeling that the film is influencing the music, or the other way round, they seem kind of independent from each other. Side note, I think this is the only film I’ve seen this year which has had absolutely nobody in it who I know from another film.

+The closing scene when she’s doing her final song.

-Some of which were in the trailer, giving it away.

Prevenge

Without a doubt the best film about a homicidal fetus you’re ever going to see. I do love Alice Lowe, she makes amazing stuff. First Sightseers now this, she’s becoming Britains go-to female film-maker for smart, original dark comedies. She really needs to do a Black Mirror episode, and more films, and more television. Basically she needs to forgo sleep and work forever, creating more content for me to watch.

+The fact that Alice Lowe made this in two weeks whilst pregnant.

-If someone doesn’t like this style of film, this isn’t going to be the one that changes their mind.

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The Boss Baby

Better than the abysmal trailers would make you think it is. Some genuine laugh out loud moments. Putting it here is a little generous I know, but I’m not the audience for this, kids are, and kids love it.

+Genuinely funny in a lot of parts.

-Great for a kids movie, only ok for a movie.

The Hippopotamus

Very Stephen Fry. In both a good and a bad way. Although it has to be said that “now will you all kindly fuck off?” is a great closing line

+Very funny, Roger Allam is terrific.

-Won’t stick with you.

The Promise

A 2 hour film about the Armenian genocide, no, wait, come back, it’s actually REALLY good. Brutal without being exploitative, which is the risk you take when doing a film like this. If you don’t do it right it can come off like you’re exploiting the reality for the sake of drama, you have to stay grounded enough, and honest enough, for the film to work. It also REALLY annoyed a certain group of people, who flooded IMDB with negative reviews of it, calling it propaganda and lies without a hint of truth, saying that the genocide never happed. Most of these “reviews” were posted before the film was even released, so you know they’re definitely trustworthy. Oscar Isaac is REALLY good in this, by the way, believable throughout, but special mention has to go to Marwan Kenzari, who plays his character with such conviction, and does such wonderful facial work throughout that it’s one of the most genuine performances of the year. I would highly recommend seeing this, and not just because it annoys genocide deniers (which is always fun).

+A story that needs to be told, and luckily is told very well.

-Occasionally shys away from the brutality that is needed.

The Ritual

This film did something I will forever love it for; it put most the bits from the trailer in the opening half. I liked this as it meant you weren’t thinking “ok, what from the trailer haven’t I seen yet?”. Chilling, well told and well performed. Book is now on my “to-read” list.

+Very scary in parts. Great story too, you’re never fully sure where it’s going.

-Comes so close to being great, but stops just short.

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The Young Offenders

Kind of charming, rather funny. Has a scene where a disabled drug dealer shoots someone with a nail gun. Seems like a tv show, which as of next year it will be, and I can’t wait.

+Incredibly funny. And having someone lose a shitload of drugs because they have a hole in their bag was very funny.

-Never really seems like a movie, more like a television show.

Their Finest

Have you seen Suicide Squad? You know that bit near the end where the fire guy goes “we’re family”, and the audience is like “how? You’ve only known each other for like a day”? Basically that happens here, certain things between characters don’t feel earned enough and feel kind of forced. Which is a shame as it’s actually a really good story, with great performances and impressive dialogue.

+Compelling story that will reach you emotionally.

-Unearned character interactions.

Thor: Ragnarok

Wait, what’s this? I didn’t hate this film? I know, I’m shocked too. This is what the first two films should have been, just an all out funfest which relishes its own absurdity.

+”the hammer pulled you off?”

-Some character actions are supposed to be shocking, yet at this point it would be more shocking if they didn’t happen.

Tickling Giants

I remember the first time I saw Mark Thomas on television. It was on a channel 4 show that I recorded for reasons I can’t quite remember. I watched it with this kid I knew from up the road and he said it’s really good as “most comedians just talk about stuff, he’s actually doing stuff”, which he was. He was not just telling jokes, he was going actively protesting and doing things to change the country for the better (the episode in particular was about corporate manslaughter laws). Remarkable story that deserves to be told. At first you think “oh, he has permission finally for satire to works, this is great”. Then the president orders an arrest warrant for him. It’s actually kind of terrifying to see a lot of this, but in a way it’s kind of heartwarming to see some people continue to support them. People still want to work on the show even when the channel it’s on disowns them. Kind of a sad ending but one that’s full of potential for the future. Would actually make a really compelling fiction film.

+A fascinating look into what it’s like under those sort of regimes.

-Might be too difficult for people not into political humour to get into, not really a way in for them.

 

So that’s the end of this blog. Final one will be soon. Exactly how many films did I see this year? Did I actually get round to seeing The Disaster Artist and Tragedy Girls? Find out the answer to these questions, and more (but not a hell of a lot more) next time. Until then, comment with where we went wrong.

2017 In Film: Part 3 (The Pretty Good)

Okay, this one’s harder to define. A lot of the ones in this are very, very, good films. They just weren’t for me. They’re films which I admire, but don’t really feel anything for. One’s I’m very glad I’ve seen, but I don’t need to see again. As usual these have been decided by a group of people broken down by age and money (i.e. me, because nobody is more broken down by age and money than me)

Catfight

A shockingly visceral film, not just in terms of the fights, but also in terms of the story and the tone. The punches in the narrative hit just as hard as the actual punches (of which there are many). A film I first saw on Netflix, and very glad for that as I don’t think I would have liked it at all if I saw it at the cinema.

+The pacing and the way they tell the story is sublime.

-Only really has one major idea.

Dunkirk

One word to describe this: impressive. Visually, in terms of performance, in terms of the way the story is told, it’s all very impressive. This is the one I think I’ll get the most flack for putting in here. Now don’t get me wrong, this is a VERY good film. But I had the same problem with this I had with Interstellar, I was never really pulled into it. It was so cinematic that I was constantly aware I was watching a movie, I never really lost myself in it completely. As such it was hard for me to be 100% invested in it.

+Pretty much everything. Is a fantastic watch.

-Doesn’t really connect emotionally.

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This guy, this guy is going places. AMAZING performance.

Going In Style

A tale of two films in terms of directing. The opening section is really weirdly shot in terms of colour, kind of ugly. But once the story gets going and the heist gets going, it starts to look a lot better. The main performances are good, but Joey King, who plays Michael Caine’s granddaughter is really good in the short amount of time she’s given. Logical story, but sadly one that doesn’t have the guts to stick the knife in emotionally when it should.

+Joey King. Her performance in this almost makes up for Wish Upon. Almost.

-Plays it safe far too often.

Justice League

Solid. That’s all I can say about it. It’s not going to blow you away but it gets the job done. You do have to sit back and just watch it whilst not thinking, but occasionally that’s all you want. It’s not as good as Wonder Woman, but then again few films are.

+The Flash. That character is so well done in this. I’ve never watched the show, and I’m not a big comic reader so I don’t know much about him, but if he’s like he is in this film, I love him.

-DC really suck at doing compelling villains. And pacing. Also, it’s overshadowed by everybody being excited about Infinity War.

Kong: Skull Island

I went into this with low expectations. I was thinking “but I’ve already seen everything, how can spectacle cinema work in this day and age? And you showed too much Kong in the trailer, you idiots, you ruined everything I hate you, I wish I’d never been born!”. Looking back at it, that may have been an overreaction. The film was, well it was solid. It showed that spectacle can still work in a post Avatar world. It’s not a “I must buy this film immediately”, kind of film, but if it’s on TV at some point, grab a couple of mates, get some beers in, and leave your brain at the door. Of the non-Marvel films that attempt to set up a cinematic universe, this is one of the best (although that is damning with faint praise).

+There’s a fantastically brutal scene where people walk through the island and a giant spiders leg pierces someone through the throat. Deliciously brutal and sets up that this film won’t shy away from destruction.

-Very little substance to it. Also, bits of it were so obviously made with the intention of being viewed in 3D, so when you watch it in 2D you’re kind of disappointed.

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Moonlight

Oh wait, forget what I said about Dunkirk. This is the one that I’ll get shit for. Read a review of this which sums up my feelings on it completely “is more personal and important than it is great”. I appreciated it more than I loved it. This deserves all the accolades it received, was a phenomenal piece of cinema, and one that everyone does need to see at least once.

+The story is a deeply personal one, and if you don’t connect with it in some way then you may be dead inside.

-I felt there was a lot left out between the years we saw that never really got into which personally I would have loved to see. I’m not going to say this about many films, but this could have been improved by being A LOT longer. It had so much to say in such a relatively short time that it didn’t say all it needed to.

Rough Night

A film that really earns it’s R-Rating. Also has the second most random Bo Burnham appearance I’ve seen in film this year.

+Very very funny.

-Kate McKinnon’s Australian accent slips more than a pensioner walking on ice.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Very well made. The scene near the end on the canals is a particular highlight. Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L Jackson have really good chemistry, I think this is the first time they’ve worked together but I hope it’s not the last.

+Does what it needs to, very very well.

-Tries so hard to appear adult, it occasionally comes off as juvenile.

The Limehouse Golem

Incredibly British, with a stunning twist. The film equivalent of a murder mystery book. I’d be very surprised if this was anybody’s favourite film, but I’d also be surprised if anyone actively hated it. In fact, it’s hard to feel anything too strong about it. It’s like an odd mix between a BBC miniseries and a Telltale Game, but not quite as good as either.

+Does a great job of sucking you into the world. Almost immediately you feel like a spectator for it unfolding. Also, you actually want to find out what happens. You’re not sitting there thinking “just get to the end and let me know”, you allow yourse’f to observe and wonder.

-Not quite memorable enough to be worthwhile.

2017 In Film; Part 2 (The Meh)

The qualifier for this is somewhat more complicated than the previous one. These aren’t necessarily bad films, just films that I don’t need to see again. Mainly films that I didn’t like, but can appreciate one thing in it. So quite bad, but had a single redeeming feature that makes them slightly worthwhile as a curiosity. There’s a few here which I can see people being annoyed about are in here. So I should point out that this is nearly all personal opinion, so please don’t firebomb me.

Alien: Covenant

I can’t really make a fair judgement on this as I have never seen any of the others. Despite that, I did recognise a lot of scenes from this that seemed to be taken straight out of the other films in the series. And if I managed that I can only imagine how infuriating it must have been for people who are fans of the series, must have felt like they were watching a remake.

+Katherine Waterston is fucking superb.

-Doesn’t really do enough to stand out on it’s own. I can’t imagine anybody saying “you know what? I hate most of the Alien films, but I really love Covenant”

American Assassin

Not quite as good as the trailer would make you think. Not slick enough, not polished enough, not quite good enough.

+Really good opening scene showing off the panic that attacks can have on the general public.

-A weird view of revenge. Constantly told how revenge poisons the soul but then shown lots of shots of the lead actor kicking ass and being awesome. It’s like when you play Grand Theft Auto IV and dialogue about how the main character doesn’t want to go back to crime is interspersed with him shooting everybody in the face. A film that tries to not just have its cake and eat it, but also spends all the time telling you how unhealthy cake is and nobody should ever have any.

Annabelle: Creation

It’s odd, these films always have REALLY good trailers, full of tense moments and good scares, but they never really work full length. That being said, this is a lot better than the first one. Although considering that is still one of the worst films I’ve seen, that’s not difficult. Renders the original (which is technically the second Conjuring film, and a sequel to this, it’s odd) completely pointless as an origin story. Has some okay performances in it but most of them are just standard. No actual scares really, all jump scares. The scariest moments in this film had nothing to do with this film; 1) I thought there was only one other person in the cinema, who was sitting behind me. But near the end a phone went off near the front. Made me jump. 2) A seat was broken and had a white sheet covering it. Whenever someone opened the door (like when a cinema worker came in to check things were okay) it caused a draft which made the sheet rise, made it look like someone was standing up underneath it.

+A few scenes are spectacularly done. And it ties in well with the rest of the franchise.

-Only does so by rendering the previous origin film pointless. It would be Batman Begins having a prequel where it turns out he was bitten by a radioactive bat whilst in the well, and the rest of the films are a result of that.

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She got better as the film went on, in the closing section she was superb.

Battle Of The Sexes

Great performances, Steve Carrell, in particular, seems to be throwing himself into this with everything he’s got. And the story is compelling and it does a great job of setting the time and place it’s in. So why so low? This is a one scene film. No matter how good the rest of the film is, the audience knows it’s all building up to a single event/scene. In a film like that you need to make sure that scene is superb, and in this, it’s not. It’s quite blandly shot. It’s shot like an actual tennis match from the time would be, which I suppose at least gives it an air of authenticity, but also makes it quite a dull watch. Compare this to Creed from a few years ago, the boxing scenes in that were not filmed like a TV channel would film them, they were filmed like a movie scene, it gave them angles which you’d never get in an actual boxing match, and it was all the better for it. This doesn’t do that, most of it’s filmed from a distance, and this robs the scene of so much.

+Set design/costume were brilliantly done, to the point where just a still photo would set the scene.

-That final match. Just doesn’t work.

Baywatch

Why? Why does this exist? Who is an r-rated version of Baywatch for? People who liked the original won’t like it, and people who didn’t like the original won’t like this. Nobody was calling out for it and it feels like it was one of those films that were only made so they could hold onto the copyright. Also, does it need an R-rating? The only point of it would be nudity, to be as sexually exploitative as they can be, but it doesn’t really do that. Only has the rating because of the swearing, which I also have a problem with; there’s far too much swearing just for the sake of swearing. Now onto the actual film; the opening scene is basically “Look how fabulous The Rock is. He’s basically perfect”. Just full of other characters complimenting him so much that it almost seems sarcastic.

+The line “I can’t save you if you’re being a dick” made me laugh.

-As with a lot of these sequel/reboot it’s far too in debt to the original to make its mark as an original film.

Cars 3

I liked this a lot more than the previous two. Although it should be said that I detest the previous two. I think they’re the only blots on Pixar’s record. Ties into the first one a lot better than the second one did, making the second one seem kind of like a spin-off.

+Genuine emotion in a lot of scenes. And there’s less Larry The Cable Guy, which is always a good thing.

-For a film called Cars the plot is really pedestrian.

Death Note

Oh dear. Oh dear. More like “Death No”, amirite? But yeah this was not a good film. Quite annoyed actually as I wanted this to be good. If only to prove people wrong. This had people against it from the start just because it was a remake. So when bad reviews came in I thought “that’s just idiot fanboys who can’t let go and see objectively, I’m going to watch it and I’m going to like it”. I was wrong, it was bad. The characterisation is completely wrong. They made a lot of mistakes but the biggest is they made Light average. There’s no sense of a tense cat and mouse game between Light and L, and a lot of the rules from the book have actually been changed for the sake of the film for seemingly no reason at all.

+Soundtrack/cinematography. And Willem Defore.

-Doesn’t so much throw away the mythology of the series, so much as burn it then piss on the ashes.

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L was good though

Despicable Me 3

This came really really close to being in the previous one. Like, really close. Then I remembered the amount of 80’s music and references in it which made me slightly smile.

+A love letter to the 80’s, albeit not a very well written one.

-Waaaaaaay too scattergun. Has no idea what the main plot is, there seems to be about 4 of them all vying for attention and it never really focuses on any of them. It’s basically cinematic ADHD.

Detroit

This film suffers from the same problem as a lot of films about the subject do, the villains are so 2-dimensional that it’s hard to buy into the film. The trouble with doing films about race set in 1960’s etc US is that you can’t create a compelling villain. To me, a good villain is just a misguided hero, one where you can kind of see their point. You can’t have that with this, the bad guys are so obviously wrong they’re impossible to defend, they’re obviously pricks. Which is depressing as that’s what it was like back then, a lot of people in power were indefensible pricks who deserved to be punched in the kidneys. Also, the pacing is weird, you have an entire subplot about a band that doesn’t really add anything except 30 minutes to the runtime.

+From a technical viewpoint it looks superb, and has moments which feel really claustrophobic and tense.

-Occasionally seems like it doesn’t know what it’s wanting to say.

Flatliners

Brave move killing off who they did. It’s weird as it’s not really sure what it wants to be, is it a remake, a sequel, or something entirely new? Nobody knows, least of all the film itself.

+Looks and sounds superb.

-Entirely forgettable.

It Comes At Night

I liked it, but not as much as I thought I would. Probably because I saw at the cinema. I know some horror works great at the cinema, but I feel this would work better on your own in a small room. You need to feel part of that world, feel isolated, like a visitor in their world, and sitting in a vast room full of other people takes you away from that. I think I’m going to need to watch it again on headphones on my own, I might appreciate it a lot more then, but watching it on a massive screen in an empty room gave me a sense of freedom that the film couldn’t stop.

+Superb job of keeping you invested in the story.

-Doesn’t quite know what it’s doing sometimes. Some scenes are oddly unsatisfying

Jigsaw

Well it’s better than the last one, I’ll give it that. Trouble with these films is all the crimes exist on their own, there’s no investigation into the crimes effect on the outside world. Is crime going down because people are scared of being punished? Are there a lot of copycat killers? Do people see him as a hero or a villain? This is never touched upon, except in some of the posters for the one before this. Very disappointing. If you bring back a dead franchise, you best do it well. You need it to justify it’s own existence. This doesn’t really do that, it seems like just the next step in a yearly franchise. It doesn’t need to exist, adds nothing new, doesn’t really do much. This does something worse than being bad, it’s pointless.

+Brilliantly inventive traps.

-Pointless and adds nothing to the franchise. Would have been acceptable a year after the last one, but a massive gap means it’s a waste.

Power Rangers

Pure nostalgia fest.

+Some moments are a lot of fun. Especially in the opening “did you just slap me?” “yeah, weird right?” made me laugh.

-Takes itself far too seriously. You cannot make this film seriously, yet they attempted.

Rings

Unpopular opinion time; this film should not have been a horror, it should have a psychological drama with scary moments. I feel under the service of this story is a really solid detective/ghost story, but it’s restricted by being a horror so puts in scares which don’t do much to enhance the film. Also, I’m getting very annoyed with films being ruined by their trailers. I’d seen two trailers for this; one of which I saw back in November and was mainly focused on one of the characters in the shower and freaky shit starts happening. A well made scene, but it’s also the final scene of the film, it takes place after the “monster” is supposed to have died, so after the “death” you just sit there thinking “I know it’s not the end as we haven’t seen the scene which the entire advertising campaign was based around”. Especially since I think the revelation at the end was supposed to be a twist. It would be like if The Usual Suspects had the tagline “Kevin Spacey is….Keyser Soze”.

+The way the film opened was fantastic and was one of my favourite 10 seconds of cinema of the year so far. They put the Paramount logo into the film itself, by showing it on tv screens on an airplane. They also distorted the logo as it was playing. I love when films do things like that, it grabs your attention immediately

-That closing scene does so much damage to the film.

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Split

Nothing inherently wrong with this movie, I just never brought the central concept. It’s like if I was watching a film where Ryan Gosling plays a character who is too ugly to get a date, they’d need to be a moment in the film which means you can buy the central concept as otherwise you’ll just be sitting there thinking “yeah this is BS”. This film never has that moment, as such it kind of fails. The acting in it was superb though, Anya Taylor-Joy continues to impress after last years The Witch, whilst James McAvoy does fantastic facial work, it gets to the point where you can tell which personality is in control of him from a still shot of his face.

+McAvoy is great. And it’s got me very excited for the sequel.

-Was this film just to make a sequel to unbreakable? Seems like a waste, because that film seemed like it was only made to be a prequel.

Suburbicon

Disappointing. Has a sub-plot which goes absolutely nowhere. It keeps seeming like it’s going to interact with the main story but never does, it could be cut entirely and the film wouldn’t change. It seems like it’s just there to say “people used to be racist, which is bad”, and then does nothing else other than that.

+Tremendous ensemble cast.

-Doesn’t live up to its potential.

The Book Of Henry

Read this was the worst film of the year, and responsible for director losing Star Wars job. I actually kind of liked it. I never need to see it again but it wasn’t the worst film I’ve seen. I mean, yeah it does seem like two different films awkwardly put together but the performances are compelling enough.

+Opening half is great character work.

-Closing half doesn’t match it, at all.

The Lego Ninjago Movie

Doesn’t seem to be done with as much love for the subject matter as the original lego movies. The Lego Batman movie was obviously done by someone who loved Batman (or at the very least knew a lot about it), this isn’t. There’s no subtle references to films of the genre, it’s just a standard boring film with the only lego-ness being a villain who’s a cat.

+The villain being a cat is very very funny.

-Bit dull.

The Mountain Between Us

When it was just “two people trapped on a mountain”, was a superb film. Once they added the romance bit I kind of tapped out, just didn’t work at all. And the “realisation shot” was straight out of a low-budget music video for a James Blunt soundalike.

+The first two thirds are fantastic. Brilliantly tense and haunting. And it looks great.

-The romance bit is a bit, erm, shit. And the make-up team needed to do better. Despite them being near death, they never really looked it physically.

The Snowman

A lot more brutal than I expected. The reveal of the killer could have been done better, and it juggled too many characters at once so was a bit of a bloated mess. Not as terrible as I thought it would be though.

+Looked superb, and was suitably brutal.

-Really unsatisfying reveal. And a lot of the scenes were hard not to laugh at.

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I much prefer this version

Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets

I get both the love the hate for this film. Nothing I can say will do it better than I did earlier in the year here.

+The opening scene is tremendous. Like, seriously brilliant. Almost worth watching the film for, sets the world brilliantly. From that moment I had seriously high hopes and thought I’d love this film.

-The visuals, the story, the characters. In short…so so much. I can forgive bad films, I can’t forgive dull ones.

 

 

2017 In Film: The Bad

Okay, the title is oversimplifying it a lot. These are just films I didn’t like, some aren’t necessarily bad, but were more a victim of hype. There’s going to be a few (and I can guess which ones) which a lot of people will disagree with, but taste is subjective so here goes, if you disagree, let us know with which ones. How I chose what to go in this was simple: these are the films that even if they were on tv and I had nothing to watch, I’d unplug my television and leave the house just so I don’t accidentally watch it. Oh, and there’s plenty of spoilers, so, be wary of that. In alphabetical order because, well how the darn else would I do it?

CHiPs.

Why does this exist? Seriously, was anybody calling out for a remake of a pretty forgettable tv show? Doesn’t really work, at all. I think it’s because the show itself doesn’t have a massive fanbase, it hasn’t really entered the popular culture that much. Also, the film itself is bad. Not just bad, kind of problematic too. I don’t want to get all “SJW” here but one of the female characters in this film is basically just a vagina that rewards the main character with sex. She starts off hating him then grows to like him because, well, because the script tells her to.  It’s not just her, most of the female characters are written as trophies for people to attain.

+ At least the cast look like they’re enjoying themselves.

-Almost everything else.

Fist Fight

Genuinely thought this came out a few years ago. Would not have guessed this came out in 2017, I’d have guessed 2015 or something like that. Pretty much the film equivalent of a cheap cheeseburger, disposable, and you won’t remember it a few minutes after you finish it.

+Kumail Nanjiani is really funny in it. Not his best work this year, but he provides the best work in this film. Also, the story itself actually works. Characters motivations make sense.

-Doesn’t have enough jokes that land to really be effective.

Geostorm

Again, and this will come up a lot for this year (this blog in particular); why does this film exist? Is it the 90’s again? I don’t know too much about science (as my GCSE results show) but this film still set off my “that seems like bullshit” sirens (not as bad as the complete abomination that was After Earth, but still). Oh, and the ending was a fucking cop-out. Did one of those “the hero sacrifices himself for the greater good, everybody cry. Oh wait, nevermind, they got saved so the death doesn’t happen and meant nothing just for the sake of a happy ending” endings so they can have both the emotional climax and the happy ending instead of actually having to risk anything. Which reminds me, fuck Iron Man 3, I like that film more than most people but they should have had the guts to kill Paltrow in it.

+The action set pieces work and look good.

-Ed Harris turns out to be the bad guy, I think we were supposed to be surprised by that but it just seemed really obvious.

geostorm1
And some films were never meant to be made

King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword

This is what happens when you write a film with the sole intention of setting up a franchise and deliberately hold back so much for sequels that you don’t put enough in it. The story and the style of directing didn’t mesh well together, it would be like directing Halloween using lots of bright colours and a spice girls soundtrack.

+Technically well directed.

-The box office returns have pretty much killed all hopes for it to be a franchise, so this story will forever be incomplete.

Shut In

On rotten tomatoes this film has a score of 8%, I think that’s too high. Overly earnest and with a twist that’s so obvious I’m not sure it’s really a twist. A complete waste of both the audiences time and the actor’s talents. Everyone involved is much too good to be in this film.

+Very well directed, the story isn’t great but Farren Blackburn at least made it look good.

-Predictable as hell.

Sleepless

I’ve seen quite a few bad films at the cinema, but rarely are they as tedious as this was. You’d think a 90-minute action film set in Las Vegas would be exciting, you’d be wrong.  The only reason certain things happen is because characters are idiots, for example at one point the villain points a loaded gun at the main character, now instead of shooting him, he takes a few steps backwards and gets run over a van (which he somehow didn’t hear coming, in an empty parking lot, the emptiness of which I have a problem with also). I’ve seen defences of this say “yeah but as long as you don’t think too hard about it it works. It’s just dumb fun”. And they’re half right, it’s dumb. It’s not nitpicking to point out that someone who has been stabbed (and for whom the wound continues bleeding for 4 hours) should be weakened by that. But nope, the only indication of it is that he occasionally stops and goes “ah”. A stab wound has the same effect as an ice cream headache. It’s a shame as the cast do their job well, it’s just the script is kinda dumb. There are some odd choices when it comes to directing too. You know that “shaky cam fight scene” that the Bourne movies use? They do that here, only they do it for EVERYTHING in the fight. Someone walks away after the fight; Shaky Bourne Camera, someone gets their phone out to phone someone: Shaky Bourne Camera. It also ends with the most obvious sequel hook in a long time, yet considering everybody in the cinema stood up the very second the credits started, I don’t think it’s going to be looked forward to that much. Maybe I’m spoiled by John Wick, which set my standards unbelievably high, but still, not a great film, it’s not even a good one. Which is a shame as it should be good, the story is at its base a very compelling one; a severely injured person in an action movie in a city that never sleeps. Opportunities for lots of good set pieces and should look superb. But nope, just dull.

+Good idea

-So dumb and flawed that it’s impossible to look past them.

Snatched

Not bad, just disappointing. Very bland, the kind of film you see and then immediately forget. Shame as it has some very good moments in it, but some of the jokes fall flat and land not with raucous laughter, but with silence. Same with directing too, a lot of the visual and editing decisions are kind of strange. All in all, it seems like every part of it was the first draft, every shot closing not with “perfect, one more for safety” but “that will do for now”. Same with the script, entire scenes seem like bits which should have been taken out in a second draft.

+Joan Cusack is brilliant.

-The sense of disappointment that this is Goldie Hawn’s first film in over a decade.

The Belko Experiment

Not really a fan of it. For this film to work you need it to be one of two things:

  1. Really stylish and brutal.
  2. Really clever.

This is neither. It seems to run out of ideas by the end of the trailer. It would be a really good short film, but for it to be a full-length feature it needs something else, it needs a twist, it needs to amaze and surprise you in the final third, it needs something, ANYTHING that you didn’t see coming. As it is….nothing. It doesn’t say or do anything really unique and fresh.

+Good performances in it. John Gallagher Jr. is particularly impressive.

-Pointless

The Bye Bye Man

A film that really earnt the bad reviews it got. This film fails because of one thing; it does a TERRIBLE job of mythology setting. It doesn’t build up the villain at all really. As such you don’t really know much about the motivations, powers, etc. It also did something that way too many horror movies do lately that I detest: hallucinations as scares (seriously, that’s happened in a ridiculously high amount of films lately). Basically “argh, scary thing, oh wait it’s not real, OR IS IT? no, it’s not, OR IS IT?” repeated ad nauseam.

+Would be a good first draft.

-A lot of things are bad about this film, but the worst is still the title.

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Don’t Watch It (and with that this film wins Easiest Diss Of The Year award)

The Dark Tower

It’s very, very bad. Idris Elba really needs to fire his agent, out of a cannon, into a brick wall so he can’t convince him what roles to take any more. Really, he deserves better than this, actually, he deserves better than most films he’s in. A shame as he is good, he just seems to pick bad roles when it comes to film. Very disappointed with this as I was intrigued by the trailers, I thought all the bad reviews were wrong, but nope, they were accurate. It’s just as bad as the reviews say. I read a review that summed it up well:

“Elba’s a good Roland in a movie that doesn’t allow him to actually embody the character in any meaningful way. He’s undercut at every turn. The strongest stuff in the film is when Roland and Jake are bonding, but that relationship is so accelerated that there’s no room for an arc.”

I don’t say this often for terrible films, but this really could have benefited from being longer. 95 minutes is waaaaaay too short to delve into the mythology the books created.

+Matthew McConaughey is compelling as hell as the villain.

-A PG-13 adaptation of a Stephen King book that’s also really short. No way in hell this would work.

The Emoji Movie

So bland. Not even bad enough for me to say anything funny about it. Despite what some reviewers may say it’s not proof of all that is wrong with society, it’s not entirely evil, it’s just shit. Product placement was so blatant that it is slightly uncomfortable though.

+The non Emoji bits are actually pretty good and tell a good story. If this was done by Pixar it could have worked.

-This movie exists. This is like if you made a Tetris or Minecraft movie. Oh, wait, what’s that? Both of those are happening? F*ck you Hollywood.

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

A very Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller movie, for better and for worse (mostly worse). I don’t think I like Noah Baumbach as a writer. Nothing personal it’s just his stuff kind of grates with me for some reason. Basing this entirely on this and While We’re Young, but they both seemed very similar to me. Uncompelling characters talking way too much and being way too old to be acting like they are. Also, it’s the sense of false cosiness, it’s like a fake fireplace in a chain restaurant. You get what they’re going for but didn’t really hit it.

+Dustin Hoffman is delightful.

-During way too many moments did the thought “Stop whining and just move on already” enter my head.

The Mummy

You know what I said earlier about CHiPs having no reason to exist? Yup, same here. You know what I said earlier about King Arthur showing how it’s a bad idea to make a film with the intention of setting up a franchise? Yup, same here. You know what I said earlier about Geostorm attempting an emotional ending that backs away at the last minute? Yup, same here. And if you think this entry was repetitious, just try watching this fucking film.

+Sofia Boutella is really good in it and her character is actually very well done.

-Can be best summed up in two reviews I read: “The film delivers all the chases, explosions, zombies and ghosts you could ask for, and there are a few amusing lines and creepy moments, but, between the headache-inducing flashbacks and hallucinations, the narrative would be easier to follow if it were written in hieroglyphics”. and “some nice moments but is basically a mess. The plot sags like an aeon-old decaying limb, a jumble of ideas and scenes from what looks like different screenplay drafts”

The Space Between Us

I was actually looking forward to this. But no, just no. Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson, and Gary Oldman do the best with what they can, but what they’re given was not great. My main issue is the obvious lack of scientific accuracy. May seem a bit nerdy, but it’s not high-level science they fail, what they do is the equivalent of a medical TV show saying “she got pregnant because she held hands with a man”. You wouldn’t see that on a TV show as it’s obviously false and only belongs in Alabama sex education classes.

+An interesting story underneath it all.

-Albeit very badly told.

 

Wish Upon

A really good idea; a box that grants wishes but needs blood sacrifice to work. Could be a really compelling script about the moral quandary that goes on with an item like this. But nope, the main character is never bothered by what she did. She seems selfish and hateful to the point where when (spoilers) she dies at the end you don’t really care, you just think “okay, the villain’s dead now, good”. Shame as Joey King was REALLY good in other films but now I don’t trust her as an actress. The film itself also is kind of bland,  Every idea it has comes from a better film.

+Shannon Purser is fantastic in this.

-Slightly racist in parts, really badly developed characters, a main character it’s impossible to root for.

End Of Year Film Awards

Best Actor

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Aaron Taylor-Johnson – Nocturnal Animals. Better known as “That kid from Kick-Ass”. One of the things about Kick-Ass was that it was about a hero who looked absolutely nothing like a hero, in fact there’s one scene where he threatens somebody and they just laugh at him. Yet in this he’s absolutely terrifying. His despicable nature just oozes out of the screen every second he’s on. Genuinely unsettling, and utterly compelling.

Also:

Bradley Cooper – Joy. If only because he’s responsible for the best moments in the film. His scenes with Jennifer Lawrence almost make her up her game, and it’s a much better film during those all too brief moments.

Best Actress

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Brie Larson – Room. Did you watch this film? Then you know why. She was just amazing in this. Everything about her performance was perfect. I saw this in January, which meant I had 11 months of performances which couldn’t even match it.

Also:

Madison Wolfe – The Conjuring 2. A performance beyond her years.

Julia Roberts – Secrets In Their Eyes. The first time I feel I’ve truly “got” her as an actress. Superb.

Best Script

Eye In The Sky: A film which could have been very bad if written differently. Same plot, same actors, same director and this film would not have only been bad, but catastrophically awful. As it was this film was perfectly paced. When doing a film like this you do run the risk of attempting methodical and instead just ending up with it being boring and too slow. You need to slowly crank up the tension through dialogue, if it goes wrong, it’s awful, but when it works it’s phenomenal. A fitting epitaph to Alan Rickman’s career.

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Worst Film

The Boss: I really want to like Melissa McCarthy, but she keeps making terrible films. Her character in this is extremely unlikeable with almost no character arc that redeems her. In almost any other film she’d be the main villain.

Best Film Moment

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Arrival – The meeting scene. There’s a moment in this where Amy Adam’s character first meets the aliens. It’s about ten minutes long and you can’t take your eyes away from the screen the entire time. Everything about it is perfect, the look, the acting, it all builds towards something which if there’s any justice will become as big a part of pop-culture iconography as scenes from Close Encounters, ET, or Alien. A moment full of pure wonder that truly shows what film can do.

Worst Film Moment

Batman Vs Superman: Martha. A moment which almost became shorthand for “awful and nonsensical”. The thing is, it does kind of make sense when you think about it, it could have been very believable that seeing someone as a person with a family will change your outlook on them, but the way it was delivered simply wasn’t good enough.

Best Film

Room: Excellent script, some of the best performances I’ve seen in a long time, and truly beautiful. This isn’t just film, this is emotional spectacle cinema. A film which I saw very early on in the year, and yet almost 12 months later it has still stuck with me.

Best Film To Look At

Arrival: A film shot with the warmth and cosiness of a home video. Science fiction (more than any other genre) seems to define itself by it’s look. And this film does more than enough to join the greats of the genre.

Also:

Pride And Prejudice And Zombies. 

Beautifully shot, the action scenes are brilliantly choreographed, and the costumes are superb. You could watch this on mute and still find things to appreciate.

Most Disappointing Film

Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice

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This film had so much riding on it, so for it to fall as much as it did (critically at least) is very disappointing. Especially since the problems in it are easily fixed. Some of them aren’t personal preference, they’re basic storytelling mistakes. I know it sounds awful to say but this film should end somebody’s career, you cannot make some of the mistakes they made in this film and still hope to make films. It had such high potential too, it really needed to be great, but in the end it was merely only “okay”

Also:

10 Cloverfield Lane

A film of three thirds: the first two are really good, matching up and in some ways surpassing the original, tense and claustophobic, just brilliant. Then it’s all thrown away in the final stretch until it dissolves into what William Shakespeare would describe as “a massive pile of wank”

Central Intelligence. It took too long to get to the point of the film, and there weren’t really enough “laugh out loud” moments. Reminds me of Hear No Evil, See No Evil, in that the chemistry between the leads is better than the actual fil.

Most Surprising Film

The 5th Wave

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I expected this to be just low-grade YA shlock. Yet it had a really really good plot and some excellent moments. Yes it wasn’t the greatest film I saw this year, but it was a lot better than I thought it would be.

Also: Goosebumps.

Very solid and well made kids horror film. I saw some reviews of it which criticised it for “looks like it was made for children”, which, you know, it was. It’s like criticising porn for being aimed at people who want to masturbate. Yeah it means it won’t make much money among people who want something to watch in the evening whilst drinking a glass of red wine in the evening, but it’s not meant to.

The “Well I Liked It” Award

The BFG: Called by some people “one of the biggest box office bombs of 2016” and I truly don’t get why. In a year which was the best one in recent memory for kids films, this one still stood out in a very crowded bunch. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again; there are many great films, only a select few are “magical”, and this is definitely one.

Best Marketing Campaign

Deadpool: A very violent comic book film, what would be the best way to market this?

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That’s actually pretty brilliant. During the run up to the release to this (way way back at the beginning of the year) Ryan Reynolds was on point, uploading almost in character updates on the film. If anybody doubting how well-suited he was to the role hopefully had those doubt squashed like a bug. Actually he continued it past release, doing new adverts to celebrate the film being out for a month in cinemas. A magnificent campaign which worked wonders. If there’s any doubt how successful this campaign was I’ll point this out; it meant people wanted to see the film, despite the fact that most peoples knowledge of the character being X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

2016 In Film (Part Four: The Amazeballs)

Contains possibly my favourite scene of the year, I’ll be doing a “end of year” awards blog soon so will go into it in more detail there. The film is worth seeing for that scene alone. A truly astounding piece of cinema that deserves it’s place alongside the true greats of the genre.
The BFG
This film is like milkshake made of magic. Bright, colourful, sweet and so lovely.
The Big Short/Spotlight
I’m including both of these as one as to me they’re both very similar. For some reason I’d get the feeling they’d make a brilliant double feature. Both deal with social responsibility and how to cope when your world collapses around you, how you deal with knowing that something that is supposed to be a saviour for the masses is actually responsible for ruining so many peoples lives. Not just good films, but also very important.
Captain America: Civil War
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It’s……amazing. Pre-hype for this was pretty intense, until Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn’t Stop Twice It’s Alright, then people started to get concerned. Was easy to see why, it seemed like Civil War was following a lot of of BvS mistakes: they released a trailer that seemed to give away the plot, then another one which introduced a character people weren’t certain if was going to be in it, and they seemed to be introducing a lot of new characters in one film. I’ll admit, I was really disappointed that they put Spider-Man in the trailer. I thought “but it would have worked better if it was a shock, stupid idiots. I hate them all! Burn them!” But here’s the thing: I was wrong. Spider-Man came in waaaaaay too early in this film for him to be a surprise character. Besides, if that happened then people would walk out talking about “Oh my God, I can’t believe Spider-Man was in that!” as opposed to how good the film is. Plus that information would have leaked in the first screenings, even if you tried to avoid it you’d see it everywhere on facebook when you woke up on release day. So in the end it made sense, so so much sense. God damn I loved this movie, probably my favourite Marvel film so far, had everything: sensible plotting, good characterisation, good action sequences, just, everything you want.
Let’s take you back to a dark time: July 2014. ISIS were causing a major kerfuffle in Iraq, Lucy made film watchers brains explode (at least; viewers with the scientific knowledge of at least a toddler), and S Club 7 reformed. A time before Deadpool. The chances of a film made featuring the character were astronomically low, then test footage was leaked. The reaction to this is solely responsible for the film being completed. This film wasn’t made to cash in on something popular, it was made because people were excited and really wanted to see it. The leaking of the video turned the film from “it would be nice but will never happen” to “release date announced”. This characterised the entire film really, it was really made for the fans. You can tell this even down to the rating, this film really earns it’s rating, it’s violent and brilliant. And let’s face it, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
A film I nearly put in the “good”, but the visuals were just about good enough to push it into this one instead. Directed by a guy who’s mainly known for horror, he’s really allowed to showcase his visual skills here. Kind of makes sense really, horror is definitely a visual director’s medium, you can have a great script, great soundtrack and great actors, but something as simple as making a shot a little bit too light or too dark can kill the entire scare. As such it really shouldn’t be much of a surprise that he pulled it off as well as he did. I know I’m going on about it but I really can’t put over how magnificent this film looks.
Edge Of Seventeen
A very enjoyable film, it’s a bit like listening to a REALLY good cover song, whilst it’s not completely original, and you won’t be surprised by it, you still have to be impressed with how they’ve done it, and you still love it.
Finding Dory
It’s Pixar, does anything else need to be said? It will make you squee and it will make you cry. Not quite as good as Inside Out, but then again very few films are.
Kubo And The Two Strings
A very very unique look, almost origami cinema. A film so strong and confident I just automatically assumed it was based on something. Genuinely heartfelt and a fantastic story. Not just a great kids film, but a great film all round.
Holy crap kids films were good this year. This film is so good it almost seems like Pixar made it. Moving, well told story, brilliant visuals, and the music is beyond fantastic. It also features what is without a doubt the best pee-joke of the year. So there’s that.
Nocturnal Animals
A very good film, but not a very nice one. You can go into this film having the best day ever and this will make you feel awful. This is the cinematic equivalent of a Dementor’s kiss.
Pride And Prejudice And Zombies
This film has a really unique look, actually it’s kind of beautiful. The costumes look amazing, as does the actual look of the film. You see POV shots of zombies when they get their heads cut off. It’s an odd mix of brutality and elegance that you don’t see often enough. Not just that, it’s a well told story that is genuinely laugh out loud funny. The opening narration points out that at the first sign of the zombie invasion, we blamed the French, which is pretty darn funny.
Just absolutely brutal, Gleeson is quietly building up a quite impressive CV. DiCaprio was good, but Tom Hardy was better. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Tom Hardy might be the best actor of this generation, great versatility, amazing abilities, and a proven box office draw, adored by both indie snobs, and the casual film-goer.
Room
If you, dear reader, were in the room with me I wouldn’t grab you by the lapels. I would grab you by the ankles and drag you to the cinema and force you to watch this film, even if I had to pay your ticket. This is definitely a “buy the DVD on release day” kind of film. The kind which remind you of just how fantastic films are. It’s definitely a cinema film too. Certain films just work better at the cinema, horrors for example because they rely on audience feedback, comedy too as it means that (if the film is good) it will create its own laugh track. The other type of good cinema films are ones that just look stunning, films that need you to just sit there and go “wow”. This film was good in the cinema for a different reason, you could hear people cry around you. So much raw emotion on screen. It won so many awards, yet it could have won every award ever and it still would be less than it deserved.
I will judge people who don’t like this film. Actually, God will judge them. How can someone not like this? It’s smart, funny, and just brilliant. One of the finest films of the year and a true piece of brilliance.

2016 In Film (Part 2: The Meh)

The qualifier for this is somewhat more complicated than the previous one. These aren’t necessarily bad films, just films that I don’t need to see again. If they’re on netflix and I can’t sleep I might consider them, but I will never buy them or go out of my way to see them. Now this will be when it gets contentious, there’s definitely two I can see a lot of people disagreeing with, and I get why.

10 Cloverfield Lane

I was really disappointed by this, when the trailer came out I was really excited for this, it just came out of nowhere and I loved the original so I was as excited as a vampire at a blood drive. But then I saw it and my excitement dried up quicker than you can say “wow, this film is deeply deeply flawed in many ways The ending doesn’t really work at all. Which is a shame as the first two acts are really strong, it’s like a small independent film, but then it all goes weird in the closing section, and is all the poorer for it. It’s like two different films welded clumsily together, after a tense housebound thriller it becomes generic alien invasion. I haven’t seen a genre shift this severe since Life Is Beautiful”, which doesn’t seem very short, but compared to the length of the film it is.

Batman Vs. Superman

Not bad, but deeply deeply deeply deeply flawed. The trouble with Zack Snyder is he can’t make his own shots, he can make a shot based on a scene from a comic book look gorgeous, but the second he has to make compose his own shot it all falls apart. Also this film is long, very very long, and it doesn’t really hold your attention that much. The acting in it is mostly great (one or two exceptions), Ben Afleck in particular made a fantastic Batman. There was a lot of worry about whether he could pull it off, but the second the trailer came out and we saw him running INTO a collapsing building we knew he’d be perfect, he just looked so perfect for it. Just a shame he was a great Batman in a mediocre film.

Central Intelligence

Funny, but not quite funny enough, and spends too long playing catch up to its own trailer. Plus, Kevin Hart is rather annoying in it.

The Conjuring 2

Have a review of this already over here. So to summarise; If you like horror (or are interested in film-making) then see this film, but it won’t change your mind if you don’t like the genre.

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Said it before and I’ll say it again, this girl is amazing in this film though

The Danish Girl

Far far too English for a Danish film. Personally I would have preferred it if it was a subtitled Danish film, as it is there’s very little Danish about it, if you were only paying small attention to it then you’d have assumed it was set in England. Alicia Vikander continues being just fantastic, I didn’t think she could top her performance in Ex Machina, but here she manages it. If I saw this film later in the year it would have stood a good change of being in the “Good” blog, as it is, I’ve had time to think about it, and in reality it is kind of meh.

Don’t Breathe

I get why people like this, I really do, it just didn’t really do anything for me. I think it’s because I found the main characters too annoying and insufferable that I didn’t care when bad things happened to them. Also there were so many moments which only happened because the characters were holding the idiot ball and refused to let go.

Ghostbusters

Deeply deeply flawed in many ways. Melissa McCarthy has far too many moments when she’s speaking scientifically and you can tell she has no idea what she’s saying and it’s really off-putting. Now I’m not expecting her to know a lot of science, but she can at least act she does. When you’re watching Scrubs or House they don’t know what they’re saying, but that thought never occurs to you because of the way they deliver their lines. Now I know McCarthy can act, she was fantastic in St. Vincent, so maybe the issue here is that the director didn’t push her enough to get a good performance out of her. It’s not just her performance in this film that bothers me, Kate McKinnon needed to be reigned in slightly. Her character was very funny and loveable in the trailer, but stretched over the entire film it just felt a bit too much, sometimes less is more and with a character like that it’s definitely the case, if they just took two or three scenes of her out, it would have improved it a lot. Two other problems, one of which I won’t mention now as I’ll be bringing it up in my Jungle Book mention, but the other one is far more obvious and damaging; there is zero sense of tension. Even when things are at their worst you never think “oh no, how will they ever get out of this?”. As such it’s hard to get emotionally involved in the film. Although despite all of that, I almost put this in the “good” blog. Know why? Yes it’s flawed, yes it has plot problems, yes the script is a mess, but when I left the cinema I didn’t think of any of that, I was smiling and I was very happy, I was entertained. And really that’s all I needed. It wasn’t my greatest moment of the year, but in the then and now, it entertained me.

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No, not them. Never them.

Hail, Caesar!

A bit too film studenty for my liking, like you can tell there were lots of film buffs watching it and appreciating the in-jokes. But it was very well made.

The Infiltrator

Good, not great, and Cranston deserves better.

Jason Bourne

It loses some points for not using the phrase “Bourne again” in any of the marketing. I mean, come on, the pun is right there! So this film in particular? It’s okay, it has it’s moments but it doesn’t really do anything that the previous ones didn’t do.

Joy

Doesn’t really seem big enough for the cast, truth be told it seems like a made for TV movie. It has two excellent moments and one ok moment which aren’t enough for a film like this. It seems almost like a companion piece for Serena, whereas that was Autumn, this is Winter, which sadly means there’s still two more of these things left.

The Jungle Book

What I say here is also true for Ghostbusters: this film can’t stand on it’s own merits. It has too many obvious references to the original to do so. As such it can’t carve its own legacy as it seems aware of the shadow it’s in. When you’re watching it you’re constantly thinking of the other version, and you should never be doing that during a film. Admittedly, the bit where Christopher Walken voices a giant singing orang-utan is odd enough to distract you (it’s at that point where the comparisons to Ghostbusters end).

Midnight Special

I know what it was trying to do, and I appreciate it, it just personally didn’t do enough to hold my interest.

Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates

Quite funny, but it comes close to giving a very important moral which I’ve never seen in film before, only to back out at the last second. The lesson by the way: you’re not obligated to be into someone even if they’re nice, it’s okay to not be attracted to them. It comes close to teaching this lesson, but then pulls away at the last moment.

Morgan

Not bad, just kind of bland. And it seems a lot worse if you’ve seen the British film The Machine, which takes everything this film does well, and does it better.

Nerve

Not quite as unsettling as the trailer promised it would be. I expected something akin to an episode of Black Mirror, instead I got a standard teen film, albeit one with bright colours.

Other Side Of The Door

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Moments of pure brilliance but it’s bogged down by the rest. The director really understand silence, there’s moments where you hear absolutely nothing for about 10 seconds, no music or anything, and it’s brilliant for creating tension as it puts your nerves on edge. More films should do this, most of them just use music cues to tell you when you should be scared so this should be admired for doing something different, but then it does the “quiet, quiet LOUD JUMP SCARE” thing and you’re just disappointed. It’s the same visually as well, there’s some really fantastic shots (if anybody reading this is interested in the visual style of horror and wants to direct, watch this film and you’re guaranteed to see a few shots you want to steal), but then there’s some cliche stuff which lets it down. This KEEPS happening, and it’s annoying. It happens in the script as well. On the one side there’s periods of dullness and cliche bullshit. But then you have moments which break from convention, particularly in two moments:

  1. The main characters didn’t do the whole “no, i’m denying this obvious thing is happening” thing that happens so often, she immediately thought “well, i heard my dead sons voice behind a door, was warned awful things would happen if i opened it, i opened it, awful things are happening. It’s my son causing it”
  2. The ghosts etc made sense. So often in horror films the villains are pretty much just “we are here to break stuff and  be evil”, but in this film they had clear motivations and desires. It was obvious what they wanted and they did have an endgame.

Pete’s Dragon

A good journey, albeit one which spends far too long dicking about looking for the car keys before actually deciding to head off (which is a pretentious annoying way of saying it takes too long to get going). Probably the children’s film I enjoyed least this year, but that says more about how great the other films were than how bad this one is. The harshest thing you can say about this is that it’s bland.

Sausage Party

Funny, but had a few pacing issues that let it own, and isn’t as clever as it thinks it is. Seemed more like a series of sketches than a full blown film.

The Secret Life Of Pets

Thoroughly ok. The closing shot was beautiful. It’s one of the great things about animation is that you can occasionally get absolutely gorgeous visuals, but apart from the closing shot it never really does that. In fact it doesn’t look great throughout, the animals just look ok, and the humans in it look like they’re made of twigs. The story is serviceable and does what it needs to, but I don’t feel I need to see it again. It’s biggest flaw isn’t the fault of the film, it’s just circumstance. A lot of times studios release films which (judging by poster alone) look very similar. Has happened a lot before: Antz/A Bugs Life, Finding Nemo/Sharks Tale etc. This films competitor? Zootropolis. For this film to come anywhere close to that would be difficult.

The Shallows

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I commend this film for the fact that the events of it actually have consequences, it permanently changes the main character, and that’s something which doesn’t happen enough in film. Blake Lively is very very good in it, but is let down by a bland script and directing which doesn’t do the events of the film justice.

Suicide Squad

I feel a good editor could make this film twice as good. I summed it up best earlier in the year: If you go cinema a lot, go see it. If you only go to the cinema a few times a year, and going is a true event, then don’t make this one of your visits.

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War Dogs

Was disappointed with this, things I knew were jokes never really hit home. This film really hits home the importance of directing, this film is directed like an action film, as such the laughs don’t really land.

Films to look Forward to in 2016

Batman V Superman: March 25

PHDHoUG4AUNdHI_1_lBecause despite the last trailer giving WAY too much away, who isn’t going to see this film? It’s Batman fighting Superman…for at least a third of the film anyway. And despite that trailer there’s still hope. The idea that Batman is turned against Superman because of the chaos he caused in Man of Steel is good screenwriting; it makes sense from a character point and helps bring the films together. The casting is also very solid, with Batfleck actually looking to be one of the best iterations of the Dark Knight yet. But we all still need to take a step back to wait and see whether Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is the trainwreck everyone is HOPING it will be, or whether like Keaton and Ledger before him he will turn in a great performance despite the naysayers. I have no idea, but I at least love how much fun he seems to be having.

 

Deadpool: February 10

I limited this list to only Deadpool_postertwo superhero films because I didn’t want it to be inundated with them, and I wanted this to be a cut away from a lot of most anticipated lists by not just focusing on the big blockbusters coming our way (but saying that I am looking forward to Civil War and Dr Strange).
Now Deadpool; the reason I chose this over the many superhero flicks of 2016 is because this is by far the riskiest. R rated, fourth wall breaking, X-Men Movie universe expanding, and Ryan Reynolds’ starring; it’s had the best advertising campaign of any superhero film that manages to introduce the character while staying true to his roots, and is being made by people who clearly care deeply about making it an authentic adaptation. So let’s hope all those good intentions don’t pave the way to hell this time.

 

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Hail, Caesar!: February 26

Because it’s the Coen brothers (who I’m not the biggest fan of so not just dick sucking), doing a satire of the golden age of Hollywood with an all-star cast of old (Clooney and Brolin) and new talent (Hill and Tatum), with a the truly Coeny plot about a Charlton Heston type movie star being kidnapped, and the hapless Hollywood fixer who has to find him. It should be a very gaudy picture, with its only hurdle to clear is the early February release date, which could be a) a sign that the Coen’s just don’t give a shit, or b) the studio wants to drop it where no one will see it. We will see.

 

 

 

Everybody Wants Some: May 13

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His first film since his cinematic milestone and masterpiece Boyhood, Linklater returns to his stoner roots, with the spiritual sequel to possibly the best hangout film ever, Dazed and Confused; the 70s set stoner comedy that always found the chuckles, but never lost the poignancy of leaving your teenhood behind. This latest outing is set in the 80s and picks up exactly where Boyhood left off (if a few decades earlier) with a group of teens (played by refreshingly unknown actors) integration into their first year of college life and their college baseball team. Now this doesn’t sound that different from your typical stoner/gross out comedy of today, but with Linklater’s sensitive directing and thoughtful mind for youth and character, what sounds like a typical set up will (hopefully) be another timelessly funny and heartfelt film that captures that moment between teenhood, everything else, and who knows what.

 

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: November 18

I like the Harry Potter films about as much as the next guy, I grew up with them. But honestly I might be looking forward to this more than any of those films, because I always found the most fascinating part of them to be the world itself. And now we have a film set in that world, Seventy years before the original films (so in the 20s), set in New York, led by one of the best young British actors working today Eddie Redmayne, and was penned by J.K Rowling herself…I’m shocking myself how game I am for this film, and you all should be too! It’s Harry Potter without Harry Potter!

 

The Disaster Artist: TBA

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The adaption from the unsurprisingly hilarious but surprisingly poignant novel about the making of The Room, the infamously best worst movie ever made, but is really about the friendship between its crazy maker Tommy Wiseau and his co-star Greg Sestero. Produced by Seth Rogan and directed by James Franco (who with his directing record doesn’t scream hope), but with a screenplay adapted by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, the screenwriters behind The Fault in Our Stars, The Spectacular Now, and 500 Days of Summer, I became far less worried. And that was before the all-star cast started flocking to it like moths to an eccentric flame. James Franco of course is taking the role of Mr Wiseau himself, and his little brother Dave is Greg, but as well as them; Seth Rogan, Zac Efron, Alison Brie, Sharon Stone, Josh Hutcherson, and Bryan fucking Cranston, are also co-starring. With such a shockingly A-list cast, we can only hope they’ve all gathered because of the strength of the script and talent involved, and nothing less. If Franco can make this even half as good as the novel, this could be one of the best films of 2016.

 

The Nice Guys: May 20

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If my look at Shane Black’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang didn’t give it away, I love Shane Black when he does buddy movies. So it’s great to see him return with what looks like a spiritual sequel (or prequel) to that, with this 70s set dark comedy crime thriller that brings us the inspired pairing of Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling; an enforcer and hapless private eye who team up to find a missing girl and solve the murder of a porn star…how can you not be stoked for that! So let the guilty violence and laughs commence!

 

 

 

 

Moana: November 23

moana-poster-conceitual-camundongoDisney’s next animated film after the disappointing Big Hero 6 (and fuck you it wasn’t that good) brought to us by the directing duo behind some of Disney’s greatest films (Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Treasure Planet) and will follow an ancient Oceania tribal girl as she searches the South Pacific for a fabled island, helped by a demi-god voiced by Dwayne Johnson. Don’t know much beyond that, but with the talent involved we can but hope for another Disney classic, or at least something up there with Tangled and Frozen.

 

 

 

kuboKubo and the two strings: August 19

 

But this is the animated film I’m looking forward to most in 2016! Brought to us by the same team and studio behind the stop-motion masterpieces Coraline and ParaNorman, comes this action fantasy set in ancient Japan about a teenager fighting demons and searching for the magic armor his legendary samurai father once wore….it’s a STOP MOTION ANIME! I MEAN…how can you not be wetting yourself at the awesomeness of that! And with an all-star cast, the talent behind the scenes, and the recent trailer for it, all we can do now is wait and hope.

La La Land: July 15

Stars On The Set Of 'La La Land'

 

A musical dramedy about the romance between a jazz pianist played by Ryan Gosling, and an actress played by Emma Stone, and J.K. Simmons is in it too. Really the only reason this has made the list is that its writer and director Damien Chazelle’s follow up to his jaw-breakingly great Whiplash. Whether he’ll be able to live up to that will have to be seen, but I find it a good sign he appears to be going for a very different vibe for this film.

 

 

High-Rise: March 18High_Rise_2014_Film_Poster

The new and probably highest profile film from the bizarre director of Sightseers, A Field in England, and Kill List (the only of his films I have seen), Ben Wheatley; and stars Tom Hiddleston as the newest resident in a self-contained block of highrise apartments with a vicious classiest system, in this dark comedy Sci-fi thriller…or something like that. Co-starring Jeremy Irons and Elisabeth Moss, there is still a bit of mystery about this film, for all those who haven’t read the books it’s adapted from, as the advertisement has done a good job in being vague on plot but specific on tone and style. And with early release reviews beginning to come in I’m seeing almost equal people calling it a failed attempt at something grand, or hailing it as a masterpiece. So I’m glad its release date isn’t too far into this year, before we get a chance to judge for ourselves whether Mr Hiddleston has been using his Marvel down time on worthy projects.

Live by Night: October 7

2E0BBB1A00000578-3300941-image-a-62_1446500565850Ben Affleck finally took a break from acting to get back to his much more interesting career as a director, with this follow up to Argo. Adapted from another Dennis Lehane novel like his first and best film Gone Baby Gone, it’s a period crime thriller that follows the prodigal son of a police captain as he becomes a bootlegger and later a gangster legend. Again here because of the director and writer’s track record, he’s currently three for three on great thrillers, and I doubt Affleck’s in a hurry to break the streak; especially with his next directorial project being the first solo Batman film in the new DCCU. And that’s before mentioning that Mr Leonardo Dicaprio has taken on a producer hat for it.

Of course these are only vague predictions on what will be some of the best films in the coming year, as we all know that best films tent to come out of nowhere with a sharp left hook, not let us see it coming from months away.