2019 Film Awards (lost blog)

So I’ve now run out of films to review and might not be able to review any for quite a while. So to make up for it I’m going to be doing other blogs to fill in the time. This is a blog that was half-written but never posted as I realised it would be a bit weird to post a blog about the best films of 2019 in March of 2020, it felt a bit late. It felt like a shame as some of the films deserved me gushing over how brilliant they are, so now’s the time. Simple enough, I just needed to complete the half-written blog and post, easy. Well, it would have been if I didn’t delete the original like a fucking dumbass. So keep in mind a lot of this is based on films I haven’t seen for over half a year.

Most Disappointing

Killer Kate

I thought this would be fun. It looked fun, and it had a short run time, which for a film like this is usually an indicator that it will move at breakneck pace. The opening scene is a discussion between the killers, and it’s dull. The actual plot doesn’t kick off until way too far into it. Nowhere near as fun as it should be.

It Chapter Two

Far far too long, not enough Pennywise, and it had too many flashbacks of characters we knew were going to survive. It’s a shame as I genuinely love the first one, and I thought I enjoyed this. But the more distance I have from this film, the more the flaws are apparent.

Brightburn

I sent the trailer for this to someone I used to work with, that’s how much faith I had in this film. That faith was totally misguided. This film just did not work. The story was boring, it was too in debt to the Superman mythos to stand out on its own, and it wasted a brilliant premise. On the plus side I’m interested to see what happens next.

Ma

The trailer made it look better than it was. The issue is that it was building towards something we knew was happening. We were waiting for something to happen and to see how it would develop, instead what we were waiting for turned out to be the end. It would be like if Halloween only featured Michael Myers in the last 20 minutes.

Winner

Wolf

“It’s a werewolf movie set during ancient Roman times, this is going to be great”. Spoilers; it was not great. Yeah, you’re going to be seeing this film getting mentioned a lot in this blog, and there’s a reason for it.

Best Music

Wild Rose

I don’t really like country music, but I loved it in this. “Three chords and the truth” is how the character describes it, and when she sings, you believe it. I’ve watched the film once, about a year ago, and I still find myself occasionally singing the main song from it.

Childs Play

For two reasons: 1) the new version of the classic theme. 2) The Mark Hamil song that manages to be both kind of creepy, and like it comes from a kids TV show.

Us

Almost entirely because of the really good remix of I Got 5 On It. Although the use of Les Fleurs was damn near perfect.

Winner

Rocketman

It’s a shit load of Elton John songs, so of course it’s going be good. Taron Egerton is REALLY good at capturing his voice.

Best Looking

Pokemon: Detective Pikachu

This film should have more uncanny valley moments than it does. Plus the visual world-building is a sight to behold.

Rocketman

It’s not easy to do a film about Elton John. You need to make it look flamboyant without being distracting. This film manages it. It turns out Dexter Fletcher is really good at this, genuinely wouldn’t have guessed.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Yes, I didn’t like the film, but the look was perfect. It genuinely felt like it was from a different time. The atmosphere it created was near perfect.

Joker

The world design for this was picture perfect. This is a gotham that NEEDS Batman. This isn’t a neon-dreamspace you can sell with McDonalds toys. This isn’t “avoid the bad areas”, EVERYWHERE is a bad area with a few exceptions of where the rich live.

Knives Out

Purely for the number of times I watched this film and thought “that would make a cool poster”, it also has one of my favourite closing shots of all time.

Toy Story 4

There were a few moments here where I thought “hmm, they look slightly plastic” and then realised that the characters are plastic, they’re toys. I was so taken in by the animation that I occasionally forgot that. Plus they made rain look real, which is REALLY hard to pull off in this kind of animation.

John Wick 3

The action scenes in these are usually the highlight of the year in terms of how well designed they are, this was no exception. The choreography is again great, and the world they take place in really suits it. The colours, the set design, the cinematography, all of it adds up to some superb visuals.

Us

The colour schemes, the visual foreshadowing, all of it was just so damn magnificent.

Winner

Ad Astra

Normally “a good looking film” means it’s visually busy and crammed with intricate details, this is the opposite. The use of space (lol, pun) in this film is masterful. It genuinely confused me how this film didn’t do better. You watch this and you really feel his isolation. Everything seems so empty and hopeless. I love it.

Worst Looking

Hellboy

Almost entirely for the woeful CGI in one of the final scenes. I’ve genuinely seen better in PS2 games.

Wolf

The make up in one moment of this was AMAZING. They genuinely made it look like the actress had been savaged by a werewolf, the scars looked real and they looked aged. If this was just a “worst make-up” award this film wouldn’t be listed at all. But this is “worst looking” in general, so that’s make-up, visual effects, directorial choices, and editing. It’s that last one where this REALLY fails. There are scenes where it cuts to a character every time they speak, no matter how short what they say is. That line about the bad editing for Bohemian Rhapsody? It could easily be used here, except I don’t want to find an example of it, lest I accidentally watch a single second of this turgid piece of crap ever again.

Winner

Captain Marvel

No, this did not look worse than the others in this list. But I believe it’s a worthy winner because a film with a budget this big should not have CGI as ropey as this. It’s shameful how bad it was at times. It sucks but expectations to have to be taken into account for things like this. If you went to an open mic comedy night and one of the comedians there stumbled over their words and had to rely on notes, you’d still find them funny. If, however, you paid through the nose for a gig at Wembley Stadium and the comedian did that, you’d consider it money wasted. That’s why even though it’s not the worst, it “wins” the worst.

Best Performance

Rocketman: Taron Egerton

He didn’t really look like him, but his performance completely encapsulated the character.

Wild Rose: Jessie Buckley

The whole film is anchored on her performance, and she carries it expertly. It helps that she has a good singing voice, but her non-singing vocal performance is also to be commended. Her emotions and worries are there for us all to see, as is the characters attempts to hide them.

Joker: Joaquin Phoenix

What can I say about this performance that hasn’t been said already? Absolutely nothing considering how much the awards wanked over it. There’s a reason for it though; his performance is utterly compelling.

IT Chapter Two: Bill Hader

I was genuinely surprised by how great his performance is in this. He’s sharing the screen with Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, and Bill Skarsgard. His performance outshines all of them. It is mostly comedic but the emotion he gives it really elevates it.

Winner

Us: Lupita Nyong’o

Everyone in this plays their dual roles perfectly, but Lupita carries it off best (with Winston Duke as a very close second). It’s not just her movements and vocals that show the difference between the two, the way she holds herself is different too. You can have pictures of the two of them sitting in a chair and figure out which one is which.

Worst Performance

Wolf: Everyone

It’s hard to narrow it down to a single performance in this, they were all so bad. Such a talented cast too, starring the writer/director, the editor…..okay I see what they did. Even as a film student I wouldn’t have pulled that shit, I got actual actors (and paid them in cake), so there’s no excuse for a feature film aiming at cinema release to pull this shi.

Hellboy: Sasha Lane

A bad accent can make you forget everything else about a performance. Does anybody remember Dick Van Dyke’s mannerisms from Mary Poppins? Or how he carried himself? No, because they were too distracted by the terrible accent. It’s similar here, it’s distractingly bad. At times it wanders into slightly Australian via New York. It was directed by someone who’s directed a few episodes of Game Of Thrones, so he MUST have been able to recommend an actual English actor. It was being filmed in the UK, so it’s not as though “oh, well it will be easier to get an American performer”. I’m not saying you have to be English to play an English character, but if you’re not then you have to put at least some effort into convincing us you are, and she doesn’t.

Winner

Killer Kate: Alexandra Feld

No matter how good she was, it would not have saved this movie; but it might have made it slightly watchable if her performance was tolerable. The trouble is that it is so wooden I don’t even have the energy to make an immature erection joke at the word “wood”. It reminds me of me when I try to act, not believable and with zero emotion. It’s so bad I’m convinced it’s a parody. I felt kind of nervous about writing this in case it seemed like bullying. But it is SO bad. I have no idea how she passed the audition, but the fact she was married to the writer/director must have had a hand in it (but for his sake I hope he got more than a hand out of it).

Best Character

Ben Is Back: Holly Burns-Beeby (played by Julia Roberts)

Over the last few years I’ve really started to GET Julia Roberts. I think it’s because of how great she was in the supremely underrated Secret In Their Eyes and Money Monster. She’s picking really interesting characters lately, and this one is no exception. A mother who has to stand by her drug-addicted son. Her character is one borne of frustration, anger, and love. The moment where she yells at the Alzheimer-riddled doctor who was responsible for her sons’ addiction is brilliant to see and really highlights the role of prescription drugs in drug addiction.

Happy Death Day 2 U: Tree Gelbman (played by Jessica Roth)

She is a big part of why this film works. She is so…human. Even her stupid decisions are ones which you understand her reasons for making. Her growth over the two films are a sight to behold. This is the best example of that character though. Underneath all the bluster and confidence is someone who is still haunted by her mothers death. When she has to make the decision about going back to her own reality and abandoning her mum in the present multiverse, you truly feel her pain.

The Day Shall Come: Moses Al Shabaz (played by Marchant Davis)

This is heartbreaking. Absolutely heartbreaking. You are rooting for this character throughout the film, so when the inevitable happens it just breaks you. His motivations are clear, his relationships with the other characters make sense, and his actions always make sense. Every single decision he makes is based on a weird kind of logic. This is one of the few films where I wanted a happy ending, yes it would have felt unnatural, but damn this guy deserved a break.

Good Boys: All of them

I’ve said it before and I will say it again; these characters were so smartly written. They’re in that awkward age where you start making sex jokes, but you have no idea what sex is. It’s a tricky line to walk, if you write them as too young they seem like idiots, but if you write them as too old it seems unrealistic. This strikes the perfect balance between the two and is all the better for it.

Winner

Knives Out: Marta Cabrera (Played by Ana De Armas)

Her character would be quite easy to dislike if she was badly written. Thankfully the script injects her with just enough warmth that you are rooting for her throughout the film. Her character, more than any other in this list, is helped by the other characters reactions to her. Every time one of the family members talks to her they say “I wanted you at the funeral, but other people objected”, every single one. Plus, every time they mention where she’s from they say a different country, indicating that they don’t actually pay much attention to her. It’s almost as though they don’t see her as a nurse (and certainly not as a close family friend, no matter what they say), and instead see her as “the help” for the family. This is best showcased in a scene where a character is mid-conversation with her and hands her his empty plate, as if to say “go take that out for me”. The best part about these moments? They’re easily missed. They don’t have attention drawn to them, not explicitly mentioned, no reaction shots, nothing.

I Don’t Get It

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil And Vile

I just didn’t vibe with this. Part of it may have been because I was watching it on a laptop, which is never a good way to watch a movie and always requires a film to work hard to overcome it (so far the best example of a film doing it is The Last Word). I get some people would like this, but for me it was just a bit dull. I was never invested in the story or the characters. It spent a lot of time treating the audience like they didn’t know that Ted Bundy was a serial killer, and I don’t really get why.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

It seemed like almost everybody loved this film, except for me and about 2 people I know. I just found it lacking any form of coherent structure or purpose. So much of it felt like it was just padding, like it didn’t justify it’s own existence.

Crawl

I saw quite a few good reviews for this, oddly enough praising the things I didn’t like about it; how the characters were dumb and some bits didn’t make sense. Why are these seen as good things?

Joker

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy this movie. But for it to get THAT many Academy Award nominations? No, just no.

Winner

If Beale Street Could Talk

I wanted to like this film, it seems very important and with a story that needs to be told. I just felt it wasn’t told in an effective way. For two reasons: the narration and the length. Some scenes had a natural ending point, and then decided to continue on for a few minutes long. The narration didn’t really add anything a lot of the time and it felt like it assumed the audience were dumb.

Best Scene

Alita: Rollerball

The rest of the film was nice, but the way these scenes were set up…I loved it. Was so well done, and you could easily follow the action because of how well directed it was.

Avengers: On Your Left

Yes this film was all over the place, yes it closed off many other potential films which would have been interesting. But that moment, where everyone we love from the franchise starts making their return? Very satisfying.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood: Leonardo DiCaprio Acting

Okay that’s not exactly what happens. But there’s a moment in this film where DiCaprio’s character forgets his lines. But then gives a superb performance motivated by his own fear. It’s an incredibly powerful moment full of nuance and unsaid character motivations.

Spiderman Far From Home: Post-Credits

The scene which changed the arc going forward, and is without a doubt one of the most important post-credits scenes in the MCU. Not only is JK Simmons in this franchise, but Peter Parker’s identity has been revealed. A great double whammy and a genuine shock.

Us: reveal

When you realise what’s actually happening, and how widespread it is. I distinctly remember thinking “you magnificent bastard”. It was set up SO well and was an incredibly satisfying reveal.

Winner

Knives Out: Ending

Truth is, there are so many perfect moments in this that it’s hard to pick just one. If I had to narrow it down to one then it would be this bit. The first reveal is incredibly satisfying and goes against all your expectations, but the ending for this is sooo well done. The genuine reveal leading up to it is superbly written, and the closing shot might just be one of the most simplistically brilliant that I’ve ever seen.

Worst Scene

Childs Play: the ending

Okay, not the very end. But once everyone was locked in the toy store the carnage felt incredibly subdued, it should have been bigger. It felt like the whole film was building to this scene and it felt really neutered.

Stuber/Good Boys: fight scenes

I’m counting these as one because they do the same thing, and it has the same effect on both films. They’re fight scenes which just break up the momentum of the film, not only that but there are things done in the film which would kill someone if they actually happened. So when they’re just shaken off in this it reminds you that you’re watching a film.

I Love My Mum – Fake Cancer

Right near the end the mother character admits that she faked having cancer because she didn’t want her son to leave. Now already she was unlikeable, but that pushed her into being hateable and ruined any dynamic the two of them had.

Escape Room – The Opening

There were a lot of options from this film. I was tempted to go with the cliche “rich people are placing bets” ending. Instead, I went with this because it showed a character alive, then spent 80% of the film catching up to that moment, so any scenes where that character nearly died were devoid of any tension.

Winner

The Wolf – The Opening

5 seconds. That’s all it took for me to go from “this film is going to be amazing” to “this will be a steaming pile of shit won’t it?”. That’s a record (Hellboy came close with the narration though). Too much happened offscreen, the acting was bad, and the editing was woeful. Kind of like the film itself tbh.

Most Awwww-ful

Fishermans Friends

This is your typical British film, which means it’s incredibly heartwarming. Yes, you’ve seen it before, but it knows the best way to engage emotionally with you, and you’ll have to have a heart of stone to not feel affected by it.

Ben Is Back

This has a different kind of beauty, the beauty of love that a family has for each other. A love that involves you hating each other occasionally when they deserve it. But this means that when the sweet moments do hit, they hit a lot harder than they would otherwise.

Good Boys

This film is incredibly sweet in a way I didn’t expect. It really showcases that awkward age where you’re not mature enough to be a teen, but you’re not a kid. It’s a weird time in life and it’s refreshing to see a film approach it so honestly whilst talking about male friendships during that stage in life.

Stan And Ollie

A tale of friendship, of loss, and of age. It’s helped by the performances, but the film, in general, is just so touching that you’d have to have a heart of stone not to be affected. This was one of the first films I saw in 2019, so it set a kind of high bar for the rest of the year.

Winner

Wild Rose

This film shows the power of music, how it can change peoples lives and how much of themselves people put into their art. incredibly powerful and a real surprise highlight of the year.

Most Disgusting

Childs Play

Yes it could have gone further, but there were quite a lot of moments in this which did make me wince. Plus the scene where the guy in the costume sprayed blood all over a group of kids was disgustingly brilliant

Greta

For one moment and one moment only; someone’s finger being chopped off with a cookie cutter. Came out of nowhere and you REALLY felt it.

IT: Chapter 2

This film had many flaws. But it was visually well done, and some of the gore was incredible. This is mainly here for one other moment: the homophobic beating at the start. It’s…..it’s ugly.

If Beale Street Could Talk

The racism inherent in the American law system is disgusting, and this film highlights it incredibly well. To the point where you yourself feel beaten and trapped by the end of the film.

Winner

The Day Shall Come

The film alone is depressing, but when you read up on it and read the cases it’s based on, it becomes even more so. This is a film which should light a revolutionary fire underneath you, but because everything is so bleak and depressing at the end it just makes you wonder what’s the point; the system will win and will rig the game to keep certain people down, and it’s all legal. We’re fucked as a species.

Worst Film

Hellboy

This film lost me in the opening scene. It was trying so damn hard to be mature that it came off as childish. I’d have loved this if I was a 14-year-old boy, but when I was 14 I also thought that one day I’d be happy, so I was fucking idiot back then. It also features some of the most embarrassing CGI I’ve ever seen.

Dark Phoenix

“surely this can’t be as bad as everybody says?” It can, and don’t call me Shirley (I make the most original jokes). A film so bad it taints the X-Men franchise (and this was a franchise that survived Last Stand and Origins). I think that’s the worst thing about it, it takes all the goodwill built up by Logan and flushes it down the toilet, and then blocks the toilet and makes you unblock it by hand, leaving you holding shit and shit-water and wondering what the point is.

Songbird

I can’t remember the plot of this film, and I don’t think the people who made it can either. It was apparently mostly improvised, and it shows. The scenes don’t move forward, don’t serve the overarching narrative, it was like watching someone’s holiday videos.

Killer Kate

I’ve said a lot of bad things about this movie, and will continue to say more, and for a good reason; it’s awful. It starts off with a way-too-long scene of the killers just sitting around talking in a manner which isn’t consistent with their later characterisation (and we don’t see them again until the 40 minute mark. We then cut to boring family drama for about 30 minutes before the horror starts. It’s not even good family drama which lets us enjoy the characters, so many of the scenes are not needed; I would love the makers of this film to explain the purpose of a 2-minute scene where characters flip through television channels. The entire film is full of moments like that, scenes which don’t advance the plot, aren’t scary, aren’t funny, and don’t tell us anything about the characters. Essentially, they’re worthless

Winner

Wolf

Obviously, this was going to win. I maintain this will remain the worst film I ever see at the cinema in my entire life. This wouldn’t even get a passing grade at a film school. I saw it for free and still want my money back. The acting, the script, the fact that they couldn’t afford tracks so every time that characters spoke they had to stand completely still even when they were supposed to be moving quickly to escape something. I forgive every bad word I’ve said about any film, because this film is the one that truly deserves my vitriol.

Best Film

Rocketman

Academy Award nominations for Bohemian Rhapsody: 5. Academy Award nominations for this: 1. That should not be the case. Everything Bohemian Rhapsody did well, this did better. It suited the artist better, it had a more unique visual look, it was more honest about the subject etc. Whilst we’re on the subject, how in the blue holy hell fuck did Bohemian Rhapsody win “best editing”. Look at it! That scene’s got so many cuts it’s being used to execute people in China. The Bohemian Rhapsody finale was about the performance, the finale of this was more focused on the personal. You learn a lot more about Elton John through this than you ever did about Mercury in the Bo-Ho. Also, it reminded me of how many great songs Elton John has done.

Toy Story 4

I can’t think of another franchise which has maintained this high level of quality four movies in. By this point of a franchise, the quality has got so bad that the next movie is a soft reboot. This continues the high benchmark that the first three have set. I’ve been nervous about the quality of these films every single time I’ve been to watch one, and every time I’ve been shown to be a fool (I’m used to that though). Normally Toy Story films wait until near the end to hit you with emotions, this goes the Up method of teabagging you with its emotional balls right off the bat.

Us

Films like this just highlight how stupid the Academy are for ignoring horror films so much. This film is a visual and thematic masterpiece. Is it as good as Get Out? It’s hard to tell, this had higher expectations thrust upon it because of Get Out, and the fact that it managed to not be hated despite that points to how strong a film this is.

Winner

Knives Out

I think this was the last film I saw of the year, and it seemed like 2019 saved the best for last. Warning, you will see a lot of mentions for this film in this blog. So if you didn’t like it, prepare for a lecture on why whilst opinions are subjective and as such can’t be right or wrong, yours is still wrong. A near perfect film that I REALLY struggled to find negatives with. Every so often I remember a moment from this film and think ‘damn that was impressive”

2019 In Film Day 6: The Amazeballs

Avengers: Endgame

I wasn’t going to put this in this one originally. It’s so deeply flawed, not within the film itself, but in terms of what it closes off. It basically means so many things I was excited for will now never happen; Civil War meaning anything, a villain taking advantage of the chaos of half the universe disappearing to motivate himself, or even one that’s motivated by his family disappearing, blaming the Avengers for not doing enough to stop him. None of that will happen now. I decided to put it here because it’s a three-hour film that I watched on a flight and didn’t feel the urge to skip any of it.

Original review here

+The sheer sense of scale.

-What it closes off. Also the “big emotional moment” was incredibly obvious.

Childs Play

Damn this was entertaining. This had a lot working against it, not only was it a remake (I say “was”, still is, not as though it’s status as a remake has changed), it’s a remake of a film franchise which I’m very familiar with and kind of love. It was made without the consent of the original creators, whilst the franchise is still going strong (unlike Nightmare On Elm Street etc, where it’s pretty safe to say the original franchise is dead). If this had major flaws, trust me I would have picked up on them and used them as a stick to beat the bloated corpse of a terrible movie with. But it was hard to think of any major flaws with this movie. The biggest one isn’t even a dealbreaker for me; it’s just that it feels a little restrained, like it could go further. I’ve read some reviews which talk about the teenage characters being annoying; personally, I found them funny. They weren’t fully realised people, but then again teenagers aren’t. Their decisions made sense considering their age and personalities. So yeah I enjoyed this film. I found it a worthy addition to the name and a good way to kick-off a new franchise (which this is so obviously trying to do)

Original review here

+Mark Hamill’s performance.

-The scene in the toy store near the end REALLY needs to be more brutal and more chaotic. Some scenes feel slightly neutered, and none more so than this.

Fighting With My Family

Personal bias; I loved this movie. I found it heartwarming with great performances and engaging characters. Yes it takes A LOT of, shall we say, “creative liberties” with the truth but I feel it has to. Professional Wrestling is a really weird industry at the best of times, once you get into “yeah she was in the developmental company which gets higher review ratings than the main show, but MUCH lower ratings, so whilst she was never likely to lose her job, her promotion to the main roster was still a bit of a surprise”. This film would not work if it wasn’t for Florence Pugh. She doesn’t do a great impression of who she plays, but she embodies the character so perfectly that it’s hard to unsee her as who she’s supposed to be. Essentially she’s not doing a good impression of her, she’s doing an impression of what your memory thinks of her. Subtle difference but very important.

Original review here

+So darn lovely at times.

-The woman it’s based on was forced to retire before this movie came out and the movie never mentions it, just bad timing.

Happy Death Day 2 U

This is not as tight as the first one, not by a long shot. It’s still a great movie though. Yes the sci-fi based plot isn’t as good as the more straight-up horror of the first one, but there’s just something so endearing about this film. A lot of if is down to the performances of the two leads; Jessica Roth and Israel Broussard. Not only do they have great chemistry but they are great individually too. There’s a scene where Jessica Roths character is in an alternate universe and realises her mother is alive in this one, I defy anybody to watch it and not feel for her. Similarly when she’s trying to decide whether to go back to a universe without her parent in it, or to stay in one with a parent who has memories of things she doesn’t. It’s a compelling character piece and would be ideal for a really depressing short film.

Original review here

+The montage editing is superb. Plus it feels like a second part of the first movie, rather than a sequel. It doesn’t feel tacked on, it slots in perfectly.

-Not quite as good as the first one, and the ending feels a bit cruel

John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum

This film features Keanu Reeves riding a horse in a city and killing people. Of course, I’m going to love this. I will admit this is not as good as the first two; it goes on a little bit too long and the sequel-hook is a little bit too obvious. Quite a few scenes really drag to the point where if the cinematography wasn’t as impressive as it is you’d be bored. This rating all depends on the next move though. If the next film is poor then this will be known as the film where the cracks started showing. I have faith that the next film will still be good though, so it stays here, for now.

Original review here

+The world building is immense.

-A bit too long at times.

Knives Out

Was genuinely surprised by this, which is a bit weird as it had really good reviews and people seemed to love it. I guess I just thought that it would be one of those films that I would just not “get”. But yeah I loved this. I have a soft spot for ensemble cast films, mainly because they’re really hard to do without having some characters seeming underwritten. Now that I think of it though, that’s usually a bigger issue with multi-story films (such as Men, Women And Children) than ensemble films. I’m also a sucker for mystery films, I like it when they’re so well written that when the reveal happens you feel like an idiot for not getting it earlier because in retrospect it was obvious but you didn’t realise at the time. This gets it out of the way by revealing the “killer” very early on, but then giving you another mystery to solve, albeit one which isn’t as unobvious as it thinks it is.

Original review here

+The script, it’s that damn good

-Not quite as slick as it could be.

Late Night

I have a lot of personal love for this film. I loved the story being told, the characters, and how funny it was. It had a real warmth to it, but not a nice warmth that you feel envelop you like a hug, this was a warmth that stings. The satire is razor-sharp and accurate, to the point where it’s kind of depressing as the points they’re making are ones we should be past as a society by now. The main draw is the chemistry the two leads have; the role was allegedly written specifically for Emma Thompson by the other lead (Mindy Kaling) and you can tell this is kind of a dream project for Kaling. When I criticise films I often say “I can’t imagine someone fighting and dreaming to write this script”. With this I can. It feels like a script that Kaling NEEDED to get out of her.

Original review here

+So damn relevant

-Doesn’t seem to make the most of opportunities to make it seem like it exists in this world. There are a lot of chances to have cameos but it doesn’t take them.

Rocketman

Why was this not a bigger film? The fact that this film got less Oscar nominations than Bohemian Rhapsody is a travesty. Everything Bohemian Rhapsody did well, this did a lot better. The performances, the directing, the story, all of it was better; plus it didn’t tell lies about a real persons death to sell the narrative. Some people didn’t like that the film occasionally resembled a musical, I thought that was a perfect way to do it though. This is Elton John, you can’t do a standard film for someone like him, it has to be something extravagant and extra. Let’s be honest, does Bohemian Rhapsody really tell us ANYTHING about who Queen were as a band? This film tells you who Elton John is through the style, and that’s brilliant. It also shows you how many brilliant songs he’s done in his life.

Original review here

+Incredibly honest about his flaws.

-Some of the supporting characters seem a little underwritten.

Shazzam

So damn warm. The second best DCU film (Wonder Woman is top in case you were wondering) I’ve seen. I realise this film is heavily flawed; the pace is slow at the start, there are sections where the villain is missing, and it doesn’t have a unique visual style. It didn’t matter to me though. It was so enjoyable it allowed me to ignore the multiple flaws. I realise now that feeling matters a lot to me in films. If it gives my cynical self that feeling of magic it increases the chance of me loving it. If when I watch it I’m genuinely transported outside of myself. This does that perfectly.

Original review here

+Zachary Levi NAILS the performance perfectly.

-Needs a distinct visual style to truely be great.

Spider-Man: Far From Home

OMG, Mysterio turned out to be the bad guy? Who would have guessed? Well, everybody, let’s face it. It still worked though. We knew he’d be bad, but the way they did it was brilliant (albeit the worry that both of the Spider-Man villains seem to hate Iron Man more than they hate Peter Parker won’t go away). Watched this again recently and it still holds up. It’s probably one of the most visually interesting earth-based MCU films, some of the hallucination sequences are stunning to watch, incredibly inventive. You do have to question the logic of having such an obvious sequel hook when you’re not 100% certain you’re going to retain the rights to the character though.

Original review here

+So funny.

-Can we please have a Spider-man villain who’s motivation isn’t Tony Stark?

Toy Story 4

I had doubts about this, how can you make this film work after the almost perfect ending of the third one? Well, you do it like this. The Toy Story franchise has a great approach to sequels. You never think they’re essential until you watch them and then you wonder how the franchise coped without them. The new characters work well too, Tony Hale, in particular, gives a wonderful performance full of just enough depth and comedic background to make a suicidal spork seem like it fits into the universe.

Original review here

+It looks GLORIOUS

-Wait, so sporks are sentient now? Great, I now have to feel guilty about how I treat cutlery. Thanks.

Us

Expectations were high for this after the success of Get Out. Personally, I think this met them. The story is great, with smart social commentary and absolute genius use of foreshadowing meaning you don’t fully get it until the second viewing, when you can watch it and appreciate all the genius moments in it. The performances are great two, almost everyone plays two distinct characters in it, yet I think even without the costumes you’d be able to understand who is who due to how the actors distinguish each character through facial expressions and how they carry themselves. Best horror I saw all year, by a long shot.

Original review here

+The sense of unease over the entire thing so that even something as simple as a family walking on a beach is somehow unsettling.

-Not quite as well written as Get Out.

Wild Rose

Another film that I feel was robbed from an Oscar nomination it deserved; specifically, best original song. Bear in mind that’s coming from somebody who doesn’t like country music. But the music in this is so well done, so full of emotion that it doesn’t matter to me. It’s helped by the central performance. Jesse Buckley plays the role with such iron vulnerability that it’s hard to feel anything but joy for her when things start to go well for her.

Original review here

+The heart to it.

-Occasionally it seems like things only happen because the story needs it to.

2019 In Film Day 5: The Very Good

Now we get into the “seriously?” stage. The one where people wonder how I can be so petty to put a film in this category just for something inconsequential. Truth is, there could be an argument for any one of these being in the next blog (the amazeballs). But this is the most personal, the ones which I really really liked, but for whatever reason, just didn’t make me love them. For most of these, in fact, it will be really hard for me to find negatives about them, to the point where I’m going to come off as a really picky mother-fucker. Some of these films are BEAUTIFUL, and there’s at least one I’m genuinely surprised didn’t get more Academy Award nominations.

Ad Astra

Oddly enough, this film is timeless. Yes, it’s about space, but really the story it’s telling could have been written hundreds of years ago. It’s a story about exploration and isolation. Replace “space” with “Ocean” and “spaceship” with “regular water-based ship with cannons and things” then this story would still work. It came at just the right time for me, I had just seen *shudders* Wolf and needed something to reaffirm my faith in cinema. This was perfect for that, a fantastic CINEMA film. Sadly you don’t seem to get as many of them any more, films where you really gain something by watching it at the cinema (and to those who say “Endgame”, f*ck off, you’re wrong. I watched that on a plane and didn’t lose anything from the movie, unlike the time I tried to watch A Quiet Place on a plane and it just did not work). How this didn’t get nominated for more Oscar’s is a genuine mystery to me.

Original review here

+The sense of scale is awe-inspiring

-Lacks emotion at times.

Beautiful Boy

I kind of want to put this in its own section. Because it was better than good, but it wasn’t as good as Ben Is Back, which wasn’t good enough to be awesome. It’s a shame that this film came out the same year as Ben Is Back to be honest, as it means comparisons will be made between the two. And when you do that then this film can’t compare. It’s a shame as this film is still really good on its own merits. The central performances are believable, and it looks great. It’s a great depiction of the effect addiction can have on families.

Original review here

+Breaks your heart at times

-Everything it does well, another film does better.

Ben Is Back

So damn good. In the last few years I’ve come to really love the work of Julia Roberts. Her work in this is superb, the emotional frailty is there to see, but you still recognise her as a badass. This film does a great job of humanising addiction and showing us why it happens. Importantly it’s the first film in a long time which talks about the role of the medical profession in causing addictions.

Original review here

+Will break your heart

-I appreciated it more than I loved it.

Blinded By The Light

A film which had a genuine love for Springsteen. This film showed the power of music, just how it can affect peoples lives. Music changes everything, and this film shows just how. At times it was genuinely heartwarming. So what stops it being awesome? There are quite a few moments which seem pointless, particularly the opening. There are also moments where you get the feeling the film only had the budget for a select few Springsteen songs so there’s quite a bit of repetition. It’s a shame as with a few tweaks this could have been great.

Original review here

+The general feeling it gives you.

-Viveik Kalra’s performance is occasionally flat.

Captain Marvel

This film is not just good, it’s also incredibly important. When I originally reviewed it I said:

I did genuinely love this movie and it’s likely to be one of my favourites of the year.

I was wrong. Now I’ve had time away from it the flaws have become more apparent. The big one is the complete lack of narrative tension. We know she survives this movie, so we always knew she’d be fine. The CGI was ropey at times, and the soundtrack was just not good (one scene, in particular, was made a lot worse by the choice of music). On the plus side, it was a lot of fun, and Brie Larson is pretty much perfect in it.

Original review here

+A great popcorn movie

-The turn is super obvious

Good Boys

Very, very funny. It’s marked down because of one scene which totally took me out of the film. Sat there watching it and thought “they should definitely be dead”. It’s also excruciating to watch, but in a good way. It reminds you of how much of a dick you were when you were younger. If, by the way, you’re reading this and thinking “I wasn’t a dick when I was growing up” then that means you’re still a dick now, and just haven’t realised it. Sorry, those are the rules.

Original review here

+It has a refreshingly suitable attitude to women. The women in this film aren’t just props, they’re fully developed characters. That’s depressingly rare in this genre.

-The one scene.

Joker

Yeah, that’s right, I’m putting it in this blog, not the amazing one, come fight me. Actually please don’t, I have the muscle mass of a damp tea bag. The more distance I have from this the less I like it. I don’t think it would have the audience it does if it wasn’t for the batman connection, but those parts are the weakest of the film. Yes, Phoenix is amazing as the lead, but the rest of the cast are sorely underused to the point where it seems like a waste of a lot of good talent. It’s also incredibly unsubtle and derivative to the point where it doesn’t so much wear its influences on its sleeves, but fashion an entire suit out of them. It in no way deserved all the academy awards it was nominated for, I don’t get how anyone can genuinely say the costume design for this was better than Rocketman for instance. This film reminds me of Fight Club, in that a lot of the audience is made up of angry white men, and if you mention anything bad about this film they do not take it well at all. Seriously, mention to someone that you don’t like Fight Club and prepare for a lecture on how you’re wrong and it’s the best film of all time you’re just too stupid to understand it, it’s the same with this. And I don’t want to be part of a fandom filled with that mention assholes.

Original review here

+Phoenix is amazing.

-Tremendously overrated.

Jumanji: The Next Level

Actually really enjoyed this movie. The cast improved upon their performances from the first one. It’s exactly the same as the second one, but bigger. The stakes are higher, there are more characters, it’s all a very natural progression from the previous one. Plus it makes me really excited to see what’s next, so it has to be deemed a success. The downside? I don’t think I’m going to purchase it on DVD until after the next one has come out.

Original review here

+So funny.

-A bit obvious in places.

Long Shot

I really enjoyed this film. It’s incredibly smart and funny, and it’s just what’s needed right now. It has a lot to say about gender in a supposed “post-feminism” world. It does a great job of showing how “but we’re all equal now” is bullshit. It helps that it’s REALLY funny. On the downside it is a bit long, the opening especially feels like it drags.

Original review here

+Incredibly important.

-Very predictable. You’ll be able to guess the whole story by the trailer.

The Lego Movie: Part 2

Not as good as the first one, but I feel part of that might be due to expectations. Nobody had any expectations of the first one being any good, so it’s thought of as being better than it really is (don’t get me wrong, it is still REALLY good). This one had the expectations of that already there, plus of The Lego Batman movie (which I personally love). I would consider this better than the first film if it wasn’t for the opening. The first half of the film is incredibly dull. The second half is amazing though, full of emotion and incredible depth. It’s the first film I’ve seen which seems to realise that being overly serious is not the same as being adult. Not enough films will outright state that that is just as juvenile.

Original review here

+The message is incredibly important, and one I haven’t seen in a film before. It’s essentially “it’s okay to enjoy things. Being happy is valid”

-The first half doesn’t really work

Zombieland: Double Tap

If you liked the first film, you’ll love this. That’s all there is to it really. The pacing is a little off and one of the sub-plots really feels like it drags the film down. One of them has a pacifist character who is really underdeveloped and we’re not really sure how he’s survived that long, could have been interesting to find out. On a plus side; the chemistry is still there between the leads, and it’s a lot of fun to watch.

Original review here

+Bill Murray’s ending cameo is perfect

-Not necessary. 

2019 In Film Day 3: The Thoroughly Okay

Films too good to be meh, but not good enough for me to like them.

Alita: Battle Angel

At least it’s unique. The world-building for this is superb, especially in terms of visuals. It’s one of the best-looking films I saw. Plus I like to reward inventiveness in film, so why is this rated so low? I think it comes down to the lack of internal consistency. It features robots beating the hell out of each other, but you don’t know whether the hits are bad or not. Sometimes limbs get sliced off and they just get reattached like nothing happened, yet other times it ends up severely incapacitating them. So you have no idea whether to feel worried for characters until after the fact. It’s really frustrating to watch and means that you can never really lose yourself in the film as you’re constantly second-guessing whether things matter.

Original review here

+Rosa Salzer is perfect in it.

– Forgettable story.

Booksmart

I wanted to like this, I really did. It had a great cast and a lot of people I like enjoyed it. It seemed like the kind of thing I would love. But I just felt slightly underwhelmed by it. I think it is because the characters were slightly meh. The performances were okay (Kaitlyn Deaver, in particular, was perfect) but a lot of it seemed a bit too much like a Will Ferrell movie which couldn’t decide whether it wanted grounded characters or unbelievable ones so settled in a mediocre middle ground.

Original review here

+Very funny in parts

-Frustratingly paced at times

Fisherman’s Friends

Have you seen a heartwarming British film in the last few years? Then you’ve seen this. Yes it’s charming and heartwarming, but you’ve seen it all before. That’s the biggest problem, it brings absolutely nothing new to the screen. Unless this is the first film you’ve ever seen you won’t be surprised by any of it. The music is good (which is handy as the film depends on it) and the performances are fine. It just doesn’t do anything interesting enough to stand out in a very crowded genre.

Original review here

+So gosh darn delightful.

-Predictable

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Hey, this movie exists. I genuinely forgot I saw this film this year, I assumed it came out years ago. But nope, this year. It’s so forgettable, left almost zero impact on me. It’s a good thing I write notes otherwise I’d have no idea what to say. I mean, I still have no idea what to say without repeating myself, but still. The whole thing just feels so unnecessary, like I can’t imagine anybody feeling their life is better because this movie is in it.

Original review here

+It looks BEAUTIFUL

-Completely forgettable

If Beale Street Could Talk

This is a film that just wasn’t for me. I found the narrative frustrating in terms of the pacing. Characters appear and disappear with a frustrating lack of care for the audience. Also, there was WAY too much narration. At times it felt like it was treating the audience with contempt, feeling the need to spell everything out for us. This occasionally comes through in the story as well, things which we are told are then shown again and again and again, just to make sure we get it.

Original review here

+Very important film that is worth seeing

-Kind of dull

So that’s it. I know this was the shortest one, but a few got moved at the last minute during writing when I realised I liked them more than I thought I did.

2019 In Film Day 2: The Meh

These are films I really didn’t like, but at least had the decency to contain one thing to admire about them.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil And Vile

This is a good movie. It just wasn’t for me. I was kind of bored by the whole thing. That might have been me and my expectations. But it felt like it was hiding a much more interesting story than the one it actually told. It was basically Ted Bundy not killing people.

Original review here

+Efron is great.

-Not really necessary

Glass

I’m more excited about what comes next, but I’m not even sure if anything will come next. I felt the same about Unbreakable, I felt somewhat underwhelmed, but I was interested in what comes next. I didn’t dislike it enough to hate it, I found it hard to feel anything about.

Original review here

+Interesting idea

-A lot of the film is “do these people actually have superpowers?” when we know they do. So it’s a complete waste of time.

Godzilla: King Of The Monsters

This is here purely for the scale. It’s massive, and it all looks real. Just a shame the rest of the film is so damn mediocre.

Original review here

+The look. It looks so damn superb. So many of the scenes look like oil paintings.

-How exactly is King Kong supposed to match him?

Ma

This film is a very slow build to the final moment. It’s an old-school horror approach that is risky to attempt to pull off in the modern age. It wasn’t helped by how the advertising all focused on the final third, so you thought that’s what the film was like. The main issue is that you know what it’s all building up to, but it keeps pulling back from reaching that point. This film could have naturally been about 20 to 30 minutes shorter.

Original review here

+The closing stretch is immensely satisfying.

-Drags too much in places.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

This is entirely personal taste. I was not a fan of this. I found it incredibly boring and I didn’t like the characters enough to spend time with them when the story was dragging. It looked great, and it felt completely authentic. A lot of people I know love this, and I do get it, it just wasn’t for me, at all.

Original review here

+The closing section is insanely brilliant.

-Did you know Tarantino likes feet? You will after this.

Sometimes Always Never

This just makes it into this blog and not the previous. Like so close. The only thing saving this? The general warmth of the whole thing. The way the characters interact with each other is incredibly sweet and warm. It’s lovely, so heartwarming that it brings the film up higher than the rest of it. The cast too. Its just a shame it’s a bit too twee at times, the cinematic equivalent of a government department making an anti-immigration campaign using a fucking ukulele.

Original review here

+Very twee

-Sometimes too much so

Yesterday

I think this film would be rated higher if it wasn’t for Blinded By The Light. By comparison, this film is incredibly hollow. Blinded By The Light (or BBTL as all the cool kids call it) was a genuine love letter to an artist, full of compassion and warmth and deep love, this was the work of someone who owns the greatest hits album of a band and nothing else. The kind of dick who only goes to gigs if they’re at stadiums, and considers Cher “rock and roll”. BBTL only really works as a Springsteen film, with Springsteen and the film working in equal harmony. With this the film came first, and The Beatles came second. Also, for a film about The Beatles, this spent a lot of time talking about how great Ed Sheeran was. It seemed to have no genuine love for the band it’s based on.

Original review here

+Cute concept and the main relationship works

-It makes a joke about Oasis not existing, but also says the guy won a talent show singing Wonderwall. No consistency

2019 In Film Day 1 (The Bad)

This year was a bad year for film. I’m not sure if it was that there were more bad films, or more of the films I saw were bad, or even whether its just the ones that were bad were REALLY bad. I’d say there are at least three films here which are contenders for the worst I’ve ever seen. Normally for these, there are a few controversial choices. For this I’m confident there are none. There are zero which I feel bad about, zero that I feel hesitant about saying.

Black Christmas

I have not seen the original, or the first remake. As such I have no idea whether it’s a good remake or not. I do know it’s a bad film. The story is realistic for the first half and then goes supernatural in the final section. The universe within the film hasn’t set this up as being possible so it’s a bit out of left field (whilst also surprisingly being really predictable, I guessed it in the opening title card).

Original review here

+It made me think of this song

-It’s really white. We need a feminist horror movie and this isn’t it.

Bright Burn

Okay, maybe this one. The worse thing about this was the expectation. I wanted this to be really good, and this is just awful. It spends so much time in the shadow of Superman, that it never really stands out on its own merits. This is a big issue as anybody familiar with the superman mythos knows exactly what is going to happen, and it all unfolds exactly as expected, and that’s it. The entire film is just building up to a moment everybody already knows is going to happen. Because of this you’re never really lost in the film.

Original review here

+The performances are fine, and the ending teaser is brilliant.

-Doesn’t do anything fun with the unique idea it has. It’s essentially a student film idea on a large budget.

Crawl

I’ve actually seen some positive reviews of this, one of which called it one of the hidden gems of 2019. Weirdly, one of the positives they outlined, is a negative for me. They said they loved how the characters did stupid things as it made it fun, I hated it for the exact same reason. It felt like character stupidity was only there to artificially increase the run-time. It didn’t work as it’s still a short film, although I did feel every single one of the 90 minutes. I didn’t think a 90-minute action film could be so god damn tedious.

Original review here

+It all FEELS real. There are no CGI issues.

-Stupid character decisions.

Escape Room

This was deeply flawed, deeply. It’s a fine concept, but the film doesn’t suit the concept. Often with franchised horror movies, the sequels weren’t written as sequels, they were stand-alone scripts that a studio exec saw and just rewrote to fit into an existing franchise. That’s how this one feels, like a hastily written sequel made to fit into a franchise it doesn’t belong. For a stand-alone film that’s an indication of a terrible script. It’s worse than that, it’s a terrible script which wastes a great concept. A horror movie set in an escape room is a genius idea (but yeah you would struggle to differentiate it from the Saw franchise), and it’s worthy of a, at the very least, mediocre film. At this point it’s not so much even about the quality, I just wanted it to be interesting, and it didn’t manage that.

Original review here

+Good performances, especially from Nik Dodani.

-The film starts with a character trying to escape a certain room. That room doesn’t appear until near the end, so the whole time you’re watching it you know that character is safe. Plus, some of the “riddles” take WAY too long for the character to get there.

Hellboy

The creative arts has a problem with maturity. Often something is described as “mature” when really it just has tits, violence, and swearing (but never penis, never penis). Ironically this means it then comes off as immature. This film is the best example of it. It’s like a 14 year old drinking his first beer, talking about all the vegines he’s fingered until they’ve cum down their arm.

Original review here

+if you’re 13 you’ll love it

-if not it’s a piece of shit.

I Love My Mum

I can’t really say I was disappointed by this as I had low expectations. It’s a fun concept but the characters are just too annoying to carry the film. One of the main characters is incredibly easy to dislike, and it makes it hard to enjoy the film.

Original review here

+Some good lines

-Badly written characters

Killer Kate

I expected this to be fun shlock. Instead, it’s just bad. The writing is bad, the pacing is terrible, and the less said about the acting the better. It just feels low-budget. There’s not really a sense of drama or suspense to the whole thing. It’s not scary enough to be a horror, and it’s not funny enough to be a comedy. I’d barely qualify it as a film.

Original review here

+There’s a really smart piece of writing involving a pizza guy (yes, I know how porny that sounds)

-The lead performance is incredibly wooden

Red Joan

I assumed this would be interesting. I was incorrect. It wasn’t helped by the fact that Judi Dench is barely in it. Plus the characters’ motivations are muddled. She says she spied for noble motivations, but thats not what we see. From what the film shows us her motivation was lust. Not quite as noble

Original review here

+The modern day parts are great.

-But not long enough.

Songbird

This is way too improv-based. As such it doesn’t really have a structure. A lot of the scenes are just unfocused and don’t seem to have a point to them. It’s a shame as I like both people in it, but the film really needs a purpose.

Original review here

+It’s always nice to see Jessica Hynes in things

-Purposeless

The Curse Of La Llorona

I didn’t catch this at the cinema, instead watching it on a laptop at home. I’m glad I didn’t see it at the cinema as I would have been so annoyed had I taken time out of my day to walk down the cinema for this. This is a very Latin film made through a very white lens. It feels very American, like they didn’t fully understand the legend they were adapting. They’ve reduced it to a generic “thing goes woo” tale.

Original review here

+It is an interesting tale, albeit one that’s not in this film

-Incredibly generic

The Kitchen

Nowhere near as interesting as it should be. I think part of it is due to how badly written any characters except the main ones are. Characters appear only to be killed. There were times when people died and I didn’t even realise who they were until about 5 scenes later. Original review here

+Domhnall Gleeson is brilliant in it.

-The entire plot of the film, all the plotting and twists, is undone in 5 seconds.

Wolf

I’m going to get personal here. As some may know, I have a history of depression and anxiety. It’s always been there but sometimes it’s worse than others, it hit really bad in September. I was left in a state where I couldn’t really motivate myself to do anything, and it made writing really hard. I couldn’t even muster enough energy to go down cinema, and as such I missed out on a few films I wanted to see (Ready Or Not chief among them). Now I’m not saying this film is ENTIRELY to blame.

Original review here

+Great concept, and there’s one section where the make-up is amazing.

-Everything else.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix

Definitely the worst X-men movie (yes, even worse than Origins). The worst possible way to end the franchise. Made all the more disappointing by how good Logan was. There’s nothing specifically bad about it, all of it is. It doesn’t work in any way. Apparently the story it’s based on is quite a big deal, but it’s now had two really bad films based on it. Has it ruined it?

Original review here

+Everyone involved in it will someday cease to exist.

-The villains motivations are undeveloped.

2010’s In Film Day 9 (2019+2020)

Something a bit different today. I’ll be doing the end of year roundup at the end of the month. I’ll also be doing the end of year awards too, as such I’m going to talk about the films I saw in 2019 quite a lot in the next few weeks. So if I talk about them here then I feel that will be too much repetition in a short time. So I’ve decided to approach this differently, I’m going to talk about films I didn’t see, whether my missing it was intentional, and whether I’m going to see them at any point. Because I feel that might be a short blog, I’m also adding films from 2020 that I’m looking forward to. Enjoy.

January

2019 – The Favourite

This won SOO many plaudits and awards, and that’s why I didn’t watch it. I felt if I came out and didn’t like it, and then publicly said so, a lot of people will think less of me. I probably will like it, and I will watch it at some point when I don’t have to review it, but I felt like I didn’t want to be the only person who disliked a popular film (oddly enough, I felt fine disliking Once Upon A Time In Hollywood).

2020 – 1917

Damn this is a tough month. There is SO much good stuff. Uncut Gems, David Copperfield, A Beautiful Day In This Neighbourhood, The Lighthouse. It’s a packed schedule, most of which probably won’t be shown at my local cinema because reasons. This is the film I’m most intrigued by though. I was going to avoid it because I’m so bored with war films. Then I heard this was presented like it was one long shot, and I was instantly sold. I like to reward creativity in cinema, so I have to see this.

February

2019 – Boy Erased

A film about a gay teen being forced to undergo conversion therapy. The only reason I didn’t see this is because it wasn’t shown at my local cinema. Very annoyed by that and I will watch it at some point. I thought I had seen it but then realised I watched the OTHER really bleak and depressing Lucas Hedges film.

2020 – Sonic

Will it be shit? Will it be okay? Will it be great? It will definitely be one of the first two, but either way it’s going to be a lot of fun to write about.

March

2019 – Dumbo

Unlike Boy Erased, the cinema did play this, a lot. I purposely avoided it. I don’t really remember too much from the original Dumbo, I remember enough to make weird references to it, but not enough to feel an emotional connection to it. So I had no desire to watch a live-action version. Plus, live-action Disney remakes are something I’m trying to avoid on principle, on the principle they’re unoriginal and stifling creativity in cinema.

2020 – A Quiet Place Part 2

I’m really interested to see whether this will fuck up my love for the first one. I’m hoping it won’t and I am genuinely interested to see where they go with it. It does seem to have quite a few flashbacks too, which could be nice.

April

2019 – Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich

I didn’t see this because I didn’t know it existed. I wish I did and watched it now as I get a feeling my review would have been a lot of fun to write. It looks like it’s either going to be schlocky fun, or just terrible. Either way, would have been fun to write about.

2020 – The New Mutants*

That has a star next to it because, let’s face it, it’s probably going to get delayed again. Film in 2017 and not released until now, which is always a good sign for a movie. It can’t be worse than Dark Phoenix though, can it?

May

2019 – Aladdin

Again, purposely avoided this one. I sometimes feel like the only person who didn’t really care about the animated Aladdin movie (or The Lion King for that matter), so I definitely wasn’t going to see a live-action one. I saw a section from it where Will Smith sings the Prince Ali song, and it just made me more determined to not watch this film. It was too visually slow. I maintain they should have had a film crew with more experience in Bollywood cinema, even if it was only just for that scene, to give it the vibrancy and life that it needed. It just seems so plodding and dull.

2020 – Artemis Fowl

I fear this. I love the books and all indications show they haven’t really paid attention to them. For one thing, they’ve got Commander Root played by Judi Dench. Now I LOVE Judi Dench, but it ruins one of the story arcs from the book which is that Holly Short is the first female LEPrecon officer, if Root has already been there then it ruins not only that arc, but also their dynamic. I will admit though, the director is the right choice, as is Josh Gad as Mulch Diggums.

June

2019 – In FabricA

Didn’t even know this film existed until I was looking through the launchingfilms.com page for films released in 2019. I’ll share with you the synopsis: IN FABRIC is a horror-comedy in which an enchanted dress wreaks havoc on the lives of those who wear it. Why do I not already own this on DVD? I now have to see this at some point.

2020 – Candyman

It’s Candyman written by Jordan Peele, you damn right I’m going to see this.

July

2019 – The Lion King

Wait, that was this year too? Damn Disney with the remakes. This film came out about 6 months ago now, it had Beyonce in it, yet I haven’t heard anybody talk about it. The live-action version has made no impact on popular culture.

2020 – Morbius

This seems like a vampire horror movie set in the MCU. I am all for that. The MCU needs to get more diverse and have different genres. It has been unable to do that until now because all the films needed to be linked, you needed to watch them all to fully get Endgame. Hopefully, now that’s finished they can be separate and they can take more risks.

August

2019 – Playmobil

Again, this could have been a vitriolic masterpiece review. But I would have felt a bit weird being the only childless adult in the cinema watching this. Plus at this point I realised I really needed to stop watching bad films, I had seen enough (this was after Dark Phoenix and Hellboy, but before Wolf, so it was going to get worse).

2020 – Bill And Ted Face The Music

I need this. I need this so much. I loved the first two movies and I really hope this lives up to the hype.

September

2019 – Ready Or Not

Now, this annoyed me. It came out just after the worst film I’ve ever seen, a film that was so bad it put me off cinema for a short while. As such I missed the REALLY brief window that this film was at the cinema. Shame as it looked good, and I’ve heard great things about it. Who knows, maybe if I saw at the cinema I would have realised it wasn’t actually Margot Robbie in it.

2020 – The King’s Man

I’m curious about this. A lot of the fun about spy movies are futuristic gadgets, so I’m curious how this is going to work. The trailer didn’t leave me as excited as it should have done. I have faith though, it could be amazing. No matter what, I’m looking forward to it.

October

2019 – Gemini Man

Hahahaha yeah I wasn’t going to see this. It looked stupid, and not fun enough to make up for it. My favourite thing about this film? The poster for it had the cast at the top, which was just Will Smith. But to show that he was playing two roles (well, three) they had his name twice. So it was “Will Smith Will Smith”, which is a grammatically correct sentence enquiring whether Smith can will someone else called Smith to do something

2020 – Death On The Nile

A surprisingly packed month really. You’ve got this, the Halloween sequel, and the remake of The Witches. This is the one I want most though, I loved Murder On The Orient Express. I loved the direction, I loved the performance, so I REALLY want more, and I’m so glad it’s happening.

November

2019 – Last Christmas

I was going to see this, then I had a realisation that I think I knew the ending. I looked it up and it turned out I was right. That instantly turned my feelings on the film from “warm christmas feeling” to outright cynicism.

2020 – Godzilla Vs. Kong

Mainly as I’m not entirely sure how this is going to work. The last Godzilla movie made him really overpowered, so I’m not entirely sure how they’re going to make Kong his equal. Interested to find out.

December

2019 – Cats

This is the only film I’ve heard of that required a day one patch. If the studio doesn’t care about quality, then I don’t give a shit about watching it. And it wasn’t just “small ironing out of issues”, it was this:

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That is unforgivable. There is no excuse for releasing the film in that state.

2020 – Coming 2 America

I’m going to need to rewatch the first film before this, but it could be weird. The only film that beats out Bill And Ted for “sequel in 2020 we’ve been waiting the longest for”. I get the feeling people will either love this, or it will bomb HARD. Either way, I’m keeping my eyes peeled for a trailer.

2010’s In Film Day 8 (2018)

January – Coco

A film that’s just as beautiful now as it was when it was released. This film is incredibly emotional, but it is also life-affirming. Yes, you’ll cry your eyes out, but you’ll also feel uplifted by the whole thing. Another great thing about it is that it used a mostly Latino cast, they didn’t just hire a lot of white people and get them to do a mildly racist accent. On the downside, apparently, when this was released it was pre-empted with a new short film based on Frozen, which is a somewhat misguided thing to do. This was one of the first films I saw that year, so it could really only go downhill from there.

February – Lady Bird

Or it could get better. This is a personal favourite of mine. I know quite a few people who hate this film, and I get it. It meanders a lot and doesn’t really have a plot. Considering how important story is to me, you’d think I would hate this. But something about this film makes me love it. I think it’s the general tone of it, it’s very warm. It’s basically an Instagram filter placed on polaroid pictures of treasured memories. It makes me nostalgic for a life I never even had, for a time which I didn’t really experience.

March – Blockers

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; it’s incredibly refreshing to see a teen sex comedy from a female perspective. Not many films admit that teenage girls enjoy sex. It’s mostly teenage boys “conquering” girls until they sleep with them. The idea that women can get pleasure from sex is weirdly missing from films (with the exception of two characters; the slut, and the cheating girlfriend/wife), so it is nice to see this film. Also, it’s hilarious, full of great performances all round.

April – A Quiet Place

In 1952 John Cage composed the piece 4’33”. It’s basically: everyone in the orchestra puts their instruments down and do nothing for four minutes, thirty-three seconds. The intention is that it makes people listen to the background noise, to make them aware of the atmospheric sounds around this. This film does that, Because the audience noise was so sporadic, when it did happen it wasn’t annoying, it was scary. That’s what makes this film unique, every time you see it will be different because you’ll have to listen to the background noises around you. They’ll be people uncomfortable who’ll be adjusting their position, which creates noise that scares you, that exact scare will never happen again for any other screening, it’s unique to that one experience. It’s a horror movie with audience participation. I tried watching it on a plane, though, and it didn’t really work.

May – Deadpool 2

This….this was not a good month for me. Most the films released this month that I’d want to see weren’t released at cinemas (How To Talk To Girls At Parties I can understand as was low budget etc, but the cinema showed trailers for Entebbe all the time so how can they not show that?). I prefer this film to the first one, the story is much better for one. I always felt that most of the first film felt like a set-up to the final scene, rather than one continuous story. This felt like a flowing story with a beginning, middle, and end. Plus it also genuinely surprised me, the marketing campaign hid what this film was actually about better than any film I’ve seen (including Endgame). Luckily it did it in a funny way so you didn’t feel annoyed and disappointed. The big downside is TJ Miller is still in it. I would have understood if they reshot his scenes with someone else.

June – Hereditary

The best way I can showcase my feelings about this film is to quote my original review:

It’s been a few days since I watched this. I needed the cool-down period so that I could approach this with the sophistication and slick analytical nature which we are known for. So here goes: WHAT THE COCKING SHIT-FUCK WAS THAT?

I still maintain it’s worthy of the cocking shit fuck. I may have been wrong a few minutes ago when I said Deadpool hid what the film was about the best. This completely misled the audience. Kudos to the film for having the sheer balls to kill what looked like the main character, and so brutally too, I like marketing that works like that, when it deliberately deceives you, but not in a way that you feel cheated, but in a way that it means the story beats come as a complete surprise. It’s the way of saying “okay, now all bets are off” and it throws you off. That’s what you want from this film, you want to be unsettled and to feel like you’re constantly on the backfoot. That sense of unease and uncertainty is essential to a film like this. I love it, but don’t want to watch it again.

July – The Incredibles 2

The first one was Incredible, and this one was Incredible two (I’m so sorry). Everything about this film just works beautifully, the voice-work, the way it looks, the story, it all interacts with each other in the most wonderful way. The story is serviceable, it doesn’t come anywhere near the depth of Toy Story 3, or the heart of Finding Dory, but that doesn’t actually matter. You’re not sitting there thinking “well this story is pedestrian” because the way the film is done you don’t really care, you’re just sitting there amazed at what you see unveiling in front of you. It does what it needs to do, and it does it well. That’s not to say it’s a simple movie, it’s probably the only mass-market animated movie this year that has dealt with the themes this does. Themes of masculinity and feeling worthless because you’re not the one the family depends on, the emasculation that can cause. Was it worth the wait? Kind of. I mean, I’d be annoyed if they said we had to wait 14 years until the next one, but I’d rather they get everything perfect than rush it out. Like A Quiet Place, I watched this on a plane too. Well, I attempted to, the guy sitting next to me was watching it too and he was about 2 minutes ahead of me. I had to stop the film as I knew I would never win that race.

August – Searching

It HAD to be this. It HAD to. This is one of my favourite films, not just of that year, but of all time. A true hidden gem. It’s so good I struggle to talk about it. It does SO much right, and I can’t wait to see it again. *spoilers* even the happy ending doesn’t feel forced or tacked on. Some films are so good they inspire you to make similar films, this film is so good it will kind of make you want to give up as you know you will never touch it. It’s apt that I reviewed this after finishing the Saw series blogs, because that series could learn a lot from this about how to craft a compelling mystery. The film is about a girl who goes missing, and her fathers attempts to find her, but the entire film takes place on computer screens.  This has been done before; with Unfriended, which considering I now call that “Unfriended. A.k.a, fuck that film” should show how highly I regarded that film, and my expectations for this. I have a love/hate relationship with “gimmick” films. You know what I mean, the kind where the biggest sell of it isn’t the plot or actors, but the way they made the film. When they’re done well, like Buried (one person in a casket for the entire film), they’re a great piece of film-making, but they have to be great, because if they’re only okay (Unsane), then the fact it’s a gimmick-heavy film works makes it seem worse. Every writer should watch this film, so should every editor. In fact, everyone who wants to get involved in film-making should watch this film, it’s just so damn good.

September – The House With A Clock In Its Walls

This film is the work of someone who knows what they’re doing, but is toning it down slightly for the younger audience. This is definitely a film for kids, it is a slight horror but it has that warm feeling that you associate with films from the ’80s like ET etc. There’s an air of warm nostalgia to the whole thing that will warm the hearts of fans of those films. It’s incredibly, I don’t know, cosy. Just because it’s a difficult film to dislike, does not mean it’s an easy film to love. It just doesn’t really do much to make you remember it for years to come. The final third almost manages it, with a chaotically fast-paced piece that is logical and weird. The whole film is weird, which makes sense as that’s the message of the film: weird is good, embrace the weirdness. Also; bullies are dickholes.

October – Halloween

I’ve never seen a Halloween film. Well that’s a lie, I might have seen the first one, but when I was like 10 so I wasn’t really paying attention to it. As such my knowledge of the film series is stuff I absorb through pop-culture osmosis. So I know a little bit (He’s called Michael Myers, the third one is unconnected to the rest of the series and was originally meant to be the second one, THAT music etc), but not enough that I feel emotionally connected to. Despite that; I still REALLY enjoyed this. It seems to ignore all but the first one, and is all the better for it. You don’t need to have watched a lot of films to get this, as long as you know the basics of the character you should be fine, actually considering how well scripted this is I don’t even think you’ll need that. It does a great job of bringing you up to speed, explaining what’s haunting certain characters. The downsides of this film; there’s one death which is kind of embarrassing to watch. It’s where Michael Myers stamps on someone’s head, it looks incredibly fake and is almost comical. It breaks the tension completely and takes you out of the moment. There are also issues with the characters. The ones who survive are fine, it’s the ones who die that you don’t really care for. There are some characters with promise who then die before they get to fulfil that promise. And there is a twist which is completely unnecessary and stops mattering after a few minutes, it seems like it is only there because it was the only way they could think of to move the plot from one moment to the next. Luckily the moment that builds up to is superb.

November – Ralph Breaks The Internet

I enjoyed the first movie, it was fun, heartwarming, smart, and funny. It was done by people who had an obvious love for video games, specifically arcade and retro ones. This one……doesn’t really work, for many reasons. Firstly, it kind of feels like a generic movie, not a Wreck It Ralph sequel. The first movie doesn’t seem to come into play much here, it’s not a natural progression and feels like it could have been written featuring any characters. Too many of the jokes veer into “this is a thing, we are referencing the thing, now laugh!” territory. There are some funny moments but they’re few and far between. This wouldn’t matter as much if the script was engaging, but it’s not. It’s incredibly bland, I was actually bored many times throughout this. When it approached what I thought could be an ending I was actually disappointed to be proven wrong. There’s an entire subplot about characters from the first movie starting a family which takes up a grand total of about 3 minutes of screentime. It’s kind of strange as you can tell the film was aiming to be emotionally heavy, and that would have been a good subplot to cut to to relieve tension and provide juxtaposition. It’s way too reminiscent of The Emoji movie for its own good.

December – Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

This film loves the character of Spider-man, you can tell this by the way it mocks him sometimes. It’s like the lego batman movie in that way, it does make fun of previous films, but it’s done with such knowledge and love. This is a different kind of comic book movie, for one thing, it’s REALLY weird. It’s a film for kids that deals with multiverse theory. It’s also incredibly meta, but not too much so. The voice work here is great too. The film-makers didn’t skimp when it came to casting, you’ve got real talent here: Hailee Steinfeld, Lily Tomlin, Nicholas Cage, Liev Schreiber, Kathryn Hahn etc. It also features what has to count as the best and most heartbreaking Stan Lee cameo ever. This is the first film released after his death (not counting the Deadpool 2 re-release), he appears on screen after Spider-man dies and says “I’m going to miss him”. F*cking heartbreaking. The most depressing part of the film, and there’s quite a lot of them, I mean, the original Spider-man gets killed early on, and all the alternate spider-men/pig/women are haunted by a death of someone, they’re defined by guilt about who they could not save. This is the best time to mention the characterisation of the different universe characters; they are all fully-fledged characters with motivations and backstories. This could be a film to launch a franchise.

The animation is some of the best you’ll see, with multiple styles displayed across the film, each incredibly distinct and gorgeous. The fight scenes are done brilliantly too, you never lose track of what’s happening, the final fight, in particular, is a masterpiece of surreal film-making that plays out like a AAA video game boss level. The soundtrack too, is amazing. It really suits the film, the songs are not only great but they go perfectly with the images. It does what a soundtrack should do, it complements the film perfectly. Yeah, I’ve said a lot of good things about this, with good reason, it’s BRILLIANT. The one downside is the flashing lights could cause a seizure, and that really should have been better publicised. Other than that? A great way for me to end the year, and this blog.

2010’s In Film Day 7 (2017)

January – A Monster Calls

This month was STRONG. It had this, La La Land, Manchester By The Sea, Young Offenders (which is now a GREAT sitcom on BBC), so yeah it was a pretty good month. Okay, it also had Assassin’s Creed and The Bye Bye Man so it didn’t have everything. I chose this because it was the first film I saw that year, it’s also REALLY depressing. This is not an easy film to watch on an emotional level, one of the few films I’ve seen lately that seeks to emotionally blackmail the watcher. Reminiscent of a mix between Pan’s Labyrinth and a Neil Gaiman book, can be best described as a modern-day fairy tale. Bayona did a fantastic job of directing this, whilst the Liam Neeson tree is telling stories (it’s an odd film) 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 book is beautiful too.

February – A Cure For Wellness

When I saw this at the cinema the ending of this film was met with silence. Not a “well that was shit” silence, more a stunned silence where nobody was sure what to do next. Everyone slowly came to their senses and walked out the screening, feeling like we’d been bonded by trauma. It was a unique experience, and one I loved. I didn’t love the film though, it had the unfortunate double whammy of being too long, and having underdeveloped characters. It is definitely worth a watch though. It’s ugly, but beautifully so. You may not like it, but I don’t think you’ll be able to turn away from it.

March – Logan

One of the few truly mature comic book movies. A lot of film studios (and audiences tbh) mistake “mature” with “violence” and think to make a mature film all you need to do is add tits and guns (or in extreme cases, penis’s and guns).

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Or this, a penis with a gun

This doesn’t do that, it deals with mature themes. It’s like the entire genre has grown up to lead to this moment. And they decided to follow this with Dark Phoenix? Oh hell no. THIS is where it should have ended. It provided a logical closing point to the franchise and gave it an emotional ending. It felt like closure, and that was shown even by something as small as the song that plays over the end credits. They didn’t pick a bombastic rock song, or a current pop song, they chose Johnny Cash’s The Man Comes Around. And it works. Comic book movies will never reach some of the heights this film hit again.

April – The Promise

I was going to talk about Table 19, because nobody talks about that film and it’s fucking great. Instead, I went with this, not so much because of the film, but the reaction to it. It’s a 2-hour film about the Armenian Genocide which is really good (the film, the film is good, not the genocide). But it seemed to annoy a certain type of people. By certain type, I mean genocide deniers, a.k.a; dickheads. This is one of those “debates” where there’s only a debate because one side refuses to admit they’re wrong, see also; drink driving (yes, there are people who think drink driving should be legal, at least one of which is a UKIP MP), vaccines, global warming, and the holocaust. The sides are basically this; the people who committed the genocide vs. everybody else. Well I say “everybody else”, America still refuses to officially call it one as they don’t want to upset Turkey (also their autocorrect probably changes Armenian Genocide to American Genocide and it makes them feel guilty when they think about the Native Americans, and the slave trade). This film was flooded with fake reviews condemning it, most of which came out before the film was released, so you know they were genuine. Sadly this film was a box office bomb, so it could be argued that the wrong side one.

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I’ll just post this picture again for no reason

May – Sleepless

I’ve seen quite a few bad films at the cinema, but rarely are they as f*cking 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. This film somehow ended up with a B rating from audiences, which just goes to show you can’t trust the general public.

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Again, posted without context.

June – 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. I mentioned this, and not, say, Wonder Woman for this month because of how nobody knows it. And for when Mckenna Grace officially becomes one of the best actresses of our generation it will make it easier for me to find this blog and be like “I fucking told you”.

July – 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. I’ve seen horrors where a few people have sat there not flinching or jumping in fright, I’ve seen spectacle films where people are bored, and I’ve seen comedies where nobody is laughing. Everybody in the screen I was at reacted to this. They laughed at every joke (to the point where the laughter in the room was louder than the laughter on screen, in a scene set at a comedy club), people “awww’ed” at the right parts, it couldn’t have been more perfect if the film studio paid them to react like that. The characters are so well-written as well, every character seems fully fleshed out. They seem like they exist outside of the film. I highly recommend everybody watch this film, it’s still one of my favourites.

August – Atomic Blonde

Essentially a companion piece to John Wick. It looks superb and the music is brilliant. Had one of my favourite soundtracks in a long time 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 the 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. It’s just so damn impressive and I want more.

September – Kingsman: The Golden Circle

It’s pretty much the first film again, but I liked the first one so it doesn’t matter. It is a very good film, and the use of Elton John is perfect. It’s just missing that something to make it different. Maybe it’s the underutilization of some of the new cast, maybe it’s the way fan favourite characters are disposed of too easily. Or maybe it’s that the villain kind of has a really good point when she points out sugar is more deadly than a lot of drugs. I was going to put “Almost Heaven” for this month, and then just sing “Take Me Home Country Roads” instead of typing anything. That would have made more sense as a video blog though.

October – Happy Death Day

Yeah I had no idea whether to go for this or The Death Of Stalin. Both are REALLY good but for different reasons. Despite not being a horror, Death Of Stalin is more horrifying. But this? This has something about it. The script is incredibly clever and brilliant, plus it’s helped by Jessica Rothe’s performance. She adds JUST the right amount of emotion needed for the role. This is probably one of my favourite horror movies of all time, I have so much love for it.

November – Murder On The Orient Express

Because fuck you this is a great movie. I knew the murderer going in and still highly enjoyed it. There was building work going on at the cinema when I saw it so every few minutes you could hear the faint sound of hammering (and not the sexy kind) going on, and I still enjoyed it. It’s so well done and I am genuinely excited for the sequel.

December – Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle

I HAD to talk about this. Not because it’s good (but it is), but because it’s the only film released that month that I’ve actually seen. I was busy with stupid stuff like working two jobs so I didn’t get time to do really important things, like go to the cinema. It’s a shame, and is a regret that will forever live with me. The world has punished me for missing The Greatest Showman by making me listen to songs from it EVERYWHERE I go lately, so I believe my debt has been paid.

Trust me, SO MUCH has been missed from this blog: Baby Driver, Blade Runner, Colossal, Lego Batman, AND HOW COULD I NOT MENTION GET OUT! WTF Lee?

2010s In Film Day 6: 2016

January – Spotlight/The Big Short

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. It’s weird both of these came out in the same month. Occasionally we’re blessed with great release schedules, and sometimes we have nothing.

February – Goosebumps

Again, another REALLY good month. This month had this, deadpool, Secrets In Their Eyes, and, ok actually that’s it. But that’s still a good month. I chose to talk about this though as I’m not entirely sure what I can say about Secrets In Their Eyes, whereas this I can at least have one paragraph about an aspect of it. This is a weird genre; kid-friendly horror. It’s a really hard genre to do, but when it’s done well it’s great. You can’t depend on cheap tricks for these, you can’t just fill the screen with jump scares, ultra-violence, and sexual assault. You have to get creative and think of ways of maintaining dread through well-written characters and a villain that represents a deep fear we all have. This isn’t the best film I’ve ever seen, but it is one of the ones I feel the most warmth for.

March – The Witch (or The VVitch)

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog (and if you’re not, the subscribe button is like, right there) will know that my relationship with horror is complicated. I like the genre yet it’s the genre with the films I’ve hated most. Luckily this film fixes a lot of mistakes that most horror films make. Firstly, it’s f*cking terrifying. I liked this film a lot, but I NEVER want to see it again, it just felt wrong watching it. Not in the way that people feel when they’re watching A Serbian Film or Human Centipede or a Justin Bieber music video. That’s not fear, that’s disgust, if you go outside and vomit on someone you will disgust them, but it doesn’t make you the next Stephen King. This film is truly chilling. In a way that I genuinely can’t remember any film being. I remember watching this and being VERY impressed with how well it was directed (seriously, Robert Eggers is a f*cking genius with what he did, he managed to make a slow zoom into a forest scary and then managed to make you feel genuine terror at a rabbit). Really the only downside to this film is also one of its strengths. It doesn’t hold the viewers’ hands and walk them through.I guarantee at least 70% of the people who see this will hate it and find it boring, but the others will be sitting on the edge of their seat throughout, and it’s those 30% that the film is aiming at, but this means it often does things which disenfranchise the casual moviegoer. Shots don’t linger on important things as if to say “hey, pay attention to this” and things aren’t explained. You never feel like you’re watching a film and the dialogue flows beautifully and feels natural (which is odd as they’re speaking in ye olde english) but on the downside, moments end before you realise how important they are and how much you should have been paying attention.

April – Captain America: Civil War

I really loved this film when I saw it, and for a long time after. But to be completely honest, Endgame made this film worse in retrospect. It made me realise that this film didn’t really matter in the long term. The actual “civil war” had almost no impact on the rest of the franchise, neither did a character being paralysed. This film was like a little kid playing with army figures, he sets up the troops into weird and wonderful positions, he goes to school, hoping to continue when he comes back from school. But then his dad picks up all the figures and puts them back where they were as “that’s where they’re supposed to be”.

May – Money Monster

A big regret of mine is not seeing this at the cinema, I thought it would be overly preachy and dull. Nope, so tense, a great thriller which just goes to show how talented Jodie Foster is behind the camera. The story is depressingly relevant for these times.

June – The Conjuring 2

I preferred this to the first one, which was one of the most highly regarded horror films of the last decade. Does this mean it’s better? I have no idea, I’m aware of how strong personal bias can be, and I saw the first one in a house, whereas this one I saw in cinema, and horror is a genre made for cinema. Not just for the darkness and the volume, but also because of instant audience feedback, much like laughing, when you hear other people be scared it sets the tone and makes you more scared. And of course you’re forced to pay attention to it, you can’t sit there checking your phone (well, you can, but if you do, you’re a c*nt). I cannot overestimate how strong Madison Wolfe’s performance is in this, giving a performance well beyond her 13 years, bringing to mind Linda Blair in The Exorcist. She’s been in other films before but usually as a “main character when she was younger”, but on this the entire film is dependent on her. If you don’t buy her character and her fear, then the film is dead quicker than one of Henry VIII’s wives. The other performances? Well they’re okay, Vera Farmiga seems to be slightly phoning it in as Lorraine Warren this time, Patrick Wilson doesn’t have much to do but furrow his brow, Lauren Esposito does well with what she’s given but reminds me too much of someone I know for that not to be a distraction. This film does have some great scares, but they won’t stick with you, some of them are almost literally a guy sneaking up behind you and saying “boo”, they’re instant scares. They make you jump and provide good reaction shots for people to use in publicity, but once you leave the cinema all fear is over. You don’t see the world differently like you did after It Follows, you’re not left changed by the experience, every scare takes place in the moment. As such it’s destined to be one of those films teenagers watch in groups and sit in the dark (a genre I shall now deem; “frat house horror” as that seems to be the most popular place to watch horror movies according to American TV and films). Basically, it’s the feature length equivalent of one of those jump scare videos your asshole friend sends you, only over two hours long.

July – The BFG

I went into this with relatively low expectations, I saw Pete’s Dragon the same week and it did absolutely nothing for me, I appreciated what it did well, but I don’t need to see it again and I won’t recommend it to anyone. Also their was a family in front of me that I could tell were going to be problematic, with a whole bag of popcorn thrown on the floor behind them (i.e. in front of me) before the film even started. Yet within five minutes of this film I had completely forgotten Pete’s Dragon, I had forgotten the popcorn, I had forgotten the general feeling of ennui that accompanies my general existence, I was completely lost in the world that this film created. I completely brought into the universe that was created, if I saw this film whilst I was a child my parents would hate it due to the fact they’d have had to watch it every single day. Ruby Barnhill is superb in it, she spends a lot of time being the only real thing on screen, so it’s down to her to convince you that the rest is real, and she manages it. So to summarise; some films are funny, some films are heart-breaking, very few films can be described as magical, this is one of them. And it’s a real shame this film isn’t better regarded.

August – David Brent: Life On The Road

An odd film, funny in parts but it seems strange in the way it handles the main character. All through the film he’s shown to be a delusional person who annoys everybody. Logically this film should end with him realising the error of his ways and changing accordingly, maybe stop being such a dick to everybody. But nope, this ends with everyone else changing for him, and saying “he’s not that bad really”, “I quite like him actually”, and he the character doesn’t do anything to deserve this, they all just suddenly decide they like him now it’s reached the end of the film. I actually feel a lot of sympathy for the supposed antagonist of the film, all through the film he’s shown as someone who’s just trying to get on with his job but the main character keeps getting in the way and making so much noise he can’t do it, and when the guy finally snaps and says “look, just shut the fuck up”, we’re supposed to be angry at him, instead of just “yeah, that makes sense, he should have done that earlier”.

September – Kubo And The Two Strings

A film so strong and confident I just automatically assumed it was based on something. The fact that a new property can set up a world this full and real says a lot about the talent of both the writers and the directors. This was one of the few films in 2016 I was actively following from the moment I saw the first trailer, it just looked so good, the music choice (While My Guitar Gently Weeps) was inspired, and visually it was very different from everything else. This HAD to be fantastic for me to like it, anything else would be a bigger disappointment than the first time I tried Hershey’s Chocolate.

October – Storks

Expected it to be terrible, yet was actually quite funny. Not the greatest plot but very charming. Plus it has a fight scene where all the characters are trying to not make any noise so they don’t wake a sleeping baby, which was just hilarious, very inventive.

November – Edge Of Seventeen

It HAS to be this film, and not just because I’m watching it as I write this. Let’s get the obvious out of the way here; I’m fairly certain I’m not the target audience for this film (a feeling which was confirmed by the cinema being almost entirely teenage girls), so this had an uphill battle to impress me, an uphill battle which was evened out by the release of the trailer, which was funny, slightly heartwarming, and cynical as hell, I’m glad to say the only difference between the film and the trailer is the film itself is a lot more heartwarming. It’s just as funny and cynical as you’d hope, although part of my opinion on that might be because I have a weakness for any film which has “I’m going to kill myself” as the first line. It’s not just the cynical nature of the film that’s done well, the characters themselves are really well defined. Even when the characters do and say terrible things, you understand their motivations, even though you don’t agree with them. They are all fully fleshed out, and they all get good lines. Unpopular opinion, I tend to dislike “comedy characters” in films and sitcoms, mainly because it means the writers tend to give them all the best lines, leaving the other characters somewhat underdeveloped. That’s a problem which this film avoids, most of the characters could comfortably lead their own movie, that’s a masterful piece of scripting and the writer should be commended for that. Which is why I’m glad the writer also directed it, it’s easier to follow directors careers than writers as more emphasis is put on directors. I was surprised this was directed by the writer, although it kind of makes sense, this seems like a very personal story and they’d be nobody better to get that across than the person who wrote it. It’s more surprising that this is her first film as a director, whilst it’s not exactly full of “wow shots”, or inspiring cinematography, it’s a lot more accomplished than a first time director should be, here’s hoping she gets a chance to do more work in the future with someone elses script, will be interesting to see what she can do. I feel her best work is as a writer though, the script has some amazing pieces of dialogue that really hit home. My personal favourite being (and i’m paraphrasing here) “I just don’t want to have to live with myself for the rest of my life”. Like I said, I’m watching it right now and it is still just SO perfect.

December – Moana

A film so good it almost seems like Pixar made it, if it wasn’t for the songs. But oddly enough it’s the songs that push this to the top spot. I hate songs in kids films usually as they’re just distracting, but here it served a real purpose, characters seemed to have their own musical motifs attached to them, and the songs are REALLY good. There’s a crab singing a David Bowie-esque song, The Rock singing a song about how awesome he is, and they’re still not the best songs in this film. On the downside there’s one or two jokes that take you out of the movie (there’s a twitter joke in here which is quite funny but completely unnatural), but then they’re followed with moments of brilliance (the psychedelic crab scene, for instance, features animation so colourful and beautiful, the likes of which haven’t been seen in a long time). It also features what is without a doubt the best pee-joke of the year. So there’s that. Oh, it also features adorable/terrifying coconuts, which is always the sign of a great movie (be honest, how much better would every film be if you added anthropomorphic coconuts?)

 

So yeah, that was 2016, and I didn’t even get to mention Zootropolis, Batman Vs Superman, Creed, or Room. Room is one of my favourite movies ever, and the fact I didn’t mention it just shows how good this year was.