Tomb Raider (2018)

This is definitely the best video game film I’ve seen, although that’s like describing something as “the best smelling piece of faeces”. Video game movies don’t have the best reputation, and for a good reason, most of them are REALLY bad. Like “worst films ever” level of bad. I’m not entirely sure why but I have theories. One is that the movie industry doesn’t take video games seriously so when they make video game movies they don’t do any research into what made the game work, or why people like it. They usually just look at a still image of it and take it from there (for Super Mario I’m not even sure they did that. I would actually love to hear a podcast series where people interview scriptwriters, directors and studio executives to see how certain films came out as bad as they did). So they go in just paying lip service to the source material and it comes out terrible. The other theory is that they deliberately don’t put much effort in as they know “the name will sell it”, then the film gets bad reviews and nobody sees it. This causes it to fail, which then makes studios less likely to put effort into similar future releases as “they always fail” causing a circular journey of failure (which is the title of my biography). The annoying thing is they can be good, some of the best storytelling of modern times has been in video games (especially in terms of original concepts), so if they were made by people who knew what they were doing they could end up being cult classics.

You can tell a lot of effort went into making this, and yes, I am aware of how super condescending that sounds “they tried really hard”. But when watching this you can tell that this won’t be anybody’s old shame. This is one of the few video game movies that works as a movie, to the point where you almost forget it’s based on a game. Admittedly that might be because I missed a lot of references to the games as I’ve never played them (I was always more of a Nintendo person). The trouble with a lot of video game films is they focus more on the “video game” parts, so if you’re not a fan of the games you’ll detest the films, or they’ll be so full of unsubtle references that you sit there going “I assume that would be very entertaining if I got the reference”. This is a movie, first and foremost, it’s not just a video game movie, it’s an action movie that happens to be based on a video game. Which is how it should be, people don’t describe Rambo, Princess Diaries, or Jaws as “book movies”, they’re just “movies”. I’m hoping this film changes things, and that we will soon get more movies like this. Eternal Darkness, for example, would make a great horror movie, and the fact there’s not even rumours of a Saints Row film is confusing to me, after Deadpool proved that that kind of humour in films can make a lot of money, that should have been optioned by somebody and made.

I suppose I should actually talk about the film itself. The story is simple but effective, you’re not going to be wowed by the script really, it’s incredibly workmanlike. It has a job to do and it gets it done. Performances vary, but Alicia “looks like Brie Larson in some films, and Natalie Portman in others” Vikander (yes, that is actually her middle name, honest) does exactly what she needs to. You won’t remember her performance at the end of the year but that’s not a bad thing, on the plus side it means it wasn’t bad enough to become notable (and let’s face it, it’s going to be incredibly hard to stand out as a good performance in a year which both The Shape Of Water and Three Billboards were released). That’s a summary for this film, you won’t love it, but you certainly can’t hate it, and if somebody said it was their favourite film you wouldn’t judge them as much as you would if they said it was Resident Evil, in which case you’d be well within your rights to shoot them.

The Oscars: who, what, and why

It’s every movie blog’s right of way to write about the Oscars, so a week later and barely still topical, here are our thoughts on the industry circle jerk we call the Academy Awards. (Don’t worry we’ve got some interesting posts coming in the next few weeks, including American Beauty; the secret stoner classic, and a look at possibly the best TV Show of the last ten years, Mad Men.)

Best Actor

Who Won: Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenantleonardo-dicaprio-revenant-trailer-buried-alive-092915

Who should have Won: Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant. Is it his best performance? No. Does it feel a bit more like a career win than anything else? Yes. But in not a very strong year for lead acting performances, his raw and bleeding turn in The Revenant was definitely deserving and definitely won’t be remembered with the same hate other career wins have, like Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman.

ayouth4Who should have been nominated: Surprisingly difficult to pick another great lead performance from 2015, but I’m going with Michael Caine from Youth. Though a very natural role for the old actor to slip into, it was still towering above anything he’s done in the last few years, and maybe even his whole career. Caine brings a real edge and melancholy to the aged composer, and though a very specific character in his own right, manages to cut to the heart of all people old and young, to make us treasure the life we still have to lead, and the life we already have.

Best Actress

Who Won: Brie Lawson for RoomPicture1

Who should have Won: Brie Lawson for Room. No I don’t agree with every choice, but this was another good one. Along with the snubbed Jacob Tremblay, the pair brought the needed heart to what could have been (and in some ways was) an over wrought melodrama with a very topical and timely story. But the performances are what boosted this to an effective and moving drama, and the whole film is worth it for that escape scene alone.

maxresdefaultWho should have been nominated: Bel Powley for The Diary of a Teenage Girl. No actress last year gave more of an emotional, funny, heart-breaking, fun, sincere, and just naked performance than Bel Powley in The Diary of a Teenage Girl. She was the embodiment of the teenager, and her courage to commit to the sexually explicit role added more emotional weight than all of the actual nominations combined.

Best supporting Actor

Who Won: Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies Bridgeof-Spies-777x437

19-creed-stallone.w600.h600Who should have Won: Sylvester Stallone for Creed. Not that I think his performance is better than Rylance’s (but it is as good), I just think the sentiment of Sylvester Stallone winning an Oscar for Rocky would have been nicer, as we all doubt he’s got another one in him (but who knows). His performance is also genuinely very strong and thoughtful, and I think the main reason he didn’t win in the end was because Creed got too sentimental about itself near the end, and the cancer subplot was a bit much.

Who should have been nominated: Jason Segel for The End of The Tour. I already went into jason-segel-the-end-of-the-tour-trailerdetail about his performance in our year end awards post here. But to say again, Segel shocked everyone with his subtle and quiet turn as the famed writer David Foster Wallace, his performance doing the surprising thing of letting us see his humanity, instead of understanding his genius (like most biopic type films try to do). With the right push I could have seen him getting a nomination, the Academy tend to love when comic actors go serious.

 

Best supporting Actress

Who Won: Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl

alicia.vikander

leeWho should have Won: Ahhhhh let’s say, Jennifer Jason Leigh for The Hateful Eight. Don’t really have much for any of the nominations, but Leigh’s excellent turn as the vulgar and funny Daisy Domergue was one of the films highlights, having physicality you don’t see enough in female roles, and it was one of the few nominations that didn’t feel Oscar-baity.

this-is-what-a-femiWho should have been nominated: Charlize Theron for Mad Max: Fury Road. Talking of physicality, Charlize Theron has in in buckets as Imperator Furiosa, and gave one of the most intense and physically (and emotionally) raw performances of last year. The fact Rachel McAdams’ got a nomination for her okay work in Spotlight and Charlize Theron didn’t is just an insult, especially with how Oscar friendly the film was treated. Would an acting nomination really just too much for you Academy? Did all the sand and dust confuse you and you thought she was black!

Best Director

Who Won: Alejandro G. Iñárritu for The Revenant.

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Who should have Won: George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road. Like with the supporting georgemiller2-xlargeactors, this is less a who’s better choice, and more just the context of the win. Both directors worked in insane conditions to produce their fine films and I think the directing shown in both is as good as each other, from the harrowingly naturally lit landscapes of The Revenant, to the perfect mess of explosions and carnage of Fury Road. But with Alejandro G. Iñárritu having already won last year for Birdman I think it would have been better for the Academy to show love for the talent in a genre and style that rarely gets it.

Who should have been nominated: Paolo Sorrentino for Youth. A very underrated film that should have been much more award friendly than it was. Paolo Sorrentino’s funny and heart-warming if also heart shattering meditation on aging and fame was one of the most breath taking films of 2015, and was directed with more abstract beauty than any other, and felt more like art than a film in many ways. Just look at this opening shot!

Would of given this to Pete Docter for Inside Out, but I guess I went with style over practicality.

Best screenplay  

Who Won: Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer for Spotlight.

Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer

d92df7b77dc6506907a694978860da35Who should of Won: Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, and Josh Cooley for Inside Out. Inside Out is one of the most imaginative, smart, and emotionally resonating films I’ve ever seen, it already stands proud amongst Pixar’s classics and was considered by many to be the pinnacle of 2015’s films. And the idea on paper could have gone soooooo wrong, ‘what if feelings had feelings’, it sounds more like a joke Pixar film than a real one. But with an intelligent script, vivid and mature takes on the ideas, and the most poignant message given to us last year, Inside Out was definitely it’s best original script…that I saw.11202259_ori

Who should have been nominated: 99 Homes, an almost mathematically well written and very emotionally intense film about the housing crises. I’m a fan of stories about the good man’s fall to the dark side (Star Wars prequels withstanding) and this film does this masterfully, shaping a very sympathetic lead with the single father Andrew Garfield and a very compelling antagonist with Michael Shannon’s corrupt estate tycoon, who should really have had his own supporting nod too. With this, on top of The Big Short and Margin Call, you really get a complete picture of the different effects of the 2010 housing crises.   

 

Best Adapted screenplay   the-big-short-movie-poster

Who Won: Adam McKay and Charles Randolph for The Big Short.

Who should have Won: Adam McKay and Charles Randolph for The Big Short. I agree with the Academy again for this one; Adam McKay and Charles Randolph took a highly complex issue and made it not just understandable and relatable to a mass audience, but funny, dramatic, and engaging too. Some people complain that the film fails because even after it they were even more confused by the credit crunch than before, with its use of celebrities using big words, but do you know what I call those people; Americans.

14702-10469-14473-10034-Michael-Fassbender-Steve-Jobs-Movie-2015-l-lWho should have been nominated: Aaron Sorkin for Steve Jobs. Arron Sorkin writing a feature screenplay is like Meryl Streep acting in anything, it should almost automatically get nominated, and Steve Jobs is no exception. His second film about a computer billionaire, Sorkin’s signature dialogue crackles in this very showy and masterfully executed play set in three real time acts, that manage to explore the humanity of Steve Jobs and his co-workers without leaving the confides of the backstage.

Best Score

Who Won: Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight.

Who should have Won: Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight. Not really in love with any of the nominated scores, so I thought I’d go with the consensus, and it’s nice for the Grandfather of western soundtracks to finally bag the award, also it is a damn fine score.

Who should have been nominated: Michael Giacchino for Inside Out, Bundle of Joy. This is legitimately my favourite score of 2015. It’s charming, catchy, and effective. It perfectly captures the bright tone of the film while still resonating for the emotional moments; the ice skating memory scene being a real favourite of mine. It’s magic. What can I say; Inside Out is already a classic, and what classic isn’t complete without its iconic music.

Best Picture

Who Won: Spotlight.index

Who should have Won: Spotlight. Mad Max was close, but out of the nominations I really think Spotlight was the most worthy of them all. Was it the most artsy? No. The most experimental? No. It was a good old fashioned journalism film about a very hard issue, and it taught us all something we should learn, about the power of understating and letting the story and facts speak for themselves. Some people call it boring because it intentionally holds back on the easy drama, and focuses on it like a mystery instead of lampooning Priest and the catholic Church, as it’s smart enough to let the facts do that for it, and not to ‘sex’ it up in anyway like a lot of investigation films do; because that would make it shlock.

Who should have been nominated (and fucking won): Inside Out. I’ve already spoken in insideout8-xlargegreat detail about why this is the best film of 2015, and I was shocked after all it’s critical praising that it wasn’t at least nominated for best picture, because that’s what it was. Hell, back when I first saw it I would have put flesh on it being the first animated film to win best picture. But it’s shameful absence just goes to show that, along with race, sexism, homophobia and everything else, the Academy still have a long way to go before they really look at all films and filmmakers equally.

And that’s that for this year’s Oscars! I know I didn’t even cover half of the awards but I covered the ones I care about, and I know who’s ever reading this doesn’t want to hear me prattle on for pages about what I think should win an arbitrary award that means about as much to the quality of a film as a #1 Dad coffee mug.

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Films Worth Seeing from 2015: The other genres

Action/adventure/thriller
(or everything else)

Sicario

The best kind of thriller; nailbiting, bleak, and full of characters you actually give a shit about. The director of the amazing Prisoners and Enemy solidifies his place in the Western filmmaking world with this all-star thrill-ride. Hosting an Oscar worthy Emily Blunt, a shit-ya-pants Benicio del Toro, asicario_ver8_xlgnd an oddly chilled out Josh Brolin who adds the much needed levity between all the torture and mutilation. Directed with a Finchian level of detail and pristine, it follows by the books SWAT officer Emily Blunt as she is submerged into the murky work of the War on Drugs, and is tasked along with the mysterious Benicio del Toro to bring down the head of the Mexican Cartel. Sticking well clear of action tropes this isn’t a glorious, FUCK-Yah-‘Merica tale of beating the bad guy, this is a twisted, gritty, and dark morality tale that tells us that rarely the right thing to do, is the best thing to do.

 

 

The Martian

17vZ0fzI know this is basically a comedy, but it is also an intense Sci-fi thriller and if I didn’t put it here this section would be pretty spare. Ridley Scott’s best film in years (though I think I’m the only guy with a soft spot for The Counsellor), is a beautifully shot adventure following a marooned astronaut on Mars and his optimistic fight for survival. Now I don’t think there’s much more I can say about this, its just a damn good film, Matt Damon reminds us why he’s a superstar, and “Science the shit out of this” is destined to become an obnoxious over used phrase. But what allot of people I think fail to mention, is just how damn fun the Earth team is. Yeah the focus is on Damon, but maxresdefaultJeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor and their team on Earth are just as engaging to watch as they have to ‘Science the shit out of it’ there end, to work out how to get to Damon before he dies. If you haven’t caught it already, it’s more than worth the two hour plus run time.

 

 

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Screw the next film on this list, THIS was the funnest action film of the Kingsman_The_Secret_Service_posteryear. Essentially a spy flick parody with a real plot and its gun barrel firmly planted in its cheek; it’s bloody, stylish, and with a perfect twee British sense of humour. It’s like if the Pythons directed a James Bond flick, but not without some studio supervision. Taron Egerton proves himself a bankable action lead and rising star in Hollywood, and I can’t wait to see where he goes next; while Colin Firth does a clean 180 and flawlessly reinvents himself as a very convincing action star without losing an of his preppy Britishness we’ve come to love and treasure. The bad rep this seems to be getting from some critics should be completely ignored as high-brow snobbery and the last thing I’ll say is go in expecting something silly but amazing, and be ready for some ultra-violence

mad-max-fury-road
Mad Max: Fury Road

Because it Mad Max fucking Fury Road. The action is kinetic, Charlize Theron is jaw dropping, and it tells us more about it’s world with barely any dialogue than three Star Wars prequels could. What else needs to be said?

 

 

 

Ex Machina

Ex-Machina

God damn I love me some good old Sci-fi mind fuckary, and I love Oscar Isaac. This was his other big Sci-Fi film of the year, you know apart from…you-know-what, and in my opinion it’s the stronger of the two. In almost every way a closed box thriller, Domhnall Gleeson plays a dweeby programmer brought to an underground house by his eccentric bro-y boss to perform a turing test on a Female robot he’s created, and work out if she really can feel. And from that it breaks out into a tense psychological game of cat and mouse and fox, and I won’t ruin who gets eaten.

 

 

Ant-Man

Ant-Man-Comic-Con-PosterWho knew the best super-hero film of 2015 would be Ant-Man. Plagued with production issues for years, worst of all being the walk out of geek god Edgar Wright from directing, but despite all that Ant-Man STILL came out kicking. Helped by a great cast led by an always loveable Paul Rudd and an enjoyably cranky Michael Douglas, Ant-Man found its strength by keeping the comedy present throughout, in character scenes, exposition scenes, and action scenes, it always stays funny. Which makes it’s few moments of seriousness hit that much harder, him shrinking to the quantum realm was truly amazing, and gave the film the weight it needed. Is it perfect? Far from it; but it was a fun ride, with good action, and a much needed breath of fresh air for the quickly staling Marvel verse.

 

482955It Follows
Easily the best horror film of the year. A real 80’s throw back to the likes of Halloween and Nnightmare on elm street, you can practically see Wes Craven’s fingerprints. With a focus on building atmosphere and tension over moderns mindless jumpscares, an actually likeable cast, and an intriguing story, It Follows will leave you glancing over your shoulder and watching off into the mid-distance.

 

 

 

 

 

Tomorrowland

tl_busshelter_frank_v3_lgDoes this have problems? Yes. Are all of them made up for by pure retro-charm and heart? YES. I don’t know what people went in expecting with this film; some epic Sci-Fi drama that would change the world itself? Who knows? But if you went in just looking for entertainment, you got it in space-spades. A glories throwback to science fiction films of the 1940-50’s when the future was still fun, Tomorrowland may be slow to launch, but when it does it rockets through so many awesome set pieces, ideas, and so much enjoyable pseudoscience and alternate history bollocks , you can’t help but be charmed. Britt Robertson proves herself to be more than Jennifer Lawrence light, George Clooney shows he can wear the old curmudgeonanigif_optimized-19156-1425927260-1 hat with panache, and Raffey Cassidy is becoming one of the most unique child stars acting today. Is it a perfect film, no, but not everything has to be! We seem to be living in a world where if something isn’t ‘#tHeBeSTThInG_EVEEER’ then it’s terrible…No. Not everything has to be perfect in every aspect if it wasn’t trying to be. This film wanted to be nothing more than a fun family adventure with a good message, and it was hung because that’s all it was.

 

 

Oh and like Star Wars happened I guess. It was pretty good.2015-12-16-1450300622-8118374-Star_Wars.png

End Of Year Film Awards

NOTE: Everything written regularly is written by Producer Mark. While everything in italics is written by Producer Lee.

Best Actor

I’m sure this gets said every year, but every year there are a whole host of great performances, that choosing one is just too hard, but it must be done…Unless you’re a shoddy internet film blog like this one. So I picked two.jason-segel-the-end-of-the-tour-trailer

Jason Segel – End of the Tour. Known primarily for his comedic roles in…well everything else he has done, Jason Segal is revolutionary as David Foster Wallace; bringing a subtle but clearly perpetually uncomfortable nuance to his manner. Even as he runs the gambit of emotions from, funny, angry, confidant, overjoyed, and sad, he never appears at home in his own skin or mind, and is a truly authentic take on the troubled genius. And for such an orgastic turn to come from Jason Segel is the cherry on the cake.

steve-jobs-trailerMichael Fassbinder – Steve Jobs. It’s easy to make a bad guy unlikable but loveable, to play the asshole that treats everyone like shit and make the audience love him. It is an entirely different and much harder task to play a guy you’re meant to like and have complex emotions for, like a complete asshole. But that’s exactly what Michael Fassbinder pulls off in his embodiment of Steve Jobs. He then takes it further as we peel back the layers that make and has made him the way he is; jumping back and forwards in time to see the building blocks of his character all the way to the complete man he becomes; and it’s all perfectly portrayed to us with barely any of his actual life shownmaxresdefault

Al Pacino: Danny Collins. I know, Al Pacino gave a good performance, what are the odds of that? But this is a different Pacino performance than the normal good performance. The usual good Pacino performance makes you want to stand up and applaud, but this is different. You completely buy into his performance in a role which could have been derailed by a lesser actor. The downside is that writing this has made me have the song from the film stuck in my head.

Best Actress

bluntEmily Blunt – Sicario. She’s a badass who’s always in control, but feels constantly out of her depth. She’s tough as nails and takes no shit, but her growing fear of the morality of her job she just can’t quell. Always ready to dive in and fight for what’s right even when faced with an endless darkness, but never shallow enough to not think about and feel the repercussions of what she does. And with all that, she’s never a blank, genderless slate who could be played by anyone, she’s still a woman. Though this may read more like a look at her character than her performance, the fact is you can’t distinguish the two from the other.

Runner-up: Alicia Vikander – Ex Machina2015ExMachina_Press_20_140115.hero

 

 

 

 

 

ct-amy-schumer-of-trainwreck-says-falling-in-l-001

Amy Schumer: Trainwreck. Not the best performance by a long shot, but the film rests so heavily upon her performance that the fact she’s actually really good in it really helps it.

 

Honorable mention: Phyllis Smith in Inside Out as sadness. sadness-phyllis-smith

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Script

Steve Jobs: It’s an Arron Sorkin film script, so it’s expected that it will be one of the best of the year, stevebut this isn’t just fanfare. Like most Sorkin scripts this is a dialogue driven spectacular that runs the gambit of funny, to thrilling, to heart wrenchingly dramatic, but it is also a complete reinvention for the Biopic genre. Set in three real time acts between the 70s and 90s from behind the scenes at product launches, Steve has to argue his way through his friends, enemies and family to make each launch. What should have been the equivalent of telling a life’s story with both arms tied behind its back is turned into a fascinating character piece that tells us more about Steve Jobs the man than any old cradle to the grave film ever could.

Inside out: It’s the story and ideas that this film tells and so thoughtfully inside outexecutes that made it too amazing for me not to put it here too. Yes I think the plot isn’t as original as it could have been or thinks it is, and the writing while very funny wasn’t too special; but its imagery behind how the mind is put together and how we as people function is just too genius to not step back and applaud. And on top of that I was floored by its very mature message of the importance and the need for the emotion of sadness, and how it helps bring us together and grow-up.

ladyinvanLady In The Van. A film like this rests entirely on script and performance. And luckily both shine through. The script is full of hilarious moments (and a rather odd use for madeira cake). The fact it is a (mostly) true story doesn’t diminish the brilliance. In fact it makes it more impressive as it’s framed in a good way and says a lot about the power of the writer. 

Worst Film

The Big Game. Because it’s the only film I’VE seen this year that had me turnBig-Game-International-Trailer to my fellow Troubled Production’s producer and say, “We should fucking leave.” For more details look further down. I talk more about it in another section. 🙂

 

7133aU1riAL._SY550_The Gallows. There was a lot of bad films this year but this tops the list for absolutely NOTHING about it working. It was badly shot, the actors were shit, the characters were annoying, the “twist” didn’t make sense in terms of plot and seemed to be an asspull, the jump scare ruined what would have actually been an okay ending (seriously, if you have a moment in your film where a character gives a monologue on stage and then the lights go out and the curtain goes down: END THE FILM THERE!), the characters were the most annoying people I’ve seen outside of Twitter.  

 

Best Film Moment (scene, piece of dialogue or shot etc)

3052092-slide-s-3-fictions-in-the-steve-jobs-biopicIt’s an abstract – Steve Jobs. The moment in which, in the middle of a heated argument with his ex-wife, Steve Jobs turns over the Mac and shows her what their daughter had been doing on it, to prove to her (and in many ways the audience) why the computer is important and what people will use it for; and it turns out his daughter has been drawing an abstract painting in Paint. It’s a little moment, but in a film (and year) of great moments this one struck me just right. The combination of my own nostalgia for Paint, combined with the sweet little exchange between them, leads to the first time the character of Steve Jobs is humanised. It may not be the biggest moment, the most dramatic, or even the most important, but it was the moment for me that Steve Jobs went from an awesome film, to a great one.

Runner-up: and the conversation is the best one I ever had – ending scene to End of The Tour. It was a perfectly touching and an up beat way to close this melancholy true life tale.

inside-out-fear-disgust-anger-fightingInside Out control room locks up. The best way to describe depression to idiots who think it’s just “being a bit sad”. A truly iconic moment in a fantastic film. 

 

 

Worst Film Moment (scene, piece of dialogue or shot etc)

Picture1Focus- Woo woo. Focus as a whole is fine, it’s an okay caper with a fun return from Will Smith. But it has this one scene that involves conning an over acting Chinese Businessmen at a football game, that is legitimately one of the funnest and most thrilling scenes of the year. It’s so good that the immediate retarded explanation behind the con is such a painful whiplash, it landed itself as the worst moment of the year for me. The process to pulling off the con is sooooo over the top, ridiculous, and silly, it just destroys what was such a bad ass moment and just makes it laughable.

This is very easy for me. It’s a moment that’s so bad it stands out, even in a film film2-1_3-26-15made almost entirely of awful: Get Hard. Against my better judgement I watched this film, and I wish I hadn’t. It was unfunny, badly plotted and just not needed at all. I’d like to think Will Ferrell is at the stage of his career where he has his pick of films to be in, and he chose this. That says a lot either about his judgment or his cocaine addiction which I’ve just made up. So the moment: there’s a scene which is like 5 minutes of making jokes about prison rape. Rape jokes are odd as they’re the only thing that become less offensive if  you put the word “Prison” before it. But this scene was just ugly, and it wasn’t needed. It was just the same joke repeated over and over again “you’re going to get raped”, and the joke wasn’t funny enough to be the focus of a whole scene. 

Honorable mention: a scene in Child 44 where the camera panned to the side to showcase: a wall. 

Best Film

eott_web
Also the best poster of the year

End of the Tour. I have a lot of time for films about writers, that dive into their work, their creative process, and the damage of that; hence why another of my favourite films is Wonder Boys. I also have a lot of time for Linklater-esque stories based around the conversations between characters and their evolving dynamic, instead of heavy plot. So combine those in this true life story of the five day interview of acclaimed writer David Foster Wallace by David Lipsky, played by a typically great Jesse Eisenberg and a revolutionary Jason Segel as Wallace; which cuts deep as it examines the development of their uneasy friendship, the nature of writing and interviewing, and the plights but want of fame, you have my personal favourite film of the 2015.

Runner-up(s): Steve Jobs & Inside Out. Both are great films. Steve Jobs delivering an emotionally charged intellectual punch, while Inside Out delivers an intellectually charged emotional one; and End of the Tour only tops it for me because it does both.

8345_poster_iphoneThe Voices. And I am soooo glad about that as if it was bad it would have destroyed me. Ryan Reynolds actually seems to be redeeming himself for Green Lantern with this, Woman In Gold and next year’s Deadpool. This is the only film I’ve seen at the cinema this year which I now own on DVD. I didn’t want to wait, I knew I had to buy it. The script is hilarious, Reynolds just seems to be having hella fun, and there’s an absolutely BEAUTIFUL shot in the woods after he kills someone. A very good live action directorial debut from Marjane Satrapi. 

 

 

Best Film To Look At (a.k.a: the “Serena”)

Steve Jobs. For a film that predominantly takes place inside behind the scenes jobs.jpg.pngin theatres this may seem like an odd choice. But its Danny Boyal’s dynamite directing, that transforms rows of seats into complex tapestries, wide shots of walls into film screens, and characters staring at computer screens into complex moments of inner turmoil, that make this a clear winner for me. Really it’s here because this film didn’t need and shouldn’t have been such a visual feast, it just needed to let the words and actors stretch, but it still found beautiful ways to elevate those aspects, and keep you as visually enthralled as you are verbally.

Runner-up: Youth. Shot on location in the Swiss Alps and married with plenty of abstract imagery; never has a testament to youth and age ever looked so beautiful and devastating.

THE GOOD DINOSAUR

The Good Dinosaur. Yes the film itself was bland and 90’s Disney-esque and the characters looked, well, wrong, just wrong. But the scenery? Oh my god it was gorgeous. A planet that looked lived in and liveable. The way they animated water in particular made it actually look like water as opposed to just “standard with a blue tinge”. 

Most Disappointing Film

Legend. Far from a terrible film, but with the talent behind and in front of this camera this should have been one of the best films of 20mqdefault15 and a major awards contender. But outside a pretty fun dual performance from one of the best actors today, Tom Hardy, it turned out to be nothing but a decently entertaining, if mostly dull and plotless thing that never found its footing.

ganeThe Big Game. The worst part of this film is it’s easy to fix. You make the kid actually an effective hunter so it’s about the president of the United States being out of his element but helped by somebody who knows how to use the environment. So basically Rambo turned into an escort mission. Instead they made the kid useless, so it was a president being helped by someone who’s shit. 

Honorable mention: The Gallows. Had high hopes for this but in the end was the worst horror film I’ve seen all year. In a year that included Poltergeist remake, Insidious 3 and The Visit. 

Most Surprising Film

The Martian. Surprising doesn’t mean you expected it to be bad and it wasn’t. 17vZ0fzIt mean’s surprising. I went in expecting an existential Sci-fi about survival and the human will. And I got all that, but it also happened to be one of the best comedies of the year, that used the blend of dramatic thrills and comedy to make both more effective. From Matt Damon’s optimistic Martian and his crew, to Jeff Daniels smarmy NASA CEO and his quirky team of scientists. It is not an insult to this film to call it a comedy; it is a complement to comedy that this film is one.

Runner-up: Ant-Man. Who would of thought Ant-Man would have been the best Superhero film of 2015.

John_Wick_TeaserPoster

John Wick. I admit I expected a typical action film and didn’t have high hopes for it. But this film was a revelation. The universe and characters were so well defined it seemed like a comic book adaptation. News there’s a sequel excites me as I want to see more of this world.

 

 

 

 

The “well I liked it” award

Tomorrowland_posterTomorrowland. What’s with the hate on this film? Was it a perfect feat of science fiction? No, but it’s a fun Sci-fi adventure, with an interesting world, fun likable characters, a combo of goofy and deadpan humour, and is a real harken back to classic Sci-Fi adventures. When the future was something to wonder for not fear, and technology looked like technology. Ray guns are big and bright and silly, and jetpacks are sleek and still make no sense but are too awesome. Is the plotting all over the place, yes, is the first act a bit too much like molasses on sandpaper? Also not a complete over-exaggeration, but it’s got way too much heart to let little things like that get in the way of a good time.

Tomorrowland. I really don’t get the hate for this film. It’s odd as EVERYBODY I know who saw it liked it, but outside of my social circle everybody seems to hate it. But why? It’s nice. It’s the kind of film where if I saw it as a child it would have been my favourite film. 

The “I’m obviously not seeing what the reviewers are seeing” award

cWkwQf.jpgThe Big Game. “As spectacular as it is funny” “Samuel L Jackson has his tongue firmly in his cheek”. I wish either of these statements were true about this still born mess, failing to be dumb fun. The concept is great; a wimpy President played by Samuel L Jackson is chased through the mountains by terrorists and is helped by a badass child warrior. This should be as fun and or as campy as Olympus has fallen, or White House down…but instead, the kid isn’t a badass at all and spends most the film trying to find himself and failing; and though all his lines are wimpy, Jackson still plays it like a badass, so it’s just awkward. For a film apparently just going for fun, it takes its story and characters’ much too seriously, and its biggest failure is trying to distil genuine arcs and development on these blocks of wood.hqdefault

Unfriended. Seriously, fuck this film.

 

 

 

 

The “Yeah it’s bad but” award

index.jpgChappie: a perfect example of a hot fucking mess. The plot is all over the place, it’s supporting characters are unlikeable and stupid to the point of being endearing, it’s like a child’s film with hardcore violence…How can you not dig this film. Held up by the sheer adorableness and likability of Chappie himself, and some dark, dark humour, Chappie is one giant mess you don’t want to clear up.

Chappie. Always always Chappie. I know this film is bad, the plot is all over the place, the characters are unlikeable and it’s just bad all over. And yet I love it. No idea why. I just think the film works. It’s funny and kind of brilliant despite itself.