2021 Film Awards

So we’re two months in, and it’s time to finish the summary of 2021 films in the way I usually do: randomly bitching and praising shit nobody has heard of. Some really tough decisions made, and some really easy ones. You might disagree, ask me next week and I might disagree with my own choices, but I had to make them, and here they are. Side note, there’s no “worst film” this year, there were a lot of bad films, but truth be told nothing felt quite bad enough to earn that.

Best Looking:

Blithe Spirit

One of the few things this film did well. It has a great colour scheme so that the visuals really pop. If the film itself was as good as it looked, it would have been one of my favourites of the year.

Censor

Almost entirely due to how the final third was directed, film geeks will love what they did with it in terms of how it looks. One of the best examples of using visuals to tell a story.

Come True

Just to warn you, this film is going to come up A LOT in this. I just loved the blue colours over everything. It perfectly matched the music and made the whole thing feel like you were watching it on a CRT monitor. Really unique and I love it.

Cruella

Striking colours, combined with great costume design. The visuals for a lot of this film consist of dark or boring backgrounds, then bright and stunning foregrounds/clothes to create striking images that you’ll love. There’s something weirdly retro too, makes you think of the time period, and is perfect for story.

Godzilla Vs. Kong

Purely for the sense of scale, this series has been a great showcase for spectacle cinema, and this is no exception. There are obvious plot issues, but I can’t deny how much I loved just sitting there staring at this film.

Love and Monsters

Yeah it’s a surprise to me too, but I love the director brought the world to life. You don’t watch this and feel you’re watching something obviously fake, the CGI is pretty damn good for a film like this. Everything looks and feels like it belongs in that world. It’s so good that sometimes you don’t really notice it, you’re not sitting there going “wow, look at that creature”, the creature is just there, and fits so well into it that it can pass you by.

Malignant

There were so many times watching this where I thought “yup, that would make a good poster”. Just let down by one of the special effects not really working for me.

Raya And The Last Dragon

The way that Sisu is animated is glorious, a solid character that flows through the air like she’s swimming. I love the way this looked, the little references to Southeast Asian cultures, the amount of water (which is notoriously hard to animate) which looks gorgeous. I just love the way this flows visually. Because of how similar they were I had to choose between this and Luca, this JUST inches ahead due to the building designs.

Soul

Mainly for the use of space, well, lines really. The fluid nature to the animation is reminscent of classic disney at its best. The whole thing just feels like an otherworldly dream. You look at it and you can almost hear the music.

Winner:

Last Night In Soho

Yes, the neon look is great. And the final sequence is a masterclass in visuals. But the day-to-day stuff is great too. The lighting is done in a way that looks natural but has a sharp focus, almost like a spotlight. And the scenes in the club are full of visual beauty.

Most Disappointing

A Quiet Place Part 2

This is where they’ll be a big difference between “Bad” and “disappointing”. Just on its own, this might have been an okay film. But as a sequel to one of the most unique films (horror or otherwise) of the last few years, can’t help but feel this is a poor effort. The new characters don’t feel like they’ve always been a part of this world, and the shadow of the dads death from the first one doesn’t hang as heavy over it as it should.

Antebellum

I had really high hopes for this based on the trailer, particularly one completely bad-ass moment of her running through a warzone. It just didn’t work for me though. The pacing was way off and it has no idea how to keep the momentum going. I feel you could edit this, take out some of the fluff, change the order of some scenes around, and you could get a really good film. But starting on the plantation for about 40 minutes, doing a near thirty-minute flashback to her before she got there, then going back to the plantation makes the whole thing feel disjointed. Tbh you don’t need to know that much information about her before she got there, just a few minutes to establish her life and who she is, then have her wake up in the plantation, look at the horror around her, then credits. It has nothing to say about the past, and as such says nothing about the present. A lot of it is just misery porn.

Lucky

I was fully on board with this for a lot of it. Sure there were a few moments where I felt “ouch that’s not good”. Bad music choices, the visuals looked too fake and stupid. And then the ending happened, and shat upon all the goodwill I had. It’s a shame as the concept was promising, and it had some good scenes. But it set up questions it had no intention of answering.

The King’s Man

Not exactly a bad film, but nowhere near as good as the previous ones. I really hope they do a sequel to this one because otherwise, it’s completely pointless. It didn’t set up the other two films or answer any questions we had. It’s just to set up something else, it feels like this is Iron Man, and the original 2 Kingsman films are Infinity War and Endgame, like we’re missing a lot of stuff in the middle. It’s nowhere near as stylish as the other two, with no real stand-out scenes.

Black Widow

I avoided spoilers for this, I assumed it would be game-changing. Nope. It just sets up a new Black Widow, something that could have been a tv show. In Taskmaster it features one of the most underutilized villains in the history of the MCU (and all feels way too similar to what they did with Ghost in Ant-Man And The Wasp), I suppose the real villain is Ray Winstones character, but the true villain is his acting coach. Not quite as dull as Eternals, but I had much higher expectations.

Winner

Wonder Woman 1984

I remember talking about this with someone before it came out, I mentioned how this reminded me of Thor: Ragnorak and was looking like it was going to be a technicolour ball of fun, as it is it’s just technicolour bullshit. It’s turned a strong independent female character into “I just need a man”. It’s not even an original story, it’s just another soft adaptation of The Monkey’s Paw, which has been done much better in other media. Also, I genuinely can’t remember that much about Kristen Wiigs character, she’s ridiculously underdeveloped, she’s given barely anything to do once she becomes a villain. It still looks good, but the script is diabolical. This is a BIG film, released just over a year ago, and featured a cameo from Lynda Carter, yet nobody talks excitedly about it.

Best Performer

Amy Nostbakken/Norah Sadava in Mouthpiece

Cheating a bit as it’s two performers, but they’re both playing the same character so I’m counting it. For a lot of these, I’m counting things like believability, facial expressions, dialogue delivery etc. They do all of those things well, but sold this for me was how unbelievably in-sync they are throughout. This goes beyond acting into performance art. The way they physically interact with each other is almost ballet-like in its precision and use of space

Riz Ahmed in Sound Of Metal

I mainly know him from Four Lions, he was in Nightcrawler but that was mainly Jake’s film let’s be honest. This? This was incredible. I didn’t know he had this in him. The pain, the torment, the frustration. His character is suffering, and his performance lets you know that.

McKenna Grace in Ghostbusters Afterlife

If she’s in a film I watch, she’s likely to be nominated in this category, every year. That’s how good she is. It’s not bias either, I didn’t recognise it as her while I watched this, all I thought was “I have no idea who that is but she is absolutely nailing every piece of dialogue here”. The way she delivers bad jokes makes them funny, her comedic timing is impeccable, and she’s talented enough that she carries the emotional setpieces too. She’s in a film with Paul Rudd, and outshines him.

Magdalena Kolesnik in Sweat

All the way through she gives a good performance, but the scene near the end where she’s being interviewed and she just breaks down completely. She’s helped by some tremendous dialogue which she conveys beautifully. But there’s a moment in the end where she realises that it was pointless, that nobody cares, that she just needs to smile and get back to work. It’s heartbreaking, and she nails it.

Katja Herbers in The Columnist

The second foreign language performer to be nominated here, both fully deserved. This one slightly edged it out because of how wordless some of her best moments were. You could tell her character was trying to hide her annoyance. It’s a difficult role to do as she has to be likeable, but also a serial killer. So she has to have that weird mix of danger and sweetness. It’s a testament to both her performance, and to the writing, that it works as well as it does.

Billy Crystal in Here Today/Anthony Hopkins in The Father

This is going to be tricky making this work for both but the reasons they work are so similar for both I feel okay consolidating them into one. So here goes: Normally they’re actors who play characters who lead a film, in control of every scene. So to see them play somebody so vulnerable is devastating. It’s so unlike them that it really hits home their situations.

Carey Mulligan in Promising Young Woman

Read a review which said she looked “like bad drag”. Fuck off. Besides, the important thing is how good she is in this role, and she’s great, her body language in each scene showing who’s in control. You can tell she’s instantly changed a situation to her advantage just by the way she’s standing. Plus she has an unsure confidence, she has to believe she’s doing what’s right, but there’s a part that’s not.

Rebecca Hall in The Night House

She’s always had a lot of promise but somehow manages to find herself in slightly disappointing roles (Iron Man 3, Godzilla Vs. Kong, Dorian Gray), in this she lives up to the potential you always knew she had. She plays a character dealing with intense personal loss, and that loss is written through every fibre of her performance. So even in the horror moments, you are always fully aware that this is a character tinged with sadness and regret. It’s the kind of performance that would be talked about for oscar nominations if they didn’t hate horror movies for some reason.

Niamh Algar in Censor

Occasionally you get a performer who you truly feel is representing the directors vision, and I feel Algar is doing this here. Her performance feels like it suits the character, the film, everything about it. I really hope her and the director work together in the future as they compliment each other wonderfully. She looks broken throughout and it’s amazing to watch. Even when she’s saying things she’s certain about, her face still seems unsure. It’s perfect for the character and I want to see her in more stuff.

Thomasin McKenzie in Last Night In Soho

This could not have been an easy performance for her to deliver, the emotional range needed is off the charts, and she had to do it all in a Cornish accent, and how did they even explain that accent to someone from New Zealand? Have to say, I never noticed though. I knew I recognised her from somewhere, but I couldn’t place where and I assumed it was some random Channel 4 show. The fact that she is this good, and is only 21 is terrifying and exciting.

Winner

Julia Sarah Stone in Come True

Already known to cinephiles in Canada due to her award-winning roles in The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom and Wet Burn, this is the first I’ve seen of her and I now want to see more. Her performance is utterly captivating. This is without a doubt one of the best performances I’ve ever seen in my life. Her performance is seen in every moment of her performance, from her body language, her facial expressions, everything is filled with little nuances that sell her character.

Worst Performer

Ray Winstone in Black Widow

You’d think he’d be great at this, he’s basically a mob boss with access to superpowered beings. But his accent is SO bad it’s laughable. It’s so hard to take him seriously as a threat when his accent his travelling more than someone who doesn’t understand the rules of basketball. I haven’t heard accents this bad outside of someone being slightly racist.

Leslie Mann in Blithe Spirit

Again, the accent. I can’t tell what nationality her character was supposed to be, was she supposed to be British and couldn’t quite manage it, or was she just supposed to be posh and her mind automatically leant slightly British?

Winner

Lebon James in Space Jam

He can’t act. At all. His character admits that in the film, doesn’t make it better.

Best Soundtrack

Come True

Has one of my favourite songs I heard in 2021. If you listen to this you can instantly tell the tone of the film. Is great to listen to. But even outside of that song, it’s great. Haven’t heard a soundtrack this creepy this It Follows.

Soul

One of the best examples of music syncing with animation in a while. The whole thing plays like an art piece, the animation moving with the music in a wonderful flowing motion. Not quite sure how it would work independently, but it is marvellous as part of something bigger.

Nobody

Following the John Wick rule of using older music, and just like that it worked. It gives the violent scenes an air of beauty and class they wouldn’t have otherwise. Not exactly a soundtrack I would go out and buy, but it suits the film perfectly.

The Suicide Squad

Not quite as good as the others on this list at matching the tone of the movie, but the choice of songs is amazing. Probably one of the ones I’m most likely to listen to on its own.

In The Heights

Another musical, but very different from Annette. I’m not sure these would work on their own, not exactly the kind of soundtrack you’d show somebody who didn’t know the film, you’d needed to have watched this to truly get the songs I think. But once you watch it, you’ll love the music. The best one is probably the opening one, it does a great job of telling you who everybody is. This film had the advantage obviously of coming from an already established musical.

Last Night In Soho

Edgar Wright is one of those directors (similar to Gunn actually) who knows what songs to pick to make a great soundtrack. Definitely the case here, obviously the key musical motif is Downtown, but the rest of the film has songs that suit it too. They’re great at setting the tone.

Winner

Annette

Musicals normally have a sense of playfulness, except for adaptations like Les Miserables. This is dark, but in a beautiful way, and the music suits that. The opening number is probably the scene I’ve watched the most on youtube this year, when I watched it originally I rewound it multiple times because I wanted to feel the magic again. Part of that was the song chosen. It’s dark, but also playful, a Sparks song about how the film is starting, starring the cast, and the musicians. There are other really good songs throughout, actually I can’t remember any dialogue, in my head it was all music. Such good songs, there’s one where Adam Drivers character is just going on a rant on stage, and the audience are booing him and telling to go away, all in the medium of song.

Most Surprising

Mouthpiece

Assumed this would be one of those “oh it’s very well made for a low budget foreign indie film”, but this is genuinely one of my favourite films now. The emotion, the performances, the originality. I loved almost everything about it. Not going to go too much into it as will mention it later.

Love and Monsters

Probably not the best film in this category, a lot of the others I expected nothing and was surprised by them, this, I expected it to be quite bad. If it wasn’t for someone messaging me telling me to watch it I would have avoided it. This is much better than you may think it would be by looking at the poster. Heatwarming, funny, and just overall brilliant

Come True

Went into this knowing nothing, came out with one of my favourite films I’ve seen. Won’t be talking about it much in this one because I talk about it A LOT in other categories.

Winner

Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Some of these I went in blind and surprised me that way, some I thought were bad, but then checked them out after being told otherwise. This? I went in thinking it would terrible. The early reviews were very negative, and lets be honest it looked like it could miss the point of the originals completely. The first few minutes I was still unsure, it wasn’t until McKenna Grace’s character was on screen and started talking that I started to realise this could be good. It was better than that. Others in this category are better, but none have had such a big difference between expectations and reality. Loved it.

Best Character

Mav1s – Love And Monsters

Not in the film for very long, not even human. But gives the film some more humanity in its actions. Provides emotion, depth, and some very heartwarming moments. Very reminiscent of Baymax.

Red Guardian – Black Widow

The film was disappointing but it was never down to him. His character was funny and added a weird sense of pathos to it. I know the MCU is moving towards focusing on Yelena moving forward, but I’d much rather see more from him, weirdly I’d actually really want a prequel focusing on him.

Christine – How To Deter A Robber

There’s something so goofy and loveable about her. The moments where she’s on-screen are among the best. Essentially the type of character that Anna Kendrick would play.

Peacemaker – The Suicide Squad

There’s a reason this character got a spin-off. A sociopath who believes he’s a good guy. He is basically America personified.

Winner

Podcast/Phoebe – Ghostbusters: Afterlife

With just one of these characters, the film would be good, with both of them it’s amazing. The chemistry between them brings to mind classic 80s films like The Goonies. They’re just so perfect together that I had to include them both. They’re both great for the same reason. Incredibly well written and very funny. But the jokes they make don’t detract away from the tension, they’re not cracking wise while staring death in the face, they’re also not making jokes that kids wouldn’t make. They’re goofy jokes, which reluctantly raise a smile.

Best Film

Mouthpiece

Oh, this is tough. I may regret this decision. Usually, I just list the films nominated and then put the winner. I know there were a lot of films in the best of the year blog, but when it came to what my absolute favourite was, in reality, it was between this and Come True. I felt it would be disingenuous to list films I know had zero chance of winning, pretending they had a chance, would be a waste of my time writing, and your time reading. It is really close by the way, for different reasons. Come True is a film-makers film, Mouthpiece is a scriptwriters film. In terms of look and technical prowess, Come True runs away with it. In terms of originality, this has it. Come True is better from an analytical and film student perspective, Mouthpiece is better from an emotional one. In the end, it came down to this: If I had to watch both, which would I watch first? And the answer is Mouthpiece, it hit me harder.

So, that’s it for 2021, a surprisingly strong year for cinema. 2022 will probably have more foreign-language and independent reviews, so look forward to these getting a lot more pretentious and finding more obscure stuff. Should be fun.

2021 In Film: Day One (The Awful)

Quite simply, the worst films of the year. Ones that not only am I in no rush to see again, but ones that I will actively avoid. Films where my short recaps here can basically be summed up as: eugh. My internal clarification is this: would I consider it among one of the worst films I’ve seen? Does it have any reason to see it? If not, in here.

A Perfect Plan

A film so dull that it wasn’t actually on my list of films I saw this year. It was only when I was going through the reviews that I remembered it. It has left zero impact on me.

+ The Concept. A unique twist on standard heist movies.

– So incredibly dull. No excitement, no joy, nothing worthwhile. It’s a film so devoid of anything memorable that watching it is almost indistinguishable from not watching it

Best Moment: When it ended? I dunno, I’ve got nothing. Like I said, forgettable.

Worst moment: The heist itself. It lacks any excitement or tension. It should be the lynchpin the film revolves around and builds up to, as it is it’s a thumbtack that fell out of a corkboard, breaking as it hits the floor, then gets kicked under a cupboard, forgotten and worthless, completely pointless.

Best Performer: Carlo Rota. He’s too good for films like this.

Worst Performer: Kathleen Munroe. They’re all bad, but she’s the star, so she gets the biggest criticism.

Best Line: You’re a shoe size passing for an IQ.

Original review here

Antebellum:

I was really looking forward to this. The concept was good and the original trailer was haunting. The finished product just isn’t there though. The pacing is all off, it lingers when it should move on, and moves on when it should linger. It’s more interested in making a good point than it is making a good movie.

+ Has some great moments.

– All the villains are basically caricatures, so they’re not interesting or compelling to watch.

Best moment: Her riding on horseback through a fake battle.

Worst Moment: The reveal.

Best Performer: Janelle Monae, best known as a musician, but I really hope she gets cast in more things in the future. She’s in Knives Out 2, which I’m looking forward to.

Worst performer: Jena Malone. That’s not her accent is it? It can’t be

Best line: Sometimes what looks like anger is really just fear

Original review here

Blithe Spirit

Hadn’t seen anything about this in the lead-up, almost like the makers were embarrassed, which they should be. It was one of the first films I saw this year, and it made me grateful for COVID as it meant there was no chance of seeing it at the cinema.

+The concept and some of the dialogue is first-class. Also, it has a really bright colour scheme, which is unusual for films like this. Normally if a film is set in the 30s the colours are very muted and slightly brown to give an almost sepia-tone to the whole thing. In this they’re like a rainbow splashed on the wall.

-Why do so many performers ham it up for Noel Coward adaptations? It comes off really unnatural and means that the film feels like a 2020’s film about the 1930s, rather than just a film about the 1930s

Best moment: Throwing the china. For a film where I include the dialogue as one of my favourite things, it says a lot about this scene that it’s my favourite despite being just physical comedy.

Worst moment: The ghost of his ex-wife starts throwing knives at one of the staff. It seems very mean-spirited and out of place.

Best performer: Julian Rhind-Tutt. He really should be in more things of this nature, he’s perfect for it.

Worst performer: Leslie Mann. It’s not that she’s bad, it’s just her accent is all over the place.

Best line: “Are they habit-forming?” “Of course not, I’ve been using them for years”

Original review here.

Don’t Breathe 2

I mean, I didn’t really like the original so I don’t know why I thought it would be any different this time. But again, it’s trying to rehabilitate someone who is truly evil. It’s trying to make him slightly heroic, but nothing he does makes up for what we saw him do in the first film.

+ Has some good scares.

– Bit pointless.

Best Moment: There’s a really good tracking shot.

Worst Moment: Not sure, it was all so forgettable that I can’t remember.

Best Performer: Madelyn Grace, a child performer who isn’t completely annoying.

Worst Performer: Almost everybody is equal.

Best Line: Now you’re gonna see what I see!

Original review here

Escape Room: Tournament Of Champions

Again, a film where I didn’t like the original, so I’m not sure why I thought I might like this one. Especially with how similar the two films are. The first film ended with Minos (the company behind the killer escape rooms) setting up a fake plane accident as an escape room in which to trap the two main characters. This film ends with the two characters trapped on a plane escape room. So the next film will start pretty much where this one should have. No idea what the next one will be as the alternate cut of this features someone they’re setting up as the main villain going forward. So will the sequel take this film as canon, or will it make the extended version a complete waste of time? It’s a lose-lose situation really. But at least the next step should be entertaining.

+ The paranoia in the opening scenes, really sets up how the characters are effected by what they went through.

– If you think about the logistics the whole thing falls apart. Are we led to believe that Minos somehow set it up that all the people they needed would be in the exact same train compartment at the same time, and NOBODY else. Also, the train company don’t realise the extra cart, or that they lose one. Unless they’re involved too. But you can’t just say “every company in the world is involved in this secret organisation”, just stupid.

Best Moment: The acid rain trap. Truly disturbing.

Worst moment: When the traps start making it harder for them. This is supposed to be being bet on by people, right? Wouldn’t they complain about the traps changing halfway through and suddenly becoming unfair?

Best Performer: Zoey Davis.

Worst Performer: Deborah Ann Woll. Not really her performance, but her character being in it, breaks the film slightly.

Notable Line: “Tell us, Zoey. Did we do a good job convincing you?” I knew they didn’t actually escape, but this confirmed it. So everything was hopeless and pointless.

Original review here

Home Sweet Home Alone

I assumed this would be bad from when I first saw the trailer. I was not disappointed, by which I mean I was disappointed, this film was terrible. It doesn’t seem to understand WHY we liked the first two (and only those two). It lacks the magic of the original, there’s no joy to it, just the sound of a studio saying they want money.

+ It sets up the universe very well. Kevin from the first two films has set up a home security company, which makes a lot of sense. This is hinted at rather than outright said, and the restraint for that reference is commendable.

– The decision to focus on the thieves breaks the film as it makes the pain they go through a lot less funny. If they switched the focus I’m not saying it would be a good movie, but it would undoubtedly be better.

Best Moment: The ending is slightly heartwarming.

Worst moment: The VR “trap”. It makes no sense once you think about it.

Best Performer: Rob Delaney.

Worst Performer: Archie Yates. Not sure if it’s the script or his performance but he just comes off as annoying.

Notable Line: “Uh, this is garbage. I don’t know why they are always trying to remake the classics. Never as good as the originals”. Just because you make a joke about terrible remakes, doesn’t mean your remake isn’t terrible.

Original review here

Lucky

I have rules in my head for these lists. After the list of bad ones, my next list contains films that are bad, but have something I can recommend watching for. Sometimes it can be that it looks amazing, sometimes it’s an amazing performance, and sometimes it’s one scene that really works. This film does the opposite, it’s thoroughly okay and belongs in the next blog, but the ending is SO infuriating it knocks it down.

+ Genuinely interesting concept. Has one pretty damn good scene.

– The music? I get it’s supposed to be offputting, but it seems weirdly jaunty at times, too high pitched. Also, I cannot understate how much the ending ruins it.

Best Moment: Scene where it’s happening to everybody in a car park. Very similar to the moment in Us when you see the true extent of the tethered. A real holy shit moment where you want to stand up and applaud the genius of it. In a way that makes it better for her as she knows it’s not personal, but it also makes it much much worse.

Worst moment: The ending. It genuinely knocks the movie down a few points. Thematically it makes sense, but narratively it feels slightly weak. It’s the equivalent of a gymnast doing a double backflip but landing on their head and shitting themselves.

Best Performer: Kausar Mohammed. For the first part of the film, she does a great job of being a warm, lovely person. But then there’s a scene where she’s talking to the lead where she suddenly gets super creepy when she’s asked where she got a scar, gets a blank look in her eyes, completely devoid of emotion, almost robotic. And utters the line ““just an old thing. I forget. Just a part of living in this world. It happened so long ago” in the best way possible. It’s not the best line, but the way she performs it is phenomenal, possibly one of the best line deliveries I’ve seen in a long time.

Worst Performer: Leith Burke. Not a bad performance, just incredibly bland.

Best Line: “I am not lucky, I just work really really hard”. It’s part of a longer speech that is just incredible to watch.

Original review here

Space Jam: A New Legacy

I’m not entirely sure why this was made. Actually, I have an idea: money. This brings nothing new to the table. It’s not film, it’s product. Everything seems geared towards selling you a streaming service. I haven’t seen anything that fellates itself this much since I accidentally went into the wrong hotel room in Bristol. It doesn’t feel like a sequel to the first one, it feels like some weird cheap knock-off.

+ All the references are fun to catch.

– Feels like it’s made by committee. No heart, no soul

Best Moment: The basketball game itself.

Worst moment: Bugs bunny “dies”. It’s supposed to be emotional but we know it’s not going to stay so it means absolutely nothing.

Best Performer: Don Cheadle. Turns out he can be quite creepy.

Worst Performer: LeBron James, he’s not an actor.

Notable Line: “but I can’t act”. Correct, you can’t, and that sums up the problem.

Original review here

The Addams Family 2

This never really feels like an Addams Family movie, it seems the fourth instalment in an Illumination series. “They go on holiday” is normally what a TV series does to its characters when the show is on its last legs, that’s how this feels. Like the last desperate cries of a dying franchise that was never really alive in the first place. The reveal that Gomez is actually bald feels weirdly out of step with who these characters are.

+ Some of the casting is perfect, well it would be in a live-action film anyway.

– Lacks anything which makes the Addams Family special.

Best Moment: Lurch performing I Will Survive.

Worst moment: Cousin It being dropped off by private jet, then leaving before doing nothing.

Best Performer(s): Charlize Theron. Her and Oscar Isaac are perfect, the way their animated is still wrong though.

Worst Performer: Nick Kroll. Completely the wrong choice.

Best Line: “Do you know how much work it is to decapitate an entire barbershop quartet?”

Original review here

The Boss Baby 2

The Boss Baby 2, or in some territories named The Boss Baby: Family business, and to me known as “Oh no, please no, what did the world do to deserve this?”. We didn’t need a Boss Baby sequel, we didn’t even need the first one. It’s completely unneeded, the way they tell the story is the worst possible way to tell it, and the decision to tell it is not a good one. The characters have not developed at all, despite this film taking place at least 20 years after it. Also, when the characters discuss the actions of the actions of the first movie, they say “at least the jokes were good, right?” to be met with a “meh”. So the characters of Boss Baby 2, are saying the first one isn’t funny. The franchise is shitting on itself.

The film seems to forget that the actions of the first film were forgotten by the parents, so don’t factor into characterisation. At one point they say “oh, those kids did everything together”. Did they? Because we’ve seen ZERO evidence of this.

+ It looks pretty

– Why does it need to exist?

Best Moment: Musical interlude. It’s sweet and looks absolutely gorgeous.

Worst moment: Almost everything with actual adult Tim, his characterisation is the same as it was in the first film, you know, when he was a child.

Best Performer: Jeff Goldblum, he seems like he’s having fun.

Worst Performer: No real weak links tbh, but not many standouts either tbh.

Best Line: They’re going to send in the Baby Seals

Original review here

Those Who Wish Me Dead

I’m assuming this belongs here as I can’t remember anything from it. It left zero impact on me. It feels like a relic of another time, and not in a good way.

+ Looks good.

– Feels like it’s missing something to make it stand out.

Best Moment: The murders at the start. Brutal and just what’s needed.

Best Performer: Angelina Jolie, you occasionally forget just how good she is until you see her in stuff like this.

Best Line: “You can fucking suffer” mainly because of the performance given while saying it.

Original review here

Thunder Force

On the subject of films that feel dated, this feels like a comedy from the early 90s. When views on superhero films were different. The story itself feels like it belongs in a kids film. I can’t imagine an adult sitting down and being entertained by this. McCarthy has shown that she can be good, but she’s not talented enough to elevate a poor script, and there are fewer scripts that are as poor as this one.

+ Jason Bateman. He is the highlight of the film.

– It just feels lazy.

Best Moment: Kiss From A Rose as they start a fight scene

Worst moment: The dance scene between McCarthy and Bateman. It’s so out of place and adds nothing that couldn’t have been added in a better way.

Best Performer: Jason Bateman

Worst Performer: McCarthy

Best Line: “unfortunately these superpowers were only unlocked in rare individuals who were genetically predisposed to being sociopaths”

Original review here

Tom And Jerry

These films are really difficult to do. Mainly because maintaining pacing takes someone incredibly talented, and someone that talented wouldn’t be approached to do this. In an ideal world you would have someone like George Miller. Somebody who knows about constant action. Tim Story’s closest films have been two Fantastic Four films, and they’re not exactly highly regarded.

+ The fact that physical damage is caused by the animated fights. Must have been so difficult to do.

– The lack of warmth to the whole thing.

Best Moment: The fight in the hotel room. Chaotic but fun

Worst moment: The opening fight. Completely unneeded. We didn’t need the establishing fight between them. We could have had them meet at the hotel. Here’s what happens: they fight in the park, with Jerry breaking Tom’s keyboard and stealing money from him. Jerry sneaks into a hotel, which then hires Tom to catch him. Everything up to “Jerry sneaks into a hotel” is unneeded. Even the Chloe Grace Moretz stuff is not needed. Her opening scenes are her losing her job, then applying for one at the hotel. We didn’t need to see her losing her job. We just needed to see her applying for the new one.

Best Performer: Patsy Ferran. Such a unique performance in a film sorely lacking identity.

Worst Performer: Chloe Grace Moretz. As much as I love her normally, a character that’s supposed to be that street smart, should not be as awkward as she’s playing her.

Best Line: “This simulator is amazing, it really simulates how bad I am at golf”

Original review here

Nomadland (2020)

Knew nothing of this film going in, that’s becoming a running theme with these reviews lately. Truth be told I don’t actively seek out films, I don’t go onto film sites and search for recommendations. My knowledge of what films to see come from four sources:

  1. Trailers at the cinema
  2. Personal recommendation (is why I watched Love And Monsters)
  3. If it gets nominated for a lot of awards (Sound Of Metal)

My fourth one is the one I’ve used the most this year. And if you ever wondered how the hell I found some random films, it’s likely to be from this. I go onto https://filmdistributorsassociation.com/release-schedule/this-weeks-releases/ every week to look at the films that have been released that week, if I haven’t heard of it at all I’ll quickly google it and see if it intrigues me. That’s why I end up hearing about films such as Come True (very much yay), Blithe Spirit (very much not yay), and I Blame Society (I don’t know yet as I haven’t seen it, but it looks great). When I say “it intrigues me” I mean that I read a quick one line synopsis, if that hooks me I usually just add it to the list. So there’s a lot of films where I haven’t even seen the trailer (if I had then I wouldn’t have seen Mouthpiece as I’ve since watched the trailer for that and it did nothing for me, which is a shame as it would have meant missing out on one of my favourite films of the year).

So yeah, despite it being one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year (well, technically last year. I’ll stop using parenthesis soon I swear), I went into this knowing very little. Highly recommend going into it this way as seeing everything unfurl in front of you is a delightful experience. I say “delightful”, it’s actually horrible. This has the tone and look of an apocalyptic future. It resembles a word in the near future left ravaged by war. So when is this film set? 2011. That’s a stunning indictment of American capitalism.

But that’s not really what this film is, it’s not about dystopia and bleakness. It’s ultimately about humanity and hope. It’s about beauty and life. It’s about everything and nothing all at once. It feels all too real, but sometimes that realness gives you a warm glow inside.

The feeling of reality is helped by the cast, mainly because Chloe Zhao decided to cast non-actors, instead reaching out to people who actually live the nomadic life. Risky strategy, but it definitely works. These characters know the perfect way to play every single piece of dialogue, bringing the characters to life in a way that few other films could. I should also mention the way that Zhao shot a lot of it. She doesn’t go to make it look like a dramatic film, it’s shot almost like a documentary. Again, this makes everything feel real. It doesn’t often feel like you’re watching a film, but more like you’re standing there alongside them, it truly makes you feel like part of a community (then the film finishes and you’re back to a reality where you’re alone with just a cup of tea for company, and you cry). Considering this film stars Frances McDormand, one of the best performers around, making you forget that she’s an actor is something incredibly difficult to do. But both the talent of the film, and the talent of McDormand herself, make that easy to do.

I suppose it is also helped by being based on a non-fiction book (Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century) which I now need to read I think. You’d think being based on a non-fiction book would mean it lacks narrative. It kind of does, but also doesn’t. It’s not a standard “A leads to B, which leads to C” style plot. It’s the cinematic equivalent of just wandering around somewhere (almost nomadically you could say) and observing. Sometimes you meander, taking stock of what’s in front of you at that moment, sometimes you move forward quicker, and sometimes you stand still. It’s the moments where characters just sit around talking which are the highlights. A key example of this is a guy explaining how his son committed suicide. He talks about how living on the road means you never say goodbye, because you know you’re going to see everybody further down the road. That’s why he does it, because he feels it means his son hasn’t said goodbye, they’ll always meet each other later on. Just writing that bit and remembering it almost brought me to tears just now. That’s how powerful it is.

In summary, you really need to see this. It’s one of the most compelling things I’ve seen all year, and it deserves everything you could give it. Plus it’s available for free on disney+ right now so….yeah.

Blithe Spirit (2020)

This, this was not a great movie. It’s in the running for one of the worst of the year already. I hope it is anyway as I can’t cope with films that are a lot worse than this. It’s a shame as I like Noel Coward’s stuff, his dialogue and situations are really good and are timeless, IF they’re performed correctly. The issue is that a lot of adaptations of these kind of films have the actors play the same way: they are full of overacting and BIG body language. Essentially they get performed like people think they were performed on the stage back in the day. The trouble with this is acting is different on stage and screen, on the stage you perform for the people at the back, so you need to be physically expressive and larger than life, especially in comedies, there is no place for subtle facial language. Film is different, the camera is close, so you don’t need to act so big, you can be more subtle, you can be quieter, and a lot of adaptations don’t take that into account and it’s frustrating. Not just because it seems fake and unnatural, but also because, even if the film was made this year, it makes them seem incredibly dated.

So that’s the issue with this film in general. More specifically? It just doesn’t have that spark that the film needs. I often talk about actors performances and mention how it feels like nobody actually enjoyed making the film, and how this can hurt it as everyone seems too wooden. This is the opposite, everyone seems like they’re having too much fun, it’s like they’re all just dicking about and waiting for someone to tell them “okay we’re starting now”. I watched it and I can’t tell what nationality Leslie Mann’s character was supposed to be, was she supposed to be British and couldn’t quite manage it, or was she just supposed to be posh and her mind automatically leant slightly British?

Coward’s plays are iconic, and it can feel like sacrilege to mess with them. But by continuously restraining adaptations to his own timeline you’re doing his work a disservice. The basic plot for this film would still work today, the concept and the characters would still be suited for a modern age. People update Shakespeare for a modern age all the time, so there’s no reason someone can’t do it with something like this. It would make it seem less dated, and would stop everyone giving the “oh darling how fabulous” style performances they all feel compelled to give in these movies.

On the plus side, some of the dialogue is incredibly funny, and it looks great. Often when films are set before 1950’s directors have a habit of either making everything rather murky and drab, or just gold-colours everywhere. There’s no room for bright reds and blues that pop. This is the exception, it’s a very colourful film and is a visual delight. It’s just the shame the rest of the film isn’t as good.