2018 In Film Part 5: The Amazing

Right, you can probably guess what I thought about these films. Enough faffing about, let’s do this!

A Quiet Place

This is a film that gives zero shits about you being comfortable. It kills a child in the opening scene. I genuinely loved this film, not just because of what it was, but what it represented; an innovative idea in cinema. I hope the sequel doesn’t destroy the legacy that this one built, fingers crossed. Everything about this is superb; the performances, the look, the originality. Well worth a watch.

Original review here

+It changes how you watch cinema, you end up being an active watcher, too scared to make any noise.

-This film doesn’t work in certain conditions (I tried watching it on a plane and it just did not work at all)

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This admittedly plays fast and loose with the truth, and to be honest is all the better for it. It seems to acknowledge its own falsehoods which makes it okay. At first I thought the ending went on too long, but by the time it finished I felt inspired to go fuck shit up. This is a film that will inspire you, not to make films, but to make a difference.

Original review here

+The fact it’s true.

-Some of the characters seem a bit one-note.

Black Panther

This film so damn good. First off, the villain could easily be the hero of a different movie. I think its the first Marvel film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, and it’s fully deserved. Not the Marvel film I’ve enjoyed the most, but certainly the most complete and cinematic they’ve got, and without a doubt the most culturally important.

Original review here

+The effort that went into the set and costume design.

-The CGI in the final fight scene is a bit off at times.

Blockers

I’d understand if people didn’t agree with this, if they thought it should have gone in the “good” section instead of this one. But I don’t hide that this is entirely subjective and based on personal opinion, and in my personal opinion this film was amazing. It was great to see a sex-based teen comedy from a perspective that wasn’t just teenage males. This had the teenage girl perspective, and the parent perspective. Incredibly funny and sweet, I just love it so much.

Original review here

+Geraldine Viswanathan is a star in the making (if there’s any justice)

-Some questionable music choices.

Coco

What can I say about this film that hasn’t been said already? I could say it’s bad, nobody has said that, because it would be bullshit. This film is amazing. It’s almost as emotional as Inside Out. Everything about it is just so perfectly done. It’s done with love, love for the story being told, love for the culture, and love for the medium of film.

Original review here

+It’s great at showing the love and passion people have for music.

-Might not resonate with kids due to the themes.

Deadpool 2

Is this film going to change your life? No. Does it have a great plot? No. Is the pacing great? No. Is it visually impressive? Not really. Is it INCREDIBLY fun? Yes. I actually preferred it the first one. It had a better plot, was funnier, more meta (What’s a meta? Nothing, what’s a meta with you?), and much better directed. I love the first one don’t get me wrong, but even when someone was beating the shit out of Deadpool you couldn’t really feel it. In this one, when he gets hurt, you really feel it, so even though the character is effectively unkillable, he doesn’t feel invulnerable.

Original review here

+The opening scene set to Dolly Parton’s 9-to-5 is perfection.

-Drags in some places.

Ghost Stories

Was a massive fan of this. Not really “Arghhhhhh” scary. But very “sitting behind the sofa in fear” scary. It was essentially the cinematic equivalent of reading a ghost story. Everything about it was just perfectly done. And you’ll find yourself annoyed that you didn’t guess the ending considering that really it’s the only logical way it could have ended.

Original review here

+The never-ending sense of dread.

-Some of the make-up and effects could be a bit better.

Halloween

Full disclosure. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Halloween movie. I’m aware of them, and the tropes they have, and the history of the franchise etc but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen them (I’ve seen bits of the first one when I was younger) so I wasn’t exactly going into this with the weight of the franchise on me. I wasn’t going in thinking “this will be the comeback”. That being said, this is the comeback. It’s a back to basic horror, he doesn’t set elaborate traps or depend on luck. He moves slowly and he kills things, that’s it. That’s the character. And it works in this. He is utterly terrifying as a character in this movie. People talk about how they would beat certain movie characters, you would struggle to beat this one, he’s a real force to be reckoned with. And Laurie Strode gets just as much attention as he does, which is important for horror movies. The reason I don’t like a lot of horror films is I don’t care for the characters. There is usually so much focus on the killer that the victims aren’t fleshed out so you don’t really care what happens to them. This is the opposite, if some of the characters in this died, you would feel emotionally impacted.

Original review here

+Laurie Strode is bad-ass.

-There’s one death in particular which just looks a bit silly.

I, Tonya

I enjoyed this film, and will gladly watch it again. Despite knowing the basic story of what happened, I still wanted to see how it unfolded. It’s difficult to trust it as a historical source but you’re so entertained that it doesn’t really care. The soundtrack is also great, as are the performances. I don’t think it deserved academy award nominations, but it was incredibly good.

Original review here

+The attention they took on some of the interviews to make them look dated.

-The fact that the idiot character is the only one of the main characters who is dead right now. Felt a little uneasy

I Kill Giants

Knew barely anything about this film going in, and it was on netflix so I was uneasy. I loved it though. So much. The main character was engaging, the story was heartbreaking, and Madison Wolfe continues to be great. This was going to go in the “good” one, then I remembered this.

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I cannot put a film that has THAT line in it in just the good. This film was great and I loved it. Also the unwritten rule for this blog is “Do I really NEED it on DVD?”. I got the DVD for this the day after watching it, so I guess that answers that.

Original review here

+The main character is one of the best of the year.

-Slightly too reminiscent of A Monster Calls (this is a plus for me though as I loved that film)

The Incredibles 2

This film was incredible and I loved almost every moment of it. Yes the reveal of the villain was obvious, but I didn’t care because I was so into the story. The animation as well is as great as you expect, EVERYTHING looks crisp and loaded with detail to the point you forget it’s animated at times. Also need to show love for the action scenes, they’re stunningly thought out and inventive.

Original review here

+It’s a mainstream animated film that deals with masculinity and feelings of worthlessness.

-Fourteen years! Fourteen years we waited for this!

Lady Bird

I can get why somebody would not like this film. Actually screw that, I can get why people would HATE this film. It’s not for everybody, and that’s okay. The structure is all over the place and you probably will find the character annoying. I LOVED it though. I found it was like watching a series of polaroid pictures. This film felt incredibly personal, and it will forever hold a place in my heart, I’m just not sure why.

Original review here

+The general ambience. It FELT lovely.

-Be wary of showing this film to someone as they could easily hate it.

Searching

Where did this come from? Gimmick movies usually stop being great once you see past the gimmick. And the gimmick in this was also used in Unfriended, and I hated that film. So how did this end up being one of (if not THE) greatest film I’ve seen this year? The performances were good, yes, but it’s not that which elevates it. I think it all comes down to story. The script for this is GREAT. A mystery film which takes so many twists and turns you think it’s lost. Everytime you think the answer is obvious this film tells you why you’re wrong. The ending is the only logical way the story could go, and it’s genius. Everything about it is fantastic.

Original review here

+Original concept, brilliantly done.

-As a writer it will make you intensely jealous.

The Shape Of Water

Certainly an interesting film. There is a chance you might be too weirded out by it, I mean, it’s a woman fucking a fish-creature. But it’s so full of warmth and magic that if you like it you’ll adore it. All the pieces fit together like a beautiful puzzle piece; the music, the performances, the universe its set in, it all merges together to create something truly beautiful.

Original review here

+The music. So good,

-Might be bit too weird for some.

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

An incredibly good movie. Easily matches up (and possibly surpasses) Homecoming. Emotional, funny, and written with a true love for the character and the genre. It also has one of the best soundtracks of the year. If you didn’t hear it you wouldn’t immediately think “Spider-Man”, but once you’ve seen the film you won’t be able to unmake the connection. Some films have great songs, but they don’t particularly match the film that much, and are more compilation albums than soundtracks. This is different, the songs really suit this, they seemingly transport you to a certain mood.

Original review here

+The love for the character is really obvious to see here. This was done with great affection.

-The flashing lights which happen without warning and could trigger migraines in people or cause issues for epilepsy sufferers.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

So good, so, so good, but brutal as fuck. Not in terms of violence, mainly in terms of tone. A film that makes you hate the world, but love film. Won a lot of awards and every single one of them was deserved. Featured some of the best performances of the year, and incredible dialogue which will make you laugh in spite of yourself. Well worth a watch, but prepare something nice for afterwards.

Original review here

+The natural flow of it feels incredibly realistic.

-The lack of a definitive ending may put people off.

 

So, that’s the films of 2018 ranked, the awards will be coming soon, and lets just say some will fare a lot better than others. Reviews of Stan And Ollie, and Glass will be up soon so enjoy them. Let’s hope 2019 is even better

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How We Got Through…February 2017

Film

The Girl With All The Gifts

Actually really disappointed I missed this last year now. A lot less cliche than I thought it would be. I wasn’t completely sold on it until one moment; there’s a scene where shits going down and a doctor is standing in front of a window, in background you see someone running towards the window, you assume it’s a soldier but it’s one of these evil dastardly zombie people, who bursts through the window. This achieves one of those rare things in film; a surprise which hides nothing prior to it. You are shown everything you need to be shown before it happens, yet it still somehow shocks you. Probably the best non-comedic zombie film of the last few years.

Split

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

Lego Batman Movie

Will probably not be the best film I see this year, but will definitely be the most fun. The quickest I’ve been sold on a film so far, usually it’s taken me about ten minutes into a film to think “okay I’m into this”, this film sold me in the first sentence. Plus, there’s a Christian group in America protesting it and calling it “gay propaganda”, so you have to see it, even if only to annoy them.

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Zootropolis

Still one of the greatest animated films of 2016. Big downside is it doesn’t seem to have led to more work for Ginnifer Goodwin, which is a shame as she was fantastic in this and deserves more roles.

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Red State

Has some fantastic monologues in it, which Michael Parks knocks out of the….erm, area. Him and John Goodman stand head and shoulders above everyone else in the film. I think it’s more interesting than good, I don’t think it really works as a horror film, horror is a REALLY difficult genre to direct well as everything needs to work, you need the right music, the right lighting etc, if just one of those things doesn’t work then you won’t scare people. Also the film has serious pacing issues, especially in the opening third which half-asses its way into building the universe, but doesn’t do it well enough. Despite that there is something inherently watchable about it, I think it’s because the story is interesting, it just should have been better told.

Inside Out/Lava

I have a huge problem with this film, every time I sit down to watch it my allergies start playing up so it always looks like I’m crying. The allergies get particularly bad during the scene where Bing Bong dies.

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Damn ninjas

La La Land

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

Rings

Unpopular opinion time; this film should not have been a horror, it should have a psychological drama with scary moments. I feel under the service of this story is a really solid detective/ghost story, but it’s restricted by being a horror so puts in scares which don’t do much to enhance the film. Also, I’m getting very annoyed with films being ruined by their trailers. I’d seen two trailers for this; one of which I saw back in November and was mainly focused on one of the characters in the shower and freaky shit starts happening. A well made scene, but it’s also the final scene of the film, it takes place after the “monster” is supposed to have died, so after the “death” you just sit there thinking “I know it’s not the end as we haven’t seen the scene which the entire advertising campaign was based around”. Especially since I think the revelation at the end was supposed to be a twist. It would be like if The Usual Suspects had the tagline “Kevin Spacey is….Keyser Soze”. On the plus side the way the film opened was fantastic and was one of my favourite 10 seconds of cinema of the year so far. They put the Paramount logo into the film itself, by showing it on tv screens on an airplane. They also distorted the logo as it was playing. I love when films do things like that, it grabs your attention immediately.

Manchester By The Sea

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

TV Show

Not Going Out

I don’t know what it is but it seems to have lost something. I think it’s because of how the concept of the show has changed. It used to be about two friends, one of whom was living with the other ones ex in a flat in London. Then it became two friends, one living with the other’s sister. Then one of the cast members left and it just became a standard flat sitcom. Now they’ve moved out of the flat and got a family. It’s good that the story has progressed and it’s interesting to chart the change throughout the seasons, but the new series seems more like a spin-off than a continuation. Also the show has still refused to answer one question; why are these two characters in a relationship. Before they were a couple it was clear there was an attraction from one character to the other, but there was never any indication that there was any attraction the other way. The most likely solution is probably Stockholm Syndrome, but they don’t outright say that due to the terrorist connotations, bloody political correctness.

Book

The Saga Of Darren Shan – Darren Shan

My favourite vampire story. A 12 book series detailing someone growing up, and handles it very well. When you read the earlier books the sentence structure is very childlike, which makes sense considering he is a child, yet as the series develops the author changes the style to a more mature style as the character ages. It’s subtle enough that you might not consciously notice, but on a subconscious level it does register with you and is a genius bit of storytelling. If you haven’t read it I should warn you; it gets VERY weird towards the last few books.

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Songs/Albums

I Will Follow you into the dark – Death Cab For Cutie

How did I not hear this song before? This is a song I should have heard for the first time when I was a bitter cynical 15 year old, I would have clinged to this song like a barnacle clings to a ship, like chewing gum clings to school tables, like I cling to the idea that there’s an adequate way to complete this simile. As it is I heard this when I was a bitter cynical 30 year old.

Actual Results May Vary – Babypuncher

One of the best songs from a simply amazing EP released last year (available for free download here). The lyrics in this song are simply sublime. My favourite line being:

“I can’t fix you and you can’t fix me, but we can both be broken together”

That line resonated so much with me when I first heard it, and sums up the feelings of characters in a script I’m working on at the moment (a longer version of this). This is a perfect song to listen to whilst sitting on a train in the rain and looking out of the window.

Please Come Home – Dustin Kensrue

Unpopular opinion here, I prefer his solo stuff than his stuff with Thrice. Although it can be hard to get past the feeling he sounds like that guy on your college course who carries an acoustic guitar everywhere and plays Wonderwall shirtless under a tree like a dickhead (that’s actually pretty much the genre it’s listed as on my ipod).

Best song:  I Knew You Before.

If the rest of the album was as good as this song, it would be one of my favourite albums.

I’m With Stupid – Aimee Mann

Aimee Mann makes me feel things, and I’m not ashamed to say that. Has the perfect mix of snarky and heartfelt, like a clinically depressed comedian. Also has a line which I absolutely love for some reason:

“Row, row, row your boat

gently down the stream

hope you drown and never come back”

And you have to love an album which is melodic and beautiful yet starts with the line

“you fucked it up, you should’ve quit”

Best song: Long Shot

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

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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 Serious ones

Dramas(ish)

Inside Out

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Yeah I’m putting this in the drama section; go fuck yourselves if you disagree. For every laugh out loud moment, which there are a few; Pixar’s latest masterpiece is littered with heartfelt and moving moments that will warm the cockles of your aging bitter heart and will make you cry. The idea behind it is amazing and while the plot it follows isn’t anything new, it’s execution is near flawless. I knew from the opening melody of the main theme Bundle of Joy (my pick for best original score of the year), that this film was going to be exactly what everyone wanted from a Pixar film, and it was.

Steve Jobs

steve-jobs-posterProbably the most intense and thrilling film of the year, and not one shot is fired and not one car is chased, it never goes beyond people just talking (and screaming). Set in three real-time acts spread across the 1970s-1990s, this film gets to the heart of Steve Jobs the man/the character (he was quite a dick it turns out), and the heart of what it means to be innovative and push the boundary of what technology can be for people. Thrilling, heartstopping, emotional, and surprisingly beautiful to look at, Steve Jobs is a breath of fresh airconditioned air for the Biopic genre…and the fact it made less that jObs is just depressing.

 

Youth

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Another funny but heartfelt film that is a meditation on fame, but even more so is about aging, love, and parenting. Directed by Italian autor Paolo Sorrentino, it’s led by a best in decades Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel, as two friends at a Swiss retreat in the Alps trying to keep their lives going. Now this is a bit of a tricky film to talk about, as its light on plot and heavy on strange things happening and characters reacting to them. So just trust me that Youth is a beautiful film and the kind of bold artistic statement that makes you glad that the studio process still lets creatives work their magic on us.

Spotlight

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An in-depth investigative drama that follows the journalist team who uncovered the Child abuse coverups by the Catholic Church in the early 2000s; and it will piss you off for all the right reasons. I’m a sucker for a good investigation film, like Zodiac or All The Presidents Men, and this was no different. Though I don’t think it’s up there with Zodiac, this is still a very well written and compelling drama/thriller that step by step will take you through the disturbing looking glass. Led by a stellar cast of Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and more, this film is a masterclass of restrained filmmaking and acting. With a topic as hot as this, Spotlight could have easily become an over-dramatic spotlight-S_070416_rgblifetime mess, but director Tom McCarthy made the wise choice of keeping everything restrained, realistic, and beautifully drab (never has a cast of A-listers looked so normal), all so the facts can speak for themselves, and they scream.

 

The End of the tour

film-sundance-end-of-the-tour-first-look-2b1b02c3b573cbe3Already talked about this in our 2015 Film Awards, where it was one of the films awarded with best picture, but I’ll talk briefly about it here. It’s a funny and heartfelt road movie that meditates on fame, creativity, and loneliness, through the indepth and witty conversations of its protagonists. Whether you know David Foster Wallace’s work or not, this is an accessible and great film.

Wild

WILD_movie_posterFollow a mesmerizing Reese Witherspoon on a thousand mile hike as she flashes back to the different traumatizing points in her life that led her to the hike. It’s a compelling character film of the purist nature, and with a combination of a great soundtrack, editing, and sound-editing, is the best film I have ever seen capture the feeling of fleeting thought.
But this is a bit of a divisive film it appears, depending completely on whether you like the main character, as she is not really a good person; and not in the love to hate them way, but in a realistic way. I did like her, or at least I was engaged by her, while my fellow Troubled Production’s producer did not, leading to me putting this as one of the best films of 2015, while he put it as one of his worst. (See his personal blog here).

99 Homes

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Michael Shannon is on terrifying form as a realtor looking to make money during the housing crises of 2010, and Andrew Garfield finally acts his age to heart-breaking effect, as a single father kicked-out of his home by Shannon, and taken under the corrupt realtor’s wing. Another film that finds it’s intensity in its emotions; this film grabs you by the throat and keeps you electrified as you watch a normal man grapple for his morality and his fall to ‘the darkside’ as it’s the only way to provide for his family.

 

 

Brooklyn

file_610952_brooklyn-poster-640x951The second Nick Hornby script on this list (the first was Wild), and it just shows you the versatility of his writing. In 1950’s an Irish immigrant moves to Brooklyn (go figure) where she finds love, life, and a future, but then finds herself torn between the life she wants in America and the life everyone else wants for her back in Ireland. Much more a classic Hollywood romance (in all the right ways) and less the love triangle bollocks the trailers made it look to be, this is really a beautiful film about striving to achieve your own happiness, and who you’re willing to hurt to keep it.

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

 

 

 

 

 

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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

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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.

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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.