2018 Film Awards

The “Well I Liked It” Award

Gringo

I don’t get the hatred for this. The story was solid and the performances were great. It also looked fantastic. I could understand people thinking this film is just “okay”, but to score as low as it has genuinely confuses me and I don’t get it. I feel part of it is due to the (lack of) marketing which put the idea that this isn’t a good film in peoples heads.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 38%

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Best Scene/Moment

Blackkklansman – The Montage

I’ve touched upon it before but the closing montage is amazing and is one of the most devastating moments of the year. It really puts forward the idea that we, as a species, are kind of fucked up.

Deadpool 2 – Deadpool “fixes” things

That was hilarious and wrong and I loved it. It proved why Ryan Reynolds is the correct choice for Deadpool (as if there’s any doubt of that now) because he’s that willing to make fun of himself and admit his past superhero film mis-steps.

Game Night – Egg Keepaway

Was pretty much done as a one-shot, very well done and the scene made geographical sense in terms of what you saw about the layout of the house.

Creed II – The Of The Fight

It made me feel emotion for a complete bastard. I loved it.

Infinity War – The Snap

Possibly. I didn’t think they’d be crazy enough to actually fucking do it. Now let’s see how they handle the next step.

Hereditary – Charlie’s Death

Mainly because it came out of left-field and was so brutal and unexpected it literally inspired the words “what the cocking shit-fuck was that?” to be put in a blog. It side-footed almost everybody who saw it.

Winner

Halloween – Michael Myers Goes Through Houses

A brilliant piece of film-making. He just goes through houses killing people. He doesn’t do it in a flashy way, with lots of jump cuts and scary sound effects. He just casually walks in, stabs, walks on to the next house. It’s a great display of a serial killer being effective as you could hope for in cinema. It’s like he’s not killing out of hatred, but because he just feels like it.

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Worst Scene/Moment

Co-Winners

Truth Or Dare – The Ending

Obvious sequel hook is obvious. And it made the main characters seem like completely selfish dicks. Effectively the ending is “I will massacre millions of innocent people” and this is seen as “sweet”. Nah, it’s sociopathic.

Show Dogs – The grooming scene

The only film in this blog that i haven’t actually seen. But it has a scene which features someone telling the main character that if someone in authority is fondling his genitals he should just be quiet and go to his happy place until it’s over. Not to escape it, or to stop it, but simply to put up with it. What a fantastic message to send to children.

Biggest Disappointment

Downsizing

Okay, I don’t know exactly what I expect from this film but I know one thing, I expected SOMETHING. This was just really dull. It’s over two hours long and every minute of it drags like someone learning to swim through treacle. Important characters are just forgotten about. It has moments where it looks like it’s going to tell an interesting story but then backs away. There are a hundred different stories you could tell with this scenario, and this decides to tell none of them.

Red Sparrow

I like a great spy drama as they usually have great plotting and look amazing. They also usually are technically brilliant, a chance for directors to really show what they can do. This didn’t do any of that. It did nothing. It was flat, lifeless, and worst of all, dull. I never cared for the characters (which is a minor problem), and I didn’t care for the plot (which is a major problem). How disappointing was it? Put it this way; if I fell asleep half way through, I wouldn’t have checked wikipedia to see what I missed.

Winchester

It’s a horror movie with Helen Mirren, how could this not be great? *watches it* oh, that’s how.

Truth Or Dare

I do love a good teen horror as they’re usually pretty funny and well-done. This was not. The story was so boring and the characters were so annoying I was actively rooting for them to die. Most of them did, but you couldn’t get any satisfaction from their deaths as they were so heavily sanitised there was catharsis. Also, the ending reveals one of the characters to be a selfish bitch, and obviously sets up for the sequel. Ultimately this is one of the worst films I’ve seen of the year.

The Cloverfield Paradox

I don’t know why I was surprised by this. The second one was a disappointment too. But I thought this one would be different. It had a more obvious connection and had Chris O Dowd. But nope, still made a bland story that isn’t as smart as they think it is.

Winner

The Happytime Murders

I wanted this to be incredibly funny, crude, and, most importantly, made with love. This was just really dull. They didn’t even really make the most of the gimmick. They just used it really to make “puppets swearing is funny” jokes. It’s not just that this film is not great, or that it’s not even good, it’s actively bad and I genuinely didn’t expect that. A crushing wave of disappointment hit me relatively early on and never stopped. It’s a shame as a puppet-noir comedy would be great. It it was done well.

Funniest Film

Nominated

Game Night

I expected this to be thoroughly okay, yet I loved it. Yes, some of the laughs are in the trailer, but most of them that are then lead to something even funnier, or are funnier in context. I was laughing my ass off through some of the dialogue in this, and the physical comedy. It’s a great comedy of errors which can be difficult to pull off without annoying the audience.

I Kill Giants

It’s not funny continuously, but when it is funny it’s HILARIOUS (see also, Lady Bird).

Blockers

This film was filthy! And all the better for it. This would not have worked if it was heavily sanitised for a younger audience, the crudeness makes it. Plus, I’ve said it before and I WILL say it again, it’s refreshing to see a gynocentric teen sex comedy. It helps that it is REALLY funny with dialogue that’s endlessly quotable dialogue. This could have been forgettable, in the end it was memorable.

Winner

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Deadpool 2

This film could be 90 minutes of somebody punching a kitten in the face, and the ending tag will still cause me to list it in one of the funniest films of the year. Okay, I am a sociopath but the point still stands. You spend so much time laughing here you miss jokes, which you then get the second time.

Scariest Film

Blackkklansman

Not a horror film, no, but that closing montage is fucking terrifying.

Halloween

This film made Michael Myers scary again. And showed why Jamie Lee Curtis is awesome. But it would have been for naught if it wasn’t actually a scary film itself. And it is. Everything about it works to create a classic horror film.

The Cloverfield Paradox

I’m a big fan of body horror when it’s done right, very few things can beat it. There are a few moments in here which are incredibly creepy and disturbing. It would have been creepier on a big screen though.

Ghost Stories

This wasn’t “something’s coming to get you!” scary. This was more “unending dread and feeling that something is not quite right” scary. It’s just so damn, “off” throughout. You constantly have the feeling that something weird is happening and you’re not entirely sure what. It keeps you on edge throughout and means you can never really get comfortable.

Winner

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A Quiet Place

Now this is “something’s coming to get you” scary. This wins this award for the effect it had on the audience. Everybody watching it is too scared to make any noise. The thing is, I’m not entirely sure the audience is aware of it. They just know not to make any noise during the screening. It’s a horror film which affects behaviour. Much like how Jaws made people scared of sharks, Psycho made people scared of showers, and Truth Or Dare made people scared of spending money on cinema tickets in case they see a film as bad as that again.

Best Animated/Children’s Film

Nominated

Early Man

By the team behind Wallace and Gromit, so you know you’re not going to get something bad. Aardman rarely make anything that’s not a lot of fun. They may lack the emotion of Pixar, but they’re more enjoyable a lot of the time. Not as good a film as Coco, but probably a better kids film.

Goosebumps 2

Horror is a genre which is difficult to aim towards kids, yet when it works it’s absolutely wonderful. Kids don’t mind being slightly scared, it’s why Scooby Doo works (and is probably most kids introduction to most of the staple horror movie icons; Frankenstein, Dracula etc). So I’m glad this film worked as it shows there’s life in the genre and will hopefully inspire more.

Isle Of Dogs

This one is here purely based on the animation. If I found out a kid liked this I’d assume that they’re actually an adult pretending to be a kid. It’s just too, I dunno, Wes Anderson-ey for kids I think. The animation is f*cking superb though. It looks absolutely breathtaking.

Spider-man: Into The Spider-Verse

Weirdly animated, there’s been nothing else which looks like this in a while. It’s not quite a comic book come to life, but it’s very reminiscent of the style. The story is also great, teaching kids about multi-verse theory is not something a lot of films do. The voice acting is also great with some weirdly a-list cast members in somewhat minor roles (although I am disappointed Spider-Ham wasn’t voiced by Jon Hamm).

The Incredibles 2

I watched this on a plane and still loved it (most of it anyway, the guy sitting next to me was about 40 seconds ahead of me watching the same film and it annoyed me as I’d never win that race). A great mix of satire, slapstick, and superhero greatness. And it looks amazing.

Winner

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Coco

Obviously, I was going to mention this. It’s Pixar, and I love Pixar. They’re seemingly incapable of making non-great films (when they don’t involve cars). This film is so great that it almost seems like an insult putting it in this category. This is not just great for animated film, this is a great film full stop. Emotionally engaging, funny, and beautiful to look at.

Best Film To Look At

Nominees

Game Night

Only for the moments where they made real houses look like game pieces. A subtle touch that was not necessary, but I loved it, it showed dedication to the craft.

Coco

The colours! Never has death looked so pretty. It’s the cinematic equivalent of looking through a kaleidoscope. I’m not 100% certain but I think you could enjoy this film with the sound off, just enjoying the visuals of the whole thing.

Mortal Engines

Purely for the genius in the set design.

Hotel Artemis

This film was beautiful in its ugly nature. It was dirty and grimy and felt like if you touched it you could catch something. It was brilliant.

Ready Player One

Not so much for the quality of the visuals, but for the amount of shout-outs and hidden references they crammed in in the background and didn’t draw your attention to.

Shape Of Water

A film you don’t so much watch, as absorb. A simply beautiful piece of cinema.

Spider-man: Into The Spiderverse

The animation for this made my eyes water with joy. So smooth, so distinct, and so…..right.

Winner

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Black Panther

The Afrofuturism look to Wakanda was SUPERB. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like this before. Marvel have had some criticism for their films but they seem to have a knack for picking the right director for a lot of their stuff lately. The film Ryan Coogler directed before this? Creed. Which, yeah, was GREAT, but in a completely different universe from this one, needed a different skill set so it was a risky move, but one that paid off.

Best Actor

Nominees

John Krasinski – A Quiet Place

“I love you, I have always loved you” scene alone would get him nominated for this. This film proves he’s more than just “Jim from The Office”. I think viewers of that show knew he was good, as that had a lot of emotional moments that reduced people to tears. But I don’t think many people expected him to be THIS good. A great performance, in a film that deserves it.

Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody

Playing Freddy Mercury is not something that’s easy to do. He had a certain other-worldness to him that a lot of people can’t pull off. You need to have the charisma so that if someone saw you walking through the street they’d know they are somebody. He doesn’t quite manage it all the time but gets so damn close you can’t help but admire it.

Woody Harrelson – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

He got nominated for a lot of awards because of this, and there’s a good reason for that, he was great in it. Playing the role with a great mix of sadness and anger that won’t be a surprise to anybody who saw his work in War For The Planet Of The Apes. In the last few years, he really seems to have found his niche as an emotionally conflicted actor, and this is one of the best examples of it you’re likely to see.

Michael B.Jordan – Creed 2

I was tempted to put him in for Black Panther instead, his performance in that almost overshadowed the main character, but a lot of that was also down to superb writing. A lot of performers I feel could have done that and made the character work. This, this had to be him. His facial acting is great. There’s one moment in particular which stands out. He’s arguing with Rocky and says something incredibly harsh, just by his facial performance you can tell that he regrets saying it but is too proud to apologise.

Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

It must have been so easy to play this for laughs. To make this character a one-note joke. For him to turn this character into one of the most compelling characters of the year deserves acclaim, luckily he achieved that with the number of awards he got nominated for/won for this role. It’s odd to me how when discussions of great actors are bought up, people don’t mention Sam Rockwell anywhere near as much as they should. Seriously, watch Moon, that film is basically him acting alongside himself for the entire duration, and it works wonderfully.

Paul Whitehouse – Ghost Stories

I’m not saying this is the best performance of the year, but it’s so notable that I felt it needed to be mentioned. I mainly know him from comedies, yet seeing him in this makes me wish he did a lot more drama. I could definitely see him doing work in the theatre.

Winner

Doug Jones – The Shape Of Water

There are two things which make it hard to give a great performance: 1) not being able to speak. 2) being under heavy makeup. Imagine how hard it must be if you do both? How he managed to do this I have no idea, but he created an absolutely compelling character with his performance here. Turning someone who visually is like the creature from the black lagoon into something lovable. Humans are essentially sociopaths who find it hard to feel empathy for those who aren’t like “them”, this is why it’s so easy for the press to demonise immigrants and people they deem “others”, because of a complete lack of empathy. So for us to feel this much for something that we know isn’t even of the same species is something truly incredible. Now all we need to do is get The S*n to go fuck itself.

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Best Actress

Nominees

Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

She is amazing in this. Turns what could be a hateful character into one you can’t help but root for, even when she’s doing terrible things. Nominated for Academy Award, and it’s almost impossible to argue with that. A great mix of fantastic storytelling, and simply superb performance.

Jodie Foster – Hotel Artemis

Because she’s Jodie Foster and you almost forget just how incredibly she is when she wants to be, and she clearly wants to be in this. Every part of her body is acting in this, even the way she walks tells a story. She knows her stuff, and it show.

Millicent Simmonds – A Quiet Place

A great performance, and hopefully leads to more deaf people being cast in films. Acting is a decidedly able-bodied job for some reason, casting directors would rather cast an able-bodied actor and put them in a wheelchair, than cast someone who’s in a wheelchair. It’s odd and makes no sense. But what does make sense is the sentence “Millicent Simmonds was AMAZING in A Quiet Place, I wonder what she’ll do next” (not the most subtle segue back, but meh, I’m taking it). The emotion she portrays in this film can bring tears to your eyes. She doesn’t have the easiest job this year, but she does it, and does it well.

Sally Hawkins – The Shape Of Water

Yet another strong performance by someone whose character could not speak. As such you lose all vocal nuance and subtleties, yet she still provides one of the most emotional performances you’re likely to see. I don’t often agree with film awards (I still maintain that Shakespeare In Love is not an Oscar-worthy movie in any aspect), but the plaudits and acclaim she got for this have been well deserved.

Hong Chau – Downsizing

Yeah, I was not a fan of the film. But her acting in this was brilliant and it’s criminal that she wasn’t even nominated for an Academy Award. The best way to describe her performance is she’s like a flower made of iron. You feel an urge to protect it despite how strong it obviously must be.

Winner

Toni Collette – Hereditary

Obviously this was going to be mentioned. And with good reason. Her performance is potentially game-changing for horror films as it means “well it’s just a horror” isn’t going to be an acceptable defence of bad performances. This is one of the only horror films I’ve seen lately where I’m genuinely surprised it didn’t get Oscar nomination. It definitely deserved it.

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Best Character

Lady Bird (played by Saoirse Ronan) – Lady Bird

Some people will find her annoying, I found her endearing. Yes her dialogue was a bit too “written” at times but I didn’t care, I enjoyed her that much.

Barbara Thorson (played by Madison Wolfe) – I Kill Giants

Spiteful, bitter, and sarcastic. What’s not to love? Also she gave me some of my favourite bits of dialogue of the year. It’s great because she started of as a real force to be reckoned with but as the film went on you saw her vulnerabilities and sadness. Most adult characters aren’t written as well as this.

Harold Soyinka (played by David Oyelowo) – Gringo

A film which nobody seemed to see last year, which is a shame as it’s a real hidden gem of 2018. Some of that is down to the MASTERFUL plotting, but most of it is down to just how damn likeable the main character is. A character who is shaped by his events with a definitive arc that seems real and human. A lesser actor would have made you pity him and view him as kind of pathetic. The way Oyelowo plays him, however, you’re with him all the way, it’s brilliant to watch.

Winner

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Killmonger (played by Michael B. Jordan) – Black Panther

It’s no secret that Marvel has struggled to make compelling villains. Most of the time they’ve just gone with “The hero, but bad!”. They’ve got slightly better lately; Vulture and Ego, in particular, were impressive, Hela, not so much. Killmonger, however, was utterly compelling. A great villain is one that you kind of agree with. Ones that you listen to them and you can see why they have people follow them. It makes them seem better characters so they have a bigger impact. This character is so compelling, and so, well, right, in his believes that you sort of feel like joining him yourself. You know who he reminded me of? Steve “Leopard” Leonard from The Saga Of Darren Shan books. A character motivated by hate who has done awful things, but his death still shocks you and makes you tearful as you feel he was never really in control of his own destiny.

Best Film

Nominees

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Not a nice story, but a very, very good one. Everything about this film just works. The script, the performances, everything. It’s not perfect, but the things I didn’t like about it are mainly just personal preferences. This is not an easy film to criticise, it’s the kind of film that could change you when you watch it. It’s ugly, but beautiful.

Coco

One of the first films I saw this year, and as soon as I saw it I thought “I should just stop going to the cinema now”, I feared that everything else would seem mediocre after watching this. This is Pixar at their emotionally devastating best.

Halloween

It stopped Michael Myers being considered a lumbering idiot. It essentially had to redo decades of mistakes. It did that, and then some.

A Quiet Place

A masterpiece of film-making. Scary, heartwarming and with great performances. Oddly enough the sound design is great too. I went in expecting to like this, and ended up loving it.

Winner

Searching

As much as I loved the other films on this list. NOTHING came close to this. Nothing. I’m aware there’s a difference between films I love, films which are good, and films which are impressive. This is all three. Not just one of the best films of 2018, genuinely in my top 10 movies of all time.

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So, that’s it, I’ll see you next time.

The Best Single-Location Films

Free-Fire was released to UK cinemas this week, seemingly two-hundred millennia after the preview screenings (ok it was actually like a month, but still). Been excited for it since I first saw the trailer, and more so since I heard that it is like the trailer suggests, and is all in one location. I like when films do that, it’s a sign of good writing and acting if it holds your attention like that. Oddly enough I don’t think I’ve seen one that didn’t work, probably because it’s such a hard thing to pull off that studios will only risk it if they’re absolutely certain it would work, these films have to be better than average as if they’re anything less people will be highly critical. So with that in mind, here’s a list of my favourites. Let’s start some ground rules

  1. Has to mainly (at least 95%) take place in one location.
  2. Location has to be relatively confined (otherwise some smart-ass will be like: “what about this film? It all takes place in one location; earth”)
  3. I have to have seen it (like most of these blogs, this is the biggest hurdle as it counts out Rope and Rear Window, which I was tempted to put in purely on the basis they’re Hitchcock so I’m sure are brilliant)

So, let’s do this.

5. Locke

Yeah, I’m surprised this is the first one I’m mentioning too. I’d have guessed it would be top three, but then I saw what else is on this list, and as much as I do love Locke (and I do) this has to come 5th. I know quite a few people don’t like this, and it’s easy to see why, the “one person cast” kind of films are not for everyone, and that’s okay. Actually I feel that point needs to be made more often; it’s not essential to like a film. It is possible to recognise a film is very well crafted, and still not like it. The whole “if you don’t like x then you’re obviously not smart enough, or you don’t get it, or (and this is the worst) I’m going to explain to you why you’re wrong, using spreadsheets and citations from people” It’s that kind of attitude which puts people off film discussion. The film that made me realise exactly how good Tom Hardy is. This film is unique on this list as the entire film takes place in a car, driving down the motorway. As such you don’t even really get the sense of claustrophobia that these type of films provide. However the fact Hardy’s character is in a moving location does provide a unique feeling to it, despite him being the driver of the car he very much is a passenger of his own film, being driven by fate to a conclusion he’s desperately trying to avoid.

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Tom Hardy with his beard of gloom (not pictured; Welsh accent of sadness)

4. Tape

Merging two film gimmicks in one; not only is it all in one location, it also takes place in real time. Unpopular opinion; is probably my favourite Linklater film. I like what it says about people, and the dynamics that occur in certain friendship groups. Very minimalist cast; the entire film is Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard in a room discussing awkward things, then being joined by Uma Thurman for the home stretch. Was originally written as a play by Stephen Belber, only found that out whilst writing this but it’s fairly obvious that was the case whilst watching it. Is the kind of writing that’s perfect for drama students to use for auditions. Unlike most Linklater films this one is often mentioned as something amazing, which is a shame as it is truly something unique and I’d recommend everybody watch it.

3. Moon

Is this a one location film? Apparently so, I don’t remember it being so but apparently it is, and I do love this film so it earns its place. The debut film by Duncan Jones, who has since moved onto direct Source Code and Warcraft, but to me this will always be his best (at least until Mute comes out this year; a sci-fi mystery film starring Alexander Skarsgard as a mute bartender alongside Paul Rudd and Sam Rockwell? I’m sold). This film is one of the best sci-fi films I’ve seen, visually stunning (especially on a relatively low budget). Sam Rockwell is mindblowingly good in this, playing not only the main character, but also his clone. Yeah it’s a weird film, but well worth checking out. And it features the voice of Kevin Spacey, what more do you want from this film?

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It’s also much much better than this, which is a good concept poorly written

2. Breakfast Club

Truth be told, I didn’t even realise this was a single location film until doing research for this. That’s how good this film is. Although let’s face it, part of that might be because has such a large cast compared to the others. Possibly one of the most 80’s films that exists, this defined the genre. Yes, Sixteen Candles was the first of these films, the one that paved the path, but it was Breakfast Club that lit the way so others could follow in their footsteps. Anybody wanting to break into filmmaking should watch this, this is the closest cinema gets to the attitude of punk. One of the main things about punk music was that anybody could do it, you didn’t need to have elaborate sets on stage, you didn’t need the knowledge to play 10 minute guitar solos, you could just pick up instruments and play. This is the film equivalent; there’s absolutely nothing here you can’t do yourself, the locations are all within reach, there’s nothing unachievable here. This would actually be perfect way to showcase skills on a film course; you hand someone the script for this and say “make a scene from this”, and see how they do it.

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1. Buried

This had to be number one really, and not only because of how much I love Ryan Reynolds (that’s only part of it). I hate to say that I didn’t watch this film because I found the concept interesting, or I read the reviews; I watched this film for one reason and one reason only: Ryan Reynolds. Now if you like Ryan Reynolds, you will love this film, as he is the only person in it. The entire film is him trapped in a box. When I first heard about it i thought that that couldn’t possibly work. Surely they have flashback scenes? Or he gets out about half hour into the film and suddenly it turns into an action film? But no, it’s just one guy, in a box for the entire film. And it is a remarkably effective piece of filmmaking. The singular location means the audience feels just as trapped and claustrophobic as the character. If the film had any cutaway scenes it would only serve to break up the tension. So I’ve established it makes you feel trapped, but is it a good film? The answer; yes it’s fucking good, hence why it’s my number one. I recommend that everybody see this film at least once. But only once, any more like that and you do risk suicide.

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It’s this, for an hour and a half. And it’s glorious

Special Mentions (a.k.a; films I’ve heard are good but haven’t watched yet)

Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?

Reservoir Dogs

12 Angry Men

Das Boot

Symbol

My Dinner With Andre

 

Yes, I apologise for never having seen some of those, I’m a terrible person.