2020 Awards

Worst Film

Babyteeth

A film that by all rights, I should have loved, instead I hated it with a passion. Part of that is probably just because I didn’t like the characters. But part of that also might be because it has a euthanasia sex scene.

Fantasy Island

The only film I paid to see at the cinema this year. But even if I got in using my trusty cineworld card, I would have been disappointed with this. A lot of the things made no sense. Character motivations were muddled, and it was a complete waste of the potentially exciting premise.

Brahms: The Boy 2

I’m assuming this is bad, I genuinely can’t remember anything from this movie. For all intents and purposes, it’s like I never watched it.

Unhinged

An ugly film with an ugly soul, seemingly directed at similar people.

“Winner”

Artemis Fowl

Fuck you, disney. Your desire to do a book series yet take out the one thing that made the series stand out is a ridiculously stupid idea. It would be like if the makers of Harry Potter didn’t want to put any magic in the films. This film was doomed from the moment they posted the casting notes. I don’t get how you can fuck up a property more than this unless it’s deliberate.

Most Disappointing

See the section about the worst? Yeah, but every single film from that list (with the exception Of Brahms: The Boy 2 Electric Boogaloo) there. All of them I had, well maybe not high, but I had hopes for them. I expected them to be fun, or in the case of Babyteeth to make me feel things. But added to that list are:

Harley Quinn

No I’m not putting the full title here. I really wanted this to be more fun, but for a lot of the time it felt restrained, like it was an 18 film cut down to a 15. It had bits of brilliance, there’s one set-piece in particular which is creative and a lot of fun to watch, I just wish the rest of the film was like it.

Run

Controversial choice, as I did really like this film. But this subject is “most disappointing”, and that, sadly, is the case for this. I went in with incredibly high expectations, I expected this to be a 10/10. I wanted this to be one of the best films I’ve ever seen, and it’s not, it’s just very, very, very good. So yeah, that’s on me.

The Witches

Again, that might be on me, in retrospect I should have realised beforehand that this would not be a good movie, based solely on the complete lack of advertising for it. I really, really wish this was better. I wanted to love this movie. I love the original, and I love Anne Hathaway. Plus I wanted it to be so unquestionably brilliant that racists wouldn’t be able to attack it “see, you change the leads to black people, and it ruins it”. Truth be told, they could have done more with the racial aspect and played it into the story, especially considering when and where the film was set.

Winner

Tenet

The film that was supposed to save cinema, and which had such bad sound design that it would have been better to watch it at home where I could have had subtitles. I’m starting to realise I don’t love Nolan films as much as it seems I should. Interstellar, Dunkirk, they all left me feeling emotionally hollow if I’m honest. They’re very well made, and I appreciate the undeniable genius of the craft that goes into them, but I have no love them. On a personal level, they mean nothing to me.

Best Music

1917

Glorious and epic. Just what a film like this needed.

Spree

If only for the SENSATIONAL use of “I Will Follow Him” over the end credits, will definitely use that in my own stuff.

Babyteeth

One of the few good things about this film. I’m not going to buy this film, or even watch it again. But if possible I would purchase the soundtrack. It created an aural soundscape that complimented the colour scheme. It was weirdly beautiful, and fantastic.

Winner

Bill And Ted Face The Music

OBVIOUSLY! The music is a big part of this, bigger than it has been in any of the previous two films. So if it didn’t work, the film wouldn’t have worked. The final scene with the song is a moment of pure beauty, and the music is a big part of that.

Best Moment

Sonic The Hedgehog – Closing Credits

Weird choice I know, and this won’t be the last time I mention a credits sequence in this section. But the closing credits are essentially the film told but in the style of the old sonic games (a.k.a, the only good ones). No reason for them to do that and nobody would have noticed if they didn’t, but they did, and it’s wonderful. It felt like the only part of the entire film made with love for the source material.

1917 – The Trench Run

Incredibly tense and wonderful. Weirdly enough, it seemed to be improved by a mistake. There’s a moment during this run where the actor stumbled and nearly fell over. It was kept in and it weirdly enhances the scene. It makes you realise that for all the chaos going on around him, he is essentially just a scared youngster. He’s not a badass super soldier, he’s human, fallible, and fucking terrified.

Vivarium – The Drive

There’s a short moment in this film where the couple drive to a house. That’s all it is, a couple driving to look at a new house whilst a song by The Specials plays. Yet the way it’s filmed means it’s one of the best things I’ve seen. Incredibly tense and creepy, a great example of how a director can change a written scene so the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

Underwater – Opening Credits

Again, a weird choice. But the way these were done were almost perfect. They set the location up, gave us plot background, and let us know the tone of the movie, so by the time the actual film started you were not only informed of what was going on, but you were also in the right state of mind and knew exactly what film you were about to see. Other films have done this, obviously, but few have done it quite as masterfully as it was done here.

Winner

Parasite – Peach Fuzz

When the family put their plan into action to get the housekeeper fired. It has the pacing and style of a comedic heist movie. It’s interesting to watch, the performers absolutely nail every moment of it, and most of all, it’s fun and playful. A bit of lightness in the darkness of the rest of the movie. If you showed someone this with no context they might think it’s just a cheerful light comedy as opposed to the genre-defining genius it is.

Best Looking

Babyteeth

Considering this was one of the worst films I saw this year, it’s appearing a weirdly high number of times in positive awards.. That’s how good it looked, good enough for me to look past the annoyance I felt. The colour schemes, the saturation, it reminded me of Lady Bird in terms of visual style. It seemed like a throwback of some sorts, but not to a specific time in reality, but to a specific time in your life. Very strange, but very good.

Birds Of Prey

Not a great film, but it had a great look to it. Like being shot in the face with a cocaine paint gun.

Onward

It’s Pixar, their films always look good. They have a certain elastic reality to them so they look both real and fake at the same time. Also, the colours! OMG the colours. Watching this film is like eating a unicorn laced with LSD.

Parasite

The colours! Nah I’m just kidding, this is not about the colours, I’m not some kind of weird person with a child-like mind who looks at films like “ooo, look at the pretty colours”, nope, this is about the pretty shapes instead. The way the director constructed each shot and used the straight lines visible in modern architecture to highlight the class divisions between the characters is masterful.

Winner

1917

This would be there based solely on a single shot. The shot of the town at night, the way shadows and light were used is a showcase for how great cinema can be sometimes. As it is, the rest of the film looks great too.

Best Character

Birds Of Prey – Huntress

Part of that is due to how Mary Elizabeth-Winstead plays her. A superhero lacking confidence and who is slightly socially awkward due to how they know they are supposed to behave. I would definitely watch a solo film by her. I really wanted more from her in this. Maybe if there’s a sequel it will be more focused on her.

JoJo Rabbit – JoJo

Brilliantly played, and brilliantly written. Yes, he’s a nazi, but he’s not fuelled by hate, more by ignorance. He has a definite innocence to him, Difficult to do, if you make him too innocent he comes off as stupid, if you make him too knowledgeable, he’ll come off as, well, like a nazi.

The Invisible Man – Cecilia

Obviously, for the reasons listed in the best performer, oh no, I’ve spoiled that section now. Ah well, I’ll live.

Winner

Onward – Ian and Barley. 

I put them together as they function as a pair. Without the relationship between the two, the film would be a lot worse. It’s essentially a family love story. It goes through the same story beats, just without the kiss at the end obviously.

Best Performance

An American Pickle – Seth Rogen

Anybody who plays two roles convincingly in the same film is doing a good job. Especially when you can always tell which character is on screen all the time. He carries both of them differently enough that even when they’re not speaking, and are in the same clothes, you know exactly which one is which. That’s not that easy to do unless you resort to extreme physical performances which can be distracting. The differences here are different enough for you to pick out, but subtle enough that you can’t define them.

JoJo Rabbit – Roman Griffin Davis

He’s 12, and this was his debut. How the hell did he manage this? I assumed he was one of those stage-school kids who’s been acting his whole life due to being related to someone in the industry. For him to come in and do THIS well shows he’s either got a hell of a future in acting, or a hell of a drug problem in his mid 20s. Either way, big things are coming.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm – Maria Bakalova

Another great newcomer. and something even more surprising considering it’s not her native language. Not just that, but she’s anchoring the film alongside someone who is an expert in this field, and she more than holds her own.

Winner

The Invisible Man – Elisabeth Moss

She has strength, but is fragile. Kind of like a flower made of iron. A lot of that is due to how well the character is, so I’ll go into that in that section. But the way Moss plays her is perfect. She needed to play her as someone who has gone through severe trauma and is still suffering mentally from the damage done to her which restricts her ability to live a normal life, yet also strong enough that you know she has the mental strength to do what needs to be done. If Moss played her too far towards either side it would have been ruined as she would have either come off too weak, or so strong that you don’t believe she’s still suffering. It’s a REALLY difficult line to walk, and she not just confidently walks it, she’s doing fucking cartwheels.

Best Film

1917

January was a great time for cinema, saw so many good films in that month (including JoJo Rabbit, which you’ll be hearing more of), but this was the first film that was simply stunning from a technical view.  Not included as the best because I’ve only seen it at the cinema, I’m not entirely sure whether it will also work on a small screen or whether you’ll lose something.

JoJo Rabbit

A film with this subject has to be REALLY good or it will be deemed a failure. It has the potential to offend so many people that the slightest flaw will cause the general public to circle around it like sharks circling around handbags at a disco, or food. Trust me, this is superb, one of the funniest and sweetest films I’ve seen all year. The rest of 2020 may have been bad, but at least it gave me this piece of brilliance.

Onward

Not a lot of love for this film, and I don’t get why. Even by Pixar’s incredibly high standards, it’s still really good. The voices are well-suited to it, and the story is emotionally satisfying. It deserves it’s place among Pixar’s greatest, and it disappoints me that people don’t seem to love it as much as I do.

The Invisible Man

A real surprise. I expected it to be kind of cheap and schlocky. Like it would not be great, but would be entertaining and fun. I was very wrong, this is not a fun watch, and it’s not cheap. This is a script that you felt the writer HAD to get out of them. It has the air of a passion project for everybody involved. The best part? It didn’t NEED to be this good. It didn’t need to have this much care to make money. It could have been made cheaply and still made money. But the fact that they spent enough money to get this film made, the fact that the script is THIS good, the fact that it has power and emotion to it, THAT’S why I love this film. A film about an invisible man has no right to be as well-crafted as this is.

The Personal History Of David Copperfield

A late entry, but deserves it’s place. This is the best of British film-making, showing the best writing, the best actors, and the best locations. The whole film is basically a showreel for British cinema. Despite watching it at home, I felt like I was watching it at the cinema. It just sucked me in completely until I forgot that I was just sitting in bed watching it while eating pringles.

Winner

Parasite

Incredibly haunting. Been almost a year since I saw it and I’m still not entirely sure I’m over the ending. This is one of those films that sticks with you, the kind of film where after seeing it, you want to have hour-long discussions in the pub afterwards. It’s annoying that soon after this we were banned from going outside, because I wanted to go out onto the streets and tell everybody to go see this film.

2020 In Film Day 5: The Amazeballs

1917

I don’t often like war films, particularly British or American war films. I feel I’ve already seen every story that can be told, at least by the standard studios. How many different ways can there be of saying “War is hell, but our good old British boys were brilliant! That’s it Wilfred, punch those pesky Germans in the nose”? Plus there’s often a weird nostalgia about them. We should not be nostalgic about war, it’s hell. For Brits I feel it’s more “remember when we mattered?” mixed with “We were the good guys twice! This is why Britain is great. Ignore everything except those two moments in history. Even the bits straight after where we interfered in the Middle East and caused most modern Arab conflicts with our decision making in regards to Israel. So ignore that”. It would have taken something incredibly new for me to be into this, and it was. It’s done almost like a single shot, with only one really obvious edit. It’s almost like the film knows you’ll be disappointed by the obvious edit, so follows it up with an incredibly lit sequence set in a bombed out city. The look of that entire sequence is incredible and I love it. 

Original review here.

+The fact they pulled it off

-the opening section seems a little bit too “walk to point A, now walk to point b, now back to A again”, it’s the only part where I felt the film needed a cut.

Best moment: the run across the battlefield. It’s cinema at its best.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Who would have expected this film to be so beautiful? Yes it’s also horrifying in the things that people say and believe, showing a real nasty undercurrent to American culture in the age of the Tangerine Tyrant. The writers must have known that they would be showing the uglyness of it, but I’m not sure they realised the beauty they would capture as well. An elderly holocaust surviver who’s response to anti-semitic hatred is to embrace the the person doing it and give them love. There’s even love within the hate. There are people who think that democrats and journalists should be executed, but even they show a glimpse of warmth, pointing out how sexism is wrong. 

Original review here

+The Rudy bit. It probably isn’t the best bit of the film, but the way it effected reality and seemed to cause a real switch in the way that the media viewed him.

-With how heavily focused it is on both Covid and Trump, it will seem outdated really quickly.

Best moment: There’s a bit at the very end where Borat turns towards his daughter and says “you were amazing”. But it was said in Hebrew, so it’s more like it’s aimed at the actress and is from Sacha-Baron Cohen, not Borat. It’s beautiful.

JoJo Rabbit

I can say a lot about this film. I can tell you how funny it is. How heartwarming it is. How, sadly, relevant it is in modern times. But everybody has already said that. There’s nothing I can write which will convince you to see it if you’re undecided. I haven’t written it yet, but there is a good chance this will win most of the awards in the end of year awards. Everything it does, it does brilliantly. It will hurt you, and you will love it for it.

Original review here

+The character work. JoJo is superbly written. Even though he is wrong, you can still like him and you get why he believes the things he does. 

– Controversial opinion; I don’t think Scarlett Johansson was that good in this. She never became the character, throughout she was constantly still Scarlett Johansson just doing an accent. If she was any other actress she wouldn’t get the plaudits she did for this.

Best moment: The sentence ““You’re not a Nazi, Jojo, you’re a 10-year-old kid who likes dressing up in a funny uniform and wants to be part of a club.”

Onward

I’m going to start off by talking about the worst part of it. It made it look like I was crying when I totally wasn’t, it was just dusty. I don’t cry, because I’m a man. Beer. Sports. Chicken Wings. But yeah it’s wonderful. It’s not the strongest Pixar film, the story itself is a little weak, but the way they tell it is brilliant. You can always depend on Pixar to bring something special to the table, and it does here for sure. A story about family love, particularly the love between brothers, something which isn’t really touched upon in film. Almost definitely the best kids film I saw this year, although considering the other films were things like The Witches or Artemis Fowl, that’s not saying much.

Original review here

+The sheer beauty that can be seen throughout. The look, the heart, it’s just so nice.

-The plot is a little weak and it definitely wastes a lot of what it can do..

Best moment: When the dad fully comes back. You don’t see it, but it is fucking beautiful.

Parasite

A film so good it made The Academy admit that foreign-language films exist. I saw this in probably the worst circumstances; knowing nothing about it, but hearing it was really good. So I went in with high expectations, but still not sure what it actually was. Was it a horror? Comedy? Drama? Porn? I had no idea. By the end, I’m still wasn’t sure exactly how to categorise it. It’s kind of a comedy, but one that leaves you feeling hopeless at the end. This film will annoy you and inspire you in equal measure. I had a chance to watch this on the plane before I saw at the cinema. I refused, despite knowing nothing, I knew it was going to be wrong to watch in that environment. I was correct, despite not being “spectacle” cinema, I simply cannot imagine watching this on a tiny screen. It would have felt like a disservice.

Original review here

+It pleases me how well it was received. Hopefully it builds to more eyes on Korean cinema.

-Can feel a little mean-spirited at times.

Best moment: The moment where we see them conspire to get the housemaid fired. It’s a glorious piece of cinema that could have worked at any point in the last 70 years.

The Invisible Man

This film is good, I can’t recommend it to some people. The way it uses the idea of someone gaining invisibility, and uses it to tell a story about gaslighting and domestic abuse is harrowing. It’s almost too plausible, as such I can’t really recommend this to people who have survived an abuse relationship due to how it will almost certainly trigger negative memories and create new worries. But if you’re not someone who has survived that stuff, you have to watch this film. This is how remakes etc should be done. Using old ideas in new ways to comment on 21st century life. If they tried to kick off their “Universal Monsters Universe”with this, I would have been into it. Oh god, that means I would have gone to see The Mummy in cinema.

Original review here

+Elisabeth Fucking Moss.

-The audio let it down at times, just using loud noises instead of carefully placed music for tension.

Best moment: Choice of two. Either the ending where she gets her revenge, because of how immensely satisfying it is. Or the throat slit in the restaurant due to how sudden and shocking it is. If we’re judging it based on the scene itself, the throat slit. In terms of how it fits into the actual narrative of the film; the ending.

The Personal History Of David Copperfield

I didn’t get to see this at the cinema, and that is a huge regret for me. I watched it on Amazon Prime and as soon as I finished it I knew I needed to have it on DVD. I needed to be able to show this to people, it’s that good. It has an intangible feeling to it that causes it to feel timeless and modern at the same time. Part of that might be due to the source material, but a lot of it is due to the director and the performers. Dev Patel gives a performance where you just want to see him talk on stage and describe things for hours. A lot of the supporting characters are also injected with such warmth and humour that you instantly connect with them. Not all of them though, some are so disgusting and slimy that you want them to get their comeuppance.

Original review here

+The way the film envelops you and takes you over, drawing you in so you can’t help but feel a part of the world.

-Some of the characters just disappear from the film. This could be the book though.

The Personal History Of David Copperfield (2019)

When 2020 comes to an end I will have a multitude of regrets, as will any year. But one of the big film-related ones will be that I did not see this at the cinema. I feel I owed the people involved in the making of this film that much. It truly is worth seeing. Luckily for you it’s easy to watch as it’s available on Amazon Prime. I highly recommend watching it on that, even if you just get a free trial then cancel after.

Anyone who has ever watched a television show is familiar with A Christmas Carol, and I LOVE The Muppets version, but no matter how good an adaptation I see of it, I never feel the urge to read the book. After this I felt the urge to read the original book to see if some of the brilliance is in that, the well-written characters and situations, the dialogue etc.

I just felt entranced when watching this movie, I was lost in the lush visuals created by director Armando Iannucci, who also did the screenplay. I feel I can’t judge the screenplay completely as, like I said, I don’t know what is taken from the original, and what he created. But either way he deserves plaudits for this, if he kept the dialogue then he should be applauded for having confidence in it and knowing to keep it (much like Muppets did with Christmas carol), but if it’s all his own dialogue then it’s one of the greatest scripts of the year. I feel it was a blend of the two with some of the original dialogue merged with specially created dialogue.

The performances too are great. Dev Patel gives what has to be a career best performance as the lead, giving a slight playfulness to a character which in other hands could be seen as a bit annoying and pretentious. It also has a great supporting cast, Morfydd Clark plays a duel role, and plays both great, but her performance as Dora is incredible, giving the character verbal tics which just make her incredibly loveable and easy to root for. Ben Whishaw is normally one of the most likeable people in any film he’s in, he has a kind face which makes him easy to root for. So his performance as Uriah Heep is stunning, he provides him with a level of sliminess where you never ever feel comfortable when he’s on screen.

If I had a downside it would be that some important characters disappear from the plot, in particular the narrative disappearance of Darren Boyd’s Edward Murderstone. This might be unfair though as it could happen in the book.

So should you see this? I feel you have to. It’s a delightful piece of film-making which is guaranteed to have you having a warm feeling inside you when you reach certain points. I haven’t felt this much cinematic magic emanating from a screen since I watched The BFG, and as anybody who has spoken to me can attest, that’s high praise.