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.

2017 In Film: Part 5 (The Amazing)

47 Meters Down

Superbly done. Also had one of my favourite endings ever. It made it look like it had a “slightly unhappy but full of hope” ending, then it went the other way and made it super depressing. Most of the film takes place underwater, and it looks gorgeous. There’s one scene where a flare is going through the ocean water and you it’s almost complete darkness apart from the small flare making its way up, beautifully done. Since most of the film is underwater it relies heavily on performance. Luckily Mandy Moore completely knocks it out the arena with her performance in this

+Claustrophobic

-Getting a sequel. Because sequels to shark films always go well. Advice; don’t go 3D and hire Michael Caine.

A Monster Calls

This is not an easy film to watch on an emotional level, almost seems like it’s attempting to emotionally blackmail the audience. It’s kind of a mix between Pan’s Labyrinth and a Neil Gaiman book, sort of a modern-day fairy tale. There are moments whilst the tree is telling stories (it’s an odd film) where the film switches visual styles so it almost becomes a living watercolour painting, it’s awe-inspiring and genuinely new, never seen anything that was done like this (the closest is when Hermione was telling the stories of the Three Brothers in Harry Potter and the style switched to a weird animated one). The only previous film I’ve seen of the director was The Impossible, and that was in 2012 so can’t remember too much about it, but I can remember being really impressed with the way he directed certain moments in it and was really good at creating visual tension, which is a good sign for his next film; the Jurassic World sequel

+The art styles when the monster is telling the story

-Longer than it needs to be. Sigourney Weaver’s accent wavers.

Atomic Blonde

Like a companion piece to John Wick, looks superb and the music is brilliant. Had one of my favourite soundtracks of the year. And there’s one scene which everyone has to see; a single shot fight scene that lasts about 15 minutes, one of (in fact probably the) best fight scene I’ve seen all year. It doesn’t cut away before impact like most do, it’s mostly silent, no music so you hear every hit, and the fight has an effect on people, you can see them get gradually more exhausted as the fight goes on. Highly recommend seeing this.

+THAT scene. Also the soundtrack.

-Comparisons to John Wick are inevitable.

Baby Driver

The opening scene alone ranks it among one of the best films of the year. Very well done. Great films usually inspire you into film-making. I think this has the opposite, this is like “yeah we can’t match that”. Bound to inspire a lot of poorly-done imitators. Yes, the plot is wafer thin, but it’s so fun you don’t notice. You don’t sit there thinking “well I know how this story is going to end”, you think “oh my God! Did you see that?”. It’s a non-blockbuster version of spectacle cinema. Everything about the way it’s made just works, the way the music complements the action and vice versa, the way the car chases are impressive without being unrealistic, the fact that Jon Hamm continues to exist.

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Even Jamie Foxx agrees

The love and dedication that goes into this is obvious. This was not “film by committee”, this was a true passion project, and it shows through every inch of the screen. It’s also surprisingly American. The open road, the American dream, diners with endless coffee are all essential to the story, so it’s weird that such an American film was made by a Brit, this feels like the film where Edgar Wright has finally stepped away from under the shadow of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.

+A technical masterpiece.

-The plot is wafer thin. And the female characters are woefully underwritten. Oh, and it’s got Kevin Spacey in it which makes it an uncomfortable watch.

Blade Runner 2049

I have not seen the original film, don’t get me wrong, I am aware of the film, and it’s importance, and I understand a few references to it. This, combined with lots of people saying they didn’t understand this film and that it was too complex, made me think that I would hate this film. Not because of what the film is, but because I just wouldn’t get it. My response was going to be “it’s good, it’s just not for me, and I was really confused”. Well, I was confused, I was confused by the confusion. People are talking about it as if it’s a really complex plot where you have to pay close attention to everything in every scene and do a lot of research beforehand to understand, I knew nothing and still knew what was going on, it’s not that complex if you’re paying even the smallest amount of attention. I mean, I understood it and I’m basically a moron.

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“that fourth raindrop from the left is actually vitally important, if you miss that you miss everything”

Was surprised that Harrison Ford didn’t appear until MUCH later than I thought he would. I expected him to make an appearance at about the 1/3 mark. Nope, it was more like the 2/3 mark. Which was a bit strange as he was all over the marketing campaign and was the lead in the original, so a lot of people would have been waiting around him to appear. Although I suppose this did mean that by the time he did appear, everybody was already invested into the story, so he didn’t really take away from Gosling. Make no mistake, this is Gosling’s film, and he nails it. Although the supporting cast does a great job too, So many of your new favourite actress’s will be in this film. A lot of unknowns were cast, yet gave amazing performances. Ana De Armas and Carla Juri deserve special mentions. They both portray their characters with enough vulnerability to make them believable, yet enough determination that they fit this universe. Their characters were great too, you imagined they all had lives outside of this film, they exist on their own terms, not just related to the story.  It felt like you could write entire novels based around them.

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This scene is actually genuinely quite touching in the final film

The world itself was beautifully created as well, not just visually (although it was visually stunning), but also in terms of believability. Those of you who read the review of Valerian will know how important I consider world building to be, particularly in this genre, for films like this the universe it’s set in is almost a character in itself, so if you don’t do that well it really effects it. Done really well in this though, everything looks just dirty enough to be real, yet clean enough to be futuristic. On that note; this film looks SUPERB. You could pause this at almost any point in the film and use that as a poster. This, combined with Arrival last year must surely make Denis Villeneuve one of the best-regarded directors around.

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I also liked how the story threw a genuine curveball in the closing stretch. I do like a good twist if it’s well done. That’s the trouble with a lot of plot swerves, they come out of nowhere and make no sense. A good one makes sense, a GREAT one will be so logical you’ll feel stupid for not realising it sooner. So in summary, this is going to be one of those films that pretentious film buffs constantly try to show you, let them.

+LOOK AT IT! Seriously, just look at it.

-Not a “popcorn film”, in the slightest, so won’t appeal to everyone.

Colossal

Oh, it’s flawed as hell (particularly in terms of time and establishing exactly “when” certain scenes take place in relation to each other) but all those flaws do is take it from a 10/10 to a solid 8. Anne Hathaway gives a performance which equals Rachel Getting Married (which if you haven’t seen, you really should, it’s superb), and Jason Sudeikis is creepier than I ever thought he could be, the kind of performance which makes you think he could easily move into more dramatic roles, or play a serial killer. So well written too, so much so that I immediately looked into the writer and made a note to watch everything he’s done. It’s also extremely unique, I can’t think of a film to compare it too, stands alone in a genre of one, and I can’t see anybody doing it better.

+Unique story wonderfully told

-As creepy as the guy is, his motivations never really ring true.

Free Fire

“You know how films have gunfights between people? Imagine if that was an entire film” “you’re fired”. That’s what should have happened. Instead, we got this, and it is glorious. Definitely worth a watch as a curiosity. It is essentially a gunfight in a warehouse, for an entire film. But it’s done so well that you’re never bored, you never sit there waiting for it to end. It helps that the gunfights are really well choreographed, not every bullet hits, people conserve ammo when they need to, and bullets to the arms actually do damage as opposed to just “ouch, that arm is slightly weaker now”.

+It works. As a concept it really shouldn’t work, but it does, and it’s superb.

-Very unlikeable characters. Slightly unsatisfying ending.

Get Out

There’s a French film from 2002 called Irréversible, it’s a weird art-house psychological horror that’s apparently disturbing in many ways. During a large section of the film there’s a noise played throughout that’s played at such a frequency that it’s almost inaudible; this was done as a sound played at that level causes nausea and sickness. I should note there’s a chance that this is just an urban legend, but truth be told I don’t want to research it in case it’s not true, it’s too magical for me to find out it’s false. But what does that have to do with this film? Well that feeling, that sense of unease, is what this entire film is about. There’s not many scares in the traditional sense, it’s just almost two hours of something being slightly “off”.

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I know, the film that had this in the trailer ended up being creepy, who’d have guessed?

 

There’s a lot of VERY good eye-acting in this film. I know that sounds stupid but there’s a lot of moments in this film which are enhanced by the way the actors utilise their eyes. A lot of times things that ordinarily would take a lot of dialogue to say is done just via an eye movement. Tremendous showcase of acting skills, and luckily it’s in a very important film. Yes, this film does touch on a lot of racial issues, but not the usual “we’re from Alabama, and we don’t like those coloured folk”. The racism in here is very different, it comes not from anger or hate, but from a fetishisation of black people, a condescending view of them as being “genetically superior” but intellectually lacking. One which is like “think what they could do if they had the mind of a white person”. As such the film has a weird dynamic where the villains kind of worship the heroes. Very weird, very unique, and VERY well done.

GetOut

This film was written and directed by Jordan Peele, who I’ve only seen in Key & Peele (a sketch show on Comedy Central that I really need to get around to watching one day), one of the voices in Storks (animated children’s comedy that’s actually better than you think it would be), and Keanu (an action comedy film about someone getting a cat from a Mexican drug lord). As such I always thought of him as a comedic person, I never thought he’d be able to transfer his skills to horror so effectively. I was wrong, he did brilliantly, I’ll go as far as to say it’s one of the best directorial debuts I’ve seen in a long time, which considering he’s basically committing genre adultery is impressive. Don’t get me wrong, it is still very very funny and the mood whiplash between horror and comedy is very well balanced. Usually in films like this you run the risk of having the comedy make the horror seem less scary, it doesn’t enhance the film, it undercuts it and stops you taking it seriously, usually because the comedy comes from a character not taking the situation seriously, they’re being chased by a monster/demon/dishwasher and they stop to make jokes. The way they do the comedy in here is believable, you can tell the jokes are being made by the characters to help them deal with the situations, and most of them are made by a character who isn’t directly involved in it, so is literally distanced from the situation already. This isn’t comedy-horror done like a mid-90’s slasher film, this is comedy-horror done like An American Werewolf In London. Seriously, go see this film. In fact, you could say “Get Out, to go see this film”. You could say that, but you’d be making a really obvious comment and would just come off looking like an idiot.

+The sense of unease that’s present throughout. Its greatness increases on second watch.

-There are not more films like it.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 2

Did you enjoy the first one? Then you’ll enjoy this. Just as impressive, funny, and brilliant as the first one.

+Has the emotion that the first one was lacking.

-Apart from that, it’s not that different. Also, the pacing is all over the place.

Happy Death Day

This was just a lot of fun. Very, very, funny, and really well written. Some films you watch and you think “”this is so meh, I can’t imagine a writer thinking “I have to write this film”. You do with this, you can just imagine someone toiling over this night and day, a true passion project. One of the funniest films I’ve seen all year with a genuinely great story.

+Incredibly funny, and with a compelling central mystery.

-Not scary enough.

IT

Oh this was good. This was very good. Get Out was more of a social drama, and Happy Death Day was more comedy, but in terms of pure visceral horror, this one wins hands down. Eye openingly scary. So scary that clowns complained, yet manufacturers of red balloons didn’t, probably because it’s led to an increase of people buying them. Horror remakes are always hard, because they will be compared to the original, and people hate change so usually will detest anything different, but if you don’t do it differently then you end up with Gus Van Sant’s Psycho. So essentially you need to keep same tone, but add a new take on it. This does it, and does it well. Oddly enough it’s kind of sweet as well, but it does have to be because it’s SUCH a character driven film so you need to care for these characters.

John Wick Chapter 2

If you enjoyed the first one, you’ll enjoy this. It’s basically the first film, but more so and in a way that never feels like it’s walking in the same footsteps. One of the first times in a while I remember leaving the cinema and being incredibly excited for the sequel.

+Masterfully well made.

-Does occasionally seem like it was just done to set up a sequel.

Logan

This film was what I expected to be, and to be honest it’s what it needed to be; which is the first truly mature comic book film in a long time. Some people would say that Deadpool deserves that accolade, but I wouldn’t count that as mature. It had lots of blood and adult content, but it was very silly and lowest common denominator, don’t get me wrong, I do love that film (it was one of my favourites from last year), but it’s not mature at all. One of the best compliments you can give this film is that it is a fantastic film, not “fantastic for a comic book movie”, on its own terms it’s a fantastic film. There’s going to be a lot of people who find this film dull, it takes quite some time for certain things to happen but it’s brilliant. Not every film has to be fast food, designed to be satisfactory but finished quickly, this film is more like a three course meal at a restaurant, you savour every moment and really take your time with it, so that when it’s over you feel completely satisfied and all you can do is sit there and recover from the brilliance you just consumed. The ending of this film will be talked about, not here as you can’t without spoiling it. It is brilliantly done though, it’s an ending which this series has truly deserved, and it ends with a Johnny Cash song, which most comic book films wouldn’t be able to do but for here it fits. It is pretty much a modern western, a tale of a retired gunslinger coming back for one more gunfight, the last outlaw, in a time and place without purpose and that has moved on without him, causing him to need to go out in a blaze of glory.

+The first comic book movie I’d describe as a true cinematic masterpiece.

-Very underwhelming villains.

Spider-man: Homecoming

The plot was simplistic but it was still better than at least 50% of MCU films purely because it had a compelling villain. Michael Keaton’s character (he plays some sort of Birdman) makes sense. You’re not watching it thinking “what a terrible person, glad he’s not real”, you’re thinking “he’s actually making a lot of sense. I see where he’s coming from, and in a way, I agree with him”. He’s the most compelling villain in the MCU so far, and the performance matches the writing. A lot of comic book fans were disappointed that they changed his appearance for the films, I don’t particularly care about it to be honest, mainly because it would be really hard to take THIS seriously.

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I know that this talk about “taking it seriously” makes this sound like it’s attempting to be super serious and gritty, thank God they didn’t do that, this film is fun as hell. Even the colours are better than lots of superhero films. A lot of films have orange and blue as the main colours, but use them against dark backdrops, this uses those colours but uses them against light. It’s very summer-ey in appearance. It’s also really funny. The characters are well written and have great lines, Zendeya’s character, in particular, is a great collection of sarcasm and apathy which I really identify with for some reason. She has the best lines throughout and is one of the films many comedic highlights. In terms of comedy though, most of the best moments from the non-main characters belong to Jacob Batalon’s Ned, who absolutely owns his role as “guy in a chair”. He also helps provide an audience surrogate, since the film starts with Parker already as hero, many people expected the origin to either be ignored, or told in flashbacks. It did neither, it had Ned ask questions and we found out small details from that, not so much that we were re-covering old ground, and not so little that people new to the franchise were confused. So in summary; very good, very fun, and I think it’s safe to say that Tom Holland is the best Spider-Man, although part of that is due to the way he’s written, he’s actually written as an adolescent, the villains he faces aren’t ones who are going to destroy the world, the main villain is basically an unfriendly neighbourhood villain.

+Tom Holland is perfect.

-Not entirely sure it works as a standalone film. Bit too heavily indebted to other MCU films.

Table 19

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I enjoyed it, a lot. It’s what I deem “social mystery” film. Where the audience has to work out why certain characters are who they are, what caused them to be like that. It’s like an Agatha Christie murder mystery if the victim was good manners. It’s a hard film to describe the plot about without it sounding really bad, it’s mostly just people talking. But the characters are so well created and acted that it works. A lot of people dislike this film, and I kind of see why, nothing really happens. But to me, it was wonderful, one of the most emotionally honest films I’ve seen in a while.

+Really, really funny.

-Attempt at emotional heartpull seems a bit obvious.

The Big Sick

Incredibly funny, and with the right amount of heart. You’d need to be made of stone not to feel touched by this film. The characters are so well-written as well, every character seems fully fleshed out. They seem like they exist outside of the film.

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Probably because it’s based on his real relationship with his wife (pictured here
I know in these blogs I do come off as deeply cynical and incapable of love or any positive emotion towards others, but I do have a soft spot for the romantic comedy genre. I just hate a lot of them because they’re done badly, they’re usually really cliche and unoriginal. I like them when they do something new. Definitely Maybe is the film that fully cemented my Ryan Reynolds obsession, and Chasing Amy did the same for Ben Affleck. I think I like these films it’s because they’re usually very people-based. Action films are about the set-pieces, horror films are about the effects, but for a rom-com to work you need two things:
  1. Believable characters.
  2. Great dialogue.

They’re basically my kryptonite, especially dialogue. I’m a sucker for great dialogue. It’s also a genre that doesn’t really get affected too badly by the quality of the way you’re viewing it. Some genres are really badly affected by what you watch them on. Horror, for example, is not exactly something you can appreciate watching on a small television screen on an airplane. With advances in technology happening at an astronomical rate, visual spectacle fades, good writing doesn’t. The best rom-com’s; When Harry Met Sally, Annie Hall etc, all have one thing in common; fantastic writing. You can watch them again and again and still love them. They also have a wide audience. As much as I do love odd films like Buried (Ryan Reynolds in a box), Bogowie (a Polish film about heart transplant) and Four Lions (a comedy about suicide bombers), I’m not stupid enough to think they have mass appeal. They’re too weird. Rom-coms are for everyone though. They have universal themes that almost everybody can identify with. So where does this film stand compared to the greats of the genre? It’s a little difficult to tell at the moment, but I have a feeling that if I was to sit down in six years time and watch this, I’ll still love it. It also has the best 9/11 joke you’ll likely to hear all year.

+Will make you laugh cry.

– As much as he nails the performance 95% of the time, there are a few heavily emotional moments where Kumail Nanjiani looks like he’s desperately hiding a smirk, robbing the scene of some of the emotion

The Death Of Stalin

Incredibly funny and biting satire, which seems mostly historically accurate too. And it almost got banned in Russia, which is a bonus. Caused a Russian politician to describe it as a plot aimed at discrediting the figure of Stalin. Yeah, damn those films and their “anti-genocide” blinkered viewpoints.

+Satire that bites so hard it leaves teeth marks.

-Historically innacurate at times. Also, Jeffrey Tambor in it can make it difficult to watch in light of recent allegations.

The Last Word

Holy crap where did this come from? It’s like High Fidelity mixed with Christmas Carol. Really good. I really wish this film had a better marketing campaign so that more people would have seen it. Genuinely one of my cinematic highlights of the year. Seemingly just with me though, a lot of reviewers really hate. I loved it though, very dialogue and character-heavy. Genuinely sweet and heartwarming, there’s a scene near the end which is a bit “meh”, but other than that I loved it. A story about an elderly woman who hires someone to write her obituary before she dies, only a lot better than I made it sound.

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+The dialogue. Specifically, as it relates to the lead. So fantastic.

-Not promoted by the studio, like, at all.

The Lego Batman Movie

Usuall, 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. From the opening narration:

“Black. All important movies start with a black screen. And music. Edgy, scary music that would make a parent or studio executive nervous. And logos. Really long and dramatic logos. DC. The house that Batman built. Yeah, what Superman? Come at me bro. I’m your kryptonite”

That sets up exactly what type of film you’re about to watch; a film that’s very silly, and gloriously so. It then gets sillier, there’s an odd faux-mance between Batman and the Joker which culminates in Joker teaming up with Voldemort, Sauron, Godzilla and King Kong. Yes, this film is silly, but you can tell that whilst the film-makers are making jokes about Batman and the mythos, they do have a genuine love for the character and his world, they’ve clearly done their research. References to not only previous films, but also very very obscure villains (who’d have thought that Condiment Man would finally make an appearance?). The story is really good too. There’s a tendency in comedy films to think the story isn’t important, this is very very wrong. Perfect example of this is Airplane, that film only works because of the story, yes the jokes are funny, but they’re funny within the context of a serious situation, the story itself isn’t comedic, but it has comedic situations in it. My rule of thumb for determining whether a comedy films story is good is this: would the plot also as a serious film? I think this one would work, it’s a story about a lonesome superhero dealing with his isolation whilst also maintaining a mutually destructive rivalry with the Joker (which is also one of the themes from the seminal piece The Killing Joke). Since I saw it I’ve been trying to think how to sum it up in one sentence, and I think I’ve finally found it. The sentence which best describes everything about this film, so here it is: this film is basically Deadpool for children. And we all know how great Deadpool was.

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.

+Trying to list all the references this film makes will make your head explode in nerdgastic joy.

-Not much of a sense of tension at any point.

War For The Planet Of The Apes

A stunning end to one of the best trilogies of the last few years. Some people considered the franchise dead in the water after the Tim Burton version, the knives really were out for Rise, but it managed to become highly regarded not just by fans of the franchise, but by the general public. It made weirdly concept sci-fi cool again.

+The ending that this trilogy deserves.

-The realisation that the trilogy has missed out on a lot of opportunities it will now never take.

Wonder Woman

I explained my thoughts on this here. Spoilers; LOVED IT! Even the closing credits were amazing. They were like a watercolour painting. I like when films take the time to attempt to do something with the credits, it shows a real dedication to what they’re doing, like they want to take every possible moment to leave a good impression on the audience. This film is every bit as fantastic as BvS was critically reviled.

+Gal Gadot. This is her film and she owns it.

-Pretty bad villain. Which I’ve just realised is consistent for a lot of superhero films lately. That’s odd as normally villains are the most interesting part, yet for last few years a lot of them have been really bland.

 

So, that’s 2017 in review. Next week will be the 2017 film awards, then it’s back to usual with random reviews and opinion pieces every monday. And to answer the question; I never got to see Disaster Artist.

How We Got Through: August 2017

47 Meters Down

Superbly done. Also had one of my favourite endings ever. It made it look like it had a “slightly unhappy but full of hope” ending, then it went the other way and made it super depressing. Most of the film takes place underwater, and it looks gorgeous. There’s one scene where a flare is going through the ocean water and you it’s almost complete darkness apart from the small flare making its way up. Since most of the film is underwater it relies heavily on performance. Luckily Mandy Moore completely knocks it out the arena with her performance in this.

Annabelle: Creation

Renders the original (which is technically the second Conjuring film, and a sequel to this, it’s odd) completely pointless as an origin story. Has some okay performances in it but most of them are just standard. No actual scares really, all jump scares. The scariest moments in this film had nothing to do with this film; 1) I thought there was only one other person in the cinema, who was sitting behind me. But near the end a phone went off near the front. Made me jump. 2) A seat was broken and had a white sheet covering it. Whenever someone opened the door (like when a cinema worker came in to check things were okay) it caused a draft which made the sheet rise, made it look like someone was standing up underneath it.

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She got better as the film went on, in the closing section she was superb.

Atomic Blonde

Like a companion piece to John Wick, looks superb and the music is brilliant. Had one of my favourite soundtracks of the year. And there’s one scene which everyone has to see; a single shot fight scene that lasts about 15 minutes, one of (in fact probably the) best fight scene I’ve seen all year. It doesn’t cut away before impact like most do, it’s mostly silent, no music so you hear every hit, and the fight has an effect on people, you can see them get gradually more exhausted as the fight goes on. Highly recommend seeing this.

Baywatch

Why? Why does this exist? Who is an r-rated version of baywatch for? People who liked the original won’t like it, and people who didn’t like the original won’t like this. Nobody was calling out for it and it feels like it was one of those films that was only made so they could hold onto the copyright. Also, does it need an R-rating? The only point of it would be nudity, to be as sexually exploitative as they can be, but it doesn’t really do that. Only has the rating because of the swearing, which I also have a problem with; there’s far too much swearing just for the sake of swearing. Now onto the actual film; the opening scene is basically “Look how fabulous The Rock is. He’s basically perfect”. Just full of other characters complimenting him so much that it almost seems sarcastic.

Black Dynamite

The closest thing I’ve ever seen to a Garth Marenghi movie. Very weird, but a lot of fun.

Bright Young Things

Some odd directing choices that don’t really work. Funny but don’t need to see it again.

Cars 3

A LOT better than the first two (although I hated the first two). Makes a better sequel to the first one than the second one did, links better to the original and continues the story arc started in that one.

CHiPs

Dumb fun that forgot to be fun.

Cockneys Vs. Zombies

See, now this is fun. Silly but brilliant. Extremely British. More zombie films should end with a Chas & Dave song. Also notable for being the only film I’ve seen this year where somebody dropkicks a baby into a billboard (although there’s still time for that to happen again).

Demetri Martin – Live (At The Time)

Great one liners, but kind of needed better connecting moments. Very one-liner which is funny, but won’t exactly change the way you see the world.

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Prevenge

The best horror film about a pregnant woman being controlled by a homicidal fetus that I’ve ever seen. I do love Alice Lowe, she makes amazing stuff. First Sightseers now this, she’s becoming Britains go-to female film-maker for smart, original dark comedies. She really needs to do a Black Mirror episode.

 

Shut In

Obvious twist ending is obvious. How did they get such a good cast in such a bad movie? Does the director have naked pictures of Naomi Watts or something? Her work is usually highly regarded so I can’t see why she did this.

The Big Sick

The best romcom I’ve seen all year.

The Drop

Considering how much I loved the film (and I did), it says a lot that this book is equally as good. Also, thank God for public libraries for giving me the chance to read this.

The Emoji Movie

So bland. Not even bad enough for me to say anything funny about it. Despite what some reviewers may say it’s not proof of all that is wrong with society, it’s not entirely evil, it’s just shit.

 

War For The Planet Of The Apes

A stunning end to one of the best trilogies of the last few years. Some people considered the franchise dead in the water after the Tim Burton version, the knives really were out for Rise, but it managed to become highly regarded not just by fans of the franchise, but by the general public. It made weirdly concept sci-fi cool again.