Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Darkest Hour - review

That Dunkirk spirit is well and truly alive and in full force at the moment in the UK. Following 2017's Their Finest and Christopher Nolan's cinematic masterpiece Dunkirk last July, it seems that filmmakers are not heeding Basil Fawlty's advice and can stop mentioning the war!
For Darkest Hour which shows what was happening across the channel as the men waited, and waited, for their salvation and evacuation.
Not only is Dunkirk the flavour of the month but this is the third screen characterisation of Winston Churchill in the last 12 months, following Brian Cox's Churchill and John Lithgow's portrayal in The Crown.
Churchill is so popular at the moment, don't be surprised if you see a feature length adaptation of the Churchill nodding dog put into production by the end of the week!
Director Joe Wright also returns to the issue of Dunkirk, 10 years on from filming that incredible single take tracking shot of James McAvoy and the troops on the beach in Atonement. However there is very little of that inventiveness and bravura filmmaking style on show here. It sadly falls into the trap that many biopics of British subjects and heroes can fall into, in that it feels more like a Sunday night BBC drama than a film destined to be enjoyed on the big screen. Yes, I'm talking about you The King's Speech (and on that topic, I much preferred Ben Mendelsohn's take on George VI than Firth's).
The only time the visual flair exhibited in the dance sequence in Pride & Prejudice and every frame of Atonement and Anna Karenina came into view was the shots of Churchill in lifts surrounding by darkness or peering through windows, slowly increasing his sense of isolation from the cabinet and imprisonment within his belief to do what he believes is right for the British people.
The film does capture how alone Churchill was in his stance against the impending pressures of Nazi Germany, feeling like he was one man against the world.
The film is perhaps too effective at this however as ultimately Darkest Hour is a two hour drama built on the foundation of one performance of bluster and bravado by Gary Oldman.
From the first time we see Churchill, Oldman disappears beneath the prosthetics and costume to completely embody the British Bulldog, and stomps, shouts and chews as much scenery as he does cigars that no one else can barely register an impact on screen. Even the great Kristin Scott Thomas gets left in the shadows as his wife Clemmie.
Rather than a big screen adaptation, Oldman's Churchill might have been better suited to a one man show on the West End where he performed some of his greatest speeches to a captive audience.
While there is no denying Winston's impact and legacy on British history, the Darkest Hour is unlikely to be the brightest moment in the history books of Oldman and British cinema. Even if it does bring him a shiny golden Oscar.

2 stars

Monday, 15 January 2018

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - review

In Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, everyone in Ebbing has an opinion on the titular billboards erected by Mildred Hayes, never mind if they have actually seen them or not.
The same can be said for the film itself. Arriving in UK cinemas on the crest of a wave that includes 4 Golden Globes, 9 BAFTA nominations, expected Oscar nominations and posters and billboards with these facts plastered all over them, it is difficult to go into the movie without some preconceptions.
Thankfully this is one film that lives up to the (most of) the hype and still has plenty of surprises as the much of the plot has not been given away by the trailers (although many of the best lines have).
The trailer paints the film as a dark, acerbic comedy in the mould of In Bruges however it is more of a drama with darkly comic lines in it. Both deal with grief and loss but this is much darker material. And yes I know In Bruges dealt with an assassin who killed a kid.
The three billboards erected by Mildred Hayes, criticising the lack of arrests in the case of her daughter's murder, puts her on a direct collision course with two of the town's police officers cool, calm and collected Chief Willoughby and hot-headed, impestuous and racist Lt. Dixon.
These towering billboards are met by three equally towering performances from Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell, each deserving of a billboard of their own singing their praises and of the award nominations that have met them along the way.
McDonagh's scripts, much like his plays, can produce dialogue that can become endlessly quotable but also a weapon in the right hands, capable of wounding and destroying a character with a single line.
In Bruges proved this with Ralph Fiennes, who up to that point had rarely done comedy on screen, and showed Colin Farrell to be a terrific actor given the right material.
All three leads in this film are more than a match for the material and deliver it with venomous aplomb.
The majority of the praise will deservedly go to McDormand who is in career best form as a mother consumed by grief, regret and rage. They say "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" and no one is safe from the billowing rage that takes hold of Hayes. Even those kind souls who try to help her like Peter Dinklage's James.
Harrelson plays against type, both for what we expect a Southern cop to be and also what we would expect from Harrelson's back catalogue of characters. The result is a moving, compassionate performance of a man desperately trying to do the right thing by everybody.
Compassion is a word that certainly cannot be used when describing Sam Rockwell's Officer Dixon. A complicated and unpleasant individual, he should not be deserving of any sympathy or empathy yet it is down to the skill of Rockwell that he can elicit these feelings from the audience as the film progresses, despite their initial resistance.
For the film certainly does not take the easy way out. It will challenge the characters and the audience, taking several intriguing and unexpected turns down the road.
McDonagh is not interested in spoon feeding the audience and giving them the easy answers they seek.
Because at the heart of the story, it is not about redemption or closure but the futility and impotence of rage. Everyone is raging against something but ultimately they must ask themselves if it helps solve anything. Or as one character sagely puts it does "Anger just begets anger".
The film is not without its flaws. Abbie Cornish's character is given short shrift and there is one of the worst uses of CGI you are likely to see in a mainstream movie this year.
This is offset however by the biggest crime in the film which is attempted theft by Samara Weaving who threatens to steal the entire film in just two scenes.
Three Billboards is a terrific film that proves Martin McDonagh has found his groove again following the missteps taken in Seven Psychopaths and is likely to follow the success of the Golden Globes with a BAFTA or Oscar or two. After all "Awards just begets Awards".

4 stars

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Coco - review

The arrival of a new Pixar film is usually something to look forward to. After all, this is the studio that brought us Toy Story, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and Up. This is a studio that brought us incredible and original ideas like "What if your toys could talk?", a movie from the perspective of your emotions or a silent film starring a robot left on earth to clear up garbage. We'll just skip over Cars for now...
So why was it that Coco did not seem to be generating the same level of Joy in this Pixar fan's mind? Why didn't Coco Pop?!
On paper, it ticked all the boxes: Gorgeous animation, excellent voice cast, Pixar easter eggs plus the ability to tug on the heartstrings in a way only Pixar can.
Yet the end result left me rather dead inside. Just like the deceased members of Miguel's family I guess.
The story revolves around young Miguel. Born into a family who make shoes and have banned music due to a family tragedy, yet something deep inside him yearns to play the guitar.
A shocking discovery on the Day of the Dead leads to a fight with his family, a curse that transports him to the Land of the Dead and a quest to find his great, great, great Grandfather Ernesto De La Cruz, the greatest singer in all of Mexico.
The film plays on the importance of family and memory. Particularly the use that music can have in stimulating memory. In fact, there is a lot of work being done in this area in real life with dementia sufferers.
It also encourages us to keep the memories of those who we have loved and lost in our hearts and minds so they are never forgotten. It is this that forms the emotional core of the film and slowly the film turns on its head and the reason the film is called Coco, rather than Miguel, comes to the fore.
The problem was that with all the talk of memories and the trailer's claim to explore a world you've never seen before, it brought flooding back the memories of the 2014 film The Book of Life, produced by Guillermo Del Toro which featured a love story set in both the land of the living and of the dead and was a superior film to Coco.
It is difficult to be too critical of Coco however because despite its lack of originality, one cannot fault it's execution as come the final scenes, Pixar had once again worked its magic and despite my general feelings of indifference, managed to tug on the right guitar strings to feel a twang of emotion.

NB: Note that there is no Pixar short in front of the feature due to the selected short Olaf's Frozen Adventure being pulled from the US prints due to length, confusion and quality. Instead it played in front of special Christmas screenings of Frozen here in the UK.

3 stars

Saturday, 13 January 2018

My Most Anticipated 18 of 2018

With the Golden Globes now behind us, the BAFTA nominations just announced and the Oscars heading our way, it is safe to say that we are firmly in the grip of Awards season in the cinematic calendar.
But what about when the dust settles and the last award is handed out... *whispers* to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. What then? What do we all have to look forward to in 2018 at the cinema? Or indeed at home with original content on Netflix et all?
I have looked through the 2018 film slate on Launching Films UK, a great website for anyone looking for confirmed release dates for films getting a cinema release in the UK, and kept tabs on Netflix Originals and have come up with 18 films to tantalise your cinematic tastebuds this year.
(The only stipulation is that they cannot have been nominated for a Golden Globe, BAFTA or Oscar as the majority of them are released in January or early February. Hence why Three Billboards and The Shape Of Water are not on the list).
NB: The list is in chronological order of UK release date.

Black Panther (13/2/18) 

The MCU is always taking risks. Remember the time when they had a space adventure headlined by a talking raccoon and tree monster soundtracked to the hits of the seventies? Marvel Studios have now done Action, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Political Thriller, Heist Movie and Comedy. True, they still haven’t done a female led movie but now it is Blaxploitation time with Black Panther.
When the first trailer hit, you could split the audience demographic into two groups: the ones who saw a LOTR reunion of Bilbo and Gollum (aka white people) and everyone else!
The risk has paid off with Panther selling more advance tickets than Civil War. 2018 is the year of #BlackMoviesMatter.

Annihilation (23/2/18)

There is still some confusion over the UK release of Annihilation as to whether it will be on Netflix or a cinematic release through Paramount but Alex Garland’s follow up to his Oscar-winning Ex_Machina looks like it should be experienced on the big screen if possible.
Assembling an all-star cast with Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson and Natalie
Portman as the biologist who signs up for a exploration mission to discover what happened to her
husband. Anyone who has ever watched a sci-fi film with this premise will know that when it comes to
describing how the mission goes, the likely answer is: not well. Not well for the characters but great for
the audience.

Mute (February)

This film was actually on my most anticipated list of 2017 but it finally looks as if though Netflix are ready to screen Duncan Jones’s spiritual sequel to Moon and loving ode to films like Blade Runner and
Casablanca to the masses.
Duncan recently announced on Twitter that it should be out in February so thankfully there is not much
longer to wait.

The Meg (2/3/18)

Definitely the most ridiculous film on this list, The Meg’s inclusion here can be summed up in five words: The Stath versus Giant Shark! Cue Futurama Shut Up And Take My Money meme!

Thoroughbreds (9/3/18)

Anya Taylor-Joy is a star on the rise and this film has a great Millenial Heathers vibe to it with the added bonus of the opportunity to see Anton Yelchin’s last on-screen performance following his tragic death in 2016.

You Were Never Really Here (9/3/18)

Joaquin Phoenix as a New York-set action hero in the vein of Taken and John Wick but directed by Lynne Ramsay and scored by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood? Say no more.

Isle Of Dogs (30/3/18)

A new Wes Anderson film is always reason for excitement but when it is another stop motion animation in the vein of the wonderful adaptation of The Fantastic Mr. Fox and it’s announced that it will open the Glasgow Film Festival on 21st February, excitement levels reach a huge Ca-Nine out of Ten.

Journeyman (30/3/18)

When it comes to this sports drama, it certainly won’t be the British Rocky but more akin to the Southpaw or Warrior in terms of the effect that the sport can have on a family.
Paddy Considine directs and stars in this film which has apparently had critics weeping in the aisles during the credits and it is no real surprise given the talent shown with his equally hard-hitting directorial debut Tyrannosaur.

Ready Player One (30/3/18)

As a child of the Eighties, the novel Ready Player One was tailor-made to appeal to me and I loved the story which was the “Holy Grail of Pop Culture references” so I’m interested in seeing how it translates to the big screen. It has the most iconic film director of the Eighties at the helm in the form of Steven Spielberg but given he has taken out all the references to his own films (and there were many) it is likely to differ quite heavily from the source material and that could be a ultimately be a good thing when it comes to making a VR quest more cinematic.

A Quiet Place (6/4/18) 

A Quiet Place is a film, ironically enough, that I had heard nothing about until a trailer dropped at the end of last year. A wonderfully atmospheric teaser of a family living in a cabin in the woods and forced to live in silence for fear of an unseen terror. It is a fantastic concept along the lines of 2016’s Don’t Breathe but the real draw of this is the pairing of real-life husband and wife team of John Krasinski and Emily Blunt. Plus the added shock at the end of the trailer to find it has been written and directed by Krasinski himself.
As Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained would say “You had my curiosity. Now you have my attention!”

Ghost Stories (20/4/18)

A great horror movie experienced in a cinema with a receptive crowd that responds to the will of the filmmaker and jump, scream and shout as intended is a marvellous thing to be a part of.
So if the film adaptation of Ghost Stories plays anywhere as near as well as it does on stage, then this could be THE breakout British horror film of the year.
Expecting that certain elements of the storytelling will change for the medium of cinema but very, very excited to see this play at the Glasgow Film Festival in February.

Avengers: Infinity War (27/4/18) 

In a year with no shortage of superhero films (The New Mutants, Deadpool 2, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Ant-Man & The Wasp and Aquaman), the daddy of them all is Infinity War.
This is the film that the MCU has been building too ever since Nick Fury told Tony Stark about the Avengers Initiative back in the post-credit sting of Iron Man in 2008.
Also excited to see the Scarlet Witch/Vision storyline set in Edinburgh on the big screen having visited the city during filming and witnessed some of the action being shot on the Royal Mile and Waverley Railway Station.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (8/6/18)

Yes, the first trailer which features the team returning to the island to round up the dinosaurs to take them back to the mainland makes it seem very similar to The Lost World but the director has made assurances that everything in the trailer takes place in the first 50 minutes and it will go to places you won’t expect.
I for one really enjoyed Jurassic World and the real excitement for the film for me, is the director J.A. Bayona who has made the incredible The Orphanage and The Impossible. I will be running in high heels to the cinema to see this one.

Ocean's 8 (22/6/18) 

This is going to be one of the most interesting film releases of 2018 without a doubt. With the current movement in Hollywood towards equality for women in terms of opportunity and pay, there will be a lot of focus on how this all-female sequel/reboot of Ocean’s Eleven will do at the box office.
For there is the spectre of the female Ghostbusters reboot hanging over the film (however I don’t think the male fanbase for Ocean’s Eleven is as vocal or as nasty and mysogynistic). On the flip side, Sandra Bullock is a proven box office draw and despite what Hollywood claims about what audiences want to watch, the Top 3 films at the US Box Office in 2017 had female leads (Star Wars, Beauty & The Beast and Wonder Woman).

Sicario 2: Soldado (29/6/18)

The original Sicario is a film that stands alone as a five star classic (I will continue to say that Denis Villeuneuve, from Prisoners to Blade Runner 2049, has never delivered anything less than a 5 star classic. With streak of 5 films and counting that no other director can currently match).
At the end of the film, I don’t think anyone came out of it saying “I need the sequel now”.
The real drugs war in America however is still continuing and may never be truly over and so the studio have decided to continue the Sicario universe. Emily Blunt was the main character and entry into this world in the original but the sequel focuses on the supporting characters of Josh Brolin’s CIA agent and Benicio Del Toro’s Oscar nominated assassin and with Taylor Sheridan (Hell And High Water, Wind River) returning to script detail, anticipation is as high as the people on the drugs they are trying to eliminate.

The Predator (3/8/18) 

I am going to come out and say it. There has not been a good Alien or Predator film since 1992. In fact, there has not been a great Predator film since 1987. Even more specifically, the only great Predator film starred Shane Black. And the fact that Shane Black has written and directed The Predator does give me hope for this sequel because I absolutely loved Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and The Nice Guys. If he can generate the same level of camaraderie and dialogue from his films and put that into the Predator universe along with some terrific action sequences, we might have reason to shout “RUN, GO. GET TO THE CINEMA!”

Halloween (19/10/18)

I didn’t expect to have a reboot/remake on this list, especially a remake of one of the most greatest and most influential horror films of all time but this one has me rather intrigued.
When David Gordon Green and Danny McBride (the people behind Your Highness) announced they were making a sequel/reboot of Halloween was announced, there was much eye-rolling and snobbery on Twitter.
However when it was announced that this would be a sequel to Halloween II and would forget the other films, eyebrows were raised. Then they announced Jamie Lee Curtis was returning as Laurie Strode and John Carpenter himself would score the film, this suddenly peaked my interest and am genuinely looking forward to seeing what they come up with.

Holmes & Watson (9/11/18)

Full disclaimer: I am a HUGE fan of Step Brothers, so any opportunity to see Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly play off each other on screen is an immediate date in my diary, even if the world isn't screaming out for another adaptation of Sherlock Holmes. But add in support from Ralph Fiennes and Hugh Laurie (who can both do comedy), then this could be one of the surprises of 2018… or it could be another Anchorman 2. The game is afoot!

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

All The Money In The World - review

In 1973, J. Paul Getty, the richest man in the world, was faced with a scandal - his grandson Paul was kidnapped by a gang of Italian criminals and held to ransom - and when asked what he would pay to solve the problem, he simply replied "nothing".
The film All The Money In The World, follows the trials and tribulations of Paul's mother Abigail (played with sympathy and strength by Michelle Williams) as she spent months battling an empire and the mob when all she wanted was her son back.
In November of last year, Sir Ridley Scott was put in a similar position when his film was rocked by the Kevin Spacey scandal. Threatened with having a film that would be tarnished by his reputation, that could be pulled from distribution and ruining the hard work of thousands of people on the production, Scott wasted no time in declaring his intent to save his film, whatever the cost. For Scott would attempt the impossible, with a release date of 18th December, he would reshoot all the scenes with original choice for Getty, Christopher Plummer, re-edit the film and release it on date - in just four weeks.
And he only went and delivered on his promise!
It is safe to say that for many people in the industry and those who follow the news, All The Money In The World is now less of a film and more of a statement. A cautionary tale to everyone in Hollywood during the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements, that there is a shift in attitudes now and that people will be held accountable for their actions and that even after filming, you can and will be replaced if necessary.
But what of the finished film? Is it any good? Or does that even matter any more? Is anyone going to see the movie for the story or are they now just going to see if they can spot the joins, for a chance to see if they can spot the man behind the curtain frantically trying to hold it all together?
Well, early reports of the figure of Getty playing a minor role were false, as he is an integral character to the plot and even when not on screen, his presence looms over everyone, driving their every move and motivation.
Even with only nine days to prepare, Christopher Plummer seems like he was always meant to play Getty. He has a charisma, charm and menace that make it, ironically, impossible to imagine anyone else in the role and for the most part, his inclusion in the film is seamless.

The only time the switch is really visible is some slightly sub-par CGI during the Saudi desert scenes where Plummer has clearly been placed over Spacey, but to be fair that would have been the most expensive to reshoot.
It is easy to see why he has been nominated for Best Supporting Actor awards recently. While he is unlikely to win given he is up against stronger performances in the category from the likes of Dafoe and Rockwell, to deliver what he did in nine days (at the age of 88) under the circumstances, it is a great story and Hollywood loves a drama and the ability to spin it to its own ends.
As you would come to expect from a Ridley Scott film, it looks like a million bucks (or should that be a billion dollars?), sadly however the film plods along rather undramatically. Like Getty and his negotiations, the film takes its time and it approaches the end of its 132 minutes, you can’t help but feel like Paul Getty and his mother Abigail would have done and wish that the whole ordeal was over and done with.
So ultimately an unremarkable film was provided with a truly remarkable behind-the-scenes story which will ultimately guarantee it a wider audience and a fair share of awards and nominations which ironically proves that All The Money In The World can buy you success!

3 stars

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Golden Globe Predictions 2018

The Golden Globes are this Sunday and it is time for my annual attempt at predicting the winners. This year more than any will be difficult to do as the majority of the films have not yet received a UK release, which means that I will have to rely on guess work rather than actual opinion in most cases... although public opinion and critics views often can amount to nothing when it comes to the Globes!

Expect the ceremony and speeches to be more important and talked about than the actual results.

Best Picture - Drama

  • Call Me By Your Name
  • Dunkirk
  • The Post
  • The Shape Of Water - WINNER
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The Post is the most topical film but The Shape Of The Water is the most nominated film on the night so my vote goes to Del Toro's unconventional love story.

Best Picture - Comedy or Musical

  • The Disaster Artist
  • Get Out - WINNER
  • The Greatest Showman
  • I, Tonya
  • Lady Bird

The Globe will come down to two of the best reviewed films Lady Bird and Get Out. Get Out is "The Martian" of the category and this could tip the odds in its favour so expect it to win on the night.

Best Actress - Drama

  • Jessica Chastain - Molly's Game
  • Sally Hawkins - The Shape Of Water
  • Frances McDormand - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - WINNER
  • Meryl Streep - The Post
  • Michelle Williams - All The Money In The World

Hawkins is the front runner on paper but expect McDormand's foulmouthed tour-de-force performance to scoop the gong.

Best Actress - Comedy or Musical

  • Judi Dench - Victoria & Abdul
  • Margot Robbie - I, Tonya - WINNER
  • Saiorse Ronan - Lady Bird
  • Emma Stone - Battle Of The Sexes
  • Helen Mirren - The Leisure Seeker

Dames Mirren and Dench don't stand a chance but receive their obligatory nominations anyway. The odds are in favour of Saiorse Ronan but I have a feeling Margot Robbie will sweep in with a crowbar and take the victory from under Ronan's feet.

Best Actor - Drama
  • Timothee Chalamet - Call Me By Your Name
  • Daniel Day-Lewis - Phantom Thread
  • Tom Hanks - The Post
  • Gary Oldman - The Darkest Hour - WINNER
  • Denzel Washington - Roman J. Israel, Esq
I could see the Globes giving the award to Day-Lewis as a glorious farewell, if the rumours of retirement are true, but the money seems to be on Oldman's cigar and scenery-chewing turn as Churchill which wins the bonus points of playing a real life person.

Best Actor - Comedy or Musical

  • Steve Carell - Battle Of The Sexes
  • Ansel Elgort - Baby Driver
  • James Franco - The Disaster Artist - WINNER
  • Hugh Jackman - The Greatest Showman
  • Daniel Kaluuya - Get Out

Can't see anyone but Franco taking this one due to his total commitment of transforming into Tommy Wiseau.

Best Director

  • Guillermo Del Toro - The Shape Of Water - WINNER
  • Martin McDonagh - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Christopher Nolan - Dunkirk
  • Ridley Scott - All The Money In The World
  • Steven Spielberg - The Post

Given the current political climate in Hollywood, it would be tempting for them to award Ridley Scott for managing to recast and reshoot Spacey's role in just a few weeks before release, but I think that Del Toro will take the prize.

Best Supporting Actress

  • Mary J. Blige - Mudbound
  • Hong Chau - Downsizing
  • Alison Janney - I, Tonya
  • Laurie Metcalf - Lady Bird - WINNER
  • Octavia Spencer - The Shape Of Water

I haven't seen any of these films so going to have to go with the popular opinion on this one with Laurie Metcalf in Lady Bird but Janney could run her close from what I have seen in the trailers for I, Tonya.

Best Supporting Actor

  • Willem Dafoe - The Florida Project
  • Armie Hammer - Call Me By Your Name
  • Richard Jenkins - The Shape Of Water
  • Christopher Plummer - All The Money In The World - WINNER
  • Sam Rockwell - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
This is a year where Dafoe, Rockwell or Hammer could easily win and be worthy winners but I can't see anyone but Plummer winning due to the incredible story that goes with his late replacement taking over from Spacey.

Best Original Score

  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • The Shape Of Water
  • Phantom Thread
  • The Post
  • Dunkirk - WINNER
Fully expect Hans Zimmer's score that drives the entire movie forward and had audiences' knuckles turning white with tension to win.

Best Screenplay
  • The Shape Of Water
  • Lady Bird
  • The Post
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - WINNER
  • Molly's Game
Not surprised to see Sorkin nominated but McDonagh's scripts are always incredibly quotable so Three Billboards will win One Globe.

Best Foreign Language Film
  • A Fantastic Woman
  • First They Killed My Father
  • In The Fade
  • Loveless
  • The Square - WINNER
Having not seen any of the nominated films, picking the winner of the Palme D'Or The Square.

Best Animated Film
  • The Boss Baby
  • The Breadwinner
  • Ferdinand
  • Coco
  • Loving Vincent - WINNER
Going for a punt with Loving Vincent. Not your traditional nominee but would be a worthy winner.

Friday, 15 December 2017

2017 - The Year In Review

2017 - A Year In Review

It would be easy to write up a review of the year looking at the big stories of the year but it would make for depressing reading now and no amount of "Now Wolverine can team up with the Avengers" can make up for that.

Instead this will be a bit of a statistical analysis of my year of cinema going along with my picks for the best (and worst) films of the year along with movie moments and performances.

When compiling my list of what I had watched this year, it became apparent that I will need to move with the times in 2018 as I only had kept track of films that I had seen at the cinema and not at home via Netflix, such as Gerald's Game and The Circle.

From 1st January, that will change as there are more and more original films being released via online platforms, including Duncan Jones's upcoming Mute (which will hopefully also receive a small theatrical release).

Films watched at the cinema - 142
New releases watched in 2017 - 115
Repeat viewings of new releases - 9
Classic re-issues watched on the big screen - 18

Worst Films of 2017

  1. Transformers 5: The Last Knight
  2. Song To Song
  3. The Snowman
  4. Geostorm
  5. The House

Movie Moments Of The Year

  1. Luke & Leia (The Last Jedi) - Don't want to go into spoilers but safe to say that when Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher are reunited on screen, it is a scene that would turn even the most hardened Sith back from the Dark Side.
  2. Joi, K and Mariette (Blade Runner 2049) - The A.I. Joi melds with a replicant prostitute in order to become physical with Gosling's K and the CGI used in this scene is the most stunning that I have ever seen and blew my tiny human mind as it struggled to comprehend what it was seeing.
  3. Epilogue (La La Land) - A beautiful "What If" recap of this stunning, joyous musical which simultaneously becomes the most bittersweet ending to a romance since Casablanca.
  4. Spitfire vs the Bomber (Dunkirk) - The airborne dogfight cinematography is the highlight of Nolan's film but the acting and emotion cannot be overlooked during the scene where Hardy's pilot silently decides whether to fly home to safety or turn around to take on a German bomber to save more soldiers, knowing it will leave him out of fuel and probably sending him to his death.
  5. The Knock On The Door (Wind River) - When Elizabeth Olsen knocks on the door of a cabin, what happened next completely threw me for a loop.
  6. Post-credit Sting (Split) - One comes to expect a twist from an M. Night Shalamyan film and this was no different but when the film revealed where the story would go in the future I properly "marked out" and was astounded and delighted we would see more from the world of *redacted*
  7. Bellbottoms (Baby Driver) - The opening bank robbery and resulting car chase is a tour de force of action directing and editing, with all the action set out meticulously to the soundtrack of Bellbottoms by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and sets the tone for Edgar Wright's bold, brash and brilliant Baby Driver.
  8. Anything with Korg (Thor Ragnarok) - Taika Waititi's hilarious rock monster Korg was the breakout character of Thor Ragnarok. Always there to undercut the tension with a joke or two, I certainly hope to see more of Korg and Miek in the MCU.
  9. Michael Stuhlbarg's monologue (Call Me By Your Name) - Stuhlbarg steals the film out from under the feet of Chalamet and Hammer right at the end with a tender, beautiful speech to his son that earns him the title of best movie parent since Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson in Easy A.
  10. "Oh hai Mark" (The Disaster Artist) - Yes it was featured in the trailer but the filming of this scene in The Room is fantastic (as is the spot on recreations of scenes from the film played side by side during the end credits).

Best Performances Of The Year

  1. Emily Beecham (Daphne)
  2. Tom Hardy (Dunkirk)
  3. James Franco (The Disaster Artist)
  4. Harrison Ford (Blade Runner 2049)
  5. Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane & Molly's Game)
  6. Michael Stuhlbarg (Call Me By Your Name)
  7. Rafe Spall (The Ritual)
  8. Mark Hamill (The Last Jedi)
  9. Hugh Grant (Paddington 2)
  10. Jack Black (Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle)

Most Enjoyable Cinematic Viewing Experiences

  1. The Room
  2. Edinburgh International Film Festival Q&As - This year I was lucky enough to host a couple of Q&As at EIFF including Daphne with a breakout performance from Emily Beecham and a packed house in Filmhouse 1 for The Beautiful Fantastic with Jeremy Irvine.
  3. Raiders Of The Lost Ark with live score at Usher Hall - One of the greatest films of all-time with one of the greatest film themes of all-time played live by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. What's not to love?
  4. Star Wars: The Last Jedi Midnight Screening 
  5. Dunkirk on 70mm & IMAX - Flawless projection from the team at Filmhouse for the gorgeous 70mm print. Sadly there were projection issues at Glasgow IMAX but I did notice the reactions of audience members around me with one girl utterly engrossed with the dogfight scenes so much that whenever Tom Hardy appeared on screen, she moved forward to the edge of her seat. At the end when he opens the cockpit to parachute to safety she started to cheer, only to look around at other people in shock when he closed it to safely land the plane on the beach and burn it so the Germans couldn't use it. It reminded me of the power that cinema can have over people.

Top 17 Films of 2017

  1. Blade Runner 2049
  2. Dunkirk
  3. Wind River
  4. Get Out
  5. The Last Jedi
  6. La La Land
  7. A Ghost Story
  8. Baby Driver
  9. Mother!
  10. The Disaster Artist
  11. Logan
  12. T2 Trainspotting
  13. Call Me By Your Name
  14. Paddington 2
  15. Raw
  16. Kaleidoscope
  17. It Comes At Night
Honorable Mention: War Of The Planet Of The Apes - Who can honestly say that in 2011, when a prequel/reboot to a Sixties sci-fi film that spawned a number of terrible sequels and remakes would produce one of the greatest film trilogies of ALL-TIME, anchored by an incredible central performance from Andy Serkis as Caesar.