• Oscar 2017 Predictions

    Best Supporting Actor
    Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
    Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
    Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
    Dev Patel, Lion
    Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

    La La Land

    Documentary Feature
    Fire at Sea
    I Am Not Your Negro
    Life Animated
    OJ: Made in America

    Best Documentary Short Subject
    4.1 Miles
    Joe’s Violin
    Watani: My Homeland
    The White Helmets

    Foreign Language Film
    Land of Mine
    A Man Called
    The Salesman
    Toni Erdmann

    Live-Action Short
    Ennemis Interieurs
    La Femme et le TGV
    Silent Nights

    Best Actor
    Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
    Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
    Ryan Gosling, La La Land
    Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
    Denzel Washington, Fences

    Sound Editing
    Deepwater Horizon
    Hacksaw Ridge
    La La Land

    Sound Mixing
    Hacksaw Ridge
    La La Land
    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
    13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

    Production Design
    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
    Hail, Caesar!
    La La Land

    Visual Effects
    Deepwater Horizon
    Doctor Strange
    The Jungle Book
    Kubo and the Two Strings
    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

    Costume Design
    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
    Florence Foster Jenkins
    La La Land

    Makeup and Hairstyling
    A Man Called Ove
    Star Trek Beyond
    Suicide Squad

    Best Original Score
    La La Land

    Original Song
    “Audition: The Fools Who Dream” – La La Land
    “Can’t Stop the Feeling” – Trolls
    “City of Stars” – La La Land
    “The Empty Chair” – Jim: The James Foley Story
    “How Far I’ll Go” – Moana

    Best Supporting Actress
    Viola Davis, Fences
    Naomie Harris, Moonlight
    Nicole Kidman, Lion
    Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
    Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

    Best Original Screenplay
    Hell or High Water
    La La Land
    The Lobster
    Manchester by the Sea
    20th Century Women

    Best Adapted Screenplay
    Hidden Figures

    Best Animated Feature
    Kubo and the Two Strings
    My Life as a Zucchini
    The Red Turtle

    Best Animated Short
    Blind Vaysha
    Borrowed Time
    Pear Cider and Cigarettes

    Best Picture
    Hacksaw Ridge
    Hell or High Water
    Hidden Figures
    La La Land
    Manchester by the Sea

    Best Director
    Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
    Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
    Damien Chazelle, La La Land
    Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
    Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

    Lead Actress
    Isabelle Huppert, Elle
    Ruth Negga, Loving
    Natalie Portman, Jackie
    Emma Stone, La La Land
    Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – Initial Thoughts

    In a nutshell: – This is not your children’s Star Wars movie.

    Overall impression is that this is the film that original Star Wars fans wanted after the complaints that the prequels are too were too kiddy, ignoring the fact that the originals were for kids too. I’m not sure how suitable this film will be for kids either. But that’s not a bad thing. There is room in the universe for both, and it’s not as grimdark as some of the DC superhero films.

    – The start didn’t feel Star Warsy due to lack of fanfare and crawl. That immediately put me on the defensive.
    – The captions – Not needed in a Star Wars film and again lost the feel.
    – I didn’t feel for most of the characters, especially Diego Luna’s character. That could have been tiredness though.
    – Jyn’s speech at the council seemed out of character.
    – I found Peter Cushing’s appearance quite jarring and unnerving. Something not quite right. I think it was the mouths.
    – Too many cameos which could easily have been cut.

    – Good to see the Star Wars universe explored a bit more deeply. Felt like a lived in universe and not a toy commercial.
    – Interesting to see them investigate Force sensitive characters. Gets away from the midichlorian crap.
    – Certainly the least flawed of the films.
    – Alan Tudyk is wonderful as K-S20 and is actually funny.
    – Don’t know what their actual names are are but I liked the TIE-Wings.
    – They didn’t duck out of the ending.
    – They made Darth Vader cool again with the last battle.

    Long term prospects – I’m not sure how often I would watch it again. It’s a bit too serious for a fun afternoon viewing.

  • Film Review of 2015 – Drama

    Drama is where the bulk of films lie. Trying to tell the most interesting stories without any flashy gimmicks. This is where most of the Oscar nominated films end up, concentrated in both films released at either end of the year. It can be hard evaluating films like Selma, Birdman and Whiplash when they were seen so long ago but the best films tend to stay with you.

    Michael Fassbender has had a fantastic year, appearing in the top two films on this list, something I have only just noticed. Aaron Sorkin continues to be one of the top two writers of dialogue in the business as Steve Jobs shows again. Slow West was a Coenesque western that was worth the effort to hunt down in the cinema.

    Straight Outta Compton was a powerhouse of a film with an riveting central performance by Jason Mitchell as Easy E. Expect him to be overlooked in the upcoming awards season.

    Another film that was barely on the screens was Good Kill, continuing Ethan Hawkes’ own renaissance. Hunt it down on Netflix now.

    While I admit I didn’t follow a word of it, Macbeth (more Fassbender) goes down as the most beautiful film of the year. Every frame was breathtaking.

    Not too many disappointing films this year but both musical documentaries (as opposed to biopics) The Wall and Cobain: Montage of Heck both left me cold,Munich is a shame as I’m a big fan of both Pink Floyd and Nirvana respectively.

    Steve Jobs
    Slow West
    Straight Outta Compton
    Inherent Vice
    The Duke of Burgundy
    The Dressmaker
    Good Kill
    Love & Mercy
    The Theory of Everything
    Still Alice
    The Program
    Black Mass
    While We’re Young
    A Most Violent Year
    Bridge of Spies
    Paper Towns
    Force Majeur
    Mr Holmes
    True Story
    The Water Diviner
    The Gambler
    American Sniper
    Roger Waters: The Wall
    Cobain: Montage of Heck

    FantasticVery GoodGoodMediocreAvoid

  • Film Review of 2015 – Sci-Fi

    Ahh Sci-Fi and fantasy. My Achilles heel and a good place to fit those films that don’t quite fit elsewhere. Another strong year with several of this years blockbusters continuing to blow me away on many repeated viewings. Despite it’s flaws Jurassic World was the biggest surprise for me as despite not looking forward to it and thinking the trailers dull, it was just so entertaining I ended up going back again and again.

    Another film I wasn’t looking forward to was the follow up to The Avengers. The trailers looked dull and uninspired, like Marvel were finally running out of ideas. And on first viewing I wasn’t that taken with it. But I put that down to being too tired for the midnight showing and repeated showings have shown lots of depths, heart and loud exciting action. As usual the 3D on Marvel films is also top notch here.

    The Good Dinosaur was a late entry and turned out to be be best Pixar film of the year. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you different.

    Ex Machina was a great surprise and the start of the year but shouldn’t have been as Alex Garland wrote Sunshine, one of my favourites. It was also great to see Dohmnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac together before their other starring hit of the year.

    Star Wars is back and despite fears it was too late to make my Top Ten of the year list it turned out not to trouble. Tremendous fun but incredibly flawed film where the bad parts come close to over shadowing all the good. Yet the pure nostalgia factor puts it on top of the rest.

    Most overlooked film of the year goes to the Maze Runner sequel The Scorched Trials. Not a film I think many were looking forward to, it managed to put both Insurgent and The Hunger Games to shame.

    Talking of shame, two franchises were hopefully put out of their misery by the shambles that were Terminator: Genisys and Fantastic Four. Josh Trank’s rapid plunge from indie prodigy to Alan Smithee rival was only beaten by Neil Blombkamp’s fall from grace with the lamentable Chappie.

    The Martian
    Jurassic World
    The Good Dinosaur
    Avengers: Age of Ultron
    Song of the Sea
    Ex Machina
    Star Wars: The Force Awakens
    Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
    Into The Woods
    Big Hero 6
    The Last Witch Hunter
    Project Almanac
    The Tale of Princess Kaguya
    Seventh Son
    The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
    Terminator Genisys
    Jupiter Ascending
    Fantastic 4

    FantasticVery GoodGoodMediocreAvoid

  • Film Review of 2015 – Comedy

    Comedy is subjective. Sometimes all a good comedy has to do is make you laugh, which is something both Ted 2 and Sisters managed to make me do even if they didn’t tickle many other critics. Great comedies even make you think, like The Lady in the Van or Me, Earl and the Dying Girl. Others don’t even try like the outrageously entertaining Magic Mike XXL.

    Then there are the comedies that forget they are meant to be funny and leave out all the jokes, something that happened to Unfinished Business, Absolutely Anything and Man Up, which goes to show Simon Pegg and Nick Frost really need Edgar Wright to make them funny. Which is a shame as I honestly do like them.

    Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
    Magic Mike XXL
    The Lady in the Van
    Pitch Perfect 2
    Inside Out
    Ted 2
    A Walk in the Woods
    The DUFF
    The Legend of Barney Thompson
    The Wedding Ringer
    The Walk
    The Interview
    Get Hard
    Man Up
    Unfinished Business
    Absolutely Anything

    FantasticVery GoodGoodMediocreAvoid

  • Film Review of 2015 – Action

    In what is being overlooked for upcoming awards, Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario is an astounding piece of film making that had me holding my breath and on the edge of my seat throughout. Kingsman was the spy thriller to beat with all the other spy films languishing in the just passable section. What is most shocking about this is Mad Max: Fury Road being so low down. While it is a very enjoyable movie I did find it a little bit too over the top to totally enjoy it. Hitman: Agent 47 surprised me as the most improved film in a series. American Ultra is probably the most underrated and ignored gem in this group.

    Kingsman: The Secret Service
    John Wick
    Mad Max: Fury Road
    American Ultra
    Furious 7
    Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
    Big Game
    San Andreas
    Hitman: Agent 47
    Spooks: The Greater Good
    The Man from UNCLE
    Run All Night
    The Gunman

    FantasticVery GoodGoodMediocreAvoid

  • Film Review of 2015 – Horror

    It’s been a pretty good year for horror films in 2015. From Guillermo Del Toro’s gorgeous love letter to the old Gothic Romances to the plethora of found footage films that shows that sub-genre is far from (un)dead. Krampus was a throwback to films like Gremlins, with great practical FX by WETA as Michael Dougherty does for Christmas what his Trick ‘r Treat did for Halloween. It Follows was a timeless indie flick which, like The Babadook last year, understandably wowed the critics although left me slightly wanting. The same can be said for A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.

    Crimson Peak
    The Gift
    The Voices
    It Follows
    Victor Frankenstein
    Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse
    A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
    Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension
    Insidious 3
    Knock Knock
    The Gallows
    Sinister 2
    The Visit

  • Film Review of 2015 – Introduction

    So back with another review of the year in film. As with previous years, I have sorted all the films I have seen this year into 5 categories – Drama, Comedy, Action, Sci-Fi and Horror. This helps to compare like with like and avoids putting films like Magic Mike XXL against films like Selma when judging their relative merits. The cream of these lists will then be skimmed off the top to make up my Top Ten of the year. I’ve seen 116 films so far this year and I’m sure that will go up before the end of the year (and these lists will be updated). Re-releases don’t count (So no Back to the Future) and all of these films were released in 2015 according to Launching Films so any films released last year but seen this year also haven’t been counted. All except a handful were seen in the cinema, which is the only place to watch and judge a good film.

    This method can often lead to some unbalances, both with the number of films per category and the strength of all the films on the list. There is no bell curve and this year has been another incredibly strong year for films. So just because a film is near the bottom of the list it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a bad film. I have however moved to a 5 star rating:
    Green – Fantastic. This is what film should be about. Either technically perfect, or more likely just very, very entertaining.
    Blue – Very good. Enjoyable and impressive but just short of being fantastic, which is often a result of my nitpicking.
    Yellow – Good. Most films will fall into this category. Nothing wrong with the films in here and this is where you can find many films which are cheesy fun.
    Brown – Mediocre. Pretty average and nothing distinguishing about it, but at least it’s competently made. Probably quite forgettable.
    Red – Avoid. There is so much wrong with these films. Shouldn’t have seen the light of day (or the inside of a movie theatre).

    As with all top ten of the year lists, this list is totally subjective. Films are ranked in order and can rank higher just for being totally enjoyable, or lower for being reprehensible (American Sniper) despite the technical quality of the film making.

  • Top 10 Films of 2014

    1. Under The Skin
    2. Stranger by the Lake
    3. Guardians of the Galaxy
    4. Wolf Of Wall Street, The
    5. Men, Women and Children
    6. The Lego Movie
    7. Godzilla
    8. Gone Girl
    9. The Guest
    10. The Dallas Buyers Club

      And the worst film of 2014:

    Muppets Most Wanted

  • Film Review of 2014 – Drama

    A year late but I might as well post this out before starting on my films of 2015. Maybe this time I won’t try and encapsulate each film.

    Under The Skin

    Stranger by the Lake

    Wolf Of Wall Street, The

    Men, Women and Children

    Gone Girl

    The Dallas Buyers Club

    12 Years A Slave


    Only Lovers Left Alive


    Nymphomaniac, Volume 1
    Nymphomaniac, Volume 2

    Mr Turner

    Starred Up

    We Are The Best

    The Drop

    The Wind Rises

    A Most Wanted Man

    A Walk Among The Tombstones

    Fruitvale Station


    The Judge

    The Imitation Game

    Labor Day


    Inside Llewyn Davis



    God’s Pocket

    The Two Faces of January

    August: Osage County

    Before I Go to Sleep