Month: December 2017

Best Movies of 2017

As 2017 draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on what has been a stellar year for film. Here are my favourite movies that have been released in the UK in the past year:

January

La La Land

Despite being at the centre of the Oscars controversy back in February, La La Land is a captivating and charming musical with some standout performances from Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. At the age of just 31, director Damien Chazelle produces a vintage masterpiece.

Read the full review here

Manchester By The Sea

Casey Affleck won the Oscar for best actor after his powerful performance in Manchester By The Sea. He plays a janitor in Boston, leading a mundane and exiled life following a dark tragedy in his life. After learning that his older brother, has died, he finds himself back in his hometown of Manchester, where he discovers that he will have to look after his 16 year-old nephew.

Read the full review here

Hacksaw Ridge

Another strong performance comes from Andrew Garfield in this gritty true-story war thriller directed by Mel Gibson. The story follows a combat medic and conscientious objector who signs up for the army without the intention to carry a weapon causing much controversy. Hacksaw Ridge is a strong mixture of both war brutality and the compassion of courage and human spirit.

Read the full review here

Sing

By no means the best animated feature of recent years, but Sing is still an enjoyable watch for people of all ages and boasts a strong voice cast of the likes of Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon. The story follows Buster Moon who puts on a singing contest in order to save his grand theatre. Sing will certainly leave you wanting to have a sing song.

February

Fences

Two strong leading performances from Denzel Washington and Viola Davis make Fences an incredibly engaging watch. Adapted from the Broadway production which also featured both actors, Fences follows the relationship between a wife and husband after the latter struggles to come to terms with events in his life. Powerful drama which is also directed by Washington.

Read the full review here

The LEGO Batman Movie

When The Lego Movie was released back in 2014, it surprised many and turned out to be one of the best animated movies in recent years. The LEGO Batman movie follows a similar trend as the title character comically tackles the villains of Gotham whilst also coming to terms with his orphaned son.

Hidden Figures

It has been a big year for women in film for many reasons. With Hidden Figures, we were offered an insight into the unsung role of not only women, but black women, in the early days of the NASA space program. Three strong female lead performances from Taraji P. HensonOctavia Spencer & Janelle Monáe contribute to this feel good historical drama.

John Wick: Chapter 2

The first John Wick was a pleasant surprise and some form of redemption for Keanu Reeves after a rocky period in his career. It was even more of a pleasant shock when the sequel proved just as enjoyable as John Wick gets back to kicking ass in the most stylish way possible.

Patriots Day

Director Peter Berg perfectly tells the story and aftermath of the 2013 Boston bombings, whilst also capturing the incredible compassion and human spirit that exhumed as a result of the tragic events. Captivating and incredibly moving, Patriots Day is the perfect tribute to the heroes and victims of the Boston Bombings, also featuring a strong cast.

Read the full review here

March

Logan

Without a doubt the best X-Men film, Logan takes character development to the next level as a weary Wolverine must care for a deteriorating Professor X whilst also having to deal with a young mutant who jeopardises his low-key status. Director James Mangold adds a darker, grittier edge to the Wolverine story and the result is a thrilling yet emotionally draining watch.

Kong: Skull Island

A strong cast assembles for this good old fashioned monster romp as a team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific where they come across the mighty Kong. Facing up against a number of other beasts, they must fight their way out in order to survive. Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson all feature.

Get Out

One of the best and most important films of 2017 is Jordan Peele’s Get Out. In what the director described as a “documentary”, the movie faces a number of racial issues as an African-American man meets his white girlfriend’s parents for the first time. Warm and welcoming initially, the setting soon takes a turn for the worse for main character Chris, brilliantly portrayed by Daniel Kaluuya.

The Lost City of Z

The incredibly gripping story of The Lost City of Z follows true-life drama on British explorer Col. Percival Fawcett, who disappeared while searching for a mysterious city in the Amazon in the 1920s. James Gray’s intriguing drama boasts a strong British cast of Charlie Hunnam, Tom Holland, Sienna Miller and Robert Pattinson.

Free Fire

A shootout set entirely in a warehouse may have been a risk taken by director Ben Wheatley, but it certainly pays off as he does a brilliant job of mixing action and comedy. Set in Boston in 1978, a powerful cast of Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy and Armie Hammer also contribute to this thoroughly enjoyable watch.

April

Going In Style

Zach Braff looked like he enjoyed directing movie royalty of Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin in this feel-good crime caper. The movie sees three elderly life-long friends comically attempt to rob the very bank that has left them in financial difficulties.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

The first Guardians of the Galaxy was a huge surprise upon its release in 2014 so there was much for James Gunn’s sequel to live up to. Perhaps failing to outdo its predecessor, the second instalment is a worthy sequel after much anticipation from Marvel fans. The squad will join the Avengers in next year’s Infinity War, after featuring in the recently released trailer.

May

Baywatch

Amongst the millions of movies that Dwayne Johnson seems to be appearing in nowadays, one of the more enjoyable ones was the outrageous, yet surprisingly enjoyable Baywatch reboot. Zac Efron also stars in a movie where morals need to be dropped in order to enjoy, but is worthy of a number of laughs and some cheap stunts.

Read the full review here

June

Wonder Woman

Another one of the more ground-breaking movies of the year was Wonder Woman. In a time where the DC movie universe is in disarray, Wonder Woman has been the shining light for a number of reasons. Not only was the movie a thoroughly enjoyable watch, the first female directed superhero movie, based on a strong female lead character was just a couple of reasons why Wonder Woman is one of this year’s important films.

Baby Driver

On of this year’s biggest hits was Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver, where he fully portrays his brilliantly unique movie making techniques. A brilliant soundtrack backs up the story of a young getaway driver who is coerced into working for a crime boss along with a number of other disorderly criminals, whilst he also tries balancing new found love.

July

Spider-Man: Homecoming

We caught a glimpse of Tom Holland as the web slinger in Captain America: Civil War last year, and his first full outing following those events is just as enjoyable. Tackling Michael Keaton’s Vulture, Spider-Man: Homecoming is the perfect coming of age story for Peter Parker as he tries to juggle everyday teenage life with the fact that he is essentially now an Avenger.

Read the full review here

Dunkirk

Christopher Nolan’s latest masterpiece sees him tackle the incredible true events of Dunkirk. In typical Nolan fashion, the movie will have you gripped to your seat throughout and gives a perfect insight into the gritty and harsh conditions that British troops had to face and under so much pressure. A brilliant British cast also help make this masterpiece that much better.

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie

This animated feature is about as crazy as it sounds but is very much worth a few laughs thanks to some crude and clever jokes. The voices of Ed Helms and Kevin Hart also contribute to the comedic chaos based on the children’s books..

August

Atomic Blonde

Charlize Theron stars in this brutal Cold War spy-thriller which sees her play a MI6 agent sent to Berlin to investigate the murder of a fellow agent as well as in order to retrieve a list of double agents. James McAvoy and John Goodman also star in this explosive and stylish thriller, directed by David Leitch.

American Made

Tom Cruise’s career has stumbled slightly in recent years, and he rapidly made amends for the monstrosity of The Mummy earlier this year with American Made. The movie follows the quite incredible true story of Barry Seal, an American pilot who became a drug-runner for the CIA in the 1980s – a role which would lead him to bigger things. The movie is a light-hearted, but quite shocking take on his tale.

Detroit

Kathryn Bigelow is a master at the docu-drama genre, and she does it again with the quite shocking Detroit. Fact based on the 1967 riots, the movie follows the actions of a group of rogue police officers and the victims of their out of line actions. British stars John Boyega and Will Poulter produce career best performances to bring home this powerful watch.

September

It

No one could have expected the huge success both financially and critically that It received. The latest reboot of the Stephen King novel is terrifying yet strangely heart-warming at the same time as we follow the coming of age story of a group of kids in the 1980s who must come together in order to fight off the mysterious forces that haunt their town, including a scary ass clown brilliantly portrayed by Bill Skarsgard.

Wind River

One of the more underrated movies of the year sees Avengers stars Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner team up to investigate the death of a young Native American girl, with Renner’s character seeking redemption for a dark past. This chilling thriller will have you on the edge of your seat at times and director Taylor Sheridan captures the perfect tone for the movie.

October

Blade Runner 2049

It took 30 years for a sequel to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, and there were many sceptics when it was announced a sequel was in the making. But any doubts were soon swept away when Denis Villenueve produced the most perfect of sequels to one of the movies of the 80s. Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford star in this brilliantly dystopian and engrossing sci-fi.

Read the full review here

Brawl In Block Cell 99

Vince Vaughn produces his career best performance and reminds everyone of his acting prowess in this brutal prison based drama. A former boxer turned drug-runner finds himself in prison and having to fulfil his end of a deal in order to protect his pregnant wife.

The Death of Stalin

Armando Iannucci’s brilliant dark satire, The Death of Stalin, is a shocking, yet comical reminder of the horrors of the Soviet Union and the Joseph Stalin regime. With an all-star line-up of Steve Buscemi, Jeffery Tambor, Michael Palin and a hatful of others, the movie is brilliantly cast with literally every character bringing something to the table.

Read the full review here

Thor: Ragnarok

Director Taika Waititi puts a slightly different spin on the Avengers franchise with the latest in the Thor series, and it is hilarious. Imprisoned, Thor finds himself pitted in a death match against former ally Hulk but has bigger fish to fry in Cate Blanchett’s Hela who threatens the Asgardian civilisation.

November

Paddington 2

The first instalment of Paddington stole the hearts of many and the sequel even more so. A wonderfully warm and charming follow up, aided by an impressive British cast, including a brilliant Hugh Grant – Paddington 2 is one for all the family to enjoy with plenty of laughs and heartfelt moments.

Read the full review here

Battle of the Sexes

Steve Carell and Emma Stone go head to head in the true story which saw Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King battle it out on the tennis court in 1973. The movie follows the many sub plots behind the match up including the extreme adversity that Jean King faced in the lead up. A powerful and heart warming watch with two strong lead actors at the helm.

December

Wonder

We fell in love with Ethan Tremblay after his performance in 2015’s Room alongside Brie Larson. He melts our hearts once again in Wonder where he plays a boy with facial differences as he progresses through school having to deal with bullying. Julia Roberts is brilliant as his mother with Owen Wilson also starring in the movie based on the New York Times Best Seller.

Stronger

Jake Gyllenhaal gives one of the best performances of his career as Jeff Bauman, the man who lost both of his legs in the 2013 Boston Bombings. The movie follows the inspirational true story of the aftermath his injuries. Where Stronger differs from Patriots Day is where it cleverly focuses on the individual rather and his difficulties rather than the collective.

Read the full review here

There are still a number of films that I look forward to seeing that were released this year so make sure to check back for any further inclusions!

 

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WATCH: Big name cameo in first trailer for Mamma Mia! sequel

The first trailer for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again has been released, 10 years after the successful first film took $600 million globally.

The original cast return including Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth as the story looks into the backstory of Streep’s character, Donna, whose younger version will be portrayed by Lily James.

The trailer ends with a cameo of Cher who plays the “uninvited” Grandma in the movie which is written and directed by The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’s Ol Parker.

Expect plenty more ABBA when Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again hits cinemas in July 2018.

Sandra Bullock leads all-star female cast in first trailer for ‘Ocean’s 8’

The first trailer for the all female cast crime-caper, Ocean’s 8, dropped today.

Acting as a spin-off from the original George Clooney trilogy of the noughties, Sandra Bullock leads Ocean’s 8, starring as Debbie Ocean – the sister of Danny from the original movies.

She assembles a team of crims including Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna and Helena Bonham Carter in order to pull off their very own heist.

The trailer boasts a hat-full of cameos including Anne Hathaway, James Cordon, Kim Kardashian, Zayn Malik, Serena Williams and Vogue editor Anna Wintour. Damian Lewis plays the movie’s villain, while Matt Damon is set to reprise his role as Linus Caldwell.

Rumours are circuling over whether Clooney will feature in some capacity, but Ocean’s 8 is the latest in the gender swapping remake/spin-offs, following the likes of Ghostbusters last year.

Ocean’s 8 hits cinemas everywhere next June.

Edgar Wright: ‘My oldest idea became my greatest hit’

It has been an incredible year for Edgar Wright, whose film, Baby Driver, proved one of the most critically acclaimed movies of the year.

The 43-year-old director made his name with Channel 4 sitcom Spaced, in which he worked with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The trio would of course go on to work together in the Cornetto trilogy of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End.

Speaking to the Guardian, Wright revealed where and when the idea of Baby Driver was first conceived.

He said: “I’d been thinking about it for 22 years. My initial idea of a car-chase film powered by music goes right back to a pub in Wood Green, when I was 21 and first living in London. Then, between Spaced and Shaun of the Dead, I made a music video for Blue Song by Mint Royale. I hadn’t come up with a concept so I cannibalised the opening scene I’d planned for Baby Driver, with Noel Fielding as a getaway driver.

“I was happy with the video but also mad at myself for squandering this great idea. But it ended up helping because years later, I had proof of concept. People sometimes say “Is it a Drive rip-off? Did you get the mixtape idea from Guardians of the Galaxy?” and I go: “No, look, here’s a video I made 15 years ago.” It’s backdated evidence.

“In 2010, I did a film festival Q&A with [fellow director] JJ Abrams and they wanted to show that Mint Royale video. While it was playing, JJ leaned over and said: “This would make a good movie.” I replied: “Trust me, I’m way ahead of you.””

Reflecting on the year on a personal level, Wright also went on to address rumours of a sequel to Baby Driver.

He continued: “I can’t complain. It was my passion project. It’s been a long and winding road to get here, but I’m extremely happy with how it came out. Funny how my oldest idea ended up being my biggest hit.

“The studio actually talked about a sequel before the movie even came out, which was a nice vote of confidence. We haven’t done the deal and I’ve not written it yet but potentially, yes.”

‘Harvey Weinstein threatened to kill me’

Another day, another accusation against Harvey Weinstein. Only this time it has gone one step further.

Actress Salma Hayek has described Hollywood mogul Weinstein as a rage-fuelled “monster”, claiming that he sexually harassed and threatened her.

Writing for The New York Times, Hayek said that Weinstein had once told her: “I will kill you. Don’t think that I can’t”.

The pair had worked together on a project telling the story of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, which Hayek described as her greatest ambition.

She wrote that she had to continually refuse sexual advances from Weinstein whilst working on 2002’s Frida, which saw Hayek nominated for a Best Actress Oscar.

The 51-year-old claimed she said: “No to me taking a shower with him. No to letting him watch me take a shower. No to letting him give me a massage. No to letting a naked friend of his give me a massage. No to letting him give me oral sex. No to my getting naked with another woman”.

She went on to accuse him of threatening to shut the film down unless she filmed a nude sex scene with another actress.

She continued to say: “I had to take a tranquilizer, which eventually stopped the crying but made the vomiting worse”.

“As you can imagine, this was not sexy, but it was the only way I could get through the scene.”

Weinstein’s spokeswoman said in a statement: “Mr Weinstein does not recall pressuring Salma to do a gratuitous sex scene with a female co-star and he was not there for the filming.”

“All of the sexual allegations as portrayed by Salma are not accurate and others who witnessed the events have a different account of what transpired.”

Woody Harrelson in talks to join Tom Hardy in Venom

Woody Harrelson is set to reunite with Zombieland director, Ruben Fleischer, for Marvel’s Spider-Man spin-off Venom.

Harrelson is in talks for an role in the Tom Hardy led project, but it is unknown who he will portray with Marvel refusing to comment.

The movie will also feature Michelle Williams, Jenny Slate and Riz Ahmed, with filming having begun in October. Venom is set to hit cinemas late next year.

 

2018 Golden Globe Nominations

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association revealed the nominations for the 75th Golden Globe Awards this morning and they are as follows:

Best Motion Picture – Drama

“Call Me By Your Name”
“Dunkirk”
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
“The Post”
“The Shape of Water”

Best Motion Picture – Comedy

“The Disaster Artist”
“Get Out”
“The Greatest Showman”
“Lady Bird”
“I, Tonya”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

Jessica Chastain, “Molly’s Game”
Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”
Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Meryl Streep, “The Post”
Michelle Williams, “All The Money In The World”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me By Your Name”
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”
Tom Hanks, “The Post”
Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy

Judi Dench, “Victoria & Abdul”
Hellen Mirren, “The Leisure Seeker”
Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”
Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
Emma Stone, “Battle of the Sexes”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy

Steve Carell, “Battle of the Sexes”
James Franco, “The Disaster Artist”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
Hugh Jackman, “The Greatest Showman”
Ansel Elgort, “Baby Driver”

Best Supporting Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, Musical or Comedy

Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”
Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”
Hong Chau, “Downsizing”

Best Supporting Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama, Musical or Comedy

Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”
Armie Hammer, “Call Me By Your Name”
Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Richard Jenkins, “The Shape of Water”
Christopher Plummer, “All the Money in the World”

Best Director

Guillermo del Toro, “The Shape of Water”
Christopher Nolan, “Dunkirk”
Steven Spielberg, “The Post”
Martin McDonagh, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Ridley Scott, “All The Money in the World”

Best Screenplay

Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird”
Martin McDonagh, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Liz Hannah, Josh Singer, “The Post”
Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor, “The Shape of Water”
“Molly’s Game”

Best Original Score

Hans Zimmer, “Dunkirk”
Johnny Greenwood, “Phantom Thread”
Alexandre Desplat, “The Shape of Water
Carter Burwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
John Williams, “The Post”

Best Original Song

“This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman,” Benj Pasek, Justin Paul
“Remember Me” from “Coco,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez
“Mighty River” from “Mudbound,” Mary J. Blige, Raphael Saadiq, Taura Stinson
“The Star” from “The Star,” Mariah Carey, Marc Shaiman
“Home” from “Ferdinand,” Nick Jonas, Justin Tranter, Nick Monson

Best Animated Feature Film

“The Breadwinner”
“Coco”
“Loving Vincent”
“The Boss Baby”
“Ferdinand”

Best Foreign Language Film

“A Fantastic Woman”
“Loveless”
“First They Killed My Father”
“In the Fade”
“The Square”

REVIEW: Jake Gyllenhaal pushes for Oscar in Stronger

One thing that Stronger does well is avoiding becoming the typically patriotic propaganda following a tragic event. There’s no doubting that Boston as a city and the United States as a nation came together after the devastating bombings in the 2013 Boston marathon. But far too many movies based on tragic real-life events are far too elaborate and nationalistic – the obvious examples being American Sniper and Patriots Day.

Where Stronger thrives is having the ability to look past the collective and focusing on a quite inspiring individual, Jeff Bauman, who suffered life changing injuries as a result of the incident.

The movie follows the memoirs of Bauman, a blue-collar everyday man who loses the bottom half of his legs following the bombings, and the resulting struggles he faces when rebuilding his life. The working-class Bauman must deal with his new hero-like status, not helped by his overpowering mother, Patty (Miranda Richardson) and his on and off relationship with his ex-girlfriend, Erin (Tatiana Maslany).

Stronger is almost the perfect movie for Gyllenhaal right now – the everyday, working-class character facing tragedy gives plenty for him to work with a remind us of what a brilliant actor he has become. And as we enter award season, his name is likely to be mentioned for his big-eyed, turmoil-fueled performance.

The acting is the best aspect of the movie, which won’t last too long in the memory. But there should also be a special mention for Miranda Richardson and Tatiana Maslany. Richardson, playing Jeff’s heavy-drinking mother who gets caught up in the hero status of her son, brings a lot of life to a tough, difficult character whilst Maslany plays the despairing ex-girlfriend who faces just as much struggle negotiating a strenuous relationship with Jeff.

Stronger should be commended for not milking the political aspect of the attack and instead focusing more on the aftermath of an individual and his struggles, whereas similar films insist on waving the red, white and blue. David Gordon-Green’s movie is a refreshing take on a real-life tragedy with strong performances and portrayed well enough.

 

Dustin Hoffman faces more sex abuse allegations

Hollywood actor Dustin Hoffman has been at the heart of sexual abuse allegations made against him recently, and a co-star is the latest to make a claim.

Kathryn Rossetter accused Hoffman of a “horrific, demoralising and abusive experience” whilst working together on the 1984 Broadway production, Death of a Salesman.

The allegations come a month after Anna Graham Hunter accused Hoffman of sexual misconduct.

Rossetter said Hoffman would regularly grope her. The actor would grab her breast and then remove his hand just before a photograph was taken, she alleged.

She went on to say that he exposed her naked body to the stage crew of the production.

She said: “Suddenly he grabs the bottom of my slip and pulls it up over my head, exposing my breasts and body to the crew and covering my face.

“Night after night I went home and cried. I withdrew and got depressed and did not have any good interpersonal relationships with the cast.

“I considered reporting him to Actors Equity. But I was cautioned by some respected theatre professionals that if I did, I would probably lose my job and, because he was such a powerful star, any hope of a career.”

First trailer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

The first full look at the new Jurassic World movie dropped this week, with Chris Pratt promising a darker edge to the sequel.

Colin Trevorrow, director of 2015s Jurassic World and writer for Fallen Kingdom, last week teased us with footage from the new movie.

The new trailer sees the return of Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas-Howard) as they seek to save the park’s dinosaurs from an erupting volcano.

We are also reintroduced to Jeff Goldblum’s character, Ian Malcolm, who dons his famous “life finds a way” line, as he returns to the franchise.

JA Bayona helms the directors chair this time around with original Jurassic Park director Steven Spielberg on producing duties.

Upon the release of the new trailer, Pratt said the movie “is going to be a scarier version, a little bit darker, and will continue to expand and carry the story forward in a way that is really unexpected and you wouldn’t have imagined.”

So here is the new trailer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which hits cinemas next summer.