Posted in 2020-2029, Film Feature, Ranking

Best Films of 2022

After the last two years saw cinema closures due to the pandemic for significant parts of the year, it has been immensely satisfying to have had a full interrupted 12 months of uninterrupted movies on the big screen. And what a year for film it has been, whodunnits aplenty, a long-awaited return to Pandora, more multiversal shenanigans, a very meta-comedy, some utterly enthralling action epics and a couple of extremely important movies that shone a spotlight on some very important and brave people. So without further ado, let us have a look at the best films of 2022.

With regards to films eligible for inclusion on this list, I always aim to include films which are listed as 2022 releases on IMDB. Yet, as seems to be the case every year, there are those films listed as 2021 releases which did not get released until well into the year, which makes them eligible for my 2022 list. On the flip side, there are some films featured here that are yet to be released in UK cinemas, but as I was able to catch these at London Film Festival, they are eligible for inclusion on this list. And as much as I would want to, I haven’t seen every film released in 2022, so if your favourite film is not on here, I might not have seen it. (On that note, I haven’t yet seen Babylon or The Fabelmans as they have not been released in the UK yet. I will factor these films into this list once I have seen them.)

Lastly, as always, the grades I awarded a film do not determine the final position on this list, a film which gets a perfect grade will not necessarily make it my favourite film of the year. This is my unashamedly biased list to highlight and celebrate the films which defined cinema in 2022 for me. As usual, there are some honourable mentions, films which are really great and worth your time but just didn’t quite make my list this year:

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent [review]. Nicolas Cage stars as Nick Cage in a very meta, but utterly hilarious, comedy that celebrates the career of Nicholas Cage, whilst also recognising the greatness that is Paddington 2. What more could you want?

Causeway.  Jennifer Lawrence and Brian Tyree Henry both give exceptional performances in this slow-burning but heavily impactful drama exploring the dynamic between two people trying to readjust and find their place in the world following tragic circumstances.

The Menu. A delightfully delicious satire of the wealthy elite of our society with a fascinatingly chilling performance from Ralph Fiennes as the head chef of this unique restaurant which will make you crave a particular food item by the end credits.

The Banshees of Inisherin [review]. Martin McDonagh reunites with his In Bruges stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson for a simple tale of two friends who have fallen out elevated by McDonagh’s razor-sharp screenplay, which is a fascinating blend of black comedy meets tragedy.

Bros. Billy Eichner co-writes and stars in by far and away the funniest film of the year in a hilarious, heartfelt and groundbreaking rom-com which stars a predominantly LGBTQ+ cast, and openly and proudly celebrates the LGBT+ community in a massive step forward for diversity on screen.

 

 

Honourable mentions honoured. Now, here comes the top 10…

 

15. The Whale

For years, Brendan Fraser was absent from Hollywood for a multitude of reasons. In this powerful drama from Darren Aronofsky, he makes his triumphant return in this moving film as an obese man who tries to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter after he drove her away by eating to excess. It’s a simple story but one made extremely powerful, with stunning supporting performances from Hong Chau and Sadie Sink, as well as a devastating lead performance from Fraser.

 

14. Avatar: The Way of Water

review

13 years after the release of his ground-breaking film Avatar, James Cameron triumphantly returns to Pandora for the long-awaited sequel which has proved the appetite for audiences to make the return to this incredible world was there all along. This enthralling sequel offers some of the most dazzling visual effects you will ever see, especially for all those underwater scenes. While a bit of a retread of the first film in terms of its plot, it offered plenty of emotional stakes and compelling action to make this a worthwhile return to Pandora.

 

13. Till

In 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till was brutally lynched and murdered by white supremacists. Following this heinous crime, his mother Mamie Till became an activist and a powerful voice in the Civil Rights Movement in the USA, campaigning for justice for her murdered son. It is certainly not an easy watch, but an extremely powerful and necessary one thanks to Danielle Deadwyler’s extraordinary, devastating and awards-worthy performance.

 

 

12. See How They Run

review

Agatha Christie is arguably the greatest novelist of all time when it comes to penning murder mystery novels and plays, so where better to set a murder mystery at the centre of a production of The Mousetrap? Harbouring the whimsical spirit of a Wes Anderson film, this film provides some delightful and witty meta-commentary on the murder mystery genre, whilst getting stellar performances out of its cast, especially Sam Rockwell as a grumpy detective and the scene-stealing Saoirse Ronan.

 

11. Nope

 

Jordan Peele’s first two films, both superbly blending horror and comedy, cemented the former star of the Key & Peele comedy double act as one of those directors whose name alone has the power to sell a film. Much intrigue surrounded his third film in the build-up to its release as to what the master and horror comedy could produce and whether he could complete his hat-trick? Short answer, yep, he can.

Once again providing an expert blend of horror and comedy, Peele upped the ambition for this one by going down the sci-fi route as a strange phenomenon haunts the sibling owners of a ranch, namely OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald (Keke Palmer). Like his previous two films, the film has a lot to say with thought-provoking subtext and social commentary about humanity’s love/fascination with spectacle. Reuniting with Peele after Get Out, Kaluuya adds another stellar performance to an impressive filmography, but this film belongs to Keke Palmer who steals the show with a fantastic performance.

 

Now for the top 10…

 

10. Bullet Train

review

A high-speed bullet train is probably the last place you’d want to find yourself on your commute, especially if you knew there was a group of deadly assassins on board whose missions are interconnected. Fortunately for us, under the vision of stuntman-turned-director David Leitch, this particular service is a delightfully entertaining and one of the most stylish action films all year as these missions criss-cross with violent and hilarious results and one of the best comedy double acts of the year in Brian Tyree Henry and Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s assassin comedy duo.

 

 

9. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

review

The foundations of the Marvel Cinematic Universe were forever changed when it was announced that Chadwick Boseman passed away in August 2020. It put director Ryan Coogler in the toughest of positions when it came to the sequel to 2018’s Black Panther as to how on earth they could overcome such a tragic horrific loss of someone who brought so much to the screen with every single role? In the most difficult of circumstances, Coogler and his cast came through to deliver a heart-breaking but beautiful film which in the most difficult circumstances explores how we process the grief when someone close to us has passed away, while also serving as an emotional tribute to Boseman’s extraordinary legacy.

8. Turning Red

review

Pixar films have never been afraid to tackle meaningful subject matter while also turning audiences into blubbering messes with the brilliantly emotional stories they have created over the years. In their first film directed by a woman, Domee Shi continues this trajectory with her brilliant, hilarious and emotional film about a girl who discovers whenever she gets nervous or excited, she turns into a giant red panda. Simultaneously a moving story about culture, family, and the perils of growing up, plus lots and lots of 2000s nostalgia. Furthermore, to its immense credit, the film is not afraid to shy away from the subject of puberty from a female perspective.

7. Belle

review

Offering some of the most jaw-dropping and stunning animation we have seen so far this decade, Mamoru Hosada’s film is a beautiful tale of one girl who, after a personal tragedy, is able to rediscover her passion for singing when she joins a vast digital world and becomes a global sensation. Encompassing themes of the impact of bereavement on a young person, the increasingly digital nature of society and the desire particularly among young people to have an online presence, the highs and lows encompassing fame/viral sensation online, while providing a modern 21st-century update for a tale as old as time. It is utterly scandalous this film was not nominated for the Best Animated Feature Oscar.

6. The Woman King

review

What comes to mind when you hear the words: historical epic? Chances are you’ll think of a film like Gladiator or Braveheart where men are taking revenge against those who have wronged them or are charging into battle. Given these sorts of films are almost always from the perspective of a man, it makes Gina Prince-Bythewood’s film telling the true story of the Agoije, an all-female group of warriors in a West African kingdom so awe-inspiring and badass.  Viola Davis’s General Nanisca is exactly the sort of commander who you would follow onto the battlefield. She leads an impeccably acted cast including career-best work from Lashana Lynch, an impressive breakthrough performance from Thuso Mbedu and a wonderfully regal performance from John Boyega.

 

5. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

review

 

When Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc made his introduction in Rian Johnson’s 2019 murder mystery/whodunnit Knives Out, right then and there, with his iconic Southern drawl, a modern icon of the genre was born. With the film representing a revitalisation of the genre, it came as little surprise when Netflix sanctioned a massive money deal for the rights to two further sequels. It brought much anticipation as to what everyone’s favourite Southern sleuth would get up to on his next case.

With another superbly stacked cast bringing to life another array of eccentric, colourful and rather douchey characters at its core, Johnson proves once again there was no foul play with Knives Out as he demonstrates his love for the genre with another wonderfully witty and hilarious screenplay, which is almost prophetic with the satire and social commentary at the centre. Every single member of this ensemble cast play their roles to perfection, and it is wonderful to see Craig have so much fun following his stint as 007. But the standout is, by far, Janelle Monae. So long as Craig and Johnson are happy to keep making these movies, there will be no complaints from me if we have many more adventures with Monsieur Blanc for many years to come.

 

 

4. Top Gun Maverick

review

One of many films to have seen its release date moved around a few times due to the pandemic, fans may have wondered if this long-awaited sequel to 1986’s Top Gun was ever going to take flight. Perhaps it was due to the multiple delays, but it certainly seemed like the hype around this film was fairly muted prior to its release. Though this all changed when it finally blasted its way into cinemas, becoming Tom Cruise’s highest-grossing film of all time.

The original Top Gun arguably made a star out of Cruise, but his star power has continued to grow in the 36 years between the two films’ releases. His commitment to entertaining the audience through crazy, death-defying stunts remains unrivalled in big blockbuster filmmaking, and we are lucky to have him. Through a winning combination of utterly exhilarating flight sequences putting the audience at the heart of the action, alongside an extremely emotional story of Maverick confronting his past and his guilt over the death of his close friend Goose, as well as an extremely emotional scene with Val Kilmer’s Iceman, and you have a sequel which surpasses its predecessor in every single way, and will take your breath away again, again and again.

 

 

3. She Said 

review

Throughout history, we have seen examples of the extraordinary work journalists can do to bring stories to light in a way that changes the world forever. One such example is the extraordinary work of Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, whose tireless investigative reporting uncovered the rampant sexual abuse of men in positions of power, such as Harvey Weinstein, which gave rise to the Time’s Up and Me Too Movements.

Given how these movements represent very recent history, it was important for the filmmakers to approach this subject matter with care, and this is exactly how Maria Schrader and screenwriter Rebecca Lenkiewicz handled it. The film simultaneously shines a light on the incredible bravery of the women who came forward to speak out against such systemic behaviour and the tireless determination of the women who, in spite of threats to have the story buried, persisted in their efforts to bring the truth to light. Flawless acting by the entire cast, especially Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan as Twohey and Kantor respectively, this important film shines a light on the important work journalists carry out, and the necessity for women’s voices to come to the fore when telling these stories.

 

2. The Batman

review

The Caped Crusader is an iconic figure in both comic book and cinematic history throughout the decades. Every actor who has donned the cape and cowl has managed to bring something unique to the role. The pressure was certainly on Matt Reeves for his take on this character to do something we haven’t seen before, and he absolutely delivered.

In a Gotham City quite unlike anything we have seen before, under an eternal cloud of perpetual rainfall, we have a Batman early in his crimefighting career (portrayed magnificently by Robert Pattinson) who must utilise all his skills as he comes up against Paul Dano’s terrifying Riddler. Portraying Batman’s skills as a detective in a manner previous Batman films have rarely utilised was an inspired choice and the combination of the exploration of Gotham’s murky criminal underworld, exemplified by a terrific performance from Colin Farrell as The Penguin, alongside some brilliant action sequences. When you have all of the above, along with an outstanding turn from Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman and you have one of the greatest incarnations of the Dark Knight ever put to screen.

And so my favourite film of 2022 is

.

.

.

.

.

.

1. Everything Everywhere All At Once

review

When 2022 began, it was poised to throw a number of films at audiences which explored the concept of the multiverse. Such a concept has exploded in popularity in recent years, particularly in the genre of comic book films, little did we know that the best film to explore this concept was not something that had a Marvel logo attached to it, but was an entirely original indy flick, from the minds of the directors of Swiss Army Man.

The film lives up to its name by throwing a plethora of genres all into one big melting pot and the results were bonkers, hilariously entertaining and emotionally devastating all at once. You will never look at googly eyes, rocks, raccoons, hot dogs and bagels in the same way after watching this masterpiece. At the heart of it is an awards-worthy performance from the legendary Michelle Yeoh who pours her heart and soul into every single action scene, likewise for Ke Huay Quan who after several years away from acting makes a triumphant return. No other film released this year has illustrated to me perfectly just how special cinema can be as an art form, and for this, it more than earns the title of my favourite film of 2022.

————————————————————————————————

And that brings the curtain down on my list of the best the big screen had to offer in 2022. Thank you for reading, especially if you read all the way through! What were your favourite films of 2022? Let me know in the comments below or you can find me on the following platforms: TwitterFacebook or Letterbox’d.

For my picks for my most anticipated films of 2023, please click here.

 

 

Posted in Film Feature, Ranking

Most Anticipated Films of 2023

Happy new year cinephiles!

2022 was certainly a much better year for the big-screen experience as there were no enforced cinema closures to contend with. A full 12 months of uninterrupted cinema, and long may it continue! Looking to the year ahead, there is, as usual, lots to look forward to, so let us dive straight in with my most anticipated films for 2023. These are the releases that I am most looking forward to, but time will tell if they will be the best because as is the case every year there are bound to be some films that come out of nowhere with very little fanfare to blow audiences away and the films that are likely to be big awards season players tend to start popping up in the latter half of the year.

Before we start, there are a few 2022 releases that are finally getting their wide release on these shores this year, such as Babylon, TAR and The Fabelmans, but as these are technically 2022 releases, they will not be included here.

Before we have a look at the top 10, here are a few honourable mentions  (All current UK release dates unless specified):

The Super Mario Bros. Movie (release date: 31 March): For anyone who grew up with the early generation video game consoles, Mario is one of, if not the most iconic and recognisable video game characters of all time. Fans might have a feeling of trepidation, particularly with Chris Pratt as the voice of Mario, particularly as the other time they adapted Mario for the big screen, it did not go well. However, in the hands of Illumination, and with a strong voice cast behind it, let’s hope this one gets the gold star!

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes (release date: 17 November)  Director Francis Lawrence is once again stepping back into the world of Panem for the prequel set 64 years before Katniss Everdeen became the Mockingjay to ignite the rebellion to overthrow the Capitol.

John Wick: Chapter 4 (release date: 24 March) Keanu Reeves is once again suiting up as John Wick AKA Baba Yaga for the fourth instalment of this action-packed franchise. Given how the last film ended, he’s out for bloody revenge and I fear for anyone who would dare get in his way…

Shazam: Fury of the Gods (release date: 17 March) Asher Angel/Zachary Levi return as Billy Batson who with a single word turns into the hero Shazam. There are significantly higher stakes this time around as Billy and his adopted family of superheroes must face off against the Daughters of Atlas.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (release date: 30 June). 15 years after he last donned the iconic hat and whip of the legendary Dr Henry “Indiana” Jones Jr, Harrison Ford reprises his role for the fifth and probably final time. James Mangold takes over the directing duties from Steven Spielberg, and with Mads Mikkelsen and Phoebe Waller-Bridge joining the cast, fingers crossed it can right the wrongs of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Now, let’s see what cracked my top 10:

10. The Little Mermaid

Release date: 26 May

Disney’s live-action offerings, particularly some of the recent ones, have mostly left an awful lot to be desired, begging the question as to why these films exist outside of an excuse for the Mouse House to print money. However, the live-action retelling of the story of Ariel could be the one to arrest the slump. Halle Bailey as Ariel is an excellent piece of casting, and she’s joined by Melissa McCarthy, and Javier Bardem, as well as the voice talents of Daveed Diggs, Jacob Tremblay and Awkwafina.

 

9. The Marvels 

Release date: 28 July 

It’s been a while since we have seen Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel in the MCU, but she is poised to make her return in this sequel to her 2019 film. The plot remains under wraps but this film will see Carol team up with Monica Rambeau and Ms Marvel, with Teyonnah Parris and Iman Vellaini reprising their roles from WandaVision and Ms Marvel respectively. Seeing these three team up, with Candyman reboot director Nia Da Costa (the first black woman to helm an MCU movie) calling the shots. Give it to me.

 

 

8. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

Release date: 17 February

The third instalment of the adventures of the MCU’s tiniest heroes promises to be one of the biggest films, certainly for Ant-Man and in all likelihood for the MCU as a whole as this film will see Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang and Evangeline Lilly, as well as Cassie Lang (now played by Kathryn Newton), travel down to the Quantum Realm where they will have to face off against Jonathan Majors’ Kang the Conqueror, who promises to be a major (pun intended) villain of the future MCU phases going forward.

7. Creed III

Release date: 3 March 

Speaking of Jonathan Majors, he pops up again here in this third instalment of the Rocky spin-off franchise as an old friend of Michael B Jordan’s Adonis who seemingly has a very personal score to settle after being released from prison. The stakes feel considerably higher for this third film, but alas Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky will not be involved this time around, with Jordan stepping behind the camera for his directorial debut.

 

6. Barbie

Release date: 21 July 

I honestly never thought I would see the day when a film about Barbie would feature on one of my lists of the most anticipated films of the year. But here we are, the POWER of Greta Gerwig.  Not much is known about the plot of the film, but with a cast which includes Margot Robbie in the lead role, Ryan Gosling as Ken, as well as Simu Liu, Ncuti Gatwa, Emma Mackey, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Issa Rae and Michael Cera, and you have my interest, especially since THAT trailer hit the internet. Come on Barbie, let’s go party!

 

5. Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3

Release date: 5 May

The fate of this film lay uncertain for a long period of time following the departure of director James Gunn. However, common sense prevailed and after being poached by DC to make the terrific The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker, Gunn returns for what is likely to be his last project for Marvel, and a potential end of the road for Marvel’s collection of loveable villains-turned-heroes as the recently released teaser indicates it could be an emotional farewell for The Guardians. Let’s hope Gunn has another Awesome Mix of banging tunes to drown out any potential audience waterworks.

 

4. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning – Part One

Release date: 14 July

The storming box office success of Top Gun: Maverick is proof positive Tom Cruise still commands insane box office power. Since Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, the MI franchise has somehow managed to find ways to keep going and just get better and better with every new instalment. This is no small part due to Cruise’s willingness to keep doing absolutely jaw-dropping and insane stunts which manage to outdo the last crazy stunt he did for the previous film.

While plot details remain unknown, Cruise is showing no signs of slowing down with the craziness of the stuns he seems willing to pull off, and all of the familiar faces seem to be back in action alongside Cruise. Christopher McQuarrie is once again calling the shots as the director. What’s more, the franchise has added some very exciting talents including Hayley Atwell, Pom Klementioff, Esai Morales and Shea Whigham. Given this is likely to be the penultimate film with Cruise in the role of Ethan Hunt, expect even more fireworks than before, if that is somehow possible.

 

3. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Release date: June 2

 

2018’s Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse was one of the most stylish and unique animated films to have come out in a long time, and it’s one of the best superhero films ever made. Introducing fan favourite Miles Morales as Spider-Man, its unique animation style made it feel like it was as if the animators were directly taking pages of a comic book and translating them onto the screen. Plus given the recent trend among superhero films to explore the multiverse, it was a film ahead of the curve.

With this sequel, we can definitely expect more multiverse shenanigans, and the fact that this film will be part one is an extremely intriguing prospect. Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld and Jake Johnson will all be reprising their voice roles. Joining the case will be Oscar Isaac as Spider-Man 2099, Issa Rae as Spider-Woman, Daniel Kaluuya as Spider-Punk, and quite possibly many more if the trailer is anything to go by. My spider senses are tingling with excitement already!

2. Oppenheimer

Release date: 21 July

Christopher Nolan’s films are always cinematic events, and his next film promises to be an enthralling, explosive spectacle exploring the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer and more specifically his role in the creation of the atomic bomb in the Manhattan Project during World War II. Frequent Nolan collaborator Cillian Murphy leads what is an extraordinarily stacked cast which includes: Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, Rami Malek, Florence Pugh, Benny Safdie, Michael Angarano, Josh Hartnett, Kenneth Branagh to name but a few.

And, my #1 most anticipated film of 2023 is…

.

.

.

.

.

.

1.  Dune: Part Two

Release date: 3 November 

“This is only the beginning”, says one character in the closing scene of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, a cliffhanger which left fans wanting an immediate return to Arrakis. The sequel was not assured given the film was released to cinemas as well as a day and date release on HBO Max, but with strong box office support, substantial viewership on HBO Max, and six Academy Awards at the 94th Oscars, the spice will flow once more as Villeneuve got the go-ahead to adapt the second half of Herbert’s novel, with Paul (Timothee Chalamet) out for revenge against the ruthless Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgard).

As well as Chalamet and Skarsgard, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, and Javier Bardem reprise their roles from the first film. Joining them for this sequel will be Florence Pugh, Austin Butler, Lea Seydoux and the legendary Christopher Walken.

This concludes my picks for the most anticipated films of 2023, What are your most anticipated films for this year? Let me know on any of the following platforms: Twitter, Facebook or Letterbox’d

 

Thanks for reading. Here’s to a great 12 months of cinema!

Posted in 2020-2029, Film Feature, Ranking

Best Films of 2021

2021, a year that initially began as 2020 ended, with the cinemas still closed amid a continuing lockdown that kept us at home. New releases were being brought to us through the streaming services, but it was wonderful to see the cinemas finally reopen in May. That feeling of being back in the cinema, watching films where they are meant to be seen, there’s honestly nothing like it. Given that the year saw the release of many films that were pushed back, there were lots of films for cinephiles to enjoy, and so let’s have a look and see what was the best films that 2021 had to offer.

Whenever I compile these end-of-year lists, the aim is always to include films that are listed as 2021 releases on IMDB. Yet, as will probably be the case till the end of time, some films had very staggered release dates. Consequently, there are some films appearing on this list that came out in 2020, but they weren’t available to UK audiences until 2021. Hence, this makes them available for this year’s list. Also, as much as I would want to, I’ve not seen every film that was released this year, so apologies if your favourite is not on here, as I may not have seen it. On the flip side to that, some films featured here that are listed as 2021 releases on IMDB, haven’t yet made their way to UK cinemas. However, as I was able to see some of these at London Film Festival this year, this means they are eligible for inclusion here.

Additionally, as I say every year, the grades I give the films do not determine the rankings of these films. A film that gets a perfect grade is not guaranteed to be my favourite film of the year. Lists like these are always a chance for the person compiling them to be as biased as they want to be. These are the films that, for me personally, defined 2021 as a strong year for film.

Before I get into the main list, I must give a shout out to some honourable mentions. These films are excellent that you should definitely check out, but they just didn’t quite make the list:

The Power of the Dog [review]. 12 years after her last film, Jane Campion returns to the director’s chair for an enthralling Western that focuses less on the cowboys and the shootouts, and more on the tense relationship between two brothers on a 1925 Montana ranch.

Encanto [review] The first, and not the last, film on this list that has the involvement of Lin-Manuel Miranda. Disney celebrated their landmark 60th animated feature film in some style, with a beautifully animated film that depicted a heartfelt story to prove the House of Mouse still has the magic touch.

Spencer [review]. Princess Diana’s story is one that is all too well known. A tragic figure in British history, Pablo Larrain’s unconventional biopic zeroes in on a time when Diana’s marriage to Prince Charles had grown cold. There’s a lot of creative liberties in terms of the story, but it all comes together thanks to an astonishing, transformative Kristen Stewart performance as Diana.

A Quiet Place Part II [review]. The first film that I saw in cinemas when they reopened. John Krasinski returned to the director’s chair to bring us a sequel to one of the most unique horror films of recent years. Recapturing that tension that of the first film was always going to be a tough ask, but Krasinski pulled it off, delivering a sequel that proved to be a worthy follow up to the original, with an incredible performance from Millicent Simmonds.

Spider-Man: No Way Home [review]. Since the pandemic began, there’s arguably not been a film that had quite the level of hype going into it as the concluding chapter to Tom Holland’s Spider-Man trilogy. Where previous Spider-Man sequels failed, this threequel webbed all of its plot threads tremendously well and delivered an extremely satisfying film that should change the MCU as we know it.

 

Honourable mentions honoured. Now, since we had so many films this year, let’s dive into the top 15

15. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

 

review

It had been a long time coming, but at long last this year, the MCU made a film that was led by an Asian superhero, alongside a predominantly Asian led cast. A landmark moment, and thanks to the outstanding stunt work, the film brought a unique visual style to the action scenes that are unlike anything that previous MCU films had brought to the table. Thanks to the brilliant performance of Simu Liu in the titular role, a new hero was born. Plus, in Tony Leung’s Wenwu, you have one of the best MCU villains in years.

14. tick, tick… BOOM!

As time goes by and we hit the later years in life, we begin to feel the pressure of wanting to leave our mark on the world. Taking the truly tragic story of Jonathan Larson and his struggles to craft the missing pieces of the puzzle for a play he’s writing doesn’t sound like the most invigorating combo in concept. But when you have a career-best performance from Andrew Garfield, and the usual catchiness of the songs that Lin-Manuel Miranda pens, and you have an extremely emotionally impactful combination that is beautifully directed by Miranda.

 

13. In the Heights

review

Continuing on the subject of Lin-Manuel Miranda, after being delayed by a year due to the pandemic, this Jon. M Chu-directed adaptation of Miranda’s 2005 musical was the much-needed blast of sun-soaked joy that we needed after many months of cinemas being shut. Filled to the brim with a plethora of memorable songs, all of which had a unique visual style to them. The film’s screenplay packed some important changes that made it extremely topical for the political landscape of 2021. In a year that saw a number of musicals, this is the best of them all and further proof that 2021 was the year of Lin-Manuel Miranda supremacy.

 

12. Belfast

review coming soon

In this beautiful semi-autobiographical film, director Kenneth Branagh tells the story about centres on a young boy growing up in the centre of Belfast just as the Troubles were beginning in Northern Ireland. Given that background, it seems unlikely that there’d be much room for humour, but Branagh works it so wonderfully well into his script, and gets awards-worthy performances out of every member of the main cast, especially Jamie Dornan and Catriona Balfe.

11. Raya and the Last Dragon

review

In all of the 58 Disney films that preceded this one, they’d never given audiences a heroine of South-Eastern Asian origin. As was the case with Shang-Chi, the film was a ground-breaking moment for representation that had been a long time coming. A lot of lore is packed into the story, but it married that up with an extremely exciting adventure. Plus, in Raya, you have yet another fearless and badass warrior princess that gives young girls a positive role model, and Awkwfinha as the voice of a dragon. One of Disney’s best films in years.

Now for the top 10…

 

 

10. No Time to Die

review

Being one of the first films to be affected by the pandemic, and being hit with a number of subsequent delays on top of that, it was starting to feel like we’d never get to see Daniel Craig’s final turn as James Bond. But thankfully this Autumn, it was finally released to the world, and it was worth the wait. The film had the extremely difficult task of tying all the loose ends from all of Craig’s previous Bond films, and managing the enormous expectations of the fans beforehand. Thankfully, while it wasn’t all plain sailing, it was mission accomplished with a compelling story that gave one of the best actors to play Bond a memorable final bow, and the send-off he deserved.

9. The Last Duel

review

Credit where credit is due for Ridley Scott. The veteran director is, at the age of 84, is still producing incredible pieces of cinema. He’s got a history with swords and sandals epic. However, what sets this apart from his previous films in this genre is that this is a medieval epic, with a modern, and very important message. Presenting its story in three distinct acts from a different person’s point of view, the first two acts are compelling and well written. However, it’s not until the third act, that the film truly soars, thanks to the award-worthy performance of Jodie Comer. This is, along with another film in this list, one of the most important films of the Post #MeToo Era of Hollywood, that absolutely did not deserve to be a box office bomb.

 

8. Sound of Metal

review

Losing one of your senses would undoubtedly be an extremely traumatic time in your life, especially if one of those senses was integral to your job as a drummer in a band. This is the devastating position that Ruben finds himself in, and must adapt to the changing circumstances of his life. With stunning sound work, the film puts you in Ruben’s (an extraordinary Riz Ahmed) position, and examines how his life will forever be changed by this painful diagnosis. An extraordinary directorial debut from Darius Marder that shines a deserved spotlight on deaf communities across the world.

7. King Richard

review

Serena and Venus Williams. Two names who need no introduction, as they have established themselves as two of the greatest athletes to have ever lived. What you probably don’t know, is the story of their father, Richard Williams, and the impact he had in shaping their early careers. The parents of any budding young superstar athletes undoubtedly have to work tirelessly to help their children achieve their dreams, and this uplifting family drama takes us on that journey. The film is packed with incredible performances, including an arguably career-best performance from Will Smith as Richard. He’s very ably supported by star-making turns from Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton as the young Venus and Serena respectively, likewise for Aunjanue Ellis as their mother Brandi.

 

6. The Harder They Fall

review

The Western genre is one that has so often been dominated by white lead characters. Meanwhile, for any black characters in these films, they are too often reduced to bit-part roles that don’t give them a chance to shine. However, as the words “These. People. Existed.” flash up on the screen at the start of this slick and stylish Western, it is a timely reminder that these people have stories of their own that deserve to be told. Enter Jeymes Samuel, with his feature film directorial debut that puts these characters front and centre.

Looking at what Samuel brings to the table in terms of his cast and the action scenes, it almost defies belief that this is his feature film debut. His passion for the genre comes through with every frame, and with the super talented cast he has at his disposal, it all meshes together tremendously well. An enthralling and much-needed revitalisation of the Western genre.

 

5. The Mitchells vs. the Machines

review

Technology has very much become a crucial aspect of modern life. From computers to mobile phones, it seems every so often we’re bathing our eyes in the blue light of some fanciful gadget. Films have often tackled the seemingly probable eventuality of a robot apocalypse, but what if when said robot uprising begins, humanity’s last hope is in the form of a hilarious, but extremely dysfunctional family? The answer is the latest hilarious film from those animated wizards at Sony Pictures Animation.

Filled to the brim with funny commentary about how dependent we are on our gadgets, the film’s animation brilliantly combines 2D and 3D styles of animation. The voice performances are all first-class, and the film has, hands down, THE best scene involving Furbies that will ever be seen in any film, ever.

 

4. The Suicide Squad

review

It’s fair to say that DC’s first attempt to bring their collection of super villains and mould them into a team of heroes didn’t get the reception and adulation that DC would have wanted. So what do you do to make a second attempt at this crop of characters work? Well, you bring in the guy who turned an obscure collection of Marvel anti-heroes into box office gold, and apply that to DC’s equivalent collection of characters.

While the film retains some characters from the 2016 film, it’s very much a soft reboot than a direct sequel. James Gunn brings his unique sense of humour to the story, and this new iteration expertly combines previous fan favourites, such as Harley Quinn, with exciting new recruits like a walking, talking humanoid shark, and a character who’s fond of rats. On paper, it sounds ridiculous but under Gunn’s direction, the end result is glorious and gory comic book movie mayhem.

 

 

Now, when it came to the top 3, putting these three films in some kind of order was extremely tough. At one point this year, I had all three of these at #1, and they all would be thoroughly deserving of that spot. If I could have them as a three-way tie for #1, I would. But as they must be ranked, we go on with…

 

3. Judas and the Black Messiah

review

The Civil Rights Movement in the US has seen a number of highly charismatic and influential leaders take a stand and leave their mark on history. The likes of Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, Muhammed Ali are all important figures whose story has been told throughout history. Yet there’s one important figure whose name has seldom been told, but who really should be held in the same breath as these aforementioned historical figures: Fred Hampton Jr.

The story and film’s message have only become more important and relevant in recent years since events in 2020 forced the world to have an urgent conversation about race relations in the US. LaKeith Stanfield’s leading performance as the FBI informant is incredible. However, it is Daniel Kaluuya’s transformative, Oscar-winning, supporting turn as Hampton himself that cements this biographical historical drama as one of the most important films of the year.

2. Promising Young Woman

review

Every so often there is a film that holds up a mirror to our society, that demands us to have a conversation about a particular topic. It’s the power of a truly great film. Not only do they generate a discussion, but they stay with you even after the credits have rolled. This was most definitely applicable for this enthralling directorial debut from Emerald Fennell.

Forced to drop out of med school, following a tragic incident involving her best friend, Cassie goes out at night pretending to be drunk, to catch in the act, would be sexual predators who would take advantage of a drunken woman. The film grips with you with the opening act, and only escalates when circumstances present Cassie with an opportunity to take revenge against the person who inflicted all that pain on her years ago. Fennell expertly juxtaposes bright and colourful romantic comedy moments, with the more dark and brutal revenge mission, all while getting a career-best performance from Carey Mulligan.

 

And so my favourite film of 2021 is

.

.

.

.

.

.

1. Dune 

review

For two years running, this was my most anticipated film of the year, and it absolutely delivered on those lofty expectations. Denis Villeneuve has cemented himself as one of, if not, my favourite directors working today. He has consistently delivered incredible films every time, and it was clear from interviews in the build-up to the film’s release just how much of an impact Frank Herbert’s iconic novel had on him growing up. It was said to be an unfilmable book, but Villeneuve absolutely proved everybody wrong.

Right from the off, the film immediately pulls the audience into the world of Arrakis and Dune. Villeneuve brings the visual majesty that he brought to his previous sci-fi works, and with a packed ensemble cast tells an utterly enthralling story, or at least the first part of it. The scope of the novel meant that Villeneuve was able to take his time, and it pays off. Dune very much stands on its own as an enthralling piece of sci-fi storytelling, and it was made for the big screen. Experiencing films like this was an experience that was sorely missed in 2020, and so to get the opportunity to experience this on the biggest screen possible was absolutely special. Plus, the great news is that we’ve Part Two still to come.

————————————————————————————————

And that brings the curtain down on my list of the best that film had to offer in 2021. Thank you for reading, especially if you read all the way through! Let’s hope that it won’t be long before the cinemas reopen and we can witness more films on the big screen. What were your favourite films of 2021? Let me know in the comments below or you can find me on the following platforms: TwitterFacebook or Letterbox’d.

For my picks for my most anticipated films of 2022, please click here.

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Feature

92nd Academy Awards: Best Picture (Collaboration)

The biggest night in showbiz is once again upon us, and I have once again teamed up with a group of awesome fellow film bloggers as we try and foresee the future by predicting who will be triumphant by the time the 91st Academy Awards have come to a close. We will be discussing the nine films that are up for Best Picture, giving you our rankings of all the films that we have seen, and making our case for what film should be clutching that Oscar, come the end of the evening. As a reminder, here are the nominees for Best Picture:

  • Ford v Ferrari
  • The Irishman 
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Joker
  • Little Women
  • Marriage Story
  • 1917
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Parasite

Out, of those nine, what film should emerge victorious? Here’s my two cents:

As av  history student I am, I gravitate to war films. But this is not the reason why Sam Mendes’s magnum opus is my pick for the Best Picture of 2019. It’s for the fact that it is an astounding cinematic achievement that just floored me in every way. Filmed to look as if it is one continuous tracking shot, it should clean house in the technical categories, and ensure that the legend that is Roger Deakins picks up another Oscar. But all that technical mastery would count for nothing, if the story being told in front of the camera was not compelling and emotionally investing, which it absolutely is.

Focusing on two young English soldiers who must go behind enemy lines to deliver a message to call off an attack to prevent an absolute slaughter. The premise is simple but it’s extremely effective, and that’s down to the extraordinary performances of Dean-Charles Chapman, and especially George MacKay who demonstrate they are far more than just the uniforms they are wearing. From the first minute, I was thoroughly invested in their mission, and the extraordinary camerawork fully immerses you in the time and the place. You do feel like you are on the ground with these men, and it never let up throughout the tense two hour run time.

For my full ranking of this year’s nominees, please click here.

Here’s what my awesome contributors had to say:

Maddy: @madelexne

“Parasite is easily the best film I have seen in years. Every inch of it is polished to perfection in a wholly authentic way, and I am in awe of what Bong Joon Ho has created alongside a sensational cast and crew. It’s the most deserving winner of Best Picture in years.”

  1. Parasite
  2. Marriage Story
  3. Little Women
  4. Jojo Rabbit
  5. The Irishman
  6. Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood
  7. 1917
  8. Joker

Nathan: @__Nathan

“If not now, when? As foolish as it may sound, Best Picture means more than simply being the most well-made film of the year. All good winners of the Academy’s highest accolade, in my opinion, should be saying something about the world we live in; while it isn’t exactly necessary, a film’s social value makes a winner stand out. ParasiteBong Joon-Ho’s social satire on class (we won’t say more, as it’s best appreciated blind), touches upon so many genres, incorporates so many tones and speaks so deeply about the way we interact as humans, that it’s something of a miracle that it works – never mind as masterfully and as confidently as it does.

Joon Ho’s layered screenplay and precise direction, the jaw-dropping production design, combined excellence of its well-dialled ensemble and razor-sharp editing have created something truly special in Parasite.
Never has a foreign language film been so accessible; never in my recollection has a movie earned such adoration across the board; and never has a film with this much hype actually lived up to it. It’s unlikely that a film as wildly entertaining, emotionally stirring, thematically sharp and just as consistently brilliant as Parasite will grace our cinemas for some time, so we should embrace it now.

The Academy has the opportunity to introduce one of the very greatest films of the century into a most elite club on Sunday. In the words of Bong Joon-Ho (and his interpreter for the award trail, Sharon Choi), let’s hope that voters can overcome the “the one-inch barrier of subtitles” and give the year’s best picture the Best Picture trophy.”

For Nathan’s full ranking of this year’s nominees, please click here.

Plain, Simple Tom: @PlainSimpleTom

Looking at 2019’s Best Picture nominees, there are only really three of them that I’d count as being truly special: 1917, Marriage Story and Joker – no, I haven’t had the chance to see Parasite yet – and out of the three of them, I’d guess that 1917 would be the likeliest to win, though I have no idea what the general consensus is on who the frontrunner is and maybe the critically adored Parasite will surprise everyone by being the first foreign language film to win. But there’s something to like in all the nominees and, with the exception of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Jojo Rabbit, I’d be perfectly satisfied if any of them won, though my preference would be 1917 and I’d love to see Joker win so that I can see Twitter explode.

And my ranking of the eight that I’ve seen would be:

  • 1917
  • Marriage Story
  • Joker
  • Ford vs. Ferrari/Le Mans ’66
  • The Irishman
  • Little Women
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Jojo Rabbit

Please find the links below to the other pieces written by these awesome film bloggers:

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Feature

92nd Academy Awards: Final Predictions

Another awards season is now coming to a close, and every year it comes by, there always seems to be some kind of controversy attached to it. This year is no different, having given us one of the most divisive movies in a long time in Joker. Yet said film has lead the way with the most nominations (11). Furthermore, there has been a notable lack of diversity in the acting nominations, just barely avoiding another #OscarsSoWhite situation, and much like the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs, a distinct lack of women in the director category, in spite of some truly excellent films made by women.

While it’s crystal clear that some work needs to be done on those matters, it has been a very strong year to round out the 2010s on the big screen and once again, there are 24 golden statues to give out. So who will be clutching one of those 24 golden statues that are on offer? Time to have a gaze at my metaphorical crystal ball and give my predictions, as well as give my own two cents on each category, minus the documentaries and the short films.

Best Actress in a Leading Role

  • Cynthia ErivoHarriet
  • Scarlett Johansson Marriage Story
  • Saoirse Ronan Little Women
  • Charlize TheronBombshell
  • Renée ZellwegerJudy

Last year, Olivia Colman unexpectedly (but very happily) took the statue ahead of strong favourite Glenn Close. This year, Renee Zellweger’s performance as Judy Garland has been sweeping all before her, so a triumph for her seems certain. However, her likely win is frustrating given that her performance was easily the best thing about an otherwise bland/forgettable biopic.

Johansson has become the first actor to be nominated in lead and supporting since 2007, and her work in Marriage Story was arguably a career best. Charlize Theron was on reliably excellent form in Bombshell, Saorise Ronan’s excellent performance in Little Women has ensured she has very impressively chalked up a fourth nomination at the age of 25. While it is embarrassing that Cynthia Erivo is the only person of colour to get nominated, her performance as the inspirational civil rights icon Harriet Tubman was more than deserving of recognition, as was Awkwafina whose heart-wrenching performance in The Farewell was snubbed.

What’s more, the Academy’s refusal to give horror films a look in is baffling when two of the best performances by women in leading roles came from Florence Pugh (Midsommar) and especially Lupita Nyong’o (Us), the latter of whom’s extraordinary dual performance really wipes the floor with the likely winner, and the fact it’s not in the conversation at all, is just mind-boggling.

Will Win: Renée Zellweger 

Should Win: Scarlett Johansson

Should have been nominated: Lupita Nyong’o for Us/ Florence Pugh for Midsommar/ Awkwafina for The Farewell 

Best Actor in a Leading Role

  • Antonio BanderasPain and Glory
  • Leonardo DiCaprioOnce Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Adam DriverMarriage Story
  • Joaquin PhoenixJoker 
  • Jonathan PryceThe Two Popes

It seems a sure bet The Academy will ensure that Joaquin Phoenix becomes the second actor to win an Oscar for playing the Joker, eleven years after Heath Ledger’s posthumous win in 2009. Despite the backlash in some quarters to the film, his performance has been widely recognised as its main strength. Though he’s got some considerable competition, most notably from Adam Driver’s heart-breaking work in Marriage Story, likewise for Antonio Banderas’s very personal performance in Pain & Glory. Jonathan Pryce’s nomination came as a mighty surprise, especially given the bemusing absence of Robert De Niro, who gave his best performance in years that was more than worthy of recognition.

In an ideal world, this would be Driver’s trophy but Phoenix will have the last laugh here.

Will Win: Joaquin Phoenix

Should Win: Adam Driver

Should have been nominated: Robert De Niro for The Irishman 

Best Supporting Actress

  • Kathy BatesRichard Jewell
  • Laura DernMarriage Story
  • Scarlett JohanssonJojo Rabbit
  • Florence PughLittle Women
  • Margot RobbieBombshell

By far and away, one of the biggest snubs when the nominations were announced was the absence of Jennifer Lopez in this category for her stunning work in Hustlers. Given that she was nominated for pretty much every other awards show going, it was a massive surprise to see her not nominated. 2019 was the year that Florence Pugh truly made a name for herself. It’s worth reiterating that her outstanding work in Midsommar was worthy of a nomination. However, it is pleasing to see that in the year she made a name for herself, she’s duly rewarded with a well deserved Oscar nomination. Johansson had a small, but extremely effective part in Jojo Rabbit, which served as the emotional core of Taika Waititi’s film.

But like the other two acting awards, this has got Laura Dern’s name on it. To make a divorce lawyer a likeable character is quite the skill and it will ensure that she ends her long wait for Oscar gold.

Will Win: Laura Dern

Should Win: Laura Dern

Could have been nominated: Jennifer Lopez for Hustlers or Zhao Shuzhen for The Farewell 

Best Supporting Actor

  • Tom HanksA Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  • Anthony HopkinsThe Two Popes
  • Al Pacino The Irishman
  • Joe PesciThe Irishman
  • Brad PittOnce Upon a Time in Hollywood

The fourth and final acting award of the night, and again it is looking another lock, this time for Brad Pitt’s incredible work in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. There’s definitely some dark history attached to this character, but Pitt’s charm and charisma is so effortless that along with Leo DiCaprio, he’s so much fun to watch.  To see Joe Pesci come out of retirement for Martin Scorsese’s gangster masterpiece was just wonderful to behold, and alongside Al Pacino, they made an effective compelling trio of powerful performances in Scorsese’s gangster epic. Tom Hanks’s first Oscar nomination in 19 years was long overdue, and while he made for a perfect Fred Rogers, this is Pitt’s trophy to lose.

Will Win: Brad Pitt

Should Win: Al Pacino/Joe Pesci (can’t split them)

Should have been nominated: Jamie Foxx for Just Mercy or Song-Kang-ho for Parasite 

Best Director

  • Martin ScorseseThe Irishman
  • Todd Phillips Joker
  • Sam Mendes1917
  • Quentin TarantinoOnce Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Bong Joon-hoParasite

Like with BAFTA and the Golden Globes, the best director category is, rather disappointingly, another all male affair. When you consider some of the films that were made by women, is extremely disappointing. The films made by these men are (mostly) great (looking at you Todd Phillips) but when you have the likes of Greta Gerwig, Marielle Heller or Lulu Wang or heck even Olivia Wilde, get shut out, it is deeply frustrating. It makes you wonder what these directors have to do to break down that barrier.

However, of the five to get nominated, by far the one that stands out the most is the work of Sam Mendes and the stunning work that is done to make 1917 such an immersive experience that puts you on the ground with these men. Bong Joon-ho is definitely a threat to Mendes due to his breath-taking work with Parasite, but a second Oscar for Mendes would be a fitting way to celebrate what is one of his finest films.

Will Win: Sam Mendes 

Should Win: Sam Mendes

Should have been nominated: Greta Gerwig for Little Women or Lulu Wang for The Farewell

Best Original Screenplay

  • Knives OutRian Johnson
  • Marriage StoryNoah Baumbach
  • 1917Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns
  • Once Upon a Time in HollywoodQuentin Tarantino
  • ParasiteBong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won

Five extremely strong screenplays competing here, but given that four of the five are Best Picture nominees, Knives Out‘s chances of an upset are sadly slim to none. Given the criticisms in some quarters of 1917’s screenplay, it seems unlikely to add to its probable slew of Oscar wins in the technical categories. Noah Baumbach could yet pull off an upset to add to Marriage Story’s Supporting Actress win, but this seems to be a race between OUATIH and Parasite. Tarantino has twice won this Oscar twice before, and a hat-trick is definitely possible, but it likely won’t be the case. While Parasite is a surefire bet to win Best International Feature, this should be Bong Joon ho’s richly deserved moment in the spotlight.

Will Win:  Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won for Parasite

Should Win: Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won for Parasite

Should have been nominated: Lulu Wang for The Farewell

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • The IrishmanSteven Zaillian
  • Jojo RabbitTaika Waititi
  • JokerTodd Phillips and Scott Silver
  • Little WomenGreta Gerwig
  • The Two PopesAnthony McCarten

To have taken on an adaptation of a much beloved novel, one that has been many times over, and put your own stamp on the material, providing audiences with the definitive adaptation of said novel is a credit to Greta Gerwig. Given her snub in the director category, it would be very satisfying to see her win for only her second feature film. Furthermore, it would make her the only woman to win in this category in the 2010s, which given the lack of diversity in the directing category is indicative of the obstacles facing female writers and directors.

Yet she has some stiff competition in the form of Taika Waititi who had the extremely tricky task of adapting the novel Caging Skies for the big screen. There was an enormous risk that this could have backfired badly, and it definitely divided critics and audiences right down the middle. The divisive nature of Jojo might just help it swing back in Little Women’s favour though, but it’s very close to call.

Will Win: Taika Waititi for Jojo Rabbit

Should Win: Greta Gerwig for Little Women

Should have been nominated:  Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Best Animated Feature Film

  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden WorldDean DeBlois, Bonnie Arnold, and Brad Lewis
  • I Lost My BodyJérémy Clapin and Marc du Pontavice
  • KlausSergio Pablos, Jinko Gotoh, and Marisa Romá
  • Missing LinkChris Butler, Arianne Sutner, and Travis Knight
  • Toy Story 4Josh Cooley, Jonas Rivera, and Mark Nielsen

One of the more unpredictable categories this year. In years gone by, the Academy has always leaned towards Disney/Pixar films, and so often they run away with it. Yet, due to the fact that Toy Story 4 isn’t as highly regarded as the 3 that came before it, that could count against it. Indeed, this year’s race has seen the majority of the prizes being split up between Klaus and Missing Link.  Hence, any one of these three could end up claiming the trophy.

Will Win: Klaus

Should Win: Toy Story 4

Best International Feature Film

  • Corpus Christi (Poland) – Directed by Jan Komasa
  • Honeyland (North Macedonia) – Directed by Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov
  • Les Misérables (France)– Directed by Ladj Ly
  • Pain and Glory (Spain) – Directed by Pedro Almodóvar
  • Parasite (South Korea) – Directed by Bong Joon-ho

While France could have nominated the much beloved Portrait of a Lady on Fire, it’s hard to look past this being another hit from the Bong for Parasite.

Will Win: Parasite

Should Win: Parasite

Could have been nominated: Portrait of a Lady on Fire (France)

Best Original Score

  • JokerHildur Guðnadóttir
  • Little WomenAlexandre Desplat
  • Marriage StoryRandy Newman
  • 1917Thomas Newman
  • Star Wars: The Rise of SkywalkerJohn Williams

This would appear to be a straight up battle between Guðnadóttir and Newman. But even 15 nominations later, and after producing a stirring, breath-taking score for 1917, there’s a substantial chance that Newman could lose out yet again. Which begs the question, what has he got to do to end his run without an Oscar?! If she wins, Guðnadóttir will become the first woman to win since the score category became one single category. While Desplat’s score for Little Women was delightful, it’s unlikely he’ll be claiming his third Oscar. The nomination for Williams does feel like a token nomination, and is more of a celebration of his work in general, given that his score for The Rise of Skywalker was, like the film itself, unremarkable. Alan Silvestri deserved a nomination for the “Portals” track alone.

Will Win:  Hildur Guðnadóttir

Should Win: Thomas Newman

Could have been nominated: Alan Silvestri for Avengers: Endgame

Best Original Song

  • “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” from Toy Story 4 – Music and Lyrics by Randy Newman
  • “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman – Music by Elton John; Lyrics by Bernie Taupin
  • “I’m Standing with You” from Breakthrough – Music and Lyrics by Diane Warren
  • “Into the Unknown” from Frozen II – Music and Lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
  • “Stand Up” from Harriet – Music and Lyrics by Joshuah Brian Campbell and Cynthia Erivo

While Rocketman definitely could have got a few more nominations (Costumes and Best Actor), the one nomination it has picked up is likely to end in triumph for the Elton John biopic. As well as her nomination for Best Actress, Cynthia Erivo’s soulful performance of “Stand Up”, probably represents its closet challenger. However, a victory for Elton would be a fitting tribute to a true legend of the music industry.

Will Win:  (I’m Gonna) Love Me Again Rocketman

Should Win: “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again from Rocketman

Best Sound Editing

  • Ford v FerrariDonald Sylvester
  • JokerAlan Robert Murray
  • 1917 – Oliver Tarney and Rachael Tate
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Wylie Stateman
  • Star Wars: The Rise of SkywalkerMatthew Wood and David Acord

Back at the 90th Oscars, it was a case of Baby Driver going up against Dunkirk in these two sound categories. This year, it’s once again a tale of revving cars vs warfare as Ford v Ferrari goes head to head with 1917. The work of the sound team on Ford V Ferrari is extremely impressive, and a big part of the film’s success. However, every technical aspect of 1917 helps to make it such an immersive cinematic experience, and the astounding work done by the sound team should put this out of reach of all of its competitors.

Will Win:  1917

Should Win: 1917

Best Sound Mixing

  • Ad Astra – Gary Rydstrom, Tom Johnson and Mark Ulano
  • Ford v Ferrari – Paul Massey, David Giammarco, and Steven A. Morrow
  • Joker – Tom Ozanich, Dean Zupancic and Tod Maitland
  • 1917 – Mark Taylor and Stuart Wilson
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Michael Minkler, Christian P. Minkler, and Mark Ulano

Likewise for the Sound Editing, this one should be going the way of 1917 as war films tend to do well in the sound categories, though again Ford V Ferrari represents its biggest competitor.

Will Win:  1917

Should Win: 1917

Should have been nominated:

Best Production Design

  • The Irishman – Production Design: Bob Shaw; Set Decoration: Regina Graves
  • Jojo Rabbit – Production Design: Ra Vincent; Set Decoration: Nora Sopková
  • 1917 – Production Design: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Production Design: Barbara Ling; Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh
  • Parasite – Production Design: Lee Ha-jun; Set Decoration: Cho Won-woo

Another category that feels very open given that all these nominees are in the Best Picture race. However, given that 1917 and Parasite are the front runners in that particular race, it’s looking like to be another battle between these two. Both the lavish home of the Park family, and the squalid dwellings of the Kim family were constructed from scratch. Yet the work done to eerily recreate the horrors of WWI trenches, No Man’s Land and a town that’s been battered by warfare, stand just a fraction above in my opinion. Though, given that the Academy so often likes films about Hollywood, don’t rule Once Upon a Time in Hollywood out of this.

Will Win: 1917

Should Win: 1917

Could have been nominated:

Best Cinematography

  • The Irishman – Rodrigo Prieto
  • Joker – Lawrence Sher
  • The Lighthouse – Jarin Blaschke
  • 1917 – Roger Deakins
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Robert Richardson

Roger Deakins produced further evidence of his unrivalled mastery as a cinematographer with his scintillating work in 1917. As well as making that one shot element of the film work so well, some of the shots especially the ones at night were just absolute feasts for the eyes. After FINALLY winning that first Oscar for Blade Runner 2049, Deakins will be claiming that second Oscar, a fitting recognition for one of the best ever cinematographers.

Will Win: Roger Deakins

Should Win: Roger Deakins

Should have been nominated: Pawel Pogorzelski for Midsommar

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  • BombshellKazu Hiro, Anne Morgan, and Vivian Baker
  • JokerNicki Ledermann and Kay Georgiou
  • JudyJeremy Woodhead
  • Maleficent: Mistress of EvilPaul Gooch, Arjen Tuiten, and David White
  • 1917Naomi Donne, Tristan Versluis, and Rebecca Cole

Two years ago, Kazu Hiro won this award for his work in transforming Gary Oldman into Winston Churchill. This time around, he and his fellow makeup artists work their magic to turn Charlize Theron and John Lithgow into Megyn Kelly and Roger Ailes respectively, and once again the work is extraordinary that should ensure another Oscar comes his way. With its likely wins in Best Actor and Best Original Score, Joker represents Bombshell’s biggest threat.

Will Win:  Bombshell

Should Win: Bombshell

Best Costume Design

  • The IrishmanSandy Powell and Christopher Peterson
  • Jojo RabbitMayes C. Rubeo
  • JokerMark Bridges
  • Little WomenJacqueline Durran
  • Once Upon a Time in HollywoodArianne Phillips

Of the six nominations it received, this category unfortunately probably represents Little Women’s best chances of success, and while period pieces usually do well here,it’s by no means a given that it will win (see last year with Black Panther triumphing over The Favourite.) Furthermore, both Sandy Powell and Mark Bridges have already won multiple awards in this category, but hopefully the power of those lavish 19th century frocks will propel Jacqueline Durran and, Little Women, to victory.

Will Win: Little Women

Should Win: Little Women

Best Film Editing

  • Ford v FerrariAndrew Buckland and Michael McCusker
  • The IrishmanThelma Schoonmaker
  • Jojo RabbitTom Eagles
  • JokerJeff Groth
  • ParasiteYang Jin-mo

To have made a three and a half hour film feel so well paced that it rarely drags is a testament to Thelma Schoonmaker’s talents as an editor. Through her collaboration with Scorsese, she has bagged three Oscars and with The Irishman, it should bag her another Oscar. Yet it likely won’t, further raising the very real possibility of The Irishman walking away empty handed. As Russell Bufalino would say “It is what it is.”

The brilliant way that the two opposite strands of the sharp and witty story in Parasite come together is a testament to the marvellous editing by Yang Jin-mo, that should be rewarded with the trophy. But it would be dangerous to write off Ford v Ferrari as the editing helps ensure those racing scenes are as well realised as they are. Given that editing for Jojo Rabbit and Joker was fairly unremarkable, Lee Smith’s role in helping the continuous tracking shot element of 1917 has been unfairly overlooked.

Will Win:  Yang Jin-mo 

Should Win: Thelma Schoonmaker 

Should have been nominated: Lee Smith for 1917

Best Visual Effects

  • Avengers: EndgameDan DeLeeuw, Matt Aitken, Russell Earl, and Dan Sudick
  • The IrishmanPablo Helman, Leandro Estebecorena, Stephane Grabli, and Nelson Sepulveda
  • The Lion KingRobert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones, and Elliot Newman
  • 1917Guillaume Rocheron, Greg Butler, and Dominic Tuohy
  • Star Wars: The Rise of SkywalkerRoger Guyett, Neal Scanlan, Patrick Tubach, and Dominic Tuohy

Last year, Black Panther grabbed the MCU its first three Oscars, but incredibly the record-breaking franchise has never won an Oscar for visual effects. Now would be the time for the Academy to recognise the extraordinary work of these artists whose work has been such an integral part of the MCU. The Irishman, and its use of the de-aging technology generated plenty of chatter, but not all of it was positive. While it would be ironic it would be if a Scorsese film beats a Marvel film to an Oscar, further disappointment for the MCU’s visual effects artists, and Scorsese are probably afoot, because the technical mastery of 1917 should ensure it is triumphant.

Will Win:  1917

Should Win: Avengers: Endgame

Should have been nominated: Captain Marvel

And, last and certainly by no means least….

Best Picture

  • Ford v FerrariPeter Chernin, Jenno Topping, and James Mangold
  • The IrishmanMartin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Emma Tillinger Koskoff
  • Jojo RabbitCarthew Neal and Taika Waititi
  • JokerTodd Phillips, Bradley Cooper, and Emma Tillinger Koskoff
  • Little WomenAmy Pascal
  • Marriage StoryNoah Baumbach and David Heyman
  • 1917Sam Mendes, Pippa Harris, Jayne-Ann Tenggren, and Callum McDougal
  • Once Upon a Time in HollywoodDavid Heyman, Shannon McIntosh, and Quentin Tarantino
  • Parasite Kwak Sin-ae and Bong Joon-ho

Click here to see my ranking of the Best Picture contenders.

Unlike last year, that had a slew of films that felt undeserving of the Best Picture nominations (one of which ended up winning), the overwhelming majority of the films here are very much deserving of their place at this table. While, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood seemed to be the odds on favourite at one point to take home the big prize, it has since lost momentum. This has enabled latecomer 1917 to storm into the lead, with Parasite not too far behindThese two have been battling out for the top prizes and so it’s likely that one of these two films will take home the big prize.

Should Parasite emerge triumphant, it will become the first foreign language feature to win Best Picture, which would be a hugely significant accomplishment. In my eyes, as these are my two favourite films of this entire awards season, a win for either of these two masterpieces would be more than well deserved. That being said, I’m hoping for a 1917 victory, but should Parasite take home the trophy, there will be no complaints from me, as to paraphrase Al Pacino in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, “What a pair of pictures!”

Will Win:  1917

Should Win: 1917

Should have been nominated: Knives Out

——————————————

Final counts

Will win:

  • 1917 – 7
  • Parasite – 3
  • Joker – 2
  • Bombshell – 1
  • Jojo Rabbit – 1
  • Judy – 1
  • Little Women – 1
  • Klaus –1
  • Marriage Story – 1
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – 1
  • Rocketman – 1

Should win:

  • 1917 – 7
  • Marriage Story3
  • Parasite – 3
  • Little Women – 2
  • Avengers: Endgame – 1
  • Bombshell – 1
  • The Irishman1
  • Rocketman – 1
  • Toy Story – 1
Posted in 2010-2019, Film Feature

92nd Academy Awards: Best Picture Nominees Ranked

The time has come for Hollywood to pay tribute to the best of the best that 2019’s cinematic offerings had to offer. With that comes a plethora of films competing for glory. With a total of nine films up for the big prize this year including a look at one of the most notorious villains in comic book history, a gripping war epic, another adaptation of a beloved novel, a thrilling satire at a capitalist society, and a love letter to the Golden Age of Hollywood.

There’s lots of quality to be found in this year’s bunch, but only one will walk away with the trophy. So the time has come to rank these from worst to best (per my opinion of course) starting with….

9. Joker

Full Joker review here

By far and away, Joker is the most divisive film among this year’s nominees. Every there’s always at least one film that I feel doesn’t deserve to be in the lineup, and this is that film for me. There’s no question it has plenty of admirers, most notably winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. On the flip side, it has no shortage of of detractors. While Joaquin Phoenix’s performance is superb and is likely to win him the Best Actor Oscar, the film has attracted plenty of criticism for being a poor imitation of the films that have quite clearly acted inspiration for the film, (namely Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy).

Now, I’m not of the opinion that Joker is a bad film. However, it should not be in the Best Picture conversation. Phoenix’s performance elevates it considerably beyond its pretty mediocre script, (as well as a great Hildur Guðnadóttir score) Furthermore, there’s nothing really remarkable about it. As well as arguably being a poor imitation of those aforementioned Scorsese films, it has plenty of problematic elements. Most notably, its depiction of mental health which leaves a lot to be desired and the fact that it felt as though it couldn’t make up its mind as to whether it was demonising its lead character, or heralding him as a hero against the backdrop of a broken society.

Now for these next eight that do (at least for my money) deserve to be in the conversation….

8. Little Women

Full review here

Even with the great calibre of all the other eight nominees, it feels like a disservice putting such a good film so low. However, it’s indicative of the quality of the eight remaining nominees that a film as good as this comes in eighth place. However, take nothing away from Greta Gerwig and what she has accomplished with only her second feature film. Having made something so wonderfully original for her directorial debut, her follow up reiterates what a talent she is both as a writer and a director. This beloved novel has had many adaptations in the past, but Gerwig puts her own stamp on the source material, with glorious results.

A key ingredient of why this film works is the brilliant work of each of the actresses playing the March sisters. The chemistry that they share feels so warm and affectionate. Like all siblings, they frequently go between loving each other, to loathing each other. What’s more, each sister brings something unique to the story. With every aspect of the production design and costumes on point, and another delightful Alexandre Desplat score, the entire ensemble cast all give excellent performances. Though the show is definitely stolen by Saorise Ronan and Florence Pugh, the latter of whom certainly made 2019 a year to remember with her first Oscar nomination.

 

7. Ford v Ferrari

Full review here

The mark of a truly great sports film is one that invests you in its story from the get-go, even if you’ve never heard of said event before. This is something that Ford V Ferrari does so brilliantly, but this is more than just a film about the 24 Hour Race at Le Mans in 1966. The intense battle between two men both striving for greatness in their fields, and the battle between them and the giant corporate machine that threatens to stomp all over their work is what keeps this well oiled machine of a film running smoothly.

As well as this absorbing drama, the work of the sound teams brings the film’s racing scenes to life in an exhilarating manner. With a truly excellent cast full of excellent performances, the best work comes from Matt Damon, and especially Christian Bale. Mixing in the back and forth between company head honchos and the absorbing, immaculately crafted racing scenes ensures that makes for extremely compelling storytelling, that helps this film race past the finishing line in flying colours.

6. Marriage Story

Full review here

Marrying someone you love can sometimes be a long-lasting and blissful experience that lasts the rest of your life. However, for others, it will sometimes end in heartbreak, causing the two people to go their separate ways. Noah Baumbach captures the pain of the divorce process with such raw emotion, which is lifted in part from his own experiences following his divorce from actress Jennifer Jason Leigh.

If I had my way, Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver would be winning Best Actress and Best Actor for their heart-breaking, powerful and emotional performances. With every moment, you feel the affection that they have for each other, and both strive to make this process as amicable as possible for the benefit of their son. But at the same time, there are moments where you feel the pain and rage that they’re both going through at that particular moment. In such a heavy drama, it’s a testament to Baumbach’s strong screenplay that he weaves some humorous moments expertly into the script, but it never negates the emotional weight of the story.

 

5. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Full review here

Quentin Tarantino films are so often known for two things: sharp, well written dialogue and some stylistic violence. And while his latest film ticks both those boxes, it definitely features more of the former than the latter. There’s something that feels very personal, almost fairytale like about this film, and it’s something that sets is apart from the rest of his filmography. It’s the director’s very personal love letter to the Golden Age of Hollywood, that so very obviously inspired him as a director.

Recruiting two of the most charismatic actors in the business definitely works in the film’s favour. The duo of Leo DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton and Brad Pitt’s (likely) Oscar winning turn as stuntman Cliff Booth serve up a delightful bromance that I could watch all day long. While Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate was criminally underutilised, what screen time she had, she used effectively. Tarantino films of the past (mainly Inglorious Basterds) certainly demonstrate his fondness to rewrite the history books. With that, he takes us on an exciting journey through 1960s Hollywood, and provides us a very very satisfying pay off.

4. Jojo Rabbit

Full review here

The second Best Picture nominee to have created a fierce divide between audiences. Taking on subject matter like this is a brave decision for any film-maker. It could have all gone horribly wrong, but if anyone was able to take on this sort of premise and make it work, then Taika Waititi was the man to do that. And that’s just what he did, in spectacular, and truly hilarious, style.

In a similar vein to Marriage Story, there was a risk that the sharp and relevant satire could have negated the more intense dramatic moments of the film. Yet Waititi walks this line masterfully, combining the comedy and the devastating drama, whilst introducing the world to the star in the making that is Roman Griffin Davis. At a time when toxic ideologies have reared their ugly head, and have not been consigned to the history books where they belong, it’s a damning indictment on society that a film like this and its central message, of love triumphing over hate, feels all the more relevant in today’s society.

3. The Irishman

Full review here

Martin Scorsese and gangster movies are just a match made in heaven. Every time this legendary director ventures into the world of gangster film-making, it always seems to be a recipe for greatness and this is no exception. One of the most expensive Netflix productions to date, telling the fascinating story of delivery driver turned hitman Frank Sheeran and how he rose through the ranks of the mob, leading him to meeting charismatic Union Leader Jimmy Hoffa.

Under the expert vision of Scorsese, and long-time editor Thelma Schoonmaker, the three and a half hours fly by as Scorsese absorbs you into this compelling and fascinating story that spans over multiple decades. Getting the best performances in years out of DeNiro and Pacino, whilst bringing Pesci out of retirement for one last hurrah. All three men are on stellar form, and DeNiro was inexcusably left out of getting a deserved Best Actor nomination, alongside Pesci and Pacino in the Supporting category. If this is Scorsese’s last venture into the world of mobster/crime films, then the Godfather of the genre has certainly bowed out in the finest way possible.

2. Parasite

Full review here

South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho is a name that might not be as instantly recognisable as a Tarantino or a Scorsese, but after watching his latest film, you’ll be hard pressed not to be utterly speechless by the brilliant work that the South Korean director has put together. Like last year with Roma, the fact that it stands a legitimate shot at becoming the first film not in the English language to win the top prize speaks volumes as to how well liked this film is, and it well deserved.

Looking at a case of one family living at the bottom of the barrel of society, who find a way to improve their situation by gaining employment with a family steeped in wealth. Filled to the brim with sharp, relevant commentary about the capitalist society that dominates many countries around the world, that simultaneously weaves in some brilliant humour into this story. This is just the tip of the iceberg as to the brilliance of this story that Bong Joon-ho has constructed, combine that with razor sharp performances from every member of this cast, and the end result is something that is a layered, enthralling piece of storytelling that you’ll want to revisit many times over.

1. 1917

Full review here

Being the history student I am, I gravitate to war films. But this is not the reason why Sam Mendes’s magnum opus is my pick for the Best Picture of 2019. It’s for the fact that it is an astounding cinematic achievement that just floored me in every way. Filmed to look as if it is one continuous tracking shot, it should clean house in the technical categories, and ensure that the legend that is Roger Deakins picks up another Oscar. But all that technical mastery would count for nothing, if the story being told in front of the camera was not compelling and emotionally investing, which it absolutely is.

Focusing on two young English soldiers who must go behind enemy lines to deliver a message to call off an attack to prevent an absolute slaughter. The premise is simple but it’s extremely effective, and that’s down to the extraordinary performances of Dean-Charles Chapman, and especially George MacKay who demonstrate they are far more than just the uniforms they are wearing. From the first minute, I was thoroughly invested in their mission, and the extraordinary camerawork fully immerses you in the time and the place. You do feel like you are on the ground with these men, and it never let up throughout the tense two hour run time. One of the finest war films ever made, not only is 1917 my favourite film of 2019, after multiple viewings, it has now cemented itself as one of my favourite films of all time.

—————————————————————————————

Could/should have been nominated…

Unlike last year, this year nine films have been chosen for the top honour. Yet once again, I find myself asking, why not just make it a perfect ten and nominate one extra film to have the honour of being in the company of these (mostly) great films. What could have joined their company? If I had my way, out would go Joker, and then choose from any of the following three films to make it a perfect ten:

Knives Out (review): After getting all that vitriol for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, it is delightful to see that Rian Johnson is now officially an Academy Award nominee, and very much deservedly so. Giving the Whodunnit genre a 21st century do-over, and the end result was an utter blast from beginning to end, with one of the best ensemble casts of the year.

Avengers: Endgame (review): Is this me being super biased towards one of my favourite franchises of the last decade? Perhaps, but the fact remains that this film marked the crowning glory of an extraordinary ten year journey, the like of which has never been seen in cinema before. Akin to Return of the King being very deservedly bestowed with a record-breaking number of Oscars for its extraordinary work, the extraordinary work that has gone into this franchise deserved to be recognised with a Best Picture nominee. The Academy definitely nominated the wrong comic book movie.

The Farewell (review): Honestly, how this film got completely overlooked baffles me. Telling a deeply personal story that draws from director Lulu Wang’s own background, it’s a story that anyone no matter where they are from, or where they grew up can connect with. On top of that, it boasts an Oscar worthy performance from Awkwafina.

Posted in 2020-2029, Film Feature

Top 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2020

Happy new year cinephiles! It is 2020, a brand new decade is upon us, and that means there’s a lot of exciting films to come our way over the next 12 months.  So without further ado, I present to you my picks for my top 10 most anticipated films that are set to hit UK cinemas in 2020.

Just a quick note to say that certain films that have marketed 2020 releases such as The Lighthouse, Waves, Just Mercy etc will not be counted here, partly because I have seen some of these at London Film Festival, and a few were included in my best of the year ranking, even though they are set to arrive into UK cinemas this year. Before we get into the main body of the list, I have a few honourable mentions, that I am looking forward to, but they just didn’t quite make the list. These are:

Venom 2, So if you saw my review of the first film, you’ll know that I hated it and it was one of the worst things I saw in 2018. However, Andy Serkis attached as director for this sequel has me intrigued. Given Serkis’s expertise with motion capture work, I hope that he can use that expertise to make something more compelling than that awful first film, and less of the horrendous cheesy dialogue would be great as well.

Godzilla VS Kong, The MonsterVerse hasn’t exactly had the easiest of starts to its existence as a cinematic universe. Both 2014’s Godzilla and 2017’s Kong: Skull Island were both beset by similar problems, namely too little screen-time for their eponymous titans, in favour of mostly very bland humans. Last year’s King of the Monsters certainly packed more action, but was bogged down by a problematic script. We go to these films to see giant monsters throw down, so if they can focus more on that and less on the humans, this titanic clash certainly could be an enthralling spectacle.

The French Dispatch, Wes Anderson’s films are almost always eccentric, but that eccentricity doesn’t prevent his films from being wonderfully crafted pieces of art. After making the wonderful Isle of Dogs in 2018, the quirky director makes his return to live action. With another stacked cast including Anderson regulars like Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Frances McDormand, Owen Wilson and Adrian Brody.

The EternalsThe Infinity Saga might have wrapped up 23 films worth of MCU build up, but even after all that, the folks at Marvel are not showing any signs of slowing down. The studio has proved that it can take lesser known properties in their roster of heroes, and make extremely entertaining movies out of them. With an exciting cast, the studio will be hoping they have another Guardians of the Galaxy on their hands.

Soul,The first of two Pixar films scheduled to come out in 2020, is from the mind of Pete Docter, the visionary genius behind two of the studio’s most emotional films in Up and Inside Out, which means the odds of this being another emotional tear-jerker from Pixar are extremely high.

Honourable mentions have been honoured, let’s see what cracked my top 10:

10. Birds of Prey

Release date: 7th February

By far and away, one of the best aspects of 2016’s Suicide Squad, was Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. So after said film seemingly left the DCEU in limbo, Margot Robbie is once again, suiting up once again as Harley Quinn. This time, however, she has ditched Jared Leto’s Joker, in favour of some more female company. Together, Harley and this group of women find themselves up against Ewan McGregor’s villain: Black Mask.

Of all the comic book movies slated to come out in 2020, four out of them will be directed by women, and all five of them feature women in significant, leading roles. This can only be a good thing not just for the comic book movie genre, for the film industry as a whole. Let’s hope that under Cathy Yan’s direction, that Harley and her band of vigilantes can start 2020’s superhero offerings with a bang.

 

9. Last Night in Soho

Release date: 18th September

The mere mention of certain directors can be enough to generate anticipation, and Edgar Wright is certainly one of those names. After directing the fast paced, and extremely entertaining Baby Driver, his next project as a director is being teased as a psychological horror film set in 1960s London with a cast that includes includes Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith and Dame Diana Rigg.

 

8. A Quiet Place: Part II

Release date: 20th March

For years, John Krasinski was most likely known from his role in the US version of The Office, but then he transitioned into a film director. As far as first films go, A Quiet Place was a masterfully well made horror film, that placed a real emphasis on sound. Having also written and starred in the first film, for reasons you will realise if you have seen the first film, Krasinski is just behind the camera this time.

The plot once again features real life wife Emily Blunt leading the Abbot family and her children, who have discovered some useful information that could defeat the terrifying sound monsters that have ravaged the planet. If this film can rebuild that tension that the first part was able to capture so masterfully, another horror gem could be on our hands. But, best be quiet about it.

7. Mulan

Release date: 27th March

Despite their three live action releases in 2019 enduring decidedly mixed reactions from audiences and critics, the Box Office returns for said films were more than prosperous for Disney, leaving them to continue on with their mission to remake all their live action classics. Next on their list is the 1996 classic Mulan.

From the trailers, this looks as though it has potential to be considerably more faithful to the Chinese legend, as there will be no Mushu to be found here. With an all Chinese cast, and this being only the second Disney film with a female director (Niki Caro) and a budget above $100 million, following A Wrinkle in Time, Disney will be hoping that this is the film that brings the honour back to their live action remakes.

 

6. Onward

Release date: 6th March

Pixar so often find that magic touch in their films that can make grown adults bawl their eyes out at the beauty and the emotion of the events on screen, and when the studio is focused on crafting original stories (e.g Coco and Inside Out), they usually craft something pretty special.

This tale of two brothers off on a magical quest has all the recipe of being another Pixar classic. With Chris Pratt and Tom Holland voicing the brothers and Julia-Louis Drefyus and Octavia Spencer also lending their voices, it has all the makings of potentially another Pixar classic that will get the audience sobbing uncontrollably.

5. No Time to Die

Release date: 2nd April

After what feels like an absolute eternity, and amid constant speculation as to whether Daniel Craig would hand back his license to kill, the actor’s final outing as 007 is finally making its way to cinemas. With a production that seemed to be cursed from the outset, most notably being original director Danny Boyle being forced to drop out and an injury to Craig on set, new director Cary Joji Fukunaga has an almighty mission to deliver the goods.

Mixed in with the usual faces are an intriguing crop of new cast members including Lashana Lynch as a new 00 agent, Ana De Armas as a CIA operative, and Rami Malek as a rather sinister looking villain. After two great films, and two so-so films under his belt, Daniel Craig will be aiming to bow out on a high note.

 

4. Wonder Woman 1984

Release date: 5th June

Back in 2017, the DCEU was in limbo somewhat having had its previous two entries the preceding year, take something of a critical mauling, Hence, a lot was riding on the first Wonder Woman film to succeed, which it did in emphatic style. Now with another blast back to the past, 1984 strangely enough, we see Diana Prince battle a new foe in the form of Pedro Pascal’s Maxwell Lord as well as possibly Kristen Wiig as the Cheetah.

Goodness knows what Diana has been doing with her time in the years between WW1 and 1984, but with Patty Jenkins back in the director’s chair for this sequel, along with Birds of Prey, there’s every chance that this sequel can replicate the success of the first WW film, and should it achieve that it will be a further boost for the DCEU as it bids to continue along the trajectory that’s been set by the first WW and last year’s Shazam!

3. Black Widow

Release date: 1st May

SPOILER ALERT if you’re one of the very few people who didn’t see Avengers: Endgame, but said film sadly marked the heroic demise of Natasha Romanoff as she sacrificed herself to help the Avengers gather the Infinity Stones to save the universe. For a long time now, fans have clamoured to see her get her own film, especially given the success of Captain Marvel. While it is a little strange that this film has come now, given her Endgame fate,  it is great to see it finally happening.

Rumoured to be set between the events of Civil War and Infinity War, it teases more of her back story that has been so often the subject of fleeting mentions in previous MCU films, so to see Scarlett Johansson back in this role is undeniably exciting. Add in a top drawer cast that includes Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, and David Harbour, everything is in place to ensure that this off Phase Four of the MCU with a bang.

 

 

2. Tenet

Release date: 17th July

Christopher Nolan, a director who can generate anticipation by a mere mention of his name. There are many who believe that the director hasn’t made a bad film yet, and his latest promises to be the usual mind-bending wizardry that we have come to expect from Nolan. With a stellar cast that includes John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh, and of course a customary appearance from Sir Michael Caine, expect more mind-bending awesomeness when this one debuts in cinemas….

 

And, my #1 most anticipated film of 2020 is……………………………………………………

.

.

.

.

.

.

1. Dune

Release date: 18th December

In a similar vein to Christopher Nolan, Denis Villeneuve is another director who’s name just captures the attention. Having hit a hot streak with Sicario, Arrival and Blade Runner 2049, Villeneuve has proved himself to be one of the best directors working today, and now a fresh adaptation of the 1965 by Frank Herbert is in his sights.

In the wake of the film by David Lynch, which the director promptly disowned upon release, the potential for something truly special, especially with arguably the most stacked cast of the entire year that includes Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Rampling, Zendaya, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem and Jason Momoa. Fans of the novel can have hope that this masterful director can do the novel justice, which given that this is reportedly the first of two films, offers much promise.

Thus concludes my picks for the most anticipated films of 2020, What are your most anticipated films for this year? Let me know on any of the following platforms: Twitter, Facebook or Letterbox’d

Thanks for reading and here’s to another great year of cinema!

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Feature

Best Films of 2019

It is fitting in many ways, that as we reach the end of the decade, that a number of the franchises that have had a massive impact in the last ten years of cinema have been brought to a close. 22 films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe gave a very satisfying pay off, the curtain closed on the Skywalker saga for the final time, and the less said about that Game of Thrones finale, the better. Meanwhile, Netflix continues to assert itself in the industry producing some stellar content, all while an exhaustive amount of discourses and debates on a variety of subjects relating to film have raged all year long. It was certainly an eventful year of cinema to close out the decade, and so the time has come for me to rank all that 2019 had to offer on the big screen, at least of the films I saw.

Due to staggered UK release dates, it can be extremely messy to determine what film belongs in what year. Therefore regarding the eligibility of films for this list, I always aim to include films that are listed as 2019 releases on IMDB. Also, some of the films listed here haven’t yet made their way into UK cinemas, but since I was fortunate to be able to catch some of these films at London Film Festival this year, they are eligible for inclusion. On the other hand, there’s a 2019 release that doesn’t get its UK wide release until February 2020, so that film will be deferred for my 2020’s list, and I am absolutely certain that will make an appearance.

Secondly, the grade a film receives does not necessarily determine its place on the list. Getting the perfect grade does not mean it will rank higher than a film that got a lower grade. This is, as is the case for all of us who review films, our one chance to be completely biased about the films that we enjoyed the most, and these are the films that I will remember from 2019.  Before I get into the main list, some honourable mentions need to have their time to shine. These films are excellent that you should definitely check out, but they just didn’t quite make the list. First up…

Ad Astra [review] Many films have illustrated just how terrifying the eternal chasm that is space, and Brad Pitt’s enthralling turn as an astronaut who must venture deep into space in search of his long lost father is another example. It’s a slow burner, but well worth the investment.

Harriet [review] Harriet Tubman’s story is nothing short of inspirational, a woman born into slavery who escaped and then daringly made several missions to free people from this appalling institution. This biopic, while told in a very conventional manner, tells her story with sincerity, and boasts a magnificent performance from Cynthia Erivo, whose career as an actor is going from strength to strength.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood [review coming soon] Tom Hanks is simply put, one of the most charismatic answers in the business, and so the decision to cast him as the legendary TV children’s presenter Fred Rogers was an utter masterstroke. As you’d expect Hanks’s performance is wonderful and Marielle Heller’s direction is so charming, that it’s guaranteed to give you a warm feeling by the time the credits have begun to roll.

Hustlers [review] For women who work in a strip club, it can be a difficult situation to find themselves in. For one group of women however, it’s a situation they choose take full advantage of, by devising a scheme to get back at the wealthy patrons of the strip club that employs them. With an excellent group of actresses at its core, and a fascinating story, the entire show is stolen by an electric, awards worthy performance from Jennifer Lopez.

Toy Story 4 [review] After Toy Story 3 wrapped up one of the best animated trilogies ever, in beautiful and heart-wrenching fashion, many were left wondering, was there any need for another Toy Story? Fears that this would prove to be a cynical cash grab were soon dismissed as Pixar, as they so often do, delivered the goods with a fourth film that absolutely needed to be told. It doesn’t quite match the lofty standards set its predecessors, but it comes mighty close.

Captain Marvel [review] It shouldn’t have taken as long as it did, but 2019 marked the first time that the Marvel Cinematic Universe had a female led film, and it was certainly worth the wait. While the story was certainly a tad formulaic, it was extremely entertaining and flew its way to a billion dollars at the Worldwide Box Office, firmly shutting up those individuals that tried to derail the film prior to its release.

Little Women [review] Making yet another adaptation of the classic novel by Louisa May Alcott seemed to be a tad unnecessary. However, in the wake of her stunning directorial debut. Greta Gerwig took this beloved novel and put her own take on it, and in so doing may have created the definitive big screen adaptation.

Honourable mentions have been honoured, time to crack on with the main list, which due to the vast number of great films we have had this year I’ve made it into a top 15 list, and we begin with…

15. Official Secrets

review

Working for the government can put any employee in a difficult position, especially when they handle such confidential information. For one employee, deciding that a confidential memo demands to become public information, she bravely takes on her government by leaking the aforementioned memo to the Press.

The intrigue is maintained throughout thanks to some excellent writing and a sensational lead performance from Keira Knightley who carries the film on her shoulders magnificently. There’s a very important message at the centre of this gripping film that remains very relevant to the world we live in today, namely that governments need to be held to account when they try to sweep such damning information under the rug.

14. Midsommar

review

After terrifying audiences with his debut feature Hereditary, Ari Aster has reinforced his growing reputation as a horror maestro with his sophomore feature. Telling the story of a woman goes with her boyfriend to a Swedish Pagan festival, and some dark and disturbing events soon start to unfold.

With a magnificent, haunting, awards worthy lead performance from Florence Pugh, that captures raw grief and pain in such a powerful manner. One of the best directed films of the year, filled with some thought provoking themes and imagery, with plenty of scenes that I will certainly not be forgetting in a hurry.

13. Ford V Ferrari

review

The mark of a great film, especially one about a sporting event, is that you shouldn’t have to be the most devout follower of said sport to be thoroughly invested in it. The 24 Hour Race of Le Mans isn’t the most glamorous, or indeed the most iconic of sporting events, but that didn’t prevent James Mangold from crafting an extremely compelling film about it.

With a truly excellent cast full of excellent performances, the best work comes from Matt Damon, and especially Christian Bale. Mixing in the back and forth between company head honchos and the absorbing, immaculately crafted racing scenes ensures that makes for extremely compelling storytelling, that helps this film hit race past the finishing line in flying colours.

12. Marriage Story

review

The day the two people tie the knot is so often the happiest day of those people’s lives, but sometimes, that loving relationship can be soured, causing people to go their separate ways. The pain of the divorce process is captured so powerfully by director Noah Baumbach, as two people go through a problematic and painful divorce that will push both both parents to the limits, whilst trying to do what’s best for their son.

With awards worthy performances from just about everyone, though without any doubt, the spotlight shines brightest on Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver. The performances of these two are arguably the best performances of the year. To go from a funny moment, to a remorseful moment in a heartbeat is a skill, and it’s a testament to the strength of Baumbach’s screenplay that he combines these two contrasting emotions so strongly, without tainting the experience.

11. The Farewell

review

Family, an institution that can mean so much to so many of us. When such sorrowful news about a loved one’s declining health reaches our ears, it can be difficult news to take. Especially when, the traditions between generations and cultures can be such a stark contrast.

The film is such a surprise with how much humour it finds in this situation, but Lulu Wang expertly balances the delightful moments, with ones that are just raw with emotion. At the centre of all, Awkwafina gives the performance of her career as a woman who’s caught between two different customs and traditions. No matter who you are or where you’re from, you’ll connect with this film in some capacity.

Now for the top 10…

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Feature

91st Academy Awards Predictions: Lead and Supporting Actor

Hollywood’s biggest night is upon us once again, and I have teamed up with a group of awesome fellow film bloggers as we try and foresee the future by predicting who will be triumphant by the time the 91st Academy Awards have come to a close. I will be discussing the ten gentlemen who are up for both Actor in a Leading Role and Actor in a Supporting Role. As always, there are some magnificent performances, but there can only be one winner in each category. Let’s get started with:

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Christian Bale – Vice

Last year’s winner of this award Gary Oldman totally transformed himself via a great heap of make-up into Winston Churchill, and it paid dividends. This year we have fellow Brit Christian Bale disappearing under a lot of make up to transform him into the most powerful Vice President the US has ever had. It helps to add authenticity to Bale’s performance, it’s just a pity then that the film around him is very vulgar and put together in a way that will piss people off. The Academy does love a good transformation though, so Bale might yet take home his second Oscar *shudders at thought*.

Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born

This is Bradley Cooper’s fourth acting Oscar nomination (seven if you count the other awards he’s up for), and honestly he is the man who should be winning that statue. For a film in which he does just about every job going (acting, singing, writing and directing) it’s honestly Cooper’s best performance of his career so far. He clearly is a guy who is battling some fierce personal demons, but watching him connect with Lady Gaga’s upcoming musician is just so touching and heart-warming, which all comes to a crescendo when the duo first perform “Shallow” together. It is just beautiful and so deserving of an award.

Willem Dafoe – At Eternity’s Gate

Regrettably since this film has not arrived on UK shores, I cannot comment on this performance. While I have no doubt that an actor of Dafoe’s talents gave a great performance, the Academy really should have nominated John David Washington for his performance in BlacKkKlansman.

Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody

While my heart wills it to be a triumph for Cooper, it seems almost certain that the next recipient of this award will be Rami Malek for his remarkable performance as the iconic frontman of the legendary Queen, the one and only Freddie Mercury. It is quite the transformative performance as Malek practically becomes Freddie Mercury. His performance is one of the factors that really elevates the movie, given that as far as biopics go, it is pretty by the numbers. What stands out by far, is the final 20 minutes or so which brings to life Queen’s Live Aid show, and though the rest of the film is fine, this is by far and away, the highlight.

Viggo Mortensen – Green Book

A far cry from his work in Lord of the Rings, but it shows the incredible versatility of Viggo Mortensen that he can go from the badass Aragorn, to the brass and vulgar Tony Lip, and do such a sterling job with both of them. He is very much the opposite of Mahershala Ali’s Dr Shirley but through spending a lot of time together, the two men develop a solid friendship that really drives the film forward. Though it was a bit simplistic in how it handled some of the subject matter, it was heart-warming to watch him connect with Mahershala Ali’s Dr Shirley and stick up for him during their travels in the hostile Deep South.

Will win: Rami Malek

Should win: Bradley Cooper

 

Here’s what everyone else had to say:

Maddy: @madelexne:

“The big fight this awards season seems to have been between Rami Malek and Christian Bale, but I would love for it to go to Bradley Cooper. Though I maintain the fact that Malek’s performance was the one good thing in the mess that was Bohemian Rhapsody and wouldn’t feel it was a wrongful win; I just can’t stop thinking back to Cooper’s performance in A Star is Born. There are at least five stand out scenes from the film I can remember from him, and it only gets more impressive with time.”

Nathan: @__Nathan

“When you consider that the best leading actor performance – Ryan Gosling in First Man – was snubbed, it only seeks to emphasise what a lacklustre line-up this really is. Of those nominated, Bradley Cooper should have walked this thing but two *ahem* shallow, vapid and flashy imitations turns are duping it out instead: Rami Malek will take it over Christian Bale, because the Academy can’t resist a transformation – and the man knows how to work a room.”

Plain, Simple Tom: @PlainSimpleTom

“A strong year for the leading men, Rami Malek looks to be the favourite to win this year for his powerful and memorable performance in the otherwise average “Bohemian Rhapsody”. And he deserves it, in spite of the harsh treatment that he seems to be enduring on Twitter. I’d say that Bradley Cooper is the most deserving nominee – for giving us a truly compelling and flawed character as well as singing and playing music like a pro, all the while directing the whole shebang. Christian Bale could also be in with a chance for his transformative turn in “Vice”, Viggo Mortensen sure was entertaining in “Green Book” but he won’t win, and Willem Dafoe is the least likely to win the big prize – I mean, had anyone even heard of “At Eternity’s Gate” before the nominations were announced?”

Ryan @morris_movies:

“In what can only be described as the category’s weakest lineup in years, the Best Actor race has staggered its way to a frustrating, underwhelming finale. Rami Malek looks poised to take the statue home with him for his middling, impressionistic performance in Bryan Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody despite Bradley Cooper giving a soulful, career best performance in his own A Star Is Born. It’s an anger-inducing category for a number of reasons this year, but perhaps in no way more so than Ryan Gosling’s lack of inclusion. His performance in First Man is blunt and subdued, sure, but filled with quiet heart and pent up emotion. He should be winning the statue, but instead he isn’t even in contention for it.”

——————————————————————

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Mahershala Ali – Green Book

Having won this award for Moonlight a couple of years ago, Ali is in contention once again and very much the front runner to scoop his second statue in three years. His performance in Green Book was certainly one of the highlights of the film. He plays a very refined gentleman who is accompanied in a journey across the Deep South by Viggo Mortensen’s Tony Lip. Watching these two men, very much polar opposites form a friendship in the very harsh Deep South was heart-warming and Ali showed why he’s likely to become a two time Oscar winner with this emotional performance.

Adam Driver – BlacKkKlansman 

My personal choice for the winner of this award. It’s honestly about damn time an actor of Driver’s immense talents was recognised with an Oscar nomination. Aside from crushing it in the new Star Wars franchise, he’s been superb and has worked with such directors as Martin Scorsese and now Spike Lee. His performance as a cop who becomes part of this mission to infiltrate the KKK gave Driver the chance to demonstrate his serious acting chops, whilst also showing off his comedic ones, and he pulls off both aspects of this role brilliantly.

Sam Elliott – A Star Is Born

Much like Driver, this is also Elliott’s first Oscar nomination, which is crazy when you think about how long he has been working in the business, but better late than never I suppose. As the brother to Bradley Cooper’s fading rock star, though he is a tad hard to understand in places at least to my ears, there are one or two moments in particular that just hit you like a ton of bricks (case in point, the driveway scene). You really feel the love he has for his brother and it just makes it all the more tragic given what happens in the end.

Richard E. Grant – Can You Ever Forgive Me?

If you haven’t fallen in love with this guy’s infectious joy across this Oscar campaign, I must ask you, do you not like joy or something? Another first time nominee, and I think many people would love to see this guy triumph. As Sam Hock, he plays a misfit like Melissa McCarthy’s Lee Israel, and watching these two get up to all sorts of mischief, and have a bundle of fun whilst doing so is just uproariously entertaining. Being a fellow Brit I would love to see him win, but I sadly just don’t see it happening.

Sam Rockwell – Vice

The recipient of this award last year, but Sam Rockwell is unlikely to make it two consecutive wins on the bounce. He’s without question, a good actor as he demonstrated last year, but his inclusion here is just baffling to be honest. He wasn’t in the film all that much from what I can recall (to be honest my brain has pushed out 75% of this film) but there were other performances that were far more worthy of recognition that should have been nominated in Rockwell’s place in all honesty, gentlemen such as Daniel Kaluuya (Widows) or Brian Tyree Henry (Widows/If Beale Street Could Talk) gave, in my opinion, far more award worthy performances.

Will win: Mahershala Ali

Should win: Adam Driver or Richard E Grant

Here’s what everyone else had to say:

Maddy:

“I desperately want Richard E. Grant to win for Can You Ever Forgiver Me? Yes, Mahershala Ali is the coolest person to walk this Earth, we have all established that; but Grant was electric in his role as Jack and poured so much charisma and simultaneous awfulness into the character that I really would punch the air if he won.”

Nathan: 

“Despite some category fraud at hand, Mahershala Ali seems nailed on to take Supporting Actor. It’s no doubt a good performance and arguably the film’s strongest element, yet Richard E. Grant’s extraordinary performance as Jack Hock in Can You Ever Forgive Me? is an exemplary masterclass on what it takes to give a SUPPORTING performance. He impressively blends humour with pathos with incredible results, enhancing the work of others while standing out in his own right. He deserves every award for his work in this film (and for being the most joyous thing about this tumultuous award season).”

Ryan:

“It’s a stronger lineup than its Leading Role counterpart, but Supporting Actor still comes with its own quibbles and frustrations this year. Mahershala Ali is probably walking home victorious with his second Oscar in a matter of years, and despite his performance being the highlight of Green Book, it’s difficult not to look for a stronger winner elsewhere. Richard E. Grant is probably most deserving, for his funny, moving performance in Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me?, and Adam Driver made a big impression in Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman. Still, at least when Ali wins it’ll be for a genuinely good performance. That’s more than we can say for Lead Actor this year, unfortunately.”

Please find the links below to the other pieces written by these awesome film bloggers:

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Feature

91st Academy Awards: Predictions

Today, after a plethora of controversies and U-turns, this awards season will be brought to a close as we celebrate the 91st Academy Awards. From the short-lived Most Popular Award, to the decisions to present some awards during the commercial breaks, only to (sensibly) go back on that, after a huge public outcry. I think many will be glad to put this award season behind us, but before we do, there are 24 golden statues to give out, and so I will now gaze into my crystal ball and predict who will be clutching one of those golden men come the end of the night, whilst also giving my own thoughts on each category (minus the documentaries and the shorts as I have not seen those).

Best Actor in a Leading Role

  • Christian BaleVice 
  • Bradley CooperA Star Is Born 
  • Willem DafoeAt Eternity’s Gate 
  • Rami Malek Bohemian Rhapsody 
  • Viggo MortensenGreen Book 

Rami Malek’s transformative turn as the iconic Queen front man has won plaudits left, right and centre, and he has scooped pretty much every prize going so far. His performance completely elevates Bohemian Rhapsody, and if you took that and Queen’s music away, you’re left with a pretty by-the-numbers biopic. For Cooper, this is his fourth acting nomination and he’s mighty unlucky that his arguably career best performance in A Star is Born, will more than likely leave him going home empty-handed. Bale could spring an upset for his work in Vice but Malek will more than likely be the champion here.

Click here for a Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor collaboration post.

Will Win: Rami Malek

Should Win: Bradley Cooper

Should have been nominated: John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman)

Best Actress in a Leading Role

  • Yalitza AparicioRoma 
  • Glenn CloseThe Wife
  • Olivia Colman The Favourite 
  • Lady GagaA Star Is Born
  • Melissa McCarthyCan You Ever Forgive Me?

Despite a glittering career across several decades, Glenn Close has never tasted Oscar glory despite SEVEN nominations, so expect the Academy to right this wrong this year. That being said, all of these performances are excellent with Yalitza Aparicio getting her first nomination despite having never acted before. Lady Gaga brilliantly held her own opposite Bradley Cooper and Melissa McCarthy made a welcome switch to a more dramatic role, and it got a career best performance out of her in the process. I would love to see Olivia Colman, the Queen herself, scoop the prize as her performance in The Favourite was utterly hilarious, but this award belongs to Close.

Click here for a Best Actress collaboration post.

Will Win: Glenn Close

Should Win: Olivia Colman

Should have been nominated: Viola Davis (Widows)

Best Supporting Actor

  • Mahershala AliGreen Book
  • Adam DriverBlacKkKlansman 
  • Sam ElliottA Star Is Born
  • Richard E. GrantCan You Ever Forgive Me?
  • Sam RockwellVice

Sam Rockwell’s nomination here really sticks out like a sore thumb, he’s a very talented actor but his performance in Vice was nothing special. Sam Elliot, Adam Driver and Richard E Grant all (somehow) score their first nominations (hopefully the first of many for Driver).  Though it was hard to understand him at times, Sam Elliot’s performance was so raw and emotional. Both Driver’s and Grant’s required a deft combination of humour, mixed in with some very serious drama, and both pulled this off with seemingly effortless ease. It has been impossible not to just fall in love with Grant as he has been such a delightful breath of fresh air across this campaign, and so a win for him would be a joyous moment. However, it seems unlikely that anyone will stop Mahershala Ali from taking his second Oscar for a refined performance in Green Book.

Will Win: Mahershala Ali

Should Win: Adam Driver

Should have been nominated: Daniel Kaluuya (Widows)

Best Supporting Actress 

  • Amy AdamsVice
  • Marina de TaviraRoma 
  • Regina KingIf Beale Street Could Talk 
  • Emma StoneThe Favourite
  • Rachel WeiszThe Favourite

Another crop of very strong performances across the board from all of these ladies makes picking a winner very hard, especially considering the amount of people who could have been nominated. Adams’s mission to land Oscar gold should be over already (see Arrival) but seeing as how I don’t run the Academy, her wait is likely to go on. Marina De Tavira’s performance was a very warm and charming one, but she doesn’t really stand a chance, as this is very much a battle between The Favourite ladies vs Ms Regina King. King has been taking the majority of the but a Rachel Weisz victory at the BAFTAs could sway it in her favour.

Click here for a Best Supporting Actress collaboration post. 

Will Win: Regina King

Should Win: Emma Stone or Rachel Weisz

Could have been nominated: Elizabeth Debicki (Widows) or Claire Foy (First Man)

Best Director

  • Spike LeeBlacKkKlansman
  • Paweł PawlikowskiCold War
  • Yorgos LanthimosThe Favourite
  • Alfonso CuarónRoma
  • Adam McKayVice

Spike Lee’s first ever directing nomination comes after making what is for me perhaps the most important film of the last twelve months so for this I would like to see him win. Lanthimos’s eccentric style of directing carried over to The Favourite, and there was a definite amount of visual flair and very interesting stylistic choices in his direction. The same cannot be said for Adam McKay. However, it seems certain that Cuaron will pick up his second directing Oscar this decade. Which, when you think about the two one take scenes that he so masterfully directed in Roma, it would be a richly deserved triumph for the Mexican maestro.

Will Win:  Alfonso Cuarón

Should Win: Spike Lee

Should have been nominated: Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born)

Best Original Screenplay 

  • Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara – The Favourite
  • Paul Schrader – First Reformed
  • Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie and Peter Farrelly – Green Book
  • Alfonso Cuarón – Roma
  • Adam McKay – Vice

I make no apologies for bashing Vice again, but its presence in this awards season just bothers me something fierce. It had some good intentions, but it just came across as too full of itself and was just infuriating to watch. Cuaron crafted something so personal and so moving with Roma and The Favourite was just wickedly funny from start to finish. A Green Book triumph seems unlikely given the backlash the film has received from the relatives of Dr Shirley.

Will Win:  The Favourite

Should Win: The Favourite

Should have been nominated: Isle of Dogs

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Joel Coen & Ethan CoenThe Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • Charlie Wachtel & David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott & Spike LeeBlacKkKlansman
  • Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty Can You Ever Forgive Me? 
  • Barry JenkinsIf Beale Street Could Talk
  • Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper & Will FettersA Star Is Born

If directing is going to be out of his reach, then this is the one category that Spike Lee, and his team of co-writers have GOT TO be victorious. BlacKkKlansman struck a fine balance between being when it wanted a very funny film, but it did not shy away from the hard-hitting heavy subject matter, and got extremely fierce and angry when it wanted to, and for good reason. The Coens are Academy favourites but the Ballad of Buster Scruggs was a bit hit or miss with some of its stories. Barry Jenkins seems unlikely to repeat his triumph in this category in 2017 and Can You Ever Forgive Me? may yet sneak an upset but this should be Spike Lee’s long overdue moment.

Will Win: BlacKkKlansman 

Should Win: BlacKkKlansman

Could have been nominated: Steve McQueen and Gillian Flynn (Widows)

Best Animated Feature Film 

  • Brad Bird, John Walker and Nicole Paradis Grindle Incredibles 2 
  • Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales and Jeremy DawsonIsle of Dogs
  • Mamoru Hosoda and Yūichirō Saitō Mirai 
  • Rich Moore, Phil Johnston and Clark Spencer Ralph Breaks the Internet 
  • Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller –  Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Unlike last year, this is a much stronger selection of animated films. The power of Pixar so often prevails here, but it seems as though everyone’s friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man of the animated variety will seize the crown away from Disney. I think I’m one of the few who is championing Wes Anderson’s charming Isle of Dogs, but a win seems unlikely as my spider sense is telling me that Miles Morales and his crew of Spider-beings will swing home with Oscar gold.

Will Win:  Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Should Win: Isle of Dogs

Best Original Score 

  • Ludwig GöranssonBlack Panther
  • Terence Blanchard – BlacKkKlansman
  • Nicholas Britell If Beale Street Could Talk  
  • Alexandre Desplat Isle of Dogs 
  • Marc ShaimanMary Poppins Returns

Re-teaming with Barry Jenkins after his Oscar nominated work in Moonlight, Nicholas Britell did it again creating a score that was both beautiful and melancholic, capturing the joy and despair of the main characters beautifully. But by far one of the biggest snubs here was for Justin Hurwitz’s First Man score, which had it been nominated would surely have come back down to earth to win the statue. Ludwig Göransson’s wonderful work for Black Panther is also very much worthy of the gong, as it was grounded in the beauty of the continent of Africa.

Will Win:  If Beale Street Could Talk 

Should Win: Black Panther

Could have been nominated: Justin Hurwitz for First Man

Best Original Song 

  • “All the Stars” from Black Panther – Music by Mark Spears, Kendrick Lamar Duckworth and Anthony Tiffith; Lyrics by Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, Anthony Tiffith and Solána Rowe
  • “I’ll Fight” from RBG – Music and Lyrics by Diane Warren
  • “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returns – Music by Marc Shaiman; Lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman
  • “Shallow” from A Star Is Born – Music and Lyrics by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt
  • “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – Music and Lyrics by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch

Though I love “All the Stars”, nothing is stopping Lady Gaga here. Given that the Best Actress statue will likely be out of her reach, this is one award Gaga will be deservedly holding at the end of the night. The moment in ASIB when she sings “Shallow” with Cooper in the film, chills down my spine.

Will Win:  “Shallow” from A Star is Born

Should Win: “Shallow” from A Star is Born

Should have been nominated: “Always Remember Us This Way” from A Star is Born

Best Sound Editing

  • Benjamin A. Burtt and Steve BoeddekerBlack Panther
  • John Warhurst and Nina Hartstone  – Bohemian Rhapsody 
  • Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou MorganFirst Man
  • Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik AadahlA Quiet Place
  • Sergio Díaz and Skip Lievsay – Roma 

For a film that has its central premise based on sound, it would be nice to see the brilliant work of the A Quiet Place team get rewarded, considering it was such a key aspect of the film that it should be sneaking away quietly with the gold. However, it faces stiff competition from First Man as those space scenes were stunningly recreated. A Bohemian triumph could be on the cards also as that Live Aid scene was stunning to behold.

Will Win:  First Man

Should Win: A Quiet Place

Best Sound Mixing

  • Steve Boeddeker, Brandon Proctor and Peter J. Devlin – Black Panther
  • Paul Massey, Tim Cavagin and John Casali – Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Ai-Ling Lee and Mary H. EllisFirst Man
  • Skip Lievsay, Craig Henighan and José Antonio Garcia Roma
  • Tom Ozanich, Dean Zupancic, Jason Ruder and Steve A. Morrow A Star is Born

The absence of A Quiet Place here is quite perplexing. Therefore, like with Sound editing, this is likely to be a battle between Queen and their iconic Live Aid performance and the sound wizardry that made the space scenes in First Man such so utterly captivating to watch.

Will Win:  Bohemian Rhapsody

Should Win: First Man

Should have been nominated: A Quiet Place

Best Production Design 

  • Black Panther – Production Design: Hannah Beachler; Set Decoration: Jay Hart
  • The Favourite – Production Design: Fiona Crombie; Set Decoration: Alice Felton
  • First Man – Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Kathy Lucas
  • Mary Poppins Returns – Production Design: John Myhre; Set Decoration: Gordon Sim
  • Roma – Production Design: Eugenio Caballero; Set Decoration: Bárbara Enríquez

To make Wakanda, this wonderful futuristic utopia feel like a place on this Earth is a credit to the wonderful production design. By a similar token, to capture 18th century England with such authenticity gives The Favourite a very strong shot. Expect this to be a battle between the two Best Picture nominees, with the period drama emerging victorious.

Will Win: The Favourite

Should Win: Black Panther

Could have been nominated: Bad Times at the El Royale

Best Cinematography

  • Łukasz Żal – Cold War
  • Robbie Ryan – The Favourite
  • Caleb Deschanel – Never Look Away 
  • Alfonso Cuarón – Roma  
  • Matthew Libatique – A Star Is Born 

To make a black and white film feel like it was full of colour is credit to the brilliant work that Cuaron did as cinematographer as well as the director, so as well as a likely Director triumph, I expect to see a Cuaron victory here. The Favourite also boasted some absolutely gorgeous visuals and a very unique visual aesthetic, but Roma is Cuaron’s personal masterpiece and it deserves the accolade.

Will Win: Roma

Should Win: Roma

Should have been nominated: Rachel Morrison for Black Panther

Best Makeup and Hairstyling 

  • Göran Lundström and Pamela GoldammerBorder 
  • Jenny Shircore, Marc Pilcher and Jessica BrooksMary – Queen of Scots 
  • Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe and Patricia Dehaney – Vice

The one thing I can give give Vice credit for, is the make up. Much like last year with Gary Oldman, Christian Bale disappeared under all that make up and it gave his performance so much authenticity, that I can begrudgingly accept Vice’s probable triumph here, though Mary Queen of Scots could yet pull off an unlikely upset.

Will Win:  Vice

Should Win: Vice

Best Costume Design 

  • Mary ZophresThe Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • Ruth E. CarterBlack Panther 
  • Sandy PowellThe Favourite
  • Sandy Powell – Mary Poppins Returns
  • Alexandra ByrneMary – Queen of Scots  

The Oscars do love a good period drama, which would suggest this is a battle between Queen Anne and Mary Stuart. Both period dramas did have sumptous costumes but its Best Picture status gives The Favourite the edge in this respect, but the bright and colourful wardrobe of Black Panther gives it a fighting chance of usurping the English (and Scottish) royalty and taking the trophy.

Will Win:  The Favourite

Should Win: Black Panther

Best Film Editing

  • Barry Alexander Brown BlacKkKlansman 
  • John OttmanBlack Panther 
  • Yorgos Mavropsaridis The Favourite
  • Patrick J. Don Vito – Green Book
  • Hank CorwinVice

The nominations here are just confusing, really really confusing. Vice and Bohemian Rhapsody??!! Say what now? This makes First Man’s exclusion all the more baffling given how so well-edited that was. Its absence therefore makes me pine for a victory for either BlacKkKlansman or The Favourite as the editing in those two was actually worthy of the nomination. One of the best edited films of 2018 was Mission Impossible: Fallout but it is nowhere to be seen in this year’s nominations.

Will Win:  Vice

Should Win: The Favourite

Should have been nominated: First Man AND Mission Impossible: Fallout

Best Visual Effects

  • Dan DeLeeuw, Kelly Port, Russell Earl and Dan Sudick –  Avengers: Infinity War
  • Christopher Lawrence, Michael Eames, Theo Jones and Chris CorbouldChristopher Robin
  • Paul Lambert, Ian Hunter, Tristan Myles and J. D. SchwalmFirst Man 
  • Roger Guyett, Grady Cofer, Matthew E. Butler and David ShirkReady Player One
  • Rob Bredow, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Dominic Tuohy –  Solo: A Star Wars Story

The juggernaut that was Avengers: Infinity War was a visual effects extravaganza and the effects on display are such an essential part of the film and were so well done that they should be clutching that trophy come the end of the night. However, it does have some stiff competition from the also very effects heavy Ready Player One, and the utterly magnificent Lunar landing scene in First Man should also put that into contention. The power of the Infinity Stones propels Infinity War to success and turn the competitors into dust.

Will Win:  Avengers: Infinity War

Should Win: Avengers: Infinity War

Should have been nominated: Black Panther

And last but certainly not least….

Best Picture

  • Black PantherKevin Feige
  • BlacKkKlansmanSean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Raymond Mansfield, Jordan Peele and Spike Lee
  • Bohemian RhapsodyGraham King
  • The FavouriteCeci Dempsey, Ed Guiney, Lee Magiday and Yorgos Lanthimos
  • Green BookJim Burke, Charles B. Wessler, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly and Nick Vallelonga
  • RomaGabriela Rodriguez and Alfonso Cuarón
  • A Star Is BornBill Gerber, Bradley Cooper and Lynette Howell Taylor
  • ViceDede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Adam McKay and Kevin J. Messick

Click here to see my ranking of the Best Picture contenders.

As I laid out in my ranking of the Best Picture nominees, three of these films really don’t belong on this list (can you work out which three?) The thought of any of those aforementioned three winning is an utterly horrifying one that doesn’t bear thinking about, but they could do it, which would not make me a happy bunny. But, rather than dwell on that, let’s talk about the five that I want to win.

Though it shone brightly when it arrived in cinemas last year, the star power of A Star is Born has dimmed somewhat, and in doing so has likely hampered its chances of Best Picture glory. Though its nomination is historic, Black Panther and his vibranium is unlikely to win the top award. The themes and the power of the story give BlacKkKlansman maybe a fighting chance. The Favourite has indeed been a favourite (ha ha!) across this awards season so it could be a battle between that and Roma. Though Roma’s status as a Netflix film could potentially cause problems with some members of the Academy, so who knows but given its likely directing triumph, I see this one going to Roma, which will definitely cause a ripple or two, given how some directors have poured scorn on the idea of a Netflix film competing for Oscar glory. Though BlacKkKlansman is the film I want to see triumph, Roma would be richly deserving of the accolade.

Will Win:  Roma 

Should Win: BlacKkKlansman

Should have been nominated: Widows and First Man

——————————————

Final counts

Will win:

  • Roma: 3
  • The Favourite: 3
  • Bohemian Rhapsody: 2
  • Vice: 2
  • If Beale Street Could Talk: 2
  • Avengers: Infinity War: 1 
  • A Star is Born: 1
  • BlacKkKlansman: 1 
  • First Man: 1
  • Green Book: 1
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: 1
  • The Wife: 1

Should win:

  • BlacKkKlansman: 4
  • The Favourite: 4
  • Black Panther: 3
  • A Star is Born: 2
  • A Quiet Place: 1
  • Avengers: Infinity War: 1 
  • First Man: 1
  • Isle of Dogs: 1
  • Roma: 1
  • Vice: 1