Pop Up Screens Is Back

It’s finally sunny(ish) and for film fans it’s the perfect time to get away from the cold indoor cinema, sit outside…and watch a film! That’s right, outdoor screenings are returning to a large green area near you with the announcement of Pop Up Screen’s line-up of new and classic movies in partnership with Benadryl.

Yes that’s right, it’s time to ditch the indoors, bring your favourite blanket and pick a film or two from choices such as Thor: Ragnarok, Wonder Woman, Academy Award winners The Shape of Water, 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Get Out along with 2017’s Beauty and the Beast and many more.

There are multiple locations this year, with the additions of Ruskin Park in Denmark Hill, Guildhall,  Canbury Gardens in Kingston and Priory Park in Crouch End, so even more chances to enjoy some amazing movies. Take a look at the selection below and pick out your favourites. You can book your tickets at popupscreens.co.uk.

 

Bishops Park Fulham

Friday 20th July: The Breakfast Club

Saturday 21st July: Dirty Dancing

Sunday 22nd July: Romeo & Juliet

Friday 31st August: Logan

Saturday 1st September: La La Land

Sunday 2nd September: Moulin Rouge!

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Ruskin Park, Denmark Hill

Friday 27th July: Get Out

Saturday 28th July: Grease

Sunday 29th July: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

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Corams Field, Russell Sqaure

Friday 3rd August: (500) Days of Summer

Saturday 4th August: Notting Hill

Sunday 5th August: Cool Runnings

Friday 21st September: Donnie Darko

Saturday 22nd September: Dirty Dancing

Sunday 23rd September: Easy A

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Ravenscourt Park, Hammersmith

Friday 10th August: 10 Things I Hate About You

Saturday 11th August: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Sunday 12th August: The Greatest Showman

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Guildhall, City of London

Monday 13th August: Wonder Woman

Tuesday 14th August: Thelma & Louise

Wednesday 15th August: Suffragette

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Canbury Gardens, Kingston

Thursday 16th August: The Goonies

Thursday 23rd August: Thor: Ragnarok

Thursday 30th August: Top Gun

Thursday 6th September: 10 Things I Hate About You

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Central Park, Greenwich Peninsula

Friday 17th August: Baby Driver

Saturday 18th August: Bridesmaids

Sunday 19th August: La La Land

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Manor House Gardens, Hither Green

Friday 24th August: The Jungle Book

Saturday 25th August: Dirty Dancing

Sunday 26th August: Ghostbusters

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Priory Park, Crouch End

Friday 7th September: 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Saturday 8th September: The Greatest Showman

Sunday 9th September: Back to the Future

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Paddington Recreation Grounds, Maida Vale

Friday 14th September: Grand Budapest Hotel

Saturday 15th September: The Shape of Water

Sunday 16th September: Pretty Woman

 

Keep. It. Reel.

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Marvel Cinematic Universe: What Makes A Good Villain?

Until recently, Marvel has had a serious villain problem in that they were essentially all the same and their goals rarely differed from some form of world destruction and mass death. Besides Loki, this is all they ever wanted which seems odd in such a successful universe where their heroes have been developed to a greater extent.

Loki’s reign of terror, occasional and brief as it’s been stems from knowing he was completely unwanted by his family and adopted, not because of love. But because one man thought it could bridge between two warring civilisations. He was wrong and Loki is soon revealed to be the villain. You can feel and share in his pain when he yells to Odin “TELL ME!” to Odin in Thor. These gut wrenching two words tells us all that we need to know about how he wants to be accepted but knows deep down never will be. Tom Hiddleston’s Shakespearean-esque performance gave Loki the depth required for someone who is a desperate as this and it’s something we’ve not seen much of in the MCU until recently.

So what exactly makes Loki so good at being bad? Why do we all almost side with Kilmmonger’s quest? Is Michael Keaton’s working class villain the perfect portrayal of what we would all do in his shoes? A villain is only as good as what he allows him or herself to be, this is what makes them who they are.

Evil Plot

As I mentioned, a lot of these plots include multiple deaths, destroying as much as possible and an end goal of taking over the world. After seeing this countless times, it has become a derivative plot device for multiple villains. Frankly, it’s boring! It’s where the MCU has suffered greatly, bad guys like Ronan the Accuser (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Malekith (Thor: The Dark World) want control for no real reason besides power plus they weren’t exactly fully fleshed out characters so it just added to he boredom. 

Recently with Killmonger (Black Panther) and Vulture (Michael Keaton) it seems as if the MCU is doing away with these old tropes. Killmonger wanted what was rightfully his in Wakanda and Vulture was a working class man providing for his family whose lively hood was taken away from him from the higher ups. The pair of them were developed in smart quick ways within one film which goes to show that it is possible to do this. You not only have an vested interest in their personal missions, you sympathise with what they are going through and you almost want them to succeed.

Human Characteristics

The reason people love Loki so much isn’t because he’s so terrific at what he does, it’s because he does it with a cheeky grin across his face. Whether he’s concocting a plan, in the middle of a plot he’s hatched or just quipping to irritate someone, he has a sense of fun about it. It’s a personality trait which people gravitate towards, if you’re laid back, relaxed, seemingly happy, then you create more admiration for yourself. This is exactly what Loki does, whilst wanting his plans and schemes to succeed there’s an element of fun. He clearly enjoys being a trickster and despite being a mass murderer, we all still love him. 

Others were comparatively one dimensional, looking at Obadiah Stane (Iron Man), he transcends the norm before going full-on typical villain. He’s been wanting to be in charge of Stark Industries for years and when Howard Stark dies, this should have been shot. But when Tony returns to take over the empire, it thwarts any plans he had. It’s understandable but he then becomes far too generic and whilst his plan isn’t quite world domination, he still wants to rule via death and destruction.

Layered Personality

Having an original plot and some human characteristics will only get you so far. But where do these things come from? What makes you develop that scheme and make you more interesting than most? Well it’s all to do with the bad guy’s personality, it’s what gives each villain something that makes us relate to them. A perfect example of this is Vulture whose main goal is to be the breadwinner for his family. He’s an everyday hard working guy and when it’s taken away from him, it’s hard not to sympathise. Loki being in pain (we mostly see this in Thor and Avengers) is a trait that makes up seem more human. This side of his personality coming from what he’s known about his true parentage all this time. 

These villains are pretty diverse with cathartic performances but the one who, unlike others is understated is Zemo (Captain America: Civil War). He plots to tear the Avengers apart from the inside after his family are killed in Sokovia during the event of Age of Ultron. No doubt that they are to blame, but the best thing about this is how meticulous Zemo is in his plan and the calm manner in which he conducts himself. The complexity of his plot comes to a head with Captain America, Iron Man and Bucky all ending up in one place. It’s smart, ruthless and intentionally cruel. Above all of that, he like the best bad guys is human. He has a relatable tale and Daniel Brühl’s nuanced performance captures what a man can do with patience and determination.

In that all important final battle with your adversary, you need to have some qualities which redeem your character. Aspects about yourself which make you a lot more rounded than your bog standard villain. Killmonger, Loki, Zemo and Vulture all succeed in creating well-rounded, ambitious villains which is what I’m hoping for in Infinity War. We’ll have to find out what Thanos is holding when he comes knocking.

Keep. It. Reel.

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Alternative Artwork

Every time a new Marvel film comes out, the marketing is once again ramped up to an almost ridiculous level. Avengers: Infinity War is no exception with more than 30 posters released so far and another week to go until it’s release, who knows how many more we will see? Frankly I’m hoping none because the quality has been pretty poor. From the ensemble cast posters, the mini team-ups and the digitally enhanced individual images, it’s not hitting the notes which the trailers have.

A lot of the time independent artwork is much better than what we see being launched by the studio. It seems that it’s mainly to do with the fact that multiple people are having their say no matter how little they know about creating something visually pleasing to the eye. Here are just a few examples which are much better than the official posters. If you’d like to see more work like this, each piece has a link to the credited artist below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep. It. Reel.

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Why It Works

From the very first Iron Man back in 2008 until now we have 18 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with it’s 19th and biggest on the way. It’s an unprecedented achievement for a studio who sold off many of its larger properties. It’s been a long 10 year road for Marvel Studios, but why does it work? How have they continued to thrive at the box office and with critics where others have failed? I’m taking a look into it’s successes, failures and what it’s done to remain original.

“I am Iron Man”. The famous last words of the very first MCU film in which Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark reveals himself to the world’s press as his alter ego superhero. It’s from here, the universe started to take shape, creating a series of films without Marvel’s most popular characters including X-Men, Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four. At the time, whilst people knew about Iron Man, he wasn’t quite up there with the big guns in the comicbook world. He was pushed to the forefront, with critics and fans alike claiming it was an incredible film, something that seemingly surprised everyone. After this, it felt as if they didn’t quite hit the same stride again until the Avengers. Don’t get me wrong. Captain America, Thor and the Incredible Hulk all received respectable scores on Rotten Tomatoes, (80%, 77% and 67% respectively) however they lacked the charm and a lot of the fun from a rich guy in a metal suit. At least none of them were as bad as Iron Man 2, with it’s terrible dialogue, awful villain and it’s ludicrous final plot device coming from an old diorama.

Joss Whedon’s Avengers put the MCU on a course which lead to the spawning of Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man and more, they were being able to push it’s characters into more serious plot lines whilst having that streak of Marvel fun. With success come missteps such as Thor: The Dark World, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Iron Man 2, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (COME AT ME!), however it has been largely lucrative thanks to the ability they have to move on and learn from their mistakes. Including too much plot or throwing in characters who aren’t fully developed have caused some surprising misfires within the MCU. This includes the villain problem Marvel had up until recently, with the likes of Ronan, Red Skull and Malekith wanting mass destruction and death, they quickly became dull and repetitive. However in it’s recent bad guy renaissance introducing Killmonger and Vulture as well as developing Loki whose motivations come from something understandable, it’s finally moving forward.

Another mistake Marvel made was not keeping Edgar Wright on as director of Ant-Man. Whilst the film is good and enjoyable, it would be interesting to find out what his vision would have been. Edgar’s style of directing can’t be compared to others, there’s a flare he has which can be seen beautifully in Scott Pilgrim vs.The World and Baby Driver. Perhaps this is why for Thor: Ragnarok they changed things up with Taika Waititi who gave the rather dull set of Thor movies an injection of originality.

Part of the success comes from understanding the source material, having those on board who write, produce and direct who are fans of the comicbooks. Even after a sixth Spider-Man film (although first within the MCU) and third iteration of the wall-crawling character, Homecoming felt original and fresh. There is a clear understanding of the characterisations and how to use these stories when creating yet another huge hit. The perfect example of this is Captain America: Civil War which took elements of the famous arch of the same name. In the comicbook, the new legislation says that all superheros must be unmasked however most of their alter egos are known on the big screen. So using the Sokovia Accords, it flipped it to become an issue of where and when they can perform their duties, deepening the divide further by including the death of Tony’s parent’s. Oh yeah, spoiler alert! It was a smart move and managed to remain relevant in the modern world.

Since it began, their primary competitor DC has lagged behind trying to recreate what Marvel has done. Whilst a success financially, their critics have been less kind. Essentially what they have been criticised for, DC has desperately tried to solve. Man of Steel had too much death and property destruction, so Batman v. Superman’s final battle took place on an abandoned island. Batman v. Superman was too dark and gloomy, Justice League had reshoots to include humorous and lighter moments. And Suicide Squad was a poor man’s Guardians. Wonder Woman was is DC’s only saving grace, it really was incredible and needed. It hasn’t worked out just yet but they are pushing forward with multiple films including the upcoming solo projects for Aquaman and Cyborg.

Other cinematic universes have also tried and failed to emulate what Marvel has done, including the Dark Universe from Universal which, in a desperate bid for their own intertwined series of films, stopped after just one, The Mummy. It hinted at it’s future by including Jekyll and Hyde, an arm from Creature from the Black Lagoon and a few other references. Creating a universe (even it’s logo) before you have released a film is ambitious but it is also why it didn’t work.  Universal attempted to reverse engineer Disney’s success, trying to launch a series of films instead of focusing on the first one and building upon that. It won’t fair as well if you’re forcing stories within stories without having anything to fall on.

As well as all of the above, the primary reason it’s worked for ten years is that it wasn’t forced. At the end of Iron Man the post credit scene was Nick Fury speaking about the Avenger Initiative which Jon Favreau has said was just a fun Easter egg for the fans. Throughout the film, it was Tony Stark’s story, no one else was mentioned or referenced to. Similar to this is Black Panther which felt like a standalone film although being part of a wider series. It’s films now include other characters in multiple movies, with Marvel understanding that it can no longer release typical origin stories whilst ignoring what it already has.

With more the $14 billion in the bank from the box office, Avengers: Infinity War out this month and numerous films in the planning stage, shows no signs of stopping now. Here’s to another 10 years.

Keep. It. Reel.

Super Bowl 2018 TV Spots

There was an idea. To bring together a group of remarkable people. To play American football. YAWN!

Last night it was the Super Bowl, some sort of huge American football event where two teams play each and it’s a bigger deal than any other match. Frankly I couldn’t give a patriotic fuck about it, not a clue who won and I’m just not a fan of sports (this coming from someone who likes to sit down watching things and then pass judgement upon them).

However something fantastic happened last night, which occurs each year at around this time. Multiple trailers and TV spots were released, giving us something much more exciting to looking forward to. There’s Mission: Impossible – Fallout, some new footage for Avengers Infinity War, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (okay that’s not looking very exciting) and the highly anticipated (despite the fact that Disney allegedly think it’s going to tank) Solo: A Star Wars story.

Here are hopefully all of the ones that showed last night, if I’ve missed any please tell someone who cares! Well, enjoy!

Avengers: Infinity War

Release date: April 27th

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Red Sparrow

Release date: March 1st

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A Quiet Place

Release date: April 6th

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Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom 

Release date: June 6th

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Solo: A Star Wars Story 

Release date: May 25th

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Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Release date: July 27th

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The Cloverfield Paradox  (TV spot 1)

The Cloverfield Paradox  (TV spot 2)

Release date: Out now on Netflix

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Westworld. Season 2

Release date: April 22nd

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Skyscraper 

Release date: July 13th

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Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan

Release date: 2018

Keep. It. Reel.

Blade Runner Comes To Secret Cinema

It’s been a while since the last Secret Cinema (even though they aren’t that secret anymore) however their social media team has been hard at it with clues and hints to their next film. It’s now been announced that Blade Runner will be the next classic film to get the Secret Cinema treatment. And for those of you wondering, it’s the Final Cut (I really need to learn the difference between all of them but this is apparently the best one?)

They’ve created an absolutely beautiful poster to announce this, take a look at it below. Ridley Scott’s dystopian 1982 movie is set in 2019 so it’s a tad early but nothing wrong with that, frankly they’ve got a lot of things right, our world is filling up with artificial intelligence and those who are heartless and cold being in charge. Even sex robots now exist, what a world! Being an utterly immersive experience, it’ll be interesting to see what we’ll have to wear, what scenes  the actors will recreate and where you can get involved before the film is shown.

Tickets are on sale from tomorrow (1st February) at 12pm with the first night taking place on 31st March and to continue into June. Prices start from £45 which is considerably cheaper than other events they have hosted. Very much looking forward to this.

Keep. It. Reel

Ant-Man and The Wasp Trailer Debut

Ant-Man and The Wasp has had it’s first trailer released and it’s looking pretty damn solid. With Black Panther out in a few weeks time, Infinity war on the way in April (May for America, suck it!), it’s going to be a huge year for Marvel. Starting with a few references to Scott Lang’s (Paul Rudd) last MCU appearance in Captain America: Civil War, it picks up shortly after being broken out of prison by Steve Rogers. Despite now having a FBI sanctioned monitor on his ankle, he’s continuing his escapades as the tiny hero but now he has Evangeline Lilly’s Hope van Dyne / The Wasp by his side after her suit was teased at the end of the first Ant-Man. It’s not clear what the plot is exactly however there are moments from their past about to be uncovered after Ant-Man is assigned an urgent mission by Pym.

Returning are Rudd and Lilly, as well as Michael Douglas as Dr. Hank Pym, Michael Peña as the superbly hilarious Luis and Judy Greer as Maggie Lang. Joining the ironically large cast are Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet van Dyne, Laurence Fishburne as Dr. Bill Foster / Goliath (an ally of Hank Pym’s) and Hannah John-Kamen as Ghost. Peyton Reed, who did a great job in the time he had with the previous film has returned to direct, with Paul Rudd once again getting a writing credit, as well as Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari. Ant-Man and The Wasp is due for release in July and it will be the MCU’s 20th film. That’s certainly nothing small. Check out the trailer below:

Keep. It. Reel.

Coco, review

A young boy called Miguel who dreams of becoming a musician is sent into the land of the deceased on Day of the Dead and he has until sunrise to return before he’s trapped there forever.

Death is a tricky subject to approach in any film, the aftermath is rarely given a second thought. It’s a refreshing beat to see Pixar handle it so well, whilst having respect for it’s audience of all ages it creates a world that will help those who are having a hard time explaining it and dealing with it.

The story begins with a monologue from Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), a boy who lives in Mexico with his large family including his great grandmother Coco (Ana Ofelia Murguía) who is on the verge of giving in to her dementia. He explains that after his great great grandfather walked out on his wife and daughter to pursue a career as a musician, all forms of music were permanently banned. He dreams of becoming a musician like his late hero Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), who was considered to be the greatest singer of all time but died under the weight of a huge bell dropped on top of him. After discovering that Ernesto is the disgraced family member, he runs off to enter a talent competition and through a twist of fate he is sent to the Land of the Dead.

His journey sees him meet deceased family members world and desperate con artist Héctor (Gael García Bernal), trying to scam his way into the real world to see his family. The rule is if no one has put your photo up on Day of the Dead, you cannot cross over. The pair agree to help each other to see their families again.

Coco speaks directly to the world as it is now, it includes issues such as borders and immigration, where you are stopped from seeing loved ones if you don’t have the right credentials. For an animation to be so politically aware as well as dealing with a deeper understanding of mortality, whilst appealing to adults and children alike shows a level of sophisticated storytelling which many studios fail at. Going even further Coco teaches us aspects we may not know about this sacred day and that it’s about family and remembering those who are no longer with us. Basing it on Day of the Dead is more than just a random choice, it’s a chance to understand what this day means to those who celebrate it.

Whilst it sticks with the Pixar formula (our protagonist finds themselves in a difficult situation which they have to get out of before their time runs out), it works perfectly thanks to its difficult and moving moments. It’s not that Coco constantly plucks at the heartstrings for its emotional beats, it’s that it has these occasional riffs that make you think of the difficult questions about life. Containing some of the most beautiful scenery seen on screen that will leave you breathless, combined with a score by Giacchino which rivals his best work, it’s classic Pixar doing what they do best.

4 out of 5.

Keep. It. Reel.

Oscar Nominations 2018

It’s award season again and with that comes the biggest movie awards of the year. It’s time for the nominations for the 90th Academy Awards. It seems mostly predictable, very happy to see Greta Gerwig and her film Lady Bird receive so much attention. Get Out has done incredibly well and one of my favourites of the year, The Big Sick getting a nod for Original Screenplay is wonderful.

If anything it’s a real shame to see Blade Runner 2049 not in the Best Picture or Best Director and nothing for Wonder Woman. Christopher Plummer getting nominated for a part which he had about 4 days to prepare for might be some sort of record in the Academy Awards!

In total, there’s 13 for Shape of Water (beautiful film and incredibly moving), Dunkirk has received 8 (a true film makers film) and Get Out has 4 (one of the best horror movies ever)

Here are the nominees in full:

Best Picture

Call Me by Your Name

Darkest Hour

Dunkirk

Get Out

Lady Bird

Phantom Thread

The Post

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Director

Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread

Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird

Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk

Jordan Peele, Get Out

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Best Actor

Timothee Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name

Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread

Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out

Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

 

Best Actress

Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water

Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Margot Robbie, I, Tonya

Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

Meryl Streep, The Post

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Best Supporting Actor

Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project

Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water

Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World

Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

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Best Supporting Actress

Mary J Blige, Mudbound

Allison Janney, I, Tonya

Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread

Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Best Animated Film

The Boss Baby

The Breadwinner

Coco

Ferdinand

Loving Vincent

______________________________

Best Documentary

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

Faces Places

Icarus

Last Men in Aleppo

Strong Island

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Best Documentary Short

Edith+Eddie

Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405

Heroin(e)

Knife Skills

Traffic Stop

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Best Foreign Language Film

A Fantastic Woman

The Insult

Loveless

On Body and Soul

The Square

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Best Song

Mighty River, Mudbound

The Mystery of Love, Call Me by Your Name

Remember Me, Coco

Stand Up for Something, Marshall

This Is Me, The Greatest Showman

Best Score

Dunkirk

Phantom Thread

The Shape of Water

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

______________________________

Best Adapted Screenplay

Call Me by Your Name

The Disaster Artist

Logan

Molly’s Game

Mudbound

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Best Original Screenplay

The Big Sick

Get Out

Lady Bird

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Cinematography

Blade Runner 2049

Darkest Hour

Dunkirk

Mudbound

The Shape of Water

Best Costume Design

Beauty and the Beast

Darkest Hour

Phantom Thread

The Shape of Water

Victoria & Abdul

______________________________

Best Editing

Baby Driver

Dunkirk

I, Tonya

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

______________________________

Best Makeup and Hair

Darkest Hour

Victoria & Abdul

Wonder

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Best Production Design

Beauty and the Beast

Blade Runner 2049

Darkest Hour

Dunkirk

The Shape of Water

Best Animated Short

Dear Basketball

Garden Party

Lou

Negative Space

Revolting Rhymes

______________________________

Best Live Action Short

DeKalb Elementary

The Eleven O’Clock

My Nephew Emmett

The Silent Child

Watu Wote/All of Us

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Best Sound Editing

Baby Driver

Blade Runner 2049

Dunkirk

The Shape of Water

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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Best Sound Mixing

Baby Driver

Blade Runner 2049

Dunkirk

The Shape of Water

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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Best Visual Effects

Blade Runner 2049

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Kong: Skull Island

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

War for the Planet of the Apes

Taking place on March 4th, I’ll be watching live on whatever channel it’s on (Sky Cinema right??) and I’ll be tweeting, Instagramming (not as much as last year as certain complaints) and Facebooking throughout the night. It’s being presented by Jimmy Kimmel who hosted last year’s ceremony. Hope you can join me. If not, I’m sure you’ll have a nice sleep instead.

Keep. It. Reel.

Best and Worst Films of 2017

I always hate it when I do these so late. Everyone is planning what they will see in the upcoming year and here I am twiddling my thumbs, trying to get this done in between work, life and doing fuck all. But there you go, not much I can do about it now, I’m sure you’re all very eager to find out what made the list and why. I’ve included honourable mentions for those who didn’t quite make it, frankly there were a lot of good films and a lot of terrible films in 2017. Let’s start with the worst.

Worst of 2017

10. Rules Don’t Apply

I listened to Warren Beatty speak passionately about this film. His interviews in the UK during the press tour were really excellent, he talked for hours and journalists loved it. It was such a joy to read and listen to. What a shame that the film is nothing but self-indulgent. It’s one of those movies you expect more from but that became such a huge disappointment. Beatty, playing Howard Hughes in this biopic, had returned to acting after more than a decade in hiatus. The film was oddly bad timing in fact. Whilst it came out quite a while before the Weinstein controversies, watching a much older man have private meetings with young girls really feels wrong. 

9. Alien: Covenant

This is how you kill a once great franchise. Correct me if I’m wrong but the first three Alien films were superb, entwining horror with sci-fi was a mark of genius. This however was not. Flute fingering aside, the film was predictable, dull and just plain pathetic. Whilst it was arguably better than Prometheus it had an abundance of stupidity; touching things you shouldn’t go near, the person in charge putting his head over an alien egg (guess what happens with one of those face-huggers) and a confusing set of plot details which make no sense. This is coming close to utterly ruining the franchise.

8. Suburbicon

One of the biggest let downs of the year. Directed by George Clooney, starring Matt Damon, Julianne Moore and Oscar Issac should mean it’s a sure fire hit. You expect to be thoroughly entertained, maybe laugh, feel something or both and more. But no. Very much no. Unlike his previous efforts at directing, Clooney completely misses the mark on this one. A white family go on a killing spree but it’s the new black family who get all of the hassle from the racist neighbourhood. Whilst I understand what he was going for, he failed miserably. When a main character would start to talk, you’d sit and wait for them to shut up (besides the under used Issac who is the film’s only saving grace). In a Cohen brothers written script, this should never be the case. Perhaps the pair need to direct the films they write rather than palming them off.

7. Lost City of Z

Why Charlie Hunnam keeps getting roles is like asking how do they continually let Michael Bay behind a camera? The same can be said for Gerard Butler but we’ll get into that later. The plot revolved around an explorer and his team trying to find a lost city in the Amazons in the 1920s. It’s something that’s utterly forgettable but at the same time memorable for being pants. He was apparently good in the TV show Sons of Anarchy but besides that, I haven’t seen a decent performance from Hunnam at all. He made what was already a shite film even worse with his terrible acting and stupid face. Harsh? I don’t care! He sucks!

6. King Arthur

Oh for fuck sake! Here he is AGAIN! Bugger off Hunnam! You are on a list of terrible things about this pointless cockney remake. What the fuck was Guy Ritchie thinking?! I could almost hear someone say “up the apples and pears” every five bloody minutes, as if pandering to Americans because that’s what ALL Brits sound like, DON’T WE?! Character names, besides Arthur included Mischief John, Wet Stick and Back Lack. Why? Just. Why? At one point David Beckham shoves his into frame and says some god awful line which has something to do with pulling a sword out a stone. Apparently it’s so difficult they need instructions from an over the top sounding Londoner. Terrible.

5. Transformers: The Last Knight

Funnily enough this links up to the previous film. Not only does it feature the knights of the round table, it is also a fucking dreadful film. This is yet another incoherent movie in the Transformers franchise which continues to smash robots together. That’s pretty much it. That’ all that happens, it’s terrible. Screen Junkies describes  these films as junkyard having sex which is a great way to look at it! One thing I will say is that it’s less leery than previous addition but still treats women like they’re idiots. Fuck you Bay.

4. Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge

Frankly I don’t want to spend too much time on this however it is yet another Johnny Depp shitshow in which he uses his god given talent on a caricature. The very first film was excellent; entertaining, funny, genuinely. All of this was lacking in every other Pirates film including this one. Apparently this isn’t the end! Again, this film had a slight saving grace, Orlando Bloom was only in it for a very small amount of time. PHEW!

3. Baywatch

Shockingly this film was more sexist than Transformers. On every turn when it says “no offence” to a woman after some sort of sexist remark it’s trying to make it humorous. It fails to do so on a number of occasions. The trailers looked stupid, over the top but funny. I thought it would be ridiculous fun, but it was just ridiculous. I hate this film so much, I am slowly being put off Dwayne Johnson, which is not a good thing!

2. Geostorm

Oh Gerard Butler (or as a particular podcast calls him Shutup Buttwad) I can always rely on you to star in a terrible film in which the plot is batshit and everyone around it is just awful. Geostorm takes my number 2 spot in the worst films of the year. Yes believe it or not, there’s one other film worse than this. Last year it was London Has Fallen, the racist film with terrible action and awful VFX. Nothing has changed. Here, Butler is called on to punch the weather in the face after a computer which controls it is hacked. He literally needs to turn it off and on again in order to reboot it. It’s very telling of how bad a film is when the funny parts are boring and the serious parts are utterly hilarious. I watched this with a friend and we loudly mocked it via laughter. Highly recommended for those who want to lose several brain cells.

1. The Emoji Movie

When I left the cinema after seeing this “film”, I’ve never ever felt so awful about myself. I felt sick and hated who I was. Thankfully I had nothing to do with the making of this terrible affliction we’ve suffered through. Worse yet, this was the first movie to be shown in the cinema after the 35 year ban was lifted in Saudi Arabia. I assume they will put that back in force after this. This was a glorified advert for all apps we use on a regular basis with no sense of humour and James Corden. If the apocalypse doesn’t come soon, we’ll be lucky. Their own poster pretty much sums it up.

Okay I think that’s all of my hate pretty much gone. Oh wait! There’s still a bit left for Downsizing (a good concept which becomes dull very quickly with a large dollop of racism thanks to the over the top Vietnamese accent), Live by Night (you look at Affleck’s previous directorial work and it’s mostly very good! This? Generic, dull, disappointing and pointless. A huge let down), Viceroy’s House (if you want to tell a story about the segregation which lead to India becoming India and Pakistan, fine. Do it I say. As someone with Indian heritage it’s somewhat insulting to tell the story of the white people involved instead of the richer stories there will be of those having to shift their entire life across hundreds of miles. It was dreadful), Life (basically an Alien rip off with an all star cast. It’s got everything you’d expect from a film like this which is good looking stupid scientists try to defeat some goo. Seems pretty pointless to have made this although I think they want to do more. WHY?!) and Manifesto (I’m so angry at this film, partly because it was a waste of time, partly because others loved it. I didn’t. It was a patronizing and pretentious piece of propaganda in which we were consistently told by a number of Cate Blanchett iterations why art and other aspects of life are so great. This was an experiment gone wrong).

Best of 2017

10. God’s Own Country

The story is of a young farmer who starts a relationship with a Romanian who comes to work for them. The bond the two share feels genuine. There are moments of a proud father telling his son his true feelings as well as heartbreaking conversations had between the two young men, all of which hit you hard. Directed by Francis Lee, it’s a film which was at one point described as a British Brokeback Mountain but it is so much more than that. It’s not just focusing on two people, it brings others into this story by showing how complex a relationship in a small town like this can be. If you’ve never been sure if your father is proud of you or you feel lost in your current life, this is a truly tough watch.

9. The Levelling

This is yet another one set on a farm, however with a mystery surrounding it’s entire plot. Clover (Ellie Kendrick) returns home after the death of her brother and has to face her father, a man she hasn’t seen in years. Their relationship is tense to say the least. The family drama which is depicted throughout the narrative hits all the right notes as it pushes through to its gut wrenching end. A superb film, brilliantly written, with stunning shots throughout and I would just like to mention Kendrick whose performance of her overwrought character is one of the best I saw in 2017.

8. Raw

Whilst a lot of people were talking about the cannibalism, it says something a lot more powerful about family and the bonds you share with them. Raw pushes the family drama to new heights and dimensions where we see two sisters become closer over something forbidden. A vegetarian enters veterinary college with her sister and soon begins to have unwanted feelings towards meat, unleashing her carnivorous side. The film comes together right at the end which drops down like an emotional time bomb that’s always been there but no one ever knew. This is a film which caused controversy due to what some say is it’s core subject, however to me it’s about a family and all that you are willing to do for them.

7. Paddington 2

Possibly the nicest film of all time. Paddington 2 is surprisingly better than it’s predecessor. Our favourite CGI bear gets caught up in a burglary and ends up going to prison for a crime he obviously didn’t commit. Why would he? The plot then revolves around getting him freed whilst he meets Brendan Gleeson’s Knuckles McGinty and we get to see how being nice even in prison can help make you a lot of friends. The cast is choc full of British talent including a now award nominated performance from Hugh Grant (Best Supporting Actor in BAFTA) who plays Phoenix Buchanan. He’s a deliciously evil villain and is having a superb time playing him. If you don’t cry at the end, you’re dead inside. Such a warm and wonderful film.

6. My Life as a Courgette

At around an hour and 10 minutes, it’s impressive to see My Life as a Courgette speak volumes throughout, developing its characters and has a fully rounded story too. A lot of films which are an unnecessary 2 hours+ could learn a thing or two. Courgette, as he is called, is taken to a foster home after his mother dies. It’s here where he meets a collective of children in similar situations. All of them feel as if they have been left behind and have no where else to go. What you get is a story in which all of the characters are shown in an honest light, it creates a bond between them and it comes up with some the most emotional wrenching scenes ever put on film. 70 minutes is all it needed to do that. Why can’t we have more which are as smart as this?

5. Shape of Water

One of the most beautiful films and it’s not at all surprising that it comes from Guillermo del Toro, the mind who brought us Pan’s Labyrinth. The love story which unfolds with the creature and Sally Hawkins’ Elisa is unexpected and warming. Two living things who in many ways are treated as if they do not belong in society come together and forge a narrative which feels heartfelt and original. Sally Hawkins is superb in it, being a mute throughout the film, she mainly acts through expressions on her face.

4. Logan

Without question, the solo Wolverine films have been sub-par at best. They’ve never been able to give him the claws he needs and he’s never truly expressed his rage as he’s meant to. Well, his time finally came in Logan. The fact that it was just called Logan, no X-Men, no Wolverine, showed a lot of direction already. It was going to be simplified and stripped back. Hugh Jackman and James Mangold both came up with a way that prove to be the perfect send off and apparently told the studio that is was their way or no way. It really paid off, it became a gritty, brutal, extremely violent comicbook movie in which the biggest thing that blows up is a van. Thanks to the performances from Jackman, Patrick Stewart and surprisingly Stephen Merchant, plus the direction from Mangold what we saw something we have never seen in this genre. It gave us an ending that not only felt satisfying but personal too.

3. Get Out

Jordan Peele’s debut film was a surprise hit, making $254.6m after being made for just $4.5. The financial side shows how well it did but not only did it make a stupid amount of money, the critics love it too. For everyone to enjoy a horror film this much is very rare, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it happen before. The reason it did so well is because of its originality, the sharp script, its comment on society in racism deep seeded in America (coming out during the Trump era Presidency) and there were some genuinely terrifying moments in it. Real jump scares, a sense of nervousness as soon as they reach the house and moments that will truly haunt you.

2. Call Me By Your Name

It’s rare for a film to stay with you the way Call Me By Your Name does but I found myself thinking about it and how deeply it affected me. We have all been the young adolescent who has their heart broken, however when a relationship comes out of nowhere and it hits you as this does then ends suddenly, it’s worse. Believe me, it hurts. This became a beautiful and tender romance between Oliver (Armie Hammer) and Elio (Timothée Chalamet) that goes further than they thought possible. Their performances have received numerous praise from countless critics and rightly so.

1. Dunkirk

Christopher Nolan’s latest has been called perfect and accurate from war veterans who were there, how can anyone say it’s a bad film? People have, friends of mine were not a fan of how there was no depth in character and therefore didn’t qualify as a good film. They are wrong. The film was an intense look at a time when no one thought they would survive, when they were trapped with no escape. Its use of sound and music gave it a scope like no other, telling its story in three different intertwining timelines, Nolan pushes his film making skills further buy using some of the real planes and boats who were part of Dunkirk. If you’ve not seen it yet, check it out in IMAX. It’s a great way to see it.

A few honourable mentions for The Lovers (a rarely good and very funny romantic comedy about an older couple, each of whom is having an affair), Spider-Man: Homecoming (who knew we could get an original Spider-Man film after we’ve already had 5! Well done Marvel) Baby Driver (minus the actor who has tainted all of his films and his TV show, this was a thrill ride from start to finish, dancing cars and cutting music in with it to match each frame. Just genius film making from Edgar Wright) Prevenge (yet another funny horror, this time from Alice Lowe. She’s possessed by a baby and goes on a killing spree. As batshit as you’d expect, very violent and very funny), War for the Planet of the Apes (the third in a trilogy is rarely as good as this. The technology to make these apes look real is unbelievable. It makes you care about their plight even more than before, an amazing story and so brilliantly told), Star Wars: The Last Jedi (yeah sod off fan boys who don’t like it because it’s not what Star Wars is. If it continued the way you want it to, the franchise would die! An original film which fixes its gender problem and pushes the saga in a direction we never seen it go before), Toni Erdmann (all I will say is that it’s a very funny German film, I promise you laugh a lot), The Big Sick (being a brown guy who is going out with a white girl, I just had to see this. It’s a sweet, funny and heartwarming film, with probably the best 9/11 joke ever) and Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (Jamie Belle has never been better and Annette Benning was superb as the ageing actress whose life isn’t going as well as it once was. A really wonderful film in which these two bond with such ease, it doesn’t ever make you doubt their relationship.)

 Keep. It. Reel.