Rocketman, review

Taron Egerton takes on the tough task of portraying one of the most iconic singers of all time: Elton John. Dexter Fletcher directs the part fantasy musical biopic starting with his childhood.

It’s a difficult task to create a story about someone’s life. What do you include? What do you leave out? What do you exaggerate and what don’t you? With Lee Hall on writing duties, he and Fletcher have managed to meld the drama of Elton’s life with the fantastical element of his music and fashion in an entertaining film which doesn’t shy away from hard hitting subjects.

Taron Egerton is no stranger to using his vocal chords to belt out an Elton John song. His RADA audition had him singing Your Song and during his part in the movie Sing, back in 2016 where he played Johnny, he went for the classic I’m Still Standing. Very few young actors have the range and charisma of Egerton whose take on Elton John is less of an impersonation and more an embodiment of who he was when growing up and struggling with his own identity and fame. Combining these two elements makes for a fascinating performance in which Egerton uses his skills as a singer, dancer and actor all at once in Dexter Fletcher’s musical. As Elton’s songs bridge the gap between the reality and fantasy, Rocketman instills juxtaposition within a number of scenes as it plays a banging tune along with hardcore drug taking and his downward spiral into addiction.

Starting with the superstar checking into rehab, the film takes a step back in time to tell his story from childhood which he recounts in a group therapy session. It’s in his hometown where we get our first of many musical numbers as young Elton (played by two excellently talented actors, Matthew Illesley and Kit Connor) is introduced in an electric all-singing and all-dancing set piece with The Bitch is Back as accompaniment. From this scene onwards, it deep dives into Elton’s history beginning with his tremulous relationship with his distant father (Steven Mackintosh) and unsupportive mother (Bryce Dallas Howard). Shortly after meeting his parents, we’re treated to another romping and stomping musical number in the form of Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting. Young Elton transforms into Taron, singing and dancing his way from a pub, to the streets and into a carnival, all in one stunning tracking shot. Dexter Fletcher isn’t afraid to go where is required with a camera, as it bursts through a door and bends down to get through a narrow gap in a fence. It’s these angles which, thanks to cinematographer George Richmond, puts you in the centre of the action and makes you enjoy it even more.

His life is littered with supporting players amongst his parents including his sweet and supportive grandmother (Ivy, played by Gemma Jones), Stephen Graham as record company owner Dick James who dominates each scene he’s in (“I’m gonna have a massage!”) and Producer Ray Williams (Charlie Rowe), the very much naive and excitable person who discovers his talents. It’s not long before he meets Jamie Bell’s Bernie Taupin, his longterm writing partner with whom he immediately strikes up a bond that sees him through his best and worst moments. Bell is perfect in this role as the talented and sympathetic writer who stands by Elton’s side no matter what and who has an instant rapport with Egerton. The pair’s on screen chemistry which can be compared to those who play brothers as they become closer and more in sync. Another significant figure is his lover John Reid played by Richard Madden who is the very epitome of both slimey and seductive. Madden swoops in as potential hero who has other desires in mind. As their relationship grows from occasionally sex to Reid becoming Elton’s lover/manager there’s an increase in the toxicity between them which adds to Elton’s downward spiral into the self loathing he suffered since childhood.

Fletcher has a clear understanding of the narrative he wants to tell by using songs in a particular order. Rather than keeping these tunes in chronological order, he’s places them within the story where they fit best. An enjoyable, fun and hard hitting music biopic which shows the first ever gay sex scene from a major studio and deals with the repercussions of substance abuse. It’s a musical sure, but not like you’ve seen before.

4 out of 5.

Keep. It. Reel.

No, Avengers Endgame Is Not Fat Shaming


You have been warned, if you’re reading this and you’ve not seen Avengers Endgame that’s your fault.

For a number of years I’ve struggled with my weight, wanting to lose it, putting the effort in, shedding a few pounds but ultimately failing for some reason. It’s a frustrating thing to want to do something but losing that momentum after a short while. I became lazy at some point and after 25, it’s piled on. For a long time I was ashamed at this happening to me, constantly blaming myself and the choices I made. Frankly I assumed my friends and family wouldn’t like me as much. What I didn’t realise until later is that I was still the same person. Still the same slightly annoying, funny (in my humble opinion) and chatty nerd I have been for as long as I can remember.

No amount of weight gained or lost will ever change that or how people see me and care about me. The same can be said for Thor, when we first see him in Endgame he’s the hero we’re used to seeing; confident, brooding and muscular. Hemsworth embodies Thor to a point that, like Rober Downey Jr. as Iron Man, there isn’t anyone else you can imagine playing the God of Thunder. It isn’t until later that we see the toll certain events have taken on him. After slicing off Thanos’ head in the first 20 minutes and failing to undo the Snap thanks to the destruction of the stones, each Avenger goes their separate ways. Five years pass when Groot and Banner/Hulk (Bulk?!) pay him a visit at New Asgard. The reveal of an unkempt and heavier Thor was certainly shocking and played for laughs at first, however after this there is a tremendous amount of pain and pathos.

There was a point when Thor was a one note character, the muscular hero who would always vanquish the villain somehow and do it in style. The worst we saw him is when he briefly pined after Jane in Thor: The Dark World only to be reunited with her soon after. Other than that not a hair was out of place on this God of Thunder. Even when his mother died in Thor 2 and then his father in Thor Ragnarok, very little emotion was shown. Not until his third solo outing did we see a slightly different side to him in part thanks to Hemsworth himself as well as director Taika Waititi, both of which wanted to take the character in a different direction. Stripping him of his signature hair, hammer and home did just that. It also gave Hemsworth a chance to show off his comedy chops, something which be clearly has a natural talent for. Then in Infinity War, we see how hard he’s had it during his chat with Rocket (aka rabbit) where he laid out all who had died and how it’ll help him kill Thanos. It didn’t. What it eventually did was push Thor into depression, PTSD and alcoholism. Think about that for a moment, one of the most powerful beings in the universe had severe mental health issues. No matter what caused it, it really can happen to anyone. Power on the outside doesn’t mean power within.

There are a couple of unfortunate comments in Endgame’s three hour runtime such as Rocket calling him tubby and Rhodey claiming he has Cheese Whiz coursing through him. Whilst it feels in character for Rocket, Rhodey’s off handed comment felt very jarring and unnecessarily harsh. Some may argue that this sort of treatment continues throughout Endgame however it seems to lean more on the alcoholic Thor who is suffering from PTSD. He breaks down right after hearing the name Thanos, he is reliant on beer, grabbing Banner with one hand and still clutching a beer in the other. Not only has it taken its toll on his physical form, his mental state has been severely damaged as well. Not killing Thanos when he should have meant half of the universe died, that’s one hell of a burden to bear.

As he continues with his narrative through the film, he’s subjected to other types of name calling including Lebowski but this comes from the nicknaming Tony Stark. Never does it feel like fat shaming. If anything there is a growing concern for Thor starting when we see him after the 5 year time jump, he’s desperate to be who he was as he clings onto his past when he mentions Jane, and that he is the one who killed Thanos. The pain within him comes out as he continues to drink and can barely hold a sentence together struggling to find the words.

There are two key sections which turn things around for him, both of which help him accept who he is rather than who he’s supposed to be. They are the scenes he spends with his mother when travelling back to Asgard in 2013 and the final battle. Seeing her for one last time knowing full well that she was about to die was a blessing for him and that’s how he took it. It’s here that Thor comes to terms with his failures, suffering and grief. Yes he killed Thanos but not when he should have. His death didn’t change anything and it’s this which causes him to retreat inside himself and drink himself into a depressed and bloated state. Some final words of wisdom from his mother (Rene Russo reprising her role) as she reminds him of who he is and that this hasn’t changed despite how difficult it may be to see. One lift of his hand as he summons Mjolnir and realising that he in fact still worthy is a beautiful cherry on top of a perfect scene.

Then the final fight. The one thing that they could have done which would have ruined it is making Thor ab-tastic again. Keeping him at this size is a clear indication this is who he is now, and that no matter how big or small you become, you are always worthy, you are always powerful, you are always mighty. And apparently lightning can plait your beard!

Endgame changed a lot about the MCU and the Avengers, killing off two of the original members, giving Captain America a happy ending and showing us a smart Hulk. The biggest shock and pleasant surprise came in the shape of Thor. Pushing the character into places we had never see him go, having to deal with the toughest time he’s ever had, coming through the other side and joining the Guardians of the Galaxy. A bold move which didn’t involve killing off the character. With Hemsworth reportedly signing on to carry on his Marvel life into Phase 4, as well as his now more developed character it’s nice to know we’ll have a familiar face sticking around.

Keep. It. Reel.

Avengers: Endgame, review

Following on soon after the Snap from Infinity War, the remaining Avengers, all suffering in different ways, want to desperately try and undo the devastation cause by Thanos.

Trying to outdo your previous film which included the most powerful characters who spanned across a multi film universe is tricky to say the least. However producer Kevin Feige, directors Joe and Anthony Russo and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have crafted an astounding narrative which sees as a fitting conclusion to this story.

Thanks to last year’s marketing campaign for Infinity War which included shots that were created just for the trailer, it was difficult to trust the promotional footage which was released for Endgame. There were reports floating around that what we were seeing was from the first 15 minutes of the film and this turns out to be true, with the rest shrouded in mystery as you’d expect. It takes guts to wipe out a large number of your characters especially when many of them are fairly new to the fold. Giving themselves fewer options with their heroes, the film focuses on people who survived and what they are doing to move on.

Taking place a few weeks after Thanos clicked his fingers, the remaining Avengers, as well as the rest of the world, are suffering the tremendous loss they have each endured. Dealing with their burdens in different ways, they are frustrated, they want to move on, they have lost a part of themselves and there are those who have become deeply depressed. The extreme grief everyone is going through hits an emotional note like no other, with Thor who has reached the limits of his bravado blames himself as Chris Hemsworth giving his best and most nuanced performance as the God of Thunder. Captain America and Black Widow are both unable to give up and Tony leaves a goodbye message for Pepper as he floats in space with Nebula, or as he calls her the Blue Meanie. Then there’s Hawkeye, whose absence from Infinity War is explained with his house arrest ankle monitor, as we’ve never seen him before. Jeremy Renner is outstanding in this film thanks to the Markus and McFeely script which allows him to explore the depths of Clint Barton. This is something that can be said of all six original Avengers who have been in it together for quite some time now, so it’s a perfect opportunity to delve deeper in the characters we love.

Endgame is split into a three act structure and, whilst the first hour focuses on loss and grief, the remaining almost two hours are something completely different to what we’ve seen in the MCU to date. The initial character driven narrative is a surprising way to begin such a massive blockbuster as you’d expect it to be a fairly action centric throughout. However the writers and directors haven taken this approach to give each actor the freedom to dig deeper than they have before which makes our heroes more human; broken, downbeat, portraying a realistic view on how to deal with this situation. To detail the other two acts would be pretty spoiler heavy however rest assured that they have truly upped the stakes in what is said to be some of the stars’ final Marvel movie.

If you’re concerned that this is going to be a bleak meditation into loss then you’ll be pleased to hear that it’s got the typical MCU humour which never feels unnecessary or forced. You could almost say that it’s perfectly balanced. Lines such as “I get emails from a raccoon, so nothing seems crazy to me” and “You look like melted ice cream” said by Natasha and Rocket respectively just goes to show how sharp they can still be.

The finale is a spectacle like no other, combining the emotion from the MCU’s past with the moments we’ve always wanted to see on screen. Whilst they have fought together before, never has it felt more like a team of friends fighting for what is right. There is an effort to make it a collaboration, making sure they each key member gets a few moments. Endgame will make you laugh, cry and cheer for your heroes and with outstanding performances, dialogue, humour, pathos and action, it is now up there with the best of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is not only a celebration of the MCU and all that it has achieved in its 11 year history, but also a look of what’s to come from Earth’s mightiest heroes.

5 out of 5.

Keep. It. Reel.

Star Wars Episode IX Title And Teaser Revealed

After a nice long gap, we are getting a new Star Wars film, the final part in the saga and the last one for quite a while. Episode IX, which is due to be released on December 20th, 2019, now has a name. JJ Abrams has returned to direct after Colin Trevorrow was given the boot for that classic reason: creative differences. The name of the new Star Wars film is The Rise of Skywalker

The third part in the latest trilogy is said to be a fitting end to the Saga with Mark Hamill returning (from the dead? ZOMBIE LUKE!) as well as Billy Dee Williams reprising his role as Lando Calrissian and Carrie Fisher making an appearance using archive footage. Walt Disney CEO, Bob Iger has said that after Episode IX, Star Wars will take a break. He says, “We have not announced any specific plans for movies thereafter. There are movies in development, but we have not announced them.” During the Star Wars Celebration event in Chicago, Stephen Colbert presented the Episode IX panel which included JJ Abrams, Anthony Daniels, Kathleen Kennedy, Billy Dee Williams R2D2, Oscar Issac, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Naomi Ackie, Joonas, Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran and BB8. During the discussion, they spoke of their previous experience in and outside of Star Wars as well as the current film, whilst new images of the characters appeared on the screen behind them. Some we know well, some we will get to know. We also received the first teaser trailer which shows how the previous Jedis have passed on all that they know to the current generation. We see Rey, Finn, Poe, C3PO, BB8 as they all do battle with Kylo and the dark side. Lando comes back to fly his Millennium Falcon, as we are told no one is ever really gone. Besides Luke, who else will return?

John Boyega, Oscar Issac, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Lupita Nyong’o and Domhnall Gleeson all return for the final go in the Skywalker Saga. The Rise of Skywalker has been written by Abrams and Chris Terrio, with Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly getting co-writing credits. After this film, we know that there is The Mandalorian TV series by Jon Favreau, with episodes being directed by Deborah Chow, Dave Filoni, Rick Famuyiwa, Bryce Dallas Howard and Taika Waititi but that’s about it for now. A break makes sense after Star Wars fatigue did seem to settle in after the release of Solo just a few months after The Last Jedi. We’ll see how long this break is but I’m extremely excited for the final chapter on this 42 year old Saga.

Keep. It. Reel.

Us, review

Years after a traumatic event during her childhood, Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) returns to Santa Cruz for a family vacation. During their holiday, she, her husband and their two children are terrorised by a group of doppelgängers.

Jordan Peele surprised the world with his directorial debut, 2017’s Get Out which dealt with the issue of racism deep seeded in America. With Us, he proves this was no fluke as he uses multiple themes and subtle messages to explore what it is to be human in this horrific tale.

Doppelgänger movies are nothing new, having been done in different ways with recent examples including Christopher Nolan’s Prestige and Richard Ayoade’s The Double, both of which had one person duplicated. This time Peele ramps it up a notch by including an entire family of doubles who terrorise their vacationing counterparts. Beginning with a young Adelaide (Madison Curry) in 1986 who wanders off from her parents at a carnival, she encounters a horror which she carries with her decades later. As the film jumps ahead in time to the present day, we’re shown a fairly typical family who laugh, fight and disagree as many would. An excellent scene in which they establish the four comes early as they sit around a dinner table discussing various aspects of their lives.

It’s the final sense of normality as the film becomes a house invasion following their son Jason’s (Evan Alex) creepy encounter on the beach. The copies show up on their driveway and just stand there for a while. It’s not until Gabe’s (Winston Duke) attempt to engage with them that they start to close in. “If you want to get crazy, we can get crazy”. Lest does he know just how crazy it’s about to get. After this, they are all subjected to their individual doppelgängers in various ways and whilst there are distinct similarities, there are also considerable differences to easily tell them apart. Gabe’s comes across as a much larger and taller force to reckon with, Zora’s (Shahadi Wright Joseph) has an abnormal and feral way about her, Jason’s, like the real one, wears a mask and Adelaide’s sadistic laugh will keep you on the edge of your seat.

As he builds up the tension and creates moments of intense fear, Peele uses his comedic talents to maneuver genuine moments that relieve the tension. As the family is initially held hostage Gabe offers them a used and beat up boat he recently bought at which point Zora chinrs in with “Dad, no one wants the boat!” It’s a perfect depiction of the family dynamic even in such a difficult situation. Another scene in which they argue who is going to drive will make you laugh as much as it’ll make you want to scream at them to just get out of there. These comedic moments consistently hit the spot especially when it comes to dad-bod / dad joke extraordinaire Gabe who is the epitome of the embarrassing father. Moments which are levied with horror but a brief segment of comic relief never feel like a jarring tonal shift as they can in some films, it’s Peele’s sense of comic timing and understand each scene he’s trying to craft.

Peele never wastes a needle drop, using some superb tracks to keep that feeling of dread or in one scene in which the juxtaposing visuals and music sync up perfectly. It’s a testament to what he can do with sound as he uses the silence just as well as using music. With excellent supporting performances from Elizabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker as the constantly arguing married couple, it’s Nyong’o who shines as she delved deep to create two completely different characters who have a considerable amount in common. As a mother and wife and she’s caring, fierce and determined. As a copy she’s brutal, terrifying and shocking. Creating such disparate depictions with both of their mannerisms, facial expressions and a laugh which will chill you to the bone makes this film worth watching.

An astounding second film from Jordan Peele whose writing and direction show what a smart horror film can look. His subtle and not so subtle comments on the over arching narrative will keep this film in your heard for weeks to come.

5 out of 5.

Keep. It. Reel.

James Gunn Reinstated For Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3

It was the job that no director would want to take over and the film that looked as if it would never be made but it’s been said today that James Gunn is back. Months after being fired for offiensive jokes shared on Twitter a few years ago, Gunn has returned to Marvel to complete his trilogy with Guardians of the Galaxy vol 3.

According to Deadline he was re-hired a few months ago after a lot of talks being held within Disney. Walt Disney Studio president Alan Horn met with Gunn on multiple occasions to discuss his firing and reversed the decision after he made an apology. Gunn was fired after alt-right journalists dug up tweets from his past which joked about subjects including rape and paedophilia. Shortly after, the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy released a joint statement in support of Gunn, with Dave Bautista threatening to walk several times if they didn’t at least use his script. Fans were mostly on his side but some did not agree with his jokes and were glad to see him go.

On a personal note, I’m glad he’s back. Whilst the second GOTG film wasn’t as good as the first, it’s a trilogy a lot of people want to see completed by Gunn, especially after surprising movie goers which the superb first Guardians film. In case you’re interested I wrote an opinion piece about his unfair sacking here.

Keep. It. Reel.

Super Bowl TV Spot Round-up

Every year two teams get together for a game of American football which fans of the sport watch all around the world. Why? Well, because you get new footage from amazing films, that’s why!

Gather round people, here are the best TV spots released during last night’s Super Bowl LIII including the likes of Avengers: Endgame, Toy Story 4, Captain Marvel and Us. Fun fact, Jordan Peele appears two of the spots and directed one of the others, so I think we can all agree he’s the real winner, right?? Who actually won? Erm… *Googles Super Bowl* someone called Pat Riots. He sounds like he needs to calm down. Anyway, here are some kickass TV spots to get you excited for some of the upcoming films and TV shows being released this year.

Avengers Endgame

After the first trailer in which Tony is drifting in space whilst a plan on earth is about to be executed,m we see Stark and Nebula working on what I’m assuming is a way back home. Shots of the team getting ready as Black Widow trains and Cap seemingly has his shield once more. Chances are this is it for the original line up of the Avengers. They will be going out with a bang.

Captain Marvel

Coming a month and half before Endgame, the MCU has its first ever female lead film with Brie Larson taking on the role of Captain Marvel. Watch as she goes higher, further and faster. Try to keep up.

Toy Story 4

Bo Peep returns in this spot for Toy Story 4 in which she and Woody are waiting for Buzz however he’s been caught and is now a prize at an amusement park game. Trying to escape Buzz is quick to make enemies in Bunny and Ducky. Good luck with that!

Handmaid’s Tale

The third season of The Handmaid’s Tale is coming with Offred/June on a mission after managing to escape at the end of the second season. Check out the explosive spot, and sorry for the spoiler!

Twilight Zone

That’s right, it’s coming back. Jordan Peele nareayea and produces the latest iteration of the famed TV series which has spooked people for decades. Admittedly I’ve never seen any of these but they sound so fantastic so I’m curious to see how it’s handled this time.


Based on the film of the same name Hanna shows how you can stretch an hour and 51 minute film into an entire series. I’m being quite cynical about this because I personally thought the film was excellent, whereas this looks as if it’s just copied it. I will reserve full judgement until after I’ve seen it but still…

Fast & Furious presents: Hobbs & Shaw

If you saw the trailer which came out a few days ago, this isn’t anything new but certainly worth a watch because it has to be one of the most self aware and hilarious trailers I’ve seen in a long time! Hobbs & Shaw being forced to team just to perform some ridiculous feats is border line genius! Very excited for some big dumb fun.


In his follow up to Get Out, Jordan Peele takes a seemingly basic trope with a family taking a trip and some unwanted visitors. However as you can imagine it’s not as simple as that. This looks, frankly, fucking terrifying! I’m looking forward to what Peele has in store for everyone this time around.

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark

Yes, that really is the title. And yes there are three. How greedy of them right?? From Guillermo del Toro (no he didn’t direct it, he wrote and produced it, so that’s something) comes a new horror story about a group of kids who have to face theirs fears in order to save their hometown. It’s a pretty frightening set of spots, check them out and see what you think.

Game of Thrones

Sorry about that, no new footage at all but an advert for Bud Light with a hint of Game of Thrones thrown it. Don’t get me wrong I would have LOVED to have seen some sort of trailer for the final season but this is a pretty fun way to promote both.

Keep. It. Reel.

Thoughts On 2019’s Oscar Nominations

Every year the Academy makes some sort of cock up with regards to the nominations, ordinarily it’s one or two or perhaps a few. One of the most recent instances is not giving Amy Adams (Arrival) a nod and rewarding a fairly middle of the road performance from Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins). Come at me! However 2019 seems to be an utter shit show with regards to certain films being mostly or completely ignored and others being showered in undeserved praise.

Films like Beautiful Boy, Widows and First Man (how did this not get at least best score??) being mostly overlooked (the latter has a few in the technical categories so not a total loss) is somewhat odd. It’s the first year in a while when I’ve not really looked forward to what’s to come on February 25th. Somehow films which were being talked about for Oscar contention have been sidelined, Steve Carell should have been honoured with as Best Actor as well as Timothée Chalamet in the same category or at the very least Supporting for the drama Beautiful Boy. However we’re seeing the likes of the critically unacclaimed (but loved by audiences) Bohemian Rhapsody being nominated for best film AND best actor? It is neither of these things when you compare to what has come out in the same year. The fact that First Man didn’t even get a best score nod is absurd, as is ignoring Ryan Gosling’s subtle beauty as he portrays Neil Armstrong along with Claire Foy as his wife Janet.

Whilst the best actress and best supporting actress categories gets it pretty spot with nominees such as Lady Gaga, Olivia Colman, Amy Adams and Emma Stone it feels as if supporting actor could have included Brendan Gleeson or Hugh Grant both for Paddington 2, laugh all you want but they were superb in that. As was the film which was totally ignored. It’s not your typical Oscar contender but surely it’s one hell of an achievement to create a sequel which is this good??

Another film completely looked over is Widows which via Twitter got a mixed response. It’s odd that it did however it seems the performances should have been recognised. People have said that the film isn’t great but that those who starred in it were great. This as well as You Were Never Really Here are two films which have nothing to show for it even after performances from Joaquin Phoenix, Daniel Kaluuya, Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki to name but a few.

With Rami Malek recently winning the SAG for best actor it’s looking more and more likely that he will pick up the award at the Oscars too. Whilst it’s a good performance, it’s not up there with the likes of Bradley Cooper for A Star Is Born and Christian Bale in Vice.

One final thought, it’s fantastic to see Black Panther up for best film. Perhaps it’s a token gesture but it certainly deserves to be in that category. And yes, it is better than Infinity War.

Nominations for the 91st Academy Awards

Performance by an actor in a leading role

  • Christian Bale in Vice
  • Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born
  • Willem Dafoe in At Eternity’s Gate
  • Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Viggo Mortensen in Green Book

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

  • Mahershala Ali in Green Book
  • Adam Driver in BlacKkKlansman
  • Sam Elliott in A Star Is Born
  • Richard E. Grant in Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  • Sam Rockwell in Vice

Performance by an actress in a leading role

  • Yalitza Aparicio in Roma
  • Glenn Close in The Wife
  • Olivia Colman in The Favourite
  • Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born
  • Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

  • Amy Adams in Vice
  • Marina de Tavira in Roma
  • Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Emma Stone in The Favourite
  • Rachel Weisz in The Favourite

Best animated feature film of the year

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

Achievement in cinematography

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

Achievement in costume design

  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – Mary Zophres
  • Black Panther – Ruth Carter
  • The Favourite – Sandy Powell
  • Mary Poppins Returns – Sandy Powell
  • Mary Queen of Scots – Alexandra Byrne

Achievement in directing

  • BlacKkKlansman – Spike Lee
  • Cold War – Paweł Pawlikowski
  • The Favourite – Yorgos Lanthimos
  • Roma – Alfonso Cuarón
  • Vice – Adam McKay

Best documentary feature

  • Free Solo – Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin, Evan Hayes and Shannon Dill
  • Hale County This Morning, This Evening – RaMell Ross, Joslyn Barnes and Su Kim
  • Minding the Gap – Bing Liu and Diane Quon
  • Of Fathers and Sons – Talal Derki, Ansgar Frerich, Eva Kemme and Tobias N. Siebert
  • RBG – Betsy West and Julie Cohen

Best documentary short subject

  • Black Sheep – Ed Perkins and Jonathan Chinn
  • End Game – Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman
  • Lifeboat – Skye Fitzgerald and Bryn Mooser
  • A Night at The Garden – Marshall Curry
  • Period. End of Sentence. – Rayka Zehtabchi and Melissa Berton

Achievement in film editing

  • BlacKkKlansman – Barry Alexander Brown
  • Bohemian Rhapsody – John Ottman
  • The Favourite – Yorgos Mavropsaridis
  • Green Book – Patrick J. Don Vito
  • Vice – Hank Corwin

Best foreign language film of the year

  • Capernaum – Lebanon
  • Cold War – Poland
  • Never Look Away – Germany
  • Roma – Mexico
  • Shoplifters – Japan

Achievement in makeup and hairstyling

  • Border – Göran Lundström and Pamela Goldammer
  • Mary Queen of Scots – Jenny Shircore, Marc Pilcher and Jessica Brooks
  • Vice – Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe and Patricia DeHaney

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

  • Black Panther – Ludwig Goransson
  • BlacKkKlansman – Terence Blanchard
  • If Beale Street Could Talk – Nicholas Britell
  • Isle of Dogs – Alexandre Desplat
  • Mary Poppins Returns – Marc Shaiman

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

  • All The Stars from Black Panther

Music by Mark Spears, Kendrick Lamar Duckworth and Anthony Tiffith; Lyric by Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, Anthony Tiffith and Solana Rowe

  • I’ll Fight from RBG

Music and Lyric by Diane Warren

  • The Place Where Lost Things Go from Mary Poppins Returns

Music by Marc Shaiman; Lyric by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman

  • Shallow from A Star Is Born

Music and Lyric 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 Lyric by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch

Best motion picture of the year

  • Black Panther – Kevin Feige, Producer
  • BlacKkKlansman – Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Raymond Mansfield, Jordan Peele and Spike Lee, Producers
  • Bohemian Rhapsody – Graham King, Producer
  • The Favourite – Ceci Dempsey, Ed Guiney, Lee Magiday and Yorgos Lanthimos, Producers
  • Green Book – Jim Burke, Charles B. Wessler, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly and Nick Vallelonga, Producers
  • Roma – Gabriela Rodríguez and Alfonso Cuarón, Producers
  • A Star Is Born – Bill Gerber, Bradley Cooper and Lynette Howell Taylor, Producers
  • Vice – Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Adam McKay and Kevin Messick, Producers

Achievement in 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

Best animated short film

  • Animal Behaviour – Alison Snowden and David Fine
  • Bao – Domee Shi and Becky Neiman-Cobb
  • Late Afternoon – Louise Bagnall and Nuria González Blanco
  • One Small Step – Andrew Chesworth and Bobby Pontillas
  • Weekends – Trevor Jimenez

Best live action short film

  • Detainment – Vincent Lambe and Darren Mahon
  • Fauve – Jeremy Comte and Maria Gracia Turgeon
  • Marguerite – Marianne Farley and Marie-Hélène Panisset
  • Mother – Rodrigo Sorogoyen and María del Puy Alvarado
  • Skin Guy – Nattiv and Jaime Ray Newman

Achievement in sound editing

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

Achievement in sound mixing

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

Achievement in visual effects

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

Adapted screenplay

  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
  • BlacKkKlansman – Written by Charlie Wachtel & David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee
  • Can You Ever Forgive Me? – Screenplay by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
  • If Beale Street Could Talk – Written for the screen by Barry Jenkins
  • A Star Is Born – Screenplay by Eric Roth and Bradley Cooper & Will Fetters

Original screenplay

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

Keep. It. Reel.

2018 Was So Last Year

Good things come to those who wait they say. So I’m sure you’ll all have been waiting for my top 10 list of 2018. That’s right, three weeks into 2019 I’ve finally finished writing this, but to be fair I have a full time job. Be nice! Anyway, here’s my list from 2018, I’ve not included a top 10 worst because I honestly didn’t see enough terrible films this year. Don’t get me wrong, I saw some stinkers but just not 10 of them. An idea was given to me by the gf who suggested that instead of this top 10 worst, I include subjects like biggest surprise and biggest disappointment.

I hope this was worth the wait…

Top 10 Movies of 2018

10. The Guilty

One location films always sound like such a bad idea, it’s the movie equivalent of judging a book by it’s cover. However, Buried, Locke and to a lesser extent Phonebooth have proved that wrong. The Guilty continues this superb trend by doing something similar to Locke which puts one person in a location on the phone for the whole time, building up the tension before a shocking conclusion. What makes this film as gripping as it is is the central performance from Jakob Cedergren who goes on a short but fascinating journey as his character develops whilst talking on the phone. He’s a police officer who is currently working in alarm dispatch when he has to race against time in order to help a woman who has been kidnapped. He spends his time talking to her and helping her through this trauma, all whilst ignoring other calls and dealing with his own deep seeded issues. A superb film which is only 1 hour 25, how you craft something this thrilling in such a short space of time is beyond me.

9. Teen Titans Go! To the Movies

Without question the best DC film since The Dark Knight (yes, this includes Wonder Woman) Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is based on the kids TV series. Directed by Aaron Horvath and Peter Rida Michail who both work on the TV show, the pair created a film which was not only brilliantly entertaining and very funny but incredibly self-aware. In recent years we’ve had an influx of superhero movies primarily from Marvel and DC, to the point that some have been as over saturation. I don’t agree however I understand that it can seem a bit much and samey. Teen Titans takes what we know about the genre, turns it on its head, takes the piss out of it and throws in Michael Bolton for good measure. What’s not to love and laugh at?? It also gave us Nicolas Cage as Superman, he finally made that dream come true.

8. They Shall Not Grow Old

Peter Jackson has returned to the director’s chair for They Shall Not Grow Old. There’s so much footage from World War 1, so choosing what he did in order to create a structured narrative throughout is impressive, despite what I’ve heard a few people say which is that it’s been whitewashed. It hasn’t, he picked a moment in time and still managed to show some people of colour in it. Anyway, for those of you who have seen it will know that this isn’t the most impressive aspect about it, what he’s managed to do is colour almost the entire film. This coupled with the speech experts who created regional accents and dialogue for those who could be seen talking is a truly remarkable feat.

7. Journeyman

Emotionally hitting harder than the physical punches it throws, Journeyman deals with a boxer in peak form who suffers a life changing head injury. It is yet another film which showcases the enourmous talent Paddy Considine is as star, writer and director. He stars along side current Doctor Who, Jodie Whittaker who has to deal with her husband in a state which no longer resembles himself. He has to learn how to fend off himself and with this comes his stumrughlea as well as that of his wife. Whilst Whittaker is sadly sidelined for a large chunk of the movie, getting to see Paddy perform in this way in which he realises how difficult things are for him and those around him is a beautiful and difficult portrayal.

6. A Star is Born

As the third remake of a film which most people will know of, it’s surprising that it can be this good. This is thanks to two in sync performances from Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper who also manages to direct his first feature with ease. The story is a simple on; famous boy meets non-famous but talented girl, boy helps her succeed, they fall in love. Crafting intricate scenes to go along side the infectious live music performances especially the gig the film starts with. The pair share plenty of intimate scenes which come across as genuine, as do the performances of the supporting cast especially Cooper’s on-screen brother Sam Elliott who works on his management team. Their relationship is divided but close, they clearly have a love for one another and one heart breaking scene shows how fractured things are between them. Almost everything about this film is beautiful!

5. Black Panther

We come to the second best superhero movie of the year which shows that we can have a fully diverse cast AND a great movie! Black Panther enters the MCU with director Ryan Coogler at the helm who puts our hero in a position against a villain who is genuinely sympathetic and compelling. Never have we seen a Marvel villain who is layered in a way that makes us understand and sympathy for his motives. Chadwick Boseman takes on the role of the hero while Michael B Jordan is Killmonger, a man who wants what is rightfully his. Creating a narrative which shows in intriguing back story as well as female characters who are tough, developed and even more fierce than their male counterparts is something we rarely see in cinema. It’s about time a film as mainstream as this came along. And for all you haters out there who intentionally voted this down without reason, FUCK YOU.

4. The Rider

In recent years, the issue of masculinity has come under the microscope several times, primarily due to its toxic nature. In The Rider the matter of toxic masculinity is steeped within its narrative as a young rodeo rider suffers a near fatal head injury and needs to re-discover his identity and what it means to be a man. Played by Brady Jandreau, the film’s protagonist brilliantly deals with peer pressure stemming from this kind of rampant pressures from working in a difficult environment, wanting to prove himself to others whilst knowing full well that he needs to take care of himself. It’s heartbreaking final moments push these boundaries set by social norms like no other film has.

3. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

When Homecoming was about to be released, there were a number of people who questioned why we needed yet another Spider-Man, including me despite my love for the MCU. This new animated one, directly from Sony almost came under the wire until the launch of its first astounding trailer in December 2017, a full year before its release. Starring Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Nicolas Cage, Kathryn Hahn and Liev Shreiber, this is one hell of a surprise when it comes to its animation. Whilst yes the trailers looked great, there was never any guarantee that it’ll be any good but it turned out to be the best superhero movie in 2018 (sorry Infinity War fans!) The story put multiple Spider people into one universe, which gave them directors a perfect excuse to combine multiple animation techniques at once. The result was a multi-layered animated story with break taking visuals, sharp dialogue, very funny jokes and more hear than you’d ever expect.

2. First Man

The effort being put into cinema to make it immersive is almost impressive. Most of it is terrible (hello 3D and 4DX) however when you have a movie like First Man, those immersive tricks are not needed at all. Taking the story of Neil Armstrong becoming the first man on the moon and using it to tell the story of NASA’s attempts and subsequent failures whilst Ryan Gosling plays the man himself. Director Damien Chazelle focused on his home life and how he interacted with family and friends, as well as how he chose to deal with the death of his daughter. Mixing the aspects of grounded life and space flight created an atmospherical drama using a shaky cam technique with the launches, and sucking out all of the sound upon reaching the moon. A superb film, with stellar performances from all but especially Gosling and Clair Foy.

1. A Quiet Place

Trips to the cinema are usually marred with phones, talking, crinkly packets. You name it, it’ll probably piss me off. The first thing you will notice when you watch A Quiet Place at the cinema is how self-conscious you feel and that everyone around you feels the same. This is because of the films astounding script which uses inventive ways to keep quiet in order to survive the alien invasion. But of course that’s not the only reason why it’s my number one film from 2018. A Quiet Place, directed by, co-written and starring John Krasinski creates an atmosphere most horror films would kill for, the intense silence, along with the sudden moments of noise both illustrate how these films should be made. It’s a truly terrifying film but it also has a lot of heart. From the opening scene you care deeply for this family and what happens to them thanks to the performances put in by real life couple Krasinski and Emily Blunt as well as their children Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe. LOVED IT! Woops, quiet now…

Honourable Mentions

Some of you will have noticed that, unlike many best film lists from 2018, I didn’t include Avengers: Infinity War. It is of course in my top 20, I’m a big Marvel fan but I’m not biased. I saw someone compare Thanos to Darth Vader and that’s just wrong. It’s a 4 star film (some times I think 3 star but I won’t go there) but it was let down because of Thanos. He was too close to the poor villains we’ve seen in the MCU before. Great character interactions and action set pieces but it didn’t hit home emotionally. The deaths (besides Tom Holland’s Spider-Man which was handled beautifully) were pretty cold and we all know that they are coming back. Another film I’ve like to include is Coco which is a beautifully animated film, Pixar’s latest which skillfully deals with death and shows that we should be talking about. It’s a moving story that will make you want to hold on to your loved ones and never let them go. Three Identical Strangers took this story about three men who found out that they had been separated at birth and analysed it to a fascinating level. The story of the three of them finding each other is one thing, where it leads to is something else. I won’t spoil it at all but I can assure you that this is unbelievably.

Biggest Disappointments


After receiving more than its fair share of praise (84% on Rotten Tomatoes), I went to see this film which starred Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams and Alessandro Nivola. After the overly running time of almost two hours I left the cinema thinking that this is probably the most overrated film of the year. Story is that Wesiz comes back home after the death of her father, she meets McAdams and Nivola after not seeing them for several years and discovers they are married. This leads to one of the most unconvincing lesbian love stories I’ve ever seen. The pair get together and the entire time nothing feels natural. It all feels forced with not even a hint of chemistry between them. It’s one of the most dull, bland passion-less love story you’ll see.

The Meg

Jason Statham punching a massive shark is what we were promised, what we go was far less fun. A film about a giant shark with one of the most absurd modern action stars we have was something a lot of people looked forward to however instead of swimming it sank after taking itself far too seriously. First of all there were two of them, second they were not that big, third it takes a dark turn when the people on the under water marine base are double crossed. Excuse the spoilers but if you’ve not seen it by now, don’t bother.

Biggest Surprise

Love, Simon

I got to see this as part of Cineworld’s secret screenings they occasionally do and what a delightful surprise! It tells the story of Simon, who as a gay teenager has more than enough issues to deal with and then someone outs him to the whole school. Determined to find out who it is, he goes on a journey to discover who he is and what this all means to him. It’s a very funny, sweet and heart warming story which is possibly the first time we’ve seen a mainstream gay teen romantic comedy.

Reel Resolutions

  • Write this thing up MUCH earlier
  • Watch fewer films and focus on things I need to sort out in my life
  • Write more reviews
  • Attend more networking events

Keep. It. Reel

Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. Comes To London

There was an idea, to bring together a group of remarkable people, to see if we could become something more.

Have you ever wanted to join the Avengers? Have you pondered what it would be like to train with them? Do you want to try and lift Thor’s hammer? (Yes I know it was destroyed in Ragnarok but just go with it!) Well, get yourself down to the ExCel Centre in London where you can gaze upon the Hulk’s strength, try to lift Mjölnir, become Iron Man and straddle Cap(‘s motorcycle).

Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N has been travelling around the world and it’s finally made it to London after being announced a few months ago. Here you can train to become an Avenger Agent by exploring the wide range of Iron Man suits and (virtually) try one on yourself, have your strength tested against the team to see which Avenger you match up to, visit the villains who have been defeated, learn about the Infinity Stones (vital information for these dark times since the snap) and even test out the Arc Reactor. Step back though, that is one powerful thing! 

This is an insanely fun attraction which I urge all Marvel fans, movie fans and nerds in general to check out. There’s all of this and a lot more to see and do, with Thor’s Obsevatory in which you can learn more about the God of Thunder, Banner’s lab, Steve Rogers’ personnel files as well as his mighty shield, you’ll be able to get your geek on for the day. Get your tickets here and it’s booking up until March. 

Keep. It. Reel.