This post is dedicated to the three award-nominated films I have seen recently. Award season is often a time when the best films come out and this year is no exception. I saw all three of these films at the Ultimate Picture Palace in Oxford. I also volunteer there. If you are ever in Oxford, it is a great little cinema to catch a film. It only has 1 screen but also has a bar (with alcohol!) and plush red seats. There are 2 films on every evening and usually one in the afternoon too. They also show lots of art-house style films, documentaries and ones you may not find in the chain cinemas. Anyway on to the films.
Molly’s Game – Nominated for 1 Oscar, 2 Golden Globes and 1 BAFTA
This film is based on a true story. Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) was an Olympic level skier. She was trying out for the Winter Olympics when she was injured and could never ski again. She moves to Los Angeles and puts off her plan of going to law school for a year. She begins working as a cocktail waitress but soon gets a job with Dean (Jeremy Strong) who then asks her to organise and run his weekly underground poker game. Famous actors, musicians, sports stars and millionaires play the game. After several years, Molly is fired by Dean but retaliates by stealing all his players and setting up Molly’s Game at the Four Seasons in LA. Her buy in is put at $250,000 US dollars a game. Her game gets bigger and bigger, moving to New York and involving members of the Russian mafia.
2 years after playing she is arrested by the FBI and tried for illegal gambling. The film tells her story from her beginnings of being raised by her strict father (Kevin Costner) and being coached to ski and do well academically to running a multi-millionaire dollar company. At the beginning of the film, Molly goes to visit Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba), who becomes her lawyer and her life is then told in flashbacks. The styling of the film is very good and Jessica Chastain is amazing in her role. I could only think of Molly as her. There is a lot of fast narration by Molly in the film but it is not too hard to keep up with.
The bold colours of the film combined with the amazing life story of Molly makes this film a triumph. The film has some sad moments that did make me shed a few tears, especially when Molly sees her dad after being arrested.
This film is a true female empowerment story and how even if you get one dream taken from you, it doesn’t mean you can’t do something else and create your own business. Even though what Molly did was illegal, there is still a story of true courage and determination to be told.
The Oscar this film was nominated for was Best Adapted Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, Steve Jobs, Moneyball) who also directed the film. It is based on Molly’s autobiography of her life. I think Jessica Chastain should have received nominations for her role and so should Idris Elba for his role as Charlie.
Also starring in Molly’s Game are Kevin Costner (Dances with Wolves), Michael Cera (Superbad), Brian d’Arcy James (13 Reasons Why), Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids), Bill Camp (The Night Of), Graham Greene (The Green Mile), Claire Rankin (Taken, 2017), Joe Keery (Stranger Things) and Jeremy Strong(The Big Short).
Overall I rate Molly’s Game 5/5.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Nominated for 7 Oscars, 6 Golden Globes (Won 2), 9 BAFTAs, 4 SAG Awards (Won 1)
The film centres around the after effects of the raping and murder of Angela Hayes. Her mother, Mildred is fed up with the police department. They haven’t had any leads in 7 months. She then uses 3 Billboards on a small road near her home to ask a question: Why haven’t there been any arrests? Her billboards start to make people take notice and complaints come in for the honesty of the signs. The small town consists of many people on Mildred’s side but the billboards change the atmosphere of Ebbing, Missouri. The film is poignant and honest about the police department of small towns in the US and how in the South, many policemen are more concerned with falsely accusing black people for crimes than finding real criminals.
Frances McDormand as Mildred gives an astonishing performance, and she has been nominated for an Oscar and a BAFTA and won a Golden Globe and SAG Award for her role. Her character is unpredictable, violent, mean, grieving and angry but McDormand gives her a human quality that makes you want her to succeed in finding her daughter’s killer.
Other cast members have also been recognised for their performances, Woody Harrelson who played the Chief of the Ebbing Police Department was nominated for a SAG Award, a BAFTA and an Oscar for his role. Sam Rockwell who plays a violent, racist cop, who later redeems himself, Jason Dixon won a SAG Award and a Golden Globe and was nominated for a BAFTA. He is also up for an Oscar in the same category as Woody Harrelson, Best Supporting Actor. The whole cast also won a SAG Award.
The other Oscars this film has been nominated for are Best Picture, Best Original Score – Carter Burwell, Best Original Screenplay – Martin McDonagh, Best Film Editing – Jon Gregory.
This film was powerful and truthful which I think really resonated in today’s climate of fake news and police brutality being covered up or excused. The painful story of a child being raped and killed has also been told accurately and respectfully.
The cast includes Frances McDormand (Fargo), Woody Harrelson (True Detective), Sam Rockwell (The Way Way Back), Abbie Cornish (Candy), Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone), Lucas Hedges (Manchester By The Sea), Zeljko Ivanek (Seven Psychopaths), Caleb Landry Jones (X-Men: First Class), Clarke Peters (The Wire) and Samara Weaving (The Babysitter).
Overall I give this film 4/5.
Darkest Hour – Nominated for 6 Oscars, 9 BAFTAs, Won 1 Golden Globe and 1 SAG Award.
This film tells the story of Sir Winston Churchill, the man who was reluctantly made prime minister and fought for our country. Churchill has to make a decision between attempting to negotiate peace talks with Hitler, preventing him from invading Britain or to find against the Nazis, despite the odds being against Britain. Churchill is portrayed by Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) in his role of a lifetime. When I was watching Oldman on screen, I forgot that he wasn’t an actor playing Winston Churchill, I thought this is Winston Churchill. Oldman not only looked like Churchill in the realistic prosthetic makeup but he had his voice and mannerisms perfected. Darkest Hour tells an incredible story of British courage in the year 1940 in a time period that only lasted about 2 weeks.
Churchill also shows his human side by bonding with his new secretary, Miss Layton (Lily James) and shows his romantic side with his wife, Clementine (Kristin Scott Thomas). There is also a lovely scene where he rides the Tube and asks ordinary people of London what they want for their country.
This film is very authentic from the scenery in the underground, where it looks just like the 1940s to the hundreds of extras used in the House of Commons dressed like Members of Parliament from the time.
Gary Oldman has been nominated for a Best Actor Oscar, one of six the film has been nominated for. The other nominations are Best Picture; Best Cinematography – Bruno Delbonnel; Best Makeup and Hairstyling – Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick; Best Costume Design – Jacqueline Durran and Best Production Design – Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer. Gary Oldman also won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama, and a SAG Award.
The film’s nine BAFTA nominations are Best Film; Best Leading Actor – Gary Oldman; Best Supporting Actress – Kristin Scott Thomas (The English Patient); Outstanding British Film of the Year; Original Music – Dario Marianelli; Best Makeup/Hair – David Malinowski, Ivana Primorac, Lucy Sibbick and Kazuhiro Tsuji; Best Cinematography – Bruno Delbonnel; Best Costume Design – Jacqueline Durran and Best Production Design – Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer.
The excellent cast that transport the audience to this time period include Lily James (Cinderella), Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline), Ronald Pickup (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), Stephen Dillane (The Hours) and Samuel West (Van Helsing).
Clearly this film has done well at the awards and it deserves it. I give the Darkest Hour 5/5.
Other films I have seen recently in the cinema include Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Hostiles.