My Top 20 Films of 2020

A recent viewing for me over the Groupwatch Feature on Disney Plus. The animated version was a childhood favourite of mine so I was sad that I did not get a chance to watch it at the cinema last September. Its release on Disney Plus was a delight for me and despite some controversy surrounding its locations, I think this is an important film for Asian representation in Western culture and especially for women. Mulan volunteers to fight in the Chinese Imperial Army some one thousand years ago. In the live action version, Mulan lives in a poor village and takes her father’s place due to his ill health whereas in the original version, Mulan is a princess and takes his place to prove herself. I loved Yifei Liu’s performance as Mulan; I remember they spent a long time trying to find the right actress and I think the casting was perfect. She was able to portray vulnerability and femininity at the beginning and then brute strength and leadership as a soldier. The fight sequences were impressive and used clever techniques as well as offensive action. Scenes with the snow avalanche and the final showdown were particularly impressive as well as the general production design. It did not feel like a typical cuddly kids film and I think it was a good move to get rid of the songs, no matter how great they were. I really loved this film but it was missing that extra something that makes me give a film full marks.

Hello readers,

A friend suggested this concept to me after talking about one of their favourite films of the year and I thought it would be great way to say goodbye to a horrific year for the world. Despite cinemas being closed for most of 2020, film found a way via streaming services. I was surprised at how many new films Netflix was putting out but it certainly kept me entertained. I’m listing my top 20 in no particular order apart from my IMDb rating. Going through all the films I saw released in 2020, I realise that my total viewing is only slightly longer than this list but each film on the list did bring me some joy this year and that’s what really counts in my eyes.

Onward – 10/10

This was the last film I saw at a chain cinema before lockdown and I am glad it was this one. It was a great story with an interesting new universe, a great cast and a feel-good story. I loved the dynamic between the brothers played by Chris Pratt and Tom Holland. They are elves living in a modern fairy tale land which is a blend of technology and mythical creatures. The characters go on a road trip/quest to try and fix a spell and see their late father one last time. This Pixar animation is a lovely tale for adults and children and I am glad I saw it in the cinema. It is now available on Disney Plus.

Godmothered – 9/10

I was pleasantly surprised by this Disney film that I saw over Christmas on Disney Plus. It represents the maturing of the Disney company as I have seen other content in the last couple of years with more feminist and LGBT story lines than previously included. This tale focuses on a fairy godmother who goes to Earth to help a little girl and save her godmother academy. The little girl is now an adult with children of her own and a job at a local news station. Eleanor, the godmother is not well versed in the modern world which leads to some hilarious incidents. There was a lot for adults but this is definitely a film for children. It is also set at Christmas but this is more in the background. The ending was not the usual marry a prince which I liked and shows that romantic love is not the be all and end all. A great cast with Jillian Bell, Isla Fisher and June Squibb.

Dating Amber – 9/10

I enjoyed this film set in the 1990s in Ireland with a great twist. It features Eddie and Amber who are both gay but pretend to date each other to get their fellow students off their backs. They embark on a deep emotional friendship and are able to be themselves for the very first time while exploring their sexualities. This was a very sweet story about finding yourself while also discussing some darker themes and it is worth its 15 rating with some older discussions. Starring upcoming actors Fionn O’Shea and Lola Petticrew along with Sharon Horgan and Simone Kirby. A great Irish film with comedy and heart.

Palm Springs – 9/10

This American comedy is the only film I saw in the cinema last year since lockdown started. It was in a cinema in Turkey but I have not wanted to attend in the UK so far but hopefully cinema will be back soon. This film played on the Groundhog Day trope with someone getting stuck in an endless time loop only in this film there are three people in the time loop. It made it a fun twist. The film is set at a wedding in Palm Springs and it begins with Sarah entering the time loop that Niles is already in. The two of them make the most of the endless days and gradually become closer and look for ways to leave the loop. It was a fun comedy that took my mind off 2020 for a while. Some great comedy stars star, Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti with other known faces: Peter Gallagher, Tyler Hoechlin, Camila Mendes, J.K. Simmons and June Squibb.

The Lovebirds – 9/10

This film moved onto Netflix after cinema shut down and I was glad it did as I got the chance to see it. It was a great buddy comedy with a couple who are going through problems. They end up on the run after a misunderstanding and encounter many interesting characters while trying to clear their name and fixing their relationship. It is a blend of comedy, drama, adventure and a little horror. With comedy gold Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani and set in New Orleans, a great film if you’re looking for something new and distracting.

The Old Guard – 9/10

This was a great film and one of my favourites released this year. It was a great story and I think the fact it is based on a comic book really made it a step above past action films. I am a fan of the director, Gina Prince-Bythewood and how she made this film into a fan favourite and cult phenomenon. The idea is something that has been played with before but rarely outside of the superhero genre. The team are made up of immortals who have been fighting evil for hundreds or thousands of years. They spend their infinite time helping secretly around the world to solve problems and take down criminals. When a new immortal is found for the first time in a hundred years, she joins the group and tries to protect the immortals from the threat of exposure from a man trying to harness their immortality for themselves. I loved the characters and their backstories and the relationship they all have with each other. The romance between Nicky and Joe is a highlight along with Andy’s character. The cast of Charlize Theron, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Harry Melling, KiKi Layne, Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari and Luca Marinelli make this film, a great one and I am looking forward to any potential sequels and I will definitely be re-watching soon.

The Half of It – 9/10

This indie Netflix original uses a well known trope with a more diverse outlook. Paul has a crush on Aster and pays Ellie to write love letters for him. While a friendship blossoms between the two from completely different social circles, something else develops between Aster and Ellie. The story is set in a small fictional town, Squahamish most notable for its conservative church and railway line. This gives an idea of the views of the townspeople when it comes to outsiders or those who do not comply with their religious beliefs. I was pleased to see that the romance is not the main focus of the story but the sweet friendship that develops between Ellie and Paul. This is not to say that the love story between Ellie and Aster was not explored. A lot of the shots were done to show the cinematography of the piece and to enhance the plot. I watched this film via Netflix Party with a friend and we both enjoyed. It was interesting to see a teen film with a slower pace and a less studio vibe.

My Spy – 9/10

I was happy that this film appeared on streaming services after the pandemic ensured it only had a limited run. A family action comedy that provided some well needed escapism in the first lockdown. We see tough team up with cute when JJ, a CIA operative is assigned to track the family of a former agent. Sophie, the former agent’s young daughter manages to suss out JJ’s mission and they team up to get the job done. I enjoyed seeing Dave Bautista is a role where he plays a human rather than as Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy and while he is the funny one of the group in the Marvel films, he gets to show a different side in My Spy. Sophie is played by Chloe Coleman, a rising child star who has no trouble carrying the film as the co-lead. It’s always fun to see a hardened stoic man softened by a smart kid. There are some laughs but also a lot of action. An all round enjoyable film.

All The Bright Places – 9/10

There was a lot of anticipation for this film as it is based on a bestselling novel by Jennifer Niven. While it has a depressing premise, I enjoyed the film. I feel like it has similar tones to The Half of It with a focus on the cinematography. I think it was important for the film that the author was a writer on the film and helped maintain the feel of the story. It stars Hollywood heavyweights Elle Fanning and Justice Smith who have both starred in their share of big films. Other stars include Luke Wilson, Alexandra Shipp and Keegan-Michael Key. This film shows the complex love story between Violet and Theodore and how they battle their past demons. Set in Indiana but shot in Cleveland, the unique locations add to the motifs and details of the film. It is a sad one but I think this is an important depiction of mental health and I hope it prompts more conversations amongst young people.

Mulan – 8/10

A recent viewing for me over the Groupwatch Feature on Disney Plus. The animated version was a childhood favourite of mine so I was sad that I did not get a chance to watch it at the cinema last September. Its release on Disney Plus was a delight for me and despite some controversy surrounding its locations, I think this is an important film for Asian representation in Western culture and especially for women. Mulan volunteers to fight in the Chinese Imperial Army some one thousand years ago. In the live action version, Mulan lives in a poor village and takes her father’s place due to his ill health whereas in the original version, Mulan is a princess and takes his place to prove herself. I loved Yifei Liu’s performance as Mulan; I remember they spent a long time trying to find the right actress and I think the casting was perfect. She was able to portray vulnerability and femininity at the beginning and then brute strength and leadership as a soldier. The fight sequences were impressive and used clever techniques as well as offensive action. Scenes with the snow avalanche and the final showdown were particularly impressive as well as the general production design. It did not feel like a typical cuddly kids film and I think it was a good move to get rid of the songs, no matter how great they were. I really loved this film but it was missing that extra something that makes me give a film full marks.

The Prom – 8/10

I’ve always loved a musical and this one was no different. The film is based on a Broadway musical and a true story about how a school in Indiana prevents a female student from bringing her girlfriend to the prom. When some washed up Broadway stars hear of the story, they rally to the cause and fly to Indiana to help Emma just live her life. This film debuted on Netflix with some A list actors: Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Kerry Washington, James Corden and Keegan-Michael Key. I thought this musical had a fun vibe and while a little cheesy it had a great message of acceptance and love. The songs were a great fit and are more universal than some musical songs. The design of the Prom at the end was a lovely celebration for all sexualities and I’m glad that the story was told.

Enola Holmes – 8/10

This spin on the classic Sherlock Holmes tale offers a female led perspective and introduces a younger cast supported by well-known actors. Set in Victorian England, Enola is the younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes. She is raised in the country by her mother away from proper society. When her mother leaves with no explanation, Enola heads to London to find her encountering a wayward Viscount and a mystery along the way. A lawsuit over the addition of more human characteristics to Sherlock’s personality was issued by the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle but this has now been settled. I thought this film was a fun take on the Sherlock story and gave younger and female viewers a point of view in the story. I enjoyed the film and the story. It was a delightful story with enough intrigue to keep you interested and beautiful production design. A talented cast featuring Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin, Helena Bonham Carter, Louis Partridge, Burn Gorman, Frances De La Tour and Fiona Shaw.

Work It – 8/10

Dance films are always an upbeat fun watch for me and this film was no different. What sets this film apart from every other dance film is that the main character is not a professional dancer. Quinn’s best friend is in the high school dance troupe and when she lies in a college interview, saying that she is a dancer, she needs to make that happen. She is not allowed into the troupe so forms her own with a group of outsiders and becomes the rival team at a competition. This is a film about learning to accept your flaws and living your best life anyway. The different styles of dance shown create a diverse story rather than just hip hop or ballet as in some films. There is also a brewing romance between Quinn and the choreographer she convinces to help them. I enjoyed the fun-loving nature of the film and it stars some great young actors: Sabrina Carpenter, Jordan Fisher, Liza Koshy and Keiynan Lonsdale. If you are a fan of teen films or dance films, then this is one for you.

Desperados – 8/10

A slightly out-there plot that could only happen in the modern world, Desperados also reunites actors Lamorne Morris and Nasim Pedrad who played husband and wife on television show, New Girl. Wesley meets Jared and at first her relationship is great but then he ghosts her and she sends a ranting and insulting email. He is in Mexico and was in a car accident so while he is recovering, Wesley flies to Mexico to delete the email before he sees it. What ensues is a girls trip with her two best friends and a ridiculous adventure. Each of the three women have things to confront about themselves and this trip offers the chance to do it. Wesley then bumps into a blind date she had before Jared and develops a friendship with him. This film was cheesy but had some real content and was a plotline I hadn’t seen before. It stars some great comedy actors: Anna Camp and Robbie Amell as well the aforementioned actors. I watched the film over the summer and seeing Mexico was something to take my mind off the pandemic for a while.

The F**k-It List – 8/10

This film is about finding your own path in life and not just going along with what others expect of you. Brent Blackmore spends his whole life studying to please his high-achieving parents. When he joins in with his senior prank and it goes wrong, Brent posts a ‘F**k-It List’ listing things he wish he did in high school. Slowly his college offers dwindle and he is banned from graduation. He goes viral and opportunities start opening up. This is a fun teen comedy with some real heart and a good message about being yourself. Set in sunny California, this film is for everyone that felt they missed out on something in life and needs persuading to pursue it. Featuring an up and coming cast of Eli Brown, Madison Iseman, Andrew Bachelor and Karan Brar.

Extraction – 8/10

A fast-paced action film set in Bangladesh in a world of weapons and arms dealings. The son of an international drug lord is kidnapped from his school in India and mercenary Tyler Rake is dropped into the city of Dhaka to rescue him and extract him back to India. The action never stops and a bond forms between Tyler and Ovi, the boy. I enjoyed the different setting and the city made a great location for this type of film. Chris Hemsworth is great in this type of role and it’s a good film to show his range after his high profile role in the Marvel universe. Despite the high stakes and difficulty of the mission, Tyler never gives up. In the background, his colleagues work to get information about the kidnappers and their motives.

Birds of Prey – 8/10

Another film I saw when cinemas were open and life was normal. I am not normally a fan of DC Universe films, I have only seen a few, namely Wonder Woman and Shazam but I went to see this film with a friend and I thought Margot Robbie could carry the film as Harley Quinn. Sometimes giving a secondary character a solo film doesn’t work but Harley really had her own tale to tell. The film starts with Joker having dumped Harley and she takes it hard. She spends the time getting back to what she does best: fighting bad guys. She meets a young girl on the run from an evil sexist crime lord who has also done Harley harm. She teams up with other female heroes to form the Birds of Prey and take him out. Her outfits were really fun and different. Her character is not how women are usually presented in superhero films such as Black Widow who was originally a sexy assistant or Captain Marvel who is a strong and sarcastic pilot. Harley is neither of these things but forges her own path. Even though she is a comic book character, her story of recovering from a toxic relationship and learning how to be her own person without that relationship is relatable to many women. A fun film about the strength of women and how they can be tough and violent yet vulnerable and broken.

The Boys in the Band – 7/10

This film has a long history as it is based on a play that debuted in the 1960s in New York City. It was controversial at the time as the main characters are all gay men and being homosexual was still illegal in America or certainly looked down upon in many states. The film itself features actors who are out as gay in the roles which the playwright insisted upon. The original cast featured gay actors too at a time when it was dangerous to be out as gay in America. The film is about the men all gathering for someone’s birthday party in a New York apartment and they all come away as different men than they were before. Secrets are spilled and dares are made and surprise guests appear. It does play out like a play with a few scenes not set in the apartment. Ryan Murphy is on as a producer and there are some talented people involved such as Zachary Quinto, Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer and Andrew Rannells. Its an interesting piece and says a lot about how it felt to be gay in that time and place.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga – 7/10

A very cheesy and almost parody of the Eurovision Song Contest, the film celebrates the energy and vibe of the contest as a strange, trashy event where anything goes even Australia being in Europe. This film features Lars and Sigrit who by freak accident get the chance to represent Iceland at the contest. They have been trying to get their musical duo going for a while and get the chance of a lifetime. They head to Scotland for the contest and face rivals, potential lovers and extravagant costumes. This film was not made to be taken seriously and I thought it was good for what it was: a fun musical film to honour a ridiculous tradition but it did not inspire me. Starring some big names: Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams as the duo Fire Saga along with Pierce Brosnan, Dan Stevens and Demi Lovato. Of course, Graham Norton stars himself as he has been the UK commentator for a number of years.

Parasite – 7/10

This film was a cultural phenomenon when it came out especially as it made history and won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. I thought the film was good but not 10 out of 10 good. The story had many twists and turns and could only happen in that sort of society with such a class divide in the same city. It spoke volumes about how people treat each other, not just in South Korea but worldwide. The film is about a poor family living on next to nothing, the teenage son gets the chance to work for a rich family and he gets positions for each of his family members. Things take a turn when they realise that they have stumbled into a chilling situation. The director Bong Joon-ho has made films like Snowpiercer and Okja as well as many South Korean ones. I was not familiar with the actors in the film but they did a great job at creating the story of the film. I thought some of the plotlines were a little far-fetched and I was a little confused about the genre and message of the film as the ending was so bleak. I know that this film meant a lot to many people so I wanted to include it even though there were other films I enjoyed more this year.

Happy Watching,

Robyn

American vs Turkish Cinemas: A.L Fox recalls her Summer Experiences

Hello readers,

This is another post by A.L. Fox, my talented guest writer. This time she has written about three different cinemas in two different countries she has visited this summer.

Happy Watching

Robyn ūüôā

There’s more to the cinema experience than simply absorbing the themes and colours that stimulate the senses from the screen, and hopefully stir our emotions – in a good way.¬† Many of us still visit the cinema to watch a film even though we can generally view most films from the comfort of our own homes.

So why do we continue to go out to see a film?

Often, it is to be sociable and share an experience with friends or a loved one or sometimes, that we want to be the first to see a new blockbuster release or, on occasion, to be challenged by new worlds and ways of seeing. There are many demands on our leisure time these days, and we have screens wherever we go, whether it’s a phone, a tablet, or a laptop but we still go to the cinema. In this century, around 150 million people still visit the cinema every year in the UK. Of course, this is a considerable drop from the 1.5 billion that went in the heyday of the Second World War. But now there are so many different ways of watching a film.

With so much competition for our eyes, cinemas have become much more than just a screen; they are places where you can eat, play video games – and eat mountains of popcorn. Most are multiplexes offering 3D and a very different experience from the cinemas of old. Now you book online, choose a seat, collect your ticket from a machine and don’t have to speak to anyone. It’s not quite the same everywhere in the world, though.

America is the home of cinema and there will probably be as many different cinemas as there are States but going to the cinema in New York is like stepping back in time. We were in the Big Apple when Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again opened so, naturally, we had to go. Bizarrely, the weather wasn’t as hot as we’d been led to believe; it rained and so that was another factor in our decision. The AMC chain is the biggest US cinema chain but the one on W 34th St felt as though it remained untouched since it opened in the 50s. First, we had to get to the 4th floor; there were the usual food stalls – and popcorn but also, gambling machines. We bought our tickets, and chose a seat; on the screen there were gaps between the seats – and, in the cinema,¬† the seats were in pairs with a large table – for the food, between them. Sitting down, there was another surprise for there were acres of room between the rows. People were able to walk without asking others to move. Unsurprisingly, people didn’t stop eating throughout the film and American audiences aren’t exactly quiet; they do like to voice their opinions, or add their viewpoint to the action.

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AMC Cinema on W 34th St, New York City, USA

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For the record, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again was enjoyable – the beginning was a little flat but once the cast hit their stride about 30 minutes in, it became more like the first film – and that’s exactly what audiences were expecting. The film delivered but it wasn’t quite a match for the original. Now that sounds like a criticism, but it’s not meant as one. It is simply that the first film was so iconic. A special appearance by Cher was successfully woven into the plot and she provided enough glitz to offset the absence of Meryl Streep, although there were some scenes featuring Streep, so she wasn’t entirely missing.

Most of the other main characters from the first film had major roles in this one with the addition of a young Donna (Lily James) and her Dynamos (Alexa Davies and Jessica Keenan Wynn) plus younger versions of Sophie’s three dads (Jeremy Irvine, Josh Dylan and Hugh Skinner).

Now, talking of original – the Regal, the second cinema we visited in New York, on W 42nd St was definitely like stepping into the 50s again. Here, the seats were black leather armchairs that extended to support your feet, almost to the point of becoming a bed. The carpets had the letter of the rows woven into it and the decor hadn’t been touched for decades. Here, we saw Incredibles 2; a film that had been on general release for some weeks so it wasn’t busy. We did get the noise of audience participation once again, and it was loud¬† – the sound turned up to echo over the comments.

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Regal Cinema W 42nd St, New York City, USA

Samuel L. Jackson, Holly Hunter, Craig T. Nelson, Brad Bird, Sarah Vowell, Eli Fucile, and Huck Milner in Incredibles 2 (2018)

As for the film itself, it was definitely worth watching. It had all the impact and colour of the first film with an updated plot to reflect changes in society. This time, it was Elastigirl or Helen Parr’s time in the spotlight. She went to save the world while Mr Incredible became a stay-at-home dad. As ever, the action was fast-paced and attention-grabbing for both children and adults. The animation was brilliant and shows that Disney Pixar is not just for kids.

Both experiences were good; if you get the chance to visit either of these cinemas then take it; a different experience but a good contrast and it makes you appreciate the relative quiet of British audiences – unless, you’re unfortunate enough to sit next to the person who never stops eating. There are people who believe calories consumed in the dark don’t count as they munch continuously for the length of the film and that can be a big distraction but then, it’s all part of the cinema experience.

And what’s still part of the cinema experience in Turkey is – the intermission. Yes, they have a break in the middle of the film! We were watching Mission Impossible – Fallout 3D – and, at a particularly tense moment in the action, the screen went dark. An electrical fault? No, it was an interval. People went out and returned with more food, it may even have been a break for the smokers but it was only one hour into the film and it did break the flow.

Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Angela Bassett, Ving Rhames, Henry Cavill, Rebecca Ferguson, and Simon Pegg in Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018)

The MI films are all fast-paced with plenty of action; there are no slow sections where a break could be achieved without interrupting this flow so it did spoil the experience – for me, at least. We didn’t mind the subtitles – some Hollywood films are dubbed but most are shown in English – but that break did upset the concentration. However, even though this is the sixth film in the franchise, it still captured the hearts and minds of the audience with a good story, death-defying stunts and enough dialogue to explain the plot points. Tom Cruise playing the lead Ethan Hunt was brilliant as always and supported by a sterling cast featuring Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Henry Cavill, Rebecca Ferguson and Alec Baldwin.

Three films, three different experiences; if you do get the opportunity to visit the cinema in another country then go Рit may even make you appreciate what you have at home. As for costs, in the US we paid about £10/£12 for each ticket and in Turkey, we paid a bit less but, in terms of comparable costs relative to the country, tickets are much the same price.

Oscar Winner Reviews

Hello readers,

Apologies for not posting in so long, I was preoccupied with university and other commitments but I’m back and in this post I am going to review the Oscar winning films of 2018 that I have seen.

Best PictureThe Shape of Water

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This film by Guillermo Del Toro is a fantasy adventure set in the 1960s in Baltimore, US. It stars a mute women who cleans at a top secret government facility every night. They bring in a new asset, a humanoid fish creature that she becomes friendly with.

The film stars Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky) as the mute cleaner Elisa, Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures) plays her chatty and loyal fellow cleaner and friend Zelda, Richard Jenkins (The Visitor) plays Elisa’s neighbour who is an artist and her best friend, Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals) plays the twisted man in charge and Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man) plays a scientist who appears to be on Elisa’s side.

The beautiful cinematography, soundtrack and acting in this film are what won it Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Personally, I think Call Me By Your Name or The Post should have won but The Shape of Water still deserved this win. 4/5.

Best Actor – Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour

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Gary Oldman’s performance as Sir Winston Churchill at the beginning of his reign as British Prime Minister during the Second World War was a well deserved recipient of this award. The makeup department did a great job making him look like Churchill but it was Oldman’s mannerisms, voice, timing and overall ability that ultimately won him this Oscar.

Personally I think Timothée Chalamet for his role as Elio in Call Me Your Name was a potential winner as was Daniel Day-Lewis for his role in Phantom Thread. I have not seen Get Out which I have read is also deserving of every Oscar it was nominated for or Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Best Actress – Frances McDormand for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

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Frances McDormand’s performance was the best of this film. Her face held so many expressions that you could always tell her mood or what she was thinking even though she didn’t vocalise it. The content of this film is hard to think about but is very much in our lives. McDormand’s reactions to the other character’s opinions on what happened to her daughter also show her emotions and she continues to fight for justice.

Personally I think this award could have gone to any of the other nominees: Sally Hawkins for The Shape of Water, Meryl Streep for The Post, Margot Robbie for I, Tonya or Saoirse Ronan for Lady Bird. I have not seen Lady Bird yet but I have heard many good things about the film, directed by Greta Gerwig. However, Frances McDormand did deserve to win.

Best Supporting Actor – Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

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Sam Rockwell’s performance as a racist cop who later redeems himself was award worthy. I am a fan of Rockwell’s and he played this character with enough heart to make the audience sympathise with him even though some of the lines he says are very offensive. His care for his mother and McDormand’s character also shows his softer side.

Personally¬† I think Woody Harrelson from Three Billboards as well or Richard Jenkins from The Shape of Water also gave winning performances. Willem Dafoe from The Florida Project was good but not of the same level and I have not seen All the Money in the World so I cannot comment on Christopher Plummer’s performance.

Best Supporting Actress – Allison Janney for I, Tonya

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Allison Janney’s performance as Lavona Harding, Tonya’s abusive, pushy mother was definitely deserving of this award. Her blunt, perfectly timed delivery of her lines and her random acts of violence as Tonya’s mother really gave Lavona life. Tonya’s mother was a big influence on her success and character and she would not have had success without her.

Personally, I think Allison Janney was the best in her category but Octavia Spencer’s performance was also brilliant as Zelda in The Shape of Water and Lesley Manville in Phantom Thread was also perfection. I have not seen Lady Bird or Mudbound.

Best Writing Adapted Screenplay – James Ivory for Call Me By Your Name

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As you may have gathered, Call Me By Your Name is one of my favourite Oscar nominated films this year so I was really pleased that it won this award. The script of the film was one element that made Call Me Your Name a standout for me. The acting, cinematography and music was just as¬†brilliant but the writing definitely made this film Oscar worthy. Elio and Oliver’s gradual move from dislike to love was portrayed really well by Ivory as was what many people feel is the best scene of the film between Elio (Timoth√©e Chalamet) and his father (Michael Stuhlbarg). The monologue Stuhlbarg delivers was inspiring to many audiences around the world.

Personally, I think Call Me Your Name deserved this win but Molly’s Game and Logan were also brilliantly written and deserved greater recognition this year. I have not seen The Disaster Artist or Mudbound but have heard they were noteworthy.

Best Director – Guillermo Del Toro for The Shape of Water

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Guillermo Del Toro did the directing, writing and producing for the Shape of Water, it was his vision. The actors in the film responded well to his direction and portrayed his vision accurately. I could tell it was a Guillermo Del Toro film because of the fantasy feeling and the mythical creature. Del Toro has worked hard in the industry for many years but this is his first Oscar. His other films have been in Spanish but this film was out of his comfort zone, dealing with communism in 1960s America and for that departure from his normal genre, he deserves this award.

I think The Shape of Water was the best in this category out of the two I have seen. Paul Thomas Anderson has also been in the industry for many years but yet to win an Academy Award. I have heard that Jordan Peele, Christopher Nolan and Great Gerwig were also all deserving.

Best Original Music Score – Alexandre Desplat for The Shape of Water

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The score for The Shape of Water definitely helped emphasise the plot and added to the whole look and feel of the film. A soundtrack can really make or break a film and this one definitely helped it win Best Picture. Even though the film was set in Baltimore in the 1960s, the score along with the cinematography and acting helped transport you to a fantasy world in certain scenes.

The scores for Phantom Thread and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri were also a great match for their films. I think The Shape of Water did deserve this win but I have not seen Dunkirk or Star Wars: The Last Jedi so I can’t be sure.

Best Original Song – Kristen Anderson – Lopez, Robert Lopez for Remember Me from Coco

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This song was a worthy winner and was pinnacle to the plot of Coco. It was sung as a lullaby and a more upbeat version at different points and both are beautiful. It is about remembering someone even after they have died or moved away. In Coco, the performance of this song by Miguel and Hector voiced by Anthony Gonzalez and Gael García Bernal respectively was a highlight of the film. Other notable songs from the soundtrack are Un Poco Loco and The World Es Mi Familia.

Personally I love the song ‘This is Me’ and the rest of the soundtrack from the Greatest Showman and the song ‘Mystery of Love’ from Call Me By Your Name was also beautiful but Remember Me was very well deserving and was an important for the Latino American community. I have not seen Mudbound or Marshall so I do not know how the songs nominated fit into the films.

Best Animated Feature Film – Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson for Coco

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Coco was a beautiful animated film. The attention to detail was crazy amazing especially in the afterlife. Disney/Pixar films have been getting better and better in recent years and Coco is definitely my favourite for a while. All the characters fit well into the story and even though there were quite a few, none of them were overshadowed. Miguel the main character, a 12 year old boy who wants to be a musician despite his family’s history of no music, was a great character. Through his voice (Anthony Gonzalez) you could hear all his emotions. The film is centred around the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead and the songs on the soundtrack all have a Mexican feeling and some are in Spanish. I think this film is really important for Hollywood in the US’ current political climate and the films itself was just amazing.

I have not seen any of the other nominees but Coco was a stand out film of the year and not just in the animated film category. Any child or adult would love this film.

Best Cinematography – Roger Deakins for Blade Runner 2049

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While I did enjoy Blade Runner 2049 as a whole as much as others have, the cinematography was beautiful for this film. Some of it was Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) which some people in the cinematography community feel should not win but the other non-CGI parts were also brilliantly filmed. Roger Deakins himself has been in the business since the 1970s and this is only his first Oscar win despite working on great films such as Sid and Nancy, Fargo, A Beautiful Mind, and Sicario.  His win was well deserved and I am pleased that his talent has finally been recognised by the Academy.

The cinematography of The Shape of Water was one of the best parts of the film for me so I would not have minded if this film won and Darkest Hour also had award-deserving cinematography. Again I have not seen Dunkirk or Mudbound so I couldn’t possibly comment, although I have heard that Dunkirk is a cinematic masterpiece.

Best Visual Effects РJohn Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, Gerd Nefzer for Blade Runner 2049 

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The visual effects of Blade Runner 2049 were amazing and next level and even though I did not enjoy the plot so much, it did look stunning. The sunrises and sunsets were particularly wonderful and the colour palettes of orange and reds but also greens and blues was well thought out. I do not know much about visual effects but the film looked visually other worldly and futuristic which was the idea.

Personally, I think Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 had better visual effects and CGI and considering two major characters are CGI, I think this film should have won but Blade Runner 2049 was a worthy winner. I have not seen the other nominees.

Best Costume Design – Mark Bridges for Phantom Thread

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The costumes for this film was one of the best parts. The beautiful couture dresses that Reynolds creates from scratch are very important in the film and are breathtaking to look at. Mark Bridges was very deserving of this award. I would have loved to have worn a Woodcock dress.

Darkest Hour also had some wonderful period costumes, especially the women in Churchill’s office and Churchill (Oldman) himself. The Shape of Water also had some very American outfits but I wouldn’t have nominated them for this award. The outfits in Victoria and Abdul were also wonderful and fit for a queen like Victoria. I would have given the award to either Phantom Thread or Victoria and Abdul. I have not seen Beauty and the Beast but from photos the costumes do look very lovely.

Best Production Design – Paul D. Austerberry, Jeffrey A. Melvin, Shane Vieau for The Shape of Water

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The production design of The Shape of Water was also amazing and transported you to the world of the film. Elisa and Giles’ apartments were particularly well done as were Giles’ drawings, the diner and the top secret government facility. The fact that Elisa lived above a cinema was a lovely added touch.

I think the Shape of Water was very deserving of this award. Blade Runner 2049 and Darkest Hour also had great sets, Darkest Hour particularly had some great 40s details. The Shape of Water did have the best production design in my opinion but I haven’t seen Beauty and the Beast or Dunkirk.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling – Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick for Darkest Hour

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The makeup and hair styling for Gary Oldman to transform him into Winston Churchill was definitely award worthy. Whilst watching the film I had to constantly remind myself that it was Gary Oldman and not Winston Churchill. It was a real accomplishment in prosthetic makeup and hair styling.

Victoria and Abdul also was a worthy contender as Judi Dench looked much older than she is and like a long-reigning queen. I have not seen Wonder but from pictures of the prosthetic makeup used on Jacob Tremblay who plays the main character Auggie (August), it was also worthy of this award.

And that’s all folks!

This review contains all my own opinions and I have only reviewed the films I have seen. Another reason why this post was delayed is because I only saw the Shape of Water a few days ago and as it won four Academy Awards, I wanted to review it.

Anyway thank you for reading,

Happy Watching

Robyn ūüôā