My Desert Island Films

Review – I do not quite remember my first viewing of this film but it would have been soon after it came out. It is something of a family favourite in my household with viewings almost yearly and many listens of ABBA in between. I always sing along and I think the story carries a real truth about family not being all about your biological offspring but your chosen family. There are some great dance numbers and being set in Greece gives the film a wonderful edge that it would not have if set in the UK or US. I also love the sequel to the film and saw in the cinema while on holiday as I couldn’t wait. I have also recently watched it when the original was not available. The first Mamma Mia! will always be my favourite and holds a special place on this list.

This is a list that as a film student I have debated for many years and a couple of months ago, I finally came up with my five desert island films. This is inspired by Desert Island Discs, a popular radio show where guests have to list the eight songs that they would bring to a desert island. Each film on this list holds great memories from different moments in my life.

  1. The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

Synopsis – A climate scientist tries to warn his colleagues and the US government about an impending new ice age. His son is on a school trip to New York City and after a massive flood traps Sam and his fellow survivors in the Public Library. Jack and fellow explorers set off from Washington DC to find him while in other parts of the world, civilisation prepares for devastation.

Cast – The cast has a lot of potential in this film and they go on in the 16 years after this film was released to make some really great content. One of the biggest stars to come from the film is Jake Gyllenhaal who has been nominated for several Hollywood and British Acting awards and has also stretched his limits as an actor from horrors to romantic comedies to superhero films. He is an actor that I would struggle to put into one category as he is always doing something new whether that be theatre, comedy specials, indie films and he is about to foray into television. The other actors I feel that are worth talking about from this film are Dennis Quaid and Emmy Rossum. Dennis Quaid is always a good leading actor who often plays a man who looks tough or emotionally unavailable but starts to show an inner vulnerability. I have not seen as much of his work as I have of Gyllenhaal’s but I did enjoy his recent Netflix show and a scattering of other films that he has done. He was quite a prolific actor before my time so I have not gone back and seen many of his works. Emmy Rossum is also interesting for her roles as director and producer and as an artist. She played such a complex character for such a long time on one television show but finally left to pursue new passions. I admire her loyalty but also determination about when to leave at the right time.

Review – I first saw this film when it played on the television is the USA where I was on holiday. I was about 9 years old at the time and became entranced with this film. Whenever it played on TV from then on, in the following years I could never resist the pull. I know this is not a very sophisticated film with some pseudoscience and unlikely events but I think it is the human spirit and the way the characters try to survive and help each other that appeals to me. The mission that Quaid’s character undertakes walking from Washington DC to New York to save his son has such a powerful message about the love a parent contains for their child. His colleagues accompany him just as they would to the Antarctic without second thought. My favourite sub-genre of film is disaster films because of this movie. Seeing New York be flooded in such a way truly shows the power of the earth and while the events of the film are fictional, it does send a warning about climate change that many people are not heeding at this moment.

2. What Happens in Vegas (2008)

Synopsis – Two strangers go for a wild weekend in Vegas with their best friends. After getting married while drunk and then winning big on the jackpot, they must stay married for 6 months to keep the money. With court ordered marriage counselling, work, living together, exes and family to negotiate, will Jack and Joy make it the full six months?

Cast – The couple in the film are played by Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz. Both amazing actors in their own rights. Kutcher coming from television and doing a range of romantic comedies, and dramas whereas Diaz from a more film background with experience in voice acting, comedy and rom-coms. The chemistry between the two in the film is one of the main draws for me. At the beginning, I believe that they really despise each other but there is still an energy between the two. They are both great at physical comedy which is used a fair amount in the film. The best friends played by Lake Bell and Rob Cordry also have a fierce hate-hate relationship that makes for a fun sub-plot. I have seen both in a number of different films and while Bell leans more towards drama and sophisticated comedy, Cordry is very much in the stoner comedy world. The therapist played by Queen Latifah is a great role for her as she has the command to play her role well while still using comedy.

Review – I love this film. I discovered it by buying the DVD from a shop while abroad and as the cover was not in English I went by the actors. This is easily my favourite romantic comedy of all time. I have seen it probably over 10 times which is a lot for me as apart from the films on this list and a couple of others I hardly re-watch anything more than once or twice. It is a film that is great to watch if you’re happy or sad or feeling poorly or bored or anything. I always find new things and there are so many great actors. Jason Sudeikis also has a significant role as well as Zach Galifianakis, Treat Williams and Krysten Ritter. The title gives a little idea to the events but does not give us clues to the main chunk of the film. The scene at the end where Jack proves that he knows Joy by finding her in her happy place always makes me feel that love really does exist.

3. Mamma Mia! (2008)

Synopsis – The film is based on the hit musical and the songs of pop group ABBA. Growing up on a remote Greek island with her mother, Donna, Sophie has never known her father but when her and boyfriend, Sky decide to get hitched, Sophie sends out invitations to three potential fathers she has read about in Donna’s diary. Hilarity and drama ensues when all three turn up and Donna along with her friends and bandmates, Tanya and Rosie navigate seeing her three old flames all at once. The plot is shaped by ABBA’s iconic music with all the actors doing their own singing.

Cast – This film has a strong ensemble cast with all the actors being Hollywood greats or at least well known. Sophie played by Amanda Seyfried may only be 20 but has a great presence in the film and can certainly hold her own against her mother. Prior to this point, Seyfried did mainly television with an exception as a mean girl. Dominic Cooper has a film and theatre background and has since done a mix of things including television and film. The brilliant Meryl Streep as Donna is one of the best casting decisions and as she sung all her songs live proves that she is not just a serious dramatic actress. She was offered more musical roles after this film. Christine Baranski and Julie Walters are great side kicks for Donna each bringing their own personalities as dry and sarcastic wit along with honest and comedic assurance. The three fathers also blend well together despite playing different nationalities. Changing Bill’s nationality from Australian to Swedish for the film works great and Stellan Skarsgård plays a great sailor/lone wolf. I was surprised at Bill’s identity when I saw the musical in 2017. Pierce Brosnan is often thought of as the worst singer in the film but I think he holds his own and injects a lot of emotion particularly with his duets with Meryl. He previously played James Bond so this role is definitely a turn around and started a romantic comedy phase for him. Colin Firth as Harry also shows a different side from his early television and film days and I love the trope that all his characters get wet while wearing a white shirt as a nod to his Austen days. He also is the only gay character in the film and while it is not a main story point it is still there and never discriminated against.

Review – I do not quite remember my first viewing of this film but it would have been soon after it came out. It is something of a family favourite in my household with viewings almost yearly and many listens of ABBA in between. I always sing along and I think the story carries a real truth about family not being all about your biological offspring but your chosen family. There are some great dance numbers and being set in Greece gives the film a wonderful edge that it would not have if set in the UK or US. I also love the sequel to the film and saw in the cinema while on holiday as I couldn’t wait. I have also recently watched it when the original was not available. The first Mamma Mia! will always be my favourite and holds a special place on this list.

4. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban (2004)

Synopsis – It is third year at Hogwarts for Harry, Ron and Hermione. They are teenagers now and the danger levels are rising. A prisoner has escaped from Azkaban, Harry is seeing deadly omens and Hagrid is now a teacher. This film is the first to take a darker turn but uses new elements such as time travel to bring a new flavour to the series.

Cast – The cast remains almost the same as the previous films with a few additions and one replacement. Sadly Richard Harris passed away after filming the second film so the character of Dumbledore is played from now on by Michael Gambon. He does a great job and I think of him as the better Dumbledore. He has more style and agility than Harris who was more of a grandfather figure. New additions also include Gary Oldman as Sirius Black, the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry’s father’s friend and David Thewlis as Professor Lupin, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher and another of Harry’s father’s friends. The fourth member of the Marauders is also made known later on as Peter Pettigrew or Wormtail played by Timothy Spall. The Marauders all do a great job in their roles especially in a scene between the three of them at the Shrieking Shack and appear in the later films. The Golden Trio of Harry, Ron and Hermione take on new challenges this year and Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson do a great job bringing these characters from children to teenagers. The teachers, Professor Snape, McGonagall and Hagrid all have significant roles to play as we get to see new sides to all of them with Snape’s protectiveness over the trio; McGonagall’s honesty and pity for Harry and his family and Hagrid vulnerability and softer side over Buckbeak. Matthew Lewis as Neville and Tom Felton as Malfoy shine as always. These films have such big casts that it is hard to talk about all of them but I have focused on who has a bigger role this time around.

Review – This film has always been my favourite of the Harry Potter series but as a film itself it has many great elements that all come together well. I feel that the costumes are showing the character’s progression into teenhood as well as the sets and special effects. Having so many characters in the final showdown could have been tricky to navigate but everyone has their role and no scene feels clunky. New magic is also introduced with the Marauders Map, new creatures, Divination classes, the Patronus Charm and Dementors. I used to watch this film many times over with a friend when were in our Harry Potter Phase around 9 years old but I do not remember my first viewing. I love all of the films but this is the one I return to the most.

5. Rocketman (2019)

Synopsis – The story of Elton John from his early years as a piano student to fame, fortune and rehab. The plot is told through Elton’s music along with performances at the Troubadour, Dodger Stadium and around the world. Even though he falls into a dark world of sex, drugs and rock and roll he makes it out.

Cast – The stand out of the film is of course Taron Egerton as Elton John. I never really thought about their similarities as before the film I was not a big Elton John fan so had little idea of his appearance in the 70s/80s. Egerton does a great job at showing the highs and the lows of the character as well as Elton’s quest in life to be loved as himself despite his mother and manager/lover telling him otherwise. The singing is great and I personally prefer Egerton’s versions to the originals. Prior to the film, Egerton played a spy, an Olympian, a soldier and an outlaw with little singing experience apart from as an animated gorilla. Richard Madden as John Reed, Elton’s manager and lover does a great job at making Elton believe that he truly loves him and wants him to be a success but then his true nature comes out as Elton becomes rich and an addict. John’s villainy gave Elton something to rebel against and helped him pull himself out of the gutter. Bryce Dallas Howard is not someone I thought would be in a musical as a firm English mother but she played the role well and was a very emotional singer. Jamie Bell as Bernie Taupin, Elton’s song writing partner and best friend was also a good supporter to Egerton but I feel his role was to help Elton in times of crisis rather than anything else. Kit Connor as young Elton was also very good and his songs were great too. He has really rose to fame in the last few years and is popping up everywhere.

Review – I have always been a fan of musicals as this list shows but I think what grabbed me about this film was the music more than anything. I listened to the soundtrack on repeat for about a year after it came out and I did see this film in the cinema which is the first of the five on the list. It is also the only film made in the 2010s but sometimes with films its about a certain feeling or connection that comes instantly rather than over time. I have actually only seen the film two or three times but have listened to the full soundtrack hundreds of times which gives you the bare bones of the story anyway. I also love the bond between Taron and Elton. They both were in the second Kingsman film and Taron sang an Elton John song in Sing as a gorilla so the two were destined to work together again. This film showed at the Cannes Film Festival which is unusual for a studio biopic but thoroughly deserved. Since the film, Taron and Elton have performed together many times and Taron has stayed over at Elton and David’s house. This connection really enhanced the film for me and I’m sure it gave a lift to Egerton’s performance. Elton and his husband, David also served as producers on the film which helped with the reality of the story. Many biopics are made without the person’s involvement or after their death so Elton’s involvement helped the film immensely.

Happy Watching,

Robyn

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 (Timothée 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 – John 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 🙂

Award-Nominated Films: A Review

Hello readers,

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.

Happy Watching,

Robyn 🙂

Review: The Post and Oscar Nominations

Hello readers,

I recently saw The Post starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep so I am going to write my review and talk a bit about the context of the film and what it means in today’s climate in the USA. Also I am going to share my opinions on some of the Oscar nominations.

The Post (2017)

The Post is set in 1971 and tells the story of the Washington Post trying to print the Pentagon Papers – around 7,000 pages of government secrets about the relations between the United States and Vietnam for over 20 years. The information was kept quiet by the government to protect themselves until Dan Ellsberg, who worked for the Department of Defence, leaked the papers to the New York Times. The paper was told not to print any more of the secret documents unless they wanted to be taken to court by the US government. The Washington Post who wanted to be taken seriously as a national newspaper, found the source and decided to also print the Pentagon Papers. They all have to face decisions between obeying federal law and avoiding jail or fighting for the freedom of information and letting the public know what their government had been doing.

The Vietnam War had many casualties including over 50,000 American soldiers. 100,000 men were sent to fight by President Kennedy. Four US Presidents from Eisenhower to Nixon were involved in the Vietnam War and authorised thousands of troops being sent to fight in a war they knew they could not win.

Apart from Government secrets being kept from the people and freedom of the press, another issue addressed in The Post was sexism. Although Katharine Graham was the publisher of the Post, she still had to prove herself worthy enough of being on the board of the paper. She was the only woman on the Post’s board. For example, at an important meeting for the Post, when she was trying to get investors to back selling stocks for The Washington Post, Ms Graham had prepared her speech and another man next to her took over her speech. She did eventually manage to command the room and the decision to print the Pentagon Papers came down to her and not a man.

Overall I think the Post was a great film and very relevant to today’s US Government and the ideas of ‘fake news’ and the rigging of elections. I give the Post 5/5.

Also in other film news this week is the release of the Oscar nominations for this year’s awards. Many great films, actors, directors and other crew members were nominated.

Image result for oscars 2018

The biggest award of the night, Best Picture has many great contenders. I have only seen Call Me By Your Name (which I wrote about in November) and The Post but I hope to see a few more before the awards are handed out on March 4th. Personally, I think Call Me By Your Name was one of the best films of the year in terms of storyline, the actors, the setting, the director and the score. It has been nominated for 4 Oscars in total including Best Actor for Timothée Chalamet, Best Adapted Screenplay, James Ivory and Best Original Song – ‘Mystery of Love’ by Sufjan Stevens.

Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet in Call Me by Your Name (2017)

Other great films in the Best Picture category are Darkest Hour, about Winston Churchill and how he helped to win WWII; Dunkirk, about the famous battle of Dunkirk in WWII and the rescuing of over 300,000 troops from France; The Shape of Water which has a staggering 13 nominations and is about a woman connecting with an alien in the 1950s; and Get Out, a horror film about an interracial couple visiting the woman’s white parents for the weekend.

All of these films have received high praise so far, and have done well in other award shows. Darkest Hour directed by Joe Wright has a total of 6 Oscar nominations including Best Actor, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Production Design and Best Make Up and Hairstyling. Gary Oldman has already won the Golden Globe and SAG Award for his role as Churchill. This year was the first time he has won any awards.

Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Lily James in Darkest Hour (2017)

The war film Dunkirk directed by Christopher Nolan has 8 Oscar nominations including Best Sound Editing, Best Film Editing, Best Director, Best Sound Mixing and Best Original Score.  Starring in the film is Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy, James D’Arcy, Harry Styles and Mark Rylance. Christopher Nolan has also been nominated for the David Lean Award for Direction at the BAFTAs this year.

Fionn Whitehead in Dunkirk (2017)

The Shape of Water has nominations in many categories including Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Score and Screenplay, Best Sound Editing and Mixing and Best Cinematography. This comeback from Guillermo Del Toro, is set in the Cold War and stars women as the important characters.

Doug Jones and Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water (2017)

Get Out has 4 Oscar nominations in total including Best Director and Best Actor for Daniel Kaluuya. Kaluuya has also been nominated for an EE Rising Star BAFTA Award for his breakthrough role.

Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out (2017)

The other Best Picture nominations are Lady Bird, Phantom Thread and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

I hope that Timothée Chalamet wins Best Actor, but I predict that Gary Oldman will win as he has already won a Golden Globe and SAG Award for his outstanding portrayal of Winston Churchill.

I would like Margot Robbie or Meryl Streep to win Best Actress for their roles in I, Tonya and The Post. I think any of the nominees, also including Sally Hawkins, Saoirse Ronan and Frances McDormand could win.

For Best Director, I would like to see Greta Gerwig win as she is the only female nominee and her work is outstanding or Jordan Peele, for Get Out, his amazing debut. I feel like Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk or Guillermo Del Toro for The Shape of Water may win the Oscar.

The other awards are still important but I have picked a select few to comment on. If you feel inclined, please leave a comment below with who you want to win at this year’s Oscars.

Happy Watching,

Robyn 🙂