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 🙂

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.

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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 🙂

Paddington 2, Breathe and Murder on the Orient Express

Hello readers,

I know I haven’t posted in 2 weeks but I have been temporarily preoccupied with university tests and coursework. I am back today though. This week I thought I would post about films I only saw in the cinema as I have mainly been watching Christmas films on DVD and Prime. The films mentioned below I have seen in the past couple of weeks at the cinema.

Breathe (2017)

I saw this film a few weeks ago but it has still stuck with me. The film tells the true and heartbreaking story of Robin Cavendish (Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge) and his wife,Diana(Claire Foy, The Crown). They get married and travel to Kenya for Robin’s job. Diana reveals she is pregnant. Suddenly, Robin wakes up with a fever and he can’t move his body. He becomes paralysed due to polio disease. This is 1958, he is given two years to live. He goes back to live in a hospital in England as he cannot do anything for himself. He then persuades Diana to get him out of hospital as he wants to live out his last days at home. He then keeps on living. This film shows the power of love in the face of epic adversity. It also documents the invention of a mobile chair that changed the way the severely disabled lived their lives. This film is jolly and a real heart warmer once you come to terms with Robin’s struggles. Other notable performances are by Ed Speleers (Downton Abbey) , Tom Hollander (The Night Manager), Amit Shah (The Hundred-Foot Journey), Hugh Bonneville (Paddington), Stephen Mangan (Episodes) and Dean Charles Chapman (Game of Thrones). Andy Serkis (actor – Rise of the Planet of the Apes) directs and Jonathan Cavendish (producer – Bridget Jones Diary), Robin and Diana’s son produces. Overall I give Breathe 5/5.

Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

The classic novel by Agatha Christie is transformed in this new adaptation by Kenneth Branagh. Hercule Poirot, the world-famous detective needs a holiday so his friend suggests a 3 day trip on the Orient Express, which his father owns. Poirot is enjoying his first class experience until a passenger is murdered in the middle of the night. The train travelling from Istanbul to Paris gets grounded by an avalanche in the Swiss mountains so there is nowhere to go and nowhere to hide. As the tagline goes, everyone is a suspect. This film depicts the era of the 1930s down to the finest detail. Kenneth Branagh’s moustache is also a great costume piece. This murder mystery will become a classic for years to come. There is a reason Agatha Christie is the best selling novelist of all time. Her stories are timeless. An all star ensemble cast feature: Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn) as Hercule Poirot, Michelle Pfeiffer (Dangerous Liaisons), Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Josh Gad (Beauty and the Beast), Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean), Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project), Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love), Olivia Colman (The Night Manager), Tom Bateman (Snatched), Leslie Odom, Jr. (Red Tails), Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Derek Jacobi (Frasier), Lucy Boynton (Sing Street), Sergei Polunin (The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall) and Marwan Kenzari (Wolf). Overall I give the Murder on the Orient Express 5/5.

Paddington 2 (2017)

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The sequel to the well-loved Paddington (2014) definitely lives up to the original. Based on the Paddington Bear stories by Michael Bond, Paddington 2 continues Paddington’s story. He has settled in with the Browns and now is friends with all the neighbours. In Mr Gruber’s Antiques shop he finds the perfect present for Aunt Lucy’s birthday, a pop up book of London. The book written by Madame Kozlova whose fair is in town turns out to be very valuable and is stolen! Paddington is in the wrong place at the wrong time as he tries to catch the thief and now he is in prison. It is up to the Browns to try and catch the real thief. This lovely and delightful tale will put smiles on the faces of both children and adults. This film features a quintessentially British cast:  Michael Gambon (voice) (Path to War), Imelda Staunton (voice) (Vera Drake), Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey), Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), Ben Whishaw (voice) (The Hollow Crown), Madeline Harris (Man Down), Samuel Joslin (The Impossible), Hugh Grant (Four Weddings and a Funeral), Jim Broadbent (Iris), Julie Walters (Billy Elliot) , Ben Miller (Johnny English), Jessica Hynes (W1A), Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who), Joanna Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous), Brendan Gleeson (Into the Storm- 2009) and Tom Davis (Free Fire). Overall I give Paddington 2 5/5.

Other films I have seen are The Florida Project (2017) and Jurassic Park (1993).

Happy Watching,

Robyn 🙂