Top films of 2017

Here’s a list of my top ten films of 2017.

20th Century Women

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“20th Century Woman avoids the usual cinematic tropes and instead explores how men are often defined by the women around them. With characters this believable and brilliant performances across the board, this is a film well worth seeing.”

Read the full review here.

Baby Driver

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“There aren’t many moments in cinema where you start to watch the opening scene and an uncontrollable giddy smile engulfs your face, such is the joy of what is unfolding on the screen. It needs to be a brilliant idea, executed to perfection and in a language that speaks to you. Baby Driver, Edgar Wright’s latest cinematic masterpiece, achieves just that. But the moment I knew it was a truly great film was when I realised the credits were rolling and my smile hadn’t left.”

Read the original review here

Dunkirk

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“Dunkirk is a film you have to see right now. It is the film you have to see right now.

Read the original review here

아가씨 / The Handmaiden

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“Park Chan-wook’s latest release is a twisting psychological thriller steeped in eroticism and oozing class that works its audience brilliantly. The only drawback was that I didn’t have time to see it a second time.”

Read the original review here

La La Land

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“Every once in a while you will go into a film knowing almost nothing about what you’re going to see and get absolutely blown away by a surprisingly perfect masterpiece. As you get further into your film-watching life, enjoying these moments becomes increasingly rare, so when a film like ‘La La Land’ comes along, you can’t help but be overcome by giddy excitement.”

Read the original review here

Lady Bird

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Lady Bird is, simply, a joy to watch. From start to finish the balance between humorous dialogue and well-paced plot progression is very fine indeed. The result puts it as a frontrunner for awards season next year.”

Read the original review here

Logan

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“A wisely-timed and fitting ending to the franchise and Jackman’s input into the character. It’s hard to believe it but this is the tenth time we’ve seen the character – seven X-Men films have now been made, along with three Wolverine-focussed standalone films. It seems impossible to think anyone will fill the role, meaning this could be the last time we see the character for many years, possibly ever. It could well be the best superhero/mutant-hero film ever made.”

Read the original review here

Okja

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“Given so many people have Netflix and can watch this film at no extra cost, it’s a no-brainer to seek it out and watch it. It might be the start of a new era of high quality original cinema heading first to home streaming platforms. Given the state of the year-to-date box office, it’s a movement everyone should be supporting.”

Read the original review here

レッドタートル ある島の物語 / The Red Turtle

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“A genuine triumph. For anyone with a passing interest in the future of the planet, beautiful animation or engrossing stories, this is a must-see.”

Read the original review here

Thelma

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“The culmination of the film hits like a crescendo, and Trier plays the audience perfectly with a balanced build up to the final pay-off.”

Read the original review here

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Academy Award for Best Song 2017

Here’s a quick look at the songs nominated for Best Song at the 89th Academy Awards.

My money’s on either of the La La Land songs, but could there be an upset on the cards? Surely Sting is out of the running before he discussions have even started.

What do you think?

La La Land – “City of Stars”

La La Land – “Audition”

Moana – “How Far I’ll Go”

Jim – “The Empty Chair”

Trolls – “Can’t Stop The Feeling”

La La Land DOES clean up at the Academy Award nominations

Well, I said it probably wouldn’t happen, but I couldn’t be happier that it did. La La Land has managed a whopping 14 nominations today in the Academy Award nominations, equalling the record held by All About Eve and Titanic.

It should be noted that since two are in the Best Song category, where it will effectively compete against itself, but that still leaves plenty of scope for it to miss out on a couple and still win big.

If you’ve not watched it yet, then make sure you do! Then, once you’ve done that, read my review here.

Academy Awards 2017 – Full list of nominees (text only)

Here’s a full list of the nominees for the 89th Academy Awards, announced earlier today ahead of the awards ceremony on 26th February 2017.

Best picture
“Arrival”
“Fences”
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“Hell or High Water”
“Hidden Figures”
“La La Land”
“Manchester by the Sea”
“Lion”
“Moonlight”

Lead actor
Casey Affleck
Andrew Garfield
Ryan Gosling
Viggo Mortensen
Denzel Washington

Lead actress
Isabelle Huppert
Ruth Negga
Natalie Portman
Emma Stone
Meryl Streep

Supporting actor
Mahershala Ali
Jeff Bridges
Lucas Hedges
Dev Patel
Michael Shannon

Supporting actress
Viola Davis
Naomie Harris
Nicole Kidman
Octavia Spencer
Michelle Williams

Best director
Denis Villeneuve
Mel Gibson
Damien Chazelle
Kenneth Lonergan
Barry Jenkins

Animated feature
“Kubo and the Two Strings”
“Moana”
“My Life as a Zucchini”
“The Red Turtle”
“Zootopia”

Animated short
“Blind Vaysha”
“Borrowed Time”
“Pear Cider and Cigarettes”
“Pearl”
“Piper”

Adapted screenplay
“Arrival”
“Fences”
“Hidden Figures”
“Lion”
“Moonlight”

Original screenplay
“Hell or High Water”
“La La Land”
“The Lobster”
“Manchester by the Sea”
“20th Century Women”

Cinematography
“Arrival”
“La La Land”
“Lion”
“Moonlight”
“Silence”

Best documentary feature
“Fire at Sea”
“I Am Not Your Negro”
“Life Animated”
“OJ: Made in America”
“13th”

Best documentary short subject
“Extremist”
“4.1 Miles”
“Joe’s Violin”
“Watani My Homeland”
“The White Helmets”

Best live-action short film
“Ennemis Interieurs”
“La Femme et le TGV”
“Silent Nights”
“Sing”
“Timecode”

Best foreign language film
“A Man Called Ove”
“Land of Mine”
“Tanna”
“The Salesman”
“Toni Erdmann”

Film editing
“Arrival”
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“Hell or High Water”
“La La Land”
“Moonlight”

Sound editing
“Arrival”
“Deep Water Horizon”
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“La La Land”
“Sully”

Sound mixing
“Arrival”
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“La La Land”
“Rogue One”
“13 Hours”

Production design
“Arrival”
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
“Hail Caesar!”
“La La Land”
“Passengers”

Original score
“Jackie”
“La La Land”
“Lion”
“Moonlight”
“Passengers”

Original song
Audition (La La Land)
Can’t Stop the Feeling (Trolls)
City of Stars (La La Land)
Empty Chair (Jim)
How Far I’ll Go (Moana)

Makeup and hair
“A Man Called Ove”
“Star Trek Beyond”
“Suicide Squad”

Costume design
“Allied”
“Fantastic Beasts”
“Florence Foster Jenkins”
“Jackie”
“La La Land”

Visual effects
“Deepwater Horizon”
“Doctor Strange”
“Jungle Book”
“Kubo”
“Rogue One”

Why La La Land probably won’t clean up at this year’s Academy Awards

The critical enthusiasm for La La Land has been matched, for good reason, by the audience’s outpouring of affection. The music is now firmly stuck in the heads of everyone who has seen it, with many of its devotees wondering what the odds are for it to clean up at the Oscars.

Here I’ll explain why this probably won’t be the case.

What’s the current record?

Three films have won 11 Oscars: Ben Hur, (1959), Titanic (1997) and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). Titanic managed these with 14 nominations, whilst the final Lord of the Rings film achieved a clean sweep, winning 11 out of 11 awards. Elsewhere, All About Eve (1950) received 14 nominations, though it only won 6 of these.

For La La Land to get close to this, it’s therefore going to need 11 or more nominations, and win almost all of them.

Which awards does it have a good chance of winning?

La La Land has a great chance at winning in many or all of the categories available to it: Best Picture; Best Director; Leading Actor and Actress; Original Song; Original Score; Best Writing (Original Screenplay) will certainly be places it will be nominated, so assuming the swell of enthusiasm continues it will probably do well in what are considered to be the major categories.

So where will it fall down?

There are 24 categories that the Academy awards prizes in, but that doesn’t mean that a film can win in 24 categories. There are two awards for animated films, two for documentary films, one for a film in a foreign language and one for a live action short film. So that’s six prizes that can’t be won.

There are two prizes for Best Writing: one is for an original screenplay and one is for an adapted screenplay. Since La La Land is an original script, it is excluded from the adapted screenplay category. That’s another one down.

Perhaps the most glaringly-obvious problem it faces is that there are only two characters in the film: Mia and Sebastian. So whilst they will probably get the nominations for leading actress and actor, there isn’t anyone of note in the film that could be classed as a supporting actor or actress. The closest would be John Legend’s portrayal of Keith, the frontman for the jazz band Seb joins halfway through the story, followed by Rosemarie DeWitt as Laura (Sebastian’s sister). It seems unlikely to pick up nods in these categories. Two more down.

Finally, a few categories have already been announced and La La Land doesn’t feature in any of them. The long-lists Best Makeup and Hairstyling and Best Visual Effects excluded La La Land from their lists. Two more down.

So where does that leave it?

It only has access to 13 awards and will need a nomination in each of the categories if it is going to break records. It’s not unrealistic for it to achieve this, but it will require nods in the likes of Best Production Design (awarded for interior design for the sets) and Best Costume Design to get there.

However, with a weak field to compete against, it is quite possible that it will do. this anyway! Here’s hoping!!

Academy Award for Best Original Song – What could be nominated?

At 1:18pm on Tuesday 24th January, the nominations for the 89th Academy Awards will be announced. Whilst most of the categories are fairly open – albeit with a host of strong contenders likely to lead the field – some of the categories are long-listed ahead of the announcement.

One such category is for Best Original Song, which has a 91-strong long list out for all to see on the official Oscars website. Many of them simply won’t get a look in, even though it would have been great for Sausage Party’s “The Great Beyond” to have a giant spotlight shone on it.

Here I take a look at some of the likely contenders for the big prize. It’s worth noting that at the Academy Awards, only two songs from one motion picture can be nominated and only five can be nominated in total.

The Obvious Choices

There are a few songs that are almost certain to be included. It seems unlikely that La La Land won’t get at least one song in there, probably two. Those will most likely be Golden Globe winner “City of Stars” and the excellent “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)“. Sorry John Legend!

Elsewhere, it would be a bit of a shock if the best track from the wonderful Disney animation Moana, “How Far I’ll Go“, doesn’t get a nod. It would be fantastic if the 16-year-old breakout star Auli’i Cravalho was invited to perform too!

I can’t see a situation where Kim Burrell and Pharrell Williams miss out for “I See A Victory“. Great song, great performers and supposedly a very good film too. A no brainer.

Entertainment Value Choices

It’s not always the case, but most of the nominees will be performing on the night of the ceremony. As such, it’s likely there will be at least one choice that will boost the ratings by planting a big-named performer in the middle of the night. It would be great to see Justin Timberlake performing his summer smash “Can’t Stop The Feeling“from Trolls. Another good option would be “Faith“, the track from the animated film Sing as performed by Stevie Wonder and Ariana Grande. P!nk’s “Just Like Fire” from Alice Through The Looking Glass would fit this bill too.

Sia’s gorgeous song “Angel By The Wings“, from the critically-acclaimed documentary The Eagle Huntress, is a great excuse to put her in front of millions of people and blow them away, though “Never Give Up” from Lion (same artist, different film) might be more of a crowd-pleaser.

The Outside Bets

I’d love to see “A Minute To Breathe” get a nod. The song, from “Before The Flood” and performed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, would be an unusual but brilliant choice, the song blending some understated backing that leaves the focus squarely on the lyrics. As he sings “We’ll all be judged by what we leave behind,” the hairs will stand up on the back of your neck.

Gary Clark Jr.’s “Take Me Down” might not be an obvious choice, and Deepwater Horizon probably isn’t going to feature heavily in the other categories, but it would be great to have a song in there for no other reason than it’s a great song. 

Finally, we can only hope that they give in to the luscious electronic indie of Sing Street and grant “Drive It Like You Stole It” some space at the biggest cinematic awards event of the year.

Golden Globes 2017 – Full list of winners

Here’s a complete list of all the winners and nominees at the Golden Globes last night.

FILM

Best motion picture – drama
Winner: Moonlight
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Lion
Manchester by the Sea

Best motion picture – comedy or musical
Winner: La La Land
20th Century Women
Deadpool
Florence Foster Jenkins
Sing Street

Best performance by an actor in a motion picture – drama
Winner: Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
Joel Edgerton – Loving
Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge
Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington – Fences

Best performance by an actress in a motion picture – drama
Winner: Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Amy Adams – Arrival
Jessica Chastain – Miss Sloane
Ruth Negga – Loving
Natalie Portman – Jackie

Best performance by an actor in a motion picture – comedy or musical
Winner: Ryan Gosling – La La Land
Colin Farrell – The Lobster
Hugh Grant – Florence Foster Jenkins
Jonah Hill – War Dogs
Ryan Reynolds – Deadpool

Best performance by an actress in a motion picture – comedy or musical
Winner: Emma Stone – La La Land
Annette Bening – 20th Century Women
Lily Collins – Rules Don’t Apply
Hailee Steinfeld – The Edge of Seventeen
Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins

Best performance by an actor in a supporting role in a motion picture
Winner: Aaron Taylor-Johnson – Nocturnal Animals
Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
Simon Helberg – Florence Foster Jenkins
Dev Patel – Lion

Best performance by an actress in a supporting role in a motion picture
Winner: Viola Davis – Fences
Naomie Harris – Moonlight
Nicole Kidman – Lion
Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea

Best director – motion picture
Winner: Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Tom Ford – Nocturnal Animals
Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea

Best screenplay – motion picture
Winner: Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Tom Ford – Nocturnal Animals
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea
Taylor Sheridan – Hell or High Water

Best animated feature film
Winner: Zootopia
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
My Life as a Zucchini
Sing

Best foreign language film
Winner: Elle
Divines
Neruda
The Salesman
Toni Erdmann

Best original score – motion picture
Winner: Justin Hurwitz – La La Land
Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams, Benjamin Wallfisch – Hidden Figures
Dustin O’Halloran, Hauschka – Lion
Johann Johannsson – Arrival
Nicholas Britell – Moonlight

Best original song – motion picture
Winner: City of Stars – La La Land
Can’t Stop the Feeling – Trolls
Faith – Sing
Gold – Gold
How Far I’ll Go – Moana

TELEVISION

Best television series – drama
Winner: The Crown
Game of Thrones
Stranger Things
This is Us
Westworld

Best television series – comedy or musical
Winner: Atlanta
Black-ish
Mozart in the Jungle
Transparent
Veep

Best mini-series or motion picture made for television
Winner: The People v OJ Simpson: American Crime Story
American Crime
The Dresser
The Night Manager
The Night Of

Best performance by an actor in a television series – drama
Winner: Billy Bob Thornton – Goliath
Rami Malek – Mr Robot
Bob Odenkirk – Better Call Saul
Matthew Rhys – The Americans
Liev Schreiber – Ray Donovan

Best performance by an actress in a television series – drama
Winner: Claire Foy – The Crown
Caitriona Balfe – Outlander
Keri Russell – The Americans
Winona Ryder – Stranger Things
Evan Rachel Wood – Westworld

Best performance by an actor in a television series – comedy or musical
Winner: Donald Glover – Atlanta
Anthony Anderson – Black-ish
Gael Garcia Bernal – Mozart in the Jungle
Nick Nolte – Graves
Jeffrey Tambor – Transparent

Best performance by an actress in a television series – comedy or musical
Winner: Tracee Ellis Ross – Black-ish
Rachel Bloom – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Veep
Sarah Jessica Parker – Divorce
Issa Rae – Insecure
Gina Rodriguez – Jane the Virgin

Best performance by an actor in a mini-series or motion picture made for television
Winner: Tom Hiddleston – The Night Manager
Riz Ahmed – The Night Of
Bryan Cranston – All the Way
John Turturro – The Night Of
Courtney B Vance – The People v OJ Simpson: American Crime Story

Best performance by an actress in a mini-series or motion picture made for television
Winner: Sarah Paulson – The People v OJ Simpson: American Crime Story
Felicity Huffman – American Crime
Riley Keough – The Girlfriend Experience
Charlotte Rampling – London Spy
Kerry Washington – Confirmation

Best performance by an actor in a supporting role in a series, mini-series or motion picture made for television
Winner: Hugh Laurie – The Night Manager
Sterling K Brown – The People v OJ Simpson: American Crime Story
John Lithgow – The Crown
Christian Slater – Mr Robot
John Travolta – The People v OJ Simpson: American Crime Story

Best performance by an actress in a supporting role in a series, mini-series or motion picture made for television
Winner: Olivia Colman – The Night Manager
Lena Headey – Game of Thrones
Chrissy Metz – This is Us
Mandy Moore – This is Us
Thandie Newton – Westworld