Despite being less & less interested in the Oscars in recent years, I still try to watch as many nominees as I can. It’s been difficult the past few years since no longer being able to make as many cinema trips but did manage several trips so far this year plus quite a few have been on streaming services. Not seen some of the big nominees yet but think I’ve seen the ones that will win a lot of the awards & saw quite a few documentaries & shorts.
I’ve managed to review all I’ve seen. Here are my links to my reviews, ranked from my favorite to least favorite film.But I have to say that none of this year’s nominees will be all-time favorite films for me, which is often the case with nominees the past several years…:
Below are all the nominees. I don’t care too much who wins this year. I’ll put a ❤️ by my favorite/the one I want to win & a 🏆 by the one I think will win. Apologies if you’re reading this on something that doesn’t show those emojis (should be fine as this blog only has like 1 reader). 😉
Best Original Song
“Applause” by Diane Warren for Tell It Like a Woman
“Hold My Hand” by Lady Gaga and Bloodpop for Top Gun: Maverick🏆
“Lift Me Up” by Tems, Ludwig Göransson, Rihanna and Ryan Coogler for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
“Naatu Naatu” by Kala Bhairava, M. M. Keeravani, Rahul Sipligunj for RRR
“This Is a Life” by Ryan Lott, David Byrne and Mitski for Everything Everywhere All at Once❤️
With the Oscars being on tonight, I figured I’d quickly post these reviews of a few more Oscar nominated films. Will do a full post later today with all the nominees & links to all my reviews of the 23 nominees I’ve seen.
Directed by Baz Luhrmann
Starring: Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Olivia DeJonge, Helen Thomson, Richard Roxburgh, Kelvin Harrison Jr., David Wenham, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Luke Bracey
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) It chronicles the life of the American rock and roll singer and actor Elvis Presley under the management of Colonel Tom Parker.
Really liked this but, wow – how can some of this be so great & some of it so absolutely dreadful? Definitely an example of a performance highly deserving of an Oscar but a movie that is not.
I should start by saying that I know almost nothing about Elvis. Despite being a big music & movie lover, I’ve never liked many of his songs & have never seen his films. So, no, I can’t say how accurate these performances truly are, especially Hanks as I only know ”of” Colonel Tom Parker. But damn I thought Austin Butler was amazing. If he doesn’t win an Oscar but a rather rubbish version of Freddie Mercury did (and a really good version of Elton John wasn’t even nominated), I’ll be very annoyed. He oozes charisma & sex appeal in this film and I think he really captures the crazy effect that Elvis had on sexually repressed ‘50s America. He makes this movie. He feels like a star, which you need if you’re going to play someone as big as Elvis. I was impressed with how well he did as young Elvis as well as an older Elvis with many personal demons. Knew only a little of how much Elvis had been taken advantage of so found the ending quite heartbreaking and would say I appreciate the story of the life of this megastar a little bit more now. Know a documentary would be much more accurate, though, as I’m sure Luhrmann has taken many liberties with the facts.
To quickly get the dreadful out of the way: Baz Luhrmann & Tom Hanks. For the most part, I don’t get on with Luhrmann’s films. I appreciate his style when it works but it often doesn’t. Found a lot of it just plain cringy in Elvis and the mixing in of modern music, which I know is his thing and is okay sometimes, was terrible in this. It was annoying and threw me out of the film a few times. And then there was Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker. Oh boy. As I said, I know nothing about the real man but if he was truly as awful as this film makes him out to be (sounds like that’s the case), why did this story get told through him? The character was so obnoxious (did he actually talk like that?!) and we had to listen to him telling this story through the whole damn movie. I guess it kind of makes sense as he was so controlling of Elvis that he didn’t get to live his own life because of Parker. Maybe that’s why Luhrmann made the decision to have the story told through him but I just wanted more of Butler and WAY less of Hanks. I’ve never disliked Hanks before! So Luhrmann must be partly to blame.
Oh well. The movie itself could’ve been much better but Butler was so fantastic & the story of Elvis is so fascinating that I still got a lot of enjoyment out of the film. Well worth the watch despite its big flaws, even if like me you’re not really a fan of Elvis Presley.
My Rating: 7.5/10
Marcel The Shell With Shoes On (2021)
Directed by Dean Fleischer Camp
Starring: Jenny Slate, Rosa Salazar, Thomas Mann, Dean Fleischer Camp, Lesley Stahl, Isabella Rossellini
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) It is based on a series of shorts of the same name written by Slate and Fleischer Camp. Slate reprises her voice role as Marcel, an anthropomorphic shell living with his grandmother Connie.
Was eager to see this as it very much looked like my kind of thing (heartwarming & adorable – I love that shit plus adore cute anthropomorphic things). With the Pixar Oscar nominee being so disappointing this year, I was expecting to like Marcel the most but Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is easily my favorite & the one I think deserves to win.
Still enjoyed Marcel but was a little underwhelmed by the story. And although it was a clever idea, the way it was presented as a documentary didn’t quite work for me and I can see why this probably worked better in the original shorts (if they were done that way?) than it did in this full-length film. Marcel was very cute, Jenny Slate’s voice was perfect, and his relationship with his grandmother was very sweet. For me, the movie slightly crossed the line into being a little too saccharine & trying a bit too hard. Did enjoy seeing the inventive ways of doing things that Marcel & his grandmother had to find to live their lives once they found themselves alone. And liked it showing how horrible society has become in this social media obsessed world (without being preachy about it).
It’s a nice film & my second favorite of this year’s Animated nominees but it may not be saying much as I think the other two I’ve seen are not very good at all (not seen Puss In Boots). I didn’t find Marcel as moving as I was hoping. It’s nowhere near the very best animated films from the studios I love the most (Studio Ghibli, Pixar & Disney). Am disappointed that Pixar have been so unreliable with their recent films and am missing the emotion we got from their very best stuff.
I’ve watched every Marvel movie (ranked here) and do enjoy them but I’m not a massive fan and it’s feeling like an obligation to watch them now. Would’ve been happy for them to stop at Endgame – the films are seeming more & more messy and pointless now.
With all of these films, I like the characters much more than the stories themselves & that was especially true of this film. The MCU has done a fantastic job developing some fascinating characters. The women in this are great. Letitia Wright & Danai Gurira were so much fun to watch & I liked their interactions with each other. Lupita Nyong’o was as brilliant as always as was Angela Bassett who definitely has a shot at winning that Oscar tonight. And the introduction of Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams was a nice addition – would’ve liked a bit more to do with her. So this one was off to a good start with strong characters. They obviously had a huge hole to fill and not having Chadwick Boseman is still heartbreaking but I thought they did well with handling that.
Then it turned into the same MCU formula we always get. Which, fine, I get it – That’s what people want. Why mess with something so many people clearly love & is making them tons of money? But I often lose interest in these films halfway through when the same old fight scenes & the same old storylines occur plus this was FAR longer than it needed to be, which didn’t help. Although I care most about liking the main characters, it helps if I also buy into the story & the obligatory villain. The story wasn’t too bad but those blue Avatar-looking fuckers & boring-Aquaman ankle-wings dude weren’t working for me. I completely lost interest in the middle this time. I just wanted to get back to seeing the main kick-ass female characters together. The middle of this just went off the deep end (literally).
So I’m mixed on this one. Good characters but overall a bit of a mess. But, as I say, I’m not a huge MCU fan so I’m going to be a bit more negative. I admit I like the Guardians Of The Galaxy movies the most so I obviously just like my superhero movies to be a bit more fun & lightweight than this one. It’s why I far prefer the MCU to current DC films.
Happy May! I feel bad as I’ve been neglecting the blogs again. I also recently joined Letterboxd (finally) & I’m finding it far too easy to just quickly log & write very short reviews of films there instead of taking the time to put a full post together for each movie I watch. (Here’s my Letterboxd link for the three people who still read this blog).
But I’ve been doing this blog for almost ten years so I need to at least keep up these monthly posts. And I’ll still post reviews here when I’m in the mood or really love a film. I reviewed half of those below on Letterboxd already so I’ll cheat & copy those here.
Here’s all I watched & read in April…
MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):
– Finch – Post-apocalyptic? A dog?? A robot sidekick??? Did they make this movie specifically for ME?!?! Three things I love! Especially robots. Yes, my favorite Pixar movie is WALL-E & my favorite Star Wars character is R2-D2 (well, Grogu is up there too now! And Yoda). So, this movie was very much my sort of thing and I really enjoyed it.
Speaking of WALL-E, a lot of this film reminded me of that. Mainly the “radiation storms” (or whatever they were) and the fact that Earth is now a wasteland with very few surviving humans (they didn’t get to jump on a fancy spaceship & just get really fat in this one). Plus, of course, there’s a robot. Well, two robots actually! The one Tom Hanks builds in the film plus a little robot he’s been using which he named after Dewey in Silent Running.
The story is pretty simple but it’s more about the relationship between Tom’s character (Finch) & the robot he builds to help take care of his beloved dog. A robot learning what it means to be human?!?!? Yep – this movie is SO my type of thing. Does Finch bring anything new to this genre? Not really. But it’s got heart & a nice relationship between Hanks & the robot. Really enjoyed this film. – 7.5/10
– Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans – A lovely film directed by F. W. Murnau that won the Academy Award for Unique and Artistic Picture, one of the two top prizes, at the 1st Academy Awards (Wings was later declared the official Best Picture winner). I enjoyed its style & love story & Janet Gaynor’s performance, which won the first Best Actress Academy Award. I’ve logged it as part of my Best Picture Project to watch all the Best Picture winners. 27 left to go! – 7.5/10
– Sherlock Jr. – Decided to explore more Buster Keaton after recently (finally) watching & thoroughly enjoying The General. This one is possibly even more delightful. A really fun story & once again full of crazy, impressive stunts. Especially loved the scenes within the movie theatre where he works. Great stuff. – 7.5/10
– Fatman – While I would’ve enjoyed this slightly more if I’d had the opportunity to see it during Christmas, I still had good fun watching it. Although “fun” may not be the right word.
I hadn’t read much about this so was expecting more of a comedy instead of the action thriller that it is. I’m sure this film’s tone didn’t work for a lot of people (judging by the movie’s unfairly low rating) but I really liked it. I’m old & tired & have lost faith in humanity just like Gibson’s Chris Kringle. I could totally relate to this version of Santa.
Gibson & Marianne Jean-Baptiste also give us performances that are probably way too good for a movie about someone putting a hit out on Santa Claus. I appreciated that they took their roles seriously & I thought they worked really well together. It’s an odd film but very unlike the many other Christmas movies that are out there so it was great seeing something a bit different. I’d happily watch this one again at Christmastime. – 7/10
– Gosford Park – Didn’t realize this was a Robert Altman film until I stuck it on & it soon became obvious with such a huge ensemble cast of every British actor ever. As bad as Harry Potter for that! I really enjoyed seeing so many familiar faces, especially saucy Helen Mirren (not saucy here), Charles Dance Lannister, Richard E. Grant & Derek In The Night Garden Jacobi. I especially liked Kelly Macdonald as I suppose the lead character (and one of the servants so she was likeable) & as always now sounding like Merida the whole time with her great Scottish accent. Oh, and Ryan Phillippe was in this putting on what I assume was a very bad Scottish accent if you were to ask a Scottish person but I have no idea because I suck with accents. Maggie Smith’s rich old bitch character was fun too. Oh! And Emily Watson’s character was also good. God there were loads of people in this…
Anyway. There’s a murder mystery in this which was fun but this movie was more about getting to know the characters. I’m thinking it was at least an hour into the movie when the murder happens? I was like “Get on with the murder already!”. And I’m REALLY bad with keeping track of loads of characters (Game Of Thrones is a huge struggle for me) so I was constantly looking at Wikipedia while watching this to remind myself who each of these characters were & how they were related to each other. I loved how there were two sets of people, though – the rich assholes & all their staff – so it was great seeing the two worlds & getting two sets of intertwining stories. The staff also referred to each other by the name of the rich asshole that each person “serves” (or whatever) which made it a bit easier to know who worked for who (or is it “whom”? Fuck knows. These rich old English characters would know!). I also liked not knowing who (whom?!) was gonna get murdered, although I guessed correctly. But don’t expect some fast paced murder thriller if you watch this. It’s mostly English people talking posh & being snooty the whole time. Still good fun, though, and good acting (as to be expected from some of the best of the best). – 7.5/10
– The Adam Project – I don’t have a lot to say about this except that it’s a safe & enjoyable family film. Which sounds insulting but it’s great that some decent family films still get made. We used to get so many back in the ’80s & I miss them. It’s a story involving time travel, which I always love. Ryan Reynolds is a pilot who goes back in time & meets up with his younger self (in that above photo). It’s a somewhat forgettable story overall but had some sweet moments with Jennifer Garner as his mother & Mark Ruffalo as his father, which reminded me how much I like 13 Going On 30. – 6.5/10
– The Proposal – Aww – Betty White! Like, I think the rest of the world, I absolutely adored her. She was sweet & so damn funny. So I figured I should finally watch this as I never saw it for some reason. As to be expected from a Sandra Bullock rom-com it’s of course predictable as hell but it was still worth the watch. And I loved that Betty got loads of screen time as she was more often a TV star. She’s great in this. I really enjoyed seeing my favorite person from St. Olaf again. – 6.5/10
– Spider-Man: No Way Home – Wow, this was very underwhelming. Admittedly, I’m not some huge MCU fan. I do enjoy the movies & I’ve watched them all but watching most of them just once is enough for me. This one was just so dull & the story was weak. Plus Peter Parker was an idiot. Why did Doctor Strange go along with his stupid idea?! I realise it was just an excuse to bring the three Spider-Mans (er, Spider-Men??) together and fan service can be fun but this was overkill. It felt so focused on bringing everyone together that it forgot to make a good story & forgot to do anything with the characters other than the three Spider-Men and too many old villains I don’t really give a shit about. I take that back – I did like the stuff with Aunt May. She’s been a great character in these films. But, man, THIS is the movie everyone absolutely freaked out about??? I think people were just so happy to go back to the cinema after Covid that it clouded their judgement.
Oh well, I guess I can update my MCU rankings (which I did on Letterboxd HERE but haven’t yet done on my blog). This is currently number 21 for me. – 6/10
– Escape Room: Tournament Of Champions – First of all, I have to say that this was bizarre in that I was thoroughly confused after seeing someone in the cast list after watching this who I did NOT remember seeing in the movie. So I read the full Wikipedia synopsis and, holy shit, it’s an entirely different ending (and beginning too, I believe). We’re not talking a minor difference, either, as I know there are movies with alternate endings like The Butterfly Effect (prefer the original cinema release of that). This was a whole different ending that completely changes what’s happening through the whole damn movie and has different actresses & characters being used. Like, WTF? So if they make another sequel, which ending are they going to carry on from? And why is this annoying me so much when it’s just a throwaway horror movie so it doesn’t really matter?! Ha! Plus, quite frankly, I like the sound of the other (presumably original cinema release) ending much more. So I hope they go with that one, although I think some will find the ending that I saw with a brand new character more entertaining. I thought the new character sucked. I like the other character!
I liked the first of these movies more than I expected to. No, these aren’t great but I do like “lightweight” horror like this for a bit of fun plus I’m a bit of a wuss. If you liked the first, you’ll like this one since it’s just more of the same damn thing. The escape rooms don’t feel as inventive, though, and too many of them are just too damn big. Doesn’t feel like an escape “room” when it’s the size of a damn town. Then the ending gets pretty dumb, at least in the version I saw, but who cares? Right? It was entertaining enough for an hour and a half. The first was of course much better. I’d watch a third one. – 6/10
– The Sky Is Everywhere – I watched this on Apple TV+ as I read the YA novel ages ago, although it wasn’t a favorite & I found the girl a bit annoying. Seemed to be a faithful adaptation from what I remember. The girl from No Exit plays the dead sister (not a spoiler as this is about a girl grieving the loss of her older, talented sister). The two sisters were fine and the rival love interests were fine and, meh, whatever. The movie was fine. It was fine! #Fine – 6/10
– Mandibles – Bizarre film, which is something I always appreciate. Still prefer Quentin Dupieux’s film Rubber but this one was good fun too. And the giant fly was kind of cute. Oh, it’s about two idiots who find a giant fly & decide to keep it & train it to go fetch things for them. Yep, that’s what it’s about. And a girl who shouts everything she says. That was kind of annoying. – 6/10
– Kimi – An okay Steven Soderbergh film but will be a forgettable one for me. Mainly just made me realise that I need to rewatch Blow Out and that Rear Window is a masterpiece. – 5.5/10
– Shadow In The Cloud – I honestly don’t know how to rate this one. It was kind of terrible but I think I also kind of liked it. I think. Kind of. It may be because I have such a strong love of The Twilight Zone & Amazing Stories which this so blatantly wants to be. I kept expecting Moretz to draw some cartoon wheels while yelling about someone being on the wing of the plane. – 5.5/10
– Antlers – This was very disappointing after I thought it looked pretty good plus I like Keri Russell. And… I don’t know what to say about this? Not sure why I didn’t like it? I didn’t really like the underdeveloped characters, I guess. And I normally like “creature” movies but… Meh. I dunno. I just wasn’t feeling this one. – 5.5/10
– Deep Water – What a couple of assholes. Guess they deserved each other. The daughter was adorable, though. Poor kid. This film didn’t help my Molluscophobia. Or Affleckophobia. – 5.5/10
– Nobody – Wasn’t feeling this one either. At all. I should say I don’t really know Bob Odenkirk as I’ve not watched Breaking Bad or whatever got him some fans but he’s just not leading man material in this. To me, at least. The movie is like John Wick without all the stuff that makes John Wick enjoyable (mostly my beloved Keanu Reeves & puppies). I was bored. But I’ll give it an extra half a point for Christopher Lloyd as he’s always likeable. – 5.5/10
Movies Rewatched In April:
– Rain Man – First time watching this again in a long time. Still a great film. Hoffman was deserving of his Oscar but Cruise was also even better than I remembered. Love their relationship by the end. One of the more enjoyable Best Picture winners. – 8/10
– While You Were Sleeping – One of the better Sandra Bullock rom-coms. Watched this with my daughter on a girly night & she really liked it. I told her there are loads more movies like this that we can watch together. 🙂 – 7.5/10
– Jackass: The Movie – Why do I still laugh at these idiots? These movies of course lose that initial element of shock & surprise (and revulsion) on a rewatch, but I still enjoyed seeing this again way more than I like to admit. Off-Road Tattoo is still a favorite. – 6.5/10
Documentaries, Shorts, Miscellaneous:
– Adrienne – Admittedly, I didn’t know of Adrienne Shelly until after her murder. I then saw the film Waitress & absolutely loved it so I’ve tried to see what I can of the films that she starred in. What a loss – would love to have seen what other films she could have made.
This documentary, made by her husband, included loads of home video footage of Adrienne. So it was good to get to know her that way as she was obviously such an indie actress & there will be people who don’t know of her & aren’t aware of her work. In fact, the documentary starts with people waiting in line to watch the Waitress musical based on her movie being asked who Shelly is & they all have no clue. Very sad – Did they not watch the movie (which she starred in as well & wrote & directed) too??? This documentary is also obviously not an easy watch as it does discuss Shelly’s murder as well as her murderer. So that was uncomfortable but I think it’s worth a watch if you’re curious about her & her work. And I highly recommend Waitress. – 7.5/10
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN APRIL
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– Community: S4 & S5 – I already absolutely raved about this show in my previous two monthly roundups so I don’t need to again. I may be very late to the party but am so glad I decided to watch this one day. I’d heard the last two seasons (5 & 6) aren’t so good. Damn! So far, that seems accurate. I’ll avoid saying who but I’ll just say a needed character (or more) leave and this show worked so well the first four seasons as this group of misfits are perfect together. You really need them all as a group & the show sadly goes downhill pretty quickly without all of them. DAMN! Oh well. There are still fun moments. I still have season 6 & then I can rewatch the brilliant first 4 seasons again.
– Ted Lasso: S2 – Finally grabbed one month of Apple TV+, mainly to see this as I really liked season 1. Still think it’s great with fantastic characters. I also like the rather dark turn they’re taking with Ted this season. Getting a bit serious now! But it somehow still works with the lighthearted humor. Only weak episode was the one focusing on Coach Beard, which is a shame as he’s probably a top 5 character in this for me. Also a little heartbroken at how they’ve decided to change Nathan’s character. But will be interesting to see where they go with that storyline.
– Calls: S1 – I enjoyed this as it was so different but it will definitely not be for everyone. This is also on Apple TV+ & the show is a series of calls that we listen to with images such as the one above as well as the words displayed on the screen. Was happy to be able to read along as it made the stories easier to follow. Each episode is a story on its own with different characters, which was cool, but the stories do also end up connected by the end. Some episodes were much stronger than others but I really liked the overall story which was a bit eerie with a touch of horror & sci-fi. But that’s all very much my type of thing…
– Servant: S1 E1-? – I’m too lazy to look up where I finished but think I must have seen most of season 1 before my one month of Apple TV+ was up. I like M. Night Shyamalan so was interested in seeing this despite being put off by there now being 3 seasons. That’s too much of a commitment! Can’t they make more “limited series” shows, dammit?!? One season & done. Boom! Like the Harlan Coben shows. So, yeah, Servant seems to be doing what I hate but totally expected & draaaaaaaaaagginggggggggg the story out. Just get to the fucking point, TV shows! This is why I stick to movies. Anyway – I now want to know WTF is going on so will probably binge this when I can afford to subscribe for another month (maybe when Ted Lasso starts again). I’ll say I thought episode 1 was great. Nothing I love more than creepy babies & creepy dolls! Was then growing bored after several episodes of nothing happening after that, though.
– Young Rock: S1 E3-6 – This show is super enjoyable considering I know nothing about and am not a fan of pro wrestling. But I do like The Rock and think his character is great & love the relationship he has with his family. It’s a really sweet & wholesome family show! And, being the age I am, I do remember some of these wrestlers. I especially like the episodes with Andre The Giant. Good fun! Perfect for when short on time. Can squeeze a couple in during a lunch break! Not one I feel the urge to binge but it’s good to know it’s there as a quick pick-me-up when the hubby & I have half an hour & feel like watching something.
– Moon Knight: S1 E2-5 – I dunno. I just CANNOT get into this show. At all. Sorry? Man… Disappointing after thinking WandaVision was great & really enjoying Loki & Hawkeye despite not being some big Marvel fan. But I did think The Falcon & The Winter Soldier was a snoozefest. I guess I like that, uh, Moon Knight at least feels like something different from the same old formulaic MCU stuff? So… There’s that, I guess! There. I was complimentary.
– Old Enough: S1 E1 – ? (Too lazy to look again, seen 4 or 5 episodes) – Fun Japanese reality TV show on Netflix where they get adorable toddlers & little kids to run some basic “adult errands” such as going to the supermarket to buy food while cameras follow them around to see what they’ll do. It’s lightweight and SHORT, which I really appreciate. Think some episodes are no more than 15 minutes. Woohoo! I have time for that! Okay, it’s a bit dumb but it’s also really cute. Most kids are fantastic while others are totally shit at doing what they’re asked. Funny.
– Grey’s Anatomy: S18 E9 – This has started up again! Yay. I guess.
– It’s The Small Things, Charlie Brown – Should’ve watched more of the Peanuts stuff while I had Apple TV+! Am a massive Peanuts/Snoopy fan. This was sweet & it focused on Sally obsessed with a flower in the middle of Charlie Brown’s baseball game. Watching the rest of these when I subscribe again.
TV Specials Rewatched:
– It’s The Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown – Obviously had to watch this again. Watch all the Peanuts holiday specials each year. Is anything better than Snoopy?? 🙂
I read two books in April!! Much quicker reads than the first Game Of Thrones book taking me months to finish. Tried out a new author after reading Emma’s book reviews HERE & thinking they sounded good. Thanks, Emma! Really enjoyed these & already have a third C.J. Tudor book from the library to read next. 🙂
– The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor – Can’t decide which book I liked more but read this first so guess I’ll review it first. First of all I have to say that I could really relate to the mother (my sort of age) and the daughter (a few years older than mine) & their relationship in this. Especially as they love & quote cool movies like Heathers & The Lost Boys. But then, of course, there’s also some great, nasty history involving the small town they move to & two young girls who were tortured & burned alive for not renouncing their faith in Ye Olde English Times. Gotta love English history! Why didn’t they teach us that sort of stuff in American History class?? I might have paid attention. And there’s also a big mystery involving two teen girls who disappeared from this town in (I think) the ’90s. Plus the previous town vicar who died under mysterious circumstances. Woohoo! Oh, and of course the main character’s tragic past that the story slowly pieces together for us.
What I really liked about both these books were all the twists & turns and multiple mysteries to be solved. Reminded me of the Harlan Coben TV shows I watched recently (who C.J. Tudor must also be a fan of as a character in The Chalk Man was reading a Coben book – I really must check out one of his novels too). Not sure why I’ve not read more murder mystery thrillers because I actually love this stuff. I’m just such a sucker for supernatural horror, which is why I stick with Stephen King. But Tudor was compared to King after The Chalk Man & he recommended it to his followers on Twitter (making her go all fangirly. I would too!). I can certainly see the King comparison, especially with The Chalk Man, but she’s more “twisted crime thriller” than “supernatural horror”.
I went off on a tangent there. I really enjoyed this book and its characters. And I only guessed one of the many mysteries quite early on (but one of the biggest ones, so I was proud of myself). Everything else kept me guessing, though. A very fun read. – 4/5
– The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor – I’m guessing this is the more popular Tudor book of these two? I could be wrong but I can see it being slightly more widely appealing. I’d say it’s maybe a fraction better of the two but I far preferred the ending of The Burning Girls & that overall story a bit more. What I liked about The Chalk Man & what probably caused part of the King comparison is the slight Stand By Me & It vibe when the story flashes back to the past and the small group of friends, who are now adults, back when they were 12/13. It also has multiple mysteries like The Burning Girls & I really liked everything to do with the “Wurlitzer Girl” part of the story & just wish we could’ve found out more about her.
Great stuff. I liked this one a lot too & haven’t read books this quickly in ages. I just wanted all the answers ASAP. The Taking of Annie Thorne is next on my To Read list. – 4/5
Currently reading Malorie by Josh Malerman
MUSIC LISTENED TO
– Red Hot Chili Peppers – Unlimited Love – Figured it was worth mentioning this new album as I so rarely have “new music” to post about. However, I’ve only listened to it once while working so have to give it another listen soon. I do love the Chili Peppers so I’ll just say, from what I heard, this album indeed sounded exactly like the Chili Peppers. But I’m not someone to complain about bands always sounding the same because, screw it – if you have fans why change your sound??
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
No specific plans. Will continue to log movies on Letterboxd & do a monthly roundup post here.
Upcoming Movies I Want To See:
Still not going to the cinema even though people seem to have forgotten that Covid exists but, boy, I want to see Everything Everywhere All At Once SO BAD. Will watch Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness at some point too but I’m in no big rush for that. Also like the sound of The Innocents, The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent (Ew, Pedro Pascal is in that?) & been waiting for Top Gun: Maverick for bloody ages now.
I like to end with a good song from a movie but I’ll use something from Ted Lasso this time. That show gets the rights to use some great music! Here’s one featured heavily in one episode: She’s A Rainbow by The Rolling Stones:
I watched way too many movies in March. Most were Oscar nominees I wanted to watch before the Oscars. Not that anyone is talking about any of the winners now… It’s a shame that CODA isn’t getting as much attention as it would have if not for someone’s stupid antics.
Well, I somehow managed to already do full reviews of most of those below so I’ll include the links to those & briefly discuss the ones I haven’t talked about at all yet.
MOVIES WATCHED IN MARCH (ranked best to worst):
– CODA – Reviewed this just before the Oscars. Really enjoyed it & am happy it won Best Picture. A great feelgood film with likeable characters & a good sense of humor. Also glad Troy Kotsur won Best Supporting Actor & Sian Heder won Best Adapted Screenplay. It’s nice to see a Best Picture that’s actually watchable. Really thought The Power Of The Dog was going to win, which I found a struggle to get through. Watching a movie shouldn’t feel like a damn chore. Far too many Best Picture nominees are like that in recent years so I loved actually really enjoying one for a change. – 8/10
– A Quiet Place Part II – Reviewed this in full already at the link. Was a big fan of the first film & thought it was a very effective monster horror with a fantastic original idea. I’m happy to say that the sequel was also really good. Like these films a lot & can’t wait for Part III. – 7.5/10
– Columbus – Loved this movie! Also already reviewed in full at the link. I should really have ranked it above A Quiet Place II & I think it’s one of the best films I’ve watched this year but I just really enjoyed A Quiet Place II. Here’s the quick Wikipedia synopsis: “The film follows the son of a renowned architecture scholar (John Cho) who gets stranded in Columbus, Indiana and strikes up a friendship with a young architecture enthusiast (Haley Lu Richardson) who works at the local library“.
Richardson & Cho are very good together and Richardson especially shines as a bright young woman going nowhere in life while stuck in the town of Columbus. It’s a beautiful looking film with great characters & seems like the kind of thing the Oscars would go for so I don’t know why it had no recognition that year & why I’d heard nothing about it. Well, I said a lot more about it in my full review. It’s one I’d recommend but only to certain people as it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea. – 8/10
– The General (1926) – Finally got around to watching this Buster Keaton film for my IMDb Top 250 Project. I have very little experience when it comes to old silent films so would feel weird saying too much with so little knowledge. I’ll just say that one of my biggest “discoveries” when starting the Top 250 Project was Charlie Chaplin. I absolutely fell in love with the three films of his that I’ve watched so far & think he was brilliant so was eager to see how Keaton compared.
I enjoyed The General & the dangerous stunts they pulled off for this film in 1926 were bloody amazing. How did he not get killed?! Very impressive. Far more impressive than all of today’s CGI bullshit! Keaton was good & I also found him oddly attractive. Like, when you like the weird, lanky, quirky guy? I always like the weird ones but I think I mainly just have a thing for any guy wearing eyeliner (like in the below photo).
However, this film didn’t connect with me the way the Chaplin films immediately did. It didn’t have the heart that those do plus I prefer Chaplin’s great physical comedy and facial expressions. City Lights especially is one of the most moving films I’ve ever seen & gives me that warm, fuzzy feeling that only the very best cinematic masterpieces can achieve. But The General’s technical achievements (is that the right word for 1926?!) are admittedly extremely impressive for the time so I have to recognize that although the Chaplin films are more my type of thing.
I’d certainly give another Buster Keaton film a try, though. But I first want to check out Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last! as that’s also one I’ve not yet seen. Anyone have any other silent classics to recommend? (Yes, I’ve seen & loveMetropolis & The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari). – 8/10
– West Side Story(2021) – Reviewed this already. I’ll just say it’s a gorgeous film, Ariana DeBose & Rita Moreno are great, Ansel Elgort & Rachel Zegler sadly have zero chemistry, and I can’t say we necessarily needed a new adaptation when we already had a very good adaptation in 1961. But I still enjoyed seeing Spielberg’s vision of this & it’s good if it has brought this musical to the attention of a new generation. – 8/10
– Fresh – Liked this quirky dark-comedy horror. And am finally starting to like Sebastian Stan after this and Pam & Tommy. He just seems to be having a lot of fun in these roles. I like him unhinged! Daisy Edgar-Jones was also perfect for this role & the two of them worked really well together. Good fun but a slightly weird film, which I guess is a satire of the horrors women face on the dating scene, that won’t be for everyone. – 7.5/10
– Mass – Mass is a good film but obviously a very heavy topic. It’s about two sets of parents who meet to discuss a tragic school shooting six years after the event. One I’d recommend but you obviously need to be in the right frame of mind to watch it. Although Mass is fiction it’s a very real and sadly far too common occurrence & one I find very upsetting. – 7.5/10
– Malignant – Still trying to decide how I feel about this one. I think it’s grown on me (haha). A bit better & more original than some of James Wan’s work. I appreciated the Giallo influence but it could have used much more of that. I also liked how bonkers it got at the end, raising my score. It could have used much more of that too. – 7/10
– Lionheart – (also released internationally under several names including A.W.O.L: Absent Without Leave, Wrong Bet, and Leon) – Wow, those other names SUCK! What’s wrong with Lionheart?! By far the best name! Anyway. I’m an old lady so of course obsessed with ’80s & early ’90s movies but for some reason completely avoided watching any Jean-Claude Van Damme films because, well, they looked dumb. Plus he had a mullet in a lot of them. But then I watched Bloodsport last year and kind of Bloodyloved it so now I watch his movies when I notice one on a service (Lionheart is on a free one – either Plex or Pluto, can’t remember). Bloodsport is still the best by far, then Timecop, then this one. This was still good fun, though. Van Damme is in a war or something but then some gangsters set his brother on fire back in America so he goes AWOL & comes back to help his brother’s poor widow & cute kid and he somehow ends up fighting people for big money to help them pay the bills. Or some shit. I dunno. Does the plot really matter?! Oh, and he’s also on the run as he’s AWOL!
I decided at some point after watching Bloodsport that Van Damme was kind of a hottie so that may be why I keep watching his movies now. Okay, okay – it’s that amazing BUTT. Unfortunately, he doesn’t go around doing the splits all over the place in this one. What?! Why?!?! What a waste of that amazingly sexy talent. At least he had no mullet in this one. What else can I say? This film is pure 1990 cheese. But it’s fun cheese. And, hell, it has more likeable characters than a lot of movies. I liked it! Okay? I like Van Damme movies now! (But you still won’t catch me starting to watch Steven Seagal films). – 6.5/10
– Old – I do like Shyamalan’s films although they’re admittedly cheesy. But I always like a good story idea & think he comes up with some fun ones plus I’m always a sucker for a twist. I enjoyed Old although, as with most of his stuff, it could have been better. – 6.5/10
– The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It – This was fine. As far as The Conjuring Universe films go, this is one of the slightly better ones. At least it’s better than most of the Annabelle movies. I also like it when the Warrens are in the film plus I like a good “devil movie”. Overall, though, the film is a bit forgettable. – 6/10
– Turning Red – Damn. Another very disappointing Pixar film. Remember when Pixar could do no wrong?? The story was okay and the red panda was cute. The girl was fairly likeable too but, ugh, her mother was too over-the-top & annoying. Maybe I’ll give it another chance someday but I’m longing for the Pixar masterpieces we used to get from them. – 6/10
– The Eyes Of Tammy Faye – I had zero interest in watching this one but stuck it on before the Oscars since Jessica Chastain was nominated. Am glad I checked it out. I knew pretty much nothing about Tammy Faye Bakker & her husband. It’s an interesting story of a lifestyle that’s very bizarre to me. Bakker comes across quite well in the movie as a woman who cared about everyone from all walks of life, thereby demonstrating some true “Christian” values much more so than the sexist & racist men in power at the time. I think it was a worthy Oscar win for Chastain. – 6.5/10
– The Forever Purge – Meh. The Purge films are a guilty pleasure of mine. I LOVE the concept. But they have yet to make a truly good film from that idea, which is disappointing as there’s so much they could explore. These last two films have been the worst of the series but they were still okay. I’ve been a bit generous with my score & should probably drop it half a point but I’ll leave it as is for now. – 6.5/10
– Nightmare Alley – My god, I can’t believe how utterly boring this Guillermo del Toro film was. It’s not a bad film and it looks great & I liked the setting of the carnival (although that’s only at the start – I wanted that to be the whole film). Cate Blanchett & Rooney Mara are very good but Bradley Cooper is dull and the film drags on for far too long. Disappointing. – 6.5/10
– No Exit – Watched this as it’s a 2022 movie release on Disney Plus. Here’s the short Wikipedia synopsis: “It stars Havana Rose Liu as a recovering drug addict who discovers a kidnapping in progress while stranded at a rest stop during a blizzard.” At the rest stop, there are four other adults who become the suspects when the main character discovers the girl in the van & doesn’t know whose van it is. So there was a bit of suspense there at first, which was fine. This is one of those movies where all the characters aren’t very likeable, though. Meh. The movie was okay, I guess. It passed the time. – 6/10
– The Stand-In – First of all, I have to say that I love Drew Barrymore. She’s my same sort of age so I grew up with her. She seems so likeable & down-to-Earth (but who knows with celebs, right?! most seem like assholes). So I’ll always watch a movie with Drew. Damn – this one isn’t great, though. I still enjoyed it as it’s Drew but it’s possibly the worst of all her films that I’ve seen. I’d say it’s through no fault of her own, though. She’s fine in this dual role. She plays an actress as well as her lookalike stand-in who later becomes a part of the actress’s (is that right with the letter S together three times?!) life when that actress wants to hide away from society after her bad behavior ruins her career. The actress character was fine but the stand-in was annoying. Disappointing but, again, I’ll watch anything with Drew so didn’t feel like it was time wasted. – 5.5/10
– Spencer – Holy hell I hated this godawful movie. But I had a rant about it in my full review so I don’t need to moan again here. I’ll just say thank god Stewart didn’t win Best Actress. Everything about this film was dreadful. – 4.5/10
Documentaries, Shorts & Miscellaneous:
I binged a lot of the Oscar nominated shorts (and one full-length documentary) before the Oscars. I lucked out on seeing all of the ones that ended up winning. Not that they matter since the stupid Academy decided they weren’t important enough to award live during the ceremony. Twats! What a disaster that whole thing was. Well, here’s all I watched…
– Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) – Winner of Best Documentary – I really enjoyed this Questlove documentary about this absolutely amazing 1969 music festival that I knew nothing about. The music was fantastic & it was great seeing so much live footage from the concert. Check out some of the performers that we see (from Wikipedia): Stevie Wonder, Mahalia Jackson, Nina Simone, The 5th Dimension, The Staple Singers, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Mavis Staples, Blinky Williams, Sly and the Family Stone and The Chambers Brothers. What a line-up! A deserving win for Questlove. Too bad it was completely overshadowed by Will Smith being a total dickhead immediately before this award. In fact, the feed in the U.K. cut out for a while after that plus the shorter replay of the Oscars didn’t show this win (why?!) so I had to find this acceptance speech online to even see it. Ridiculous. Smith really ruined that night for everyone & took all the focus away from people who worked so hard. Ass. Anyway, we’ve all heard enough about that goddamn story! Am glad this won the Oscar & I highly recommend it to music lovers.
– The Queen of Basketball – Winner of Best Short Documentary – Here’s the IMDb synopsis for this one: “Queen of Basketball is an electrifying portrait of Lucy Harris, who scored the first basket in women’s Olympic history and was the first and only woman officially drafted into the N.B.A.” A fascinating story & Lucy came across as such a lovely person. Was sad to see she just passed away in January when I looked this up just now. Think I saw this on YouTube or Vimeo (as well as most of these shorts) if you want to check it out.
– The Long Goodbye – Winner of Live Action Short – Not a fan of this Riz Ahmed film. Watch it on YouTube if you want to see yet more hate.
– The Windshield Wiper – Winner of Animated Short – This animated short had lovely animation. However, the story was nothing that intriguing & dragged on for too long (for a short!). Can’t say I’ll remember anything about it in a year. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “Inside a cafe while smoking a whole pack of cigarettes, a man poses an ambitious question: “What is Love?”. A collection of vignettes and situations will lead the man to the desired conclusion.”
– Audible – A good short documentary on Netflix following the students of The Maryland School for the Deaf. Thought it might win the Oscar.
– Lead Me Home – Another short doc on Netflix, this one following the lives of several homeless people in West Coast America.
– Please Hold – I liked this live-action short the most. Very Black Mirror inspired story about a not-too-distant prison system. Here’s the YouTube link if you want to check it out.
– Boxballet – A Russian animated short film about a ballerina & a boxer who grow close despite being so different. Not too bad.
– Robin Robin – This stop-motion short produced by Aardman Animations is also on Netflix but, not gonna lie, I played on my phone through the whole thing so it clearly didn’t grab my attention. I’ll try to watch it again sometime.
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– Community: S2 & S3 – I f*%king LOVE this show! How on Earth did I miss out on this when it was on?! I mean, I was very busy with a baby when it started in 2009 but I’m still very late to this one. So glad I just stuck it on at random one day with the family. We’re all addicted.
Last month I ranked my favorite characters (so far). My ranking probably hasn’t changed. I now currently have three favorite episodes as well. My favorite was Remedial Chaos Theory, which the above image is from. Don’t you love when you finally find out what a popular meme is from?! I’d seen that above meme sooo many times. Thanks to that episode my daughter & I now go around saying “Me so hungie! Me so hungie!” & doing the Britta dance. Because I’m a mature adult. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons is a very close & brilliant second. Then Digital Estate Planning, in which I was like “That’s me!” when Pierce’s video game character was stuck behind the potted plant not knowing how to use the controller. And Troy jumping around constantly was SO my daughter.
The hubby & I were saying that’s part of why we’re so taken with this show. I think everyone who watches it would probably see parts of themselves in at least one of these misfit characters. I’m mostly a combination of Abed, Britta & Shirley with a dash of Troy (especially as Troy thought all dogs were boys & all cats were girls like I did as a kid. Ha!). I think these characters are just fantastic & work so well together. I’m already heartbroken knowing we’re right now also almost finished with Season 4, which was short, and only have two more (also short) seasons to go. What am I going to do when finished?!? Daughter said she wants to just rewatch it all again from the start. Not loved a sitcom like this for years. 🙂
– Safe: – We quite enjoyed Harlan Coben’s murder mystery limited series Stay Close on Netflix so decided to check this one of his out as well. Also really enjoyed this one but preferred Stay Close. And now my daughter seems obsessed with murder mystery thrillers so am sure we’ll be watching plenty more shows like this! And I’d happily check out Coben’s books now based on these two shows. I like how many twists & turns his stories take. Any recommendations of similar shows or his best books?
– Pam & Tommy: S1 E7-8 – I said plenty about this last month so I’ll just say again that I thought Sebastian Stan & especially Lily James were really good in this. Not sure the point of the show or if it needed to be made but it was interesting to see this, mainly from Pamela’s side, as she was treated horribly over the whole thing. Lightweight entertainment but, yeah, it was entertaining.
– Moon Knight: S1 E1 – Only one episode so far so I don’t have much to say about it other than it didn’t grab me for whatever reason. And Oscar Isaac’s accent sounded weird as hell to me. But I’ll still continue. Maybe it’ll get better. Can’t be worse than The Falcon & The Winter Soldier!
– Severance: S1 E1 – Loved the sound of this & still think it’s a great story idea but the first episode really dragged. Will give one more episode a chance to see if it picks up a bit…
– Inventing Anna: S1 E1 – Found the first episode boring plus the girl’s accent or whatever the hell that was annoyed the hell out of me. But I liked seeing My Girl girl all grown up! Does the show get better?? Not sure if I’m bothered…
– Punky Brewster (2021): S1 E1 – Hey, I’m an ’80s kid so I loved Punky Brewster. Very weird seeing her grown up in a new show. A bit cheesy & SO American but I’ll totally continue with it at some point.
– Fleabag: S1 E1 & half of E2 – I fell asleep during episode 2. I think this one just isn’t for me. The character was funny a few times but also too much of the sort of asshole I can’t stand or relate to in any way whatsoever. No thanks.
– A Song Of Ice And Fire: Book One – A Game Of Thrones by George R.R.Martin – I FINISHED IT!!!!! Crap, do I have to review it now?! I don’t have the energy! This literally took me months to finish. Not that it’s bad or something – I’m just kind of a slow reader plus it’s long. I enjoyed it, though. I really like that it’s a book where each chapter focuses on a specific character. Was always happy to get to a chapter focusing on one of my favorites (Number 1 favorite is still easily Tyrion, followed by Daenerys & Arya). Oh! One thing I’ll say is that Jon Snow is much better in the book. I always wondered why everyone liked him in the show as I found him a bit dull. Oh! Also… they upped the ages of the “younger” generation for the show. In the first book they’re: Bran 7, Arya 9, Sansa 11. Robb Stark & Jon Snow are both 14. Daenerys is 13. And that prick Joffrey is 12 (still hate his guts).
I’d like to say I got to know the characters even more now but, surprisingly, the show was really quite faithful to this first book! Is it later that they start changing stuff more? Because as much as I HATE when adaptations aren’t faithful to a book, it also meant I didn’t exactly get any surprises while reading this after watching the show. Damn. Well, I still enjoyed this & will continue with the series. I need a break first, though. Going to read some more lightweight stuff I got from the library instead for now. – 4/5
Currently reading The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
I went movie & review crazy last month so will probably take it easier this month. Although I keep wanting to do a week of posts counting down my Top 100 bands & singers. Should I do that? Sounds like too much effort. But would be kind of fun. I miss making lists…
Upcoming Movies I Want To See:
I honestly don’t know anymore what’s in cinemas but services have a terrible selection at the moment. Have Apple TV for a month so gonna try to watch Finch & binge Ted Lasso. Also want to watch Freaky, Another Round, In The Heights & The Suicide Squad on another service I have temporarily.
I end these posts with a music clip but can’t find the great Summer Of Soul full performances to share (so go watch the doc!). So here’s a song I’ve always liked from Fresh: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll:
The Oscars are on tonight so I’m finally doing a post with links to the reviews I’ve done of some of the nominated films.
I can’t believe I used to stay up all night long to watch the Oscars live when I first moved to the U.K. Ugh. I don’t anymore because 1) I don’t always have access to the live ceremony because that service is too expensive and 2) I’m too old & tired to stay up all night (and then go to work! how did I do that?!) but most importantly 3) Screw the Oscars! They’ve become a joke in the past several years & this year’s ceremony sounds ridiculous. I had a rant during my Mass review but I’ll just say again that I don’t have time for a movie awards ceremony that doesn’t see the Best Original Score & all the others not being presented as important enough to make the live show.
But I’m sure I’ll still watch the shorter recap show tomorrow night & bitch about the ceremony the whole time…
Well, there seem to be better Best Picture nominees than some years but I’ve only seen six of the ten. Of those I’ve not seen, I really do want to see Drive My Car. I’m sure I’ll check out King Richard, Licorice Pizza & Belfast when available too but I’m in no rush. I think The Power Of The Dog will probably win anyway, which was my least favorite of those I’ve seen. I loved Dune & CODA. Actually not sure which of the two I preferred. Dune is more “me” but CODA was so lovely & thoroughly enjoyable to watch. They’re maybe tied.
Here are my reviews of those I’ve seen of all the nominees (from my favorite to least favorite):
There were also some strong documentaries & shorts that were luckily available on U.K. services. Summer Of Soul was great with fantastic music so I really enjoyed that. And Please Hold was a good Black-Mirror-Inspired story.
Nominated Documentaries & Shorts I’ve Seen (not ranked):
Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Lead Me Home
The Queen of Basketball
The Long Goodbye Three Songs For Benazir
The Windshield Wiper
Kenneth Branagh, “Belfast”
Ryusuke Hamaguchi, “Drive My Car”
Paul Thomas Anderson, “Licorice Pizza”
Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog”
Steven Spielberg, “West Side Story”
Best Original Screenplay:
“Belfast,” Kenneth Branagh
“Don’t Look Up” Adam McKay, David Sirota
“King Richard,” Zach Baylin
“Licorice Pizza,” Paul Thomas Anderson
“The Worst Person in the World,” Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt
Best Original Song:
“Be Alive” (“King Richard”), Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Dixson
“Dos Oruguitas” (“Encanto”), Lin-Manuel Miranda
“Down to Joy” (“Belfast”), Van Morrison
“No Time to Die” (“No Time to Die”), Billie Eilish, Finneas O’Connell
“Somehow You Do” (“Four Good Days”), Diane Warren
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox, Connie Britton
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) A young woman, traumatized by a tragic event in her past, seeks out vengeance against those who crossed her path.
I honestly wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this film before seeing it. Movies are difficult nowadays. Many films have had strong beliefs throughout the years but I feel those from the past ten years or so (and especially in the past five years) present those beliefs in a very different way. I’ve never been against movies with strong or controversial opinions, even if I don’t agree with them. I’m just very against how forced this feels in so many films now. An important and worthy topic doesn’t automatically make a film “good”. I still want a good script, good characters, a gorgeous score & cinematography, and all that other good shit that makes the very best movies true works of art. It’s great if a film has all of that good shit and also manages to have a really good message. I admit that with Oscar nominees these days I always wonder if I’m going to see a strong message with a mediocre film written around it or a good film that also happens to have a strong message that works well within that film.
I did a horrible job explaining that. What I’m saying is that I wondered if Promising Young Woman would be a full-on “all men are evil and must die” movie. Hey, I’m a woman – I’m not gonna pretend I don’t like a good revenge film. Of course I feel strongly about this topic. I’ve always been uncomfortable with “rape revenge” films, though. Although I try to watch most every type of movie that I possibly can to have a fully informed opinion, this is one subgenre I haven’t explored much. I’m not going to look into it, either, as it’s something I don’t want to go searching for but I do wonder how many of these films were made by women? I admit that I probably watched the worst possible example of this subgenre (the 1978 I Spit On Your Grave), so I didn’t want some gory “kill all the men” bloodbath. Exploitation flicks have their place, I guess, but they’ve been done. And I especially didn’t want an extremely exploitative rape scene as in that film. Women don’t want to see that. Those films are made for the excuse to have a graphic rape scene. No thanks. It’s possible to empathise with the victim & want her to get revenge without seeing in graphic detail what happens to her.
Okay, I don’t want to say the word rape anymore. I hate it. Just trying to explain that I wasn’t sure what this movie was going to be. I liked Promising Young Woman a lot. I may have even kind of loved it a little. I’m still not completely sure of the rating I want to give it, though. I feel it’s one of those that I need to think about for a while before I know how I really feel as I can see my opinion of this either going up a lot or possibly going down ever so slightly. I’m really not sure! I felt this way about Mandy… I knew I liked it a lot after seeing it. But after a few months or so of thinking about it, I realised I loved that crazy ass movie & that it’s easily an absolute favorite from recent years. Anyone else ever feel that way about a movie?? I think it’s because I love a divisive film. They excite me. I see too many bland & totally forgettable movies. I’d rather see a slightly “bad” film that’s maybe a bit weird or has a very memorable scene or two than the hundreds of truly boring duds I’ve seen since starting this blog. (Not that Mandy or Promising Young Woman are bad – I think they’re both very good films that are just unconventional)
Carey Mulligan is great in this. We’re all so used to seeing her in “worthy” Suffragette type roles (although I did like that film). But it was fun seeing her like this & I liked her a lot. Although I don’t know if I exactly liked her character. And that’s what I liked! How many times can I say “like”?! I thought this movie did well with the balance I thought it wouldn’t get right. No, it doesn’t portray men in a great light. But it also didn’t have an “all men are bad & all women are good” message. I hate movies like that (unless you’re talking fun sci-fi or fantasy films – I do want straightforward good vs evil in something like Star Wars). But this movie is dealing with a serious real life issue & real life isn’t so black & white. Mulligan’s character is flawed & damaged. You feel for her and you’re on her side but you also don’t always necessarily agree with her & all her methods. You know what else was good? She wasn’t just some kick-ass bitch. I mean, I love a kick-ass bitch! Ellen Ripley rules. But we already have some great female characters like that to look up to so I liked seeing someone more real in this. It’s more relatable. And even when you think she may take some things a little too far, it’s helped by the fact that she’s avenging her best friend. Also, I loved how she fucked with peoples’ minds. That was great & more fun than some super violent revenge porn.
Mulligan is definitely the best thing about this but I also enjoyed the characters played by Bo Burnham & Laverne Cox and their relationships with Mulligan’s character. Clancy Brown & Jennifer Coolidge were also good as her frustrated parents. I was expecting more dark comedy than we got in this, though. I’d have liked much more of that as what we did get worked pretty well. I’d heard beforehand that this movie is sort of a mix of genres and I loved that (as I said, I like unconventional & unpredictable). It was probably hard to classify this film but I’m not sure if I’d agree with those who have included “comedy” in its description. I think some people were probably expecting something very different and can see some really hating this movie but I was pleasantly surprised with how the story played out & loved that it wasn’t at all predictable. I SO wish I hadn’t had the ending spoiled for me on Twitter. Oh, and I liked her colorful fingernails! I liked the use of girly colors in this film (it reminded me of the end of Waitress, a movie I absolutely love).
Well, I’ve rambled on long enough. I know I must have found this film interesting as I haven’t done one of these long rambling “reviews” where I try to sort out my thoughts on a film in a long time. I think the only long reviews I did in recent years were for Mandy, Midsommar & Deep Red. I really liked this film. I’m still thinking about it three days later, especially its unexpected ending. I keep going back & forth on what I want to rate it. 8 & up means I really loved a movie and/or I thought it was a really good film. Is Promising Young Woman worthy of being a Best Picture Oscar nominee? These days it is. It’s certainly my favorite of those nominees I’ve seen so far. But it wouldn’t have been nominated years ago. I’m curious what I’ll think of this one 20 years from now. I look back at some nominees & think “How the hell did that get nominated?”. Will I think that about this? I don’t think so. I’m glad something a little bit unusual & a film that I actually *wanted* to watch is nominated.
My Rating: 8/10
*I may edit this post later & give it 8/10. I don’t know!
The Oscars are on this weekend so I’m doing a post with links to the reviews I’ve done of some of the nominated films.
I’ve not managed to watch many of the nominees, especially in the major categories. To be honest, though, I wasn’t overly thrilled with most of the nominees I’ve seen & am not that bothered about seeing those I’ve not seen (other than Promising Young Woman & Minari and possibly The Father & Nomadland).
**Edit to add that I watched Promising Young Woman last night & liked it a lot. Definitely my favorite so far in the major categories. My review is HERE**
Here are my reviewsof those I’ve seen (from my favorite to least favorite). And, yes, I enjoyed Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga more than most of the major nominees so far…
Actor in a Supporting Role
Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
Leslie Odom Jr., One Night in Miami
Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7
Paul Raci, Sound of Metal
Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah
Chloe Zhao, Nomadland
Thomas Vinterberg, Another Round
Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman
David Fincher, Mank
Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
Figured I should review these two films since the Oscars are this weekend & they’re nominated. I also watched a few nominated shorts, so I’ll briefly mention those at the end of this post as well (If Anything Happens I Love You, The Present, A Love Song for Latasha, Burrow & Two Distant Strangers).
Sound Of Metal (2019)
Directed by Darius Marder
Starring: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) Sound of Metal is a 2019 American drama film directed and co-written by Darius Marder starring Riz Ahmed as a metal drummer who loses his hearing.
I don’t know how to write a full review anymore. I can’t believe I used to do a full review post for pretty much each & every movie I watched?! I think the monthly roundup posts I do now with just a paragraph or so for each movie works better for me as, especially in the past few years, I just don’t have much to say about most current films. I feel like I’ve seen so many movies now that nothing ever feels new or original. It’s probably why I’m going back to exploring much older films that I haven’t yet seen. Movies used to be so much better than they are now. Or am I just old & bitter?!
Why am I rambling? I think it’s because, despite Sound Of Metal certainly being a good film with good performances, I don’t have much to say about it. I mean, it’s not exactly up there with Oscar winners of the past, is it? It’s not The Sound Of Music or The Bridge On The River Kwai, is it? But I’ve felt this way about the Best Picture nominees for years now. Where are the sweeping epics??? It’s all dreary drama now. It’s all performance based. I can appreciate a good performance but it’s not something I’ve ever cared about too much. I mean, I’d rather have an awesome movie with meh performances than a meh movie with awesome performances. But that may just be me. I wouldn’t say Sound Of Metal is at all meh, of course. I just think it’s one that should be up for the acting awards and not Best Picture. (Though I liked it more than the other Best Picture nominees I’ve seen! The Trial Of The Chicago 7 & Mank – those were pretty meh).
Okay, I feel like I’m being negative about this movie when it’s likely to stay one of the films I liked the most after I see all the Best Picture nominees. I’m just venting my frustration at the lack of truly amazing films nowadays. Paul Raci& especially Riz Ahmed were very good &I’m happy to see them nominated. I think they both don’t stand a chance of winning but I’d like to see Ahmed recognised for his work. Also liked Olivia Cooke as his girlfriend but was disappointed that we didn’t see much of their relationship & saw hardly anything to do with their band & career. And, yes – I wanted more actual metal. I’m a big music fan of all genres (well, other than country) and like a lot of metal. I know the focus of the film is the character’s loss of hearing but I’d still have liked to see a little more to do with his music and with his relationship with his girlfriend. I didn’t feel we got to know them well by the end of the film. Also, we didn’t get to know him well enough beforehand to truly understand his loss and what it meant to him.
Well, I’m just nitpicking now. It’s a good film. It gave a good look into the lives of those who have lost their hearing & I liked how they worked together to live with it. And I hope it wins the Oscar for sound – It would be a worthy winner. I could maybe be convinced to give this half a star more but I’ve ranked it 4th for 2021 U.K. releases & I only gave those above it 7/10. So I better stick with a 7 for now…
My Rating: 7/10
My Octopus Teacher (2020)
Directed by Pippa Ehrlich & James Reed
Starring: Craig Foster, Tom Foster, Octopus (Rosetta), Pyjama Shark
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) My Octopus Teacher is a 2020 Netflix Original documentary film directed by Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed, which documents a year spent by filmmaker Craig Foster forging a relationship with a wild common octopus in a South African kelp forest.
I’m terrible about watching documentaries. I don’t know why, as I do enjoy the really good ones but I have to force myself to watch them. So I’m rating & ranking documentaries separately from the movies that I watch as it’s hard to compare them. As far as documentaries go, this is easily my favorite that I’ve seen in a long time. I don’t even like octopuses! (Octopi???). Honestly, they’re creepy little things. They’re fascinating but they’re f*^king weird.
I loved this little octopus by the end of this documentary! I wasn’t expecting to like this so much, so they clearly did a great job with the film. Man, I was so stressed whenever the dangerous shark fish thingies that wanted to eat the octopus got anywhere near her. I was all “Oh no! Swim away, little octopus! Hurry!!!” I was extremely concerned about this octopus. It’s amazing that this dude went diving every single day to watch her. You really do feel like you’re on this journey with him & I loved watching the octopus adapt & learn. Who knew octopuses were so smart?? Brilliant creatures. I may become an octopus fan now thanks to this fantastic documentary.
My Rating: 7.5/10
Nominated Shorts I’ve Seen (with super brief thoughts):
– If Anything Happens I Love You – I already reviewed this a little bit in the link so don’t need to say much more than “This is utterly heartbreaking“. A hard one to watch but a powerful animated short with a message that won’t make the slightest bit of difference in America. Things are never going to change there – I lost hope years ago. Would be happy if this won the Oscar.
– The Present – Thought this was a really good short showing the struggles some people face in doing the most basic day to day things in life that those of us in other countries take completely for granted. It’s why I get so annoyed with people constantly whining about the stupidest shit on Twitter. Shut up with your first world problems!
– A Love Song for Latasha – This is a very short film worth checking out on Netflix. Another very heartbreaking short, this is the Wikipedia synopsis for this true story: “Drawing on memories from the subject’s cousin and best friend, the film reimagines the life of Latasha Harlins, a Black Los Angeles girl shot and killed by a convenience store owner in 1991.”
– Burrow – This is a cute Pixar short (well, one of the SparkShorts shorts). It’s not up there in quality with the likes of the other Pixar shorts that were shown in cinemas before films. Enjoyable but forgettable – Pixar has many better shorts than this one.
– Two Distant Strangers – This is a short also on Netflix. It’s another important message but unfortunately not as well done as the other nominees I’ve seen. To be honest, though, I never watch enough of the short films & find them hard to judge as it must be difficult to fully develop your characters & ideas in such a small amount of time. Is the quality of filmmaking here Oscar-worthy? I don’t know but I think it’s common for shorts & documentaries to be nominated more for their message so I suppose it’s good that they get more people watching them thanks to their nominations. The actors did a decent enough job in this with an okay script & one-dimensional characters.
**I’m now able to watch Promising Young Woman, so I’ll try to watch it & get a review posted before the Oscars. I’ll do a post tomorrow with all the nominees & links to my reviews of all the films I’ve managed to see. Disappointing year so far! But I have yet to see a lot of those nominated in the major categories.
What are your favorite Oscar nominees this year & what do you most want to see win?
I’ve seen 62 of the Best Picture Oscar Winners so far (which I ranked a couple of days ago HERE). I have 31 left to watch. I’ve also reviewed quite a few, especially the most recent movies, so I’ve included the links below.
Here’s the full list of all the Best Picture Winners:
* I’ve starred the films I still need to watch • These films are also in the IMDb Top 250
2019 Green Book
2018 The Shape of Water
*•2014 12 Years a Slave 2013 Argo
2012 The Artist
2011 The King’s Speech
2010 The Hurt Locker
2009 Slumdog Millionaire
2008 No Country for Old Men
2007 The Departed
2005 Million Dollar Baby
2004 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2002 A Beautiful Mind
2000 American Beauty
1999 Shakespeare in Love
1997 The English Patient
1995 Forrest Gump
1994 Schindler’s List
1992 The Silence of the Lambs
1991 Dances With Wolves
1990 Driving Miss Daisy
1989 Rain Man
*1988 The Last Emperor 1987 Platoon
1986 Out of Africa
1984 Terms of Endearment *•1983 Gandhi
1982 Chariots of Fire
1981 Ordinary People
1980 Kramer vs. Kramer
1979 The Deer Hunter
*•1978 Annie Hall 1977 Rocky
1976 One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest
1975 The Godfather Part II
1974 The Sting
1973 The Godfather
1972 The French Connection
*1971 Patton 1970 Midnight Cowboy
1968 In the Heat of the Night
*1967 A Man for All Seasons 1966 The Sound of Music
1965 My Fair Lady
*1964 Tom Jones
*•1963 Lawrence of Arabia
1962 West Side Story
1961 The Apartment
*1959 Gigi 1958 The Bridge on the River Kwai
*1957 Around the World in 80 Days
*1956 Marty 1955 On the Waterfront
*•1954 From Here to Eternity
*1953 The Greatest Show on Earth
*1952 An American in Paris 1951 All About Eve
*1950 All the Kings Men
*1948 Gentleman’s Agreement 1947 The Best Years of Our Lives
*1946 The Lost Weekend
*1945 Going My Way 1944 Casablanca
*1943 Mrs. Miniver
*1942 How Green Was My Valley 1941 Rebecca
1940 Gone with the Wind
*1939 You Can’t Take It with You
*1938 The Life of Emile Zola
*1937 The Great Ziegfeld
*1936 Mutiny on the Bounty 1935 It Happened One Night
*1933 Grand Hotel
*1932 Cimarron 1931 All Quiet on the Western Front
*1930 The Broadway Melody
*1929 Wings (and •Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans) (plan to watch both as they both actually won the top prizes that year – Wings was later declared the official winner but Sunrise sounds better…)
Out of all the Best Animated Feature Winners, there are only two I’ve not seen. So I will try to watch these as well:
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
And of all the Best International Feature Winners, I’ve seen 11. I don’t plan to watch all of those I’ve not seen but do at least want to watch these for now (and two are in the IMDb Top 250):
Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow
Fanny And Alexander
The Oscar nominees are being announced today (I think?), so I thought I’d start my new project to watch all the Best Picture Oscar Winners.
I’ll post about the project & the 31 that I have left to watch soon. First I thought it would be fun to rank the 62 that I’ve already seen.
I do have to say that I haven’t enjoyed the Oscars as much for the last decade or so. When you look at winners from the past, there are some truly fantastic & epic films. But maybe the problem is just that movies aren’t actually as good nowadays… Either way, I don’t expect much from this year’s nominees since I didn’t see anything great in 2020. We’ll see – there are still plenty of 2020 films not yet available in the U.K. so maybe I’ve missed out on a masterpiece (but I doubt it). And although there are loads of great movies that I really liked in the list below, only the top 2 are personal all-time favorites of mine.
For now, here’s my full ranked list of all the Best Picture Oscar Winners I’ve seen so far, counting down to my top ten:
60-51: (some of these really shouldn’t be winners)
60. Crash (ugh)
59. Shakespeare In Love
58. The Hurt Locker
57. All Quiet On The Western Front (don’t really remember this – watched it in school)
56. Ordinary People
52. The King’s Speech
51. Out Of Africa (don’t remember this well either)
37. The Silence Of The Lambs
36. My Fair Lady
35. All About Eve
34. The Best Years Of Our Lives
32. The French Connection
30. Forrest Gump
28. West Side Story
26. In The Heat Of The Night
25. The Shape Of Water
24. Casablanca (in all honesty, need to rewatch this as well)
23. Gone With The Wind
22. The Sting (also need to rewatch – just remember liking it a lot as a kid)
2014 12 Years a Slave
1988 The Last Emperor
1978 Annie Hall
1967 A Man for All Seasons
1964 Tom Jones
1963 Lawrence of Arabia
1957 Around the World in 80 Days
1954 From Here to Eternity
1953 The Greatest Show on Earth
1952 An American in Paris
1950 All the Kings Men
1948 Gentleman’s Agreement
1946 The Lost Weekend
1945 Going My Way
1943 Mrs. Miniver
1942 How Green Was My Valley
1939 You Can’t Take It with You
1938 The Life of Emile Zola
1937 The Great Ziegfeld
1936 Mutiny on the Bounty
1933 Grand Hotel
1930 The Broadway Melody
1929 Wings (and Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans) (plan to watch both as they both actually won the top prizes that year – Wings was later declared the official winner but Sunrise sounds better…)
I’ll still be working on my IMDb Top 250 Challenge as well. Last week I ranked the those I’ve watched so far HERE and listed those I still need to watch HERE.
It’s almost time for the Oscars! I love/hate them so much!! 🙂
I’ve seen quite a few nominees, but have missed out on some that I do badly want to see. Oh I hate it when so few cinemas show the “worthy” or indie films! Of the nominees I’ve not managed to see yet, the only ones I really want to watch are:
Call Me By Your Name The Florida Project All the Money in the World War For The Planet Of The Apes Loving Vincent Wonder Faces/Places The Silent Child
Of the Best Picture nominees, I must admit I have no interest in Dunkirk or Phantom Thread. I’ll watch The Post on Netflix or whatever at home.
**Post updated since I’ve now seen I, Tonya. Loved it.**
Nominees I’ve Seen (including everything with at least one nomination):
Now onto the “predictions”! As usual, I’m not too bothered about who wins. For each category, I’ll put what I personally want to win & what I think will actually win. Here we go….
Call Me by Your Name
The Post The Shape of Water (Also WANT – It’s close between this & Three Billboards) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (WANT & WILL)
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Jordan Peele, Get Out
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread Guillermo del Toro, Shape of Water (WANT & WILL)
Actor in a Leading Role:
Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour (WANT & WILL)
Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.
Actress in a Leading Role:
Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (WILL) Margot Robbie, I, Tonya (WANT)
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Meryl Streep, The Post
Actress in a Supporting Role:
Mary J. Blige, Mudbound Allison Janney, I, Tonya (WANT & WILL)
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water
Actor in a Supporting Role:
Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (WANT)
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (WILL)
Adapted Screenplay: James Ivory, Call Me by Your Name (WILL)
Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, The Disaster Artist
Scott Frank, James Mangold, and Michael Green, Logan
Aaron Sorkin, Molly’s Game Virgil Williams and Dee Rees, Mudbound (WANT)
Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick
Jordan Peele, Get Out Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird (WANT)
Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, The Shape of Water Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (WILL)
Animated Feature Film:
The Boss Baby
The Breadwinner Coco (WANT & WILL)
Foreign Language Film: A Fantastic Woman (Chile) (WILL)
The Insult (Lebanon) Loveless (Russia) (WANT)
Body and Soul (Hungary)
The Square (Sweden)
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail Faces/Places (WANT & WILL)
Last Men in Aleppo
Cinematography: Roger A. Deakins, Blade Runner: 2049 (WANT & WILL)
Bruno Delbonnel, Darkest Hour
Hoyte van Hoytema, Dunkirk
Rachel Morrison, Mudbound
Dan Laustsen, The Shape of Water
Film Editing: Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos, Baby Driver (WANT) Lee Smith, Dunkirk (WILL)
Tatiana S. Riegel, I, Tonya
Sidney Wolinsky, The Shape of Water
Jon Gregory, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Beauty and the Beast (Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer) Blade Runner: 2049 (Production Design: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Alessandra Querzola) (WANT & WILL)
Darkest Hour (Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer)
Dunkirk (Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Gary Fettis)
The Shape of Water (Production Design: Paul Denham Austerberry; Set Decoration: Shane Vieau and Jeff Melvin)
Jacqueline Durran, Beauty and the Beast
Jacqueline Durran, Darkest Hour Mark Bridges, Phantom Thread (WILL) Luis Sequeira, The Shape of Water (WANT)
Consolota Boyle, Victoria & Abdul
Makeup and Hairstyling: Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, and Lucy Sibbick, Darkest Hour (WANT & WILL)
Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard, Victoria & Abdul
Arjen Tuiten, Wonder
Hans Zimmer, Dunkirk
Jonny Greenwood, Phantom Thread Alexandre Desplat, The Shape of Water (WILL) John Williams, Star Wars: The Last Jedi (WANT)
Carter Burwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
“Mighty River,” Mudbound
“Mystery of Love,” Call Me by Your Name
“Remember Me,” Coco
“Stand Up for Something,” Marshall “This Is Me,” The Greatest Showman (WANT & WILL)
Julian Slater, Baby Driver
Mark Mangini and Theo Green, Blade Runner 2049 Richard King and Alex Gibson, Dunkirk (WILL)
Nathan Robitaille and Nelson Ferreira, The Shape of Water Matthew Wood and Ren Klyce, Star Wars: The Last Jedi (WANT)
Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin, and Mary H. Ellis, Baby Driver
Ron Bartlett, Dough Hemphill, and Mac Ruth, Blade Runner 2049 Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landarker, and Gary A. Rizzo, Dunkirk (WILL)
Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern, and Glen Gauthier, The Shape of Water David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce, and Stuart Wilson, Star Wars: The Last Jedi (WANT)
Blade Runner 2049 (John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert, and Richard R. Hoover)
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner, and Dan Sudick)
Kong: Skull Island (Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza, and Mike Meinardus) Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Neal Scanlan, and Chris Corbould) (WANT) War for the Planet of the Apes (Joe Letteri, Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon, and Joel Whist) (WILL)
Animated Short Film:
Garden Party Lou (WANT & WILL)
Live Action Short Film:
The Eleven O’Clock
My Nephew Emmett The Silent Child (WANT) Watu Wote: All of Us (WILL)
Documentary Short Subject: Edith and Eddie (WILL) Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405 (WANT)
I have come here to hire billboards and kick ass… and I’m all out of billboards.
Thanks to the hubby for the Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri & They Live mashup. He loves doing those. 🙂 I can’t think of a better quote to go with this one. Hmm…
Well, the Oscars are on Sunday night (the middle of the night in the UK, which means I’ll be a zombie for work on Monday). I’ve managed to see way more Oscar nominees than last year, so I thought I should do a quick post with a roundup of all my reviews of the nominees. I’ll include everything that has at least one nomination. And, of course, I’ll rank them!
I’m gutted that I’ve not managed to make it to see I, Tonya this week with the crappy weather & snow in the UK. If I manage to see it over the weekend, I’ll review it before the Oscars air. It’s one I really want to see – I’ve always been fascinated by that story.
**Post updated since I HAVE now seen I, Tonya. Loved it! But no time to review it before the Oscars. I’ll review it next week.**
Ranked from favorite to least favorite movie, here are the links to my reviews of the 2017 Oscar nominated films I’ve seen so far:
– Lou: Cute, like all Pixar shorts, and I liked the anti-bullying message. Not their strongest short, though.
– Garden Party: Another animated short with Lou, which certainly won’t beat Pixar (I don’t know about the other nominees). The animation is impressive, especially as it was made by 3D animation students as their graduation film. The story is an odd one. I liked the somewhat surprising ending (don’t watch it with your young kids).
– Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405: This was an interesting short documentary about artist Mindy Alper, who has channeled her depression and anxiety from a traumatic childhood into her art. It’s worth a watch as it’s on YouTube (link HERE).
• Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – I really liked this movie & it’s easily my favorite of Martin McDonagh’s films. It’s also my favorite of the three Best Picture nominees I’ve seen (this, Darkest Hour & Get Out) but I’m hoping to see a few more before the Oscars. My Rating: 8/10
• Colossal – I actually kind of loved this movie. No, not kind of. I did love it. Not what I was expecting as Anne Hathaway annoys me! I’ve already posted My Top Ten Movies Of 2017 list so won’t amend it but Colossal would be in the Top Ten (I’d put it at 8 after Gerald’s Game & before Thor: Ragnarok). THIS is the type of movie that I want to see. Something truly original. I’m sooo sick of all the remakes & reboots & superheroes. I highly recommend this one to fellow bloggers who are sick of seeing the same old predictable shit all the time. My Rating: 8/10
• Coco – I’ve already reviewed this so I’ll say it’s another lovely film by Pixar but sadly not my favorite from the brilliant studio. My Rating: 7.5/10
• Citizen Kane – This is a 2018 Blind Spot choice so I’ll review it in full at some point. Hoped to love it more. My Rating: 7.5/10
• Mudbound – Yikes. A hard watch. This is a Netflix original that I admit to only watching because it got some Oscar nominations. I’m not good with heavy dramas as I often find them too upsetting, especially if they’re true stories or something that could realistically have happened. The movie itself is just okay – I was very bored for the first half. But the characters and acting are very strong and I immediately loved the characters played by Garrett Hedlund & Jason Mitchell, two soldiers who become friends after returning home from WWII and have to deal with the extreme racism of the time. I knew it would all go to shit and I got very emotional & couldn’t watch the screen at one point (Sorry – trying to avoid spoilers but you’ll know when watching it that it’s all leading up to something bad). This is why I don’t watch many realistic dramas. I like to use movies as escapism from all the shit in the world. But I can say this movie certainly does its job in making you feel for these characters (as well as feeling an extreme hatred toward others – I was fucking angry). It’s worth watching for the performances as long as you know it’s a heavy drama but it’s slow going at first and is overlong. I was only really interested in the friendship forming between the two soldiers – the movie dragged when spending time on Jason Clarke’s & Carey Mulligan’s boring characters. My Rating: 7/10
• Ghost In The Shell (2017) – I watched the original anime film last year as a Blind Spot movie (review HERE) and thought it was pretty damn fantastic. Of COURSE this doesn’t even come close to the original but, as far as dumbed-down Hollywood versions of classics go, I’ve seen far worse than this one. It had some great visuals (taken directly from the original) and was well-paced and entertaining in that braindead blockbuster type of way. It was disappointing that they dumbed it down, especially at the end as it started off fairly promising. But, hey – that’s Hollywood for you. Just please watch the original before watching this! My Rating: 6.5/10
• The Big Sick – A solid film about a real couple with funny moments but far more drama than I was expecting. I was intrigued by the story (it’s quite an interesting relationship story!) but it was very slow to start and felt a little long. Well-written and worth a one-time watch. My Rating: 6.5/10
• The Red Turtle – I’m a hugeStudio Ghibli fan so was really looking forward to this co-Ghibli production. It’s a sweet & lovely film but, unlike my beloved Ghibli movies that I could watch over and over and over again (and have), The Red Turtle is a one-off watch for me. Kind of disapponting & a little bit slow. Sorry. I’m glad I finally saw it, though. My Rating: 6.5/10
• Gleaming The Cube – Another Blind Spot choice (weird one, I know), I’ll review this in full at some point. My Rating: 6.5/10
• Atonement – And another Blind Spot movie! I’m trying to get ahead. I’ll review this at some point too but I can tell you it was a massive disappointment. I kind of sort of hated it. My Rating: 6/10
• Nymphomaniac: Vol I & Vol II – I have a slight fascination with Lars von Trier’s films although I don’t know if I can exactly they say that I’ve actually “liked” any of them. Maybe Melancholia. Nymphomaniac: Vol I & Vol II are by far my least favorites of his work that I’ve seen. I just didn’t see the point of these movies. To shock? I certainly didn’t give the slightest shit about any of the characters. If you want to see a film that’s a better exploration of sex addiction, watch Shame instead. And I’ve now seen waaaaaay more penises than I ever wanted to see. So, uh, thanks for that, von Trier. I guess. My Rating: 5/10
• The Boss Baby – I watched this since it’s an Oscar nominee. Yes, this is the world we live in. Humanity deservesThe Boss Baby. Because humanity sucks. Okay, The Boss Baby sucks but I’ve seen worse animated kids’ movies, which is a fucking scary statement. The Boss Baby is weird as shit but at least it’s, um, an original idea? I said something nice! My Rating: 4.5/10
• The Autopsy Of Jane Doe – Why do I bother to watch modern horror movies when 90% of them suck? Like this one. I don’t know if I have the energy to again do horror movie reviews for all of October this year. If I do, I’ll review this piece of shit. For now, I’ll be nice again and say that at least this one also had a fairly original concept and going through the stages of the autopsy was kind of interesting. My Rating: 4.5/10
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH
BOOKS READ (ranked best to worst)
This month has been mega hectic so I’m still in the middle of the book I started in December: Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King & son Owen King. Enjoying it so far! It’s a thick book… I think my next one needs to be more lightweight. I’ll probably read A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle with my kid next in anticipation of the film adaptation in March.
TV SHOWS WATCHED (ranked best to worst)
• Black Mirror – Season 2, Episodes 2-4 (White Bear, The Waldo Moment, White Christmas. Season 3, Episodes 1-5 (Nosedive, Playtest, Shut Up And Dance, San Junipero, Men Against Fire) – Clearly, I’m working my way through the Black Mirrors so I’ve watched no other TV shows. One left to go then I can finally start season 4!
As I’ve watched so many and would like to discuss each episode, I’ll do a full Black Mirror post once I’ve seen them all. For now, San Junipero is my favorite episode. I’ll also say that I’m really enjoying the show as it’s right up my alley. However, I find it somewhat overrated. Being a big fan of the original Twilight Zone, I think that was a far more groundbreaking show. Black Mirror just adds a more modern twist to the exact same morality tales as were in The Twilight Zone. Anyway! As I love to rank stuff, here’s my ranking so far (from favorite to least favorite):
Be Right Back
Fifteen Million Merits
Men Against Fire
The National Anthem
The Waldo Moment
The Entire History Of You
Shut Up And Dance
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
It’s that time of year! It’s like the Super Bowl for movie nerds! I love/hate the Academy Awards. They’re absolute bullshit and the wrong things win all the time but, fuck it, I’ll probably always watch the stupid show. At least there was some excitement last year with the wrong winner being announced. Best thing to happen to the show in years!
I don’t have any huge blog plans for the Oscars as I’m taking it easy on blogging. I’ll probably just do a post choosing what I want to win & what I think will win for each category. However, I do plan to try to watch as many nominees as possible since most are coming out in the UK over this next month. I’ll review any more Oscar nominees that I watch. These are the nominees I’ve seen so far (not ranked! I’m slacking):
Loads that I want to see this month! I can’t wait! In order of release date…
• Winchester – Er. Damn. Bad reviews so far! I’d really liked the sound of this. May wait for Netflix now.
• Black Panther – I’ll watch it but, as I’ve said many times on this blog, I’m superheroed-out. I’m bored. But this looks promising.
• The Shape Of Water – The one I’m most excited about. Finally! Out on Valentine’s Day here. This is one I won’t be missing.
• Lady Bird – Another big nominee so will do my best to see this as well.
• I, Tonya – I’ve always been fascinated by this fucked-up true story. Really looking forward to finally getting to see this.
• Annihilation – I read this book last year and really liked it so can’t wait to see how they manage to make a movie out of it (it’s weird). But I don’t know what’s up with this. Apparently it’s “too intelligent” for the general public so they’re planning to now not release it in UK cinemas? WTF?!? Give the public some damn credit! Oh. Wait. This is the world in which The Boss Baby is an Oscar nominee. Never mind. 😉 Supposedly Annihilation will be released in the UK straight to Netflix instead….
I saw Darkest Hour over the weekend so will try to review that this week. Gary Oldman is freaking fantastic. Give him the Oscar!
Have a great February, everyone!
**Oh, holy shit! The new Cloverfield movie is on Netflix! I am SO watching that ASAFP!!!!!** 🙂
I say this pretty much every year lately but I really don’t care about the Oscar nominees & winners anymore. The Academy is so out of touch with the general public’s opinion. Okay – I admit to being a film snob so, when I say “general public”, I mean us crazy fans of cinema. I mean people like you guys, my fellow movie bloggers. We should be the Oscar voters! 😉 If we left it up to only the general public & box office take, Oscars would go to shit like Fifty Shades. But that would still almost be better than going to undeserving movies that usually win because of behind the scenes Hollywood politics.
I’ll still watch the show, though, like I have for many many years now. I even continued watching it after moving to the UK, even though it means I have to stay up all night since it’s on in the middle of the night here. Why do I do it?! I dunno. Tradition, I guess.
I also do this post every year although, once again, I’ve seen hardly any of the nominees. Only two of the Best Picture nominees! Out of eight?? That’s pathetic, I know. To be fair, we were once again a bit screwed over in the UK. Hidden Figures & Moonlight have only been out for a week here and I’ve not had a chance to go to them. I badly wanted to see Manchester By The Sea & wanted to see Portman in Jackie but they had limited showings at a time I was too busy. As always, these Oscar-worthy films get pretty quickly replaced by more mainstream films so, if you don’t get to them right away, you’re out of luck. I like the sound of Lion so will watch it eventually and I’m kind of kicking myself for not watching Hell Or High Water after the hubby went to it & said it was really good. I may have the evening to myself so am tempted to rent it tonight…
I’ll give a quick list of links to my reviews of all the nominated movies that I’ve actually seen. Haha! Looking at it now, it’s a funny list. How obvious is it that, if you have kids, they rule your life?? And I wouldn’t change that for the world! 🙂 It just means that I’ve seen pretty much every kids’ film nomininated for anything. Including that stupid Trolls movie. Yeah. Trolls is up for an Oscar but Amy Adams isn’t. Screw you, Academy!
After that, I’ll list all the nominees for each category and what I WANT to win each Oscar and what I think WILL win each Oscar. And I’m certainly making no bets this year – I’m completely clueless and uninformed. Again, though, I just do this out of tradition I guess. And, as always, I pick my favorite sounding title from things like the documentaries & shorts because I know NOTHING about any of them. 😉 Especially this year. Yep – I fully admit it. If the Oscar clips make them look good, though, I’ll then look into them.
Here we go! And I’m happy to hear opinions from those of you who watched more than just kids’ films last year. 😉 And if Arrival wins EVERYTHING like it should, I may take back all my bitchy comments about The Academy. (It won’t)
Best Original Screenplay: Manchester by the Sea (WILL)
La La Land Hell or High Water (WANT)
20th Century Women
Best Foreign Language Film: Toni Erdmann (WANT & WILL)
Land of Mine
A Man Called Ove
Best Documentary Feature:
O.J.: Made in America
Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro Life Animated (WANT & WILL. Why? I like the name the most. I don’t know what any of these are about. Although I assume the first one is about O.J. Simpson??)
Best Animated Feature:
Zootopia (If this wins, I’m gonna throw something at the TV) Kubo and the Two Strings (WANT)
The Red Turtle
My Life As a Zucchini Moana (WILL)
Best Film Editing: La La Land (WILL)
Moonlight Arrival (WANT)
Hell or High Water
Best Original Song: “City of Stars,” La La Land (WILL)
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” La La Land
“How Far I’ll Go,” Moana “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Trolls (WANT, although the movie sucks ass)
“The Empty Chair,” Jim: The James Foley Story
Best Original Score: La La Land (WILL)
Moonlight Passengers (WANT. Not seen it but Thomas Newman deserves an Oscar.)
La La Land
Moonlight Arrival (WANT & hopefully WILL)
Best Costume Design:
Florence Foster Jenkins
La La Land
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Allied Jackie (WANT & WILL)
Best Makeup and Hairstyling:
Star Trek Beyond
A Man Called Ove Suicide Squad (WANT & WILL)
Best Production Design: La La Land (WILL)
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Hail, Caesar! Arrival (WANT)
Best Sound Editing:
Hacksaw Ridge Arrival (WANT & WILL)
La La Land
Best Sound Mixing:
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
La La Land Arrival (WANT & WILL)
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
Best Visual Effects: The Jungle Book (WILL) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (WANT) Kubo and the Two Strings (Also Want)
Best Short Film, Live Action: Timecode (WANT & WILL. Yeah, I’ve just chosen the most interesting sounding title again.)
La Femme et le TGV
Best Short Film, Animated: Piper (WANT & WILL) (Very unlikely it will but it’s the only one I’ve seen & it’s adorable.)
Pear Cider and Cigarettes
Best Documentary, Short Subject:
The White Helmets Extremis (WANT & WILL. And, again, I’ve just chosen a title I like…)
Watani: My Homeland
Today’s Oscar nominated song is Survivor’s Eye Of The Tiger from the film Rocky III.
I’ve ended up only doing three of these Oscar Song posts (I figured I better review Deadpool instead one Friday so I scrapped Eminem’s Lose Yourself). I’ve missed out on a lot of great nominees & winners. Oh well – I’ll post more at Oscars-time next year!
Last week I talked about Aimee Mann’s Save Me and the one I kicked things off with was Irene Cara’s Flashdance…What A Feeling. Let’s face it – Eye Of The Tiger is the equivalent of Flashdance… What A Feeling for boys so it made sense to talk about this one now. Plus, of course, Sylvester Stallone is up for an Oscar this Sunday for his role in Creed. No, I’ve not seen Creed since I’ve never even seen any of the Rocky films. Yeah, yeah – I know I should. Hey – at least I’ve seen Flashdance so I’ve seen the girl version of Rocky anyway! 😉 Without all the unnecessary hitting.
Eye Of The Tiger lost out to Up Where We Belong from An Officer And A Gentleman. That’s fair enough – that’s a good song and worthy winner. But it’s not as well-known and iconic today. Eye Of The Tiger may be a piece of 80’s cheese but who doesn’t know it and who doesn’t immediately think of Rocky when they hear it (even when they’ve not even seen the movies)?? I miss cheesy, uplifting 80’s songs like these. I can’t say this is an all-time favorite song but it usually puts a smile on my face and makes me want to punch something (in a happy way!).
Does he seriously train by punching meat? Lol! And people make fun of similar movies like Flashdance?! Hopefully the meat thing is in one of the non-Best-Picture-Winner sequels. And I really hope Eye Of The Tiger was used in one of those long, silly montages that only ever worked in 80’s films. God I love those! Push it to the limit!
Anyway, I read on Wikipedia that Stallone asked Survivor to do a song for the movie as he originally wanted Queen’s Another One Bites The Dust to be the theme song but they didn’t give their permission. That’s good – I like that song and think it would’ve been ruined for me being associated with a Rocky movie. Besides, Eye Of The Tiger ended up being the perfect fit.
Onto the video: Wow – no expense was spared! Are those garbage bags behind the band?? I like how they have fans blowing on them to make a cool effect. Ha! A+ for effort on what I assume was a very low budget. GOD I love the Eighties…. 🙂
I’m continuing my Oscar-themed week with this list of my favorite (and least-favorite!) Best Picture Oscar winners.
The Academy does quite often get things very wrong (especially in recent years) but when looking at a list of all the winners, there are indeed a lot of true classics here that I’d highly recommend to everyone.
I have my little IMDB project where I’m trying to watch all the IMDB Top 250 Films so I’m not about to start attempting to watch all the Best Picture Winners. However, when making this list, I discovered that I’ve already seen 47 so I guess that isn’t too bad! So I ranked them ALL (because I’m sad like that). But I’ll of course focus on the top ten.
So now, counting down to My Top Ten Best Picture Oscar Winners, these are all of them that I’ve seen ranked from least favorite to favorite. My Bottom Five list will follow this one…
The King’s Speech
Out Of Africa
On The Waterfront
Driving Miss Daisy
Chariots Of Fire
Dances With Wolves Unforgiven
A Beautiful Mind Spotlight Moonlight
My Fair Lady
All About Eve
The Best Years Of Our Lives
The Silence Of The Lambs
The French Connection
West Side Story
Ben-Hur The Shape Of Water
In The Heat Of The Night
Gone With The Wind
Terms Of Endearment
I absolutely love Cuckoo’s Nest – it’s very easily my number one favorite. 🙂
And now is when I’m going to be a bitch! Here are My Bottom Five Best Picture Oscar Winners (Counting down to the very worst):
5. Crash 4. Ordinary People (it beat Raging Bull & The Elephant Man!) 3. Shakespeare In Love (it famously beat Saving Private Ryan) 2. Slumdog Millionaire 1. The English Patient
It was fun making this list! I really should try to watch more Oscar winners – I seem to especially have not seen many of the winners from the past decade or so. I’d love to hear all of your favorite & least favorite Best Pictures in the comments now! 🙂
**List updated 2/7/17 to add Spotlight, Million Dollar Baby & Rocky
**List updated 25/11/17 to add Moonlight
**List updated 28/1/18 to add The French Connection
**List updated December 2018 to add The King’s Speech & The Shape Of Water
**List updated February 2019 to add In The Heat Of The Night
Well, I guess it’s time to pick who I think will win Oscars this year! I don’t take this too seriously as I don’t know anyone who is into having an “Oscar Party” or anything like that. But this is a movie blog so I figure I better at least do this on here. 🙂
To make it more fun, I’ll also choose what I want to win each category (which is quite often different from what I think will win). Here’s a quick list of the nominees that I’ve seen & links to my reviews:
Today’s Oscar nominated song is Aimee Mann’s Save Me from the film Magnolia.
Ah, Magnolia… That was a weird one, wasn’t it? I watched it at the time and I liked it a lot (especially the ending) but I’ve not watched it since and it’s one where I wonder if I’d just find it pretentious now in my bitter old age. However, I still love the Magnolia soundtrack! Okay, the use of Supertramp helped a lot but I also really liked the Aimee Mann songs even though I’m very rarely a fan of the singer/songwriter thing.
I suppose I liked Mann’s voice thanks to ‘Til Tuesday’s Voices Carry (ha – I loved that video! her boyfriend was such an asshole). But, from Magnolia, I preferred Wise Up – I think it’s weird that Save Me was nominated instead of that one considering that was the one used for the movie’s big sing-along.
Phil Collins actually won the Oscar in 1999 for You’ll Be in My Heart from Tarzan. Meh – it’s okay for your typical, lame 1990’s Phil Collins song but it didn’t deserve the win. Besides Save Me, the other nominees were Music Of My Heart, Blame Canada & When She Loved Me. Okay, I admit that I don’t know Music Of My Heart but I’d choose all the others over the Collins song. And, let’s be honest, the one that most deserved to win was When She Loved Me from Toy Story 2! Come on – you know you’re all feeling tearful now just thinking about Jesse being abandoned. 😦
But Save Me deserved its nomination & I’m glad a soundtrack I really like got some recognition. Like the movie, the video was also directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. During the filming of the movie, he’d have the actors stay in place while he filmed Mann performing next to them. Yeah, I read that at Wikipedia – I thought they’d inserted her into the scenes later with special effects magic. I also love this little tidbit at Wikipedia:
“By way of introduction to a live performance, Mann has referred to Save Me as “the song that lost an Oscar to Phil Collins and his cartoon monkey love song.” Furthermore, Mann has occasionally dedicated her song to Collins in several different venues, albeit in jest.”
Haha! I’ll now forever think of Phil Collins as the “cartoon monkey love song guy”. Anyway, here’s Aimee Mann’s video for Save Me: 🙂
As the Oscars are coming up at the end of this month, I thought it might be fun to post some of the Best Original Song Oscar winners (and nominees) for the next four Fridays.
This song is (obviously!) from the 1983 film Flashdance. I was too young for the movie when it came out so saw it when I was probably about 20. It’s not exactly the best movie ever but it’s fun enough and the “splash” scene above is very iconic. And, screw it – I like the dance at the end. I can be girly sometimes!
I just remember that the film was seen as a little “naughty” at the time and, as a reward, my school’s wrestling coach let the boys pick a movie to watch after they won a wrestling (um, tournament? match? game? meet??) when we were about 13/14 and they chose Flashdance. Horny bastards. I don’t want to know what they all did while thinking about Jennifer Beals that night.
As for the song, though, it’s a classic and far better than the movie. It’s one of those occasions where the song made the film and the movie definitely wouldn’t be as well known without it. It was written by Giorgio Moroder (the music) with lyrics by Keith Forsey & Irene Cara. Well of course it’s awesome – Giorgio Moroder was involved! Even Daft Punk think he’s cool enough to devote a whole song to him. (Moroder also won an Oscar for Berlin’s Take My Breath Away from Top Gun – maybe I’ll post that one next week!).
Anyway, here’s a video of the lovely Irene Cara (of Fame fame. HA!) and Keith Forsey accepting the Oscar from Jennifer Beals and a very young Matthew Broderick. By the way – the Fame theme song, sung by Cara, also won the Best Original Song Oscar. Six degrees of Oscars separation!
And then, of course, is the video for Flashdance… What A Feeling. Take your passion! And make it happen! This song is totally stuck in my head now!!! But that’s okay. 🙂