Happy 5th Blogiversary To Me

Yikes. Five years?! I honestly didn’t think I’d be doing this movie blogging thing for five years.

I want to say a huge thank you to the fellow bloggers who’ve dropped by in these last five years & had little chats with me on my silly movie & book reviews. I’m sorry I’ve been around a lot less this year and hate that it’s becoming almost impossible to spend any time on my blog or on the blogs that I follow. The whole reason for starting this blog was so that I could discuss movies with fellow film lovers since, in the real world, it’s hard to find obsessive movie nerds. You think I talk about movies all day long with people at work? Hell no! (That would be fun, though – where can I get a job like that?). So, thank you again to the special few who were here from the start and are still around and to all the lovely newer bloggers who’ve come along since. I feel like an “old blogger” now!

I always say I need to cut back on the time I spend here and I’ve done that this year but I’ll be doing it even more in 2018. I’d always kind of planned on quitting on my 5th anniversary but I’d miss the occasional movie chats as well as the one other reason I keep this thing going: to use it as a “movie diary” and keep a log of all I’ve seen & read. Because, as well as being a movie nerd, I’m also massive LIST NERD! I now have a record of every movie I’ve watched since 2012. Which is totally not important when the world is f*^%ing falling apart, right?! To psychoanalyze myself, I think it helps keeps me calm in the face of all the bullshit in the world. Or something. Nicely ordered lists! Nicely ordered lists could create world peace!!

So, I do have a plan to keep this blog going with a bare minimum of posts in 2018. I’ll focus only on reviewing 12 more Blind Spot movies (as I’ve thoroughly enjoyed that project) and the 2018 UK cinema releases I manage to see. The main other thing I’ll do is bring back an end-of-month post so I can at least very briefly discuss all I’ve watched in that month. At the moment, the movies I watch at home are getting no attention as I don’t have time for full-length reviews. I’ve watched a lot of really good movies this year and am annoyed to have not even mentioned some of them (For example, I really liked an obscure movie called The Frame. Here’s the IMDb link. I believe it’s still showing on Amazon Video.)

With these blogiversary posts, I tend to do a “Year In Review” post since it’s close to the end of the year anyway. This time, I’m going to do a “Five-Year Review“(!!). One thing I can really thank this blog for is that I’ve seen some TRULY brilliant movies since starting it because of things like my IMDB Top 250 Challenge and the Blind Spot project. Knowing you’ll be writing for a blog kind of helps “force” you to finally watch the more highly acclaimed classics you’d been avoiding for no good reason. Plus there’ve been some damn good new movies released since 2012. SO GET READY FOR SOME LISTS!!!! Let’s see if these can create universal harmony.

Here are some ranked lists of my favorite movies I’ve seen & the best books I’ve read for the very first time since starting this blog in November 2012….

My Top 20 Books Read Since 2012 (No one gives a shit about books so let’s get this list out of the way first.): 😉

Top Twenty:

20. End Of Watch by Stephen King
19. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
18. Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
17. All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
16. The End Of The World Running Club by Adrian J. Walker
15. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
14. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
13. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
12. Horns by Joe Hill
11. The Fireman by Joe Hill

Top Ten:

10. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
9. Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
8. The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams by Stephen King
7. Joyland by Stephen King
6. The Martian by Andy Weir
5. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
4. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
3. The Colour Of Magic by Terry Pratchett
2. Tuf Voyaging by George R.R. Martin
1. 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill

My Top 30 Older Movies Seen For The First Time Since Starting This Blog (Movies Released Before November 2012):

Top Thirty:

30. Daft Punk’s Electroma
29. The Return Of The Living Dead
28. Million Dollar Baby
27. The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari
26. Escape From Alcatraz
25. Howl’s Moving Castle
24. The Last Unicorn
23. Ghost In The Shell (1995)
22. Ikiru
21. Natural Born Killers

Top Twenty:

20. The Untouchables
19. The Secret In Their Eyes
18. The Kid
17. Watership Down
16. Grave Of The Fireflies
15. Escape From New York
14. Battle Royale
13. Kiki’s Delivery Service
12. The Great Escape
11. Laputa: Castle In The Sky

Top Ten:

10. Road House (Seriously. How had I never seen this huge slice of AWESOMEBAD?!)
9. Rocky
8. Modern Times
7. Princess Mononoke
6. Akira
5. The Good, The Bad And The Ugly
4. The Bridge On The River Kwai
3. City Lights
2. The Warriors
1. Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind 

(If you only knew how many times I flipped numbers 1 & 2 around…)

My Top 30 New Releases Seen For The First Time Since Starting This Blog (Movies Released After November 2012):

Top Thirty:

30. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
29. Your Name
28. Rush
27. Circle
26. Gravity
25. Robot & Frank
24. The Way Way Back
23. Baby Driver
22. Wreck-It Ralph
21. Edge Of Tomorrow

Top Twenty:

20. Train To Busan
19. The Wolf Of Wall Street
18. The Lego Movie
17. Ex Machina
16. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower
15. It Follows
14. The Babadook
13. Predestination
12. Space Station 76
11. Sing Street

Top Ten:

10. In Your Eyes
9. Frozen
8. Blade Runner 2049
7. Mad Max: Fury Road
6. It
5. Inside Out
4. Guardians Of The Galaxy
3. Arrival
2. Room
1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Yep – I can’t NOT have a Star Wars film as my number one movie released since 2012. I can’t wait for The Last Jedi in a couple of weeks!

As you can see from these lists, I really do have this blog to thank for my newfound love of Studio Ghibli & Charlie Chaplin. I’d seen & loved My Neighbor Totoro & Spirited Away before blogging but decided to watch all the rest of the Miyazaki films for a month of Ghibli reviews. I’d seen no Chaplin at all before 2012. I highly recommend his stuff to all true film lovers, especially City Lights & Modern Times.

Oh yeah! I also discovered a love of Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns, it seems. I loved The Dollars Trilogy (especially the music in The Good, The Bad And The Ugly) and Once Upon A Time In The West. Brilliant! Thank you, blog! 

The other two directors I’ve been trying to further explore are John Carpenter (I’d already seen the majority of his best films, though) and Akira Kurosawa. That’s why they have the only two films in the lists above which I haven’t yet reviewed as I want to devote an entire week (or month) to their work someday in the future.

Okay – it’s time for me to shut up. You all probably stopped reading halfway through my lists anyway. Ha! I don’t know how many movies I’ve seen in these last five years (I’m too lazy to count, although I do have them all listed year by year on my blog pages). But I’d say I average about 100 per year. So… Narrowing it down to 60 favorites out of 500 isn’t too bad! Thank you again, everyone! Especially those who made it to the very end of this post… 😉

Now, as I feel really bad about putting The Warriors in second place after originally having it at number one, I’ll end this post with the ending of the movie. Seems appropriate. All our lives deserve appropriate songs that play over our end credits. Hmm. That sounded a little morbid. Sing it, Joe!

Actually, I want Morricone to score my real life end credits…

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My Top Ten Movies Of 2016

Here’s my last post of this unbelievably insane & cruel year. Goodbye & good riddance, 2016! You’ve robbed us of far too many kind & talented people and left us under the care of far too many people full of pure evil & hate. I’d like to think that mankind deserves better than this. But do we?

Well, let’s lighten the mood slightly as I started this movie blog for one reason only: to discuss movies. Because I love them. In this fucked up world, we can turn to them and find a beauty that so often seems to be lacking in the “real world” (especially in 2016). I find it interesting that, as the world is getting worse & worse these past several years, we’ve also had some truly beautiful films that have displayed human kindness in a way that is so hard to capture onscreen without becoming overly sappy & sentimental. So, there must be some good people left? To be able to create art as powerful as in things such as the top two films on my list, there must be some good left in the world. Right?? All I know right now is that I wish Arrival was a true story. We need some aliens to visit us & give humanity a much needed kick up the ass!

A quick note that, as always, I go by the UK release dates for these end-of-year lists. Too damn confusing otherwise! I’m aware that my number 1 is a 2015 film in the U.S. (Which will still be pointed out by those who don’t read these intros). 😉

Here we go! My Top Ten Movies Released In The UK In 2016 (that I’ve managed to see – you can see my entire, ranked list of all 38 HERE). Counting down to my favorite & with links to my full reviews, these are ranked on my own personal taste as opposed to “worthiness”. But in my opinion, the top two are damn near masterpieces in a league of their own.

Honorable Mentions:

15. Kubo And The Two Strings
14. Everybody Wants Some!!
13. Captain America: Civil War
12. Deadpool
11. Midnight Special

Top Ten:

10. Moana

9. The Edge Of Seventeen

8. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

7. Nocturnal Animals

6. The Purge: Election Year

5. The Girl With All The Gifts

4. Your Name

3. Sing Street

2. Arrival

1. Room

My Other End-Of-Year Lists:

My Top Ten Books Read In 2016
My 2016 Blind Spot Movies: Ranked
My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2016 (not released in 2016)

I’m now taking a much needed break from posting anything for a while & instead catching up on reading other blogs and all of your end-of-year lists. So, for now, I wish you all a Happy New Year! See you sometime in 2017. 🙂

My Oscar Picks For The 88th Annual Academy Awards

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:

Room – 9/10
Mad Max: Fury Road – 9/10
The Martian – 7.5/10
The Revenant – 7.5/10
Spotlight – 7/10
The Big Short – 5.5/10
Steve Jobs – 7/10
Inside Out – 8.5/10
Ex Machina – 8/10
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – 9/10
Cinderella – 7/10

Okay, for each category I’ll put WANT for the ones I want to win & WILL for the ones that I think really will win. Here we go!

2016 Oscar Nominees

Best Picture
“The Big Short”
“Bridge of Spies”
“Brooklyn”
WANT – “Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
WILL – “The Revenant”
ALSO WANT – “Room”
“Spotlight”

Best Director
Adam McKay, “The Big Short”
George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road”
WILL – Alejandro González Iñárritu, “The Revenant”
WANT – Lenny Abrahamson, “Room”
Tom McCarthy, “Spotlight”

Best Actor
Bryan Cranston, “Trumbo”
Matt Damon, “The Martian”
WANT & WILL – Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”
Michael Fassbender, “Steve Jobs”
Eddie Redmayne, “The Danish Girl”

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett, “Carol”
WANT & WILL – Brie Larson, “Room”
Jennifer Lawrence, “Joy”
Charlotte Rampling, “45 Years”
Saoirse Ronan, “Brooklyn”

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale, “The Big Short”
WANT – Tom Hardy, “The Revenant”
Mark Ruffalo, “Spotlight”
Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies”
WILL – Sylvester Stallone, “Creed”

Best Supporting Actress
WANT – Jennifer Jason Leigh, “The Hateful Eight”
Rooney Mara, “Carol”
Rachel McAdams, “Spotlight”
Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl”
WILL – Kate Winslet, “Steve Jobs”

Best Original Screenplay
“Bridge of Spies”
“Ex Machina”
WANT – “Inside Out”
WILL – “Spotlight”
“Straight Outta Compton”

Best Adapted Screenplay
WILL – “The Big Short”
“Brooklyn”
“Carol”
“The Martian”
WANT – “Room”

Best Foreign Film (I have zero knowledge of these so am just choosing the name I like the most) 😉
WANT & WILL – “Embrace of the Serpent”
“Mustang”
“Son of Saul”
“Theeb”
“A War”

Best Documentary Feature (again… I know nothing!)
“Amy”
“Cartel Land”
“The Look of Silence”
“What Happened, Miss Simone?”
WANT & WILL – “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom”

Best Animated Feature
“Anomalisa”
“Boy and the World”
WANT & WILL – “Inside Out”
“Shaun the Sheep Movie”
“When Marnie Was There”

Best Film Editing
“The Big Short”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
WILL – “The Revenant”
“Spotlight”
WANT – “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Best Song
“Fifty Shades of Grey”
“Racing Extinction”
“Spectre” (ugh)
WILL – “The Hunting Ground”
WANT? – (I know none of these songs but the Bond one sucks) “Youth”

Best Original Score
“Bridge of Spies”
“Carol”
WANT & WILL – “The Hateful Eight”
“Sicario”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Best Digital Effects
“Ex Machina”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”
WANT & WILL – “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Best Cinematography
“Carol”
“The Hateful Eight”
WANT – “Mad Max: Fury Road”
WILL – “The Revenant”
“Sicario”

Best Costume Design
“Carol”
“Cinderella”
“The Danish Girl”
WANT & WILL – “Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Revenant”

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
WANT & WILL – “Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared”
“The Revenant”

Best Production Design
“Bridge of Spies”
“The Danish Girl”
WANT & WILL – “Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”

Best Sound Editing
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
WILL – “The Revenant”
“Sicario”
WANT – “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Best Sound Mixing
“Bridge of Spies”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
WILL – “The Revenant”
WANT – “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Best Short Film, Live Action (choosing the title I like!)
“Ave Maria”
“Day One”
“Everything Will Be Okay”
“Shok”
WANT & WILL – “Stutterer”

Best Short Film, Animated (choosing the title again!)
“Bear Story”
“Prologue”
“Sanjay’s Super Team”
WANT – “We Can’t Live Without Cosmos”
WILL – “World of Tomorrow”

Best Documentary Short Subject (choosing the title… again!) 😉
“Body Team 12”
“Chau, Beyond the Lines”
“Claude Lanzmann”
WANT & WILL – “A Girl in the River”
“Last Day of Freedom”

My Blog’s January 2016 Stats

Happy February everyone! 🙂 Can you believe January is over?! Man, I hate January… Good Riddance!

I haven’t done one of these monthly “blog stats” posts in a while. I just always enjoy having a look at what posts got the most views and/or comments each month (usually not my favorite posts!). And, as always, I find the bizarre Search Terms amusing.

So first I’ll have a look at My Top Posts for January:

I’m happy that my top post by far was the one where I chose the 12 Blind Spot movies that I plan to (hopefully) watch & review throughout the year. I’m cutting back on blogging but that’s the one new project I’ve decided to attempt this year (and I’ve already watched two of them and reviewed one: An Education & Summer Wars).

I also got a scary number of hits on my very old Cast Of Labyrinth Then & Now post and my very short David Bowie tribute post. People do love a tribute post, I guess, as My Top Ten Alan Rickman Movies also got a lot of views. January was a sad month for celebrity losses. To be honest, I still can’t even really talk about Bowie without getting far more upset than I ever expected so let’s move on.

Since January is so depressing, I decided I’d go & watch that heartwarming Leonardo DiCaprio film with the big cuddly bear. I was surprised to see that my review for The Revenant got so many views. I apologize for not being able to take that review seriously! It was a very good movie and all that, but… You couldn’t drag me back for a second viewing.

There are two movies I really want to mention once more as I feel they deserve attention. I’ve already watched 14 movies in 2016 (is that excessive? well, it was January – it’s too cold to do anything else!). Anyway, of those 14 one is a new favorite while another is one of those very rare types of films that could, quite possibly, change someone’s life for the better (not mine, though – maybe if I’d seen it in any month other than cold & bleak January!!!).

The new favorite is a pretty obscure film called In Your Eyes, which did get quite a few views but not many comments as I suppose most people have never heard of it. I was therefore very happy when two bloggers gave it a watch because of my review and they both loved it too. It’s a surprisingly simple love story (rare for me – I’m not big on romance) about two people with a telepathic connection. It was written by Joss Whedon and it’s a good script with great characters and it just worked. For me, anyway… I’m now totally in love with the dude in it (Michael Stahl-David, in the above photo). *sigh*

The other movie, which isn’t high in my stats as I only just posted the review last Wednesday, is Room. I believe I told someone here that this is the type of movie that makes me wish I was a writer so I could put into words exactly how I felt about it. Well, I attempted to in my review but nothing I say could do it justice. Just…. Watch it. Please. If you’re a film lover, it’s one you need to see. I watched it last Tuesday and it’s still playing on my mind. It gives such a bizarre mixture of emotions – thinking about it now I don’t know whether to smile or burst into tears. It’s an extremely powerful film, probably more so than anything I’ve ever seen in my (many) years on this Earth.

Yikes. Let’s lighten the mood and look at My Top Search Terms for January:

Okay, pervy Googlers! Seriously – get over the girl in Odd Thomas in her panties and the girl in the short skirt in The Purge. And I’m sure all the boys DO love Mandy Lane nude scenes but you’ll find none on my blog (plus, I don’t actually remember a nude scene in that movie…).

I had no idea who the hell Ron Mlodzik was so I had to look him up. Looks like he was in David Cronenberg’s Shivers but I didn’t even mention his name in my review so I don’t know how that search led someone to my blog. Well, here you go – I think this is Ron Mlodzik?? That’s one way to clean glasses, I suppose:

I also had to look up Ken Duken to see who the heck he was. Oh – he was in the unexpectedly enjoyable Chalet Girl! I’m sorry to say I have no naked photos of him on this blog, though. It would certainly be better than nude photos of that Ron Mlodzik dude.

Finally, I’m happy that my post about the Steve Buscemi/Roger Daltrey episode of Tales From The Crypt (Forever Ambergris) got some hits as I had a lot of fun with that post.

I hope you all have a lovely February! It can’t be worse than January, right?! 🙂

Room (2015) Review

Room (2015)

Directed by Lenny Abrahamson

Based on Room by Emma Donoghue

Starring: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, Sean Bridgers, William H. Macy

Plot Synopsis:
I’m not putting a synopsis in this time. I, like most everyone who has seen this movie, knew exactly what it was about before going to it. My hubby didn’t know a thing, though, and I think it helped – he thought it was fantastic. If you somehow still know nothing about this movie, keep it that way before watching it. My review will be as spoiler-free as possible.

My Opinion:

This film has finally come out in the UK (along with all the other big Oscar nominees) so, therefore, I’ll be considering it a 2016 movie when I do my year-end lists in December. Then half the bloggers will go “that’s a 2015 movie!”. So annoying. 😉 I know I’ll be having to address comments like that once again, though, because I know already that Room will still easily be in my 2016 Top Ten by the end of December. It’s so good.

As I said when I didn’t include a plot synopsis, I’ll try to remain as spoiler-free as possible but this won’t be an easy film to discuss without giving any idea what it’s about (the pictures will be a clue as well but I won’t include many). It’s one I’d highly recommend to any fellow movie bloggers who still haven’t seen it as it’s the exact sort of movie that us (often misunderstood!) cinephiles can truly appreciate. It doesn’t assume its audience isn’t smart enough to fill in some of the blanks and it leaves just enough not fully explained and/or explored, leaving the audience to think about the movie afterwards and to wonder how they may behave in similar circumstances (as crazy as it may seem, it is a real thing that happens).

This movie may also be a “drama” but it’s not one that plays up to that fact. There are no over-the-top melodramatic moments that feel fake or contrived, which is something that drives me nuts about a lot of films. The characters feel like very real people who happen to be in a situation that most of us can, luckily, not even begin to imagine. I know this was a book but it’s one that I wasn’t at all aware of until now. After the film, I looked it up to make sure it’s up for best adapted screenplay (which it is – I was happy to see that). That’s when I noticed that the novel’s author also wrote the screenplay. Well, she did a fantastic job so I now really want to check out the book as well. I think a novel’s author should also write the screenplay more often if this is the kind of result.

I think one sign of a really good film is how much it gets people talking about it afterwards. My husband & I discussed it for a pretty long time. We go to quite a lot of movies but, most of the time, we have very little to say. Well, we’re big movie fans so we perhaps don’t really count anyway – we discuss movies more than the casual cinema-goers. But a lot of the time I’ll come out of a movie and, if people are even discussing the film at all, they never say much more than “that was good” or “that was bad”. This time there was a woman who clearly wanted to discuss it with everyone who walked by. I thought it was quite cool to see that for a change! She asked people if they’d just seen Room and said how fantastic the kid was and that she’d not felt anything like that for a kid in a movie since Kramer Vs Kramer and The Champ (oh, yes! a Ricky Schroder mention in 2016! made my day!!). As we left, I saw that she’d gone over to discuss the movie with those working in the cinema. It was just great to see such public enthusiasm for a film that so genuinely deserves a lot of praise.

Onto the acting (as mentioned by the lady at the cinema)… The performances in Room are superb – not only from Brie Larson (who very much deserves that Oscar nomination) but especially from the young Jacob Tremblay. Wow. The cinema lady is partly right – it’s up there with Ricky Schroder’s tearfest in The Champ in a way. However, it’s a much more understated & more “mature” performance than Schroder’s. It does make me wonder how you get such an outstanding performance from a kid so young. I assume some of the credit must also go to the director? So I’m very glad that he’s also up for the best director Oscar. It’s great when small films such as this one do get some recognition: It’s nominated for Best Film, Best Actress, Best Director & Best Adapted Screenplay. Excellent! But I’m not stupid – I don’t think it’ll get anything other than, most probably, Best Actress (I really wish Tremblay was up for Best Actor too, though – the Academy so rarely likes to nominate kids. What a shame).

The little films like this never win much, though. But hopefully the big nominations will at least get this film watched by people who otherwise may have never even heard of it. It’s a film that deserves to be seen and should be seen. Room is only in its second week of release in the UK and I’ve only just managed to catch it (on a tiny screen where my local cinema shoves all the indie films that no one wants to watch, which means it’s unlikely to be showing anymore beyond this week). Why don’t people go to movies like Room? It makes me sad in a way, which is why I enjoyed hearing that woman talking so excitedly about it after seeing it. This is the kind of film that I want to experience more often. Yes, it’s a difficult subject matter but it’s handled respectfully and the film is very well written with characters who are so believably portrayed. And Jacob Tremblay’s character may just make you want to look at life in a whole different light. Only the best movies can do that.

My Rating: 9/10