My Top Ten Saoirse Ronan Movies

Happy 24th Birthday To Saoirse Ronan.

It’s good to see Ronan becoming really famous now. She was very good in Atonement, which was my March Blind Spot film (although I didn’t love the movie itself). And, of course, Lady Bird. It’s very impressive to have already been nominated for three Oscars at her age!

Well, I’m sure this is a top ten I’ll have to keep adding to as she makes more movies. So, for now & ranked by favorite film instead of performance, these are My Top Ten Saoirse Ronan Movies: (FYI – I’m including animated films she’s voiced, which is slightly cheating but allows me to include my beloved Studio Ghibli even though I prefer those without the English language dub) 😉

12. Justin And The Knights Of Valour
11. The Grand Budapest Hotel (amended to add this as I saw it after posting – it deserves to be in the top ten, I suppose, but I hated it)

TOP TEN:

10. Byzantium

9. City Of Ember (I don’t remember a damn thing about this but kind of hated Byzantium, so……)

8. I Could Never Be Your Woman

7. How I Live Now

6. Atonement

5. Hanna

4. The Lovely Bones

3. Brooklyn

2. Lady Bird

1. Arrietty

Movies I’ve Not Seen:

The Christmas Miracle Of Jonathan Toomey, Death Defying Acts, The Way Back, Violet & Daisy, The Host, Lost River, Stockholm Pennsylvania, Weepah Way For Now, Loving Vincent, On Chesil Beach

Atonement (2007) Blind Spot Review

Happy 33rd Birthday To Keira Knightley.

As today is her birthday, I figured I might as well get my Blind Spot review of Atonement out of the way. I didn’t like it.

Atonement (2007)

Directed by Joe Wright

Based on Atonement by Ian McEwan

Starring: James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Saoirse Ronan, Romola Garai, Vanessa Redgrave

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Fledgling writer Briony Tallis, as a thirteen-year-old, irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister’s lover of a crime he did not commit.

My Opinion:

These are the 2018 Blind Spot films I’ve watched so far, from least favorite to favorite:

4. Atonement
3. Gleaming The Cube
2. The French Connection
1. Citizen Kane

Yeah, Atonement is last. This is my third year of doing this Blind Spot thing (my previous two years of lists are HERE) and Atonement may be my least favorite overall. I take that back – it’s probably The Last Temptation Of Christ.

Atonement is certainly not a bad film in any way and its cinematography was beautful. However, I found it boring and, worst of all, I hated the characters. I suppose my irrational dislike of Keira Knightley may be partly to blame (Sorry Keira Knightley – I hope you have a good birthday anyway!). She recently said something along the lines of only wanting to be in these period dramas now because women are always being raped in modern movies. Fair enough – that’s something I hate being thrown into films for no good reason. But did she forget about the entire central plot of Atonement?! Sheesh. Actors are so annoying. And I’m sorry if that’s a major spoiler – the rape is pretty early on in the film. I just found that to be a stupid comment, especially as there have been some very strong female characters in modern movies these last several years who’ve not been raped. Maybe she should watch more movies?


So, this is the movie that got the young Saoirse Ronan noticed with an Oscar nomination. She’s very good in this, although her character is a hateful little brat at first. But she grows & she learns. I’m guessing this was better portrayed in the novel. She clearly is forever remorseful over ruining two people’s lives with her lies but it still didn’t feel like she truly suffered as she should have. At least, she certainly didn’t suffer as much as her sister & her sister’s lover (Knightley & James McAvoy).

Knightley & McAvoy were both very good as well, although I always find that Knightley comes across as very “cold”. Man – I’m really sounding like I hate Knightley… Sorry! I did prefer McAvoy and felt genuinely sorry for his suffering at the hands of that little shit played by Ronan.


*Not Ronan but same character when older and less of a shit

Okay, I admit that this is a good movie and the problem is that it’s just not my type of thing. The acting, the score, and the cinematography were all strong and the story itself was good even though I found its execution odd (in the beginning, they keep going backwards & redoing scenes from different perspectives and it felt clunky & just annoyed me). There’s also a scene involving a letter that isn’t explained well and I didn’t know what the hell had happened until I read a full plot synopsis. The second half of the film luckily didn’t do the weird jumping around thing (from what I remember) but that just made things feel inconsistent.


*This dress was gorgeous

FYI – Knightley is okay with the C word being used in a movie! As long as it’s a period drama. 😉 I just happen to prefer this kind of period drama to the Knightley kind. I hated every character in this movie (other than McAvoy’s) and I usually don’t enjoy a film when that’s the case. The odd storytelling style also didn’t help. Maybe I’d have liked the book more, as I do think it’s a good story & I always like stories that span so many decades. Don’t skip this movie if you think it’s your type of thing. It’s just not mine…

My Rating: 6/10

Lady Bird (2017) Review

Lady Bird (2017)

Directed & Written by Greta Gerwig

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Lois Smith

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in Sacramento, California in 2002, it is a coming-of-age story of a high-school senior (Ronan) and her turbulent relationship with her mother (Metcalf).

My Opinion:

I enjoyed this. It’s indie, though, so I had to go to a fancy, snobby cinema to actually be able to see it. There were sofas & fucking cushions. People had tea delivered to them. I don’t drink tea. I just wanted to stuff my face with popcorn. So I just sat there hungry instead (but comfy!).

Here’s a funny thing: I sat next to what appeared to be a grandmother with her 20-something granddaughter. They were talking about films (Yay! My kind of people) and the grandmother was talking about drive-ins and what they’re like in America. She told the granddaughter she needs to go to America sometime. The girl scoffed & said “Ha. No thanks! I’m alright. Not at the moment!“. I smiled to myself. Ahh… My home country is well & truly fucked. British people used to dream of visiting America. Now the thought of going there seems insane and potentially dangerous. What the fuck has happened? You don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Shall I actually talk about this movie, which is nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Original Screenplay? Does it deserve all the acclaim? Hmm. Yes & no. Maybe in the acting categories, at least. It’s a good coming of age film, a subgenre I love, but it’s not the absolute best of its kind that I’ve seen. I probably slightly preferred the previous  year’s The Edge Of Seventeen. Where were the nominations for that female-directed & written film??

The Oscars are going to get more interesting now & I’m very glad that they’re going to be more inclusive. But……. I dunno. Should Lady Bird be up for Best Picture & Director? I’m not sure about that but I don’t mind seeing it nominated for Best Picture. Lady Bird & Get Out do look like the odd ones out when looking at the more heavyweight nominees but not all movies have to be boring, heavy dramas to be good films. What I really want to see is the Oscars being more inclusive of ALL genres of films, regardless of who made them. A good movie is a good movie. The Oscars have always hated things like fantasy, science fiction, comedy, and horror. Brilliant films seem to be ignored if they’re not some boring ass historical drama that the majority of the public has no interest in seeing. The nominee I’m happiest about this year is The Shape Of Water. That’s slightly out of the Academy’s comfort zone. I want more stuff like that at the Oscars! Now if they can just accept science fiction… Arrival only getting ONE Oscar (Sound Editing) is a damn crime!!! Screw you, Academy!

Back to Lady Bird. I loved the tumultuous relationship between mother & daughter (Saoirse Ronan & Laurie Metcalf, both deserving of their nominations). Being both a mother & a daughter, I can confirm that it can be a complicated relationship at times & the film makes these characters feel real in their feelings & behavior. I’d have actually liked it to focus even more on the mother/daughter relationship than it did. I’d have liked slightly more time spent on Lady Bird’s relationships with her whole family, but the film does well with the character development in its hour & a half running time.

We get to see a lot of Lady Bird’s life at school with her best friend and with a couple of love interests. I loved her best friend (Beanie Feldstein). It made me wish I’d had a female friend in high school! But I went to school with a bunch of bitches. Lucas Hedges, from Manchester By The Sea, did well but there’s not a lot of time spent on him. And I finally got to see this Timothée Chalamet kid in a movie. He’s fine – it’s not a huge role and he’s an annoying rich boy so I’ll need to see him in more stuff. I still badly want to see Call Me By Your Name. Saoirse Ronan is the star of this, though, and I’m amazed that I never thought about the fact that she does NOT sound American in real life, so she must have done the accent well! Ronan & Metcalf make this film better. Without them, I’d have found it pretty average. But I kept hearing Andy’s mother from Toy Story… She didn’t have this much trouble with Andy!

Lady Bird is good but it’s indie and it’s definitely aimed more at females and at teenagers. Is it All-Time-Greatest-Best-Picture material? Not really. I’ve seen other coming of age films more worthy of Oscar nominations but I’m glad the Academy, through recognizing a wider variety of filmmakers, is probably going to end up giving us more variety in the film genres that receive nominations. Not all movies have to be The English Freaking Patient. (Lady Bird is far better than that one…)

My Rating: 7/10

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) & Byzantium (2012) Reviews

Saw these two together after really wanting to see them for ages. I was massively disappointed. Here are two quickie reviews…

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

Directed & Written by Jim Jarmusch

Starring: Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, Anton Yelchin, Jeffrey Wright, Slimane Dazi, John Hurt

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A depressed musician reunites with his lover. Though their romance, which has already endured several centuries, is disrupted by the arrival of her uncontrollable younger sister.

My Opinion:

Good god this movie was boring. I’d really been wanting to watch it because I find Tilda Swinton interesting, Mia Wasikowska has been pretty decent in things like Stoker, and I always really liked sweet Anton Yelchin (RIP). Hiddleston is okay – I can take him or leave him. Oh! And John Hurt (RIP)! Hurt was awesome (I did a list not too long ago of My Top Ten John Hurt Movies. Luckily, I don’t have to update that list to add Only Lovers Left Alive).

Anyway, Hurt was great in this – he was the best part of the film (for me). Swinton was also fun to watch. I usually like her a lot but, sometimes, she annoys me (like in Okja). Mysterious vampire is the perfect kind of role for her, though, so she was good in this. I suppose Hiddleston did well with the role but all he did was mope the whole damn time. How did Swinton’s character put up with that mopey bastards for hundreds of years (or thousands, maybe – I don’t remember)? If I want mopey “teen-angsty” vampires, I’ll watch Twilight. Can’t vampires be happy?! They’re immortal! That’s cool, isn’t it? Grumpy fuckers. Or is that grumpy suckers? This movie just reinforces my opinion that The Lost Boys is the best vampire movie ever. 😉

Um. What else? I’m bored. Review over! Just so you know, nothing happens in this movie. Hiddleston mopes. Swinton puts up with his moping. Wasikowska is a total bitch who stays with mopey Hiddleston & big sis Swinton for a while, which makes Hiddleston mope even more. Yelchin (the only non-vampire) and Hurt (a dying vampire – I can’t remember how that’s possible and I don’t care) were good and helped to make the movie slightly watchable. Without them… Meh. A movie having no plot is okay as long as you have really great characters (like in Dazed And Confused) and a movie with lacklustre characters is okay as long as you have a great story (like in Circle). Only Lovers Left Alive lacks both a good plot and good characters. But it has a 7.3 rating out of 10 on IMDb so what the hell do I know?!

My Rating: 5.5/10

Byzantium (2012)

Directed by Neil Jordan

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Arterton, Sam Riley, Jonny Lee Miller

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Residents of a coastal town learn, with deathly consequences, the secret shared by the two mysterious women who have sought shelter at a local resort.

My Opinion:

Good god this movie was boring as well. I actually slightly preferred Only Lovers Left Alive because at least that movie had a bit more style & better actors. To be fair, I watched these movies back to back while cleaning the house so I wasn’t exactly paying full attention. But if they’d actually been GOOD, I’d have stopped doing the housework and sat down to watch them properly. Thanks to Byzantium, I now have a very organized bookshelf.

Let’s see… What do I vaguely recall from this movie? I recall hating Gemma Arterton’s annoying accent. I’m terrible with accents so don’t know if she was doing it well or not but it was like nails on a chalkboard. Maybe I just don’t like her… I don’t think I’ve seen her in much but the quality of her acting in this film certainly didn’t impress me. Saoirse Ronan was far better in this film – I usually like her okay and she’s the best thing about this movie.

Er. You know, I honestly can’t remember much of this movie now. Lots of blood. It was a far more bloody vampire movie than Only Lovers Left Alive. More bloody, shittier acting, an actual plot but one that I can barely remember now, less moping but still pretty mopey overall (seriously – cheer the fuck up, vampires!), and no John Hurt or anyone with true star power to help elevate the film. Oh, I now recall that all the first vampires were men & they didn’t want any to be women but then Arterton became the first female vampire (if I remember right). So there’s a bit of a “girl vampire power” thing going on in the film, which was okay but kind of undone by all the terrible treatment of the women in the movie. And I still don’t like Arterton.

My Rating: 5.5/10

How I Live Now (2013) Review

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How I Live Now (2013)

Directed by Kevin Macdonald

Based on How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Starring:
Saoirse Ronan
Tom Holland
George MacKay
Anna Chancellor

Running time: 101 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
An American girl, sent to the English countryside to stay with relatives, finds love and purpose while fighting for her survival as war envelops the world around her.

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My Opinion:

I watched this movie having no idea what to expect as I knew nothing about it other than reading the plot synopsis online. It sounded like it could be a cheesy YA post-apocalyptic romance as it’s based on a YA book (that I’ve actually not read! Thought I’d read that entire genre). No, this movie isn’t exactly cheesy. It has a more serious tone than I was expecting and is more like a weird combination of the original Red Dawn (not that awful remake – Chris Hemworth’s hotness couldn’t even save that) and that SUPER DEPRESSING British TV movie Threads (I don’t recommend that one – bloody hell!). But with a love story thrown in, of course. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how convincing the romance really is and Saoirse Ronan’s character is hard to sympathize with, even after seeing the hell she goes through after war breaks out while she’s in a foreign country. Well, foreign to her – she’s an American in the UK. Like me!

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First of all, I’ll say this movie is very “me” as I’m obsessed with post-apocalyptic fiction. I’ve read most the YA novels in this genre, I did a list of My Top Ten Apocalyptic Movies (HERE), and the only story I’ve ever written in my life was about a group of teenagers who’ve survived an apocalypse (it sucked, of course – I’m not a writer). This was years before this & all the “dystopian future” YA novels were such a big thing & I love that it’s such a huge genre now (even if it IS getting a little old it’s still better than Sweet Valley High). Anyway, How I Live Now feels much more realistic than the future we see in movies such as The Hunger Games & The Maze Runner. It’s set now (I believe) instead of some unspecified future and very much feels like something that could happen at any moment. I think this makes it a much more powerful movie. It may not be as “entertaining” as The Hunger Games but it feels a lot more grown-up than other YA stuff, which is something I really liked about the film.

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However, I unfortunately found it really hard to relate to the characters – especially Saoirse Ronan’s “teenager with issues & an attitude problem” Daisy. She’s very neurotic before the war breaks out & she does learn to stop worrying about all the superficial things in life that really don’t matter after London is bombed but she still comes across as very selfish since all she seems to care about now is being with the boy she’s fallen in love with since coming to England. Or should I say… her COUSIN?! Did I miss something? Anyone who has seen this feel free to correct me if I’m wrong but… they’re cousins, right? Like, possibly first cousins? I know they don’t say what her exact relationship is to them through her mother but that’s a little weird! Anyway, I had no issues with any of her cousins. The young girl named Piper (who I found out is the voice of Peppa Pig after watching this. how did I not notice that? I hate Peppa Pig!) and a boy named Isaac are both very sweet but Eddie, the one Daisy falls in love with, doesn’t have much of a personality. I can’t help but feel that these two main characters are probably MUCH more developed in the book. I think the movie really doesn’t do a great job fleshing these two out so I may read the book now as I really liked the story. If they’d done a better job with the main characters, I think I’d have liked this movie a lot more than I did.

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Summary:

How I Live Now may be based on one of a myriad of “post-apocalyptic YA” novels but has a more serious & realistic approach and feels much more grown-up. I liked the tone of the film and found the soundtrack very interesting. Aside from Nick Drake, I’ve not heard of any of the artists on the soundtrack which is unusual for me – It’s cool to hear some songs I don’t already know in a movie. Unfortunately, the characters aren’t very well developed & I didn’t feel like I knew anything more about Saoirse Ronan’s Daisy at the end of the film than I did at the beginning. I think it would be worth reading the book first to really understand Daisy’s feelings & motivations. It’s a good story overall but I’m thinking it just didn’t fully translate to film. If it sounds like something you might like, I’m going to recommend reading the book first even though I have yet to read it myself. I just think it’s likely you’ll get to know far more about the characters than you do in the movie.

My Review: 6.5/10

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Justin And The Knights Of Valour (2013) Review

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Justin And The Knights Of Valour (2013)

Directed by Manuel Sicilia

Starring Voice Actors:
Freddie Highmore
Antonio Banderas
James Cosmo
Charles Dance
Tamsin Egerton
Rupert Everett
Barry Humphries
Alfred Molina
Mark Strong
David Walliams
Julie Walters
Olivia Williams
Saoirse Ronan

Running time: 96 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)

Justin (Freddie Highmore) lives in a kingdom where bureaucrats rule and knights have been ousted. His dream is to be become one of the Knights of Valour, like his grandfather was, but his father Reginald (Alfred Molina), the chief counsel to the Queen (Olivia Williams), wants his son to follow in his footsteps and become a lawyer.

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My Opinion:

I’ll make this quick & simple: This isn’t exactly a great film but, hey, it’s for kids. It’s not actually THAT bad, though, considering it wasn’t made by Pixar or Disney or even the inferior (well, what I see as inferior) Dreamworks.

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I think kids will enjoy this one. I myself actually enjoyed it a bit more than this year’s Epic, which looked prettier but had a story that was somewhat too complex for the younger kids and had forgettable characters. Justin of course has lessons to teach the audience, just like most kids’ films: Work hard, stand up for what you believe in, and bitchy self-absorbed girls never get the knight in shining armor (well, it would be nice if that last bit were true in real life as well).

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Oh! And you must have a knight who looks like Sean Connery if you’re going to make a movie about knights.

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Boys will probably like this one more than girls (especially if they liked How To Train Your Dragon) because of all the knights and a little bit of fighting with some baddies and Justin going through training to become a knight (the training with the elder knights was by far the best bit of the film). But there’s also a good, feisty female character that girls (and their mothers) will approve of. (You don’t think she’ll actually hook up with Justin by any chance, do you?!) 😉

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So, anyway – Justin And The Knights Of Valour isn’t going to change the world but it’s not the worst movie you’ll ever have to sit through with your kid. It has a solid enough story and few strong characters and the usual “teaching of values” with a bit of silly comic relief. Whatever. It’s better than I was expecting, at least.

My Rating: 5.5/10

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I just wanted to get this quickie review out of the way so that I can focus on finishing my review for Rush in the next couple days. Because that film was fantastic!!! 🙂