I’m quite sure the world is waiting with baited breath to hear what I have to say about this year’s Oscars and who I think should win. So as is traditional, here are my hopes vs. what will probably happen. Continue reading
Lady Bird (2017)
In 2002, an artistically inclined seventeen-year-old girl comes of age in Sacramento, California.
I like being in Greta Gerwig’s world. It looks like a (good) Instagram feed but feels real at the same time, you know? She can take a slice of life and make you care about the characters within it – and that’s a gift.
Lady Bird feels like a very personal film and one I’m sure most people can see a glimpse of themselves (or their relationship with a parent) in. Particularly, within the relationship between Lady Bird and her mother.
Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Ronan) is an artistic girl with plans to leave Sacramento and attend a college in NYC, whatever it takes. Unfortunately, and as everyone around her keeps reminding her, she isn’t likely to get the grades to get into any of those colleges. Secretly, she concocts a way to get funding for school anyway with the help of her father, who’s recently lost his job.
While she puts in the work to get out of her hometown, Lady Bird is also coming of age. Falling in love, stamping her V card and having her heart broken are all high on the agenda. She’s also juggling friendships and family life – and as a dramatic teenager all of this is set to the beat of her own drum. And the lashing of her razor sharp tongue.
Lady Bird centres around the relationship between Christine and her mother, Marion (Metcalfe) and boy, is it relateable. While I’m lucky to have a good relationship with my mother, I can definitely highlight certain scenes that could have been lifted from our relationship growing up. It’s hard to watch at times because as far as my own experience is concerned, there is nobody who can get under your skin like your mother can. (Sorry ma, but you know it’s true!).
While Marion wants the best for Lady Bird, sometimes her delivery seems cold or mean (certainly to her daughter) and there are constant barriers building up between them. But it’s so, so beautiful with some of the best dialogue and one-liners I’ve heard in a long time. (There’s one uttered by Timothée Chalamet’s Kyle Scheible that made me scream, it’s so damn accurate).
All the performances are great but nominees Ronan and Metcalf are so deserving of all the praise they’ve been getting. I believe them as mother and daughter so much. There’s also brilliant support from Lady Bird’s best friend Julie (Feldstein), Chalamet and Odeya Rush who plays Frenemy Jenna Walton.
Happy Oscars Day!
I’m not sure yet how I’ll be viewing or even when, however I am very excited. In the grand scheme of things I do realise that The Academy Awards don’t really mean that much. I mean, I love them – but most of the films I love from the bottom of my heart could never be honoured by the board and that’s fine.
That said, there are many things to be buzzed about, particularly this year. The Baftas and The Golden Globes in the wake of Hollywood’s sex scandals* have been very interesting to follow and I should imagine, the Oscars will be no different. The fact that pig-dogs like Franco and the Afflecks (unpleasant band name alert) won’t be there is massive. But I guess until this is followed through ALL THE WAY it really doesn’t mean a thing.
Anyway! I’m most into the fact that my absolute favourite film of recent years – a fucking HORROR MOVIE – is in the Best Picture Category (along with Best Director and Best Actor). I haven’t been this invested since my one true love Philip Seymour Hoffman won Best Actor in 2005.
Without further ado, let’s get down to bidniz. With my own brief commentary because you know, what I think is incredibly important to the crème de la crème of Hollywood.
Best Motion Picture of the Year
(I’m not linking to any of these as it will take me forever but here’s a guide to 2018’s nominees).
Call Me By Your Name • Darkest Hour • Dunkirk • Get Out • Lady Bird • Phantom Thread • The Post • The Shape of Water • Three Billboards Outside Epping, Missouri
Get Out obviously. It’s far superior to any of the movies in the category in my eyes. If it wins (which it just did at The Independent Spirit Awards) then I will be a very very happy film lover indeed.
If not, I’ll be happy for Lady Bird and Call Me By Your Name.
What Will Probably Happen
The Shape of Water seems the obvious choice. I did like it but it’s not my Best Picture.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Daniel Day-Lewis • Daniel Kaluuya • Denzel Washington • Gary Oldman • Timothée Chalamet
Duh. My boy Daniel Kaluuya is a dream and he deserves that statuette.
What Will Probably Happen
Gary Oldman will win. Yawn.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Frances McDormand • Margot Robbie • Meryl Streep • Sally Hawkins • Saoirse Ronan
Honestly, Sally Hawkins or Saoirse Ronan, veering towards Ronan.
What Will Probably Happen
It’s going to be Frances and that’s okay. It is deserved – I just don’t love love the film, which I guess isn’t really the point.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Christopher Plummer • Richard Jenkins • Sam Rockwell • Willem Dafoe • Woody Harrelson
Hands down Richard Jenkins for The Shape of Water. He was wonderful. Failing RJ, Willem Dafoe for The Florida Project.
What Will Probably Happen
I suspect Sam Rockwell has this one in the bag.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Allison Janney • Laurie Metcalf • Lesley Manville • Mary J. Blige • Octavia Spencer
This is such a strong category! For me it’s Laurie Metcalf, perhaps because she served such passive aggressive realness. Octavia was pure perfection though and Allison Janney stole I, Tonya – so I’m good with any of those ladies.
What Will Probably Happen
Allison Janney will take this without breaking a sweat.
Best Achievement in Directing
Christopher Nolan • Greta Gerwig • Guillermo del Toro • Jordan Peele • Paul Thomas Anderson
If Jordan Peele doesn’t steal this, I’ll be sick. He’s by far the most exciting prospect Hollywood has had in ages. Otherwise, give it to my girl Greta – because Lady Bird is insanely good and so is she.
What Will Probably Happen
I’m pretty sure Guillermo’s done all the groundwork to be a fine Best Director winner this year and I wouldn’t be mad. Actually, I’ll be table throwing outraged if Peele doesn’t take this but you know, it wouldn’t be del Toro’s fault.
Best Original Screenplay
Get Out • Lady Bird • The Big Sick • Three Billboards Outside Epping, Missouri • The Shape of Water
It should be Get Out obviously, though they’re pretty much all great. Give it to Get Out, it’s so original and thought-provoking, the most exciting film in the race.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Logan • The Disaster Artist • Call Me By Your Name • Molly’s Game • Mudbound
It has to be Call Me By Your Name, hasn’t it? Although I have the book I haven’t read it yet but I’ve heard the film is a cracking adaptation.
Best Achievement in Cinematography
Blade Runner 2049 • Darkest Hour • Dunkirk • Mudbound • The Shape of Water
I really honestly think Blade Runner could and should take this. Villeneuve is a genius and I really enjoyed his vision – and paired with the mighty Roger Deakins, how could it fail?
I really don’t care that much for the others (though I haven’t seen Mudbound yet, it might be spectacular).
Best Achievement in Costume Design
Beauty and the Beast • Darkest Hour • Phantom Thread • Victoria & Abdul • The Shape of Water
Get it, Phantom Thread.
Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
A Fantastic Woman • Loveless • On Body and Soul • The Insult • The Square
I’ve only see A Fantastic Woman tbh so it’s got my vote. It was quite lovely.
Best Animated Feature Film
Coco • Ferdinand • Loving Vincent • The Boss Baby • The Breadwinner
Again I am painfully behind in the animated feature category, but I did see Coco and love it. Meanwhile, I fancy seeing all of them in good time. Not you Boss Baby.
That my friends is my Oscar post. Any thoughts?
The Greatest Showman (2017)
Celebrates the birth of show business, and tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation.
I have to admit that I avoided this film until the very last minute because I just wasn’t feeling it. Maybe it was something in Michelle William’s cheesy grin in the trailer or the fact I wasn’t in a ‘musical mood’ – but I had no intention of seeing it.
Then I changed my mind and booked a ticket to see it straight after work. It had been a head-fucky kind of week full of training and my friend Amy came with me. I cried all the way through it to the very end.
It’s just so – feel good. The songs are amazing, the choreography is stunning – Zac Efron is a total fox and there’s the most gorgeous bearded lady. Its message – that everybody should be proud of who they are, well it’s right up my street. I’ve now seen it twice at the cinema, and one of those was a sing-along version.
Colour me obsessed.
TGS tells the rags to riches story of P.T Barnum (Jackman), the visionary and Original Circus G. Supported by his insanely chill wife, Charity (Williams) he first purchases an old curiosity museum that doesn’t set the world on fire – then turns it into something altogether more interesting.
While I wouldn’t call what he has a full on freak show, the F word is one that is thrown around a lot by the ever-increasing anti-circus picket line. Really what Barnum has is a collection of talented and unique individuals who have been rejected by society. Unfortunately, Barnum’s head is turned when he meets the regal opera singer Jenny Lind (Ferguson) and, finally accepted by high society, he begins to believe his own hype as a showbiz big wig.
Running parallel to the rise and fall of Barnum’s big tent empire, is the challenging love story between well-to-do playwright Phillip Carlyle (Efron) and trapeze artist Anne Wheeler (Zendaya). Anne is poor and black – and Posh Victorian NYC isn’t down with mixed-race relationships thankyouverymuch. Phillip therefore must make a serious decision about his future if he’s to be with the one he loves – and that’s after he’s made a life-changing decision about his career, too. There are a couple of scenes between the Zendaya and Efron that blew me away, particularly during their song Rewrite the Stars.
In addition, I love every scene containing the so-called freaks, particularly Lettie Lutz (Keala Settle). She’s electrifying. The talent recruitment montage is great and I love the Hugh Jackman/Zac Efron bar scene more than life.
Every single song on the soundtrack is gorgeous, particularly Jenny Lind’s Never Enough (actually sung by Rebecca Allred). Mostly, I just like that a musical with such a positive message can still draw a crowd, it feels old-school and fun.
The Academy may have turned a blind eye except for Best Achievement in Music for the anthem This is Me but that’s okay. As much as I love the Oscars, sometimes it’s word on the street that’s the best reward you can get.
It’s only late February and already two 5 Star films on the blog. See the second one here.
The Shape of Water (2017)
At a top secret research facility in the 1960s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.
Hype is a dangerous thing, as Andy used to say – or something along those lines. But it is – and I’m not sure this beautiful, whimsical fairy tale quite lives up to it much as it pains me to say.
Elisa and Zelda are cleaners at a top secret government laboratory. They’ve been friends for years, comfortable and happy together in their familiar routine. Elisa lives alone, in a crumbling tenement block where she also adheres to her own rituals, everything just so. She also lives next door to her BFF, closeted Giles, a struggling commercial artist who she likes to take care of.
One day Elisa (Hawkins) and Zelda (Spencer) become inadvertently involved in some secretive goings on that change all of their lives forever. There are goodies and baddies here, spies and monsters – but above all there is love and sometimes that’s all you need. Am I right?
The Shape of Water is lovely. Certain segments are pure magic and the performances are really something. That Sally Hawkins can convey so much without uttering a word is sensational. I’ve had a soft spot for her since she played Poppy in Happy-Go-Lucky. Octavia is also flawless and the women’s chemistry is touching.
Shannon is text book Michael Shannon and I liked it, though I found I was less impressed that I usually am. Perhaps because he can play a role like this with his eyes closed – or because I’ve seen him do it so many times before? In direct contrast, the nervous babbling of Giles (Jenkins) works so well. He’s a coward who takes a giant leap of faith because he loves his friend, he is flawed and he is understanding – and Richard Jenkins is adorbs too.
The story itself isn’t that complex and I’m not going to go into it too much. I think if you’re reading this you already have a gist of what it’s all about. I came into the viewing knowing not much about the plot which may have helped me – I just wanted to be wowed.
My issue is with the pacing, with the length of the film and with some of the more talky elements. I wanted to spend more time with Amphibian Man, marveling at his perfect fishy butt. We get a lot of fish man action, don’t get me wrong but I wanted less old white Russians sitting around tables discussing him and more HIM.
Fish Face for the record is beautiful (and opens quite the discussion about whether one would do it with a fish under the same circumstances). The monster work is brilliant in terms of makeup and aesthetic, while Doug Jones’ lanky (yet graceful) presence is as good as ever.
Oh, and the opening scene is pure Jean-Pierre Jeunet. It could have been ripped directly from Delicatessen – which is a good thing, I’m not adverse to a little (or a lot of) homage. I was also pleasantly surprised that although this is all about the love story, it’s also pretty hot. For all the whimsy, it’s also sexy and there’s a distinct darkness too.
All in all, this experience was strong but not exceptional.
A Fantastic Woman (2017)
Marina, a transsexual woman who works as waitress who moonlights as a nightclub singer, is bowled over by the death of her older boyfriend.
When Marina’s (Vega) older lover passes away suddenly, she finds she has more than just grief to contend with. People are mostly unsympathetic to her suffering given the ‘nature’ of the relationship and are shits about everything, from kicking her out of the home she knows to leaving her out of the funeral plans.
While Marina holds down her waitressing job and gets on with life as best she can, she is needled by the behaviour of Orlando’s ex-wife and family, who want her out of the picture as soon as possible. While there is some empathy shown by Orlando’s brother, Gabo (Luis Gnecco), he doesn’t rail against the others enough to make things easier for our heroine.
When supposed assistance comes in the form of a female police officer, things still do not change and Marina is put in a very vulnerable situation indeed. In the meantime, she’s found a mysterious locker key in Orlando’s car that is causing her minor intrigue. Maybe it holds a secret?
Vega is incredible in the role and it isn’t hard to understand why this is up for the Best Film in a Foreign Language Academy Award. But, while it is very moving, the films starts slowly. Marina walks around a lot.
The film’s strength is in the hands of its lead, who is mesmerising to watch, even when stomping around the city. Marina has a quiet strength that guides her through all the turmoil but she is not unaffected, simply resigned to an unacceptable attitude towards who she is. She is subjected to humiliation on a regular basis, forced to shield herself from the shouted insults of bigots – and treated like a second class citizen, just for loving someone.
What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. ~ Marina Vidal
A Fantastic Woman is prone to flights of fancy, which work well in contrast to the more ordinary scenes of Marina at work or, yes, walking about. I personally found myself roused by the more surreal moments, including a very simplistic wander through the city against an increasingly strong wind. Marina finds herself braced against the strength of the gale, symbolic, non?
There’s also a stunning scene in the club where Marina does a dance number with a horde of backing dancers. The effect is beautiful and powerful. I’m here always for a jolt of unreality to shake things up.
This film is a tragedy but it’s also hopeful. Marina doesn’t back down where some of us might and she realises being able to say goodbye to a loved one is a human right. Why should she go quietly anyway – or feel any shame for making her lover happy before his death? Or, for that matter, for who she is?
What she goes through seriously sucks but you can’t keep a good woman down for long.
Aspiring musician Miguel, confronted with his family’s ancestral ban on music, enters the Land of the Dead to find his great-great-grandfather, a legendary singer.
Music is a major no-no in Miguel’s family. Passed down by generations, the message is clear: the sweet sound of music, any music, is banned and that is that. Unfortunately, our hero only seems to have one true love in his life, apart from his family – and it’s the very thing they have forbidden. OOPSY.
This sorry story goes all the way back to Miguel’s great great great (?) grandmother Imelda Rivera in Santa Cecilia, Mexico. Imelda lives a modest, happy life with her husband and daughter Coco until he ups and leaves one day to pursue a life of fame and fortune as a musician. Imelda never forgives this horrible betrayal, banishing all reminders of Coco’s father and his talents forever. This includes removing his picture from the family hall of fame because fuck him, right?
As time passes, Imelda teaches herself to make shoes and as her family grows and grows, so does the family business. She lives a full life jam-packed with love and family. We begin the film with a heartwarming family history lesson, narrated by Miguel himself in present day.
Miguel lives with his parents, grandmother, great great grandmother Coco and various cousins, uncles and pets in the very same Mexican village. While he helps with the shoe-making business after school, his heart is secretly so not in it. Instead he keeps his musical hobbies hidden, including his obsession with Mexico’s most famous musician and actor, the late Ernesto de la Cruz.
One day, on Mexican Día de Muertos, Miguel puts two and two together, realising that his connection to de la Cruz runs deeper than simple admiration. During preparations for the ofrenda, Miguel runs away from his family and stumbles into an otherworldly adventure that will change his life forever.
Coco is an absolute assault on the eyeballs in the very best way. There’s so much to take in, so much to see that it takes your breath away. The detail is stunning, every little flourish refined to perfection.
The other side, which I’m leaving to your imagination, is as multi-layered and colourful as a dream – no words I could choose would do it justice anyway. Catching it on the big screen is a sensible shout if just to get an idea of the sheer scale of what Pixar have achieved here. There’s a reason this is Oscar nommed, and I would say it is very much deserving of the statuette.
But in case you think it’s all visual stimulus and not much else, rest assured the story is lovely too. Miguel of course learns a lesson along the way but then so do his family – and maybe so will we, the viewer. Family is important, yo – but so are dreams and in the words of Ernesto, don’t be afraid to seize your moment.
Coco is a cautionary tale though, fame and dreams come with a price, you just have to be mindful about what you’re willing to pay for it. This lovely film is also a poignant reminder to remember our loved ones, to honour their memories and never let them die. A mature topic for a kids film but this isn’t the first time Pixar has cut straight to the heart, is it? (Who isn’t still scarred by Up/Inside Out/*insert favourite* here?).
Maybe, just maybe this film is a smidge too long but there’s so much to love about it. I’m utterly blown away by the bridges of petals and the spirit animals that pepper each scene on the other side. Frida Kahlo’s appearance is charming, while the big party scene at the de la Cruz mansion is Great Gatsby decadent and a visual feast for the eyes.
Go see this on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Even the kids talking all the way through it won’t annoy you, I’m sure.