Oscars this weekend ...
... on Sunday night, Monday morning here in Australia, and I must say that I find it hard to pick winners. Usually I'm torn between a few films and actors but this last year I found the offerings a little lacking. So I'm guessing on my picks and this is based on my personal taste, since most of the nominated films I did not love at all. In fact, one of them I left halfway through I was so bored.
Here goes with a few Oscar picks:
Actor in a Leading Role Andrew Garfield Hacksaw Ridge (although they'll give it to Ryan Gosling probably or Casey Affleck, no idea why.)
Actor in a Supporting Role Dev Patel Lion (they'll give it to Mahershala Ali for Moonlight because of last year's controversy. Other than Lion the other films in this category made my most boring list for 2016.
Actress in a Leading Role Emma Stone La La Land. I didn't love the film but I love her.
Actress in a Supporting Role Octavia Spencer Hidden Figures (probably they'll give it to Viola Davis for Fences, which was the film I walked out on.)
Directing Denis Villeneuve Arrival (but it will go to Damien Chazelle La La Land because he made a musical)
Best Picture Hidden Figures (I have my fingers crossed but there are so many dull films in this lot it could be anyones
Best Original Screenplay La La Land, again it's a musical. Terrible choices though (although I haven't seen 20th Century Women).
WIN The Troubles Keeper Audible and eBook
By the way, I have a competition running until 28th February to win a copy of my eBook and Audible of The Troubles Keeper. The more you share the more entries you receive.
A Street Can Named Bob ✪✪✪✪½ Opened February 9
I don't love cats. I don't love stories of down and out people (I find them too sad ala Manchester by the Sea and The Lady in the Van. I'm also, as you know, not keen on swearing or watching people taking drugs. Probably the trailer doesn't do this justice either, so on the Saturday morning of the preview I was expecting to be bored or angered to tears. Instead by the end I was moved to tears. So please take tissues. or Can you hear me purring? The movie was fabulous, although my heart was breaking through most of the story as we watched poor James Bowen attempt to get his life back on track.
Of course Bob the cat steals the film. You would think some of the truth has been stretched a little. How can a cat behave in such a human-like way? Well, since Bob the cat actually acts in his own movie we are left with no doubt that this is an extraordinary animal and an incredible, life-affirming story. The feel good movie of the year. Please go and see this little gem. You will thank me for my recommendation later.
This film tells the moving and life-affirming true story of the unlikely friendship between a young homeless busker, James Bowen, and the stray ginger cat named Bob who changed his life.
Hidden Figures ✪✪✪✪✪ Opened February 9
This is the film I'm going to go out on a limb and call as the Best Picture winner for this year's Oscars, which will be announced on Sunday. At least I hope it wins over the other films since it's by far the most entertaining of all of them. Although Hacksaw Ridge and Arrival were good too, but most of the others made my least entertaining list for the year, including Denzel Washington's Fences, where I left the screening after an hour because I was so bored.
You've probably already had someone tell you to go see this and I will wholeheartedly agree. This is a great true story with everything we love in a big Hollywood film: good acting, a story that moves along at a pace, characters we can cheer on, and a happy and inspirational ending. Go see Hidden Figures, a fascinating film for all ages.
HIDDEN FIGURES is the incredible untold story of Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe)-brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation's confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanized the world. The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big. Stars Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, Kevin Costner.
Trainspotting ✪✪✪✪✪ Opened 23rd February 2017
I don't remember much about the first 1996 film except I couldn't understand why everyone loved it so much, so I wasn't expecting to enjoy this. Stories about drugged up criminals, filled with swearing and violence are definitely not my cup of tea.
However I loved this. Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Weeks Later, Steve Jobs, 127 Hours, Shallow Grave) is a director at the height of his prowess. His stylized vision and quick paced editing, along with a killer sound track makes for an entertaining thrilling and, dare I say it, fun film experience. This will probably be one of my favorite films of the year and needs to be seen on the big screen so you are fully immersed in the on-screen antics and the music. Just brilliant. Stars Ewen McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Kelly MacDonald, Jonny Lee Miller, Ewen Bremner.
First there was an opportunity......then there was a betrayal. Twenty years have gone by. Much has changed but just as much remains the same. Mark Renton returns to the only place he can ever call home.They are waiting for him: Spud, Sick Boy, and Begbie. Other old friends are waiting too: sorrow, loss, joy, vengeance, hatred, friendship, love, longing, fear, regret, diamorphine, self-destruction and mortal danger, they are all lined up to welcome him, ready to join the dance.
Handsome Devil ✪✪✪✪
Q&A with director John Butler on Fri 3 and Sat 4 Mar
Lottery West Film Festival
Monday 27 Feb-March 5 UWA Somerville
Tuesday 7 March-Sun 12 March ECU Joondalup Pines
Handsome Devil is a cross between 2014 Pride and the marvelous 2016 Sing Street. The Irish don't make a lot of main stream films but they sure know how to create stories about coming of age angst and the politics surrounding key issues in society. I guess when your country has a recent history of internal turmoil there is much to say.
Another feel good movie with a great soundtrack that probably won't get a big release anywhere but certainly if you catch it at a festival like we have in Perth, or on a streaming service in the future, you will be glad you watched.
‘The sweetness, poignancy and breezy humour make it pretty darn impossible to resist.’ The Hollywood Reporter
Love books, love music, hate school.
Studious Ned feels like the only one at his all-boys Irish boarding school who doesn’t share the school obsession with rugby. But at the start of a new term Ned’s world is rocked by his bold new English teacher, who encourages him to form an unlikely friendship with Conor, Ned’s tough but protective new roommate – who happens to be a rugby star. Sweet, sympathetic and with a great indie soundtrack, Handsome Devil will delight those who remember the joy and pain of growing up.
These films below opened in the previous few weeks but I didn't have a chance to post the reviews. So in case anyone was looking for my opinion on them, I am happy to deliver.
Manchester by the Sea ✪✪✪ Opened February 2
Manchester by the Sea has already won a Golden Globe for it's lead Casey Affleck (Ben's brother) for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama, and I'm sure it will be a hot favorite at the Oscars to take a few wins. There is a lot to like about the film and if they shaved about twenty minutes off the run time and Kenneth Lonergan, who writes and directs, had a little more experience and a touch more confidence that he had delivered his message, this film could have knocked the experience out of the park. As it stands, the film is overlong and drags and watching Affleck work his way morosely through the nitty gritty of burying his brother and somehow helping his nephew through a terrible time is, as you would expect, quite depressing. However, there are also some wonderful screen moments. Michelle Williams has a small part but, in her final scene, boy, she packs a punch. Casey Affleck too, gives a wonderful portrayal and the story does make you ponder how quickly we judge other people without ever considering that, perhaps, they are not friendly or happy or smiley for a good reason. So I like it for that.
There are also some well crafted scenes. Lonergan has a good eye. What he doesn't have is a good feel for pace, but if he directs more films I think he will be an interesting filmmaker to watch. This is a small film but not a terrible film. Just be warned it is difficult subject matter and you will need a happy place to visit after. However, every story teller has a right to tell their story, even if it is a miserable one. So I applaud Lonergan for taking on the challenge of creating this film from an idea brought to him by Matt Damon and John Krasinski, who then due to scheduling conflicts couldn't be involved.
After the death of his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler), Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is shocked to learn that Joe has made him sole guardian of his nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Taking leave of his job, Lee reluctantly returns to Manchester-by-the-Sea to care for Patrick, a spirited 16-year-old, and is forced to deal with a past that separated him from his wife Randi (Michelle Williams) and the community where he was born and raised. Bonded by the man who held their family together, Lee and Patrick struggle to adjust to a world without him.
Patriot’s Day ✪✪✪✪½ Opened February 2
Mark Wahlberg is one of the most underrated actors working today. He can play the funny guy PG or the R+
guy in Ted, the action-sci-fi lead in The Transformers, and then he can do drama like the Oscar winners and be a convincing every-man.
Last year, we enjoyed his documentary-drama Deepwater Horizon and here is again in another quality based-on-real-events film Patriots Day documenting the events during and directly after the terrible bombing at the Bottom Marathon finish line. This is edge-of-your-seat stuff and I spent half the movie with my hand over my mouth in horror as we watched the terrorists plan and execute their evil as though this was just a high school prank.
Go see this film on the big screen. It's a good one and will leave you angry, but uplifted by the Bostonians. Those affected epitomize true heroism, along with the whole city that contributed to catching these evil men.
An account of the Boston Marathon bombing, PATRIOTS DAY is the powerful story of a community's courage in the face of terror. In the aftermath of an unspeakable attack, Police Sergeant Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg) joins courageous survivors, first responders and investigators in a race against the clock to hunt down the bombers before they strike again. Weaving together the stories of Special Agent Richard DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon), Police Commissioner Ed Davis (John Goodman), Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese (J.K. Simmons) and nurse Carol Saunders (Michelle Monaghan) this visceral and unflinching chronicle captures the suspense of one of the most sophisticated manhunts in law enforcement history and celebrates the strength of the people of Boston..
I hope you are enjoying my new website. You can subscribe now and receive an alert whenever there is a new post. So you never need to miss out on the weekly film reviews or any news.
If you've arrived here as a fan of my stories, please join my Wonderful Readers' Club.