Archive for February, 2019

For my second post about the Oscars today: I recently had a conversation about the Oscars, where said after Roma, the favourite (the bookies  favourite, not the movie called The Favourite), Green Book is the film most likely film to win best picture.  This was met with derision as the people I was talking to said The Favourite And a few other nominated films) is better than Green Book.  While I agree that it is a better film, and may get more 1st place votes, it may not win. While the other categories are a simple vote, five nominees, tick a box for your favourite, the best picture is decided by a preferential ballot.  Essentially the same as a single transferable ballet used in some elections. Oscars

Essentially, a movie needs to achieve over 50% of vote.  To achieve this, each voter has to rank the movies in order of favourite (1 to 8 this year).  If more than half of voters pick a film as their number one choice, it wins.  If no film achieves this, the lowest ranked film is eliminated.  The votes that went to the lowest ranked film are transferred to the next highest ranked film on each ballot paper.  This process is continued until one film achieves over half the ballot. GreenBook

Green book is the type of film that could pick up a lot of 2nd and 3rd place votes.  The same could be true of Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star Is Born where The Favourite and BlacKkKlansman are probably more divisive and polarising.  I suspect Vice and Black Panther are making up the numbers.  And why do I not mind if Green Book wins?  Because despite a backlash and reports to the contrary, it is an excellent film and I really liked it.  When I did my own ranking of nominated films last month it came in fourth behind Roma, The Favourite, and BlacKkKlansman.  On any given day it could creep up to third.  oscar the best picture ranked

To add to the confusion, While Roma is favourite to win best picture, it may miss out on Best Foreign Language Film.  A category with possibly the fairest voting process.  There is no guarantee that anyone voting for best picture (or any other Oscar) has actually seen the film.  Except the Best Foreign Language Film, where not only must they watch the films, but must watch them how intended, in a cinema.  The nominated films are selected by the Foreign Language Film Award Committee (who watch all the submitted films).  So called “screener” DVD’s are not used in this category, any Academy members wishing to vote must attend an official screening of all five nominated films. Roma

Cards on the table, I have only seen two of this year’s nominated films, Roma and Cold war, I love them both.  While Roma is the better film, I would love to see the lesser seen Cold War win.  Given the way they are voted for the popular film doesn’t always win, just remember Amélie lost out to No Man’s Land, and Pans Labyrinth to The Lives of Others!


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A couple of weeks ago I ranked the Oscar nominees by order of my preference.   Now it’s time to predict who will win: 

BEST PICTURE: ROMA – Gabriela Rodríguez and Alfonso Cuarón, ProducersRoma

DIRECTING Alfonso Cuarón – ROMAAlfonso-Cuaron-Director-Roma

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY): BLACKKKLANSMAN – Written by Charlie Wachtel & David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott & Spike LeeCharlie Wachtel & David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee


ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE: RAMI MALEK – Bohemian RhapsodyRAMI MALEK - Bohemian Rhapsody



ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: REGINA KING – If Beale Street Could TalkREGINA KING - If Beale Street Could Talk


CINEMATOGRAPHY Alfonso Cuarón – ROMAalfonso cuaron


FILM EDITING: VICE – Hank CorwinVICE - Hank Corwin



MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG): SHALLOW from A Star Is Born; Music and Lyric by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt76th Annual Golden Globe Awards, Press Room, Los Angeles, USA - 06 Jan 2019

PRODUCTION DESIGN: THE FAVOURITE – Production Design: Fiona Crombie & Set Decoration: Alice FeltonFiona Crombie Alice Felton

SOUND EDITING: BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY – John Warhurst and Nina HartstoneJohn Warhurst and Nina Hartstone

SOUND MIXING: FIRST MAN –  Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Ai-Ling Lee and Mary H. Ellis- Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Ai-Ling Lee and Mary H. Ellis


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For the final of my anniversary posts, here are the most significant events in movies in the past ten years:

  1. Time’s Up and Me Too movementsTimes up
  2. Kathryn Bigelow wins best director OscarKathryn Bigelow
  3. 12 Years a Slave becomes the first Best Picture Oscar winner to have a black director or producer86th Oscars, Backstage
  4. Disney buys Marvel and Lucasfilm (and brings back Star Wars)marvel and lucasfilm
  5. The film industry went digitaldigital
  6. Growth of Netflix (and other streaming service)netlix
  7. Comic book movies dominate the box-officeAvengers Infinity
  8. The Oscars expands its Best Pictures nominees to (up to) 10 filmsbest picture nominees 2010
  9. IMAX found its way to the multiplexesimax
  10. The so called golden age of television and its impact on movies42-19931105

What will happen in the next ten years?

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For part three of my 10 year anniversary celebration, below are my top ten favourite TV shows to debut since I started blogging: 

Justified (2010-2015)justified

Luther (2010-2019)Luther

The Bridge (original title Bron/Broen) (2011-2018)Bron Broen

Game of Thrones (2011-2019)Game of Thrones

Ray Donavan (2013- )607-The 1-3-2

Orphan Black (2013–2017)Orphan Black

Hannibal (2013–2015)Hannibal

Bosch (2014– )


Penny Dreadful (2014–2016)Penny Dreadful

The Expanse (2015– )The Expanse

Special mention for the anthology show: Black Mirror (2011 -)Black Mirror


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For the second part of my 10 year anniversary celebration, I am taking a look back at the top three movies from each year of my blog with a few thoughts:


  1. Let The Right One In
  2. The Hurt Locker
  3. Inglourious Basterds

(The White Ribbon at 10 should have been higher on my list)2009.jpg


  1. Inception
  2. The Secret in Their Eyes
  3. Monsters

(I picked Winter’s Bone at 4, in hindsight both this and The Secret in Their Eyes would move up a place)2010.jpg


  1. Hugo
  2. Drive
  3. The Guard

(Black Swan only made number 4 on the list but is now my favourite film of the year, and certainly actually in my top ten for the decade)2011.jpg


  1. Skyfall
  2. The Dark Knight Rises
  3. Argo

(Rust and Bone at 9 on my list should have been in the top three)2012


  1. Stoker
  2. Before Midnight
  3. Gravity

(I haven’t re-watched Gravity since seeing it in IMAX, not sure it will work on TV)2013


  1. Boyhood
  2. Only Lovers Left Alive
  3. The Grand Budapest Hotel

(I commented at the time that I based my list on UK releases so excluded Snowpiercer as it had not received a UK release (and criminally still hasn’t!).  I also included Calvary at number four despite seeing it on DVD not at the cinema.2014


  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. Sicario
  3. Ex Machina

(possibly the strongest single year, my top ten is rounded out with: Star Wars : The Force Awakens, Whiplash, Kingsman, Carol, Inside Out, John Wick, and The Salvation)2015


  1. Arrival
  2. Nocturnal Animals
  3. The Hunt For the Wilderpeople

(Hell or High Water is the only film in my top ten that I have re-watched since seeing at the cinema.  The rest of the top ten comprises: Julieta, Sing Street, Green Room, American Honey, Spotlight, Rogue One)2016.jpg


  1. Blade Runner 2049
  2. The Handmaiden
  3. Baby Driver

(I have re-watched Baby Driver and Atomic Blonde (also in the top ten, at six) four or five times each)2017


  1. The Shape Of Water
  2. Three Billboards Outside
  3. Phantom Thread

(all my top three were eligible for last year’s Oscars. Roma was in my top three movies of the year, but I excluded it from my list having not seen it in a cinema)2018.jpg


My top movies of 2019 so far are:

  1. The Favourite
  2. If Beale Street Could Talk
  3. Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

How many will make by top ten by the end of the year?2019 so far.jpg

There are five none English langue movies that have made my top ten lists: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Secret in Their Eyes, and Let The Right One In have all had Hollywood remakes.  Cold War is too personal to the director and specific to the time to be remade.  In The Fade is prime for a remake!

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10Today, Fandango Groovers Movie Blog is ten years old today, to celebrate, this is the first of four posts to today to mark the occasion.  Below is a list of ten movie bloggers that have been around since the early days of my blog (or before), and is still with us:

  1. Andy Crump from  A Constant Visual Feast formally known as Andrew at the Cinema
  2. Anna from Defiant Success formally known as Life of a Cinephile and Bibliophile
  3. Caroline Ames aka Caz from Lets Go To The Movies
  4. Darren Mooney from  the mOvie blog
  5. Marc Ciafardini from Go,See,Talk!
  6. Nick Prigge from Cinema Romantico
  7. Paul from Paragraph Film Reviews – Now more commonly found on Twitter 
  8. Philip Concannon from Phil on Film
  9. Ruth Maramis from FlixChatter
  10. Ryan McNeil from The Matinee

And a special mention for your friendly neighborhood Kaider-Man, Kai B. Parker who no longer writes about movies, but along with co-host Heather Baxendale, who is still writing (more about running than movies) is responsible for one of the best movie podcasts; MILFCAST (AKA: THE MAN, I LOVE FILMS PODCAST), when not on hiatus!

Part Two Coming Soon

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I loved last year’s Ready Player One.  It is a deeply flawed movie, but if you go with it, you simply don’t care about the flaws, because it’s a fun ride.  Alita: Battle Angel has that same quality.Alita Battle Angel Poster

In the year 2563, 300 years after “the fall”  earth has been devastated, the remains of the population live in a crumbling city all working for Zalem, the sky city floating above them.  Dr Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) finds the remains of cyborg (Rosa Salazar)with the brain of a teenage-girl.  He repairs her and names her after his late daughter Alita.  As she regains fragments of memory it becomes clear that there is a lot more to Alita.Alita Battle Angel 1

Based on a Japanese cyberpunk manga series  by Yukito Kishiro from the early 90’s.  James Cameron has owned the movie rights for the best part of twenty years.  He suggested it would be his next project after the Dark Angel TV series, then again after Avatar.  After deciding to concentrate of giant Smurfs sequels he hired Robert Rodriguez as director.Alita Battle Angel 2

The plot is thin, predictable and filled with every cliché you can imagine, and the exposition is clunky.  These things really don’t matter, how much plot do you need in an action film? For predicable and clichéd, you could read satisfying.  A certain amount of exposition is needed, and it is kept to a minimum here, in fact there are lots of things we are not told.  This I expect is a combination of things the filmmakers don’t deem important, and those they are saving for future instalments.  With roots in genre movies, Robert Rodriguez knows all about shorthand, he makes great use of hit here with costume.  You can track Alita’s accelerated character arc by her wardrobe.  The same can be said of the villains, without giving anything away, you instantly know who to trust and who not too.  This helps things zip along at a great pace.  It’s when the pace drops that the film loses its way, particular in the middle section, but don’t the action soon picks up again.Alita Battle Angel 3

The film looks spectacular as you would expect, but that isn’t enough on its own, the largely animated characters are believable and believable within the narrative.   Alita’s oversized manga eyes are far less problamatic than I expected, although I’m sure they have been toned down since the first teaser last year.  A perfect blend of childish innocence and near fetishized ability, Alita is endearing where she could have been problematic.  This is in no small part due to Rosa Salazar’s excellent motion capture performance.  The success of her performance is vital, if you don’t warm to the character you won’t like the film.Alita Battle Angel 4

The end of the film is something of a risk, leaving the narrative unfinished without an actual cliff-hanger.  If the film performs well enough to earn a sequel, or franchise this choice will look inspired.  If it is Alita’s only outing, it may feel a little unfinished. Alita Battle Angel 5

A perfect example of this type of film, if you go into it with the right mindset, you will love it.  If you use a critical eye and look for the problems, you will find them.  Just go with it!

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The Bat-Man, created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger first appeared in Detective Comics #27, in 1939.  Described as the World’s Greatest Detective, and written in the style of the pulp crime novels and comic books of the day.  He soon became the Batman we know today.  But why am I writing about this now? You may have heard that Ben Affleck has hung up his cowl and cape for the final time, he will not appear in The Batman, a film originally announced in 2014 for release around, well, now!  The story appears to have gone through many changes, and is now slated for a summer 2021 release.  DC/Warner are describing the film as “character-driven” and “stylistically noir”, this gives an opportunity for a more interesting Batman, a period set movie.  There is no word on casting yet, but that isn’t a major concern as they have never really got the casting wrong; Michael Keaton, Christian Bale were in the best films.  Val Kilmer was a strange choice but OK in a poor film.  We will never know how good or bad George Clooney could have been, no one could have saved that film!  And Ben Affleck was actually good, all be it, in two terrible films.  It’s all about getting the story right. DC no 27 1939

There are multiple reasons for setting the film in the past, most notably, it will take it away from the Justice League.  Just as importantly, as the gaps between reboots gets ever smaller, it is a close as possible treat one of the most recognisable properties as a new character.  When it could be set is not limited by when it was created: Prohibition (1920-1933) was the golden age of gangsters; the war years could incorporate more of a spy story, as could the cold war years.  The other reason for the setting the movie in the past is simple, style.  Imagine a Batmobile based on a sleek 1940’s car!  Or even the gadgets! Give Batman things that exist today, with a throwaway line about how everyone will be using them in a few years.  This gets over the issue that Batman and so many other film and TV, Like Star Trek have; gadgets often look ridiculously unrealistic when we first see them, and horribly dated a generation later. Batmobile.jpg

Setting a comic book film in the past isn’t a big stretch, it isn’t as if it hasn’t been done before; The Shadow (1994) and The Phantom (1996), both set in the 1930’s are fun but flawed.  The Rocketeer (1991), aslo set in the late 30’s is a really fun film that stands up really well today.  More recently  Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), and Wonder Woman (2017), largely set during WWII and WWI respectively, are both brilliant.  We can also look at Tim Burton’s take on Batman (1989), it has a sort of timeless period look; Gotham City, benefiting from being a studio backlot set is a mix of German Expressionism and Art Deco design.  The cars are mostly from the 70’s.  The Gangsters dress like they are from the 30’s and carry Thompson submachine guns, the cops look like they are from the 40’s or 50’sgotham 1989

Finally we need a villain.  Every comic book movie succeeds or fails on how good the bad guy is. There have been four great Batman movies to date (in my opinion – other opinions are welcome, but wrong) Batman (1989) Batman Returns (1992), Batman Begins (2005), and The Dark Knight (2008).  They all had one common denominator, a great villain, or two.  If setting film in the past, you not only need to make the villain fit the hero, but also the era of the film.  This isn’t an issue for Batman as most of the best villains were created years ago.  The antagonist needs to a recognisable one, so not too much of a deep-dive that only fanboys will get. Any reboot, needs to avoid The Joker; we have had two great versions of him, and there is a new stand alone Joker on the way too.  Two-Face has been done twice now in recent years, let’s give him a rest.  The Penguin was done so well in Batman Returns, it would be a big ask to do him again.  The Riddler would be an excellent choice if someone could make him work the way Heath Ledger did with the Joker.  I would say it’s too soon to use Ra’s al Ghul, but he could work well in a period setting.  Finally three that haven’t been used in a live action movie: Mad Hatter, Black Mask, and Hugo Strange. Ra's al Ghul Mad Hatter Black Mask and Hugo Strange

We all know that DC and Warner will play it safe and give us the standard reboot, just as long as we don’t have another origin, I think we have all seen Martha and Thomas get killed too many times!

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The last of my series ranking the Oscar nominated films. – DIRECTING NOMINEES Nominees ranked in my order of preference:

  1. ROMA Alfonso Cuarón
  2. THE FAVOURITE  Yorgos Lanthimos
  3. COLD WAR Paweł Pawlikowski
  5. VICE Adam McKayRanking Oscar Nominations BEST DIRECTOR

And the omissions that I think deserved a nomination:

  1. LEAVE NO TRACE Debra Granik
  2. A QUIET PLACE John Krasinski
  3. WIDOWS Steve McQueenBEST DIRECTOR the omissions

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Cinematography  Nominees ranked in my order of preference

  1. ROMA Alfonso Cuarón
  2. COLD WAR Łukasz Żal
  3. THE FAVOURITE Robbie Ryan
  4. A STAR IS BORN Matthew Libatique
  5. not ranked NEVER LOOK AWAY Caleb Deschanel*Ranking Oscar Nominations CINEMATOGRAPHY
*Not ranked as not seen. No UK release date yet

The omissions that I think deserved a nomination 

  2. WILDLIFE Diego García
  3. WIDOWS Sean BobbittRanking Oscar Nominations CINEMATOGRAPHY Omissions

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