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Following its release on Netflix I held off watching Roma for several weeks in the hope it would find its way to a cinema near me.  I live in a city covered by most major cinema chains as well as lots of great independents (including “The UK’s Oldest Working Cinema”), I therefore thought I had a pretty good chance.  Sadly it didn’t appear, so in the dark days between Christmas and New Year, I bit the bullet and watched Alfonso Cuarón’s latest on TV at home.Roma

Following an online search I soon discovered why it hadn’t appeared at a cinema.  It appears Netflix set the bar pretty high for any cinema wishing to show the movie.  It suggested they needed the capability to project 70mm film or 4k digital, and have Dolby Atmos sound.  This excluded most independent cinemas across the country; many will have one of these capabilities few have both.Roma

After watching the film my first reaction was that I could understand the restrictions as the films sound design was nothing short of spectacular.  I have a reasonable home setup with 7.1 sound, this was by far the best sounding film I have watched at home, I’m sure a full Dolby Atmos would have sounded even better.  My impression was further galvanised by a friend who had watched the film the same night as me who commented that he hadn’t noticed the great sound.  The irony of this, the person in question was partly responsible for convincing me to upgrade my system, but doesn’t himself have surround sound having recently moved house, and not set up his surround speakers yet.ROMA

However, it suddenly hit me; there was a chink in the Netflix criteria.  A cinema with a really good, but not Dolby Atmos setup could not show the film, but anyone with a Netflix account could watch it on a mobile phone with a 2 inch screen and a single speaker.  Accepted, it is unlikely that anyone who would have paid to watch the film in the cinema, when they could have watched it at home at no extra cost (if they have Netflix) is unlikely to then watch it on a mobile phone! Nevertheless, even the best home set-up is going to be inferior to most cinema’s even if they are not Atmos.  Therefore there must be more to it than simply showing the film in the best way.roma 3

Whether you think it is the death of cinema or an exciting time, we are certainly at a tipping point in not just how we view films, but how they are funded and made.  Steven Spielberg has joined the debate suggesting that films should not be eligible for the Oscars if they are predominantly streamed and receive just a token release.  Film critic Mark Kermode has long been an advocate of simultaneous release across multiple platforms, I tend to agree with him.  But the Roma model (and many other Netflix releases in 2018) goes a long way past the idea of a simultaneous release and into what Spielberg calls a “token” release, where films are shown in a very small number of cinema’s for a very short time.  Netflix have responded on Twitter “We love cinema. Here are some things we also love: Access for people who can’t always afford, or live in towns without, theaters – Letting everyone, everywhere enjoy releases at the same time.” While a measured response, they don’t seem to have taken account of people who don’t have the capability to stream movies, for example if they live in a rural area with low bandwidth.  Also from a cost point of view, many people may not be able to afford the cost of high-speed internet, and Netflix subscriptions, but can afford the odd treat of a trip to the cinema.  For at least the last half century the cheapest way of watching movies has been free to air TV, at this time, it isn’t clear if Netflix movies ever find their way to TV.roma4

There are more questions than answers, and they are sure to be asked again later this year with the release of Martin Scorsese’s much anticipated return to the gangster genre The Irishman.  I will be watching with interest. 

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Just six screenings this month, but which will be movie of the month?

The Mule – Clint Eastwood returns to acting with only his second appearance in a decade.  Inspired by true events, the film is a little lightweight and whimsical but is enjoyable none the less. The Mule

Alita: Battle Angel – James Cameron’s long promised Manga project finally makes it to the screen in the hands of director Robert Rodriguez.  Rosa Salazar shines through the CG to give a fantastic performance at the heart of the movie.  Flawed, but tremendous fun.Alita Battle Angel 5

Happy Death Day 2U – Two years ago Happy Death Day combined the ideas of Groundhog Day with a slasher movie.  A large part of the success was the charisma of Jessica Rothe in the lead role.  She is back for a sequel that is more comedy than horror.  The filmmakers have the sense to come up with a new idea rather than rehashing the first film, it isn’t as good as the first film but still a fun watch. Happy Death Day 2U

A Private War – The true story of war correspondent Marie Colvin.  Powerful and often harrowing. Rosamund Pike is sensational in the lead and was criminally overlooked at the Oscars. a-private-war-PW_03736a_rgb.JPG

Wild at Heart – David Lynch’s bonkers take on a the American Road Movie hasn’t lost any of its power  in the nearly thirty years since its original release. Wild at Heart

Burning – Wonderfully ambiguous that keeps you guessing until the end and ultimately asks a lot more questions than it answers.  Burning

As always I have only included new releases in completion for movie of the month making Wild At Heart ineligible.  That leaves two contenders; Alita: Battle Angel was so much fun it came really close, but my movie of the month, is the one I can’t stop thinking about: Burning.Burning Poster

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!

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

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY): FIRST REFORMED – Written by Paul SchraderFIRST REFORMED - Written by Paul Schrader

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

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE: GLENN CLOSE – The WifeGLENN CLOSE - The Wife

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: MAHERSHALA ALI – Green BookMAHERSHALA ALI - Green Book

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

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM: SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSESpider-Man Into the Spider-Verse poster

CINEMATOGRAPHY Alfonso Cuarón – ROMAalfonso cuaron

COSTUME DESIGN: Sandy Powell – THE FAVOURITESandy Powell - THE FAVOURITE

FILM EDITING: VICE – Hank CorwinVICE - Hank Corwin

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: ROMA – MexicoRoma

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE): IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK – Nicholas BritellNicholas Britell

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

VISUAL EFFECTS: AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR – Dan DeLeeuw, Kelly Port, Russell Earl and Dan SudickVISUAL EFFECTS AVENGERS INFINITY WAR

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?

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– )

Bosch

Penny Dreadful (2014–2016)Penny Dreadful

The Expanse (2015– )The Expanse

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

 

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:

2009

  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

2010

  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

2011

  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

2012

  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

2013

  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

2014

  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

2015

  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

2016

  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

2017

  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

2018

  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

2019

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!