Posts Tagged ‘Cold War’

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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Between now and the Oscars on 25th February I will be ranking some of the main Oscar categories in my order of preference.  To be clear this is a rank of how much I liked the film, not what I think will win. What better place to start, the end!  The biggest category; the Best Picture.

  1. Roma
  2. The Favourite
  3. BlacKkKlansman
  4. Green Book
  5. Vice
  6. Black Panther
  7. Bohemian Rhapsody
  8. A Star Is Bornoscar the best picture ranked
A point of note; I like, and enjoyed all eight nominated films so there is no shame in being Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star Is Born  at the bottom of the list.

And who missed out? Bellow, again ranked in order of preference is a few movies I think deserved a nomination.  (I don’t use the term snub, can a group working independently of each other “snub” a movie?)

  1. Leave No Trace
  2. Cold War
  3. A Quiet Place
  4. Widowsoscar the Best picture what should have been nominated.jpg

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  1. The Shape Of WaterThe Shape Of Water

  2. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing MissouriThree Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

  3. Phantom ThreadPhantom Thread

  4. A Quiet PlaceA Quiet Place

  5. ThoroughbredsThoroughbreds

  6. Leave No TraceLeave No Trace

  7. In The FadeIn The Fade

  8. Cold WarCold War

  9. WidowsWidows

  10. WildlifeWildlife

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If you are reading this site, you are probably a movie fan and will have seen a lot of these films, but many people won’t have heard of them.  This a shame, as they are all great!

Loveless: A couple going through a divorce are oblivious to the effect it is having on their young son.  The film is totally devastating and heartbreaking.  If you see it you will probably love it, but never want to see it again.  Nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year, and BAFTA for Best Film Not in the English Language.  Director Andrey Zvyagintsev made his name with The Return (2003) and is best known for Leviathan (2014), also nominated for Foreign Language Oscar.Loveless

Dark River: Following the death of her father, Alice (Ruth Wilson) returns home for the first time in 15 years to take over the tenancy of the family farm.  Here she has to confront ghosts of her past, and her brother who now runs the farm.  Always reliable Ruth Wilson is on sensational form.  Director Clio Barnard is best known for the innovative documentary The Arbor (2010) and The Selfish Giant (2013). Dark River

You Were Never Really Here: A traumatized (Joaquin Phoenix) veteran, with a penchant for extreme violence finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy while tracking down a missing young girl.  What it lacks in plot and action, it more than makes up for in mood and atmosphere.  Phoenix has never been better.  Director Lynne Ramsay’s first film since the excellent We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011).You Were Never Really Here

Thoroughbreds:  Two teenagers (Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy) reconnect and rekindle their unusual friendship after drifting apart a few years before.  A film that doesn’t always go where you expect.  Darkly funny and satirical, not to everyone’s taste, but it really got under my skin.  Sadly one of Anton Yelchin’s last films.  Director Cory Finley’s feature début.Thoroughbreds

Beast:  Set in a claustrophobic isolated community on the Channel Island of Jersey; a troubled young woman falls for a seductive but secretive stranger who may or may not be a serial killer, whilst also having to deal with an overpowering mother.  Fantastic performances and a plot filled with just enough ambiguity.  Director, Michael Pearce’s feature debut. Beast

Revenge:  A young woman fights for survival, and to inflict terrible, bloody, and violent revenge on the three men who have wronged her.  She does so with a minimum of clothing.  All this sounds crass, cheesy and unoriginal; however, Revenge offers something new and interesting, possibly because it is written and directed by a woman!  Director Coralie Fargeat’s feature début.Revenge

Leave No Trace: A troubled veteran and his teenage daughter are living outdoors and off grid, until they are discovered and forced to reintegrate into society.  A film that says so much about society today both in its text and subtext.  Masterful filmmaking from director Debra Granik who amazingly hasn’t made a movie since Winter’s Bone (2010). Leave No Trace

Hearts Beat Loud: A father and daughter form an unlikely songwriting partnership at a time of transition in both their lives.   Possibly the most lightweight and disposable film on the list, but certainly the warmest and most charming.  Director Brett Haley’s fourth feature, the first of his that I have seen. Hearts Beat Loud

The Rider: Brady Jandreau, a rodeo rider and horse trainer unable to ride following a near fatal head injury, plays Brady Blackburn a rodeo rider and horse trainer unable to ride following a near fatal head injury.  A stunning exploration of identity and masculinity, that could possibly only been told by a woman.  Director Chloé Zhao’s second feature. The Rider

Cold War: A passionate love story starting in 1950s Cold War Poland.  The skill, artistry and restraint to tell such an epic story in just 88 minutes is pure art.  The film looks incredible, sounds amazing and will rip your heart out.  Director Pawel Pawlikowski has won three BAFTA’s: Best Film Not in the English Language for Ida (2013), Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film for My Summer of Love (2004) and Carl Foreman Award for the Most Promising Newcomer for Last Resort (2000).  Cold War is on the short (of nine) that will be whittled down to five for next year’s Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year nominations. Cold War

Bonus pick – Tully: This is a movie that shouldn’t be on the list, it screams mainstream, or at very least popular indie hit; directed by Jason Reitman, writer by Diablo Cody, starring Charlize Theron.  On top of this, it is also fantastic.  The reviews were good, those who saw it liked it, but for some reason (poor marketing?), it failed to find an audience.  Hopefully it will find an audience on the small screen.  So much more than its synopsis, and it has Charlize Theron! She may disappear into a Lady Gaga shaped shadow when it comes to the Oscars, but you will be hard pressed to find a better performance this year. Tully

Redux version, I forgot one – A Prayer Before Dawn: A brutal and haunting movie about Billy Moore, a British boxer who finds himself in a brutal prison in Thailand, a true story of based on Moore’s book. A lot of the dialogue is in Thai without subtitles, an effective but disconcerting choice.  Director Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s second movie, a decade after his first Johnny Mad Dog.A Prayer Before Dawn


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An interesting month with some excellent films, and a movie of the month that may surprise you, it surprises me and I just chose it! 

Searching – Thriller about a frantic farther looking for his missing daughter.  The gimmick of showing a movie as if on a computer screen seems to have taken over from found footage, it’s going to get tied very soon.  The film is so gripping and John Cho so compelling in the lead that the gimmick is soon forgotten.  Some of the twists are obvious, others less so.  All in all, a solid thriller.Searching

Hearts Beat Loud – Inspired by a throw away comment and a burgeoning  romance, a young woman writes a song that leads to forming an unlikely band (of sorts) with her farther. What could have been a disposable and forgettable little indie film turns out to be a clever, funny and heart-warming.   Kiersey Clemons and Nick Offerman are great in the lead and are well supported by Toni Collette, Sasha Lane and Ted Danson.  Unlike many films of the type, the songs are good too.heartsbeatloud

Yardie – Idris Elba’s feature début as a director.  A young low level Jamaican criminal with unresolved issues from his past is sent to London in the early 80’s The look, vibe, and spirit of the scene are brilliantly realised.  The characters are believable and well played, the standout being Stephen Graham.  Elba directs with the same confidence and swagger that he acts making it a hugely enjoyable film even if it isn’t always best served by the story/plot that is a little thin.  Elba made the right decision to stay behind the camera so as not to distract from the leads, I look forward to seeing what he directs next.Yardie

American Animals – In 2012, Bart Layton gave us The Imposter, a documentary with a few dramatic reconstructions.  Now he has flipped the idea it on its head giving us a dramatic film cleverly interspersed with real life talking head testimonies.  En engrossing film about a group of students who embark on an attempt at a heist  so inept you won’t believe its a true story until you look it up. American Animals

The Miseducation of Cameron Post – In the early 90’s a teenage girl is sent to a gay conversion therapy centre by her religious  guardian.  The frightening thing about the narrative is the people running the camp feel that they are doing the right thing.  The most notable element of the film is the subtle and measured performance of Chloë Grace Moretz. The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Cold War – The passionate affair of a mismatched couple over about a decade and a half from post war from communist Poland to the 50’s Jazz scene in Parris and back again.  By now we know what to expect from Pawel Pawlikowski, this movie more than delivers, it is beautiful to look, and is uplifting, heartbreaking, and devastating at different times.  All this is elevated by fantastic performances from Joanna Kulig and Tomasz Kot. Cold War

King of Thieves – One of many dramatisations of the Hatton Garden heist from three years ago.  The all star cast (Michael Caine, Tom Courtenay, Charlie Cox, Michael Gambon, Ray Winstone, Jim Broadbent and Paul Whitehouse) are all fantastic, but the film is a little plodding and by the numbers with a lack of flair or excitement.  Nothing wrong with it, but nothing outstanding or original to set it apart.  Worth watching for the great cast, but not worth rushing to see at the cinema.King of Thieves

The Rider – Only a couple of degrees away from being a documentary; a rodeo rider who can no longer ride following an serious accident plays, a rodeo rider who can no longer ride following an serious accident.  Full of contradictions, none actor Brady Jandreau is excellent in the lead, other none actors are a little wooden.  The film doesn’t go anywhere, and little is resolved, but there is so much bubbling under the surface.  Often beautiful and compelling, at others it makes the viewer feel like a voyeur.  Not a film that people will be rushing to see, but one that those who see it will not forget in a hurry. The Rider

The Predator – Following the events of Predator (1987) and Predator 2 (1990), a secret government organisation is on the lookout for visiting predators (although they are unaware of the off world antics of Predators (2010)). A special forces soldier who witnesses one such arrival gets dragged into the affair, as do his family, and anyone he meets during the movie. The first too movies asked as many questions about the Predators as it answered with little explanation of exposition. The biggest flaw of this film is the way it crowbars information in that we would be better off not knowing. While Boyd Holbrook isn’t a terrible leading man, he lacks the presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the charisma of Danny Glover. Full of good ideas, but there is probably a better movie to be told with these characters using as the lead Olivia Munn and keeping Holbrook as a supporting player and link to the character of his son played by Jacob Tremblay (less annoying then you would expect of a film like this). The action is good, but the comedy doesn’t always land, and the story is all over the place. The sequel baiting ending is terrible.The Predator

A Simple Favour – Two very different woman played by Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively become unlikely best friends.  When one goes missing the other is determined to find out what has happened.  I am not a fan of Paul Feig’s previous films, but loved this one.  It looks amazing and is directed with a cheeky swagger reminiscent of lighter Hitchcock movies.  You won’t be surprissed by any of the twists, but this isn’t always a bad thing.  The two leads are both fantastic and appear to be relishing the parts.  A marvellously trashy tale, it has its flaws, but they are easy to forgive as it is so much fun.   A Simple Favour

Climax –  In a remote disused school building a French dance troop conclude their final rehearse for a tour of Europe and The USA.  As soon as they finish, they start to celebrate and party, things quickly go downhill when the sangria is spiked with LSD.  There is a school of thought that the opening few shots of a film should layout everything that is to come.  Climax starts with exactly this, not that you realise it at first.  What follows is quite bizarre in both structure and content, but no more than you would expect from provocateur Gaspar Noé. Strangely the sex is totally unsexy, and violence is clinical matter of fact, but put together the film is oppressive and disturbing.  I am not sure if I like it but I am very impressed by it. Climax

Mile 22 – Director and star pairing Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg have made three other films together, the two I have seen aren’t bad, this fourth collaboration is just lazy.  The action scenes aren’t bad, but the rest of the film is terrible, topped off by Wahlberg’s character being a totally unlikable. The rest of the cast are wholly underserved; Ronda Rousey isn’t a great actor but can do action, but her character departs the story before the real action gets going.  Lauren Cohan has what could have been an interesting side story, that is totally mishandled.  John Malkovich telephones his performance in (at least they had the sense of humour to literally having him at the other end of a phone-line from the rest of the cast).  Star or The Raid Iko Uwais is totally underused.  A pointless mess of a film. MILE 22

The Little Stranger – Sometime after the second world war a doctor from working class origins returns to practice in the backwater where he grew up.  Over time he becomes more and more involved with the local big house, long past its Victorian grandeur.  Will Poulter and Charlotte Rampling provide excellent support, Domhnall Gleeson is perfectly cold and reserved for the part, but as is often the case, it is Ruth Wilson that shines through with a fantastic performance.  A study of class and its evolution wrapped up in a beautifully ambiguous ghost story.  Don’t confuse director Lenny Abrahamson’s deliberately languid pace as being slow, there is too much of interest going on. The Little Stranger

A tough choice; at the start of the month, I thought it would be a choice between two of the first films I have seen: Hearts Beat Loud and The Miseducation of Cameron Post.  As I sat down to write this, it was a clear choice between Cold War ans The Rider.  But if anyone asked me to recommend a film from this month, I would have to say A Simple Favour.  The most accessible, and the most fun, and the one I am most keen to see again.movie of the month contendersBizarrely, the only movie that I can hand on heart claim to be the movie of the month is one that has haunted my thoughts in the week since I saw it, but will probably never watch again, The Movie of the Month is: ClimaxClimax

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