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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Shannon’

I first came across Guillermo del Toro in 1997 when I rented Mimic on Video (I didn’t see Cronos until some years later on TV). I have since seen every one of his movies in the cinema on their original release. Mimic is an enjoyable genre movie.   It doesn’t do anything outstanding but it does it with a style that made del Toro a director to look out for.  Four years later came the stunning ghost story The Devil’s Backbone.  This was closely followed in 2002 by Blade II.  A big fan of the original Blade, I was curious what a sequel would be like.  With a bigger scope and a more in-depth story it is better than the first film.  This is where I first saw a lot of the themes that have become the mainstay for del Toro stories; themes that were explored further in Hellboy and (2004) and his masterpiece Pan’s Labyrinth (2006).  My favourite film of the year and possibly the decade.  While I have enjoyed all his films that have followed, none have quite hit the highs of Pan’s Labyrinth until now! Pans labyrinth

Its traditional to start a review, if that is what this is, with a brief synopsis.  Rather than agonising over how much plot to give away in a carefully worded description, I have lifted this from IMDB “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.”  This is as much as you want to know going in, I would certainly avoid any trailers as they give the whole story away. The Shape of Water PosterThe key to the brilliance of the movie is the central performance by Sally Hawkins as Elisa Esposito.  The part is largely without speech, but she expresses so much without words.  This isn’t achieved with a silent movie style over exaggerated performance; this is naturalistic, subtle and beautiful.  Without this central performance, the romance that is at the heart of the story would not be believable, but more importantly, we as audiences would not care about it. The Shape of Water

The brilliance of the film goes far beyond the central plot and the main characters: Richard Jenkins plays a neighbour and friend who has his own story, with his own triumphs and failures as well as being key to the central plot.  We get a glimpse of the home life of co-worker Zelda (Ocatavia Spencer).  Then we have Michael Shannon’s character he is essentially the films villain, but he truly believes he is a patriot and the hero.   All these things hold a mirror up to society, how we live and what we believe, not the society of its early 60’s setting, this is a movie for today, a movie for today.  A time of Brexit Britain, Trumps America and tensions between the two Korean states. The-Shape-of-Water-Michael-Shannon-Strickland

The film looks amazing.  Many of the visual effects are real, in camera and not digital.  The production design is stunning, not exactly German Expressionism, but certainly a couple of degrees of real world.  There is so much going on and there are some truly tense scenes, but the film drifts along telling its story with pace and a truly gentle touch.  The themes and metaphors are clear to see but not rammed down our throats.  Del Toro trusts that his audiences with enough intelligence to make their own mind up about what they are seeing as he did with The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth.  This all helps make the film totally engrossing, the time absolutely flies by; I was amazed to learn it was just over two hours long, when the credits rolled I would have guessed closer to 90 minutes. Octavia_Spencer_in_The_Shape_of_Water

Nominated for a well-deserved 13 Oscars.  It’s hard to say how many it will win; given the other films nominated, I would probably only give it three or four: Best Achievement in Directing, Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role for Sally Hawkins, and Best Achievement in Production Design.  It is credited as a 2017 film, had it been released last year it would have topped my list of favourite films for the year. 

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Whilst watching Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them I rapidly came to the conclusion that Queenie (Alison Sudol) and Kowalski (Dan Fogler) are more interesting than the main characters.  This got me thinking of the supporting characters that have enhanced movies this year:queenie-alison-sudol-and-kowalski-dan-fogler

Rocky: Let’s start with the strangest, Rocky as a supporting character in a Rocky movie! Creed is a Rocky movie, but it’s also its own beast and Michael B. Jordan is excellent as Adonis Johnson/Creed and was unlucky not to receive an Oscar nomination, but Sylvester Stallone was fantastic as Rocky and truly was a supporting character.sylvester-stallone-creed

Ringer: The 5th Wave was a poor film with little to recommend it but Maika Monroe was brilliant as ever playing the most fun character in the movie.ringer-the-5th-wave-maika-monroe

Sheriff Chris Mannix: Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight is a truly ensemble movie and it is hard to call any of the characters supporting, however, in a dialogue heavy movie one of the less well known actors stands out: Walton Goggins. Anyone who has seen Justified won’t be surprised.sheriff-chris-mannix-walton-goggins

Penelope Lannier: Like many people the first I heard of Dakota Johnson was Fifty Shades of Grey, like many people I thought she was the only good thing about the film.  In A Bigger Splash not only does she stand out, but she does it against some seriously amazing actors: Tilda Swinton, Marianne Lane, Ralph Fiennes.penelope-lannier-a-bigger-splash-dakota-johnson

Howard: 10 Cloverfield Lane: is a seriously leftfield sequel.  Mary Elizabeth Winstead is fantastic in the lead but the film would have fallen apart without the brilliant John Goodman.howard-10-cloverfield-lane-john-goodman

Isabelle: In Louder Than Bombs, Isabelle Huppert is never less than sensational and has therefore set the bar pretty high for herself.  playing a dead character, we only see her in flashbacks, but she is the focus of the film and it wouldn’t work unless she is good.  The film is mesmerising and she is monumental.isabelle-huppert-louder-than-bombs

Tanya Vanderpoel: Margot Robbie‘s best moment in Whisky Tango Foxtrot is in the trailer.  To add to this she is supporting the brilliant Tina Fey in the first movie role worthy of her talents in years.  To be honest the offhand delivery of her line in the trailer is enough to give her a place on this list, but she also provides great support in to Fey’s lead.tanya-vanderpoel-margot-robbie-whisky-tango-foxtrot

St Clair Bayfield and Cosmé McMoon: If Meryl Streep gets within a mile of a movie she picks up an Oscar nomination, it is therefore hard to stand out in her presence, however, in Florence Foster Jenkins two performances stand out; Hugh Grant and Simon Helberg.st-clair-bayfield-and-cosme-mcmoon

Jane Clayton: The Legend of Tarzan: is a good old-fashioned action adventure film that was unfairly derided on release.  Alexander Skarsgård is good as John Clayton / Tarzan, Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson do a really good job playing Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson.  However, I would happily have watched a movie about Jane played by Margot Robbie in one of three standout performances this year.jane-clayton-the-legend-of-tarzan-margot-robbie

Jillian Holtzmann: Ghostbusters is a week film.  Its problems have nothing to do with the casting or the gender of the stars and has everything to do with flabby direction and a week unfunny script.  To give an actress as talented as Kristen Wiig such a poor part is a crime .  There is one good thing about the film and this comes from the one actor I had never heard of; Kate McKinnon.jillian-holtzmann-ghostbusters-kate-mckinnon

Jake: Star played by Sasha Lane is the star (pun intended) of American Honey but the standout performance comes from the supporting cast as Shia LaBeouf finally fulfils the promise of the talented young actor we saw in A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints and glimpsed in Nymphomaniac: and The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman.american-honey-shia-labeouf

Miss Peregrine: Eva Green was the only good thing about Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows, although she plays the eponymous role, she is a supporting character in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, but a memorable supporting character.MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

Bobby Andes and Ray Marcus: Amy Adams is the focus of Nocturnal Animals, it will be a crime if she doesn’t pickup her sixth and seventh Oscar nominations for this and Arrival, but there are other standout performances that really make the film tick: Michael Shannon and Aaron Taylor-Johnson.michael-shannon-aaron-taylor-johnson-nocturnal-animals

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