Posts Tagged ‘You Were Never Really Here’

Best Actor nominees ranked in my order of preference:

  2. RAMI MALEK – Bohemian Rhapsody
  3. VIGGO MORTENSEN – Green Book
  4. BRADLEY COOPER – A Star Is Born

not ranked – WILLEM DAFOE – At Eternity’s Gate*Oscar ACTORS IN A LEADING ROLE Ranked.jpg

* Willem Dafoe is not ranked as I have not seen At Eternity’s Gate, and won’t until its UK release a month after the Oscars.

And the omissions that I think deserved a nomination:

  1. ETHAN HAWKE – First Reformed
  2. BRADY JANDREAU – The Rider
  3. JOAQUIN PHOENIX – You Were Never Really HereOscar BEST ACTOR OMISSIONS.jpg

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I will be posting my top ten favourite movies of 2018 later this morning.  Before that, here are the nearly made it movies, the ones I loved that just missed out on the top ten:The Next Best Movies Of 2018.jpg

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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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A busy month of cinema going.  In addition to the films listed below I also saw a ten year anniversary screening of the brilliant but controversial Martyrs.  The contenders for movie of the month are:

Red Sparrow – If you have seen the trailer you would be forgiven for thinking that Marvel had re-cast Black Widow and made an origin movie. This couldn’t be further from the truth, more George Smiley or Harry Palmer than James Bond. Jennifer Lawrence reteams with her Hunger Games director Francis (no relation) Lawrence for an old school spy thriller. Lawrence is convincing as a ballerina forced into a new career. The action is more verbal than physical, but the visuals are often brutal and unflinching. The supporting cast are also excellent, particularly Matthias Schoenaerts as Lawrence’s creepy spymaster uncle. The plot is full of twists and turns but not so much that you can’t follow the story leading to a satisfying conclusion. It is not a film I expect to go down well with audiences, which is a shame, I loved it.Red Sparrow

Wonder Wheel – Woody Allen movies can be a bit hit and miss, this one is certainly more in the miss camp. Ginny (Kate Winslet) is unhappily married to Humpty (Jim Belushi), deluding herself that her affair with pseudo-intellectual flake Mickey (Justin Timberlake) is more than just a fling. Things are shaken up by the arrival of Humpty’ s daughter Carolina (Juno Temple), on the run from her mobster husband. Temple is excellent, Belushi is terrible, he wants to be Brando in a Tennessee Williams play. Shot by three time Oscar winner Vittorio Storaro, the film looks great, it is just really dull and plodding.Wonder Wheel

You Were Never Really Here – A welcome return from Lynne Ramsay. The plot of a hired killer/enforcer sent to rescue a Senator’s daughter sounds like something we have seen many times before, most notably David Mamet’s underrated Spartan (2004). But this is so much more nuanced than that. Existing in a dream like state reminiscent of Ramsay’s earlier Morvern Callar (2002), the film has little interest in plot, instead, it concentrates on the fractured mind of its protagonist Joe (Joaquin Phoenix). All this is aided by another great score by Jonny Greenwood. Not one for the multiplex masses, but a fantastic film for those who like this sort of thing, like me!You Were Never Really Here

Gringo – A first feature for director Nash (brother of Joel) Edgerton. A south of the border comedy crime drama about corrupt corporations and a hapless everyman. Charlize Theron and David Oyelowo relish their comedy roles, Joel Edgerton once again proves his versatility. Amanda Seyfried isn’t given much to do. Even Sharlto Copley isn’t bad. A fun movie but not as funny as it should be. And for those, who have seen the film, and are wondering, the answer to the question is Revolver!Gringo

Mom and Dad – The concept of this movie is totally bonkers, the execution is total B movie schlock, but it actually works thanks to some great style touches, and Nicolas Cage going totally Nicolas Cage! For reasons that are never really explained suburban parents go berserk and try and kill their own offspring. The film could be taken as a straight tongue in cheek comedy horror, or as a satire on the relationship between teenagers and parents. With themes of mothers being jealous of their daughters and fathers resenting the loss of their youth, the latter reading is certainly topical. Don’t expect a masterpiece or anything particularly memorable but as disposable fun, it isn’t bad.mom and dad

Love, Simon – Taken on its own merits, Love, Simon is a coming age, high-school drama, a genre that is two a penny. On this basis it doesn’t come close to other recent films of the genre, the highlights being Lady Bird and Edge of Seventeen. However, it is hard to take on its own merits for a simple difference in the plot. Simon, the main character is gay, and the obligatory teenage crisis of the movie is his coming out. This is the first overtly mainstream YA movie I have seen with such a storyline making it potentially a watershed movie. In one way it’s hard to believe it hasn’t been done before as the story fits the genre really well, it follows all the usual beats of a person whose seemingly perfect life comes crashing down because of bad decisions, he then spends the final act trying to put them right. The film is enjoyable and entertaining largely thanks to a likeable cast and the right amount of humour.love simon

Tomb Raider – Reboot of the successful but rubbish Angelina Jolie vehicle. Telling an origin story, Alicia Vikander (who is actually older than Jolie was when she took the part) plays a young Lara Croft raiding her first tomb. A more serious, and slightly more grounded take on the character it is notably better than the original two movies. However the story is very derivative, some of the set pieces are borrowed directly Indiana Jones, some of the CGI is poor and Walton Goggins is wasted playing a one dimensional character. Alicia Vikander makes a likeable charismatic lead, if there is a sequel, it will hopefully have a better script.Tomb Raider

Ready Player One – There was a time when blockbusters were fun, it was called the 80’s! If anyone can recapture that its Steven Spielberg, he hasn’t disappointed. Largely existing within a virtual reality world where anything goes, the movie is filled with pop culture references; not being a gamer I didn’t get a lot of the game references, but the film ones are nothing short of joyous. There is a whole scene and extended set-piece involving a Stanley Kubrick movie that only Spielberg could have pulled off. At its heart the story is a quest, the subject of many games, but also one of the oldest basis’ for a story going back at least as far as Homer. It is a little sentimental and clichéd in its message, but that isn’t actually a bad thing especially when it’s done style, and without cynicism. More fun than anything Spielberg has made for nearly thirty years, and like some of his earlier films, one that will be enjoyed for years to come.Ready Player One

Unsane – A young woman looking for a support group following an incident with a stalker accidently commits herself to a mental institution. Steven Soderbergh’s second feature since coming out of “retirement” is tonally similar to his earlier film Side Effects. Shot using iPhones giving some unusual and sometime unnerving visuals. Depending on your point of view the film either perfectly balances multiple ideas, or is a confused by having too many ideas, I am leaning towards the former. It certainly holds a mirror up to some topical issues, as well as been a straight horror tinged thriller. By far the best thing about the film is Claire Foy who is excellent, I am now suddenly intrigued and excited to see what she does as Lisbeth Salander.


Pacific Rim: Uprising – After moderate success and five years, no one expected a Pacific Rim sequel to ever happen. With Guillermo del Toro busy making the Oscar winning The Shape of Water, directing duties passed to Steven S. DeKnight who has a solid pedigree in television. The film offers absolutely nothing new or original but is great dumb fun.Pacific Rim Uprising

Isle of Dogs – Following 2009’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, Wes Anderson returns to the world of stop motion animation. Set in Japan, a corrupt dog hating mayor exiles the canine population to a trash island under the guise of quarantine. A young boy travels to the Island to rescue his beloved pet. Charming, funny and touching helped out by an amazing voice-cast and a fantastic soundtrack.isle of dogs

A Wrinkle in Time – Based on book of the same name by Madeleine L’Engle’s that has been a children’s staple since its first publication in 1962, or so I am told. I had never heard of it! Directed by Ava DuVernay with a solid cast it was sure to be good. Sadly it isn’t. It is well made, visually spectacular, and largely well acted, but that’s about all it has going for it. The story is dull and the plot wafer thin at best, the good v evil / light v dark story lacks any subtlety.A Wrinkle in Time

Never has a movie of the month come with so many caveats; firstly had Annihilation been screened at a cinema it would almost certainly been movie of the month.  I tend not to count reissues towards movie of the month, again Martyrs would have been a strong contender if I did.  I considered giving it to Red Sparrow just to be contrary as everyone seems to hate it.  Finally, You Were Never Really Here is probably the best movie this month, but I’m not sure how many times I will want to re-watch it, however, my chosen movie I have already seen twice.  I saw a preview about a week and half before release, went a away, read the book on which it is based, and watched it again (in IMAX), my movie of the month is: Ready Player OneReady Player One Movie of the Month.jpg

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