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What I Watched: December 2019 & January 2020

Hello February! Thank goodness those 20 weeks of January are finally over. I got so caught up in putting together my Top 100 Movies of the Decade lists that I forgot to do a little roundup of everything I watched in December, so you’ve got a double whammy from me today. I’ve watched loads, and just haven’t found the time to write full reviews for a lot of what I’ve seen! Shame on me, but here are a few words on what I’ve been watching over the last two months.

Celeste & Jesse Forever (2012)

Yes, I’m having a weird Andy Samberg phase, okay? Don’t judge me. There’s only so much joy rewatching terrible Adam Driver movies can bring me. I didn’t love Celeste & Jesse Forever as much as I hoped, but only because they were so funny together at the start I never wanted it to end, even though I knew it made sense.

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Funny Games (2007)

This movie was WILD. Thank you to whoever recommended it to me probably about 4 years ago, it’s been sat on my watchlist ever since. At face value it’s a fairly straightforward house invasion movie, but just with that little extra. Such a good ending, too.

The Kitchen (2019)

Honestly? This wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It got a bit too much towards the end but I was really into Elisabeth Moss’ character’s story and how she completely turned herself around from being pushed around to being a badass. It also has a vest-wearing Domnhall Gleeson sawing up a dead body in a bathtub. Which isn’t even the weirdest thing I’ve seen him do in a movie.

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Klaus (2019)

I can’t believe I never got around to doing a full review for Klaus. What an amazing little gem of an animated Christmas movie by Netflix! I was thrilled when it won a BAFTA and at this rate, if I even bother to stay up for the Oscars it’ll be to find out if Klaus wins again.

Black Christmas (2019)

Absolute garbage. I always try to find the good in a movie but the only thing Black Christmas had going for it was that it was so trashy, it was kind of fun to watch and poke fun of it.

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Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)

The first Jumanji remake was surprisingly decent, and even though I knew The Next Level was getting okay reviews I still didn’t believe it could be any good. For me, it worked, because it was very much more of the same, but if you weren’t a fan of the first then you won’t like this, either. The highlight for me was Awkwafina, who somehow does a better Danny Devito impression than the man himself!

Parasite (2019)

What a movie. I thought I knew where the story was going. I was comparing it to Us (2019). Then wow. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong! To anyone hesitant about getting into foreign-language movies because of the subtitles – give this a go. I’ve seen woefully few myself, but if this movie doesn’t convince you to watch more then nothing will.

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Five Feet Apart (2019)

I put so much pressure on myself on New Years Day to start 2020 with an amazing movie that I watched nothing at all. I saw Five Feet Apart instead on January 2nd. Cried like a bitch. Regretted nothing.

Hot Rod (2007)

Yes, I started hunting down Andy Samberg movies on Netflix. DON’T JUDGE, remember? I had a blast watching Hot Rod and I’m gutted I waited so long to see it. It’s one of those movies where if I watched it when it first came out, I’d have seen it 20 times by now, and still be quoting it on a daily basis.

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The Irishman (2019)

I only watched The Irishman because I try to see all the Oscars Best Picture nominees before the actual night. Yes I know it’s got legendary actors, yes I know it’s directed by Martin Scorsese but it was LONG and it was DULL and you’ll never change my mind.

The Other Guys (2010)

After slogging through The Irishman I needed something fun and dumb to relax, and a bunch of you recommended The Other Guys when I made a list of my favourite Will Ferrell movies. I love you guys. This movie was so funny!

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That’s My Boy (2012)

…oh, this awful Adam Sandler movie stars Andy Samberg? Huh, weird. It’s almost like I’m stooping to really low levels…*cough*

Motherless Brooklyn (2019)

I love a good mystery, and despite the lukewarm reviews, I was still keen to see Motherless Brooklyn. It was worth it for Edward Norton’s performance but it was lacking in so many places. It was too slow to make the reveal worth it, sadly.

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Ford v Ferrari / Le Mans ’66 (2019)

Can we not give movies 2 very different names, and use both? My brain can’t cope. Anyway, I enjoyed this so much more than I expected. I like Christian Bale but I’ve never really raved about him, but he was so good here! The final race was thrilling, and I was kind of sad when the whole thing was over.

Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood (2019)

This just wasn’t my cup of tea, to be honest. It took me at least half the movie to really get into it, and as much as I love Margot Robbie (she’s amazing) she just felt a bit wasted here. Some of the editing was really weird, too!

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Cats (2019)

Oh, what a movie to end on. Silly, naive me thought all the negativity around Cats was overexaggerated, and musicals usually win me over so I thought I might actually enjoy it. I didn’t. It was weird. Creepy. And every time someone said ‘Jellicle’ I only heard ‘genital’ which I can’t tell made it better or worse.

I also watched The Shining (1980), Doctor Sleep (2019) and Your Name. (2016) but haven’t included them here because I’m planning on writing full posts for them. If you missed any of my full reviews over the last 2 months here they are:

Knives Out (2019)
Frozen II (2019)
Noelle (2019)
Marriage Story (2019)
6 Underground (2019)
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
Little Women (2019)
The Gentlemen (2020)
Just Mercy (2019)
Jojo Rabbit (2019)
1917 (2019)
Bad Boys for Life (2020)

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LAMB Devours the Oscars 2020: Best Actor in a Leading Role

Originally posted at The Large Association of Movie Blogs as part of their LAMB Devours the Oscars 2020 feature. Original link here.

I was so happy to take part in last year’s LAMB Devours the Oscars feature where I reviewed Green Book (which then went on to win Best Picture – huzzah!) so it’s great to be back again, this time discussing the Actor in a Leading Role category. I started a draft of this post a while ago starting off by saying something along the lines of how great the performances were, but how I thought it was very much a two-horse race and, well, you’ll believe me when I say I scrapped that draft.

Let’s take a look at the nominees, shall we?

Antonio Banderas, PAIN AND GLORY

It was a surprise to see Antonio Banderas here, I thought there was a chance Taron Egerton for Rocketman might just slip in after the Academy’s love for musical biopic Bohemian Rhapsody but regardless, Banderas put in an excellent performance.

Jonathan Pryce, THE TWO POPES

I haven’t seen The Two Popes in full yet, I’m not embarrassed to admit it’s not my usual kind of movie, but Jonathan Pryce’s performance has kept me engaged and it’s great that he’s receiving recognition for his efforts.

Leonardo DiCaprio, ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD

Leonardo DiCaprio has now received 5 nominations by the Academy for Lead Actor, which is an amazing achievement. Even though I don’t always love the movies he’s in, I can’t ever say he’s turned in a bad performance. I struggled with his character in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood to begin with but he’d won me over by the end.

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Adam Driver, MARRIAGE STORY

What happened, guys? Before the awards season started, if my Twitter feed was anything to go by, Adam Driver’s name was already etched onto that shiny statue, but now I’m having to watch him lose it every awards night. Bigger film buffs than me might be able to tell you if an Actor has ever lost all the big awards but gone on to take the Oscar, but I don’t think it’s going to happen on Sunday. It’s a shame, because his role in Marriage Story is fantastic. The anger and sadness he expresses feels all too real, and I’ve always believed Adam Driver can say more with his facial expressions than he can with words. If nothing else, I hope his nomination gives him a springboard into finding that role that will eventually win him the recognition he deserves.

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Joaquin Phoenix, JOKER

Being gutted about Adam Driver losing would be manageable if it weren’t for the fact I really enjoyed Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as the Joker. It’s been a very love or hate movie for most, and I can see both sides of the coin. For me, I never felt compelled to feel sorry for Phoenix’s character, Arthur. I felt saddened by what led him down the dark path he took, but never condoned his actions. Heath Ledger won an Oscar for the same character 11 years ago, and so it’ll be quite poetic when Phoenix wins.

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My Predictions: 2020 EE British Academy Film Awards

This Sunday is the BAFTAs! The only awards show I actually get to watch live, unless I can find a stream of the Oscars and stay up all night. In true blogger fashion I’m here with all the nominations for the night, along with my predictions. In true Often Off Topic fashion I’m here to do a terrible job and get most of it wrong.

In previous years I’ve stuck my critic hat on and ignored my heart, and in others I’ve gone with my heart, so I’m going to try and land somewhere in the middle this year. As always, I’ll be found on Sunday night in my slippers flicking through my print outs, trying to remember what I predicted when each award comes up.

Let’s kick this off, shall we…?

BEST FILM

1917
THE IRISHMAN
JOKER
ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD
PARASITE

I’m not decided on what will win the Oscar but I’m confident that BAFTA will give 1917 the Best Film.

OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM

1917
BAIT
FOR SAMA
ROCKETMAN
SORRY WE MISSED YOU
THE TWO POPES

Now this is a weird scenario. Surely if 1917 is the best film…it also has to be best British film? Or perhaps they’ll throw this award to Rocketman? I’m sticking with 1917.

OUTSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER, DIRECTOR OR PRODUCER

BAIT Mark Jenkin (Writer/Director), Kate Byers, Linn Waite (Producers)
FOR SAMA Waad al-Kateab (Director/Producer), Edward Watts (Director)
MAIDEN Alex Holmes (Director)
ONLY YOU Harry Wootliff (Writer/Director)
RETABLO Álvaro Delgado-Aparicio (Writer/Director)

I’m entering guess-mode already. Sigh. I need to pay more attention to British works, what with you know, being a Brit and all. Let’s go with For Sama.

FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE

THE FAREWELL
FOR SAMA
PAIN AND GLORY
PARASITE
PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE

I’m 100% confident this will go to Parasite.

DOCUMENTARY

AMERICAN FACTORY
APOLLO 11
DIEGO MARADONA
FOR SAMA
THE GREAT HACK

Of all of these, I definitely want to see For Sama and The Great Hack. My gut says For Sama.

ANIMATED FILM

FROZEN 2
KLAUS
A SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE: FARMAGEDDON
TOY STORY 4

A prestigious award should go to an animated film that does something extraordinary. I can’t comment on Farmageddon but Frozen did nothing new, and although I loved Toy Story 4, it didn’t do anything special, either. Do the right thing BAFTA. This should go to Klaus.

DIRECTOR

1917 Sam Mendes
THE IRISHMAN Martin Scorsese
JOKER Todd Phillips
ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD Quentin Tarantino
PARASITE Bong Joon Ho

With the exception of Todd Phillips, I could see this one going to any of the nominees. My head says Sam Mendes…my heart says Bong Joon Ho…!

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

BOOKSMART Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Katie Silberman
KNIVES OUT Rian Johnson
MARRIAGE STORY Noah Baumbach
ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD Quentin Tarantino
PARASITE Han Jin Won, Bong Joon Ho

I will do a little happy dance if Rian Johnson wins but even though I loved Knives Out, Parasite was just too good and original of a story to lose this.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

THE IRISHMAN Steven Zaillian
JOJO RABBIT Taika Waititi
JOKER Todd Phillips, Scott Silver
LITTLE WOMEN Greta Gerwig
THE TWO POPES Anthony McCarten

Taika Waititi took a novel about a young German boy who’s Mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their house and transformed it into a hilarious, heartwarming movie. That’s what adaptation is all about, right?

LEADING ACTRESS

JESSIE BUCKLEY Wild Rose
SCARLETT JOHANSSON Marriage Story
SAOIRSE RONAN Little Women
CHARLIZE THERON Bombshell
RENÉE ZELLWEGER Judy

I’d like to see Saoirse Ronan win this but it feels like it’s Renée Zellweger’s to lose.

LEADING ACTOR

LEONARDO DICAPRIO Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood
ADAM DRIVER Marriage Story
TARON EGERTON Rocketman
JOAQUIN PHOENIX Joker
JONATHAN PRYCE The Two Popes

UGH. I’m going to have to watch Adam lose, live, aren’t I? BAFTA haven’t even tried to hide it, they’re sitting him about 5 rows behind Joaquin Phoenix. You know what, though? If there’s going to be any upset on Sunday night, I see it being this award. I can see them giving it to Taron Egerton. Still, can’t bring myself to chose anyone but Adam!

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

LAURA DERN Marriage Story
SCARLETT JOHANSSON Jojo Rabbit
FLORENCE PUGH Little Women
MARGOT ROBBIE Bombshell
MARGOT ROBBIE Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

I would so love to see Florence Pugh win! She has been an absolute highlight of 2019 for me. This is going to Laura Dern for sure, though.

SUPPORTING ACTOR

TOM HANKS A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
ANTHONY HOPKINS The Two Popes
AL PACINO The Irishman
JOE PESCI The Irishman
BRAD PITT Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

I slept through most of The Irishman and haven’t gotten around to The Two Popes yet. I’m seeing A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood this weekend, but regardless of all that, I think this is going to Brad Pitt.

ORIGINAL SCORE

1917 Thomas Newman
JOJO RABBIT Michael Giacchino
JOKER Hildur Guðnadóttir
LITTLE WOMEN Alexandre Desplat
STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER John Williams

I’m hopeless at all sound categories but…John Williams!

CASTING

JOKER Shayna Markowitz
MARRIAGE STORY Douglas Aibel, Francine Maisler
ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD Victoria Thomas
THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD Sarah Crowe
THE TWO POPES Javier Braier, Barbara Giordani, Nina Gold, Francesco Vedovati, Gabriel Villegas

Forgive my ignorance but…is this a new category? I don’t remember a Casting award in previous years. Insert shrug emoji here. Is this award an excuse to give Joker another award? Will it go to The Two Popes for their portrayal of two iconic men in real life? Do you get an award for casting your mates for a movie about Hollywood? I’m guessing here, big time.

CINEMATOGRAPHY

1917 Roger Deakins
THE IRISHMAN Rodrigo Prieto
JOKER Lawrence Sher
LE MANS ’66 Phedon Papamichael
THE LIGHTHOUSE Jarin Blaschke

I hate when BAFTA nominates movies that aren’t even out in the UK yet. How have you all seen The Lighthouse when it isn’t out until…today actually. But good luck finding a cinema actually bothering to screen it. Anyway, I digress. I hope Roger Deakins takes this, 1917 was stunning.

EDITING

THE IRISHMAN Thelma Schoonmaker
JOJO RABBIT Tom Eagles
JOKER Jeff Groth
LE MANS ’66 Andrew Buckland, Michael McCusker
ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD Fred Raskin

I’m sorry but the editing in Once Upon a Time was atrocious. I’m sure it was artistic but it looked dodgy to me. HOLD UP A MOMENT. Why isn’t 1917 here? Excuse me? Are you for real? Well. I guess Le Mans ’66 gets my vote, then. Which is weird because every poster I’ve seen calls it Ford v Ferarri.

PRODUCTION DESIGN

1917 Dennis Gassner, Lee Sandales
THE IRISHMAN Bob Shaw, Regina Graves
JOJO RABBIT Ra Vincent, Nora Sopková
JOKER Mark Friedberg, Kris Moran
ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD Barbara Ling, Nancy Haigh

I mean, in terms of actually designing a set and creating something stunning…oh what do I know. I’m torn between the grimness of 1917 and the retro-ness of Once Upon a Time…

COSTUME DESIGN

THE IRISHMAN Christopher Peterson, Sandy Powell
JOJO RABBIT Mayes C. Rubeo
JUDY Jany Temime
LITTLE WOMEN Jacqueline Durran
ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD Arianne Phillips

Not my speciality. I’ve worn the same outfits for the last 10 years at least. But BAFTA loves period drama, so I can see Little Women winning this.

MAKE UP & HAIR

1917 Naomi Donne, Tristan Versluis
BOMBSHELL Vivian Baker, Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan
JOKER Kay Georgiou, Nicki Ledermann
JUDY Jeremy Woodhead
ROCKETMAN Lizzie Yianni Georgiou, Barrie Gower, Tapio Salmi

Yeeeeeaaaaah. Mine takes about 5 minutes each morning. I just realised Rocketman is here but not in Costume Design. BAFTA are you high? I’m giving Judy my vote.

SOUND

1917 Scott Millan, Oliver Tarney, Rachael Tate, Mark Taylor, Stuart Wilson
JOKER Tod Maitland, Alan Robert Murray, Tom Ozanich, Dean Zupancic
LE MANS ’66 David Giammarco, Paul Massey, Steven A. Morrow, Donald Sylvester
ROCKETMAN Matthew Collinge, John Hayes, Mike Prestwood Smith, Danny Sheehan
STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER David Acord, Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio, Stuart Wilson, Matthew Wood

Star Wars. Because…lightsabers? But also Le Mans ’66…noisy cars. Argh. The sound in 1917 scared me witness, though. Helllllllp.

SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS

1917 Greg Butler, Guillaume Rocheron, Dominic Tuohy
AVENGERS: ENDGAME Matt Aitken, Dan Deleeuw, Russell Earl, Dan Sudick
THE IRISHMAN Leandro Estebecorena, Stephane Grabli, Pablo Helman
THE LION KING Andrew R. Jones, Robert Legato, Elliot Newman, Adam Valdez
STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER Roger Guyett, Paul Kavanagh, Neal Scanlan, Dominic Tuohy

I feel like The Irishman will win this for the de-ageing technology.

BRITISH SHORT ANIMATION

GRANDAD WAS A ROMANTIC
IN HER BOOTS
THE MAGIC BOAT

Sorry, this one is a complete guess.

BRITISH SHORT FILM

AZAAR
GOLDFISH
KAMALI
LEARNING TO SKATEBOARD IN A WARZONE (IF YOU’RE A GIRL)
THE TRAP

I want it to win for it’s awesome title!

EE RISING STAR AWARD

AWKWAFINA
KAITLYN DEVER
KELVIN HARRISON JR.
JACK LOWDEN
MICHEAL WARD

So this is the only award that is voted for by the public. I voted in haste for Kaitlyn Dever whilst still riding a Booksmart high but putting some thought into it, I think Awkwafina will win.

So that’s me. I’m confident in a few of my picks, and I’m hoping for lucky guesses in many, but either way, I’m looking forward to tomorrow night!

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What I Watched & Read: November 2019

I know, it’s a little too far into December for a November round-up post to be acceptable but I’ve been behind on so many things! Can we just pretend for a while it’s the very start of December and I still have loads of time to sort Christmas out? Good, thanks. So, as it’s the start of December, as usual here’s a little recap of what I watched last month. I’m throwing in a book I read too, because I’ve let my book review posts slip and it’s a shame not to mention them.

The middle of November sucked, I didn’t watch a movie at all for like, a week and a half, but despite that I still saw 11 movies throughout the month, which isn’t so bad. No TV shows though other than The Mandalorian, which is glorious. Going to be so sad when that finishes!

Anyway, here’s what I watched that I haven’t written a full post for:

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Crawl (2019)

I pretty much dismissed this movie but a whole bunch of you said it was good and I always listen to you so I gave it a go. And yeah! It was a lot better than I expected for a movie about alligators in a hurricane. It felt super claustrophobic at times. Not sure I’ll ever want to watch it again mind, but I’m glad I gave it a chance.

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Stuber (2019)

This started out great. I was all up for a feature-length movie about Stu desperately trying to improve his Uber rating, but then Dave Bautista turned up. Then it turned into more of a buddy cop movie. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed that too, but it felt like 2 very different movies mashed together and didn’t work that well in the end. Kumail Nanjiani is one of the funniest guys I’ve discovered in the last few years though, I’ll happily watch whatever he does next!

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A Bad Moms Christmas (2017)

This was a rewatch for me, and I rewatched Bad Moms last night too. I’m struggling with being a Mum these last couple of weeks but oh man, these movies help me to get out of my head. The scene with the mall Santa is too epic!

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The Report (2019)

I still haven’t got around to writing anything for The Report. I really enjoyed it, gave it an 8/10, but it’s tough to write about. It’s a shocking story, but it’s not the most exciting thing to talk about. Adam Driver carries it, without him this would have fallen pretty flat. It was absolutely worth a watch for me for educational purposes if nothing else!

These are the movies I watched in November that I already wrote about, in case you missed them:

Chicago (2002)
Let It Snow (2019)
Last Christmas (2019)
Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)
Frozen II (2019)
Eli (2019)
Knives Out (2019)

Now, books! I read 2 books in November which is better than I normally manage. I set my expectations too high this year, I just don’t have as much reading time as I thought.

The Final Winter by Iain Rob Wright

This sounded like it would be a bit like The Day After Tomorrow with some horror elements in, and it started out well with the introduction of the characters, but it took a real nosedive from the half way point. The characters took on these annoyingly stereotypical traits and to be perfectly honest, I stopped caring about what happened to them. The ending was unexpected, and probably would have been great if I was still interested by then.

Hunted by Darcy Coates

I loooooved this book. A young girl goes missing in the woods after taking a solo holiday, and her brother and friends come looking for her. Her camera was recovered by another tourist, and the girl’s brother and friends try to put the pieces together to work out where she might have vanished to. The photos start out normal, but then get strange, and a dark figure can be seen in them. The local police don’t seem to be interested, they deal with a national average of missing persons cases – so the youths take it upon themselves to find her.