Random Posts

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.

Movie Reviews

Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

star-wars-rise-of-skywalker-review-2019Director: J.J. Abrams

Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Fantasy

Runtime: 141 Minutes

Main Cast: Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Harrison Ford, Billy Dee Williams, Ian McDiarmid

Plot: The final episode in the Skywalker trilogy, following on from the events of The Last Jedi. Rey continues her Jedi training to defeat the First Order whilst Supreme Leader Kylo Ren threatens to wipe out any threat to his power.

My Thoughts: So…hey guys? It’s a loud and angry place to be, social media right now, but you can always count on me for having an unpopular opinion and loving the latest Star Wars movie. I don’t hold a grudge at all against anyone who hated Rise of Skywalker, there was never going to be an ending we all loved, but I do think it’s hilarious that there’s an uprising of Last Jedi fans now. Where were you guys 2 years ago? Anyway – this post is going to be SPOILER HEAVY, I’ll warn you now.

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I loved it. It was a wild ride from start to finish. The pacing was nuts, there’s barely any time to breathe. I’ve seen it twice now and the second time felt even faster. I guess everyone had their image of what the ending would look like, and I got mine, and some, and even though I’m completely heartbroken, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I always knew deep down Kylo Ren wouldn’t live to see the credits of the final movie, but I didn’t expect to get to see Ben Solo in action. That’s credit to Adam Driver, show-stealer-extraordinaire, who never ceases to amaze me with his performances. Do I wish Ben Solo survived? God yes, but it would never have made sense. He couldn’t exactly go back with Rey and hang out with the Resistance, could he? He’d have had to live in exile.

Speaking of the Resistance, YAAAAS to my boys Finn and Poe being back together again. Them being apart was my biggest gripe of The Last Jedi. And Rey? I don’t feel like her being a Palpatine was a retcon, to be honest. If it was revealed in the second movie, we’d know for sure Palpatine never died, because otherwise what would be the point? You need surprises in each movie, I guess. I don’t know – I don’t make movies, but I wasn’t mad at that choice. It was wild to watch Rey accidentally use force lighting though!

Leia was so, so well done. It was absolutely the right choice to make do with archive footage, and it didn’t seem out of place at all. Her death hit me hard, and then Chewie’s reaction destroyed me. The moment we thought Chewie was dead was well done, too. The first screening I was in everyone gasped out loud, and the second time there was just this uncomfortable silence. I can’t tell you the reaction to the Ben Solo moment because I was crying ugly tears into my IMAX glasses.

I could go on forever, but I’ve already babbled for longer than I usually do. The bottom line is, it worked for me, I laughed and I cried and I got an ending that felt right to me. That can’t be said for most I know, but I hope you can appreciate my reasons for loving it.

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Best Bit: It’s impossible to pick one. I mean, Ben Solo, just being Ben Solo! Running through those ruins just like his Dad, taking out bad guys with a blaster. His smirk once he was given a saber by Rey and taking down his own knights. I WISH we could have seen more of that cheeky character.

But also? HUX WAS THE SPY. Hux is like, my second favourite character in this series. Him being the spy was silly but goddamn hilarious. I’m sorry to anyone in that first screening because I actually screamed.

Worst Bit: There were scenes in both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi that I could happily do without, but nothing felt unnecessary here. My only real gripe is how useless Rose was in this movie. It didn’t make sense for her to have a huge role in the previous movie but have nothing to do here.

If you’ll allow me a silly complaint – who turns down Poe Dameron? TWICE?!

Fun Trivia: During the massive crowd celebration scene, C-3PO says that this event happens once every 42 years. This was the time between the first Star Wars movie to be released in 1977, and this film, the last of the sequel trilogy, released 42 years later.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 porgs who also needed more screentime this time around.

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Random Posts

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.

Movie Reviews

Marriage Story (2019)

marriage-story-movie-review-2019-netflixDirector: Noah Baumbach

Genre: Drama, Romance, Comedy

Runtime: 136 Minutes

Main Cast: Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern, Ray Liotta, Alan Alda, Julie Hagerty, Merritt Wever, Azhy Robertson, Wallace Shawn, Martha Kelly

Plot: Charlie and Nicole had a seemingly happy marriage, working together for Charlie’s theatre company. But things changed, their feelings changed, and now they’re navigating a difficult divorce and battling over custody of their son.

My Thoughts: It’s Saturday night, the kiddo is fast asleep, the bestie is coming over, takeout has been ordered, what shall we watch? A devastatingly upsetting movie about divorce. Hurrah! Wasn’t that a great idea? I need to watch this again, alone, because I held back my tears when really this movie demands you sob aloud. Lots. We’re reaching the peak of Adam Driver season and if he doesn’t take home an Oscar for this one I will RIOT. How an actor can express that much emotion is beyond me, some scenes were honestly difficult to watch because of it. It felt like I was intruding on something private.

It’s raw emotion throughout. We don’t get to see how Charlie and Nicole got together, see how in love they once were, only hear about it whilst they talk to therapists and lawyers. But you can tell. You can tell the feelings are still there. And whilst it’s powerful throughout, there are 2 key scenes for me that actually made me stop breathing. If ever I need a good cry to let things out, this is where I’ll turn.

But then, Marriage Story is so funny at the same time, in those little moments. I know if ever the worst happened with my own marriage my mum would be just like Nicole’s. She already takes his side in any argument ever. Could you imagine a scene where a husband is handed divorce papers that he isn’t expecting to be hilarious? Because it is in this movie! Not forgetting the knife scene of course, we’ll come to that in a short moment. Honestly, I’m still a little lost for words about it all. I think that’s how you’re meant to feel!

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Best Bit: *SPOILER-Y WARNING* When Charlie started playing with the flick knife early in the movie I knew the shot was too long to be a one-off moment. The scene where he was being monitored and assessed with his son and ended up accidentally slicing his arm open without realising was probably the funniest and most shocking thing I’ve seen all year! And the kitchen roll! Oh boy, I need to see it again…is there a gif yet of Adam Driver being terrible at getting kitchen roll?!

Worst Bit: I mean the worst bits to watch in Marriage Story are actually the best bits performance wise so it’s unfair to mention how the sight of Adam Driver, broken and on his knees completely destroyed me. So DAMN. The way the legal system works in divorce cases is just so unfair, isn’t it?!

Fun Trivia: Adam Driver’s performance of Sondheim’s Being Alive from the musical Company, was recorded live and done in 1 take.
(Hollywood please let Adam Driver star in happier movies. And sing more.)

My Rating: 4 and a half pies used to conceal divorce papers, which apparently makes the whole thing worse.

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Going Off Topic

Going Off Topic (#21) Thanks, Disney

So the UK finally has a release date for Disney+. It’s 31st March 2020. Aca-scuse me? The END OF MARCH? The entire world will have watched The Mandalorian by that time. Thanks Disney, I’ll be resorting to finding other ways to watching your newest show and come April I’ll still probably end up signing up anyway. Sigh. People on Twitter are complaining that they have to watch MCU shows to fully understand the new movies whilst the UK is sat here wishing they actually could.

Moving swiftly on, welcome to the run-up to Christmas, AKA Adam Driver season! The Report comes out on 15th November, Marriage Story is released on 6th December, and of course Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on 19th December. Us getting that one day early is the only reason I’m not raging about Disney+ to tell the truth.

You’ve probably noticed I’ve been a little more active around here this week, which is a habit I’m hoping to continue. It helps that there’s a ton of good movies on the horizon, awards season around the corner, and the end of year lists to make that are so much fun. Somewhere in between all of this is Christmas, too!

On Friday I posted my Blind Spot review for Chicago (2002) which you can read here if you missed it. It’s the first Blind Spot review I’ve posted since June, because it’s the first Blind Spot movie I’ve seen since then. The problem is, in December last year when I wrote the list, my July choice was American Beauty (1999), before the Kevin Spacey thing came to light. I don’t know what to do with it now. Do I still want to watch it? If I do, can I review it? Do I address the elephant in the room or ignore it? I try to stay light-hearted on the blog so it’s a tough one.

I’m more inclined to swap it out for a different movie for now and decide what to do later. I’ve tried to complete the Blind Spot Series challenge on 4 different occasions now and I mean to complete it this year. One movie I’ve had on my watch list for a while now is Black Swan (2010). Do you reckon that’s Blind Spot enough, or too recent?