First Annual ‘At The Movies’ Awards –

It’s awards season, and the biggest award ceremony of the year is coming up in a matter of days. The 92nd Academy Awards are this Sunday, and signal the end of a long award season, as always, full of controversy. Rather than writing a long essay on what nominations I disagree with, and what films have been harshly snubbed, I thought I would instead start the first annual At The Movies Awards – trademark pending…

I will be using the same categories as the Oscars – although not all of them as I do not know enough about some to pick nominees – as they are the most recognisable, and I can compare my choices to that of the Academy. I’m sure there will be plenty of controversy with my choices, just as there with any award show, but let’s pray that I don’t mess it up as badly as the Oscars do. Every year.

Best Supporting Actor –

Nominees:

  • Willem Dafoe – The Lighthouse
  • Jonathon Majors – The Last Black Man in San Francisco
  • Joe Pesci – The Irishman
  • Brad Pitt – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Lee Sun-kyun – Parasite

First up is a category that has been almost too easy to predict throughout the award season. Brad Pitt is all but guaranteed to receive the Oscar for his performance in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and of course he is going to receive a nomination here too. However, there are some superb performances elsewhere in the Supporting Actor Categories. Parasite features an ensemble of incredible performances, including that of Lee Sun-kyun who plays the father of the family superbly. Another incredible performance was Willem Dafoe in The Lighthouse, one of the most unqiue films of the year, featuring tour-de-force performances from Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe.

And the winner is…

Willem Dafoe – The Lighthouse

A career best performance from Dafoe who is incredible in The Lighthouse, and has been criminally underappreciated throughout the award season.

Best Supporting Actress –

Nominees:

  • Scarlett Johansson – Jojo Rabbit
  • Jennifer Lopez – Hustlers
  • Florence Pugh – Little Women
  • Zao Shuzhen – The Farewell
  • Cho yeo-jeong – Parasite

There have been a variety of great supporting performances throughout the year, and of course, that often leads to many people not getting the recognition they probably deserve throughout award season. However, there are a few performances that have totally been ignored, and it is clear to see why. Cho yeo-jeong and Zao Shuzhen both gave stellar performances in their roles in Parasite and The Farewell – respectively – and have not received recognition anywhere near enough, and that is more than likely due to them being performances in foreign and non-Hollywood films, which often fall down the pecking order. Overall this is a stacked category with five great performances.

And the winner is…

Cho yeo-jeong – Parasite

Cho yeo-jeong gives an incredibly real performance here in Boon Jong-ho’s ensemble film, and fully deserves this award, and deserved the recognition of critics across the board, which she has not received enough of. She fully develops her character throughout the film and provides a superb performance to an incredible film.

Best Original Score –

Nominees:

  • Thomas Newman – 1917
  • Hildur Guðnadóttir – Joker
  • Alexandre Desplat – Little Women
  • Emile Mosseri – The Last Black Man in San Francisco
  • Michael Abels – Us

A film’s score is one of the most vital components in creating a film’s style and atmosphere and can either complete a scene or ruin it. These five scores represent the best of this year in adding the final touches to films and completing them, all in different ways. The Joker score, along with Joaquin Phoenix’s performances, is one of the things that genuinely stands out in the film, adding a haunting tension to the scenes as we see the Arthur Fleck become the Joker. Michael Abel’s score for Us is an exciting and unique score that perfectly compliments Jordan Peele’s sophomore effort, and The Last Black Man in San Francisco’s score is achingly beautiful and compliments its San Francisco setting perfectly.

And the winner is…

Emile Mosseri – The Last Black Man in San Francisco

One of the most underappreciated films of the year, and the most underappreciated score of the year. Emile Mosseri’s score provides some beautiful additions to already beautiful scenes, with almost every moment in the film supported by a piece of music that ebbs and flows in time with the film’s two leads, and encapsulates the vibe being creating by director Joe Talbot as he tried to portray the city of San Francisco.

Best Film Editing –

Nominees –

  • Ronald Bronstein & Benny Safdie – Uncut Gems
  • Tom Eagles – Jojo Rabbit
  • Thelma Shoonmaker – The Irishman
  • Fred Raskin – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Yang Jin-mo – Parasite

The editing of a film often goes unnoticed when it is done well because it seems so seamless, and when done to perfection you can’t even notice its presence, it just stitches together the director’s vision. The five films do so brilliantly, with Uncut Gems’ editing adding to the anxiety inducing levels of tension, weaving its way through the scenes to create scene after scene of exhilaration. The editing in Parasite completes the final piece of the jigsaw of Boon Jong-ho’s vision and is meticulously planned and designed to visualise the story and ideas that Parasite is trying to portray. In Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Fred Raskin manages to encapsulate the feel of nostalgia trying to be shown by Quentin Tarantino, and creates a real sense of life in Hollywood and the people trying to find their way in the city. All five nominations are great examples of the ways in which editing can be used to add the final pieces to the vision of the director.

And the winner is…

Yang Jin-mo – Parasite

Parasite is a perfect example of editing, with Yang Jin-mo meticulously planning every scene and frame to perfectly bring to fruition Boon Jong-ho’s incredibly crafted film. A perfect example of this is the montage at the climax of Act One in the film, that is edited perfectly to ensure every shot adds significant value to the story and the shot that follows it, if not for the superb editing the montage would not play off effectively, and it is one of the most important moments in the film, a near perfect piece of editing in a near perfect film.

Best Original Screenplay –

Nominees –

  • Rian Johnson – Knives Out
  • Bong Joon-ho – Parasite
  • The Safdie Brothers – Uncut Gems
  • Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Lulu Wang – The Farewell

The five nominees for Best Original Screenplay all create a highly entertaining and believable world in their film, and make great use of their writing to make clear their vision to the actors and the audience. Knives Out is one of the most entertaining films of the year, and that is highly down to the superb screenplay which gives each of the members of the ensemble cast a fully formed and unique character that play off of one another. Lulu Wang manages to form herself as a writer and give herself a unique style in her first major film release, with an entertaining and emotional tale that explores a family and their ways of dealing with another family members illness. The Safdie Brothers script is one that was seven years in the making, with each character having a specific actor in mind and made perfectly for them, and through their screenplay they create an exciting and intense world and entertaining dialogue.

And the winner is…

Rian Johnson – Knives Out

Rian Johnson has created one of the most entertaining films of the year, and has created a screenplay that is funny and uses each character hugely effectively. He has recently released the notes for the screenplay and if you read them they simply further exemplify how well he has managed to use each frame and scene to add more and more detail to his murder mystery and every part of the screenplay adds importance as the film continues.

Best Adapted Screenplay –

Nominees –

  • Greta Gerwig – Little Women
  • Anthony McCarten – The Two Popes
  • Todd Phillips – Joker
  • Taika Waititi – Jojo Rabbit
  • Steven Zaillian – The Irishman

Adapted screenplays have to take a piece of work and mould it into the writers own vision and sometimes have to make something that can be shown on the big screen that was not originally intended to do so. These five films exemplify how well books and other forms of prose can be transformed onto the big screen in exciting new ways. The Irishman and Jojo Rabbit both take books and manage to make them work on the big screen, creating exciting worlds through film and telling tales to a larger audience. In Joker, Todd Phillips tells a story that has been told countless times in the past but in a completely different way, managing to create a modern take on the Joker story and connect it to our modern society.

And the winner is…

Greta Gerwig – Little Women

Greta Gerwig’s take on Little Women is a superb adaptation of an all-time classic, in which Gerwig manages to show that some tales will always stand the test of time. Gerwig also proves herself a great writer and storyteller not only in her own tales but in adapting those already told.

Best Cinematography –

Nominees –

  • Jarin Blanschke – The Lighthouse
  • Roger Deakins – 1917
  • Adam Newport-Berra – The Last Black Man in San Francisco
  • Pawel Pogorzelski – Midsommar
  • Robert Richardson – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Cinematography is an often criminally overlooked feature of film making, with many films featuring incredible cinematography that does not often lead to the Director of Photography receiving acclaim or getting noticed for their week. This was apparent last year when the Oscars planned to give out the award for Best Cinematography during the ad breaks, as if it was an unimportant category. The five nominees here show just how important and effective great cinematography can be to the quality of a film. Roger Deakins further proved himself as one of the greatest cinematographers of all time, with the beautifully filmed 1917, that is brilliantly filmed to create the immersive atmosphere of war. The Lighthouse features some incredibly unique cinematography, with incredible shots and lighting techniques that were hard to accomplish with the difficult filming style that Robert Eggers used to make The Lighthouse.

And the winner is…

Adam Newport-Berra – The Last Black Man in San Francisco

The Last Black Man in San Francisco is the most visually pleasing film of the year, with achingly beautiful montages and some of the best shots of the using the city of San Francisco to its maximum potential. The score and cinematography of this film make it one of the highlights of the year, and make it such an incredibly enjoyable experience, especially on the big screen.

Best Ensemble Cast –

Nominees –

  • The Irishman
  • Knives Out
  • Little Women
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Parasite

This category is not from the Oscars, but is an important category and shows how much of an impact a good cast can have on the quality of a film. Knives Out relies heavily on the performances of its star-studded ensemble cast to make the script come to life and become an entertaining murder mystery, and they did not let Rian Johnson down. All of the cast gave entertaining and honest performances throughout the film to make Knives Out and incredibly entertaining and riveting piece of cinema. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood also features a star studded cast all in different and often unconnected roles, so each piece of the puzzle needed to work in order for the film to come together effectively, and each actor plays a vital role in ensuring Once Upon a Time in Hollywood doesn’t overstay its welcome. Each of these films has a stellar cast that bring life to their scripts and ensure the quality of the directors vision.

And the winner is…

Parasite

Each member of the cast of Parasite work together perfectly to create this hauntingly real tale of class and poverty. There is not a single performance that brings down the quality of this film, with each actor bringing life to their character and working in unison with Boon Jong-ho’s vision to create this astonishing film.

And now for the Big Four…

Best Actress –

Nominees –

  • Awkwafina – The Farewell
  • Scarlett Johansson – Marriage Story
  • Lupita N’Yongo – Us
  • Florence Pugh – Midsommar
  • Saoirse Ronan – Little Women

The leading role of a film can be a difficult one to fulfil, often actors and actresses can lose their way and let the film and other actors overwhelm them. These five performances, however, are from that, leading the way brilliantly to anchor their film into great heights. Lupita N’Yongo gives a brilliant performance in Jordan Peele’s horror Us, playing herself and a twisted version of herself, it is a brilliant performance that left audience shocked and received huge acclaim. Awkwafina’s performance in The Farewell is a brilliant portrayal of life for Asian-Americans, and is a brilliant way for her to announce herself and her abilities in the film world.

And the winner is…

Florence Pugh – Midsommar

Florence Pugh is one of the standout performers of the year in a wide range of films, but Midsommar stands out from the rest as one of the performances of the year. She manages to superbly portray a woman dealing with trauma and managing her issues in a horror film, that do not always provide these opportunities for their stars. This is a hugely important performance and one of the all time best in the horror genre.

Best Actor –

Nominees –

  • Leonardo DiCaprio – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Taron Egerton – Rocketman
  • Robert Pattinson – The Lighthouse
  • Joaquin Phoenix – Joker
  • Adam Sandler – Uncut Gems

The year provided a number of stellar performances, but these ones stand out to me specifically as being some of the best of the year, all shining in their roles in different and exciting ways. Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as the Joker has received the most acclaim throughout the year, and it is a superb performance, with Phoenix showing, yet again, the talent he is, providing a performance to match Heath Ledger’s take on the Joker in the Dark Knight, providing scene after scene of brilliance, showing the Joker’s descent into madness. Two performances that have received less recognition are Taron Egerton in Rocketman and Robert Pattinson in The Lighthouse who provide career highlights in their respective roles, further proving their great talents.

And the winner is…

Adam Sandler – Uncut Gems

Adam Sandler’s performance in Uncut Gems has received widespread acclaim, with many calling it his best ever performance, and rightly so. The role was made specifically for him, and he played it to perfection, turning himself into Howard Ratner completely and giving an absolute tour-de-force of a performance, it is shocking that he was not even nominated for an Oscar for this performance.

Best Director –

Nominees –

  • Greta Gerwig – Little Women
  • Boon Jong-ho – Parasite
  • Sam Mendes – 1917
  • The Safdie Brothers – Uncut Gems
  • Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

The year provided some great films and some superb examples of directing, from Quentin Tarantino adding to his superb repertoire of films with the highly entertaining Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, with Tarantino further proving his ability to masterfully direct a scene, to Greta Gerwig’s new take on the classic Little Women, in which she solidifies her style and skill as a director following on from her highly acclaimed Lady Bird. Boon Jong-ho masterfully and delicately directed Parasite to perfection, every frame and shot is specifically chosen to add detail and information to the story, and The Safdie Brothers continue their anxiety inducing style of cinema with Uncut Gems, creating a chaotic piece of cinema in all the right ways.

And the winner is…

Sam Mendes – 1917

Sam Mendes is winning award after award this year for 1917, and rightly so. In making this war film he avoided turning this one-shot film into a gimmick, and instead creates a fully immersive world brilliantly portraying the devastation and violence of war, and creates a war epic that will go down as one of the all time best.

Best Picture –

Nominees –

  • 1917
  • The Last Black Man in San Francisco
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Parasite
  • Uncut Gems

These five pictures are the best of the year, all of which are completely different in style and have hugely different impact on the audience. The Last Black Man in San Francisco is an achingly beautiful tale of a man losing his home and his memories, with some of the greatest shots of the year. 1917 is a war epic that creates a fully immersive world through the direction, the cinematography, acting and the score, it is gripping from start to finish. Quentin Tarantino’s latest release is a joy from start to finish, with Tarantino completely in control of his craft and making an exciting film that feels like a trip into 1960’s America, with stellar performances from all of its cast. Parasite is an incredible tale of class divide told in a dark and thrilling way, and exemplifies how cinema can be highly entertaining and also tell a hugely important message. The Safdie Brothers’ Uncut Gems was seven years in the making, waiting for the right actors to play their parts and for all the pieces to fall into place, and it was well worth the wait. A high-octane film that never overstays its welcome, keeps you hooked from start to finish and features an array of superb performances.

And the winner is…

Parasite

Undoubtedly the film of the year, and one of the most important films of our time. A tale of class and poverty, told in such an exciting and unique way, this a damning reflection on our times and will have importance for many years to come. Not only is it important in its message, but it is a perfectly crafted film, with Boon Jong-ho meticulously crafting the film from screenplay to storyboard all the way until the final product, it works on so many levels and is one of the best pieces of cinema of modern times. It also seems like a landmark film in the pursuit of trying to get foreign cinema into the western mainstream, and hopefully it can go on to win Best Picture at the Oscars to make clear to Hollywood that foreign films are here to stay, and give them the audiences and recognition they deserve.

The Films of the Decade – A Year by Year Recap (2015-19)

From top left to bottom right: The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Moonlight, Lady Bird, The Lobster and Roma

Five years of film down, and five to go. Part one of my Films of the Decade saw an exploration of how film evolved from the start of the 2010’s. We saw a change in what films were popular, and the type of films that were being made, and this is no different in the back end of the decade. We have seen here a variety of films that are exploring different styles, stories and a wide variety of people’s voices are being heard, people who, just a few years ago, would never have to opportunity to tell their story on the big screen. We saw our first LGBT and all black cast Best Picture Winner, we saw the rise in popularity of foreign language films – although there is still a long way to go in the mission to make English speakers watch foreign films and break the barrier of the subtitles – and most importantly, we saw a variety of important, resonant and unique tales being told. Here is part two of my Best Films of the Decade.

2015

3 – The Hateful Eight

Quentin Tarantino’s 8th film – as made clear throughout the entirety of its promotional run – took a long time in the making, and was cancelled on several occasions, but the final product was well worth the wait and the trouble. A film that feels both claustrophobic and expansive at the same time, using the small setting to great effect. Tarantino is at his best here with the screenplay, creating two and half hours of enthralling dialogue and tension, constantly building between the eight characters, with iconic lines and acting, and then finishing it off in iconic Tarantino style.

2 – Ex Machina

Alex Garland’s sci-fi thriller is smart, stylish and incredibly well acted. A much needed addition to the sci-fi world that can appeal to a more mature audience, dealing with the real world subject of Artificial Intelligence and the potential capabilities. Not only that but it also explores the lines of morality and what could happen if we take advantage and try to control this technology we are trying to create. Anchored by three strong performances by Oscar Isaac, Domhall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander, this is a refreshing new take on science-fiction that will leave you thinking long after the end credits.

1 – The Lobster

Yorgos Lanthimos is notoriously absurd with his film-making, with his most recent film – The Favourite – propelling him to mainstream attention, but it was 2015’s The Lobster that really put him on the map in the film industry. As ambitious as it is strange, The Lobster is a film that takes a lot to get into, but once you get used to how bizarre it is, it becomes an incredible experience. A unique and ambitious film that, beyond all of the oddities, tells a damning story of modern relationships and creates a highly entertaining tale along the way.

Honourable mentions: The Big Short, Sicario

2016

3 – Manchester by the Sea

Manchester by the Sea is an exhausting experience, but one that you will not forget for a long time. Masterfully crafted by Kenneth Lonergan with an impeccable screenplay and a flawless ensemble of performances, with Casey Affleck providing the performance of his career. An exploration of trauma and the relationships within a family in turmoil, Manchester by the Sea is riveting and will leave you feeling as though you went through the entire experience with the cast. A film that explores with complete realism the struggles of its central character and makes you feel every single moment alongside him.

2 – I, Daniel Blake

Ken Loach’s politically driven film is a damning indictment of the system in Britain that has allowed too many people to slip through the cracks and be left behind in society. The iconic British filmmaker crafts here another vital portrayal of life in modern Britain, providing a voice for those who have not been given one, this time exploring the lives of those left behind by the welfare system in this country. A heartbreaking tale of the many lives impacted by policies made by the government, and a tale that is all too real.

1 – Moonlight

As close to film perfection as you can get. A perfectly crafted film from the directing of Barry Jenkins, that shifts and changes as we go through the three stages of Chiron’s life, from the directing style in each chapter to the achingly beautiful cinematography by James Laxton. Moonlight not only tells a tale that is untold in film and writing, but does it so exceptionally to create a stunning piece of film that will not just resonate with those close to it, but with all of those struggling to find their place. Superbly acted by the ensemble cast, this is a sensitive and raw film that will stand the test of time and pave the way for voices that don’t get heard enough, and don’t feel they can speak up. The best thing to come out of cinema this decade

Honourable mentions: The Nice Guys, Hell or High Water

2017

3 – Get Out

Jordan Peele took the step from comedy to horror in 2017 with his debut film Get Out, and in doing so he created one of the best horrors in recent years, reinventing the genre and bringing a huge amount of popularity. A telling tale of life for black people in America, although told in an extreme context, still very resonant to many people out there. With a strong screenplay and directing, Peele manages to create an all too realistic horror film that made waves in the film world, and proved Jordan Peele was someone to look out for.

2 – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Martin McDonagh’s biggest film to date, and arguably his best. He continues to write compelling and highly entertaining films, and is consistently improving his craft as a director. Three Billboards is a captivating film that has one of the best female lades in recent years, with an incredible performance from Frances McDormand, and supported by two superb performances from Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson. McDonagh continues his fine form of a long list of dark comedies, but also manages to create a moving drama along the way, with the support of his veteran cast, Three Billboards is a superb piece of cinema.

1 – Lady Bird

Greta Gerwig burst onto the scene with Lady Bird, a superb coming-of-age tale that provides a fresh take on female adolescence. Full of great lines and conversations that feel almost entirely realistic, it is a hugely entertaining film, and it incredibly well directed. Saroise Ronan and Laura Metcalfe give incredibly compelling performances, crafting a human relationship and bringing the script to life. It is a film that manages to brilliantly depict teenage life, from all of the bizarre things to the heartbreaks, a highly moving and entertaining film.

Honourable Mentions: Blade Runner: 2049, The Florida Project, Call Me By Your Name

2018

3 – Shoplifters

Shoplifters is a fantastic portrayal of the effects of poverty and the meaning of togetherness. Hirokazu Kore-eda continues superbly in his collection of humanistic films, exploring the lives of different people. The story of a make shift family and their attempts to cope in a life of poverty results in a bittersweet film, that shows the power of togetherness and unity, and the effects of poverty and what it will lead people to do. This is a film that has possibly began the rise of foreign cinema in the Western film world, with another Asian film to come in the list.

2 – You Were Never Really Here

Acclaimed director Lynne Ramsay’s latest release is a 90 minute thrill ride, with no space to breathe or relax. A brilliantly crafted thriller that showcases Ramsay as one of films most unique voices. Joaquin Phoenix provides one of his best performances as the film explores the struggles of a hit man in New York City, facing suicidal thoughts whilst being hired to kill others. Supported by a superb score from Radiohead’s own Jonny Greenwood, and with superb visuals, You Were Never Really Here is a breathless thriller that continues to improve with every passing minute.

1 – Roma

Alfonso Cuaron took a huge risk when making Roma, going from the blockbuster Gravity, to a personal passion project based upon his childhood, but the result was cinema at its absolute best. In complete control of his craft, from the direction to the cinematography, this is an extraordinary piece of film-making that turns a small personal story of the struggles of a maid in Mexico, into an incredibly ambitious piece of cinema. A landmark film in many ways, and one that can lead the way for the representation of indigenous people in Western media and culture, one of the most important films of the decade.

Honourable Mentions: Leave No Trace, Sorry to Bother You, Widows

2019

3 – The Last Black Man in San Francisco

The debut film of director Joe Talbot tells the semi-autobiographical tale of his best friend, and lead actor, Jimmie Fails, trying to buy back his old house in a middle-class area of San Francisco. It is one of the most visually pleasing films I have seen in recent times, with the cinematography being astonishing, and Joe Talbot proving himself to, already, be a director with an incredible talent. Supported by a brilliant score and honest performances from its local San Francisco cast, The Last Black Man in San Francisco is an incredibly emotional portrayal of a man who is trying to bring back his childhood and memories, and is one of the best debut films for a director in a long time.

2 – Uncut Gems

The Safdie Brothers gained recognition for their 2017 film Good Time, and they took that one step further here with Uncut Gems, using the star-studded cast, and their anxiety inducing directing style to create one of the most exciting films of the year. A story of a Jewish jewellery store owner with a crippling gambling addiction, led by a career best performance by Adam Sandler, who has anchored the film through its promotion, Uncut Gems is incredibly directed and acted, with a score that adds to the claustrophobic feel and a superbly interesting cinematography style. Uncut Gems is pure entertainment and further proves the Safdie Brothers as a new and exciting voice in the film industry.

1 – Parasite

Bong Joon-Ho’s latest addition to his outstanding repertoire of films is possibly one of the most important films in recent times. A nail-biting thrill ride that will leave you floored, but one that is a telling tale of our modern times, and an important piece of class war that will linger long after the end of the credits. This is a film that has massively pushed forward the appeal of foreign films in western film culture and hopefully will lead the way to foreign film becoming an integral part of western film culture and discussion. A meticulously crafted piece of art, every single scene falls perfectly into place and is incredibly well-made from all parties – directing, acting, cinematography. A film that will shock you and leave you wanting more, a film that will stand the test of time, and most importantly, a film that will resonate for millions of people for years to come.

Honourable mentions: 1917, Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood, Portrait of a Lady on Fire

The Films of the Decade – A Year by Year Recap (2010-14)

From top left to bottom right: Drive, Seven Psychopaths, The Social Network, Frank and Blue is the Warmest Colour

As we come to the close of another decade of film, it becomes time to reflect on the best that has been produced each year. As we look back upon the last ten years there is an array of incredible films that are worth remembering for years to come. We have seen a shift in style, tone, production and style of direction. We have seen genres fall and rise, and cinema has changed in so many ways, for the best or not it is still to see – although some people in the industry, including a certain Martin Scorsese, have very strong opinions on the state of the film industry – but it is clear that the decade has provided a list of films that will stand the test of time and showcase the brilliance of the film industry. Here is a year by year recap of last ten years of film.

2010

3. Four Lions

A British Cult Classic. An iconic satire that is hugely entertaining and provides a vital reflection on our modern society and our views on religion and terrorism. Christopher Morris’ directorial debut provides more than just a dark comedy, it also provides a great reflection of our society and the lives of Muslim people in Western society and remains relevant to this day.

2. The Social Network

A writer and director both at the peak of their powers. Sorkin and Fincher – writer and director respectively – create a masterful film both in their own unique ways. A filmmaking masterpiece that explores the past decade through the life of one of the most important and influential men of this period. It is witty, exciting while remaining poignant and perceptive

1. Inception

Christopher Nolan created here a modern Hollywood masterpiece. Off the back of the success of The Dark Knight, Nolan was given his first chance of fulfilling one of his bold ideas with a huge financial backing. He became a leader of modern directors in his ability to be a box office hit, whilst creating smart and challenging films. An exploration of reality and the idea of our dreams. It is incredibly well-written, and features some of Nolan’s best directorial work to date. Starting off the decade in the best way possible.

Honourable mentions: Shutter Island, Kick-Ass.

2011

3 – Drive

Mixing great visuals, sound and acting, Drive is art-house cinema at its finest. Danish director Nicholas Winding crafts a film that quietly but effectively shows the growth of a relationship and the graphic violence that comes from it, intertwining the two with expert skill. The film knows its place and does not try to make the action any more than it should be, with great performances and a director in control of his craft, Drive is a unique and quietly brilliant film.

2 – The Tree of Life

Terrence Malik’s epic film took several years to develop, missing two release dates, but in the end, the final product was well worth it. An exploration of humans place on earth, our actions and how we came to be where we are today. Malik uses the lives of a handful of people in America to intertwine with the creation of life as we know it, and how they are so similar. It is a film that explores mankind’s place here on Earth, and does so in astonishing ways.

1 – We Need To Talk About Kevin

The adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s 2003 novel of the same name, with Lynne Ramsey at the helm, provides a view on the aftermath of what happens to good parents with bad children. The effect that a child, who cannot be punished, has upon his mother who takes the blame. A brilliantly effective portrayal of sexism and feminism in our modern world, and the effect a man can have on a woman’s life and everything she has worked towards. Lynne Ramsey uses the subject material to create a film that works on many levels, from a psychological thriller to a tale of a mother trying to earn the love of her son and prevent him from ruining her life as well as his own.

Honourable mentions: The Artist, Melancholia

2012

3 – Seven Psychopaths

Martin McDonagh’s follow up to In Bruges is a character centred film that provides commentary on the film industry and plays heavily on stereotypes and clichés of modern films. The screenplay is the driving force here, giving the cast, with talents such as Christopher Walken, Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson, all the chances possible to showcase their acting ability. A film that is able to walk the line between self-parody and over criticism of the film industry, and to brilliant effect. Martin McDonagh showed he is a talented writer and director with an ability to write a highly entertaining screenplay and direct it to great effect.

2 – Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino’s highly anticipated, highly controversial (is there any surprise in that?) seventh film was met with both criticism and acclaim. Concerns about the language used, the violence and the way the subject was portrayed simply sum up Tarantino’s career. A vastly entertaining film that ridicules the slave trade, and creates a unique portrayal of the history of African Americans, turning Django into a hero, killing as many slave owners as possible in the process. From the impressive cinematography to the incredible acting and screenplay, it is just another massive accomplishment in the career of one of the most acclaimed directors of all time.

1 – The Master

Paul Thomas Anderson added to his already glowing repertoire with a captivating film that reveals as much and as little as Anderson chooses to, exploring father-son relationships, master-apprentice relationships and people’s attempts to find their place in society. Masterfully acted with career best performances from Joaquin Phoenix, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams, supported by an encapsulating score by Johnny Greenwood it is Paul Thomas Anderson at his absolute best.

Honourable Mentions: The Dark Knight Rises, Argo

2013

3 – Inside Llewyn Davis

The Coen Brothers find themselves in fine form in this film. Exploring a struggling folk musician in the 1990’s they manage to portray the experience of artists who refuse to compromise their craft, balancing both a hugely funny and entertaining film, that also exudes a feeling of melancholy. Voted the 11th best film of the century by the BBC, Inside Llewyn Davis is a great exploration of what life is like for many people out there, and Oscar Isaac manages to brilliantly create an easily watchable lead character, that shouldn’t be so appealing.

2 – Blue is the Warmest Colour

Recently 2019’s Parasite became the first unanimous winner of the Palme D’or since Blue is the Warmest Colour, and that is exactly the level this film is. An achingly beautiful film that is filled with elegant and absorbing drama from the very start. Supported by two incredible lead performances this is a powerful film that conveys with convictions and almost complete realism the emotion and heartbreak that many experience throughout their lives.

1 – Her

Spike Jonze’s film works on so many levels, as a character study, as an exploration of modern relationships and as a gag on modern society. It’s easy to see this is a joke film, but it is much more than that, it is a genuine exploration of relationships in modern society and a great, and unique, portrayal of modern relationships. Spearheaded by a solo on-screen performance by the incredible Joaquin Phoenix, who is only just beginning to receive the mainstream acclaim that he deserves, however, there is also a hugely important supporting voice role provided by Scarlett Johansson as Samantha, the AI system that becomes the love interest, as she manages to portray genuine emotion and create a real relationship without ever stepping foot on screen.

Honourable mentions: The Wolf of Wall Street, 12 Years A Slave

2014

3 – Frank

Kicking off my, by far, favourite year of film in the decade is Frank. Michael Fassbender famously hiding behind a huge helmet may have gained attention as a gimmick, but take nothing away from this hugely entertaining and poignant film. A great screenplay supported by a stellar cast, and a superb performance from Fassbender, who steals the show even without ever showing his face. An irreverent film that balances the line between strange and experimental.

2 – Whiplash

A tour-de-force of a film that showed the film industry that Damian Chazelle is a talent to be reckoned with. Whiplash portrays the relationship between a budding musician and his teacher in a way that resembles a battleground, intense and well-acted with incredible performance from Miles Teller and J.K Simmons – the latter especially, Whiplash is an absolute thrill of a film, and features one of the best soundtracks in recent times.

1 – Interstellar

Christopher Nolan’s best film to date, which, upon release, received mixed reviews from some critics, but since its release it has become a classic with fans and critics alike and is one of the most – if not the most – iconic films of the decade. Filled with incredible practical effects, superb acting performances and a story that is both filled with realism and sci-fi entertainment, Interstellar is the crowning glory of a director who has led the way for modern cinema and continues to break new ground.

Honourable Mentions: Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Nightcrawler, The Babadook – an incredible year of film, and the majority of these films would’ve made it into the top 3 in every other year on the list.

2019 Oscar Predictions

With the 91st Academy Awards around the corner I thought I’d try my hand at predicting this year’s winners and losers. The Oscars tend to throw up many suprises but I’ve tried to predict what I think will happen on Sunday night. I have not predicted the short films and documentaries as I do not know enough about them to make a comment about them.

Best Adapted Screenplay –

John David Washington and Topher Grace in BlacKkKlansman

Who I Think Will Win – BlacKkKlansman
Who I Think Should Win – If Beale Street Could Talk

BlacKkKlansman is the most likely to take this award as a nod to Spike Lee who will not take home any of the other awards of the night, meaning the Academy will give him this award to make it up for it. However, it should If Beale Street Could Talk that wins, but for some reason the Academy seem to have ignored it entirely.

Best Orignal Screenplay –

Who I Think Will Win – Green Book
Who I Think Should Win – First Reformed

For a while The Favourite was – no pun intended – the favourite to win this award, and backed by a strong award season it should still be the case. However, a recent push for Green Book has left it having a much stronger possibility of taking home some of the big awards of the night. First Reformed, a hugely overlooked film in a majority of categories, should take home the prize, but it will go to Green Book, or the Favourite, most likely the former at this point.

Best Original Score –

Kiki Layne and Stephen James in If Beale Street Could Talk

Who I Think Will Win – If Beale Street Could Talk
Who I Think Should Win – If Beale Street Could Talk

This is the one award I can see If Beale Street Could Talk winning. The score has often been beaten by Justin Hurwitz’s  First Man score throughout Awards Season, however, with First Man not being nominated, Nicholas Britell seems certain to win his first Oscar, unless Black Panther swoops in and takes the award with voters having seen that film over If Beale Street Could Talk.

Best Original Song

Who I Think Will Win – Shallow
Who I Think Should Win – All The Stars

If Shallow doesn’t win Best Song it will be one of the biggest shock in years, it’s won every other award possible and is guaranteed for the Oscar, with big support from it even winning a Grammy. Although, I would’ve preferred to see All The Stars win.

Best Animated Feature Film –

Spiderman: Into the Spider Verse

Who I Think Will Win – Spiderman: Into the Spider Verse
Who I Think Should Win – Spiderman: Into the Spider Verse

One of the best animated features in recent times, Spiderman had a chance of being nominated for Best Picture, being only the fourth animated feature to do so, but missed out. However, it won’t miss out on this award and is a certainty to take home the prize.

Best Foreign Language Film –

Who I Think Will Win – Roma
Who I Think Should Win – Roma

On first glance this seems like a simple choice, with Roma being nominated for Best Picture, surely it must win. However, should Roma take Best Picture, the Academy voters may decide to reward Cold War as Roma has taken its prize, however, that is unlikely, and Roma will win. This is one of the strongest categories, with Roma, Cold War and Shotplifters all being worthy of Best Picture nominations, with only the former being nominated.

Best Supporting Actress –

Amy Adams and Christian Bale in Vice

Who I Think Will Win – Amy Adams
Who I Think Should Win – Regina King

The supporting actress category has four genuine contenders to take home the prize and could go in any direction. No actress has taken control of award season, with Regina King, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz and Amy Adams taking home their fair share of prizes throughout award season. However, I can see Amy Adams, possibly the least favourite out of the four frontrunners, taking home the prize, given her many previous nominations without a win. Not only that, but If Beale Street Could Talk has not been very popular with the Academy, with only three nominations, making Regina King’s chances smaller, and Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz both already taking home Oscars previously.

Best Supporting Actor –

Who I Think Will Win – Mahershala Ali
Who I Think Should Win – Mahershala Ali

After winning every award conceivably possible during award season, there is not a single doubt that Mahershala Ali will take home his second Oscar in three years. Richard E. Grant has garnered some support for his role in Can You Ever Forgive Me? but it is not enough to stop Ali winning. This category is a foregone conclusion and almost not worth discussion.

Best Production Design

Black Panther

Who I Think Will Win – Black Panther
Who I Think Should Win – Black Panther

This is the one category that I think Black Panther deserves to win. They are definitely the favourite to win with the film’s ability to create a new world, and it has won an array of awards and is the only one I can see taking home the prize on the night, barring a suprise Bohemian Rhapsody win for its Production value on scenes such as the Live Aid scene.

Best Costume Design

Who I Think Will Win – Black Panther
Who I Think Should Win – The Ballad of Buster Scuggs

Another award that Black Panther will take home, it has been rewarded for its production and costume throughout award season and that won’t stop here, the Academy have clearly loved the film, and are going to reward it with a number of Oscars this year, although I would have much preferred to see The Ballad of Buster Scruggs take home a prize.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Who I Think Will Win – Vice
Who I Think Should Win – Vice

This is the one category that Vice will be rewarded in, and obviously so, one of they key features of the film was Bale’s transformation into Dick Cheney. Mary Queen of Scots has a chance, but this is the one category that the Academy can actually give an award to Vice, and they will do so.

Best Sound Mixing

Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody

Who I Think Will Win – Bohemian Rhapsody
Who I Think Should Win – First Man

Bohemian Rhapsody will take this home on the night simply because of it being a music biopic, and the Live Aid scene. Voters will want to reward that scene, and the film, and this is one of the best categories to do so, and with First Man’s lack of nominations throughout, it seems it’s not very popular with the academy.

Best Sound Editing

Who I Think Will Win – Black Panther
Who I Think Should Win – A Quiet Place

This is one of the many awards that I can see Black Panther taking home on the night, with Sound Editing being such a wide open category I can see Black Panther coming through and taking home the prize. However, Bohemian Rhapsody could take it too, but I think in this category Black Panther has more of a push. I would’ve liked to see A Quiet Place win as their use of sound was the most impressive.

Best Visual Effects

Avengers: Infinity War

Who I Think Will Win – Black Panther
Who I Think Should Win – Avengers: Infinity War

Black Panther has been rewarded frequently with Visual Effects awards and will certainly take home this prize, although Avengers should win this, it does not have the same support from the Academy as Black Panther, and will lose out on this award.

Best Film Editing

Who I Think Will Win – Bohemian Rhapsody
Who I Think Should Win – Vice

Film editing is a very close contest with different films winning throughout award season. The last time a film that won best editing went on to win Best Picture was Argo in 2013, and with each nominee being nominated for Best Picture this trend might stop, which would lend itself towards The Favourite or Green Book winning, however, Bohemian Rhapsody will take home the prize for its Live Aid Scene, although it should not win. The whole category is the weakest it has been in a long time, though.

Best Cinematography –

Roma

Who I Think Will Win – Roma
Who I Think Should Win – Roma

This is the one category that Roma is a dead on to win, it has won the majority of awards over award season. The only other possibility would be Cold War taking the prize as the Academy does not want Netflix’s films to take the prizes, however, that is highly unlikely, and Alfonso Cuarón will definitely take home the prize for Cinematography alongside Directing.

And now the Big Four…

Best Actress –

Glenn Close in The Wife

Who I Think Will Win – Glenn Close
Who I Think Should Win – Olivia Colman

Both frontrunners for this award, Glenn Close and Olivia Colman, have won numerous awards throughout awards season. The odds have swung both ways but at this point Glenn Close is the most likely, given her success over awards season, and her long career in the film industry, it is more than likely going to end up going to Close, although both have very good chances of taking home the prize.

Best Actor –

Christian Bale in Vice

Who I think Will Win – Rami Malek
Who I think should win – Christian Bale

Rami Malek is almost a certainty to win this award now after his recent awards. At one point this was a closely thought battle between Malek and Bale, but critics have adored Malek’s performance, along with audiences too, and have constantly pushed for his success. Viggo Mortensen seems to have more chance of winning at this point than Bale, who could only realistically win in a vote for him as a person over the years, who has not yet won Best Leading Actor, which the Academy often do, but the push for Malek is too strong at this point, and he will, unfortunately, take home the prize over Bale, who put in a masterful performance as Dick Cheney. A key problem for Bale is that people don’t like Cheney, whereas Freddie Mercury is widely adored, making his chances every smaller.

Best Director –

Alfonso Cuaron

Who I think Will Win – Alfonso Cuarón
Who I think should win – Alfonso Cuarón
This is one of the categories that is almost a certainty at this point. Alfonso
Cuarón has won almost every single award possible for directing, and there is no way he is going to lose this. The only possible outcome in which he doesn’t win would be if Spike Lee secures the award due to his lack of appreciation over the years, however, this has not really received any sort of push with all the focus being on Cuarón, and rightly so, he thoroughly deserves the award and it is one of the few categories I would gladly back heavily.

And finally…

Best Picture –

Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen in Green Book

Who I Think Will Win – Green Book
Who I Think Should Win – Roma

For a while this category seemed a forgone conclusion, however, as we get closer to the Oscars things continue to drastically change. Green Book’s success at the Golden Globe’s and the PGA’s, alongside its recent campaign push leaves it with a strong possibility of taking home the biggest award of the night. Roma, at one point, seemed almost certain to claim victory, however, due to the Oscars preferential voting system for best picture, Roma is unlikely to gain 50% of the vote, meaning that the second preferred film is then taken into account on each voters ballot, and it his highly likely that Green Book will swoop in and secure the victory this way. Roma certainly deserves the reward, and still is a strong favourite, but the Oscars throw up many surprises, and I think this may be one of them.

Christopher Nolan – The Definite Ranking

Upon the announcement of Christopher Nolan’s latest upcoming release, a Warner Brothers ‘event’ – as they put it themselves – to be released in Summer 2020, it only seems fitting to explore his extraordinary catalogue of films. One of the most critically acclaimed directors of all time, and the 6th highest grossing director of all time, Christopher Nolan is one of the iconic directors of our time. His ability to make smart and challenging blockbusters have led to him to gain a mass following, and huge support from critics, led him to become one of the leaders of his generation, and be the only director working who would be trusted with over $100m to make a film such as Inception.

In a career spanning just over 20 years Christopher Nolan has crafted a collection of 10 incredible films, with 5 of them being selected in Empire’s 100 Greatest Movies, and three being selected in BBC’s 100 Greatest Film’s of the 21st Century. He has created his own style of film-making and is a leader in the production of IMAX films and is surely going to continue to guide the way for more innovation and ground-breaking filmmaking. Undoubtedly he will go down in history as one of all the all time great directors, and it only seems fitting to explore his incredible filmography.

In celebration of this man’s fine work I have decided to make the definitive – or at least, my definitive – ranking of his ten films. It was extremely difficult and I imagine if I did this again next week it would be entirely different.

10 – Following

Following (1998)

Nolan’s directorial debut is a smart neo-noir thriller. At a run time of 70 minutes, Nolan creates an exciting film in a short space of time. As precisely filmed as Nolan’s films ever are, Following put his name on the map as a filmmaker, with its dark story, precisely filmed scenes and Nolan’s classic non-linear structure. With a tiny budget, Nolan was able to show the talent he is, and although bottom of this list, it is a great piece of film-making, and an exciting debut that paved the way for an incredible career.

9 – Insomnia

Insomnia (2002)

Nolan’s forgotten film. His first big budget film is often lost in his collection of works, however, his remake of the 1997 Norwegian film of the same name stands firm as a solid piece of work. Following the critical success of his second film, 2000’s Memento, Nolan’s follow up may seem like a slight disappointment, however, with stellar performances from Al Pacino and Robin Williams, and the great direction of Christopher Nolan it is a good film that showed that Nolan was more than capable of handling a big budget. It also showed his ability to make blockbuster movies that were more than just ‘popcorn flicks’, he had continued to make smart, thrilling movies, and although it may not stand up in the same vein as his best pieces of work, it has paved the way for Nolan’s smart blockbuster films that followed.

8 – Batman Begins

Batman Begins (2005)

A new era of superhero films began with Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Gone were the cheesy, childish superhero films that had been so common, and Nolan introduced a dark and gritty superhero film, exploring what made Batman who he is and why. It was a superhero film that had a sense of realism not seen before, and Cristian Bale’s performance as Bruce Wayne provided an exploration of the character not seen before. Nolan mixed his film-making style with the superhero genre to create the beginning of a trilogy that will go down in history. It is apparent, though, the difference in quality between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, at this point Nolan was still a director learning his craft, especially in big budget films, but it was one of the best, if not the best superhero origins movie of all time.

7 – The Prestige

The Prestige (2006)

2006’s The Prestige is one of Nolan’s most forgotten films. A brooding, twisting thriller, his follow up to Batman Begins showcased his own storytelling abilities, alongside his brilliance as a director. His story of two magicians locked in a battle to beat to the other leads to thrilling results, and an unexpected science-fiction thriller that has an twists and turns at the end, leading to many surprise revelations. Both actors performances are solid and the cinematography throughout is superb, but it lacks slightly what the next six films possess, and that is Nolan’s stunning direction that can leave the audience in awe. Smart and exciting, Nolan manages to turn a magician tale into a thrilling sci-fi, however, it is his last film on the list that is simply good, and not extraordinary.

6 – The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

At this point in the list is becomes almost impossible to list each film. Every one of the films to come is Christopher Nolan at his best, and this is no exception. However, it falls at the bottom of this top portion of films for a few reasons. The third act of the film is the weakest of the trilogy, with the resolution of the three films not being entirely satisfactory. Aside from that Nolan has created some of the best scenes in his directorial career and created a genuinely dark thriller, with an incredibly well acted villain in Bane – played by Tom Hardy. The opening plane scene is an example of Nolan at his best, creating an incredible action scene without the use of CGI, and ending up being one of the best scenes in the film. It is a film that explores a number of themes that affect modern day society everyday, and explores our governments and political systems. The film is thrilling, dark and visually incredible, Christopher Nolan proved that superhero movies can be anything that they want to be, and, sitting in 6th on this list just goes to prove the quality of Nolan’s films.

5 – Dunkirk

Dunkirk (2017)

Dunkirk is Christopher Nolan at his best, his directing is incredible in this war movie that avoids all of the cliches and tropes of war movies in years gone by. Nolan does not glorify the war, does not try to create heroes, simply choosing to show one of the greatest moments of unity and strength in history. He is in total control of his craft, from land to sea to air and creates a thrilling piece of visual cinema. At times almost a silent movie, the focus is entirely on the visual spectacle that Dunkirk is. With one of his shortest running times, and completely different to his usual storytelling, Dunkirk is almost completely different to a Nolan film, but at the same time everything that he does perfectly. Separated into three sections over three time periods, Nolan still managed to explore the events in his own non-linear style, and prove that film audiences don’t need to be shown simple blockbusters every time, instead something clever can be done with a film of such a large budget. It is his incredible direction that leads Dunkirk to be one of the great war movies of all time. Although it could possibly be seen as Nolan’s attempt to pander to award shows, it is not the case, and instead, Nolan simply made a visual masterpiece and one of the all time great war movies, breaking the mould of the films that preceded it.

4 – The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight (2008)

Possibly Nolan’s most iconic film, The Dark Knight is the greatest comic book film of all time, and one of the best films of all time also. From incredible directing, to one of the best acting performances of all time from Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight is everything that Hollywood can be. Similarly to The Dark Knight Rises, neither films are really superhero films, instead thrillers with incredible character studies throughout. It’s in the title itself, The Dark Knight is one of the darkest comic books films released and is what made it so special, not childish in any way, no gimmicks, simply an incredible piece of action with possibly the greatest villain of all time. No longer was The Joker a villain that wasn’t taken seriously, instead, Heath Ledger turned it into the most iconic villain of our time with the best performance of the twenty first century. The Dark Knight is a film that provides genuine moral questions and creates genuine threat throughout, from Batman’s choice between Harvey or Rachel, to the finale between the two ships, it explores what is right and wrong and feels more than just a superhero movie, it is a juggernaut of a film that provides some of the most iconic scenes in film history.

3 – Inception

Inception (2010)

Inception is a tour-de-force of a film, from action to drama, Nolan creates one of the smartest films of our time. Inception is Nolan’s best piece of storytelling and narrative structure to date, with the layers of dreams create an abundance of stunning worlds. Led by an all star cast Inception creates thrills from the very first scene, with Leonardo DiCaprio at his best throughout. In this film Nolan proved himself to be on of the most iconic directors of all-time with his use of practical effects rather than CGI, with the most iconic example being the fight scene in the hotel, with Nolan using a genuine revolving room powered by a jet engine. It’s exploration of dreams makes it a unique blockbuster film, and shows his quality to be trusted with a budget of $160 million to make such an ambitious film that, in the hands of another director, could have been a complete failure, but, instead, Christoper Nolan was in complete element. With stunning direction and cinematography, and Hans Zimmer’s deft touch on the score, it is a spectacle from start to finish. A film that takes multiple views to wrap your head around, it is smart, exciting and stamped Nolan’s name in the history of film-making.

2 – Memento

Memento (2000)

Memento was the film to put Christopher Nolan on the map. One of his most personal films to date, Memento is a psychological thriller that takes an audience on a journey that they probably won’t understand until the closing scenes. The film’s structure is one of his main features, with two different timelines, the colour scenes coming at the end of the story and the black and white coming at the start, but both are shown side by side, as we learn less and more about the story, respectively. The reveal at the climax is one of the smartest conclusions to a film in recent times, with both sides of the story coming together as one to reveal what is really happening, yet, there are still two potential truths, and it is up the audience to decide what they believe. Nolan’s best screenplay, and one of the all time great screenplays, and is something entirely different to what he is widely known for, but it began his exploration of narrative structure and how it can be changed. It is smart, thrilling and one of the all-time great films, and, incredibly, only his second film, sparking one of the greatest careers in film of all time.

1 – Interstellar

Interstellar (2014)

Interstellar is Nolan’s most ambitious films he has created to this date, yet, at the same time his most simple. In terms of storytelling it a simple tale of a father looking to provide a future for his family, and a story of a father and daughter’s relationship, but it is everything around that which makes it so ambitious, and Nolan’s greatest film. No other director making films right now would be trusted to make a film like Interstellar, which just proves Nolan’s quality, and incredible fan base. It is a visual spectacle, with stunning direction and cinematography, and of course, Nolan using practical effects at every turn possible. Not only that but Matthew McConaughey puts in a performance of a lifetime to create his most human film to date, which is ironic given the subject of the film. Upon release critics had a lukewarm response to the film, but as the years have gone on its brilliance has been widely applauded, from the acting to Nolan’s masterful directing. Hans Zimmer’s beautiful score adds to each scene, raising the tension entirely, creating some of the best scenes in cinema, from the water planet, to the docking scene, which are both visually stunning, and completely enthralling through both the music and directing. It is the best film I have seen in cinema and is one of the all-time great films, truly Nolan’s best work, and continued to prove he is one of the best directors of all time.

My Top Ten Films of 2018

2018 has been an interesting year for film, not quite up to the standards of 2017, which featured some of the most impressive films of the last ten years. However, there have been some superb films that are unique, emotional and challenging, and a great testament to the film industry. Making a top ten list is always difficult and is likely to change as soon as this is posted, but as of writing this is my top ten films of 2018.

10 – A Quiet Place

John Krasinski in A Quiet Place

Released: April 6th 2018 Director: John Krasinski Starring: Emily Blunt and John Krasinski        

In John Krasinski’s debut directing role he showcased that he was somebody to be taken seriously. A post apocalyptic horror that’s key element is silence. A family’s survival is at stake as they try to find a way to live in a world where they cannot speak. The film’s best feature is its ability to take something that we take so much for granted, and strip it away from us. It is a smart thriller that has a human touch, as John Krasinski and Emily Blunt try to raise a young child alongside two other children in a world where they have to be silent at all times, and what they would do to protect one another. The real-life couple’s chemistry helps to make the family feel real in an entertaining horror film that was more than a pleasant suprise.

Best Moment: Emily Blunt giving birth amongst the attack by the creatures. It is the most tense moment of the film, leaving a cinema silent as the audience watch on as the split apart family try to save each other.

 9 – Mission Impossible: Fallout

From Left to Right: Henry Cavill, Tom Cruise and Rebecca Ferguson in Mission Impossible: Fallout

Released: July 27th 2018 Director: Christopher McQaurrie Starring: Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames

Mission Impossible: Fallout proves just how great hollywood cinema can be. Not all blockbuster films are simplistic and lacking a plot. Christopher McQuarrie has directed one of the great action movies, with Tom Cruise continuously proving himself to be the best there is at what he does. Thrilling from the moment it starts, MI:F goes into new territory for this hugely successful franchise, producing some of the best visual sequences this year in film. An ensemble cast provide compelling performances alongside a genuine threat, and dark themes of corruption and betrayal to create an iconic film in the blockbuster era.

Best Moment: The mission to recover Solomon Lane from the government by Hunt and Walker, undercover working with an arms dealer. The scene unfolds creating uncertainty, distrust and a series of spectacular visuals, with some superb directing and acting.

8 – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Tim Blake Nelson in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Released: November 9th 2018 Director: Joel and Ethan Coen Starring: Liam Neeson, James Franco, Tom Waits, Zoe Kazan, Tim Blake Nelson

The Coen Brothers new film is one of two Netflix releases on this list. A western split into six story, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs takes on different tales of criminals, entertainers and gold miners in a unique and interesting way. With Tarantino style dialogue in parts, the film is new territory for the Coen Brothers who have created many classics over the years. A fun film, with deep rooted messages about greed and crime in America, the Ballad of Buster Scruggs is another success story for the Coen brothers, as they venture into new horizons working with Netflix, who’s track record is consistently improving. With free reign over the film they have created an entertaining film that explores a range of ideas about America and it’s identity.

Best Moment: The final story explores three people on a coach ride with a driver unwilling to stop, as they all look back on their lives as they face the uncertainty of death they come together in their joint fear of dying. A poignant end that explores, in detail, the fear of death and people’s differences and similarities.

7 – Annihilation

Released: March 12th 2018 Director: Sam Garland Starring: Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac, Tess Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez

Alex Garland’s follow up to Ex Machina is a thought-provoking science-fiction film that will leave you deep in thought for hours after the credits roll. An equally experimental film as Ex Machina, Garland creates an aesthetically pleasing world in which he, and the audience, can explore. Ranging from beautiful to frightening, Annihilation explores ‘the shimmer’, a toxic area spreading through the coast of America, and Lena – Natalie Portman – and her husband Kane – Oscar Isaac – are the only people to have survived entering it. The film explores the ideas of grief, mental health and humanity’s tendency to self-destruct. Each character, in the Shimmer goes through different challenges with their own mental health, and struggle to cooperate with one another. The stark contrasts between the beauty of the shimmer and the horror that lies within it create a harrowing and challenging film that leaves the audience with an abundance of questions.

Best Moment: The reveal of what happened to Kane is dark and challenging but is a pivotal moment in the film and is incredibly shocking and thought-provoking, making you question everything that came before.

6 – Burning

Yoo Ah-in in Burning

Released: May 17th 2018 Director: Lee Chang-dong Starring: Yoo Ah-in, Steven Yeun, Jeon Jong-seo

Burning is a sensual and mysterious film that moves from a love story with two love rivals to a crime filled film exploring the disappearance of the love interest – Shin Hae-mi. The film’s focus is the exploration of human relations and psychology, with the disappearance taking a backseat as the film continues, with Lee Jong-su becoming obsessed with his love rival Ben. Their paths become ever more intriguing until the inevitable climax that leaves questions in the air, with mysteries not revealing themselves, rather growing as the two men become obsessed with each other and finding out who each other really are. A film about class, with two characters coming from different worlds, helps to feel the lust and pain that Jong-su feels. It is a film that will leave you questioning human relations and our relations with one another.

Best Moment: Ben’s dream of burning the greenhouses, a hallucinatory scene that creates the sense of fear and danger in a film that was before a simple tale of two love rivals.

5 – Shoplifters

The cast of Shoplifters.

Released: 8th June 2018 Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda Starring: Lily Franky, Sakura Ando, Mayu Matsuoka

Hirokazu Kore-eda’s 20 years in Japanese film are clear in this extraordinary tale of a make shift family who steal to get by. The family end up literally stealing a young girl named Yuri, who is visibly abused by her family. The film is full of poignant moments as this ‘family’ grow closer, with husband and wife becoming intimate for the first time in years, and a shop assistant helping Shota as long as he doesn’t teach Yuri how to steal. It is a film that asks questions of the rights and wrongs and explores how united a group of people can become. It is the story of damaged people joined together in a common cause, until they realise that they may not be doing the right things. The family’s split and Yuri’s return to her family epitomise the agony of society with people who are broken and struggling to cope.

Best Moment: Noboyu telling Osamu that Shota is too good for them is a heartbreaking moment that epitomises the human, emotional feel that resonates throughout the entirety of the film, and sums up why it is so special.

4 – Sorry To Bother You

Lakeith Stanfield in Sorry To Bother You

Released: 13 July 2018 Director: Boots Riley Starring: Lakeith Stanfield, Tess Thompson, Steven Yeun, Forest Whitaker

Boots Riley’s directorial debut is as daring as it could possibly have been. A politically charged, socially aware film that explores the issues of modern society, with capitalism being the focal point. As absurd as it is poignant, it explores the basics of modern life, and the possibilities of what could be hidden in the richest of society. Lakeith Stanfield provides a portrayal of modern society, caught between wanting to make change and needing to improve their situation in a money driven world. It is a unique film that successfully manages to blur the line between our own reality and the extraordinary world that Riley creates, and creates both laughter and discomfort as the characters are dragged into this awful world, that has alarming similarities to our own.

Best Moment: The meeting between Cassius Green (Lakieth Stanfield) and Steve Lift (Armie Hammer). An extraordinary portrayal of the difference between the working people of society, and the people that control their lives, it is a scene that moves from funny to tense in a matter of moments, and is one of the most pivotal moments of the film.

3 – You Were Never Really Here

Joaquin Phoenix in You Were Never Really Here

Released: 9th March 2018 Director: Lynne Ramsay Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Ekatarina Samsonov

Lynne Ramsay continues to produce outstanding films, after 1999’s Ratcatcher and 2011’s We Need To Talk About Kevin, she has stepped it up another notch. Ramsey uses the short ninety minute run time perfectly to create a film that wastes no time in exploring Joe – Joaquin Phoenix – and his backstory, and his violent journey to rescue young Nina. The film efficiently explores Joe’s mental health and struggles with the life he has been given, whilst also providing a thrilling crime film, that unveils questions of corruption, paedophilia and family. Phoenix provides the performance of a lifetime as he struggles between life and death, with a chilling part of the film being him suffocating himself regularly in a plastic sheet as a form of relief. A chilling film that proves Ramsey to be one of the master filmmakers, and evermore shows the talent that Joaquin Phoenix is.

Best Moment: Joe finding Nina for the final time in Governor Williams’ house, a quietly hopeful scene. After believing he had failed to save her and breaking down in the Governor’s bedroom, Joe finds Nina. He seems finally at peace, and at the same time empty, as he has no purpose now to continue living. Phoenix’s stunning performance makes the audience feel all the pain that Joe is feeling and provide a fitting end to a haunting film.

2 – Widows

Daniel Kaluuya and Brian Tyree Henry in Widows

Released: 6th November 2018 Director: Steve McQueen Starring: Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Daniel Kaluuya, Colin Farrell, Brian Tyree Henry, Liam Neeson

If not for the sheer brilliance of the number one spot, Widows would easily have been my number one film of the year. Steve McQueen’s follow up to 2013’s Oscar winning 12 Years A Slave, a heist film with an all-star ensemble cast, Widows is an exciting, challenging and entirely brilliant film. Stellar performances from Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki and especially Daniel Kaluuya made the already excellent screenplay transform into a tense film about the dark side of politics, and the criminal underworld in Chicago. None of the characters in the film are likeable, interestingly, throughout the film they all grow more and more morally ambiguous, and you begin to wonder whether any of them deserve to survive or succeed. McQueen has created a dark film that more than lives up to the expectations of a follow up to 12 Years A Slave, and showcases an entirely new side to his film-making capabilities, he is a man in total control of his craft.

Best Moment: Daniel Kaluuya’s key scene on the basketball court listening to the rapper. A riveting performance from Kaluuya is capped by this chilling moment that begins to set the mood for the rest of the film.

1 – Roma

Yalitza Aparicio in Roma.

Released: 27th October 2018 Director: Alfonso Cuarón Starring: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira

The number one spot was only ever going to be held by Roma. Netflix’s original film, produced, written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón is a masterpiece. Cuarón’s personal film, inspired by his own childhood, is a beautiful portrayal of life in Mexico in the 1970’s. Shot in black and white, it is a subtle film that explores the beauty and the pain of life. With masterful directing Cuarón demands the attention of the audience to watch each scene, at the helm of the cinematography he made sure every single shot counts and every moment feels important. If any film could be more different to the film that won him his first directing Oscar – Gravity (2013) – then it is this. Yet, both showcase a man with an amazing ability behind a camera, not only to tell a great story through the writing, but through every single choice of shot. Roma is a masterpiece of cinema on the most human level possible.

Best Moment: The final scene on the beach. One of the most beautiful scenes in recent cinema, with an incredible piece of directing, a continuous shot through the beach and ocean following the family that ends the movie in the most incredible way.

2019 Oscar Nominations: The Big Debate

Every year the Oscar nominations are filled with controversy and complaints. One person’s favourite actor wasn’t nominated, and another’s favourite film failed to be nominated. Often the nominations do not provide too many surprises, but it seems this year that quite a few poorchoices were made in the process of nominations. The best picture nominations are filled with strange choices and unfair admissions, and it seems apparent that a few of the choices were made on popularity and possibly an attempt for the Academy to ensure relevancy and improve falling ratings over recent years.Not only that, but it also seems as if the Academy failed to see or realise thequality of other films and performances during the year, which raises the question also of the Academy’s ability to properly nominate the correct films and performances.

Roma (2018), directed by Alfonso Cuarón

     The Best Picture nominations for this year are some of the weakest in recent years. Admittedly, the Academy doesn’t always reward the best films with the actual award, but they have nominated some brilliant films over recent years. Last years nominees; Dunkirk, Get Out, Call Me By Your Name, Lady Bird and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri were all highlights, although the eventual winner, The Shape of Water was, yet another, indication of the Academy’s failings to reward the best films and performances. This year’s nominees are not up to the standards of the last four years, that included a mass of incredible films. However, despite some of the lack of quality, Roma, The Favourite and BlacKkKlansman are undeniable high points of the year, with Roma being one of the best films of the last decade, with Alfonso Cuarón proving to be an early favourite to earn his second Oscar for Best Directing. It is on the other end of the scale that things do not live up to these standards. Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star Is Born show the lack of quality or films this year, or, the Academy’s ignorance towards the quality films released this year. Both Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star Is Born are not Best Picture films, somehow, they have found themselves on this list at the expense of some incredible films this year, such as First Reformed and You Were Never Really Here, the latter being one of the biggest snubs of the year. Black Panther’s selection seems to be the culturally relevant pick of the bunch. The nomination for Black Panther just adds to the whole Best Popular Movie controversy, with the nomination seeming to be, alongside Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star Is Born, the popular choice of the nominations, in an attempt to improve ratings and relevance.
Although it was a solid film, it was not a best picture film, and only because of its cultural importance on social media was it selected, for the Academy to choose a film that promotes diversity. Yet, their diversity seemed to run out here with their massive exclusions of films such as If Beale Street Could Talk, Widows and Sorry To Bother You, all of which deserved to be on the list for best picture, and were, in fact, snubbed in almost every category that they should have been nominated in. It is not a surprise, however disappointing it may be to see them miss out. One film that missed out, also, is Burning, which did not even get a nomination in the Foreign Film category, despite being one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year.

Ethan Hawke in First Reformed (2018)

     Another area with major snubs was the actor categories, with both Timothée Chalamet and Daniel Kaluuya missing out on nominations in supporting roles, the former being hugely overlooked. In a category with nominations for Sam Elliot and Sam Rockwell, it seems odd that these two actors missed out on nominations for stellar performance. Sam Rockwell was not in Vice for long enough and did not have enough impact on the film to warrant a nomination. Both Timothée and Daniel were superb in both their films, and, just like last year, with their unrewarded performances in Call Me By Your Name and Get Out, they have been overlooked by the academy. Not only that, but in the leading actor category Ethan Hawke was severely overlooked for his role in First Reformed, one of the films that was disappointingly overlooked by the Academy in several categories. Although none of these mentioned would have won anyway, it does not affect the fact that they have been overlooked for roles that do not deserve nominations, as the Academy continues to ignore newer performers, in favour of older actors who could have won Oscars previously. In my personal opinion, this exact thing happened last year with Gary Oldman winning best actor over Timothée Chalamet and Daniel Kaluuya, who definitely deserved it more.

Olivia Colman in The Favourite (2018)

The female acting categories are one, which, surprisingly, does not have a major snub or disappointment, aside from Toni Collette in Hereditary, which was a major shock, but there are several actresses who could win the awards, making it the most interesting of the categories in this year’s awards as Olivia Colman and Glenn Close both battle it out for Best Actress for their performances in The Favourite and The Wife respectively. The supporting actress category is one that could go either way, although Regina King is the most likely, and deserving to win. Any of them could win, however, and deservedly so.

  In the technical categories, there are, as always, several poor choices, with the biggest snub of all being the huge lack of nominations for First Man, which seemed an obvious choice for the majority of technical categories in categories such as Film Editing. Bohemian Rhapsody’s nomination in Film Editing makes you wonder if the academy even watched some films as this was, by far, one of the films weakest points.

Marielle Heller and Melissa McCarthy on the set of Can You Ever Forgive Me?

       The directing category is lacking a single woman this year, which is, of course, a major disappointment.However, it must be noted that there were not many films directed by women that were outstanding moments of directing. Suggestions of Marielle Heller for Can You Ever Forgive Me do not seemed warranted, with it not being an outstanding film this year. However, Lynne Ramsey’s work on You Were Never Really Here was completely overlooked, however, it seemed the case that the film itself was never in contention for any awards due to a lack of a promotional push and campaigning, as it was not just Ramsey that was not rewarded, but the film as a whole. It seems not to raise on issue that women were not rewarded this year, but more that women are not provided the opportunity to direct the best films, and that more opportunities are needed for women. It is no surprise that when given the chance, they shine, with examples such as Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird, and Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker, proving the quality of women directors, and their ability to provide a different perspective in films, in a male dominated industry we need to provide more opportunities for women in directing and producing roles. However, the Oscar Nominees this year in directing are less of an actual issue.

La La Land is mistakenly awarded best picture at the 89th Academy Awards.

       This year does not seem to be a year for ground breaking winners, or anything spectacular, but hopefully the Academy can make the right decisions with the actual awards and avoid any drama, such as the La La Land debacle, which massively undersold the importance of Moonlight’s Best Picture victory. Although the Academy, as always, is caught up in picking Oscar bait films and not rewarding the quality films out there that are deserving of nominations, we can hope that they can simply pick the right winners, and move on to next year’s awards. There will be no historic moments, but as long as the right nominees are rewarded it can be classed as a solid year, for the Academy that is.