Oscar predictions 2016

Oscar season is upon us again and, as is the tradition, I’m having a stab at predicting the results.

This year feels a bit weird.  Normally I feel like I’m making educated guesses, but this year, for the first time, I’m quite confident.  That probably means I’m going to get them all wrong.  It’s also the first year that I’ve thought *all* the Best Picture nominees were really good.  Something is changing in Oscarland…

Anyway.  For better or worse, here we go.

Best Picture: An outside chance for Spotlight, but it’s probably going to be The Revenant.

Best Director: Alejandro Iñárritu for The Revenant.

Best Actor: Without the faintest shadow of a doubt, Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant.

Best Actress: Definitely going to be Brie Larson for Room.

Best Supporting Actor: I really hope sanity prevails and it goes to Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies … but I think, unbelievably, they’re going to give it to Sylvester Stallone for Creed.  8O   I know!  But let’s not forget they gave Best Picture to Rocky in 1977 over Taxi Driver… they have form for such lunacy …

Best Supporting Actress: This is a three-way fight that I keep changing my mind about.  Rooney Mara has a shot for Carol but I don’t think her role was broad enough to win with. Kate Winslet has a bigger chance for Steve Jobs, but I think it’s going to Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Very probably The Big Short.

Best Original Screenplay: Almost certainly Spotlight.

Best Animated Movie: Can’t see it going anywhere else but Inside Out.

Best Cinematography: Absolutely positively The Revenant.

Best Visual Effects: Now here’s a tricky one.  Mad Max could sneak this one on the night.  But I think it’s going to be Star Wars.  This is the one I’m least confident about.  Ironically, given the amount of gongs that The Revenant is likely to get on the night, I think it’s going to miss out on this one, which is the one that it deserves the most.  You could only tell the effects were effects because clearly that *can’t* be Leonardo DiCaprio being tossed around by a bear because, well, he’s still alive and is present to pick up his first Best Actor award.  That’s what a Visual Effects award *should* be for.  Not the Millennium Falcon looking a bit too crisp as it flies over a desert.

 

And so it is with trepidation that I press the Publish button, consigning my predictions to their ultimate fate.  We’ll find out how close I was on the night of 28th Feb.

Movies 2015 – Best and Worst

Continuing the tradition, I’ve been making notes about all the films I’ve seen over the year and ranking them as I see fit.  And here’s the list.

I will remind readers that they are purely in order of *where I wanted to put them*.  Not how good they are, not how clever they are, not how much they made me laugh.  Just my subjectivity.  So that’s why Bridge of Spies, which is clearly excellent, didn’t make the top ten, and why Mortdecai, which everybody else thinks is a pile of stinky poobags, is in the top five.

 

1 to 10

Ex Machina – The one with the see-though girl-bot.  I really enjoyed “The Machine” last year, which has much the same premise. but nobody else saw that.  I was expecting Ex Machina to be a high-budget pale imitation, but it isn’t – it’s special, and largely for two reasons.  Firstly, the special effects, which are so utterly real that you forget about them within literally minutes, despite the fact that for the entire film you can see through the lead actress’s body.  That’s *so* much more impressive than watching a robot fight a fucking tornado or whatever the next lazy cock-buster is going to be about.  Secondly, the plot cleverly sets up so much suspicion that they could literally have filmed the final reel with five completely different reveals and they would all still have made sense.  I thought I had it pegged from about minute 20 and was watching carefully for little corroborations of how I thought the story was going to pan out.  They were all there – and I was still wrong.  I love that.

Frank – Still not really sure what to make of this one but it was a marvellous watch.  It’s about a musician who wears a big fake cartoon head all the time.  Weird, but not as weird as it sounds.  Actually rather touching and great in a way I don’t pretend to understand.  And I think this might be the first time ever that the same guy was one of the leads in both of my top two films (Domhnall Gleeson – the Hitler-type guy in the new Star Wars).  Not only that, he was in last year’s favourite Calvary too!

Shaun the Sheep – Just delightful.  No dialogue, just sheep made of clay.  Bit weird that they hired Omid Djalili to do the “voice” of the bad-guy, when all he did was grunt.  You have to wonder what his script looked like.

The Lunchbox – You may have heard of the lunch services in India that deliver meals daily from the homes in which they’re cooked into the offices of the workers and then deliver the empty tins back to their origin in time for the next day.  They operate with a phenomenal accuracy rate, far better than we can manage in this country.  The Lunchbox describes one of the rare glitches in the system – the surly and inscrutable office chappy communicates with the mysterious cook by way of notes in the lunch tin.  It’s a quiet film and one that demands your attention – if you try and do something else with this on in the background, it won’t work.  I was curious why so much of the dialogue (but not all) is in English.  Maybe that’s how it works over there.  I don’t know.  It doesn’t detract from anything though – it’s great.

Mortdecai – Johnny Depp once again single-handedly makes a movie through his comedy characterisation.  You need to be in a good mood for this one, because it’s very flimsy and will turn you off if you let it – but I got lucky on the day and I loved it.  Johnny channels his Jack Sparrow magic and had me tittering all the way through with his posh English berk routine.  Paul Bettany plays against type and helps with some sharp lines, and Ewan McGregor and Gwyneth Paltrow are … also there.  Be warned though, I seem to be one of the only people on the planet who really enjoyed Mortdecai.  The reviews have been shocking.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – More of the same from the delightful wrinkly cast.  Judi Dench and Maggie Smith are just magical, again.  This time Richard Gere comes along for the ride too, but he just looks like a smug carpet in this lofty company.  Just as well there’s so much quality in the rest of the cast.

Big Hero 6 – I didn’t feel any draw to watch this one, even when it won Best Animated Oscar when The Lego Movie wasn’t even nominated.  I was only geed into seeing it when I found out one of the main characters in it had the same name as someone I knew.  And whaddaya know, I ended up loving it!  The plot doesn’t matter, it’s nonsense.  But it’s warm, it’s fun, it’s funny, it makes you feel better about being alive.  That gives it more of a reason to exist than some of the *people* I know.  Try it.

A Field in England – I didn’t watch this black-and-white curio back in 2013 because it sounded like it was set on a battlefield and I can’t be doing with all that nonsense.  But it isn’t really – I mean, it *starts* in a battle back a few centuries in Cromwell-ish England, but then the protagonists wander off towards the pub and have a bit of a mini-adventure of their own.  Much funnier than I expected – then I noticed it was directed by Ben Wheatley, who did the excellent Sightseers, and it started to make sense.  I lost it a bit towards the end but it’s still good dark, weird fun.

The Martian – Matt Damon on his own on Mars.  Way better than it sounds.

Inside Out – I’m surprised I’m not putting this higher, because I did love it.  It’s the Pixar one with little chaps inside a little girl’s head representing her subconscious drives.  Really clever and totally engaging, but not quite the best-ever that other people seem to be calling it.

 

11 to 20

Kingsman: The Secret Service – Part James Bond, part comedy, part teen-Hunger-Games-thingy, Kingsman sounds like an awful mish-mash but it works under Matthew Vaughn’s direction (he wot did Lock Stock).  Colin Firth, Michael Caine, Samuel L Jackson and Mark Strong headline the cast and make it such jolly good fun that I didn’t mind the plot being desperately un-thought-out and the expositions being painfully obvious.  I think it’s for kids really, but the violence is pretty strong in places (Tarantino-strong).

Mississippi Grind – I don’t know why I liked this film so much.  Gambling films are usually so wanky, but I really got into this one.  It did the Ex Machina trick of sending me the wrong way (several times), but there was more than that.  There was great characterisation, respect to the audience and a real *mystery* that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.  The only bitch I have is about one line that was so mumbly I couldn’t hear what it was… about bingo and a “sweet old lady” … I wound it back five times and listened to it again.  Still don’t have a fucking clue what that line was.  But it felt significant.

Spectre – Some friends have been slating the latest James Bond but I thought it was great.  Not quite as good as Skyfall but a country mile ahead of Quantum of Bollocks.

Minions – Just as good fun as you would expect, and no more.  Failed to recognise many of the celebrity voices.  Adorable little yellow dudes.

Spy – Melissa McCarthy wobbles amiably through this James Bond spoof, supported by Jude Law and Miranda Hart.  One of the funnier comedies of the year.

The Lady in the Van – Maggie Smith is always brilliant, and watching her irritate Alan Bennett is lovely.

Vacation – Remember National Lampoon’s Vacation with Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo?  This is the next generation doing the same thing.  Chev and Bev are both in it (briefly) and it’s pretty much the same but with slightly updated humour.  I found it really funny.

Legend – I wanted to boycott this film because it’s just *wrong* that disgusting people like the Krays should make money from their lives of evil.  But then I found out that there aren’t any Krays left alive to profit, and despite being called Legend, the film doesn’t portray them in a particularly flattering light.  And of course, Tom Hardy is great in everything.  It’s surprisingly funny, too.

While We’re Young – Childless couple Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts meet young and vibrant Adam Driver (the deviant angular bloke from Girls who is now horribly miscast as mini-Darth in Star Wars) and Amanda Seyfried.    It’s never going to set the world alight because it doesn’t try to – its main strikes are subtle and clever, so that’s alienated half the audience right there.  But I liked it.

Big Eyes – Tim Burton directs painter Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz taking the credit for Amy’s paintings.  Rich and pleasant to watch, yet strangely surreal in places, flippant without being funny.  It’s different to Burton’s usual style and intriguing because of it, but I think the writing could have used a slight tonal shift.

 

21 to 30

Dumb and Dumber To – Low expectations helped with this one.  The original was pretty funny (I thought) and the Jim Carrey / Jeff Daniels team works well again here, not taking anything at all seriously and just having lots of fun with being dim.  I think you need to be in a good mood though, as it’s fish-in-the-face humour rather than Shaun the Sheep.  If you’re feeling a bit petulant then you’ll hate it.

The Theory of Everything – This is the one about Stephen Hawking’s life.  The main problem with it is that Hawking and co are still alive, so there’s no freedom to do a warts-and-all version of the story.  As a result, the film feels a bit sycophantic and, although it captures some of the struggle of motor neurone disease, does rather trivialise Hawking’s work by making the plot a love story.  Hmmm.  But, having said that, unfamiliar face Eddie Redmayne does a magnificent job of portraying the disabled scientist, and the film is still very good.  It’s just that The Imitation Game (the Alan Turing one) is much better.

The Falling – Feels so Nordic that I was quite surprised when I noticed actually there aren’t any subtitles and everyone’s clearly English.  Schoolgirls start fainting and nobody knows why.  Go in with the knowledge that nothing’s going to get resolved or explained and it makes a lot more sense – and becomes rather good.

Birdman – I kind of love this and kind of don’t.  With one notable exception, the *entire* movie is one single shot.  I don’t mean it all takes place in 90 minutes – we span several days and change locations – but the camera never breaks away.  There’s continuity in the shot all the time.  When someone leaves the room, the camera leads them away, when time passes we look at the sky for a bit while the sun moves – but the shot never breaks.  I can’t remember any other film to do that.  And the techie-cleverness doesn’t stop there – we often pan across a mirror which, the first time it happened, had me shocked out of my reverie thinking, “where’s the camera?” because it should be showing in the mirror.  In fact I’m not sure any of the mirror reflections we see are real – some of the reflected images are in the wrong place, for example.  That always bugs me in TV shows, where the guy’s pretending to be looking at his own reflection, but the camera’s angled to the mirror and yet *we* can see his reflection.  If we can see it, he can’t!  But that’s the movie’s biggest problem – it’s saying, “hey, look how clever I am!”  I’ve seen it twice now and neither time did I get even slightly immersed in it, I just watched the techie shit.  The shot-joins are very easy to see the second time round, almost like they’re not trying to hide them, and it all feels very, very luvvie.  There’s a scene early on that involves finding an actor for their play – they go through Woody Harrelson, Michael Fassbender, Jeremy Renner … but that dangerous move makes me fantasise that they’re going to suggest that dude who played Batman against Jack Nicholson’s Joker … and then where are they going to go?  He’s IN the movie!  It’s like EastEnders mentioning Coronation Street.  You CAN’T.  It messes with the magic.  I still give it lots of credit for doing something new.  But Oscar for Best Picture?  Ludicrous.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. – It’s a Guy Ritchie film but doesn’t feel like it.  Henry Cavill (Superman) is Napoleon Solo, Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger) is Illya Kuryakin and Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina) is the girl.  Starts badly but gathers speed.  Daft but knowingly so, it’s OK.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation – I have no time for runny shooty action nonsense, but this one was OK.  Utterly barking mad, of course, but jolly good fun nonetheless.

Ant-Man – It really helps in superhero movies where you *start* with a ludicrous premise.  Then the rest of the nonsense is easier to take.  But even so, the sloppy plotting gets in the way in Ant-Man.  At one point the super-fast ant dude just stands there while all the baddies run out the room and makes no move whatsoever to stop them, until they’ve made their escape and THEN he starts the chase.  Pathetic.  But having said that, I quite enjoyed this silly Marvel superhero film.  Paul Rudd takes the lead, who you might recognise as Phoebe’s boyfriend in Friends and from Judd Apatow movies such as The 40 Year Old Virgin and This Is 40, and he’s really good.  Michael Douglas is the wise old dude, with a very distracting opening scene with rather obvious CGI to make him look 20 years younger.  It looked like a cut-scene from a video game – very stilted and weird.  It gets a bit shit once the action starts (don’t they all) but it’s fun enough up to that point.  Lots of people are saying, “I don’t usually like Marvel films but I quite liked this.”

Bridge of Spies – Actually this was excellent: Tom Hanks / Mark Rylance / Amy Ryan, direction by Spielberg and writing credits for the Coen Brothers – how can it be anything else?  It’s only way down here because it’s a bit dry and now I’ve got home from the cinema I’m not in a particularly fluffy mood because of it.  Were I judging on merit, this would be top three material.

Burnt – Bradley Cooper as a chef chasing Michelin stars.  Everybody else in the viewing party said this was superb but I thought it was merely OK.  It’s a dead giveaway when you start noticing the odd continuity errors (e.g. an omelette that gets bigger and smaller again between shots as Bradley eats it) rather than being captivated by the movie magic.  I guess I suffered because I really can’t be doing with all the wankiness surrounding Michelin stars.  Who cares if the waiter doesn’t notice a fork on the floor?!  Who cares if the spacing of the carrots isn’t millimetrically perfect?!  Pretentious knobheads, that’s who.

Wild – Reese Witherspoon walks 1200 miles across America.  I was on the verge of turning off after the first tickle, in which Reese can’t even lift up her backpack but 2 minutes later she’s not only got to the end of the street but has walked 5 miles with it on.  And then when the plot revealed she’d done no planning whatsoever and was clearly going to make it on luck alone, I went to make a cuppa.  And I was beginning to wonder if anybody in Hollywood had ever *seen* hair that hadn’t been washed for a week, given how Reese Witherstylist was shaping up.  But then all those things put themselves right and it got quite good.  I mean, there *was* a bit of cod new-age bleurghiness at the end, but it was never going to end with her being eaten by a bear, now was it?  So it won me over.  Almost.

 

31 to 40

Inherent Vice – I want to say this has Twin Peaks levels of weirdness, but that’s not quite right.  How can I explain it?  If you’re an uncultured slob like me, you’ll only know novelist Thomas Pynchon from his appearance in The Simpsons, in which he wears a paper bag over his head.  That’s a reference to his famous rejection of celebrity, which has led to him not allowing any of his books to be made into films – until now.  Paul Thomas Anderson is the man in the chair, who has given us wobbly but always interesting stuff such as There Will Be Blood, Boogie Nights, Magnolia and Punch-Drunk Love.  The draw of a director who makes “cool” films has tempted Joaquin Phoenix into the lead, with Benicio del Toro, Reese Witherspoon, Josh Brolin and Owen Wilson cropping up in various supporting roles, who are all watchable and COMPLETELY impenetrable.  And that’s the key.  I saw Mark Kermode’s review before I saw it, and he said you’re not really expected to follow the plot.  Oh my god, that was such great advice.  Armed with this little gem, I just let it wash over me, and I ended up rather enjoying it, despite not really knowing what the hell was going on.  It’s no wonder there have been media reports of mass-walkouts from cinemas.  The dialogue sounds like it’s coming from the mouths of politicians.  You understand all those words in isolation, but somehow the sentence has finished and you’ve learned nothing new.  Much like the characters, it’s a stoner movie!  The feel is right, but the detail is all a blur.  So weird!  But curiously not shit.  I can’t explain it.

Time Lapse – A group of friends discover a machine that takes a photo 24 hours *in advance*, so then having seen the photo they’re forced into acting out the scene in the photo, otherwise THEY DIIIIEEEEE!  What?  Hmmm.  Somehow not terrible but let’s not try and think about it.  At all.

American Sniper – Clint Eastwood’s latest true-ish story about an army sniper is a mixed bag.  Bradley Cooper is very good, but he and his co-SEALs mumble their drawly yankishness so deeply that I lost at least 20% of the dialogue.  The story doesn’t seem to know where it’s focused – I found myself starting to understand post-traumatic stress for the first time ever, then like a kid with ADHD it dropped that subject just as it was grabbing me and wandered off to shoot holes in people’s heads again.  Who, of course, despite doing the exact same job as our hero, are worthy of being shot because they’re on The Other Side.  I’ve had enough of that crap.  I found the whole thing utterly depressing.  It’s only as high as it is because of the PTSD section.  Oh, and watch out for the scene towards the end in which Bradley Cooper is holding *easily* the least realistic pretend-baby I’ve ever seen.  It’s like they didn’t even bother to try and hide the fact it was a doll.  So unbelievably amateurish.

A Walk in the Woods – Robert Redford playing real writer Bill Bryson as he attempts, unprepared, to walk The Appalachian Trail.  A very similar plot, you’ll notice, to Wild.  The latter is only a few places higher in this list but it’s a LOT better.  This one is pleasant to watch but very low-rent, especially considering the big-name cast of Redford, Nick Nolte and Emma Thompson.  Some of the scenes are clearly in a studio, which gives the whole thing a low-budget feel that drags it down.  You could call it Wild-Lite.

Whiplash – I have a lot to say about Whiplash and I’m not quite sure how it’s going to go.  Let’s see.  You may have seen the trailer in which bandleader JK Simmons is a massive dick to young and ambitious drummer Miles Teller (such a jazz name!).  Refreshingly, most of the trailer is in the first few minutes, which is a *brilliant* thing as far as I’m concerned, and star Teller is wonderfully un-Hollywood-looking and highly convincing, so it’s all ticks so far.  Furthermore, the (largely orange) cinematography is excellent and any drummers in the audience will be practically jizzing in their pants at the musical content.  And the central performance by JK Simmons is so powerful that even in the first few minutes I found myself thinking, “I’ve always liked his performances, but he’s never broken through,” before I had a rare moment of self-awareness and realised that no, actually, I *hadn’t* always liked him.  I thought he made the newspaper editor his own in Spider-Man 2, in a daft comedy kind of way, but since then he’s just been that baldie-who-I-know-from-somewhere.  But his performance here is *so* strong that it actually bent my memory and made me think I’d always seen him that way.  Yes, it’s *that* good.  So if I have all these good things to say about the film, why is it way down here?  Well, because the plot is AWFUL.  The first half of the film is full of one-dimensional knobheads who don’t understand what’s important in the world, which I can live with in a film even if it won’t engage me, but the second half is just fucking stupid.  I thought for one glorious moment that it was going to go all Million Dollar Baby and I actually sat up in my seat and said, “here we go!” but no.  Fucking no.  Mr Penis Scriptwriter decided to consult his 15 year old drama student cousin and came up with the stupidest final reel I’ve seen since Thor vs Independence Day.  OK, I might have dreamt that film, but trust me, it had a *bad* plot.  And this plot is just as bad.  Nobody else seems to have noticed this.

Selma – The story of Martin Luther King, but without his words, because Steven Spielberg owns the rights to those.  Yes, really.  So although lead actor David Oyelowo does a very good impression of the man himself, we don’t get to hear the famous speeches.  Oh, and it’s as boring as Lincoln.

Mr Holmes – Ian McKellen carries this slow tale of a geriatric Sherlock.  Watchable only for him.

Cake – Jennifer Aniston’s bid for awards glory is actually not bad, but it’s nowhere near high enough standard.  To be fair, she’s pretty good, but I found it a bit weird that we’re clearly supposed to be impressed that she’s prepared to appear on screen in an unglamorous role, yet it’s still bloody obviously Jennifer Aniston, so she still looks like a Hollywood superstar – just one who hasn’t washed her hair in a week.  It took me ten minutes to notice she had scars on her face.  Not *nearly* dowdy enough, Jen.  Think Charlize Theron in Monster.  That’s where your award will come from.

The Equalizer – Denzel Washington takes Edward Woodward’s role in this very shallow but quite stylish Death Wish homage, directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day).  If Stephen Seagal had played the lead, this would have been utterly, utterly appalling, but Denzel saves the day again.  Still rubbish, but watchable rubbish.

The Last Witch Hunter – Vin Diesel in nearly-terrible, effects-led magic nonsense.  Michael Caine is under-used, CGI is *way* over-used.

 

41 to 52

Child 44 – Pretty good until the end.  Tom Hardy is excellent, but it’s really fucking depressing so it’s way down here.

Entourage – I never watched the TV show; it looked a bit shiny and smug.  And indeed so is the movie.  Many times somebody pops up who is so awful at acting you know it must be a celebrity I’m supposed to recognise doing a cameo.  There were a few funny moments, but not enough to carry the 100 minute running time that felt more like 150.  Then the credits rolled and the lights came on, so everyone walked out, then a final scene pops up, that takes MINUTES – so we’re watching that standing up in the theatre.  And it wasn’t even a good scene – just an excuse to squeeze in George Takei’s cameo.  But the real reason I’m down on Entourage is because Piers Morgan is in it.  And for that reason only, it needs to be burned, with fire, until it no longer exists.

Tomorrowland – George Clooney and Hugh Laurie support in this daft drivel that introduces an interesting premise and then shits all over it in the very next scene.  Quite fun if you’re in the mood for it.  I wasn’t.

The Interview – Call me suspicious but I don’t buy all the media hoo-hah about the Sony hack by North Korea.  I’m calling bullshit on that.  The Interview really isn’t very good – James Franco being particularly out of control – but oh look, now it’s been the centre of controversy it’s made a ton of money.  How convenient.  It’s OK but it would’ve sunk without a trace without the publicity.

The Gambler – Stylish but ultimately a bit shit.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay part 2 – Vacuous, depressing tweeny tripe.

Avengers Age of Ultron – Stupid action shit.

Jurassic World – Shit.  You’ll love it.

Fantastic Four – Completely unnecessary and rubbish remake of the quite good 2005 Fantastic Four, starring the young drummer from Whiplash.  There’s really nothing to recommend here, it’s just generic superhero pap.  The final fight scene was particularly head-in-hands terrible, seemingly written by a 14 year old chimp.

John Wick – Ah, that rarest of beasts: a good Keanu Reeves movie.  People have been saying that this is one of those unicorns, but by Christ it isn’t.  I mean, the shooty bits are more fun than usual, but that only raises it from 2/10 to 3/10.  It’s very, very stupid.  And although I *so* want to like Keanu Reeves because he seems like a lovely bloke, he still looks like he’s practising for Bill & Ted’s 3.

Foxcatcher – Critically acclaimed but I’m really not sure why.  Steve Carell plays real-life rich weirdo John Du Pont as he coaches Olympic wrestling gold medallist Mark Schultz – I’m yawning just writing about it.  I *think* Steve Carell was moving carefully and deliberately to show he was aged and arthritic – but it looked like he was just worried his fake nose was going to fall off.  Mark Ruffalo seems to be wearing an ostrich egg on his head, and Channing Tatum keeps jutting his chin out, which I can only assume is Acting School Technique to make himself look stoopid. At least that bit worked.  Finally after nearly 2 hours it suddenly got interesting, and then the movie ended. You bastards.

Taken 3 – I think we can all agree the original Taken was really rather good.  I think we can also all agree that Taken 3 is a pile of shit.  Not even Forest Whitaker can save it.  Luc Besson co-wrote it, and clearly he’s gone batty, given last year’s appalling Lucy and this crock of gizzards.  In future I’m going to avoid anything with his name attached.  Starting now.

 

 

So there we have it.  Only 52 films this year – I made 108 last year.  I must try harder in 2016.  Every year I look at this list and think, “NO WAY!”  No way can it be *less than a year ago* that I saw Foxcatcher, or The Lunchbox, or The Interview.  It CAN’T be.  But it is.

I’m also reminded of how massively significant my state of mind is when seeing a film.  I’ll go back to Mortdecai again – that’s a really daft film.  If I hadn’t already been in a good mood *and* wasn’t already on the side of Johnny Depp hamming it up a la Jack Sparrow, I could so easily have detested it like so many reviewers seem to have done.  But because I loved it, I’m now going to be able to see it again and again – and each time it will bring back the feelings I experienced the *first* time I saw it.  So even if I’m in a bad mood, my reaction to the film has been anchored by the mood I was in back in January when I first saw it.  Humans are strange.

 

Films I missed

I failed to see a ton of great-looking films this year for a number of reasons.  Particular missed highlights that I will be trying to rectify in 2016 include:

- Brooklyn

- Carol

- Max Max: Fury Road

- Second Coming

- A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

- Slow West

- The Legend of Barney Thompson

- Manglehorn

- Mia Madre

 

Chances of me catching up on all those in one year?  Not great.  But I’ll try.

 

Oscar predictions 2015

Oscars this weekend – can’t really be arsed giving it the full treatment this year but FWIW I think Birdman is going to be the big winner.  But as usual I don’t have much confidence.

 

Best Picture: It’s going to be between Birdman and Boyhood, I think Birdman.

 

Best Director: Tougher call here.  Boyhood was filmed over 12 years, Birdman looks to be filmed in one continuous shot.  I might as well flip a coin.  There you go, it came up heads so Richard Linklater for Boyhood.  Or not.

 

Best Actor: Not sure about this one either.  If it was in the UK it would be Eddie Redmayne all the way, but I’m really not sure how well known Stephen Hawking is in the US.  I guess he appeared in The Simpsons and Family Guy and Star Trek so he must be *reasonably* well known … but if you were voting and weren’t familiar with the chap you’d give it to Michael Keaton.  So that might happen.  And then there’s the fawning factor – a lot of movies this year have been quite obviously tailored for Oscar suitability and The Theory of Everything is one of the more in-your-face plays for an award.  If I were a voter I think I’d rebel against that and vote for something else.  Like Michael Keaton.  So that might happen.  Ah balls, let’s go Eddie Redmayne anyway.

 

Best Actress: I haven’t seen Still Alice yet but everybody says Julianne Moore has it sewn up and I have no reason to argue.

 

Best Supporting Actor: The closest to a dead cert of any of this year’s runners, JK Simmons will take this for Whiplash, without a doubt.

 

Best Supporting Actress: Highly likely to be Patricia Arquette for Boyhood.

 

Cinematography: Has to be Birdman for its one continuous shot, surely.

 

Original Screenplay: Between Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel.  The latter is definitely better, but will it win?  Mmmm, not sure.  Birdman was a bit mad.  Go on, I’ll go Budapest.  But I’ll be checking the results through my fingers.

 

Adapted Screenplay: Meh.  Imitation Game probably.

 

Visual Effects: Interstellar I guess.  Personally I’d give it to Planet of the Apes but I don’t think they will.

 

Animation: I’m not even going to guess this one – the lack of a nomination for The Lego Movie renders it pointless.  And last year Frozen beat Despicable Me 2, which is just plain stupid.  I don’t think the voters actually watch these ones, they just pick the ones they remember their kids watching.  Which means it’ll be the dragonny one.  But that’s not a prediction.  Unless it’s right.  ;)

Movies – best and worst of 2014

It’s the end of another year and, as tradition dictates, these are the movies I saw for the first time in 2014.  I’ve had a bit of a rethink about how I order them.  I’m not making even the slightest attempt to rank them in any order of quality, nor am I trying to predict how you might enjoy them.  Both those approaches are doomed to failure and would quite reasonably lead many of you to question my sanity (again).

So this time I have no rhyme, no reason.  I’m just putting each movie where I want it to go.  I make no explanation.  The film right at the bottom is by no means the worst film of the year (in fact if I were to judge it on quality it would be in the top quarter) but sometimes you just fall out with a film and so you want to see it in the gutter.

Right, let’s get cracking – best ones at the top, down to the gobbler at the end.

 

The top 10

Calvary – Same star (Brendan Gleeson) and director (John McDonagh) as the excellent “The Guard” – and he’s the brother of the guy who made In Bruges.  Same style as those, with dark comic moments and absolutely dripping with characterisation.  Wonderful.  I had this ranked round about number 10 but then I watched it again and on second viewing it’s even better.  Not a frame wasted, not a moment that isn’t glorious.  Show it in film school, this is what a movie should be.

Blue Ruin – Low budget and with no recognisable faces (though I’m reliably informed one of them used to be in The Brady Bunch!) this is the sleeper hit of the year.  A homeless chap learns that the criminal who destroyed his life is being released … and then other things happen.  So, so suspenseful and utterly unpredictable.  Lovely.

Starred Up – Pretty difficult to watch, this one, which would normally put it lower down my list, but the sheer quality of it is enough.  A young offender goes to prison and has to make a name for himself to survive.  Sounds *awful* but give it a chance.  It’s very London-gritty, massively violent and absolutely not for an uplifting night out, but oh my god it’s good.

What We Did on Our Holiday – It’s pretty certain that very few of you will put this quite so high on your own lists, however I was blown away.  I saw this very shortly after Pride, and I felt this is the film that Pride should’ve been.  Written and directed by Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin (of Outnumbered and Drop the Dead Donkey fame), this takes the main issue (grandad being terminally ill) and sticks it right up there front and centre, and deals with it.  Funny and moving in equal measure, these directors have a history of teasing wonderful performances from kids and, with the support of Billy Connolly, David Tennant and Rosamund Pike, everything’s really rather brilliant.  Only Ben Miller misjudges his role and lapses slightly farcewards but it’s not enough to stop this being one of my favourites of the year.

The Imitation Game – The story of What Alan Turing Did In the War suffers greatly from some clunky Hollywood moments so it’s high praise to find it all the way up here regardless.  Benedict Cumberbatch (is it just me or does he look like Spock’s grandson?) excels as the nerdy genius and captures perfectly the struggle of dealing with Other People so often suffered by the mega-brained.  Touching and often funny, whilst still maintaining sufficient reverence, it’s one of the best of the year.  Bet your house on Benedict getting nominated, I think it’s going to be between him and Timothy Spall.

Nightcrawler – Jake Gyllenhaal’s creepy news camera-man routine clearly channels Taxi Driver and is incredibly watchable.  There was very little hoo-hah before it arrived, but since its release pretty much everyone has lauded it as one of the movies of the year.  Dark and very compelling.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – This came from out of the blue!  Rise of the Planet of the Apes was pretty good, but this is on another level entirely.  Such an intelligent screenplay that so poignantly portrays conflict on any scale, and those great effects that really make you believe there are chimps tottering about on the screen.  Only when the adrenaline level rises does it get a bit dumb, but fortunately those bits don’t last long.  Really, really enjoyed it – and didn’t expect to, which is why it’s so high.

Bad Grandpa – Johnny Knoxville dressed as an old geezer causing trouble Borat-style with unsuspecting members of the public.  Much, much funnier than it sounds.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – Perhaps a bit wet for some tastes but I absolutely loved it.  You won’t rank it anywhere nearly as highly as I did, so don’t blame me when you watch it and think, “meh”.  Because you will.

Dallas Buyers Club – Matthew McConaughey is very much a Proper Actor now, and this is a really good film.  Matty Mac is a dick Texas cowboy who gets AIDS and becomes progressively less of a dick until he ends up quite a decent chap.  Excellent.

 

Movies 11 to 20

The Selfish Giant – Apparently “inspired by” an Oscar Wilde story of the same name, but that means nothing.  This is a gritty and very realistic Brit-flick – almost too realistic, as it seems almost weird that there is professional filming of what seems to be regular goings-on, despite having several faces recognisable from British TV (Paddy from Shameless, several characters from Playing The Field back in the day).  I must have been having a “moment” to be distracted by that thought, as I’m not usually bothered by such things.  Anyway, the realism sucked me in, and the final reel bowled me over.  I loved the way it teased with the upcoming story and then blew it out the park.  Loved it, but you need to *watch* it.  Don’t put it on while you’re doing your emails.  Would’ve been even higher ranked if the bulk had been a bit more fun to go along with.

Godzilla – now THAT is how you do a monster movie.  Director Gareth Edwards made the low-budget Monsters, which was Jaws-like in its demonstration of not showing much of the big scary monsters, which was probably a budgetary constraint but worked brilliantly.  Here he’s given a gazillion dollars, which all goes on special effects, but he’s still cleverly hidden a lot of the action with mist and darkness, which works soooooo well in building the atmosphere.  Ignore the trailer that makes it look like your usual Hollywood enema … yes, there’s city-scale destruction.  Yes, the broad plot is the same as a million other movies.  Yes, I can’t help thinking it would’ve been a better film with only 1% of the budget, but man, it’s really, really well executed. I can’t remember the last time a movie gave me goosebumps just for being so damn cool.

Filth – Pretty depraved but very good, this is an adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s book (he wot wrote Trainspotting) with James McAvoy as a scumbag Scots copper.  Weird and highly watchable but certainly Filthy.

Inside Llewyn Davis – The Coen brothers’ latest is a bit weird, especially the ending that I really didn’t understand.  Good fun though, as the Coens always are.

Nebraska – Bruce Dern as the old codger who thinks he’s won a million dollars.  Shot in black and white, which I found very distracting for some reason, and with the odd bizarrely stilted supporting performance, this was nevertheless a good watch and ended well.  It’s a quiet movie, as Alexander Payne’s usually are (The Descendants, Sideways, About Schmidt).  Recommended.

Transcendence – Can’t quite understand why this didn’t do well, it’s really rather good.  Johnny Depp dies and becomes a computer simulation of himself, in the directorial debut of the hilariously named Wally Pfister, who was cinematographer for much of Christopher Nolan’s stuff (Memento, Inception and the Batmans, for instance).  It’s really clever, and kind of hides the fact – which is cleverer still.  So when it looks like it’s going to give us a stupid Independence Day ending that will please the crowds, it gives us a little wink at the end that changes *EVERYTHING*, without actually explaining what was going on.  So that also pleases the picky dicks like me.

The Lego Movie – So, “everything is ossum”, apparently.  Despite that, I thoroughly enjoyed this romp through an apparently stop-animated brick-world.  It’s *very* fast – too fast for this slow brain at times – but that means I can watch it again and pick up the bits I missed last time.  I laughed many times, sometimes heartily, and that really doesn’t happen very often nowadays.  The plot is the same as every other kids’ movie, but they’ve hung a load of funny shit off it, which lifts it to such heady heights that it’s my favourite movie of the year that can genuinely be enjoyed equally by any audience.  I can’t quite believe the lead voice isn’t Ben Stiller, because it clearly *is* him, but apparently it’s some dude I’ve never heard of.  Weird.

Cuban Fury – Nick Frost (the one in all the Simon Pegg movies who isn’t Simon Pegg) in a very British salsa-dancing comedy.  Chris O’Dowd from The IT Crowd makes a superb love-to-hate dick-of-the-piece and a load of other familiar British faces pop up and make us feel warm and fuzzy.  Highly predictable, highly enjoyable, very funny.

The Grand Budapest Hotel – A Wes Anderson movie can often be risky prospect (anybody see The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou?) and I can see how this one could also fall flat if you were in a tetchy mood.  Ralph Fiennes plays a prissy concierge in the 1930s and he does it brilliantly.  There’s so much going on, so much quirkiness to see, that in the end you forget things like F Murray Abraham playing the grown-up version of a kid who is clearly from a completely different ethnic background as Mr Abraham.  Bit weird, that, but somehow you let the film get away with it.  Rather jolly good fun.

Paddington – Colin Firth famously ducked out of this project after realising his was the wrong voice for the fluffy Peruvian pal, and he was right.  Ben Whishaw is a much better match.  Despite following all the usual kiddie-film rules, the charm of the bear lifts the film above the rest and makes it a real treat.  Loved it.

 

Movies 21 to 30

Despicable Me 2 – Excellent animated fun.  With minions!

Locke – I assumed they were exaggerating when they said this movie was Tom Hardy in a car for 85 minutes.  But no, it really is.  Every shot is just Tom Hardy in his car either talking on the phone or to himself.  And thanks to his performance and the dialogue, somehow it really works.  I’d never have predicted that.

Men, Women and Children – An oddly forgettable title but it’s certainly appropriate!  You know those badly thought-through Facebook posts that bleat on about social media replacing real interactions with people – this is kind of a feature-length version of that.  Despite the rather skewed ideas, it ends up being rather good, as Jennifer Garner’s over-protective mom routine blends with an oddly-cast (but very good) Adam Sandler as he struggles to rekindle the fire in his marriage.  There’s something of a Love Actually feel, given the parallel story strands, but the humour is much more sparse.  I rather enjoyed it but I think it has limited broader appeal, borne out by the fact that there were only 2 others in the cinema for the day’s only showing of the film in its opening week.

Blue Jasmine – Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins act their arses off in this high quality sisterly drama.  Cate is a bit fruit-loopy, which is supposed to be traumatic to watch, but when you have ancestors like I do that could out-fruitbat Cate before their morning coffee, it doesn’t have quite the same effect… jolly good though.

Stand By Me (1986) – OK so this one is nearly 30 years old but I hadn’t seen it before.  I really only wanted to see it because of the Family Guy episode where they parody it, and boy, the parody is very close to the film.  Kinda weird to see the four young boy stars and slowly realise that they’re Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher from Star Trek TNG), Corey Feldman, River Phoenix and Jerry O’Connell.  And it’s really good.

American Hustle – Glossy and fun, with weird haircuts and booooooobs threatening to fall out all over the place.  Clearly this was a time before bras, when the world was a much better and wobblier place.  This has gradually dribbled down the rankings since I saw it early in the year.  Make what you will of that…

Interstellar – I was really looking forward to this one, it being Christopher Nolan’s latest (he of The Dark Knight, Memento, Inception etc.) and there’s a huge amount to like, but there’s quite a lot not to like too.  Like Gravity, it carefully shows you it knows its science, before playing fast and loose with it and drivelling into batshittery at the end.  There aren’t many films that can stand up for 2 hours 50 minutes, and this isn’t one of them.  There are so many dumbass holes in the plot that you really do have your head in your hands at some points, and the more you think about it afterwards, the less it makes sense.  So it’s quite surprising that I quite liked it regardless.  I don’t understand that.  Must be something to do with relativity.

The Zero Theorem – Unmistakably a Terry Gilliam film through and through, Christoph Waltz from Inglourious Basterds tackles a plot that doesn’t really matter much – it’s the fun of the Gilliam world that makes the movie.  Lots of fun and very cool.

Her – I’m not quite sure how this isn’t awful.  Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with his new computer operating system, voiced by Scarlett Johansson.  Really sounds appalling doesn’t it?!  I guess it’s the Oscar-winning screenplay that picks it up, and it ends up being highly enjoyable and not nearly as stupid as it seems.

Silent Running (1972) – Another one from yonks ago that I only just got around to seeing.  Bruce Dern finds himself alone on a spaceship.  This is Mark Kermode’s favourite film of all time.  It’s very good … but it’s no Lego Movie  :o

 

Movies 31 to 40

X-Men: Days of Future Past – Director Bryan Singer (who did the first two) returns to make this latest X-Men outing, which has a great cast including James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as the young Xavier and Magneto respectively, and Hunger Games’s Jennifer Lawrence as the rubbery blue chick.  Just when I think I’ve had enough of silly loud nonsense with daft plots, another one comes along that I like.  Largely because it doesn’t take itself very seriously, which is absolutely essential when you’re dealing with such a daft plot.

The Machine – Similar in concept to Transcendence but a whole lot lower budget.  Against all the odds it engaged me properly, and I can even forgive it the usually cardinal sin of showing us a naked woman but strategically hiding all the good bits.  And that is high praise indeed.

The Hundred-Foot Journey – Everybody loves this one.  Although I did enjoy it, I think I wasn’t quite in the right frame of mind for a light tale of Indians settling in a little French village and starting up an Indian restaurant opposite the local Michelin-starred place, sparking a bitter rivalry.  It’s warm and lovely, but it suffers gravely in comparison with The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  I always enjoy Helen Mirren, but with the best will in the world, she’s nowhere near as good as Judi Dench or Maggie Smith.  She’s never been the best at accents (I’m thinking National Treasure 2) and in this film her French accent has an English accent all of its own.  Had I seen it on another day it could have comfortably made the top 20.

The Wolf of Wall Street – A full 3 hours long so a bit of a bum-number, but doesn’t feel ridiculously lengthy.  Hampered somewhat by Leonardo DiCaprio’s character being an utter bell-end, but rather funny and entertaining.  And there were at least six full frontals from the girls, which always helps.

Blue is the Warmest Colour (aka La Vie d’Adèle) – Much talked about because of the graphic lesbionics, but it’s better than that.  French with subtitles and filmed in a very real way – there’s no narrator, no help with what’s going on, you just watch it and get it.  Some of the realism comes from improvised dialogue; there’s even the odd moment when somebody reacts to a line with, “what?” and they say it again, just because they didn’t catch it.  That *never* happens in the movies.

Mr Turner – Nothing much happens in two and a half hours, but the painting-like visuals and the rich performances led by Timothy Spall give Mr Turner its watchability.

Sex Ed – Weird and slightly confusing that all 3 movies “Sex Ed”, “Sex Tape” and “SxTape” were released in the same year.  The lead actor in this one looks eerily familiar, but it’ll probably be a while before you place him as Haley Joel Osment, the spooky kid who could see dead people in The Sixth Sense.  There’s a lot more … erm … margin … around his face than there was back then.  But he’s still a really good actor and he pretty much carries this lightweight tale about a virgin teaching sex education to a detention class.  There’s some pretty funny dialogue too.  Way better than I would have imagined.

Hello Ladies The Movie – So apparently there’s a Hello Ladies TV series.  Who knew?  Stephen Merchant stars as a gangly awkward Bristolian – there’s a stretch – in a fairly formulaic nice-guy comedy, but it’s put together nicely, there are some pleasing roving camera long shots and it’s even quite insightful at times.  Doubt it’ll get a release over here but it deserves one because it’s very likeable.

Pride – This one suffered from a lofty expectation.  Everybody was saying it was brilliant, so I was expecting a Blue Ruin or a Calvary.  What I actually got was a Made in Dagenham, which is a good thing, but it’s far too … fluffy … to meet its reputation.  The story covers the (apparently true) tale of the gay & lesbian support of the miners through the 1980s strikes.  Clearly these two groups of people aren’t a natural match, so I was rather disappointed to find that a social club and a little homosexual hip-shaking was enough to break the back of the mountain of miners’ prejudices towards them.  Hmmm.  Prejudice doesn’t work like that I’m afraid.  Consequently, you have to forget any ideas of substance, because there isn’t any, and instead enjoy what is a very pleasant story told in the lightweight style of a musical.  Without the songs.

Under the Skin – This one’s VERY weird.  It opens with two women in some kind of white oblivion and, yes, that one is indeed Scarlett Johansson and yes, she is bollock naked.  She gets naked several times, in fact.  Do I need to say any more?  Well I’m not going to – if I tell you the plot (like all the other reviews do) then it’ll ruin it.  I’ll just tell you it’s set in Scotland and it looks like they use a lot of real Scottish people rather than actors,  The director never *tells* you what’s going on, you just have to kind of guess, and that’s the fun of the film.  But it is very, very weird.

 

Movies 41 to 50

Road – Very similar to the recent “TT3D – Closer to the Edge”, here Liam Neeson narrates the story of the Dunlop family and their ups and downs in motorbike racing, including Joey’s record breaking TT career.  It worked particularly well for me because I didn’t know the history and it really highlights the rather odd need to go racing when there’s a very high chance of dying in the process.  Poignant and informative.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 – There are so many of these quality animations now, and they don’t really have a great deal to distinguish them any more.  This one’s great fun, like most of them are.

Jimmy’s Hall – My kind of movie, this one – it’s a Ken Loach, which means unknown faces, heavy characterisation and not much in the way of budget or action.  I’m not sure if I was just in a grumpy mood, but I couldn’t connect with this one like I normally would, but it was still highly watchable and I liked it.  I just expected to like it more.

Edge of Tomorrow – Bit of a quandary with this one.  If I tell you the key part of the plot then you’ll lose some of the fun of finding out what happens, but if I don’t then you probably won’t bother with it, as it is after all just another effects-laden Tom Cruise vehicle.  I will have to keep schtum I think, but if you’ve read *any* other review then you’ll know it already, and will already know the 90s movie that the idea is shamelessly stolen from.  When you choose an axiom for your plot that’s a bit daft like this, you can’t write an entirely serious screenplay.  There are some chuckles in there, though it needed more.  The trouble is that the plot really doesn’t stand up to even the slightest scrutiny, even if you take the provided scenario at face value.  Somehow, though, it’s far more fun than I ever expected, and I ended up really enjoying it, until the final reel when all the plus points of the film were thrown in the bin in favour of a traditional and very stupid ending.

The Double – Directorial debut from Richard Ayoade, the geeky one in The IT Crowd, this is *seriously* weird.  Adapted from a short story by Dostoyevsky, Jesse Eisenberg meets a chap who looks exactly like him, but is outgoing and ballsy where he’s introverted and weak.  I couldn’t help but be reminded of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, but with the weirdness cranked up for the hell of it.  I did rather enjoy it, but it’s not for everyone.  And I confess I was a bit dim and had to read the plot on Wikipedia afterwards before I fully understood the ending…

The Nut Job – Fairly standard cartoon featuring animals planning a heist of nuts, but jolly good fun nonetheless.

1 – This gets the award for worst and stupidest title of the year.  I mean, “1″ … how the hell are you going to google that?  OK, so I’ve just googled “1″ and the film was on the first page, so that shows what I know.  But it’s still a crap title.  As a documentary, it’s very watchable but I didn’t notice one single new fact in there whatsoever.  It just follows the safety improvements in Formula One since the days of Jim Clark, Graham Hill et al, with lots of historic footage and talking heads.  Michael Fassbender narrates, in a voice that sounds kind of American.  Weird for an Irishman with a German background.

Horns – Daniel Radcliffe is still trying to break the Harry Potter stereotype.  Here he bizarrely grows horns that make people admit their dark sides to him.  An entertaining curio.

Let’s Be Cops – Low expectations really helped with this one.  How can 2 guys impersonating police offers be any good?  But what do you know, it’s pretty funny.  And Damon Wayans Jr is much better than his Dad.

22 Jump Street – Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill go back to school again and yes, they’re far too old now and yes, the script takes every opportunity to point that out and have a good laugh at itself.  That works for me, and the surrounding shenanigans are all pretty good fun too.  But really, how is “Ice Cube” still getting work?  That guy has to be the uncoolest actor in history.  When I look at that dumbass scowl he does in every single scene, I just see a ten year old boy trying to look hard in front of his knee-high bedwetting chums.  Go home, little boy, you’re not convincing anyone.

 

Movies 51 to 60

Frozen – The highest grossing animated feature of all time, it says here.  Not quite sure how, it’s good fun but it’s just your average Disney flick, and The Lego Movie is way, way better.  I don’t understand why people are saying the songs will stick in your head forever, I can’t remember any of them.  The only line I can recall is when the heroine bursts into the hunky bloke’s cabin and announces, “I WANT YOU TO TAKE ME UP THE NORTH MOUNTAIN!”  I nearly spat out my beer… Disney *has* changed…

The Inbetweeners 2 – You know what to expect from this one and it delivers.  The engine is running out of steam so this feels like the last in the franchise, but it’s an adequate swansong.  Plenty of laughs, but they’re the same laughs we’ve already had from these boys.

Last Vegas – Much better than expected, a reasonable script lifted by the stars (Robert de Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline).  Old guys go to Vegas, get into trouble, dig up old feuds, fall out, make up, bond with each other afresh.  You know the score.

Gone Girl – The eagerly awaited David Fincher adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s popular novel, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike.  I can’t tell you much about the story without spoiling it, but I can tell you that Rosamund Pike goes missing and Ben Affleck is the prime suspect.  The plethora of twists and turns are more believable than usual and as such the mammoth 3-hour running time is endurable, if not without struggle.  It’s good, but it isn’t a classic.

Third Person – Paul Haggis directed the wonderful Crash back in 2004.  Third Person is nowhere near the film that Crash is, but it follows a similar tack – several story threads with an ensemble cast.  This time we get Liam Neeson, Adrien Brody, Olivia Wilde, Kim Basinger, Mila Kunis, James Franco and Maria Bello.  The various occasionally-linking threads don’t really coalesce satisfactorily, it takes a while afterwards to figure out what was actually going on (at least it did for me).  But I still liked it.

Planes – Pixar can’t put a foot wrong, but this is probably my least favourite of their movies so far, purely because it’s so similar to Cars.  It’s still lots of fun but it’s just the same old stuff.  This time famous voicing names include Dane Cook, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Teri Hatcher, Stacy Keach, Anthony Edwards and Val Kilmer  (who were of course both in Top Gun), but the only one I recognised was John Cleese.

Boyhood – I really wanted to like this one as it’s been filmed over a span of 12 years, so we get to watch the actors grow up with the story.  It must have been a big risk, because the director Richard Linklater can’t have known the kid actors would even want to carry on with the project, let alone be any good.  As a project, it works, and its novelty is sufficient to recommend it, but as a film I was rather underwhelmed.  And when the kid grows up and turns into a whiny pseudo-intellectual knobhead who sounds like Peter Sarsgaard doing an impression of Snake from The Simpsons, it lost my interest completely.  Shame.

Bad Neighbours – New parents Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne find a frat-house moving in next-door, with Zac Efron and Dave Franco (James’s younger brother).  The best jokes are on the trailer but it’s still reasonably funny.

A Million Ways to Die in the West – Seth MacFarlane perhaps unwisely decides to take the starring role as well as the director’s chair in this intermittently funny western that also stars Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Neil Patrick Harris and Liam Neeson.  The romantic sub-plot is probably the weakest ingredient – even the flatulent middle-aged woman sat next to me in the cinema audibly groaned when it got soppy.

Belle – If you’re into your costume dramas then you can instantly place this in your top 5 of the year, because everyone’s saying it’s as good as they get.  However I’ve always had a bit  of a problem with the corsets and tights brigade.  Everything seems so … melodramatic.  Any line that is remotely significant is delivered with such wide-eyed quivering intensity that it just doesn’t seem real and I can’t lose myself in the story.  Not that I would anyway, because as soon as you learn that little black Belle is adopted into a wealthy strict-but-loving family and has trouble fitting into society because some posh dicks can’t see past her colour, you can write the rest yourself.  I mean, I enjoyed it, but it’s going nowhere near the top of the list.

 

Movies 61 to 70

Sex Tape – Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel try and spice up their love life by filming themselves bonking and, surprise surprise, the tape gets out.  Reasonably funny and with Cameron’s bare arse to enjoy, it’s fine for an evening’s rental but nothing more.

Fading Gigolo – John Turturro stars and directs (bizarrely) co-star Woody Allen pimping out his reluctant quarry to unlikely clients Sharon Stone, Sofia Vergara and Vanessa Paradis.  It’s a highly likeable film, which is why it’s fairly high up the list without really doing anything to speak of.

Bad Words – Jason Bateman exploits a loophole in the rules and enters a spelling bee for kids.  Better than it sounds, but not as good as it could’ve been.

Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie – I saw one episode of Mrs Brown’s Boys on the telly and thought, “what a load of tripe.”  Then for some reason I saw a couple more and it clicked, now I really like it.  This film version feels a bit rushed, with less than wonderful support from Robert Bathurst (the posh wet one from Cold Feet) who makes quite the worst stab at Tourette’s that I’ve ever seen.  Most importantly, though, it makes the same mistake as many feature-length versions of comedy series and lets the plot get in the way of the serious business of making us laugh.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s still funny – as with the TV series, when the cast crack up during a serious scene they leave it in rather than editing it out – but the laughs are more spread out and … well … less good.  Stay for the out-take-encrusted credits – the best line of the whole film is the very last one.

Need for Speed – I was pretty heavily biased against this one from the start.  Aaron Paul ruined Breaking Bad for me, because his part demanded him to be a colossal bell-end and he excelled at that so much that I found the programme unwatchable.  Then he went on Top Gear and was one of those irksome shouty people who SAYS EVERYTHING IN CAPITALS EVEN THOUGH THE PERSON HE’S TALKING TO IS SIX FEET AWAY and, when publicising this film on the aforementioned show, claimed “YEAH IT’S LIKE SO COOL MAN COS WE DIDN’T USE ANY CG OR NUTHIN” (meaning no computer graphics), and then immediately showed a clip that was quite obviously full of computer graphics.  Lying gobshite.  And, of course, the story is nonsense, the dialogue is painful, the stunts are stupid, the cars all have a thousand gears and the details make no sense (a Mustang with 900bhp that can do over 230mph *on a twisty circuit*) and the baby-faced twat who participates in the first race has clearly never even driven a car let alone knows what a fecking clutch pedal is.  And they have the brass face to project a scene from Bullitt across the start.  How very dare you.  But then something weird happened.  It became apparent that they genuinely *weren’t* using computer graphics (at least only lightly for the first half and then for some daftness in the climactic race where they couldn’t resist it).  Aaron Paul wasn’t being a massive dick.  Sure, he was chewing the scenery, but I kinda got the impression that only happened in Take 4 after the director insisted on “less nuance you little twerp, this isn’t fucking Sherlock”.  Ultimately, I’m rather surprised that I didn’t find it *entirely* a waste of my life.  The driving scenes were unarguably daft, but they were actually quite fun (a la Fast & Furious) and I found myself longing for an entire film like this, just made of dicking about in cool cars maybe with a few silly laughs to link the driving bits together.  But of course they can’t make that, because they already tried it and called it The Dukes of Hazzard, and I’m the only person on the planet who really loves that film, so nobody went to see it and it made ten pounds fifty.  So as a result, to get the bums on seats they have to surround the fun bit with all this useless toss that weighs it down and gets in the way of the tyre-smoking shenanigans.  Obviously, non-car people should keep WELL away because it’s a terrible movie, but if you like watching people dicking about in cool cars (*three* Koenigsegg Ageras!) then pick up your popcorn and get munching.  And I want to be the stunt driver in the sequel please.

Out of the Furnace – Pretty average story, made much better with intelligent direction and strong big names in the cast – Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Willem Dafoe, Zoe Saldana.  UPDATE: It’s now September and I barely remember even watching this one now.  No idea what happened in it.  Funny how that happens with some movies and not others.

The Other Woman – Very much a chick flick but nevertheless not bad.  Leslie Mann and Cameron Diaz bond after finding they’re both partners of the same douchebag … yeah, it’s just like it sounds.  Support is provided, rather bizarrely and inadequately, by singer Nicki Minaj – a ludicrous caricature of a woman – and Sports Illustrated model Kate Upton, who appears to be a latex model of Gemma Atkinson.  It’s trite and shallow but it has enough laughs to rescue it.

Chef – Jon Favreau is a chef and starts out on his own.  Notable for its incredible supporting cast – Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr, Sofia Vergara – nevertheless it still feels like a run-of-the-mill comedy-by-the-numbers.  Actually, I *say* comedy, because it felt light like a comedy, but there wasn’t really any humour in it to speak of.  It was pleasant enough to watch and I don’t resent the price of the ticket, but meh.  Yeah, that’s the word I’m looking for.  Meh.

The Face of Love – Annette Bening loses her husband Ed Harris and then meets a dead ringer for him.  Funny how these doubles played by the same actor always have the exact same voice, isn’t it?  Manages to avoid being as bad as it sounds but is still only really an aeroplane movie.  Which is coincidentally where I saw it!  Bit spooky to see Robin Williams unexpectedly pop up in support, given that he’d died a couple of weeks earlier.

August: Osage County – Another really rather good film that still left me not wanting to rank it very highly because it’s full of shit-houses being nasty to each other.  I don’t want to watch that, even when Meryl Streep’s doing it.

 

Movies 71 to 80

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom – Not sure Idris Elba was the right guy for this role but it was pretty good.  I would’ve liked to see more about Mandela’s earlier years, which I didn’t know about – instead they mostly covered the stuff everybody already knows.  But, refreshingly, it wasn’t a completely rosy picture, it painted a partly grim picture of the young Nelson.  Bonus points for courage.

Carrie – I expected nothing from this unnecessary remake but it isn’t half bad.  Chloe Grace Moretz (Hit Girl from Kick Ass) is stunning in the lead and “carries” (ho ho) the film – my only criticism being that she looks far too screen-conventional (i.e. too good-looking) in a way that Sissy Spacek never did.  Carrie needs to look like an outsider, not like a starlet.

Robocop – Redundant remake of the Paul Verhoeven tongue-in-cheek sci-fi classic.  Joel Kinnaman is the coppery copper – a name completely unfamiliar to me, but you might know him if you watched The Killing.  Some almost interesting story bits are punctuated by really tedious shooty bits – Gary Oldman and Michael Keaton do their best, but when the plot totally fails to capitalise on the promise touched on by the script, they never stood a chance of saving the film.

12 Years a Slave – This is actually an excellent film, but it’s down here because it’s so tough to watch.  One of the scenes went a bit Passion-of-the-Christ for a while with the brutality – that kind of thing really puts me off.  Chiwetel Ejiofor is superb in the lead, though the role doesn’t give him much versatility – it’s all strained harrowed expressions for him, which is IMHO why he didn’t get the Oscar.  Support is first-rate, with Michael Fassbender particularly standing out, and there’s a deserved Supporting Actress win for Lupita Nyongo.  Brad Pitt’s role is very odd – it feels like he turned up a week from the end of shooting and said, “hey dude, can I be in this movie?” so they quickly wrote a part for him.  I’m sure that isn’t what happened, but it sure feels that way.  Would I watch it again?  No.  Would I recommend it?  No, because it’s heavy-going.  Is it an excellent film?  Yes, undoubtedly.

Noah – This one’s divided opinion.  It’s even divided *my* opinion.  I quite liked the fact that Darren Aronofsky’s gone a bit mad with the plot and included rock monsters and Ray Winstone.  I quite liked the fact that Noah himself is depicted as being a bit loopy.  I really liked the way he managed to get around the perennial issue of the animals eating each other and filling up the ark with poo.  But then … well … it’s far too long and not a little up its own arse… would I watch it again?  Not a chance.  So there you have it.  Or not.

Nymphomaniac – Lars von Trier always makes weird and controversial movies.  This one is in two parts (i.e. two actual 2-hour movies that together make one long 4-hour one) and the clue to the plot is in the title.  Given the large amount of graphic nudity, it’s surprisingly untitillating, and it’s downright nasty in places.  Still, a strong cast that features Charlotte Gainsbourg (*all* of her), Stellan Starsgaard, Christian Slater, Jamie Bell, Willem Dafoe and Uma Thurman definitely lifts the quality.  And then there’s Shia LeBeouf.  Now, I can’t be entirely certain of this, but I have a sneaking suspicion young Shia has trashed his career with this one.  I was listening to his tortured vowels for a good few minutes before it suddenly dawned on me: “HE’S TRYING TO DO *ENGLISH*!”  Yes folks, this is worse than Keanu Reeves in Dracula, far worse even than Dick van Dyke – we are witnessing history, this is THE worst English accent ever committed to celluloid.  He darts through all the Home Counties, jumps off to Australia, South Africa and draws even a little Irish in there as he struggles vainly to arrive at an accent that could convincingly order a pint in a pub.  But never does he use the same lilt in two scenes.  Hard to believe that a film full of five-foot fannies can be overshadowed by a bad accent, but yes, it is *that* bad.  Shame.  The boy showed promise.

The Wolverine – Not the same film as “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, but it might as well be.  How Hugh Jackman makes this character so watchable is beyond me, but he does it continually and reliably, so much so that I ended up quite enjoying this one, despite its daftness and pointlessness.

Knights of Badassdom – This film was made *years* ago but never made a release due to various production difficulties … but really I suspect it’s because they knew it wasn’t very good.  Live role players inadvertently summon a real demon … well the idea could’ve worked, but the execution lacks in most significant ways.  Some very shoddy editing and a plot that doesn’t even try to make sense make the movie unsavable by Steve Zahn, Summer Glau and that bloke from True Blood (Ryan Kwanten), despite a zinging performance by Jimmi Simpson as the “games master”.  I’m not sure where they were going with the special effects … the demon looks pretty much identical to the stuff that was featuring in the live role playing scenes, that the characters were supposed to have knocked up in their own basement … I’m not sure if that was supposed to be a joke or not.  That’s where the movie falls down.  They should’ve gone for out-and-out comedy and left the gung-ho bullshit to the blockbusters.  It feels like a kids’ movie, but it can’t be because they say fuck in it and cut people’s heads off.  But it can’t be a grown-up movie because it isn’t funny enough and they spurned the chance to put tits in it.  It’s neither, and that’s why it’s languishing here in the mediocre section.

In The Blood – Anybody remember Haywire?  That was the action fighty-kicky film with a woman in the lead who was a genuine martial arts champion.  This is her again, and it’s definitely better than your average chop-socky nonsense.  It’s still nonsense though, the plot’s all over the place.  Best ignore it.

Maleficent – Angelina Jolie’s dark take on Sleeping Beauty is a weird one for two reasons: (1) it seems to have a spookily similar plot to Frozen (also Disney) and

(2) I’m not sure who it’s aimed at.  It’s shallow and dim enough to be for kids, but it’s rather dark and intense for your fragile little ankle-biters.  And what *is* going on with those cheekbones…

 

Movies 81 to 90

The Purge: Anarchy – The sequel to last year’s The Purge starts very promisingly but soon derails into meh-bleurgh-who cares.  The opening act suggests they’ve thought a bit more about the premise, but that’s as far as it goes.  Better than the original but that’s not saying much.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – Pretty bored with superhero movies now.  There are far too many of them and they all follow the same formula.  This one pokes a little fun at itself, which saves it from being a total loss, but it’s still a bit dumb.  They cast Jamie Foxx, the stupidest man in Hollywood, as a science geek, and then have him turn into a weird electro-monster thingy JUST BY BEING ELECTROCUTED.  No spider venom.  No radioactive explosion.  Just an electric shock.  That’s it.  They’re not even trying any more.

Non-Stop – Liam Neeson as an air marshal with a drinking problem.  Ah yes, that old chestnut.  Watchable enough and indistinguishable from all the others.

Maps to the Stars – What on earth has happened to David Cronenberg?  This is typical of his recent output – pretentious, inaccessible and largely forgettable.  I’m writing this a month after I saw it and I can’t remember anything that happened, except that Julianne Moore was rather good as the diva actress lead.

The Purge – Last year’s film introduced the idea of an annual night in which all laws are suspended.  It’s an interesting idea that is woefully unexplored in this rather uninspired thriller with Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey.  Extra points deducted for using THREE TIMES the hideous movie cliché of the-hero’s-about-to-die-but-oh-wait-someone-shoots-them-from-behind-in-the-nick-of-time.  Please.  We’re not twelve.

The Maze Runner – Another Hunger Games rip-off, with really poor dialogue and stupid effects-laden action sequences, and it’s FAR too long.  But I guess as popcorn-popping nonsense goes, I’ve seen a lot worse.

A Walk Among the Tombstones – Liam Neeson shooting people.  Again.  Yawn.

Sin City 2 – I was so looking forward to this film after the first one back in 2005.  At least, I was for the first couple of years.  The ship has very much sailed now though so, whereas the original was a piece of cinematic history, this feels dated from the off.  And the pitch is somehow wrong as well – the violence in the original was kind of comical, but here it seems unnecessarily gruesome.  Maybe I’m just older and less tolerant of that kind of stuff.  Still, at least Eva Green spends most of her screen time in the nip, so it’s got that going for it.

Seve the Movie – Very low-rent documentary about the Spanish golfer, which did nothing to dissuade me of the opinion that dedicating your life to sport is an incredibly selfish path, and that we really should be dismissing these people as fairground attractions rather than idolising them and aspiring to their tragic misuse of the gift of life.  Explain to me again how wonderful it is when you can vanquish your foes, when you can prove once and for all that on that day in history you were better at getting a little ball in a slightly smaller hole in accordance with a set of arbitrary rules invented purely for the purpose of ranking you against your fellow competitor.  Explain to me again the best feeling in the world at managing to deprive somebody else of that very same feeling just so you can have it.  Explain how happy it makes you to watch their pain that you just caused to your opponent so that you could win instead of them.  Now tell me again why I’m supposed to idolise you, you achingly selfish twat.

Just so I’m clear about this, there’s nothing wrong with sport in itself.  Sport is a good thing, as SPORT.  It’s something you do for fun.  As soon as it becomes your job, it isn’t sport any more, and that’s when it all falls apart.  But I digress.  Seve The Movie isn’t very good.  I probably should’ve opened with that.

Mr Popper’s Penguins – This is a few years old but I’ve only just seen it so it goes in this list.  Should’ve been much better with Jim Carrey and a ton of adorable CGI pingus, but its tired plot and lack of sparkle do a good job of sinking the whole ship.  Entertaining enough but sub-par.

 

Movies 91 to 100

Essex Boys Retribution – One of the several films about the Rettendon Range Rover murders, this one is *kind of* a sequel to last year’s “The Fall of the Essex Boys”, which was itself “based on the true story behind” Rise of the Footsoldier (which was pretty good).  This one features DS Don Beech from The Bill (Billy Murray) and many anonymous faces – it’s very London, very sweary, not entirely terrible but largely forgettable too.  Nice to see some “real” boobs on display rather than the silicone monstrosities usually served up in movies.

The Monuments Men – I wasn’t in the best of moods when I saw this and that really didn’t help.  The screenplay seemed flawed to the point of bizarre and the undeniably great cast didn’t seem to gel, in a way I didn’t understand.  The whole premise is bent – call me a philistine but I really couldn’t connect with anyone when they’re trying to save *art* while people around them are having their limbs shot off.  Get some fucking perspective.  I could’ve handled this if it was played for laughs, and there were a couple (weirdly these moments played MUCH better on the trailer than in the film itself) but it was serious enough for the viewer to question why on earth these bozos are risking their lives doing this during wartime when they could’ve mopped up much more easily after the conflict was over.  Actually that’s not fair, they did explain why they couldn’t wait.  But I was asleep during that bit.

Thor: The Dark World – More of the same – really slick effects-wise and with fine performances from Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston etc. but as usual the plot makes no sense and it’s all a bit naff.

The Book Thief – Actually a really good movie, but Jesus, so depressing I wanted to kill myself.  Kept getting distracted by the ‘Allo ‘Allo style linguistics as well – the dialogue is all in English but with a German accent – and when the kid reads a shop sign as “accountant” when it says “Buchhandung” on the screen, they’re telling us that they’re *actually* speaking German but it’s in English so we can understand it.  So why, then, do they say “nein” and “danke”, why does it occasionally pop into German with subtitles and why does *she* write in English when everyone else is writing in German?  It makes no sense and I found it very distracting.  Probably just as well – any distraction is welcome when the film is set in Nazi Germany and people are doing unspeakable things to each other.  It’s horrible watching films like that.  I bloody well paid for it as well.

Ender’s Game – I can never buy into these dumbass movies that put a kid in an adult’s world, and unless I wasn’t paying attention (quite likely), they never explained why they were doing it.  This kid becomes commander of an entire battle fleet, sheesh.  It isn’t terrible but it’s very much for kids because the plot is so stupid.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit – Weirdly directed by Kenneth Branagh, who unwisely cast himself as the baddie.  Trouble is, to us Brits he’s more of a luvvie than a baddie.  He was a pretty dark chap in Rabbit-Proof Fence, but here he seems flimsy.  Chris Pine (Captain Kirk) was a good choice as lead hero, but for my money the novice “analyst” Jack Ryan didn’t spend enough time being shit at espionage.  He had one panic and bish-bosh he’s an expert all of a sudden.  Meh.  It had its moments but it was too bang-crashy, look at me with my scenes moving so fast you can’t see what’s going on, oh look I *must* be cool, surely.  There was a news article saying movie bosses were disappointed because much of this film’s audience was over fifty.  There’s your problem, right there.  Stop trying to be cool and just make a good fecking movie, for cock’s sake.  Make it and the bums will come.  Bourne showed that.

SxTape – Not the higher profile “Sex Tape” with Cameron Diaz, this is just a rather limp … erm, horror I guess … in the discovered-footage genre.  It doesn’t seem to make much sense, and as such the scary bits are more confusing than scary.

Nurse 3D – Weird one this.  Always going to be a B movie, a nurse turns out to be a bit psycho and does gory things to cheaty men.  All you’ll remember about this movie is the lead Paz de la Huerta (who you may have seen in Boardwalk Empire), for two reasons:  (1) She looks like a smoothed-off version of Steve Tyler from Aerosmith and (2) she’s really, *really* bad at acting.  But she does get her kit off a lot, so it’s not all bad.

The Counselor – Ridley Scott, what’s going on?  Very glam and slick, with Michael Fassbender, Cameron Diaz, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem – but there’s no substance in there that I could detect, it’s far up its own arse, and it’s all a bit … dumb.  Not like Ridley Scott at all.  Well maybe a little.

Pompeii – There are two Paul Andersons directing Hollywood movies.  One of them, Paul Thomas Anderson, directs interesting and novel stuff such as Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, The Master and There Will Be Blood.  This isn’t one of his.  This one is from Paul W S Anderson, who directs … erm … less intellectual stuff … such as the Resident Evils, Death Race, Event Horizon and Alien vs Predator.  His films do tend to have an edge that drivel of this kind usually doesn’t have, but if there was an edge in Pompeii, I completely missed it.  It’s a bit like Titanic in the style of Gladiator, and it’s volcanically bad.  Nice disaster effects though.

 

Movies 101 to 108

The Railway Man – Colin Firth trying to get over the torture inflicted on him by the Japanese during the war.  Pretty good film, but it’s so harrowing watching the torture that I can’t recommend it.  I don’t understand why people pay to see films like this.  It ruined my day.

Divergent – A blatant rip-off of The Hunger Games with morsels plagiarised from Harry Potter, Ender’s Game and Moonpig or whatever those tweeny vampire wankfests are called.  Possibly the first movie ever to be written solely by computer and so, so booooring.  Not one single original thought in the whole dreadfully long mess.  Young girls will love it.

Transformers: Age of Extinction – Who on earth is still watching these films?  Well, me, obviously.  Doh.  Predictably terrible, with Mark Wahlberg talking too fast as usual and new gratuitous short-shorts wearer Nicola Peltz who, disturbingly, looks about 14.  I sometimes wonder if the visual effects guys, who must have spent tens of thousands of hours poring over every detail, watch the finished product and weep into their popcorn over the fact that they didn’t even deem it necessary to spend half an hour knocking up a decent plot.  I mean, really, it doesn’t even *try* to make sense.  Consequently I can’t help my disappointment at seeing Stanley Tucci, who I always enjoy, Kelsey Grammer (Frasier) and Sophia Myles all selling out.  Can’t really blame them but I like them all a bit less as a result.  Such a bad film.

Lucy – This has to be the worst screenplay I have EVER seen.  The story is so phenomenally stupid that an 8-year-old would be embarrassed to put his name to it.  Scarlett Johansson ingests a load of a new drug that enables her to use the 90% of the brain capacity that supposedly the rest of us don’t (there’s the first red flag right there).  When she gets up to 20% utilisation she overhears some phone conversations in Chinese and, from that, instantly learns how to READ Chinese.  For fuck’s sake you colossal morons, how did nobody not put their hand up during filming and say, “erm … guys … is this not a bit bollocks?”  Luc Besson, I enjoyed your daft Transporter movies, Unleashed (Danny the Dog) was excellent and Leon was sublime, but now it’s time to stop, because you’ve treated your audience like they’re amoebas.  Look at Limitless, look at Transcendence – they both show how to tell the story you so vapidly failed to tell.  Take the hint and JUST STOP.

300: Rise of an Empire – Oh god, this is just HIDEOUS.  Sequel to the stylish and watchable (but still a bit rubbish) 300 with Gerard Butler as the spitty Spartan, this is a pale imitation.  It looks good, in a washed out, slo-mo, CGI kind of way, but it’s just so stupid that it’s difficult to even sit through.  Utter tripe.

Captain America The Winter Soldier – I really like Chris Evans (the actor, not the prat), his Flameboy (or whatever he was called) in Fantastic Four was wonderful.  Here he’s just reading the script and taking the cash.  I’ve had so much of these stupid smacky special-effects laden snoozaramas that I’m not sure I can take another single one.  Not even if it’s waffer-thin.  I’ll just expire on the spot.

I, Frankenstein – Aaron Eckhart does attract some phenomally bad roles … anyone remember The Core?  Here he’s Frankenstein’s monster reinvented as a modern pointless shooty-punchy crapfest.  Massively awful in every single way, unless you’re twelve.

Guardians of the Galaxy – I’ll say straight off that you’re going to really like this one.  Most people do.  I fecking hated it.  I was going to put it smack bang at the very bottom before I remembered quite how bad Frankenstein was.  Apparently this is from a Marvel comic, but nobody I’ve talked to has ever heard of it.  This film got right on my tits in many different ways.  They’ve hired Bradley Cooper to do the voice of the raccoon, yet the raccoon sounds nothing like Bradley Cooper.  They hired Vin Diesel to play a tree who (I swear I’m not making this up) says NOTHING but “I am Groot” throughout the entire film.  ONE LINE!  Vin Diesel has one line, and he’s not even on screen!  They hired Laura Haddock (the impossibly beautiful one from the first Inbetweeners movie) and I’m not even sure which character she was!  She might’ve been the dying mum in the hospital bed.  WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?!  The main cast consists of Zoe Saldana and some bloke I’ve never seen before, with really small cameos from Glenn Close and John C Reilly that don’t work at all.  You know, I think the film suffers from having TOO MUCH budget.  The money spent in makeup alone must have been bigger than the GDP of some countries and there’s more CGI than an entire season of Galactica.  The plot … well, the plot.  “Stupid” doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.  I felt genuinely insulted.  There were some moments that really *should* have been funny, but within the strangulated strait-jacket of this hateful smug coffin of a movie, I just couldn’t bring myself to smile at them.  Normally in a bad movie I’m bitching about the fact that I paid money to see it, but in this … in this it was the TIME.  A hundred wasted minutes that felt like a thousand of such biblical asinine cockbollockry that I wanted to scrape my brains out and smear them on the screen.  Actually, fuck it.  This *is* going right at the bottom, because I hated it so goddam much.  Screw you, Guardians.

 

Epilogue

And that’s it.  Yes, yes, I know, I know, you all liked Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s not fair, I was just in a bad mood, yadda yadda.  I know.  I don’t care.  It’s my list.  Make your own if you don’t like it   :P

Along the way some other “interesting” thoughts came to mind, which I mention here just because I wrote them down and they kind of fit…

 

Thank you North Korea

“Go and see Fury,” they said (you know, the tank movie with Brad Pitt).  “I know you hate war movies but this isn’t really a war movie,” they said.  So I found myself in possession of a hooky copy, supposedly leaked by the North Koreans in that recent Sony hack.  The first scene, the VERY FIRST SCENE, before anybody even says anything, is Brad Pitt walking up to a prostrate soldier and knifing him in the eye.  Right in the fucking eye.  Not a war film?  My arse.  I’m not watching that.  And thank you Kim Jong Lardo for saving me the price of a ticket.

 

Preserving the music

Made of Stone – As I started watching this Shane Meadows documentary on Channel 4, I suddenly noticed for the first time what there is in common with all the music I like.  It’s that I know practically nothing about the people who perform it.  Bit of a revelation, that.  Of all my all-time favourite music, who would I recognise if they came and sat next to me waiting for a train?  Not sure.  If that bloke from Del Amitri got on the 09:48 to Waterloo I might wonder where I’d seen him before.  You won’t know Jake Shillingford, but I’ve listened to his masterpiece Twelve Reasons Why I Love Her a thousand times and I still wouldn’t know who he was if he kicked me in the spleen.  Of course if there was a zombie apocalypse, I’d think everyone I saw was Ian Brown, but I still don’t know anything about him.  And it turns out that’s very important.  Because … and I know this is going to be contentious … but it seems that most famous music people come across as utter bell-ends when you actually hear them talk.

Remember Oasis?  Great music, *massive* take-up when they started … then, the more we found out about them, the less we liked them.  We still like their early stuff, but that’s because we didn’t know what colossal donkey-fannies they were at that point.  And I’m sure I don’t need to spell out why we don’t like U2 any more.

So I stopped watching Made of Stone, because I really like the music of The Stone Roses, and I don’t want that to change when I find out (inevitably) that Ian Brown is a dull-brained skidmark of a man.  I mean, I don’t *know* that.  He might turn out to be another Stephen Fry.  But I bet you a pound he isn’t.

 

Reduce the Ds

Is there anybody left who still wants to pay extra to see a movie in 3D?  Really?  Anybody?   PLEASE let 2015 be the year it finally dies a long-overdue death.

 

The order is all bollocks anyway

There’s a massive variation in how much I like a film, depending what else is going on at the time.  If I’m in a great mood and have no preconceptions of a film, I’ll generally end up really liking it.  If I’m tired and a bit drunk, it has to be properly special to pique my interest.  In different circumstances any one of these films could be at least 20 places up or down in the list – some of them 50.  So please don’t take too much notice of where your favourite film is in the list.  It’s all bollocks.

 

Twelve months?  Really?

I can’t believe quite how many excellent films there were this year.  At the half-way point of the year, the top 10 was looking pretty shabby, but then I started ignoring the blockbusters and the average suddenly spiralled upwards to a rather wonderful zenith.

I also can’t believe how long this year seems, looking back on it.  HOW long ago were American Hustle and The Counselor?  SURELY it was more than a year ago … wasn’t it?  How many months did this year have…?  At this rate 2015 will last so long that by the end of it, James Bond will be played by a black man.  Oh wait…