Top 10 of 2016

As is customary with New Years Eve here at Movie Mad Reviews, here is my personal top 10 films released in the UK in 2016:

10. The Hateful Eight

I struggled with this one. Being a Tarantino fan ever since I came across Pulp Fiction back in 2009, I’ll be the first to admit I have a biased opinion when it comes to the mans movies. Instantly assuming that by January 8 I’d already have my number 1 film of the year ready after seeing The Hateful Eight in glorious 70mm, it turns out I was wrong. H8ful has some great moments as well as a fantastic cast and a score to die for so it deserves a spot on the top 10 for sure. But only just.

9. Eye In The Sky

Of the numerous celebrity deaths this year, Alan Rickman was one of the toughest. We can take solace at least in his final on screen performance shortly before his voiceover work in Alice Through The Looking Glass, in Eye In The Sky. A fantastically tense piece of writing from Guy Hibbert, Eye In The Sky holds up on repeat viewings and boasts an incredible lineup including Dame Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul and Barkhad Abdi.

8. Goosebumps

Instead of adapting one of the many books in the Goosebumps series, Jack Black takes on the role of author R.L. Stine in this zany comedy which  brings the classic villains to life along with laughs aplenty. No other childrens film would be able to pull off a Shining gag in quite the same way!

7. I, Daniel Blake

Definitely one of the most heartwrenching films of the year, I, Daniel Blake tells the story of a man trapped in the arguably inhumane social welfare system. With incredibly strong performances from both Dave Johns and Hayley Squires,  I, Daniel Blake will bring tears to your eyes and anger to your heart.

6. Spotlight

This tale of the events leading up to the revelation of paedophilia within the Catholic Church is an intense watch which is made even more eye-opening with 4 pages worth of areas in which the scandalous acts of crime were committed.

5. Zootopia

Or if you’re British, Zootropolis. Disney’s first of two animated features this year sets up its world of predators and prey wonderfully with colourful characters, the hilarious Flash being one of the many highlights, before it moves into a much more serious plot. Zootopia is definitely a film which fits the year it was released in.

4. Eddie The Eagle

The story of Eddie Edwards is perhaps the most inspirational one to hit cinema screens this year. The struggle and determination of Taron Egerton’s Eddie is portrayed wonderfully bringing some true heart to the screen. Read my full review at Red Carpet News TV here.

3. David Brent: Life On The Road

Ricky Gervais brings back his most popular character and brings a toe-tapping soundtrack along with it. Life On The Road is for my money, the best comedy of the year. Check out my review here.

2. Room

Winning Brie Larson her first Oscar earlier this year, Room is much more than just her performance. Relying heavily on the viewpoint of Jacob Tremblay’s Jack is a risky move for the then 8 year old actor but it pays off beautifully.

1. Sing Street

Director John Carney’s latest is a moving and genuinely heartwarming film set in 1980s Dublin which, like Life On The Road offers a memorable soundtrack, though not in the same tone. On rewatchability alone, Sing Street comes out on top without a doubt. Read my full review here.

Bottom 10 of 2016

As 2016 draws to a close, it’s time for the annual tradition of the top and bottom 10 films of the year. And since it’s been such a shitty year all round what with Brexit’s, elections, and deaths (oh my!) it feels right that we start with the worst films, so we can at least end the year on a bit of a high with the next post.

So, without further ado:

10. I Saw The Light

Being a huge fan of musical biopics thanks to Walk The Line, I was so excited for Tom Hiddlestone to bring Hank Williams back to life. While it kicked off with an absolutely gorgeous opening scene, not much else followed unfortunately. Read my full review at Red Carpet News TV here.

9. Dad’s Army

After it’s seemingly eternal run of adverts in cinemas and basically everywhere you looked, Dad’s Army was finally released and… did nothing. While it was well cast, nothing could recapture the brilliance of the hit BBC sitcom and it’s a shame to see any attempt even being made.

8. The Girl On The Train

Emily Blunt stars in this boring tale of an alcoholic’s adventures on a train. What makes this worse is it’s blatant attempts to pull off the look and feel of 2014’s Gone Girl.

7. Grimsby

Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest ‘comedy’ was not much more than a crude 83 minute piece of stale cinema which used getty images for 2 characters. Nuff said.

6. Blair Witch

When it was revealed that Adam Wingard (The Guest) had been secretly working on a sequel to arguably the mother of the found footage genre of the last 20 years, I had hoped that this would be similar case to 10 Cloverfield Lane, where a secret sequel breathes fresh new life into a much loved film.

5. The Neon Demon

A gorgeous film to look at, and not just in its opening scene, Nicolas Winding Refn’s latest is not much more than beautiful cinematography. Read my fill review at Red Carpet New TV here.

4. Weiner-Dog

This was my first foray into the work of Todd Solondz, and after seeing Happiness earlier this year I’ve since realised it wasn’t the best way to start me off. Told through the eyes of the titular weiner-dog, the film moves from story to story without much to connect it and slaps in a random interval for no apparent reason. The irony however comes in the form of Danny DeVito’s Dave Schmerz, a screenwriting lecturer who basically discusses the problems with the very film he’s in!

3. The BFG

After bombing in the states, I was determined to see Spielberg’s take on the Roald Dahl classic and give it the support t surely deserves. How wrong I was. The BFG had barely any threat and spent more time focussing on a farting queen than it did on its script.

2. We Are The Flesh

The only film from this year’s Horror Channel FrightFest to deserve a place on this list, We Are The Flesh is without a doubt the longest 80 minutes I’ve ever spent in a cinema. A couple of days ago I spent 6 hours and 40 minutes watching Napoleon at the BFI Southbank and that felt quicker!

1. Suicide Squad

But of course, this years worst film must be Suicide Squad. When it wasn’t ramming every song it could think of down our throats in its opening sequence, it was showing us a strange gyrating Cara Delevigne. But the worst act of this heinous movie is the fact that it now stands as a reminder of what we lost the frankly brilliant Suicide Squad from Arrow for. Read my full review at Red Carpet News TV here.

 

Now that’s out of the way, stay tuned for my top 10 films of the year before the day is out!

BAFTA Predictions 2016

What better day to celebrate the love of film in Britain than Valentine’s day! That’s right, tonight is BAFTA night. In a few hours time the envelopes will be open and the winners will have their new golden masks. But before that, here’s a little prediction for who will go home with a grin on their face. As I do every year, each category has a prediction for who should win and who likely will win. I’ve left four nominations out due to having not seen the nominated films: Best Film Not In The English Language, Best Documentary, Best British Short Animation and Best British Short Film. Let me know in the comments below if you think I’m right or wrong, and what your own predictions are! Depending how spoiler worthy my twitter feed is tonight (since the awards are screened like 2 hours after they’ve been handed out) I may tweet along to the ceremony at @movie_mad so feel free to follow me there. For now though, see you at the Oscars!

BEST FILM

Will: THE REVENANT

Should: SPOTLIGHT

OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM

Will/Should: EX MACHINA

OUTSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER, DIRECTOR OR PRODUCER

Will/Should: ALEX GARLAND – Ex Machina

ANIMATED FILM

Will/Should: INSIDE OUT – Pete Docter

DIRECTOR

Should: THE BIG SHORT – Adam McKay

Will: THE REVENANT – Alejandro G. Iñárritu

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Will: THE HATEFUL EIGHT – Quentin Tarantino

Should: INSIDE OUT – Josh Cooley, Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Will: ROOM – Emma Donoghue

Should: STEVE JOBS – Aaron Sorkin

LEADING ACTOR

Will: LEONARDO DICAPRIO – The Revenant

Should: MICHAEL FASSBENDER – Steve Jobs

LEADING ACTRESS

Will: BRIE LARSON – Room

Should: SAOIRSE RONAN – Brooklyn

SUPPORTING ACTOR

Should: MARK RUFFALO – Spotlight

Will: MARK RYLANCE – Bridge of Spies

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Will/Should: ROONEY MARA – Carol

ORIGINAL MUSIC

Will/Should: THE HATEFUL EIGHT – Ennio Morricone

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Should: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD – John Seale

Will: SICARIO – Roger Deakins

EDITING

Will/Should: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD – Margaret Sixel

PRODUCTION DESIGN

Will/Should: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD – Colin Gibson, Lisa Thompson

COSTUME DESIGN

Will: BROOKLYN – Odile Dicks-Mireaux

Should: CINDERELLA – Sandy Powell

MAKE UP & HAIR

Should: BROOKLYN – Morna Ferguson, Lorraine Glynn

Will: CAROL – Jerry DeCarlo, Patricia Regan

SOUND

Will/Should: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD – Scott Hecker, Chris Jenkins, Mark Mangini, Ben Osmo, Gregg Rudloff, David White

SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS

Should: EX MACHINA – Mark Ardington, Sara Bennett, Paul Norris, Andrew Whitehurst

Will: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD – Andrew Jackson, Dan Oliver, Tom Wood, Andy Williams

THE EE RISING STAR AWARD

Should: BRIE LARSON

Will: JOHN BOYEGA

Top 10 Films of 2015

Now that the bottom of the barrel has been scraped, let me try to end the year on a high, with a look back on the top 10 films of 2015. Before I begin though, these are based on UK release dates which means that The Hateful Eight isn’t allowed so will be next years number 1…

10. Good Kill

In the year that saw American Sniper get critical acclaim galore, it’s important that you see the right version of it. Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper do a sterling job but in Good Kill, Ethan Hawke knocks them out with a much more effective look at modern warfare as a drone pilot is put into the very heart of the war even through a computer screen. Though it’s not as gritty it’s sure as hell more emotional.

9. Irrational Man

Woody Allen’s latest addition to his never ending CV stars Joaquin Pheonix and Emma Stone in a beautifully written indie which takes an unexpected turn.

8. X+Y

Asa Butterfield brings an incredibly emotional performance in this beautiful story about a young math prodigy who finds new confidence on the other side of the world.

7. Inside Out

The first of Pixar’s two offerings this year gave us a brand new set of characters to love, cherish and pour our tears over. Inside Out is an instant classic and brings the magic back to the studio that was once slightly struggling with entries like Cars

6. Big Hero Six

Though Inside Out did bring the tears and the feelings you’d expect with Pixar, Disney’s offering did much more by using their association with Marvel with a new batch of superheroes. The main success of Big Hero Six however is the way in which they handle depression. For a children’s film to treat it as an illness while not pandering to its core audience, Big Hero Six gives us a new masterpiece.

5. Steve Jobs

Michael Fassbender brings an electrifying performance in Danny Boyles biopic of the face of Apple. While the film isn’t just a nuts and bolts biopic, Aaron Sorkins script does the man justice in a thrilling 3 act structure while Fassy’s Jobs slips into fight after fight with colleagues and family alike.

4. Ex Machina

Without a doubt the most terrifying film on this list, Ex Machina stays with you weeks after initial viewing, thanks mainly to the incredible trio of cast members Domnhall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander and Oscar Isaac

3. Brooklyn

Saoirse Ronan brings one of the best performances of the year in this tale of homesickness in 50’s Brooklyn. Don’t be surprised to see her name mentioned throughout awards season.

2. Love And Mercy

And speaking of awards season, Paul Dano and John Cusack bring an oscar worthy double act as young and old Brian Wilson in this Beach Boys biopic.

  1. Whiplash

Without a doubt the most engrossing film of the year. Oscar winner JK Simmons gives a career best performance as the tenacious Terrence Fletcher while Miles Teller brings the tortured soul of Andrew Neiman to life with the help of Damien Chazelle’s simple but beautifully flowing script and a beautiful score.

Top 10 WORST Movies of 2014

As the year comes to a close, it’s time for the annual tradition of looking back over the films that delighted and disappointed myself and most other sane cinemagoers during the past 12 months. So without further ado, read on for my top 10 worst movies of 2014:

10. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

While the heroes in a half shell had an almost promising reboot this year, Michael Bay, in his infinite explosive wisdom just couldn’t help adding his touch of sexism and product placement (hello Pizza Hut!) to ensure that the Transformers franchise had some company.

9. Men, Women and Children

Writer/Director Jason Reitman can be good. Juno was bearable, Up In The Air was an instant favourite. It’s just a shame that his latest is such a crushing disappointment. Read my full review over at Red Carpet News TV here.

8. Bad Neighbours

That’s right folks, The Interview wasn’t the only Seth Rogan film to bring about shock and horror across the world. Bad Neighbours’ unfunny script and mediocre storyline just didn’t hit the right notes. Bad by name, bad by nature.

7. The Rover

Guy Pierce and Robert Pattinson try and fail to bring a thought provoking post apocalyptic drama in a long and tedious road trip movie which just feels all over the place. The lowlight is the random use of Pretty Girl Rock by Keri Hilson, completely and horribly switching the tone around.

6. Annabelle

When 2013’s The Conjuring was released, its effective opening scene practically demanded more screen time from that oh so terrifying doll which didn’t even need to move to send shivers down your spine. This year we were given our demand, however it came with a lesson. Sometimes what you think you want should just stay wanted. Annabelle, with its cheap tricks and even cheaper jump scares does it’s predecessor no justice whatsoever.

5. Lucy

If you want a film centred around the unused potential our brains could give us, it’s best to go for Bradley Cooper’s Limitless than Lucy. At least he doesn’t turn into a memory stick at the end…

4. Alien Abduction

Thankfully this didn’t get a cinema release over here, or I’m willing to bet anywhere. But you may spot this straight to DVD found footage horror flick in HMV with a genuinely intriguing cover boasting its links to Pulp Fiction. If this happens, AVOID! God knows why the producer of such cinematic masterpieces as  Pulp Fiction would attach his name to such utter tripe but don’t be fooled by the statement.

3. Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie

While Mrs. Brown’s Boys may work well on TV, the transition to cinema just doesn’t fit well. Unfortunately the popularity of Brendan O’Carroll’s titular irish mammy has all but guaranteed a sequel, let’s just hope it somehow manages to right the wrongs the second time round…

2. Sex Tape

Product placement: The Movie!

1. Dumb and Dumber To

Racist, sexist and everything else in between, Dumb and Dumber To is undoubtedly the most offensive movie of the year. To watch this after seeing Jeff Daniels in his Emmy winning role in HBO‘s The Newsroom just breaks my heart…

And there we have it. Rant over. Keep your eyes peeled tomorrow for my top 10 best movies of the year and let me know in the comments below which movies hurt you the most this year.

7

A Tarantino Trawl: Jackie Brown

Moving right along from last weeks look at Pulp Fiction, this week I’m looking at Tarantino’s third feature, Jackie Brown.

What’s interesting with Jackie Brown is that this is the first and, to date, only film in Tarantino’s back catalogue which is based on a source material. Although if you want to be picky I guess you could mention Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City in which Tarantino was credited as guest director, but that hardly counts. The source material in question is Elmore Leonard’s novel Rum Punch, which I must admit I’ve not yet read myself so can’t actually comment on how good a job Tarantino did in terms of adaptation. But regardless of that, Jackie Brown is another classic.

Blaxploitation queen, Pam Grier stars as the titular character along with Robert Forster, Samuel L Jackson, Robert De Niro, Bridget Fonda and Michael Keaton. When flight attendant Jackie Brown gets caught smuggling money across the border for black market gun salesman Ordell Robbie (Jackson), she sets about trying to play him and the cop after him (Keaton) in the hopes of walking away with half a million dollars. Along with the help of bail bondsman Max Cherry (Forster).

At a 150 minute running time, Jackie Brown is bloated slightly. But when you have Tarantino’s rich dialogue and beautifully dark humour, it’s barely a problem. While it doesn’t pull the same punch as Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs, there’s still much to be admired thanks to the cast. Grier brings a fantastic lead role to life as Jackie but it’s the supporting cast that are the highlights. Samuel L Jackson seems to have a lot of fun with Ordell Robbie and yet still gives a menacing performance at times. Though he spends much of his time chatting away about guns and trying his best to impress his newly released prisoner guest, Louis (De Niro) he does have one or two moments which prove he is much more.

Robert De Niro meanwhile, stays rather silent and is probably the least outgoing of the cast, yet still manages to stay entertaining. And again, he has some moments which bring lots of laughs. Whether it be trying to show Bridget Fonda’s Mel the best 3 minutes of her life or finding a particularly effective way of dealing with her mockery, De Niro and Fonda make a fine double act.

It’s usually the second film that’s the dodgy one when it comes to successful directors, but with Tarantino it seems it was almost third time unlucky. Whilst it’s certainly not awful, compared to Pulp Fiction it is a slight drop. A very slight drop mind. But then again, how could anyone ever be able to bring a film after Pulp Fiction and make it better?

Of all Tarantino’s directed films, Jacie Brown is probably his worst. HOWEVER, even at his worst. He’s still pretty fucking great…

Bottom 10 Movies of 2013

And so with the top 10 films of 2013 comes the worst of the year. Think of this as a public announcement. AVOID THE FOLLOWING FILMS!

10. Dark Skies

A pitiful attempt at horror.

9. The Fifth Estate

Two hours of mindless boredom.

8. Pain and Gain

Michael Bay proves that he doesn’t need fighting robots and/or explosions to be bad.

7 A Good Day to Die Hard

Bruce Willis kills the legacy of John McClane even more in the fifth installment to the Die Hard franchise. That’s right, it’s a franchise now.

6. This is The End

You’ll wish it was as you watch a bunch of pretentious A Listers dick around for an hour and a half.

5. Blue is the Warmest Colour

Blue is the DULLEST colour

4. The Host

It’s only fitting that an adaptation of a Stephanie Meyer book makes the list for a second year running…

3. Mama

Not even Jennifer Lawrence can save this.

2. Upstream Color

Apparently there’s a message in this?

Movie 43

10 times as many big names than This Is The End and 10 times as worse.

Top 10 Movies of 2013

It’s that time of the year again folks! With 2014 only a few hours away what better way to end 2013 than by summing up the year’s top 10 films! 

The year has been filled with so many fantastic films to feast your eyes on that it’s hard to pick 10 let alone put them in order. But I’ll try my best. 

10. The Lone Ranger

Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer make a great duo in Gore Verbinski’s latest offering. 2 and a half hours of pure fun no matter what the press says. It’s the best substitute we have for Hammer playing Batman for now at least.

9. Stand Up Guys

What looked like a terrible comedy with a few classic actors thrown into the centre for good measure actually turned out to be a heartwarming film which proves that Pacino’s still got what it takes to entertain us. Even after his career’s near death experience in Jack and Jill…

8. Stoker

Park Chan Wook gives us drop dead gorgeous shots in his first English Language film, with Mia Wasikowska and Matthew Goode giving great performances and Prison Break’s Wentworth Miller proving he’s not just a pretty face with his first script.

7. The World’s End

Edgar Wright brings his Blood and Ice Cream trilogy to a fantastic end which will have you craving Cornetto’s once more.

6. Trance

Danny Boyle manages to twist and turn until the very end in a film that will keep you on the edge of your seat

5. The Purge

A great premise for a slasher film which deserves a sequel.

4. Frozen

Disney’s take on The Snow Queen finally makes an appearance and does not disappoint. It’ll have you singing the soundtrack for weeks to come.

3. Gravity

If you didn’t manage to see this on the biggest screen you could then you missed out dearly. It’s not just a film, it’s an immersive experience which will grab your attention and not let go until well after the credits roll.

2. In Fear

A thrilling game of cat and mouse in the Irish country side makes for the most terrifying experience of the year. 

1. Django Unchained

Released in January in the UK and still 12 months later nothing has come close to the excitement that this brought. Call me biased if you must but Tarantino remains a God.

Stolen

These days it seems going to see a Nicolas Cage film is almost the same as going to the casino. You could end up with more than you had and have you quoting Kick Ass for the rest of your days, or it could leave you penniless and waking up to horrific nightmares of the debt you have to pay for watching his performance in The Wicker Man. Stolen happens to sit nicely in between the two . Although it’s at times laugh out loud ridiculous it will keep you entertained.

Cage plays Will Montgomery, a former thief who, after being released from prison finds that his old partner, presumed dead, is still alive and out seeking the $10 million they stole in their last heist. Montgomery races against time to find a way to get his kidnapped daughter back and replace the $10 million he threw away when he was caught.

In the 96 minutes that follows we are treated to some of the most dire dialogue and the longest opening sequence ever made as we see Mongomery’s botched attempt at stealing $10 million in almost real time. A sequence which was covered easily in a few seconds in the trailer but which director Simon West seems to take about 30 minutes explaining. Had he narrowed it down to five or ten he could have had more time focusing on things like character and storyline and maybe even possibly script to make for a more fun filled ninety odd minutes.

It’s clear that the film is trying desperately to be the new Taken and whilst Cage proves that he certainly has the strength to be some competition for Liam Neeson, his talent is wasted here. With some appalling supporting cast including a truly awful taxi firm controller whose accent and humour are just dreadful; and an Australian tourist character who makes Tarantino’s Django Unchained cameo look Oscar worthy.

But don’t let this put you off. Although it is downright insulting to moviegoers you can still watch it and not feel as though you’ve wasted your time too much. The trick is to go in and simply laugh at it’s pitiful attempt at entertaining you. Laugh at it’s awful dialogue and even worse editing. And let the laughter drown the sobs of disappointment at what Stolen could have achieved if anyone but Nicholas Cage had actually bothered to try their best with it. All while thinking of the people in the screen next door watching Cage in The Croods and actually enjoying themselves.

3/5

The Host

It’s been four months since the Twilight saga ended its reign of the box office with Breaking Dawn Part 2 and already we have another adaptation by the same author. However, this time we don’t have sparkly vampires or unemotional female leads.

Starring Saoirse Ronan, The Host is essentially another teen romance at heart, but with an interesting premise. Set in a dystopian future in which Earth has been overthrown by an alien race who use human bodies as a vessel to take over the world, the film does give some thought provoking insights into humanity. Ronan plays Melanie Strider, a young girl who is part of a small human resistance. However whilst on the run from the surprisingly peaceful aliens, her body is soon invaded by Wanderer. As Melanie fights to stay alive in her own body, she shows Wanderer her memories of the loved ones for whom she is fighting, in the hopes that Wanderer will help.

At just over 2 hours long it does seem to stretch a bit. Time that could have been better spent expanding the themes more is instead spent on a love square rather than the traditional love triangle we’re all too familiar with, as Wanderer and Melanie both find themselves in love with different boys. A situation which doesn’t work two well with two personalities in the same body. And whilst it does entertain for the most part, there is the feeling that a better story could be told.

However, it’s not as anger inducing as the Twilight Saga (here the acting is somewhat better) it still lacks the spark it could have easily have had. At times it doesn’t seem to know whether it wants to be an action movie or a romantic drama and can’t seem to find the perfect line between the two, often switching between genre almost haphazardly.

Ronan proves yet again that she can hold a film up as she has done a number of times already in her short career. Whilst this is no Hanna it still provides as a worthy example of Ronan’s acting abilities as she manages to outshine the rest of her co-stars, although that’s not a very tough thing to do in a film like this.

Not the best release of the week but certainly not the worst either.

3/5