91st Academy Award Predictions

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Today is Oscar Sunday, the end of awards season and the annual beginning of people arguing what won shouldn’t have won.

This years ceremony has been beset by a near constant run of back and forths and who knows how the show with no host will run, be it smoothly or not but one thing can be guaranteed, some golden statuettes will be handed out. Here are my predictions on who will take away awards and in capitals to the side are who I’d like to win:

Best Picture – Roma        THE FAVOURITE

Best Actor – Rami Malek       MALEK

Best Actress – Glenn Close     OLIVIA COLMAN

Best Director – Alfonso Cuaron     CUARON

Best Supporting Actor – Mahershala Ali     RICHARD E. GRANT

Best Supporting Actress – Regina King      RACHEL WEISZ

Best Animated Film – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse      SPIDER-VERSE

Best Original Screenplay – Roma          THE FAVOURITE

Best Adapted Screenplay – BlackKklansman         THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS

Best Documentary – Free Solo         FREE SOLO

Best Documentary Short – End Game

Best Foreign Language Film – Roma          ROMA

Best Original Song – Shallow           THE PLACE WHERE THE LOST THINGS GO

Best Original Score – Black Panther         BLACK PANTHER

Best Sound Mixing – First Man             BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

Best Sound Editing – A Quiet Place         A QUIET PLACE

Best Make-up and Hairstyling – Vice        MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS

Best Production Design – Roma           THE FAVOURITE

Best Costume Design – The Favourite      THE FAVOURITE

Best Cinematography – Roma         ROMA

Best Film Editing – Vice             BLACKKKLANSMAN

Best Visual Effects – Ready Player One        INFINITY WAR

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Darkest Hour (2018)

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All hail Gary Oldman, he may not be playing a king in this war drama, but his turn as Winston Churchill is unarguably incredible and deserving of golden awards and a crown.

During May of 1940, Germany are on the attack and reaching the worrying position of heading onto the shores of Britain. People and politicians alike have demanded the resignation of Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup) and his position becomes available for Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman). At such a crucial point in politics and the war effort, it becomes a huge task for him to stick true to his grit and dogged determination to fight on.

Joe Wright captures this massively important passage of time with such stunning detail. There are plenty of tracking shots that sweep through frames of locations heaving with extras and ornate rooms. Birds eye shots are seen on numerous occasions which truly help the audience realise the scale of the scene; as most of these are overhead shots from the men out on the fields fighting for their lives. This is a film that settles you in and makes the ticking over of these integral dates in May feel as significant as they clearly were.

Cinematography and music combine in this biographical war movie in such a beautiful fashion. There’s a captivating sense of weight to what is seen and heard which perfectly reflects the dramatic choices on Churchill’s shoulders. Sadly, the narrative itself isn’t as in keeping with the captivating score and mise en scene. It’s a screenplay that mostly manages to carry the ordeal of political power at the brink of UK failure but there are times that the film chugs along, almost dragging out the days. Also some scenes/moments just screamed of being contrived for pure cinematic, awards season value. The Underground visit being something that yanked me right out of the film.

Luckily, there isn’t too much that did take me out of the movie and one aspect that really immersed me was the creative skills of the hair and make-up team who have achieved a wonderful character in turning Oldman into the well known war leader. The look is incredible and I forgot through almost the entire feature, that I was watching the actor under such inspired prosthetics.

Speaking of which, Gary Oldman is a force of acting nature as the British bulldog. The inner depths of conflict and concerns whether his decisions are the right price to pay are utterly felt in every delivery of the lines; from nuanced engaging moments between the PM and his wife to more ferocious and sometime humorous words of wisdom that roar to life thanks to the apparent effortless talents of an actor well deserving of all award talk. Kristin Scott Thomas has a serene and wonderful presence in the film. She plays Clementine or ‘Clemmie’ as Winston calls her and the scenes with her are great moments that display her emotions to how her life is but they nicely give us respites in Churchill’s usual fiery resolve and show his human side when not performing. Lily James plays secretary Elizabeth Nel and her role, though softened and there to provide easy ways to inspire Churchill when necessary, isn’t entirely bland. James gives grace and helpful assistance to Winston and the film. I must also mention the wondrous Ben Mendelsohn who plays the stammering King George VI with a gracious believable touch and his change in heart to the once disliked Churchill further gives this film the rousing applause to an iconic figure in history.

The plot may not always be a searing delight, but the spotlight on Churchill’s achievements at the crux of British ruin is an intensely detailed marvel to look at and with Oldman stepping into the shoes and hat with a cigar to hand, Winston has never looked and sounded more alive than in this mesmerising showcase.

8/10

The Thing (1982)

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Smartly tense and a cabin fever setting helps rack up the horror of identity. It does suffer dull character work and some slow stretches but they don’t make the entire film bad. The ‘thing’ in question is still remarkable, even now, a solid animatronic effort that gives this movie the weird alien factor and makes it one of its kind to this day.

Set in the Antarctic at an US research facility a group of Americans start to uncover some hideous threat after a Norwegian base leads them to a grisly discovery. Clearly something bad happened there and now whatever killed them all is lurking in the US camp. It doesn’t help that it’s a shape-shifting alien making the entire team question each other as to who they really are.

Sadly this film felt a tiresome slog for a while. It had an interesting and well built opener concerning a helicopter, a gun and a husky but then it seems to simmer down to a whimper. It made a lot of the film feel longer than it really is, not in an excellent way of being steady to raise tension, just long. I do feel that some of the film could have been chopped out, making it a quicker more suspenseful ride. Also, it feels like the whole mystery madness of who could be a devilish creature suddenly happens which could have been dealt with better but aside from these slightly major problems we have a good horror film here.

It’s a good John Carpenter feature, nowhere near as good as some of his other work and it shows, it struggles to be really horror or really sci-fi, it kind of wobbles between both never getting a sturdy foot on either genre. I did really like aspects of it though and his directing works nicely to play on the whole paranoia level, one of the stronger elements of this story. Bill Lancaster who wrote the screenplay seems to thrive when dealing with the character focused finger poking. The scene where MacReady is testing dishes of blood is one of the better sequences as the harmony of directing and writing come together to make you bite your lip at how tense this scenario is.

Rob Bottin has a lot to take a bow for, he should be taking multiple bows for his job as make up artist on this film. It certainly helps the grim nature take flight with no qualms whatsoever. There’s no holding back concerning the effects of this violent alien. The bloody special effects are bold and effective. It’s magical and terrifying to see these practical designs come to life and the creature is horrid to look at which ticks the box required. You don’t see much at first and then a transformation does enough to put you off dogs for life. Sprouting red tentacles, extra eyes and spewing liquids are just tips of the gross out iceberg and it’s great watching the creature do it’s ‘thing’, ey ey!

I must say on a brief note that I liked the score also. It’s no ‘Halloween’ number but the dark quality still lingers and it works in providing a suitable level of tension. The main theme and the creature effects are the redeeming factors making this film come across as better than it truly is, I think without them it would be dire. It’s just a shame that it feels laborious at times getting bogged down in setup which causes no stir. It might be too over the top for some as well possibly.

A fine attempt at a tense horror but the moments of slowness drag it back from brilliance. Thank goodness for some outstandingly out there alien make up wonder making this film a ‘thing’ of tension and goo.

6.5/10