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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Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

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It wasn’t a long time ago, on a cinema screen not that far away, that we had a Star Wars adventure to revel in. Moving on from the hugely divisive ‘The Last Jedi’, we get this spin-off story which centres on Han Solo and his life before turning into Harrison Ford.

On a less than glamorous planet, lives Han (Alden Ehrenreich) who aspires to be a pilot and see the stars with his girlfriend Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke). As they attempt an escape, Han ends up by himself and over subsequent years he clings onto any person or team he can, in the hope to make some money, get a ship and find Qi’ra again.

I’ll hold my hands up and say I’m not the biggest Star Wars fanboy. I know enough of the originals to get by and find the recent offerings to be entertaining but hearing that Han was to get a feature, wasn’t something I had any feeling about whatsoever and it still vaguely feels that way after watching the film. It’s enjoyable enough and deepens Han and his world but it never blew me away or felt like something I’d choose to watch more than the one time.

This movie has numerous flaws and a big one lays within the comedic elements the script strains to lean towards at times. The writing of these lighter lines sound forced and maybe boil down to the aftermath of the troubled production; what with previous comedy duo Phil Lord and Christopher Miller being kicked out and replaced by Ron Howard. The latter director finds his stride away from the comedy moments and he provides some strong directing in the building of the titular character and adding treachery.

There are also a good number of places where I felt this film was lagging and dare I say, lame. It took a while to feel like the cool science fiction western it’s trying to be and earlier scenes setting up everything didn’t exactly do their best in inviting me in like they should. In my opinion the plot does get better as it goes on and nearer the end, as the mission almost wraps, is where I felt the progressing character paths became so much more engaging and interesting. A neat level of are they/aren’t they back and forth is also played with well.

I had fun whilst watching two major sequences; one being an earlier train heist and the other actually showing us the quotable Kessel Run moment. Both these big blockbuster scenarios are gripping and very well made. They each share elements of fun, personal stakes and visual skill which heightens the drama. Luckily these sequences did just about enough to make me forgive the many uses of extremely on the nose dialogue throughout the movie and moments that caused an eye roll – how Han got his name being a major example.

Ehrenreich is a great youthful Solo, he carries a swag and boyish yet capable know-how which works, with just the right level of roguish charm that I’m sure Ford would admire. Clarke is a captivating character helped by the fact she’s a captivating actor. She definitely does well in playing cards close to her chest, being smart, kick-ass and someone you just can’t quite work out. Donald Glover pretty much steals the galaxy, as do his eye-catching capes. It looks like he’s having a ball playing Lando Calrissian; someone else who can be unreadable and whip smart. Phoebe Waller-Bridge may be a good performer but I found the droid character of L3-37 to be an annoying robot sidekick that never grew on me. Paul Bettany is slightly underused but is a believable villain in a world that’s set up as untrustworthy. Anyone could have an agenda against good hearted motives, anyone that is but Han, whether he’d admit it or not.

‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ possesses some moments that make you feel as if you’re in the Millennium Falcon; a cinematic theme park ride to enjoy. Then there’s other moments where both the action and story lulls and you wonder why we need to see this story. There’s fun to be had but it’s not a well-oiled machine.

6.5/10

 

 

 

Suffragette (2015)

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Washed out with browns and greys but never lacking richness in theme or power, this British period drama focuses on the plight of women suffering without the right to vote in a man’s world. The storytelling is the fiercest aspect as we follow a character stepping into the world of the Suffragette movement.

Mother and wife Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan) ends up caught in the midst of a riot led by passionate women desiring the rights to vote. Maud knows one of the ladies, Violet Miller (Anne-Marie Duff) from her workplace and ends up needing to speak to Parliament on behalf of the Suffragettes. Her understanding and passion for their cause only grows as she ends up being tracked by police, losing her family and realising how wrong the world can be to a whole gender.

As mentioned the look of this film is quite drab, of course it fits with the 1900’s setting and even if it looks a little boring the true passion and engaging factor of the movie comes from the plot and the true life problems it’s presenting to audiences. Even if there is a lot of brown, the production value of this historical drama is brilliant, the old look of London town, the Victorian houses and fashions are excellently on point to make you buy into this film and see its potential for costuming and production nominations in the Oscars to come.

Abi Morgan of recent BBC TV ‘River’ writing is in charge of telling the story here and blends in the drawn character of Maud with real life Pankhurst really well. I feel it benefits the story having a made up figure lead us through the acts as she represents the everyday, Maud is normal and driven and so relatable to females watching. It never feels bogged down with historical points, it puts in the movement, their fight and the big climax of the derby and fatality that I’m sure most people had heard about from history classes but in a good way it doesn’t feel preachy and Morgan’s screenplay presents this vital and still relevant issue with skill and heart.

Sarah Gavron directs the film in a way to dramatise the events leading to the women getting the all important vote they wanted. It’s well made and she understands how to tell a character based story that still feels on a grander scale considering the cause being fought for. I mean it’s not ground-breaking or artistic in terms of directing and the film does look like an awful lot of historically based events but at least it demonstrates how the world has moved on in some cases and how much it still desperately needs to keep progressing for all round equality.

The gender fight is prominent and necessary as we see the harshness of women being subjected to lesser pay, housebound mothering and beatings as they try to stand up for themselves. The almost water-boarding torture scene set in a prison cell is hard to stomach but does highlight the pains women of history went through to help present day women go to booths and choose who they want to run the country. It’s a movement and struggle that everyone should know about and the scrolling credits listing dates of other countries accepting the woman vote is both interesting and saddening as we see some extremely late years on the list.

Carey Mulligan is a bold and engaging talent, she really shows off the depth of London living Maud and her normality yet motivation for something better drives her to make the decisions she does. You root for her, sympathise with her and ultimately like her which is always a key thing for leading characters. Helena Bonham Carter is an interesting character and plays the more forceful women carrying out Pankhurst’s wishes which comes across well. Anne-Marie Duff is the second biggest character in the film and her disregard for the male run regime of the factory and life in general is sublime to watch, she also acts the more vulnerable change in her story to good heights. I can’t give too much to Meryl Streep as Emmeline Pankhurst because she appears 45 minutes in and for about 5 minutes. The speech she delivers is empowering but apart from that Streep is a big name for big name’s sake.

It’s a film that feels in safe hands and also feels very safe watching it, it doesn’t go overly brutal or dramatic to tell what would have been a very tough time. Yet the emotions of a gender are presented to enough degrees by a capable Mulligan who runs off with the movie.

7/10