Comic-Con Trailer Recap

For me, Christmas in July is the most magical time – because with so many of the year’s most highly anticipated films coming out in July, and the influx of movie news and trailers coming in from Comic-Con, it feels like Christmas to me! The last week has seen the year’s biggest convention, where all the stars came out to showcase their upcoming projects and hang out with us fans, and this year didn’t disappoint; even though I wasn’t there (and have never been, though if anyone has a spare ticket…), keeping updated through Twitter and YouTube was one of the highlights of my (admittedly uninteresting) week, seeing all the new footage and hearing so many cool stories of people meeting their favourite icons.

But the trailers are what everyone’s been talking about! From Ready Player One to Thor: Ragnarok, and a slew of exciting trailers for upcoming television, too, they’ve created utter excitement and their fair share of mixed reviews. I certainly have my own opinions about them all, so I thought I’d break down the biggest of them all below – enjoy!

Thor: Ragnarok:

Not only was the first trailer for Thor’s third outing (due in cinemas October 26th) received with much praise and excitement, it made Thor: Ragnarok the Marvel film on everybody’s lips for this year, even more so than Spider-Man or Guardians of the Galaxy. So its new trailer at Comic-Con was highly anticipated, and certainly didn’t disappoint: not only did we get to see more of Cate Blanchett’s badass-looking Hella, Goddess of Death, but we also got a better look at Tessa Thompson’s warrior Valkyrie, another glimpse of Jeff Goldblum’s Grand Master, a co-operative Loki for a change (is he turning over a new leaf?), and a preview of the film’s comedic tone, particularly through Thor’s newfound friendship with the Hulk – who now speaks! So far, all trailers point to ‘yes, please’ when it comes to Thor, only making me more excited for the mainstream breakthrough of one of my favourite directors, Taika Waititi, whose comedy in this trailer could be something new, exciting, and different for the MCU.

Justice League:

On the other side of the comic-world, a new trailer for Justice League also dropped; though it didn’t feature as awesome a song as the first trailer’s Come Together, it did heavily feature Wonder Woman, a clever move by DC to galvanise her newfound fan base. And boy, does she kick ass; not only does she save the world AND stop bank robberies, but we even see a few shots of Themyscira Queen Hippolyta (a badass Connie Nielsen), signifying the return of the Amazons. However, there was a lot to love about the trailer: Jason Momoa’s Aquaman is already the coolest Justice League Uncle you could ever want, with Ezra Miller’s Flash fitting nicely into the comic relief role, too, and Ray Fisher’s Cyborg and J.K. Simmons’ Commissioner Gordon also look promising. Superman has yet to show his face after his untimely death, but will surely return, and this trailer gets me super psyched for the characters in this movie; but I’m still unsure about the story, whether it will gel all its elements of Superman’s death, and the creation of the Justice League, together well. Regardless, this trailer still gets me excited for its November release.

Bright:

The two words Netflix and blockbuster might not seem like they fit together but, well, they’ve done everything else, so why not? David Ayer’s new cop-fantasy action epic seems unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, as Will Smith’s human police officer Daryl and Joel Edgerton’s Orc cop Nick must work together to find a powerful weapon that’s causing havoc in their already divided town. Looking both dark and darkly funny, with a lot of interesting and innovative fantasy elements in the middle, Bright could just be the return to form that both Smith and Ayer need, but beyond that, I’m hoping it signals a return for Tolkien-esque fantasy and more interesting takes on the genre.

Stranger Things Season 2:

Stranger Things was one of my favourite shows of last year, and possibly all time, so when the Super Bowl teaser came out earlier this year, it quickly became my most highly anticipated show of the year. This first full trailer offered up more than we could have dreamed: more 80s, with Ghostbusters costumes, arcades, and a sweet Thriller soundtrack; more horror, with Will still reeling from the effects of the upside down and some scary-as-hell monsters looming in the sky; more Hopper, who I can’t wait to catch up with, and more Nancy, Steve and Johnathon, and all of the little stories that make this world so fascinating. Of course, there’s also a massive tease for the return of Eleven at the end, as she reaches her hand out into the real world; her appearance may have been brief, but it was all I needed to make me hope she’s in much more of the show than just one scene. Is it October yet?

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

How do I love Kingsman? Let me count the ways. Kingsman is one of my favourite movies ever, especially of the last few years, and I’ve been following the casting announcements, stills and trailers like a hawk, trying to pick out any new information that I can find. Though the original fifteen second trailer will always be my favourite, this new trailer is awesome because it gives us our first new look at our villainous Julianne Moore; we still know so little about her, but just from the small taste we get you can sense the psycho that she is. The trailer is full of its usual stylised violence and action, but also features a heavy Brits v. Americans vibe, which will most certainly give the film much of its humour. It gives us a great tease for all our new characters, too; not just Channing Tatum’s highly publicized role as Agent Tequila, but also Pedro Pascal’s cowboy Agent Whiskey, Halle Berry’s techy Ginger, Jeff Bridges’ Agent Champagne, and the returning cast we love so much from the first. Of course, Taron Egerton is still front and centre in a dashing orange suit, but I must ask: if the tailor shop is destroyed in the trailer, where do they get all these fine suits from? Guess we’ll have to watch and find out.

Ready Player One:

It’s Steven Spielberg’s long-awaited adaptation of Ernest Cline’s ground-breaking novel, but here’s an unpopular opinion: was it just me, or is the teaser for Ready Player One kind of generic? Though I haven’t read the book, I’ve heard and read a lot about it, and it sounds like this big pop culture epic with a lot of personality, fun and heart; this teaser, on the other hand, reminds me of TRON: Legacy, and several recent YA dystopian flops, just monochrome fighting teenagers in weird outfits and hopeful young actors trying their best. I know it’s from the genius of Spielberg, whom I DO trust, and it IS just a teaser, so there is still hope. But does this teaser get me excited to enter this VR world? Not really.

Blade Runner 2049:

The original Blade Runner is still one of my (and many people’s) favourite sci-fi films, and when I heard there would be a sequel, of course I was ready to cry foul; however, almost every piece of information we’ve seen so far has made me excited. Denis Villeneuve directing? Check. Harrison Ford returning? Check. Ryan Gosling in the lead? CHECK. I’m ready. And though this new trailer features a LOT of Jared Leto and some very cheesy dialogue, I can’t help but get excited; Villeneuve is exploring some really interesting ideas that aren’t just re-treading Ridley Scott’s original, the visuals are fantastic and expansive, and Ryan Gosling is really taking charge of the film, signifying that this will be more than just a fan service sequel.

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from IMDB.com:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3501632/mediaviewer/rm1413491712
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0974015/mediaviewer/rm340274176
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1856101/mediaviewer/rm4281940480

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Movie Snacks: A Definitive Guide

I am a snacker. I like to snack when I study, read, travel, and, most importantly, when I watch movies. Sometimes I want to go to the movies just because I’m craving good popcorn. Of course, not every movie snack is created equal, and most of the time, theatre-bought snacks are very expensive, but they are still an essential element of movie-going. So, below I have created a guide for every occasion at the movies, once and for all deciding which snacks are the Best of the Best:

Popcorn (AKA The Classic):
Popcorn has been a staple of movie theatres since the 1920s, when silent films became talkies and going to the theatre was much more of a crowd experience than an outing for the wealthy, and has become synonymous with the cinema since. Despite being the best, and most iconic, choice, popcorn is often really expensive to buy from the big chain movie theatres, and they usually bulk it up with so much salt and butter that you need a drink, too. I tend only to buy popcorn at my local or smaller cinemas, where tickets are cheap enough that food is affordable (and those cinemas, like my local, tend to make THE BEST popcorn, too!). But sometimes movies just aren’t right without a fistful of popcorn.
Pair with: Popcorn is great on its own, but reaches next level greatness when paired with almost any chocolate (see below).

Maltesers (AKA The Whiplash Trick):
Though MnMs are superior on a day-to-day scale, Maltesers are the best chocolate to eat at the movies because they pair best with popcorn. Recently made infamous by the film Whiplash, I’ve been pouring my Maltesers into my popcorn bucket since before I was in high school, but apparently this isn’t a common thing? Get it together, people! Consider this a Public Service Announcement: popcorn salt and butter on a Malteser is a heavenly combination, and once you try it, you’ll be wishing you’d known about it sooner. Plus, they’re pretty great on their own.
Pair with: Popcorn, for the ultimate experience.

Sour Patch Kids (AKA The ‘Only At The Movies’ Treat):
For all the lollies you could eat at the movies, these are the best choice because I tend to only buy them when I’m going to the movies. When I was a kid, the cinema would always advertise the candy bar with the slogan ‘no one can see you in the dark’, so when else do you have the opportunity to eat a whole bag of sour patch kids in public? You’d probably never want to do it anywhere else; just go for it.
Pair with: A drink, because God knows you’ll need one.

Choc Top (AKA The Old Favourite):
I don’t know if everyone around the world has these, but choc tops are a quintessential part of Australian cinema-going. It’s just a pre-packed ice cream cone with a hard chocolate coating, but what makes it so special is that you can really only buy them at the movies (the best ones, at least). Plus, one of the best parts is that sometimes you can forget they exist, and your first choc top after a few years without is like returning home.
Pair with: I was at the movies once and saw this unbelievable trick: a guy dipped his choc top IN HIS POPCORN. Ice cream and popcorn. This man deserves a Nobel Prize. I am yet to try it, but that’s some next level snacking.

Drinks at the Movies (AKA Tough Choice):
Though most will insist on giant soft drinks from the candy bar, many other drinks offer a variety of different movie-going experiences. Coffee (hot or otherwise) is always an interesting idea when seeing a slower movie (AKA How I Sat Through The Revenant), and if your local cinema offers cups of tea, I highly recommend ordering one at least once for a cosier viewing. And for fancier sessions, like deluxe sessions or one-off screenings, never say no if they offer you drinks on arrival (unless you’re underage, of course). Champagne at the movies is the closest I’ll ever get to feeling like royalty.

What are your favourite movie snacks? Is there anything I need to try? Let me know in the comments!

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Top Five: Matthew Vaughn

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There are many directors I admire – Steven Spielberg, Denis Villeneuve, Ridley Scott – but probably my absolute favourite is Matthew Vaughn. Though not quite so prolific as the aforementioned names, Matthew Vaughn has been a strong stylistic voice on the scene since the 90s, forming a strong relationship with Guy Ritchie as a recurring producer before forging his own path as a director. I’ve seen all of his films, which isn’t exactly a mean feat – there’s only five of them – but each of them have a very individual genre and tone, whilst still obviously part of one filmmaker’s specific canon. From fairy-tales to crime films, superheroes and spies, all of Matthew Vaughn’s might be adaptations of graphic novels or books; but all have such a creative take on the source material and genre features that it feels like specifically his vision, which is why I love them so much. You never know what he’s going to take on next.

Except we do: his next film is a sequel to his most recent outing, Kingsman: The Secret Service, but even his interviews on the film suggest an entirely different film, focusing on Americana as a theme rather than class relations. So, as an appreciation post for one of my favourite filmmakers, as well as a channel for my excitement for his next film, here is my top five favourite films directed by Matthew Vaughn (in order of release):

  1. Layer Cake (2004) (AKA His First):

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Layer Cake was Vaughn’s directorial debut, establishing a style which really put him on the map: a hyper-violent, oh-so-cool London lad film about a middle man on the drug-ring scene, played by Daniel Craig, who is just about to retire comfortably when his last job gets very messy. Layer Cake allowed Vaughn to showcase his filmic roots in a film that, while reflecting his collaboration with Guy Ritchie, with its brash British characters and gritty tone, was inventive in that it placed entirely new characters in a crime film, such as the middle class XXXX (Daniel Craig’s character in the film is unnamed, which is so much fun). Whilst not my favourite Matthew Vaughn movie (crime movies are not my forte), the large, brilliant cast, including Sienna Miller, George Harris and Michael Gambon, highlights the faith the film industry had in this first time director.

  1. Stardust (2007) (AKA My Guilty Pleasure)

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Maybe it’s the pre-Daredevil Charlie Cox with pirate hair, or a campy Robert De Niro, a long-haired Mark Strong, or just a love of fairy-tales, but Stardust is one of my absolute favourite films, and very high on the list of Vaughn films for me. Adapted from the Neil Gaiman book of the same name, Stardust is about a poor boy named Tristan (Charlie Cox) from the small town of Wall who, in order to win the affection of his crush Victoria (Sienna Miller), ventures over the fence into a magical neighbouring town to collect a fallen star, who appears in the form of Yvaine (Claire Danes). As they trek back home, they encounter all sorts of obstacles and villains, such as Prince Septimus (Mark Strong) and the witch Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer), and new friends too, and it’s all narrated so wonderfully by Ian McKellen that I can’t help but be enchanted every time. Even though it’s ridiculously cheesy and very camp, I fall in love every time I watch it; it’s full of great little cameos, fun scenes, and an incredibly heart-warming will-they-won’t-they love story, and you can really see the world-building that both Gaiman and Vaughn have contributed to, since the fairy-tale itself stands up quite well. It may be Vaughn’s least-known movie, but it holds a special place in my heart.

  1. Kick-Ass (2010) (AKA Everyone’s Favourite)

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When I was in high school, my friends would not shut up about Kick-Ass! And when I finally watched it, many years too late, I completely realised why: it does what Matthew Vaughn does best by taking genre tropes, in this case superhero tropes, and uses them lovingly, whilst also making them baudy and sending them up. In this case, bored, comic-reading teenager Dave Lizewski (a fresh-faced Aaron Taylor-Johnson) decides to become the superhero Kick-Ass after a car accident leaves him with the inability to feel pain, catching the attention of crime boss Frank D’Amico (a barely recognisable Mark Strong) and two other superheroes, daddy-daughter duo Big Daddy and Hit-Girl (Nicolas Cage and Chloe Moretz). It’s big, and bold, and incredibly funny, creating careers for Taylor-Johnson and Moretz as well as revitalising Cage’s, and in the beginning of an age of superhero films, it managed to be a precursor to the lower budget superhero movies that are making a comeback (Chronicle, even Deadpool), focusing on story and characters instead of meeting marks. Its sequel might not hold up, but that’s not directed by Vaughn, and Kick-Ass works so well on its own.

  1. X-Men: First Class (2011) (AKA My First)

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Even my favourite X-Men film is a Matthew Vaughn movie! X-Men: First Class not only started my love of Matthew Vaughn movies, but it started my love and interest of the X-Men franchise, and superhero movies as a whole genre. This prequel to the original X-trilogy, which sees a young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) discovering their powers and meeting for the first time in the 1960s, is very much a departure from his regular, almost parody-like genre films, but is still so reflective of his own visual tone – strong 60s style, star-studded cast (albeit American this time), and a story that focuses on the characters’ relationships, not their battle scenes. Though he’d firs been tapped to direct X-Men: The Last Stand, no-one could have saved that sinking ship, and First Class was the perfect vehicle that allowed Vaughn to work on even bigger projects, like his next one, which is my absolute favourite.

  1. Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015) (AKA My Love)

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There is not a single thing I don’t like about this movie. For those of you reading this who have ever suffered a conversation with me about this film, please forgive me, but this is the part where I sing the praises of one of my favourite movies ever. A classic tale of working class man becomes upper class gentleman, Kingsman tells the story of Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin (Taron Egerton), a young man who is taken under the wing of gentleman spy Harry Hart (Colin Firth) and joins the secret spy agency Kingsman, just as tech billionaire Richmond Valentine (a lispy Samuel L. Jackson), whose radical environmental beliefs are much, much more sinister than they seem, sets his plan into action. Kingsman pays homage to the over-the-top classic spy movies of the 60s with its larger than life villain, crazy technology and gentlemanly affairs, whilst also forging its own path entirely, using its filthy humour, outrageous violence and great mixture of talented veterans and exciting newcomers to set itself apart and make it one of the most loved and successful films of 2015, especially for a heavily rated film. I love the cast; I love the soundtrack; I love the themes; the story, the humour, and even the gory action. It is peak Matthew Vaughn, and I love it.

If you haven’t seen a Matthew Vaughn film, please do! I would recommend any of these films feverishly, because, if nothing else, you’re going to have a seriously fun two hours. And if you’ve seen these films, tell me what your favourite is in the comments!

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from IMDB.com:
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0891216/mediaviewer/rm209816832
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0375912/mediaviewer/rm414679296
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0486655/mediaviewer/rm1031900416
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1250777/mediaviewer/rm2146077952
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1270798/mediaviewer/rm3898784000
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2802144/mediaviewer/rm80084992

Two Years of In Film, As In Life!


Two years ago, I was a first year university student with no idea. With very little background knowledge and no idea how to achieve it, I dreamed of being a film critic, driven by my passion for film and my keen interest in reading about them. So when my best friend told me about how she’d started a blog, I thought, I could do that! And thus, my passion project and love for the last two years was started in the form of In Film, As In Life.

In Film, As In Life changed my own life from then: it inspired me to watch more films, both in cinema and on DVD; it allowed me to develop my own opinions and ideas about movies, and taught me how to express them; it also encouraged me to have faith in my own opinions about film (just because someone disagrees with you, doesn’t mean you’re wrong). It even gave me the opportunity to do internships with magazines I admire and love; I even got to write for Empire Magazine, my original inspiration for becoming a film critic, and I’m still working for FilmInk, a movie magazine which pushes my love of indie cinema. And don’t get me wrong, not all of my reviews of been perfect or flawless or even well-written – I cringe reading back my older reviews – but it’s all been a learning process, and boy, have I learned a few things. 

But one of the most surprising things I’ve learned is that some people actually read my reviews, people I know, and people I don’t. I would do this even if nobody was reading (and not many people, if any at all, were reading for a very long time), but one of the wonderful things this blog has allowed me to do is interact with people who love movies just as much as I do. I feel a sense of pride every time I press post on a new review, but that’s nothing in comparison to the excitement I get reading comments and interacting with this community. So to all you readers out there, thank you. 

While I’m here, I may as well thank a few more people (since this is already a very indulgent personal post): thank you to everyone who reads these posts, I love hearing your thoughts and talking to you about my favourite things. Thank you to my friends who put up with my writer’s block, who read through my reviews and help me keep going. Thank you to my family, who have always given me constructive criticism and pushed me to do my best, and thank you to all of my friends who go to the movies with me; you make every cinema trip so much more fun. 

But the most important acknowledgement here is all the movies I’ve seen over the last two years. This website has inspired me to watch as many things as I can, and I have seen well over a hundred films in the last two years at the movies alone, and infinitely more DVDs. While not all of those movies have been good, I have enjoyed going to see each and every one, all for different reasons. Some made me laugh, many made me cry, a lot made me think, and they were all such different viewing experiences that they were all worth the money (sometimes, my mum makes me tally up how much money I’ve spent on DVDs or movie tickets; I’m always more impressed than depressed). 

So to celebrate the last two wonderful, fascinating, exciting years, I want to share with you my five favourite movie-related experiences from the last two years: they may not have all been 5 star films, but I had the most amazing time. So here is my celebratory top five:

1. Mad Max: Fury Road – In Conversation
After the phenomenon that was Mad Max: Fury Road, my friends and I scored tickets to a panel with George Miller, Brendan McCarthy and Nico Lathouris, who shared concept art, videos and storyboards of the mind-blowing film. It was so interesting to get their insight into the deep themes of the film; an action blockbuster on the surface, the feminist themes and human values were fascinating in discussion with some of Hollywood’s most successful filmmakers. 

2. The Chinese Theatre in Hollywood

In 2015 I was lucky enough to be able to visit the US and spend a fabulous day in Hollywood, soaking in the sunshine and the history of Tinseltown. I saw the Dolby Theatre and all its Oscar history (they have columns engraved with the names of each of the Best Picture winners dating back to the 1920s!!); I got to see some of my favourite names, Julie Andrews and Harrison Ford on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; and then got to measure my hands against my heroes at the TCL Chinese Theatre. Tom Hanks, RDJ, Gregory Peck, Marilyn Monroe, and the brilliant Robin Williams, it was a pretty inspiring place, topped off with lunch at the Hard Rock. It was only one day, but it made the whole trip. 

3. Star Wars: the Force Awakens, in Midnight Release

For the first Star Wars release in over ten years, my friends and I ventured to our local cinema to bask in the neediness and fandom that is a Star Wars midnight release. The adrenaline was pumping late at night, the lines were full of people dressed as stormtroopers, Jedi and Darth Vader, and even with all that coolness, nothing compared to the excitement of seeing that opening crawl for the very first time. A perfect night for a great film. 

4. Spotlight and Deadpool: Double Movie Day 

With my great movie friend Sam, we embarked on a mission of epic proportions: two movies, one amazing day. We started with Spotlight early in the morning, and its deep, emotional themes moved us before we got to cleanse our palettes with one of the biggest comedies of 2016 – Deadpool. They were surprisingly complimentary films, one to make you think and one to follow as an upper, and we’ve been trying to one-up ourselves ever since. 

5. The Founder – My First Press Screening 

My first glamorous introduction into the wonderful world of film criticism, I ventured into the city to see Michael Keaton’s the Founder in a private screening. Signing embargoes, checking my phone at the door; my friend Marina and I drank in the corporate atmosphere before walking all the way back to the office (a longer walk than imaginable), stopping only for dumplings on the way. 

Happy Two Years for In Film, As In Life, and here’s to many more! 

Talk soon, 

Jessica x

My 100th Blog Post!!!

100 posts! It’s hard to believe I’ve written so many posts, but then again, it feels like a thousand. This blog began as an outlet for me to be able to share my work with my friends, and eventually, the world; to think I’ve complained about, criticised, and praised so many different films, shared so many of my opinions and thoughts on movies, and spent so much time working on all of these different posts is astonishing. But the craziest part is that they actually get read by people, so to whomever it is that’s out there reading this, thank you. I truly appreciate it.

But to be honest, I would still do this without people reading it, and I did for a long time, too, and that’s because I really love movies, and I really love this blog. I think about both of them every day, constantly, prattle on about them to whoever will listen, and don’t think I will ever stop doing that.

With the two year anniversary of this blog coming up (two years! I can’t believe it), I thought I’d save the big memory-fest for that post instead, so for my 100th blog post I thought I’d focus on my two big loves, movies and lists. Two commemorate my 100th blog post, here is my top ten favourite films of all time:

(Disclaimer: I have dozens of favourite films. I’d challenge anyone to pick the one favourite movie of all time they have. This top ten focuses mainly on the important stuff, like making me feel all good inside, re-watchability, memories and favourite characters. Okay. Enjoy!)

  1. Kingsman: The Secret Service
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    It’s a newer film, but when it came out I saw it three times in the cinemas. I bought it for my birthday, and watched it on my birthday. I just love it. Following a gentleman spy named Harry Hart (Colin Firth) who takes a working class man, Eggsy (Taron Egerton), under his wing, Kingsman has heaps of humour, action and great performances that never fail to make me smile and make a bad day good again.
  2. The Holiday
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    The Holiday is one of my absolute favourite Kate Winslet movies, and certainly one of my favourite movies of all time, about a Hollywood editor and a newspaper reporter who swap homes for the holidays after their love-lives get turned upside down. It sounds cheesy, and it is, which is why I don’t particularly like Cameron Diaz’s character in it, but everyone else is fantastic: Kate Winslet and Jack Black have such wonderful, sweet and comedic chemistry together, and Jude Law is wonderful romantic and heartfelt. And my favourite character, Arthur (played by the brilliant Eli Wallach), a retired Hollywood screenwriter, provides some moments and quotes that get me every time, reminding us to be the leading character in our own lives.
  3. Aladdin
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    A Disney classic, Aladdin captures my heart for two reasons. The first is because he is the most relatable character; he’s not royalty, but he’s in love, and he doesn’t feel like he’s good enough for the person he’s in love with or the things that he wants. He only figures out that the best way to connect with Jasmine is being himself through the Genie, which is the second reason I love this movie. Robin Williams is an icon to me, I love everything he did, and the Genie is probably his most Robin Williams role ever, so full of life and pop culture and fun, that re-watching Aladdin is like sitting down with an old friend.
  4. The Princess Bride
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    “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” The Princess Bride is one of those movies that is so memorable and quotable, that you feel like you’ve seen it a hundred times when you’ve only seen it a few, but in the best possible way. The story of Buttercup, Wesley and their friends is so dear to me because it has everything a movie could want: it’s a romance and an action film, with the quirkiest, most lovable sense of humour I’ve ever encountered, so much so that the framing device of the grandfather reading the story to his grandson is actually one of my favourite parts of the movie. The Princess Bride is one of my “Twoo wuv”s of cinema.
  5. Toy Story 2
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    One of the strongest memories I have from my childhood is the Toy Story 2 PC game. There was checkers with Woody’s critters, a luggage jumping game, and a Frogger-esque game where you had to navigate Buzz and co. across the highway. When watching the movie, however, my nostalgia changes: Toy Story 2’s ideas of leaving our toys behind and growing up hits me so hard every time, I cry just hearing the song from Jessie’s flashback. But it also has so many jokes, like Empire Strikes Back references galore and toy store jokes, and it’s just such a wonderful, well-rounded, heartfelt sequel that really elevates the franchise and makes you feel everything.
  6. X-Men: First Class
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    This movie is actually one of the first movies that really made me passionate about movies. The X-Men franchise is one of my favourite series, and First Class, directed by my favourite director Matthew Vaughn, is one of the best X-movies, a great combination of fantastic cast, sharp story and quick action. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender give Charles and Erik such an interesting relationship, and Vaughn really makes use of his talented cast and setting, giving it depth but also having fun with it. Of all superhero movies, this is the one I love the most.
  7. Roman Holiday
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    I haven’t seen very many, but I love classic movies, and I love Audrey Hepburn movies best of all. Roman Holiday was her first headlining role as Princess Ann, a bored Royal visiting Rome who escapes from palace life for the day with Joe Bradley, an American journalist played by Gregory Peck. Even though it’s in black and white, Rome absolutely shines in this charming film about friendship and duty, and the chemistry between Hepburn and Peck (and, indeed, Eddie Albert, who third wheels as Joe’s photographer friend Irving for most of the film) is delightful, with a beautiful score serenading them on top. But despite all it’s brilliance, Audrey Hepburn is still the best part, sweet and funny and heartbreaking, and it’s her Oscar winning role. Roman Holiday makes any day better.
  8. Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
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    I grew up on three movie series: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Pirates of the Caribbbean. The first two series make up the next two slots, but one of my favourite movies of all time is Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. I always loved the sword-fighting and swashbuckling, Geoffrey Rush scared the hell out of me as a kid, and I was so in love with Orlando Bloom as a child (is that creepy? You decide). But rewatching it as an adult, the film has a really enjoyable and original story, awesome action, and such lovable characters, with Johnny Depp’s iconic staggering Jack Sparrow and great chemistry between Bloom and Keira Knightley. I am well overdue for a re-watch of this movie, but I will always love it.
  9. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
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    All three original Indiana Jones films (we don’t talk about the fourth) are masterpieces, but of the three, The Last Crusade has always been my favourite. I don’t know why young me chose to love the one with the snakes and rats, but that must speak volumes about the tight story and great relationship between Indy and his dad (my favourite Sean Connery role), that I would overlook such horrifying scenes. The Last Crusade was the basis for my love of Ancient History, and of Harrison Ford, who is more iconic as Indiana than Han for me, and the fun action and story always makes me to watch it whenever it’s on TV, which is often.
  10. Star Wars – Episode IV: A New Hope
    stanh1
    Last year I did a whole series of reviews of each Star Wars movie, and every time I re-watch the series, A New Hope is by far my favourite. There’s something about Lucas building his world for the first time that always captures my imagination: Old Ben is telling Luke stories about the Old Republic, the trash compacter scene, Leia’s classic one-liners, Han shooting first in the Cantina… I could go on and on about how much I love A New Hope, because there isn’t a scene I don’t love, a line I can’t quote, a character that doesn’t excite me. The Empire Strikes Back may be perfect, but A New Hope is perfect to me.

There are so many movies I had to leave off this list that I could honestly write about another twenty films and still be nowhere near done, but the movies listed above are a quintessential list of films that never fail to brighten my day and get me excited.

What are some of your favourite movies? Let me know in the comments, and if I haven’t seen them, they’ll be next on my watchlist!

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from IMDB.com:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2802144/mediaviewer/rm214302720
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0457939/mediaviewer/rm3696138496
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103639/mediaviewer/rm175432960
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093779/mediaviewer/rm3834676224
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120363/mediaviewer/rm4046227712
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1270798/mediaviewer/rm3898784000
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046250/mediaviewer/rm4016740352
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0325980/mediaviewer/rm1788653568
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097576/mediaviewer/rm1920519168
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076759/mediaviewer/rm3707241984

2017 Oscar Predictions

It’s Hollywood’s biggest and shiniest night, where the industry gets together to celebrate the year in film and young up-and-comers get to rub shoulders with living legends. To many, the Oscars may seem a superficial evening about fashion, but it really is a great night for film, a recognition of all the great achievements made in movies that year.

This year’s Academy Awards are anything but a lock: with this show coming so late in the awards season, many nominees are gaining momentum whilst some are running out of steam, which means that anything can happen on Hollywood’s night of nights. La La Land might be sweeping awards at the other big shows, but does it have what it takes to win Best Picture?

Need some help for your Oscars pool? I’ve got you covered, as I break down the biggest contenders for the biggest categories below:

Best Director:

o3

Who Will Win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
This one is pretty much a lock, with Chazelle winning Best Director at all of the major awards shows (Golden Globes, BAFTAs and the Director’s Guild Awards). La La Land is such a beautifully directed film that it most certainly deserves this win: Chazelle combines such a vibrant colour palette with a very agile directorial style that instils such life into his film, along with his two spirited leads, of course. He may only be a young director, but La La Land is truly beautiful.

Who Could Steal: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight and Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester By The Sea

My Personal Favourite: Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

Best Supporting Actor:

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Who Will Win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Of the three major awards, there have been three separate winners: Ali won the SAG Award, Dev Patel won the BAFTA, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson won the Golden Globe. Since Taylor-Johnson isn’t even nominated, and Lion as a film doesn’t quite have the momentum in the United States, Ali is the best choice, especially since he won the SAG specifically, the voting body of which has the largest cross-over with the Academy. That being said, Ali gives a fantastic performance as Juan, a rock for Little in a world out to get him, bringing some intensity and a little bit of light to a deep film.

Who Could Steal: Dev Patel, Lion

My Personal Favourite: Lucas Hedges, Manchester By The Sea

Best Supporting Actress:

o1

Who Will Win: Viola Davis, Fences
I haven’t even seen this film yet and I know she’s going to win. Every other nominee is strong in this category, and certainly worthy of a win, but Viola looks like a tour de force from the clips, stills and trailers I’ve seen; she’s also won every single award in this category, and as a 3 time nominee, this brilliant actress deserves to finally get an Oscar.

Who Could Steal: Naomie Harris, Moonlight

My Personal Favourite: Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

Best Original Screenplay:

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Who Will Win: Manchester By The Sea
For all its magnificence, La La Land’s screenplay doesn’t deserve to win Best Screenplay. And while part of me wants to see a more underrated film win the Oscar, like The Lobster or Hell or High Water, Manchester is your best bet, a tumultuous screenplay that takes you through all the emotions of grief, family life and growing up.

Who Could Steal: La La Land

My Personal Favourite: Manchester By The Sea

Best Animated Feature Film:

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Who Will Win: Zootopia
The animated category is so strong this year! But it will ultimately go to Zootopia, whose hilarious humour, cute animals, and surprising social message makes it a really wonderful movie for both adults and kids.

Who Could Steal: Moana, Kubo and the Two Strings

My Personal Favourite: Kubo and the Two Strings

Best Adapted Screenplay:

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Who Will Win: Moonlight
This race is so tough, because all of these films could potentially win. But I’m going to choose Moonlight, which has so much momentum for all the right reasons: Barry Jenkin’s sparing screenplay says so much between the lines, and works so well with the cast it employs, that it just has to win.

Who Could Steal: Fences, Arrival, Lion and Hidden Figures

My Personal Favourite: Arrival

Best Actor:

o7

Who Will Win: Denzel Washington, Fences
This was such a tight race early on in the season, with Ryan Gosling and Casey Affleck taking out the Golden Globe in each of their respective comedy and drama categories, but when Denzel Washington won the SAG Award, that tipped the scale. Since the Screen Actors Guild and the Academy have the largest crossover in their voting bodies, Denzel’s masterclass of acting in Fences is most likely to take the top honour.

Who Could Steal: Casey Affleck, Manchester By The Sea OR Ryan Gosling, La La Land

My Personal Favourite: Ryan Gosling, La La Land

Best Actress:

o2

Who Will Win: Emma Stone, La La Land
She’s not a lock, but she’s won pretty much every other award out there, so… Her performance might not be a traditional Oscar winning performance, such as Natalie Portman’s Jackie, but she does so much in this movie, singing, dancing, and she does add a layer of emotion and reality that goes beyond what another actress could do. She’s been so consistently good the last few years that now is her time.

Who Could Steal: Natalie Portman, Jackie or Isabelle Huppert, Elle

My Personal Favourite: Emma Stone, La La Land

Best Picture:

o4

Who Will Win: La La Land
After much consideration, La La Land is the most likely to win. It’s about Hollywood, which the Academy loves, it’s from a young director, it’s a musical, it has the most momentum – but just because everyone is raving about it, doesn’t mean it’s not worthy. Popular certainly doesn’t mean bad, and La La Land is wonderful, so vibrant and sweet, and even emotional. Damien Chazelle has wanted to make this film for so long (he only made Whiplash to get the attention he’d need to make La La Land), and such a passion project deserves recognition.

Who Could Steal: Moonlight
Well, anything could steal, especially Manchester or Fences, but Moonlight is so close to La La Land in this race. It also has a young newcomer as director, and it has a very important story, told brilliantly too. An indie like this taking the big prize would be wonderful, but can it beat La La Land? We’ll see this weekend.

My Personal Favourite: All of them!
Of the 6/9 films I’ve seen that are nominated, I really do love all of them. They all tell such wonderful stories and get under our skin about what it means to be human, about success and grief and passion, and it’s wonderful that the Best Picture category is so good this year. No matter who wins, as long as more people see these brilliant films, then I’ll be happy.

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from IMDb.com:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2671706/mediaviewer/rm2828352000
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3783958/mediaviewer/rm3547926272
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3783958/mediaviewer/rm4031906048
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3783958/mediaviewer/rm1388644608
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4975722/mediaviewer/rm4235464448
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4975722/mediaviewer/rm1342439424
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2671706/mediaviewer/rm2811574784
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4034228/mediaviewer/rm2729261568
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2948356/mediaviewer/rm3025811968

Why We Need Less Sequels and More Original Films

 

Oh, the sequel. Nothing has ever proven to be so popular at the box office like a sequel. Except the franchise. Or the book or comic book adaptation. Or even a reboot.

Anything other than an actually original film.

This year alone, I have seen 31 films (already tying my full-year effort of last year, I might add). Some were outstanding (see my earlier list of my Top Five Favourite Films of the Year So Far), some not so great, but there’s one thing I’ve noticed. Of the 31 movies, there were:

  • 7 sequels
  • 10 adaptations
  • 1 reboot, and
  • 3 films based on a true story.

Leaving only 10 films – Sisters, the Good Dinosaur, Dirty Grandpa, How to be Single, Hail, Caesar!, Grimsby, Zootopia, Central Intelligence, Bad Moms, and Kubo and the Two Strings – as original films that I’ve seen this year. Obviously, I haven’t seen every film that was released this year so far, but for as many other original films that I know have come out (Hateful 8, Secret Life of Pets), there are just as many sequels and adaptations I haven’t seen (Warcraft, Zoolander No. 2).

Why, though? Why, in a world full of possibilities, of new stories just waiting to be told, are we given so many sequels, adaptations and reboots? I mean, sure, some sequels can be great (the Godfather Part II and 22 Jump Street), and some original films are less than stellar (like most comedies released this year, like Dirty Grandpa, even Grimsby), but why make a third sequel to a film that sucked to begin with, or badly adapt a well-loved book, when you can make something new?

The most obvious answer is also the worst: money. In the cynical, cash-grab environment that is modern day Hollywood, sequels are almost always a sure-thing to turn a profit because they come with ready-made branding. A sequel plays off of its predecessor’s popularity; an adaptation will have the loyal following of the fans of the book/comic book/game, and a reboot garners interest through the possibilities of taking a well-loved film and doing something new and exciting for the fans to love. Of course, this has often been done with great success: The Lord of the Rings trilogy is both essential fan viewing and a critical success, with the combined Trilogy boasting more Oscars than any other film. But it also has its downfalls, with some recent reboots failing on all fronts, like 1998’s remake of Psycho proving absolutely pointless and the 2015 Fantastic Four reboot receiving even less success than its goofy forbearers. Films like these won’t suffer too much damage from a weak script, or even a lack of story, because they capitalise on the sentimental audience, who might be too excited to see their favourite characters realised on screen to worry about what they’re actually doing.

Outliers aside, sequels, reboots and adaptations are almost guaranteed to turn a profit, and a big one at that – of the 26 films to have made over $1 billion dollars worldwide, only four are original films. This is when Hollywood places their faith in the international market; after all, a film can only make so much money in the US. Take, for example, the recent Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the seventh instalment of the franchise, ranked as the third-highest grossing film of all time: according to Box Office Mojo, it grossed $936.7 million dollars in the US, which is still an unbelievable amount of money, but international territories earned it another $1.132 billion dollars, taking its total to $2.068 billion. So why would Hollywood bother making new films for its domestic market, when all its money is made internationally with known material?

And even when money isn’t the most obvious pursuit, winning awards might come a close second. Of the 8 nominees for Best Picture at the 88th Academy Awards this year, only one, Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies, was an original story, the rest either being sequels, adaptations, or ‘based on a true story’, which I include here as non-original (it’s more similar to an adaptation than an original story). And, of the sixteen awards presented at that ceremony, only six were awarded to original films (documentaries not included).

Yet, despite everything stated above, sequels aren’t all bad. Apart from the fact that some of the greatest films of all time are sequels, reboots or adaptations – Toy Story 2 and 3, the Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Knight, the Harry Potter series, The Lord of the Rings, Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Kahn, I could go on forever – they are a continuation of a story, giving fans more to love and discuss and theorise over. Sometimes they take average films and make them a great series (see Captain America: the First Avenger to Winter Soldier and Civil War); sometimes they take a great film and make it an even better series (Alien to Aliens). And, since they make up the bulk of our viewing material these days, at least we’re getting some solid entries.

Except we haven’t really, not this year at least. Despite the fact that we’ve gotten so many sequels this year, none of them have been anything to write home about: the only one particularly worth anything to me was Captain America: Civil War, which took our favourite characters to new heights with a political thriller that also had a lot of fun. This American summer season has been so lacklustre, with some sequels proving better than expected (Ghostbusters did alright, hey, Internet?), some adaptations not quite meeting expectations (Me Before You needed to be so much more), and a franchise or two causing way too much controversy than deserved (whilst enjoyable, Suicide Squad was a mess). Hollywood is so obsessed with packing the season full of crowd pleasing films, they’ve forgotten what the true crowd pleaser is: quality. In truth, the only summer movies that really wowed me were Captain America, Hunt for the Wilderpeople (technically an adaptation, but infused with a lot of Taika Waititiness) and Kubo and the Two Strings, the best original film of the year.

Which is why the original film should never be overlooked. Original storytelling is the foundation of the film industry as we know it today: we wouldn’t have six Star Wars sequels or prequels without George Lucas’ initial idea for such an original universe. We wouldn’t even have the concept of a “summer blockbuster” without Steven Spielberg’s pioneering original blockbuster Jaws. Without the original film, Hollywood will just keep folding in on itself, just like in Back to the Future 2 – the reality of Jaws 19 isn’t so far away, unfortunately. And if great sequels feel like a thing of the past, you’re very much mistaken: Pixar’s best films are their original ones (think Wall-E, Inside Out, Up, all of which will never warrant a sequel), and we’ve still got great filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, The Coen Brothers, Jeff Nichols, Alex Garland and Taika Waititi, just to name a few, who are always going to be a source for great original stories.

And even still, some of the most original films of the last two years are actually adaptations and sequels. What makes a film original doesn’t have to be a new story, but can be a new way of approaching an idea, of filmmaking. James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy is based on a comic book series, yet has revitalised the superhero genre with a much needed injection of humour, heart and light; Tim Miller’s Deadpool did the same thing again, poking fun at the superhero construct and giving it a much more crass, dark tone. And films like Star Wars: The Force Awakens are returning us to a Golden Age of filmmaking, where practical effects trump CGI, and a good story beats fan service.

Perhaps what Hollywood needs is not more original films, but more heart. Instead of pumping out hastily made films of a lower standard in order to capitalise on an audience before they lose interest, maybe they should take a few years to figure out how to make a film the audience truly needs, wants, and deserves, whether that’s a high concept original film that engages audiences with new characters and stories, or a brilliant adaptation, sequel or reboot, which does justice to its characters and takes well-known stories and ideas in a new and interesting direction. A great film will find its audience; a bad film will lose its own.

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from IMDb.com:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2294449/mediaviewer/rm3614427136
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0071562/mediaviewer/rm313568256
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3682448/mediaviewer/rm3669030144
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2381111/mediaviewer/rm169733632
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0435761/mediaviewer/rm3038678784
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0468569/mediaviewer/rm1250564096
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0475290/mediaviewer/rm1948968448
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2649554/mediaviewer/rm3459703552
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0470752/mediaviewer/rm3799841536
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4302938/mediaviewer/rm2153911296
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2975590/mediaviewer/rm2302675456

Box-office statistics taken from Box Office Mojo:
http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=starwars7.htm