Alternative Oscars & Cinema 2016

Alternative Oscars & Cinema 2016

The Oscars this week released their highly anticipated nominations to much discussion, but with only a few surprises. To the shock of absolutely nobody, La La Land swept up with Manchester By The Sea shortly behind it. The likes of Fences & Hacksaw Ridge also saw themselves set up nicely.
The Oscars normally select films which have early year release so many of the nominated films did not release in the UK in 2016. With that being said, I’d like to take the time to pick some Alternative Oscar Categories from the 75 films I saw in 2016.

Low Buzz Film That Should Have Been Nominated For Best Picture
Winner: Midnight Special
Nominated: Free State Of Jones, The Infiltrator, Bleed For This, The Fundamentals Of Caring
With enchantment and wonder reminiscent of the equally underappreciated Super 8, Jeff Nichols’ Midnight Special is a clear winner in this category. Its a chase film to get a boy to safety after he exerts mysterious powers. Michael Shannon is terrific.

Comedy Of The Year Which Was Actually Funny
Winner: The Nice Guys
Nominated: Hunt For The Wilderpeople, Hail, Caesar!, Deadpool, War On Everyone
Before he won over the hearts of zillions in La La Land, Ryan Gosling turned out a hilarious turn in The Nice Guys from Shane Black. Gosling and Crowe team up to make an incompetent but oddly endearing cop duo. The 70s have never looked this fun.

Great Film You’ve Never Heard Of
Winner: The Invitation
Nominated: Imperium, Keanu, Morgan, Victoria
The Invitation just wins out ahead of Victoria for me here. There’s so much tension in the air from the first second of The Invitation, which is handy as knives are on hand to cut the tension at the reunion dinner from hell. The trailer promised mayhem and the film rewards those who can withstand hairs on the backs of their palms for 90 minutes before exploding into a truly shocking finale. Go seek it out!

Blockbuster That Got Thumbs Up Critically Too
Winner: Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them
Nominated: The Jungle Book, Doctor Strange, Star Trek Beyond, The Magnificent Seven
Shouts out to every film here, they all did a good job of providing excellent popcorn munching moments but also did a good job of the whole making a decent film thing too.
Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them had so much pressure to follow-up one of the biggest franchise’s ever as a sort of soft-reboot prequel. What it did was magically create New York in the 1920s with so much panache. Redmayne & Fogler were marvellous together.

Live Action Family Film Of The Year
Winner: The BFG
Nominated: Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, Goosebumps, Ghostbusters
Spielberg’s 2016 was spent crafting a live action re-make of one of Roald Dahl’s best books and the film was a lovely success. In particular its British etiquette through-out was fun and Mark Rylance’s broken English was masterful as The BFG.

British Film Of The Year
Winner: High-Rise
Nominated: The Girl With All The Gifts, A Monster Calls, Sing Street
Probably the strongest category of them all, British film had a fantastic year. High-Rise for me was special. This was a novel that took decades in the making to correctly transfer to film. Some said it could never be done with its maddening plot and metaphorical nightmarish scenarios, but Britain’s best Ben Wheatley was clearly up to the challenge.

Film I’m Most Likely To Buy On DVD And Replay Loads
Winner: Sing Street
Nominated: The Hateful Eight, Deadpool, The Edge Of Seventeen, Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them
If you know me, you’ll know I’m a sucker for musical films and Sing Street combined everything cool about being in a band, 80s music and chasing girls into a really honest and funny film. It’s a tremendous watch with lots of life lessons on every watch through.

Surprisingly Garbage
Winner: Suicide Squad
Nominated: The Secret Life Of Pets, X-Men:Apocalypse, Captain America: Civil War, Rogue One
All of these films were built to be really exciting parts of the year and all flopped about like a lousy, lonely Magikarp. Suicide Squad led the disappointments with probably the biggest mis-sell of a film ever on trailer. I have fond memories of the Bohemian Rhapsody trailer being the best thing ever. What a damn shame.

Surprisingly NOT Garbage
Winner: 10 Cloverfield Lane
Nominated: Star Trek Beyond, Deepwater Horizon, The Magnificent Seven, Jason Bourne, War Dogs
All of the nominated films deserve credit for taking the plunge into risky territory and coming up Milhouse. 10 Cloverfield Lane was an interesting one. I hated Cloverfield and throwing the name over this new film was always dangerous. What we got though was a superbly tense, scary and mindboggling experience of the end of the world seen through John Goodman’s bunker. I was thrilled by the end of the madness.

The Skidmark Of Cinema 2016 Award
Winner: Sausage Party
Nominated: Ride Along 2, The 5th Wave, Grimsby, The Legend Of Tarzan, Mechanic: Resurrection, Independence Day: Resurgence
None of these films should have been seen by human eyes. All absolute garbage. Nothing nice to say. What a shame about Independence Day. Sausage Party wins out because unlike the rest I felt something. I felt offended. Never have I been so uncomfortable at the cinema without actual laughs to follow. It was just a disgusting awkward watch.

ACTUAL Film Of The Year
Winner: Arrival
Nominated: High-Rise, Sing Street, Train To Busan, The Invitation, Kubo & The Two Strings, The Accountant, The Jungle Book
Whilst Train To Busan, High-Rise and Sing Street were all higher on my overall list, I think Arrival had many film of the year qualities about it. It had perfect direction, storytelling and acting but also left me feeling stunned, sorrowful and eager to talk to people about it. Its a spectacle and absolutely not the film you think you’re going to get.

And For Good Measure He’s My Rankings For 2016
1. The Revenant
2. Train To Busan
3. Sing Street
4. High-Rise
5. Arrival
6. Spotlight
7. The Invitation
8. Kubo & The Two Strings
9. 10 Cloverfield Lane
10. Moana
11. The Jungle Book
12. Doctor Strange
13. The Accountant
14. Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them
15. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children
16. The BFG
17. Sully: Miracle On The Hudson
18. War Dogs
19. Star Trek Beyond
20. Zootropolis
21. The Big Short
22. Midnight Special
23. The Nice Guys
24. Victoria
25. The Hateful Eight
26. The Girl With All The Gifts
27. A Monster Calls
28. Hunt For The Wilderpeople
29. The Fundamentals Of Caring
30. Ghostbusters
31. Deepwater Horizon
32. Hail, Caesar!
33. Deadpool
34. Bad Moms
35. The Magnificent Seven
36. Hell Or High Water
37. Under The Shadow
38. Green Room
39. Rogue One
40. Nerve
41. Free State Of Jones
42. War On Everyone
43. The Edge Of Seventeen
44. Jason Bourne
45. The Infiltrator
46. Bleed For This
47. Central Intelligence
48. Keanu
49. Captain America: Civil War
50. Trumbo
51. The Purge: Election Year
52. Triple 9
53. Imperium
54. X-Men: Apocalypse
55. Goosebumps
56. Why Him
57. Kung Fu Panda 3
58. Morgan
59. Office Christmas Party
60. Independence Day: Resurgence
61. Inferno
62. Suicide Squad
63. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
64. The Secret Life Of Pets
65. The Angry Birds Movie
66. Dirty Grandpa
67. Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates
68. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
69. The 5th Wave
70. Grimsby
71. The Legend Of Tarzan
72. Batman v Superman
73. Sausage Party
74. Mechanic: Resurrection
75. Ride Along 2


Review: The Hateful Eight

Quentin Tarantino brings us his eighth film to kick off cinema in 2016 with his second Western, The Hateful Eight. The film, which boasts a fantastic ensemble cast led by Samuel L Jackson and Kurt Russell, tells the story of a group snowed in at Minnie’s Haberdashery during a blizzard in a time following the American Civil War. At the centre of this group is a bounty hunter, John Ruth (Russell), bringing the evil and unhinged Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to hang. However, the company at Minnie’s have a fair few secrets and not everybody is who they seem.

I’ll state from the get go that I am part of Tarantino’s cult following, albeit that’s a pretty majority cult following. Therefore when we get a new film from the film-maker, for me it’s event cinema. It’s a matter of needing to go to see the new Quentin film. Based on what I’d seen advertised for The Hateful Eight I was expecting a movie that would fill my Tarantino fix but not change the game. Thankfully for me that’s pretty much what you get.

There is a lot to love here. For one the writing is as usual superb. There’s been much speak of the script’s overuse of racial abuse, a common theme from Django Unchained, but to me it’s a hard truth as I’m sure language and people’s beliefs were as horrid and blunt in the Old West as Tarantino presents them. The story told is one that doesn’t present anything overly original but does put a nice spin on how to portray tension. I think John Carpenter’s The Thing is an easy comparison to make as our group are paranoid and threatening each other through-out. Quentin’s direction was fine and there were many great shots but the film is a bit too long (it does feature an intermission at screenings) featuring some landscape shots early on that might have been avoided. Dialogue is where The Hateful Eight succeeds and I was happy to sit through 33 minutes of set-up for our four main characters before they arrive at Minnie’s.

However the film may be more remembered by great performances over how the story plays out. The action and gratuitous violence is effect-less, the gore fun but again, nothing original.
Whilst not a direct lead, most of the screentime falls upon Major Marquis Warren (Jackson) who is a Civil War veteran turned bounty hunter. He winds up at the Haberdashery and caught in the action due to hitching a ride with Ruth, driver O.B (James Parks) and Daisy. Joining him in hitching a ride is Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) who professes he is the new mayor of Redrock, the town that our company are headed for. At their stop they meet hangman Oswaldo Mowbray (Tim Roth), Cow Puncher John Gage (Michael Madsen), Senior Bob (Damian Bechir) and the old War veteran General Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern). All have their place in the film and have an air of mystery about them, like a Western version of Cluedo.
Jackson does steal the show with a few monologues to rival his work in Pulp Fiction but his character is a bit slimy. Tim Roth works wonders with an overly enthusiastic English accent to give him just an edge of happy dread. Again though, this weirdness makes him a bit slimy. I will say though, despite not being perfect, it was great to see Goggins given so much work and emphasis in a large film as normally he is a backing player with much to hate about all of his characters.
This is one of the issues with the film however. Despite all of them giving fantastic performances, none have sympathy. I wanted honesty and somebody to root for but as madness and chaos unfolded, the only person who’s morals I could trust was the despicable Daisy Domergue – at least I knew from the get go she was evil. It must be said too that Leigh’s performance, which at times is hysterical but at others demented, makes her a very strong contender for best supporting actress at the Oscars.

All in all, The Hateful Eight isn’t special. It’s a decent instalment in a timeless legend’s line of movies. If you’re a fan of Tarantino go and see it, you’ll most likely have a good time at the movies. With the help of Ennio Morricone’s score (because if you’re doing a Western, who else do you want to score your movie) this film is very tense, sometimes in places it doesn’t even need to be. With strong performances all around and some fairly shocking twists, Tarantino has brought a paranoid, deadly bottle episode of sorts to the silver screen in his second, but hopefully final Western.