Category Archives: Oscar nominated film

I, Tonya (2017) Film Review

In 1994, ice skater Nancy Kerrigan was attacked and injured, and it quickly emerged that Tonya Harding and her husband, Jeff Gillooly, were involved. This film tells the story from the fictional perspectives of Tonya (Margot Robbie) and Jeff (Sebastian Stan), with both relatively innocent, or unknowing, or fooled by Jeff’s mate, Shawn (Paul Walter Hauser). It’s a film with ambition, struggle against class and violence in many different ways. And it’s not real.

I enjoyed the film – the performances, the style, the fashion. And what a great true story – only this wasn’t the true story. I don’t think I’ve read as many articles about a film as I did after watching this. The more I read, the more issue I took with the film. I walked out feeling anger at the world which has some people starting so far behind others due to money, or location, or crappy family, or whatever. And then I found that several key scenes in the film, scenes that manipulated my feelings to have some empathy for Tonya and her situation, were totally made up.

Thinking back, I believe the film was pretty open about being a representation of the accounts of Tonya and Jeff, accounts which were inaccurate and, at times, plain lies. Why do I feel so grumpy that I was led astray even as I was told this was happening? I don’t know. I think it is a good film, so long as you don’t actually believe it.

I, Tonya won an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Allison Janney) and was nominated for Best Performance for an Actress in a Leading Role (Margot Robbie) and Best Achievement in Film Editing. It won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Allison Janney) and was nominated for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

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Disaster Artist (2017) Film Review

Have you seen The Room (2003) touted as the worst film ever made? If not, go watch it (fast forward bits if you need to, especially the long and ridiculous sex scenes), then watch this. It is like watching an extended mix of The Room. Which is actually better than it sounds.

Disaster Artist is allegedly the story of how Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) met and formed an unlikely friendship with the mysterious and increasingly strange (and rich) Tommy Wiseau (James Franco), and it seems plausible, but it really doesn’t bother me if this is real or not. It’s just a load of fun.

The Disaster Artist was nominated for an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (James Franc0) and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical.

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Sicario (2015) Film Review

Kate (Emily Blunt) is an FBI agent who is dealing with horrific situations happening around the US/Mexico border relating to the drug gangs and the police. She is enlisted into a task force to go into Mexico and try to follow several leads to resolve the situation, but her idealism and belief that she is able to make a difference is challenged at every step.

This is a horrible film- extremely good in many ways, but just awful and violent, and maddening and I just wanted it to end. I wouldn’t recommend this film to a lot of folks because I found it very hard to watch, but I think if you don’t mind feeling outraged at the world and angry that things can be so unjust, you might like it. I am in two minds about the end – I feel as though it suddenly became quite a Hollywood film when it had the chance to be more… I’m not sure if real is quite the right word, but different. Though maybe a more real story would be too long for a film.

Sicario was nominated for Oscars for Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Sound Editing and Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) Film Review

Newt (Eddie Redmayne) is a wizard who works with fantastic beasts, and has come to New York in the 1920s. He discovers some strange happenings and accrues a small team of assistants to help him.

I loved seeing the magical world of Harry Potter put into New York in the twenties. Too much fun. And there were some great characters, and I loved the creatures. But I found the first half hour of the film really slow-moving and it was really hard for the rest of it to catch up. In addition to this, I’m not that much of a Potter fan, so any time there was a reference to something from the world of Potter, it went over my head, while I’m sure much of the intended audience would have been gasping and tittering with excitement. Also, I didn’t like the character that Redmayne was playing, and I think it’s pretty difficult to really enjoy a film when you are actively disliking the hero.

Fanastic Beasts and Where to Find Them won an Oscar for Best Achievement in Costume Design and was nominated for Best Achievement in Production Design. It won a BAFTA for Best Production Design and was nominated for Outstanding British Film of the Year, Best Costume Design, Best Sound and Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects.

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The Aviator (2004) Film Review

What did I know about Howard Hughes? Only that he was famously germaphobic and reclusive and rich. In all honesty, I didn’t even know why I knew of him. In this biopic of his early life, Leonardo DiCaprio the playboy, the film producer and the aviation pioneer. And it’s fabulous. DiCaprio was fabulous, as was Cate Blanchette and Kate Beckinsale, John C. Reilly, Alec Baldwin, Alan Alda, Jude Law… the list goes on.

I shouldn’t be surprised at how good it is as it is a Scorsese film. He is a master, even though I often find that I don’t like his films. But this, to me, is really as good as a film can be. Great pacing, and the cinematography is brilliant, capturing that kind of technicolour look of films from this era. Just fabulous.

The Aviator won awards for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Cate Blanchett), Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Art Direction, Best Achievement in Costume Design and was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Leonardo DiCaprio), Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Alan Alda), Best Achievement in Directing, Best Writing – Original Screenplay and Best Achievement in Sound Mixing.

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Selma (2014) Film Review

Davie Oyelowo plays Dr Martin Luther King Jr in this depiction of historical events during the civil rights movement. African-American people were allowed to vote, but in the South it was nearly impossible for them to register – many impediments were put in their way from the racist bureaucracy, and in meetings with President Johnston (Tom Wilkinson), King was unable to get the president to act to overrule this appalling behaviour. Eventually, a large group were to walk from Selma to Montgomery, the capital of Alabama, in a peaceful protest. And with opposition from the army, the police, the KKK and the white population of the state as a whole, things turned violent.

This is a very slow-moving film that shows King as human, with all his strengths and weaknesses. But when the action moves from the planning and discussions and meeting and gets down to the key events, it is truly horrific. I am a big crier in films, but this was absolutely heart-breaking. I cried because the events were terrible, but I also cried because this was happening, and I cried because so much progress was made during the civil rights movement and yet look at the world we live in. Things should be better. And we shouldn’t need horrors like this to change the world, should we?

Selma won an Oscar for Best Achievement in Music Written for the Motion Pictures  – Original Song (Glory) and was nominated for Best Picture.

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Silence (2017) Film Review

In the 1800s, Christianity was banned in Japan, but a group of Portuguese Jesuit priests had established an underground group that was being pursued by the Japanese inquisitor. Ferreira (Liam Neeson) was a mentor priest who went missing, and word returned was that he had given up his faith and now lived in the Japanese way with a wife and child. Disbelieving that this could be true, Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Garupe (Adam Driver) travel through the country, hidden by believers and secretly preaching and hearing confessions. However, they are constantly tormented by a cruel regime that torture indiscriminately.

It is an absolutely stunning film – very hard to watch in the torturing scenes, but the scenery is stunning, and the depictions of Japan so long ago was beautiful. However, unsurprisingly, I have some issues with the story. I have a real issue with evangelical missionaries who ignore the local culture and religion to preach their own religion. What’s more, what is shown in Silence is that the poor to continue to be oppressed and abused with the belief that the ultimate reward is after death. It is questionable that there is anything they could do about their oppressed position in those times, so perhaps having this belief is some kind of kindness. I don’t know – to me, it raises a lot of issues relating to colonialisation and destruction of culture and oppression. Who’d have thought discussing religion could be tricky?

Silence was nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Cinematography.

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