Thursday, 27 March 2014

1 Million Views at Yahoo and the new Filmoria Podcast

OK that wasn't a long hiatus but had to share that my writing at Yahoo just passed the 1 million page view mark. I'd love it if it were this blog that had made it to a million views but it's still brilliant to know that lots of people are checking out my stuff somewhere.

In other completely unrelated news, I am part of a small team who are contributing to a new Filmoria podcast tonight. Not sure when the final thing will be published exactly but I'll be sure to post it here when it is.

I also might be going to a press conference with Arnold Schwarzenegger in attendance on Monday so that's something to shout about!

Saturday, 22 March 2014

TV Editor at Filmoria

I've been given the very exciting position of becoming the TV editor at Filmoria. It's my first time taking an editorial position and I will be doing my best to get the team to contribute as much in the way of TV news, reviews and features as I can.

Sadly, it also means that I will probably be letting I Love That Film gather a bit of dust for the foreseeable future. I'm still going to use this blog to share other things I'm working on but I suspect that posts are going to become few and far between.

I'm pleased to say that after however many years of writing here, I finally managed to get loads of useful tabs on that menu at the top. So if people do visit this blog, then they can find stuff really easily. I'll still be adding links to reviews, Yahoo articles and Filmoria articles so I guess I Love That Film is still my base on the internet.

If anyone does read this, then thank you for stopping by and if you've been with me since I started or ever read, shared or commented on anything on this blog then an even bigger thank you! Until next time, please check out the TV section at Filmoria for all the latest news, reviews and features.

I'm sure this isn't the end. Just a temporary hiatus. See you on the other side.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The Maze Runner Poster and Trailer

The next YA adaptation is on its way with Will Poulter starring in The Maze Runner. Check out the new trailer below. It looks promisingly much more like Hunger Games than Twilight. The Maze Runner is about a group of boys who are trapped in a place called 'The Glade' with no memory of their past lives before they were brought in. They are surrounded by a maze that could lead them to escape but it is filled with slug like spiked monsters that can kill them. Dystopia, danger and the constant threat of death; it sounds like the kind of story I would have loved when I was a teen.

There are two more books in the series already so Fox will undoubtedly be hoping for a big hit. It is coming hot on the heels of Hunger Games, Twilight and Divergent so The Maze Runner will have to be good to compete in that kind of market place.

The new trailer and poster are below:




Monday, 17 March 2014

Shane Meadows talks This is England 90 at Svengali Premiere

This is England 90 can't come soon enough and though there hasn't been much word on it recently, Shane Meadows has answered some questions on the upcoming series while attending the premiere of new film Svengali starring Vicky McClure.


He assures us that This is England the saga is (definitely, hopefully) going to 'go out with a bang' so it sounds like this one will be the last for sure. He also recently told the BBC recently that "The stories that we've got lined up for this one I think could top it all... there'll be a lot of births, deaths and marriages".

Watch the video of director Shane Meadows talking to Red Carpet News TV about This is England 90 below:



I cannot wait to see how it all ends for Shaun, Milky, Combo, Woody, Lol and the rest of the This is England gang. The above video may not tell us much but it does suggest that filming might begin at the tail end of this year and that can only be a very positive step in the right direction.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Starred Up Review



The savagery of prison life is on full display in Starred Up, a brutal British drama that should make a long overdue star of Jack O’Connell. From director David Mackenzie, the film is an electrifying look at the brutal life behind bars of an explosively violent teen. After roles in the likes of This is England, Skins and 300: Rise of an Empire, Starred Up should be the film that finally makes people take serious note of Jack O’Connell.
 
When Eric Love (O’Connell) is transferred (or starred up) to adult prison despite being two years too young, he is put on the same wing as his father Neville (Ben Mendelsohn). The violent, seething, resourceful nineteen year old has become too much to cope with as a youth offender and is now thrown into real prison where his tendency to lash out is likely to get him into a new level of trouble. With his dodgy father looking out for him and insisting on his attendance at experimental anger management classes, Eric’s life in prison could go either way. Beneath the rage and the swagger, there could be some hope of redemption for this young man, if he can only choose his role models carefully.


Jack O’Connell is always a Jack the Lad type character and this is never more so than in Starred Up. He even has the nickname tattooed on his arm and his sneer, swagger and savagery all attest to the boy’s unflinching desire to do damage. After being brought in to the prison, he is stripped and processed. Silent for the first ten minutes of the film, he might appear an unproblematic prisoner. Alone in his cell, he goes about setting himself up with makeshift (and terrifying) weapons and ensuring that when he is attacked, he will be ready. He is a caged animal; cornered, grunted at by the guards, dismissed or threatened by other prisoners but totally unafraid to fight his way out of any corner by any means necessary.

It is not hard to understand how he became this way. As his father becomes an increasing presence in the film, it is clear that violence, threats, anger and brutality were a way of life for Eric since being a boy. His back-story is gradually revealed and while not making him wholly sympathetic, Eric is at least much more understandable than he at first appears. He is psychotic, scarred for life and brutal. In turn he is treated like an animal by all but the psychotherapist Oliver (Rupert Friend) who is determined to help him. Starred Up could turn into inspirational Dangerous Minds style fare here but never does. The language, the characters, the dialogue and action never descend into cliché. 


In fact, Starred Up is refreshingly real almost throughout. Apart from becoming a little contrived and over the top by the climax, the film sizzles with realism. O’Connell looks the part, the dialogue is occasionally so thick with slang it is hard to understand and the location drips with misery and menace. A couple of characters stray towards caricature but more of them are left beneficially underexplored, only hinting at their motivations and back stories. As a result they feel as real as almost everything else in the film.

It is a film about the bond between father and sons, the possibility of redemption and the hopelessness of the prison system without some means to mend these angry young men. More than that, it deals briefly with issues of race, sex, class and masculinity and sexuality. In short, it is so much more than a simplistic prison drama. Starred Up is utterly convincing, gripping and at times horrifying. It is time for director David Mackenzie to make moves towards the mainstream and for Jack O’Connell to stand up and be a star.

More reviews from I Love That Film:

Her

12 Years A Slave  

300: Rise of an Empire 

I Declare War 

Lone Survivor 

The Stag  

The Wolf of Wall Street   

Sunday, 9 March 2014

New trailers: Godzilla Vs Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Two new trailers hit this week with Gareth Edwards' Godzilla and Robert Rodriguez's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. I know damn well which one I'm most looking forward to already.

Godzilla has an awesome soundtrack, brilliant Bryan Cranston voiceover and just enough of the big scary monster to keep everybody satisfied. I saw this trailer in 3D before a screening of 300: Rise of an Empire and it looked absolutely breath taking. It looks like it should be action packed, emotional and undoubtedly spectacular. Anyone (or everyone) disappointed by the Roland Emmerich version will be pleased to see no Matthew Broderick or 'size does matter' jokes so far. Get ready to be trampled back to the Stone Age.



Total Film also shared this neat version where someone has taken the audio and replaced the visuals with the old original Godzilla movie.



Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is the long awaited (but not by me) sequel from Rodriguez and Frank Miller and has an even bigger cast than the original with Powers Boothe, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Josh Brolin and Ray Liotta joining the cast. It looks gorgeous but I found little to interest me in the characters last time around so I'm not getting my hopes up for this one. All the girls look like they'll spend most of the movie in bras and all the men will be the usual hard boiled cliches from film noir past.



Either of these take your fancy?

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Upcoming screenings: The Zero Theorem, Starred Up, Locke

I've got three screenings lined up for this week and they are an exciting bunch; The Zero Theorem, Starred Up and Locke. First is Terry Gilliam's The Zero Theorem. This is dystopian sci-fi from the guy who brought us Brazil and 12 Monkeys so promises to be at the very least interesting. It also stars Christoph Waltz (which guarantees a little awesomeness), Matt Damon, Tilda Swinton, Ben Whishaw, David Thewlis and Rupert Friend. It looks from the trailer like it could be weird but potentially wonderful.



Next is British prison drama Starred Up from director David Mackenzie and starring Jack O'Connell who is destined to be a big star soon. I've been watching him since his minor role in This is England through to bigger roles in the likes of Tower Block, The Liability, Harry Brown and Eden Lake. Starred Up looks like a brutal story about a violent young offender who is moved in to big boys prison. It also stars Rupert Friend (again) and the excellent Ben Mendelsohn.



Last but not least is Locke starring Tom Hardy in a car making a series of phone calls. Sounds like this could be one of those really interesting minimalist bits of cinema where the star is stuck in one location and has to entertain us with the strength of their performance and clever little story. I have soft spot for things like 127 Hours, Phone Booth and Buried so I hope this will be tense and terrific.



Any of these trailers float your boat?

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Technology news and opinions: Nintendo, Google Glass and Netflix

Apart from writing for Yahoo on TV shows and film franchises, I also write for them about technology issues, news and opinions. Here are links to some of my recent articles on subjects that range from time shifted TV viewing to Google Glass:

The repercussions of increased time-shifted TV viewing
As a recent convert to time-shifted TV viewing and recording technology, I have found that that my viewing habits have drastically changed. But what will be the repercussions?
 
 
Why I hope Nintendo never quits making consoles
With Nintendo currently making loses year after year and ignoring calls to go into mobile game development, the future of the company looks uncertain. However, I hope that Nintendo will find a way out of the hole they are in and get back on top in gaming.
 
Interviewing Ralph Fiennes with Google Glass is a success
After having my first experience with Google Glass this week I am convinced that everyone will be wearing this gadget within the next few years. On Monday night, I interviewed the stars of a new film on the red carpet in London, all videoed on Glass.
 
 
Netflix needs more films, not three tier pricing structure
Netflix might be moving towards a three tier pricing plan, offering a cheaper option to those with no desire for HD or dual streaming capabilities. The cheaper pricing plan will not get me back on Netflix as my main concern is the selection of films.
 
Should Google Glass be banned from cinemas?
As a major film fanatic, and someone who would resist watching pirated material even if you paid me, I would hate to think that more people will be making poor quality copies of films from wearing their Google Glass specs in cinemas.

Fast and Furious 7 updates

Since the death of Paul walker, things have understandably slowed down dramatically in terms of news coming out of the Fast and Furious 7 camp. But with filming set to resume, I'm sure there will be many more updates on the film soon. Here are links to my recent writing on the franchise for Yahoo Movies:


Fast and Furious 7 filming set to resume after Paul Walker death
‘Fast and Furious’ fans who have been wondering what the status is with the next film in the franchise finally have a little bit of good news. After a delay due to Paul Walker's death, shooting will begin again in April.


Will Need for Speed damage Fast and Furious box office?
New fast car action movie ‘Need for Speed’ will be released in 2014 and may have a big impact on the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise when the seventh film is released in 2015.


What should happen to Paul Walker in Fast and Furious 7?
Fans are still getting over the tragic death of Paul Walker after the star was killed in a car crash late in 2013. But how should Walker's character Brian be written out of the franchise in 'Fast and Furious 7'?

Paul Walker behind the scenes of Fast and Furious 7
A video Vin Diesel has posted on his Facebook page includes over 18 minutes of footage of Walker and Diesel when they were not on screens together in the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise, including behind the scenes footage of 'Fast and Furious 7'.

50 Shades of Grey movie news and opinion

I'm still writing about the impending 50 Shades of Grey movie over at Yahoo movies and here are my latest news stories and opinion pieces:


Will sales of 100 million 50 Shades books equal big box office?
The ‘50 Shades of Grey’ book trilogy has surpassed 100 million copies worldwide but with numbers like that, can the film adaptation possibly compete?

50 Shades movie: What would Gus Van Sant version be like?
With the ’50 Shades of Grey’ movie adaptation recently wrapping, there is no doubt that the final version has been directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson. It could have been very different with Gus Van Sant reportedly considering directing the film.


50 Shades movie: Why so long between wrap and release?
The 50 Shades of Grey movie has reportedly wrapped, meaning principal photography on the film has been completed a few days shy of a full year before the release date. Why the long wait if filming is finished?


Will 50 Shades of Grey teaser poster appeal to men?
The brand spanking new teaser poster for '50 Shades of Grey’ has just been released and unfortunately it contains no signs of spanking, sex or romance. However could this be just the right way to lure more male viewers into the cinema to see it?

The Walking Dead Season 4 Episodes 9-12 recap and reviews

I've been covering 'The Walking Dead' over at Yahoo since it returned to screens a few weeks ago for the second half of season 4. Here are links to my recap and reviews of episodes 9-12.


The Walking Dead recap: Daryl and Beth drink moonshine (episode 12)

With the latest episode, titled ‘Still’, there is no cutting back and forth between characters whatsoever; it is solely focussed on Daryl and Beth as they get hold of moonshine and attempt to drink their worries away.


The Walking Dead recap: Dead under the bed  (episode 11)

Wondering who the hell those three people were at the end of episode 10? Wonder no longer as episode 11, titled ‘Claimed’, introduces us to the three new main characters in the world of ‘The Walking Dead’.
 

The Walking Dead recap: Escaping convicts everywhere (episode 10)

After last week’s episode focussed solely on Rick, Carl and Michonne, ‘Inmates’ takes the time to catch up with all the rest of the survivors of the prison massacre who are now scattered on the wind.


The Walking Dead prank terrifies New York City

‘The Walking Dead’ returned to American screens on Sunday with the second half of season four kicking off a day later in the UK. A video of walkers lurking beneath city streets in order to terrify passersby has gone viral.

The Walking Dead recap: Carl and Rick seek new shelter (episode 9)

The Walking Dead’ is back! After two months of waiting to find out what happens after the fall of the prison, episode nine picks up pretty much right where we left off with Rick and Carl escaping the remains of the prison.

2013 Top 10 Update: Still not definitive

I'm still struggling to get all the films from my list of shame watched before I make my definitive top 10 (or 20 or 30 at this rate) of 2013. Films still to watch include Lincoln, Frozen, Blue Jasmine and Blue is the Warmest Colour and you never know which, if any, may squeeze their way into my top 10 of 2013. I expect to have a definitive list by June hopefully!

Seeing as yesterday I already took the crazy step of doing a top 10 of 2014 so far list, I thought it best to also update what I think were my favourite films of 2013. I have already done my top 10 British films, top 10 horror, sci-fi and fantasy and top documentaries but all these will have changed as my mind works through the films for years to come and also I add more films from the list of shame.

Way back in July 2013, I decided these films were my top 10 of the year so far but this has changed considerably now. Click the titles for full reviews. Without further ado, here is my top 10 of 2013 at the moment:



 
9. Gravity


8. The Selfish Giant


7. Captain Philips




5. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire






3. Spring Breakers


2. Before Midnight 



1. The Impossible

Unfortunately I never reviewed Gravity and there are two other newcomers to this list that I have also not reviewed.

I watched Before Midnight last night and it has blown away most of the competition. I expected it to be good but not that good! It will stay with me for a long, long time I suspect. Though I didn't fully believe the last minute hint at a happy ending, I think maybe that is the point. There are some serious cracks in Jesse and Celine's relationship and though they can keep trying to paper over them, the cracks may yet continue to grow. It might be a very sad story if we ever catch up with these two again.

Another newcomer to the list is The Selfish Giant which is a small British film about two kids who get in with metal scrappers to earn some pounds while skipping school. The performances of the two boys in the leads were absolutely incredible and the story and cinematography were amazing, if utterly tragic in every sense.

What do you think of my top 10 of 2013 so far?

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

My Blair Witch book just got a cover

Since December 2012, I have been writing a book for the Devil's Advocates series on classic horror films. The series is published by Auteur and my entry on The Blair Witch Project is following other entries on Saw, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Thing, The Descent, Carrie and Witchfinder General. I submitted a first draft a couple of months ago and it is being reviewed by the editor currently. Until I get it back for what will probably be some pretty serious revisions, I have nothing to do but stew and wait in anticipation for feedback. Then yesterday I got the cover through from the editor to see if I approved. I don't know if it's my love for the film, my love of seeing my name in print or just the overall style of the cover which fits so well with the other books in the series but I love it. Here it is below:


Unfortunately there is no firm publication date yet but I'm almost certain it will be released at some point in 2014. As soon as it is available to buy, you can best believe I'll be promoting it in any way I can so watch this space. Cool cover though don't you think?

Transformers 4 teaser trailer is long but promising

Aren't teaser trailers supposed to be short, mysterious, and well... teaser-y? The Transformers: Age of Extinction teaser clocks in at a whopping 2 minutes and 33 seconds, begging the question: how the hell long is the theatrical trailer going to be? Will it be 6 minutes of Baysplosions, Nicola Peltz being ridiculously good looking and Wahlberg doing an admirable job of adding some gravity to proceedings? 

I went into this trailer expecting the worst. The Superbowl snippet left me completely underwhelmed. The inclusion of the Dinobots doesn't excite me and the focus on the effects and big action scenes just didn't make my jaw drop the way it did the first time I saw Bay's Transformers. After the two robotic and head pounding sequels, I was ready to give Age of Extinction a miss. I always liked the comedy that Shia brought to it too so the thought of Mark Wahlberg getting all serious with the franchise wasn't too appealing.

But this teaser actually brought me back from the brink. It might not strictly be much of a tease, looking like it reveals a hell of a lot more than it should but at least there is some sense of the characters and the new story that will bring the Transformers back to life. There are also hints that it will not ignore the events of past Transformers movies which is kind of cool. Though Nicola Peltz looks like a very typical Michael Bay hand picked 'hot girl' in need of rescue, Wahlberg and his mechanic character and father looks like he might be interesting enough to keep us all engaged beyond the promise of explosions and giant robots beating the shit out of each other.

Teaser Trailer



Superbowl spot



There's also three new posters that declare that 'the rules have changed'. I don't know what rules they are on about but at least we get a good look at the three main characters.




More trailers from I Love That Film

Reviews from I Love That Film

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Top 10 of 2014 so far (Jan/Feb)

Bit early to be doing this but seeing as I've watched 22 films released in 2014 during January and February, I thought I'd make a note of my top 10 films of the year so far. Click the titles for my full reviews:

10. The Railway Man
9. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom 
8. Out of the Furnace
7. Inside Llewyn Davis
6. Dallas Buyers Club
5. Only Lovers Left Alive
4. The Wolf of Wall Street
3. Lone Survivor 
2. Her
1. 12 Years A Slave


The films that have missed out on being in the top 10 are: Last Vegas, The Book Thief, The Stag, Grudge Match, Magic Magic, That Awkward Moment, Muirhouse, Endless Love, RoboCop, I Declare War, Ride Along and 300: Rise of an Empire.

Has anyone else out there got a top 10 of 2014 so far?

A2 Film Studies Exam Practice: Spectatorship and Emotional Response

Would you agree that strong emotional effects are achieved in some films by the careful construction techniques and in others by the subject matter itself?

Films are carefully designed and produced to ensure that they cause the audience to feel something. Emotions towards a film can range from joy to anger and despair. The three films studied for this topic revolve around controversial subject matter such as racism and hatred and therefore cause most viewers to feel angry, sad, shocked and often a great deal of anticipation as to how they will end. These emotions are encouraged by the filmmakers through both their choice of subject matter and also the carefully constructed micro techniques used.

Nothing a director does is by accident and many techniques such as the use of a soundtrack and editing are there to encourage emotional responses in the audience. American History X, This is England and United 93 all feature non-diegetic soundtracks that increase the sadness of events depicted on screen. Typical instrumental music is added to the film in post-production and violins and pianos are commonly used for sad scenes. For example when Danny dies in AHX and Derek is running in slow motion, there are violins playing and when Shaun is all alone on the beach in TIE, there is acoustic guitar on the soundtrack. Shane Meadows even drowns out the sound of one character’s speech with piano music to emphasise how sad the scene is with Combo being racist in front of Milky. The editing also builds anticipation in these films with crosscutting between Derek and Danny as they part at the school gates, cutting between the passengers and the people on the ground in United 93 and cutting to close ups of character’s reactions as Combo tells his story. AHX also uses voiceover to make Danny more identifiable.



All three films are constructed to make the audience identify more with some characters than others. They have clear preferred readings created through their construction techniques in order to make the audience care for and side sympathise with certain characters. For example in AHX and TIE, there are young characters called Danny and Shaun. Danny’s voiceover tells the story of the film and as it is supposed to be him reading his essay, it even continues after his death. In essence, the audience hears his thoughts and perspective on events and therefore is more likely to identify with him. The cinematography aids this process with close ups and point of view shots and also the fact Danny is played by Edward Furlong who was a minor star after appearing in Terminator 2. Similarly TIE follows Shaun through his daily life. There is no voiceover but the camera sticks close to him, even when he is alone and we learn that both he and Danny have fathers who have died, instantly making them more sympathetic. When Danny dies and when Shaun starts to become a racist thug, there is music on the soundtrack to ensure that the audience feels sad. On the other hand United 93 uses no stars and reveals very little about the passengers’ back stories but through the cinematography and subject matter, still makes the victims easy to identify with.


Cinematography can be vital to creating an emotional response, as can be the mise-en-scene that is captured by the camerawork. In United 93, the camerawork is very often handheld and the view is often obstructed by framing that is not clear and feels improvised. This gives the film a great sense of realism, as if the viewer is watching a documentary caught be a camera operator on the plane with the passengers. This makes it more horrifying and saddening. The cinematography in AHX and TIE is much more composed and formal. Thought it may not have the same level of realism as U93, it still can create an emotional response. In both films, the spectator is put in the point of view of victims; Milky when he is physically attacked and Murray when he is verbally attacked. The camera is positioned in a high angle to look down on Derek after he has been raped and also on Shaun when he is all alone in TIE. Similarly, a low angle is used to make the house look imposing when Doris falls to her knees outside it after her fight in with Derek in AHX. The mise-en scene of AHX is particularly shocking with its use of swastika tattoos and Nazi memorabilia but it is also shocking and sad to see the appearance of the World Trade Centre still standing in U93.


On the other hand, it is certainly not only the construction techniques in any of these films that make them so sad. It is also the subject matter in all three films that is essential to creating the emotional response and one of the main reasons for this is their reference to real life events. U93 is a film based on the real life events of September 11th 2001 when a plane was hijacked and the passengers all died trying to take back control of the plane from terrorists. The real events are still very raw in the memories of many people who watch the film and the real life tragedy clearly makes the film far sadder than if the film was nothing but fiction. The phone calls that the characters make are based on actual transcripts which make the scenes where the passengers say goodbye to the loved ones extremely sad and difficult to watch.  AHX and TIE may not be based on true stories but they frequently refer to real life events, to make the films more poignant and sad. AHX has Derek ranting about Rodney King and the LA race riots but Derek also pushes hot button emotive issues such as immigration and unemployment to make his racist rants appeal to his audience of followers. Similarly Combo in TIE uses immigration and unemployment but also refers to the Falklands War and Margaret Thatcher to try and convince people of his cause. These real life references will undoubtedly mean more to those who remember them in real life but the use of real footage in TIE means the viewer will get the message that director Shane Meadows is trying to share.

All three films are about racism, hatred and violence. These are potent issues for creating emotional responses as many spectators will feel strongly about them. AHX deals with the issue of racism through the redemption of one Neo-Nazi skinhead who goes from brutally murdering an African American to being raped in prison by other Neo-Nazis to agreeing to help solve the problem or racism. TIE tells a coming of age story of a young boy who gets in with an older crowd before being influenced by a racist thug and finally turning against racism. U93 is about four men who want to kill a plane full of people because of their religious beliefs and their hatred of America. These are clearly emotive subjects where characters feel extremely strong hatred, say shocking, vile things and commit horrendous acts against each other.

In conclusion, it is not simply the subject matter or the construction techniques that create the strong emotional responses to these films. It is a marriage of both where the content is disturbing, challenging and often brutal while the music, editing and cinematography encourage the viewer to react with sadness, shock or horror. The script and the performances ensure that the audience care for the characters, even characters who they may have at first hated. The most emotional scenes of the films all occur towards the end where the subject of racial conflict comes to a head but also the music, performances, editing and cinematography add inexorably to the emotional impact.

2014 Oscar Best Picture Nominees Rated and Reviewed

With award season coming to a predictable but fun end, I thought it a good time to round up my reviews of the Best Picture nominees in 2014. It seems Ellen did a great job of hosting and though I didn't watch the ceremony, there has been so much coverage of pizza eating, record breaking selfies and J-Law falling over some more, that I don't think I need to watch them. Check out the coverage at Cinematic Corner for more on the ceremony itself and some brilliant gifs.


As usual, I did some gambling and put £20 down over the whole awards season. After the Globes, I was down by a pound(ish), then after the BAFTAs I'd broken even again and then with the Oscars being as predictable as they were, I finally came out £4 up. William Hill invited me on to talk Oscar odds on their weekly podcast which you can hear here if you interested in my predictions.

I'm glad to see American Hustle didn't win much, sad to see McQueen not get Best Director but very pleased 12 Years a Slave got Best Picture and Lupita Nyong'o got Best Supporting Actress. Films I still need to see from Oscar season are Blue Jasmine, Frozen and 20 Feet From Stardom. I actually managed to review all but one of the Best Picture nominees this year which must be a first. I saw Gravity later than everybody else so by that time, I think every word possible had been written about it. I was also left a bit disappointed by it after all the reviews I had read. Technically brilliant and pretty damn gripping but I just felt the characters were a bit cliched and kept it from being a five star movie in my opinion.


Chris from Movies and songs 365 asked how I would rank the Best Picture nominees so here goes. By the way this is incredibly difficult and liable to change in time. I don't envy all those who have to vote for the Oscar winners. Click the titles for my full reviews of each:

9. American Hustle 
'Overall it's a clever con, funny at times and crammed with wonderful performances. It might not have the zip and the pizazz of a Goodfellas or a Boogie Nights, but what it does have is Batman, Lois Lane, Rocket Racoon, Mystique and Hawkeye all in one film and all playing characters that are far more interesting than their comic book counterparts.'

8. Nebraska
'With a melancholy score from Mark Orton, stark cinematography from Phedon Papamichael and some heartbreaking performances, Nebraska is a winner; even if Woody isn’t.'

7. Gravity

Technically astonishing but a bit lacking in the character department.

6. Dallas Buyers Club 'See it for two staggering transformations and a touching true tale that desrves to be told. While Woodroof is the flawed star of the film, Leto's equally damaged Rayon threatens to steal it away from him. It may not tell the full story, choosing to focus on one frequently unpleasant man instead of many other heroes in the fight against AIDS, but Dallas Buyers Club avoids cliche to become powerful, credible and profoundly affecting.'

5. Her

'Falling in love may be, as one character says, a form of socially acceptable insanity but it’s ultimately impossible not to love every bit of Her.'

4. The Wolf of Wall Street
'The Wolf of Wall Street is Scorsese's best since Goodfellas. BUT it is also a disgrace. It makes you forget just what a complete shit Belfort really is. It is not angry enough. Belfort gets off easily. He turns on everyone around him, gets away with a tiny prison sentence in a white collar prison and is still not paying nearly enough back to his victims. To have Belfort appear in the film is just another slap in the face for the forgotten victims of the story. Scorsese has made a fun film about a man who deserves nothing but disdain. There is little caution in this 'cautionary' tale. We need to stop paying to listen to Belfort but with a film like this, Scorsese makes that very difficult.'


3. Captain Phillips
'The young actors give life and breath to the tragically young men that tangled with the far superior American forces. Captain Phillips is an underdog story of epic proportions where the underdogs never stand a chance.'

2. Philomena

'Philomena is a brilliantly written script with an unforgettable character who has an incredible story to be told. While it takes potshots at journalism and the church, it is ultimately an inspiring story of forgiveness. Dench and Coogan make a hilarious double act with Coogan unexpectedly playing the straight man but it is the tragedy of Philomena's treatment at the hands of the nuns that will linger longest in the memory.'

1. 12 Years A Slave
'12 Years A Slave brings a terrible historical truth to life. It may only be the story of one man but it feels definitive; every frame is a painting that transports you to another time. Through it's cinematography, production and costume design, but most of all the performances of a completely committed cast, 12 Years A Slave depicts the ugliness of slavery with unforgettable imagery.'

What were your favourites of this awards season?

More awards coverage at I Love That Film:
Screen Actors Guild Award Winners 2014
Who will win at the Screen Actors Guild Awards 2014?
Critics' Choice Winners 2014 
Oscar nominations 2014 
Who will win at the Critics' Choice Awards 2014? 
Golden Globes winners and losers 
BAFTA 2014 Nominations