Sunday, March 4, 2018


My first post for Oscar Watch this year.

Every year I try to watch all (or at least as many as I can, it depends on what is showing) the nominated films prior to The Academy Awards to help me work out who I want to win and who will indeed win, quite often two very different trains of thought.

To be honest after last years Best Picture debacle and other issues surrounding the awards, I have wondered whether my time doing this was over, and yet here I am scheduling as many of these films into my spare time as I I guess not.

The Post
I read Katharine Graham's autobiography about 20 years ago and it really stuck with me. A remarkable woman, a feminist, so incredibly strong after so much tragedy. I loved her feistiness and sensibilities.

So I was thrilled to hear a movie about her time with The Post was to be made with none other than Meryl Streep playing her. I was not surprised, no one else could attempt to pull this woman off but Meryl, and I truly believe she has done a superb job interpreting this amazing woman.

I was disappointed the movie did not tell us more about Graham's background, rather than alluding to it. Her father passed on the ownership and running of The Post to Graham's husband who eventually commited suicide and Graham had to take over. This was the early 60s and quite unheard of, but she was formidable, knew her stuff, and made history.

The movie is about the first piece of political rumblings, The Pentagon Papers, and her relationship with Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks), and the stunts they pulled to expose this. Of course this led to even more political rumblings with Watergate. Giving The Post an almost untouchable reach.

The movie runs, very similiarly to All The President's Men or even Spotlight, and is very engaging. You are on the edge of your seat, despite knowing the outcomes and are rooting for Graham and her team against the politics of the day. This was an era when the news was believable and honest and true.

This is a solid film, that could have done with more of Graham's history, but even so, is very worth seeing. Streep is sublime.

Darkest Hour
Without a shadow of a doubt, Gary Oldman will win Best Actor for this remarkable turn as Winston Churchill.

Darkest Hour is a political/war biopic about Winston Churchill in that first part of the war. It is certainly more a political drama set on the backdrop of war. I found it fascinating. I always thought Churchill was in power when WW2 hit, but indeed he was not, and was voted in after Neville Chamberlain, the sitting PM, was forced out of the chair. 

Initially, Churchill was not that well taken, especially by the public, but he soon showed his skills as an extraordinary orator, won over the public and his peers, and guided the UK in overturning Hitler. Huge things indeed!

So the first half, whilst interesting, was a little slow in parts. Once Churchill hit his stride and commenced these outstanding speeches, Oldman also hit his stride. Absolutely charismatic and compelling.

You'd never know it was Oldman by glancing, occasionally, you got a hint from the twinkle in his eyes. To be able to pull off such outstanding acting under so much disguise and make up is remarkable. This is a tour de force to be seen.

I, Tonya

Wow, this movie really had me entranced. I am the same age as Tonya Harding, and was quite the ice skating fan at the time of this piece. So I remember the incident well, or so I thought. Time does funny things to memory, and herein is the lesson for this film. I believe it tells more the truth than we knew back then, however I still think they were a little loose with the truth.

Either way, this is a compelling and thoroughly entertaining film. Margot Robbie is sensational as Tonya, and Allison Janney jaw droppingly awful and yet mesmerising as Tonya's abusive mother. Just give CJ the golden boy now!

The films tracks Tonya's childhood, and rise on the ice skating scene. As a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, she had to rely on talent and talent she had, a born natural, but without the grace of others. And yet, she rose to the top of the heap, with only Nancy Kerrigan in her sights. This is when her dopey abusive husband and his even dopier mate decide to fix the odds a bit. Things get out of hand and you know the story.

The film shows Tonya's side of things, and I am still in many minds about what is what. However, she did have an awful life and she was extraordinarily talented. A crazy mix way back then.

This is such a well made and well acted film, the story discrepancy does kinda disappear whilst you are watching it. I was caught right up in things, the sound track was great too.

I, Tonya is a great romp, funny and entertaining, but at times smacks you when you don't expect it and it leaves you winded and scratching your head and you will think about this movie for days, weeks to come.

The Big Sick

I loved this little gem of a film, based on the true story of how the writers met. Kumail Namjiani (Portlandia and Silicon Valley) plays himself with Zoe Kazan playing his now wife Emily.

Kumail and Emily date, but it doesn't quite work out, and when Kumail finds out Emily has fallen ill, he rushes to her side and remains, meeting her parents (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano - both outstanding) and not leaving much of an impression on them.

This is a mix of humour (it is very funny in parts) and drama and pathos, and beautifully written and presented. I didn't know what to expect when I went into this film, but walked out feeling great. It is an uplifting story, and is nice to see it represented in the writing category.

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