2015 In Film: Top Five

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The year is almost over. Christmas is done and dusted and the bells are about to ring on a brand new year. It only feels right, then, to take a look back over the last twelve months, specifically in relation to cinema. It’s been a bumper year, with everything from Star Wars: The Force Awakens to Birdman hitting the screen, so much so that there’s still no Academy Award frontrunner.

So, to provide you with an idea of what I’ve liked best from this year’s offerings, here’s a list of my top five (narrowed down from twenty, and then from ten). Bear in mind that these are my choices and my choices alone. If yours differ in any way, then better for it, as it builds more of a case for what a stand-out year it’s been.

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1. Carol came late in the year, November to be precise. I’d heard from various screenings elsewhere that it was something special, but I didn’t quite believe the hype until I saw it for myself. It’s beautiful, anchored by two outstanding performances by co-leads Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. The story may be simple, but the emotion, power and passion in the way it’s told ensure it leaves a big impression.

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2. 45 Years is a film that I was lucky enough to see at the Edinburgh International Film Festival back in June. I’d missed the two public screenings, but thankfully managed to catch it on the final day of the festival. I wasn’t disappointed. Andrew Haigh, who made a mark with Weekend a few years back, delivers yet another powerhouse slice of British cinema.

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3. Sci-fi isn’t normally my thing, so it was a shock to me that I was so captivated by Ex Machina. Part of that had to do with the fact that the sci-fi played second fiddle to a dark, psychological and thrilling chamber piece between three characters, played superbly by the trio of Domhall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac and – with extra emphasis – Alicia Vikander.

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4. Tangerine is a mini marvel, and not just because it was shot with no money on a series of modified iPhone’s. The film is alive from the very start, brimming with such fizz and spark that any limitations are quickly forgotten about. In fact, it’s so light on its feet that it doesn’t dawn on you how insightful and eye-opening a film it really is.

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5. Pixar took a few years off after the release of Monsters University, only to come back all guns blazing with Inside Out, one of their sharpest and most adult efforts yet. Set inside the mind of an 11 year old during a difficult transitionary period, this animated gem scores big laughs, while broadcasting some pretty substantial life messages at the same time.

If you’re interested, then other films I loved this year include: Whiplash, The Diary Of A Teenage Girl, The Tribe, Mommy, Sicario, Love & Mercy and Mad Max: Fury Road.

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Farewell Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967 – 2014)

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Philip Seymour Hoffman – award-winning actor, producer and director – died today of a suspected overdose in his Manhattan apartment. Hoffman, who has been nominated for no less than four Academy Awards since his debut feature performance in Triple Bogey On A Five Par Hole opposite Robbie Coltrane, had appeared at the Sundance Film Festival only two weeks prior to his death, in support of two films: A Most Wanted Man and God’s Pocket. Continue reading “Farewell Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967 – 2014)”

Further Thoughts On 12 Years A Slave

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A couple of week’s back, I saw 12 Years A Slave as part of a Scottish press screening event. I’d read a lot about the film, had come to be a Steve McQueen admirer on the back of his previous films Hunger and Shame, and was a fan of many of the actors the film sported. So, it came as a bit of a surprise to me that, even though I liked the film a lot and felt Steve McQueen achieved exactly what he wanted to achieve (a forceful, no-holds-barred depiction of slavery like we haven’t seen before), I couldn’t help but feel underwhelmed.  Continue reading “Further Thoughts On 12 Years A Slave”

2013 In Review: Top Ten Films

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2013 was a fantastic year for film. It’s as simple as that. Technological boundaries were broken, Disney made a triumphant comeback with not one but two wonderful animated releases, Noah Baumbach proved what could happen when you make a film on a shoestring budget and in black-and-white, and Steven Soderbergh bid a fond farewell to the cinematic world with the fantastic one-two punch of pharmaceutical drama Side Effects and outlandish Liberace biopic Behind The Candelabra. Continue reading “2013 In Review: Top Ten Films”

Centrefolds & Empty Screens Made Cision’s Top Ten UK Film Blogs List

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It’s been two years and eight months since I took the plunge into online film writing. Back then, I wasn’t at all experienced and simply decided one day that it was something I’d like to try. So, being the confident, forward-thinker that I am (not), I sent out feelers to several film websites and, lo and behold, a couple of weeks later I was writing news posts for HeyUGuys, one of the UK’s most successful film blogs. Continue reading “Centrefolds & Empty Screens Made Cision’s Top Ten UK Film Blogs List”

Why I Must See The Paperboy

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The Paperboy hasn’t exactly had the best life, yet it’s become all the more appealing because of it. Adapted from Pete Dexter’s 1995 novel of the same name by director Lee Daniels and Dexter himself, The Paperboy centres on Wade Jansen (Matthew McConaughey), a reporter who returns to his Florida hometown in order to investigate a murder case involving death row inmate, Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack). Continue reading “Why I Must See The Paperboy”

The Delirious Beauty Of Gael García Bernal

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I was first introduced to Spanish actor turned director Gael García Bernal through Bad Education. I had already watched – and subsequently fell in love with – All About My Mother and was inspired to watch Pedro Almodóvar’s other films by my then film teacher Claire Doyle, the first of which ended up being Bad Education. And, as if by magic, my love for Gael was born. He had the talent, the look (boyish charm mixed with rugged handsomeness) and the, erm, body. And, for what it’s worth (quite a lot, ashamedly) he looks amazing in drag. Continue reading “The Delirious Beauty Of Gael García Bernal”

Wonder In The Dark

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Sometimes I worry that my life revolves too much around film. I’m not a particularly sociable person and I spend most of my days in darkened rooms watching other people – characters, rather – live their lives, as tragic or as blissfully happy as they are. It makes you wonder, doesn’t it? But then, film has always been a massive part of my life, from embarrassing cinema trips as a little ‘un to covering film festivals as the budding writer I am today. And I honestly Continue reading “Wonder In The Dark”

London Day #5: Wreck-It Ralph, Hot Food And Final Night Drinks

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Before I knew it Wednesday had arrived and I was shattered. The trip to Piccadilly Circus felt longer than usual (I may or may not have falled asleep, which was incredibly disorientating) and by the time I was in the cinema I was in need of a hot cup of tea or coffee. Luckily, there was plenty on offer, and it was fine, but nothing compared to a Starbucks. As I drunk it down and ate a couple of danish patries, I made a note in my head to visit a Starbucks later on. Continue reading “London Day #5: Wreck-It Ralph, Hot Food And Final Night Drinks”

London Day #4: Krispy Kreme Breakfast, Zero Dark Thirty And Compliments

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After a night of maniacs and nearly freezing to death, I opted to miss the first two films (one of which I’d already seen) and have an extra couple of hours in bed. It was an altogether more relaxed morning and, once I was ready, I slowly made my way across to the tube station and caught the usual mix of the Northern Line and the Piccadilly Line over to Holborn Street, where I dived into Krispy Kreme and ordered a tea and three enormous donuts, each filled with different, yet equally Continue reading “London Day #4: Krispy Kreme Breakfast, Zero Dark Thirty And Compliments”