Evening Standard British Film Awards 2012: Nominations

Shame, Tyrannosaur and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy lead the nominations for the 39th London Evening Standard British Film Awards.

Selected by a host of Britain’s leading film critics, the London Evening Standard British Film Awards recognise the skill and audacity of those involved with the British film industry.

The awards, hosted by Stephen Mangan, will take place on Monday, February 6 Continue reading “Evening Standard British Film Awards 2012: Nominations”

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Best Ten Films Of 2011

While 2011 hasn’t exactly been a year of record-breaking box office success, it has been a fantastic one for British cinema, emerging talent and unique independent features which found themselves surpassing the popularity of many much bigger movies.

The films I’ve chosen – and believe me when I say it wasn’t an easy process – are what I think represent the pinnacle of the cinema I Continue reading “Best Ten Films Of 2011”

Feature: Top Ten Films Of 2011: January – June

So far, 2011 has been a fantastic year for film. Below, I’ve compiled a list of my ten favourites from the last six months, with a few honourable mentions that just missed out on a place. Finally, I’ve listed some somewhat less honourable mentions that you should probably avoid at all costs.

10. Never Let Me Go (February 2011)

Mark Romanek’s shamefully overlooked adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s momentous novel Never Let Me Go wasn’t exactly the hit Fox Searchlight were banking on, but that didn’t stop it being a beautifully explorative, acted and directed piece of cinema.

9. Animal Kingdom (February 2011)

This Australian crime-thriller rose from the underbelly, picking up momentum thick and fact for its astoundingly honest portrayal of a fully functional crime family. Striking direction, raw performances and compelling source material have made well worth seeking out.

8. Archipelago (March 2011)

Joanna Hogg’s stark look at family turmoil is beautifully captured and carefully paced to provide a deeply resonant and affecting glimpse into the highs and lows of family life and what makes people tick.

7. Heartbeats (May 2011)

Multi-faceted Xavier Dolan follows in the footsteps of acclaimed filmmakers Gus Van Sant, Pedro Almodóvar and Wong Kar Wai to write and direct Heartbeats, a film of true beauty, wisdom and depth beyond its years.

6. Arrietty (June 2011 – EIFF)

Studio Ghibli’s sprightly interpretation of Mary Norton’s acclaimed children’s book The Borrowers is directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, under the watchful eye of filmmaker extraordinaire Hayao Miyazaki. Arrietty boasts some truly illustrious animation and a score by French musician Cecile Corbel that made me go weak at the knees.

5. Bridesmaids (June 2011)

Kristen Wiig, well known for her long-standing stint on Saturday Night Live, was launched to stardom with hit comedy Bridesmaids. Directed by Paul Feig, the film features an array of flawless comedic performances, unforgettable gags and the goddess-like figure Rose Bryne.

4. Albatross (June 2011 – EIFF)

Niall McCormick’s British coming-of-age film premiered at the 65th Edinburgh International Film Festival to rave reviews. Written by burgeoning writer Tamzin Refn, Albatross is a fully realised and thought-provoking piece of cinema, chock full of heart, depth and humour to boot. If Jessica Findlay-Brown doesn’t become a star, then there’s something seriously wrong with the world.

3. Black Swan (January 2011)

Granted, this film opened last year in America, but due to different release schedules it was early January before I had a chance to see Natalie Portman give an Academy Award winning performance in Darren Aronofsky’s daringly dark psychological ballet thriller. Hauntingly brilliant.

2. Submarine (March 2011)

Former IT Crowd actor Richard Ayoade made his directorial debut with the mesmerising, outlandish and warm-hearted indie comedy Submarine. The entire cast, not least relative newcomer Craig Roberts, delivered remarkable performances.

1. Blue Valentine (January 2011)

This emotionally crippling insight into one couple’s turbulent relationship shot Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams back into the limelight, and earned them a few dozen award nominations in the process. After years of suffering various unfortunate setbacks, Derek Cianfrance’s passion project came to fruition with such intensity that it was hard to ignore. From the offset I was hooked, so it’d be impossible for Blue Valentine not to be my top film of the year so far.

Films of notable interest: Hobo With A Shotgun, Trust, Project Nim, Attack The Block, Rango, The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adèle Blanc-Sec, Rubber, Pina 3D, Scream 4, Winnie The Pooh, Meek’s Cutoff, X-Men: First Class, The Silent House, 13 Assassins, Perfect Sense, Thor and Cave Of Forgotten Dreams.

Films to think no more of: Mars Needs Moms, Larry Crowne, Ghosted, I Am Number Four, The Rite, Faster, Chalet Girl, Red Riding Hood and Battle: Los Angeles.

DVD Releases: May 9, 2011

The King’s Speech

Director: Tom Hooper

Starring: Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush

Blue Valentine

Director: Derek Cianfrance

Starring: Michelle Williams, Ryan Gosling and Faith Wladyka

The Way Back

Director: Peter Weir

Starring: Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris and Colin Farrell

I Saw The Devil

Director: Jee-woon Kim

Starring: Byung-hun Lee, Min-sik Choi and Gook-hwan Jeon

Biutiful

Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Starring: Javier Bardem, Maricel Álvarez and Hanaa Bouchaib

Archipelago

Director: Joanna Hogg

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Christopher Baker and Kate Fahy

Chico & Rita

Director: Tono Errando, Javier Mariscal and Fernando Trueba

Starring: Mario Guerra, Limara Meneses and Eman Xor Oña

Waiting For Superman

Director: Davis Guggenheim

Starring: The Black Family, Geoffrey Canada and The Esparza Family

Review: Archipelago (2010)

Archipelago is Joanna Hogg’s second directorial feature, and stars Tom Hiddleston, Christopher Baker, Kate Fahy, Amy Lloyd and Lydia Leonard.

The film follows an upper class family and their holiday on Tresco, Isles of Scilly. Patricia (Fahy) calls together daughter Cynthia (Leonard) and son Edward (Hiddleston) for some quality time before Edward embarks upon a volunteer placement in Africa While their father appears only over phone calls, he casts an unseen presence on the characters’ development. With hired cook Rose (Lloyd) and family friend Christopher (Baker), the family’s relationships soon begin to strain, and its foundations are tested and tortured as the holiday continues.

Filmed on location, the weather, natural lighting, and the raw, irresolute environment perfectly echo the family’s turbulent relationships, switching from light optimism as they initially gather to a dull grey monotone when they eventually depart.

In long, static takes, full of wide shots which dare to linger and embrace the awkwardness, Hogg delicately exposes the chasm between polite pretences and repressed animosity.

The script exquisitely fluctuates between the brutally comic and the frustratingly trivial actions. Some may find it uncomfortable, but Hogg instills the right amount of indignation to keep the audience emotionally invested throughout, taking her time to carefully examine each character, as well as the family dynamic as a whole.

The acting itself, in particularly from Hiddleston, is superb, with all the actors committing admirable and earnest performances as their respective emotionally disconcerted character, each at different stages in their lives.

Most of the dialogue and character interactions are improvised, relying on staging, body language and the vapid conversations to further the narrative, which in turn give the family’s relationships a wonderfully authentic nature.

Ed Rutherford’s score is impeccable, seamlessly integrating with the films low-key style, helping to accentuate the unsettled relationship at its heart, and the unsaid words lingering between them.

All these elements make Archipelago a wonderfully raw, realistic and inquisitive study into family life: the ups and downs, the turmoil, the repressed emotions and the subtle moments of joy. It’s a truly superb and accomplished piece of filmmaking that, while not being to everyone’s tastes, certainly proves that Hogg is one of the most visually daring and unique British directors in recent years.

Some may find it deplorable and and utterly pointless, while others will cherish it and savour every moment. I, on the one hand, find myself in the second category.

Cinema Releases: March 4, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau

Director: George Nolfi

Starring: Matt Damon, Emily Blut and Anthony Mackie

Rango

Director: Gore Verbinski

Starring: Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher and Timothy Olyphant

Unknown

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Starring: Liam Neeson, January Jones and Diane Kruger

Ironclad

Director: Jonathan English

Starring: Kate Mara, Brian Cox and Derek Jacobi

The Tempest

Director: Julie Taymor

Starring: Helen Mirren, Felicity Jones and Djimon Hounsou

Archipelago

Director: Joanna Hogg

Starring: Christopher Baker, Kate Fahy and Tom Hiddleston

The African Queen

Director: John Huston

Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn and Robert Morley