So, Where Were We?

I can’t lie. I dropped the ball slightly. Last post was in 2018. I literally had to reset my WordPress password because I forgot it. The editing tools are so different, so hopefully I can jazz these up a bit more. It’s nearly 2020. I started uni, stopped posting and had an absolutely cracking first year. To put it into context, since my last post, I’ve started uni, met about 200 new people (some of whom are now some of my best friends), watched about 100 new films, played about 25 games of rugby, grown a moustache, shaved that moustache, shaved my head, grew my hair back, torn my MCL, met my current girlfriend, drunkenly asked out my current girlfriend, managed to keep my current girlfriend, ran a half-marathon, done a triathlon, done a Tough Mudder, passed my first year of uni, got a job at the RFU, driven over 3000 miles, started my second year of uni, moved into three new houses (mum’s, dad’s and my uni one), turned 21, and passed out on the street of King’s Road in my own vomit. Probably left out a few things, but those are the highlights. So the purpose of this article is just to recalibrate, remind you all that you do still follow me, and get cracking with posting reguarly again. I think the easiest way to do that is to go through the best 5 films I’ve watched since my last post, and a few honorable mentions. After a year of studying film, I’ll try to not let all the pretentious vocab infiltrate these articles. In the words of Heath Ledger’s Joker: “and here…we..go.”

5. EnemyDenis Villeneuve

Gyllenhaal stars as two men in this, for lack of a better word, mindfuck of a film

As I have always made obvious, Jake Gyllenhaal is my guy. I can barely think of any one of his films that I didn’t like, or at least didn’t like him in. I’m blocking Prince of Persia: Sands of Time from my brain, it never happened. This film is just criminally underrated. Anything by A24 is worth a watch, and is always going to be thought provoking. I watched this with my now housemate, Euan, and we had to pause the film about three times to process what was happening and how crazy it was. We finished the film, watched a 30 minute explanation of it on YouTube, and read about 10 different articles, and concluded that it was amazing, and proceeded to not shut up about it for the next week. We talked about it so much that our other housemate, Kwesi, watched it so as to not feel left out. It’s really good. This is certainly Gyllenhaal’s film, and his performance is up there with the best of his career. I don’t want to give up too much about the plot, because you should form your own opinion about what happens. (Hint – the chronology is as confusing as any film I’ve ever seen) But everything about this film is superb. The washed out hue of the cinematography, the top-tier acting, the accomplished directing as Villeneuve guides us through the web (inside joke for those who watched it) of mystery. Watch it.

Best Scene: The two Jakes meeting
Best Character: Helen
Best Actor/Actress: Obvious
Best Quote: “Did you have a good day at school?” – Helen

4. A Star is Born – Bradley Cooper

Both Cooper and Gaga shine in this heartbreaking film

The fact that this film only got an Oscar for ‘Best Song’ is unbelievable. I was convinced coming out that both Cooper and Gaga would get them, they’re both incredible. Gaga was a revelation, both musically and acting-wise, and I hope firstly she makes more music highlighting her voice, and secondly does more films. She is spectacular. Cooper too, making his directorial debut, stars as Jackson Maine and gives one of the most cripplingly realistic performances of alcoholism and addiction put to screen. I’ve never been in a cinema and literally no one move at the end because everyone was uncontrollably sobbing. Not crying, fully bawling their eyes out. It is hard to watch, and long, but it is definitely worth it. The love story is beautiful, the acting is top drawer, and the music is faultless. Cooper’s voice and Gaga’s acting suggest maybe they both could use a career change, they’re just incredible. The end is potentially the saddest end to a film I’ve ever seen. At the end of the day, a film’s job is to make you feel, and this definitely does that.

Best Scene: First performance of ‘Shallow’
Best Character: Jackson
Best Actor/Actress: Lady Gaga
Best Quote: “Don’t wanna give my heart away/To another stranger” – Ally

3. Avengers: Endgame – The Russo Brothers

The ‘Big 3’ Avengers get their moments in the sun in this epic finale

I won’t lie, I did drag my girlfriend to watch this at midnight, the day it came out, in Leicester Square. So worth it. As the climax of 20 beloved films, this was actually even better than I thought, which is just crazy. It races through its 3 hour runtime, and never feels slow. It never wastes a moment and brings us back to our original six Avengers to focus on their stories. There’s so much to talk about, but the highlights are definitely the moments of shameless fan service. Cap using the hammer, the heroes all coming back, and Iron Man snapping his fingers are three legitimate legendary moments in 21st century cinema. Yes, it’s full of fan service, but I loved it. Downey Jr is amazing, not Oscar-worthy in my opinion, but great, Evans is Evans, and Renner/Johannson do brilliantly with their roles too, particularly Renner. However, the star of this film for me was Hemsworth. I know some people feel cheated that Thor was just a “joke” for the whole film, but I think Hemsworth gave a remarkably nuanced performance, conveying a fascinating portrayal of PTSD in the superhero world, along with his fantastic comedic timing. Thanos is not quite the balanced villain we knew in Infinity War, but he’s still terrifying. You’ve obviously already seen this, but still, it was good right?

Best Scene: Cap wields the hamer
Best Character: Hawkeye
Best Actor/Actress: Chris Hemsworth
Best Quote: “Hey, Cap, do you read me? Cap, it’s Sam. Can you hear me? On your left” – Falcon

2. Rocketman – Dexter Fletcher

Taron Egerton is the front-runner for the Oscar so far (N.B. The Lighthouse, Queenie and Slim and other are not yet out)

I have never been that big an Elton John fan to be honest. I’m a big Taron Egerton fan (as is my mum), and his voice in Sing (singing Elton John) was spectacular, so I did have high hopes for this, and wow I was not disappointed. The second film on my list about an alcholic singer played by an amazing actor, this film is beautifully shot, playing wonderfully with magical realism and fantasy. The musical numbers are well choreographed, and manage to enhance the story, rather than just singing. Egerton voice is remarkable, he does not try to sound like John, he just sings beautifully. I did feel like some songs, such as ‘Tiny Dancer’ deserved a bit more of a big deal, but that was a tiny complaint. The film guides us through the rough parts of Elton’s life, and a lot of it is not easy viewing, but it’s worth sticking with. Jamie Bell is excellent, as is Kit Connor, who portrays young Elton. I wasn’t such a fan of Richard Madden’s performance, but that could for a number of reasons. His character is unlikeable so maybe that biased me. My girlfriend also is in love with him, so that didn’t help my neutrality either…All in all this is a brilliant, film for anyone, not just Elton fans. I’ve had the soundtrack on repeat ever since.

Best Scene: ‘Crocodile Rock’ in the Trubador
Best Character: Bernie
Best Actor/Actress: Taron Egerton
Best Quote: “Real love is hard to come by. So you find a way to cope without it.” – Elton

1. Us – Jordan Peele

If Lupita doesn’t get an Oscar, we riot.

I clearly had a year of loving films about alcoholic musicians and people playing two characters. In all seriousness, this film went straight into my top 15 of all time, it’s perfect. There is seriously nothing wrong with this film. It has top acting, brilliant camerawork, well-written humour, nuanced characters, and intruiging plot, and cements ‘a Jordan Peele film’ as a must-see event in the current cinema age. Again, I don’t want to spoil too much in case you haven’t seen it, but I could seriously talk about this film for hours, if I can find a way to write my dissertation on Get Out and Us, I will. Lupita is in my mind guaranteed an Oscar, she delivers an all-time great performance of a villain, with tonnes of depth to her character(s). Winston Duke is also great, with great comedic acting combined with the layers of insecurity as the father. The kids too are superb, and Shahadi Wright Joseph, who plays the daughter, in particular has a huge future I think. If you’re expecting Get Out, this isn’t it, it’s much more of a classic horror, but it is just as thought-provoking. It leaves you asking questions, and it gets better with every watch as you unearth more and more details. In all seriousness, a 21st century classic.

Best Scene: The reveal
Best Character: Red
Best Actor/Actress: Lupita Nyongo’o
Best Quote: “Now I thought I done told you to get off my property. So if y’all wanna get crazy…we can get crazy” – Gabe

Honourable Mentions

  • The Lion King – Yep, I loved it
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home – We love Jake
  • Long Shot – Exactly the type of film I want to write
  • Booksmart – A great, if unoriginal film
  • The Great Hack – More frightening than Us
  • Fighting With My Family – Just really heartwarming

Do you disagree? Comment below and let me know what I missed!

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