Oscar Fodder: Mini Movie Reviews

The big short 2Hello blog readers! Yes, it has been some time, and for that I profusely apologise. I could make up a fancy pants and complex excuse involving aliens, cats turning into dogs and time travel, but instead I will just stick with – I was a bit busy. But, it’s a long weekend, Oscar movies are flooding the cinemas so I feel it is my duty as a often movie-related blogger to inform you of my views on what you should see, and what you can miss. So here you go – the latest four Oscar baiting films I have seen, in order of how soon you should hightail it to the cinema to see them.

The Big Short: I will admit to having watched the (superb) trailer for this around ten times when it came out, so was super amped to see this true tale of the people who predicted that the GFC was going to happen, and made truck loads of cash doing so. I knew it was based on a Michael Lewis book (whose previous fare Liar’s Poker actually made me understand Wall Street a little bit), and that it was jam packed with big stars (Christian Bale! Brad Pitt! Ryan Gosling! Steve Carell!). What I didn’t expect was it to be so freaking funny. Written and directed by Anchorman director (and Saturday Night Live Alumnus Adam McKay) the humour shouldn’t have been a surprise. But the way he manages to get you to a) understand how the GFC actually happened 2) laugh about it at times while also 3) seriously conveying the effect this event had on people around the world, is a truly impressive feat. So impressive I went back for a second watch. This is my front runner for the best picture Oscar, and gets 5 multi-coloured M&Ms from me.

Spotlight: I am a sucker for movies and TV shows where dedicated and dogged journalists work night and day to uncover and expose stories that need to be told (State of Play and The Newsroom being my top two). So Spotlight was a no brainer for me. It tells the tale of the group of investigative reporters from the Boston Globe (played brilliantly by Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo and Brian D’arcy James) who launch a no-holds barred investigation into child abuse within the Catholic Church. A controversial issue anywhere, but in Boston where the Catholic Church is literally everywhere, a potentially career ending one. Again, this is a true story, and again this is brilliantly told. Ruffalo’s performance in particular is a stand out, as is the script. And it reminded me yet again of the importance of investigative journalism at a time when click bait is king. Fingers crossed some newspaper editors and TV head honchos watched this and thought the same thing…4 and a half multi-coloured M&Ms from me.

Room: the fact that a movie with this subject matter can be life affirming is a truly incredible one – but true it is, even if the story isn’t. Room is the story of five year old Jack, who has spent his entire life in one room – actually a shed – where, he comes to learn, he and his mother have been held captive, and she has been the subject of continuous sexual abuse. Yes, it sounds intense and depressing and in some respects it is, but there is much more to the film than just that. I had read the book already so was prepared for what happens and is revealed, but even with that background the film still packed a punch. And that was in large part due to the simply sensational performances of Brie (must win the Oscar or I will punch someone) Larson and young Jacob Tremblay. I think any film that makes you look at the world a little differently or appreciate it a little more is a winner, and this wins on all counts. Also 4 and a half multi-coloured M&Ms from me.

Steve Jobs: So this biopic isn’t nominated for Best Film (and reasonably so, I think) but is up for a slew of other awards. I went in with admittedly very high expectations, largely based on the fact my favourite writer OF ALL TIME Aaron Sorkin (West Wing, The Newsroom, The Social Network) had written the script, not to mention the fact it had a great cast (Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Jeff Daniels) and a stellar director in Danny Boyle. But, the film left me a little cold. Sure, it was a cleverly told story of Steve Jobs and the various ructions within Apple – told through three different sequences, all in the short time before a new product launch. Sure, the script was witty and clever as you would expect from Sorkin. And sure, the performances were excellent. But I just didn’t love it. I have tried to put my finger on why, and can’t. It could have been another Social Network – but that film was far superior in my view. But, it was still miles better than the terribly shite Ashton Kutcher Steve Jobs biopic from a few years back that is best forgotten. And it is still worth a watch. Four blue M&Ms from me.

That’s all for now folks – though a bit of a disclaimer first. Usually I try and see all the contenders for Best Picture, but I managed to miss Bridge of Spies and I have absolutely no desire to see Leo DiCaprio being mauled by a bear in The Revenant (though I hear it is excellent). But I will see and review Brooklyn soon, will get a review of The Martian up shortly and you can read my (not very favourable) views on Mad Max: Fury Road here. In the meantime, get thee to the movies people. Not just for the movies – there is air con there too 😉


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