BFI Film Academy: London to Glasgow trip review Part 2

After a jam packed day one, I was awoken for the second day in a row by the unwanted sound of my alarm. We may have had a hugely exciting day planned, but I’m a teenager and I’d only had 6 hours sleep so unsurprisingly I was probably a total chore to be around that morning. Only the mentally challenging London tube maze got my act together in time for stop number 1.

After a short tube ride back to the city centre it was time for a typically film themed lunch, at Planet Hollywood, before the talk that I was most looking forward to.

Empire Magazine is the biggest film magazine in the world and attending a talk from assistant editor, Ian Freer, was fantastic. I’m sure this won’t surprise anyone (as I have a film review blog) but writing for Empire Magazine would be a dream come true, and spending three quarters of an hour in the building where the magazine is produced did not lessen my desire to work there one day. The most striking aspect of Empire’s work force was the fact that everyone displayed a huge love for film. It was becoming very clear that all of the qualifications in the world will do no good in the film industry without knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, the subject.

Last on the list for today was a tour of special effects company ‘Double Negative’ and although this is an area of the industry that I have never been interested in pursuing, I can honestly say that it was one of the most amazing places I have ever been. It’s such a fantastic and modern building, full of signed posters from stars and directors. With various awards displayed majestically throughout this incredible building, I am fairly convinced that this will be the closest I will ever get to an Oscar,  and it was such an impressive setting in which to see it.

Day 2 of our London and Glasgow trip was fantastic, and I feel genuinely privileged to have visited such incredible and influential companies. All that remained was a quick train journey up to Scotland, ready for a day at the Glasgow film festival. We had been promised entrance to  a few screenings,  including a premier of the new comedy from Wes Anderson ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’. All will be revealed in part 3.

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The Oscars 2014: Thoughts and Predictions

With the Oscars just a few days away, I thought it might be a good idea to give my opinion on who I believe firstly; will take home at least one of the famous golden statues, and secondly who I think actually deserves to win (as these are not always the same). Also I won’t be commenting on any of the categories that I am less interested in, or feel I simply don’t know enough about to pick a winner. For instance I will leave out the award for ‘Best Foreign Language film’, simply because I haven’t seen any of the nominations.

Best Visual Effects

The Nominations:

–        Gravity

–        The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

–        Iron Man 3

–        The Lone Ranger

–        Star Trek Into Darkness  

My Prediction: Gravity

With some of the most sophisticated and convincing visual effects to ever grace the big screen, Gravity is nominated for multiple categories this year and rightly so.

My Choice: Gravity

With some genuine classics being released over the last 12 months Gravity will have  its work cut out to beat some of the more narrative and character based films to ‘Best Film’ but visually, nothing came close to Alfonso Cuarón’s space epic.


Best Original Song

The Nominations:

–        Happy (Despicable me 2)

–        Let It Go (Frozen)

–        The Moon Song (Her)

–        Ordinary Love (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom)

My Prediction: Let It Go (Frozen)

If you haven’t been living on another planet or floating round outer space Gravity style, then you will have heard this song played at some point. With well over 100 million views on YouTube, Idina Menzel’s Disney hit is surely the obvious choice for this award.

My Choice: Let it Go (Frozen)   

Admittedly, this song is a huge guilty pleasure for me. As a rule, musicals aren’t really my sort of film, but I think a combination of having a Girlfriend that plays this song 24 hours a day 7 days a week and Idina Menzel’s stunning voice has meant that I might even go as far as saying I like it………. maybe.


Best Film Editing

The Nominations:

–        American Hustle

–        Captain Phillips

–        Dallas Buyers Club

–        Gravity

–        12 Years a Slave

My Prediction: Captain Phillips

I have a feeling that this film will pick up at least a few of the 6 Oscars it is nominated for, and in terms of editing, this film is just as worthy as the rest of this list of brilliant nominations.  

My Choice: 12 Years a Slave

‘12 Years a Slave’ is quite rightly expected to dominate this year’s Oscars. I genuinely believe that when people look back at this period in cinema, Steve McQueen’s take on slavery will be considered a classic. The film is fantastically edited and put together, and although I don’t think it will win everything it is nominated for, it possibly deserves to.


Best Directing

The Nominations:

–        David O. Russell (America Hustle)

–        Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity)

–         Alexandra Payne (Nebraska)

–        Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)

–        Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street)

My Prediction: Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street) OR Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)

In an amazing year for film, a case could certainly be made for any one of these directors. Based on popularity alone I would predict that Scorsese or McQueen will take the trophy, but every director on this list should take great pride in knowing that if they get beaten, they will have been beaten by one of the best.

My Choice: Steve McQueen

As I have already said, this film will be remembered for a very long time. If the other directors in question had released their films in another year then it would be almost too close to call, but McQueen’s masterpiece should, in my opinion, secure him his first Oscar win.


Best Costume Design

The Nominations:

–        American Hustle

–        The Grandmaster

–        The Great Gatsby

–        The Invisible Women

–        12 Years a Slave

My Prediction: The Great Gatsby

I hated this film, but if I had to pick out one thing (other than Di Caprio) that I was actually impressed by, it would be the costumes. Having said that, I still don’t think that ‘The Great Gatsby’s’ costumes justified an Oscar, I fear judges may see it differently.

My Choice: American Hustle

I was less blown away by this film than a lot of people, but the costumes are superb and my personal favourite…….. and no that’s not just because of Amy Adams cleavage…. Though it didn’t do any harm.


Best Cinematography

The Nominations:

–        The Grandmaster

–        Gravity

–        Inside Llewyn Davis

–        Nebraska

–        Prisoners

My Prediction: Gravity

Oscars are not always given to the most deserving films, but Gravity was in such a class of one in terms of Cinematography and I can’t see it being beaten.

My Choice: Gravity

Gravity was a huge success this year and its visual effects were only matched by its cinematography. As a piece of art it is breath taking.


Best Animated Film


–        The Croods

–        Despicable Me 2

–        Ernest and Celestine

–        Frozen

–        The Wind Rises

My prediction: Frozen

Disney’s hit winter musical has been too successful and is now too loved by too many people to not win this award. Not a personal favourite, but if it is beaten I will be hugely surprised.

My Choice: Despicable Me 2

This film was not everyone’s cup of tea, and though it lacks some of the charm of the original, it still kept me laughing and was my favourite animation of the year.


Best Actress in a Supporting Role

The Nominations:

–        Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)

–        Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)

–        Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)

–        Julia Roberts (august: Osage County)

–        Une Squibb (Nebraska)

My Prediction: Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)

Hollywood’s favourite young actress gave another great performance in American Hustle and considering her popularity amongst a huge following of fans, the pressure will be on to land her with another academy award.

My Choice: Lupita Nyongo’o (12 Years a Slave)

’12 Years’ is an amazing film with amazing performances. Though she might not quite manage to beat Jennifer Lawrence, Lupita Nyongo’s performance is rightly acclaimed by many critics and fans and would be my choice.


Best Actor in a Supporting Role

The Nominations:

–        Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)

–        Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)

–        Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)

–        Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)

–        Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

My Prediction: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

The 30 Seconds to Mars frontman’s performance as a transgender Woman named Rayon has been hugely praised since day one and he remains my favourite to pick up the academy award.

My Choice: Daniel Bruhl

My favourite performance as a supporting actor failed to even reach the nominations this year. Jared Leto may be basically nailed on to take the prize, but in my opinion Daniel Bruhl’s portrayal of Formula One supremo ‘Nikki Lauda’ in ‘Rush’ was superb. I was gutted that Ron Howard’s sports epic missed out on any Oscar nominations to begin with, but if it was ever going to win an academy award, Daniel should have at least been in the running for this one.


Best Actress in Leading Role

The Nominations:

–        Amy Adams (American Hustle)

–        Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)

–        Sandra Bullock (Gravity)

–        Judi Dench (Philomena)

–        Meryl Streep (August: Osage Country)

My Prediction: Sandra Bullock (Gravity)

Sandra Bullock wouldn’t be my personal choice for this award but if she did win I don’t think I could complain as she gives a great performance.

My Choice: Amy Adams (American Hustle)

As a viewer I hated Amy Adams character (Sydney Prosser), but that shouldn’t take away anything from her superb performance.


Best Actor in a Leading Role

The Nominations:

–        Christian Bale (American Hustle)

–        Bruce Dern (Nebraska)

–        Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)

–        Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)

–        Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

My Prediction: Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)  

Amazing performance, but still not who I would give the Oscar to.

My Choice: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)

Could this be the year for Leonardo? His performance in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ is yet another worthy showing and surely it is just a matter of time until the award stops eluding him.


Best Picture

The Nominations:

–        American Hustle

–        Captain Phillips

–        Dallas Buyers Club

–        Gravity

–        Her

–        Nebraska

–        Philomena

–        12 Years a Slave

–        The Wolf of Wall Street

My Prediction: 12 Years a Slave OR Dallas Buyers Club

Films most prestigious award is likely to go to one of these two films and both would be worthy winners but there can be only one.

My Choice: 12 Years a Slave

With one of the most amazing years for film in a decade, 12 Years a Slave would be my personal choice for Best Picture. Fantastically written, superbly acted and emotionally draining, McQueen’s masterpiece will be remembered for many years to come.


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BFI Film Academy: London to Glasgow trip review Part One

The sound of my alarm clock going off so early last Wednesday made me want to cry. Only the prospect of an action packed schedule, full of trips to top end film companies and exciting screenings, gave enough motivation to drag myself onto the train to London.

Day One: At midday we finally arrived at Kings Cross Station, tired and starving but raring to go. Stop number one was Universal Distributors, and unfortunately I would have to say that following a talk on the subject, distribution is not an area of the film industry that I would want to work in. Simply put, Mondays and the subsequent holdovers that need to be sorted sound stressful enough to leave me curled up in a corner rocking backwards and forwards, in need of a cuddle. Having said that though, the talk was very interesting and even in the small time we got to spend with Universal, it became very clear that the one thing everyone working there had in common was a huge love for all things cinema. To top it all off, a screening of the classic ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, rounded off a very enjoyable experience.

Next up was Picture House, another distribution company based in London which runs over 20 cinemas around the UK. Again this was very interesting and we really got a sense of how much research needs to be done about target audiences, just to keep a cinema successful.

So after a great start to the day, what could possibly be better for a group of young film enthusiasts than a screening at the ICA? Well in this case pretty much anything….. seriously, light torture would have been better than what we got. ‘Leviathan’ is a 2012 documentary arts film directed by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel. It is an experimental work about the North American fishing industry and relies on nothing but raw footage from various angles and perspectives, of workmen, on a small boat. With no narrative to speak of, this arts film was entertaining for a good 2 minutes. Sadly the rest of the 85 minutes were so dull, repetitive and boring that it sent most of the admittedly small audience into deep sleep. Those who managed to sit through the whole thing waited in vain, as it didn’t get any better as the seconds snailed by. I was even more surprised after ‘googling’ this title, to find a flood of high ratings and positive reviews. Different? Yes. Successfully makes the audience feel lonely and isolated? Yes. Fascinating piece of work? Perhaps, but for the majority of man kind I still feel interest would be lost within seconds, and though many critics seem to see fantastic art, expression and passion, I will always remember ‘Leviathan’ as an 87 minute snooze fest that fully justified our ironic celebrations at its finish. But never mind it was erm….. an experience, and by comparison, every film I see for the rest of my life will be compelling and interesting.

Overall, day one was a fantastic, and as I will illustrate in parts 2 and 3, the trip only improved over the next 2 days.

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I’m Back! (Hopefully)

Its been a long time since I posted on this blog. With the stresses of A level life my reviews have had to take a back seat, but hopefully I’m back to stay (for now at least). There have been lot of great films that have been released recently and I hope to have my say on all of them!

Update! Today I was given the wonderful news that I have an essay due in tomorrow and dailies for my A2 short film on Thursday so yet again blogging has had to fall down my list of priorities 😦 but never mind half term is coming up so fingers crossed my teachers will be merciful and give me a break in the holidays. Until then, reviews are again on hold but I’m doing my best!


5 Films Worth Looking Forward to in 2013: Part 3 – Thor The Dark World

Tied down with A level coursework and University hunting, my film blog has been forced into the back seat recently, BUT FEAR NOT. I have returned, and without wishing to waste further time, here is another film worth looking forward to this year. (If I keep going at this rate it’ll be the end of the year before I finish this series) WARNING THIS POST MAY INCLUDE SPOILERS!

Fresh from a fantastic performance as Formula One legend James Hunt, in Ron Howard’s “Rush”, Chris Hemsworth returns to the more familiar role of Thor.

File:Thor - The Dark World poster.jpgDespite the potentially very valid argument that Marvels individual superhero movies are just filler before we get an Avengers sequel, for me it is still very fair to get excited about a 2nd Thor film (and not just because Natalie Portman is in it…… although that is still a good point.) One year after the events of The avengers, Thor must fight to save the nine realms as the threat of Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) attempts to throw the Universe into Darkness.

The film is directed by Alan Taylor, which gives me hope, as he has been sitting in the main chair for multiple episodes of HBO’s much loved TV series Game Of Thrones as well as being on the books for Terminator’s recreation (expected in 2015). To add to all this, the visual effects shown in the trailer look fantastic, and to top it all off, the return of Loki (this time seemingly fighting for the right side) makes this film more than worthy of securing a place on this list.

3 things to look forward to:

  1. Thor and Loki working together: As the trailer clearly shows, Thor is relaying on his brother to help him, and that can only end well can’t it?…… well either way it should be entertaining.
  2. The Cast: Chris Hemsworth returning as the god of thunder, Tom Hiddlestone reunites with Loki and oh yes NATALIE PORTMAN is back as Jane Foster. That must be a group worth looking forward to seeing again.
  3. The Visual effects: Again, using the trailer for guidance you would have to say that the locations in this sequel look stunning, and you can certainly tell that they come from the same company that gave us The Avengers.

Thor may not be the most popular protagonist in Marvels Cinematic Universe (because lets face it, that’s Iron Man), but it’s certainly fair to say that this film has all the ingredients to be another classic. (Releasing October 30th)

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5 films worth looking forward to in 2013: Part 2 – The Desolation of Smaug

Even though I am not a huge fan of Peter Jackson’s first attempt at translating Tolkien’s classic onto the big screen (but that’s a review for another day), I cannot deny that I let out a little excited scream when I saw the first Desolation of Smaug trailer a few days ago. WARNING THIS POST MAY INCLUDE SPOILERS!

File:The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug Teaser Poster.jpg

Following a last minute escape from the pale orc, Bilbo and his companions must continue their journey to the dwarf land of Erebor in order to defeat the great dragon, Smaug……as the eagles that saved them could CLEARLY only fly them halfway to their destination. Regardless of the obvious plot holes however, there is no denying that the return of Legolas and introduction Smaug are enough to keep middle earth fans excited. The popular cast, of Martin Freeman, Ian Mckellen and co. re-appear for the penultimate part of the trilogy. If there is one thing that I would never criticize about this film’s predecessor, it is the acting, and I hope the well loved characters are presented as well as they were in An Unexpected Journey. Unsurprisingly, this film follows some of Jackson’s styles from the first film, including the controversial 48 frames per second camera’s, which possibly caused more debate than the actual film did. To add to this, the more childish personas from this tale, full of talking dragons and a weed smoking brown wizards return, which is undeniably a huge change to the darker and more war driven tales of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Desolation of Smaug also brings with it the addition of Benedict Cumberbatch, voicing the evil, gold crazed Dragon, and even the brief dialogue that fans have heard in the latest teaser trailer was enough to convince me that he is perfect for the role. The question is, can he be defeated by a tiny burglar from the shire? Well, as there is part 3 still to come in 2015,  it shouldn’t be too hard to work out really!

3 things to look forward to:

  1. The return of Legolas: Orlando Bloom is reunited with his role as the arrow firing, Dwarf insulting, orc killing legend that is Legolas, and again if the trailer is any indication of what is to come, we should get more of the character we know and love from LOTR.
  2. The Pale Orc continues: I may be one of the few people who genuinely enjoyed the introduction of the Pale Orc, his story may well have been introduced purely to add filler so 3 films could be made out of this otherwise short story (as some skeptics claim), but for me the added narrative is still interesting and a rematch between the one armed monster and our team of hero’s is certainly worth looking forward to.
  3. Smaug: FINALLY, after so much hype and sitting through an entire first film only to find out that we won’t see the dragon for another year, Smaug will finally hit the big screen and if the incredible CGI in an Unexpected journey was anything to go by, it should be epic.

The Desolation of Smaug, is one of, if not THE most anticipated film of 2013 and I like many others can’t wait to flock to the cinema to see how chapter 2 of The Hobbit trilogy unfolds (Releasing December 11th)

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5 films worth looking forward to in 2013: Part 1 – Catching Fire

It has been 11 long days since my last post, but in all fairness I’m 18, I’m a male, and GTA 5 came out last week. Frankly It’s a miracle that I have managed to rip myself away from the screen long enough to write anything. WARNING THIS POST MAY INCLUDE SPOILERS!

There may only be just over 3 months left of the year, but that doesn’t mean that there is nothing left to look forward to on the big screen in 2013. Over the next few weeks I shall be listing 5 films that I cannot wait to role into my local cinema in the final months of this year, starting with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.   File:The Hunger Games-Catching Fire Theatrical Poster.jpg

Following the success of the first film, Lionsgate bring us the highly anticipated sequel to the movie adaptation of Susan Collins popular novel series. As you might expect the same cast of stars return for Catching Fire, including Jennifer Lawrence, who plays the protagonist, Katniss Everdeen and fans everywhere will be dying to see another great performance from the admired young actress.

(If you don’t want to know any details for this film, I suggest you stop reading now)

Catching Fire follows up where the last film left off. Katniss Everdeen and fellow champion Peeta Mellarck (Played by Josh Hutcherson) return home to their families after narrowly escaping the 74th annual Hunger Games with their lives. The reunion is short lived however as with a warning from President Snow still fresh in her ears, Katniss must embark on a victory tour, parading through all of the districts without encouraging escalation for an already brewing rebellion. Then there is the Quarter quell to worry about, which is effectively the Hunger Games with a twist, and it brings with it some horrific news for both Katniss and Peeta. They are going back into the arena. If you thought the first games where a challenge for our heroes, wait until you see them thrown into a fight to the death with 22 former victors of past Hunger Games.

3 things to look forward to:

  1. The Arena: If you have read the books or even seen the trailer for Catching Fire you should understand the fans excitement at the incredible environment for the 75th Games
  2. The Peeta v.s Gale Saga: As katniss struggles through inner turmoil over where her heart truly lies, it should be very interesting to see how both Liam Hemsworth (Gale) and Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) portray their characters in their pursuit of District 12’s female champion.
  3. The New additions to the cast:  the addition of more characters means more actors and actresses to represent the loved and hated personas of the Catching Fire Novel. It should be great to see how the performances from the new additions to the franchise go down with the book fans and thier high expectations.

The Hunger Games may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are a fan of the books or you found yourself entertained by Catching Fires predecessor, it would be hard not to look forward to this Blockbuster. (Releasing November 22nd)

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