March Film Preview

By Orla Smith

It’s been two months, and 2016 still refuses to go away. Here in the UK, we’re being gifted by a massive pile-up of independent and arthouse leftovers in March, as well as a promising blockbuster each week and newer film with the potential to make best of the year lists (see March releases ‘Hail, Caesar!’ and ‘The Witch’ from last year). One I’ve already seen – the intimate doc ‘All This Panic’ – is worth your time, and there’s plenty more that might be: ‘The Love Witch’, ‘Aquarius, ‘Logan’, ‘Graduation’, ‘Viceroy’s House’, ‘The Salesman’ and ‘Kong: Skull Island’ all look great, but they didn’t quite make my list of the top 5 most anticipated March UK releases.

2016 Oscar Predictions: Final Edition

By Orla Smith

With one day to go, the noise surrounding this year’s Oscar nominees is almost unbearable. There’s backlash every year, but this year in particular ‘La La Land’ has generated the kind of arguments that leaves both sides with vicious battle scars. We’re all ready for it to be over, but let’s enjoy it while we can. Here are my predictions and hopes for the night.

BEST PICTURE

Arrival

Fences

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

La La Land (WILL WIN)

Lion

Manchester by the Sea

‘John Wick: Chapter Two’ Review: Keanu Reeves and Chad Stahelski Put Every Recent Action Movie to Shame

This perfectly paced, masterfully directed sequel far outshines is predecessor, delivering creative action and proving a valuable star vehicle for Keanu Reeves.

By Orla Smith

I would follow Keanu Reeves to the ends of the earth. The quality of his acting has been hotly debated for years, but ‘John Wick: Chapter Two’ is enough to close the book on at least one issue: he is the greatest action star we have.

Outclassing the likes of Matt Damon and Bruce Willis (in his prime), his stunt work capabilities equal that of Tom Cruise. But Keanu rises above Cruise due to his sweetness, which emanates so strongly that it can even be felt when he’s lodging a pencil into someone’s brain.

‘Fences’ Review: Titanic Acting Saves Denzel Washington’s Unimaginative Adaptation

Viola Davis stands out in this Oscar nominated adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer prize winning play about racial and generational tension in 1950s America.

By Orla Smith

What do Oscar nominees ‘Moonlight’ and ‘Fences’ have in common? Their exclusively black casts might be the first thing that springs to your mind, and it’s certainly the element that’s been most focused on within the culture of Oscar buzz, but rather what I want to explore is how the two relate to each other as adaptations of plays.

2016 Best Picture Nominees Ranked

By Orla Smith

Yesterday marked the UK release of ‘Fences’, ‘Hidden Figures’ and ‘Moonlight’, the last three of this year’s Best Picture nominees to be available in cinemas here. It’s a stunning batch this year, particularly in comparison to previous line-ups. What stands out is the consistency, as well as the fact that for once, most of the year’s very best got a slot. Of course, there’s those brilliant movies that were inevitably going to be snubbed, stuff like ‘The Witch’, ‘Paterson’, ‘American Honey’ and ‘Hail, Caesar!’. And every year, there’s one that seemed like sure-fire Oscar material but curiously missed a nomination. Last year it was Todd Haynes’ masterpiece ‘Carol’, whose snub was particularly confounding given that the film itself was 2015’s best bar none. This year, it’s Martin Scorsese’s ‘Silence’, a magnum opus epic in every sense of the word. It’s monumental work that feels like the culmination of a career, and given its director and sheer quality, it’s almost total exclusion is baffling. If you had told me a year ago that ‘Silence’ would only earn one Oscar nomination, I’d have laughed in your face.

’20th Century Women’ Review: The Lives of a Group of Women in the Late 70s, Vividly Remembered

Mike Mills follows up ‘Beginners’, a remembrance of his father, with ’20th Century Women’, a testament to his mother.

By Orla Smith

’20th Century Women’ is not a film that has you under its spell from the word go, but rather one that ensares you as time goes by. Opening on ocean waves and a matter of fact synth score blaring with curiosity for what’s to come, we enter the lives of Dorothea and her son Jamie right in the middle of things, more specifically right as their car goes up in flames.

‘LoveTrue’ Review: An Experimental Doc Destined to Be One of 2017’s Greatest

Alma Har’el’s follow-up to award winner ‘Bombay Beach’ follows separate lives dealing with the realities of true love.

By Orla Smith

Sometimes it takes a leap of faith to find something truly special. It’s not the themes of ‘LoveTrue’ I’m talking about – the film might argue that such a leap of faith often doesn’t always end in the perfect way you’d hoped – but rather the act of watching it.