Film Highlights of the Decade 2010-2019

As the decade reaches its close, I take a look back at some of my favourite film trends and cinematic highlights from the last ten years…

The New Breed of Unmissable Directors

This decade has seen the emergence of a new breed of directors delivering must-see films. Leading the pack in Hollywood are Damien Chazelle and Barry Jenkins. Chazelle has delivered one of the decade’s best pictures with Whiplash, and two other fantastic films (La La Land and First Man). Meanwhile Jenkins gifted us two beautiful, nuanced pictures with Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk. Jennifer Kent has also created two different but powerful movies (The Babadook and The Nightingale), making her mark.

Other impressive directors who have emerged this decade include Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed), Robert Eggers (The Witch, The Lighthouse), Ana Lily Amirpour (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night), Justin Simien (Dear White People), and Julia Ducournau (Raw) also offered impressive debut features.

Excellent Late Franchise Entries

It really has been a decade of remakes, reboots, and belated sequels. Whilst many of these have been passable or forgettable, a couple of late franchise instalments have really stood out. George Miller bucked the trend to deliver one of the best films of this decade with Mad Max: Fury Road. The exhilarating fourth chapter in the franchise was breathtaking. Director Christopher McQuarrie re-teamed with Tom Cruise for the sixth Mission: Impossible film, and produced the best of the franchise and one of the best action films of the decade with Mission: Impossible – Fallout. Elsewhere director Steven Quale revived the tired Final Destination franchise with the very entertaining final chapter Final Destination 5.

Career Resurgences

This decade has seen a notable uptick in the careers of certain veteran actors. After a fairly quiet previous ten years, Laura Dern’s resurgence has been most rewarding to watch. This decade has seen the actress in an array of film roles including The Master, Certain Women, Marriage Story, and the upcoming Little Women. She has also been memorable on television in Twin Peaks and Big Little Lies. Michael Keaton has also had a belter of a decade, after a fairly unremarkable 2000s. He had major roles in Spotlight, The Founder, and Spider-Man: Homecoming (living long enough to become the villain), and was nominated for an Oscar for his brilliant turn in Birdman. Regina King has always delivered solid performances since her debut in Boyz n the Hood. It is only in the last few years that she has finally received the praise and calibre of roles she deserves, winning an Oscar for her role in If Beale Street Could Talk and playing the lead in the critically acclaimed show Watchmen.

Paddington Bear

In a bleak decade politically, Paddington Bear has been the hero we needed. Paul King’s Paddington and Paddington 2 have been a salve against the cruelties of this decade. A lead who is decent and kind (not to mention incredibly cute) has cut through the cynicism of the current world. The films were very entertaining, and a wonderful escape from current affairs. Paddington 2 in particular was very memorable and enchanting, with Hugh Grant on top form.

Christopher Nolan

If the decade had to belong to a single director, in terms of both critical acclaim and box office receipts, then that filmmaker would be Christopher Nolan. No one has been able to create original tentpole blockbusters in the way he has this decade. Nolan began the decade on top form with the action-thriller Inception, one of the biggest films of the year. He followed this with the final chapter of the Dark Knight trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises. The film is just about the most hopeful blockbuster of the decade, reaching a peak of exhilaration that is difficult to match. Interstellar and the truly superb Dunkirk exhibited Nolan’s comfort in a range of genres. With the upcoming Tenet, Christopher Nolan’s films are always hotly anticipated.

Park Chan-wook and Chung Chung-hoon’s Continuing Collaboration

Director Park Chan-wook and cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon collaboration began in the 2000s, working on three films together (Oldboy, Lady Vengeance, and Thirst). The fact that their partnership continued into this decade is a benefit to us all. With Stoker and The Handmaiden, Park and Chung delivered two of the decade’s handsomest pictures. The photography, the mise en scène, and the style are truly beautiful.

Trent Reznor Film Scores

After composing pieces for films earlier in his career (including for David Lynch’s Lost Highway), the 2010s was when Trent Reznor’s career as a composer really took off. His collaborations with Atticus Ross have been a highlight of cinema this decade. Highlights include the partnership with David Fincher (which netted Reznor an Oscar for The Social Network), as well as Mid90s and the recent Waves. Reznor and Ross also created the superlative score for the show Watchmen.

Directorial Debuts By Actors

This decade has seen some brilliant directorial debuts from well-known actors. These actors have proven their talents extend to behind the camera Highlights from this trend include Greta Gerwig’s wonderful Ladybird (Gerwig co-directed Nights and Weekends, but Ladybird was her first solo effort), and Jordan Peele’s fantastic Get Out. Other notable debuts include Chris Morris’ Four Lions, Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart, Joel Edgerton’s The Gift, Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born, and Brie Larson’s Unicorn Store.

Previews: Creed II Trailer, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, More!

Some hotly-anticipated films in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the brand new Creed II trailer, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, First Man, and more…

Creed II Trailer

The new Creed II trailer was released today. The sequel to the very successful Creed, the film sees Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, and Tessa Thompson returning. They are joined by Dolph Lundgren, who reprises his role as the iconic Ivan Drago. Steven Caple Jr. takes over director duties from Ryan Coogler, who stays on as an executive producer. Creed II will hit UK cinemas on 30th November 2018.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix Poster

We are finally getting a look at the upcoming X-Men: Dark Phoenix. The film reunites the X-Men: Days of Future Past cast, including Sophie Turner, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, and Jennifer Lawrence. The cast also includes the new addition of Jessica Chastain. The film is the directorial debut of Simon Kinberg, writer of the previous two X-Men films. X-Men: Dark Phoenix will be be released in cinemas next year.

First Man Featurette

Above is a featurette on Damien Chapelle’s latest, First Man. Chazelle reunites with his La La Land lead actor Ryan Gosling in this story of NASA’s mission to land a man on the moon. The film also stars Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, and Kyle Chandler. Written by Josh Singer, First Man launches on to UK screens on 12th October 2018.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of the Grindelwald Trailer

Above is the final trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of the Grindelwald. The film is a sequel to 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Johnny Depp, and Ezra Miller return, and are joined by Jude Law. Based on a screenplay by J.K. Rowling, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of the Grindelwald will be released in UK cinemas on 16th November 2018.

Previews: Halloween Trailer, First Man Poster, More!

A profusion of film-related goodness in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the band new Halloween trailer, First ManBad Times at the El Royale, and more…

Halloween Trailer

Here is the brand new Halloween trailer. Forty years after John Carpenter’s horror classic, Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode. Directed by David Gordon Green, the film sees the return of Michael Myers, as he escapes from a secure facility. Halloween will hit UK screens on 19th October 2018.

First Man Poster

This is the first poster for the upcoming First Man. Directed by Damien Chazelle (La La Land and Whiplash) and written by Josh Singer, the film is about NASA’s mission to land a man on the moon, focusing on Neil Armstrong. First Man, which stars Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy, will be released on 12th October 2018.

Bad Times at the El Royale Trailer

Bad Times at the El Royale is the latest film from Drew Goddard (Cabin in the Woods). The film features an enviable cast that includes Chris Hemsworth, Jeff Bridges, and Cynthia Erivo. Bad Times at the El Royale is set for release on 10th October 2018.

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Trailer

Above is the first trailer for the third instalment of the franchise, How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. The film catches up with a slightly older Hiccup and Toothless as they discover their destinies. Jay Baruchel and America Ferrera return for the latest instalment, which follows 2014’s How To Train Your Dragon 2. How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is set for release on 1st February 2019.

Home Entertainment Releases

Upcoming home entertainment releases include A Quiet Place. The critically acclaimed horror is directed by John Krasinski, and also stars Emily Blunt. A Quiet Place receives its Digital release on 30th July, and 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray on 13th August 2018. Also set for a home entertainment release is Game Night. The action comedy stars Rachel McAdams and Jason Bateman. Game Night is released on Digital Download on 25th June and Blu-ray and DVD on 2nd July 2018.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Previews: Game Night Trailer, The Post, More!

Lots of cinematic wonder in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the new Game Night trailer, The Post, Sherlock Gnomes, and more…

Game Night Trailer

Here is the new Game Night trailer. The film is about a group of friends who get together for a game night which becomes a murder mystery party. The film stars Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman, and Kyle Chandler. Game Night is scheduled for release in cinemas on 4th May 2018.

The Post Trailer

The trailer for The Post exudes quality. The film features a stellar cast and crew, and focuses on team behind the The Washington Post taking a stand for free speech during the Nixon administration. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the film is written by Josh Singer and stars Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Bob Odenkirk, and Sarah Paulson. The Post is released in UK cinemas on 19th January 2018.

The Greatest Showman Poster

Here is one of the new posters for the upcoming The Greatest Showman. The musical is all about the spectacle, focusing on the ambition of P.T. Barnum. Hugh Jackman heads the cast, and is joined by Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, and Zendaya. Featuring music from the Oscar-winning Pasek and Paul (La La Land), The Greatest Showman hits UK screens on 1st January 2018.

Sherlock Gnomes Trailer

Sherlock Gnomes is a follow-up to 2011’s Gnomeo and Juliet. The film sees the couple arrive in London and enlist the help of the famous detective to find out who is kidnapping garden gnomes. The adventure comedy features the voices of Emily Blunt, James McAvoy, Johnny Depp, Maggie Smith, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Sherlock Gnomes is set for release next year.

The Commuter Image

Here is a new look at the upcoming action thriller The Commuter. The film stars Liam Neeson as an insurance salesman who is forced to uncover the identity of a hidden passenger before the train reaches its final stop. Neeson is joined by Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, and Sam Neill. The Commuter arrives in UK cinemas on 19th January 2018.

LFF 2016 Highlights Part 1

It is now a week into the 60th BFI London Film Festival, and so far it has offered some cinematic delights. Here are some LFF 2016 highlights from the first week of screenings…

LFF 2016 Highlights – Unmissable

La La Land

From the opening sequence, it is obvious that La La Land is something special. Damien Chazelle does not disappoint with his follow-up to Whiplash. The film is beautifully composed and wonderfully executed. READ MORE

Moonlight

Moonlight is a wonderfully absorbing character study from Barry Jenkins. The film is a profusion of taut emotion, which bubbles over in a delectable way. In a different pair of hands, the film could have been a trite concoction of stereotypes and cliché. Jenkins shows he is a force to be reckoned with with the magnificent Moonlight. READ MORE

Manchester By The Sea

Manchester by the Sea

Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester By The Sea is rich with emotion and so finely executed that it lingers in the mind long after viewing. Lonergan exhibits a skilfulness in filmmaking and storytelling with the excellent Manchester By The Sea. READ MORE

LFF 2016 Highlights – Best of the Rest

Divines

Houda Benyamina’s Divines packs quite a punch. The film is engrossing throughout. Divines has an energy that is appealing. This is obvious from the film’s opening scene. READ MORE

The Handmaiden

Chan-wook Park’s The Handmaiden is exactly the style and quality of film one would expect from the filmmaker. It is thoroughly entertaining and a visual feast. There is so much to like about The Handmaiden, that it is difficult to know where to begin. READ MORE

The Birth of a Nation

Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation is a compelling drama that does not shy away from the realities of its narrative. The Birth of a Nation feels pertinent today, and it is a story that should be heard… READ MORE

ARRIVAL

Arrival

Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival brings the spectacle and wonder. For the most part, the film is an engrossing watch. Arrival is a very enjoyable science-fiction mystery. The film poses the big questions in an engaging and easily comprehendible way. READ MORE

Queen of Katwe

Director Mira Nair’s film is infectious in its positivity. Queen of Katwe is a heartwarming picture. Telling the true story of an unlikely chess champion from the slums of Kampala, Queen of Kwante is an edifying film. READ MORE

The Graduation (Le Concours)

The Graduation (Le Concours) is a fly-on-the-wall documentary that pays off, despite a slow start. Le Femis in Paris is one of the top film schools. Each of the prospective students need to go a rigorous selection process for one of the limited places at the school. READ MORE

The BFI London Film Festival runs from 5th-16th October 2016. Details of remaining screenings are available here.

Film Review: La La Land

La La Land

From the opening sequence, it is obvious that La La Land is something special. Damien Chazelle does not disappoint with his follow-up to Whiplash.

Mia is an aspiring actress, serving coffee in between auditions. Sebastian is a jazz pianist, hoping to open his own jazz club. The pair collide as they chase their dreams in Los Angeles…

Damien Chazelle generated high expectations after the astounding Whiplash. With La La Land, the writer-director proves he can do romantic musical just as well as he did taut drama-thriller. The film is beautifully composed and wonderfully executed.

The narrative runs a mostly smooth course. La La Land focuses on Mia, before doing a clever little rewind to recap Sebastian’s story. If the film seems like it will be a simple love story, then it has duped viewers. Although romance sits at the heart of Chazelle’s film, the love story is more nuanced. The story is a boy-meets-girl romance, yet Chazelle offers more beyond this. The ending of the film is bittersweet. Viewers may think it will end a certain way, but Chazelle defies expectations more than once.

Despite its contemporary setting, La La Land taps into a classic Hollywood nostalgia. The film overtly references this sense of nostalgia in an amusing fashion. It harks back to the classic Hollywood musical in a number of ways. The reprise of songs, the wonderful style, and the tone. The use of colour and lighting is excellent. Chazelle’s direction is wonderful, especially in the astounding first take.

In their third collaboration, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone show their chemistry is as strong as ever. The pair are not the best singers, but this makes their performances more endearing. They are so enjoyable to watch, viewers will find it difficult to contain their smiles. The original music in the film is fantastic. Chazelle’s love of jazz comes through loud and clear once again, and it is contagious.

La La Land is spellbinding. It is easily one of the best films of the year.

La La Land is being screened at BFI London Film Festival in October 2016.

BFI London Film Festival 2016 Launch

Today saw the launch of the BFI London Film Festival 2016. This year’s programme is bursting with cinematic delights. There are more galas than in previous years, and screen talk participants include Werner Herzog and Paul Verhoeven. Here are some of the films to look out for at London Film Festival 2016.

Headline Galas

The Birth of a Nation

The London Film Festival 2016’s opening gala A United Kingdom had already been announced, the Scorsese-produced, Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire looks like a lot of fun. Elsewhere, plenty of hotly anticipated films including La La Land, Arrival and The Birth of a Nation. Writer-director Nate Parker also stars in the story of an enslaved preacher who led a revolt in 1830s Virginia. Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals is also a headline gala. An adaptation of Austin Wright’s novel Tony and Susan, the film stars Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon. Mira Nair’s Queen of Katwe stars David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong’o.

Strand Galas and Special Presentations

The Handmaiden

This year sees additional galas, which will take place on a purpose built venue on the Strand. They include The Handmaiden, from director Chan-wook Park. The film looks as sumptuous as Park’s previous film Stoker. Miles Teller stars in Bleed For This, based on the true story of boxer Vinny Paziena. Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq is the Sonic Gala. The hip hop musical features Teyonah Parris, Wesley Snipes, Angela Bassett and Samuel L. Jackson. Andrea Arnold’s American Honey and Ava DuVernay’s The 13th are among the special presentations this year.

Official Competition

My Life As A Courgette

Paul Verhoeven’s Elle is amongst the Official Competition at London Film Festival 2016. Staring Isabelle Huppert, the film is an adaptation of a Philippe Dijan novel. Terence Davies’ A Quiet Presentation is a biopic of Emily Dickinson staring Cynthia Nixon. Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, about a young man struggling with his sexuality in 1980s Miami, looks like a great watch. In the First Feature Competition, Porto sees one of Anton Yelchin’s final performances, whilst animation My Life As A Courgette looks like a lot of fun. David Lynch: The Art Life is among the contenders for the Documentary Competition, as well as The Graduation. The latter is a documentary about a prestigious film school in Paris. Chasing Asylum, about the Australian government’s immigration policies, seems very topical.

Strands

The Salesman

The Love strand features Lovesong, director So Yong Kim’s film about a lonely young mother. It stars Jena Malone and Riley Keough. Highlights in the Debate category include Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman. A Separation‘s Farhadi has already won awards at Cannes. Mindhorn features in the Laugh strand. The film stars Julian Barratt as a washed-up 1980s TV detective. Dare features Christine, starring Rebecca Hall as the notorious television journalist. Paul Schrader’s Dog Eat Dog looks to be a highlight of the Thrill section, with Nicholas Cage starring alongside Willem Dafoe. Another David Lynch connection (Cage and Dafoe starred in Lynch’s Wild at Heart), Blue Velvet Revisited, features in the Cult strand.

I Am Not A Serial Killer

Cult also features I Am Not A Serial Killer, based on the young adult novel. The Innocents looks to be a highlight of the Journey strand. Anne Fontaine’s film is about a young doctor working for the French Red Cross in 1945. London Town, a coming of age film set in 1979 London, features in the Sonic strand. The Family strand includes Rock Dog, an animation featuring the voices of J.K. Simmons and Luke Wilson. Finally, Experimenta includes Have You Seen My Movie?; a must-see for cinema fans.

The full London Film Festival 2016 programme can be viewed here. The BFI London Film Festival runs from 5th-16th October 2016.