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.

Film Review: Paddington 2

Paul King’s Paddington 2 is a brilliant sequel. The film is both thoroughly entertaining and genuinely heartwarming.

Living with the Brown family, Paddington seeks the perfect present for his Aunt Lucy’s birthday. When he finds it, he sets about getting a job to pay for it. Unfortunately it is stolen before he can purchase it…

A sequel to 2014’s Paddington, director and co-writer Paul King’s latest film does its predecessor justice. The film features the same wonderful style as the 2014 film, and packs an emotional punch. The beauty of Paddington 2, and its predecessor, is the projection of a wholesome character in an idealised world. Yet this is never overly schmaltzy or patronising. Instead, the film is joyously positive and provides a charming and kind protagonist. The demographics of the street which the Browns inhabit might be a little less convincing, however this is barely noticeable in an otherwise finely rendered film.

With the origins story established in the first film, Paddington 2 moves the action forward to the title character’s established life. The narrative is predictable, but this does not matter as the script is great, characters are well written, and the set pieces are amusing. The story moves at a good place, allowing space for humour and emotional moments. Wisely, the Brown family take secondary roles in the film. King focuses the action on Paddington, and new characters he interacts with. This works well, allowing for larger-than-life characters to take centre stage.

Phoenix Buchanan is a great antagonist. Hugh Grant steals most of the scenes he is in, with a delightfully self-deprecating and outlandish performance. Ben Whishaw is most fitting as the voice of Paddington, and Brendan Gleeson appears to be having fun in his role. Special effects in the film are seamless; it is easy to forget that Paddington is a CGI character.

Paddington 2 is a welcome dose of happiness in a troubling world. Both children and adults should lap it up.

Previews: Justice League Poster, Paddington 2, More!

Cinematic delights in this week’s preview of coming attractions include the latest Justice League poster, Paddington 2, Newly Single and more…

Justice League Poster

Here is the latest Justice League poster. The film sees Wonder Woman and Batman be joined by three other heroes, as previewed in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, and Ray Fisher. The film sees the team face a newly awakened threat. Justice League hits UK screens on 17th November 2017.

Murder on the Orient Express Featurette

This featurette for Murder on the Orient Express looks behind the scenes at the making of the film. An adaptation on the classic Agatha Christie novel, the film features a star-studded assemble cast. Directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh, Murder on the Orient Express rolls on to UK screens on 3rd November 2017.

Paddington 2 Poster

Hugh Grant looks wonderfully fun in these new Paddington 2 posters. Grant is the most high profile addition to the case of Paddington 2. The sequel to Paddington sees the return of the lovable bear, and the Brown family, in a new adventure. Paddington 2 is out on UK screens on 10th November 2017.

Newly Single Trailer

Above is the trailer for Newly Single. The comedy is about a film director who finds himself on the Los Angeles dating scene after splitting up with his girlfriend. The film is written and directed by Adam Christian Clark, and stars Jennifer Kim and Molly C. Quinn. Newly Single will debut at the Black Nights Film Festival in Estonia on 27th November 2017; its UK release will follow.

Tad the Lost Explorer and the Secret of King Midas Trailer

Tad the Lost Explorer and the Secret of King Midas just might be the longest film title of the year. The film is an animated comedy about an awkward explorer who must rescue his girlfriend from a millionaire looking for King Midas’ necklace. Tad the Lost Explorer and the Secret of King Midas is set for release in early 2018.

Paddington Cast and Crew Q&A

Paddington filmmakers

Last weekend, Paddington‘s writer-director Paul King, producer David Heyman, and cast members Hugh Bonneville, Madeleine Harris and Samuel Joslin gathered in London for a question and answer session following a screening of the film. Here is what they had to say…

On bringing Paddington to the big screen…

David Heyman: My mother gave me a Paddington Bear when I was around five years old, and this was the beginning of the journey. Rosie in my office around eleven years ago said “why don’t we do Paddington?”. I mentioned it to my mum, who is a hoarder, and she brought out that Paddington Bear. Then I met Paul King, who cam along to write and direct Paddington. When you find the right person, the film all of a sudden takes shape. And Paul was the right person. He is Paddington Bear! My son was born six years ago, and then comes the urgency to get things going. It’s not often that you get to make the film that your young child can go and see.

Paul King: I was very keen to get it right. I met David and we had the same sort of ideas about the character. Part of you does sort of fear the idea of doing a Paddington film because I loved the Ivor Wood [illustrations] so much. We thought there was a proper, movie-sized story to be told about Paddington.

On the appeal of Paddington…

Hugh Bonneville: It was sort of like, “you had me at Paddington” really! Like millions of people, I grew up with this beloved bear as part of my childhood. I was concerned when the script arrived, but when I read it, I was in. I was surprised at how moving the script is.

Madeleine Harris: I knew of Paddington before the auditions, but as I went through the auditions, and when I got the job I learnt so much about him, so much about the story of him.

Paddington dog

On the technical achievements in the film…

David Heyman: The ability to put a bear, to have a central digitial character, was just not possible [many years ago]. Technology really has moved on. Fur, for example, you just couldn’t do it. And now we can.

Hugh Bonneville: I think it is astonishing; the work of Framestore and all the other effects teams that worked on the film. It shows the level to which animation and digital effects animation has got to. I am so convinced that bear is real, and that we worked with him!

On casting the film…

Paul King: We asked, and Nicole Kidman’s agent said that it’s definitely not going to happen, but they would send her the script. And she said “Paddington Bear? I love Paddington Bear!”. She read the script overnight, and the following morning, she got on the phone saying she would love to do it. She was the easiest person to cast.

David Heyman: Much easier than Bonneville!

Paul King: Ben Whishaw wasn’t our first choice for the voice of Paddington. We started with Colin Firth, and we worked with Colin for a while and we recorded him for a piece of the film. And you heard the voice, and you didn’t believe that it was coming out of this small creature. We sat down and we all felt it wasn’t working.

David Heyman: To give Colin his credit, he sensed it before even we did.

Paul King: It all worked out brilliantly. I think Ben is wonderful; he’s got a lighter, younger, slightly sort of ‘other’ voice. We’re thrilled with the results.

Paddington is out in UK cinemas on 28th November 2014.

Film Review: Paddington

Paddington

Paul King’s Paddington is a perfectly pitched comedy adventure that should satisfy all demographics.

Paddington is a young bear in darkest Peru who is brought up b his aunt and uncle. When he travels to London to look for a new home, Paddington is spotted by the Brown family, who offer a temporary home…

Based on Michael Bond’s books which first appeared in the late 1950s, Paddington could have easily misstepped the mark in bringing the character to the big screen for contemporary audiences. Thankfully, the film avoids this, instead offering a lovingly crafted picture that is sure to win over audiences.

Director and screenwriter Paul King has created a film that will appease fans of the original series of books, whilst also attracting a new audience. Paddington works well because it suits different audiences without alienating any demographic.

The film is peppered with humour from the very beginning. Whilst some of this is the more physical kind aimed at young viewers, for the most part the film with have older viewers laughing throughout. The narrative is a simple one, but one that works well thanks to the endearing characters and good pacing.

Themes in the film are conveyed successfully. The main theme of the outsider is effective in this context. It is a theme that feels pertinent in the landscape of contemporary British politics. Paddington does offer emotion as well as laughs. The more dramatic or pensive moments never become too mawkish, thankfully.

Ben Whishaw is well cast as the voice of the title character. Nicole Kidman appears to be having fun in her role, while Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins are believeable are the Brown parents. Special effects in the film are excellent; particularly the rendering of Paddingon’s fur. Music also works well in the film, especially with the appearances of the band.

Paddington is a delightful film, which should prove to be highly entertaining for children and a most pleasant surprise for adults.

Stuff To Look At

Plenty of cinematic delights this week, including the latest trailer for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Into The Woods, Paddington and more…

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Here is the latest trailer for the final instalment of Peter Jackson’s second Tolkien franchise, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Sadly Gollum is nowhere to be seen, but there is plenty of hobbits, eleves, wizards and the like. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies will hit UK screens on  12th December 2014.

Into The Woods

Carrying on with the fantasy theme, a full trailer for Into The Woods dropped this week. It seems to have all the winning ingredients; fairy tales, musical numbers, and a great cast. Meryl Streep in particular looks wonderfully hammy as the witch. Into The Woods will be released in UK cinemas on 9th January 2015.

Horrible Bosses 2

Above is a clip from the forthcoming sequel Horrible Bosses 2. The film unites the main cast from the first film with newcomers Chris Pine and Christoph Waltz. It was refreshing to see Jennifer Aniston in a different kind of role in the first film, and it looks like this is no different. Horrible Bosses 2 is out on 28th November 2014.

Paddington

Paddington One Sheet

Oh my! Paddington in the snow. I recently bought a red duffle coat, and was told that I looked like a cross between Paddington Bear and Red Riding Hood. It was the greatest compliment ever. Anyway, Paddington, featuring Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins and Julie Walters, will reach UK screens on 28th November 2014.

The Gambler

What is interesting about this trailer for The Gambler is that it uses The Rolling Stones’ ‘Gimme Shelter’, a song that many film fans will associate with The Departed, which also memorably starred Marky Mark. The Gambler, which also stars John Goodman and Brie Larson, is set for release in UK cinemas on 19th December 2014.

The Pyramid

Above is a featurette on upcoming horror The Pyramid. What I want to know is what exactly is in these pyramids. Is it mummies come to life? Or is it a more Indiana Jones-style bent? The Pyramid is out in UK cinemas on 5th December 2014.

Annie

Contemporary remake of the classic musical Annie is out just in time for Christmas. It is unclear how much singing will be involved from the above trailer, and how much Cameron Diaz’s Miss Hannigan will replicate the original. But here’s hoping. Annie hits UK screens on 20th December 2014.

Stuff To Look At

A bumper post filled with trailers galore for the end of the week, featuring Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Nut Job and lots more…

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Cesar is such a badass. In this final trailer for the upcoming Dawn of the Planet of the Apes we are given more of an idea of the film’s narrative. But more importantly, apes on horses. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has big shoes to fill after the success of its predecessor Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but it looks up to the job, from this trailer at least. Rise of the Planet of the Apes hits the big screen on 17th July 2014.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Here is the second trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy, which shows more action and drama compared to the comedy of the first trailer. It looks as if the film will continue Marvel’s run of hits. Even if the franchise isn’t as well-known as the Avengers sphere, people will go for the gun-wielding raccoon. Guardians of the Galaxy is out in UK cinemas on 31st July 2014.

Transformers: Age of Extinction

Here is a new featurette for Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction. The video focuses on Marky Mark’s character, but really everyone just wants to see the Transformers. Or the Dinobots. Tranformers: Age of Extinction is released on 5th July 2014.

Paddington

With the news that Colin Firth will no longer be voicing the bear, what will now become of Paddington? Who will the filmmakers find to voice the marmalade-swilling bear? Perhaps a Peruvian actor, for authenticity’s sake. In the mean time, here is the latest trailer for Paddington, set for release on 24th November 2014.

The Expendables 3

Expendables 3

Look at all this potent 1980s/90s magic right here. The Expendables 3 is loaded with action stars; Wesley Snipes and Antonio Banderas are just two of the new members to join the crew. Nevertheless, I was thinking that The Expendables 3 was missing something. And that is Brigitte Nielsen. Seriously, why isn’t Red Sonja in this? Anyway, The Expendables 3 hits UK screens on 14th August 2014. You can view the latest trailer here.

Penguins of Madagascar

The Penguins of Madagascar get their own spin-off movie of the same name. Featuring the vocal talents of Benedict Cumberbatch, the popular supporting characters take centre stage in this new film. I am liking the use of Kenny Loggins in the trailer. Penguins of Madagascar is scheduled for release in December 2014.

Big Hero 6

Big Hero 6 looks like it will be a good laugh. If I was constructing a robot, it would be for servitude purposes, not for fighting or crime solving, but each to their own. Big Hero 6 is set for release in UK cinemas in January 2015.

The Nut Job

The Nut Job is a new animated feature about a squirrel and his friends who go on a mission to break into a nut store. Nuts are great and that, but if you were going to all this effort, surely you would rob a chocolatiers? The Nut Job is released in UK cinemas on 1st August 2014.

Hercules

Hercules Poster

Dwayne Johnson’s muscle veins are pretty scary in this new poster for Hercules. Interestingly, there used to be a WWF (before it was WWE) wrestler called Hercules. I am sure this movie isn’t a biopic of his life. Hercules muscles his way into UK cinemas on 25th July 2014.

No Good Deed

Here is the trailer for thriller No Good Deed. Starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson, reminds viewers never to open the door to strangers. A fitting Halloween release, No Good Deed hits UK screens on 31st October 2014.

Home

Pig is a really good name for a cat. Home sees Jim Parsons (in voice) sounding like a very familiar character. Still, the film looks like it will be a lot of alien culture-clash fun. Home is scheduled for release in the UK on 27th March 2015.