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: 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

Film Review: Truth or Dare

Director and co-writer Jeff Wadlow’s Truth or Dare is silly horror fare. Whilst the film is sufficiently entertaining, it fails to generate the scares.

Olivia and her friends take a trip to Mexico for spring break. Whilst there, they are invited to play a game of truth or dare. The game turns deadly, however, when it follows them home…

The latest horror from Blumhouse Productions, Truth or Dare is unlikely to reach the heights of Get Out or Whiplash. Directed by Jeff Wadlow, with a screenplay by Wadlow, Michael Reisz, Jillian Jacobs, and Christopher Roach, the film offers an enticing premise for fans of teen horror. The idea of a cursed game with deadly consequences gives plenty of opportunities for scares and fun set pieces.

Despite the premise, Truth or Dare never really makes the most of these prospects. There are a couple of set ups which engage viewers, yet none of these are particularly memorable. Furthermore, the sequences fail to generate any terror. Whilst playing up set pieces can be a successful strategy, Wadlow does not ramp up the tension sufficiently. Truth or Dare could have emulated the Final Destination franchise’s penchant for teasing viewers with a big lead up to a gory demise. Yet the death toll grows swiftly, and these deaths lack tension or the shock value.

The main characters are given a little backstory, but this does not make them particularly likeable or sympathetic. As a reason for the curse is explored, exposition is delivered in a leaden manner. Pacing in the film is fine, although the lack of tension makes for a less than dramatic final third. The very end of the film eschews the ending expected, and Truth or Dare should be applauded for this. The gimmick of the changing faces is fine, but the film needed more than this to generate fear.

Performances in the film are adequate, with Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey and others looking the part, even if the script is lacking. At times, Truth or Dare generates laughs instead of screams. Although the film is never boring, it is very forgettable.

Previews: Annihilation Trailer, Darkest Hour, More!

Plenty in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the Annihilation trailer, Darkest Hour, Isle of Dogs and more…

Annihilation Trailer

Above is the new Annihilation trailer. The film is based on the best-selling Southern Reach trilogy, and is directed by Alex Garland. The film features an all-star cast, including Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Tessa Thompson. Annihilation is set for release on 23rd February 2018.

Darkest Hour Trailer

Here is the latest trailer for Churchill biopic Darkest Hour. The film focuses on the period just after Winston Churchill becomes prime minister, as Britain is on the cusp of entering World War II. Starring Gary Oldman and directed by Joe Wright (Anna Karenina), Darkest Hour is out in UK cinemas on 12th January 2018.

Father Figures Trailer

Father Figures is a new comedy about two adult brothers who only find out their father is still alive many years after they thought he had died. The film stars Owen Wilson, Ed Helms, Glenn Close, and J.K. Simmons. Father Figures is scheduled for release on 16th February 2018.

Happy Death Day Poster

Happy Death Day is a new thriller about a college student who relives the day of her murder until she finds out the identity of her killer. The film stars Jessica Rothe, and is produced by Blumhouse, the company responsible for Whiplash and Get Out. Happy Death Day will hit UK screens on 20th October 2017.

Isle of Dogs Trailer

Isle of Dogs looks joyful. Wes Anderson’s new film is about a young boy who goes to rescue his dog after all dogs are exiled to a rubbish dump island. The film features a stellar voice cast, including Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, and Tilda Swinton. Isle of Dogs is set for release on 30th March 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.

Previews: Star Trek Beyond Featurette, Cafe Society and More!

This week’s preview of coming attractions includes a new Star Trek Beyond featurette, Cafe SocietyLa La Land and more…

Star Trek Beyond Featurette

This new Star Trek Beyond featurette introduces a new character to the franchise, Jaylah. Played by Sofia Boutella, Jaylah is introduced as an ally of Scotty, played by the film’s co-writer Simon Pegg. Justin Lin directs the latest instalment of the series, with J.J. Abrams on board as a producer. Star Trek Beyond hits UK screens on 22nd July 2016.

Cafe Society Trailer

After its debut at Cannes, Woody Allen’s latest feature Cafe Society gets a UK release date. The film is set New York and Hollywood in the 1930s; a perfect backdrop for star Blake Lively’s classic Hollywood glamour. Also starring Jesse Eisenberg, Steve Carrell and Kristen Stewart, Cafe Society arrives in UK cinemas on 2nd September 2016.

La La Land Trailer

Here is the first trailer for La La Land. The film has a lot going for it; it is the follow-up from director Damien Chazelle after his brilliant Whiplash. It also reunites Ryan Gosling with Emma Stone after Crazy, Stupid, Love and Gangster Squad. The pair star as a musician and an aspiring actress who fall in love in Los Angeles. La La Land will be released in early 2017.

Finding Dory Featurette

This featurette for the upcoming Finding Dory reveals the background to the sequel. A follow-up to Finding Nemo, Finding Dory concentrates on Marlin’s sidekick, voiced by Ellen DeGeneres. The film hits UK screens on 29th July 2016.

The Shallows Featurette

Will this be as tense as Jaws? There certainly have been some memorable shark films, so it will be interesting to see how The Shallows measures up. Blake Lively discusses her character in this featurette, which includes footage from the film. The Shallows slinks into UK cinemas on 12th August 2016.

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Clip

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is a comedy featuring Zac Efron and Adam Devine. After putting an online ad for dates to their sister’s wedding, the brothers get more than they bargained for with Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is out in cinemas on 10th August 2016.

Power Rangers Poster

Power Rangers poster

Here is one of the latest posters for upcoming film Power Rangers. I never watched the show, so I don’t have the “stop remaking everything” attitude to this. The film’s cast includes Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Banks, and Naomi Scott (pictured above). Power Rangers is scheduled for release next year.