Ford On Film

Chronicles of a silver screen addict

Rebecca Hall should have dominated awards season for her performance in Christine

Should a biopic about Christine Chubbuck exist? Many believe the story of the young news anchor who shot herself live on air in 1974 should never be made, out of respect for the dead. A recent documentary, Kate Plays Christine, focused on the very topic, concluding that making a film about Chubbuck could only be exploitative. However, in Antonio Campos’ hands, Christine is a moving, troubling story that never feels at all exploitative, mostly due to the career best work of Rebecca Hall in the title role.

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Edgar Wright is back with the trailer for Baby Driver

It’s been nearly four years since Edgar Wright’s last film, the brilliant Cornetto Trilogy-closer The World’s End, and in that time, it feels like there’s been a serious lack of genuinely cool, genuinely thrilling action films. Until now.

That’s Wright, Edgar’s back with his long-awaited passion project Baby Driver. The story of a getaway driver who lives to the beat of his own personal playlist, early reviews are promising a mixure of Fast and Furious car mayhem with the rhythm and energy of a Busby Berkeley musical. With evil Kevin Spacey, deranged Jamie Foxx, and slick Jon Hamm in supporting roles, and charismatic leading roles from Ansel Elgort and Lily James, Baby Driver looks as fantastically stylish as Wright’s previous filmography. Is Baby Driver going to be your new favourite film?

I hope so.

By Harry J. Ford

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La La Land wins-no, Moonlight wins Best Picture (and other Oscar thoughts)

In what might be the most stunningly embarrassing gaffe in Oscar history, La La Land was announced as Best Picture, but once Damien Chazelle and his team made it onstage, presenter Warren Beatty had to announce that the actual winner was Moonlight. It was a cringeworthy moment for all involved, but I’m just too happy to say that Moonlight won Best Picture. With a tiny budget, unusual narrative and visual style, and focus on race and sexuality, Moonlight is one of the most unique Best Picture winners in history, and Barry Jenkins deserves all of his success.

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The 2017 Oscars: Will win, Should win, Should have been nominated

It’s that time of year again when Hollywood’s elite gathers to hand out awards for the best in film. That’s right, it’s Oscar night, and this year is looking as unpredictable as any year in the ceremony’s 89-year history. Though certain films are guaranteed to walk away with a prize, many of the evening’s biggest awards are still up for debate. Just like every sensible person overseas, I’m unlikely to stay up all night watching the event, so I’ll have to wait until tomorrow morning to find out just how accurate my predictions are. Along with my picks for the night’s winners, I’ll also say who deserves to win, and who should have been nominated.

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Will Win: La La Land 

Who knew a musical about Hollywood would be so popular with voters? Like Birdman, Argo, and The Artist before it, La La Land is looking like this year’s fun, frivolous, but somewhat obvious winner. Having swept every other major awards show, it’s all but guaranteed to win.

Should Win: Moonlight

Though Manchester by the Sea was my favourite of this year’s nominees, I’m secretly rooting for Moonlight, a small-but-powerful underdog, to take the win. Focusing on the types of people rarely seen in films, let alone in a Best Picture nominee, Moonlight is one of the year’s most unique, interesting stories, and deserves to be rewarded.

Should Have Been Nominated: Paterson

Jim Jarmusch’s most beautiful film to date, Paterson was a stunning, lovable film featuring career-best work from its cast. It’s not a likely Oscar-nominee, but very few films made in the last year come close.

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La La Land wins big, but it doesn’t quite sweep the BAFTAS

The BAFTAs 2017 have come and gone, and looking at the results shows a mostly unsurprising line up of winners with a few unexpected prizes. The BAFTAs are never guaranteed to go the same way of the upcoming Oscars, and while the major winners of the night will be almost identical to the Academy Awards, a few British films managed to sneak in and achieve glory on the night. Let’s break down the major awards of the evening:

Best Picture – La La Land

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No surprises here. Just a few months ago, bookies were torn between this and Moonlight as the big contender come Oscar night. Unfortunately, Moonlight‘s chances of winning are looking slim in the wake of La La Land‘s runaway success; it came away empty-handed at the BAFTAs. As enjoyable and well-crafted as La La Land is, I can’t help but feel it will be looked at like Argo and Birdman in years to come – A fun film that went further than it probably should have.

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Is T2 Trainspotting a worthy sequel to one of the greatest British films of all time?

No film has been quite as hyped up on this blog as Danny Boyle’s long-awaited sequel to his 1996 classic Trainspotting. Ever since Boyle announced he was reuniting with producer Andrew MacDonald, screenwriter John Hodges, and the original cast to work on the then-unnamed follow-up, I’ve been anticipating its premiere with excitement and minor anxiety. After all, the most viewed blog I’ve ever written was my breathless, ever-so-slightly hyperbolic article ‘Why Trainspotting is the Best Film of All Time’. The original means a lot to me; since I first developed a passion for cinema in my early teens, I’ve called Trainspotting my all-time favourite film. The combination of stylish direction, brash performances and incredible music blew my mind and made me want to work in film. Twenty years later, can T2 Trainspotting possibly live up to its masterful predecessor?

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RIP Sir John Hurt

In very sad news, beloved British screen icon Sir John Hurt has passed away after a long battle with cancer at the age of 77. Since his screen debut in 1962, Hurt has appeared in over 120 roles on film and television, including starring roles in some of the iconic films of all time.

Everyone has a different role they most fondly remember John Hurt for. Older television viewers probably remember two of his biggest breakthroughs, as Quentin Crisp in The Naked Civil Servant and Caligula in the shocking I, Claudius. As he moved into film, he gave blistering, award-winning performances in Midnight Express, The Elephant Man, and Nineteen Eighty-Four as well as an iconic supporting role in Alien (the chestburster scene is still regularly recognised as one of the greatest horror scenes of all time).

As he got older, he took supporting roles in some of the biggest films and TV series around. Many young adults will fondly remember growing up watching him as Ollivander in the Harry Potter series, or appearing as the War Doctor in Doctor Who. Never afraid to take on big budget blockbusters, Hurt gave gravitas and warmth to minor roles in everything from V for Vendetta to Hellboy to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Despite his advancing age, Hurt never stopped giving tremendous roles in smaller independent films. In the last fifteen years, he gave some of the best performances of his career in The Proposition, 44 Inch Chest and Jim Jarmusch’s wonderful Only Lovers Left Alive. It’s only fitting that the last film released before his death was the Oscar-nominated Jackie.

Of course, it’s impossible to mention Sir John Hurt without sparing a thought for his voiceover work. Whether you know him from children’s classic Watership Down or Lars Von Trier’s disturbing arthouse drama Dogville, Hurt’s voice always gave the onscreen visuals importance, no matter what he was reading. Without Hurt’s gravelly voice, would the British campaign informing viewers about the effects of AIDS have been half as successful?

To put it simply, there are very few actors as important, iconic, and consistently excellent as Sir John Hurt was. No matter the film or series, whether award-winning drama, big budget blockbuster, or beloved children’s stories, John Hurt always treated them with importance, dignity, and respect. A multiple Oscar-nominee and a member of the BAFTA fellowship, Hurt truly was one of the greatest British actors of all time. A cinema without his gravelly voice is too sad to think about.

RIP Sir John Hurt

(1940-2017)

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By Harry J. Ford

Follow Ford On Film on twitter: @Ford_On_Film

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La La Land tells a familiar story in a hugely entertaining way

In just two films, Damien Chazelle has announced himself as one of the boldest, most unashamedly old-fashioned directors of his generation. After achieving Oscar-glory with Whiplash, a blistering thriller set in the unique world of jazz drumming, Chazelle is back with another love letter to jazz that’s sweeping the awards season. A full-blown musical, La La Land is an energised, entertaining homage to the history of Hollywood that’s struck a chord with audiences across the world, despite ultimately telling a rather familiar story.

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Manchester by the Sea might just break your heart

Is there a harder emotion for actors to portray than depression? Even the most acclaimed performances tend to be over-the-top, wailing to heaven above and unleashing floods of tears to show the audience how upset they are (see: Sean Penn in Mystic River, Halle Berry in Monster’s Ball). In Kenneth Lonergan’s incredible Manchester by the Sea, Casey Affleck delivers a performance of such restraint, such deeply-repressed trauma and barely-controlled rage, that it makes even the subtlest performances look excessive in comparison. As Lee Chandler, a Boston handyman with a dark secret, he gives one of the finest performances of his generation.

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La La Land is the big winner of the 74th Golden Globes

With last night’s Golden Globes, the Awards Season feels like it’s underway properly. It was a mostly unsurprising night for awards, with only a few wins that felt entirely unpredictable. Let’s break down the evening:

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Certainly the least surprising story from the night was just how well Damien Chazelle’s musical La La Land performed. Most people predicted its win in the Best Musical or Comedy, and while I would have loved to see Sing Street win, it had no chance. It was also highly likely that both Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone would take home the prizes for Best Actor and Actress in a Musical or Comedy respectively. Again, the competition wasn’t outstanding, with only Colin Farrell for The Lobster and Meryl Streep for Florence Foster Jenkins posing any kind of threat. The same can be said for Best Score and Best Original Song: almost nothing else could compete (especially seeing as how the Globes nominated songs from Sing over Sing Street). 

However, Damien Chazelle took home two huge wins for Best Director and Best Screenplay. While he was a solid bet for Best Director (Barry Jenkins seemed to be his biggest threat), defeating both Jenkins and Kenneth Lonergan for Best Screenplay was hugely unexpected. Lonergan’s screenplay for drama Manchester by the Sea has taken home almost every Screenplay award so far; will this be the case at the Oscars?

One of the most exciting parts of the night was seeing just how unpredictable the drama categories are shaping up. In the big win of the night, Barry Jenkin’s coming-of-age drama Moonlight defeated Hell or High Water and Manchester by the Sea for Best Drama. Gaining a huge amount of momentum, Moonlight seems to be the only rival to La La Land at the moment. The Oscars famously love films about Hollywood and infamously don’t tend to favour black filmmakers, so it’s going to be a close call on the night.

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While Casey Affleck was the favourite to win Best Actor in a Drama, almost nobody predicted Isabelle Huppert would defeat heavyweights Amy Adams and Natalie Portman to win Best Actress for her performance in the disturbing French drama Elle. Some weren’t even sure she’d get an Oscar nomination, so this has definitely gained her a lot of buzz. Even more unexpected was Aaron Taylor-Johnson winning Best Supporting Actor for Nocturnal Animals. I recently gave Taylor-Johnson the same prize, but I think almost everybody assumed the award was going to Mahershala Ali for Moonlight. It was less surprising to see Viola Davis win Best Supporting Actress for Fences; only Michelle Williams seems to stand between Davis and an Oscar now.

In the two other films awards, Zootopia deservedly won Best Animated Feature (Kubo and the Two Strings would have been a worthy winner, but wasn’t it surprising that Pixar didn’t get nominated?), while Elle somewhat unexpectedly defeated Toni Erdmann for Best Foreign Language Film. It would have been nice to see Divines win, but it was a competitive category all round.

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Despite having no bearing on the Oscars, it was still interesting to see which way the Globes went in terms of TV awards. The Night Manager looks set to sweep the BAFTAs after winning the Miniseries awards for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress, while Netflix once again achieved success with a Best Drama win for The Crown. The People vs. OJ Simpson proved to be a big hit, winning Best Miniseries and Best Actress for Sarah Paulson.

Though the Golden Globes are ultimately meaningless pap voted for by a bunch of crusty old white men who tend to nominate poor performances in order to meet celebrities, it’s still fun to see how Awards Season is shaping up. La La Land is looking unstoppable, Moonlight is looking like a feisty contender, and Casey Affleck must already be creating space on his trophy shelf. I can’t wait for February 26th.

By Harry J. Ford

Follow Ford On Film on twitter: @Ford_On_Film

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