Awards Season 2018
It’s that time of year – turkey, cranberry jelly, a jolly round guy with a red & white suit …. Yes, it’s movie awards season!
Move over Christmas cake, i’ve got some movie viewing to do. So far, I have thoroughly enjoyed ploughing through the Awards Season 2018 screeners and here are some of my personal highlights from this year’s contenders:
dir. Peter Farrelly
cast: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali
writ. Nick Vallelonga; Peter Farrelly; Brian Hayes Currie
A buddy road movie – romantic without being a romance. Tony Lip and Don Shirley aren’t natural bed fellows and yet their journey brings them closer together than either could ever imagine. Although it is a story of race and social issues of the era, it is imbued with such heart and humour that it never feels ‘on message’ and is a joy to watch. It teaches us not to judge – Tony Lip is no less human for his lack of education; he and Don learn important life values together. The lead actors give fabulous performances – beautiful touches in their character, humour from both and emotional resonance. Assumptions and stereotypes are made and challenged.
Where do we belong in the world if we don’t fit within ‘our’ prescribed place – and if we move out of our ‘box’ do we fit in anywhere at all? This movie moves you, the characters are adorable, the story hits home & the music is great. I knew Peter Farrelly could make me laugh but I didn’t bet on him moving me to tears this awards season.
A STAR IS BORN
dir. Bradley Cooper
cast: Lady Gaga; Bradley Cooper; Sam Elliott
writ: Eric Roth; Bradley Cooper; Will Fetters
I knew I was going to love this film within it’s opening minutes – the gravelly voice of Cooper’s Jackson Maine combined with the tortured, vulnerable & lost look – the alcoholic spiral evident. However, his eyes light up when he listens to Ally sing and although we know this love affair will be tragic, there’s still enough hope and love to get us through. Jackson is on the downward curve, he’s a superstar and yet life is hollow when he meets Ally.
Lady Gaga brings her whole self to this portrayal – she’s simultaneously ‘real’, human and yet an extraordinary superstar in the making. As her star rises, Jackson’s falls – he’s happy to witness her rise, happy to support it – but he can’t control his drinking and ultimately embarrasses himself and her. Ally won’t give up on him – and he knows that – combined with the horrible British manager’s input – Jackson realises he can control his way out. Tragically. Everything about this awards season film is top notch – performances, direction and the beautiful music.
dir. Bryan Singer
cast: Rami Malek; Lucy Boynton; Gwilym Lee
writ: Peter Morgan; Anthony McCarten
Sing and sing those anthems out loud! This movie is 134 minutes of sensational music and performance – particularly from Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury. Is it a perfect movie – no; is it a great night out – absolutely, yes. This is a celebration of Queen – the band, the music, the era. It’s not a warts and all hatchet job on what went wrong (or right). It applauds who they were and their achievements and I personally wanted to see that film – let’s leave the auditorium with nostalgia and good memories. Rami Malek is outstanding and core to the entire movie. It’s a Freddie Mercury story in the main; however, we do appreciate that the success of the band was the sum of the parts – Brian, Roger and John all integral to and balancing with the Freddie ‘show’.
There’s a lot of love in the room in this film – even a well hidden cameo from Mike Myers (a nod to the Wayne’s World love of the title song). It hints at the loneliness at the top – that fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. However,it’s book-ended by a superb, rousing recreation of Live Aid – this awards season, it will rock you indeed.
dir: Damien Chazelle
cast: Ryan Gosling; Claire Foy; Jason Clarke
writ: Josh Singer; James R Hansen
I’m a big fan of Damien Chazelle – WHIPLASH and LA LA LAND – however, this didn’t really prepare me for the ‘still’ quality that there is to First Man. This isn’t a noisy, colourful, brash movie – it’s an intelligent study of a very measured man. What does it take to get man on the moon? Something we take for granted now – but following this story from test pilot to astronaut, we get a sense of how amazing this achievement was – and the political / public resentment towards it – after failed launches and huge costs.
Most cleverly the film opens and closes with Armstrong and his relationship with his daughter, Karen (no spoiler here). For me, this helped to empathise with the man that Armstrong is – driven, steady and committed – sometimes you could say aloof and cold. His family and friends – all go by the wayside during his quest at times. However, at one point in the story, his wife Janet comments that they’ve had to ‘get used’ to funerals across the years – again helping to understand the emotional shutdown we see from Armstrong. Great performances from all actors. This awards season movie will stay with you.
dir: Ian Bonhote; Peter Ettedgui
writ: Peter Ettedgui
As with Freddie Mercury … George Michael … Amy Winehouse … we see again in Lee Alexander McQueen that commercial success doesn’t always translate to personal fulfillment – far from it. There can be overwhelming isolation when surrounded by a crowd of people who love you. McQueen had no money; he was overweight; a misfit from the wrong side of the London tracks – yet he managed to become a darling of the fashion crowd. He loved to shock with his shows – he had something to say; and didn’t care if the world was outraged as long as they reacted. He wasn’t showcasing skirts & blouses – he was an artist with a vision.
A portrayal of a man who loved life most when it was a struggle – when he had no backers but his own self belief. Isabella Blow took him under her wing & shaped his career – yet he rebelled against her love and support later in life. McQueen is a tortured genius and we see the development of his life through each of the shows – he says “look at the work if you want to understand me”. After the background of abuse, the weight gain / loss and drugs; the death of Isabella & then the death of his mother, the spark in McQueen’s life went out when he committed suicide age 40 – yet the clothes and the artistry continue.