JUMPCUT’s Top 10 Films Of 2018

As our 2018 movie window closes, and another one for 2019 is ready to burst open.

Taking a look back over the last 12 months of film and remembering all those big blockbusters, indie treasures and specialist cinema debuts are one thing, but narrowing them all down to just ten of the best is something else.

The staff at JumpCut Online locked themselves away from social media to draw up their own personal ‘Top 1O’. From that, each nominated film was awarded points (1st = 10, 2nd = 9 etc) until a definitive list was formed.

Ladies and gentlemen, for your debating pleasure, here is that list of the JumpCut Online Top 10 of 2018 in ascending order, based on UK release dates.


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#10 – A Star Is Born
[dir. Bradley Cooper]

Jack (Bradley Cooper), a washed-up, alcoholic musician helps young singer Ally (Lady GaGa) find fame with her natural talent. But his demons threaten to send his career and even his life into a into a downward spiral from which there may be no return…

“The first half of the movie may hit some beats you’ll likely expect, but the second half will knock you for six, diving deep into the aftermath of lovesick decisions, all before reaching a devastating conclusion. Despite the pain and the many, many tears, this is a film that demands an immediate revisit as soon as the credits roll. Cooper has landed a masterpiece on his first go. You could say, a star is born.” – Cameron Frew

 

 

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#9- You Were Never Really Here
[dir. Lynne Ramsay]

Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) is a traumatized gun-for-hire who is unafraid of violence. When a job spins out of control, Joe’s nightmares overtake him as a conspiracy is uncovered leading to what may be his death trip or his awakening…

“Truly edge of your seat stuff, and whilst the comparisons with ‘Taxi Driver’ kind of write themselves, it is still amazing on its own merit. Joaquin Phoenix gives an electric, and possibly career-best performance…this is one of the most genuinely thrilling films in a long time, and one which packs a mean punch into a relatively short space. An explosive, and unmissable film.”Sarah Buddery

 

 

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#8 – Avengers: Infinity War
[dirs. Joe & Anthony Russo]

Earth’s mightiest heroes, The Avengers, must reach out to their allies in order to unite and stop Thanos (Josh Brolin), a powerful warlord intent on acquiring the Infinity Stones and using them to wipe out half of all beings in the galaxy and change things forever…

“At its best is epic, emotional and very, very shocking. It has impressive set pieces and of course it’s very funny. The few faults it does have are going to be down purely to the viewer. A knowledge of all that has happened before is essential. This is not the film for newbies….overall this was worth the wait.”Dave Curtis

 

 

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#7 – Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
[dirs. Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey]

Young teenager Miles Morales is involved in a freak accident and becomes Spider-Man. When the evil Kingpin creates a powerful machine that blends alternate dimensions, he crosses paths with five Spider-People from other dimensions who must work together and save all of their worlds…

“It’s a universal story that can be loved by everyone, filled with beautifully touching moments for both comic book and non-comic book fans alike, great laughs, and some pretty great music. This movie really showcases what minds like Steve Ditko and Stan Lee saw in these characters and what they wanted to express; a mask is a mask, but what really matters is who is underneath it – and that could be anyone.”Fernando Andrade

 

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#6 – The Shape Of Water
[dir. Guillermo del Toro]

At a top secret research facility in 1960s America, Elisa, (Sally Hawkins) a lonely janitor, forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature (Doug Jones) that is being held in captivity by the brutal Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) who wants to unlock super-human secrets to use against America’s enemies…

“Utterly magical in every sense of the word, and “more” than what you could wish for in all conceivable ways….with incredible performances, absolutely stunning visuals (special nod to the underwater scenes which are totally breathtaking), masterful direction, and a unique and memorable story, ‘The Shape of Water’ deserves to be looked back on with the same fondness and reverence that ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ is. A modern masterpiece, and a truly spectacular film.”Sarah Buddery

 

 

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#5 – First Man
[dir. Damien Chazelle]

American astronaut Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) and his wife Janet (Claire Foy) must deal with pressure at work and at home when he is offered a historic NASA space mission; to become the first man to walk on the Moon. But pre-flight tests and training don’t come easy, with many highs and lows that push Neil, and the mission, almost to breaking point…

“Stunning. It’s an astounding achievement for a young director on the winning streak of his life; it has two award-worthy leading performances; it’s gorgeous to look at; it’s amazing to listen to; and it’s an utterly overwhelming experience. See it on the biggest, loudest screen you can. Chazelle, you’ve done it again.”Rhys Bowen-Jones

 

 

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#4 – Phantom Thread
[dir. Paul Thomas Anderson]

Set in 1950s London, Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a renowned dressmaker whose fastidious life is disrupted by a young, strong-willed woman, Alma (Vicky Krieps), who becomes his muse and lover and who turns his view on life, and himself, upside down…

“When it comes down to it, ‘Phantom Thread’ is surprisingly quotable, cinematically very pleasing and a joy to watch. The cast all share strong chemistry and with a little help from Johnny Greenwood, Paul Thomas Anderson has created another excellent film which sits very nicely with his back catalogue. If this is Daniel Day-Lewis’ last ever film, then I will happily watch his old films with a smile on my face…but I do hope he changes his mind. He is just too good. He has loads left in the tank.”Dave Curtis

 

 

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#3 – Hereditary
[dir. Ari Aster]

After the family matriarch passes away, a grieving family is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences, and begin to unravel dark secrets. The mother, Annie (Toni Collette), begins to see her family slow fall apart, and while she is the only one who can hold them together, the supernatural powers surrounding them become too strong to contain…

“There are clear inspirations from classics such as Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen (and even 2011’s much underrated Kill List). And like those fondly remembered shockers, Aster’s film isn’t perfect – it’s a little overlong, occasionally fumbling around the good stuff towards the end… An outstandingly horrifying achievement from a debut filmmaker, Hereditary is a classic in the making, built on rock-solid, terrifying, atmospheric terror.”Cameron Frew

 

 

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#2 – Roma
[dir. Alfonso Cuarón]

Set in the early 1970s in Mexico City, we follows the life of live-in housekeeper Cleodegaria “Cleo” (Yalitza Aparicio) to an upper-class family. It tells the story of situations; the life Cleo and her family face in and around Mexico City at a time when living and providing was nothing but a struggle for most…

“Visually striking, aurally immersive and emotionally captivating, ‘Roma’ is undoubtedly one of the finest films of the year and arguably Cuarón’s best film. It is certainly his most personal film, and the labour of love that this film represents permeates through every single frame. With exceptional performances, beautiful imagery, and the finest sound design in recent years, ‘Roma’ isn’t just a film which deserves to be seen on the big screen, it is one which deserves to be heard on the big screen. It bears repeating: ‘Roma’ is a masterpiece.” – Sarah Buddery

 

 

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#1 – Mission: Impossible – Fallout
[dir. Christopher McQuarrie]

IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his allies must race against time to find a deadly crime syndicate intent on throwing the world into chaos. CIA agent August Walker (Henry Cavill) is also on hand to make sure IMF can do the job in hand when it becomes clear there is a mole within their ranks…

“Not only is ‘Fallout’ fun to watch, but it is also technically brilliant. From the score to the cinematography and the stunt work, it’s amazing to think about the hours of hard work the crew have had to put in to make a movie like this. They are the real MVP’s. I salute them…It is a proper popcorn flick which only has a few minor flaws. To think this franchise has been going for 22 years and it still feels this fresh and new is a testament to the director and star. I can’t imagine what they have in store for Mission Impossible 7. Surely only outer space beckons now.” – Dave Curtis


So there we have it. Agree or not, that’s the consensus for the Top 10 best films of 2018 from a team who, between them, have probably watched all that has been on offer.

Films that narrowly missed out a spot include ‘Beast’, ‘Black Panther’, ‘Isle Of Dogs’, ‘A Prayer Before Dawn’ and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.

We can’t wait to do it all again next year for the barnstorming 2019 offerings ahead!

JUMPCUT’s Top 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2019

2018 was, by most people’s standards, a solid year for cinema. From Blockbuster titans such as Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther to silent, independent treasures like Roma and Leave No Trace; this was the year that appeased to the tastes of casual filmgoers and avid cinephiles alike. Thankfully, 2019 is shaping up to be just as good a year, perhaps even stronger; boasting a collection of projects destined for greatness.

We at JUMPCUT have come together to collect our most anticipated films that 2019 has to offer, and boy, are we excited. So without further ado, here are our top 10 most eagerly anticipated movies of 2019.

This piece will also include a special addition from Fiona Underhill covering her most anticipated films that will premiere at Sundance in 2019…


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#10 – Us [dir. Jordan Peele]

In 2017, directorial debutant Jordan Peele, known by many as one of the members of comedy genius duo Key and Peele, stunned the cinematic world with Get Out – a harrowing, satirical tale of racial discrimination in its most barbaric form.

2 years later he is set to return to our screens with Us, a horror-thriller promised to be a spiritual sequel to Peele’s predecessor. Boasting a diverse cast including the likes of Elisabeth Moss, Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke, we can expect another chilling tale dealing with similar societal issues as seen in Get Out. Although plot details about his new project are being kept under wraps, a new trailer is set to be released on Christmas day – and what better way to spend your festive season than to be terrified stiff by the genius of Jordan Peele?

Written by Corey Hughes

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#9 – Captain Marvel [dir. Anna Boden; Ryan Fleck]

When Thanos snapped his herculean fingers at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, all seemed lost. Half of the universe’s population was eradicated at the sound of the snap; our beloved heroes dissolving to dust in the wind. But there could be a way out. A way to defeat Thanos once and for all. Enter Captain Marvel.

Hailed by many as Marvel’s most powerful superhero, Captain Marvel makes her long-awaited feature debut in her titular origin story set to release early next year. Stepping into the esteemed boots of Marvel’s heroine is Brie Larson, a name alone worthy of generating great excitement. The Oscar-winning actress is joined by MCU newcomers Jude Law, Ben Mendelsohn and Gemma Chan, and also by regulars Samuel L. Jackson as (now two-eyed) Nick Fury and Lee Pace as the villainous Ronan – a cast not to be missed.

There’s a lot to be excited for here, least of all its contribution to fuelling the excitement for Avengers Endgame; another eagerly anticipated release in 2019 that will undoubtedly be featured later on in this list…

Written by Corey Hughes

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#8 – IT: Chapter 2 [dir. Andy Muschietti] 

2017 was a big year for the franchise and, as you would expect, the worldwide box office was dominated by Marvel, Star Wars, Wonder Woman and Fast and Furious. One of the unexpected hits of the year came in the form of a child-eating clown in Andres Mushcietti’s IT. Loved by critics and audiences alike, IT stormed to a worldwide box office of $700m and proved that there is still a place in the market for blockbuster horror, despite the surge in excellent indie horror films in recent years.

It is no surprise then, that a sequel will hit our screens in September 2019. The film will see Jessica Chastain team up with Muschietti again after working together on Mama. Bill Skarsgard will reprise his role as Pennywise and James McAvoy is the other standout name signed on to star alongside the returning kids. Exact plot details are still being kept quiet, but if we use Stephen King’s novel and the 1990 mini-series as a template, we can expect to see Pennywise return to Derry 27 years on from the events of IT and what’s left of the Losers Club reunite in an attempt to rid their hometown of this evil once and for all.

Written by Nick Deal

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#7 – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood [dir. Quentin Tarantino]

Only Quentin Tarantino, known for his provocatively visual style of filmmaking, could make a movie based loosely on the Charles Manson killings and cast such a charming ensemble of actors. With the likes of Leonardo DiCpario (returning from his Oscar win in The Revenant), Margot Robbie, Kurt Russell and Brad Pitt among the selection, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood seems too good to miss, but when Tarantino himself describes DiCaprio and Pitt as “the most exciting star dynamic duo since Robert Redford and Paul Newman”, this is a cinematic experience that will go down in history.

But for many, the return of Tarantino is enough to get butts in seats. Since his initial declaration that he will not be making more than ten feature films, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood marks his ninth; destined to be another milestone in his illustrious career thus far. Has he really only got one more film left in him after this? We sure hope not.

Written by Corey Hughes

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#6 – Glass [dir. M. Night Shyamalan]

It’s fair to say that M. Night Shyamalan, deemed by many as the master of the plot twist (sometimes at the expense of plausibility), has had a bit of a topsy-turvy career. With undeniable classics under his belt like The Sixth Sense and Signs, he’s also got some stinkers tucked away too; The Happening and The Last Airbender, yes, I’m looking at you. But with the warm critical and audience receptions for his last outing, Split, it seems that the inconsistent director is back on the right track.

Since Bruce Willis’ shock cameo in the final moments of Split, Shyamalan teased a joint-universe within his own films – the fact that the events of his last project co-exist within the same universe of Unbreakable; a trademark twist. The upcoming Glass is the sequel of all sequels, bringing together James McAvoy, Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson’s characters into one explosive feature. You can see why it’s featured on our list.

Written by Corey Hughes

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#5 – Godzilla: King of the Monsters [dir. Michael Dougherty]

Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla left some people wanting more. It focused more on the human element, it showed the action from a human perspective, looking up at the kaiju as they wrecked skyscrapers. At one point, Godzilla is shown in full for the first time, and the film cuts away to show the ensuing fight on a small news broadcast in the background. I get the problems people have with it. But, with that said, when Edwards shows us the action, it is epic. In every possible way, it is fantastic, it’s weighty, it’s brutal, it’s how you’d expect three 300ft tall monsters fighting would look. We want more of that. Less human, more monster.

Enter Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Everything about this long-awaited sequel (5 years on from its predecessor) points to it being bigger. It will reintroduce classic monsters from the Godzilla canon in Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah, and pit them all against each other and Godzilla in a winner-takes-the-Earth battle of the millennium. Add in some exciting new actors to the cast like Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga, Charles Dance, and Bradley Whitford, you have a film that’s worth your attention beyond just the kaiju fights.

If you haven’t had the chance yet, the newest trailer is essential viewing as it shows these 3 in mind-blowing action, and it shows the beginnings of a mammoth clash between Godzilla and King Ghidorah, Godzilla’s giant 3-headed arch-nemesis. It is going to be a film that needs to be seen on the biggest, loudest screen you can find. I’ll be there opening night.

Written by Rhys Bowen Jones

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#4 – Joker [dir. Todd Phillips]

Not since Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy – without being remotely persuaded by Wonder Woman’s origin – has DC zapped me enough to rival the enthusiasm I have for the mega Marvel universe. Nor did Jared Leto come close to re-establishing the Joker as his own like Mark Hamill and Heath Ledger did before. But a new circus is in town to pave the way for a fresh batch of DC origins led by The Hangover director Todd Phillips, who’s ready to unravel the mind of a serious, but not so serious clown.

Joaquin Phoenix – who we’ve already seen sprinting through Manhattan in full retro-clown costume – is Arthur Fleck, portrayed as a failing comedian who turns criminal amidst his misfortune. Set in the 1980s, this vision will follow the storyline of Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke that should be flawless material for a raw and grounding backstory that’s set to be a stand-alone project. With promising support from Robert de Niro and confirmed appearances from Thomas Wayne, a young Bruce, trusty butler Alfred, and even Arkham Asylum, Phillips will keep Joker connected to Batman treasures in vintage, indie style.

Rumoured to be titled DC Dark or DC Black, Joker will be crucial in reinvigorating a distinct line of DC movies that show promise of being purely character driven – hinted by its low budget of $55 million and a likely R rating – that will combat the franchise’s CGI heavy past. The Joker’s history is ambiguous – put clearly in his Killing Joke quote “If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice” – putting creative freedom at an all-time high when building his foundation. 2019 should confidently host an intriguing version of his dark and twisted making.

Written by Jo Craig

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#3 – John Wick: Chapter 3 [dir. Chad Stahelski]

 There are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and not to piss off John Wick.

Keanu Reeve’s John Wick has become somewhat of a contemporary action hero to match the likes of Jason Bourne and James Bond, a darkened, hardened and relentless figure whose reputation strikes fear into anyone who knows his name. Chapter 3 sees the culmination of Chad Stahelski’s John Wick trilogy, its two predecessors setting the benchmark for the modern action flick with its reliance on long-shots and exuberant fight sequences to demonstrate Wick’s fearless physicality.

The Wick films also lay the foundations for an interesting mythological backdrop, particularly its realm of assassins who roam mysterious Continental hotels across the globe. It will be interesting to see how these mysteries play out in the forthcoming film, but I think I speak for everyone when I say that we’re all here just to see Keanu Reeves annihilate his enemies in the most stylistic and aesthetically stimulating way possible. Especially from horseback. Orgasmic…

Written by Corey Hughes

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#2 – Avengers: Endgame [dir. The Russo Brothers] 

“Oh god” uttered Captain America, only to be followed by a hauntingly melancholic suite and a mightily satisfied smile from the Great Titan. When that shot cut to black, certainly in my screening, you could feel an unparalleled devastation in the air. Comic book filmgoers have been treated to darkness before, but this was new. Sudden, harsh, genocidal; this was the good guy’s worst primal fear – the bad guy winning. Some say it’s cheap, some say it’s inconsequential, I say it’s genius. How else are we fully to believe the universe-spanning power of Thanos than if he doesn’t get the chance to click those gold-plated, stone-garnished fingers?

Fitting then that the trailer for the climatic Avengers film, Endgame, is ruthlessly sombre. The loss, the agony, the powerlessness; this is a different kind of superhero movie. More urgent, more emotional. “Thanos did exactly what he said he was going to do. He wiped out 50% of all living creatures.”

It’s a modern cinema wonder the Russo’s pulled off Infinity War, but Endgame is different. Endgame is in the purest sense of the word, an event. The decade-spanning culmination of the world-building, victories and losses we as viewers have invested in.

How is it all going to pan out? How will Tony Stark survive? Will he and Cap see each other again? How did Ant-Man make it out the Quantum Realm? How will they save the day? The inevitability of heroes returning doesn’t dampen the tension, it elicits further compassion. We want to push our arms through the screen to give our remaining Avengers a pat on the back, just to say, “It’ll be okay”. But there’s more than every chance it won’t be – The Russo’s aren’t chumps. The question that’s leaving everyone’s trembling lips is, “Who’s going to (actually) die?”.

Depending on your age growing up, your ‘big series’ varies. For some, it’ll be Star Wars, or Indiana Jones, or for later generations, Harry Potter. But in terms of scope, consistency and vision, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the grand-daddy of the blockbuster franchises. Make no qualms; Endgame is, arguably, the biggest movie of all time. My excitement couldn’t be contained within any Infinity Stone – many, many, many tears will be shed on April 26, 2019. See you there.

Written by Cameron Frew

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#1Star Wars – Episode IX [dir. JJ. Abrams]

Topping our list is the as of yet untitled Star Wars Episode IX, a film with perhaps larger expectations on its shoulders than it probably deserves. It’s no secret that preceding instalment The Last Jedi split audiences down the middle, meaning Episode IX is the rare blockbuster that, to leave the legacy it hopes to, needs to both satisfy those still on board with the saga and revitalise the interests of those who fell off over the past year. It’ll be a gargantuan feat, so here’s hoping JJ Abrams is up for the task.

What can we expect from Episode IX itself, though? Well, that’s hard to say. The film is being kept a secret as you’d expect for a trilogy-concluding blockbuster of this magnitude, and if there’s one thing absolutely no one can deny about The Last Jedi, it’s that it shook the saga up to such an extent that predicting what comes next is entirely impossible. Will Rey complete her Jedi training and fulfil her destiny? Will the Resistance rise up and defeat the First Order? What state with the currently unstable First Order even be in when we rejoin the story? And, number one on my mind, what fate awaits Kylo Ren as his journey of self-discovery reaches its big conclusion? The one thing we do know, though? None of us are going to want to miss this one.

Written by Ryan Morris

What films are you most excited for in 2019? Be sure to keep in touch and let us know!

Jordan Peele’s Christmas Gift To Us This Year Is The First ‘Us’ Trailer

After sending shockwaves across contemporary culture and setting a new standard for provocative, socially-conscious horror films with his directorial debut, Get Out, Academy Award®-winning visionary Jordan Peele returns with another original nightmare that he has written, directed and produced.

Set in present day along the iconic Northern California coastline, Us, from Monkeypaw Productions, stars Oscar® winner Lupita Nyong’o as Adelaide Wilson, a woman returning to her beachside childhood home with her husband, Gabe (Black Panther’s Winston Duke), and their two children (Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex) for an idyllic summer getaway.

Haunted by an unexplainable and unresolved trauma from her past and compounded by a string of eerie coincidences, Adelaide feels her paranoia elevate to high-alert as she grows increasingly certain that something bad is going to befall her family. After spending a tense beach day with their friends, the Tylers (Emmy winner Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Cali Sheldon, Noelle Sheldon), Adelaide and her family return to their vacation home.

When darkness falls, the Wilsons discover the silhouette of four figures holding hands as they stand in the driveway. Us pits an endearing American family against a terrifying and uncanny opponent: doppelgängers of themselves.

Directed by: Jordan Peele

Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Anna Diop, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Elizabeth Moss, Winston Duke

Release Date: 15th March 2019

 

JUMPCUT All The Way: Die Hard (1988)

Directed by: John McTiernan
Cast: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson

Written by Fernando Andrade

What makes a good Christmas movie? Well, I find good Christmas movies always seem to generate this magical aura of emotions, memorable moments, and love of some sort. Now, if Die Hard does not encapsulate all those things then well, I’m not sure what a Christmas movie is frankly.

Released on July 15th, 1988, for the last 30 years of its existence people continue to bring up the question, “Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?” It is one of the most divisive movies of all time for that specific reason (not so much in a critical filmmaking way). I doubt when director John McTiernan and star Bruce Willis signed up for this film, they thought one of the biggest takeaways would be whether it’s a Christmas movie.

Die Hard sees our hero John McClane (Bruce Willis), an NYPD detective, fly out to Los Angeles on Christmas Eve (yes that’s right Christmas Eve!) on a mission to reconcile with his wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia). How adorable right? A man wanting to make amends with his wife. In the first few minutes, we learn that McClane hates to fly, showing us how much this truly means to him making the trip all the from New York to win back his wife’s heart. Now that on its own would make a pretty decent Christmas story, but it’s not over there. The Christmas party (wow a Christmas party, no way) which they are at is attacked by a terrorist group led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), and it is up to McClane to defeat them as they stand in the way of his ultimate goal.

Sure, Die Hard is no sweet and innocent Christmas movie like Elf or The Polar Express, but who says Christmas movies have to be? Not only is the setting of the movie Christmas Eve, but the dialogue – which granted at times is also very ’80s in design – has many references to Christmas. Die Hard produces an incredible amount of emotions, as we are constantly on the edge of our seat rooting on McClane. Die Hard also contains some of the most memorable lines and moments in movie history. From the classic “Yippie-Ki-Yay, Motherfucker!” to “Welcome to the party, pal!”, John jumping from the top of the Nakatomi building, and the intense air vent scene, many believe Die Hard to be the gold standard when it comes to action movies, and rightfully so.

I feel that is one of the biggest reasons why there is a push back to consider it a Christmas movie. It’s bloody, it’s littered with profanity, and offensive to some extent – things which aren’t synonymous with Christmas. No one said it was a Christmas movie for the whole family to enjoy, but it still contains those key ingredients of a good Christmas movie – just for adults.

Besides always coming up in conversations around the holidays, Die Hard did a lot of other things in the world of film as well. Mentioned previously, many consider Die Hard the gold standard when it comes to action movies. This means a lot of action movies have, in some way, been influenced by Die Hard since its release. It also spawned, at the time, a new star in Bruce Willis. Before being John McClane, Willis had only appeared in two other films, Blind Date in 1987 and Sunset which was released the same year as Die Hard. Following the success of the movie, Willis would go on to star in films like Pulp Fiction, Twelve Monkeys, and The Sixth Sense. Now his career has been on a downward trajectory (minus Looper), but at the time, his career was one of the best. We also gained one of the best villain roles of all time thanks to the late great Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber. Die Hard was nominated for 4 Academy Awards including Best Sound, Best Editing, Best Sound Effects Editing, and Best Visual Effects. It grossed $140.7 million in it’s worldwide run in 1988 but has probably made a lot more since then with many theatres making it a tradition to screen the film around the holidays. It also led to four sequels and a rumoured prequel set to be released in the near future, but we don’t really talk about those.

Will the conversation of, is Die Hard a Christmas movie ever stop? My bet is probably not, but if it were up to Fox Studios, that answer would be a big fat yes, thanks to a new trailer recently released pretty much confirming the answer. A marketing stunt you say? More than likely, but still I’ll take any kind of affirmation at this point. Then again, film is subjective and there will always be a naysayer out there. The never-ending discussion has cemented itself with Die Hard’s legacy. Whether you choose to think Die Hard is a Christmas movie or not (it is), watch it if you never have. You will experience one of the best overall action films ever made, and more than likely find yourself exclaiming Yippie-Ki-Yay as you open your Christmas presents.

JUMPCUT All The Way: The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Directed by: Brian Henson
Starring: Michael Caine, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire

Written by Lucy Buglass

For many people, the Christmas period is filled with annual traditions. Finding a special film that you make time to watch each and every year is a wonderful thing, and for me, it’s The Muppet Christmas Carol. It takes a Charles Dickens classic and turns it into a wonderful festive affair that’s fun for all the family whilst still sticking to the important messages of the novel.

I’m not a massive fan of musicals in general but it’s impossible to hate such a wholesome and fun film, with musical numbers that will make you want to sing along. It embodies so many great things about Christmas, whilst telling such an iconic story in a unique way. Who would have thought that Gonzo the Great playing Charles Dickens would actually work? Somehow, it does, with Brian Henson directing his father’s beloved puppets in a beautiful and entertaining way. It’s the kind of film that exists to make people happy and carry on the legacy of Dickens’ famous story, and that is a wonderful thing.

Michael Caine is a fantastic Scrooge, embodying a cynical, grumpy old money-lender who can’t stand the celebrations. He turns down dinner invitations and even intends to work on Christmas day, seeing it as just another day to him. Scrooge’s character has been adapted into many different forms, but there’s something about Caine’s version that I adore. Seeing him alongside all the Muppets is such fun, and I never tire of it. I also love the way his emotional journey is portrayed throughout, as he meets the different ghosts and is shown flashbacks and visions of his own life. His emotional range is excellent in this film, showing all the different sides of Scrooge’s personality.

Overall, the film is incredibly vibrant and full of life. Much of this is helped by the presence of various Muppets characters making an appearance, and trying to spread some festive cheer along the way. However, I did love the eeriness of the scene featuring The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come as this is the real turning point for Scrooge when he realises how awful he’s been. I liked that they didn’t try to sugarcoat it, yet kept it family friendly at the same time. It’s a difficult thing to pull off, but somehow, it really works. Scrooge is supposed to feel unsettled by the vision of his own grave, and I feel that this really resonates with the audience even in a fun, silly adaptation like this one.

I really hope that The Muppet Christmas Carol continues to delight audiences throughout the years, because for me, it’s timeless. It’s good, clean fun with an important message about being kind and understanding what the Christmas spirit is all about. I firmly believe that this film could charm all the real life Scrooges out there, and just maybe make them love Christmas after all! This is a must-see Christmas film that you can enjoy with pretty much anyone, so you should definitely consider watching it this season.

JUMPCUT All The Way: The Holiday (2006)

Directed by: Nancy Meyers
Starring: Kate Winslet, Jack Black, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Eli Wallach

Written by Fiona Underhill

The Holiday starts with a montage and a monologue which encapsulates everything good about this film – it is scored to Hans Zimmer’s beautiful music (maybe Zimmer’s best score? Yes, I’m glad you agree) and has Kate Winslet’s Iris espousing on love and life in voice-over over images of our central four characters. So; in London, there is Iris and her brother Graham, played by Jude Law (the best character called Graham to ever exist?) and in LA, there is Amanda (Cameron Diaz) and Miles (Jack Black). We also meet our villain Jasper (the delectable Rufus Sewell) in the first few minutes – he works at the same newspaper as Iris, they have had an “on-again/off-again” thing for some time (she is still very much in love with him), then tragedy strikes – his engagement to another woman is announced to the whole office and Iris’ beautiful face has to take in this news and try to hold it together. I’m getting emotional just thinking about it.

I’m willing to fight anyone who does not think that Winslet’s performance as Iris is in the top ten, if not the top five performances of her career. This opening section is extremely reminiscent of Bridget Jones’ Diary (with its newspaper setting, a woman in her 30s being in love with her male colleague) but for me, it is way better and Winslet’s performance is one of the main reasons for this.

We cut to Los Angeles, where of course, Diaz’s Amanda is also unlucky in love – she throws her cheating boyfriend (played by Ed Burns – remember him?) out of the house. Amanda owns a company that makes movie trailers and this means that there is an amazing scene early on where she is working on a trailer starring James Franco and Lindsay Lohan with her two colleagues played by John Krasinski and Kathryn Hahn. Things get surprisingly dark for a rom-com as Iris inhales gas from her oven – “low point” – and it is at this moment that salvation comes from a bing on her laptop. Amanda makes the decision that she needs to get away for Christmas, so she starts searching for vacation properties and comes across a cosy cottage in Surrey, owned by – you guessed it – Iris. The two unhappy women decide to do a house-swap for two weeks and away we go.

Diaz is perhaps the one weak-link of the central four for me, but she does demonstrate some physical comedienne prowess whilst slipping and sliding her way down an icy and snowy country lane to Iris’ cottage. She almost immediately begins to regret her decision until there is a knock on the door in the dead of night. It is drunk Graham (it’s only really hitting me now, after multiple re-watches, how funny that name is) and understandably, there is an immediate spark. It is the next morning, however, that Jude Law truly gets to shine in the role because he PUTS ON GLASSES.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, Iris is enjoying Amanda’s palatial home and the sunshine and quickly meets film composer Miles, who visits and tells her about the Santa Anas (I learned everything I know about these crazy winds from The Holiday and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend). Miles has an actress girlfriend played by Shannyn Sossamon (remember her?), showing that Jack Black clearly has game in this movie. She also meets her neighbour Arthur (Eli Wallach), who it turns out was a screenwriter during the golden age of Hollywood. One of my favourite things about this film is that it is a love letter to old Hollywood. This film features a pre-Oscar Kate Winslet seeing an Oscar and gasping and I DO NOT KNOW WHAT ELSE YOU WANT FROM A MOVIE. Arthur gives Iris a watch-list of old movies, filled with women with “gumption” and she realises that she should be “the leading lady of her own life” – sniff. Iris even throws a Hanukkah party for Arthur and his friends (this film has all your holiday bases covered).

Back in England, Amanda comes to the realization that we’ve all had about Jude Law – that he is a DADDY. It starts to come to the end of their time together and weepy Graham tells Amanda he loves her. Jasper visits Iris in LA because of course he does. Jasper is one of the most realistically awful men to ever grace a cinema screen – we have all known a Jasper. In LA, the culmination comes with a fancy event at the Writer’s Guild of America, celebrating Arthur’s career. The ending of this movie is one of the happiest endings of all time and I’m positively glowing just thinking about it.

The Holiday is one of the best Christmas movies of all time, with a quality cast on their A-game. Winslet will have you sobbing into your egg-nog and Law will have you melting into your crackling open fire. It is eminently re-watchable, even when it’s not Christmas – it warms my cockles all year round. If you’ve never seen it, now is the time to question all of your life choices and get it into your eyeballs as fast as a one-horse open sleigh. If you’ve seen, now is the time to incorporate it into your annual Christmas-viewing traditions – just try not to get the wrapping paper soggy with tears.

REVIEW: Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

Directed by: Rob Marshall
Starring: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Dick Van Dyke.

Written by Cameron Frew

Mary Poppins is a curious thing. Depending on how you explain her, one would be forgiven for being slightly disturbed – a nanny who arrives out of nowhere flying out of the clouds on an umbrella, with seemingly magical powers and the ability to transport whomever she pleases into weird and wacky animated worlds. Disney turned P.L. Travers’ creation into a cinematic legend, however, beaming with warmth, peppy energy and a rigid stance on manners that taught the virtues of decorum and imagination as a pair. It was the perfect treat for the children and adults of 1964 – now more than 50 years later, cinema has given way to a sequel. Will you require a spoonful of sugar to put it over? No, this medicine is an immensely pleasant time all on its own.

Michael and Jane Banks (Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer) are now fully-fledged grown-ups. The latter organises rallies for the working class, the former isn’t so content. After losing his wife, he’s saddled with the task of trying to earn a living at a bank under the scrupulous but seemingly generous eye of William “Weatherall” Wilkins (Colin Firth) and raising his three children (Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh and Joel Dawson). Life is getting particularly hard as untenable bills mount. Then, as luck would have it, from the breaking clouds flies down Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) to look after the Banks children – and their children.

From the murky, familiar opening shots of an industrial London, there’s a keen sense of welcome in the picture. Not just welcoming new and old audiences, but welcoming its roots, the look, the feel, the style, the mood. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Broadway superstar from In the Heights and Hamilton, plays a huge role in fuelling the charisma machine, leading us into “the days of the Great Slump” with a pep and a jive. He has a breathless allure, the sort of birth-given gift that can’t be truly explained; he’s simply a diamond of the industry.

Whishaw and Mortimer are uncannily believable siblings, both sharing similar ticks and resonant chemistry that’s neither overpowering nor weak. The Newsroom star brings a little of that anxious energy in a likeable turn, but Whishaw has far more to do. That soft-spoken voice which propelled Paddington into our hearts is still around, but the nuance in his performance is quite impressive; at times he’s overcome with giddy joy, at others he’s harrowed with anguish and rage as events out with control cause continuous hardship. There’s a constantly sad undercurrent, the writers (David Magee, Rob Marshall and John Deluca) reminding you of the children’s endless devotion to their mother’s ethos – “That’s what mother would do” you hear them say. But in respecting this grief, in a very accessible way, the filmmakers untangle that knot of emotion.

Of course, they’re gifted the most supreme of helping hands in the form of Blunt, who in one of the most supercalifragilisticexpialadocious efforts this year, totally embodies the spirit of Poppins, and then some. Julie Andrews won the Oscar for the role, and it won’t be a surprise if there’s a Best Actress nomination on the cards this time. Punctilious and genteel, kind and firm, a queen of decorum and advocate of the imagination, Blunt is a revelation.

Soon we’re into ebullient animated-land, a mixture of modernistic visual effects-driven sequences and old-time, classic hand-drawn works that blend live-action and art in the finest display since Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The way writer-and-director Marshall and cinematographer Dion Beebe (who worked on the very different but insanely brilliant Collateral) orchestrate such dazzling set-pieces, packed with stunning choreography and warmly impressive animation is nothing short of remarkable. There are visual gags aplenty that’ll only improve on repeat viewings too, any excuse to dive back into the bathtub.

The song list is only impaired by the odd slightly overlong show tune, but the wild enthusiasm of them all is infectious, anchored on Marc Shaiman’s extravagantly grand composition that never feels anything less than an occasion. ’Trip a Little Light Fantastic’ is the finest number, an ensemble-belter that transports you into the cinema of old.

That’s the thing, Mary Poppins Returns feels like an ode to a cherished time at the movies. It packs both the power to move the kids and the adults, tap everyone’s feet and widen all the grins. There are only a few little bits that nag; the more ornate animation exceeds far better than the CGI stuff, and there’s one joke that sticks around a long time not all that effectively until the admittedly funny pay off. But you can see why big names wanted to get involved; Firth is delicious as a pantomime villain, Meryl Streep makes an appearance, and watch out for Dick Van Dyke. Few sequels these days are quite as joyous.

Blunt is sensational. On top of that, it’s pure Disney. Suppose when you consider the talent involved, there’s nowhere to go but up.

CAMERON’S VERDICT:

4

JUMPCUT All The Way: Love Actually (2003)

Directed by: Richard Curtis
Starring: Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Keira Knightley, Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy, Colin Firth

Written by Cameron Frew

Films are a mixture of wine and perishable meats; some grow better with time, others do not age well at all. Love Actually is one such picture that has somehow fallen into both categories for the public: some praise its knowing cheese and saccharine, uplifting qualities; others (often quite furiously) criticize its mishaps and moral ambiguity, particularly among one or two of the umpteen sub-plots in this festive jamboree of laughs, sadness and joy.

Perhaps the most quintessentially British outing in the Christmas watchlist each year, the first sequence is a capture of reunions, hugs and happiness at London Heathrow airport. Then eases in Hugh Grant’s monologue, rekindling even the slightest ashes of lovesick hopelessness. He speaks, rather gently, of how love is “actually, all around”, the fact that any phone call that came from the Twin Towers on that fateful day wasn’t filled with messages with hate, but with, well, love.

Richard Curtis had long-established himself as a writer of spirited, kind-hearted comedy long before here. Four Weddings & A Funeral, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’ Diary – he wrote them all. But this was his first foray into directing, and that debutant nature flairs up occasionally with the odd overlong placeholder shot of a decorated cityscape or the River Thames. But this is generally impressive for someone on such hefty screenplay duties as well as captaining the ship.

A brisk run through of the plot then, shall we? It’s essentially similar to Crash, but a romantic comedy. We follow eight couples that are loosely connected in their own ways in the lead up to Christmas Day. New loves are found and old loves are fractured along the way, but the most important thing to remember is that all you need is — okay I’ll stop now.

There’s Bill Nighy, a faded rock star releasing a trashy Christmas single with his manager (Gregor Fisher). The former is amusingly brash and uncouth and wonderfully played by Nighy, who clearly had the time of his life with the role.

Then we have Colin Firth as a man forced out of his relationship by his adulterous girlfriend and brother (try not to cringe when you hear “hurry up big boy”), taking peaceful refuge abroad when he meets the woman who will change everything (Lúcia Moniz). For all the grander tales of affection, Firth’s is much slighter – not as easy to invest in, but by its sweeping zenith, you’ll fall head over heels.

There’s a handful of smaller, fleeting sub-plots which lack depth but pack in some great jollity. Martin Freeman and Joanna Page star as A-list stand-ins for movies; in this case, they’re in a sex scene. But nattering sparks fly and every moment they share has a cheeky, modest glee. Kris Marshall, after failing to woo the female population of the UK, decides to go to America, where he believes he will be a hit with the ladies. This is one particular instance where Curtis really invites you to be in on the joke, allowing the sort of fantasy many would probably dream of to unfold without any boundaries – and it’s hilarious.

Still in cutesy territory, there’s Liam Neeson as a recent widower, left to raise his stepson (Thomas Sangster), who so happens to have fallen for a classmate at school. She’s the cool girl, who “has no idea who he is”. In terms of bravura exuberance, this is the most effective relationship of the movie, again reaching a stunning finale that’ll have you cheering at the screen and wiping away the tears.

If you’re a Love Actually novice, get used to the idea of crying. This is not a saga free from heartbreak. We’ll start with Laura Linney’s story; she’s in love with a colleague, with whom she shares the odd flirty glance but remains to shy to do anything about it. After a push from her boss, Alan Rickman, wheels start turning. But there’s one problem; she has to always be available on the phone for her brother with special needs. Thankfully, this isn’t played for comedy at all; in fact, it’s potently bittersweet, hitting home a really selfless message where others opt for grand, romantic gestures.

The gestures are sometimes pointed in the wrong direction. The queen of queens, Emma Thompson, is Rickman’s wife. While she is self-effacing and affectionate, he is rather distant. Could be because he’s more interested in the office secretary (Heike Makatsch), who flouts decorum with her demands of “something she wants” and spreading of her legs. Rarely does infidelity evoke such rage; when Thompson realizes her husband’s dirty deeds, she shares a poignant moment with herself to the sound of Joni Mitchell (also, beautifully framed by Michael Coulter). As those tears stream, your fists tighten; it’s one of the most beautifully performed bits of acting you’ll see in an otherwise fluffy piece.

Whereas that’s a story of outright immoral actions, Andrew Lincoln’s is a bit more dubious. His best friend, Chiwetel Ejiofor marries Keira Knightley. But Lincoln is repeatedly cold to her, almost aggressively rude, like she sours his taste buds just from the mere soundbite of her voice. But the old maxim is wee boys pull girls’ hair because they like them. When this internal conflict comes to a close in arguably the film’s most iconic scene, your enjoyment is based on how well you can strip away your ethical thoughts on the matter.

But of all the aspirational fairytales, it’s Hugh Grant’s. He stars as the newly instated Prime Minister, who has an immediate fondness for one of Downing Street’s household staff, Martine McCutcheon (who has an expertly exclaimed dose of swearing: “Where the fuck’s my fucking coat?”). There’s a real charm in their growing liaison, with all their interruptions you constantly route for them. This includes the disruptive, devious President of the United States (Billy Bob Thornton), who functions as an overblown but very effective caricature of the sort of smugness in politics that seems to come with birth across the pond.

But the way they all flow together is nothing short of inspired. You can’t argue that it was a phenomenon, and is readily established as a modern classic in the December genre. For what could have been a self-congratulatory exercise in bringing together a who’s who of rising and veteran stars, Love Actually is remarkably uncorrupted (despite the problematic nature of a few plot points). It’s a thoroughly British affair; endearing, involving, witty. But it’s also an ode to outlandish acts and tolerating hardship, to the necessary evil of tough love and the reparatory nature of a softer touch. Let Craig Armstrong’s uplifting, poppy, crescendo-filled score move and enthral you, and accept that no matter how many times you watch Love Actually, your blood will always boil because of Alan Rickman.

JUMPCUT ALL THE WAY: Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Directed by: Tim Burton
Cast: Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest, Anthony Michael Hall

Written by Bianca Garner

Like Burton’s Batman Returns; on the first watch Edward Scissorhands doesn’t jump out as a Christmas film. However; Edward Scissorhands is the perfect Christmas film because it promotes the strength and power of love and family, two things which are essential to Christmas. When asked about the where the concept of Edward Scissorhands came from, Burton explained it came from a drawing he drew as a teenager which reflected his feelings of isolation and being unable to communicate to people around him in suburban Burbank. The drawing was of a thin, serious-looking man with long, sharp blades instead of fingers. Burton stated that he was often alone and had trouble retaining friendships. “I get the feeling people just got this urge to want to leave me alone for some reason, I don’t know exactly why.”

The film begins in a fairytale-like fashion; with an elderly woman telling her granddaughter the story of a young man named Edward who has scissor blades for hands and the reason why it snows every Christmas. As the creation of an old Inventor, Edward (Johnny Depp) is an artificially created human who is almost completed. The Inventor (Vincent Price) homeschools Edward, but suffers a heart attack and dies before he could attach hands to Edward. Some years later, Peg Boggs (Dianne Wiest), a local Avon door-to-door saleswoman, visits the decrepit Gothic mansion where Edward lives. She finds Edward alone and offers to take him to her home after discovering he is virtually harmless. Peg introduces Edward to her family: her husband Bill, their young son Kevin, and their teenage daughter Kim (Winona Ryder). Edward must try and adapt to life in the suburbs, becoming a dog groomer and a hairdresser for the ladies of the neighbourhood, and a great show and tell for Kevin. Slowly Edward and Kim grow closer, but there’s one problem to deal with, in the form of Kim’s hot-headed boyfriend (Anthony Michael Hall).

The element of Christmas takes a while to appear in the film, and it isn’t until the last act that Edward Scissorhands makes this shift into a Christmas film. However, this isn’t a time of celebration. Edward has become hated by the neighbourhood after being set up for a burglary that he didn’t commit.  Christmas is presented to us as this fake commercial act, where neighbours turn on neighbours and where it seems that bullies get away with their crimes. Burton is making a bold statement here. Instead of Christmas bringing this suburban community together, it has pulled them apart. The neighbourhood has become this place of competition and rivalry, where households seek to outdo each other in terms of who can ‘celebrate’ Christmas the most. As an outsider, Edward is unaware of how to participate in this rivalry and the act of Christmas, and we sympathise with him especially because he has become the scapegoat of all the issues to do with the community.

It’s not all doom and gloom. There are moments where the happiness and warmth of Christmas shine through and reinforces what Christmas is really about. The scene where Kim goes out into the backyard to find Edward making an angel ice sculpture, which creates a beautiful sprinkling of snow, helps to show us how the world can be transformed by a little bit of magic. Snow is presented as this simple beauty which has the power to make the world stop and reflect. In this brief moment, all of Kim’s and Edward’s anxieties melt away, and they no longer care regarding other people’s judgements. It is a powerful and iconic scene, which is made more effective by Danny Elfman’s score. This is what Christmas is all about, loving each other and taking part in the small, simple moments.

The power of Edward Scissorhands is how it manages to perfectly capture that loneliness, isolation, and family awkwardness that emerges around Christmas season. To anyone who finds it hard to socialise with distant family members, Edward feels like a kindred spirit. Ultimately, Edward is banished back to the top of the hill, but he manages to escape a life of materialism and fake respect. Many would consider this a somewhat sad ending, but all Christmas films have a touch of sadness to them. Christmas isn’t all tinsel, turkey dinners and presents. It can be a time of isolation and heartache for many. Edward Scissorhands helps us realise that life goes on and that an outsider can still bring happiness in their own way, shown how Edward brings snow to the neighbourhood.

Often Christmas films feel overwhelming, and a film like Edward Scissorhands can offer an alternative. It is a family film which has a strong moral message at its core, which we can all reflect on. Edward Scissorhands reassures us that it’s okay to be different and that everyone is entitled to love. With its moving storyline, stunning and quirky mise-en-scene and beautiful score, Edward Scissorhands is an overlooked classic holiday film which is definitely worth seeking out this Christmas.