Steven Spielberg: Top 5

Written by Chris Winterbottom

It’s going to be an interesting year for Steven Spielberg, as his upcoming adaptation of ‘The BFG’ is due to be released to UK audiences on the 22nd July 2016, and I for one am very much looking forward to it. As a child, this Roald Dahl novel about nasty and nice giants was one of my favourites, so it will be interesting to see how Spielberg’s vision fairs. The novel is obviously aimed at younger audiences, yet it also holds a real sinister edge, which I absolutely love.

Spielberg is often criticised for being overly sentimental in his films (War Horse being a near-unbearable example of this), so I do hope Spielberg finds a perfect balance between the dark edge and family-friendly tone of the novel. With this and the recent announcement that Spielberg and Harrison Ford would be re-teaming to create a fifth instalment in the ‘Indiana Jones’ saga, I thought now would be a good to go through my favourite Spielberg films. Here’s my top 5.


saving-private-ryan (1)

5. Saving Private Ryan

Criticism of this film is levelled at its sentimentality, and its inability to improve on what is one of the most groundbreaking opening sequences in cinema history. The D-Day landings which open the film is as brutal, powerful and moving now as it was upon release in 1998. I agree that the rest of the film does not reach the dizzy heights of the opening, but for me, it remains one of Spielberg’s most accomplished technical achievements. I also agree that its sentimentality becomes a little cloying by the end, but there is no doubting the technical brilliance and moving story at the heart of this film. Also the acting is superb, particularly from Tom Hanks, who delivers one of the most interesting performances of his career. Hollywood’s treatment of battle sequences changed forever after this film and it’s clear that the technical achievements have inspired other filmmakers (Paul Greengrass for example). ‘Saving Private Ryan’ is undoubtedly one of the finest war films ever made.


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4. Minority Report

This film really is an underrated gem. To tell the truth, my first viewing of ‘Minority Report’ left me uninspired; I thought it was just another middle of the road sci-fi movie. But one Christmas, I remember watching it on TV while flicking through the channels. Within seconds I was hooked and I saw a completely different movie than I did the first time around. I think this is one of Tom Cruise’s finest performances; he is so captivating and charismatic in this role it’s hard to think of another film where he is so watchable. Not to mention the beautiful cinematography which adds so much atmosphere. Where the special effects create a unique vision of the future, it is the oppressive light in the background that creates a heady mixture of noir and science fiction. The atmosphere is creepy, claustrophobic and strangely chilling. This overexposed light technique is something Spielberg has used quite often in his modern movies; he even used the technique in the recent ‘Bridge of Spies’ and it is clearly a device he will continue to use. The storytelling is also executed brilliantly and the set pieces are exhilarating.


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3. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

A moving and expertly-crafted family story where, once again, Spielberg’s unquenchable thematic exploration of an absent father is at the film’s heart. Of course, it ends on a syrupy-sweet note but there is no doubting the films power and you would be hard pushed not to be swept up in the film’s majesty. This is a film that is as timeless as any, and E.T. himself is one of the most recognisable movie characters in history. A spellbinding performance from Henry Thomas who plays Elliot, Spielberg really did get the best from an incredibly young cast. One of the key quotes from E.T. is “I’ll be right here” and I’m sure he will be for many a year.


jurassic park t rex first

2. Jurassic Park

I personally think this is one of the finest films ever made. It is a rollercoaster ride that has all the thrills and spills you expect, as well as plenty of spectacle. But there are deep philosophical mutterings underneath the still gleaming surface, such as the fear of fatherhood and the morals of genetic engineering. This was a film long in the making for Spielberg; it is ‘Jaws’ on land and has some of the most iconic action sequences in recent cinema; the bloke on the toilet?! Wow. With strong performances throughout and Jeff Goldblum showing why he was one of the coolest actors of the ’90’s, this is one of Spielberg’s finest films and a movie that rewards repeat viewings.


jaws

1. Jaws

Of course Spielberg’s finest film has to be ‘Jaws’. Films like ‘Jurassic Park’ would not have existed if it was not for this work of genius. With the now infamous production problems with the animatronic shark, the film is an example of how financial restrictions often spark the most interesting creativity. With recent big-budget superhero films being released – films which I believe fundamentally lack imagination and creativity – ‘Jaws’ is a lesson in how to stretch a budget and invent filmmaking techniques to achieve your cinematic goal. Not seeing the shark ultimately proved to be the greatest strength of this film, because it somehow amplified the scare-factor and cranked up the claustrophobia. It was also the first film to smash the box-office; word of mouth and large publicity meant this film was sold out for weeks. Now every big-budget blockbuster tries to emulate this feat and to be honest, it works – just look at ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’. Thanks to a carefully moulded marketing campaign, no amount of bad reviews can stop a juggernaut of this scale. It is, by far, Spielberg’s greatest achievement both technically and on a commercial level. The film has inspired so many of his colleagues and even himself in recent years and will continue to do so for many more. 

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Oscars 2016: The Nominees

The second biggest awards show in the film calendar (after the JumpCut UK Film Awards, of course) is feeling a hell of a lot closer now, after the nominees for the 88th Academy Awards were announced this week. 

Not surprisingly, ‘The Revenant’, Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s critically-acclaimed follow-up to his Best Picture win of last year (Birdman), leads the way with 12 nominations. The Academy also pleased film fans everywhere with a surprising 10 nominations for everyone’s favourite action film, ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’.

As usual, there’s plenty of controversy and public outcry, with scripts from Quentin Tarantino (The Hateful Eight) and Aaron Sorkin (Steve Jobs) snubbed, and an apparent lack of diversity still plaguing the awards show. 

Will Leo finally win the Oscar? Can Iñárritu win back-to-back director gongs? Or will George Miller and his brainchild ‘Mad Max’ steal the show? Here’s all the nominees, plus a few predictions as to who might win on the night (although, if my earlier predictions of the Best Picture nominees are anything to go by, I wouldn’t pay much attention to my guesses).


BEST PICTURE
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant (our winner)
Room
Spotlight

BEST ACTOR
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Matt Damon, The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant (our winner)
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

BEST ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room (our winner)
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christian Bale, The Big Short
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies (our winner)
Sylvester Stallone, Creed

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara, Carol (our winner)
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

DIRECTING
Adam McKay – The Big Short
George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road (our winner)
Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant
Lenny Abrahamson – Room
Tom McCarthy – Spotlight

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Anomalisa (our winner)
Boy and the World
Inside Out
Shaun the Sheep Movie
When Marnie Was There

COSTUME DESIGN
Carol (our winner)
Cinderella
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Amy
Cartel Land
The Look of Silence
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Winter on Fire

DOCUMENTARY SHORT
Body Team
Chau, Beyond the Lines
Claude Lanzmann
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness
Last Day of Freedom

MAKEUP AND HAIR STYLING
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared
The Revenant

ORIGINAL SONG
“Earned It” – Fifty Shades of Grey
“Manta Ray” – Racing Extinction
“Simple Song #3” – Youth
“Til It Happens to You” – The Hunting Ground
“Writing’s on the Wall” – Spectre

ANIMATED SHORT
Bear Story
Prologue
Sanjay’s Super Team
We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
World of Tomorrow (our winner)

SOUND EDITING
Mad Max: Fury Road
Sicario
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (our winner)
The Martian
The Revenant

FILM EDITING
The Big Short
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant (our winner)
Spotlight
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Embrace of the Serpent
Mustang
Son of Saul (our winner)
Theeb
A War

ORIGINAL SCORE
Bridge of Spies
Carol
The Hateful Eight
Sicario (our winner)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

PRODUCTION DESIGN
Bridge of Spies
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian (our winner)
The Revenant

VISUAL EFFECTS
Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (our winner)

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Big Short
Brooklyn
Carol
The Martian (our winner)
Room

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Bridge of Spies
Ex Machina (our winner)
Inside Out
Spotlight
Straight Outta Compton

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Carol
The Hateful Eight
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Sicario (our winner)

Golden Globes 2016 Nominees Announced

The Oscars may be the biggest awards event of the year (after the JumpCut UK Film Awards of course), but The Golden Globes are pretty big too, and can often be used as an indicator of what films might be successful with The Academy. Earlier this week, the nominations for the 73rd Golden Globe Awards were announced, with Todd Haynes’ ‘Carol’ leading the way. You can see all the nominations here, and my attempts to predict the winners.

Best Motion Picture (drama): Carol, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, Room, Spotlight
Prediction: Carol

Best Motion Picture (comedy/musical): The Big Short, Joy, The Martian, Spy, Trainwreck
Prediction: The Martian

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture (drama): Cate Blanchett (Carol), Brie Larson (Room), Rooney Mara (Carol), Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn), Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)
Prediction: Brie Larson

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture (drama): Bryan Cranston (Trumbo), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant), Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs), Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl), Will Smith (Concussion)
Prediction: Leonardo DiCapro

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture (comedy/musical): Jennifer Lawrence (Joy), Melissa McCarthy (Spy), Amy Schumer (Trainwreck), Maggie Smith (Lady In The Van), Lily Tomlin (Grandma)
Prediction: Jennifer Lawrence

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture (comedy/musical): Christian Bale (The Big Short), Mark Ruffalo (Infinitely Polar Bear), Steve Carell (The Big Short), Matt Damon (The Martian), Al Pacino (Danny Collins)
Prediction: Matt Damon

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture: Jane Fonda (Youth), Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina), Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight), Helen Mirren (Trumbo), Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)
Prediction: Alicia Vikander

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture: Sylvester Stallone (Creed), Idris Elba (Beasts Of No Nation), Paul Dano (Love & Mercy), Mark Rylance (Bridge Of Spies), Michael Shannon (99 Homes)
Prediction: Michael Shannon

Best Director: Todd Haynes (Carol), Alejandro G. Inarritu (The Revenant), George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road), Ridley Scott (The Martian), Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)
Prediction: Todd Haynes

Best Screenplay: Emma Donoghue (Room), Tom McCarthy/Josh Singer (Spotlight), Aaron Sorkin (Steve Jobs), Charles Randolph/Adam McKay (The Big Short), Quentin Tarantino (The Hateful Eight)
Prediction: Aaron Sorkin

Best Animated Feature Film: Inside Out, The Good Dinosaur, Anomalisa, Shaun The Sheep Movie, The Peanuts Movie
Prediction: Anomalisa

Best Foreign Language Film: The Club, The Fencer, Mustang, The Brand New Testament, Son Of Saul
Prediction: Son Of Saul

Best Original Score: Carol, The Revenant, Steve Jobs, The Danish Girl, The Hateful Eight
Prediction: The Revenant

What are your thoughts on the nominations and my predictions? Let us know who you think the big winners will be at The Golden Globes in 2016. You don’t have to wait long to find out where the awards end up, with the ceremony taking place on January 10th 2016.

Written by Jakob Lewis Barnes

Oscars 2016: Best Picture Predictions

Written by Jakob Lewis Barnes

The approach of the winter months doesn’t just mean it’s time to go shopping for a new coat, because with the cold weather and shorter days comes a growing desire for people to discuss The Oscars. It may be more than four months until the 88th Academy Awards, but that doesn’t stop anyone speculating as to who the winners and losers will be on the big night. To be honest, I’ve been guessing since this year’s ceremony ended, and whilst guesses are all we have for now, The Academy certainly have a distinct pattern to their choices, hence the term “Oscar bait”. Here are the films that are likely to make the cut and be nominated in the Best Picture category.

And the nominees are…

Sicario
Arguably, this intense thriller from Denis Villeneuve (who directed the fantastic Prisoners) is the film which started the ball rolling with all this Oscars buzz. As one of the few films in this list that has actually been released in cinemas, I can offer my personal opinion of ‘Sicario’, and if it was up to me, this would be the winner. Whilst myself, and many others, love this gritty crime flick though, it’s unlikely that ‘Sicario’ will go further than a nomination.

Steve Jobs
Nothing gets The Academy’s attention like a biopic, and with the late founder of Apple taking centre stage in this Danny Boyle production, ‘Steve Jobs’ is about as relevant as they come. A fantastic cast, led by the very talented Michael Fassbender, and Academy favourite Kate Winslet in support, ‘Steve Jobs’ has been garnering praise from early viewings and could be the frontrunner for the Best Picture award.

Suffragette
If there’s anything The Academy loves more than a biopic, it’s controversy. A cast boasting some of the best actresses around – including Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter – should boost ‘Suffragette’ and allow the feminist movement to be represented next February. It also helps that various stars, including Meryl Streep herself, voiced their concerns over the lack of opportunities and equality for women at this year’s ceremony.

Bridge Of Spies
The man responsible for classics such as ‘Jurassic Park’, ‘Jaws’ and ‘Saving Private Ryan’, Steven Spielberg, is back, and has teamed up with legendary actor, Tom Hanks, for this cold war drama. Both of these men are probably sick of the sight of these trophies, but it is very likely that this winning recipe will earn them a few more nominations to add to their resumé.

The Revenant
One man who certainly wouldn’t mind getting hold of a golden statuette is Leonardo DiCaprio, and whilst we’re sure Tom Hanks could just lend him one for the weekend, we don’t think that would quite be the same. By hooking up with Tom Hardy, and last year’s big winner Alejandro González Iñárritu (director of Birdman), Leo may well have given  himself his best chance yet at grabbing a personal award and leading his film to glory. Could Iñárritu win back-to-back Best Picture awards?

Joy
Another winning team come together once again, to bring us ‘Joy’ this Christmas. Director David O Russell, who has received nominations for his last three films (The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle), joins forces with Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence, and familiar faces Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro, in what could be a perfectly crafted, Oscar-bait picture. Whilst unlikely to win the top gong, it would be a surprise to see this one snubbed.

The Lobster
The film festival circuit isn’t just a fun way to spend your summer, it’s actually a breeding ground for hot productions hoping to catch the eye of The Academy. Pretty much every year there will be one or two films that thrive in the quirky world of film festivals and make it to the big stage for The Oscars. With an interesting plot, big name stars in Rachel Weisz and Colin Farrell, and plenty of hype from critics, ‘The Lobster’ could well crawl its way into the Best Picture category.

Carol
The big success story from the film festival circuit however, is undoubtedly ‘Carol’. This film, which sees Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara embark on a complicated lesbian relationship, has been lauded by critics all summer and will continue to be praised all the way through winter as it arrives in mainstream cinema theatres. It’s an outside shot, but this low-key, artistic offering could well beat the big names and steal the top prize next February.

So, with ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ unlikely to get the nod from The Academy, in favour of something more stylistically brilliant (they don’t know what they’re missing), my money is on ‘Carol’ and ‘Steve Jobs’ to fight this one out.

Oscars 2016: Best Picture Predictions

Written by Chris Winterbottom

It may be early, but with awards season kicking off, I thought I would share my tips for who will be nominated at the 2016 Academy Awards, which will be held on the 28th February. Last year’s winner of the award for Best Picture, ‘Birdman’, was part of an eight-strong group vying for that prestigious gold statuette, but the category can have up to ten films nominated. With that in mind, I’m predicting a nine horse race, considering the amount of interesting films still to be released before the big night.

And the nominees are…

Steve Jobs

After making the hugely enjoyable ‘Trance’, Danny Boyle is back to courting the big awards with this biopic of the Apple genius Steve Jobs. Michael Fassbender plays the titular character and with supporting actors in Kate Winslet and Jeff Daniels, early reviews have suggested this is the one to watch. Personally, I am looking forward to this immensely; Danny Boyle is one of my favourite filmmakers and with a script penned by Aaron Sorkin, whose other works include the wonderful ‘The Social Network’, this film looks set to be a huge success both financially and critically.

Suffragette

This recent release has seen much of its acclaim directed towards the acting performances; I am sure Carey Mulligan in particular will at least be nominated for Best Actress at the awards ceremony next February. I haven’t seen the film, but with Jennifer Lawrence’s recent essay on sexism in Hollywood, and the regular calls of discontent at the amount of roles for women and the pay they receive when they come along, I feel the Academy will include the film in the Best Picture category to acknowledge female filmmakers’ cries for equality, regardless of its quality.

Sicario

This Denis Villeneuve film is one of my favourites of the year so far. Currently, I would like ‘Sicario’ to win the award for Best Picture, but I haven’t seen the majority of the other potential nominees so it is too early to put fully commit. That said, the film is a brilliant piece of visceral, shocking and tense filmmaking. There may be nominations for its cast too, particularly for Emily Blunt and Benicio del Toro, and Roger Deakins is sure to win the Best Cinematography award for the first time. For now, ‘Sicario’ is an outsider, but we shall see what will happen in the coming months.

Inside Out

This may prove a controversial choice to some, considering no animated film has ever won Best Picture, but the amount of positive reviews for this Disney-Pixar effort may sway Academy voters. This is another film which I am yet to see, and I have to say that it is one of my big film regrets this year. I suspect that ‘Inside Out’ is the animated film most likely to pick up the Best Picture gong in February, but it still remains a big outsider. However, it was not so long ago that the majestic ‘Toy Story 3’ picked up the nomination for Best Picture, with ‘Up’ achieving this feat the year before.

Bridge Of Spies

Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and The Cold War? I’m predicting this film will receive the most nominations of all at the 2016 Academy Awards. But I feel this movie will pull an ‘American Hustle’ – receive the most nominations, including Best Picture, but then fail to win anything. Whilst it has a chance in the Best Costume and Best Make Up categories, and maybe some of the technical categories, I just don’t feel like the ‘Bridge Of Spies’ campaign will gain enough momentum.

The Hateful Eight

Tarantino’s last two films, ‘Inglourious Basterds’ (I know it’s spelled wrong) and ‘Django Unchained’ both received Best Picture nominations, and I am certain his latest effort will deliver him another. The film’s official release date is the 8th January 2016 in the USA, which would have made this ineligible, but with a limited release on Christmas Day, I’m confident that ‘The Hateful Eight’ will be nominated. The release date is telling; films with a release date around January and February here in the UK are often the big contenders when it comes to awards. I wouldn’t be surprised if this turned out to be Tarantino’s most financially successful film, even surpassing ‘Django Unchained’, but like his previous couple of movies, I don’t think it’ll win the Best Picture award.

The Revenant

Will Leonardo Di Caprio finally win the elusive Oscar for Best Actor? Many seem to think it’ll be his year, but I think the great man will have to wait at least another year. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu enjoyed big success at last year’s ceremony with ‘Birdman’, but I think he will receive something of a muted backlash for ‘The Revenant’, at least in terms of its critical reaction. However, The Academy love Inarritu and because of this, I believe the film will be competing for the Best Picture award. More likely though, I think we could see Emmanuel Lubezki pick up another statue for his cinematography work. For those that have seen the trailer, it already looks to be a visually stunning film.

Hail, Caesar!

The Coen Brothers are back with ‘Hail, Caesar!’, a musical-comedy satirising Hollywood. The film has a 1950’s setting, during Hollywood’s golden era, and features a fantastic cast including Scarlett Johansson. This film will be the main competition for Danny Boyle’s ‘Steve Jobs’. It will certainly challenge in terms of the technical awards, like Best Editing, but in my opinion the film will most likely pick the Best Director(s) award. The Coen Brothers are no strangers to award nominations, after the receiving a whole spate of them for ‘No Country For Old Men’, ‘True Grit’ and ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’.

The Danish Girl

I am a big admirer of Tom Hooper, particularly for his work on the underrated ‘The Damned United’. But his rise to the top, in terms of British filmmakers, has come off the back of ‘The Kings Speech’ and ‘Les Miserables’. You only have to look at the poster for this movie to know that this is an unashamed, Oscar-bait project. I don’t feel like this will be much of a success at the Oscars in February, but having said that I didn’t think ‘Gravity’ would either. Sometimes there are surprises, and I am sure Redmayne will receive another Best Actor nomination for his defiant, cross-dressing role, but my gut instinct is that the film will slip under the radar somewhat.

So there you have it – my predictions for the Best Picture category. Of course, this list may well be wrong and even if it is, it does not necessarily represent the year’s best films. I often find that The Academy is completely wrong in its choices; like Christopher Nolan being ignored twice, for ‘Inception’ and ‘Interstellar’. We are talking about an awards ceremony which snubbed ‘Citizen Kane’, after all. But there is no getting around the fact that the Oscars are the most prestigious of awards ceremonies, and I think in 2016 we will see Danny Boyle and his film ‘Steve Jobs’ be the triumphant victor.