LFF 2018: Wildlife

Year: 2018
Directed by: Paul Dano
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Carey Mulligan, Bill Camp, Ed Oxenbould

Written by Sarah Buddery

Arguably one of the most underrated actors out there, Paul Dano brings his directorial debut to LFF, also competing in the First Feature category. Known for choosing diverse and interesting roles, Dano equally brings a unique perspective to the family drama in the exceptionally beautiful Wildlife.

Initially painting the picture of idyllic family life, Wildlife is a slow burning film that gradually and carefully peels back the layers as the cracks begin to show, and the initial muted pastel colour palette eventually giving way to something richer and darker alongside this.

We view the story through the eyes of teenager Joe (exceptionally played by relative newcomer Ed Oxenbould), as his mother Jeanette (Mulligan) and Jerry (Gyllenhaal) start to drift apart from each other. This is a bold and deliberate move on Dano’s part to tell the story in this way, and indeed it is the innocence of Joe that helps make this story so captivating. Both Jeanette and Jerry visibly change throughout the course of the film, and when viewed through Joe’s eyes, we see his subtle change as well as he grows and becomes self-sufficient.

Wildlife is a devastating portrait of a fractured family unit, and the exquisitely crafted characters are written and played with such a richness. Mulligan, in particular, is absolutely sensational. There is a wonderful subtlety to her reactions, and indeed across all of the performances in this film, it is perhaps the silence and the moments of lingering pause that speak louder than anything else. It is so much a film about the things left unsaid, and there is a beautiful quietness to the writing of Dano and Zoe Kazan, and Dano’s tender direction.

This is an accomplished debut from Dano, and it takes great boldness and courage to keep things this paired back and simple, whilst still showing a great eye and visual flair. Wildlife is quietly devastating, tonally melancholic and truly beautiful in its depiction of brokenness. The directorial career of Paul Dano will undoubtedly be watched with as much interest as his acting career following this.

SARAH’S VERDICT:

4

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The First Trailer For Paul Dano’s Directorial Debut ‘Wildlife’ Has Arrived

“IFC Films presents WILDLIFE, the directorial debut of Paul Dano (THERE WILL BE BLOOD, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE), co-written along with Zoe Kazan (THE BIG SICK). Elegantly adapted from Richard Ford’s novel of the same name, Carey Mulligan (MUDBOUND, AN EDUCATION) delivers one of her finest performances to date as Jeanette, a complex woman whose self-determination and self-involvement disrupts the values and expectations of a 1960s nuclear family. Fourteen-year-old Joe played by newcomer Ed Oxenbould, is the only child of Jeanette (Mulligan) and Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal)—a housewife and a golf pro—in a small town in 1960s Montana. Nearby, an uncontrolled forest fire rages close to the Canadian border, and when Jerry loses his job—and his sense of purpose—he decides to join the cause of fighting the fire, leaving his wife and son to fend for themselves. Suddenly forced into the role of an adult, Joe witnesses his mother’s struggle as she tries to keep her head above water. With precise details and textures of its specific time and place, WILDLIFE commits to the viewpoint of a teenage boy observing the gradual dissolution of his parents’ marriage. 

Directed by: Paul Dano

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Carey Mulligan, Bill Camp, Ex Oxenbould & Zoe Margaret Colletti

Release Date: October 19th, 2018

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.

Watch This Space: October 12 – 18 [ladies week]

Welcome to a special edition of your weekly go-to film guide. This week, WatchThisSpace is celebrating women in film, so read on and enjoy Molly’s recommendations of some great female performances in the cinema, on the TV and a few of her all time favourites.

IN THE CINEMA

The Women’s Rights movement materialises in ‘Suffragette’, the latest offering from British director Sarah Gavron and writer Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady). The female-heavy cast and crew is headed by Carey Mulligan, while the film intertwines wrenching personal and political tales of female solidarity and strength. ‘Suffragette’ is in cinemas from Monday 12th October.

Mia Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain star alongside Tom Hiddleston in this thriller-come-romantic story from Mexican director Guillermo del Toro. Paying homage to gothic romance, ‘Crimson Peak’ is another British must-see, in cinemas from Friday 16th October.

ON THE TV

MONDAY 21:00 GMT: Renée Zellweger stars as the famed awkward, honest and self-conscious titular character in ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’, the first installment of this romantic comedy series. With a third movie currently in the works, now is the time to switch to ITV2 and catch the original.

WEDNESDAY 18:20 GMT: A screen adaptation of the Jane Austen novel set in 18th century rural England, ‘Pride and Prejudice’ sees Keira Knightly lead as Elizabeth Bennet in a typical British romance film on Film4.

SATURDAY 22:45 GMT: Carey Mulligan returns to our recommendations with a star performance in ‘Drive’, that saw her nominated for a BAFTA back in 2012. See this thrilling offering from Nicholas Winding-Refn on BBC2.

SUNDAY 18:50 GMT: Feminist campaigner, Angelina Jolie, stars as adventurer Lara Croft in this film adaptation of the video game Tomb Raider. Get into the action with ‘Lara Croft: Tomb Raider’ on Syfy this Sunday evening.

DIG IT OUT

This is our favourite part of the WatchThisSpace section. We delve into our own DVD collection and pick out some amazing films, that may not instantly spring to mind when you’re stuck for inspiration to make your movie night a success. Maybe you’ve never seen a film that we pick – or even heard of them for that matter – but you’re gonna have to trust us on this one, and Dig It Out.

Thelma & Louise: An original girl-power film, ‘Thelma & Louise’ was branded controversial upon release, apparently due to the discomfort felt by many male viewers (un-fucking-believable). Geena Davis and Susan Surandon are cast perfectly as two women with a new found drive, confidence and zest for life that serves as a perfect example for females everywhere. What doesn’t serve as such a good influence are many of their impulsive choices – but they make for great viewing nonetheless! Ridley Scott directs the first screenplay from Academy Award-winning Callie Khouri, which would inspire Tori Amos’ famous and chilling tune ‘Me And A Gun’.

Girl, Interrupted: A challenge to observe; ‘Girl, Interrupted’ offers a chilling insight into mental health amongst various female characters with varying mental disorders. Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie and Brittany Murphy all offer standout performances in their own, unique way. The roles of strong and submissive women blur, with seemingly powerful sociopathic Jolie unravelling as the movie progresses, meanwhile protagonist Ryder offers a character that you can never quite decipher. Based on Susanna Keysen’s memoir, the idea that this on-screen depiction has some truth at the root of it makes it all the more fascinating.

Bridesmaids: Not only does ‘Bridesmaids’ signify a funny and successful female comedy, it stands against the best comedies regardless of gender. Kristin Wiig is genius as lead character Annie, a woman still trying to find her way and generally refusing to become the responsible woman that she is expected to be. Alongside best friend and bride-to-be Lillian (Maya Rudolph), the duo offer a hilarious take on this major life event, with crude humour catering to both genders and leaving viewers (okay, me) yearning for more.

Erin Brockovich: Where would the list of powerful, shit-hot women in film be without Erin Brockovich? Not only does Julia Roberts provide an inspiring on-screen in character, but we must offer a huge THANK YOU to the real life Erin Brockovich for her phenomenal achievements as a legal clerk and activist, and offering us a woman to aspire to. The true story centres on a legal case against energy corporation Pacific Gas and Electric Company, accused of water contamination in the American town of Hinkley, California. The film covers personal tales, legal struggles and a whole load of stick-it-to-the-man drama.

This week’s special ladies week edition of WatchThisSpace was compiled by Molly Dolan

Watch This Space: June 8 – 14

Welcome to your weekly go-to-guide – WatchThisSpace – where we give you recommendations of films to watch in the cinema, on the television and those brilliant films hiding at the back of your DVD collection.

IN THE CINEMA

The day has finally come. After moths of waiting, and an unrelenting series of trailers/teasers, ‘Jurassic World’ is here. Colin Trevorrow’s relaunch of the iconic series promises terror, action and wonder aplenty. Advanced screening reviews are tending to be almost unanimous in the belief that this is the sequel that the original truly deserves, despite there being a hiatus on reviews containing plot spoilers. Get yourself along to the cinema and experience the wonder of being a child all over again, in what people are tipping to be the hottest blockbuster of the year. 

A slightly unusual film is also released in UK cinemas this week in the form of musical ‘London Road’. The plot follows the struggles of a local community in Ipswich after their quiet community is shattered by a series of murders. A story based on the real events of 2006, this film is an adaptation of the very successful West-End musical, and the original cast star alongside two of Britain’s finest actors in Tom Hardy and Olivia Colman. This film has already gone down well with critics so we’d expect this to definitely be worth a trip to the big screen. 

ON TELEVISION

Tuesday 22:45 GMT: With Colin Trevorrow’s dinosaur-filled blockbuster hitting cinemas this week, seeing another of his feature length films in ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’ on Film4 sounds like a good idea. This film is regarded as grossly underrated by the film industry and its fans, and we admit it has passed us by util now. So we’re going to sit down with you and watch this for the first time as well! 

Wednesday 23:10 GMT: Cinema at its dark and sordid best here in ‘Shame’ on Film4 this week. Michael Fassbender is the main man, playing a sex-crazed New York executive and Carey Mulligan stars alongside him as his sister. A particularly sexually graphic film that will have you recoiling in horror at one man’s path towards self-destruction.

Friday 23:10 GMT: The Colin Farrell remake may have been an absolute travesty, but the 1990 version of ‘Total Recall’ with Arnie is the perfect, action packed, sci-fi thriller on ITV.

Sunday 15:40 GMT: George Miller isn’t just into car chases and mad men, he also loves all singing, all dancing penguins. See the proof with ‘Happy Feet’ on ITV2.

Sunday 21:00 GMT: Whilst ‘Age Of Ultron’ may have disappointed upon release earlier this year, you can see how the Marvel Cinematic Universe kicked off in style with ‘Iron Man’ on Film4. 

DIG IT OUT

This is our favourite part of the WatchThisSpace section. We delve into our own DVD collection and pick out some amazing films, that may not instantly spring to mind when you’re stuck for inspiration to make your movie night a success. Maybe you’ve never seen a film that we pick – or even heard of them for that matter – but you’re gonna have to trust us on this one, and Dig It Out.

Romeo + Juliet: With the epic trailer for ‘Macbeth’ landing last week, we thought it apt to forage into the Shakespearean collection for more. Starring the impeccable Leonardo DiCaprio, and Claire Danes (Homeland), this is a stunning modernisation of the ultimate romantic tale. A reimagining perfectly brought to life by the master of contemporary/classical contrasts – Baz Luhrmann.

The Green Mile: We each had a go at putting together a list of our top 50 films of all time last week. The result of hours of gruelling decision making, was two lists with a diverse range of films on both sides. But one film which stands out as being a must see, is Tom Hanks’ brilliant depiction of a death row officer. If you haven’t seen it already, get ready for a heartbreaking yet magical story. One of the only films which never fails to send me to tears.

Black Swan: What better way to celebrate Natalie Portman’s upcoming birthday this week ,then to relive arguably her best ever performance. ‘Black Swan’ is a truly wonderful cinematic experience, with an utterly mesmerising soundtrack. A film that investigates personal ambition and the lengths that someone will go to to live out their dream. Haunting and disturbing, this psychological thriller is not for the faint-hearted, but it is one of our favourite films so we recommend you get your hands on a copy and get watching! 

Pan’s Labyrinth: Following Barcelona’s victory in the UEFA Champions League at the weekend, we thought it would be appropriate to dig out one of Spain’s more notable cinematic contributions. ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ is dark and twisted retelling of the Spanish Civil War from the viewpoint of a small girl with a vivid imagination. This film is as violent as it is disturbing and unsettling, but we recommend it all the same. 

This week’s WatchThisSpace was compiled by Jakob Lewis Barnes and Nick Deal