Netflix Highlights: February

So it’s March already, crazy right? But let’s not forget about February just yet! Our Netflix expert, Mark Blakeway, has put together this handy list of all the best new films which were added to the site last month.


LOVE

Love
Gasper Noé has some incredible films to his name (Irreversible, Enter The Void are personal favourites), but unfortunately for him he has set a standard so impeccably high that it was inevitable this would eventually lead to disappointment. His 3D film ‘Love’ may not meet the credible artistic heights of his previous work, but it’s now available on Netflix for you to enjoy. With the up-close-and-personal money shots you would expect when the words “3D” and “sex” are thrown together, his largely unloved ‘Love’ is for those looking for something a little different.


django-unchained-jamie-foxx

Django Unchained
If you’ve not been out to see Tarantino’s newest feature ‘The Hateful Eight’ yet, perhaps you can find the time (all 160+ minutes of it) to catch up one of his previous films, ‘Django Unchained’. Set in the Deep South, Jamie Foxx stars as Django – a slave looking to find his wife who was also sold off into slavery. Immensely violent, with a great script brought to life by a fantastic cast (Samuel L. Jackson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerri Washington, Christoph Waltz), ‘Django Unchained’ is completely over-the-top and self-indulgent, but would you expect anything less from Tarantino.


departures

Departures
A tale of a man who leaves his dream job in an orchestra and becomes a nōkanshi – a traditional Japanese ritual mortician. The social and emotional effects of this decision and the impact on his life are explored in great detail, and at times it can be a little melodramatic. However, this 2009 Academy Award-winning Japanese film has an abundance of style, a score to match and a fantastic cast, so it’s difficult not to be captivated by this story. At just over two hours long – and the bulk of the film about death – it’s not for those easily trigged by long drawn out upsetting scenes backed by classical music.


Lone-Survivor

Lone Survivor
‘Lone Survivor’ details the events that took place while four Navy Seals attempted to carry out a counter-insurgency mission to take down one of the key Taliban targets.  Even though the title of the film essentially gives the game away, it does not detract from the sheer intensity of this war film. Set to epic music by Explosions In The Sky, this is a bloody, fast-paced and action-packed story based on real events. Some may deem it to be extremely dramatic, while others may find the violence obscene, but it is a remarkable tale that gets the heart racing.


Liar Liar

Liar Liar
Everyone should have seen this movie by now, ‘Liar Liar’ is an absolute comedy classic that deserves to be watched over and over again, and chances are you will have done so considering the amount of times it has been on TV. It is by no means groundbreaking; it is just a man who cannot help but tell the truth for a bit, but with Jim Carrey’s completely over-the-top style (as seen in the likes of Ace Ventura and Bruce Almighty) this film has been a comedy favourite for decades. They don’t make ’em like they used to.


TENURED

Tenured
Gil Zabarksy stars as Ethan, a teacher with the added perk of having “tenure”, which in his head means he can do pretty much anything and can’t be fired. He swears in class, lets the kids do whatever they want, and generally dosses about achieving nothing. A sudden change in his life, combined with a Principle who hates him, results in him directing the school play – and everything comes under threat. It is a formulaic, easy-going, predictable comedy with a bunch of good performances, but the laughs keep on coming, unlike many other indie comedies that try to get sentimental.  Perfect viewing when you don’t want to pay too much attention to anything.

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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.