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!

The Odyssey Awards: 2018 Retrospective

As everyone begins to wind down after Christmas, here at JUMPCUT we’re excitedly gearing up for 2019! Before we’re done with 2018 though, we have a few more treats up our sleeve for you, including our most anticipated films of 2019 list and some big news which we’ll be sharing in a few days!

The retrospective features just some of our favourite films this year* (sadly we couldn’t fit them all in!) including A Quiet Place, BlacKkKlansman, Blindspotting, Bumblebee, Hereditary, Widows, Annihilation, Avengers: Infinity War, Love, Simon, and First Man to name but a few.

We’re sure you’ll likely pick up some notable absences from our video, but we aimed to keep it less than 2 minutes long – so not all our choices made the final cut!

We’d love to hear what films you’ve enjoyed this year and if you’ve got your top 10 list firmly nailed, share it with us on Twitter!

 

*based on UK release dates

Weekend BO Report: Double Trouble For ‘Halloween’ In A Record October

Written by Dapo Olowu

It’s official: October 2018 is the biggest October on record, but that’s no real surprise considering the B.O. feast we’ve had this month. After both ‘Venom’ and ‘Halloween’ became the two biggest film openings in the month’s history with $80.3m and $76.2m alike, it was only a matter of time until 2014s record of $757.1m would be smashed. As we speak, October 2018 has grossed around $780m, and should reach $800m by the month’s end.

As mentioned above, a large chunk of that came from the Blumhouse horror phenomenon ‘Halloween’. This weekend, the slasher, directed by David Gordon Green (of ‘Pineapple Express’ fame), scared away any competition for a second consecutive number one finish, earning $31.4m in the process.

Being the biggest slasher film in U.S. history (beating ‘Scream’s $103m from 1996) with $126.1m hasn’t stopped ‘Halloween’s appetite for a large body-count, as it aims to become one of the biggest R-rated horrors ever stateside. Currently 6th in the all-time U.S. list, it has its sights realistically on ‘Get Out’ whose $176m leaves it 3rd, and, barring a freak collapse, ‘Halloween’ should fly past this in the next month. On the international front, its near-$50m gross puts the film just $30m short of a $200m total.

Of course, it wasn’t just ‘Halloween’ that contributed to the record month. Both ‘A Star is Born’, with $148.6m, and ‘Venom’ with $187.1m hold nearly 50% of this October’s gross alone, and their latest weekends of $14m and $10.7m delivered a welcome second and third place finish, mirroring last weekend’s efforts. What’s truly astounding are their global grosses: while ‘ASIB’ has smashed through the $250m mark, ‘Venom’ has just reached $500m, with its Chinese release coming next weekend.

From the impressive to the dismal, as Gerard Butler’s newest release ‘Hunter Killer’ sank to just $6.7m in its first 3 days. The $40m-budgeted action-thriller brought in half of the JUMPCUT forecast to join the list of other 2018 B.O. bombs. It’s Butler’s lowest opening since 2012s ‘Playing For Keeps’, and although it’s A- on Cinemascore may provide some legs, a domestic finish of $20m won’t save this from being lost at sea.

It’s a gross that continues a relatively tough year for Lionsgate, who long for the days of ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Twilight’. This year, their biggest domestic earner was last month’s ‘A Simple Favor’, which has seen just $53.2m so far. Disappointments like ‘The Spy Who Dumped Me’ ($40m budget, $72m worldwide gross) have been offset by cheaper, enjoyable comedies like ‘ASF’ and ‘Overboard’ ($12m budget, $91.2m worldwide gross), but this still leaves the studio relying on November’s ‘Robin Hood’, to really bring in the cash.

As expected, A24’s ‘Mid90s’ earned $3m from 1,200 cinemas to grab 10th spot, above newbies ‘Indivisible’ and ‘Johnny English Strikes Again’, who grossed $1.5m and $1.6m each. ‘Mid90s’, written and directed by Jonah Hill, opened wide just below that of last year’s ‘Lady Bird’ ($4.1m), but similar to A24s ‘Eighth Grade’ ($2.9m) from July. A similar performance would leave the critically-acclaimed indie film with a total domestic gross of $14m, a solid (if unspectacular) B.O. gross.

A record October, and strong weekends for ‘Halloween’, ‘ASIB’, and ‘Venom’. What does November, with ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘The Grinch’, and ‘Robin Hood’ to come, have in store? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE

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Weekend BO Predictions: It’s a ‘Halloween’ Holdover As Its Second Week Promises $33m+

Written by Dapo Olowu

The only major wide release this weekend comes in the form of ‘Hunter Killer’, the Summit Entertainment action-thriller and Gerard Butler’s latest vehicle. It’s quite literally a vehicle; mainly set on a submarine, the film draws inspiration from such cinematic classics as ‘Crimson Tide’ and ‘The Hunt for Red October’, but won’t be able to sink ‘Halloween’ in its second weekend.

The slasher sequel looks to draw blood again in its sophomore weekend, with a gross close to $33m. After securing the second biggest October weekend with $76.2m, ‘Halloween’ remains on track to hit the $100m mark by Friday evening. Entering the weekend of its namesake should also welcome a smaller-than-expected drop in the mid-fifties, comfortably placing it above newbie ‘Hunter Killer’.

The pre-Halloween weekend is usually one of little fanfare, demonstrated by last year’s weekend winner ‘Jigsaw’, which topped the charts with only $16.6m. In fact, ‘Halloween’s gross should mark the biggest pre-Halloween weekend #1 in 7 years, since ‘Puss in Boots’ opened to $34.1m in 2011.

Moving onto ‘Hunter Killer’ now and the film, directed by Donovan Marsh, follows a group of Navy SEALs who must rescue the kidnapped Russian president. Alongside Butler, it features a strong cast of Common, Linda Cardellini, and Oscar-winner Gary Oldman, but can’t seem to make best of use of the talent at its disposable, with just 36% on the Tomatometer (but an audience score of 84%).

Will the conflicting critical reception harm its opening? With limited competition in the action sphere (only ‘Venom’ in its 4th weekend marks any real serious opposition), ‘Hunter Killer’ may have real room to breathe (or swim). An opening around $13.6m is optimistic but possible, a gross similar to Butler’s last 2 films ‘Den of Thieves’ ($15.2m opening) and ‘Geostorm’ ($13.7m).

The next release comes in the form of Jonah Hill’s directorial debut,‘Mid90s’, the critically-acclaimed comedy-drama produced by indie darlings A24. Starring Sunny Suljic, Lucas Hedges, and Katherine Waterston, its release into 1,200 cinemas comes after a successful limited cinema roll-out last weekend. The film grossed over $258k from just 4 cinemas, earning one of the best per-cinema averages of the year thus far with $64.5k.

The film follows Steve (Sunny), a 13-year-old in 90s LA who befriends a group of skateboarders. It’ll hope to ramp up its Box Office pedigree with a $3m gross this weekend, enough for 10th place. Finally, ‘Indivisible’, the Christian drama distributed by Pure Flix in just 800 cinemas, will barely reach the $1m mark in its opening weekend.

As ‘Halloween’ tightens its grip on top spot with a second weekend mirroring ‘Venom’, which will end up as the bigger film domestically? Will ‘Mid90s’ reach ‘Lady Bird’ levels of success? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.

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Weekend BO Report: ‘Halloween’ Kills It With The Third Biggest Horror Opening Ever At $76m

Written by Dapo Olowu

This weekend saw the newest film in the ‘Halloween‘ franchise (named – get this – ‘Halloween’) come within $4m of breaking ‘Venom‘s recent October opening record, leaving it just a ‘Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero‘ away from Box Office history. This, of course, shouldn’t take away from the remarkable achievement of it grossing $76.2m, which makes it the 3rd biggest horror opening of all time behind ‘It’ and ‘I Am Legend

How did this happen? Was it the ‘It‘-like nostalgia factor? Another masterstroke in production from Blumhouse? A combination of these factors plus more? Its success after just 3 days trumps what most horrors make in their lifetimes, and its $10m budget ensures profitability and a brighter future for a franchise with nearly a dozen iterations (now outside the official story) before its latest release.

The film saw Jamie Lee Curtis return as Laurie Strode, squaring off against recent prison-escapee and mass-murderer Michael Myers. Forty years after his Halloween killing spree of 1978, Myers (played by Nick Castle) is back to finish off Strode, who managed to escape his clutches. Released in just 23 countries abroad so far in its staggered international release, the film grossed around $14m, including $3.6m from the U.K. and Ireland.

Keeping its October record, but moving down to third in the Box Office charts this weekend was ‘Venom’, earning $18m against ‘A Star is Born’s $19.1m. ‘Venom’ is now just $40m off of reaching $500m worldwide, and has earned $171.1m stateside. The critically-acclaimed ‘A Star is Born’, directed by Bradley Cooper and starring Lady Gaga, has reached a $200m global gross, with $126.1m coming from the U.S.

It’s less happy reading for Ryan Gosling and Damien Chazelle, as ‘First Man’ continues to disappoint. Their second film together after ‘La La Land’, which made an outstanding $446.1m worldwide, brought in just $8.3m this weekend for a domestic total of $29.8m. A finish around $50m is likely for the film which cost $59m – the first wide-release commercial flop of Chazelle’s directing career.    

Opening wide this weekend was 20th Century Fox’s ‘The Hate U Give’, starring Amanda Stenberg and directed by George Tillman Jr. It earned a solid $7.6m from 2,300 cinemas, opening up from 250 last week. The YA crime drama has received rave reviews from critics, and became only the 6th film of the year to get the highest score possible (A+) on Cinemascore.

Made on a $23m budget, ‘The Hate U Give’ is an adaptation of a 2017 best-selling book and offers a socially-relevant critique into race relations in the U.S. Although this may harm it’s international appeal (at the time of this article’s publication, the film has only been released domestically), producers at Fox will hope that a strong word of mouth will aid its stateside growth.

Rounding off the top ten is the surprise package ‘The Old Man & The Gun’, Robert Redford’s last film as an actor before retirement. In a career that’s spanned close to 60 years, the Oscar-winning director (and nominated actor)’s last hurrah grossed $2.1m from only 800 cinemas, for a 4th weekend total of $4.2m.

So close, yet so far for ‘Halloween’. With its opening, who will end on the most domestically between that and ‘Venom’? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.

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Weekend BO Predictions: ‘Halloween’ To Frighten The Box Office With A $70m+ Weekend

You wait 5 years for an October Box Office opening record, and then they start coming like buses. A mere fortnight after ‘Venom’ made $80m in its first 3 days, ‘Halloween’, the direct sequel to the 1978 classic, looks to reach similar levels in its opening weekend, ensuring this October remains on track to be the biggest the B.O. has ever seen.

The 12th film in the franchise (but only the second to be rated ‘Fresh’ on RT with 81%) completely disregards all other sequels and iterations, meaning this latest foray returns 40 years after the first film ended. It sees Jamie Lee Curtis return as the iconic Laurie Strode, who prepares to face mass-murderer Michael Myers, who has recently escaped prison.

Directed and written by the versatile David Gordon Green (‘Stronger’, ‘Pineapple Express’) alongside frequent collaborator Danny McBride, this Blumhouse production was made on just a cut-price budget of $10m.

Such a low cost almost guarantees a quick profit, especially when you consider the size of the franchise, and the timing of release; the Halloween period is ripe for the picking. While ‘The Nun’ made over $50m a month back off of a stronger franchise, ‘Halloween’ has the nostalgic remake factor that allowed ‘It’ to flourish last September.

While there’s fear that the constant ‘Halloween’ sequels over the years have dampened any excitement, the latest Fandango reports that state the film is pre-selling at a higher level than ‘The Nun’ have us predicting an opening around $70m, enough for ‘Halloween’ to have the third biggest horror opening of all time, an amazing feat considering its R rating.

Last weekend’s winner ‘Venom’ will fight a closer battle for second place with ‘A Star is Born’, with both films aiming to earn $20m. ‘Venom’ remains the biggest film of the month, grossing $150.9m stateside, while ‘A Star is Born’ remains behind with a respectable gross of $104.4m.

Nothing has changed in its sophomore weekend, as ‘First Man’, Damien Chazelle’s latest release still looks resigned to flop at the Box Office. Any hopes of a leggy run will be dashed as it aims to gross just over $8m will get the film to a total of $30m domestically, a poor return from a near-$60m budget.

Next is Fox’s ‘The Hate U Give’, starring Amandla Stenberg alongside Regina Hall, Issa Rae, and Common. Entering over 2,300 cinemas after being in limited release for the past 2 weekends, it boasts an impressive 96% on the Tomatometer and 82 on Metacritic. The drama follows Starr Carter (Stenberg), who witnesses her best friend Khalil’s (Algee Smith) death at the hands of the police.

Director George Tillman Jr. of ‘Notorious’ fame will be hoping its positive word of mouth and social relevance will push it over the $6m gross we’re predicting, although heavy competition may drown this one out.

The final new release of the weekend is again, rated Fresh (90%), and again coming off of a limited release. Robert Redford’s ‘The Old Man and The Gun’ marks his last film before retirement, and is based off of the true story of Forrest Trucker, who escaped from prison at the age of 70. The crime-comedy should earn around $1m this weekend, not enough for a place in the top ten.

It’s on track to be a record October, but will it be a record opening for ‘Halloween’? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.

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Weekend BO Results: ‘First Man’ Fails To Launch With Just $16m

Written by Dapo Olowu

While ‘Venom’ and ‘A Star is Born’ both improved their strongholds atop the Box Office charts, earning $35m and $28.4m respectively, the real story lies in the disappointing opening gross of Ryan Gosling’s ‘First Man’.

The Neil Armstrong biopic earned just $16m domestically, and $24.6m worldwide, in its first 3 days. This was, of course, way under even the most pessimistic of expectations, causing concern for studio heads over at Universal, who greenlit the $59m project.

Helmed by ‘La La Land’ and ‘Whiplash’ director Damien Chazelle, the film also stars Claire Foy, and was written by ‘Spotlight’ and ‘The Post’ writer Josh Singer. It follows Neil Armstrong (Gosling) in the lead-up to the moon landing of 1969, and has been lauded by the critics, boasting a strong 88% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Audiences, however, aren’t as keen, leading to doubts that the film will be able to gain any momentum in coming weeks. An audience score of just 61% on RT, as well as an okay B+ on Cinemascore may seriously harm its legs. With award season approaching, the worst possible outcome would be for the Oscar hopeful ‘First Man’ to not emulate ‘Argo’s run ($19.5m opening, $136m domestic total) and not be front-of-mind come December.

We’re reminded of last October’s ‘Blade Runner 2049’, another Gosling-fronted critical darling whose low opening condemned it in the Box Office. Its $32.8m opening stands as Gosling’s biggest ever (‘First Man’ is infact his 4th), perhaps an indication of him not being a Box Office draw (although, outside of The Rock, it’s hard to see who really is). Or maybe the audiences, who were 56% male, just aren’t too keen on biographical dramas marketed as action-thrillers. Regardless, ‘First Man’s opening was still enough to nab 3rd place, just ahead of Sony’s ‘Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween’s $15.8m.

As expected, the sequel to 2015s ‘Goosebumps’ couldn’t live up to its predecessor’s $23.6m start in the face of heavy PG competition, like ‘Smallfoot’ and the worryingly-similar ‘The House With a Clock in Its Walls’. The latter even starred the same actor in Jack Black, and has the superior critical reception on the Tomatometer (67% vs. ‘G2’s 39%). A domestic finish around $50m is expected for ‘Goosebumps 2’, who won’t face any major competition until Disney’s ‘The Nutcracker’ opens in early November.

To the top of the table now, where ‘Venom’ continued, in its sophomore weekend, to surprise commercially, baffle critically, but please cinemagoers everywhere. Now sitting on $377m worldwide (including $142.1m in the States) after 2 weekends, it already marks Tom Hardy’s 6th biggest ever film both in the U.S. and in the world.

Bradley Cooper’s ‘A Star is Born’, again in second place, is starting to really stretch its Box Office legs, now boasting a 2.2x opening weekend multiplier after 10 days of release – leaving it just $6m short of reaching $100m domestically. The Warner Bros. release has also grossed $42m internationally, including $12.3m from the U.K.

The top ten’s final new wide release went to ‘Bad Times at the El Royale’, the unfortunate flop of the weekend. Grossing just $7.1m (a full $10m under our forecast, oops) off of a $32m budget, we can’t see much of a future for this 20th Century Fox thriller. A B- on Cinemascore and 71% on the RT won’t nearly be enough to save it from being another Fox 2018 disappointment, after ‘The Darkest Minds’ and ‘The Predator’.

In a poor weekend for the new releases, it was good news for ‘Venom’ and ‘A Star is Born’. How far can they go, and is there any hope left for ‘First Man’? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.

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REVIEW: First Man

Year: 2018
Directed by: Damien Chazelle
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Corey Stoll, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler

Written by Rhys Bowen-Jones

You’d think the moon landing would have a bigger filmography. By my count, there are 25 films about the general Apollo program, two of which are Men In Black 3 and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Given such an astonishing feat, it was about time it received a proper cinematic treatment, and Damien Chazelle (of Whiplash and La La Land fame) is on hand to deliver just that.

And my word, does he deliver.

I’m not sure how much I need to say about the film. First Man is about the moon landing. It’s about NASA, rocket scientists, Neil Armstrong’s family, and Neil Armstrong himself as they attempt to finally get one over on the Russians in the infamous space race of the 1960s. First Man does do a splendid job of filling in many of the gaps in my knowledge of the story, and it does so on the shoulders of two tremendous leading performances from Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy.

First Man is a step out of Chazelle’s comfort zone. Having given us back to back show-stoppers in music-centric and impressively stylish efforts, he reigns back the sweep pans and on-the-beat camera cuts in favour of something far more paranoid. This becomes immediately apparent in its stunning opening scene with the introduction to how the film uses its shaky camera. Shaky camera has its criticisms when used poorly (badly choreographed fight scenes, I’m looking at you), but Chazelle uses it so perfectly here. It manages to absolutely convince you that Ryan Gosling has literally been sent to space in a tin can. Armstrong endures multiple trips to at least the Earth’s atmosphere, and the way they’re shot from almost entirely within or attached to the space craft made me feel, as cliché as it sounds, like I was right in there with him and that this might completely fail at any second.

Chazelle wants to express a combination of total wonder of what’s possible with a sense of complete isolation as the key players of the film rocket towards a seemingly impending doom. Shots of Armstrong sitting alone at the dinner table surrounded by darkness, or shots of Claire Foy’s Janet Shearon (Armstrong’s wife) standing alone in a doorway, again surrounded by darkness, imply so much of their relationship; their personal dilemmas, their frustrations with one another, their annoyance at their reluctant thrust into fame, all the while dealing with 2 blissfully unaware young children whose only preoccupation is whether they can play outside.

The necessary confrontation between Janet and Neil is shot with the same quiet intensity as a space trip, with Neil facing a reality he didn’t want to; having to tell his young children he might not come home. This is sure to be one of the many highlights Gosling and Foy send off for their almost guaranteed award nominations. Some may think Gosling is just being Gosling, the quiet, stoic leading role who doesn’t say all that much and stays focused on the job, but when your mission is the most dangerous mission in human history that may be your end, you could forgive his stoicism. Foy leaves a particularly strong impression as the wife left at home with the kids, as she stands up to the NASA scientists who, in one instance, cut the connection to her radio linked to Mission Control. As an aside, Claire Foy now has back to back stunning performances after Unsane earlier in the year, and I can’t wait to see her portrayal of Lisbeth Salander in The Girl in the Spider’s Web.

What I feel is important to address is that First Man isn’t the space adventure some may expect. It spends the majority of the film firmly on Earth, getting to know its key characters and showing us the blood, sweat, and tears that went into getting onto the moon. Having said that, when it does go to space, it goes. The fuck. To space.

The space scenes are spectacular. From its first flight to the Apollo 11 mission we all came to see, it begins being shot with surprising restraint. I kept wishing for the camera to just pull back slightly and give us a wide shot, I found out the long way that the restraint is worth it for what’s to come. The moon landing sequence is a stunner. It’s a knock your socks off, awe-inspiring, blow your face clean off its hinges sequence. Much of the film has a very old-school, grainy look to it to give it a 1960s authenticity, but the switch to IMAX for this sequence is put to fabulous use. The gargantuan size of the actual moment of a human being setting foot on the moon is given the wonder treatment with one of the film’s rare flashy moments in which the camera swoops down the shuttle’s steps and just stops dead in its tracks, almost in shock, to appreciate the horizon. The vastness of the moon laid out in front of our very eyes. It’s jaw-dropping. The time Chazelle and co. spent building up to this very moment is all completely worth it. This was a moment felt by the entire cinema, as the music cuts out completely, it was just us, Neil Armstrong, and the moon. You could’ve heard a pin drop. Dozens of pairs of eyes locked on the screen, transfixed by something so spectacular that I can’t say I’ve experienced a moment like it in film in a long time. Of all this film’s impressive elements, this sequence is the crowning achievement and it deserves all the praise it receives.

There is so much more that could be praised. Justin Hurwitz’s score has an almost ethereal feel at times, balletic at others, and completely epic when it needs to be. The music rarely swells to the overwhelming levels of, say, Hans Zimmer’s glorious work on Interstellar. Like the rest of the film, it holds itself back until it needs to, and when it hits the moment it needs to, it completely overwhelms you with its sheer power and beauty.

On a similar note, the sound design is sure to be one of its many award recipients come February. During the major space sequences, the aforementioned Gosling-in-a-tin-can stuff, the clanging and the clattering and the spinning and the exploding and the ringing all bring you to near breaking point. When you feel the sound has reached its highest point, it somehow finds another level, and then another, and then another to bring me to gasping-for-breath levels of anxious.

First Man is 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’ Verdict:

5

Weekend BO Predictions: One Step Too Small For ‘First Man’ As ‘Venom’ Keeps First Place With $30m+

Written by Dapo Olowu

Three new wide releases enter the Box Office sphere this weekend, with Ryan Gosling’s Neil Armstrong biopic, ‘First Man’, blasting off ahead of ‘Bad Times at the El Royale’ and ‘Goosebumps 2’ to top the chart. Standing in its way are the sophomore weekends of ‘Venom’ and ‘A Star Is Born’, both contributing to a record October start 7 days ago. Top spot might be one leap too giant for ‘First Man’ however, as both ‘VenomandA Star is Born’ find themselves in one of the closest Box Office weekend battles in recent memory.

Venom’, having already grossed $102.8m domestically and $230m worldwide, should break the $300m global barrier this weekend – heavily funded by a $31m 3-day gross in the U.S. It’s a second weekend drop around 61%, similar to that of ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’, ‘Spider-Man 3’, and even last summer’s much-loved ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’.

Steep weekend drops are expected when it comes to hotly anticipated superhero blockbusters, with the film’s audience having bought tickets by the Friday release date. It’s a completely different story for Warner Bros.’ ‘A Star is Born’ however, a film depending more on word-of-mouth reviews. The critically-acclaimed romantic musical is nearing a $30m gross in its second weekend to put the pressure on Sony’s superhero flick after just a week in its release. Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut is to reach $100m worldwide by Sunday, a fantastic return from a $36m production cost.

The first of our new releases, ‘First Man’, marks director Damien Chazelle’s third major Hollywood film (and second with Gosling), and like the rest (‘Whiplash’, ‘La La Land’), brings with it a superb critical reception. Boasting 89% on the Tomatometer and a Metascore of 85, ‘First Man’ will also be Chazelle’s first to open wide straight out the gate, and not have a limited release.

Will this harm its chances of financial success? Hard to say, as while limited-to-wide openings lead to mixed Box Office results, a dramatic biopic like this is usually the type to be released that way. Regardless, we’re being as ambitious as the 1969 moon landing with this one, forecasting a strong $27m start to put it just behind the Tom Hanks biopic ‘Sully’ ($35m), but far away from ‘Gravity’s $55.8m, which keeps the prestigious crown of October’s biggest astronaut-themed movie. Unlike ‘Gravity’, it boasts a medium-sized budget at around $70m. The film stars Gosling as Neil Armstrong, as well as Claire Foy as his wide Janet Shearon, and Corey Stoll as Buzz Aldrin.

First Man’ isn’t the only film set in 1969. Drew Goddard’s ‘Bad Times at the El Royale’, released by Fox, is an end-of-the-60s thriller boasting an all-star cast. Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson, Chris Hemsworth, Jon Hamm, and Nick Offerman (amongst others) feature as strangers in a hotel on the Nevada-California border. It’s opening is a little strange to predict – could it be the next ‘Hotel Artemis’ ($3.2m opening) or ‘Atomic Blonde’ ($18.3m)? Its promo has definitely alluded to both, but our optimism knows no bounds, meaning we’re looking at the latter here, for a $17.5m opening.

Such a gross would put it right above the final new release ‘Goosebumps 2’, which has the unfortunate pleasure of not only looking identical to recent comedy-horror ‘The House With a Clock In Its Walls’, but also starring ‘The House’s Jack Black as one of the main characters. Coupled with the recent child-friendly competition in the form of ‘Smallfoot’, we can’t see this film matching the heights of its predecessor, which grossed $23.6m 3 years ago. Therefore, a $16m 3-day weekend is in store for the film that cost just $35m to produce.

In one of the closest Box Office races we can remember, who do you see prevailing? Will ‘Venom’ keep top spot like we’re expecting? Will ‘A Star is Born’ hold strong against the rest? Or will new release ‘First Man’

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