Musings on 2019 Oscars nominations

Well it’s one of those mornings that cinephiles always wait for year after year… the morning Oscar nominations are announced. I for one don’t go out of my way to wake up early to see it live, but when I woke up, of course I immediately tried to see who’s shortlisted.

Right away I noticed that it’s perhaps the most diverse lineup of nominees… though it’s by no means perfect. The Academy’s more-inclusive picks would likely keep those #OscarsSoWhite hashtags at bay… at least for now.

So here are some obligatory random comments (good & bad) about 2019 nominations:

• Not a single female directors nominated?? 😦

The UN Women twitter pic above is downright disheartening, especially since I think there are a bunch of worthy films from female directors… Josie Rourke with Mary, Queen of Scots and Debra Granik with Leave No Trace, among others. While you’re at it, check out my interview with Debra on making the film.

Granik directing Thomasin McKenzie in LEAVE NO TRACE

Netflix is becoming even more of a force to be reckoned with… rivaling big studios in raking in nominees. It’s got 15 nominations thanks to Alfonso Cuarón’s ROMA leading with 10 nods, including the coveted Best Picture. How awesome that first-time actress Yalitza Aparicio got a nod in Best Actress, she’s apparently a preschool teacher who didn’t know much about the film industry and barely spoke any English at the time. [Note to self: gotta watch ROMA this weekend!]

Speaking of a Foreign Language film that’s highly-personal to the filmmaker AND set in black & white, glad to see COLD WAR getting recognition with 3 Oscars, including Best Director for Paweł Pawlikowski.


I LOVE this sultry, intensely-passionate romance drama, which was inspired by the love story of Pawel’s own parents!

Whoa! Sixth nominations!! I thought her performance as Lynne Cheney in VICE (once again co-starring with Christian Bale) was terrific. Sadly I don’t think this is Amy Adams‘ year yet, I’m convinced Regina King will take home the statuette.

Happy to see documentary filmmaker Bing Liu getting an Oscar nom on his first film Minding The Gap, wow! I got to meet him last year when he received an award from MSPIFF, here he is with Minnesota’s own film legend Al Milgrom. I actually missed his film at the fest, that’s one I gotta watch real soon!

I know there’ll be all kinds of people hating on Black Panther getting a nomination. But you won’t be hearing it from me. I think it’s well-deserved… a masterful work by director Ryan Coogler that made it so much more than a superhero movie. I highly doubt it’ll actually win Best Picture though, but it’s already made history for being nominated. Oh and with seven nods, I have a feeling it’ll win a couple forBest Costume Design (Ruth E. Carter) and Best Production Design (Hannah Beachler). How awesome would it be if both black women win in those categories!!

It’s no surprise Bradley Cooper is an Academy’s favorite, but I thought he deserved a Best Director nod as much as his acting one. Can you believe it he’s been nominated for an Oscar four times?? Just like his former co-star Amy Adams though, I don’t think this is his year to win an acting Oscar.

Where’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor? for Best Documentary??? The Mister Rogers biopic seems poised to be shortlisted… it certainly one of the most moving films I’ve seen all year! I’d say that’s one of the biggest snubs this year.

I know some people are outraged that If Beale Street Could Talk and First Man didn’t get more love. Barry Jenkins and Damien Chazelle were each other’s biggest rival two years ago with Moonlight & La La Land, and I heavily championed Moonlight to win. But this year, I wasn’t as in love with If Beale Street Could Talk though I find it far more moving and memorable than First Man. So no, no complaints from me that neither one of those movies get a nod.

Now I haven’t even seen You Were Never Really Here but based on what I read so far, sounds like Joaquin Phoenix AND writer/director Lynne Ramsay are both snubbed this year.

I have to catch up on three Best Picture nominees… BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody and Roma. Of the five I have seen, my least favorite is actually The Favourite [gasp!] Now, I didn’t hate the movie [please don’t resort to hyperbole like the rest on social media], I just don’t think it was as great as the critics made it to be and I actually find it irritating at times. My friend Cindy just did a post about it which highlights some of the things that bothered me. I do think all three actresses are terrific playing such hard-to-root-for characters. I’m especially thrilled to see Olivia Colman finally getting the recognition she deserved!

Olivia Colman in The Favourite

My last comment is on a highly controversial movie Green Bookwell, I’m glad it got nominated! I’ve mentioned it on my Top 10 list post that I see this movie as a beautiful story of friendship set during the dark times in American South ripe with racial discrimination. I’m also thrilled to see Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali each get an acting nod! I’ll be torn between Viggo and Christian Bale in the Best Actor race… my gut says this will be Bale’s year to get another Oscar.

Well, there are more that could be said about this year’s nominees but if I continue, I’ll never post this thing.


The 91st Annual Academy Awards will air on Feb. 24 on ABC.


Well, everyone’s got an opinion. What are your thoughts on the Oscars nominations?

Musings on 2019 Golden Globes nominations – and the egregious snubs

The award season is officially here… can you believe it? [I still don’t believe it’s Winter already, but well, whatchagonnado?] The Golden Globes nominations were announced this morning, and so the reactions for snubs and surprises have dominated social media. So why not add one more for the fun of it.

Before we go into my thoughts on the noms, let me say that I’m thrilled to see Sandra Oh will be hosting the telecast, along with Andy Samberg. Glad she’s amongst the nominees too, wahoo!!

Now about the nominations… per usual, in addition to my thoughts about the nominees, I thought I’d include my winner pick for some of the categories…

Here is the full list of 2019 Golden Globe nominees (via Variety)

Best Motion Picture – Drama

“Black Panther”
“BlacKkKlansman”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“If Beale Street Could Talk”
“A Star Is Born”

Ok so I’ve only seen three out of five, hopefully I can catch up with Bohemian Rhapsody and BlacKkKlansman later this month. Honestly, I’m not as enamored with Barry Jenkins’s If Beale Street Could Talk the way I did with Moonlight. I actually like the acting of the two leads and Regina King, but that’s about it. I am thrilled to see Black Panther breaking new grounds as the only superhero film getting nominated, yay! It’s absolutely well-deserved and of course I’m rooting for that. I loved A Star Is Born too, but I’d give Black Panther a slight edge because it’s not only a fun, entertaining film with substance, but it’s also immensely re-watchable.

My winner pick: Black Panther (my review)


Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

Glenn Close (“The Wife”)
Lady Gaga (“A Star Is Born”)
Nicole Kidman (“Destroyer”)
Melissa McCarthy (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”)
Rosamund Pike (“A Private War”)

I’ve only seen Lady Gaga’s and Melissa McCarthy’s performances, man what a list!! No doubt Close, Kidman and Pike all give worthy performances, but I was truly impressed by McCarthy’s sensitive and nuanced performance as Lee Israel. Balancing comedy and drama is so tough, and I thought she did a terrific job playing a rather unlikable character.

My winner pick: Melissa McCarthy


Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

Bradley Cooper (“A Star Is Born”)
Willem Dafoe (“At Eternity’s Gate”)
Lucas Hedges (“Boy Erased”)
Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”)
John David Washington (“BlacKkKlansman”)

Gaaah I have only seen Cooper’s performance here 😦 I’m not going to pick a winner as I should at least see two performances of the list. But if Cooper does win, I’d be totally ok with it as I think he delivered a tremendous performance in his directorial debut (my review of A Star Is Born)


Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

“Crazy Rich Asians”
“The Favourite”
“Green Book”
“Mary Poppins Returns”
“Vice”

Ok so most of you know just how much I adore Crazy Rich Asians and how much representation of Asians (esp. Southeast Asians) in Hollywood matters to me. I have to say that Green Book also really moved me. Both films have wildly-different style and tone, but both speak about hot button issue of race with humor. I LOVE the cast in both films too, which made it all the more difficult to choose between the two!

My winner picks: Green Book or Crazy Rich Asians


Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Emily Blunt (“Mary Poppins Returns”)
Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”)
Elsie Fisher (“Eighth Grade”)
Charlize Theron (“Tully”)
Constance Wu (“Crazy Rich Asians”)

Firstly, where in the world is Viola Davis??!??! Come on HPFA! She was simply phenomenal in Steve McQueen’s fantastic ensemble cast and she’s the heart and soul of that movie. The lack of love for Widows is truly mind blowing!

Ok now that’s out of my system… given that I’m actually rather lukewarm about The Favourite (which is NOT my favorite films of the year), I really love Colman’s performance as the decidedly unlikable and bizarre Queen Anne. The film’s also decidedly riddled with historical inaccuracies (esp. in regards to her lesbian affairs), yet Colman was mesmerizing in the role. I just think Colman is such a deftly talented actress and I’m thrilled to see her finally getting more recognition!

My winner pick: Olivia Colman


Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Christian Bale (“Vice”)
Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Mary Poppins Returns”)
Viggo Mortensen (“Green Book”)
Robert Redford (“The Old Man & the Gun”)
John C. Reilly (“Stan & Ollie”)

I’m still waiting with bated breath for the press screening of VICE (scheduled to be released on Christmas day). Just based on the trailer alone, I’m willing to bet that Christian Bale will disappear once again into his role as Dick Chenney, perhaps the unlikeliest role for the Welsh thespian even in his wildly diverse resume. It’s pure coincidence that both dreamboat actors (Batman and Aragorn) gained significant weight for their respective roles. I LOVED Mortensen’s comedic performance in Green Book, so I’d be truly happy if either one of them win!

My winner pick: Christian Bale or Viggo Mortensen


Best Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture

Amy Adams (“Vice”)
Claire Foy (“First Man”)
Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk”)
Emma Stone (“The Favourite”)
Rachel Weisz (“The Favourite”)

Hmmm, the Hollywood Foreign Press clearly is enamoured (yes I’m using the British spelling here to match the film’s title, ha!) with The Favourite. I personally would love to see one of the ladies from Widows being nominated here (esp. Elizabeth Debicki). But if I had to pick one from THIS list, I’d go with…

My winner pick: Regina King


Best Actor in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture

Mahershala Ali (“Green Book”)
Timothee Chalamet (“Beautiful Boy”)
Adam Driver (“BlacKkKlansman”)
Richard E. Grant (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”)
Sam Rockwell (“Vice”)

I have only seen Ali and Richard E. Grant who’s excellent as Melissa McCarthy’s randy bff. Everyone seems to be smitten with Timothee Chalamet (I haven’t seen enough of him to form an opinion) but Driver and Rockwell are such great character actors. I do have a soft spot for Mahershala, who’s so elegant and oh-so-regal as Dr. Don Shirley.

My winner pick: Mahershala Ali


Best Motion Picture – Animated

“Incredibles 2”
“Isle of Dogs”
“Mirai”
“Ralph Breaks the Internet”
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

I’m going to refrain from picking a winner as I’ve only seen Ralph Breaks The Internet (see my review and interview with the filmmakers). I am excited to see Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse this weekend!


Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language

“Capernaum”
“Girl”
“Never Look Away”
“Roma”
“Shoplifters”

I am ashamed to say I have not seen any of these!! I was hoping to go see ROMA last month at the Film Society, but the schedule just didn’t work out.


Best Director – Motion Picture

Bradley Cooper (“A Star Is Born”)
Alfonso Cuaron (“Roma”)
Peter Farrelly (“Green Book”)
Spike Lee (“BlacKkKlansman”)
Adam McKay (“Vice”)

Um, firstly… where are the female directors?? Hello???! FastCompany listed no less than 29 female directors that did some worthy projects eligible for noms.

Oh well.

Looking at this list… I was really impressed with Cooper’s directorial debut and not surprised at all he’s nominated. However, I don’t think he deserved to win in this lineup. I’ve heard nothing but tremendous praise for Alfonso Cuarón’s ROMA, which chronicles a year in the life of a middle-class family in Mexico City in the early 1970s, starring unknown actors. If I were a betting woman, I’d put my $$$ on the Mexican filmmaker.

My winner pick: Alfonso Cuaron


Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

Alfonso Cuaron (“Roma”)
Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara (“The Favourite”)
Barry Jenkins (“If Beale Street Could Talk”)
Adam McKay (“Vice”)
Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie (“Green Book”)

Yes I know the movie hasn’t come out yet, but this movie’s already leading the pack with six Globes nominations. Adam McCay could very well score another big win in the screenplay category. He’d won in 2015 for The Big Short, which also had Christian Bale AND Steve Carell in it, both looked utterly convincing as Chenney and Donald Rumsfeld respectively. Physical transformation aside, this political satire has certainly become the one to beat this award season.

My winner pick: Vice


Best Original Score – Motion Picture

Marco Beltrami (“A Quiet Place”)
Alexandre Desplat (“Isle of Dogs”)
Ludwig Göransson (“Black Panther”)
Justin Hurwitz (“First Man”)
Marc Shaiman (“Mary Poppins Returns”)


Best Original Song – Motion Picture

“All the Stars” (“Black Panther”)
“Girl in the Movies” (“Dumplin’”)
“Requiem For a Private War” (“A Private War”)
“Revelation’ (“Boy Erased”)
“Shallow” (“A Star Is Born”)

This song was stuck in my head for weeks after I saw the movie. Even listening to it again it still moved me to tears. It has everything one wants in a romantic ballad, it has a Whitney Houston vibe to it (circa The Bodyguard) … a truly beautiful and highly-emotional song.

My winner pick: Shallow


Best Television Series – Drama

“The Americans”
“Bodyguard”
“Homecoming”
“Killing Eve”
“Pose”

I’ll refrain from making my pick as I’ve only Bodyguard in its entirety. I’ve only seen season 1 of The Americans and based on that alone, I can see why it’s become awards darling for years. I hope to catch Killing Eve just to see Sandra Oh, I’m thrilled to see her finally getting recognition after putting in great work all these years.


Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama

Caitriona Balfe (“Outlander”)
Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Sandra Oh (“Killing Eve”)
Julia Roberts (“Homecoming”)
Keri Russell (“The Americans”)

As I mentioned above, I can’t wait to see Killing Eve. But given I don’t have cable, who knows when I can finally see the BBC America series. I just read this on the NYTimes“Spy thrillers almost never cast women as both the cat and the mouse, and this one also features an equally rare female presence behind the camera: The English writer and actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge… is the series’s lead writer, showrunner and executive producer.” Just for this reason alone I’m rooting for this show to win! Miss Oh missed out on becoming the first woman of Asian descent to win an Emmy in the lead actress category, I’m hoping she has a better chance in snatching the Globe since Claire Foy is not amongst the nominees.

My winner pick: Sandra Oh


I’m going to refrain from picking my winner picks in these TV categories. Yes I have picked winners from films/shows I haven’t seen before, but I don’t have any strong hunch or feelings about the following shows and performers to make up my mind.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama

Jason Bateman (“Ozark”)
Stephan James (“Homecoming”)
Richard Madden (“Bodyguard”)
Billy Porter (“Pose”)
Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”)

Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy

“Barry” (HBO)
“The Good Place” (NBC)
“Kidding” (Showtime)
“The Kominsky Method” (Netflix)
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy

Kristen Bell (“The Good Place”)
Candice Bergen (“Murphy Brown”)
Alison Brie (“Glow”)
Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Debra Messing (“Will & Grace”)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy

Sasha Baron Cohen (“Who Is America?”)
Jim Carrey (“Kidding”)
Michael Douglas (“The Kominsky Method”)
Donald Glover (“Atlanta”)
Bill Hader (“Barry”)

Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

“The Alienist” (TNT)
“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (FX)
“Escape at Dannemora” (Showtime)
“Sharp Objects” (HBO)
“A Very English Scandal” (Amazon)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Amy Adams (“Sharp Objects”)
Patricia Arquette (“Escape at Dannemora”)
Connie Britton (“Dirty John”)
Laura Dern (“The Tale”)
Regina King (“Seven Seconds”)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Antonio Banderas (“Genius: Picasso”)
Daniel Bruhl (“The Alienist”)
Darren Criss (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”)
Benedict Cumberbatch (“Patrick Melrose”)
Hugh Grant (“A Very English Scandal”)


Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Alan Arkin (“The Kominsky Method”)
Kieran Culkin (“Succession”)
Edgar Ramirez (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”)
Ben Whishaw (“A Very English Scandal”)
Henry Winkler (“Barry”)


Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Alex Borstein (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Patricia Clarkson (“Sharp Objects”)
Penelope Cruz (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”)
Thandie Newton (“Westworld”)
Yvonne Strahovski (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)

Ok so I have only seen Borstein and Newton’s (in S1 of Westworld) performances. I absolutely love Borstein’s performance as Susie in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel that I kind of want her to win every time she’s nominated!

My winner pick: Alex Borstein


Biggest Surprises

Well, for me it’d be 15-year-old star of Eighth Grade, Elsie Fisher. I haven’t heard of her before this one, and the film wasn’t exactly on my radar. Well good for her, she’s actually done a ton of projects in her young career.

I think VICE being the leader of the pack at the Globes and possibly at the Oscars could count as a surprise to most people. I really can’t wait to see that movie!!

Most egregious snubs

Well firstly, the obvious… where are the female directors?? I mentioned it above in the Best Director category, and for one I thought Josie Rourke who directed Mary, Queen of Scots might have a shot. And there’s Mimi Leder, director of On The Basis of Sex, who hasn’t directed a feature film in ages!

As for the performers… let’s start with Viola Davis in Widows.

I mean… I was quite floored NOT to see her name amongst the Best Actress category. She’s truly amazing as the leader of a fantastic ensemble cast and her performance is simply outstanding. The lack of love for Steve McQueen’s Widows baffles me. There are themes of social, economical, political and racial divides, not to mention a female empowerment story that makes it SO much more than a cool popcorn thriller.

I haven’t seen the film yet but based on the reviews of Hereditary (including ours, by Laura S), I thought Toni Collette’s nomination is a shoo-in [shrug].


So what are your thoughts on the Golden Globes nominees? Who do you think are snubbed and who are you rooting for?

FlixChatter Review: Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

There are films you’d readily see just for the cast and this is one such a film. I’m familiar with Agatha Christie’s work though I can’t claim I’ve actually finished even one of her books from start to finish. I did however, see the episode from British ITV production of the Agatha Christie series starring David Suchet a couple of years ago, so the plot is still quite fresh in my mind. The latest adaptation featured Kenneth Branagh as the Belgian super detective Hercule Poirot. Branagh also served as director, based on a script by Michael Green (who’s had quite a year as he also wrote Logan and Blade Runner 2049).

The opening sequence in Jerusalem seemed too whimsical and decidedly over-the-top, and I’m not just talking about Poirot’s outlandish mustache. I read in a review somewhere that Branagh can’t decide which fake mustache given to him from the makeup department so he basically just wore them all in a row. I think that enormous mustache probably has its own trailer, too! That establishing scene introduced us to a god-like figure who’s an absolute genius in cracking criminal cases. It also revealed his quirky OCD personality, so obsessed he is with balance that when he stepped one foot on manure, he immediately had to do the same with the other foot.

For a story famous for being set on a train, the film took its time to finally get there. But once there, the train set pieces is really quite glorious, filled with lavish set pieces and even more gorgeous passengers decked in 1930s costumes. Despite the rather sluggish pacing, I enjoyed myself thanks to the amazing cast. A movie with Dame Judi Dench is an automatic must-see in my book, though sadly she didn’t get to do anything in this film. But to be fair, most of the actors here seemed to have spent more time in costumes than learning their lines. She’s still memorable here, as is Olivia Colman as Dench’s German maid.

It’s tough to be memorable in a large ensemble cast as this one, but I’d say the film’s MVPs are Michelle Pfeiffer as Caroline Hubbard, Daisy Ridley as Mary Debenham, Josh Gad as Hector MacQueen, and Leslie Odom Jr. as Dr. Arbuthnot. Oh, and hello Tom Bateman as train director Bouc (never seen this tall, dark and handsome Brit before but I sure hope I’ll see more of him!) It’s interesting casting to have Johnny Depp as Ratchett given his dire reputation of late. Branagh’s performance is often borderline over the top as well which in itself can be distracting. But I thought his monologue after the big reveal is pretty good and provides the high emotional point of the film. I love La Pfeiffer in this scene too, I’ve missed seeing her in movies. She’s one of those veteran actresses I wish would still get many intriguing roles.

I’m not going to talk about the plot here, but Branagh took some interesting creative licenses with how the story came to the big reveal. He also tried to vary the scenes of each passenger interrogation as to not bore the viewers, some work better than others. I love Branagh’s direction in Cinderella but here he seems too preoccupied with camera work (esp. the bird’s eye view angle) that the film feels rather haphazard at times. The dynamic camera angles adds energy to an otherwise stuffy whodunnit drama, but at times can be quite distracting as well.

Overall it’s a decent adaptation, but I’m not sure if it’s really all that necessary. I feel like the rich story would’ve been better served as a miniseries. There are parts that feel emotional, especially as we get to know who the passengers really are, but I think the film lacks any real suspense. That said, I still enjoyed it thanks to the committed cast, the stunning set pieces and the gorgeous score from one of my fave composers (and Branagh’s regular collaborator) Patrick Doyle. The ending seems to hint at ‘Poirot will return’ a la another titular character James Bond. Not sure I’d be so eager to return to another Poirot adaptation from Branagh though. I guess I’d recommend this if you like the cast, though if you’re a Christie fan you’d probably be more satisfied with re-reading the novel.


Have you seen the latest adaptation of ‘Murder on the Orient Express’? Well, what did you think? 

Question of the Week: What new (or new to you) TV series are you really into right now?

Hi everyone! Just to switch things up from all the awards chatter (which is so tiresome already), let’s talk about TV shows.

BroadchurchBBCIn the start of the new year, I thought I should catch up on some great shows that people have been recommending. So last week I finally caught up on Season 1 of BROADCHURCH starring Olivia Colman and David Tennant. Thanks to my friend Dave W. who gave me this top 10 reasons of why you should absolutely check out this amazing British drama if you haven’t already. It’s every bit as gripping and emotionally-engaging as I had expected. It took me about four days to finish all 10 episodes as it’s really quite addictive that I couldn’t stop watching!

Now, just yesterday I finally got around to seeing another British series I’ve been meaning to check out: The Honourable Woman.

TheHonourableWomanI erroneously thought that this 8-part series will leave Netflix at the end of the month but it’s actually not up for renewal so it will REMAIN on its streaming service, yay! In any case, I can’t tell you enough how good this series is and Maggie Gyllenhaal absolutely deserves her Golden Globe win as the show’s protagonist. Here’s the premise:

Nessa Stein, a woman who inherits her father’s arms business and finds herself in a international maelstrom when as she continues to promote the reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.

Right from the get go, the show created by Hugo Blick is immensely riveting and suspenseful. Plot twists abound as you have no clue who’s good or bad, there’s no clear heroes or villains which makes it all the more intriguing. The writing, acting and cinematography are top notch, and not only does it have a strong female protagonist, it’s nice to see women playing prominent characters in this series. As a fan of British dramas, the show is filled fantastic mostly-British cast: Stephen Rea, Janet McTeer, Andrew Buchan (who’s also in Broadchurch), and Tobias Menzies. Maggie is a native New Yorker but her British accent is flawless (well it sounds that way to me anyway) but it’s her acting and elegant way she moves that is truly fun to watch.

Check out the trailer:


So that’s what I’ve been obsessing lately. Which *new* shows did you just discover that you can’t get enough of?

FlixChatter Review: LOCKE

LockeBanner

When I heard the premise of Locke, I was immediately intrigued by the idea of a one-man show in a confined environment. I knew it’d take the right actor, a substantially charismatic one, to pull off this role. Obviously the script and direction is just as crucial, and fortunately, those three elements work efficiently for the swift 85-minute running time.

The film is set entirely inside a BMW SUV. Within minutes of Ivan Locke climbing into his car and starts the ignition, we learn that he’s a successful construction manager and a dedicated family man. His wife and kids are waiting for him as an important soccer match is about to go on, one he and his kids have been anticipating for weeks. It also happens to be the eve of an important project, perhaps the biggest in his career, one his boss expects he’d supervise and make sure nothing goes wrong.

Seems that he’s got everything in his life under control… yet a single phone call causes him to drop everything and drive to London. Why? Well, to tell you would rob you of the experience watching this film. With every phone call Locke either make or receives, one by one the reason of his seemingly-rash decision is revealed. Yet there’s nothing impulsive about what Locke does that night, he seems to have a calculated, almost mechanical way of looking at things. It’s as if he sees things in his life, and how he responds to each conflict that arises, the same way he responds to concrete in his daily job.

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Locke_Hardy2

Locke_Hardy3

It’s quite a fascinating and well-crafted moral drama, one that really puts the audience into the roller-coaster emotional ride that our protagonist goes through. I was completely engrossed in this one man’s endeavor to salvage everything that matters to him, and I mean every single thing, this is a man who doesn’t seem to see the virtue of prioritizing. As I watch this, I kept thinking that something’s got to give, he just simply can’t have it all, try as he might.

Sorry to be so cryptic in this review but I feel that the less you know about the plot the better. So that’s a perfect segue to talk about the performances. Hardy is the only character we see in the film but there are a number of great voice actors such as Ruth Wilson, Olivia Colman and Andrew Scott as the people who interact with Hardy on the phone. I think they all did a splendid job, most of all Hardy himself in a riveting and unforgettable role that just might garner him a slew of kudos come award season.

He’s speaking with a Welsh accent of some kind, channeling Anthony Hopkins at times in his manner of speaking. This is perhaps an actor’s dream to be able to use every bit of his facial expression and communicate emotion simply with their eyes or the smallest gestures, and Hardy definitely has what it takes. There’s a certain warmth about him yet within seconds he can be ruthless and even borderline psychotic. Now, that last part is why I can’t give this film a full score. I won’t say too much about it but let’s just say there are some really weird moments that I feel could’ve been toned down a bit. There’s already a lot going on in such a small time frame that it felt a bit too indulgent.

That said, I applaud Steven Knight (Eastern Promises, Dirty Pretty Things) for crafting such a unique cinematic experience. The night cinematography by Haris Zambarloukos (Thor) is striking, he somehow made highway driving look so dramatic and even artistic. Some people might complain that there’s not much action, but that actually what separates this from just another thriller flicks out there. For once it’s nice to see a regular guy at the center of the story, someone relatable that we could imagine ourselves or our friends being in a similar situation. There’s no government conspiracy, terrorist/kidnapping type of crisis he has to deal with. There’s no hero nor villain, just a man grappling with one VERY stressful night of his life. I love films that give me a lot to chew on after I watch it, especially in terms of morality and what is truly the right thing to do in a given situation. Locke definitely gives me that. Highly recommended.

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Have you seen Locke? I’m curious to hear what you think.