Not quite the way I’d imagined celebrating 20 years of Silent Witness


Now, I know it’s lazy, but please check my review of season 19 for the full description of the show. It seems silly repeating myself again this year.
So, 2017 was a big year for one of my favourite shows. Silent Witness premiered it’s 20th season! As it was such a landmark year, I had expected the show to pull out all the stops. I can at least say that this was the case with the final two-part story of the season. For much of the rest of it however, this year’s Silent Witness fell slightly below it’s usual standard, which left me asking myself a certain question…

Performances this year were given to us by the same people, but there was a greater focus on one person who I think has previously been treated as a more minor character. Liz Carr plays Clarissa, and I absolutely love her in the role. Carr makes me laugh a lot with the dry tones in which she delivers some of Clarissa’s more light-hearted lines – she always has done and I’m sure will continue to do so in future seasons of the show. It’s also great to see someone with a disability have a regular role on such a brilliant and beloved series. Finally, British TV is beginning to move forward!

A couple of the storylines for this season didn’t feel quite as riveting as others that have been covered by the show in the past. I guess after twenty seasons, I should have expected the show to feel a little tired. However, I was able to forgive the writers after watching the final two episodes of this run. Oh. My. Word. What a finale! I’m fairly certain the creators of those two episodes had recently viewed Buried and used it for inspiration, but I was still very impressed. The performances from Emilia Fox and David Caves were absolutely tremendous, and really added to the baseline tension already created by the writing. Plus, if nothing else, that very last episode just confirmed to me that all us girls need a man like Jack in our lives.

I mentioned at the beginning that I found myself asking a certain question throughout this season in regards to the future of Silent Witness, or whether indeed it should have a future beyond this point. After all, twenty years gracing our screens isn’t to be sniffed at. I had my doubts about whether it would, or should return, given that it had just felt slightly flatter than usual. However, I suppose I wasn’t ready to give it up yet as I massively rejoiced at the news it would return for it’s 21st birthday next year. Phew!

Overall, this year’s Silent Witness didn’t quite live up to expectations during it’s first four cases, but well and truly made up for it with the finale. As much as I can say I felt a tiny bit disappointed by this season, I can’t deny that I looked forward to every Monday and Tuesday evening when the episodes were being shown. It is a show that has a special hold on me, and I suspect it will have to go seriously down hill before I’ll ever be able to comprehend not watching it, so it’s dead safe for now.

I’m not sitting on any Fences with this film

An African-American man in the 1950s tries to raise his family whilst coming to terms with the events of his life.

In 1950s Pittsburgh, Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington) makes a living as a sanitation worker. He once dreamed of becoming a Major League Baseball player, but was passed over after deemed to be too old to be a serious competition. Troy has always suspected that the colour of his skin was to blame for his failure however, as has seemingly been the case for many of his other pitfalls in life. His bitterness towards how his own life has treated slowly begins to cause ructions within his family, especially when he quashes his son’s chances of becoming an football player.

Fences was one of this year’s most anticipated films for me. The Oscar nominations is received only made me want to see it even more, and now that I have finally seen it, I have to say that it fully delivered for me. The performances were show-stopping, and made the story that the film had to tell feel so real.

This is a film that really is for people who love actors. I’ve loved all the work I’ve seen from Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, and this story was no exception. Washington is quite possibly at career best here as Troy, and that says a lot, especially if you take the time to look back at his filmography and see some of his other roles. He put on such a raw performance, and his scenes with both Davis and Mykelti Williamson were simply wonderful to watch.

Davis played Troy’s long-suffering wife Rose, and just so you can get a feel for what her performance did for me, I’ll let you know that you cannot begin to comprehend the roars that came from my living room when she won her BAFTA on Sunday. Troy may have been the main character here, but there is no doubt that this was Rose’s story. There was so much passion in Davis’ performance. You could tell that this film was a project that she felt deeply about, as was the case for everyone involved, but Davis’ energy just radiated around the room when I was watching her.

Someone who I think was hard done by when it came to awards nominations was Mykelti Williamson, who played Troy’s brother Gabriel. He gave such a touching and sensitive performance as the man who had such a great part of him stripped away during the war. His scenes with both Washington and Davis were something to behold, and added yet another layer of magic to a film that was already hitting all the right notes for me.

Washington not only played a blinder here – he also directed the film, which was adapted from the August Wilson play of the same name. I’ve just spoken about how this film was a labour of love for everyone involved, and none more so than Washington. He has had connections with the story for a number of years, and so I fail to think of someone better suited to head up the task of moving it from stage to screen than him. Beyond the fact I thought the run time was probably twenty minutes too long, I wouldn’t change a single thing about this film, and that’s the truth of it all.

All in all, I don’t know what more I can say about Fences. It is a very simple, yet realistic story made very special by the people that worked on it. It has so much heart, which is evident from what we see in each and every performance in the film itself, and also in what the cast and crew members have to say about the making of the project. No matter what else happens this year, I do not think for a second that we will see another film made with more love and devotion that this one.

Upcoming Q&A

Hi guys!

In about a month, I’ll have been blogging for two years, and I’ve decided to host a little Q&A as part of the celebrations. This is your chance to ask me whatever you like – whether it’s film and TV related or not, so be sure to fire away. You can send me your Tweets to @FilmAndTV101, or use the hashtag #AskFilmAndTV101, and of course, you can just drop me something in the comments. I’ve not quite decided how I will give my answers to any questions I receive yet, but anybody who asks will get a special mention regardless.

So, get thinking! After this long, it’s about time we got to know each other a little better 🙂

Kira xx

Tuesday Top Ten – Films That Should’ve Won These Oscars, But Didn’t

We’re now two weeks away from the big night, and this week I’m looking at films that should have won an award (or awards), but didn’t. This did start off as a ‘biggest Oscar snubs’ list, but I guess a lot of these wouldn’t count as out-and-out snubs, so I’ve kind of put my own twist on things. In no particular order…
10. Interstellar – Best Director


I was quite surprised to discover Interstellar only won one of the more minor awards at the 2015 Oscars ceremony. Christopher Nolan, despite how mind-blowingly complex his film concepts can be, is a fantastic director who has been incredibly diverse with the projects he has produced. With how well received Interstellar seemed to be, I am surprised he didn’t receive more recognition for his direction on the project. That being said, I’ve not seen Birdman, so couldn’t say 100% whether Nolan should’ve won, but I have a feeling I might be right.

9. American History X – Best Actor


This was an interesting one because I’ve seen who won the award for this year, and if you’ve seen this and Life Is Beautiful, or at least know what they’re about, you too will know why this was an interesting contest. I’ll stick with my guns though. Edward Norton was terrific as Derek Vinyard, and I was gutted after watching the film to learn that his reward for the role only went as far as his nomination. The whole film has such an impact on me, but I do think this was largely because of Norton’s performance.

8. Nightcrawler – Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay


Jake Gyllenhaal was an absolute animal when it came to his performance here. The fact he didn’t even get nominated for Best Actor here does a bit more than irritate me. Nightcrawler did get a mention for Best Original Screenplay, but did not win (hence why I’m bringing it up on this list). Please tell me the last time you saw a film with a story about the video crews for news stations, because I don’t see how the writing could have been anymore original.

7. Boyz n the Hood – Best Director


Now, I guess considering this was the first year an African-American director ever got a nomination for his work, it was a bit too much to expect him to win as well. It also didn’t help that John Singleton was pitched against The Silence Of The Lambs which swept up the Big Five that year either. The odds were certainly stacked against him. It’s a shame it was up against the films it was because Boyz n the Hood is such a hard-hitting, important film that it really did deserve to win something.

6. Sicario – Best Actress, Best Director


I thought this was one of the best films of 2015, so for it to get more or less completely snubbed for an Oscar was a shock for me, and I’ve spoken before about a couple of other awards it should’ve been in contention for. I loved Emily Blunt as Kate Macer – she was such a great character, especially in such a male-dominated cast. As for director Denis Villeneuve, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed much of his other work such as Prisoners, Enemy, and now Arrival (which he has been nominated for). I do think he should have had a nomination for his work here, but once again, that is now how things worked out.

5. Selma – Best Actor, Best Director


When this film failed to receive any of the major nominations besides Best Picture in 2015, outraged was sparked. David Oyelowo was actually amazing as Martin Luther King Jr. – if you were to only be listening to some of the speeches he made in the film, you could have mistaken him for the man himself. Ava DuVernay did a wonderful job directing this film as well, and for her to get ignored for her contribution was a travesty if you ask me.

4. 10 Cloverfield Lane – Best Actor


One person I feel was hard done by this year’s nominations was John Goodman. His portrayal of Howard in this film was not your typical John Goodman role, and part of me thinks this is why the film made such an impact on me. I’m a huge advocate for the film as it seemed to come out of nowhere, and I was always vouching for Goodman to gain some sort of recognition when it came to this time of year, but it seems that it just was not to be.

3. The Help – Best Actress, Best Picture


The Help is a film very close to my heart. It is an uplifting tale about what can be achieved when a group of people decide to join together and try to change things. Octavia Spencer was the only winner from this film, but Viola Davis was up for Best Actress and didn’t win, and the film lost out on Best Picture as well. It’s good that the nominations were there, but I wish it could have won. Also, a little side note on this film – I much preferred Emma Stone as Skeeter Phelan here as opposed to Mia in La La Land. For her not to be nominated for her work here and to very likely win the Oscar for Best Actress this year is a tad non-sensical to me.

2. Jackie Brown – Best Actress


Ermmmm, where was Pam Grier’s nomination for her acting in Jackie Brown? She was fabulous as the struggling air hostess/drug smuggler/police informant. I loved her performance, but the awards people didn’t apparently. She was such a good character and an icon for women in film if you think about it. What didn’t she do that Robert Forster did to earn his nomination for his work in the film?

1. Every Quentin Tarantino film ever (besides The Hateful Eight) – Best Director


I’ll keep this one short and sweet – Quentin Tarantino, much like Christopher Nolan, should’ve won a Best Director gong long before now. How it hasn’t happened yet is beyond me. I’ve always loved his films, and can think of at least two films were he definitely should have won the award. Keep on going Quentin, your day will come eventually!

There you have it, and with just one more week until the Oscar winners are announces, there is just one more of these Oscars-themed lists to go. Next week, I’m going to be looking at actors and actresses who have never won an Oscar – could be another interesting one!

I’ll lose no sleep after watching Nocturnal Animals


An art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a sadistic revenge tail.
This story within a story follows art curator Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) as she works her way through a book written and sent to her by her ex-husband. The story follows Tony Hastings (Jake Gyllenhaal) as he and his family set off on a road trip, but have their journey cut short by a bunch of psychotic rednecks who capture his wife and daughter. Tony escapes and spends a night in the desert before making his way to a police station. With Sheriff Bobby Andes (Michael Shannon), Tony makes a grisly discovery, and between them the two get to work on bringing down the gang that hijacked his journey. As she works her way through the novel, Susan finds herself recalling her first marriage, and confronting some of her most deeply bruised demons.

After missing out on Nocturnal Animals in the cinema (don’t you just love limited release films?), I’ve only just gotten round to reviewing the film. Although it required a lot of thinking on my behalf, I did enjoy the film, and it wasn’t just the lead actor who swung it for me. There was handful of great performances to deliver the story to us, and director Tom Ford completely pulled off the ambitious narrative style the film opts for.

Amy Adams made her second major appearance of the last year with her performance as Susan. Straightaway, I will say that for me personally, she wasn’t as strong here as I thought she was in Arrival. For the most part of her time as Susan, Adams gave a brooding performance as her character reflected back on a former life. She was good, just not as good as I thought she was in her other film from 2016.

Jake Gyllenhaal was great as Tony Hastings, although let’s face it, I am slightly biased on this point. he played a desperate man and was really riveting to watch as he teamed up with Michael Shannon’s Bobby Andes to try to bring his wife and daughter’s killers to justice.

That brings me onto the two supporting performances nicely. Shannon was terrific as the sheriff. He practically stole every scene he was in, and I would say that he is fully deserving of the Oscar nomination he received for his work. Aaron Taylor-Johnson was also brilliant as Ray Marcus, but I don’t think he was quite the psychopath a lot of people made him out to be.

At a first glance, it is quite difficult to see where the two different elements of this film fit together. However, after thinking about it for a while, there are so many ways the two halves can be joined up. The whole film is very open to individual interpretation, and I have no doubt that if I were to watch the film again and again, each time I would find a different way to pick everything apart.

Director Tom Ford has done a wonderful job with this film. I’ve not seen A Single Man, but from what I’ve heard, it would seem that this second film was a fine second project. His fashion designer influence was evident with so many of the shots throughout the film. I may have to sit down and watch his first film after seeing this.

On the whole, Nocturnal Animals is a magnificently dark thriller that I think deserved more recognition than it has received. Due to the nature of it’s non-linear narrative, you do need to watch it with an open mind, but if you do this, I’m pretty certain you will enjoy it.

Manchester By The Sea went swimmingly for me


Following the death of his brother, a man returns to his home town and discovers he has been made the legal guardian of his nephew.
Angry, antisocial Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) works as a janitor in Quincy, Massachusetts. One grey winter day, he gets a phone call to say that his brother is in hospital, and that he should make his way back to the hometown he left behind him years ago as soon as he can as he’s in a bad way. When Lee reaches the hospital, he is greeted with the sad news that he is too late, and that his brother has passed away. As his next of kin, it becomes Lee’s job to sort out his brother’s affairs and tell his nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges) about his dad. The two try to adjust to life without the missing member of their family, attempting to deal with their own issues whilst looking after each other. Lee discovers that his brother has outlined that he is to become Patrick’s guardian, and struggles to decide what to do about the situation.

One of my most anticipated films of this year was Manchester By The Sea, and I feel like I had some good foresight by choosing it as one of the films I was most looking forward to. I had high hopes for the performances that were to make up the foundations of the film, and I was not let down. Enjoyable probably isn’t the right word to describe the film, but enjoy watching it is what I did. It isn’t an uplifting watch, but it has some very funny moments dotted throughout, making the whole thing very true to real life.

Casey Affleck is the person I am currently hoping wins the Best Actor award for this year. He gave a brilliant performance as Lee. it was very understated, and most of the emotion he conveyed was done so through his subtle facial expressions. For the most part, he had his hands in his pockets and did a lot of shoulder shrugging, but it was so fitting for his character to do this. Lee had a past that he has constantly tried to escape form, and we find out what it is that haunts him about halfway through the film. Affleck played the part wonderfully, and reminded me of exactly why I think he is one of the most underrated actors working today.

His co-star Lucas Hedges, who is up for Best Supporting Actor alongside him, was equally as good. In his solo scenes, he did a grand job of showing the usual struggles of a teenage kid whilst also trying to deal with the fact that he had just lost his father too. However, he really shone in each scene he had with Affleck. They both nailed the uncle-nephew dynamic they had going on, and this was what led to some of the funniest moments in the film, which were needed otherwise you’d have been seriously depressed by the end of the film.

the only criticism I’d have if you made me pick one was that the film did feel like it had a few pacing issues at times, but given the sheer quality of the performances, I can let this slide. the other question I have to raise is why was Michelle Williams nominated for an Oscar for her performance? She was very good, don’t get me wrong, but she simply was not on-screen long enough to have that sort of an impact on the film in my opinion. 

Overall, Manchester By The Sea is one of my favourites of the nominees I have seen so far this year. It does the simple things unbelievably well, and whilst at times it may feel a bit slow, the top drawer performances from the duo at the centre of this story make it worth staying right until the very end. For me, it was a very touching film that stays very true to how situations like this often play out in real life and it was a joy to watch the other day. I would highly recommend it. 

Tuesday Top Ten – My All-Time Favourite Oscar Winning Performances

Another week has passed and we are one week closer to finding out the 2017 Oscars. To maintain this bit of Oscar buzz that I have going on here, this week i am taking a look back at some of my all-time favourite Oscar-winning performances. This list is a countdown, and doesn’t feature any performances from the 00’s as they were covered last week.

10. Nicolas Cage (Ben Sanderson, Leaving Las Vegas)


Perhaps Nicolas Cage’s best performance to date (and with what he has produced of late, maybe the best we’ll ever see of him) is his portrayal of Ben Sanderson, an ex-screenwriter who has lost everything and finds solace only at the bottom of the bottle. The film follows Ben as he slowly drinks himself to death. By no means is this an easy watch, but Cage makes it so that you cannot bring yourself to turn it off and escape what is a truly Oscar-worthy performance that takes a very long time to leave you once it’s finished.

9. Joe Pesci (Tommy DeVito, Goodfellas)


Arguably the greatest thing about this film is Joe Pesci’s critically-acclaimed performance as gangster Tommy DeVito. I will never forget watching the film for the first time during the school holidays a couple of summers ago. When it came to the infamous ‘Do you think I’m funny’ scene, I had the windows wide open and Pesci’s character was going hell for leather for the whole street to hear. Not only is it a tremendous performance, but it has fond memories for me of the time the postman got an insight into how I spend my days home alone.

8. Jodie Foster (Clarice Starling, The Silence Of The Lambs)


To have picked Anthony Hopkins here would have been predictable, so I’m actually going to sing the praises of Jodie Foster’s performance instead. She was wonderful as Clarice, the young FBI go-getter who gets assigned a really tough case. She was a joy to watch here, and was every bit the ideal match for Hopkins’ Hannibal – no mean feat, you could say.

7. Christoph Waltz (Dr. King Schultz, Django Unchained)


I stated that I wished I could have included this performance on my last list, but as Django Unchained came out in 2012, it was too little, too late. However, now that we’re onto all-time favourites, there’s nothing to stop me talking about Christoph Waltz’s turn as Dr. King Schultz – the bounty hunter with extreme class in Tarantino’s superb western. Every time I see Waltz’s name, I immediately pay attention because, as someone who wants to be an actress, there is always something to be learnt from him. Here I learnt that it wasn’t a fluke that he won his award for Inglorious Basterds. He is simply masterful.

6. Robert De Niro (Vito Corleone, The Godfather Part II)


I have so much admiration for Robert De Niro in this role because he took on someone who had been made famous by Marlon Brando in a previous film and then had to learn roughly half his dialogue in another language. You can’t say he didn’t earn his Oscar here. However, De Niro also managed to further remind audiences of the main theme from The Godfather – family. There are many tender moments we share with him during the film that make this and the whole trilogy so special.

5. Robin Williams (Sean Maguire, Good Will Hunting)


One of the best things about this film, and there are many to choose from, is Robin Williams’ life-affirming performance as therapist Dr. Sean Maguire. Williams was so good that you just wanted to spill your guts to him after watching the film. It was a serious role, no doubt about it, but he managed to give it his own special touch that made it feel so personal.  

4. Octavia Spencer (Minny Jackson, The Help)


If you were to ask me how I would describe this performance, the word I would use would be iconic. I watched part of the film before reading the book, and when I finally read the book, all I could hear as I was working my way through the chapters was Octavia Spencer’s voice as she took on Minny echoing in my head. She was fierce as the sassy little maid, and brought a lot of humour to a film that actually covered something very serious indeed, without causing you to forget what the main point of the film was in the first place. The only shameful thing about it is that she was the only cast member to win the award she was nominated for.

3. Jared Leto (Rayon, Dallas Buyers Club)


Jared Leto has been acting for a long time, and has starred in some very heavy-going films (need I mention Requiem For A Dream?). It is with his turn as Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club however that he proved to the world what a serious and capable actor he truly is. It is a very moving performance that he provide us with here, and after undergoing such an immense physical transformation as well, he is well deserving of his win.

2 Al Pacino (Frank Slade, Scent Of A Woman)


It would have been so wrong of me not to include good old Al on this list now that I finally had the opportunity. Personally, I would have thought that he would have won more that his single Oscar for his role as Frank Slade, especially after Serpico. Alas, this remains his only win, but it is an award he won for what is perhaps my favourite role of his outside the obvious Michael Corleone. Pacino did a marvellous job playing the blind ex-army serviceman, and that speech at the end must surely have been what swung it for the board that year.

1. Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump, Forrest Gump)


Forrest Gump is a film that runs for nearly two and a half hours, and that is roughly the time I spent smiling when I watched it for the first time years ago. This was solely because of Tom Hanks’ wonderful performance as the big-hearted man who had led a life to look back on and marvel at. After seeing much of his other work, I still say that this is my favourite performance by Hanks, and one that was very worthy of the Oscar it won. 

That wraps up my all-time favourite Oscar-winning performances. Maybe there have been a couple of surprises for you there, but I know for sure that those of you familiar with this site by now will know there were names mentioned there that were certain to make an appearance. Who would you include amongst your favourites? Let me know – we might just get ourselves a little discussion going!