Mystery Blogger Award Vol. 2


Well, well, well, darling readers. This week, Mr Damien Riley, fellow blogger and one of my podcasting buddies on Talking Stars, nominated me for my second Mystery Blogger award. A big thank you goes out to him for the nomination. For those of you who might be unfamiliar with Damien’s work, you should definitely check out his site, Riley Film Reviews. There you’ll find a great selection of films and a few TV series that Damien has shared his thoughts on. Once again, thanks for nominating me for this award – your timing really couldn’t have been better as this is also the week where I shall be marking two years of blogging. What a brilliant way to kick off the celebrations! 

Now let’s get down to business.

The rules of the tag/award are:

Put the award logo/image on your blog.
List the rules.

Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.

Mention the creator of the award.

Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.

Nominate 10 – 20 people.

Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.

Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question.

Share a link to your best post(s).

I also want to give a word of thanks to Okoto Enigma for creating this award.

The first things to do is to tell you all three things about myself. As I get more and more of these awards, I really struggle with this part – I’m not a very exciting person to tell the truth, although anyone who maybe keeps up to date with my Twitter feed (which isn’t hard) or listens to the Talking Stars podcast will probably have figured that out for themselves by now. Anyway, here goes…

1. I hate school, and honestly, the next four months cannot pass quickly enough so that I can leave and start work with the company that took me on for work experience over the summer. It’s not the work that bothers me, it’s more the experience I’ve had with the different people in the system. I’ve had a few teachers that have had me down as stupid over the years, and in secondary school I got bullied (sob story alert). I loved it last summer when I was with Kinetal because I was constantly learning new things and it felt like they really appreciated what I was doing for them. The start of July is going to be the start of a brand new adventure, and will hopefully be the start of my journey into the film industry, and I cannot wait.

2. I used to be a gymnast, and an alright one at that. I won four county competitions during my time doing that. Floor was always my favourite because I couldn’t fall off it.

3. I have a dog. Her name is Bella. She is a right little snake in my boot. 


And now for the questions I was set for homework by Damien: 

Did you ever give a film a score higher than it deserved because you knew your readers and/or the critics as a whole loved it? In other words, you didn’t want to look stupid.

I don’t really give scores, although it’s something I should probably start doing. I wouldn’t say that I give higher scores to conform, but there have been many times that I’ve given a verdict on a film and then changed my mind after posting the review. I think I way oversell films sometimes when I try to be positive about them when there really is very little to be positive about.

How do you dive in to doing a review online? What’s your routine or do you have one?

I used to handwrite everything, but doing that and then typing up was way too time-consuming. Now I just type up and save it in Pages on my iPad ready to post it whenever it’s needed.

Have you ever watched a movie on your phone?

Of course! It’s how I used to watch the films I wasn’t allowed to by my parents.
(silly one) If you are single, or even if you aren’t, what is your dating age range. ie; when I met my wife I would go no more than ten years older and six years younger. I had to break my rule to date her.

At this moment in time, I wouldn’t go any younger than my age. To be honest, I’m not too fond of any boys within five years of my age because they’ve yet to grow up (most of them). There’s ten years between my parents, so I’m not closed off to that size of an age gap, but then Jake Gyllenhaal at 36 is slightly out of a ten years older window for me.

I’ll just say that as long as they’re breathing, they’re an option 😉

Best suspense film?

No Country For Old Men

Now I’ve to nominate some more bloggers for the award…

HC Movie Reviews

Film Music Central

Film Frenzy

Film Ink Official

Mini Media Reviews

CFY

Niche Film Reviews

Film Nerds Unite

Crutches Of Life

And my questions to you are as follows:

If you had to name one, what would you say is your worst personality characteristic?

Besides blogging and what is associated with it, what else do you like to do in your spare time?

What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?

What sort of music do you like?

Why do Australian Christmas cards have snow on them?

To finish, I’m supposed to add a link or two to my favourite posts, so here they are:

Hell Or High Water

The Hills Have Eyes (it will forever be one of my best reviews in my opinion)

Jackie is made great by one special performance


During the immediate aftermath of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, America’s First Lady battles through grief and trauma in order to prevent losing herself and maintain her husband’s legacy following his death.
After her husband’s assassination, Jackie Kennedy’s (Natalie Portman) world falls apart. Grieving and traumatised, she must tell her children that their daddy isn’t coming home, leave the White House and begin to plan his funeral, whilst also trying to ensure her husband’s legacy will be remembered, and leave her own mark in the history books.

So, I decided to watch Jackie, and going into the film, I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to feel about it. A lover of historical events, the subject matter wasn’t really going to be the issue. But I just didn’t really know that much about the film – there weren’t really any stars that were a huge draw for me here. I watched this film purely because of what people had said about Natalie Portman’s performance, and for what it’s worth, I’m glad I listened to them.

We’ll get down to business and start straightaway with Portman’s portrayal of Jackie. She is easily the greatest thing about this film, elevating it from something that would otherwise have been possibly average at best. She completely embodied the real Jacqueline Kennedy, making it easy to believe that that was who you were really watching. I loved how she got to show the whole range of emotions experienced by this woman on that day and in the days after it. We got to see that initial shock and hysteria, and then the strength that she had to take forwards from those moments for her family. There was terrific range displayed by Portman in this role, and deep down, I think I would love it if she won the Best Actress Oscar for her work here.

I can’t really pass comment on many of the other performances in here as it really was Portman’s film. There were a few surprise cast members however, although they had very minor roles. It actually amazed me how many stars from British TV made an appearance. The biggest shock was David Caves from Silent Witness as Clint Hill – I’ve never seen him in anything else before, and so I had to proceed to tell everyone that he had just showed up in the film I was watching. Needless to say his is a name I shall be storing in the memory banks for any future episodes of Pointless.

I really liked the way Jackie Kennedy was portrayed in the film, and I think she is a woman history should never be allowed to forget. She got bit of a rough deal when her husband was killed, and the way she was shown to deal with all of this in the film was sometimes upsetting to see, but showed all of her strength and character, and that she was her own woman, even without her husband.

Overall, I found Jackie to be a very enjoyable watch that I would recommend to people. Portman gives a masterclass in acting, and from what I’ve heard from a few of my U.S. counterparts, she absolutely nails the part she plays. She lifts the film to great heights and makes it a very compelling watch. I think it is a project that was very well made, and well worth seeing by everyone. 

Tuesday Top Ten – Actors & Actresses Still To Win An Oscar

My final Oscars-themed list is taking a look at those actors and actresses who have not yet won an Oscar, despite them having work that could very well be deemed Oscar-worthy. I mentioned on Twitter that I was surprised to discover some of these people had not won an Academy Award – there are certainly some shocks to come!
10. Johnny Depp


The man is a chameleon, and he has played some iconic characters over the years. There is no doubt over his capabilities as an actor, so he doesn’t need an Oscar to his name to remind us of how great he can be. A good job too, as despite three nominations for the prestigious awards over the years, he is yet to win anything.

9. Amy Adams


I’ll keep it brief, but Amy Adams has only gotten better as she has progressed throughout her career. The fact that she has not yet won an Oscar is beyond me, and what baffles me more is the fact that she wasn’t even nominated for her role in Arrival. The process undertaken by the people in charge of the Oscars baffles me sometimes, this being a prime example of that.

8. Matt Damon


Of all the people on this list, Matt Damon was the biggest surprise to me. Technically he has won an Oscar, but I’m talking about acting gongs here so his writing award doesn’t count. Out of his three nominations, I wish he would have won for his role as François Pienaar in Invictus – I really enjoyed that film and thought he did a terrific job as the South African rugby captain.

7. Mark Ruffalo


Another person I was a tad bitter about recently was Mark Ruffalo when he didn’t win for his role as Mike Rezendes in Spotlight. He may have been part of an ensemble in that film, but he is the person who stands out in my mind as being truly fantastic in what was a very affecting piece of cinema.

6.Samuel L. Jackson


Samuel L. Jackson is a name everybody knows. Something we’re not all that familiar with, however, is the fact that he is yet to win an Oscar. In fact, the only nomination he has ever received was for his role as Jules Winnifield in Pulp Fiction. He may be an internationally recognised actor, but not one whose work has been honoured by the Academy just yet.

5. Edward Norton


I mentioned last week that Edward Norton is someone who should’ve won an Oscar for his role in American History X. Little did I know that to this day, he is still only a nominee and not a winner of any Oscars. He is a very talented actor, and one who seems to be extremely underrated when it comes to these famous awards.

4. Jessica Chastain


She is one of my favourite actresses as she has brought to the screen a number of brilliant characters, but Jessica Chastain hasn’t won an Oscar yet either. Of the two roles she has been nominated for, I think she definitely deserved to win for her portrayal of Maya in Zero Dark Thirty, but she was equally as wonderful as Celia Foote, a very different character, in The Help too.

3. Sigourney Weaver


Sigourney Weaver was another shock for me here, because she hasn’t won an Oscar, nor has she really received that many nominations either. I was very surprised to discover that she has only ever been a nominee three times throughout her career. I’ve only seen her in one of her Oscar-nominated roles, but am in no doubt about what a significant figure she is, so this did nothing to lessen the blow.

2. Harrison Ford


He is the highest-grossing actor of all-time, and he has taken on some iconic roles in a career that only started properly in his thirties, but Harrison Ford is another well known actor that makes this list. And, much like Sigourney Weaver, he has had far less nominations than you may initially think. One nomination. That is all this man has had. Major bloody surprise if you ask me.

1. Brad Pitt


Finally we move onto Brad Pitt. Over the years he has been in some cracking films, and for his performances, he has received three nominations for. Of course, he’s never actually won for his acting. I think he was very good as Jeffrey Goines in Twelve Monkeys, and he perhaps should have won for that role.

That marks the end of this list, but also the end of this little series that took a look back at the Oscars over the years. There have been plenty of great performances and good films discussed during the course of these lists, and I’ve also been able to have bit of a moan about a few injustices that have also occurred at the different ceremonies that have taken place.

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

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.