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.

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!

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. 

The Accountant was a good addition to my Saturday afternoon


A gifted mathematician starts uncool into the books for a new client as the Treasury Department closes in on him.Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a man with a better affinity for numbers than people. On the surface, it would seem that he is your standard run-of-the-mill accountant, but dig a little deeper an you’ll find that he does some freelance work fixing the finances of some of the world’s biggest organised crime rings. He takes on a legitimate client in the shape of Living Robotics just as the Treasury Department’s Crime Enforcement Division headed up by Ray King (JK Simmons) begins to investigate his actions. However, as Christian sheds some light on the missing finances of his latest customer, he finds that not everything is quite what it first appeared to be.

So I finally got round to watching The Accountant this afternoon, and I have to say I enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s one of those proper action films that we have struggled to come across of late, but has bit of a twist as it’s main protagonist is somewhere on the autistic spectrum. This was something that provided a fresher take on a genre that you could say has been worn fairly thin with some diabolical releases in recent years.

I had been looking forward to seeing Ben Affleck take on the role of Christian Wolff since I saw the trailer for this film months ago. I had faith that he could get it right and finally redeem himself after fans all over the world lost their confidence in him after watching a film that came out earlier on in 2016. Admittedly, he didn’t provide the performance that I thought he would – I had expected something a couple of rungs down from Rain Man, but instead I was presented with someone who appeared to only suffer from occasional lapses in private. After thinking about it a bit, however, I think this worked far better than what I was expecting would have done, and so hats off to Affleck for what was a great performance.

The Accountant had a solid storyline with a couple of little treats right towards the end that kept me interested right until the credits started rolling. It was nice that the film didn’t get lost in a convoluted plot that was way too ambitious for it, something that I think some action thrillers have fallen foul of in the past, especially during the last few years. The fact that this story was relatively easy to keep pace with made the film all the more enjoyable, which I think some filmmakers would do well to bear in mind at times.

That being said, there were a couple of characters that I must say didn’t feel totally necessary. Anna Kendrick as Dana Cummings was good, don’t get me wrong, but the film could have survived without her. It just felt as though the writers had tried to force something into the story that wasn’t needed. I think I would have much preferred it if they had come up with some other reason for why Christian was intent on pursuing this case to the bitter end. Alas, for all it’s other saving graces, I can’t complain too much.

Overall, The Accountant is a good action film that would be ideal for a night in on the sofa after a hard week at work. It didn’t require too much thinking, was terrifically entertaining, and had some decent performances to boot. I’d say order a takeaway and turn in for the night – it would be time well spent. 

Tuesday Top Ten – My Favourite British Actors 

Yesterday’s review of Killer Elite and lack of any other inspiration for a Top Ten has meant that this week’s countdown is going to take a look at my favourite British actors. For the first time in a couple of weeks, I have managed to put the list in an order as well, so you’re properly spoilt with this one. Let’s get started!

10. Anthony Hopkins


Before any riots start, the only reason Anthony Hopkins only just makes this top ten is because I have only seen one film… THAT film. Yes, The Silence Of The Lambs is the film that shows Hopkins in all his glory, and proves that you don’t have to come directly from Hollywood to shake audiences for generations to come. In fact, West Glamorgan in Wales will do you just fine.

9. Dominic West


This man was a big part of my life for a very long time when I worked my way through five seasons of The Wire last year, and I thought he was great. He’s been in a few films I’ve seen since, and also that other show, The Affair, which I’m not so fond of. Nonetheless, Dominic West has proved that the northern boys can do it, although I think private education may have also helped him out a little.

8. Daniel Day-Lewis


There is so much that can be said about Daniel Day-Lewis. He is a truly magnificent actor who can seemingly take on any role and just absolutely own it. He’s the only actor have ever won three Best Actor Oscars, and each was for a role that was so very different to the last. Day-Lewis just has a way of becoming whoever he seems to set his mind to, and Old Blighty is very proud of him for that.

7. Tim Roth


Another very gifted character actor is Tim Roth. Much like Day-Lewis, he doesn’t play characters, he becomes them. He is also talented when it comes to accents, something that all British actors have be if they want success across the pond, it would appear. However, Roth’s accent was so good in Reservoir Dogs that I didn’t question it – I mean, why would you? It wasn’t until I heard his character in Pulp Fiction that I looked him up, and there was London written as his place of birth. 

6. Idris Elba


Idris Elba spent three years starring opposite West in The Wire and he was fantastic. Since then he has become a household name here in his home country after taking lead roles in the TV series Luther and a number of films. It’s kind of disheartening to think that if it hadn’t have been for The Wire, we may never have heard of Elba though, or at least not until much later, as British screens, much like last year’s Oscars, used to be quite lacking in diversity. 

5. Jason Statham


This bloke epitomises the British gangster film. Jason Statham is that man who Guy Ritchie always has in mind when he’s making a film – you only need to look at Snatch and Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels for proof. Yes, his acting can be questionable at times, but he’s been in some bloody brilliant all-out in-your-face action films and he has a special place in my heart for these reasons – plus, he’s from Derbyshire, which is pretty local to me.

4. James McAvoy


After seeing Split at the weekend, James McAvoy has quickly risen through the ranks for me. He has incredible acting skills, and has shown this on a number of occasions, not just recently. The Last King Of Scotland ring any bells? That was a while ago now, wasn’t it? I’ve always been aware of him, but he’s now well and truly in the spotlight for me. 

3. Christian Bale


It took American audiences a while to cotton on to the fact that the guy who played Batman for so long was not one of their own. This was something that Christian Bale actually tried to hide from the public, speaking with his put-on American accent in interviews. He is yet another chameleonic actor, with famous performances in The Machinist and American Psycho making up just a fraction of his filmography.

2. Tom Hardy


I think everyone loves a cheeky bit of Tom Hardy. He has been one of the top British actors in recent years, and it’s not hard to see why. During his career he has provided us with some absolutely fabulous performances in a variety of genres, and has made his mark on TV screens in the last couple of years with appearances in Peaky Blinders as Alfie Solomons. He surely will remain a favourite for years to come.

1. Clive Owen


My favourite British actor however has to be Clive Owen. I’ve loved his work since first seeing him in Children Of Men, and have watched a number of his films since (Closer and Inside Man are a couple). What makes him my favourite Brit actor is that he is about as close as you can get to a working class actor in this country, something that has become bit of a rarity lately. And, coming from Coventry, he’s another one who is reasonably local to me.

There you have it – another week, and another top ten is out the way. You had my favourite actors ages ago, and this list has brought things a little closer to home. It’s been fun for me to look through what big names have come from the British Isles over the years, and some of the iconic performances they have been responsible for. However, glancing over the names has revealed to me that it is getting tougher for aspiring actors and actresses to make a career for themselves in Britain if they’re anything below middle-class. Nonetheless, there is plenty of talent to be found here, even if you need to look a bit harder for it.

Killer Elite is not the top performer, but it’ll do

When his mentor is taken captive by a disgraced Arab sheikh, a former killer-for-hire is reluctantly forced into a final mission in which he must take out the three SAS servicemen responsible for the death of the sheikh’s son.

Danny (Jason Statham) is a former killer-for-hire who is forced back into the game when his longtime mentor and friend, Hunter (Robert De Niro), is taken hostage. Hunter’s captives, the head of which is an ex-Arab sheikh, say that the only way he will be released is if Danny can get revenge on those who killed his son. The job won’t be easy though, as the people Danny must get revenge on used to be British SAS servicemen. One person with close involvement in the case is Spike (Clive Owen), who now belongs to a secret society for former SAS operatives. All three men are dragged back into a world that they thought they had left long ago, one that is full of revenge and deception, and one where everything is not always what it first seems to be on the surface.

Killer Elite is the very loose retelling of events that took place in 1980 that I knew nothing about, so it could have all been made up for all I know. We put it on the TV one Friday night so as to avoid having to watch season 3 of The Affair as myself and my dad are not the greatest fans of that show. We quite enjoyed the film, although it is far from Oscar-worthy let me tell you.

A couple of my favourite British actors take significant roles in this film. Jason Statham, where do we ever start with his performances? He certainly isn’t the greatest actor known to man, but, like I say, he is one of my favourites. His films are so easy-going and often feature some terrifically choreographed fight scenes. Killer Elite is a prime example of a Jason Statham film in my eyes. I loved every second of him here, although quite what country his character was supposed to be from I am not sure. It’s the first time I think I’ve ever heard someone who is supposed to be American shout ‘Oh bollocks!’ when he discovered his barbecue was burning. His accents require some practise, but he was still great fun to watch as Danny.

Clive Owen is another of my favourites, and was very good as Statham’s opponent, Spike. I’m still not sure if his character was one of the good guys or not, but I do know that I really enjoyed the fight scenes he was involved in. I think the two actors worked well together in these scenes as they looked brilliant – there were plenty of creative moves and a few hits that made us all wince a bit when we were watching the action unfold.

My one major issue with the film is some of the camera shots, especially in those fight scenes. I really wish that the camera could have been held still enough to capture the whole fight instead of obstructing our view on a fair bit of the action. That did not impress me. I do feel as though the director tried to attempt a bit too much in what I’m led to believe was his first feature film. Sometime simpler is better, and I’d have to agree here.

On the whole, despite it’s problems, you could do worse than Killer Elite. Like many films starring Statham, it was never destined to win Oscars, but it made for a half decent Friday night after dinner flick that also helped to avoid a TV show I really didn’t want to watch. Given these facts, can I really complain too much about this film? The answer is no. Does it mean I’d recommend it to everyone near and far? The answer is also no. If you’re a fan of the actors in it, you’ll want to watch it, but beyond that, I can’t really say who it would appeal to. Maybe if there’s nothing else on the TV one night, you could give it a try like I did, but I wouldn’t say you should rush to see Killer Elite before then.  

I’m already betting Split will be one of my top films of 2017


A man with 23 distinct personalities kidnaps three girls in the hope that they will enable him to unlock his true potential and access an altogether more powerful 24th identity.For her birthday, Claire Benoit (Haley Lu Richardson) has a party that she invites all of her classmates to. This group includes class outsider Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy), who ends up needing a ride home with Claire and her friend, Marcia (Jessica Sula). The three girls encounter trouble before they’ve even left the car park – a strange man (James McAvoy) climbs in their car and the next thing they know is they are waking up in a basement somewhere unknown to them. It later becomes clear that this man has a number of different personalities, and all the ones that they are exposed to hint that there is some sort of agenda that they are needed for. The girls frantically try to figure a way out of the situation they have found themselves in, but get separated when they offend their host(s). Before long, it is up to Casey to try to get all three girls out alive as she is the only one who can seem to get through to the man through one of his alter egos. Meanwhile, the man makes frequent visits to his psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley) as Barry, another, more level-headed personality than those seen by the girls. She knows something is up, but by the time she learns enough about the 24th personality known as The Beast, it is too little too late. 

Ah, where to begin? Split. The return of M. Night Shyamalan. It’s all such a blur to me after seeing the film a couple of hours ago. I had been so excited for this one. My friend sent me a link to the teaser trailer months ago, and we decided there and then that we would make it our first mission in 2017 to see this film. Well… now the mission is complete, and I am lost for words – a slight problem considering I now have to review the film. I guess you could say I was absolutely blown away by it. I had had high expectations going into the film, and was seriously worried that it could be one of the biggest flops of the year. As it turns out, it topped my expectations quite magnificently – I am so glad it didn’t turn out to be a waste of time!

You know the drill by now, I always start with performances, so let’s talk a little bit about a certain James McAvoy who reached new acting heights here. In the film, we see him as mainly five different characters. You’d think this would become confusing, am I right? Nope. Not in the slightest. The transitions between characters were so clear and so fluid, often taking place on a line by line basis. McAvoy didn’t even have to speak for you to be able to distinguish between any two personalities. He embodied each one completely and was so mesmerising to see in every minute of the film. My favourite of the personalities he portrayed was nine-year-old Hedwig. He was just so funny, and had the ability to flip the tone of the film on it’s head for a minute with some of the things he said. This was something that provided a nice little aside during the course of things, but also emphasised the darkness of the other alter egos that McAvoy showed us.

Newcomer Anya Taylor-Joy was equally as wonderful to watch, even if she didn’t quite take on the same challenging workload that McAvoy might have done. She gave Casey such a great amount of authenticity I thought, plus showed that while a young woman might be scared, not every single one of her brain cells has to completely evaporate. I really liked her character and her performance, and genuinely look forward to seeing more of her in the near future.

I think that’s the easiest part out of the way. Now what? There are so many things about this film that I loved that I don’t think I could cover them all and not have you age a few years before you’ve finished reading. Split is 100% not the film the trailers make it out to be. It is a dark, brooding thriller that builds up to an absolutely stonking finale with a twist that, even with a telescope, I wouldn’t have seen coming. The ending is definitely what elevated the film to greatness for me – I just didn’t see it coming, but fully understood what had happened after it had been and gone. It didn’t feel pretentious at all, and I think that’s what swayed it for me.

So, that should do it I’d say. Split is a film that I would recommend more than most, especially if you are someone who has seen a number of Shyamalan’s films as this will be something that makes this one so great for you. I don’t feel like there’s much more I can say without A) taking up anymore of your time than I already have, or B) ruin the film for you, as it is one of those that I can now safely say the less you know, the better it will be for you.