Dec 30, 2015


1. Rooney Mara, Carol
2. Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
3. Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
4. Charleze Theron, Mad Max Fury Road
5. Brie Larson, Room
6. Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
7. Elizabeth Banks, Love & Mercy
8. Benicio Del Toro, Sicario
9. Ian McKellen, Mr Holmes
10. Amy Schumer, Trainwreck

Dec 22, 2015


Hail, Caesar! — Coens (Jan) The Witch — Eggars  (Feb) Triple 9 — Hillcoat, C. Affleck Knight of Cups — Malick, Bale (MarchMidnight Special  Jeff Nichols, Dunst, Shannon (March) Green Room — Yeltsin, Poots (March) Demolition— Vallee, Watts Gyllenhaal (April) Everybody Wants Some —  Richard Linklater (April) The Jungle Book — Favreau (April) Snowden — Stone, Gordon-Levitt (May) The Nice Guys — Black, Crowe, Gosling (May) Maggie's Plan — Hawke, Gerwig, Moore (Sony, May) Finding Dory — (Stanton, Pixar, June) The BFG — Spielberg, Rylance  (July) Ghostbusters — Feig (July) La La Land — Chazelle, Gosling, Stone (July) Untitled Fifth Bourne Film — Greengrass, Damon (July) The Accountant — Affleck, Simmons (Oct) Live by Night — Lehan, Affleck (Oct) Dr Strange — Cumberbatch (Nov) Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk — Lee, Stewart (Nov) The Great Wall — Yimou, Damon (Nov) The Founder — Keaton (Nov) Rogue One — Edwards, Weitz, Jones (Dec) Sing — McConnaughey, Witherspoon (Dec) Avatar 2 — Cameron (TBA) Silence — Scorsese, Neeson (TBA) Untitled Howard Hughes Film — Beatty (TBA) The Book of Henry  —(Trevorrow, Focus, TBA) Creative Control — (Amazon, TBA) The Light Between OceansCianfrance, Vicander, Fassbender ( TBA) Untitled Woody Allen Film — Allen, Willis (TBA) Gold (d: Stephen Gaghan) Matthew McConaughey, Edgar Ramirez, Bryce Dallas Howard, Corey Stoll. Love And Friendship (d: Whit Stillman) Kate Beckinsale, Chloë Sevigny.  Una (d: Benedict Andrews)  Rooney Mara American Honey (d: Andrea Arnold)  Arielle Holmes, Shia LaBeouf.   American Pastoral (d: Ewan MacGregor).  Ewan MacGregor, Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Connelly. Loving (d: Jeff Nichols)  Joel Edgerton, Michael Shannon.  Jackie (d: Pablo Larraín) Natalie Portman, Greta Gerwig, Peter Sarsgaard, John Hurt. Certain Women (d: Kelly Reichardt) Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, Michelle Williams. The Neon Demon (d: Nicolas Winding Refn) Elle Fanning, Bella Heathcoate, Keanu Reeves, Christina Hendricks. 20th Century Women (d: Mike Mills) Elle Fanning, Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup.  True Crimes (d: Alexandros Avranas). Jim Carrey, Charlotte Gainsbourg. Shopper (d: Olivier Assayas)  Kristen Stewart, Nora von Waldstätten, Lars Eidinger.  Manchester By The Sea (d: Kenneth Lonergan). Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler. Wiener-Dog (d: Todd Solondz). Greta Gerwig, Zosia Mamet, Kieran Culkin, Julie Delpy, Danny DeVito, Ellen BurstynThe Circle (d: James Ponsoldt) Emma Watson, John Boyega, Tom Hanks, Patton OswaltMiss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiars (d: Tim Burton), Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Judi Dench, Samuel L. Jackson.  A United Kingdom (d: Amma Asante) David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike.   

Dec 19, 2015


'Let’s get verdicts out of the way: Star Wars Episode VII; The Force Awakens is probably the best in the series since The Empire Strikes Back. It is first-rate entertainment, fast and funny, yet filled with the prickly sense of fate a saga like this needs, and also surprisingly moving. Indeed, Abrams is pretty much peerless in channeling our collective warmth for past pop culture. He has made five films so far — Mission Impossible 3, Star Trek, Star Trek 2: Into Darkness, Super 8 and now this — two sequels, two reboots and one homage to his mentor Steven Spielberg. His hit reel is a mass of other’s mens copyrights. Somewhere between a remixer and a cover artist, he is expert at smuggling his virtues into the pre-existing grooves of other’s formats and franchises. And yet you know a J J Abrams movie when you see it — the dynamic framing, the unfakeable sense of pep and optimism, the fascination with mystery-box plots in which characters stumble out of aliases and into their true vocation. The identity crisis of multi-taskers: it’s a very Abrams theme. It’s the theme, too, of The Force Awakens, which is full of track-switchers,  unexpected alliances, reinventions, sudden reveals.  The experience of watching the film is a fascinatingly novel one, almost uncanny, in the true sense of the word: to see life breathed into elements so familiar  bordering on the eerie, like seeing a puppet move by itself. It’s magic in its purest form. Here they all are, all the old tropes: The sand planet. The hot-shot pilot. The father set against son. The opportunist who may or may not grow a conscience. But all seen from pleasingly unfamiliar angles. Lucas pretty much exhausted the typology of planets — ice, water, snow, desert — so Abrams wisely seeks out new contexts for the key pieces of eye candy: light sabres in rain,  x-wings churning up spray over a lake, the Millennium Falcon skimming sand, an Imperial battle destroyers rusting in the desert. He’s a master defamiliariser.' — from my review for Intelligent Life

BEST FILMS of 2015

1. Carol
2. Brooklyn
3. Bridge of Spies
4. The Revenant
5. The Big Short
6. Son of Saul
7. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
8the Look of Silence
9. Anomalisa
10. Mad Max: Fury Road


'Dressed in his customary Blundstone boots, dark navy jeans, and plaid shirt,  Abrams is a boyish 49-year-old, with a curly high-rise of Zeppo Marx hair, a bulbous nose, black spectacles, and a quick darting intelligence that doesn't need to dominate the room. The offices of most movie directors are mausoleums to their reputation — slightly anonymous places to stash their awards and posters — but Abrams’s office, on the second floor of his production company Bad Robot, in Santa Monica, instead burst with his enthusiasms. “Are you ready?” asks a brass placard above the buzzer. Inside, guests are invited to wait in a foyer surrounded on three sides loaded to capacity with with toys, magic tricks, movie cameras and memorabilia —  the Hunchback of Notre Dame, Star Trek, Star Wars, Flash Gordon  Godzilla,; an original Planet of the Apes ape-head prosthesis, collector’s-edition dolls from  The Twilight Zone, a stack of board games:  Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Mission: Impossible. The whole space, with its frosted glass and gunship metal spiral staircase, rather resembles a 15-year-old boy’s bedroom, as given a makeover by Philipe Stark. “No, seriously, it really is his bedroom when he was 15” says actor and childhood friend Greg Grunberg who has appeared in many of his movies,  and has known Abrams since he was a chubby, bespectacled kid,  filling his bedroom in suburban Brentwood with magic tricks, clay models and   homemade prosthetics, shooting movies on Super 8 in which he subjected his sister Tracy to zombie attack and alien abduction.    “He was always trying to figure out how this was done. How did he do that, how did he do this. It was exciting to be around him, even when he was five and six.”  The corridors of Bad Robot are thronged with young, ethnically diverse staff, some wearing headsets, all working on the raft of movie projects and  TV series Abrams seems to be either directing, writing, or producing at any given moment.   “JJ does his best work when his back against the wall,” says Damon Lindolf, the show runner of  the Abrams co-created the TV series Lost which more of less defined binge-watching for the modern age. “If he's feeling comfortable, and relaxed he will manufacture events to put his back against the wall in order to generate his best work.  Just when you think he’s bitten off more than he can chew, he Indiana Joneses it.”” — from my interview for The Times

Dec 12, 2015


1. Ode — Nils Frahm
2. Should Have Known Better — Sufjian Stevens
3. Be The One — Dua Lipa
4. Grace — Clem Snide
5. Depreston — Courtney Barrett
6. Bros — Wolf Alice
7. Homecoming — Josh Ritter
8. No Room In Framce — Deathcab For Cutie
9. What Do You Mean? — Justin Bieber
10. Bad Blood – Ryan Adams

Dec 11, 2015


1. Carrie and Lowell — Sufjian Stevens
2. Strangers — RAC
3. Solo — Nils Frahm
4. My Love is Cool —Wolf Alice
5. Darling Arithmetic — Villagers
6. Pageant Material — Kacey Musgraves
7. Dead & Born & Grown — the Staves
8. Girls Come First — Clem Snide
9. Slowness — Outfit
10. Loyalty — The Weather Station 

Dec 5, 2015


'Alejandro Inarritu's The Revenant is a visceral, immersive man-against-the wilderness tale with full metaphysical reverb: Jack London by way of Terence Malick. It’s almost too much — too long, too brutal, too highflown —  but there is a long and glorious history of overreach at the cinema, from Erich Von Stroheim to Francis Ford Coppola, which has fallen into sad decline. Technically, our directors have never been better —  you can’t fault a Christopher Nolan or a J J Abrams for ingenuity, or spectacle. Nor can anyone doubt the wormy, forensic allure of a David Fincher or Darren Aronofsky film.  But our most inventive cinema is pulled off in the shadows, hidden well away from the big budgets and studio beancounters, so even the arthouse lacks risk. What we lack is a mad genius or two,  working in full public view and with the backing and resources of a studio, towards a personal vision that could combust at any point — auteur as icarus, movie as meteor.'— from my review for Intelligent Life