Friday, 23 January 2015

Four (CH)Oscar-worthy films


I love love love the beginning of each year. It is the perfect time, when it is all cold and rainy outside, to wrap up warm and head into the cinema. Not only is it super cosy but it is also Oscar season and all the best films seem to come out as the new year dawns. Once all the Christmas movies are out of the way, of course.

And so far this year, there have been some great ones which I believe might be in the running for an Oscar and are definitely in for a (CH)Oscar (yes that does stand for a Charlotte Oscar. This is going to be a new thing).

So first up...biopics have been pretty great. At the end of last year we had The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, which was about the life of Alan Turing. And then on New Year's Day we had The Theory of Everything starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, which was all about Stephen Hawking. I always admire anyone taking on the immense responsibility of being involved with a biopic. Whether that's the actors, or behind-the-scenes production staff or the scriptwriters, because they all have to work that much harder to ensure the movie is a success. This is especially the case if the characters involved are still alive, as Stephen Hawking and his family are. You are not at liberty to play a character as you want because they are not a character at all. They are real people, who will at some point be watching the movie. And if you make a mess of it...well, I couldn't even imagine the embarrassment that would ensue.

Needless to say, with biopics they bring in the best actors and they just work a lot harder to add a little bit of class to the productions. The people they are depicting, have led extraordinary lives. Where they have achieved some extraordinary things. So it is only fair that the team give a suitable amount of effort which these wonderful people deserve. The film celebrates those achievements that many people may be slightly uneducated about. I knew very little about Hawking, and nothing about Turing before watching the films. Yet I came away emotionally invested in their stories, of love and loss and slightly more knowledgeable about their wonderful work which has shaped our lives today. It is important that people do learn about them, and where better to do that than in a cinema?

The finished products, in both cases, were absolutely beautiful. Both were touching and had funny moments. They were interesting stories looking into their friendships, work and general well-being on top of the Hollywood-esque love stories that seem to be an absolute MUST. Yet these were slotted in seamlessly and fit within the whole arc of the story, so you didn't mind so much. Each movie had me in tears by the end, and both are two of my favourite films.

Next up is Into the Woods, starring well...everybody. I loved the fact that there was a mixture of British and American actors who all fit their part wonderfully well. The casting was just so brilliant. And all had their moment to shine. Some people may be wary that Disney have taken hold of a very popular musical. But they did not destroy it...it was excellent. I loved the songs, the acting was pretty spot on, the film was fairly faithful and Sondheim was heavily involved throughout (even writing a new song for it).

The final film is another music-y one - Whiplash. This tells the story of a 19 year old drummer who is in college and striving to be the best at any cost, pushing away friends and family in the process. He is aided and bullied by his teacher and this relationship alone is what makes the film so so enthralling. It raises such interesting questions as to what's important in life and how far you are willing to go to achieve your dreams. And what you are willing to sacrifice. Throughout the whole movie there is a really interesting power struggle between the talented youngster who is trying to be the greatest, and the talented teacher who is trying to discover a great. The acting is truly superb. Miles Teller (of Divergent and Footloose fame) is definitely one to watch. And I have to admit that I definitely did not expect to enjoy this film so so much. It had me enthralled from beginning to end, I even held my breath at points. Plus, it has now made me absolutely desperate to go and see some jazz - where you can find some of the most emotive music ever written.

So there you have it, my favourite films of 2015 so far. And we are only three weeks in. I am so excited for many more: Insurgent, Cinderella, Mockingjay Part 2 and Me Before You to name a few. I think I will spend my life in those dark rooms. But what better way could I spend my time?

Movies, especially great movies like the four I mentioned above, have a way of inspiring me. I come out of the cinema, feeling that I can take on the world and win. Feeling that I can do anything I want. Feeling that I can write beautiful, emotion-filled stories that people will care about for years to come. And most of all, feeling that I too could be an all-singing, all dancing, drum playing, machine-building theorist. If I wanted to be that is.

(movie posters courtesy of IMDB)

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