12 Years A Slave

The Oscar nominations were recently announced and, as usual, I’ve seen precious few of the films that were mentioned. As in, of the nine Best Picture nominees, at the time of nomination I had only seen two (American Hustle and Gravity, neither of whom I’m particularly fussed about winning). Well, now I’ve seen four, as I saw Wolf of Wall Street recently too (potential review pending). And, not to put too big a spoiler on my opinions of this film, but as far as I’m concerned those other five pictures I’ve still yet to see will need to be pretty damn phenomenal if they’ve got a chance of beating 12 Years A Slave.?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Continue reading


In the last days of the 70s, Iranian militants take over the US Embassy in Tehran taking everyone inside hostage. Unbeknownst to them, six Americans managed to escape, and were able to covertly make their way to the Canadian ambassador’s house (after being turned away by the New Zealanders and those pesky Brits). After hiding out their for weeks, never going outside for fear of being seen and executed on sight, it soon becomes clear that the CIA must make a move to ‘exfiltrate’ these citizens. Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), their top exfiltration specialist, comes up with a plan to pull them out, by pretending to be a Canadian film crew scouting locations for a new sci-fi B-movie called Argo, and to make the story more convincing, Hollywood needs to get involved.
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Holding the prestigious position of most recent film on the list, having been awarded a 5-star rating from Empire magazine mere months before this cinematic odyssey began, Monsters is also one of the greatest examples of economic film making. Shooting on the fly with a skeleton crew and adding all effects afterwards himself, director Gareth Edwards (currently remaking Godzilla, hopefully with a better sense of scale continuity than Roland Emmerich, and without Matthew Broderick) has crafted a film equal parts Cloverfield, District 9 and any rom-com road trip you can think of. The plot is straightforward, Scoot McNairy’s cynical photojournalist Andrew must transport spoilt bosses daughter Sam (Whitney Able) back home across Central America. The hitch? Aliens landed in Mexico 6 years ago, and the area is now classified an infected zone, with only a few days before sea and air travel will be shut off for six months. Until the beautiful, unforgettable climax the titular creatures are barely seen, glimpsed in children’s cartoons, signs and graffiti, yet these giant bioluminescent jellyfish-like beings are more memorable than the central couple. Though not awful, the two leads are hardly required to stretch their talents, being a couple in real life whose marriage caused Edwards to miss a premiere of the film. As with all rom-coms, with or without building sized aliens, the two begin at odds with one another, but grudgingly grow to like each other through forced exposure, tequila, and redressing a bandage by firelight. Using a genuine couple heightens the realism of the relationship, so come the conclusion you hope they work something out between them.
Choose film 7/10