The Florida Project – Review

Sean Baker is one of the most innovative filmmakers around at the moment. His previous smash hit Tangerine was filmed on an iPhone and yet produced a vibrant, stirring, and ultimately endearing film that should be celebrated continuously and constantly spoken about in revered hush tones. Anyway, following on from his critically acclaimed debut must’ve been tricky and, usually, filmmakers falter on their sophomore outing.

Not Sean Baker, whose work on The Florida Project is an outstanding feat of independent imagination and needs to be seen by many this coming Friday.

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Starring Willem Dafoe, the film revolves around a young girl and her rag-tag group of friends who live on the outskirts of Florida. Constantly living in the shadow of one giant big mouse and his magical Kingdom, Moonee and pals head off on their own summer adventures. Surrounding them are adults who try and keep their spirits up but with mounting monetary problems, the pressures start to mount, affecting a summer that should be filled with bliss.

This fervent and important colourful spectacle that reaches the depths of your soul in an unnervingly emotional way is a treasure to be seen. Baker has intertwined the desperate longing of those poverty stricken in America with the fantastical adventuresome children at the heart of it. The Florida Project is absolutely beautiful to watch with vibrant cinematography that is beautifully saturated with all the colours of the rainbow, echoing the spiritual nature of the children at the core of it. Swimming in brightness, the dazzling tones make the darker parts of the story-line that much more visceral and palpable. Baker’s conduction of all this elements is note perfect.

If that doesn’t convince you to watch the film that watch for the performances alone. Moonee is played by the completely emotive Brooklyn Prince. Think Quvenzhane Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild, Prince is an expression-filled and charming child performer who can convey depths of emotion about subjects far beyond her age. She is hilarious to watch and profoundly brilliant.

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Surrounding Moonee in her role is newcomer Bria Vinaite, playing Halley, who certainly puts herself on the map in her performance as Moonee’s  brash but mesmeric mother. As Motel Manager Bobby, a cretinous and bullying character, Willem Defoe definitely puts in a performance that is sure to earn him Best Supporting Actor. Terrific, astute, and completely three dimensional, he is intensely intimate and wonderfully captivating.

There isn’t much more I can gush about with The Florida Project that doesn’t repeat words such as outstanding and brilliant. In fact, I could fill this whole article with solely those words. The music from The LEGO Batman Movie’s Lorne Balfe is exquisite, Alexis Zabe’s cinematography is impeccable, the story is mournful and magnificent, and the actors are layered and real.  It is beat perfect: a sun-kissed movie that must be scene for all its little wonders.

The Florida Project proves that independent cinema is at the top of its game.

And Sean Baker? Well, he might just be the king of the castle.

The Florida Project is out 10th November! 

Road to the Oscars: Best Performances That Should Be Nominated

It’s that time again folks; we are just days away from the big show itself, the cause of so much joy and controversy, it’s the Oscars. Last year, we lamented on the previous year’s best acting performances that couldn’t get any love from the Academy, and the omissions this year are just as heartbreaking. Let’s have a look at the best performances that couldn’t Oscar nominations this year.

Vicky Krieps – Phantom Thread

We can’t tell you just how marvellous Phantom Thread is; it’s a spellbinding film that deserves almost every nomination it garnered this year…Almost. Lesley Manville scored a nod for Best Supporting Actress in her turn as Daniel Day-Lewis’ cold sister, and while there are no issues with her performance, it was certainly not as deserving as the film’s lead actress, Vicky Krieps. By all means gush about Day-Lewis’ exhilarating final performance, but let it be known that this is far and away Krieps’ film. She doesn’t just lead, she dominates. Much like her exceptionally well written character Alma, Krieps’ owns Day-Lewis’ character and blows him out of the water, passively demanding every scene she’s in. She is breathtaking, and the fact she wasn’t recognised is insane.

Sebastian Stan – I, Tonya
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I’ve said it before, but I truly wish I, Tonya came out in a different so that it would have a chance at the Oscar nominations it deserves; it’s a stacked year and it’s no surprise that it didn’t make the cut, with only Robbie and Janney’s performances being a lock. That being said, it wasn’t stacked enough that we had to nominate two actors from the same film in Best Supporting Actor. Woody Harrelson is great in Three Billboards…, but is clearly the less impressive out of him and Sam Rockwell. That space belongs to Sebastian Stan for his rousing performance as Tonya Harding’s ex-husband Jeff Gilooly. In the bizarre true tale, Stan takes the real life piece of trash to disturbing and hilarious heights, and has such excellent chemistry with Robbie. It should have been a lock.

Michelle Williams – All the Money in the World

The film world was stunned and impressed when Kevin Spacey was dropped from Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World following the sexual assault allegation made against him, and though the work put in by the crew and Christopher Plummer was undeniably brilliant, I can’t help but feel we’re talking about him a little too much. See, there was another performance in the film that could move mountains, and it was that of Michelle Williams. *gasp* Michelle Williams? Giving one of the best performances of the year? I know, it’s the least surprising thing since Meryl Streep getting another nomination, but we cannot underestimate how good this performance is. Her turn as distressed mother Gail Harris had an Audrey Hepburn feel to it; it was quiet, but enraged. Sensible, but aggressive. Helpless, but calculated. It was everything it needed to be and more. She’s been denied of her glory four times already – Her loss for Blue Valentine is unforgivable – so maybe it wasn’t that all shocking, but it’s sad that even this beauty couldn’t overtake Meryl Streep.

Hugh Jackman – Logan
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Say what you will about comic book movies, what Hugh Jackman has created with Wolverine is nothing short of a legacy; years spent nurturing and fulfilling this role, sinking himself into film history. It’s at the point where many fans would rather Wolverine never appeared on screen again, than have him be played by someone other than Jackman, who brought his tenure as the violent mutant to a close in James Mangold’s Logan. A film that transcends it’s genre, Jackman’s final performance was just as charged and witty as his others, but throwing in a whole heap of melancholy, defeat and finality. His last moments truly bring forth the end of an era, and to think he’s not being recognised for it is utterly insane.

Emma Stone – Battle of the Sexes
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Following her Best Actress win last year for Damien Chazelle’s enchanting La La Land, Stone took to the tennis courts in Battle of the Sexes, my personal favourite from last year telling the story of tennis champion Billie Jean King in her fight for equality and coming to terms with her sexuality. While she’s incredible powerful in her depiction of a sports player fighting for what she deserves and offers an undeniable relentlessness while playing the game, it’s her depiction of a closeted woman embracing her true feelings as she pursues a hairdresser (Andrea Riseborough), and their scenes together were worthy of all the awards. It’s all in Stone’s face; from something as subtle as the way her mouth curves when she smiles at Riseborough, the sheer elation is present, and the passion in their more intimate scenes is just breathtaking. Yet another performance far more deserving than Meryl Streep.

Kumail Nanjiani and Holly Hunter – The Big Sick
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Seriously, where is The Big Sick’s Best Picture nomination? It’s a hilarious and riveting rom-com that goes above and beyond it’s genre, and it’s Screenplay nomination is among the most deserved in the show. Where it also needs some love is in it’s stellar cast; Kumail Nanjiani, who wrote the film with his wife Emily V. Gordon based on the true story of their relationship, has impeccable comic timing and brings such powerful emotion when needed. He’s one of the most charming leads of the year, and is complimented beautifully by the loud and raucous nature of Holly Hunter’s portrayal of Gordon’s mother. An already aggressive attitude coupled with the burgeoning stress of her daughter’s ill health, Hunter is electrifying, especially in that comedy club scene.

Jamie Bell – Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
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Bringing our list to a close is some home grown talent in the form of one of our most underrated actors; Jamie Bell is a wonderful actor who has been cursed with some very bad films – The cast of Fant4stic are still trying to come to terms with it. Michael B. Jordan had to take over Wakanda just to get over it – but Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool is a shining example of what he’s capable of. While a lot of attention has been paid to Annette Bening’s lead role as Gloria Grahame, and deservedly so, Bell completely steals the show with a tender and heart felt performance. And by heart felt, I mean that he literally shoved his hand into my chest and pulled it straight out, because I was ready to bawl watching his on screen journey. It’s a marvellous film that deserves your attention, and while it was never going to garner any Oscar votes, Jamie Bell’s omission is truly a sad one.

Those are just some of the great performances that didn’t any Oscar love, and that’s not including those I haven’t had a chance to see yet like Brooklyn Prince in The Florida Project and Michael Stuhlbarg in everything, apparently.

So what are your favourite 2017 performances missing from the nominees?
Let us know in the comments, and tune in to the big show this Sunday, March 4th.