Category Archives: The Best Of…

The best films from your favourite filmmakers..

Remembering Anton Yelchin

Losing a star so young is a tragedy. With a career blossoming and acclaim coming their way, to be torn from the world so brutally is unfair and fills everyone with sorry.

The tragic loss of Anton Yelchin yesterday morning has hit us all. The Russian born 27 year old was involved in a car accident at his home and died due to his injuries.

The actor whose career started young and was cemented in the Star Trek reboot series was mourned by Hollywood and fans alike, many noting his good humour, inquisitive nature, and wise personality. He left behind a legacy of terrific and unparalleled performances that are now a too small collection of an actor in his prime.

To celebrate the late actor, as we are all doing this week, we’re urging you to look at the performances he left behind with the very best of his work. Here’s to Anton Yelchin, may he rest in peace.

Honourable Mentions: Only Lovers Left Alive (2013,) left out because of the minor role as roadie Ian but still Yelchin stands out within the film.

Charlie Bartlett (2007)

Despite starting in the industry as a young performer with films such as Alpha Dog and Along Came a Spider coming beforehand, he made his mark in quirky comedy Charlie Bartlett and everyone started to pay attention. The film sees Yelchin play a teenager who starts to dispense therapeutic drugs to his high school populous to gain notoriety. Also starring Kat Dennings and Robert Downey Jr, Charlie Bartlett sees a young and rambunctious Yelchin own the titular character. The darkly witty character, Yelchin managed to make the somewhat dislikeable role utterly unforgettable.

Star Trek Series (2009 – 2016)

It’s really difficult to take over a role that was immortalised decades before you. Yet Anton Yelchin portrayed Star Trek’s Pavel Chekov by honouring Walter Koenig’s version yet still making him his own. Developed as a conduit to young audiences, Chekov was the Enterprise’s navigator who was energetic and courageous as Yelchin bounced his lines with an exhilaration to save the day and succeed. Cute yet strong-willed, Yelchin became a highlight of the Star Trek movie series.

And we loved Yelchin’s performance so much that when he was made a red shirt in Into Darkness, a pang of fear broiled in our stomachs.

Like Crazy (2011)

If you haven’t seen Like Crazy, then I urge you too because the millennial romantic drama encompasses everything about modern love and long distance. Starring alongside Felicity Jones, Yelchin stars as American student Jacob who falls in love with British exchange student Anna. However, when her visa expires, the pair must navigate their relationship, conducting across the Atlantic. A breathless enchanting work that is embroiled with visceral emotions and sublime aesthetics, Like Crazy is one of Yelchin’s best work, matched by Jones’ exquisite one too. Together they imbue the film with delicate chemistry and bewitching turmoil that is steeped in palpable realism. Yelchin is a graceful and brilliant performer here, telling a painful story with complete class.

5 to 7 (2014)

Making a romantic comedy original is a hard feat nowadays but all players try in charming comedy-drama 5 – 7. The film revolves around a French woman who conducts an affair with a 24 year old writer because of a marital agreement that allows her to cheat between the titular times. With Bérénice Marlohe, Yelchin is able to escape the ensnaring clichés of romantic comedies and actually fleshes out his character beyond the 2D version on the page. A captivating performance, Yelchin captured a refreshing beat of a twenty-something artist looking to connect to something more and, in this case, it is love. The dreamy elements of the film and the somewhat unrealistic premise are no match for Yelchin’s earnest performance here.

Green Room (2016)

Ever since watching Green Room a month ago, not a day has gone by where I haven’t thought about the film. Directed by Jeremy Saulnier, the film is an immersive, heart-thudding thriller that doesn’t skirt around the grim elements either. Yelchin stars as Pat, the lead singer of a punk band who unwittingly play for Neo-Nazis who later trap them in the titular room after they witness a murder. The claustrophobia is rife here and Yelchin’s wide-eyed, scared Pat is wrought with anguish, courage, and strength. Yelchin uses his boyish charms to develop this panicky troubled guitar player into the hero of the piece, and greatly so. Spouting one of the best monologues in cinema, he is engaging, gut-wrenching, and his will to survive completely intense.

Odd Thomas (2013)

Although Odd Thomas was a box-office bomb and critically rotten, the film has developed a cult following that increases yearly. The film revolves around a clairvoyant cook who has supernatural powers and can see the dead but is embroiled in a sinister plot. Odd Thomas, directed by Stephen Sommers, has many different elements too it: comedy, romance, horror, and scares that lack the perfect balance to make it a fantastic and applauded film. Yet its off-kilter presence and rambunctious nature keeps you invested. Especially because Yelchin portrays the lead role. He is snarky, optimistic, troubled and then some – echoing a young Bruce Campbell in the midst of The Evil Dead. Odd Thomas is the ultimate Yelchin role, portraying a supernatural hero who is more than a bit disturbed too. Hilarious a lot of the times and a perfect actor to ease you into the mesh of tones here.

Rest in Peace Anton Yelchin

The Best Of…Anna Friel

Anna Friel plays Marcella Backland in ITV’s critically acclaimed drama series, Marcella. Created by Hans Rosenfeldt, writer and creator of Nordic drama The Bridge, the series brings the riveting world of the Scandinavian noir thriller to London’s beating heart to create this year’s must-see crime-thriller. The story follows Detective Inspector Marcella, who has returned to work after the breakdown of her marriage, investigating a case that seems disturbingly familiar and leading her to a suspect from her past that seemingly got away. As the case continues Marcella begins to question her own state of mind and ability to solve the crime, after suffering from severe blackouts and violent outbursts. As the story unfolds it appears that no one can be trusted and everyone is brought into contention for being the sadistic killer.

Never backing down from a role, Anna Friel has had a career full of varied and diverse characters, and in celebration of Marcella arriving on DVD and digital download from 20th June through Universal Pictures (UK), we take a look at some of her best work to date.

Brookside (1993 – 1995)

Friel’s first major role in British TV saw her emerge as Beth Jordache in this soap opera set in the suburbs of Liverpool. Even after all these years and experience in the biz, this could be the role Anna is most remembered for, especially as she made television history when she kissed Nicola Stephenson, providing the first on-air lesbian kiss on a British soap. During her two-year run on the show, her character was also victim to abuse from her father and imprisoned for conspiracy to murder him. In 1995, Friel won the National Television Award for Most Popular Actress for her work on the soap opera, and it was onwards and upwards from there…


Pushing Daisies (2007 – 2009)

In Anna’s first venture across the Atlantic (and the debut of her American accent), Pushing Daisies is a quirky, surreal TV series focusing on a man named Ned (Lee Pace) who has the ability to bring dead things back to life with his touch; be it a rotten strawberry or his childhood sweetheart, Chuck (Friel). If Ned touches anything he has revived a second time it dies again, this time permanently, meaning that he can never touch the love of his life again. Chuck obviously makes this particularly hard for Ned, acting extremely sweet and lovely through the two-season run. Racking up 17 Emmy Award nominations (and seven wins) – Anna’s first nomination for Best Supporting Actress – this is certainly one to check out for followers of her diverse and impressive career.


Land of the Lost (2009)

Another example of Anna’s diverse range of roles is Land of the Lost, in which she took a step into American comedy alongside the legendary Will Ferrell and Danny McBride. In the film, all three are sucked into a space-time vortex and spat back through time. The band of misfits now has no weapons, few skills and questionable smarts to survive in an alternate universe full of marauding dinosaurs and fantastic creatures from beyond our world. Anna plays Ferrell’s crack-smart research assistant Holly, who eventually proclaims her love for the scientist in the depths of the alternate dimension they find themselves in. Admittedly the special effects could use some work, but Friel holds her own perfectly against these two Hollywood heavyweights!


The Saboteurs (2015)

Anna Friel’s interest in taking on Marcella, which draws upon the Nordic noir genre, could be linked to a role she took in 2015 in this Norwegian World War II series about a group of soldiers who destroyed a Nazi-controlled water plant in the mountains of Norway. The drama was split across three different languages including English, Norwegian and German, and Anna Friel played the only fictitious character; Julie Smith, a British agent bombshell who helps plan the Sabotage whilst also creating a lot of sexual chemistry with Norwegian scientist, Leif Tronstad (Espen Klouman Høiner). Friel’s first step into the Nordic dark arts was an impressive one, and surely paved the way for her starring role in Marcella.


American Odyssey (2015)

Around the same time as The Saboteurs’ run on British TV, Anna was also kicking ass and taking names as part of a US Army team in Mali, who make the startling discovery that a US corporation is supporting an Islamist terrorist group. Shortly after this revelation is unearthed, Friel’s character Odelle Ballard’s squadron is attacked and mostly killed by their own government in an attempt to cover-up the findings. However Odelle survives and is taken hostage by extremists, facing a major challenge to escape and reveal her government’s secrets to the world. One of the most impressive things about this performance is Anna’s faultless American accent; you’d never have thought she was a born and bred Northerner!


London Boulevard (2010)

From one of the more saucy performances in her back catalogue, Friel plays Colin Farrell’s slightly ‘wild’ sister Briony in this sexy, stylish gangster thriller bristling with wit and brutal intrigue. London Boulevard stars Colin Farrell and Keira Knightley as star-crossed lovers who run afoul of one of London’s most vicious crime bosses and have to do their best to avoid the inevitable consequences. Friel spends most of the film drunk and causing mischief, bringing a burst of cheekiness to the audience in every scene, and becoming an increasing nuisance for Mr. Farrell’s cheeky protagonist. Never shying away from an accent, it seems Cockney is another one that she’s got in her locker!


Marcella (2016)


From the mind of Hans Rosenfeldt, creator of the Scandi-Noir drama The Bridge, this hit ITV drama could be one of Friel’s most acclaimed roles yet, with her performance drawing plaudits through the realism and raw emotion that she brings to the title role. In her long awaited return to British TV, Friel plays a detective who recently returned to the force, and she becomes involved in the investigation of a serial murder case where the modus operandi of the killer bears a striking resemblance to an unsolved case she was previously involved in. With everyone a potential suspect or victim, Marcella must determine if an old hunch has come back to haunt her, or if her own fragile state of mind is placing her in the frame. The series takes many twists and turns and by the end of it you’ll even be suspecting yourself as the killer, no one is free of suspicion, even Marcella herself…



The Rise Of… Lin Manuel-Miranda.

by Laura W 

Oh, Lin Manuel-Miranda. Mr. Manuel-Miranda. The man, a multiple Tony, Grammy, and Emmy winner, is quite literally a genius. From Hamilton (one of the biggest musicals, if not the biggest, of all time) and In The Heights, to being tapped to write the music for the upcoming Disney film Moana, to writing a song for some little film named Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and more.  His freestyling and improvisations are out of this world, and overall, Manuel-Miranda’s talent is just too much for this universe. Miranda is also one of the youngest recipients of The Pulitzer Prize (he’s only 36!). It doesn’t help he is also one of the biggest musical theatre nerds ever.

His most recent Broadway show, Hamilton, is sold out until the beginning of next year. The show itself broke Tony Awards history when it received 16 nominations, the most Tony nods in history. The question is, though, who is Lin-Manuel Miranda? Where does all this genius come from? Impressed yet? No? Keep reading.

Miranda was born, probably improvising, rapping and writing his way into the world, in Washington Heights, in January 1980. Even as a child, Miranda was creating and writing. It’s evident that the talent has been there from the get go.  During his time at Uni, he co-founded Freestyle Love Supreme, a hip hop comedy troupe. It was also during this time that he wrote the initial draft of In the Heights. It ran for several days in April 1999. Miranda would also direct, write and act in a range of numerous other shows at his Uni.

In the early ’00’s, Miranda, along with several others, started to fully work on Into the Heights, before officially coming to Broadway in ’08. The show would win several major awards, including a Best Musical Tony and and the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album (Hamilton would win the same Grammy – pattern here, methinks?). Miranda left the show in ’09. It would transfer to London’s West End in 2015. Earlier this year, it was confirmed that the show would be turned into a film, one of Miranda’s big news stories for this year.

On top of all his theatre work, Miranda has appeared in numerous films and television shows, including House, How I Met Your Mother, The Sopranos and even Sesame Street. Films include The Odd Life of Timothy Green. At one point, he even worked with Stephen Sondheim to translate the lyrics of West Side Story into Spanish, so this version could be brought to life on stage. He also wrote the music and lyrics to the musical Bring It On.

Miranda officially confirmed earlier this month that he, in another exciting move, would be leaving Hamilton in July, not only to continue work on Disney’s Moana, but to prepare for his role in Mary Poppins Returns, alongside British actress Emily Blunt. The film will open Christmas Day, 2018. Miranda will play Jack, a lamplighter, a completely new character. It seems Miranda is becoming part of the Disney works, as he’s worked on Star Wars, Moana, and now this.

If he wins an Oscar for Moana or In The Heights, of which predictions are leaning towards, he will become the third person in history to receive the PEGOT (Pulitzer, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony), after Marvin Hamlisch and Richard Rodgers. Miranda also received the Drama League Distinguished Performance Award in May of this year. Why is this special? The performer can only receive this once during their entire career.

It’s been success after success for Miranda. Need even more proof? Go look up Bigger, the opening number of the 2013 Tony’s. Miranda wrote the number, and it’s been hailed as one of the best opening numbers for the Tony’s ever. It would eventually win him an Emmy. He has truly outdone himself, from his shows to his huge amount of talent to even putting on Ham4Ham. He can only get bigger from here.


The Best Of…Jack O’Connell

I’m finding it really hard to start this review. Not because I don’t have a kind word to say about Jack O’Connell. Quite the opposite really, I have tonnes. In fact, they are whirring around my mind in a chaotic buzz trying to etch themselves into this article.

The truth is Jack O’Connell is one of the few legitimate actors around at the moment than can punch my gut with emotional intensity and rawness. The BAFTA winning actor – who scooped up the Rising Star award in 2015 – as tremendously rallied up the ranks of interesting actor, to fantastic actor, to “must have him in every film.”

His talent for taking the anger and rage, making it bloom with undone visceral beauty is unparalleled in this industry.

We Brits have known the actor for quite some time and it looks like he is making waves with our US counterparts. The performer has transferred his skill trans-Atlantic. This weekend he stars in Money Monster. Directed by Jodie Foster (by the way, that’s the second female director he’s worked with in the past two years. Just sayin’,) and starting George Clooney and Julia Roberts, O’Connell has proven his worth against the heavyweights of Hollywood.

So to celebrate everything O’Connell, we take a look at his best bits.



I mean his films….

Skins (2009 – 2010)

The third series of the popular drug and teen addled drama, and the second batch of pill-popping students, was definitely the best. Of course, Nicolas Hoult and crew mustn’t be ignored in favour of the new younger generation of misfits that came afterwards, and Dakota Blue Richards collection of rambunctious college students did… meh, alright. But for some reason, a lot of people latched onto the sophomore season of the television show. Maybe it was because after we’d assimilated to the idea that this kind of shit happens on a regular basis in a simple Bristol college, we’d actually started to empathise with our characters. There was also Naomi and Emily, which was a relationship that we all adored because of its accurate youthful depiction of homosexuality.

And I think audiences everywhere fell in love with Jack O’Connell as bad boy Cook who was still layered with emotion, drive, and ambition. We were obsessed…

Cook, Line and Sinker (I’m here all week folks).

Eden Lake (2008)

Working-class horror has been a staple diet of movies since films took on a life of their own. See, the idea is that poor folk are vicious and brutal creatures and will terrorise the rich folk as much as possible. Eden Lake is the same idea. Starring Michael Fassbender and Kelly Reilly, it revolves around a couple taking a break to the idyllic titular place only to come across some nasty kids who then chose to relentlessly pursue them. Whilst the ethics and implications of the horror are a little uncouth, Eden Lake showcases O’Connell’s terrific acting in such a violent and angry way as the main antagonist. Yet still, here he has a stirring emotionality and backstory that makes him less one note, and more of a melody of acting talents.


Starred Up (2013)

Starred Up, is, was equally engaging as ’71. While you may go into it thinking that a prison film with waylaid delinquents and adults who have been banged up for years is not up your alley, O’Connell genuinely stirs with the violent and unpredictable Eric Love, a young offender pushed into an adult prison early because of his temperament. He gives so much passion and intensity to his character here that you’re admiration for the actor soars. Starred Up is a kinetic, different, and original film that helped O’Connell become the must see actor of our generation.

Unbroken (2014)

Whilst the end product of the film is completely average, Jack O’Connell is, in one word, outstanding. His recent performances have pushed him right into the foray of awards season (if you haven’t seen ’71 yet, please do). Though his American Italian accent is a little worrisome at first, he is actually incredible. Especially, f you can get past the slight twinge of Bristol lad coming through in his American accent. He does his best work in the second act at the POW camp. Maybe this is because he doesn’t talk a lot. As with his character in ’71, it’s all about the physical and emotional responses he gives without even uttering a word. His transformations physically are also mind-blowing; he had to have the body of an Olympic runner for a quarter of the film, then a starved runner and then a beaten and starved runner for the rest.

From Angelina Jolie, it may seem like a slightly underdeveloped film but Jack O’Connell does well in this lead role!

‘71 (2014)

There is no denying that O’Connell is a tour de force here. Able to balance a childlike lost quality about him as his character Gary Hook is thrown into the violent landscape of the Belfast Riots. Harnessing a talent to convey the brutality of the situation, as well as the terror of being chased, bloodied and wounded, through the streets is so real that you can smell the sweat and tears coming from O’Connell’s character. He has few lines, but says so much, twisting through the fright in the pit of your stomach with his emotive facial expressions and intensity. Absorbing, O’Connell will leave you in awe.

Honourable Mention: This Is England.


The Best Of…Oscar Isaac

Oscar Isaac is one of the best actors of our generation. Alongside James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, you cannot fault his performance (though you can fault his film choices.) The actor has come bounding into our lives and solidified a place at the top of the shelf. His work in phenomenal independents to the biggest blockbusters is always met with the same passionate performance.

Funnily enough, the aforementioned McAvoy and Fassbender fight Isaac’s latest villain in X-Men: Apocalypse, which is out today. TO celebrate its release, we take a look at Oscar Isaac’s essential movies.

Balibo (2009)

Portraying a real life character is always such a difficult task. The terrible story of East Timor and its struggle for independence, as well as the Australian journalists who lost their lives trying to uncover the truth should be done with sensitivity. Oscar Isaac had a trickier role to portray: The pivotal and integral activist Jose Ramos-Horta who would later become president of the country. Able to tackle the weighty and visceral elements of the real life figure, he intricately weaves determination to succeed over their oppressors.

The scene where he is confronted with a field of bodies will haunt you.


Drive (2011)

Nicolas Winding Refn’s poetic noir thriller is very much Ryan Gosling’s film. The stoic and brooding Driver with no name is a slick, daring, and often brooding “protagonist” that gripped us in a frenzy of superb film making. Oscar Isaac, however, strides into the film and promptly steals the scenes he is in. Playing Standard, the ex-con husband of our Driver’s love interest, he is a slightly menacing and desperate neighbour who struggles to keep clean after he is released from jail. Isaac plays him well enough to feel somewhat sympathy and the actor allows a chilling wave of intensity to flow not far from the surface.


Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

For many, their introduction into the nuanced talents of Oscar Isaac came in the soulful and utterly compelling Coen Brother’s movie – Inside Llewyn Davis. Starring as the titular character, Isaac portrays a gruff folk singer who bounces from performance to performance and house to house barely scraping by. Resentful and bitter, in hands of any other actor, Llewyn would be an unlikeable oaf. But with Oscar Isaac, he enthuses the struggle, the pain, and the ache of trying but failing at every turn. Layering the character with emotion, he’s able to showcase his inner-turmoil that is hidden underneath the sarcasm and failings. Only a gifted performer could make a simpering artist, who curses the world and his friends at the same time, into a multi-faceted and earnest character.


A Most Violent Year (2014)

Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac have been bosom buddies since they first attend Juillard and the chemistry between them is clear in J. C. Chandor’s work about a businessman plagued by corruption and the police. As Abel Morales, Isaac heightens his levity with a redolent intensity that enhances the viewing experience. Addled with desperation as he is met with horrid situation after horrid situation, the film is made triumphant by Isaac’s understanding of every character he meets – complexities and all.  Even away from the crime and police pressure, Isaac gifts Morales with a revered yet penetrating stature that stands tall in many scenes.

Ex Machina (2015)

oscar isaac ex machina alex garland

Ex Machina is one of the best films of last year. No, scratch that. It’s one of the best films of all time. The layered structure of Alex Garland’s work allows the thrilling to meet the intellectual as two men and a robot collide in a battle of the wits. Unfolding twists and turns that slowly boil the tension, the film is an exquisite meld of themes and technological resonance. Isaac plays Nathan, the genius who creates an AI named Ava and the might of Nathan’s brain vanity is apparent in Isaac’s performance. As is the petulance, alcoholism, and general inflated ego that makes him a terrifying antagonist. Why? Because he is a prime example of men who can’t get what they want and chose nefarious methods to gain control.

Honourable Mention: He is the only good thing from Sucker Punch, he croons an amazing song for 10 Years,  and, of course, he’s Poe Dameron in The Force Awakens but I’m assuming that everyone on God’s Green Earth (or Jakku’s Red Desert) have seen the latest Star Wars movie.

Ooooo…there’s also The Two Faces of January! He’s pretty sweet in that! Damn, it’s hard to write about Oscar Isaac in just five entries….

What are your favourites?


The Best of…Chris Hemsworth


Chris Hemsworth was born in Melbourne and raised in the Australian outback. He began his acting career in 2002, making small appearances in TV shows. His big break came when he was chosen to play Kim Hyde in Home and Away, which he did for three years before moving to America to pursue a film career. He’s noted now for his portrayal of Marvel Comic’s superhero, Thor, as well as other action films, including In the Heart of the Sea and The Huntsman: Winters War.  

To celebrate the Home Entertainment release of In the Heart of the Sea we’re taking a look at the best of Chris Hemsworth.

Home and Away (
004 – 2007)

Hemsworth originally auditioned for the role of Robbie Hunter and was unsuccessful, however producers called him back to audition for Kim Hyde and he won the role.  Hemsworth was incredibly popular with audiences, and won the Most Popular New Male Talent award at the 2005 Logie Awards, as well as a nomination for Most Popular Actor. Hannah Rand of The Daily Telegraph said Hemsworth was “born to play a hunky high school dropout”.


Ca$h (2010)

Ca$h was Hemsworth’s first film after arriving in America six weeks earlier. After casting Hemsworth, the film’s director Stephen Milburn Anderson said, “Here’s a guy who is young, has the right look, is a very good actor and, let’s face it, he’s beautiful.” He starred alongside Sean Bean as Sam Phelan, a man who finds a suitcase full of cash on his car.

Thor (2011)

Based on the Marvel Comics of the same name, Hemsworth starred as Thor, a powerful god cast out of Asgard and forced to live on earth. Hemsworth proved to be a popular choice for the role, with Richard Roeper from the Chicago Sun-Times commenting, “Thanks in large part to a charming, funny and winning performance from Australian actor Chris Hemsworth in the title role, Thor is the most entertaining superhero debut since the original Spider-Man”.


Snow White and The Huntsman (2012)

In 2012, Hemsworth starred as The Huntsman in Snow White and The Huntsman. A twist on the original fairy tale, The Huntsman ordered to take Snow White to the woods to be killed becomes her protector. The film was praised for its beautiful imagery and special effects. He then returned to the role for the 2016 sequel, The Huntsman: Winter’s War.


Rush (2013)

Hemsworth played James Hunt in the biography drama directed by Ron Howard, which followed the tough rivalry between Formula One rivals Hunt and Niki Lauda (played by Daniel Brühl). The film was praised for its accuracy of the story, and both Hemsworth and Brühl received positive reviews for their performances.


In the Heart of the Sea (2015)


Teaming up once again with Ron Howard, Hemsworth played first mate Owen Chase in the story of an 1820 New England whaling ship, which is attacked by a whale of mammoth size. The real-life maritime disaster would inspire Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. But that told only half the story.

In the Heart of the Sea reveals the encounter’s harrowing aftermath, as the ship’s surviving crew is pushed to their limits and forced to do the unthinkable to stay alive. Braving storms, starvation, panic and despair, the men will call into question their deepest beliefs, from the value of their lives to the morality of their trade, as their captain searches for direction on the open sea and his first mate still seeks to bring the great whale down.

In the Heart of the Sea is out now on Digital HD, 3D™, Blu-ray™ and DVD.