Film, Uncategorized

The Oscars 2016: Predictions

Granted, this isn’t exactly an original post as I did the exact same thing for 2014’s ceremony. Looking back I was miles out from the results too; I predicted Wolf of Wall Street to clean up and that Leonardo di Caprio would finally get his Best Actor nod, it seemed overdue then too.

This year’s awards are a bit more predictable, or at least it seems there are more obvious winners with a few standout performances. One element that is sadly predictable is the lack of black nominations. However, I cannot seem to recall an outstanding performance that SHOULD have garnered a nomination so it does not seem so glaring an omission. Not like David Oyelowo for Selma, now THAT was an injustice.

Anyway, onto the categories…

BEST PICTURE

The Big Short

Bridge of Spies

Brooklyn

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Room

Spotlight

  • I’d love to see Mad Max: Fury Road claim this simply for how wondrously high-octane and bonkers crazy that film is but they don’t give out Best Picture Oscars for that. No, they hand them out to ‘difficult watches’ like Schindler’s List hence it seems just that The Revenant should get this, if not Room.

 

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ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo

Matt Damon, The Martian

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

  • It just has to be, doesn’t it? He fought with a bear, he endured -25c conditions and slept in a horse. What does he have to do to win one!? Anyway, Eddie Redmayne won LAST year.

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ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Cate Blanchett, Carol

Brie Larson, Room

Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years

Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

  • I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen the other nominations but Larson brings such depth to her performance, such gravitas that once you see it you cannot imagine it being beaten.

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ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Christian Bale, The Big Short

Tom Hardy, The Revenant

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight

Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

Sylvester Stallone, Creed

  • Again, it’d be warming to see Tom Hardy get this as he arguably outshone Di Caprio. Rylance was sublime in Bridge of Spies but Stallone might edge this.

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ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

Rooney Mara, Carol

Rachel McAdams, Spotlight

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

  • Fair to say I had a giddy smile every time Leigh popped up on screen during The Hateful Eight, she was such a spiteful bitch. So she won’t win and as I haven’t seen the other nominations I’d take a stab at Vikander.

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ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Anomalisa

Boy and the World

Inside Out

Shaun the Sheep Movie

When Marnie Was There

  • Again, I’ve only seen the one film I’m going for but Inside Out is a heartwarming, hilarious classic. Plus it got me and Mum out of the house with smiles on our face for a bit during the worst week in July.

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CINEMATOGRAPHY

Carol

The Hateful Eight

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Sicario

  • While I yearned for my days back in the huge expanse of Australian desert during Mad Max there was something beautiful captured in nearly every scene during The Revenant.Yes, the conditions were perilous but when you see the glistening landscapes of Alberta in all their snow-dipped magnificence it certainly appeared worth it.

COSTUME DESIGN

Carol

Cinderella

The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

  • The battered leather, the face mask and those elegant yet daring white sarongs. They’ll probably give it to The Danish Girl though.

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DIRECTING

The Big Short

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Room

Spotlight

  • I know he won last year but Iñárritu’s immersive direction throws you into the midst of the film. Arrows go whizzing past and you can almost feel the -25 chill, that’s the sign of a master director at work

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DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)

Amy

Cartel Land

The Look of Silence

What Happened, Miss Simone?

Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

  • Yes, I didn’t see the other nominations but having endured her death as played out in the public eye at the time, Amy broke my heart.

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FILM EDITING

The Big Short

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Spotlight

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

  • If there was an award for editing so a film that ran over 2 hours fails to feel even half that long, oh wait, there is. Done.

 

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MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

Mad Max: Fury Road

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out

the Window and Disappeared

The Revenant

  • You try keeping up your appearance in the Australian desert when you’re NOT driving around. There’s red dust EVERYWHERE.

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MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

Bridge of Spies

Carol

The Hateful Eight

Sicario

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

  • An original score from Ennio Morricone simply has to win, doesn’t it?

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MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

“Earned It,” Fifty Shades of Grey

“Manta Ray,” Racing Extinction

“Simple Song #3,” Youth

“Til It Happens To You,” The Hunting Ground

“Writing’s On The Wall,” Spectre

  • Geeze, there must have been some slim pickings if Sam Smith’s ‘effort’ was nominated.

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PRODUCTION DESIGN

Bridge of Spies

The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

  • I’m aware I’m overlooking Mars but Bridge of Spies looked and felt like you would imagine Germany during the Cold War. The brooding wall, the palpably murky edginess lying around every street corner, it all looked organically authentic.

 

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SOUND EDITING

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Sicario

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

  • Y’know, when I’m watching a film I never, ever think ‘Oh my, they really edited that swoosh well’. But then Star Wars had lightsaber swooshes and The Millenium Falcon so…

SOUND MIXING

Bridge of Spies

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

  • See above.

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VISUAL EFFECTS

Ex Machina

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

  • The Martian recreated Mars but Star Wars recreated GALAXIES.

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WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

The Big Short

Brooklyn

Carol

The Martian

Room

  • Basing this one on my wise auntie and her excellent opinion after reading the book.

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WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

Bridge of Spies

Ex Machina

Inside Out

Spotlight

Straight Outta Compton

  • Oh look, a black nomination. Even then I’d like to see Ex Machina nab this as it seemed so outlandish yet such a disturbingly real idea. What if you could create AI? Then to explore the idea so vividly was very impressive.

 

Feel free to agree/disagree in the comments section.

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My trip to 1955 Hill Valley with Secret Cinema

Let me take you back in time, to mid-July 2014 in fact, when I was due to attend the opening weekend of Secret Cinema’s production of Back To The Future. On Thursday afternoon that evening’s performance was cancelled, on Friday afternoon they cancelled the first WEEK. Along with a few thousand punters I was livid yet there was the silver lining that I could attend the full Tramlines weekend in Sheffield. Alas, I would not be one of the first to review the event but my chance eventually came on Friday and I was bowled over. Now that the month-long run has finished I can discuss the event in depth.

From the overground station in Highbury and Islington you could easily spot who was going, of which there were 3,500 each night with 70,000 tickets sold overall. Bright summer dresses for the girls and braces for the gentleman yet considering that Hoxton and Dalston were also nearby stops this could have been just another Friday night in these parts. Upon disembarking at Hackney Wick the commuters now looked out of place compared to the dinner jackets, bowties and polka dots.

Then there were the rich, Californian accents instructing patrons where to go for the ‘Hill Valley Town Fair’. As my group arrived we grabbed cans of lager from the nearest off-licence and set off for the 20 minute stroll past the Olympic Stadium and back into 1955. The entertainment began before we had even entered the site as a dressed up couple endured a ‘hands-on disagreement’ and only when the man in the lumberjack shirt exclaimed “But Lorraine, I know you want it” did you realise you were fooled. That Lorraine then joined our group only added to the fun.

I was then asked to help a lad retrieve his push bike off the bridge only to be brusquely told not to bother by a gang member in 3D glasses. After heeding that warning I could admire the lengths most had gone to look the part in 1950s garb. Those that did not stuck out, including 1985 Marty McFly in a red gillet with a skateboard and Doc Brown in a scientist outfit and grey afro. There was also one bearded hipster in front of us who turned out to be Iain from The Great British Bake-Off.

Outside Hill Valley were police troops kitted out in dark blue shirts and shades which disguised steely-eyed gazes. For a few minutes you were returned to 2014 and all the bureaucracy we have become used to. Bag checks, ticket checks and a final request to hand over mobile phones. I am usually apprehensive about handing over my phone yet on this occasion I was willing, I really wanted to enjoy the night without wanting to impress on Instagram.

Once inside you could note that the exhibits took their cue from the film, not simply in appearance but at what point you experience them as you stroll through. Farmer Peabody’s farm/sheep and goat petting zoo is the first you experience and the first that appears in 1955 Hill Valley in the film. Biff Tannen’s house lies on the outskirts of town, as it does in the film. You can have your photo taken outside the iconic Lyons Estates billboard (for £5) or be transported across town in a Cadillac or school bus but no photo to be had with the DeLorean.

Welcome to Hill Valley

Welcome to Hill Valley – “A Nice Place To Live”

Then we entered the square and from here you could fully embrace the immersive experience you had been promised, apart from the overbearing John Lewis’ shadowing the site. The clock tower was prominent with the clock itself stopped at 10.04, though in the film that only occurs after the lightning strike. With it being Friday night we headed straight for the bar. A house band was playing but was largely ignored and their keyboard made for an awkward juxtaposition. As drinks were retrieved one of the drama students (actresses) flirted uncontrollably with Brody, the Australian in the group. It was cute, kitsch and heart-warming. It made you feel part of the production, especially when she chatted with her drunken teacher who was dancing riotously behind us. A shop in the corner sold 3D glasses for $1 and disposable cameras for $6 when of course they meant pounds. Unfortunately, 1955 prices were not on show as cocktails in paper cups were still £6 and bottles of wine were £20, evidently this was still London.

On closer inspection the level of detail that went into the shops was remarkable.
. The red vinyl seats in Lou’s Diner,
. The local bank with cash machines hidden discreetly in the corners
. The plane seats for a ‘flying experience’ in the local travel agent.
. The Texaco garage where you could grab a Budweiser
. Roy’s Records and Comics
. The beauty parlour offering 50’s makeovers
. JD Armstrong realty office
. The Hill Valley Telegraph
All of it had a modicum of thought and consideration behind it. Despite all this I found the alter ego I was given of High School student, Jimmie Trapp, a bit useless. Not once did anyone check my ID or homework.

Dancing Away

Dancing Away at the ‘Enchantment Under The Sea’ Dance

My favourite part of Hill Valley was actually going back to school. Every locker looked authentic with scrawled graffiti, crushes identified on notes and photo-cards with one even featuring Marty McFly. In the school hall the ‘Enchantment Under The Sea’ dance was in full swing with more drama students (they’re the ones in the more realistic costumes) showing the punters how to do the Charleston. On the stage, Mr Strickland introduced Marvin Berry and The Starlighters as they ran through the hits including an exhilarating rendition of Johnny Be Goode (alas, without Marty McFly) and Earth Angel for all the lovers out there. A DJ took over and kept up the 50’s choons until something weird happened, an 80s flashmob complete with tracksuits leaving the ’50’s drama students’ to learn breakdancing.

The 80s Flashmob

The 80s Flashmob

By 8.45 all reconvened on the astroturf that was the town square, a parade of the town’s characters went around the square and we grabbed some food before the screening. As far as I’m concerned, Back To The Future is the perfect Friday night movie with so many moments that I have seen so many times I can replay them in my mind’s eye. What I was not prepared for was seeing those scenes on the big screen with actors acting them out in front of us. There was the unveiling of the DeLorean, which gave me goosebumps, Marty skateboarding around the town as he’s chased by Biff and his goons, George knocking out Biff at the prom and the final scene involving Doc hanging off the clock tower; all superbly acted which made it all feel a little surreal.

Hill Valley Town Square

Hill Valley Town Square

During the rest of the film I found myself cheering, laughing and booing, you simply could not stop feeling involved. What I will remember though is not the funfair, or the DeLorean whizzing around the square but the atmosphere that pervaded the whole event. At one point I chatted with another punter outside the toilets about how much fun I was having when usually I’d be checking my phone, oh what a time we live in.

Photos courtesy of Lee Mullin

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Oscar Predictions. My personal preferences.

It is awards season and tonight is the big one, The Oscars. Being such an American event I am afraid to admit that I have never actually watched the ceremony the whole way through. I could blame the time difference, the tired showing-off on the red carpet, the kiss-up reporters and the celebrityism but unlike The Superbowl it isn’t on terrestrial TV here.

Now I’m no film buff, I try to catch a flick at the cinema every week and I have a list of films that I need to see  (this weekend I finally watched Singin’ In The Rain and Wolf Creek). I can’t say I’m an expert in cinematography or direction but, like everyone, I have an opinion and these are my predictions based on the films that I have seen. This is not a list which is based on which performances I THINK will win but which performances I HOPE are awarded. Feel free to disagree/agree in the comments section.

NB – I did this two years ago in an office sweepstake and finished in the bottom three but having wildly different opinions than industry types is not necessarily a bad thing is it.

 

BEST PICTURE

“12 Years a Slave”
“American Hustle”
“Captain Phillips”
“Dallas Buyers Club”
“Gravity”
“Her”
“Nebraska”
“Philomena”
“The Wolf of Wall Street”

There are some great films in that list but the one I enjoyed the most was Wall Street. Not just because of the performances, having read the book I had such high expectations for it then it blew me away.

 

BEST DIRECTOR

David O. Russell, “American Hustle”
Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity”
Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”
Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Yesyes, I’m aware what a superb job Cuaron did in such difficult circumstances with basically a green screen to work with. However, McQueen runs such a tight ship and you can see in such long, arduous shots that it takes a genius to squeeze that out of a crew and cast.

 

BEST ACTOR

Christian Bale, “American Hustle”
Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”
Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Poor Christian Bale, he remains one of my favourite actors and I thought he was sensational in Hustle. Then they stick him against three top runners and you forget how good a performance it is. Anticipating the chin-strokers at the Academy Ejiofor will probably get this. However, DiCaprio fully deserves an Oscar and it’s a travesty he hasn’t got one, yet. His performance in Wall Street is gargantuan; tragic, laugh out loud funny and ferociously delivered. Knowing the Academy they’ll probably give it to McConaughey, the bastards.

 

BEST ACTRESS

Amy Adams, “American Hustle”
Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
Judi Dench, “Philomena”
Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”

I’m still surprised that Adams hadn’t caught pneumonia by the end of the shoot so I was pleased she could deliver her lines without chattering teeth. Having said that, Sandra Bullock negotiated 15% of the box office earnings for Gravity so she must have known she’d put in a top notch performance, which she did.

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

“American Hustle” – Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
“Blue Jasmine” – Written by Woody Allen
“Her” – Written by Spike Jonze
“Nebraska” – Written by Bob Nelson
“Dallas Buyers Club” – Written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack

Having only seen only 2/5 films in this category my prediction isn’t exactly fair on the three I haven’t seen. Never mind. Give it to Hustle for sheer audacity.

 

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

“Before Midnight” – Written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
“Captain Phillips” – Screenplay by Billy Ray
“Philomena” – Screenplay by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
“12 Years a Slave” – Screenplay by John Ridley
“The Wolf of Wall Street” – Screenplay by Terence Winter

Having read the book I thought Wall Street looked largely how I imagined it, arguably even more ridiculous. I was saddened that Scorcese didn’t stick the boot into bankers and capitalism yet that’s not being awarded here is it.

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
June Squibb, “Nebraska”
Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”
Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine”

I’m not entirely sure why Jennifer Lawrence is nominated here for what is pretty much an overshadowed but amusing performance. Nyong’o delivered a painful delivery but for anyone who has seen Nebraska they will be praying that June Squibb gets the nod. Given the best lines in the entire film she had me in stitches with her vicious, occasionally deadpan delivery. Plus, seeing her deal with her ridiculous husband in the film I’d love to see her in a state of shock accepting the award.

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”
Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle”
Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
Jonah Hill, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”

By now I really should have seen Captain Phillips and Dallas Buyers Club but alas, that’s the situation I find myself in. Until now I never really rated Jonah Hill as an actor but alongside Di Caprio he stands up and delivers in a funny, energetic performance.

 

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

“The Grandmaster”
“Gravity”
“Inside Llewyn Davis”
“Nebraska”
“Prisoners”

Either the warm glow of Inside Llewyn Davis or the bleakness of Nebraska would be a deserved winner. Then Gravity turned up and ruined it for everyone. No brainer for me.

 

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Michael Wilkinson, “American Hustle”
William Chang Suk Ping, “The Grandmaster”
Catherine Martin, “The Great Gatsby”
Michael O’Connor, “The Invisible Woman”
Patricia Norris, “12 Years a Slave”

While Hustle stayed true to it’s 70s sensibilities I spent more time wondering how cold Amy Adams was than actually paying attention to the film. Poor girl. While it was such a disappointing, overblown, over-hashed film I thought the costumes were slick enough in Gatsby to give the nod.

 

BEST FILM EDITING

“American Hustle” Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten
“Captain Phillips” Christopher Rouse
“Dallas Buyers Club” John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa
“Gravity” Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger
“12 Years a Slave” Joe Walker

I’ll be honest, I’m not quite sure how you award this so I’ll put it bluntly. In a scale of 1-10, 10 being ‘arse numbing, losing the will to live after an hour’ and 1 being ‘tight’, I thought 12 Years kept me engaged.

 

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

“The Broken Circle Breakdown” Belgium
“The Great Beauty” Italy
“The Hunt” Denmark
“The Missing Picture” Cambodia
“Omar” Palestine

Omar, duh. I want to hear my name read out.

 

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

“Dallas Buyers Club” Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews
“Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” Stephen Prouty
“The Lone Ranger” Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny

Hang on. Where’s Gatsby and Hustle? Is this a joke?

 
BEST ORIGINAL SONG

“Alone Yet Not Alone” from “Alone Yet Not Alone”
Music by Bruce Broughton; Lyric by Dennis Spiegel

“Happy” from “Despicable Me 2”
Music and Lyric by Pharrell Williams

“Let It Go” from “Frozen”
Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez

“The Moon Song” from “Her”
Music by Karen O; Lyric by Karen O and Spike Jonze

“Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”
Music by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen; Lyric by Paul Hewson

If The Moon Song wins does Karen O get to pick it up? If so, GIVE HER THE DAMN AWARD. Wouldn’t mind seeing Pharrell Williams’ silly hat though.

 
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
“American Hustle”
Production Design: Judy Becker; Set Decoration: Heather Loeffler

“Gravity”
Production Design: Andy Nicholson; Set Decoration: Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard

“The Great Gatsby”
Production Design: Catherine Martin; Set Decoration: Beverley Dunn

“Her”
Production Design: K.K. Barrett; Set Decoration: Gene Serdena

“12 Years a Slave”
Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Alice Baker

Gatsby. Partly because I accidentally walked onto the set in Sydney overlooking Darling Harbour. Looked very well designed to me.

 

BEST SOUND EDITING

“All Is Lost” Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns
“Captain Phillips” Oliver Tarney
“Gravity” Glenn Freemantle
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” Brent Burge
“Lone Survivor” Wylie Stateman

Best sound editing? Right. Well. You shouldn’t really get to hear much in space should you so I’ll give it The Hobbit.

 

BEST SOUND MIXING

“Captain Phillips” Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith and Chris Munro
“Gravity” Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick and Tony Johnson
“Inside Llewyn Davis” Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland
“Lone Survivor” Andy Koyama, Beau Borders and David Brownlow

Best. Sound. Mixing. That’s a category is it? Guess they do this one early because everyone has found their seat huh. Soddit, let’s give The Hobbit another one. (I really don’t know how you can tell the difference)

 

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

“Gravity” Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds
“Iron Man 3” Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick
“The Lone Ranger” Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier
“Star Trek Into Darkness” Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton

Ahahahahaha. Seriously. Why are the others even bothering turning up? The Hobbit had dwarves and a dragon, Iron Man 3 had a few CGI bots, Lone Ranger had… a horse on a platform? Star Trek looked good. Then again, Gravity WAS ENTIRELY IN SPACE. C’mon now.

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