87th Academy Awards: The Live Blog

The pinnacle of the movie calendar, the apex of awards seasons, the prestigious, glamorous, superlative event known as the Academy Awards is about to begin. I’m well-stocked in caffeine and raring to go…

5.08am – THE END IS NIGH

So that’s it. The unforgiving orchestra plays for the final time. Neil Patrick Harris says his goodbyes, and presumably won’t be asked back. And pretty much everyone that was expected to win did. So yay. Goodnight or good morning.


The legend that is Sean Penn is on hand to present Best Picture.


  • American Sniper (2014): Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper, Peter Morgan
  • Birdman (2014): Alejandro González Iñárritu, John Lesher, James W. Skotchdopole
  • Boyhood (2014/I): Richard Linklater, Cathleen Sutherland
  • The Imitation Game (2014): Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky, Teddy Schwarzman
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014): Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven M. Rales, Jeremy Dawson
  • Selma (2014): Christian Colson, Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner
  • The Theory of Everything (2014): Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce, Anthony McCarten
  • Whiplash (2014): Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook, David Lancaster

Sean Penn feigns shock. For a second I think he might say American Sniper.


I am somewhat surprised Boyhood didn’t cinch it. I feel bad for Linklater who has devoted so much of his time to this passion project, and which must resonate so honestly and so rawly with many families.

Picking up the big three: screenplay, director and picture, Birdman proves its popularity and artistry. A triumph for originality, inventiveness and experimentalism in cinema.


Matthew McConnaughey saunters onto the stage. Is he the real Mr. Grey?


  • Marion Cotillard, losing her job in Two Days, One Night
  • Felicity Jones, losing hope in The Theory of Everything
  • Rosamund Pike, losing her cool in Gone Girl
  • Julianne Moore, losing her memory in Still Alice
  • Reese Witherspoon, losing her toenails in Wild

AND THE WINNER IS: Julianne Moore

Unsurprising victory for Moore. She’s cleaned up at pretty much every other awards show, and justifiably – her performance as Dr. Alice Howland is haunting, gut wrenching and anchored by authenticity. This is her 5th nomination and 1st win: the cherry on top of an illustrious and diverse career.



  • Steve Carell, wrestling his demons in Foxcatcher
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, securing WW2 victory as Turing in The Imitation Game
  • Bradley Cooper, drinking whiskey and getting frisky in American Sniper
  • Michael Keaton, treading the boards in Birdman
  • Eddie Redmayne, riding a Tide in The Theory of Everything

AND THE WINNER IS: Eddie Redmayne.

He looks like he’s being choked by his bow tie. He looks overwhelmed. He says ‘Thank You’ thrice, and dedicates the award to ALS sufferers, his partner in crime Felicity Jones, and of course, Stephen Hawking. The transformation in the film alone is deserving of this award. His performance is the mark of dedication.


Batffleck is onstage to present the best director award. It’s tense.


  • Richard Linklater, keeping it in the family for Boyhood
  • Alejandro González Iñárritu, flying high for Birdman
  • Bennett Miller, staging a fight for Foxcatcher
  • Wes Anderson, gives chase for The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Morten Tyldum, does the Math for The Imitation Game

AND THE WINNER IS: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Bennett Miller was so quick to stand up I wondered if he’d heard the wrong name. Funny speech, funny guy. Birdman had verve, dynamism and was spectacularly guided by Iñárritu. Basically, I concur.



  • American Sniper (2014): Jason Hall
  • Inherent Vice (2014): Paul Thomas Anderson
  • The Imitation Game (2014): Graham Moore
  • The Theory of Everything (2014): Anthony McCarten
  • Whiplash (2014): Damien Chazelle

AND THE WINNER IS: The Imitation Game, Graham Moore

No fucking way. What. Just. Happened. Easily the biggest upset of the nightMoore’s script was hackneyed and conventional, and lacked the spice to really represent Turing’s unconventionality. But now he’s gone and mentioned an attempted suicide and urged people to stay true to themselves, so I feel like a dick. I guess his script honoured Turing’s legacy, and in turn the Academy are honouring the overdue-ness of that.



  • Boyhood (2014/I): Richard Linklater
  • Birdman (2014): Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo
  • Foxcatcher (2014): E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014): Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness
  • Nightcrawler (2014): Dan Gilroy


Emma Stone looks chuffed, which makes me happy. I quite wanted to see Nightcrawler snap this up, considering it lost steam in most other categories, but Birdman is the most fascinating of these nominees. 


Just FYI if everything suddenly goes quiet on the blogging front that’s because I just had a sugar hit and am pre-empting a crash any minute now.



  • The Imitation Game (2014): Alexandre Desplat
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014): Alexandre Desplat
  • Interstellar (2014): Hans Zimmer
  • The Theory of Everything (2014): Jóhann Jóhannsson
  • Mr. Turner (2014): Gary Yershon

AND THE WINNER IS: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Alexandre Desplat

With two nominations it would’ve been a travesty for Desplat not to win. Plus, this score is absolutely magical and so elemental to the creation of an all-encompassing and unique world. Desplat gives a heartfelt speech. And I believe that puts GBH in the lead! Come on Wes.

4.20am – DIVA-OFF?

The real Julie Andrews has just appeared on stage, much to Felicity Jones’ absolute delight. Fingers crossed she breaks out into a rendition of Alejandro.


Blimey. Lady GaGa looks elegant. She’s singing The Sound of Music, in celebration of the enduring classic. And doing a rather good job. She’s managed to stay poker-faced throughout.



  • The Lego Movie (2014): Shawn Patterson(Everything is Awesome)
  • Selma (2014): Common, John Legend(Glory)
  • Beyond the Lights (2014): Diane Warren(Grateful)
  • Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me (2014): Glen Campbell, Julian Raymond(I’m Not Gonna Miss You)
  • Begin Again (2013/II): Gregg Alexander, Danielle Brisebois(Lost Stars)

AND THE WINNER IS: ‘Glory’, Selma

Glory for glory. A moving, profound acceptance speech that matches the sentiments of the song, and the film. “March on”.


“Benedict Cumberbatch is… the name you get when you ask John Travolta to pronounce ‘Ben Affleck’”. NPH’s best quip of the night. John Travolta and Idina Menzel laugh it up over his disastrous pronunciation of her name at last year’s awards.


Julianne Moore, Chris Pine and David Oyelowo are just 3 of the actors reduced to tears after John Legend’s rendition of ‘Glory’, the song from Selma. 


Tally so far… Whiplash and Grand Budapest Hotel each have 3. Boyhood, Birdman and American Sniper have 1. Surprising, but a few of the big dogs are yet to come.



  • Citizenfour (2014): Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy, Dirk Wilutzky
  • Finding Vivian Maier (2013): John Maloof, Charlie Siskel
  • Last Days in Vietnam (2014): Rory Kennedy, Keven McAlester
  • The Salt of the Earth (2014): Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, David Rosier
  • Virunga (2014): Orlando von Einsiedel, Joanna Natasegara

AND THE WINNER IS: Citizenfour

Haven’t seen this yet, but desperately want to – and now even more so. Unlike Michael Moore, the winners tastefully bring up a political issue; that of privacy and subsequently honour the necessary courage of whistleblowers, much to the applause of the audience. Apparently, they’ve just woken up…


Even Benedict Cumberbatch and Naomi Watts can do little to revive what’s become the most tedious procession in awards history. I’m surprised I’m still awake. Presumably the Academy will edit out yawning stars and fidgety nominees. This ceremony is certainly not rushing, and most definitely dragging.


  • Boyhood (2014/I): Sandra Adair
  • The Imitation Game (2014): William Goldenberg
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014): Barney Pilling
  • Whiplash (2014): Tom Cross
  • American Sniper (2014): Joel Cox, Gary Roach


Fuck yes. It’s gone to the right film. The power of Whiplash lies not just in Simmons’ performance, but in the perfectly timed editing.


Among those remembered are Lauren Bacall, Robin Williams, Bob Hoskins, Luise Rainer, Samuel Goldwyn Jr, Richard Attenborough, James Garner, Mickey Rooney, Mike Nichols, Eli Wallach. As ever its a touching moment, and you forget how many people leave behind enduring legacies and iconic moments. Finished off with a power ballad from a skinnier-than-ever Jennifer Hudson.


Meryl Streep comes on stage looking like she means business and quoting Joan Didion. She’s a goddess basically. Streep introduces the segment whereupon we honour those in the industry who have passed. Get ready for an emotive, water-coloured montage.



  • Birdman (2014): Emmanuel Lubezki
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014): Robert D. Yeoman
  • Ida (2013): Lukasz Zal, Ryszard Lenczewski
  • Mr. Turner (2014): Dick Pope
  • Unbroken (2014/I): Roger Deakins


The second consecutive win for Lubezki, who picked up the award last year for the artistically awe-inspiring, and boundary defying, Gravity. I was sort of hoping the beautiful compositions of Ida would gain recognition, but that being said, Birdman is insanely intricate and self-assured in navigating its way through all those corridors, conflicts and clandestine activities.



  • The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014): Adam Stockhausen, Anna Pinnock
  • The Imitation Game (2014): Maria Djurkovic, Tatiana Macdonald
  • Interstellar (2014): Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis
  • Into the Woods (2014): Dennis Gassner, Anna Pinnock
  • Mr. Turner (2014): Suzie Davies, Charlotte Watts

AND THE WINNER IS: The Grand Budapest Hotel

And that makes three. Another deserved win for Anderson’s most fully realised and wondrously chaotic film.


Cheryl Boone Isaac, the president of the AMPAS comes on stage to give an obligatory and VERY rehearsed speech on diversity in cinema. In a year where there has been great controversy over the lack of diversity in the nominations. She praises filmmakers that “give voice to challenging ideas and alternate points of view” and whilst that all very well and everyone might clap/nod/agree, it feels a little bit anachronistic and unreflective of this year’s Oscars.



  • The Boxtrolls (2014)
  • Big Hero 6 (2014)
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)
  • Song of the Sea (2014)
  • The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013)


I’ve heard good things. It’s this years Frozen apparently and we all know how that turned out.


Anna Kendrick (generally being awesome) and Kevin Hart are the best presenting duo thus far. Bubbly, funny and getting the job done.


  • The Bigger Picture (2014): Daisy Jacobs, Chris Hees
  • The Dam Keeper (2014): Robert Kondo, Daisuke ‘Dice’ Tsutsumi
  • Feast (2014/I): Patrick Osborne, Kristina Reed
  • Me and My Moulton (2014): Torill Kove
  • A Single Life (2014): Joris Oprins


Like the films themselves, the winners keep their speeches short and sweet.



  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014): Dan Deleeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill, Daniel Sudick
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014): Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Erik Winquist
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner, Paul Corbould
  • Interstellar (2014): Paul J. Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter, Scott R. Fisher
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014): Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie, Cameron Waldbauer

AND THE WINNER IS: Interstellar.

Here, here. I saw Dawn of the Planet of the Apes tonight, and was astounded by its realism and emotional depth. But nothing touched Interstellar this year in terms of its vision and vastness.


Performing the Original Song nomination from Beyond the Lights. It’s a little bit screechy. I’m grateful it’s over.


I really wanted their to be an upset. For Jared Leto to spit out Emma Stone’s name at the last minute. But alas for 12 years of hard, emotional graft, Patricia Arquette takes home the award, along with most others this season. And she knew it – she came prepped with glasses and paper.

She tells us she loves lots of people. Then champions equal rights for women in the US. (And the UK thank you very much). A fairly ordinary speech, not much personality in it.


Here we go. Another exciting award. Jared Leto takes to the stage, complete with powder blue tux and shiny mane to present one lucky lady with the honour…


  • Patricia Arquette, getting by and getting high in Boyhood
  • Laura Dern, offering sage wisdom in Wild
  • Keira Knightley, cracking codes in The Imitation Game
  • Emma Stone, doing crack in Birdman
  • Meryl Streep, bewitching in Into the Woods



  • American Sniper (2014): Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman
  • Birdman (2014): Aaron Glascock, Martín Hernández
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014): Brent Burge, Jason Canovas
  • Interstellar (2014): Richard King
  • Unbroken (2014/I): Becky Sullivan, Andrew DeCristofaro

AND THE WINNER IS: American Sniper

American Sniper gets its first win of the night. Could this lead to bigger things?



  • American Sniper (2014): John T. Reitz, Gregg Rudloff, Walt Martin
  • Birdman (2014): Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Thomas Varga
  • Interstellar (2014): Gary Rizzo, Gregg Landaker, Mark Weingarten
  • Unbroken (2014/I): Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, David Lee
  • Whiplash (2014): Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins, Thomas Curley


Seems like the right choice, the sound mixing in Whiplash adds to the sheer energy, intensity and tension that makes the film so engrossing.


Miles Teller and Margot Robbie come on stage to do something… I’ve tuned out. I’m too busy admiring Miles Teller. Also did NPH pronounce Margot Robbie as Robey?


Ok this is funny. Even if NPH has resorted to getting near-naked and ripping off Birdman for laughs.


Tim McGraw is singing a ballad. Is anyone else bored? Where’s Ellen? I remember last year being more fun. Bring out the pizza.


Neil Patrick Harris addresses the elephant in the room and talks to David Oyelowo after mentioning all the great Brit actors who have been nominated… To be honest that just felt awkward.



  • Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 (2013): Ellen Goosenberg Kent, Dana Perry
  • Joanna (2013/I): Aneta Kopacz
  • Our Curse (2013): Tomasz Sliwinski, Maciej Slesicki
  • The Reaper (2013): Gabriel Serra
  • White Earth (2014): Christian Jensen

AND THE WINNER IS: Crisis Hotline.

Yay two women. They thank lots of people and remain relatively unflustered.


Kerry Washington and Jason Bateman sashay towards the mic to present this award. 


  • Aya (2012/I): Oded Binnun, Mihal Brezis
  • Boogaloo and Graham (2014): Michael Lennox, Ronan Blaney
  • Butter Lamp (2013): Wei Hu, Julien Féret
  • Parvaneh (2012): Talkhon Hamzavi, Stefan Eichenberger
  • The Phone Call (2013): Mat Kirkby, James Lucas

AND THE WINNER IS: The Phone Call.

One of them thanks his local bakery for fantastic doughnuts. I’m not sure they expected to win. They’re doing a Pawlikowski and trying to ignore the music.


This chaotic, psychedelic number from The Lego Movie is like something from Eurovision. Like most of the audience I don’t really know what’s going on.


Neil Patrick Harris isn’t sinking. But he isn’t swimming either. Steve Carrell massively outshone him in that little bit.



  • Tangerines (2013): Zaza Urushadze
  • Ida (2013): Pawel Pawlikowski
  • Leviathan (2014): Andrey Zvyagintsev
  • Wild Tales (2014): Damián Szifrón
  • Timbuktu (2014): Abderrahmane Sissako

2a-ida-oscarsAND THE WINNER IS: Ida!

So happy this film has got recognition, it was by far one of my favourites of the year. Poor Pawlikowski just got woefully played off the stage for exceeding his allotted speech time. But didn’t give a shit and carried on anyway. What a hero. Keira Knightley found it hilarious.


Nicole Kidman and Chiwetel Ejiofor come on stage to present Best Foreign Language Film. COME ON IDA!


Channing Tatum comes on stage to introduce a bunch of people we don’t know. He got a pretty raw deal considering at one point there was talk of an Oscar nomination for his brutish, revelatory turn in Foxcatcher. 


Neil Patrick Harris stole my joke to introduce Reese Witherspoon. I’ll let him have it.


  • Foxcatcher (2014): Bill Corso, Dennis Liddiard
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014): Frances Hannon, Mark Coulier
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou, David White

AND THE WINNER IS: Frances Hannon, Mark Coulier for The Grand Budapest Hotel, racking its total up to two.




  • The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014): Milena Canonero
  • Inherent Vice (2014): Mark Bridges
  • Into the Woods (2014): Colleen Atwood
  • Maleficent (2014): Anna B. Sheppard
  • Mr. Turner (2014): Jacqueline Durran

AND THE WINNER IS: Milena Canonero, The Grand Budapest Hotel. Deservedly so, as the costumes are integral to the luxurious and other-wordly texture of this film.


Levine has opted to perform ‘Lost Stars’ from the film Begin Again without his tuxedo jacket, his tattooed arms on full display. He could’ve scrubbed up better. His co-star in the film, Keira Knightley, claps enthusiastically. Now for a toilet break.


Liam Neeson, dressed in funereal black, introduces two of the Best Picture nominees – The Grand Budapest Hotel and American Sniper. People then clap their own films…

1.42am – J.K. SIMMONS WINS!

Planting a big kiss on his wife and to rapturous applause, J.K. Simmons collects his expected Oscar for the Machiavellian music teacher Fletcher in Whiplash. He thanks his wife’s patience, his “above average children” and urges everyone to call their parents and thank them. I would. But mine are currently asleep.


Lupita Nyong’o is first on stage to present this award to one of these five nominees… 

  • Robert Duvall, an average Joe in The Judge
  • Ethan Hawke, a doting, guitar-toting Dad in Boyhood
  • Edward Norton, going over the top in his undies in Birdman
  • Mark Ruffalo, getting rough-alo in Foxcatcher
  • J.K. Simmons, lashing out in Whiplash

AND THE WINNER IS: J.K. Simmons (sans hat).

1.30am – WE’RE OFF!

– Neil Patrick Harris kicks things off in deliciously camp, sing-song style. And Anna Kendrick is cameo-ing in her Cinderella, gold-foil dress. Jack Black joins in on the fun, poking fun at the series of sequels that have recently drenched our cinema screens. Kendrick shoes him off the stage. The song is called ‘Moving Pictures’, going by the amount of times that phrase has been uttered.

– Harris is looking a little red in the face. And no wonder considering he practically just crammed in ALL the nominations into one chorus. Applause all around.

7111.29am – CUTTING IT FINE

Pregnant Keira Knightley, presumably wishing to miss the preamble has arrived in a dress that looks familiar from the latest Valentino collection. Frothy perfection. Knightley is up for a Best Supporting nomination for The Imitation Game. 


Emma Stone appears to have decided that if she isn’t going to win an Oscar, she’ll dress like one instead. I’m a fan. She’s brought her Mum along and is hilarious as always. Although this photo makes it look lime green, so maybe there’s just something wrong with my TV screen.


Channelling the baby-pink look that she wore during her win for Shakespeare In Love, Gwyneth is sleek and polished. Seriously, her hair might as well be a reflective surface.


Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper share a giggle on the red carpet. Touchingly, Cooper also has his hand placed on Clint’s lower back. Are they each other’s dates? B-Coop is up for Best Actor for his work in the controversial American Sniper. This is the third nomination in a row for Cooper, cementing his status as an acting force to be reckoned with. No wonder Clint is smitten.


Stuart Heritage has hit the nail on the head over Alexa Chung’s coverage. She’s being more two-faced than Harvey Dent, at once decrying that we reduce women to the outfits they wear, and simultaneously conforming to that reductive approach. She has been nothing but snide thus far.

“Alexa Chung is genuinely tearing herself apart in the most compelling way on this Sky pre-show programme. She’s being paid to be mean about the red carpet dresses but, before she says anything mean, she keeps reiterating how cruel it is for people to be mean about red carpet dresses. It’s a perfect picture of self-loathing. It’s like watching Good Gollum arguing with Bad Gollum. She’s got about 35 minutes to split in two and start physically fighting with herself.”.

The Guardian’s live coverage can be found here


He just called the carpet “squishy”. Looking all white on the night, he’s in an ivory coloured (is it ok to say that?) tux and once again reiterating how important the legacy of Alan Turing is. His new wife; theatre/opera director and playwright, Sophie Hunter, is radiant in red. At this stage the men are wearing more varied colours than the women.


Best Actress nominee (I’d say contender, but Julianne has pretty much sealed the deal) Reese has knocked it out of the park. She looks exquisite. And hopefully her campaign to be asked better questions on the red carpet will make good: #askhermore. Wild – the film for which she is nominated – sees her take on the role of Cheryl Strayed and producer in a bid to develop, and showcase stronger, more emotionally complex and varied roles for women.

67012.38am – CATE THE GREAT

Simple, yet effective. This is a lady who knows how to wow. She was last year’s Best Actress winner for her role in Blue Jasmine, so presumably will be presenting the Best Actor gong.


The lads of Grand Budapest Hotel have arrived in co-ordinated suits. They look like a Barbershop Quartet slash the Rat Pack and it’s nothing less than extraordinary. Adrien Brody and Jeff Goldblum are included.

12.30am – I’M IN LOVE

Felicity Jones being interviewed is the cutest thing ever. She’s “living the dream” and seems so genuinely, radiantly happy to be alive let alone at the awards. Another Brit actress, Rosamund Pike, is up on the podium being interviewed. Aside from her funny, Angelia-esque leg stance, she’s incredibly regal and eloquent and expresses her support for her co-star and tonight’s host, Neil Patrick Harris.


He’s wearing a hat and has a chain attached to his waistcoat… He just needs a cigar and Boardwalk Empire might’ve cast him as an extra. I wonder if he’ll dispose of the hat when he gets up onstage to collect his Oscar (because it’s pretty much in the bag).

12.20am – ETHAN HAWKE 

Hawke believed that Boyhood would be too experimental for mainstream audiences. Once again shining a light on Ellar Coltrane’s performance and seeming very humble to be here at all.

69312.15am – NOW THAT’S A SUIT

Eddie Redmayne arrives wearing a suit so sharp there should be a warning attached. In dazzling midnight blue, this is the suit of a man who knows he stands a chance at victory. He’s very smiley and fidgety on camera, expressing stutter-y nervousness and gratitude. Let’s hope he’s rehearsed a speech that’s a bit smoother…


I’m loving the neckline and relaxed yet cool vibe of this dress. It’s Armani Prive, which if I’m not mistaken Watts also wore a couple of years ago when she was nominated for her turn in The Impossible, in another silvery creation. Watts provided stellar support in this year’s Birdman, reuniting her with Edward Norton with whom she previously shared a screen with in A Painted Veil. 

689-212.07am – I SEE A THEME APPEARING

The second red dress of the night is worn with absolute aplomb by Gone Girl’s Rosamund Pike.


Looking dapper in red, Oyelowo is nothing but effusively grateful about being at the Oscars tonight, despite a lot of controversy over his Best Actor nomination snub. What a gent.


As Riggan Thomson in Birdman, Keaton treaded the boards and now on the Oscars red carpet he looks stiff as a board. Seems as though no-one briefed him on what to do with his hands. Maybe he’s just tense about tonight’s result in the Best Actor category. It’s a toss-up between him and Eddie Redmayne, though bookies have the latter down as the odds-on favourite.


Richard Linklater looks very relaxed and spaced out. Maybe high… Maybe just exhausted by Boyhood’s success. “Here we are…”. Yep definitely run out of interesting things to say about the film.


Eschewing talk of her dress or manicure, Arquette plumps instead to promote an eco sanitation charity. Alexa Chung slams her dress choice, calling it strange and armpit baring. This is starting to grate – woman talks about environmental degradation, and is instead criticised for not flattering her figure enough… Fucking Hollywood.


A.K.A. My girl crush and future BFF. Felicity appears to be having trouble with the sheer volume of her dress. That is a lot of fabric.



Dakota Johnson channelling something of a classic screen siren and also matching the carpet in this stunning dress. It’s Yves Saint Laurent and I’m sure Mr. Grey would certainly see her now…

I’ll try and tame the puns.


Go Ejogo. As the stars start to filter onto the carpet, this is the first dress that’s caught my eye. Timeless, shimmery perfection.


– The fact that Sky Living prefaced their coverage with a warning about flashing images and bad language makes this seem like a movie itself. I’m already getting tingles.

– Alexa Chung!!! Hyped that she’s doing red carpet commentary, should make this section a little less banal.

– I love that awkward moment during a transfer of presenters where they’re just staring it out like a Wild West duel. “Glamorous cattle” is how Sky’s Entertainment correspondent has described the stars. I’m sure they’ve been called worse.

10 of My All-Time Favourite ‘Best Picture’ Oscar Winners

hero460_oscars There’s a little awards ceremony happening this weekend that recognises emerging talent in the film industry, colloquially referred to as the Oscars. If you know about film, you might have heard of it? In celebration of this grand occasion, I’ve compiled a list of my favourite winners in the Best Picture category.


12 Years a Slave (2013) 1915593

Unflinching, visceral filmmaking at its most powerful. 12 Years a Slave not only proved cinema as an art form of great integrity, but one of absolute necessity. Unlike 2005 Best Picture winner Crash, which despite being a good film, I felt was awarded the honour for all the wrong reasons, 12 Years a Slave thoroughly earned it’s place in a long and prestigious history. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so exhausted and shaken by a film, and if that’s not testament to it’s power, I’m not sure what is. The films it was up against that year were artistically adventurous (Her, Gravity, Nebraska), topically risky (The Wolf of Wall Street) and ideologically important (Dallas Buyers Club). But 12 Years a Slave was all of that combined. And then some. See full review here.

Titanic (1997)

titanic-movie-picture-11I’ve unashamedly harboured a profound, undying, unsinkable love for Titanic ever since I saw it at the age of 12, and became promptly besotted with Jack and Rose’s love story. Though with hindsight, it’s a little dated and yes, long, to me it represents everything momentous that cinema can achieve. In all it’s vastness and awe-inspiring production design however, the detail is never lost. We are with Jack and Rose every step of the way – engulfed, submerged and utterly lost in their tragic adventure. Every time I watch it (going on 14 times), I somehow think (SPOILER ALERT) Jack might just cling on this time slash Rose might just have the sense to budge over. At the time of it’s release it was the most expensive movie ever made, and continued to drown in superlatives as it bagged 11 Oscars and became the highest-grossing film, only to be ousted by another James Cameron blockbuster: Avatar.  I’m a romantic at heart, and Titanic taps into that notion. Oh sure, it’s corny and melodramatic and I’ll never not find it ridiculous just how many times Jack and Rose are forced back down into the lower decks. But I’ll also never regret investing 3 hours in a film that is so epically, painstakingly and beautifully constructed.

Forrest Gump (1994)

originalWho can fail to fall in love with Forrest Gump? In the unravelling of his story director Robert Zemeckis has created one of the most enduring, universal and magical films of its time. Indeed, of all time. The only other two real contenders that year were Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption, but both took their time in receiving the same level of acclaim as Forrest Gump. It was the out and out winner if just for its sheer ability to touch even those irredeemably, unfathomably cynical.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991) The-Silence-of-the-Lambs

This has crept in above the likes of Casablanca, The Godfather Part II and The English Patient because though it’s not a cinematic artefact, the creme de la creme of its genre, or a sweeping love story, it is an expertly-crafted and thoroughly terrifying psychological thriller that manages to incite fear some 20 years after its initial release. (Seriously, look at the picture to the right and tell me your spine isn’t shivering). Taking a leaf out of Hitchcock’s book, Jonathan Demme cranks up the tension to an unbearable degree as Clarice Sterling is forced to make an unlikely ally in Hannibal Lecter in order to capture spine-chilling, serial-killing Buffalo Bill. In blending the macabre with the masterful, Demme creates a film that simultaneously has you hiding behind a blanket/your hands/an unwitting companion and not wanting to tear yourself away.

Dances with Wolves (1990)

dances-with-wolves-8A somewhat nostalgic selection that recalls Sunday afternoons spent with my father watching movie classics (Field of Dreams, The Last of the Mohicans, The Great Escape, e.t.c). Traversing the American landscape with an astute and beloved eye, Kevin Costner is at his peak as both actor and director. As Lieutenant Dunbar immerses himself in the Sioux tribe – learning of their customs, language and traditions – we too are invited along to both marvel at, and sympathise with, the Native American people. It’s an ambitious and visionary piece of filmmaking that recalls and subverts the forefathers of its genre; at once romanticising the great open plains, but never falling back on racial polarisations or dichotomous stereotypes. Set during the American Civil war at a time of savage conflict and bitter rivalries, Dances With Wolves proved itself to be an antidote to the era’s brutalities – an elegiac saga, but one charged with passion and appreciation for its subject. A sublime, spectacular story and a Sunday afternoon well-spent.

Rain Man (1988) tom-cruise-rain-man-1988

Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise as the polar opposite Babbitt brothers provide two compelling performances, in a sincere road movie of sorts. Thought-provoking without being didactic, Rain Man fostered a changing of societal perceptions towards autism, encouraging people to embrace savants rather than alienate them. Arguably simplistic and sentimental, this film is nevertheless illuminating, heartfelt and frequently hilarious. In a year that pitted it against Working Girl, Mississippi Burning, Dangerous Liaisons, and The Accidental Tourist, where the others are entertaining, Rain Man is enduring. I’ve been trying to correctly guess the number of cocktail sticks in a box ever since.

Ordinary People (1980) optimized-redford-hutton-ordinary

Ordinary though it may seem, therein lies the charm of Robert Redford’s suburban family drama. Searingly intimate, there are times this portrait of the unravelling Jarrett family feels more like a documentary. There are no sublime special effects or mind-boggling technical feats, Redford simply harnesses the power of the two greatest tricks of cinema – acting and storytelling. As the various foibles and conflicts of the characters are explored, Redford displays astonishing restraint, nuance and assurance, coaxing Oscar-worthy performances from his cast. The death of a son may have been dealt with repeatedly in cinematic terms, but perhaps never so extraordinarily. (Though it has to be mentioned, this was the same year Martin Scorcese’s boxing masterpiece Raging Bull was nominated and in both the categories of ‘Best Picture’ and ‘Best Director’ I am surprised it didn’t win – had it, it would’ve most definitely earned a place on this list).

Kramer Vs. Kramer (1979)

kramer3 Another humdrum family drama elevated by the standard of acting delivered within. This time Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep play a sparring couple in a bitter custody battle. Technically, there isn’t too much that warrants our curiosity, but when a relatively un-outstanding story manages to engage its audience and tug on your heartstrings, well then attention is deserved. Even the kid playing the kid is fantastic. What’s more, is that it’s quite unique in that it’s the mother who leaves the family in search of freedom and fulfilment and the father who’s left behind to pick up the pieces and juggle his family and a career. I also found myself not taking sides as dramatically as I had expected. Kramer Vs. Kramer fleshes out all of its main characters beautifully, in a way that’s believable and touching and doesn’t encourage you to pass judgment, but rather to empathise with a complex and painful decision. Despite the havoc that divorce wreaks, the film is a hopeful one, and all the better for it. Though I would still advise you to keep a box of tissues nearby.

The Sting (1973) 1973_the_sting_008

This is one of my all-time favourite films; let alone whether it was nominated, or succeeded to make good on that nomination. The Sting is irresistibly cool and seductive cinema at its finest, what’s more, it pairs up Robert Redford and Paul Newman, who in my eyes can do no wrong. It’s Chicago in the 1930s and the pair are con-men making their mark for the ultimate swindle. It’s sizzling, energetic storytelling – a crime caper in which the two leads are the kind of bad you root for regardless. There’s poker, period costume and laughs aplenty; its old-school razzle-dazzle Hollywood at it’s most bewitching.

The Godfather (1972)

godfather-brandoNo ‘all-time favourite’ list would be complete without The Godfather. This sumptuous family saga is what the words ‘timeless’ and ‘classic’ were made for, and Francis Ford Coppola achieved a feat that little do – he made a film dripping with both style and substance. Immersing himself in the sinister, yet loyal trappings of the Corleone family, he created the mother – or godfather – of all organised crime films. He defined a genre. As youngest son Michael Corleone resists his calling, with brutal consequences, the underbelly to the gangster world is unveiled in all its horse-beheading glory. With a magnificent cast that includes Marlon Brandon, Robert Duvall and Al Pacino, Coppola manages to both engage his audience – and dare I say it, elicit their sympathy – whilst simultaneously explicating the rampant violence as vengeance mounts upon vengeance. Transcendent, explosive filmmaking; an offer you’d be imbecilic to refuse.


And there you have my list. Disagree at your behest. I could certainly have made an argument to include On The Waterfront, American Beauty, No Country For Old Men and The Artist, but these are the films I visit time and time again; for inspiration, for nostalgia, for pure enjoyment. This year’s nominees are:

American Sniper



The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game


The Theory of Everything


Find out this coming Sunday which one will take home the historic accolade. I’ll be live-blogging every win, every false smile, every J-Law stumble right here.

Review: 50 Shades of Grey

50 Shades of Grey, 2015. DIR. Sam Taylor-Johnson. Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Marcia Gay-Harden, Jennifer Ehle

 Having not read any of the books, I entered the cinema both literally and literarily in the dark. I was fully expecting 50 Shades of Grey to be a tantalising guilty pleasure and therefore I wasn’t especially disappointed. But nor was I sufficiently tantalised.

It starts off relatively well. Virginal, ‘plain-Jane’ student Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) earns her degree in chemistry with businessman Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) upon interviewing him for the school newspaper. Sparks fly, banter is traded and director Sam Taylor-Johnson quickly establishes their connection. Connection leads to a contract, and a contract to conflict. It all happens very efficiently.

Dakota Johnson exposes herself to be an actress of great likeability and charisma. In her hands, Miss Steele is playful, inquisitive, and spirited, and certainly someone with whom you can sympathise. Her reactions upon seeing the Red Room and her subsequent hesitance are all credible, and she lends Ana a believability and vulnerability that make the film fundamentally engaging.

Jamie Dornan meanwhile flexes more than his muscles, and whilst the enigmatic Christian Grey is a harder character to pull off, he does it convincingly and with a roguish twinkle in his eye. I’m sure there’s a high percentage of the female population that would have a hard time refusing him. And that’s exactly the point – this is a character you have to believe is irresistible. Despite a tremulous American accent and occasionally frustrating moodiness manifesting itself in tortured piano solos, Dornan’s Grey is undeniably alluring.

However, 50 Shades is ruinously rooted in the cosmopolitan, and the fantastical. Rather than daring to explore a boundary-pushing sexual relationship, this film is all about surfaces.

From the glassy exterior of the Grey skyscraper and the reflective sheen of the piano, to the two incredibly toned and titillating leads, it’s a sexy-looking cinematic morsel that lacks the depth (oi oi) to really satisfy your appetite.

HT_fifty_shades_of_grey_trailer_sk_140724_16x9_992The sexual encounters themselves are heavily edited and softened, with the minimal whipping action actually slow-motioned to presumably mitigate the flesh-grazing, wince-inducing effect. It’s as if Christian is feather dusting, rather than dominating Anastasia. Indeed the only one gasping is ‘the submissive’ herself. It’s diluted, mainstream entertainment and in a cinematic climate that is capable of producing Blue Is The Warmest Colour, Nymphomaniac and Secretary, 50 Shades comparatively feels a bit nebbish, censored and well, grey.

In fact, I would argue that the dialogue is more grimace-worthy than the S+M itself. Some of the quips are cutesy, and incited a stray giggle. Others are just plain awful. I can’t imagine how hard it must’ve been for Jamie Dornan to say ‘I don’t make love, I fuck hard’ with a serious face.

Screenwriter Kelly Marcel has done an admirable job of making a verbose and grandiloquent piece of literary garbage come across as relatively plausible and genial (though no-one is buying that two students could live in such a chic apartment). However, her wrists appear to be the ones bound when it comes to full creative license, and the exposition is as clunky as Ana’s leather boots.

Because of the triadic nature of this narrative, the first instalment has a sense of feeling incomplete and somewhat under-baked. In its attempt to set the stage for Round 2, 50 Shades of Grey as a standalone film does itself an injustice and ends on rather a bum note. It inevitably feels like the foreplay to a main attraction, and whilst in some instances that makes for a sensual and sporadically comic film, I can’t help but affirm Ana’s desire for more.


In terms of the feminist, domestic violence related backlash against the film, I would argue it’s somewhat unfounded. Taylor-Johnson has coated her film in a high-gloss sheen, where everything takes place between luxuriously silky sheets. Yes, this could raise issues of elitism and whether as a society we’re more willing to accept or pander to the fetishes of the rich – certainly if a blue-collar Bill came after Ana brandishing a flogger, she might not be so receptive. However I would take more issue with the scenes if they had been depicted grittily and alluded to something infinitely more depraved and sordid.

Furthermore, Ana asks to be enlightened. She is invited into Christian’s world, and she willingly consents. I recognise that we should challenge and critique entertainment and ideologies that perpetuate patriarchal control over women, but I think naysayers are attacking the wrong cultural iteration of female sexuality. If they wish to boycott something on the grounds of its depicting of violence towards women, look at Grand Theft Auto 5.

It’s also incredibly refreshing to have a film helmed, scripted and conceived by a completely female trio. Whilst the film suffers artistically, it has been an overwhelming commercial success and will hopefully set a precedent that allows women greater opportunities in the film industry.

Verdict: In the capable hands of the two Johnson’s, this is an incredibly watchable (albeit tame) depiction of the international bestseller. Though it’s nothing to scream about, I doubt you’ll be shouting ‘Red!’ either.

Crowe’s ‘Aloha’ Gets a Trailer

tell-us-about-the-famous-boombox-scene-in-say-anything-didn-t-you-have-fishbone-playing-but-cameron-crowe-dubbed-over-it-with-peter-gabriel-Cameron Crowe has had an interesting career. Beginning as a music journalist for Rolling Stone magazine, he’s profiled such legends as Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, Carole King and Joni Mitchell. If that weren’t enough to make him the coolest dude at every cocktail party, he’s gone on to script some of the most iconic moments in cinematic history: John Cusack holding a boom box outside his girlfriend’s window in Say Anything, Billy Crudup and team singing their hearts out to ‘Tiny Dancer’ in Almost Famous, and Cuba Gooding Jr. yelling ‘show me the money’ in Jerry Maguire… He’s arguably a genius at depicting human fallibility, and our capability to change for the better.

If you need a director to restore your faith in humanity, Crowe’s your man.

He hit a few road bumps with Vanilla Sky, Elizabethtown and We Bought a Zoo, but there’s something twinkly and nostalgic about his latest trailer, Aloha, (which in all honesty could just be Bradley Cooper’s eyes) that makes me think he’s pulled a comeback out of the bag.

Crowe is a master at feel-good. There are times he wades a little too deep into the saccharine pool, but mostly his narratives and dialogue land on the right side of sentimental. He knows how to tug on his audience’s heartstrings, but in a way that’s believable and uplifting.

His heroes are generally wearied idealists in great need of a renewed perspective, often taking the form of a young, spirited woman,  leading said protagonist back to the path of greatness. Crowe is a hopeless, unashamed romantic, and when you’ve watched one too many ‘historical biopics’ or ‘gritty crime dramas’, his films are the perfect antidote.

Aloha has an incredible, and incredibly likeable cast: Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, John Krasinski, Bill Murray, Danny McBride and Alec Baldwin (making a cameo that could rival Glengarry Glen Ross). Crowe’s films always have an awareness of their own romanticism, and Aloha looks no different. As Brian Gilcrest (Cooper) sets eyes on an old flame – a beautifully windswept McAdams – he is instructed by his buddy to “pause for memories”. Whereas We Bought A Zoo felt a little too try-hard, and a little too earnest, there’s something a bit more tongue and cheek about this trailer.  With such a talented cast, and a seemingly pithy script, I expect we could see some real sparks fly and a welcome return to form for Crowe.

He had me at Aloha.

5 Female Directors You Should Know…

The paucity of female filmmakers has almost reached the point of media saturation. It doesn’t take long to find statistics or editorials decrying the severe scantiness of a female perspective in the film industry. As well as being an all-white affair, this year’s Academy Awards are once again male-dominated, with zero women being nominated in the Directing or Cinematography categories. However, I would contend that it’s not because there is an actual lack of talented, insightful and masterful women helming films but rather fewer opportunities presented to them.

I was reading a piece in The Guardianthe other day about a film critic who is vowing to watch films only penned, or purposed by women. Her justification for including male-directed, but female-written film is as follows:

“A lot of times a woman will write a script and in order to get it made, she’ll need a male director. If she goes to a financier, as a female screenwriter with a female director, she will be turned down. But if you have a female screenwriter and a male director who has one or two films behind him – or even if it’s his debut – financiers are more likely to back a film by a man”.

And in that brief statement, Gates articulates the core issue. Gender discrimination in Hollywood is pervasive, and destructive. It’s like a community sitting atop a vast field of untapped oil, and being told it doesn’t exist – that those resources are somehow inferior, or less visible than the ones they have access to. That would be a massive squandering of potential, and quite frankly, ridiculous. Yet the difficulty women have making movies, or making money making movies, is often viewed as ‘just the way it is’.

Here to prove that point – that it’s not a lack of female directors, but a lack of opportunity – are 5 up-and coming or established directors who are doing their thing, and doing it quite brilliantly. Of course there are plenty more that deserve your curiosity, but these are the ladies currently capturing my attention…

5. KKat+Coiro+Case+Premieres+Tribeca+Film+Festival+a1ZquC2imW_lat Coiro

With three feature-length projects under her belt in as many years, Coiro is perhaps the most prolific director of my selection. Her films And While We Were Here, (which I review in my last blog post), Life Happens, and A Case of You, often focus on the difficult choices that women are faced to make, such as between career and family. The critical response to her films has been mixed, however her female leads are all intriguing, flawed but ultimately likeable people that don’t necessarily have their shit all figured out. Particularly interesting in A Case of You is how the male lead (playing by the affable Justin Long) is the one trying to change, and mould himself to lure his love interest, which is so often the other way around in romantic comedies directed by men. Her films are in turn delicate, nuanced, witty and beautifully realised. And While We Here particularly showcases an artistic vision and her potential as a director of great potency.

In_a_World_poster4. Lake Bell

If you haven’t see In A World… steal a friend’s Netflix password immediately. It’s hilarious and relevant, and reveals actress Lake Bell to not only be a great comedic performer, but also a very astute director. It’s a satirical piece that charts a young woman’s attempt to compete in the male-dominated world of voiceovers and Bell never misses a beat nor an opportunity to underscore the double-standarded nature of the entertainment business. In A World… is a pacy and well-crafted feature length debut for Bell, and one that has me incredibly, insatiably excited for her collaboration with Noah Baumbach for her next project The Emperor’s Children. 

Amma Asante3. Amma Asante

Belle might be better known for launching EE Rising Star nominee Gugu Mbatha-Raw into the spotlight, but behind her confident, multi-faceted performance is Ghanian-British director Asante. Tackling the slave trade – especially after awards-sweeper 12 Years a Slave – in an original and sensitive way, is no mean feat, but it is one that Asante achieves with the deft of a director considerably more experienced. This is her first big-budget film, after her smaller 2004 debut A Way of Life, which won a handful of awards and lots of praise. Powerful, poignant and intelligent, Belle is a mischievous, and much-needed divergence from traditional period costume-dramas and one that has me hoping it doesn’t take Asante another 10 years to release a film.

fid131102. Haifaa Al-Mansour

Al-Mansour is from Saudi Arabia, a country where extreme restrictions and limitations are placed on the female population; where they aren’t allowed to wear certain clothes, drive cars or compete in sports, let alone direct a groundbreaking and thought-provoking film. But against these curtailments of her freedom, that’s exactly what Al-Mansour did with Wadjda in 2013, a courageous, endearing and important film that picked up several awards nominations on the film festival circuit. Al-Mansour is to make the cross over to Hollywood with a Mary Shelley biopic, in which Elle Fanning is slated to star in the titular role. Let’s hope she continues to push boundaries upon arrival.

BN-FZ257_ava2_DV_201412111612591. Ava DuVernay

If there’s one name you should remember from this year’s awards season, its Ava DuVernay. Though she just missed out on a Best Directing nomination for her Martin Luther King biopic Selma, she has done something arguably much more admirable – broken through the glass ceiling. Historical films such as this are predominantly the reserve of a male director and it’s rare for a woman to be charged with detailing the events surrounding one of the most important victories for the Civil Rights movement, as spear-headed by the most important figure of the Civil Rights movement. And yet she does it in blistering, gutsy and and complex style. She’s got filmmaking verve by the bucketload, and shows great amounts of restraint and intelligence in her formal approach. DuVernay might not pick up any awards, but she should win herself a legion of fans and cement her position as a talent to take serious note of.