Movie battle… The Road House remake

Posted in BATTLES with tags , , , , , on March 9, 2023 by Ross McG
Dalton was delighted to hear the Rosses were writing about him again. (MGM)

Ross McD and Ross McG must have been living under two separate rocks the past few months, because they’ve only just found out that 80s classic Road House is getting a remake.

One Ross thinks it’s a great idea, the other… not so much.

It’s time to get loaded in the Double Deuce and start fighting…

Ross McG: FOR

“You’re too stupid to have a good time.”

Back in the late ’80s, there was one VHS every 10-year-old kid wanted to get their grubby hands on. It had two magical words in its title, and under them were two more magical words: “Patrick” and “Swayze”.

And that film was… Dirty Dancing.

Don’t be fooled by the wave of nostalgia that has washed over movie culture the past 20 years ago proclaiming DD as the ultimate “chick flick”.

In the few years after Dirty Dancing was released in 1987 when it was finally available to rent on video, boys were gagging to see it just as much as girls.

On VHS, Dirty Dancing was rated 15, which back in the late 80s promised three things: boobs, blood and bad words. Even the title sounded grimy. It became a myth.

Anyone who claimed to have seen Dirty Dancing was cornered in the school playground at break-time. “Is it really dirty?” we’d ask. “Is the dancing any good?”

Now, it seems laughable that the movie was some kind of prepubescent forbidden fruit. On the film’s IMDb Parents Guide page, under the “violence and gore” section, one of the warnings reads: “Two men fight”.

Hmmm… now what if there was a Swayze movie where that was the ENTIRE plot?

While they stupidly wouldn’t admit to loving the wonderful Dirty Dancing, teenage boys – and, as Swayze’s legendary bouncer James Dalton calls them, “40-year-old adolescents” – worshipped Road House.

This is a movie that, incredibly, lives up to its endless set of legendary taglines. Exhibit A? “The dancing’s over. Now it gets dirty.”

This is a movie where Dalton rips out a man’s throat with his bare hands. This is a film where Sam Elliott plays Sam Elliott. This is a film featuring the music of the late great blind guitarist Jeff Healey. This is a film in which Jackie Treehorn himself, Ben Gazzara, one of American cinema’s most esteemed actors, plays one of its downright meanest villains. This is a film directed, appropriately enough, by a man named Rowdy. This is a film in which Swayze utters the immortal line, “Pain don’t hurt”.

They just don’t make ’em like this any more. Except… now they do. Road House is getting a redo. And I for one am delighted.

They really should remake Road House every 10 years, not every 35. Every generation needs its Road House.

The remake is being directed by Doug Liman, famous for Swingers, the first Bourne movie, that one where Tom Cruise dies every day and that other Tom Cruise one where he smuggles cocaine. In other words, it’s in safe hands.

And who is going to replace Swayze? Come on, you can’t replace Swayze.

But there’s only one man for the job of trying to match him.

It’s his Donnie Darko co-star, Jake Gyllenhaal, of course!

Anyone who believes ‘pain don’t hurt’ has clearly never shaved their armpits. (MGM)

In his heyday, Swayze went from Dirty Dancing to Road House to Ghost to Point Break to To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar. He’s remembered as an action tough guy, but if you look up “versatile” in the dictionary, you’ll find the definition of the word “versatile”, which is what he was.

Gyllenhaal is cut from the same cloth. I can’t think of a top-line male actor with a more varied – and mostly successful – output in recent years.

Zodiac, Prisoners, Nightcrawler, Nocturnal Animals… these are films with Gyllenhaal performances that will be talked about for decades.

But to slide into Swayze’s bouncing boots, you have to have action chops, and the signs are that Gyllenhaal will follow up his unhinged performance in Michael Bay’s Ambulance with something equally entertaining in Road House 2.0.

Recent set photos and footage, in which Gyllenhaal crashed an actual UFC weigh-in (his character is a former fighter turned bouncer), show that he is ripped and ready.

Gyllenhaal plays someone called Elwood Dalton, who could be the original Dalton’s son, nephew or just some other guy called Dalton, who cares? This isn’t Star Wars – everyone doesn’t have to be related to everyone else.

This is Bar Wars. And it’s about to get brutal, bloody and, who knows, maybe even booby. All over again.


“Never start anything inside unless it’s absolutely necessary.”

Let me start by saying I’m not against reboots or remakes at all. Yes, they are easy to shit on as lazy and pointless, but sometimes, there is a fair enough reason.

Sometimes the OG is in a foreign language, and an English redo might open it up to a larger audience who balk at subtitles (think The Ring, or Oldboy).

Sometimes, they try something fun like a gender switch (Overboard) or a live action version of an animated film (take your pick from Disney).

Sometimes it’s a classic horror looking for younger audiences who didn’t grow up with it (A Nightmare On Elm Street, Psycho, Carrie, The Thing).

And sometimes, it’s a casting choice that’s worth the try (David Harbour as Hellboy? Sure! Nic Cage in The Wicker Man? Absolutely!)

Allow me to also clarify, that each and every one of these remakes and reboots were totally shit. Or at very best, paled to transparency in comparison to the original.

I didn’t say I liked reboots. But I am not against them trying.

But there is a category of movie that should not, under any circumstances, be remade or rebooted.

And that is Patrick Swayze movies.

Ross McD, right, welcomes McG, left, around for another game of Wii Sports. (MGM)

Patrick Swayze movies are perfect. They don’t need anything. The only thing they should be “re”-ed, is re-released. As they are.

Did NOBODY see the desecration that was the second Point Break? Did NO ONE ELSE sit through that blasphemous second attempt at Dirty Dancing?

Who DA FUK can — with one sad-eyed look — say “I don’t wanna fight you but I will totally remove your throat with my bare hands if I have to”?

James Dalton literally invented the Mortal Kombat fatality. You don’t f**k with him, and you don’t f**k with his film.

It’s a real shame… Ross McG and I were only just discussing how Jake Gyllenhaal had yet to make a bad film, putting him in a rare category with Leo DiCaprio, and no one else.

You would think Swayze’s Donnie Darko castmate would have a little more respect. I guess not.

I love Gyllenhaal. I like the idea of the modern UFC setting. As an Irishman, I am even obligated to like Conor McGregor. He is undoubtedly the greatest fight salesman of all time. But can he sell this film? I highly doubt it.

If you’re willing to so shamelessly cast someone just for clout… well, you deserve the box office ground and pound you are bound to receive.

Seriously, stop disrespecting the Swayz with this shit.

If you’re not careful, they’re gonna remake Ghost with Channing fecking Tatum or something…



Cocaine Bear, Max Max, Cloud Atlas and the quest to find the best movie trailer ever

Posted in COMMENT with tags , , on March 2, 2023 by Ross McG
There is plenty of ursine around in Cocaine Bear’s trailer. (Universal)

What makes a good trailer these days?

Must it contain a glacially paced cover of an annoyingly popular song? Does it need a drum effect every time a character loads a gun or throws a punch?

Or can it dispense with such modern clichés and just focus on a bear coked out of its brain flying through the air in pursuit of an ambulance?

Poor Cocaine Bear.

The second I finished watching that trailer, I thought, “No way the actual film is gonna live up to that.”

But who hasn’t thought that after watching a trailer?

Perhaps not the woman who sued the distributors of the 2011 Nicolas Winding Refn vehicle Drive, claiming its thrill-a-second promo was a complete mis-sell of the finished and largely car chase-less movie, in which Ryan Gosling probably uttered the same amount of dialogue as he did in the trailer.

I have long considered launching my own legal action at the director and star’s follow-up, Only God Forgives, through which I was hoodwinked into a miserable cinema experience by one of the best trailers in living memory.

The success of that trailer was founded on two things: Gosling doing his best primary school kid impression at the end of it (“Wanna fight?”) and its soundtrack, namely the song ‘2020’ by Canadian band Suuns.

That song popped up again more recently in the trailer for Three Thousands Years Of Longing, directed by George Miller, a filmmaker who knows all about the impact of a good trailer.

The appetite for a fourth Mad Max movie was hardly huge, but that all changed when the teaser trailer for Fury Road dropped towards the end of 2014. This Verdi-backed, carnage-fuelled magnificence went a long way to enticing audiences into the theatre, something described in great detail in Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road, by Kyle Buchanan, which is well worth a read.

I still can’t decide if the trailer is even better than the film itself.

Which reminds me of my favourite video sketch from The Onion, in which it reported on how the studio behind the celebrated trailer for 2008’s Iron Man made the controversial decision to expand the two-minute promo into a feature-length movie.

The major critique launched at modern movie trailers, apart from those overdone punches/drums effect combos (thanks a lot, Suicide Squad), is that they show too much.

So why is one of the best trailers ever made almost six minutes long?

I’m talking about the extended trailer for Cloud Atlas, the 2012 sci-fi epic directed by Lana and Lilly Wachowski and Tom Tykwer, which manages the seemingly impossible feat of showing everything while telling nothing.

It’s a remarkable trailer, all five minutes and 41 seconds of it, and has the power to flick those tear duct switches, usually just as Outro by M83 (who is, I kid you not, a friend of Ross McD’s) kicks in towards the end, which is astonishing in itself given the song has been used in just about every single thing ever.

Those are some of my favourites, but what are yours? What do you think is the greatest movie trailer of all time?

Movie battle… Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Posted in BATTLES with tags , , , , on February 21, 2023 by rossvross
No one was pleased to see Ross McD and Ross McG turn up at the pier together. (Netflix)

You wait six years for one Ross v Ross blog post to come along, then two turn up in a matter of weeks.

That’s what we at RvR Towers call prolific.

You have to go all the way back to 2011 to find the last time Rosses McD and McG had a proper online cinema scrap, when the latter successfully argued against the former that Dirty Dancing kicks Footloose’s Bacon-shaped behind.

Well, from a rasher of Bacon to a slice of onion, one made out of glass. That’s right, Rian Johnson’s hugely divisive Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is getting the movie battleground treatment.

Is it a work of genius, as Ross McD claims? Or is it the pile of muck that Ross McG declares?

Let battle commence…

Ross McD: FOR

“It’s a dangerous thing to mistake speaking without thought for speaking the truth, don’t you think?”

Ross v Ross has been dormant for a while.

Over the past decade, Ross Senior has been trying to coax me back into our infantile debates… but if truth be told, I just didn’t have the fight in me any more. I just don’t care about films as much. I am jaded.

I think Rise of Skywalker was perhaps the last straw for me. A film franchise I adored. A film franchise I have tattoos of. A final film I actually crashed my car rushing to Burbank to see the media preview screening of. My insurance premium went up… for that?

It’s been so long since I really enjoyed a movie. I mean, really enjoyed. And then I saw Glass Onion. Twice, within 24 hours actually.

I excitedly texted Ross McG. “Hey did u watch Glass Onion?”

“Yeah,” he replied. “It was shit.”


Fine. I’ll take the bait.

Ross McD pretends to enjoy watching Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. (Netflix)

Glass Onion is, in my opinion, the most enjoyable film of the past decade. People who claim not to like Glass Onion are doing so just to be contrarian.

“It’s stupid,” claims McG. “It’s predictable. It’s pretentious.”

I have some news that may come as a shock: It’s supposed to be stupid. It’s supposed to be predictable. It’s supposed to be pretentious. These are literally the whole point of the movie.

FFS, Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc even spells it out in the film’s conclusion (spoiler): the only reason the world’s greatest detective (Batman aside) was stumped, was because the plot was so f***ing stupid.

OMG! Ed Norton is the bad guy, and was just pretending to be nice?? You figured it out? Well done! He’s played that exact character in like 10 films.

An identical twin sister? The most hackneyed, weakest deus ex machina in the history of whodunnits? Yes.

Watch it again. All the clues are, as writer/director Rian Johnson promises, all right there to see. The first suspicion I had was the chess endgame puzzle, with all the pieces still on the board. “Wait that can’t be right?” I thought at the time. “How did none of the characters notice that?” No time to dwell on it. The film has moved on.

Turns out, no one noticed it because all the characters are stupid.

Glass Onion is a stupid film. A glorious, hilariously self-deprecating, sumptuously shot, superbly acted, cleverly concocted, outrageously fun, stupid film.

I’ll ask McG to name one better whodunnit. The real predictableness here will be McG’s answer of Clue.

How can you not appreciate the silliness of Glass Onion, yet revere Clue? Because you haven’t got one, that’s why.


“NO! It’s just dumb!”

Anyone catch a superb and atmospheric new murder mystery movie that dropped on Netflix over Christmas and New Year?

This whodunnit had a Hollywood A-lister bringing his A-game, a wonderful cast of supporting actors, eye-catching visuals, a director with a solid back catalogue, a script at times funny and frightening – but never boring – and a genuinely shocking twist.

Yeah, I flipping loved The Pale Blue Eye too.

Sadly, McD and Me aren’t here to talk about Scott Cooper’s little-heralded gem, where Christian Bale’s detective gets to grips with a real-life master of mystery, Edgar Allan Poe, brilliantly played by dastardly Dudley Dudsley himself, Harry Melling.

No, instead we’re stuck in a f***ing onion.

Has a film been less deserving of all the internet ink spilt about it? Not since The Last Jedi, anyway.

Hate or really hate Star Wars 8, you had to at least hand it to director Rian Johnson for trying something new with a franchise that rarely strays from its now tedious triumvirate of sandy planet/space chase/shiny stick fight.

But in Glass Onion, the follow-up to the rather enjoyable but now sullied Knives Out, Johnson doesn’t really try anything at all.

Ross McG was stunned to see Ross McD back blogging after nearly a decade. (Netflix)

This is modern filmmaking at its laziest, filled with immediately outdated references (Face masks! Twitter storms! Jared Leto’s tea!), needless cameos (Yo-Yo Ma! Serena Williams!) and painful miscasting (Kathryn Hahn as a governor!).

That the script for this mess is nominated for an Oscar is almost as big a middle finger to cinema as the one Johnson aims at his audience.

Just because you spend your movie proclaiming how everyone in it is stupid, doesn’t mean your movie isn’t stupid too.

Movies with stupid characters can be amazing – Dumb & Dumber remains a masterpiece, for example – but a movie with stupid characters that are impossible to like, or care about, just ends up grating.

Johnson could have allayed this somewhat had he decided to put any mystery into his murder mystery, but even if you cared about who did it, finding out whodunnit just doesn’t quite do it, does it?

By spending its crazy long running time lecturing its audience on how glass-eyed they are, Glass Onion becomes a totally joyless experience, sucked of any sense of wonder so often conjured by even the most basic movies in this genre.

Ross McD got one thing right though: I would say Glass Onion is no Clue. Problem is, it’s not even Murder Mystery, yeah that’s right, the one with Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, also dumped on Netflix.

Apart from the Frank TJ Mackey reference, I can’t think of one reason to recommend Glass Onion. Sorry Benoit, I’m drawing a complete… Blanc.

It’s been 35 years and I still can’t stop thinking about Crocodile Dundee II

Posted in COMMENT with tags , , on February 1, 2023 by Ross McG

Six years. Six years since either of us Rosses have posted anything on this crummy site.

You know how much it costs to keep a website going for six years without posting anything? Yeah, not much.

In those six years, Ross McD (him) and Ross McG (me) have seen each other… once. The Atlantic Ocean has that affect on late 2000s blog bromances.

But how many times have I watched Crocodile Dundee II in that same period? The whole way through? Again, probably just once. How many times though have I thought about Crocodile Dundee II in the past six years? Oh that’s easy. Once. Once every day.

And the thought it always this: Crocodile Dundee II is one of the most gorgeous looking films ever made, and nobody talks about this.

And I’m not going to either. Not yet, anyway.


First, we have to talk about Crocodile Dundee II as a thing, a sequel that financially made all the sense in the world yet, for me at least, has become a movie monolith – inexplicable.

For those of you who did not grow up in fashion’s worst decade, 1988’s Crocodile Dundee II (even the Roman numerals are off, a film like this usually carries a big fat ‘2’) is the sequel to 1986’s Crocodile Dundee.

Croc Dun One, as no one but me just then called it, was a riot, a fish-out-of-water tale that turned into a whale, grossing more than $300m worldwide and getting outperformed in the US by only one other film: Top Gun. Where’s the sequel for that one, huh?

Audiences were so taken by the adventures of Mick Dundee (Paul Hogan) in New York that he was back on the big screen within two years in the inevitable sequel. Crocodile Dundee II was The Way of Water of its day – it took in a tonne of money ($230m) then everyone tried to pretend it didn’t exist.

But thank goodness it does, because it looks phenomenal.


The eight-year-old me saw it in the appropriately opulent surroundings of the Grand Opera House in Belfast, on a day trip with our town youth club summer scheme, and while I loved the clothes-switch ending, which has always stayed with me, I quickly forgot about Mick and his adventure in the outback (unlike the original, most of Crocodile Dundee II takes place Down Under).

But then something happened.

I caught Croc 2 a few years back on TV, and it’s been doing the rounds of Film4 or ITV4 ever since. Like Jaws or Predator or that dire third Taken movie, it’s never not on television.

Crocodile Dundee II is far from a masterpiece – it’s kind of the original but in reverse order, and with a needless drug cartel/kidnap plot tacked on – but my obsession with it stems from just how damned fine it looks.

I’ve never classed myself as one of those ‘Oh, the cinematography was masterful!’ buffs, because deep down every wannabe film critic accepts they don’t know the first thing about cinematography. But even my untrained eye is always opened by the popping vistas and bright colours of Crocodile Dundee II. No cash cow sequel should look this wonderful.

The man largely responsible for that look is Australian cinematographer Russell Boyd, and everything starts to make sense after a quick glance through his CV.


He also shot the first Crocodile Dundee movie, but the budget almost doubled for the sequel, and frankly, it looks like a good chunk of that money was wisely thrown at the screen.

Boyd may not be the best known cinematographer – he’s not a superstar name like Roger Deakins or Emmanuel Lubezki – but he’s had a hand in crafting some of the best – and best looking – movies across five decades.

Most of these were done in collaboration with one of my favourite directors, Peter Weir, on beautiful works of art such as 1975’s Picnic At Hanging Rock, the closest thing to an Impressionist painting come to life, and 2003’s Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, for which he won a deserved Oscar.

Boyd was also behind the camera on two of the greatest sports movies of the 1990s, White Men Can’t Jump and Tin Cup, both directed by Ron Shelton.

And you know what? I’d put flipping Crocodile Dundee II up there with any of them in the visual feast stakes.

Ignore the film’s 9% rating on Rotten Tomatoes – and while you’re at, ignore Rotten Tomatoes altogether, it’s a pointless site – Crocodile Dundee II is a glorious piece of cinema eye candy.

Happy 35th birthday, CDII…

Here are the 30 movies that I watched over Christmas

Posted in TOP FIVES with tags , on January 1, 2017 by Ross McG


I used to do these all the time.

Just after Christmas, I’d rattle through all the movies I’d gorged on over the holidays and whack em up on this blog.

You can read the past ones here, and for me it’s like delving into a personal past I never knew existed; did I really watch Mamma Mia? And ENJOY it?!

There are some equally disturbing entries (doesn’t that sound like an early 90s psychological thriller in the mould of Single White Female… DISTURBING ENTRY) in the list below, because it was bloomin’ Christmas.

You might not watch the best films ever made around Christmas, but you tend to watch a lot of them. I know I do.

As in previous years, I didn’t watch every one of the movies below in their entirety. Some of them, sure, but others were caught for 15 minutes or half an hour – that’s the beauty of the Christmas TV schedule.

Most of the below were seen on TV, and they are listed in the chronological order in which I viewed them.

If you get the chance, give us your Christmas viewing list in the comments below. Happy new year…

1. Love Actually


Where better to begin my festive watching than with everyone’s most loved/hated Christmas movie? I love Love Actually, actually – and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Okay, I’m a bit ashamed, but as ashamed as I should be.

2. Trading Places


This has become a pre-Christmas tradition, dusting off the old DVD and lashing it on a few days before December 25. I lapsed last Christmas, but the two-year gap did me good, as this time round it felt even funnier. Clarence Beeks remains the biggest git in movie history.

3. Scrooged


My mum took me to see this in the cinema, so it will always have a special place in my heart, which is more than can be said for its star, Bill Murray, who reportedly hated it. Sorry, Bill, you’re wrong.

4. 12 Dates of Christmas


Uh… okay. This isn’t my usual Christmas fare, but it was lurking on Channel 5 on a boring afternoon so I gave it a go. Amy Smart has always been an underrated comedic actress and Mark-Paul Gosselaar (from the amazing Franklin & Bash – and some show called Saved By The Bell) pops up as the romantic love interest and… it’s really not that bad. Really.

5. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid


From the ridiculous to the sublime. George Roy Hill’s genre-subverting classic wipes the floor with most modern movies. It’s a western where the main hero doesn’t know how to fire a gun and spends most of the running time doing just that: running away (John Wayne would never have played Butch Cassidy). William Goldman’s script still crackles nearly 50 years later.

6. Cool Runnings


Candy is the man.

7. Holiday in Handcuffs


Zack Morris isn’t the only Saved By The Beller getting up to some festive antics. In Holiday in Handcuffs, AC Slater is kidnapped by Sabrina the Teenage Witch in a bid to convince her pushy parents that she has a boyfriend for Christmas. It’s absolute drivel, of course, but it killed 20 minutes or so.

8. The Hateful Eight


Quentin Tarantino’s snowbound chat-then-shoot-em-up is perfect cosy Christmas viewing… as long as you like your turkey’s juices running red. It’s as if the director took the stunning basement bar scene from Inglorious Basterds and decided to make an entire film out of it – and it’s bloody brilliant.

9. Forgetting Sarah Marshall


I had forgotten Paul Rudd was in this… and how flipping funny the whole thing is.

10. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa


The Alan Partridge movie is still a bit hit-and-miss, even on a third viewing, but when it hits it hits hard. ‘What’s your favourite siege?’ – ‘Iranian hostage crisis.’ – ‘Me too!’

11. The Vikings


What’s your favourite movie with Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis? If you answered with Spartacus, you’re wrong – The Vikings is where it’s at.

12. The Lady in the Van


I caught the last five minutes of this, and was left as confused as all hell. Just what the heck was going on?

13. Love Actually


Yes. I watched Love Actually again. Attack me if you dare, I will crush you.

14. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban


PoA finishes with one huge hour-long time-travelling sequence that is exhausting, but it’s also deliciously clever. Hermione’s ‘Does my hair really look like that from the back?’ might be the funniest line in the Potter movies.

15. Pride


This had me crying bucketloads. The true story of how the LGBT community backed the miners’ strike in the 80s, Pride is rabble-rousing, poignant and hilarious in equal measure, constantly flitting between one of several main characters to always keep you on your toes.

16. Muriel’s Wedding


I had forgotten how utterly depressing Muriel’s Wedding is until I flicked on the last 40 minutes while late-night Christmas channel hopping, but its depiction of dullness is the film’s secret weapon; life isn’t all bombastic Abba numbers, you know.

17. Death on the Nile



Just caught the last 15 minutes of this to find out which of the starry cast did it. Peter Ustinov’s Poirot had all the answers, of course.

18. Teen Wolf


When I was nine, I thought Teen Wolf was the best film ever made and couldn’t possibly be equalled. While I have since learned this not to be the case, it still has its charm. I stayed with it until the classic keg of beer scene, then went outside. I didn’t just watch movies over Christmas, you know.

19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire


A good few Christmases ago, this was the movie that finally convinced me Harry Potter films were worth watching, and it still holds up, thanks to the stirring action of the Triwizard tournament and a really chilling ending.

20. Love Story


This one I watched in its entirety. I’d always avoided Love Story in the pigheaded belief it was over-sentimental drivel – how wrong was I? Soon-to-be college sweethearts Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw clash in the very first scene and the whole thing unfolds wonderfully from there, right up to its tear-filled ending.

21. Captain America: Civil War


This was another full watch. In the cinema, I thought Civil War might be the best Marvel movie yet, but its deficiencies become more apparent on a second viewing. It’s still terrific fun, but it might have elevated itself to the Best Superhero Movie Ever title had it contained any sense of jeopardy. At no point do you worry about the fate of any leading character, which is a shame. The airport bit is fantastic, though.

22. Muppets Most Wanted


I caught the second half of this on telly, and laughed way more than I thought I would at a film containing large chunks of Ricky Gervais.

23. About Time


I have a feeling About Time really will stand the test of that word in its title. A bit of a gem.

24. Beaches


Anyone who dismisses Beaches as a throwaway chick flick is an idiot. It’s not a film about women – it’s a film about friendship; and a funny and beautiful one at that. Guaranteed to make a grown man cry, especially at Christmas.

25. The Great Muppet Caper


How did they do that bicycle bit in Battersea Park?! So brilliant.

26. Star Wars: The Force Awakens


I watched The Force Awakens while building some Star Wars Lego – that’s how cool I am. I obviously like it if I decided to watch it for a third time, but I do hope they dispense with the action and concentrate more on the characters in the upcoming Episode VIII – there’s almost too much stuff blowing up in The Force Awakens. That bit with the upside down Millennium Falcon and the gun turret though… super.

27. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince


I love a bit of Potter at Christmas, and Half-Blood Prince is quickly becoming my favourite instalment, mainly because it blends the humour and the darkness so beautifully.

28. 84 Charing Cross Road


This is a film in which Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft write each other letters. That’s all that happens. And it’s kind of great. Rumour has it Michael Bay is circling the remake.

29. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1


My final Potter fix this Christmas. There are some Harry fans who rate this below the frankly unwatchable first two films, which is grossly unfair. Yes, our heroes spend a good deal of the action off the Hogwarts reservation in a tent, but there are so many memorable sequences, particularly Harry’s return to Godric’s Hollow and the magnificent animated tale of The Three Brothers, which is as powerful as anything else in the entire series.

30. You Again


You’ve seen them kick Michael Myers’ and the Alien queen’s respective asses – now catch Jamie Lee Curtis and Sigourney Weaver together in a bizarre romcom that also features Betty White, Bobby Ewing and, uh, Hall and Oates. I only saw the last ten minutes, but what a perfect way to round off my Christmas movie viewing.




What would happen if Alan Rickman’s characters in Love Actually and Die Hard switched places?

Posted in BATTLES with tags , , , , on December 16, 2016 by Ross McG



This article first appeared on

It’s rather strange, given that he stars in two of the greatest festive films ever made, that Alan Rickman once declared on screen that we should call off Christmas.

Let’s put the late, great Rickman’s bah-humbugging in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves aside for a moment, however, and concentrate on his roles in Love Actually and Die Hard.

These two very different Christmas movies (one says you should follow your heart; the other that you should follow terrorists around in your bare feet) have one thing in common: Rickman rocks.

In Die Hard, he plays Hans Gruber, an exceptional thief and lover of nice suits who uses his benefits of a classical education to hold up Nakatomi Plaza in LA on Christmas Eve.

In Love Actually, he is Harry, a disgruntled middle-aged MD of a design agency who dabbles in a spot of extra-marital flirting with his secretary before holding up a queue in Selfridges in London while buying some jewellery.

In many filmgoers’ eyes, both characters are as villainous as Rickman’s Sheriff of Nottingham, but have you ever imagined what might happen if Hans and Harry swapped movies?

No? Well that’s too bad, because I have, so you’re just going to have to lump it.











It’s Christmas Eve in Los Angeles. NYPD detective John McClane (Willis) turns up at his wife’s work in Nakatomi Plaza. Little does he know that an armed gang of German thieves have taken over the building. And little does he know that he isn’t the only unexpected guest at the party, pal…

Harry (Rickman) was in the building giving a design pitch to Nakatomi president Joseph Takagi, but couldn’t get out again to catch his flight back to London because someone got stuck in the elevator.


Now, John and Harry will have to put their differences aside and team up to foil the heist. One enjoys exercising in nothing but a dirty vest; the other prefers a fine wine while wearing a trench coat. Can these two unlikely heroes come together to save the day?

It’s not going to be easy, but taking down terrorists at Christmas never is. It’s time to lock… and load. Let’s find out what happened When Harry Met Johnny.

The pair are kept apart initially by a series of explosive events. McClane, the ultimate lone wolf, must go to the rooftop of Nakatomi Tower to save a group of hostages by waving a machine gun around.


Harry came out to the coast, got together with someone, had a few laughs (Pictures: Fox/Universal/Metro)

Meanwhile, Harry is downstairs having a dance with Mr Takagi’s new secretary. The conversation turns to seasonal gifts. He quips: ‘Christmas shopping, never an easy or a pleasant task.’

It’s high-octane stuff.

John eventually turns to Harry for help, calling him repeatedly on his walkie-talkie to ask for back-up. Harry, however, isn’t interested.


That secretary is giving him all the signs so he makes up some lame excuse to McClane and hangs out downstairs a little longer.

John isn’t very happy about this.


John is obsessed with taking down terrorists, but Harry just wants to get the girl. Christmas is a time for romance, he tells his new pal, even in a tense hostage situation.

In the end, Harry has to make the ultimate choice – does he save his new partner’s life when he is staring down the barrel of a gun, or does he take the chance to pop back down to the party and ask that secretary how far away her apartment is? Or does he just scream like a big baby?

pic - love actually/ die hard

Harry thinks he and John might need some more FBI guys (Pictures: Fox/Universal/Metro)

Harry’s decision is eventually taken out of his hands, when the secretary reveals she is the mastermind behind the heist. He takes it all in good humour, telling her: ‘Right, the Christmas hostage crisis. Not my favorite night of the year, and your unhappy job to organise.’

She pulls a gun on Harry and it looks like it’s curtains for our unlikely hero, especially as John is picking glass out from between his toes in a bathroom.

But Harry has a surprise up his sleeve… or, rather, taped to his back. He pulls his own weapon and points it at her. They stare into each other’s eyes for a second… squeeze their fingers on the triggers… and then… BAM! They throw their weapons to the ground and embrace, before having one last dance.


Their love has overcome machine guns, rancid vests, bloody feet and terrorist takeovers.

The lift is finally working again, so they take it down to the bottom floor and prepare to get on that flight back to London.

John is waiting downstairs. Watching them walk out the revolving doors, hand-in-hand, McClane lights a cigarette, smiles and whispers to himself… ‘Happy trails, Harry.’










It’s five weeks before Christmas, and the British prime minister David Something (Hugh Grant) is banging on about how great airports are. He obviously hasn’t been through passport control post-Brexit. ‘Love is everywhere,’ he says. ‘Love actually is all around.’

At that precise moment, 27 passengers vomit, and a mysterious figure steps into the arrivals hall.


It’s Hans Gruber (Rickman), and he has travelled to London to do one thing: pick up some new suits at John Phillips.

But when he spots the prime minister hanging around the airport without his security detail, Gruber seizes his opportunity.

Posing as a German diplomat, he persuades Call Me Dave to bring him back to 10 Downing Street.


Most. Awkward. Double. Date. Ever. (Pictures: Fox/Universal/Metro)

After the PM has stopped flirting with Natalie (Martine McCutcheon) for a few minutes to concentrate on slightly more important things, like running the country, Gruber pulls a gun on him and subjects him to a humiliating ordeal.


Gruber has concocted a plan – and the only person who can help him fulfil it is the prime minister. He wants to track down the most annoying people in Britain and erase them from the face of the planet.

Under unspeakable duress and forced to listen to the Girls Aloud cover of The Pointers Sister hit Jump (for My Love) for more than two minutes, Dave cracks and surreptitiously enlists the help of MI5 to allow Gruber to carry out his plan.

Within seconds, the military intelligence agency has supplied the contact information for Britain’s most irritating inhabitants.

Gruber is aghast as he rifles through their files. There’s this guy…

(Picture: Universal)

… and this guy…


… and this kid.


Gruber is more determined than ever to complete his mission. He pays a visit to ageing rock lothario Billy Mack (played by Bill Nighy doing Bill Nighy) and makes him dance at gunpoint, just like he did with the PM.


‘I’m going to count to three… there will not be a four.’ (Pictures: Fox/Universal/Metro)

But the old geezer’s moves make Hans think of the true meaning of Christmas. He spares Bill Nighy (Bill Nighy) but vows to take retribution on jewellery salesman Rufus (Rowan Atkinson).

However, when he arrives in Selfridges, Christmas shopping is in full swing and there’s no way he can kill Rufus in front of so many potential witnesses.

Unfortunately for Hans, MI5 are now on to him, and a dozen agents pile into the department store and a shoot-out ensues.


Gruber does his best to shoot the glass at the front of the store so he can make his exit, but then someone catches his eye.

It’s Sarah (Laura Linney), and Hans bubby decides he wants to be her white knight. Emitting one last blast of covering fire at MI5’s finest, he dives across the shop floor and whisks Sarah away from danger.

She invites him back to her place and they fall truly, madly, deeply in love. He has a read through Time Magazine while she takes a moment to contain her excitement at meeting such an eligible bachelor.


And then he turns on the charm…


… and tells her he wants to give up his life of exceptional theft for her.


She asks him his name. ‘Bill,’ he says.

‘What, Bill Nighy?’ she asks.

‘No darling. Not Bill Nighy. Bill Clay.’

After spending four weeks together, Hans changes his name legally to Bill and walks out of the deed poll office a new person.


He and Sarah celebrate by going to a local school’s Christmas production, and Hans/Bill doesn’t kill anyone, not even that little obnoxious kid playing the drums. In fact, he removes the bullets from his gun as soon as he takes his seat.


Hands up if you love Hans (Picture: Fox/Universal/Metro)

And finally, filled with intoxicating combined joys of love and Christmas, he cannot resist posting an update from his newly renamed Twitter account…












The Harry Potter movies ranked on how Christmasy they are

Posted in TOP FIVES with tags , on December 16, 2016 by Ross McG


This article first appeared on

It used to be Indiana Jones.

Every year I’d burrow my way through my Christmas dinner, then very politely ask if I could be excused from the kitchen table to watch my hero.

In 1987, the BBC trailed their Christmas Day showing of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom so heavily that the film was simply unavoidable.

It was the biggest event in Britain’s history – or, at least, it was to me.

Looking back from an internet age where access to any movie is a finger-tap away, it all feels remarkably quaint. I felt privileged to watch a film at home only THREE YEARS after it had been released in cinemas.

And it was only Temple of Doom! Not even Raiders of the Lost Ark or Last Crusade.

Indiana Jones used to be my staple diet at Christmas, and while he still remains a healthy side dish, he has been replaced as the main turkey course by another hero: Harry Potter.

Christmas just isn’t Christmas without at least one visit to Hogwarts – the amount of snow that falls across the entire Harry Potter saga could be used to solve the Arctic’s climate change crisis.

The world of Potter is a wintry one, even though only four of the eight films in the series were actually released in November – the other half were given a date in either May or July.

But which of the movies gives Potter fans the cosiest Christmas feeling inside?

8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

You do know what happens in this one, right? There’s little time for Christmas cheer when people are perishing in battle and Hogwarts is being reduced to rubble.

The sparks from Harry and Voldemort’s wand fight kind of remind me of festive lights (and Return of the Jedi), but that’s about it.

Amazing film, though.


7. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

This is more like it. While a terrible, terrible film, Chamber of Secrets does bring out the big Christmas guns.

A fleet of horse-drawn carriages ploughing a furrow across a white carpet of snow in a bid to out-Narnia Narnia? You got it.


And what about some indoor drift down the Great Hall of Hogwarts? Here, have some of that.


6. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The pink cardie sported by the terrifying Dolores Umbridge looks like something your gran would grab you from M&S for Christmas, but think of all the blood she has spilled on it over the years while torturing pupils with her Black Quill. It doesn’t really conjure up images of festive fun, does it?

Order of the Phoenix finds more suitable Christmas spirit in Harry’s admittedly ‘wet’ kiss with Cho Chang under the mistletoe.


Away from the yucky kissy stuff, there’s a heartwarming Weasley family dinner at Grimmauld Place, when Ron gets the usual crap Christmas jumper from his mum. Bless.


5. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Let’s rewind back to the original Harry Potter film now, and that very first crap Christmas jumper.

The Philosopher’s Stone makes Chamber of Secrets look like The Godfather: Part II, such is the ear-piercing shrill of some of its more unrepeatable dialogue, but it comes up trumps in the festive feelgood stakes.

There’s a lovely sequence where we see Hagrid dragging a Christmas tree through the snow…


… followed by said tree’s decoration by Filius Flitwick.


This bit is very subtly soundtracked by the Christmas at Hogwarts carol, which contains the choice lyric:

Find a broomstick in your stocking,
Singing you the magic of this place.
Join the owls joyous flocking,
On this merry Christmas Day.

Later, Ron wakes Harry up on Christmas Day for a spot of wrapping ripping. While Ron has to make do with an R-printed pullover from his mum, jammy little Harry gets a flipping invisibility cloak, the Super Nintendo of Potter presents.


In Harry’s defence, this is effectively his first Christmas, having been subjected to years of seasonal torment at the hands of the Dursleys (previous sample gift: a box of dog biscuits from Aunt Marge), so the poor tyke has every reason to be excited.

Although technically his cloak is more of a hand-me-down; it later emerges that it once belonged to his dad, but was given to Harry by Dumbledore – come on, Albus, you cheapskate, flash some cash next time!

On a more serious note, Christmas provides a powerful backdrop in the Potter movies, because it shows us Harry’s isolation. There’s no tramping off home for festive frivolities for him – with his parents dead, there’s nowhere to go. Hogwarts isn’t just a school to him, it’s his new home.

So when he asks Ron, ‘I’ve got presents?!’, it’s incredibly poignant.

4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1

If the above sequence jerked a few tears from your eyes, then this next one will leave you swimming in a pool of them.

Many Potter fans dislike the first cinematic instalment of the Deathly Hallows, possibly because a lot of the action takes place away from Hogwarts, and possibly because a lot of that action involves kids camping.

But I for one enjoyed the change of scenery and pace, leaving us with only the beautiful Forest of Dean and Harry, Hermione and Ron dealing with the weight of Horcrux-carrying, which in no way reminded me of Frodo’s burden wearing the One Ring whatsoever, no, not at all.


The best bit, however, is when Harry and Hermione ditch Ron (good for a laugh, but always the least interesting of the heroic trio), for a spot of Christmas Eve graveyard gazing in Godric’s Hollow, the boy who lived’s birthplace.

Sure enough, they stumble across Harry’s parents’ headstone, and his trademark stoicism shines through once again. No overwrought speeches for our Harry – just some sniffling and a ‘Merry Christmas, Hermione’.

When she replies with her own, ‘Merry Christmas, Harry’, it gets me right in the tear ducts every time.

3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

From the least loved Potter movie to the fans’ most cherished.

Alfonso Cuarón’s film was the first in the series not to be specifically targeted at four-year-olds, and the move paid off in spades, setting the tone for all the instalments that followed.


I had forgotten, however, just how Christmasy the whole thing is, from the owl swooping past Hogwarts Castle’s clock tower in deep winter to a cloaked Harry hurling snowballs at Draco and co.


The film also contains the very seasonal sounding Double Trouble on its soundtrack, which is often confused with another John Williams track – itself a variation of a 1914 arrangement by Mykola Leontovych – called Carol of the Bells. That one was in Home Alone.

2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Also known as Carry on Harry, given how everyone’s hormones at Hogwarts are raging.

And there’s no greater aphrodisiac than Christmas, except maybe a Love Potion.

In the Half-Blood Prince, Ginny Weasley gets into the Christmas spirit by teasing a flustered Harry with the offer of a festive mince pie, and there’s a snowy sequence where Harry, Hermione and Ron share a touching group hug after a visit to the pub (right before Katie Bell gets cursed in arguably the scariest scene of the entire series, but we won’t mention that).


Proving that Christmas parties are almost always awful, Hermione has a torrid time at the Slug Club do, finally fending off the unwanted affections of Cormac McLaggen, who finds Professor Snape’s shoes with a chunk of projectile dragon balls vomit. Lovely.

What is lovely is that Harry goes to the Slug Club Christmas party with Luna Lovegood – I love Luna!

1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Two words: Yule Ball.

Sorry, four words: The Fricking Yule Ball.


Who didn’t want to attend this sumptuous Christmas feast, the traditional schmoozefest of the Triwizard Tournament? Yes, one of your friends might die in the tournament itself, but at least you can have a last blast at the ball a few nights beforehand.

There are so many ‘YAY!!’ moments in the Goblet of Fire’s dancing extravaganza it’s hard to keep track, but special mention goes to a set of sweet romantic match-ups (Ginny and Neville! Hagrid and Madame Maxime!) and the band for the night, The Weird Sisters (led by Jarvis Cocker).


But like every school ball you ever went to, it all ends in tears – and, unfortunately for Hermione Granger, they all come gushing out of her eyes.

It’s not surprising that Ron got jealous of her date for the ball, Viktor Krum – the guy can almost turn into a shark – but did floppy-haired Weasley have to be so moody about it?

Hermione’s tantrum on the steps at the end of the night epitomises the trials of a hundred million teenage girls… why do stupid boys have to be so cruel?




We have invented our own Oscars contender to win Best Picture… The Wham! Men

Posted in NEWS with tags , , , on February 28, 2016 by Ross McG

(Picture: Myles Goode)

(Picture: Myles Goode)

It’s a question asked by countless film producers every year; how do I win an Oscar for Best Picture?

Eight films are in the running for the biggest accolade at the Academy Awards this Sunday, and each contender is very different.

Among the nominees for this year’s Best Picture are a film where a man is stuck on Mars (The Martian); a film where a woman is stuck in a room (Room); a film where a man is stuck in a permanent car chase (Mad Max: Fury Road); a film where a woman is stuck in Ireland (Brooklyn) and a film where a man is stuck inside a horse (The Revenant).

See? All very different.

But if you look through the Best Picture winners of the past 30 years – from Out of Africa to Birdman – patterns do emerge.


So we decided to dissect the information on those 30 previous winners and pinpoint what exactly makes a Best Picture.

The result is our own movie, complete with a title, a director, a cast, a setting, a genre and a running time, which we are hoping could go into pre-production immediately and make a tilt at the Academy Awards in 2018 – you read about it here first.

This is how we crunched the Oscar numbers to create our own Best Picture contender…


Here is what we’re working with; the list of the Best Picture winners released between 1985 and 2014 (this weekend’s Oscar contenders are 2015 releases). Let’s have a look at them in reverse chronological order:

1. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)

2. 12 Years a Slave (2013)

3. Argo (2012)

4. The Artist (2011)

5. The King’s Speech (2010)

6. The Hurt Locker (2009)

7. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

8. No Country for Old Men (2007)

9. The Departed (2006)

10. Crash (2005)

11. Million Dollar Baby (2004)

12. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

13. Chicago (2002)

14. A Beautiful Mind (2001)

15. Gladiator (2000)

16. American Beauty (1999)

17. Shakespeare in Love (1998)

18. Titanic (1997)

19. The English Patient (1996)

20. Braveheart (1995)

21. Forrest Gump (1994)

22. Schindler’s List (1993)

23. Unforgiven (1992)

24. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

25. Dances with Wolves (1990)

26. Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

27. Rain Man (1988)

28. The Last Emperor (1987)

29. Platoon (1986)

30. Out of Africa (1985)

Before you ask, we’re going to call last year’s Best Picture by its simple name Birdman – the film is the only Best Picture winner in Oscars history to have parenthesis in its title.


To work out our movie’s length, we’re going to grab the average running time of the Best Pictures from the past 30 years. Can you guess which movies in that list help beef up that average?

1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (201 mins)

2. Schindler’s List: (197 mins)

3. Titanic (195 mins)

4. Dances with Wolves (180 mins)

5. Braveheart (177 mins)

Only six of the 30 last Best Picture winners have a runtime under two hours. People hate on Driving Miss Daisy a lot – it’s often described as the worst Best Picture in history – but at least, at a mere 100 minutes, it doesn’t outstay its welcome.

So no matter what happens, our proposed movie is going to be over the two-hour mark. Make sure you go to the loo beforehand.



John Ford has the most Best Director gongs in Oscars history with four, so he would be an obvious choice to helm our film, but he died in 1973. Dammit!

Of the more current crop of directors, it’s quite hard to narrow down a candidate – the past 21 winners of the Best Director Oscar have all been different, which is rather amazing.

There have been three double winners in the past 30 years – Oliver Stone, Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg. We’re going to have to hire one of them. But what we want is the director who has directed the most films that have also won Best Picture. And that’s Eastwood.

Because no one really knows what a director does, the Academy drools all over one particular type of director; the director who is also an actor.

Eastwood, Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson and Ben Affleck have all tasted success by combining the two roles.


Who do you think has starred in the most Best Picture winners recently? Clooney? Kidman? Day-Lewis? Streep?

Nope. Not even close. If we want our film to win Best Picture in 2018, we need to hire the guy who shares a first name with what you shout at your cat when you’re trying to usher it out of the kitchen.

We’re talking, of course, about Scoot McNairy, who broke through in Monsters and is soon to be seen in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a terrific actor who has the midas touch when it comes to recent Best Picture winners.


He was in Argo in 2012 and 12 Years A Slave in 2013, both Best Pictures, and was cruelly denied a hat-trick last year by Birdman… although it was unlikely that Liam Neeson actioner Non-Stop was going to whet the Academy’s appetite in 2014 – the only award it was nominated for was a Golden Trailer. It didn’t win.

So we have to have Scoot McNairy, even in a cameo, because he’s a good luck charm. And if we can’t get Scoot McNairy, we have to bag John Goodman.

Before Scoot McNairy came along, there was John Goodman. Like McNairy, Goodman was in Argo, but he was also in the previous year’s winner, The Artist.

But, however brilliant both McNairy and Goodman are, they’re not A-list. We need some star power for our Oscars contender.

We could go with Morgan Freeman, as he has starred in three Best Pictures; Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby and Driving Miss Daisy, but he might be too old for the central role that usually secures Oscar glory.

The great Guy Pearce also has form, appearing in both The Hurt Locker and The King’s Speech. Tell the truth, you’d forgotten he was in The Hurt Locker, hadn’t you?

But to really increase our chances, we need to go British. And we’re not talking about Eddie Redmayne. He may have won Best Actor last year, but he’s yet to star in a Best Picture.

We need to go to two more established thesps; the company of Firth & Fiennes.

Colin Firth has been in three Best Picture winners; The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love and The King’s Speech.


Ralph Fiennes starred in Schindler’s List, The English Patient and The Hurt Locker. Tell the truth, you’d forgotten he was in The Hurt Locker, hadn’t you?

Firth… Fiennes… that will roll off the tongue nicely when reading the poster.

Sadly, what we won’t be doing is making a film that is built around a female lead role. A female character hasn’t been at the heart of a Best Picture since Million Dollar Baby in 2004, although Chicago, Titanic, Shakespeare in Love and The Silence of the Lambs all had juicy roles for women.

Meryl Streep has been in three Best Pictures, but Out of Africa in 1985 was the most recent, although the Academy loves her.

In the past few years, the likes of Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence, Viola Davis, Rooney Mara and Jessica Chastain have been battling for the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress awards, so we may need to cast one of them.

But the unfortunate truth is that Best Picture is a man’s world, and yes, before you ask and allude to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, it’s also a white man’s world.



When you cynically set out to make a Best Picture like we’re doing, you can’t just pick any old type of story.

What we can’t produce is a horror movie – only The Silence of the Lambs can be classed as such among the Best Picture winners of the past 30 years, unless you’re being particularly unkind to Forrest Gump.

Making our movie a musical is also out, as Chicago’s success at the 2003 ceremony was a one-off in the modern era.

People moan that comedies don’t win Best Picture and yet Birdman, Shakespeare in Love, Forrest Gump, The Artist and (unintentionally) The Departed all have laugh-out loud moments.

But in the end, we have to go with a drama. We can show a bit of adventure and a bit of laughter, but mainly we will be tugging at heartstrings.


While Middle Earth worked as a backdrop for the Oscars-laden The Lord of  the Rings: The Return of the King, Academy voters usually like to keep it real.

Which is distinct from keeping things contemporary – it is rare for a modern story to sweep home the Best Picture Oscar – Birdman was something of an anomaly in more ways than one last year.

This means we need to set our movie in the past – it can be the recent past; look at Argo – but it has to be the past.



Our hero – and yes, it is a hero not a heroine if we want to bag Best Picture – must overcome some kind of adversity. He must go from an underdog to a champion.

Argo is an underdog movie, as is Birdman in its own way, while The King’s Speech, Slumdog Millionaire, Million Dollar Baby, The Return of the King, Gladiator, Titanic, Forrest Gump and Rain Man all feature a protagonist who battles against the odds and wins. Or drowns in icy waters after being selfishly excluded from a floating door that has PLENTY of room on it ROSE!!


And that hero can only have one name if we want to guarantee Oscar success. He has to be called… GEORGE.

Since 1985, there have been six actors nominated for Best Actor who played a character called George.

Peak George came between 2009 and 2011, when Firth (King George VI) and Jean Dujardin (George Valentin) both won awards for their Georges.

The year before winning for The King’s Speech, Firth had another George that lost out to Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart – George Falconer in A Single Man.



Now we get to the hard part.

To win Best Picture, you need a catchy title, but you also need a certain type of title. First, the number of words is important.

Of the 30 previous winners, 10 have three words in their title, 9 have just one word and 7 manage with two.

In that case, let’s opt (narrowly) for three words. And one of those words is going to be a ‘The’, because it pops up in 8 Best Picture successes.

But what do we put in that title after THE?

Answer? As many ‘A’s as we can. Almost every Best Picture has loads of ‘A’s.

AmericAn BeAuty

12 yeArs A SlAve

RAin MAn

It’s all about bringing your A game.

In the early ’90s, all a producer had to do to win Best Picture was stick an animal in the title (Dances with Wolves, The Silence of the Lambs), but that pattern died as quickly as it started.

Getting the main character’s name in the title is usually helpful – see Shakespeare in Love, Forrest Gump, Schindler’s List, Driving Miss Daisy, The King’s Speech and the Return of the King.

Apparently, it also helps if your main character is a king.

We’ve said it already, but what really works is if your main character is a man, so why not get ‘man’ in the title, like Rain Man, Birdman or even No Country For Old Men.






Pictures: REX / Credit: MylesGoode

Pictures: REX / Credit: MylesGoode


(Image by Myles Goode)

The Wham! Men looks pretty awesome, right?

It has Colin Firth as George Michael; Ralph Fiennes as Andrew Ridgeley; John Goodman as Elton John; Scoot McNairy as Bob Geldof and Meryl Streep and Viola Davis as pop duo Pepsi & Shirlie.

It will be directed by Clint Eastwood and will have a running time of 139 minutes, which is the average length of a Best Picture winner for the past 30 years.

Let’s look at why we ended up deciding to produce a movie about Wham! – the best band of the 1980s.

a) It’s got three words, a ‘The’, an ‘A’ and some ‘men’ in its title.

b) Its lead character is a guy named George.

c) We had to have Firth and Fiennes in the lead roles – they have five Best Pictures between them.

d) We want to create some history of our own; no film with an exclamation mark in its title has ever won Best Picture.

e) It’s the story of two friends who make it to the top, only to go their separate ways not long after Live Aid.

f) It’s a story set in the relatively recent past.

g) It’s a real life story.

h) The Wham! Men will set us up perfectly for the sequel that follows George Michael’s solo career. We think we might just call that one… FAITH.