Monthly Archives: January 2012

Lady And The Tramp and the memorable movies in my life

Do you remember the first movie you ever saw at the cinema? For me, it was Lady And The Tramp. My dad took me to see it at Stevenage ABC cinema (which has since been bulldozed and replaced by a Tesco) when I was five years old, and from the moment it started I was hooked. It’s re-released on DVD this week, and out for the first time on Blu-Ray, too, and you can read the movies4kids review of  it here. Well worth renting for your kids, as it’s as cute as when it was first released in 1955 (no, I didn’t see it then – when my dad and I saw it, it was a mid-70s re-release).

It has got me thinking about the movies that stay with us throughout our lives, for whatever reason. Here are some of mine:

Star Wars: A New Hope – saw this, aged eight, with my older sister and her boyfriend. Had first ever movie crush on Luke Skywalker, but by the time The Empire Strikes Back came out in 1981 I had grown up enough to realise Han Solo was far cooler.

Love Is A Many Splendoured Thing – One of the first movies that truly made me cry until I was dry-heaving (I’m a sucker for sob stories). And I blame my mum for this one as she lied and told me it had a happy ending just so I’d sit and watch it with her.

Batman – Tim Burton’s visually stunning version of the Batman story is notable for two reasons: firstly, I got caught trying to creep onto the set at Knebworth House when the movie was filming, and secondly, it was the first press screening I ever went to. Sitting in a room full of journalists who got paid to watch movies, and got to see them weeks before they came out in cinemas – what a cool job! (And the rest, as they say, is history).

Out Cold – obscure and, frankly, bloody awful comedy with John Lithgow and Randy Quaid in which one of the characters ends up dead in a fridge. Notable simply because it was the first press screening I ever went to, and the first film review I had published (in Film Review magazine back in 1989, many thanks to editor David Aldridge).

Flatliners – Aside from the fact I had (and still do have) a huge crush on star Kiefer Sutherland, this film is notable as it was the first screening I went to with the staff of film magazine Empire after I was hired for my dream job as staff writer there in 1990, aged 19.

L.A. Story – The art editor of Empire was a fan of Steve Martin, so I took him to the screening of Martin’s latest movie at the time, L. A. Story, in the hope he would be so grateful he’d (finally) ask me out. A few weeks later, he did. We’ve been together ever since, married 18 years this summer, and have a son. God bless you Steve Martin.

Stalingrad – A stunning 1993 war movie directed by Joseph Vilsmaier, this will always have a special place in my heart as I visited the set (a recreation of the siege of Stalingrad, filmed outside Prague) and saw the beautiful city of Prague for the first time. It was bloody freezing there in January and we all had to wear two pairs of trousers and numerous sweaters while standing around burning oil drums on the set to keep warm, but it was worth it.

Happy Feet – The first screening I ever took my son to, when he was just 18 months old. He loved it and is now my regular companion to all family movie screenings, and also the reason my book – The Parents’ Guide To Kids’ Movies – and the website exist.


Is Ferris Bueller back?

Could it be true? If you’re a fan of the hilarious 1986 comedy Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, you need to start counting the days, as on February 5th there may be a special Ferris announcement. Reprising the iconic scene from the start of the movie, star Matthew Broderick has made a little teaser clip that hints something special may be announced during the Super Bowl this year. Could it be? Is this the return of Ferris?



And here’s the movies4kids review of the original: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

A Monster In Paris review

My review of this week’s kids movie, A Monster In Paris is up on the Movies4Kids website and you can link to it here: A Monster In Paris


And here’s a trailer from the movie to give you a glimpse of what’s on offer (be warned – it’s not as funny as it looks):




Ask Kermit!

In case you didn’t know, the new movie The Muppets, featuring our old pals Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo and Fozzie Bear, is released in the UK on February 10th. To get you in the mood, tomorrow (Thursday 26th January), you can send your questions to Kermit via Twitter, and he’ll answer them!

Just follow @DisneyMoviesUK and use the hashtag #AskKermit and the cute green frog will try and answer as many questions as he can. Am tempted to ask what happens if he and Miss Piggy decide to have a baby – what would it be? A fig? A prog? An abomination of nature? (Just kidding)…

The Muppets get a nomination!

Congratulations to the new Muppets movie The Muppets, which scored an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song. The song is Man Or Muppet and it is unbelievably cute. (Note, however, that at the screening of The Muppets I went to, some of the younger kids – including my 6-year-old son – were freaked out when Jason Segel’s reflection was a muppet and muppet Walter’s reflection was human! Freaky…)



Oscar Nominations!

The nominations for this year’s Academy Awards have just been announced. You can check out the press conference below (and explain to me what on earth actress Jennifer Lawrence is wearing – the top looks like part of a ruffled bedspread) or scroll down for the full list. Congratulations to The Artist, The Descendants and Hugo for their multiple nominations. And boo to the Academy for not nominating Andy Serkis for his performances in Tintin and Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, and for ignoring The Adventures Of Tintin and Arthur Christmas in the nominations for Best Animated Feature.


Actor in a Leading Role

  • Demián Bichir in “A Better Life”
  • George Clooney in “The Descendants”
  • Jean Dujardin in “The Artist”
  • Gary Oldman in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
  • Brad Pitt in “Moneyball”

Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Kenneth Branagh in “My Week with Marilyn”
  • Jonah Hill in “Moneyball”
  • Nick Nolte in “Warrior”
  • Christopher Plummer in “Beginners”
  • Max von Sydow in “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”

Actress in a Leading Role

  • Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs”
  • Viola Davis in “The Help”
  • Rooney Mara in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
  • Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady”
  • Michelle Williams in “My Week with Marilyn”

Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Bérénice Bejo in “The Artist”
  • Jessica Chastain in “The Help”
  • Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids”
  • Janet McTeer in “Albert Nobbs”
  • Octavia Spencer in “The Help”

Animated Feature Film –

click for movies4kids reviews of Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss In Boots and rango

  • “A Cat in Paris” Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
  • “Chico & Rita” Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
  • “Kung Fu Panda 2” Jennifer Yuh Nelson
  • “Puss in Boots” Chris Miller
  • “Rango” Gore Verbinski

Art Direction

  • “The Artist”
    Production Design: Laurence Bennett; Set Decoration: Robert Gould
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 
    Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
  • Hugo” 
    Production Design: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
  • “Midnight in Paris” 
    Production Design: Anne Seibel; Set Decoration: Hélène Dubreuil
  • War Horse” 
    Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales


  • “The Artist” Guillaume Schiffman
  • “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Jeff Cronenweth
  • Hugo Robert Richardson
  • “The Tree of Life” Emmanuel Lubezki
  • War Horse” Janusz Kaminski

Costume Design

  • “Anonymous” Lisy Christl
  • “The Artist” Mark Bridges
  • Hugo” Sandy Powell
  • “Jane Eyre” Michael O’Connor
  • “W.E.” Arianne Phillips


  • “The Artist” Michel Hazanavicius
  • “The Descendants” Alexander Payne
  • Hugo Martin Scorsese
  • “Midnight in Paris” Woody Allen
  • “The Tree of Life” Terrence Malick

Documentary (Feature)

  • “Hell and Back Again”
    Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner
  • “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front” 
    Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman
  • “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory” 
    Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
  • “Pina” 
    Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel
  • “Undefeated” 
    TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas

Documentary (Short Subject)

  • “The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement” 
    Robin Fryday and Gail Dolgin
  • “God Is the Bigger Elvis” 
    Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson
  • “Incident in New Baghdad”
    James Spione
  • “Saving Face” 
    Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
  • “The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom” 
    Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen

Film Editing

  • “The Artist” Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
  • “The Descendants” Kevin Tent
  • “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
  • Hugo” Thelma Schoonmaker
  • “Moneyball” Christopher Tellefsen

Foreign Language Film

  • “Bullhead” Belgium
  • “Footnote” Israel
  • “In Darkness” Poland
  • “Monsieur Lazhar” Canada
  • “A Separation” Iran


Music (Original Score)

  • “The Adventures of Tintin” John Williams
  • “The Artist” Ludovic Bource
  • Hugo Howard Shore
  • “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” Alberto Iglesias
  • War Horse John Williams

Music (Original Song)

  • “Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets” Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
  • “Real in Rio” from “Rio” Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown Lyric by Siedah Garrett

Best Picture

  • “The Artist” Thomas Langmann, Producer
  • “The Descendants” Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers
  • “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” Scott Rudin, Producer
  • “The Help” Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers
  • Hugo Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers
  • “Midnight in Paris” Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers
  • “Moneyball” Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers
  • “The Tree of Life” Nominees to be determined
  • War Horse” Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers

Short Film (Animated)

  • “Dimanche/Sunday” Patrick Doyon
  • “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
  • “La Luna” Enrico Casarosa
  • “A Morning Stroll” Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe
  • “Wild Life” Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby

Short Film (Live Action)

  • “Pentecost” Peter McDonald and Eimear O’Kane
  • “Raju” Max Zähle and Stefan Gieren
  • “The Shore” Terry George and Oorlagh George
  • “Time Freak” Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey
  • “Tuba Atlantic” Hallvar Witzø

Sound Editing

  • “Drive” Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis
  • “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Ren Klyce
  • Hugo Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon” Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
  • War Horse” Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom

Sound Mixing

  • “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
    David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson
  • Hugo” 
    Tom Fleischman and John Midgley
  • “Moneyball”
    Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon” 
    Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin
  • War Horse
    Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson

Visual Effects

  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2″ 
    Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson
  • Hugo
    Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning
  • “Real Steel” 
    Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg
  • “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
    Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon
    Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

  • “The Descendants” Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
  • Hugo” Screenplay by John Logan
  • “The Ides of March” Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
  • “Moneyball” Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin  Story by Stan Chervin
  • “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” Screenplay by Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan

Writing (Original Screenplay)

  • “The Artist” Written by Michel Hazanavicius
  • “Bridesmaids” Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
  • “Margin Call” Written by J.C. Chandor
  • “Midnight in Paris” Written by Woody Allen
  • “A Separation” Written by Asghar Farhadi

4 Things We Learnt From This Year’s Golden Globes…

Another day, another awards ceremony. On Sunday 15th January it was the turn of the Golden Globes, the awards handed out by the 93 critics and journalists who make up the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Meryl Streep, Michelle Williams, Martin Scorsese and George Clooney were among the stars who took home a gong, and if you click here you can see a full list of the winners. But if you don’t care who won what, there are still a few things to learn from this year’s celebrity packed ceremony:


1) Ricky Gervais isn’t as funny as he thinks he is.

Despite insulting half of Hollywood last year, the HFPA invited Ricky Gervais to host their awards ceremony again. And as you can see from his opening monologue, that may not have been the best decision. Coming across as sullen and smug may have worked on The Office, but the assembled who’s who of celebrities would probably have preferred something a bit more light-hearted, and, erm, funny. Let’s hope Billy Crystal at this year’s Oscars will show Ricky how it should be done, in case some idiot invites him back to the Globes next year.



2) I want Michelle William’s hair stylist… not Tilda Swinton’s.

69th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals

Tilda Swinton


3) Morgan Freeman and George Clooney are two of the coolest men on the planet.

Receiving their awards – Freeman was given the Cecil B DeMille Award, while Clooney won Best Actor for The Descendants – both actors were witty, gracious, and charming. Plus, Clooney gave us added laughs talking about Michael Fassbender’s physical attributes, while the montage of Freeman’s movie and TV career included him as a vampire singing about being in the bath from the TV show The Electric Company! (see below!)

George Clooney with his award for 'Best Actor in a Motion Picture (Drama)'




4) When I Grow Up I Want To Be Meryl Streep. Or Helen Mirren. Or Jane Fonda.

Meryl, unsurprisingly, won for her role as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. And, even without being able to read her speech (she left her glasses at her table, though they were gallantly passed forward by George Clooney), she was simply beautiful and classy. As were presenters Helen and Jane, both showing the younger ladies in the audience you don’t have to be squashed into a cleavage-crushing gown (ahem, Madonna) to be sexy.

Actress Meryl Streep poses backstage with the award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama


Madonna and Andrea Riseborough