There’s probably nothing I can say about the quality of Paddington 2 that hasn’t already been said, but sometimes I still forget what a visually gorgeous film it is. Every frame is just, warm. And there are animated sequences included, which well frankly every single film should have.
To celebrate the occasion, here’s some of my favourite ladies from fiction!
Row 1: Amy Pond (Doctor Who), Sephy Hadley (Noughts and Crosses), Gamora (Guardians of the Galaxy/MCU), Rose Tico (Star Wars), Elsa (Frozen/Disney), Melissa Chartres (The Last Man on Earth)
Row 2: Eowyn (The Lord of the Rings/Middle Earth), Quinn Ergon (Final Space), The Thirteenth Doctor (Doctor Who), Princess Bubblegum (Adventure Time), Jane Foster (Thor/MCU), Amy Santiago (Brooklyn 99)
Row 3: Brook Soso (Orange is the New Black), Nebula (Guardians of the Galaxy/MCU), Erica Dundee (The Last Man on Earth), Kitty Winter (Sherlock Holmes), Rose Tyler (Doctor Who), Briony Tallis (Atonement)
Row 4: Meredith Quill (Guardians of the Galaxy/MCU), Missandei (Game of Thrones), Rey (Star Wars), Donna Noble (Doctor Who), Carol Pilbasian (The Last Man on Earth), Esmeralda (The Hunchback of Notre Dame/Disney)
Row 5: Sansa Stark (Game of Thrones), Ash Graven (Final Space), Tiana (The Princess and the Frog/Disney), Sophia Burset (Orange is the New Black), Misty (Pokemon), Clara Oswald (Doctor Who)
Row 6: Bill Potts (Doctor Who), Mary Brown (Paddington), Mako Mori (Pacific Rim), Gwen Stacy (Spider-Man), Jackie Tyler (Doctor Who), Ursula Ditkovich (Spider-Man)
Row 7: Yaz Khan (Doctor Who), Mary Jane Watson (Spider-Man), Marceline (Adventure Time), Michelle (10 Cloverfield Lane,), Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow/MCU), Mantis (Guardians of the Galaxy (MCU)
Note that these are (mostly) not what I consider the BEST films of the decade. Honestly I don’t even get to go the movies all that much, so the best ones I might not have even seen. But they are the ones that made me the happiest.
My GOD this film. It was claustrophobic, creepy, gnaw-your-own-arm-off terrifying… and a FANTASTIC power fantasy. Michelle, the protagonist of this film, quickly became one of my favourite sci-fi heroines ever. She suffers a lot of trauma during the movie, unimaginable things (but nothing graphic/titillating/male-gazey) and comes out the other side swinging. Then she downs an entire alien spaceship using nothing but her wits. God I love her and this film so much. I could write essay after essay about female empowerment as portrayed in this flick.
When I was a child I dreamed they would one day make a Pokemon live-action film, and they DID, and it was better than I ever imagined. It was sweet, it was funny, it was packed with references to the Pokemon lore (Pokelore?) that would have gone over most people’s heads but was included anyway, and Bill Nighy was in it. I loved this film so much and I can’t wait to show it to my future children.
Okay here goes: I never saw the original Ghostbusters. I never saw the sequel movie either, or any of the cartoons. Why’d I like this so much then? Well… honestly… because it was all women. Funny, smart, main-character women, the mere existence of which apparently drove some people into teeth-gnashing mania. And that was it. That’s enough, right?
The Greatest Showman
It stills surprises me that this film got such bad reviews on release. Audiences apparently disagreed because not only did it get really high audience ratings it ALSO made a ton of money AND everyone I’ve ever shown it to liked it! I know some of the songs within it ended up massively overplayed (especially This Is Me, thanks a bunch Simon Cowell) but when you see them being performed in the movie they really do seem raw and real and touching.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
I have absolutely no idea if GOTG2 is a good movie or not and honestly, there’s a part of me that doesn’t even care. It fills me with such insane joy every time I watch it. I love the friendships between all the main characters, I love Yondu’s redemption, I love how the music ties into the story, I love Baby Groot. And I especially love how the film is mostly about different forms of abuse and how we all have it within ourselves to overcome them.
Les Mis is a very good movie, but it’s actually on this list not so much for itself but because its existence introduced me to the book, which transpired to shape my entire life. That being said I do really mean that it’s a very good movie (and quite faithful to the book as well it turns out), it thoroughly deserves to be on everyone’s Best of the Decade list. Don’t be put off by the fact that Tom Hooper’s next musical was Cats.
The Lego Movie
I wasn’t expecting much from The Lego Movie. Was anyone?! I thought it was a cheap, cynical cash grab. MAN was I wrong. Instead it was an amazing story about the power of imagination and the importance of childhood. The final speech (“You are the most talented, most interesting, and most extraordinary person in the universe…”) is one of my favourite speeches in any movie, ever. It makes me think of a parent talking to a child and it captures the spirit of Lego perfectly.
Mad Max: Fury Road
Is there anything to be said about Mad Max: Fury Road that hasn’t already been said? It’s been called the greatest action film of all time, a feminist masterpiece, one of the best movies of its era… and all the people claiming those things are 100% right. I don’t think it’s technically perfect but it’s damn close. And special-effects wise it’s a staggering achievement. (All those people REALLY WERE climbing poles on motorbikes, holy heck.) I hope it’s celebrated for years to come.
I love Pacific Rim not because it’s a bonkers, brightly-coloured monsters-vs-robots movie (though that definitely helps) but because how utterly adamant it was that teamwork, collaboration and in some cases love would help humanity save the world. God, the whole movie seems like a relic from a totally different time, doesn’t it? The less said about the sequel the better.
Apparently Paddington 2 is the highest-rated film ever on RottenTomatoes, and despite what you think of RottenTomatoes the site (I personally am not a fan) HOLY HECK IT DESERVES IT. This is a children’s film about a cute teddy bear who lives among humans and loves marmalade sandwiches and somehow it was more hard-hitting, beautiful and poignant than a lot of the “serious” movies released the same year. Hugh Grant deserved an Oscar for playing such a fantastic baddie/hilariously exaggerated version of himself. The whole damn film deserved an Oscar. (As it happened, The Shape of Water won that year. They got the wrong Sally Hawkins Forms A Relationship With A Non-Human Character Resulting In An Emotional Underwater Scene film.)
Honourable mentions: (my god there are a lot) Toy Story 3, Avengers: Endgame, Black Panther (most of the MCU honestly), The Rise of Skywalker, Belle, Their Finest, Big Hero 6, Frozen II, Aladdin, Batman vs Superman (yes really), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the entire Hunger Games series, SO MANY
After Paddington 2 aired on BBC1 tonight (and was a total delight as always) BBC2 aired a documentary about Paddington, his origins and his author. I’d never seen it before and it was unexpectedly sad and powerful, especially when going into Michael Bond’s experiences in World War II. Here’s some stories from the past, featured in the doc, which are still (very, very) relevant today.
Michael Bond’s own words regarding his family’s sheltering of refugees (from a 2010 letter:)
“We took in some Jewish children who often sat in front of a fire of an evening, quietly crying because they had no idea what had happened to their parents, and neither did we at the time. It’s the reason why Paddington arrived with the label around his neck.”
A reminiscence from Peter Joseph, of the Windrush generation:
“Paddington Bear came here [London] in 1958. I arrived the 3rd of November 1956, and I’m sure that he had a better reception than I did, because I had a hell of a lot of fuss. We were seen as a subspecies, and that’s how it remained for a very long time.”
And a passage from Bond’s autobiography:
“In October, I made my final journey back to the UK. In Gibraltar, where we stopped for a few hours, there was a small open ship moored a little way apart from all the others. It was packed to suffocation with Jewish refugees, men, women and children making their way to Palestine. And for the first time, as I gazed down at them, I felt ashamed to be British.”
It’s funny to think of a cute little teddy bear being a political symbol, but…
There’s in a line in the first movie, “People in England sent their children by train with labels around their necks, so they could be taken care of by complete strangers in the country side where it was safe. They will not have forgotten how to treat strangers.” But of course, those particular strangers were English: it’s those other ones we don’t like.
Do watch The Man Behind The Bear if you can. It should be on the BBC iplayer. (I don’t know how you get into it outside Britain unfortunately, but I can try putting some clips from it on YouTube at some point maybe?)
In the meantime, don’t forget to utilize your Long, Hard Stare appropriately.
IT DESERVES THE PRAISE! Every little joke in the movie has a purpose and little details you forgot about come back later as plot points or to move the story forward. Plus it’s just so cute and heartwarming it’s a fantastic movie can’t recommend it enough
It’s funny and cute and an allegory – always has been, right back to the original books – about immigration and the treatment of refugees. The author who created Paddington back in the 50s was partly inspired by Jewish refugees he saw making their way to Britain, and made sure to include an actual Jewish refugee among the human cast of Paddington too.
The whole movie is pretty much entirely about the importance of multiculturalism, the inanity of bigotry (at one point, when Paddington is on the run from the cops, Peter Capaldi’s character shows up with a ‘terror alert level chart’ set to ‘Mass Hysteria’ which could not be a more obvious pop at Islamophobia) and how important all different types of family are. It and its prequel are just lovely, lovely films. It 100% deserves that 100%.
(PS In the UK – maybe other places? – Paddington’s used as an outrightsymbol for refugee rights. “They will not have forgotten how to treat strangers.” If only that were more true.)
Every morning it arrives at 11 o’clock, bringing salvation. Just like a train that I took many years ago. Really? Oh, yes. You see, there was a lot of trouble in my country. So my parents sent me all the way across Europe, when I was not much older than you are now…But I soon learned a home is more than a roof over your head.