Annihilation (2018) – ESSAY

AN ESSAY ON MANIFESTING CANCER 

Ever since Alex Garland has brought us the extremely thought-provoking movie Ex Machina, I was longing to see what else he has to offer. Garland intuitively chooses to remain in his field of expertise, as Annihilation is a worthy addition to the previous works by the said director. The movie offers more than a simple science fiction/horror crossover; it offers the viewer a chance to look at the psyche of a terminally ill person. In Annihilation, Natalie Portman’s Lena is an expert and professor in cellular-biology. One day, her husband (soldier Kane; played by Oscar Isaac) returns home after having disappeared for nearly a year. In no time, Kane falls ill and he is brought to “Arena X”. That’s where Lena is introduced to “the Shimmer”, an iridescent electromagnetic field in the southern coast of the United States. Several soldiers have already been sent into the so-called “Shimmer” but no one returned alive – except for Kane. Lena decides to enter the Shimmer herself with a few women, as she wants to investigate what’s going on there and wants to know why Kane went on a suicide mission. Inside the Shimmer, the DNA of all living beings seem to be disorted, which causes them to hybridize. For instance, the women get attacked by a mutated alligator that seems to have distinct features of a shark. One of the women that accompanies Lena is Dr. Ventress. Ventress has deliberately chosen to enter the Shimmer, as she was having an agressive form of cancer – and knew that she would end up dying anyway. In many ways, the effects of the Shimmer (such as distorting the DNA of living things) shows similarities with manifesting cancer. Cancer causes the human cells to keep multiplying and inflicts serious damage on the host’s body – we see a similar thing going on with the creatures that are affected by the Shimmer. Even though death is certain once affected by the Shimmer, all visitors deal with it differently. Josie (played by Westworld’sTessa Thompson), for instance, embraces her fate and dies peacefully. Sheppard dies fighting and suffers eternally. We all deal with it in our own way. The “Shimmer” can be viewed as a giant form of cancer that is slowly taking over the world, and we cannot stop it. It’s an extraterrestial invincible force. Researchers try to find answers for what the extraterrestial beings want from them, but these question cannot be answered. Cancer does not come with a specific reason – it is just a natural unstoppable force. 

Annihilationoffers us an insight into the human mind and how it deals with self-destruction of our own body. How long does it take for the mind to collapse as well? And can we eventually overcome cancer? 

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Top 50 Game of Thrones characters (edition 2018)

It is almost unbelievable that a year went by without having seen one brand-new episode of Game of Thrones. Each year, HBO used to delight us with a new season of the epic series about dragons and t*ts, but 2018 proved to be the odd one out. To make it more bearable for you all: the final conclusion will be on the small screen in less than 8 months, which means we’re far past halfway. And to make the wait a tad easier, we count down the top 50 favorite Game of Thrones characters of 2018. Our previous list in 2017 came right after the seventh season where Daenerys proved to be more truculent and interesting than ever. And that had, of course, an impact on our list. Daenerys took over the number one spot from Jon Snow. The question remains: can she maintain her position at the number one spot a year after season 7 has aired?

Before we start counting down to the best Game of Thrones character this year, we will have a look at last year’s big five!

5 (5) ser Davos Seaworth

4 (2) Tyrion Lannister

3 (1) Jon Snow

2 (3) Jaime Lannister

1 (9) Daenerys Targaryen

Those who want to first consult the results of previous years’, indulge yourselves right here!

Special thanks to:

  • /r/Freefolk a.k.a. the best Game of Thrones subreddit out there!
  • /r/GameofThrones
  • /r/Asoiaf

Here we go…! 

FROM 50 TO 41: A WORLD OF LEGENDARY FIGHTERS 

‘I won’t be knitting by the fire while I have men fight for me’

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Unfortunately, we haven’t seen much of Thoros of Myr in Game of Thrones. And we never will. Yet, it is worth mentioning that even though he appeared in a handful of episodes, he did leave an everlasting impression on the viewers. He was funny, relatable and a sympathetic character and one of the few red priests we actually trusted. Thoros alone gave the Red Priests so much more complexity and it was sad to see him go so easily, especially after bringing Beric so many times back from the dead. After reappearing last year, it seems like Thoros was on his way to leaving our top 50 again. It is up to you readers whether Thoros will still appear in the top 50 next year. For now, he opens our list at #50.

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It seems like the King Beyond the Wall is slowly disappearing from our list. Mance Rayder loses another spot this year and ends at #49. Poor Mance Rayder was a king of great moral character and intended to save the people beyond the wall no one really cared about. But doing heroic things often comes with a great price (remember poor old Ned). The umpteenth king in Westeros was stubborn but true to his word. In this perspective, he looked a bit liked Stannis and it is quite coincidentally that the latter executed him for breaking his oath. Mance Rayder might be at the lowest of our list but he isn’t forgotten at all.

2.9% of all voters thought that Mance Rayder is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones.

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Torgo Nudho a.k.a. Grey Worm finally makes an appearance on our list. The commander of the Unsullied might not be the most talkative character in the Game of Thrones universe, he is without any doubt one of those few really good guys. Being given freedom by Queen Daenerys Targaryen, he would give his life to the Dragon Queen in return. Next to characters such as Brienne of Tarth, Grey Worm is one of those very loyal characters who would not give up fighting for the one he has sworn to. Besides, his relationship with Missandei is certainly one of the most unique and genuine relationships in the series. However, we are a bit scared that Missandei and Grey Worm might become the star-crossed lovers of Westeros ánd Essos.

3.1% of all voters thought that Grey Worm is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones.

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The first despicable villain on this list is Euron Greyjoy. The King of the Iron Islands had an interesting journey through season 7 and his character was by all means better developed than in season 6. Season 6’s Euron was rather dull, shrieking and a way too one-dimensional villain, whereas he became much more fascinating and unpredictable last season. This positive change of character caused an increase in the popularity of the character as he climbed seven spots last year. One year after Euron’s best season, he falls back and loses 13 spots. Pilou Asbæk did a great job with his character last year, being given more decent and fitting work to get his teeth into. Putting everything in perspective, Euron’s character might have time against him. His character was not given enough time to properly develop and so his character feels often flat and unoriginal. And yet, given that season 7 improved his character, Euron’s character still has the chance to become more memorable with a fitting conclusion in the final season.

3.2% of all voters thought that Euron Greyjoy is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones.

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A stalwart friend among our list is Brynden Tully, nicknamed ‘The Blackfish’. The Blackfish can be considered as Olenna Tyrell’s male counterpart as both have a way with words. The Blackfish became one of the most respectable and relatable characters after being introduced in season 3. Catelyn Stark’s uncle appeared in a handful of episodes, but he certainly hasn’t been forgotten among the viewers.  The Blackfish reappeared for two episodes in season 6 and didn’t get the proper send-off we had wished for. Yet, Clive Russel gave everything he got and made The Blackfish the memorable character he still is today. Unfortunately, ser Brynden Tully loses four more spots and falls down to #46.

3.3% of all voters thought that Brynden Tully is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones.

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The first actual surprise on this list is the minor character, Hot Pie. We don’t know his actual name, only that he is an orphan and a baker’s apprentice and that he is known for his slow but good nature. And even on this list, he appears to be slow. After 3 years, he slowly made his way into the top 50. Hot Pie has been Arya’s friend for several years and the two were reunited for a short nostalgic moment last season. We all hope that Hot Pie survives but in a world full of monsters and betrayals, we don’t think he stands a chance. It would be sad to see him returning as a wight, though. If he returns to the show after all. Hot Pie ends at #45. Welcome!

3.4% of all voters thought that Hot Pie is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones.

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Although Edd is one of those characters you’d easily forget about, he is undeniably a good and loyal guy who only deserves the best. Yet, things look very bleak for him and I doubt we see much more than a death scene for him next season. Edd remained Jon’s loyal friend throughout the series, daring to oppose him whenever he thought Jon wasn’t right and standing up for him even after he died. Seemingly a nobody at first, he became the (maybe last) commander of the Night’s Watch. Even though he didn’t get much screen time at all, the show is impressive enough to write a character as complex and relatable as Edd. And it would be quite sad to see him going after having had a shitty life in the Night’s Watch. Let’s hope a good guy like Edd wins in the end, however it is not in the nature of the show. We will find out in several months! For now he has stranded at #44.

4.2% of all voters thought that Edd is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones.

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I keep finding this one an odd fish in this list, but given the background he’s given in the books it may not be a surprise that he appears in the list. Ser Arthur Dayne’s short fight scene in the TV-series might arguably one of the best-executed fight scenes in Game of Thrones. The knight is also known for being the most honorable fighter in the Seven Kingdoms, so in that respect it was sad to see him getting killed dishonorably. Dayne came across as a strong, respected knight with a certain status and the actor portraying him (Luke Roberts) did best with little he got. I certainly wish to see some more of him in the final scene – or even perhaps in future spin-offs – as he is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating side characters in the show.

4.7% of all voters thought that Arthur Dayne is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones.

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Another side character (but nonetheless hugely important to the plot) on this list is Rhaegar Targaryen. We only caught a glimpse of him in season 7, but we all much anticipated the introduction of this character in the TV series as he was mentioned on many occasions. This legendary character has put the last Westerosi wars in motion after he fell in love Lyanna Stark and ‘kidnapped’ her to the Tower of Joy. The consequences of his choice may be catastrophic, Rhaegar really isn’t nearly as bad as some people remember him. This year, he makes a climb to the 42nd spot and now that he’s confirmed to appear in the final season, I am certain that he isn’t at his top position yet.

4.8% of all voters thought that Rhaegar Targaryen is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones.

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The fourth year in a row this epic chieftain of the Dothraki khalasar makes it to the top 50. Khal Drogo is a force to be reckoned with. Sadly, Drogo only appeared as a major character in the first season and died quite soon. After many years, fans still haven’t forgotten about him and consider Drogo one of the best and most fascinating fighters out there. And Jason Momoa’s dedication to his character makes it a lifetime performance. Drogo is one of those characters that don’t fit in the ‘good characters’ or ‘bad characters’ box, and that’s what makes him so interesting. Daenerys’s first lover keeps his 41st spot occupied this year.

5% of all voters thought that Khal Drogo is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones.

FROM 40 TO 31: A WORLD OF ICY CREATURES AND FIERY LADIES

‘When you’re out there beyond the Wall with the sun going down, do you want a man at your back? Or a sniveling boy?’

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Kind and gentle Maester Aemon opens the top 40 this year. Aemon, born a Targaryen, may be one of the most sympathetic characters in the TV series. He truly lightened up a place as cold and dark as Castle Black and we certainly missed him when he passed away. Aemon might have died of old age (something that is rare in a world like Westeros), he did suffer a tragic fate. Living with the fact that his whole family was butchered and he was too weak to do anything about it. Aemon threw away the chance of becoming king and took the black instead, living out his life as an ordinary man. He truly was an inspiring character and deserves a good spot in this list. Sadly, he falls back 9 places this year.

5,2% of all voters thought that Maester Aemon is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones.

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A slow climber over here! Over the course of the seven seasons, the Night King has been slowly gaining more power and we last saw him with an undead dragon and a massive army, crossing the Wall that once divided Westeros from all foreign threats. The Night King is undeniably one of the most fascinating Game of Thrones characters as we know very little about this non-speaking character. We only know that he is programmed to wipe out all human life his army comes across. Westeros is about to meet its greatest enemy and that comes with an insane number of dead characters. Better be prepared for this evil king. The Long Night is now upon us. The Night King reaches his highest position to date at #39.

5,6% of all voters thought that the Night King is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones.

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Gendry makes a hell of a comeback and climbs 21 (!) spots forward! And that might not be so surprising as Gendry made a return in season 7 as well. It is weird that he only ends up again a year after the season has aired. We were awaiting his return for many seasons and even though he didn’t get to do much in season 7, we are convinced he will have a great conclusion to his arc in the final season. Life hasn’t always treated Gendry fairly and we hope to see this nice guy end up happy. And the fact that he’s the last Baratheon left, makes it more probable to have him survive the series and rebuild order in Westeros. But given the unpredictable nature of the show, this might be a bold prediction. For now, Robert’s bastard reaches his peak at #38.

6% of all voters thought that Gendry is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones.

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Game Of Thrones’s most fascinating character wins two spots this year, which is quite surprising after the decline in the character’s popularity. Jaqen H’ghar is one of the weirdest characters that has ever graced the TV screen and we don’t really know how to feel about this man (?). The Faceless Man, however, seems to have a soft spot for our beloved Arya and trained her to become a master assassin to get revenge on everyone who wronged her and her family. We don’t know if we will ever see the Faceless Men or Jaqen H’ghar again after Arya’s exit in the House of Black and White. There have been rumors about The Waif and Jaqen returning to season 8, so maybe this isn’t the last we have heard of Jaqen and the Faceless Men at all. Time will tell.

6.1% of all voters thought that Jaqen H’ghar is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones.

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This squire is on his way to win! The kind-hearted Podrick Payne is going strong and goes forward another 9 spots this year. Podrick didn’t have much to do in season 7, unfortunately, but we cannot help to sympathize with this kind character. I don’t think anyone disagrees with hoping for a good ending for this lad. Although, I am absolutely certain that that will not be the case for Brienne’s right hand. Podrick is the perfect candidate to perish during the Long Night and D&D will try their best to make us feel bad about it. As for now, Pod’s popularity is increasing and he enters the top 40 best characters. Well done, Podrick!

6.2% of all voters thought that Podrick Payne is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 

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Until now, this list has been dominated by male characters so I am happy to see a female character for a change! And what a strong female character she is! Catelyn Stark is one of Game of Thrones’s fiercest and most respected female characters but after all, Catelyn tried to be a good mother to all of her children. Horrible things have happened to this lady’s family and as not everything has been avenged at this point, the Stark children have yet managed to take back power from those who have taken it from them. Catelyn continues to fade away in this list and ends at #35 this year.

6.4% of all voters thought that Podrick Payne is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 

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Beric Dondarrion was last year’s biggest climber, going forward nineteen spots from #44 to #25. He does fall back 9 spots this year, but still got to earn a respectable position at #34. This epic fighter has been brought back multiple times from the dead and we are certain that he’s staying among the living for a good reason (which we will learn next season of course). Aside from his great destiny, Beric is a decent person even willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good. Sadly, Beric Dondarrion hasn’t gotten much screen time until season 7 where we got to see him in full action. Without Thoros of Myr, Beric has become a mortal man so things have gotten very dangerous for him now with the Army of the Dead looming. We might be quite sure that he has survived the breaching of the Wall, but it is very improbable that he will survive the series. Let’s hope for an epic exit for this guy and his fiery sword.

7.2% of all voters thought that Beric Dondarrion is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 
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This lovely redhead of the Free Folk became Jon Snow’s first lover and the two shared one of the most intimate relationships of the series. The two even fell in love in real life and recently married. In the TV version, their relationship broke down but the two continued to love each other even though they are natural enemies. Jon continued to love Ygritte, even after his death he had difficulties coping with her being gone. It is only in the seventh season that he has found love again with Daenerys Targaryen. The bond Jon and Ygritte shared however was unique and it felt like the two were almost made for each other. Ygritte loses three spots this year but still ends nicely at the 33rd position.

7.4% of all voters thought that Beric Dondarrion is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 
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In 2016, Lyanna Mormont made an impressive debut at #22. Since then, her popularity decreased but it seems that Lyanna is making her way back to the top 30. Lyanna was an instant fan favorite since the first time we laid eyes on her in season 6. Lyanna is sharp and gives as good as she gets. However, her character has been reduced to the same formula in the seventh season, which might start to bore the audience. Let’s hope Lyanna’s character actually continues to develop and becomes memorable in her own respect. This young lady from Bear Island goes three spots forward and ends at #32.

7.5% of all voters thought that Lyanna Mormont is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 

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Melisandre has been struggling to enter the top 30 for years now but she manages to regain her 31st position. The Red Woman only appeared for five minutes on the screen last year, which I found pitiful for such an interesting character. Yet, the few minutes she was in were important to the plot as she brought Jon and Daenerys together and foreshadowed not only her own death but also that of Varys. Van Houten has brought spectacular depth to this nuanced character and we cannot decide whether we should feel sorry or hate toward her. Melisandre will be of extreme importance in the final season and I cannot wait to see a conclusion to her arc. And I think many will agree with me.

7.7% of all voters thought that Melisandre is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 

FROM 30 TO 21: A WORLD OF DEAD KINGS AND EVIL BASTARDS

‘Do you think it’s honor that’s keeping the peace? It’s fear! Fear and blood!”‘

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Bran Stark’s popularity is going up and down for years. This year, he takes back seven spots and opens our top 30. Bran was once very sympathetic in Game of Thrones’s early seasons but since he has become the Three-Eyed Raven fans have become more divided about him. Bran has become rather stoic, cold and for some even boring.  This character has mostly been reduced as a tool exploited to look into the past, which made him of great importance but also made him a very one-dimensional and rather unsympathetic. Hopefully, Bran’s character still continues to develop in the final season and he does more than only looking into the past of other characters.

7.9% of all voters thought that Bran Stark is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 

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This arrogant prick has been around the 29th position for four years now, which indicates that Joffrey Baratheon is still a respected villain among fans. Joffrey is arguably one of the best villains the show has had and fans all over the world literally cheered during his death scene. Joffrey Baratheon was the show’s first major villain and Jack Gleeson’s performance made the first season very intense; attracting viewers from all corners of the world. Don’t get me wrong now, I am glad that this little shit is no longer with us but I would have loved to see his reaction when the Night King stands before the Red Keep with his huge army of undead. Arya would be at the front row to see him shitting his pants. Former King Joffrey Baratheon remains at #29 this year.

8% of all voters thought that Bran Stark is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 

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Another character who maintains his position is Barristan Selmy. This legendary fighter and former Lord Commander of the Kingsguard ánd Queensguard was one of the most honorable characters on the show and truly a man to admire. Selmy was not only respected among viewers but also among many other characters. Back in his former days, he was even feared for his formidable reputation. Therefore, it was a bit sad to see him killed off by the Sons of the Harpy in a rushed ambush. This painter in red remains one of Game of Thrones’s best characters and strands at #28.

8.4% of all voters thought that Barristan Selmy is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 

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Another surprise on this list! Hodor enters the top 30 for the first time and goes forward 11 spots. This character might have met the most tragic fate in Westeros, having had a seizure at a young age due to Bran entering his mind and controlling his body – causing Wyllis to be traumatized after he’s confronting with death in the future. He’s only able to utter one word, ‘hodor’, which is a contraction of ‘hold the door’. Hodor never meant the same anymore and we cannot think of this sweet-hearted giant without being saddened about his death. Hodor still continues to be on many fans’ minds years after his death scene, and reaches his peak position at #27.

8.8% of all voters thought that Hodor is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 

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Game of Thrones has had lots of wonderful villains over the course of years and its most twisted one is Ramsay Bolton. Ramsay Bolton has been mostly hopping around the 26th position, a respectable position for a bastard you might think. Ramsay is without a doubt a memorable character, however, we do not wish to think about him to much. Even though Sansa predicted that his name and legacy would disappear, he is all but forgotten among viewers. Ramsay Bolton faced his death in the series most epic standoff scene between him and Jon Snow. Our bodies were filled with pure joy when we saw him finally losing. Iwan Rheon was spectacular as Ramsay and almost made it halfway through the list. Can he ever reach the top 20?

10.3% of all voters thought that Ramsay Bolton is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 

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To some the One True King of the Seven Kingdoms, to others no more than a pretender. Stannis Baratheon is one of Game of Thrones’s complex and morally questionable characters and that’s what makes him so fascinating. One moment we could cheer for Stannis and other moments we would wish him death. On this list, Stannis is losing popularity with each year passing by and this year he fades away to #25. Right after his death in season 5, this Baratheon king even managed to make it to the top 10 best characters. With his decreasing popularity, I wonder where Stannis will stand when the series has wrapped up.

10.8% of all voters thought that Stannis Baratheon is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 

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Another Baratheon king right over here! Robert Baratheon’s popularity keeps growing as he goes forward another two steps. Since 2017, Robert Baratheon became again popular as memes emerged about his alter ego ‘Bobby B’. Robert Baratheon hasn’t been around in the show since 2011 but Mark Addy played this unsympathetic king with such fun and passion, that he will stick to viewers’ mind for a long time after his exit. Robert Baratheon is making his way toward the top 20. Will he enter the top 20 best characters next year or will the hype about the character diminish after the show has ended?

11.8% of all voters thought that Robert Baratheon is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 

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Jorah Mormont of Bear Island has been at Daenerys’s side from the moment we met him, yet his intentions weren’t always sincere. The disgraced knight suffered quite a lot throughout the series: being banished from Westeros, being banished from his love in Meereen, contracting the life-threatening greyscale to almost being killed by thousands of wights. Jorah has also been nicknamed Lord Friendzone as he’s trying to win Daenerys’s affection but keeps failing. Jorah is by no means a bad character, he doesn’t always like fair play but since the last seasons he remained loyal to Daenerys Targaryen and he will do so until he’s killed. The question remains: will Lord Friendzone ever step out of the friend zone? Jorah the Andal moves forward one little spot and ends at #23.

12.2% of all voters thought that Jorah Mormont is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 

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Another surprise on the list this year is Theon Greyjoy’s plummeting popularity, which is quite pitiful since this character had some really great development throughout the years. However, not everyone was waiting to see Theon turn back into Reek for a moment in season 7, but I thought it was quite a natural response of him to activate his flight or fight response, after being both mentally and physically tortured by Ramsay Bolton. Theon Greyjoy might have had the worst time in Game of Thrones and his motivations weren’t always morally correct, but that’s exactly what makes his character so natural and relatable. His final scene with Jon and him standing up for himself were one of the greatest moments in the seventh season. Too bad he loses so many spots this year. The Greyjoy sibling ends at #22 in 2018.

13.9% of all voters thought that Theon Greyjoy is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 

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The former King in the North has been struggling for years to get past the top 20, losing slowly one spot with each list. This year, he manages to take back one position and almost makes it to the 20 best characters. This Stark King has met one of the most unfortunate ends throughout the series and still upsets many people today. Robb Stark was a good person and fit to be a king, but his reign was also defined by several huge mistakes which have cost him his head, literally. Robb Stark is the second Stark sibling we came across in this list. Where have the other siblings stranded? And which sibling has ended highest? Find out soon!

15.1% of all voters thought that Robb Stark is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 

THE 20 BEST GAME OF THRONES CHARACTERS OF 2018

FROM 20 TO 15: A WORLD OF SCHEMERS AND MANIPULATED/MANIPULATING WOMEN

‘”The storms come and go, the waves crash overhead, the big fish eat the little fish, and I keep on paddling.”‘

 

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We open the top 20 with a red-haired woman. It is no one but Sansa Stark. Sansa’s popularity has been very slowly decreasing since 2016 but she’s undoubtedly one of the strongest female characters in the series, having endured the ill-treatment of power abusing men. Ever since season 6, Sansa more and more resembles Queen Cersei, only she possesses the ability to control her temper. However, Sansa has also proven to be manipulated easily as she most of the time relied on Littlefinger’s advice last season. She finally saw Littlefinger for no less than he was and took the bold decision to execute him mercilessly. The Little Dove has learned a lot of life lessons from the best and those will be useful in the Great Wars still to come.  As of 2018, Sansa loses 2 spots and ends at #20.

15.2% of all voters thought that Sansa Stark is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 

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Another Wildling that is kissed by fire.. Tormund! Tormund started out as a funny side character in season 3 but started to really grow on us after the events of Hardhome where he realized that his loyalty belongs to Jon Snow. And that was noticeable on our list, as he made a rocket launch from #36 to #19. Compared to seasons five and six, season 7 has been quite uneventful for Tormund and he mainly provided some comic relief with the Hound beyond the Wall. However, I was convinced that he would finally bite the dust when the wights dragged him into the ice. Yet, Tormund keeps on surviving (despite standing on a collapsing wall), so I hope the show writers have a great ending for this redhead in store! Tormund is a witty, funny and sincere character and well deserves to have a spot among the 20 best characters. He does lose three spots this year, unfortunately.

15.4% of all voters thought that Sansa Stark is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 

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It is surprising to see Littlefinger’s popularity decreasing after three years of steady popularity. And to be honest, I’m quite sad about it because I used to find him a great character and he always fascinated me when he was on screen. He did, however, annoy me quite a lot in season 7. His arc in season 7 didn’t do him justice as it looked like he had lost all of his clever, sneaky plans and became predictable. It was only fitting to have Sansa executed him, but the way he was trialled was a bit too fan pleasing for me. The Petyr Baelish of the earlier seasons does remain a great villain and therefore alone deserves a high spot on this list. And let’s not forget Aiden Gillen’s great performance throughout all seasons. Littlefinger strands at #18 in 2018.

16% of all voters thought that Petyr Baelish is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 

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Queen Margaery Tyrell remains one of the best female Game of Thrones to date, and her increasing popularity only confirms this. The Tyrell Queen re-enters the top 20 and climbs four spots this year. Margaery Tyrell was a very layered and interesting character, a master manipulator. Even someone as evil as Joffrey Baratheon got easily manipulated by Margaery Tyrell. Margaery played the Game of Thrones excellently and managed to survive many seasons by manipulating powerful men. The High Sparrow both underestimated Cersei and Margaery and this resulted not only in the death of himself, but he took many others including Margaery Tyrell. Of course, Cersei wasn’t just playing the Game of Thrones anymore, she destroyed the whole game. Margaery was wonderfully portrayed by the charming Natalie Dormer and we will always remember her as one of the series best-written characters.

16.7% of all voters thought that Petyr Baelish is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 

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The former master of whispers is deservedly back in the top 20! Lord Varys’s popularity made a big fall last year from #12 to #23, so I am happy to see him recover back to the sixteenth spot. Varys has been a great and witty character from the very start of Game of Thrones and he and Tyrion make such a perfect duo that I could watch them having a conversation a whole episode long. But just like many other characters, Varys suffers the fate of being pushed in the background in season 7, as the focus is now on the major characters interacting with each other. Varys didn’t have much significant to do in season 7, other than walking behind Daenerys on the beach of Dragonstone or take a stroll at the Dragonpit. He did have an interesting dialogue with Melisandre however. I am interested to see how his death scene might play out in the final scene. And I am still waiting to find out what the flames told the sorcerer when he tossed Varys’s private parts in the fire. Varys returns to the top 20 at #16!

17% of all voters thought that Varys is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 

THE 15 BEST GAME OF THRONES CHARACTERS OF 2018

FROM 15 TO 11: A WORLD OF POISON, SWORDS AND BOOKS

“A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone if it is to keep its edge”

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Samwell Tarly is the character with the most impressive increase in popularity over the course of the years. He started in the lower ranks after the fifth season with people finding him a rather dull and whinging character. After Sam left Castle Black in season 6, Sam got his own storyline and he and Gilly became even more lovable characters. Sam started to grow on a lot of people thanks to his compassion and sincere nature. Next to Sam’s kind-hearted nature, he is also very important to the end plot as he’s one of the most learned men Westeros needs in the Great War. Sam’s relevance increased throughout the series and so does his popularity seemingly. He climbs another four spots and ends at #15.

17.5% of all voters thought that Samwell is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 

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It is impressive for a secondary character to end up this high in the list. Olenna Tyrell belongs to the strongest TV characters of this decade and made an everlasting impression on the viewers thanks to her wit and sharpness. Olenna wasn’t exactly scared to do immoral things in order to secure the safety of her family, and that made her even more layered and complex. And in my opinion those characters are often the most interesting ones. Diana Rigg gave a hell of a performance and her send-off was one of the most memorable scenes throughout the series. The Queen of Thorns peaks at #14; bravo!

19.3% of all voters thought that Samwell Tarly is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones.   

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He only appeared in fewer than 10 episodes, but boy did he leave an unforgettable impression on us! In the short amount of screen time he got, Oberyn Martell managed to capture the audience attention with his originality and his broad-minded vision upon life and sex. Oberyn had that great fury that fueled him to seek revenge on the Lannisters, but which also made him a very dangerous man. He was a great fighter as he proved in the pit against the Mountain. Oberyn had all the ingredients to become an iconic character, but died unfortunately too soon and we never got to know him better. Although, I do also this short but lively performance by Pedro Pascal. Oberyn will always remain a fan favorite and has stayed around the same position for years. Yet, he does lose one spot this year and ends at #13.

21.8% of all voters thought that Oberyn Martell is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones.   

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Brienne of Tarth is one of the few characters whose popularity kept increasing as the years went by. She started at #23 and found her way into the top 20, now even approaching the 10 best Game of Thrones characters. Brienne is, by all means, a great character: respectable, honorable, morally correct, admirable, … She has an abundance of good qualities and I hope she will end up by the side of a good leader that deserves her protection. Brienne is next to Samwell, Ned, Grey Worm and Missandei among the most loyal characters, as she’s willing to fulfill her promise even though the leader she served no longer is alive. Brienne has also proven to be a very capable fighter and is an outsider character that today’s society needs. Brienne climbs three spots and strands at #12.

23.7% of all voters thought that Oberyn Martell is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones.   

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Bronn is another character whose popularity kept increasing over the course of the years, however, he does stagnate this year at the 11th position and thus fails again to reach the top 10 characters. In the three early seasons, Bronn was easily one of the best and funniest characters among the cast. Him being paired up with Tyrion made up for the best dialogues the show has had. During seasons 4 to 6, Bronn got a bit pushed to the background and only appeared as Jaime’s right hand on his missions. Season 7 did give Bronn some juicy material to work with as he had to launch a bolt toward a huge dragon. After all those years, he remained a fan favorite thanks to his witty dialogues and his nonchalant behavior. Let’s hope Bronn is finally able to reach the top 10 after the final season, and if not then give this poor man the castle he so deserves.

25% of all voters thought that Bronn is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones.   

 

THE 10 BEST GAME OF THRONES CHARACTERS OF 2018

TOP 10 – 6 of 2018 (THE BEST OF THE BEST)

“You really think the crown gives you power?”

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For the third year in a row, Queen Cersei Lannister leads us into the top 10 best characters of Game of Thrones. Cersei’s character is by far one of the most intriguing and intimidating characters of the show. Some even consider her as the greatest villain the show has had, as she has proven to be more and more ruthless and cold-hearted as the seasons pass by. The Queen of the Seven Kingdoms doesn’t play by the rules of the game of thrones, but creates her own rules instead. Lena Headey has portrayed this conflicted character with all her heart and she’s even so formidable in her role, that I would miss the character if she dies because she’s so fascinating and in some way even relatable. Cersei has been protecting her children as a true lioness and cleared out everyone who stood between her family and their top position. Now that Cersei has been given another chance at an offspring, she will do anything to keep her child from harm. Cersei is at her most vulnerable right now, which also means she’s at her most vulnerable. And I cannot wait to see Cersei’s conclusion to her arc on the small screen. Cersei ends at the 10th position in 20

32% of all voters thought that Cersei Lannister is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 

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Our top 10 wouldn’t be complete without the great Tywin Lannister. Identically to his daughter Cersei, Tywin doesn’t move a spot this year and still occupies the 9th spot for another year. Tywin is without any doubt one of the greatest TV villains of the last decade. This stern and intimidating ruler of House Lannister committed some atrocious crimes but as an audience, we never really got to hate him as his choices were always politically very efficient and calculated. Tywin was a cold-hearted and ruthless leader but he was the most effective one we have known in this show. In a relative short time span, the Lannisters climbed to a ruling position in Westeros and Tywin established a powerful rule that still lasts to this date under Cersei Lannister. Tywin had an amazing arc throughout the series and Charles Dance portrayed with such finesse. Game of Thrones’s political mastermind ends this year at a respectable ninth position.

34.5% of all voters thought that Tywin Lannister is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 

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There ain’t much change in this year’s list up to this point. Ned Stark too keeps his eighth position in the top 50 Game of Thrones characters. We remember Ned Stark as an iconic character – the ultimate example of how ruthless and unpredictable the show can really be by killing off its main character. Ned Stark was an honest, likable and honorable character who the audience identified with quite easily. The Stark patriarch and former Hand of the King made some risky choices in the first season and the consequences had cost him is head. But at least Ned always remained true to his word, something that is not often seen in a world like Westeros. Being surrounded by enemies in all corners, Ned was easily betrayed and publicly humiliated before meeting his demise in the penultimate episode of the first season. We all felt so bad for House Stark and started to root for vengeance for the North. Sadly, the Lannisters are after all those seasons still ruling and the Starks suffered a crushing defeat. Here is to hoping that Ned Stark’s death wasn’t as useless as one would think and that House Stark’s legacy comes to take away all power from House Lannister in the end.

35.7% of all voters thought that Ned Stark is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 

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Perhaps the biggest surprise of this year is Daenerys Targaryen’s fall from the first position. After Daenerys’s (arguably) best season last year, things have subsided a bit and so has the hype around the character. Daenerys again returns to the lower ranks of the top 10 and still ends gracefully at a seventh position, which means she no longer is the best (female) character of the year. Daenerys truly embodies all the epic in this series and became Game of Thrones’s most iconic character together with her dragons. Daenerys’s arc in season 7 was a rollercoaster of emotions: from seeing her making a nostalgic return to her birthplace to cheering while she met the Lannister army on the back of Dragon with the Dothraki army beneath her. Her presence in the show became pivotal as the spotlight was on her and Jon for most of the season. We are eager to find out whether Daenerys’s can finally fulfill her quest she’s been following for many years now. It would be extremely sad to see her failing right before the long-awaited conclusion. Daenerys has held the top position for one year and got kicked out of the top 5 best characters, unfortunately. She lands at #7.

39.3% of all voters thought that Daenerys Targaryen is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 

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Another character who stick to his position is Sandor Clegane a.k.a the foul-mouthed ‘Hound’. The Hound has been around the sixth position for ages and again fails to make it to the big five! The Hound is an extremely complex character to deal with, as he’s perfectly fine with killing people but far from an evil character. Since season 6, The Hound did actually start to come back from his violent past and is given a chance to use his physique for the better. The Hound had a wonderful transition through all seasons and started to grow on lots of people after his exit in King’s Landing. We can never hear enough cursing from The Hound and the lines never fail to deliver. Providing the necessary dark comedy in a TV series like Game of Thrones, the Hound is easily destined to become one of Game of Thrones’s most interesting and coolest characters. And on top of that, we are all eagerly waiting to see his final stand off with his evil brother, the Mountain. The Hound sticks at #6 in 2018.

41.7% of all voters thought that Sandor Clegane is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 

TOP 5 – 1 of 2018 (THE BIG FIVE)

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Ser Davos Seaworth is certainly one of those guys you would love to have around you in a such a cruel world as Westeros. Ser Davos is clever, calm and an extremely likable character. He’s also pretty stubborn and isn’t scared to give his opinion when he thinks he’s in his right to do so. Davos is a great character by all means. At first, he kept Stannis from turning to the evil and later became Jon Snow’s right hand. He’s also great with children! In the last seasons, Davos has often used his great sense of humor and became the best companion you could find yourself. I have no idea what this character has in store for us in the final season but I do wish him a long and happy life after the Great War. To be honest, I never even imagined in season 2 that he would ever grow so popular as he has become. For a third year in a row, he ends very highly on the list and is still one of the big 5. Well done, Onion Knight!

43.5% of all voters thought that Davos Seaworth is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 

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THE BEST FEMALE CHARACTER OF 2018

Arya Stark is here to reclaim her fourth position and earns the title of ‘best female character of the year’ for a third time. Arya Stark doesn’t meet the standards of a typical young high lady, and wipes her feet with all the rules and conventions that are expected of her. And only that makes her already a very likable character. Unlike many other characters, she doesn’t talk about exacting revenge but suits the action to the word. Arya is a survivor, being forced to adapt to the worst kind of situations in life she is now hardened to survive the worst. She has crossed of most names of her list, and we keep wondering whether she will cross off the very last name of her list in the final season. No better way to finish her arc where it all has started for her. Arya is one of the most memorable Game of Thrones characters and one of the strongest female TV characters ever. She highly deserves a place among the big 5.

50% of all voters thought that Arya Stark is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 

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Back in 2015, Tyrion was chosen as the best character in Game of Thrones. Last year, he got kicked out of the top 3. Today, he makes a comeback in our top 3. Tyrion Lannister might be Game of Thrones’s most relatable and likable character, as he’s extremely down to earth and is gifted with the abilities of a great ruler. Tyrion has proven multiple times that he can turn a seemingly losing cause in a winning one but unfortunately has never received the respect he deserves by his father and sister. Tyrion is prejudiced for his dwarfism and therefore has to fight double as hard for his position. The humiliations he suffered made him turn into one of the strongest characters of Thrones as he finds himself by the side of the most powerful character, Daenerys Targaryen. Tyrion climbs one spot this year and ends at #3.

56.2% of all voters thought that Tyrion Lannister is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 

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Jaime Lannister’s popularity has been growing steadily since 2015 and for an instant I thought he would it make it to the very top of our list, but I am glad he ends at a wonderful 2nd position. Jaime’s transition from a downright arrogant prick to an admirable and sober-minded character. Just like his brother Tyrion, he has suffered a number of humiliations throughout the series. Jaime was torn from his family and thrown in a situation where he would meet himself eventually, appreciating the things more that seem so natural for him at first. Jaime had lost all of his children and his pride and has worn a stigma throughout his life, and his character is growing toward redemption to make his arc complete. Jaime Lannister easily has one of the best character arcs ever seen on the TV screen. And possibly he can earn gold next year…

59.3% of all voters thought that Jaime Lannister is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 

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For the second time, Jon Snow ends at the highest position of our list. The brooding (former) King in the North has all the characters to become a fan favorite: he’s extremely honorable, morally correct, kind, and above all someone who fights for his own people. Jon Snow is the most suitable character to sit the Iron Throne in the end and has the most chance of doing so, now knowing about his heritage. The series has been building up to his ascension on the Iron Throne since it was made clear that he’s an effective leader of the Night’s Watch and with the reveal of his Targaryen ancestry, it is more than clear that this is all set up for him being the one to rule a better world in the end – perhaps with his loving Daenerys Targaryen next to his side. But I have to admit this all might all sound a bit too happy for Game of Thrones, so we cannot be so sure that this is how the series will wrap up. Jon Snow again is chosen as the series’ best character. Hooray!

61.5% of all voters thought that Jaime Lannister is one of the 10 best characters in Game of Thrones. 


First and foremost, a huge THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to vote for the poll this year. I hope to see you guys once again next year. 2019’s poll will be held during summer break after the series has come to a conclusion (and I am beyond excited…). It will be interesting to see how the list will evolve after everything has wrapped up. I will also expand 2019’s poll to a TOP 100, as this edition will be a special one. As for future polls, I will keep hosting this poll even after Game of Thrones has ended. From 2020 on, characters from future spin-off will also be eligible and the list will be expanded to ‘The World of Game of Thrones’. We’re in for lots of interesting stuff. 

For everyone who wants to know who has made it to the top 100, scroll down a bit.


TOP 100 – 51 CHARACTERS OF 2018

51 (55) MEERA REED

52 (52) YARA GREYJOY

53 (64) LYANNA STARK

54 (58) BENJEN STARK

55 (51) SHIREEN BARATHEON

56 (53) MISSANDEI

57 (54) GREGOR CLEGANE / THE MOUNTAIN

58 (49) SYRIO FOREL

59 (50) JEOR MORMONT

60 (66) GILLY

61 (60) WUN WUN

62 (61) QYBURN

63 (46) ROOSE BOLTON

64 (80) HIGH SPARROW

65 (72) YOREN

66 (86) DAARIO NAHARIS

67 (81) MAESTER LUWIN

68 (67) RENLY BARATHEON

69 (73) EDMURE TULLY

70 (71) KARL TANNER

71 (139) THE THREE-EYED RAVEN

72 (74) OSHA

73 (101) LORAS TYRELL

74 (69) WALDER FREY

75 (79) ELLARIA SAND

76 (75) GRENN

77 (62) ALLISER THORNE

78 (56) VISERYS TARGARYEN

79 (78) ROS

80 (103) PYP

81 (102) QUAITHE

82 (76) TYENE SAND

83 (126) KARSI

84 (93) MRYCELLA BARATHEON

85 (92) OLLY

86 (89) TALISA STARK

87 (88) BROTHER RAY

88 (112) SHAE

89 (84) KEVAN LANNISTER

90 (90) GREATJON UMBER

91 (134) LADY CRANE

92 (115) RICKON STARK

93 (65) DORAN MARTELL

94 (70) TOMMEN BARATHEON

95 (107) GRANDMAESTER PYCELLE

96 (95) JOJEN REED

94 (123) LYSA ARRYN

95 (148) TRYSTANE MARTELL

96 (136) SELYSE FLORENT

97 (82) AERON GREYJOY

98 (113) LOCKE

99 (77) JORY CASSEL

100 (96) BALON GREYJOY


 

Short Review – Arrival (2016)

DIRECTOR DENIS VILLENEUVE

CAST: AMY ADAMS, JEREMY RENNER, FOREST WHITAKER

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BE AWARE OF SPOILERS!

If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?

Denis Villeneuve has proven in the past that he is a very artistic and gifted director, combining strong storylines with his beautiful directing style. Prisoners (2013) remains one of my favourite thrillers, so I was quite interested to see more of the director. Arrival is mainly a science fiction movie about an alien invasion but unlike other movies that are focussing on the subject, Arrival tells more about the human behaviour rather than the alien invasion itself. The movie explores the idea of several aliens landing on earth with a specific message – they are offering us a ‘weapon’. It’s worth noting that the word ‘weapon’ is quite ambiguous and the aliens actually intend to help us with a ‘tool’ but in order to use this tool, humanity should first learn to work together. And that’s where the shoe pinches. Humankind is unable to communicate correctly with each other and almost fail to understand the help the alien species are willing to give to us. It is only because of professor of linguistics Louise Banks (Amy Adams), who’s willing to communicate without any prejudice, that we are able to understand the aliens’ peaceful motivations. The main message is that communication is essential if we want our species to survive in the long run.

As being made clear by the Academy Awards, Arrival’s strong points are the direction and sound mixing. The sound mixing and the atmospheric soundtrack are definitely mesmerizing. Amy Adams truly shines throughout the movie and brings up a broad spectrum of emotions among its audience (esp. during the flashforward scenes). I personally loved how similar the opening and closing scenes were and how everything became full circle. Max Richter’s accompanying On the Nature of Daylight together with Louise’s tragic visions of the future make up for one of my favourite opening scenes of all-time.

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Opposites scientist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) and linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) need to get answers from the aliens before they run out of time. 

Arrival is clearly not a movie that is made for all kinds of audiences but relies on some level of understanding from its viewers. It is not your typical sci-fi movie but explores the depths of the destructing behavior of humankind. Arrival may be one of the many movies exploring the idea of alien invasions but does provide some insights which are unseen in the history of film. Therefore Villeneuve’s work of art is not to be skipped by lovers of the genre.

12573

VERDICT

89%

Short review – Nocturnal Animals (2016)

NOCTURNAL ANIMALS

DIRECTOR: TOM FORD
CAST: AMY ADAMS, JAKE GYLLENHAAL, MICHAEL SHANNON, AARON TAYLOR-JOHNSON

SPOILER-FREE REVIEW

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Nocturnal Animals‘ is, without a doubt, one of my favorite movies of 2016. Tom Ford did an impeccable job combining the exquisite soundtrack (kudos for Abel Korzeniowski) with the beautiful scenery. I am looking forward to seeing more of Ford’s future work, as he seems to be not only a talented fashion designer but also has a critical eye for detail and artistic direction within his movies. As for the acting, Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal never fail to impress me. Nocturnal Animals is another proof of how capable they are and how they always manage to capture the audience’s attention, even with the simplest facial expression. Another revelation in this movie is Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Having heard little about the actor, I was mesmerized by his interpretation of the story’s main villain and genuinely hated him. Taylor-Johnson was perfectly cast in this role. Michael Shannon’s powerful performance is another great addition to the movie.

The acting might be the strongest part of the movie. Nocturnal Animals contains three main narratives – the story of Edward’s book, Edward’s and Susan’s past relationship and Susan in the present – We watch the whole movie through the eyes of Amy Adams’s character, Susan. And Adams is capable enough to keep the viewers interested until the end of the movie. The storyline of Edward’s book is the most emotional and captivating one compared with Susan’s present storyline, which might start to bore the audience a bit at the beginning of the movie. But the ending of Nocturnal Animals brings everything masterfully together and leaves us behind with so many questions. ‘Nocturnal Animals’ is a movie that you should watch twice. As there are so many details and clever references that you might have missed during the first watching session. The wonderful soundtrack is another reason to watch the movie a second time.

Nocturnal Animals is a must-see for viewers who like to watch an engaging, well build up psychological thriller. Especially for fans of both Adams and Gyllenhaal this one should not be missed.

9,3/10

 

SPOILER ATTENTION

A quick nod to the beautiful ending of ‘Nocturnal Attention’. Relying on Amy Adams facial acting, combined with the great soundtrack from Korzeniowski and the three storylines narrowing in one touching, thought-provoking conclusion. 

Review The Shape of Water

One of my most anticipated movies this year is ‘The Shape of Water’. Knowing that this film earned 13 Oscar nominations is enough reason to see this movie in theatre. ‘The Shape of Water’ could very well be Guillermo Del Toro’s most passionate work to date. The style and direction of this movie are flawless. Actress Sally Hawkins (‘Maudie’) and veteran actor Richard Jenkins (‘The Visitor’) give the performances of their career.

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Sally Hawkins is absolutely believable as the mute ‘Elisa Esposito’

‘The Shape of Water’ starts off with a very eerie but beautiful opening theme. The astonishing visuals (Elisa’s chamber filled with water in a world where beauty seems to be fleeting) along with the soundtrack was already a very promising start and one of the best movie opening sequences I have seen in years. We learn more about Elisa Esposito’s (Sally Hawkins) life. She’s fond of eggs it seems and masturbates frequently in the water.

We soon learn that Elisa became a mute woman after being injured in her neck when she was an infant. She lives in a small apartment above an old movie theatre and has an intimate friendship with her gay neighbour, Giles (Richard Jenkins). Her other best friend is Zelda (Octavia Spencer), a black woman who works as a janitor in a laboratory in Baltimore just like Eliza herself. Zelda often interprets for Elisa at work, being the only friend there who genuinely cares about her.  Elisa Esposito has a very monotone life, almost being a nonentity and feeling herself less than others.

Elisa’s life changes for good when Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) brings in a captured amphibian creature to the laboratory facility. From her first gaze at the creature, we realize that Elisa’s fascination will grow throughout the movie. Elisa is, next to the scientist ‘Bob’ Hoffstetler, one of the very few people who treat the creature with respect. Although their motivations to save the creature may differ from each other, they both end up being at the same side and try to prevent the creature from being killed.

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Doug Jones is the ideal man to portray the Amphibian Man.

Knowing that the movie is set in the 60s and the Cold War was going on at the time, the Americans seize the chance to study the creature and gain advantages over the Soviet Union in the Space Race. Strickland also proves himself to be a very unpleasant man, often feeling superior to others. His hatred and disdain toward the amphibian creature only grow after the latter bites off a few fingers of Strickland. Strickland continues to torture the creature, prompting Elisa to free it from its dire circumstances with the help from her friends.

The relationship Elisa develops with the Amphibian Man is extraordinary and in some way emotional – only Del Toro could make a relationship between a mute and a fish/man hybrid believable. And in today’s society, this strange formula works.

The message Del Toro tries to convey is simple but strong and works for a large group of our modern society. Love between people knows no boundaries, but how open-minded can we be today? Should we applaud the relationship between a woman and an animal or should we reprimand this very idea? Even though Del Toro’s purpose is to show the world that we should accept every form of love, he’s certainly braving the lion in his den with this movie. Aside from the fascinating story, the Shape of Water is a work of art when it comes to direction and score. I’d be mad if composer Alexandre Desplat (‘Harry Potter soundtrack’) doesn’t win an Academy Award for his exceptional score in ‘The Shape of Water’. The first 10 minutes of the movie were breathtakingly beautiful in terms of visuals and direction. The colours in the movie were somewhat dull but fitted into the atmosphere and the age.

 

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Michael Shannon proves again to be a great actor, but his character was somewhat caricatural.

Sally Hawkins was the true revelation of the movie. She made her character, Elisa Esposito, absolutely believable and loveable. It’s certainly not an easy job to convey emotions and to add layers to a character when you’re not able to use verbal language. In retrospect, Hawkins was truly outstanding playing a mute woman being in love with the weirdest creature on earth. Richard Jenkins’ Giles was another loveable character, struggling to accept his age and believing himself to be born in the wrong era. Back in the sixties, homosexuality and skin colour were still a great issue (and still is today). Talking about skin colour, Octavia Spencer’s Zelda also faced prejudice because of her status as African-American. Zelda was, just like Gile, a kind-hearted character, with whom we fell in love rather quickly. Octavia Spencer proves again to be a class actress and makes us care about her character, even though she doesn’t get that much screen time. Michael Shannon is a phenomenal actor as well, but I wasn’t as investigated in his character, to be honest. Shannon’s acting was just fine, but the character was too flat or one-sided. We were ‘too much forced’ to accept him as the evil guy and no redeeming qualities were given to his character. I missed the complexity of his character.

If you’re about to go to the movies and you have absolutely no idea what movie you should watch, don’t hesitate and give ‘The Shape of Water’ a chance. For some people, the whole concept might go a bit too far for what’s good, but the core message is undeniable a positive one. You’ll certainly get positive vibes from this one. And if you’re not going for the story, then you should check him out just for the score and direction. Del Toro depicts himself once again as a true artist and master of the cinema craftsmanship. And if you were a fan of Pan’s Labyrinth, then checking out ‘The Shape of Water’ is a no-brainer.

8,8/10

Review Paddington 2

I’m going to begin this review with a bold statement: ‘Paddington 2 is easily one of the best family entertainment I have seen in a very long time.’ This sweet and funny sequel stars Hugh Bonneville (‘Notting Hill’), Sally Hawkins (‘The Shape of Water’), Brendan Gleeson (‘Braveheart’), Julie Walters (‘Harry Potter’) and Hugh Grant (‘Notting Hill’). Paddington 2 provides all the sweetness and comic relief needed in a world we live in today.

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The clumsy young bear ends up in prison but enlightens the hearts of the prisoners with marmalade sandwiches. 

I don’t think many people would disagree with me when I say that Paddington 2 is even better than its predecessor. The previous movie was a solid family movie, but Nicole Kidman’s villainous character just didn’t stick with me. Hugh Grant’s character greatly makes up for that problem and adds a funny, less patronizing layer to his character. Even though his character wasn’t kind at all, he wasn’t just plain evil whereas Kidman’s character was way less sympathetic and perhaps too evil for a children’s movie. Paddington 2 restores the balance between being villainous but still sympathetic. Ben Wishaw, who continues to be the voice of Paddington, enlightens our life again. His voice fits the character perfectly. I couldn’t imagine a voice better than Wishaw’s. I admit I was scared that Paddington 2 couldn’t possibly succeed the first one successfully, so I was quite surprised to find out that I was proven wrong.

In the sequel, Paddington desires to give aunt Lucy the best gift she could wish for her birthday. He discovers a pop-up book of London but doesn’t have enough money to buy it for her. Paddington decides to put his right hand to the work in order to buy aunt Lucy the best birthday present ever. Things don’t go well for him at first. His first job as an hairdresser’s assistant resulted in a complete failure. Paddington decides to make it himself a bit easier. He chooses to become a window cleaner. The comedic scene couldn’t be more heartwarming or funny!

After having worked hard to earn his pop-up book for aunt Lucy, he decides to examine the book in its full glory behind the glass. The young bear discovers that the book has disappeared and witnesses how the thief escapes out of the shop. Having done his utmost best, Paddington fails to catch the thief and gets arrested himself. The poor young bear ends in jail, being accused falsely of theft. In jail, Paddington meets up with a bunch of new characters, a group of prisoners. Paddington doesn’t make a good impression at first and the prisoners aren’t exactly welcoming. Soon, Paddington becomes a stalwart friend among the prisoners and conjures up a smile upon each prisoner’s face. Even the prisoners can’t refuse Paddington’s sandwiches with orange marmalade. Together with his family members, Paddington goes on a mission to find the real thief so the truth can finally be revealed.

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Paddington does his utmost best to give aunt Lucy the best birthday present ever.

Paddington 2 is the perfect family movie to watch on a Saturday evening. It contains everything to be considered a great children’s movie: there is plenty of humour, tearjerking scenes, and action. The strongest aspects of the movie are the lighthearted humour and the sympathetic characters. Paddington’s character truly is one of the most charming children’s icons out there today and I am interested to see how they will develop Michael Bond’s clumsy young bear over the course of the years. A third movie might be possible according to StudioCanal CEO Didier Lupfer.

Just like with Paddington 2’s predecessor, the movie falls short of real surprises and was quite predictable at times. But I’m generally okay with that, considering that it’s a movie for children. Hugh Grant also provided a much better villain than Kidman, but that wasn’t the fault of the actress but rather the nature of her written character. Grant’s character remained likable throughout the movie and could be considered more annoying than truly evil. His character also added to the great humour the movie provided us with.

Taking into account that Paddington 2 is a family movie, I can absolutely recommend it. Paddington 2 continues the success of its predecessor in many ways, and can even be considered as the better one of the two. But don’t expect more than a sweet and innocent children’s film and you won’t be disappointed at all.

8.4/10

Review Goodbye Christopher Robin

Review Goodbye Christopher Robin (2018)

Goodbye Christopher Robin recounts the tale of Winnie-the-Pooh Author A.A Milne and his family in a biographical drama including British actor Domnhall Gleeson as A.A. Milne, Australian beauty Margot Robbie as Milne’s wife Daphne and the Scottish Kelly Macdonald as nanny Olive. Even though the poster and the concept of the very movie might come across as rose-coloured and optimistic, the movie was quite sad.  

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The story focuses on the life of writer A.A Milne who can’t process his past as a soldier in World War I.  Ever since Milne has returned from the war, he suffers with severe PTSD. He isn’t able to resume his writing and decides to relocate to a farm nearby a forest together with his wife and young son, whom he calls ‘Billy’. Billy’s real name is Christopher Robin, a name that might sound very familiar to the audience. Even though the name made the young boy immortal, he doesn’t really identify with it. Winnie-the-Pooh might be one of the most optimistic and lighthearted children books of all-time, the story behind the books is a bit heart-breaking. Christopher Robin was, like any other kid of his age, searching for attention and acceptance from his parents which he never really got. His mother wasn’t too fond of him and always wished to have a daughter so she wouldn’t have to lose another person she loves to a war. As beforementioned, A.A. Milne struggled to function properly after the war and became a shadow of what he ever was. Milne comes across as a stoic, somewhat emotionless person who has never really been a real father to his son. Most of the time Billy was playing with his plush toys he got from his mother, Daphne.

Billy’s nanny, Olive, was more like a mother and father to him than his parents have ever been. The band Christopher and Olive shared was beautiful to see and to see the latter leave him at some point in the movie was very emotional. The two actors who performed young and elder Christoper Robin (Will Tinston and Alex Lawther) together with Kelly Macdonald were the strongest part of the cast and made the movie more likeable. Gleeson was believable as A.A. Milne but I caught myself not caring too much about his character. I do understand that this was the whole point of the character, to make him rather insipid. Gleeson did his best to portray Milne exactly like he was, but it wasn’t too memorable at all. Daphne, portrayed by Margot Robbie, was even more unlikeable than Milne. Robbie undeniably has a lot of charisma and she was quite good in the part she played, but I wished to have seen more of her. Daphne was a bit underdeveloped and became more of a flat character to the end. Even though she was not as emotionless as her husband, she didn’t share a natural bond with her son either. As an audience, we could certainly see that the parents did love their son but their own personal lives were considered more important than their relationship with Billy. During the little time Milne spent playing with his son, he discovered how remarkable his son was and used his son’s childhood (and more specifically his plush toys) to write a story to warm every person’s heart after the traumatic event that was called WWI.

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Not knowing how big this would become, Milne found himself absorbed in his job after finally getting recognition for his work. Milne’s wife liked every bit of the public attention and enjoyed the fame. The fame and glory robbed young Billy of his childhood where he had to portray to be the book character most of the time. He had to do lots of interviews, role plays and so on. He never really got to spend time with his parents alone but received maternal love of his nanny Olive instead. It was very sad for Christopher Robin to see the nanny leaving him and thus leaving a big empty hole in his heart. After Olive has left, A.A. Milne begins to understand that he has robbed his own son of his childhood thanks to his fame. He decided to no longer write about Winnie-the-Pooh and to not treat his son as his book character anymore. Some time later, he brings his son to a boarding school where his life changes drastically. After being bullied for years at school, Christopher Robin has lost his optimistic nature and becomes more bitter like his father. With the outbreak of World War II, Billy strongly desires to become a soldier. Even though A.A. Milne had to understand like no other what the consequences of such a traumatic event must be, he helps his son to get his wish fulfilled. Right before Billy leaves his father to serve the country, Milne tries to convince his son to stay with him. He’s reminded of how much he failed as a father when he sees his son leaving him without much regret, knowing that they never might to see each other again.

Not much later, A.A. Milne receives the news that his son is presumed dead. Mr. Milne finally shows a bit of remorse and emotion after he found about the so-called death of his son and decides to tell Olive about it as well. Her finding out about Billy’s death was the most heartbreaking part of the entire movie. At a night, Billy returns home and is reunited with his parents. Again, both parents struggle to convey their emotions whereby the reunion comes across as a bit uncomfortable. The true reunion we’ve waited for is the one between Billy and Olive. The movie ends with A.A. Milne having a talk with his son in the forest and where they’re reminiscing Billy’s childhood, finally putting it in perspective. Billy understands that growing up was a very though job and that Winnie-The-Pooh might be a heartwarming figure in many people’s life, but it destroyed a lot of his own childhood.

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Will Tilston and Kelly Macdonald truly shine in ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’.

Goodbye Christopher Robin is definitely worth checking out as the acting is quite strong and the story behind the famous bear is fascinating and eye opening. The atmosphere and setting are both astonishing and enough reason to see the movie. The movie was a bit too long in my opinion and got a bit long-winded toward the end. Margot Robbie’s Daphne was a bit of a flat, uninteresting character as well (even though Robbie did her best to make her character work, she ultimately failed). The true revelations of the movie are Will Tilston as young Christopher Robin and Kelly Macdonald as his nanny. The beautiful relationship between these two characters was the strongest part of the movie.

7.2/10

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