TRUMBO (2015)

Genre: Drama
Director: Jay Roach
Cast: Bryan Cranston, Helen Mirren, Diane Lane, Louis C.K., John Goodman, Elle Fanning, Michael Stuhlbarg, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Alan Tudyk, David James Elliott
Runtime: 2 hrs 4 mins
Rating: PG13 (Coarse Language)
Released By: Shaw
Official Website:

Opening Day: 25 February 2016

Synopsis: The successful career of 1940s screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) comes to a crushing end when he and other Hollywood figures are blacklisted for their political beliefs. TRUMBO (directed by Jay Roach) tells the story of his fight against the U.S. government and studio bosses in a war over words and freedom, which entangled everyone in Hollywood from Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren) and John Wayne to Kirk Douglas and Otto Preminger.

Movie Review:

Showbiz is, well, a show. And then there’s this thing called the Academy Awards. Hosted by the Academyof Motion Picture Artsand Sciences, it is an annual American awards ceremony which aims to recognise excellence in cinematic achievements in the film industry as assessed by the Academy’s voting membership.

Anyone who has been on the Internet would know one of the most talked about topics at the 88th Academy Awards is who will go home with the Best Actor Oscar. The countless number of memes about Leonardo DiCaprio’s four unfortunate misses with the statuette (three Best Actor and one Best Supporting Actor nominations) has gotten almost the whole cyberspace rooting for the 41 year old actor, who has come a long way since achieving international fame by playing the lovelorn good looker Jack Dawson in James Cameron’s Titanic (1997).

And since we know that there are factors like television ratings and advertisement prices involved in the Academy Awards (it is a business like any other commercial products, if you have been too idealistic to realise), the attention on such chatter is one of the determining elements of ‘winning’ movies, actors and filmmakers.

Wait, isn’t this review supposed to be about Jay Roach’s film about Hollywoodscreenwriter Dalton Trumbo, whose work has been highly regarded by the industry until he and the other artists were jailed and blacklisted for their political beliefs? Why did we just spend three paragraphs on whether DiCaprio is worthy of being crowned Best Actor at the Academy Awards?

You see, this is what we mean by the importance of chatter, what people are consistently talking about. As much as we feel that this film’s lead actor Bryan Cranston is the worthiest winner out of the nominees (DiCaprio for The Revenant, Matt Damon for The Martian, Michael Fassbender for Steve Jobs and Eddie Redmayne for The Danish Girl), the 59 actor, who is a first time Best Actor nominee at the Oscars, is unlikely to take home the golden statuette.

Cranston, who is best known for playing Walter White in the crime drama series Breaking Bad, is perfect in this 124 minute drama. His screen presence is strong, and effortlessly gives gravitas to the titular Trumbo. The remarkable performance is one of the most affecting we have ever seen on the big screen, from the scenes of him writing and smoking in his bathtub, to the sequences where he uses his sarcastic sense of humour to address naysayers.  

Roach, who is known for his directorial work in comedies like the Austin Powers movies and Meet the Parents, delivers a compelling piece of work based on John McNamara’s screenplay from Bruce Cook’s book Dalton Trumbo. Inaccurate historical representations aside (go find out more from history textbooks if you want to find out more), the film tells a story of the showbiz industry that we have heard much about – star power, glamour, dirty money and ugly politics.

It helps that Cranston’s co stars include capable actors like Diane Lane (Unfaithful), Helen Mirren (The Queen), Louis C.K. (Blue Jasmine), John Goodman (Inside Llewyn Davis), Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man) and Elle Fanning (Super 8), making this film a must watch for those who are fans of good acting.

As for Cranston’s fate with the Oscar trophy, that’s what those “Should Win and Will Win” lists are for.  

Movie Rating:

(Bryan Cranston delivers a remarkable and affecting performance, making him the worthiest Best Actor winner at the 88th Academy Awards – but hey, that’s just us)  

Review by John Li


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