Some cinematic years are landmarks, offering up a crop of movies destined to be all time classic. Some years deliver little that will be remembered a few years down the line. And some years nestle squarely in between; the past twelve months was that sort of year.
2018 started in familiar territory, Liam Neeson still cashing in on the success of Taken (2008) with another everyman-in-action movie The Commuter, two more dull entries in the Maze Runner and Fifty Shades franchises, and high-brow Oscar bait jostling for position in multiplexes. Fortunately, this year’s Academy hopefuls were a varied and entertaining bunch. Heading the list, and the eventual Best Picture winner, was The Shape of Water. Though beautiful to look at, its story of a mute woman falling in love with a fish/man hybrid was not particularly original and at times a bit ridiculous. The Academy would have been better placed rewarding Guillermo del Toro for his Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) or Crimson Peak (2015); no doubt they were waiting for the director to make something less rooted in the horror genre.
The next instalment in Marvel’s grand plan arrived in February, Black Panther, and as 2019 award season approaches it looks to be asking similar Shape of Water ‘Should it be nominated?’ questions. Though the Wakanda/African setting was something refreshing to see, its story was derivative of almost every Marvel origin film seen to date; hero is introduced, hero gets in trouble, hero returns at the end for a CGI slathered battle, the status quo returns. Despite this Black Panther finds itself in the heady heights of best picture discussions. That it’s not even the best Marvel picture released in 2018 says a lot about award ceremonies bowing down to the cause celebre.
Game Night breezed along shortly after to ease the award ceremony bloat with a fun romp, while Red Sparrow arrived as the Black Widow film Marvel apparently doesn’t want to make despite fans clamouring for it. March saw the first of 2018’s many forgettable remakes with Death Wish, another regrettable entry in the ‘What the hell is Bruce Willis doing to his career?’ saga. Equally uninspiring was Tomb Raider, further evidence that movies and computer games don’t mix.
Armando Iannucci wowed critics with his second feature film The Death of Stalin, while the inept Midnight Sun offered up one positive; Arnold Schwarzenegger’s son Patrick appears to have fine acting chops. John Krasinski directed both himself and his wife Emily Blunt in the year’s best horror film A Quiet Place, and Joaquin Phoenix earned deserved praise for his serious take on a John Wick-esque hitman in You Were Never Really Here. Praise was also heaped on Hereditary though its lack of likeable characters and predictable ‘twist’ made it a thriller that was tough for some to enjoy.
Rampage saw Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson step even deeper in to the ridiculous action genre; Be Cool (2005) seems like a long time ago now. Solo: A Star Wars Story, though fun, failed to match the quality of the previous three entries in the recent return to a galaxy far far away, which was a shame given that Alden Ehrenreich came a lot closer to matching Harrison Ford than most thought he would.
The summer months rolled on with various films trying to make a dent in Marvel’s massive tent-pole movie, Avengers: Infinity War. Ocean’s 8 reeked of a #MeToo cash-grab as it lazily lumped a cliché ridden script on to the year’s finest ensemble cast and somehow forgot that a heist film is meant to be tense and exciting rather than predictable and dull. Superfly was the next “I didn’t even know they were remaking that” movie of 2018 and was just as woeful as Death Wish, while Gotti left John Travolta fans hoping that another Pulp Fiction-esque career revival might be on the cards for him in 2019; its sorely needed.
Incredibles 2 was a solid sequel to an excellent original, while Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was a dull sequel to a lazy original. Sicario: Day of the Soldado was also a disappointment bringing back all of the angst of the original but failing to replace Emily Blunt as the much needed heart and conscience. Ant-Man and the Wasp seemed non-consequential in the wake of the mammoth Infinity War but an excellent post-credits screen raised the stakes. There was no saving Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, hamstrung from the outset by the fact the first film fully emptied the Abba back catalogue. All it had left to go on was a rehash of songs that weren’t particularly funny or well performed the first time around.
A second part to the surprisingly enjoyable The Equalizer (2014) showed that there’s only so far you can take a character that is nigh-on unbeatable. Mission Impossible – Fallout on the other hand showed exactly how a returning action hero should be handled. Remarkably this fifth instalment in the franchise might be its best; cliché the McGuffin might have been but with so many fun plot twists and perfectly staged action set-pieces it was 2018’s standout action film.
More pedestrian fare followed as the summer faded. The Darkest Minds was a cut-price X-Men rip off, The House With The Clock In Its Walls was yet another attempt to feast on the lingering good will of the Harry Potter franchise, while The Predator was an utterly ridiculous tribute to the 1987 original that only served to show how far away in quality it was to John McTiernan’s classic movie. The Meg aimed for Snakes On A Plane (2006) success but showed that you can’t deliberately make a so-bad-its-good movie; 2018’s prize in that category went to the plot-hole ridden Skyscraper, another vehicle for The Rock and his bid to appear exclusively in ‘WTF?’ movies.
Papillon was part three in 2018’s “Really, they’re remaking that?” saga and did nothing to turn its march of mediocrity. Bright spots did appear in the latter half of the year though. Leave No Trace was one of 2018’s most moving pictures, while Roma was one of this year’s most gripping despite the apparent mundanity of its subject matter. First Man continued Damien Chazelle’s superb run behind the camera and Ryan Goslings in front of it, while A Star Is Born confirmed that Bradley Cooper can operate on both sides brilliantly, even if the music he has to work with is bland and forgettable.
Autumn arrived and for the first time in many years so did a decent Halloween movie, David Gordon Green’s direct sequel to John Carpenter’s 1978 original going some way to recapturing the quality and the spirit of the forty year old vintage. Almost in direct riposte, Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria remake showed how not to treat a horror classic franchise. Venom also surprised viewers, revealing that it is still possible to mishandle a Marvel property.
Bohemian Rhapsody produced fifteen minutes of the most spellbinding cinema of the year by perfectly recreating Queen’s historic performance at Live Aid. It also produced a stunning performance by Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury as well as apparently time travelling to kidnap a young Brian May (the equally brilliant Gwilym Lee). The film was only let down by too much tinkering with the real history of Queen, juggling events and redacting occurrences solely for fake dramatic effect. On letting events speak for themselves Michael Moore delivered another eye opening documentary with Fahrenheit 11/9, focusing on the election of Donald Trump. Unlike previous Moore documentaries viewers already knew about all manner of dubious goings on surrounding the current President, and being so beaten down by them already merely shrugged at its depressing revelations.
The Girl In The Spiders Web was a low rent follow up to David Fincher’s excellent The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011) with none of the original cast returning. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald was even worse than its underwhelming predecessor, cramming more unnecessary scenes in to its bloated 134 minute run time than any blockbuster before it. Not even a grandstanding and film stealing denouement from Johnny Depp could save it.
Further sequel woes followed. Creed II ditched the realism that made its first outing worth championing, switching instead to cliché mode and cartoonish villains. Ralph Breaks The Internet failed to bolt a decent story on to its stream of digs at modern life and social media, instead playing like a series of amusing shorts stitched together. Mary Poppins Returns fared even worse, trying to elicit sympathy for a family on the verge of falling on hard times despite the fact they live in a towering multi-million pound house in London; not even Mary Poppins, perfectly recast as Emily Blunt, could work that miracle. Aquaman arrived to the DC movie universe in December seemingly too late, following announcements that Ben Afflect, Amy Adams, and Henry Cavill had already departed the Justice League franchise.
It wasn’t all bad news though as the year drew to a close. Ladybird gave Saoirse Ronan another chance to display her fantastic acting talents and could well see the actress land a well-deserved first Oscar in early 2019. It topped what had already been a stellar year following fantastic performances in On Chesil Beach and The Seagull. Director Peter Jackson released his first film since leaving Middle Earth for the second time in 2014 and it was well worth the wait; They Shall Not Grow Old was one of if not the most important film release of the year, presenting colourised and preserved footage of World War One together with interviews from those caught up in the supposed war to end all wars. It should be required viewing for all.
Steve McQueen showed Ocean’s 8 what a strong female cast can do when given a decent script with the excellent Widows, while Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse dismissed expectations of a lazy Christmas cash-in for kids by delivering one of the best action comedies of the year. And finally, after thirty-two years of waiting Transformer fans got a follow-up to Transformers: The Animated Movie (1986) that was worthy of their time and money; Bumblebee returned the characters to their classic design and started the tough job of wiping away the stench of Michael Bay’s headache inducing series of Transformer films. If that’s not something to be thankful for at Christmas time I don’t know what is. Here are the ten films we were most grateful for receiving in 2018.
- DARKEST HOUR
Of all the actors yet to receive a Best Actor Academy Award one name stood out above all others; Gary Oldman. Despite turning in performance after performance of the highest calibre the British actor didn’t get his first nomination until 2012 for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011). But after thirty-six years of amazing work Oldman finally got the ultimate acting accolade when he took home the Best Actor Oscar for his performance as Winston Churchill in Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour. Whether it’s actually Oldman’s best work could be debated, but given the Academy’s reputation for rewarding actors for portraying historical figures and how long they’d overlooked Oldman it was the right result on the night. Darkest Hour certainly gave Oldman plenty of scenery to chew on as he elbows his way forward through a stuffy and antiquated political landscape to become the man to lead his country in to war. Helping to lighten the load is Ben Mendelsohn, excelling in a rare heroic role as King George VI, Lily James as one of Churchill’s aids and the voice of ‘common folk’, and Kristen Scott Thomas bringing a fantastic streak of dry wit as Winston’s wife Clementine. If Wright’s film missed one point it was the role that Labour opponent Clement Attlee played in standing with Churchill to challenge the rise of Nazism. Aside from this Wright created one the most gripping films about one of the most vital slithers of British history, centred around its most important countryman, whiskey soaked, cigar chomping faults and all.
Tasty Morsel – Oldman has confirmed that a sequel is being discussed which will focus on the 1945 Yalta Conference where USA, UK and Soviet Union leaders discussed the reorganisation of Europe following the defeat of Nazi Germany.
- THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
If the last three quarters of 2018 were light on films that will be remembered as all-time greats the first quarter was the polar opposite, awash in quality cinema. Joining Oldman on the stage of the Dolby Theatre in March 2018 to take the Best Actress Oscar was Frances McDormand. And whereas it could be argued that Oldman perhaps deserved his Oscar prior to 2018 for his even more astounding work in the likes of Sid and Nancy (1986) and Leon (1994), few would question that Mildred Hayes is not McDormand’s finest creation. The ultra-resilient mother of a murdered and raped daughter still waiting on the local police to track down the culprits, Hayes takes to questioning the local sheriff Bill Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) by placing large signs on the billboards just outside of her small home town. The beauty of Martin McDonagh’s film is that it shows the moral conundrum from all sides. Mildred is a sympathetic victim but also at fault for some of her actions, while Chief Willoughby is ineffectual but suffering his own life injustices and as well as being tied down by a case with few if any clues to go on. Even thoroughly dislikeable policeman Jason Dixon (a never better Sam Rockwell) gets all sides of his character revealed. The closed nature of small town America is poked along the way, often to darkly comic effect. But there are also numerous genuine tugs on the heartstrings that arrive to precisely when you don’t expect them to, ‘Good luck to you, Jason. You're a decent man, and yeah you've had a run of bad luck, but things are gonna change for you’ . To many McDonagh’s film should have also left the Dolby Theatre stage with a big Academy Award; that it didn’t remains 2018’s biggest cinematic disappointment.
Tasty Morsel – McDormand’s Oscar was only in her hands briefly before being stolen from an Oscar after party. The actress got her Oscar back the following day when the culprit was identified in press footage of him leaving the party, Oscar in hand.
- I, TONYA
When you think a movie might be far-fetched just switch on the news; as the saying goes, truth is stranger than fiction. That was certainly the case in January 1994 when the day before the U.S. Figure Skating Championship Nancy Kerrigan, one of the championship favourites, was attacked after a practice session. The assailant was hired to break her leg by the ex-husband of one of the other championship favourites, Tonya Harding. To date some still have questions over how much Harding knew about the attack and how involved she was. Harding herself apologised for not reporting what she found out about those involved after Kerrigan had her leg crocked. Harding was eventually banned from skating but still fell in and out of the spotlight, even taking up boxing for nine fights. Fertile ground for a movie adaptation, director Craig Gillespie brought Steven Rogers screenplay to big screen and gave Margot Robbie her first title starring role as Harding. Robbie was a revelation earning her first Academy Award nomination. Equally impressive was Allison Janney, barely recognisable as Tonya’s mother LaVona. As the quintessential pushy parent she drags Tonya up to be a figure skating sensation but struggles to shake the pairs ‘white trash’ roots. It’s this angle that Gillespie plays on the most, the films style mirroring Harding’s often chaotic life, the clean preciseness of the skate with the messy turmoil of her private life. The humour of the ham-fisted attempt to bash Kerrigan out of contention makes for more than a few chuckles but it never downplays the emotion of what all involved went through and the life-changing effects it had on them.
Tasty Morsel – Robbie trained for four months before taking to the ice, but her figure skating scenes were doubled by professional skaters Heidi Munger and Anna Malkova.
- ISLE OF DOGS
Twenty two years after his directorial debut it appears Wes Anderson isn’t capable of making a bad film, or at least a dull one. Returning to stop-motion animation for the second time after the brilliant Fantastic Mr Fox (2009), Anderson directed another of his screenplays to once again nab the title of the year’s most delightfully quirky film. In a future Japan, following an outbreak of influenza all dogs are banished from the country, taken out to sea and dumped on a large, isolated trash island. The mayor of Megasaki City, particularly hard hit by the flu, is vocal about riding his city of canines. But the mayor’s young ward Atari misses his bodyguard dog Spot too much so sets out to rescue him from Trash Island. The animation style was softer and even more charming than Anderson’s previous effort, but even more pleasing than that was the grand voice cast he was able to assemble. Wooed by Anderson’s previous critical success, the list of actors taking part included Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Frances McDormand, Scarlett Johansson, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham, Yoko Ono, Tilda Swinton, Ken Watanabe. Live Schreiber, and Anjelica Huston. It’s a cast so impressive you almost wish Anderson had opted for a live action film; but then we wouldn’t have been given the wondrous idea of envisioning our pet pooches with the voice of Bill Murray or Jeff Goldblum. While the story itself follows a fairly predictable path, the journey Atari and his dog companions go on is enchanting and features the sort of warm, chucklesome humour that’s now a trademark of an Anderson film, ‘I was the lead mascot for an undefeated high school baseball team. I lost all my spirit, I'm depressing’.
Tasty Morsel – The stop-motion team working on the film included 670 individuals who took around 130,000 still images in total.
- DEADPOOL 2
While the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies are pretty good at incorporating humour in to their own movies, there is still something slightly po-faced about flying hammer-wielding gods and reality altering diamonds. Deadpool is the perfect riposte, not only poking much needed fun at the comic movie world but also self-aware enough to poke fun at itself; Deadpool and Ryan Reynolds can take a joke as well as they can dish it out. Reynolds had to work hard to convince Fox to stump up the money to make his vision of Deadpool; they eventually gave him $58million, a paltry sum in comparison to the $140million Marvel were investing the in the likes of Ant-Man (2015). The Fox executives had to chow down on one of the biggest humble pies Hollywood has ever seen though when Deadpool (2016) earned an astonishing $783million at the worldwide box office. Subsequently they upped the budget for Deadpool 2 to $110million. Wade Wilson’s second outing didn’t take the easy road to success though, building anticipation of its release to almost unachievable levels with two hilarious Superman and Bob Ross inspired skits and losing Deadpool director Tim Miller after a disagreement with Reynolds about the films direction. Its toughest ask though was incorporating Cable in to its plot, a beloved X-Men character renowned for his gruff demeanour and involvement in ultra-serious storylines. David Leitch stepped in to the director’s chair, and his biggest achievement was ensuring that Cable, the ever reliable Josh Brolin, lost none of his gravitas while simultaneously upping every level of humour around him, be it slapstick, self-aware, mad-cap or wise cracking. Cable slotted seamlessly in to Deadpool’s universe, with genuine heart, while the laughs kept flowing. Leitch and Reynolds also upped the Easter eggs, crafting more tributes, cameos and good natured ribbing than any fan would be able to spot on multiple viewings. How Reynolds goes about topping this outstanding sequel is anyone’s guess, but if anyone can do it Wade Wilson can.
Tasty Morsel – Of the trickiest to spot cameos was Matt Damon, performing so well under heavy make-up even most of the crew were unaware he was on set.
- READY PLAYER ONE
If you grew up in the nineteen-eighties the current cultural landscape is a haven of nostalgia. Songwriters, filmmakers and screenwriters who were children of the eighties are now grown up and calling the shots at record labels and film studios, and a number of them are keen to call back on cultural icons of their youth. In 2011 Ernest Cline’s novel Ready Player One was scarily prescient in predicting this cultural throwback, telling of a future Earth where nearly everyone lived as alter-ego avatars in a virtual reality world awash with pop culture icons from bygone years, be they movie characters, computer game characters or pop hits of the era. The book was a critical and commercial success, but gathering together so many different intellectual properties for a film adaptation seemed like a legal and financial nightmare. The way forward was smoothed when it was confirmed that Steven Spielberg would direct the film. Not only was he the perfect director for a film that would riff on so many of his own hit movies, his reputation ensured that most studios relented to their intellectual property appearing on screen. Hence Ready Player One became the ultimate nostalgia movie, throwing more cameos and Easter eggs on screen than any movie before. Fortunately Spielberg married the spot-the-icon fun with a story of heart thanks to a decent script and some winning turns from Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, and Mark Rylance. The film’s centrepiece is a fifteen minute detour in to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980), an unexpected and loving homage that made for one of the best scenes of the year.
Tasty Morsel – Blade Runner (1982), an integral part of the book, had to be replaced by The Shining in the final script due to the fact that Blade Runner 2049 was in production at the same time.
- AVENGERS INFINITY WAR
It was a modern movie marvel in 2012 when the first Avengers film arrived and director Joss Whedon managed to deftly marshal so many big name comic characters in one film. Six years later The Avengers (2012) seems like small fries in comparison to Avengers: Infinity War and the herculean task Joe and Anthony Russo faced with bringing together nearly every major player from eighteen Marvel Cinematic Universe movies to date. If Batman & Robin (1997) crumbled under the weight of its numerous characters you’d expect Infinity War to, ironically, turn to dust. That it works so well is a testament to the Russo’s and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. A solid MCU movie now lives and dies by its villain; Loki, excellent, Ivan Vanko, not so much. Infinity War had the benefit of years of lead in, teasing the arrival of the MCU’s ultimate bad guy Thanos. It was a lot to live up to but Josh Brolin’s villain is the best thing in Infinity War. Mere minutes in to the movie he’s already killed Loki and bested the Hulk, barely breaking sweat in the process; this is a villain truly to be feared. Most importantly of all though there is a logic to his aims. Thanos isn’t just a cliché villain seeking absolute power for the sake of it; his desire to kill half of all life in the galaxy is a necessary evil to save the galaxy from itself. It’s a timely argument given growing over-population concerns and won that asks tough questions of the audience, despite every Avenger instantly rallying against Thanos, ‘ … it's a simple calculus. This universe is finite, its resources, finite. If life is left unchecked, life will cease to exist. It needs correcting’. Elsewhere the huge cast of Marvel heroes all get memorable moments, be they touching ‘I don't want to go, please, I don't want to go Mr. Stark. I am sorry, tony, I am sorry’ or humorous ‘I’ll do you one better; why is Gamora?’. And when the climax arrives, despite the fact its clear most if not all of the consequences will be reversed, it’s a crushing downbeat blow the likes of which hasn’t been seen in the MCU to date.
Tasty Morsel – With Hugo Weaving unable to reprise his role as the Red Skull, the Russo brothers called on the extraordinary voice talents of The Walking Dead actor Ross Marquand who provided a perfect imitation of Weaving.
If 2018 only gets remembered for one thing cinematically, it’ll be the encroachment of social issues on theatres. Hollywood’s reaction to the likes of ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘MeToo’ had mixed results though; for every entertaining Black Panther there was a disappointing Ocean’s 8. If there’s one director who can take a social concern and use it to create great art its Spike Lee. In 1979 African-American police officer Ron Stallworth responded to a Colorado Springs newspaper advert recruiting new members to the Klu Klux Klan. Posing as a closet racist Stallworth responded to the advert; so began his quest to infiltrate the KKK to as high a level as possible. Lee took the premise, moved it to 1972, and sprinkled in a bomb plot for a little more dramatic effect. At the centre of the film is former NFL hopeful John David Washington giving one of the best performances of the year as Stallworth, a staggering achievement given his limited prior experience. But when your father is Denzel Washington, it shows brilliant acting runs in the genes. A timely release given what appears to be the eroding of the forward steps previously made in the treatment of African-Americans, Lee’s film takes the perfect route to drawing attention to the current problem; no obvious brow-beating, just a good story, well acted and well told, with some of the best humour of the year, ‘If I would have known this was a Klan meeting, I wouldn't have taken this motherfucking gig’.
Tasty Morsel – Left depressed after playing KKK leader David Duke, actor Topher Grace focused on his love of movie editing as an antidote, editing down Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy to a workable two hour cut.
- BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE
If your directorial debut is the underrated horror action film The Cabin in the Woods (2012), your second effort is going to be hotly anticipated. It was six years before Drew Goddard got back behind the camera but it was worth the wait. Following the success of Resevoir Dogs (1992) film noir was all the rage through the nineties. But the joys of Seven (1995), Jackie Brown (1997), and L.A. Confidential (1997) soon turned to the woes of Suicide Kings (1997), Palmetto (1998) and Payback (1999) as noir thriller saturation reached epidemic levels and quality fell off a cliff. Noir went away for a while and the thriller landscape cleared. Cashing in on the clean slate, Goddard directed his own script taking us to the final days of the El Royale hotel in 1969. Straddling the state line between California and Nevada, the dated hotel welcomes a catholic priest, a salesman, a soul singer, and a sarcastic blonde, the nervous check-in clerk seemingly the only El Royale employee left. Of course, all is not as it seems, but Goddard’s film doesn’t take the obvious path and most of the films twists and turns come as a surprise. The films eventual villain, though a welcome turn up for an actor playing against type, grazes the cliché. But the climax still makes for an absorbing final chapter where our allegiances settle and those we want to see escape face a nerve jangling battle where all bets are, quite literally, off. If the return of the noir thriller produces films this gripping, here’s to the coming of a third golden age.
Tasty Morsel – Tom Holland and Beyonce Knowles were originally approached to star before passing on the project.
If there’s one actor whose career swings wildly between straight-to-video dross and potential Oscar nomination material its Nicholas Cage. There’s no doubting Cage’s acting ability as the likes of Raising Arizona (1987), Leaving Las Vegas (1995), and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009) show. But almost without explanation Cage takes work in the sort of projects that Casper Van Dien regularly turns down, Stolen (2012), Rage (2014), Army of One (2016). On paper Mandy sounds like just another cut-price action outing; Cage’s wife gets kidnapped by an evil hippie cult, prompting Cage to tool up, track her down, and take his revenge. And yet, in a tremendous demonstration of how an idea is presented on screen making all the difference, writer and director Panos Cosmatos made the most one of the most arresting films of the year. The plot springboard for his hyper stylised approach was the titular and ironically named Mandy (Andrea Riseborough), her penchant for fantasy artwork, and the experimental drugs the cult who kidnap her specialise in. When Cage gets deep in to the inner workings of the cult so the madness of violence and the chemical enhancement takes hold. Cosmatos allows his films and the characters to get similarly unhinged making for a movie ride that feels wholly unique, even in an era where it seems like we’ve seen it all. Whereas the expectation is for balls-to-the-wall action from the off, Mandy proceeds at a pleasingly slow pace, making the final twenty minute explosion all the more impactful when it arrives. Though barely making a dent at the box office, Mandy is destined to become an instant cult classic. And if there’s any good sense left in Hollywood Cosmatos will be awarded a big budget release to apply his movie magic to in the very near future.
Tasty Morsel – Even the fickle Cannes crowds were impressed by Mandy, given the film the longest ovation of the festival when the entire auditorium got to its feet for five straight minutes.