Oxford still refuses to offer a film studies course, so when you feel the urge to educate yourself cinematographically, you have to take the matter into your own hands. Finding a good venue that screens decent films for a decent price is easy to do in Oxford. But it’s just as easy to be ripped off seeing something gut wrenchingly awful, and everything inbetween. So here’s a guide of where to go and what to do.
ODEON – Anyone from a major city or town will likely be already well acquainted with the multi-screened, sticky floored, popcorn drenched glory of the UK’s biggest cinema chain. Oxford, for reasons unknown, is lucky enough to have two of them. These are where you’ll find all the major releases alongside countless random 3D and CGI films about talking animals, but for the smaller films and the smaller prices, you’ll have to go elsewhere. Those familiar with ‘Orange Wednesdays’ will know that the half price deal on Wednesdays for Orange customers is your best bet, otherwise student tickets will set you back £6.40 a pop. And if you forget your bod card, well, you don’t even want to know.
ULTIMATE PICTURE PALACE – It may not be quite what you’d expect from such a ridiculously ambitious name, but it is definitely something that has to be experienced at least once during your time at Oxford. Very old-school in style, with the small town American ticket booth out front, this ‘palace’ offers a mix of larger and smaller releases, as well as world cinema, on a monthly rotation. The retro décor, eccentric ownership, and the fact that they offer tea in a mug for £1.50 give it a homely and endearing quality that has to be seen to be believed. Student prices are a £5.50 a film.
PHOENIX PICTUREHOUSE – Deep in the heart of Jericho, this is undoubtedly Oxford’s best independent offering. Part of the already well-established Picture House chain, it will satisfy the needs of any self-professed art-house lover. The interior décor is classy, the films are nothing but well chosen, and there is a fully furbished bar to enjoy it all in style. Student prices are £5.10 matinee and £6.10 for peak times, which isn’t that cheap, but you’re paying for a much better experience than you get at the Odeon.
MAGDALEN FILM SOCIETY- Making good use of Magdalen’s auditorium, the film society screens a variety of cult offerings from multiple countries and periods, based around a weekly theme. The screening quality, though decent, might not be quite up to the standard of any of the cinemas, but the prices more than compensate. At £10 for a termly membership, £20 for a year, and £45 for life, it’s easily the cheapest way to watch a good film in a good setting. £3 will get you in for an evening, which often means two films in a row if you fancy staying. They generally screen six or seven films a week over three or four evenings. They also provide free wine.