I saw 55 films in the cinema this year. Here are my top 6 from this years selection:
Room – This is not the film you would think it is from the description. It is not a horror film. It is not a explicitly sexual or violent film, although there is some of that. It is about a 5 year old boy, and his mother, discovering the world after she was held captive for 7 years. So the boy has always been a captive. He only knows about Room where they live. Until he turns 5 and his mother starts to tell him about the outside world. I cried, laughed, and at one point my heart rate must have been up about 140 bpm. The performances by Brie Larson as the mother and Jacob Tremblay as the boy are remarkable. I was fully invested in the characters. Hence the heart rate thing. The supporting cast are also good. It was easy to rate this 9/10. Came very close to being a 10. Once again, it’s not the film you think it is.
The Big Short – Can a film make you root for the financial traders and market analysts who foresaw the 2008 housing crash in the USA, and who bet that it would happen in order to short the market and make money? Turns out you can. Bankers don’t rate too well in opinion polls about professions. But at the end of the day they are just people. And if they are interesting people then their story will be interesting. The characters in this film are interesting. I really liked it. It breaks the fourth wall quite a lot and this usually makes me twitchy. But it works in this. I thought Steve Carell’s character and performance was great, although the whole cast is good. Vinnie Daniel politely asking the auditors to leave Mark Baum’s office is brilliant.
Maggie’s Plan – If you showed this film to someone without credits and told them it was a Woody Allen film they would believe you. It’s actually a Rebecca Miller film and its better than the film Woody Allen released in 2016. I loved it. Have watched it several times since seeing it in the cinema. As good every time. The whole cast are brilliant. Julianne Moore especially so.
The Neon Demon – What to say about The Neon Demon. It is sharp edged, stylish, colourful, beautifully shot, has a great score, and a set of background songs. It tells the story of a teenager who moves to Los Angeles to pursue a modelling career. She very quickly gets booked by some big photographers and fashion designers. Much to the chagrin of a group of existing models and fashion industry insiders. Who then take some extreme measures. It’s a wonderful film covering ego, jealousy, shallowness of people, and obsession. One of the best films I’ve ever seen.
The Meddler – Another film with a Woody Allen vibe. Which is a lazy description. It’s much more. Susan Sarandon plays a widow who moves from New York to be near her daughter who is a screenwriter in Los Angeles. She can’t help getting involved in her daughters life, and when rebuked, her friends lives. Great script and performances from Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne as the daughter, and J. K. Simmons as a retired cop.
Me Before You – There was a lot of negative flak about this film before it was released. People said it promoted the idea of euthanasia for people with disabilities. Turns out the film isn’t pushing that agenda. If anything most arguments in the film are against doing that. I’ve never watched Game of Thrones so hadn’t seen Emilia Clarke in that, but I had liked her in the latest Terminator reboot. I liked Sam Claflin in The Hunger Games. Both are brilliant in this film. Emilia Clarke has one of the most expressive faces I’ve ever seen. Her eyebrows seem to have a life of their own. She is awesome in this. Sam Claflin is also great, and he is only using his head to act as he’s playing a character paralysed from the neck down. This film raises several important issues, and deals with them responsibly. At the same time it is a funny and poignant story in its own right.