We’ve reached the point in the year where it’s safe to start legitimately putting together a rough outline for your top 10 films of the year. Your number one might be displaced come December, or a handful of others might infiltrate the rest of the list; but it’s likely that those you’ve already decided are your favourites, will still be there or thereabouts by the time we compile our End of Year Awards. Continue reading Top 5 Films of 2017 (So Far)
“Daddy’s gotta go to work.”
2017 has begun – and with it, my challenge to see a film a day for the duration of the year. 365 films before New Year’s Day 2018 should at least be a half decent way to watch a bunch of films that I either haven’t seen for ages or wouldn’t usually watch.
I tried and failed miserably last year, but I’m determined to make a decent go of it this time and so far, it is going pretty well. Months like this one would make it impossible to just list all the films I saw, there’s no way I can write that amount of film titles and make it interesting; so let’s try it this way.
2017 started with a bang. We waited up for the fireworks and we watched a film. By 2am on the first day of the year film one, The Expendables, was in the bag. With a bunch of new films out that day, including Assassin’s Creed and A Monster Calls, my count was climbing nicely with, I shit you not, seven films done by the end of the day.
The rest of the week wasn’t that successful, but it honestly didn’t need to be. I had done a week’s worth of films on day one so everything from here was a bonus. A pair of Ted films and the end of The Expendables trilogy paved the way for us to start the next series on our pile of shame: The Fast and The Furious. We got through five of those movies in week one, dotted around shit sci-fi with Kill Command, a ghastly “horror” film in The Lesson and a surprisingly fun action revenge flick in I Am Wrath.
The first few days of the challenge ended with the surprisingly fun The Wolverine and the bloody awful Sisters. I’ve definitely had worse weeks.
Back to work after the Christmas break meant no more cramming films during the day. But a new phenomenon was showing it’s head in our house. As well as the animated movies, my kid is wanting to watch the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. She’s been asking for ages to watch Avengers Assemble, so I let her. And she loved them. Now she’s going through a load of the films in the MCU, with varying degrees of success, and enjoying them for the most part. She asks for them, I add them to my count. Win-win.
A couple of Oscar-bait films with the ghastly La La Land and Manchester by the Sea early on before we finished off the last two Fast and Furious entries. A fun popcorn horror flick in the form of the silly The Windmill Massacre, followed by the cut to pieces waste of space The Bye-Bye Man. Topping them off with the umpteenth viewing of Rob Zombie’s 31.
The week ended with more preparation for upcoming sequels with the final cut of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. What a way to end the week.
We have a pile of blu-rays stacked up next to the TV. It’s our pile of shame. I vowed to have it cleared by the end of January and dammit that’s what I’m trying to do. This week was all about a shit film or two at the cinema – xXx 3 the worst culprit – and banging through these films I keep buying but not watching.
In Bruges, V for Vendetta, La Femme Nikita and Captain America: Civil War filled our week nights nicely this week. With our own Nikita’s comic book film love spreading to asking for Spider-Man films, I’m starting to regret letting her watch them. But I can’t help it, I love the look of amazement on her face when she watches them. As shit as some of these films are; more for the list. Finally managed to find time to rewatch the awesome Krampus too.
Now things are getting complicated. It’s the first big game release of the year and I’m dying to play it. I now have to figure a way to balance playing Resident Evil VII with film watching this week. I’ve watched plenty so I’ve got some wiggle room, but this is where I got complacent last year. So a balancing act it has to be.
But a ton of MCU films in the evenings means that once the kid is in bed, it’s guilt-free xbox time! I’ve racked up an unbelievable number of films in the last few weeks, but it’s not over for January yet. For the first time in years I sat down and watched the classic Ghost in the Shell, a film that never stops being good. For the first time I watched it with the English dub and the voice work actually did more to persuade me that Scarlett Johansson will be worth watching in the remake.
This week also saw the Oscars nominations released, which gave me an enormous list of films to source and watch before the awards in a few weeks’ time. In a roundabout way, this led to chat about documentaries, which led to me rewatching (and the wife watching for the first time) last year’s Zero Days and the thoroughly depressing, life ruining 13th.
Cinema trips felt limited this week though. Although I finally got to see the outstanding Hacksaw Ridge and the thoroughly crap Denial; they were both overshadowed by last film I saw this month, the brilliant Moonlight – a film whose review I start writing the second I’m done with this.
Overall, a solid month. Saw some amazing movies and some real dross. But my count is looking good and healthy.
One month down, eleven to go.
Films seen this month: 60
Current count, as of 31st January: 60 of 365.
“I knew he was dead.”
Another day, another Oscar season biopic. Whilst that doesn’t necessarily indicate a film’s overall quality (or lack thereof), this time of year it can get really bloody exhausting. Especially when palette cleansers like xXx 3 are so awful that they don’t really provide any respite from the melodrama we are saturated with.
But sometimes, a film can be such a pleasure to watch that you forget about how tired you are with the genre. Jackie is one such film.
In the days after her husband’s assassination, Jackie Kennedy (Natalie Portman) is interviewed for Life magazine, giving an account of her time in the White House as the First Lady and telling the story of her life as the wife of John F. Kennedy. The interviewer (Billy Crudup playing the role as real-life but uncredited journalist Theodore White) tries to delve into the mindset of the grieving widow as she spills the beans on everything from the day of her husband’s murder, the days leading up to the funeral and the time after it.
Jackie is one of those films where it’s very possible to go in with your expectations set very low. The trailers I had seen made it look pretty boring; and honestly, I don’t know an awful lot about Jackie Kennedy. I
don’t didn’t think that a story about her would be particularly interesting.
But what may be a lesser film in lesser hands is lucky enough to have director Pablo Larraín behind the camera and Natalie Portman in front of it.
Larraín’s direction and his eye on post-production is something to be marvelled at. The man has taken a subject that could have easily been a complete bore and made it something compelling. He’s taken a well used story telling device in the quiet, private interview and given it a fresh feeling, resulting in a riveting piece of cinema.
Flashing back to the minutes and hours after the murder of President Kennedy – with the widowed First Lady still covered in her husband’s blood, silent and processing what she’s seen – we see her break the news to her kids, planning the funeral, dealing with leaving the White House; all of this juxtaposed with beautifully recreated film of the young lady showing the press around her newly redecorated presidential residence. It’s a constant tonal shift that could easily be jarring if it wasn’t handled as well as it was.
But none of it would be worth watching if it wasn’t for Natalie Portman’s outstanding performance. I’ve enjoyed watching Portman perform for a long time. For those that aren’t as sure as I am of her abilities, Jackie should be enough to convince them. Every scene she’s in is nothing short of magnificent; with us sat there right with her by her husband’s coffin. We’re desperate to be there with her while she comforts her kids and we are star struck, like the journalists and press there, when she shows off the people’s house that she’s just made her own.
Her Oscar nominated performance as the grieving widow being interviewed by a man trying to get a good story from this stoic woman, refusing to show her grief, is worthy of every nomination and (dare I say it) every award going.
Jackie is an absolutely stunning film. Its lead outshines everyone else onscreen and managed to take a story that, for me at least, didn’t seem all that interesting or worthy of my time and made me eat my words, totally. Now, if every Oscar chasing film could be this interesting, I’d be a happy man.