Sunday, 31 December 2017

Best Movies Of 2017

20/ Split
A return to form for M. night Shyamalan with a taut, lean, high concept thriller.
McAvoy is fully engaged, Taylor Joy has the acting chops to match him, plus the ending is icing on the cake.

19/ La La Land
At last a modern movie musical with all the cogs working. Songs, direction, tone, direction, design leading to a perfect conclusion. Deserving of all the accolades it attracted.

18/ Lion
A simple story that allows the viewer to emphasise with its lead character.
Emotional with a heart-wrenching performance from Nicole Kidman.

17/ A Monster Calls
A powerful Gilliamesque fantasy about finding acceptance & forgiveness in escapism.
Despite its child's point of view narrative, this is a profound & moving.

16/ Gerald’s Game
The simple 'how's she gonna get out of that?' premise is engaging enough, but mix in some Stephen King twists, Gugino & Greenwood's strong work & a director who favors character work over cheap jump scare & you have yourself a horror classic.

15/ To The Bone
This honest, un-Hollywood-ised portrayal of anorexia has a cynical yet sympathetic performance by Lily Collins & a fantastically raw, yet quirky & warm script by Marti Noxon., who also directs.

14/ Wonder Woman
It's shortcomings in originality & climactic bombast is overcome by a perfectly cast lead in Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkin's confident storytelling which emphasizes girl-power while not undervaluing boy-power. Great, old fashioned fun.

13/ Logan
James Mangold's mature, slow-burn superhero western is strong on character work, melancholy & violence in a story & central performace that is built on the nerarly two decades of franchise that preceded it. The Disney/Fox merger puts this kind of future risk-taking blockbuster in jeopardy; here's hoping that doesn't happen.

12/ Spider-man Homecoming
The best comedy of 2017, Spider-man's MCU standalone introduction was a gloriously fun high school comedy, with a superhero twist. Holland gave us the best screen portrayal of Spidey yet & Michael Keaton delivered a villain that finally was beyond surface level interesting. Plus there's the best 'didn't see that one coming' twist of the year.

11/ Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2
While not as fresh as Vol.1, part two gave us a corker of a James Gunn script (lots going on but streamlined to perfection), great new characters like Mantis & Kurt Russel's charisma-bomb big-daddy Ego, Michael Rooker stealing the show & being moved by a crying raccoon.

10/ Raw
Unsettling French coming of age horror/drama as two sisters reunite at veterinary school.
Garance Marillier ably carries the who disturbing endeavour on her shoulders, the femine perspective lends originality & insight, and it leads to a strong conclusion.

9/ Sing Street
Beautiful Irish coming of age musical drama. The music is a mixture of 70's/80's classics and catchy new compositions, the young leads impress (Lucy Boynton's star is on the rise), plus it's tonally pitch perfect. The feel good film of the year.

8/ John Wick Chapter 2
Action film making has never been this beautiful. Stunning production design, vivid cinematography and relentless, graceful yet brutal fight choreography and the calm, quietly charismatic presence of Mr Reeves at the storm's centre. 

7/ Mother!
Insanity on a stick. Aronofsky's unique allegorical horror deserves plaudits just for taking chances, but the storytelling succeeds. Arguably JLaws finest work in an increasingly bizarre thriller that deserves repeat viewing, despite the wonderfully traumatic arthouse experience.

6/ Thor Ragnarok
It's derivative plot is rendered irrelevant by it's monumental larger than life characters, production design ripped straight from the classic comic source material, bonkers tone that leans heavily on 1980's Flash Gordon and all filtered Taika Waititi's skewed sense of humour. Plus genius rock monster Korg. Logan's equal but opposite; brave but bonkers.

5/ War For The Planet Of The Apes
A surprisingly grim & mature science fiction western that is as perfectly produced as it is performed. Serkis is on awards worthy form & Harrelson deserves praise as his adversary. 
Once again, Fox taking risks on uncompromisingly intelligent and dark blockbuster fare.

4/ Blade Runner 2049
It's very long, very slow and very cold...and that's just fine. The 1982 original wasn't audience embracing blockbuster either, but that didn't stop it being a smart, multi-layered, science-fiction, noir masterpiece...just like this sequel.
Score, design & direction all serve a follow up that never undermines the original but builds on it's ideas, characters and multiply themes. Atmospheric, thought provoking & riveting.

3/ Baby Driver
A story set & edited to music, Edgar Wright's crime musical is a pure cinematic blast. Great tunes (as experienced through the ears of our heroic lead), inventive scenes, fantastic cast (Lily james is Adorable and Jamie Foxx a great antagonist) with two of the best action sequences of the year.

2/ Dunkirk
Christopher Nolan is probably the best film maker working right now and Dunkirk doesn't disappoint. Three interweaving narratives means Nolan sustain suspense and action for nearly 90 minutes leading to a profoundly moving conclusion. This is cinematic craftsmanship on a premiership level.

1/ Star Wars The Last Jedi
I'm biased. I love Star Wars. But having a new franchise entry that has a clear, undiluted voice in writer/director Rian Johnson gives the work some much needed character, it's cheekily subversive script steers the saga in a genuinely exciting direction, and it cleverly uses familiarity to surprise, to provoke and to expand the mythos in exciting new directions.
It's a Star Wars that made me think, and that's worth a few points in my book.

Bubbling Under; Prevenge, Moana, Edge of Seventeen, It, Lego Batman Movie, Get Out, The Beguiled, Jim & Andy.

Worst Movies Of 2017

21Cute Little Buggers

20/ Wolves At The Door

19/ Rings

18/ The House

17/ The Book Of Henry

16/ Rough Night

15/ Armed Response

14/ The Saint

13/ Kill Switch

12/ War On Everyone

11/ Silence

10/ Fist Fight

9/ Once Upon A Time In Venice

8/ Vengeance A Love Story

7/ Jeepers Creepers 3

6/ Sleepless

5/ The Bye Bye Man

4/ Fifty Shades Darker


2/ Bad Santa 2

1/ League Of Gods

Best TV OF 2017

20/ The Last Ship

19/ Sherlock

18/ Glow

17/ Girlboss

16/ iZombie

15/ The Orville

14/ Last Week Tonight With John Oliver

13/ Fear The Walking Dead

12/ The Walking Dead

11/ The Handmaid’s Tale

10/ The Expanse

9/ House Of Cards

8/ Outlander

7/ Stranger Things

6/ Doctor Who

5/ Legion

4/ Star Trek Discovery

3/ Black Mirror

2/ Twin Peaks

1/ Game Of Thrones

Bubbling Under; Mr Robot, The Grand Tour, Con Man, Philip K Dick's Electric Dreams

Best TV Episodes Of 2017

12/ Happy! – “Saint Nick”

11/ Doctor Who – “Twice Upon A Time”

10/ The Orville – “Firestorm”

9/ Star Trek Discovery – “Magic To Make The Sanest Man Go Mad”

8/ Preacher – “On The Road” 

7/ Outlander – “A. Malcolm”

6/ Electric Dreams – “Human Is”

5/ Mr Robot - "eps3.4_runtime-error.r00"

4/ Legion – “Chapter 1”

3/ Black Mirror – “USS McCallister” / “Hang The DJ”

2/ Game of Thrones – “Beyond The Wall” / “The Spoils Of War” / “The Dragon & The Wolf”

1/ Twin Peaks – “Part 8”

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Best Movies Of 2016

Here again I present my favourite films of the year. As usual it's important to remember that this isn't the BEST films of the year, rather the movies that I've found the most entertaining; not necessarily the best crafted, most awards worthy, or most powerful dramatically, as a professional film critic might see them. Personally I'm looking for a re-watchablity factor in all these films (do I want to purchase it on Bluray for future multiple viewings?) There's a longevity factor to consider as well; I might love the film now but will I still love it in a year from now, or ten years time? Finally there's that highly subjective personal factor that means a film might have a look, or theme, or a story, or characters that talk to my tastes as an individual, more than it might to others who have viewed these films.

20/ Pride & Prejudice & Zombies
Extremely entertaining period action horror with a strong cast, a kick ass female lead in Lily James, comedy gold from Matt Smith and some impressive world building.

19/ Joy
Jennifer Lawrence (predictably) excels in this funny & exciting underdog dramedy.

18/ Supersonic
The Oasis documentary that traces the first three years of the band from formation to Knebworth.
The boys are just as talented & as fuckwitted as you could have dreamed. Fascinating, funny & depressing in equal measure.

17/ Sully
Hanks & Eckhart are great as the pilots who landed a passenger jet on New York’s Hudson River.
While not particularly deep, the re-enactments are as sphincter puckering & frightening as they get.

16/ DePalma
Absorbing documentary as controversial auteur film maker Brian DePalma tals you through every one of his movies. Some great anecdotes & behind the scenes tales.

15/ Hush
Small scale but exciting horror as a deaf woman’s remote cabin is besieged by a nutter.
Well written, paced & performed. It’s always refreshing when character development and logic participate in a horror film.

14/ The Witch
Atmospheric period horror as an exiled family are terrorised by devilish fuckwittery.
Drenched in unease and dread, with an ambiguity that only serves to unsettle the viewer even more.

13/ Star Trek Beyond
While possessing too many familiar story elements (crashing Enterprise, pop culture resolutions & vengeful baddie with superweapons) to be truly exceptional, this third entry was a step up from Into Darkness. Great FX, very well scripted & refreshing for it not to be using its legacy as a crutch. Fun.

12/ Me Before You
Game of Throne’s Emilia Clarke is just as funny and adorable as you knew she could be in this unapologetically sentimental romantic dramedy. It’s also impressively apocalyptically sad too.  

11/ Deadpool
Ryan Reynold’s super explicative spectacular. Brilliant condensed story structure, filthy, hilarious humour, memorable characters & that glorious trademark breaking of the forth wall.
Funniest film of the year.

10/ Doctor Strange
While Marvel’s latest superhero introduction suffers from an all too familiar origin story structure, it’s got enough batshit originality and tripiness to elevate it from the crowd. Tons of imagination, a typically grand cast and a surprising amount of humour. Also great to see our hero out wit, rather than out punch, his opponent.

9/ Goodnight Mommy
An unsettling & intense off-kilter horror mystery that’s tense and unsettling the more it progresses.
Freaky and creepy.

8/ Zootopia
Disney’s animation actually outshined their Pixar stable mates in this fantastic buddy cop, comedy adventure. Involving characters, multi layered social commentary, visually imaginative and genre savvy make this a surprise classic. Oh, and the funniest scene of the year.

7/ Train to Busan
Just when you thought the zombie genre had nothing left to offer, this little gem comes along. Intense action in a snowballing survival narrative, a welcome expansion of zombie mythology, a strong ensemble, and a touching central narrative that binds the escape drama together. 

6/ 10 Cloverfield Lane
Gripping & intimate, hostage drama that evolves into genre bothering science fiction.
Three great performances from the leads, cinematically shot, beautifully scored & a logically evolving mystery.

5/ The Big Short
Take a dull subject matter and inject it wit, delivered by an a-list cast with forth wall breaking fits.
Funny and depressingly true.

4/ The Nice Guys
The buddy movie is alive and well in Shane Black’s brilliant action, crime comedy.
Two brilliantly mismatch partners with Crowe & Gosling, memorable dialogue & scenes, all served up with razor sharp humour, violence and 70’s cool.

3/ Captain America: Civil War
One of Marvel’s best to date as the Russo Brother follow up the excellent Winter Soldier with the brilliant psychological thriller. All the characters are well served, despite the huge ensemble, and it’s thrills are generated from character fission, not just the one on one super heroics. The intros od Spidey & Black Panther are impeccably handled while a beautifully balanced script keeps the complicated plot flowing smoothly.

2/ Arrival
A smart, relevant, cine-literate science fiction piece about the importance of communication both on the micro and macro levels. Thought provoking, subtly performed, beautifully crafted and surprisingly moving.

1/ Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Star Wars returns with a bang in this gritty men on a mission war story. The FX are stunning, the photography old-school beautiful, the score epic and the action relentless. A more low key cast than Star Wars is used to impresses with a steely Felicity Jones flying the flag for stiff upper lip space warriors. Only a CGI fan servicing mask disappoints. A wonderful return to form for this beloved space opera saga.

Bubbling Under: Room, High Rise, Green Room, The Wave, Spotlight.

Worst Movies Of 2016

15/ Ghost Team

14/ Point Break

13/ Bastille Day

12/ Nine Lives

11/ The Killing Joke

10/ Alice Through The Looking Glass

9/ 50 Shades of Black

8/ Sharknado: The Forth Awakens

7/ Kindergarten Cop 2

6/ The Darkness

5/ They’re Watching

4/ Zoolander 2

3/ Gods of Egypt

2/ Daddy’s Home

1/ Dad’s Army

Best TV Of 2016

20/ The Last Ship

19/ Preacher

18/ Mr Robot

17/ UnReal

16/ Wolf Creek

15/ The Grand Tour

14/ Black Sails

13/ Another Period

12/ Marvel’s Daredevil

11/ Sweet Vicious

10/ Outlander

9/ Marvel’s Luke Cage

8/ Stranger Things

7/ Roadies

6/ House of Cards

5/ Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

4/ Black Mirror

3/ The Walking Dead

2/ Westworld 

1/ Game of Thrones

Bubbling Under; The Expanse, Fear The Walking Dead, Ash vs Evil Dead, The X-Files.