Manchester by the Sea
A really good drama should move and compel the viewer in equal measure and it’s something that Kenneth Lonergen’s Manchester by the Sea offers in abundance. Bringing out a career best performance from Casey Affleck, this intelligent, harrowing affair is one of the best in recent years, never mind this year.
Transcending the biopic formula, Pablo Larrain’s take on the aftermath of the JFK assassination is a chilling endeavour that works as a candid, emotive character study of the former’s widow. Natalie Portman is incredible in the lead role, and Mica Levi’s score isn’t half bad either.
This aptly titled Jeff Nichols feature works, at its core, as a study of true love – focusing in on the interracial relationship between Richard and Mildred Loving (their genuine surname). It’s gloriously understated, and beautifully romantic – cementing this talented young filmmaker’s status as one of the very best in the industry.
Picking up the Best Picture award at the Oscars, Moonlight is nothing short of a triumph. Barry Jenkins has crafted an episodic film that studies one young man’s journey through life. It’s a beautifully told tale, and looks wondrous on the big screen, and yet it’s a moving, somewhat tragic narrative at the same time. Everything about it works – and while the word perfection is one used far too often in regards to cinema, it’s not exactly easy finding a flaw with this movie.
Iranian auteur Asghar Farhadi is one of the true kings of the melodrama, and his latest, The Salesman, is no different. Working, as always, as a catalyst to explore Iranian society, he presents simplistic tales that throws very ordinary people into extraordinary circumstances. Presenting the viewer with a ‘what would I do in this situation’ scenario, while hard to answer, what can be easier to determine is that you should definitely find a way to track this special movie down.
Still to Come…
God’s Own Country
This romantic production is the debut feature from British filmmaker Francis Lee, and what a striking introduction it is for the director. Set on a farm in the North of England, we watch a gay relationship unfold between a local farmer and a visiting Romanian. It’s not only casting an eye on their relationship with one another, but with the land they inhabit.
The Death of Stalin
Now you can’t be blamed for assuming that The Death of Stalin would be better off in the comedy section, given Armando Iannucci is at the helm – but instead the immensely talented comic writer has tried his hand in drama with his second offering from the director’s chair (after In the Loop). With a stellar cast consisting of Steve Buscemi, Paddy Considine and Andrea Riseborough, here’s one you won’t want to miss. But fear not, with Michael Palin and Paul Whitehouse also on board we should be anticipating at least a couple of laughs, even if they are in somewhat bleak circumstances.
Call Me By Your Name
It’s hard to say at this moment in time, but you would imagine that Luca Guadagnino’s latest is bound for award’s season success, such is the staggering excellence of this beautiful production. Armie Hammer excels, and Timothee Chalamet is incredible in this romantic drama, that features one of the great standalone scenes in cinema this year (all thanks to Michael Stuhlbarg – you’ll know it when you see it).
Michael Haneke has teamed up with Isabelle Huppert (yay!) in this drama set against the backdrop of Calais’ refugee crisis. Given we’re yet to see the film it’s hard to determine just yet, but given the subject matter and the director at the helm, it’s hard to envisage the film will be in correspondence with its title and produce a happy ending.
Aaron Sorkin is one of the great screenwriters in Hollywood, but now he’s giving directing a shot for the very first time,, in this character study of Molly Bloom, played by Jessica Chastain – a former Olympic skier who has since become an entrepreneur. Idris Elba and Kevin Costner also star, as we look forward to seeing if Sorkin’s immense talents on the page will be equally as effective from the director’s chair. We’re pretty hopeful it will be.