I have been a little busy with work and watching movies so haven’t been posting much in the last few weeks, but I never miss movie of the month. Here goes: January is a great month for movies in the UK filled with Oscar contenders. Three of my top ten movies last year came out in January, how many of this January’s eleven will make my 2016 list? More immediate than that which is my movie of the month?
Joy: Another David O. Russell / Jennifer Lawrence collaboration. Lawrence is brilliant as you would expect. The film is enjoyable but a little thin. The story never seems to set out of second gear.
The Danish Girl: Like Joy, The Danish Girl is an okay film with great performances. Last years best actor Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne got all the initial plaudits, Alicia Vikander provides the films best performance. Clearly the leading role, I an not sure why she is nominated in the supporting category.
The Hateful Eight: Quentin Tarantino’s second western. Sumptuous visuals are coupled with Tarantino’s fantastic dialogue. The film is too long and self indulgent, but this is easily forgiven. Great to see Walton Goggins getting a decent part.
The Revenant: Alejandro González Iñárritu’s visceral story of survival and revenge. Stunning photography from Emmanuel Lubezki (third Oscar in a row?) and a brilliant performance from Leonardo DiCaprio.
Creed: Revival of the Rocky franchise that at times feels more like a reboot of the original film. Predictable but hugely enjoyable. Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone are both excellent.
Room: Another film that is more notable for its acting than the film itself. Brie Larson is sensational. A good film but not one that lives up to the hype that surrounds it.
The 5th Wave: It was only a matter of time before Chloë Grace Moretz (now 18) made a YA adaptation. Unfortunately it wasn’t a good choice. An unmemorable movie that offers nothing we haven’t seen done better in other similar adaptations. Maika Monroe (almost unrecognisable with black hair) impresses again and has fun with the films most showy part.
The Big Short: Based on the true story of the people who predicted the financial crisis and profited from it. The serious subject matter makes an intriguing story told in such a way that it is often devastatingly funny. All the ensemble cast are brilliant particularly Steve Carell. My one criticism, Marisa Tomei is too good to be given a one dimensional character and nothing to do with her.
Our Brand is Crisis: Loosely based on the documentary of the same name about the 2002 Bolivian presidential election. Sandra Bullock is excellent as she usually is when give a decent role. The political message is far more cutting than the surface comedy would lead you to expect. Unfortunately it appears to have sunk without trace at the boxoffice.
Spotlight: The true story of the reporters from The Boston Globe who investigated allegations of child abuse in the catholic church in Boston. The delicate subject matter is perfectly handled. The film is understated and old fashioned in the best possible way. The entire ensambe cast are brillient not just the two who received nominations.
Youth: Paolo Sorrentino’s Felliniesque meditation on aging starring Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel as old friends on holiday in the Swiss Alps. Caine and Keitel are great but I would have liked to have seen more of Rachel Weisz and Paul Dano.
So what is my movie of the month? There are three real contenders: The Revenant, The Big Short and Spotlight. I could give it to The Revenant as the most cinematic of the trio, or The Big Short for being the most pleasantly surprising, or Spotlight for having the courage to be understated and un-showy. It’s so close, if I were an Oscar voter I choosing my best picture, I would want to re-watch them all before deciding. Not having the luxury of time to see them again, I am going for the one most want to see again: Spotlight.