It's that time of year again, the time that puts a big smile on kids faces young and old, a time for joy, a time for forgiveness, it really is the most wonderful time of the year. I am of course not talking about Christmas but rather end of year lists time.
Usually these lists start to appear about halfway through the year, every critic loves a good list because it allows them to display their year's work in a definitive list, sometimes it's the years top ten, often these days it’s the top 50 but who could really be bothered reading about anyones top fifty of anything? Exactly no one, so here at the Democrat we will keep it reasonably short and sweet. Reasonably.
Following are the top ten fiction and documentary films I was lucky enough to see this year and ones that if you have not seen already I would recommend seeking out. It was a strong year for cinema, of course ending with the critic proof Star Wars which I’m sure you have all seen and loved.
Todd Haynes, United Kingdom/USA. Perfect melodrama from the modern day king of it Todd Haynes. A heart breaking story and a meditation on loss that will move even the coldest of hearts.
Mad Max Fury Road
George Miller, Australia/USA. Triumphant comeback from the director of the original films starring Mel Gibson. Charlize Theron steals the show but ultimately this is a load of dirty fun.
The Ecstacy of Wilko Johnson
Julien Temple, UK. Remarkable follow up to Temples Oil City Confidential about Dr Feelgood. Here the subject is that band's former guitarist Wilko Johnson who gets diagnosed with inoperable cancer of the Pancreas. I will not spoil the film by giving away the rest of the story here but let me just say you will not be sorry if you go on this journey with the great Temple and the inspiring Wilko Johnson.
Asif Kapadia, UK. Heartbreaking documentary about a wonderful talent who died too soon. Using archive footage Kapadia’s film becomes almost unbearably poignant as it moves towards the inevitable.
Paul Thomas Anderson, USA. Anderson's sprawling adaptation of Thomas Pynchon might be a bit of a stoner mess but it’s supposed to be a bit of a stoner mess and who doesn't like a stoner mess’? That’s right everyone.
Phoenix gives another great performance as the Private Eye in way over his head, in a detective story that has more twists than Strictly Come Dancing and unlike that show is fun.
Christian Petzold, Germany/Poland. Thrilling film from Petzold who has matured into one of the leading lights of German cinema. Here he furthers his investigation into Germany and specifically the behaviour of some of it’s citizens, during and after the second world war
Hard to be a God
Aleksei German, Russia. Bonkers but wonderful sci fi/ historical film from one of the greats of modern Russian cinema. Unlike anything else you will see this year or any year.
Pedro Costa, Portugal. Portuguese master returns with a meditation on loss, memory, time and home.
JJ Abrams. US. Hans Solo and Chewbacca. Nuff said.
The Look of Silence
Joshua Oppenheimer, Denmark / Finland / UK / Indonesia / Norway. Essential documentary about the genocide of communists in Indonesia some decades ago, a country where the perpetrators of said violence still run the country with impunity.
Pete Docter, USA. Wonderful film about growing up from the always great Pixar.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Ana Lily Amirpour. US, Iran. Wonderful Iranian Vampire western that came from nowhere and blew audiences away with it’s sheer chutzpah.
Song of the Sea
Tomm Moore. Ireland. A timeless animation from our own shores combining folklore with musical and visual magic.
Terry McMahon. Ireland. Powerful and timely look at the dehumanisation of the pathologised. Essential.
I would like to thank all of my readers for taking the time out to read these ramblings every once in a while. I know life is short and time precious, so it means alot.
I hope you all have a merry christmas and a very happy new year.
Watch loads of films over christmas, you deserve it.
See you in the next year.