It's the end of the year, and we're all getting a little bit reflective by now, surely.
Obviously can't post this on the main site, but (as we're all by nature movie/tv fans) was wondering if people would be willing to share their best films of the year, and possibly a little bit about them; Particularly if they're little known. There's a lot of people with wildly different tastes on the site, not to mention exposed to films of different languages, and it'd be interesting to see if anyone saw any gems that might have slipped through our collective nets.
All three of my movie choices are, by total co-incidence, films in which we follow people. Hunting, questing, or seeking redemption.
Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend. - Albert Camus
- Under the Skin
This has to be my film of the year, and in a year full of Kubrick Karaoke this is the closest contender to the real deal (Johansson actually has two contenders for Kubrick Karaoke, as Lucy featured a protracted 2001 sequence undeniably indebted to A Space Odyssey). Very little is explained, but it doesn't matter one iota when we're trailing the captivating Johansson through the murky concrete of Glasgow, waiting for her to pick another victim. It's not only beautiful, its violently arresting and horrifying in parts. If you've not seen it, I can't recommend it enough.
- Blue Ruin
A mini-budget indie punching far, far above it's weight, featuring a debut acting role from it's leading man who is just incredible. This is a tight little thriller that teases out its plot over the length of the movie, so you never truly understand anyone's motivations until its too late... it also features perhaps the best "Obligatory Scene" execution I've seen in a long while, but that's spoiler waters we're wading into. This slipped in and out of theaters with almost no fanfare or marketing whatsoever, but anyone who caught it raved about it for weeks.
The McDonagh brothers (John Michael and Martin) are crafting some of the best films to come out of Ireland, and they're each as successful as they are different. In Bruges was poorly mis-marketed, The Guard barely received any attention for what became a comic Gem and Seven Psychopaths became overbloated by its sprawling cast, but featured a dream cast of comedic talents. Calvary is very funny in parts, but it marks a change of direction in respect to the poignancy of its tone. A Murder Mystery, in which the protagonist knows the identity of his would be murderer from the start (but vitally, the audience is denied this), the film is truly a puzzle film in which we must piece together the facts to solve the murder before it happens... a novel concept, but it takes a back seat very quickly as we meander through the landscapes of Sligo with Father James Levelle, and immerse ourselves in its charm. This is a film that stayed with me long after I'd left the auditorium, flanked by tearful patrons.
- True Detective
It has to be, doesn't it? I'm the first to hold my hands up and say I didn't think it would work, despite having a fondness for both Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey (although I still maintain the latter only ever plays himself). I think it took me about until the end of the credits to 180 and change my mind. True Detective was like nothing I've ever seen on TV, and the Character of Rust Cohle is the most believable depiction of nihilistic, self destructive functional depression I think I'd be comfortable tolerating. The Scriptwriting was impeccable and flawless, it was shot with a bravery and risk (the Raid!!) never attempted on TV, and it mixed southern gothic and Lovecraftian mysticism with a satisfaction I'd never thought possible. I can't wait to see what they come up with for the next season.
Soon to be adapted by David Fincher in the states, this was a British show that caused controversy wherever it went... not just for its brutality and disregard to causing offence, but for its pairing of this attitude with a darkened humour too murky to be described as 'Black'. The second season raised as many questions as it answered, but the prologue episode (in which we realize the implications of what Carvel has to answer for) was quietly menacing, building up turbulence that grows for the rest of the season. I'm incredibly sorry to hear that there will be no Season 3, but apparently this was one of the stipulations of selling the Show to the States. Let's hope they don't f**k it up.. or, on the flipside, lets hope they do... so Denis Kelly can come back and complete the story. I'm interested to see how Fincher handles this subject material, and (given the inevitable relocation to the States) I'm somewhat reticent to imagine they'll be keeping some of the more "High School Massacre-y" scenes in the plot...
Another British feature that experienced a migration to the states (although, as of today, its adaptation Gracepoint has been canned after the first season) this was an unflinching discussion of how small communities can be united and torn apart by tragedy, grief and suspicion. Another who-dunnit, but handled deftly... and by ITV of all people, a Channel known in the UK for producing crappy mindless entertainment and pageantry. It was a risk for everyone involved, with a plot that prodded the subject of pedophilia hot on the Heels of the Jimmy Saville Scandal (if you're not familiar with it, don't Google it... the world is better off forgetting). David Tennant makes a clean break from his Dr Who image, and excels in a somewhat typical role of tormented detective, bringing fresh charm and credibility... but it's Olivia Colman, rightly mobbed by awards, that holds the piece together as the somewhat naive, good-intentioned deputy. The finale is heartbreaking, but outstanding.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D
I have a soft spot for Marvel, but this program began as utter shite, and was painful to watch. I gritted my teeth and sat through it week after week, hoping it would get canned and Marvel would learn their lesson, bringing something fresher to the table for me to sink my teeth into... but then half-way through season one. WOW. What a bait-n-switch. I went from clockwatching to see when the episode would finish to the edge of my seat. You got me, Marvel. Hook, Line and Sinker. They knew what they were doing all along. I've since rewatched the first season, and (when you know what's coming, and that its worth your attention) it's actually quite rewarding. Just goes to show what a little perspective, and patience, can achieve.