Category Archives: List

Zack Snyder Films Ranked

Zack Snyder films

With his latest movie Army of the Dead out now, as well as his Justice League released earlier this year, it’s time to rank director Zack Snyder’s filmography.

Zack Snyder is one of the most divisive and polarising directors working at the moment, some people love his films, and other people absolutely despise him. For me, he’s actually one of my favourite directors, and I’m a fan of his movies. He has such a distinct style across all of his movies that some like and some don’t. Looking at his filmography as a whole, he has done so much over the past 20 years, from adaptations of comic book characters and iconic graphic novels, to zombie movies and even animated movies about owls. I’m always interested to see what he does next.

Also for the record, the Justice League movie that was released in 2017 isn’t on this list, even if Snyder’s name is on it.

9. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole

4b065bc0ee36d3e4a6545cd253a5105d[1]

Legends of the Guardians is an often overlooked animated movie. I remember seeing when it came out in cinemas, having read the books that its based on. While the story was a little different from the books (from what I can remember), it was quite a decent movie, and should’ve gotten more attention than it received.

One thing that I think everyone can agree on is that Legend of the Guardians is a very well directed and technically strong movie, even with it being an animated kids movie, you can definitely tell that it’s a Zack Snyder movie. This is a stunning movie and there are some beautiful looking sequences. I had read the books years prior to the movie and while the story in the movie really wasn’t that great, it does stand out from some other animated movies. It is also quite dark in terms of its visuals and story, which is always refreshing for a kids movie and made it stand out. I would actually like to see Snyder take on another animated movie, he’s definitely showed himself as being very capable at making one with this movie.

My review of Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole

8. 300

Zack Snyder had already directed his first feature film with Dawn of the Dead, but his next film 300 is what really put him on the map as a director to really pay attention to. With the larger than life visuals, and the grand and epic scale, 300 really made an impression on audiences and critics alike and was incredible influential on other movies following it.

300 is quite an enthralling film to watch. The actors played their parts well, the story is straightforward and good enough for what it is (and does have a little more to it than just exposed men stabbing each other), but most of all, it’s Snyder’s visual storytelling that’s the highlight. The action is stylised, gratifying and entertaining, and a lot of the shots and sequences are a feast for the eyes and look straight out of a graphic novel and comic book (appropriate given the source material). Some aspects of the direction can get a little too over the top, especially with the slow-motion and some of the digital effects not holding up 1.5 decades later (especially with the green screen and blue screen). Otherwise, 300 still holds up today as a bloody, epic and entertaining watch.

My review of 300

7. Dawn of the Dead

Remakes of classic films are generally a worry, especially when it comes to horror movies, specifically in this case George A. Romero’s horror classic Dawn of the Dead. However, Zack Snyder actually did a great job with his first feature movie, a fast and intense zombie film which is still pretty good today.

James Gunn’s writing paired with Snyder’s direction was a great combination and overall, it’s quite a fun movie to watch. The plot is moving constantly and never allows you a chance to be bored. The film is short but manages to add a lot of emotion, humour and more in that time. The characters are pretty standard and aren’t special, but generally have more characterisation than most zombie movie characters, and are played well by the cast. It does lack the social commentary from George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, but in a way, there was no way of imitating what Romero did with the original, so in some way it was better keeping the straightforward zombie movie approach. It is a good-looking movie, definitely more grimy looking compared to Snyder’s later movies, which fits in with the tone. The action is fast paced and brutal, the zombies are fast, nightmarish and dangerous, and the makeup and practical effects are great. All of these come together to provide some very memorable and creative moments. Full of exhilarating energy, Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead is one of my favourite zombie movies.

My review of Dawn of the Dead

6. Sucker Punch: Extended Cut

04_still_05

If there’s a movie that really started the hate for Zack Snyder as a director, it’s Sucker Punch, which got quite the negative response upon its release. It’s quite possibly his most polarising movie, which is saying a lot. There are some people who love the movie, and others who absolutely hate it. I’m actually one of the people who really liked it for what it was.

This is one of the only two films from Zack Snyder that’s not based on an existing source material. I wouldn’t say its one of Snyder’s best work by any means, but it is certainly ambitious. The narrative is far from straightforward and doesn’t spoon feed you what’s happening, which I have to respect. The narrative isn’t always coherent but I wouldn’t trade for one that was perfectly clear cut. Sucker Punch is also in some ways a female empowerment film, as well as commentary and examination of trauma, misogyny and abuse. Even if it doesn’t fully succeed, I admire the attempt at really trying to say something. The characterisation isn’t great and most of the characters are underdeveloped and underwritten, but the strong cast consisting of Emily Browning, Jena Malone, Abbie Cornish, Oscar Isaac and more make up for that. As typical of Snyder, this is distinctly one of his movies from his direction alone. From the beginning of the movie with the incredible opening sequence to the very end, the visuals are stunning. As I’ve said in other reviews in the past, style is substance, and Sucker Punch has a lot of style. The action scenes are entertaining, and while knowing the context of the larger-than-life sequences being in the lead character’s head does take away from them to a degree, I still enjoy them quite a lot. Not all of the movie works and there’s some messiness to it, but a lot of Sucker Punch does work for me.

My review of Sucker Punch

5. Army of the Dead

74e4d7c5d6bbeab7bf7f27a813775ddf

With his latest movie, Zack Snyder goes back to his zombie roots, while showing that he’s progressed quite a lot since that movie. While it’s not completely original with it being a zombie movie and the plot is relatively familiar, it does still make itself distinct as a zombie movie. It’s really no surprise that Netflix sees so much potential in this being a major franchise for them.

Army of the Dead is entertaining throughout, quite comedic (definitely Snyder’s most comedic film), while being quite dark, and despite the premise of a zombie heist movie in Las Vegas, it’s not necessarily a ‘dumb zombie flick’. There’s a lot of great worldbuilding as it sets up the characters and setting. The characters are great and portrayed very well by the ensemble cast. And of course, the direction from Zack Snyder is enthralling to watch. It is visually stunning (shot by Snyder as DOP this time), with some strong CGI and practical effects. Then there’s the action sequences, which very well shot and choreographed. So far, Army of the Dead is one of my favourite movies of 2021, and I can’t wait to see the spin offs, sequels and prequels that are to come from this.

My review of Army of the Dead

4. Man of Steel

Man of Steel

When I first saw Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel back in 2013, I thought it was pretty good, but I wasn’t quite loving it at that point. I saw it as a solid, visually stunning and entertaining superhero movie with Superman in it. After many rewatches of this, I can say with confidence that it is the best (solo) Superman movie. It did something that no other live action versions of Superman couldn’t do, get me to take Superman seriously as a character and actually get me to care about him.

Zack Snyder took Superman to places that previous live action versions hadn’t yet. The Christopher Reeve Superman is still great but more modern interpretations of the character trying to harken back to that era didn’t quite work (2017’s Justice League being an example). Snyder however makes Superman work today, both in displaying his power and abilities, as well as him as a character. Having the narrative of the first half of the story jumping between the past and present as it shows Clark’s origin story, before then having Zod and the Kryptonians showing up in the second half worked quite well for a superhero origin story. I thought that overall, the story was quite well paced, and outside of some odd dialogue, I really liked the writing. The talented cast also did great jobs, Henry Cavill is still my favourite live action Superman to date, and a cast that includes Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe and more did exceedingly well. Zack Snyder directs Man of Steel spectacularly as expected. It’s a great looking movie, from the cinematography, to the visual effects, and to the production design and costumes. Additionally, Superman’s power is portrayed very well here for a more modern era. It’s also paired with a score which is among one of my favourite soundtracks of all time. Any issues I have with Man of Steel lessen the more times I watch it. In my mind it’s the best live action Superman film (solo at least) and one of my favourite superhero movies. It gets better the more I think about it and I’m glad to see that in the past 8 years, more and more people have slowly begun to start appreciating it more for what it is.

My original review of Man of Steel

My retrospective review of Man of Steel

3. Zack Snyder’s Justice League

Zack-Snyders-Justice-League-2021-e1616004015554

The other 2021 Zack Snyder film made it into the top 5 of the list too. Without getting too into that movie, the Justice League movie that released in 2017 was a crushing disappointment. Fans of Snyder and his DCEU movies didn’t like it and were beyond disappointed, and even audiences and critics didn’t like it all that much. Since the movie’s release, there was a campaign to see Snyder’s full vision. Despite all the campaigning for the movie, it seemed that it would never come. In 2020 however, it was announced that it would be happening after all, and it did not disappoint.

With the 4 hour runtime, Snyder gets to flesh things out, with the story, the characters, and the film’s universe. The characters are great, the returning characters of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are represented much better here, and the same goes for the new additions to the League with Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash. However out of all of them, it’s Ray Fisher’s Cyborg who gets the spotlight here, who really is the heart of the movie and whose story arc receives a much needed redemption in this cut. Even the side cast and characters get to shine more here. This includes the widely panned (at least in the 2017 version) villain Steppenwolf, who in this version gets to do much more here, with a massively improved design, general threat and presence, as well as being an actual character with some depth. Snyder’s Justice League is also flat out DC’s Lord of the Rings. It truly feels like an epic from the runtime, to the chapters, as well as the atmosphere and high stakes. Despite the length it didn’t feel too bloated, when you see the complexity of the story, it makes sense. It doesn’t rush into the teaming up of the League as expected, instead taking its time to build up the story with its characters and the backstories. Despite a lot of people’s perceptions of Snyder, his Justice League movie really is heartfelt and hopeful, and offers quieter and powerful moments between characters (especially in some scenes involving Cyborg). It also does offer moments of levity and humour, but in ways that fit the movie and doesn’t feel out of place. On a technical level it delivers unsurprisingly. The action scenes are fantastic and thrilling, and Junkie XL’s score accompanying them excellently. It’s shot wonderfully, and even the choice aspect ratio for actually ends up working for the film. While it seems that Snyder’s vision unfortunately won’t be continued in the rest of the DCEU, I am glad that we at least got to see this one movie. As someone who was anticipating this movie since 2017, I’m more than satisfied with what we got. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is not only a triumphant comic book epic and a better version of the movie from 2017, but also a vindication for Snyder and everyone else who worked on the movie.

My review of Zack Snyder’s Justice League

2. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Ultimate Edition

When I watched Batman v Superman in the cinemas, it actually ended up blowing me away. I was anticipating it greatly, but it ended up being better than I expected. The Ultimate Edition was even better, fixing most of the issues that the theatrical cut had (it should’ve been the version that was released). Whichever version is being judged, BvS proved to be somehow even more divisive than Man of Steel, and I’m glad that I’m in the group of people who love it.

BvS was denser than what I expected, there was a lot of plotlines going on considering it was a comic book movie, and was more than just a straight up Batman vs Superman movie (the title certainly didn’t fit the film). I can always watch this movie and be fully invested in the story from start to finish. I love the world that Snyder and writer Chris Terrio had set these characters in it, as well as the atmosphere. This film takes some risks with what they do with the characters, and I thought they paid off. Ben Affleck’s Batman is darker than the character’s past live action appearances, he’s damaged, traumatised, unstable, and yes, a killer. I loved his arc in the movie, as well as his action scenes, with this more physical and brutal take on him. The arc of Henry Cavill’s Superman is great too, with the Ultimate Edition restoring some key scenes for him that were needed. Man of Steel was his first day on the job, BvS goes into how we would react to Superman, and this movie only further cements Cavill as my favourite version of the character. The rest of the cast are great including a surprising Jessie Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, with a younger and more complex version than some other interpretations of the character. Snyder’s direction is great again, from the visual effects, to the cinematography, the action scenes and the score. There are some complaints I have, for example as a result of being of it being a direct Man of Steel sequel and with nothing in between, we don’t really get to see a contrast between the public loving and then hating Superman. There’s also some little plot points which aren’t handled perfectly, and you can tell WB definitely got Snyder to combine some elements together to create and set up a cinematic universe. It does have issues, but I still love it. It is one of the boldest comic book movies I’ve seen, with a unique story that is fresh for these characters. Batman v Superman will probably go along the lines of Watchmen, a divisive comic book movie which has a strong following behind it making it a cult classic, both directed by Zack Snyder. Speaking of Watchmen…

My review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

My review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition

My retrospective review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

1. Watchmen

A direct adaptation of Watchmen was considered to be unfilmable, yet Snyder managed to deliver on that in 2009, and in many ways it was ahead of its time given that it was released before the comic book movie boom in the 2010s. Over a decade later it works much better nowadays and is still is a great movie.

Watchmen is not a conventional comic book movie, and like the graphic novel, displays the flaws in the superhero. Overall, I thought it adapted the graphic novel quite well. Having read it, a lot of the changes I felt were appropriate and helped it work better as a live action film. I found the story to be incredibly riveting (especially the director’s cut), containing interesting characters that were intriguing to watch, helped by the great cast especially in Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Billy Crudup. Zack Snyder’s direction proved to be quite a good fit for the material. The visuals are great with the colours and shadows being beautifully utilised, and it’s like the scenes were ripped straight out of the graphic novel. The CGI is great, particularly with the effects involving the character of Dr Manhattan, and there are some fantastic sequences throughout. I’m not sure if this is a very unpopular opinion (it probably is), but Watchmen is my favourite comic book movie yet.

My review of Watchmen

What is your ranking of Zack Snyder’s movies?

Saw Movies Ranked

Saw Movies Ranked

With the latest instalment in the long running Saw franchise with Spiral: From the Book of Saw, I thought I should review all 9 movies in the series.

The original Saw was a lower budget horror movie which proved to be incredibly successful, going on to have 8 sequels, 6 in the main series, and 2 ‘soft reboots’. It was very influential, and the series would be instrumental in the forming of the infamous horror sub-genre ‘torture porn’ (even though I think that title really only belongs to just one of the movies in the franchise).

Earlier this year I watched through the franchise in preparation for Spiral and I found myself surprisingly enjoying the experience. Despite some of the silliness and very present issues in each instalment, I kept wanting to watch the next movie in the series.

Without further ado, here’s my ranking.

Minor spoiler warning for most of the movies, as many of the plots of the movies link in with each other.

9. Saw 3D: The Final Chapter

Saw-3D-The-Final-Chapter-saw-42122885-1503-1000

It’s actually incredibly difficult to note down everything wrong in this movie in just one list entry, my review of the movie barely covered most of the points. From its opening trap that took place in public focussing on two guys having to fight over a girl who cheated on both of them, that’s where the movie lost me. The best thing I could say about the opening scene was that it was an indication that it was going to be a very different Saw movie, and not necessarily for the better. It feels so far removed from the previous instalments, tonally it was sillier and hard to take seriously despite not having quite an overt comedic approach to it. Even aspects of the direction were quite different despite being directed the director of the previous film. Instead of the typical grungy and grimy look in the past 6 movies, Saw 3D is so brightly lit that it looks awful and doesn’t fit with the series at all, it makes it looks like a direct to DVD Saw film. The filmed-for-3D approach also heavily affected the movie too, with random things flying at the camera, and the blood being brightly coloured pink. This is the only Saw film I’d actually call torture porn, with a further emphasis on the traps (they even add a dream sequence just to include another trap scene) and the inclusion of 3D, the latter of which is to have gore and body parts flying at the screen. They even add a dream sequence just to include another scene of gore. At the same time, it’s really the least scary of the series.

The writing itself is astoundingly bad, and this is coming from someone who’s pretty lenient on the series considering that the writing across the series is generally very flawed to say the least. The actual story had some potential and interesting ideas but that’s it. The idea of someone who lied being a Jigsaw survivor and being tested for real sounds interesting, but they don’t really do much with it, and the lead character Bobby isn’t particularly compelling. Even the ongoing plot which continued from Saw VI with characters Mark Hoffman and Jill Tuck just isn’t made that thrilling. There are other little moments and ideas which don’t reach their fullest potential. The Jigsaw survivor group sounds interesting, but that’s only used in one scene. The character of Lawrence Gordon being back in the Saw movies so long after his last appearance sounds exciting, but he’s creepy in the one scene and then he has a rushed montage at the end to wrap up the plot, he’s basically just an extended cameo. On that note, while I liked the note it ended on with its last scene, the way that it tries to create a finale is very unsatisfying, in fact raising more questions than providing answers. That’s not to say that the movie doesn’t have some enjoyable parts. A few of the traps are alright if incredibly overblown. There’s a lot of comedy to come from the bad writing, dialogue, performances and even the story choices. I’m aware of all the behind-the-scenes issues, with a last minute director change, condensing the movie from two to one and more. However I’m not quite sure how it still managed to be this bad. I can’t say that I dislike this movie, not just because this wasn’t the final chapter as originally planned, but also because it’s so silly that it ends up being somewhat entertaining.

My review of Saw 3D: From the Book of Saw

8. Saw V

MV5BNTIxMDZiZDItMTRkZS00MGMyLTkxMDktMzY3NjFmOTM2Mjk5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjQ4ODE4MzQ@._V1_

Now the jump from Saw 3D to Saw V is from a terrible movie to something rather average and mixed. Saw V is much better than 3D, but it’s probably the most boring of the Saw movies. It’s also the most frustrating of the series because there was a lot of potential here. The main game was about a group of selfish people needing to work together and that sounds interesting. However the game ends up being one of the weakest of the series, with some characters that are hard to like or really care about. With that and how disconnected it felt from the rest of the plot, it really just feels like it’s there just because it’s a Saw movie and it needed a game. The traps themselves were a little mixed, with the pendulum, water box, blood pint and glass coffins being quite good and standouts among the series, but the rest were rather forgettable and even boring.

The cat and mouse game between FBI Agent Strahm, and secret Jigsaw apprentice Hoffman also had some potential, unfortunately they don’t exactly handle that in the best way either. For one, Strahm’s ‘investigation’ comes across as redundant when it’s known to the entire audience that Hoffman is the apprentice. Not to mention, he spends pretty much the whole movie basically serving as a source of exposition to the audience about Hoffman. Speaking of which, much of Saw V is trying to establish Hoffman as the new Jigsaw, and the movie generally fails to get people on board with that. While I like that Hoffman is distinctly different from John Kramer’s Jigsaw, he’s just not that interesting of a character. The plot moves so slow and sluggish that it felt like a chore at times. There weren’t necessarily choices that I hated, but there’s also not a lot that grabbed me. For all my issues with the movie, there were some solid scenes. Any time that Tobin Bell shows up as Jigsaw of course it really picks up immensely. However, it is by far the worst Saw movie outside of 3D, I’m less inclined to come back to this one.

My review of Saw V

7. Jigsaw

3-12

7 years after the series ended terribly with The Final Chapter, Lionsgate ended up making a reboot of sorts. It had potential, there were some great directors on board, and the plot has a mystery as to whether John Kramer is back as Jigsaw. However what Jigsaw ultimately boiled down to was another Saw movie, just done in modern day. As it was, it was quite enjoyable to watch. The traps ranged from great to rather forgettable, but it was a decent game. It’s well shot, and features some of the best direction of the entire series. The writing is very mixed, with some lackluster characters. Some of the writing is far fetched, where characters make some pretty unbelievable decisions. However for the most part there’s really not much to say about the movie.

Then there’s the ending twist, which is where most of my issues lie. Not only is it very convoluted and doesn’t make sense, but it also breaks the Saw timeline in some ways. It even makes me look back on the rest of the movie in a less positive way overall. My issues with the eventual reveal aside, I would be interested to see story and characters at the end of Jigsaw reappear and continued in the future Saw movies. In a way, Jigsaw’s level of quality really depends on if it continues to have relevance in the next movies, especially in a post-Spiral world where that film wasn’t a continuation of the previous movie. If it doesn’t get a follow up, I’d be wondering what the point of this movie would be aside from just being another Saw movie.

My review of Jigsaw

6. Saw IV

saw-iv-1200-1200-675-675-crop-000000

Saw IV is one of those Saw movies that I do appreciate the more I think about it, even with its many faults. Saw IV does feel like it’s on autopilot, while managing to feel like there’s too much going on. There’s a new Jigsaw game, we also follow an investigation from the FBI, and there’s a storyline focusing on flashbacks of John Kramer becoming Jigsaw, and it just feels bloated. There are so many characters, between bringing back past characters in prominent storylines, and then introducing at least 4 new major characters. Almost every Saw movie is 90 minutes long and out of all of them, this is the one that definitely needed a lot more time given to it. The game at the forefront is better when compared to a lot of the sequels but the backbone behind it doesn’t quite work for me.

With that being said, there are story moments and reveals that are quite interesting and strong. There’s some nice twists, especially with how the movie ties to Saw III. There’s also some very impressive and memorable traps. However it’s still very much a mess on many levels. The most interesting aspect was John Kramer, and if anything I wish the whole movie was focusing on Tobin Bell’s John Kramer and his origin story. It’s one I do want to go back to, as some moments ring better for me the more I think about them, but all in all, it’s another Saw movie that I’m quite mixed on.

My review of Saw IV

5. Saw III

showtime_svod-129642-Full-Image_GalleryBackground-en-US-1554203828129._RI_

It was this movie where I noticed a shift, even when I saw it for the first time before my watchthrough of all the Saw movies. I liked it noticeably less than the first two movies and even on my rewatch I still had a lot of.  I noticed the slight jump in budget and the jump in the amount of gore, as well as the amount of reliance on it. Starting off with the positives though, I do like a lot of many of the ideas on display. There are some memorable and truly brutal traps with some fantastic practical effects. The plotline with the characters of John Kramer, Amanda and Lynn was actually great, with some solid dynamic between the three. The movie does try to actually add an emotional dimension to the movie and while it doesn’t completely work, I kind of respect it. The movie also makes some firm decisions, some of them work, some of them don’t work, and some of them were quite bold (for better or for worse). The ending also did end up writing the series into a bit of a corner, but I respect it to a degree.

However there’s plenty of problems. This movie really did have an overreliance of flashbacks (something that much of the series would have as well), revealing things that we really didn’t need to see. You don’t like a lot of the characters and you’re generally not that interested in them, so emotional investment is quite difficult already. Of course Tobin Bell is fantastic as Jigsaw, Lynn is not that interesting but good in her scenes with John, and I have mixed feelings about Amanda in this particular movie. Then there’s lead game character Jeff, who ends up being one of the major issues of Saw III. Probably my least favourite lead Saw character, Jeff is just frustrating to watch, with him making some annoying choices, and us having to watch him take a long time to slowly go from one trap to another. Despite an interesting setup, it was not nearly as interesting as some of the other games in the series. It really does say something that the storyline that doesn’t involve a lot of traps was more interesting than the one that did. It is also the longest of the movies at nearly 2 hours long and while I do feel like some of the other Saw movies could’ve been a little longer, you really do feel like this movie drags. Not to be that person, but its not that fun to watch, and if I had the choice to watch any of the Saw movies from here or the 5 movies below it on this list, I’m not entirely sure that I would pick III. With that all being said, it is definitely one of the better Saw movies.

My review of Saw III

4. Spiral: From the Book of Saw

eswdms8uwaiov5e

This is where the list goes from mixed/okay movies to actually pretty good movies. Spiral is the latest Saw movie, and it is definitely the most different film in the series. It’s also the first Saw movie I watched in the cinema and I really enjoyed it, even if there are some issues especially on reflection. To a degree I wish there was a little more to this movie and was expecting more. I feel like even 5 extra minutes would’ve benefited it in some way, to add some more depth or explain some things. Like some have said already, some aspects of the plot and reveals were rather predictable. Additionally while I liked the themes and commentary surrounding corrupt police, I feel like it could’ve explored it just a little more and really committed to it instead of it almost feeling like a setup for the plot. The movie has some other writing issues and it can be messy. It does fall into some familiar tropes from Saw and detective/cop movies in general, and the dialogue doesn’t always work. However by Saw standards, I don’t have a huge amount of problems with the movie.

Spiral is quite a different film for the series, with it instead being more of a detective movie. It has a distinct tone, and is all around quite standalone. It removed itself from the rest of the movies, all the while still existing in the same world and being a Saw movie. While most of the traps aren’t as memorable, some of them are great, and above all else, they actually fit into the plot. The traps have reasons and meanings behind them outside of just serving for the gore (though it’s no slouch in that department either). It’s also one of the best directed Saw movies, bringing back longtime Saw director Darren Lynn Bousman turned out to be a great choice. As said earlier, the killer’s identiy was predictable, but the rest of the mystery surrounding this person(s) was more interesting than the identity, and I found myself interested in that. I was quite on board with the plot generally. The performances are good, with Chris Rock, Max Minghella and Samuel L. Jackson being delivering in their roles, definitely some of the stronger acting in the series. I am definitely interested to see where this story and these characters go after the ending of this movie, and I would love to see a sequel.

My review of Spiral: From the Book of Saw

These next three are interchangeable for me.

3. Saw VI

saw-6-background-02

Looking at its first 5 movies, the Saw series had gradually been getting worse. By the time it got to IV and V, it was pretty disappointing and ranged from messy to dull. VI was the surprise instalment that really added new life back into the series. Saw VI starts out strong from the beginning and stays strong throughout. The story is reasonably straightforward in contrast to the past movies, and the pacing is much better. Unlike the last movie, while there are some lore and backstory revealed in flashbacks, they don’t feel forced and they work naturally for the characters and story, especially as they showing important moments between John Kramer and other major characters. The game itself is great and one of the best in the series. The movie is is surprisingly political, taking on health insurance in the USA, proving to be quite topical considering it came out in 2009. This approach proved to be quite fresh and fits perfectly as it would be something that Jigsaw would focus on. There are moral dilemmas that health insurance executive and lead Saw VI game character William Easton faces throughout and he has to make some hard choices. Easton as a character is the most morally bankrupt of all the Saw protagonists but with a mix of the situations he’s put into and Peter Outerbridge’s solid performance, it makes you sympathise with him and willing to follow him throughout. The traps also overall are the best in the series since Saw II. They are creative, from one based on oxygen, to one featuring a carousel, the latter of which ranks among the all time best traps. It helps that there’s a lot of meaning behind the traps and why they are like that (outside of the gore), and can even be psychological.

Even the rest of the story following the characters of Hoffman and Jill Tuck are actually quite good, especially as the former tries to deal with an FBI investigation. Hoffman who was underwhelming in Saw V despite it intended to make us actually like him as Jigsaw, really is at his best in this movie and he has some great moments. The voice lab and the ending especially sticks out as one of the best moments in the series. In terms of flaws, it does have some of the familiar issues with the rest of the series. The editing is still unnecessarily frantic and fast paced but it is reigned in and utilised a lot better here compared to many of the past movies. Saw VI is still over the top and unbelievably ridiculous, both with the story and characters and some bits with the writing. Also even though there are some stronger main performances from the likes of Tobin Bell, Peter Outerbridge and Costas Mandylor, a lot of the smaller performances can still be pretty bad. Some of the writing issues in this movie are present in the other Saw movies, and have been a lot worse there. So at this point it’s very easy to look past them. Also the over the top nature of the story and traps is easy to go along with when you see at what point the series had gotten to. Maybe it might’ve just been the previous couple of Saw movies that were disappointing, but I enjoyed VI thoroughly and didn’t have too many large complaints with it. Out of the Saw movies, this and Saw II would probably be the ones I’d be most willing to rewatch.

My review of Saw VI

2. Saw II

909b3241692d38c6b2b0bcee8b3f0421

Saw II was the immediately greenlit sequel after the surprise that was James Wan’s Saw back in 2004. It’s quite interesting that this is based off director Darren Lynn Bousman’s script for a different movie, which was turned into the script for the Saw sequel. Not to mention that Saw II ended up playing a big part in the shaping of the series. As a sequel it is very reminiscent of the first film but made some changes. Instead of just repeating the first movie, there are two storylines at the same time, one is with people trapped in a Jigsaw game, and the other focusing on police with Jigsaw as they see the game continuing. It also expanded the scale of the game. The first film had a bathroom and relatively small traps in flashbacks. Saw II had a game in a small house and had a group of people instead of just 2. At the same time, it still felt contained and even plausible at times. It also added a lot more traps, and they are quite creative and also resulted in a lot more gore.

One thing that Saw II has over the first movie is a lot more Jigsaw. Tobin Bell made a brief appearance in the first Saw but it’s here where he really gets to shine, and has an onscreen presence throughout the whole movie. The scenes between him and Donnie Wahlberg are particularly great. This is also a movie that expanded Jigsaw’s philosophy and puts it more in the forefront, even if it’s a little conflicting (i.e. Jigsaw’s “I never killed anyone” line is a little hard to take seriously at this point). There are even some twists that are effective, that rival even the end twist of the first Saw. Overall I liked Darren Lynn Bousman’s direction but some of the technical elements are brought over from the first movie, including frantic editing and the visual style, aren’t exactly the best. In the first movie, some of the technical elements are there because the filmmakers needed to do them, but including it in Saw II made them staples of the franchise, for better or for worse. The writing is also not the best especially with the dialogue, but the story does well enough to hold your attention throughout. All in all, Saw II is one of the most enjoyable movies in the series.

My review of Saw II

1. Saw

3641045-saw

There’s not much to say about Saw that hasn’t been said already. It had a lot working against it, the budget was really small, the filmmakers weren’t allowed many takes, and the amount of time to film was short. Despite all the odds, they pulled it off. Saw became an instant hit, and a sequel was immediately greenlit. Influenced by films like Se7en, Saw at its core was a psychological thriller about a serial killer. It’s well constructed and keeps you invested from beginning to end, focussing mainly on mystery and tension more than outright scares or even gore. The majority of the film was two men in a bathroom trying to figure out what’s going on, with a very simplistic approach to the story. The traps are known in the Saw movies but most of them in Saw I are just shown in flashbacks. They can be gruesome but are shown briefly and are more believable than those in the sequels. It is a bloody movie, but it uses these moments effectively and doesn’t feel overly reliant on them.

For a debut film, James Wan did succeed quite well despite all the problems that he and writer Leigh Whannell experienced when making this movie. Now it definitely has its issues. The acting is a mixed bag, it is quite dated, a lot of the dialogue and writing can be quite flawed. On the technical aspects too, the frantic editing was definitely done in a way to help deal with the restrictions they had. However many of its issues and rough edges adds a charm and distinct style to it, and considering everything, it’s impressive that the final movie was as good as it was. It also laid the groundwork for things that would feature in many of the sequels from the grimy and green look, the music video-esque fast paced editing, the overblown twists and the ending reveals (accompanied by an iconic score from Charlie Clouser). About a decade and a half later it still remains an incredibly iconic and influential horror film that has paved the way for other horror movies, even beyond the torture porn genre. If you read this list and you haven’t seen any of the Saw movies but you like horror movies, I do recommend watching the first film at the very least. I really understand why it remains a cult classic for many people.

My review of Saw

What are your ranking of the Saw series, and what do you think of the movies?

Ranking the 2021 Best Picture Nominees

Ranking 2021 nominees

This is the third year that I shall be ranking the Best Picture Nominees for the Academy Awards. This year I’m not quite as invested in the film awards given that it’s taken me this long to actually release it, but I thought that I might as well give my thoughts on the nominees.

Considering the past year’s weird year for movies with plenty of pushbacks of release dates, this year’s lineup of nominees was actually great. Not only did I like them all, almost all of them are great, there’s just one film that’s out of place here, but I even liked that movie. Out of the three years where I’ve ranked the Best Picture nominees, this has to be the strongest lineup yet.

The ranking of the nominees is all based off my personal preference and how much I liked them.

8. The Trial of the Chicago 7

The Trial of the Chicago 7

The Trial of the Chicago 7 was one of the frontrunners for Best Picture, but at this point it seems to have become firmly the least liked best picture nominee by many. I understand a lot of the criticisms, and even agree with a lot of them. Upon further thought, some of writer and director Aaron Sorkin’s “sorkinisms” can get a little annoying, specifically with how he decided to portray certain events and people from the real life story. It is certainly a movie that I like a lot less now compared to when I first saw it. Still, a year where The Trial of the Chicago 7 is the worst Best Picture nominee is a pretty good year for the Oscars. Ultimately, it’s the script and performances that still has me liking the movie a considerable amount, it’s a fairly engaging and energetic courtroom thriller. The script keeps you locked in from beginning to end with a fast pace, and it has some great dialogue. There’s also some solid acting from the massive cast here, with the highlights being Sacha Baron Cohen, Yayha Abdul-Mateen II and Mark Rylance. The Trial of the Chicago 7 is worth watching, but it still very much the weakest of the nominees.

My review of The Trial of the Chicago 7

7. Minari

download

The much talked about Minari rightfully makes its presence known at the Oscars with a well deserved Best Picture nomination. It’s a real portrait of the immigrant experience of a Korean-American family in search of the American Dream, and as it’s based off director Lee Isaac Chung’s childhood, that makes it even more personal and special. It isn’t a plot driven movie, instead focusing on many moments, both little and notable, which only add to the naturalness of the story. These characters’ story is tender, heartfelt, emotional, funny and above all else, genuine and human. On top of the compelling story as well as the beautiful direction and look of the movie, the performances from everyone are natural and outstanding, with Steven Yeun, Alan Kim and Youn Yuh-jung being the standouts. Minari is a great and personal family drama, and it absolutely deserved its nominations at this year’s Oscars.

My review of Minari

6. Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas-and-the-Black-Messiah (1)

Despite being quite a late release in Oscar season, Judas and the Black Messiah was quite a standout movie among the nominees. It could’ve been a by the numbers biopic based on significant true events, however it is captivating from beginning to end, tightly scripted and compelling, with a strong energy and intense atmosphere throughout. It also isn’t a typical biopic, it felt more like a historical drama thriller, and in some ways that actually helps the movie more. This movie is timely, meaningful and impactful to today’s society with the topics it covers, and it really lingers in the mind long after watching. The movie is definitely hard to watch at times, it’s a powerhouse tragedy of a drama that is more truthful and unapologetic than you would expect a big budget awards movie having. This riveting and greatly delivered story is paired with a great supporting cast including Jesse Plemons, Dominique Fishback and Ashton Sanders, as well as excellent lead performances from Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stansfield (both of whom are very much deserving of their acting nominations). Judas and the Black Messiah is a bold and fantastic film that deserves its praise and accolades. It may be a late release, but definitely check it out when you get the chance to if you haven’t already.

My review of Judas and the Black Messiah

5. Nomadland

nomadland

Nomadland seems to be very much the frontrunner of the nominees, and it’s not difficult to see why. While it’s not at the top of my list, it very much deserves all the love and acclaim. Essentially, it is a poetic, quiet and contemplative character study, and an intimate look at loss and grief. The movie is fairly plotless and there isn’t much driving the story, but given the nature of the actual plot and characters, that is actually quite fitting. You get lost in the lead character’s journey as you are quite invested with what is happening with her story. The acting from everyone was great but it really is the story of Frances McDormand’s lead character. McDormand is subtle and understated yet incredibly powerful in this role, and she gives quite possibly her best performance yet. The standout aspect in this whole movie however is the work from director Chloe Zhao. Her direction is phenomenal on so many levels, perfect on a technical level for sure. It is clearly crafted with so much love and care, and she’s more than capable of telling a story with even just the movement of the camera alone. The cinematography is natural yet gorgeous, everything looks beautiful whether the focus of the shots are stunning landscapes, or relatively mundane places or objects. I perfectly understand if a lot of people don’t like this movie, it is quite slow, and you really have to get invested in the story and the lead character’s journey to really have it work for you. However, I still think it is one of the best films from the past year.

My review of Nomadland

4. Sound of Metal

726bf085e2a9fef208c9e556fe18c970c3-how-everything-works-sound-of-metal-2.2x.rhorizontal.w700

Sound of Metal was in some awards discussions, but I didn’t think that it would get much attention from the Oscars outside of a couple nominations. However, it got nominated a total of 6 times, including Best Picture, and I’m so happy that it got this attention. The story of a drummer who suddenly has to adjust to his new circumstances after he begins to lose his hearing may go on a narrative arc familiar to many other stories, but it has this genuine, thoughtful and rawness throughout that hooks you in emotionally. It refrains from large moments of drama and instead focuses on quiet and powerful character interactions and moments that have you constantly engaged. By the end of the movie, it is a truly heartbreaking yet uplifting story all at once. The acting is also phenomenal. Olivia Cooke and Paul Raci are strong and powerful supporting players, while Riz Ahmed gives some of the best acting work of the year in the lead role with a believable, naturalistic and truly human performance. Even the technical choices and directions were incredibly effective, especially with how it plays with sound and what we (or the lead character) hear or don’t hear. It doesn’t seem like Sound of Metal is one of the leading contenders for Best Picture but I’m just glad that it’s getting recognised at the very least.

My review of Sound of Metal

3. Promising Young Woman

elle-promising-young-woman-1609268794

Promising Young Woman is one of the most controversial, polarising and much talked about movies from 2020, and everyone who saw it had a pretty strong opinion on it. There are some people who love it, and some people who hated it, and I’m thankfully in the former camp. Despite the initial look of the movie from the trailers and other marketing, it is more than I expected it to be. It is a revenge movie as advertised, but was also a character study, jumped between multiple tones seamlessly, and was a lot more nuanced than expected, while having a subversive, thrilling, and unpredictable plot. Emerald Fennell’s directorial debut is confident, bold and impressive here, it is meritoriously crafted on all fronts, visually stunning and with a strong style. Then of course one of the key elements to this movie: Carey Mulligan, who gives an outstanding and complex performance, and one of the highlights from the past year. At the very least, this film is a great showcase for her excellent acting talents. Promising Young Woman was already one of the most standout films from 2020, but it is great to see it get recognised at the Oscars, regardless of whether it wins anything or not.

My review of Promising Young Woman

2. Mank

ghows-TX-201209915-b357e706

Mank is probably one of the least popular of the nominees. Even if it doesn’t seem to be this year’s Best Picture ‘enemy’ (The Trial of the Chicago 7), it really has a very niche audience. It’s a movie about the writing of Citizen Kane, set in the 30s and 40s, and made to look like it was made from that era. While I wouldn’t try to claim that it’s one of director David Fincher’s most accessible work, I am one of the few people who actually do love this film and think it’s great. The story of Mank may essentially be about the writing of one of the greatest movies of all time (as proclaimed by certain people at least), but it is mainly about the screenwriter himself, and what inspired him to do this. It’s also about Hollywood in the 30s and 40s, the politics at the time, and the Hollywood system and its many flaws. I found that quite interesting to watch, even if not everyone did. The whole cast were great, with the likes of Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Lilly Collins, Charles Dance and more delivering some great work, with Oldman particularly giving the best performance I’ve seen from him. On a technical level it is perfect, Fincher has directed this movie excellently. It does well at recreating the looks of film from the 40s with black and white, film grain and the sound mixing, it is a stunning movie, and it really immerses you in that era. While many could understandably write it off as just another movie about Hollywood, it still actually feels like there was passion behind it. Mank is not going to win the Best Picture award but if it did somehow did, I think it would deserve it.

My review of Mank

1. The Father

the-father-poster-

Probably an unexpected pick for the favourite nominee out of the 8. The Father looked like textbook Oscar bait, excellent award winning actors starring in a movie based off a play about someone who is getting old, and the marketing didn’t do much to help change that perception. I went into it expecting something good, however it was truly phenomenal on so many levels. There have been plenty of movies focusing on people on dementia but its never been portrayed like this. The Father plays more like a slow moving nightmare or horror movie despite being a drama essentially. The unreliable perspective is used incredibly well as we are in the lead character’s confused point of view, conveyed excellently through the writing and plotting, as well as writer and director Florian Zeller’s outstanding technical work. And I can’t talk about this movie before touching upon the performances, mainly the two nominated with Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman. Colman is incredibly believable as someone who is grappling with watching her father slowly declining, one of her best acting work. But it is Hopkins’s movie, and this is truly his all time best performance in his long and fantastic acting career. He is absolutely phenomenal, breath-taking and heartwrenching in the lead role. He’s pitch perfect from beginning to end, and it is quite possibly one of the best performances I’ve ever seen. It’s not a movie that I want to watch again, not just because of the subject matter, but also because it’s such an emotional and rough experience of a movie. However out of all these 8 movies, it had the longest lasting impact on me. A truly outstanding film that unfortunately doesn’t have a strong chance at winning, but is at the very least recognised by being one of the nominees.

My review of The Father

What are your ranking of this year’s Best Picture Nominees, and what do you think of the nominees?

Top 20 Best Films of 2020

Best of 2020

2020 was a very weird year for film. There was a pushback of plenty of movies, so a lot of the movies I was looking forward to that year was pushed back a year or even more. I also watched a lot less movies from 2020 year compared to past years, having only seen 55 movies from this year. Still, there were good films that came out in 2020 that are worth praising.

I should mention that films like The Father and Judas and the Black Messiah, which would otherwise be higher up on this list, are 2021 movies and so won’t be on this list.

Honourable Mentions:

The Nest

NEP8687188

The Nest was a smaller movie that didn’t seem to get a lot of attention from many people, but those who had seen it had very positive things to say about it. I’m glad I checked it out, it’s definitely worth seeing.

It’s a slow moving drama and it does take a while to figure out what it is about. However at its core, The Nest is a family drama portraying a slow but catastrophic disintegration of a marriage, and a deconstruction of the nuclear family, with themes about family, wealth, and what it means to be successful. It made for a slow descent into chaos that really creeps up on you. It was uneasy, uncomfortable and stressful to watch, with a sinister and moody atmosphere throughout, akin to a horror movie. The acting is also strong, with Jude Law being really good in his part and Carrie Coon being the outstanding stand out among the cast. It’s not for everyone and will be too slow for some, but I do think that it is worth checking out.

My review of The Nest

Weathering with You

Weathering-With-You-Trailer

I had a feeling that I would really like Weathering with You from the moment I heard that it was from the filmmaker of Your Name, which is one of my favourite anime films of all time. While his latest movie doesn’t quite top his previous movie, I still think that it’s great.

Many of the great elements from Your Name are here. It blends multiple elements and genres including romance, drama, fantasy and coming of age together for its personal and smaller scaled story. The characters are well established and likable, and I liked following them. The direction from Makoto Shinkai as usual is outstanding, with his distinct and hyper-realistic animation style. The visuals are amazing, from the character movements, to the locations and settings. Empathetic and emotional, and under a beautiful direction throughout, I found Weathering with You to be enthralling.

My review of Weathering with You

20. One Night in Miami

26d0dcf0-5e99-4496-9aac-743a7b928bf9-one-night-in-miami-ONIM_D11_0040_Grade_6_rgb_copy

One Night in Miami was up there in the movie awards conversation, and for very good reason. It’s very strong on all fronts, acting, directing and writing, it’s a very powerful movie, and it’s a great film overall.

One Night in Miami does take a while to get going, but by the time the four main characters meet up, you’re invested in the characters and the plot. It’s a relatively simple movie, mostly taking place in one location. However it dives into many thought provoking and relevant conversations and keeps your attention all the way through. It is very well written, with some brilliant dialogue that’s incredibly well written and compelling (which it would need to be given that it’s dialogue focused and based off a play). The performances from the main four leads in Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge, Leslie Odom Jr are excellent in their parts, and they play off each other very well. Regina King’s debut here as a filmmaker is fantastic, making the movie feel very cinematic despite it being based off a play. One Night in Miami is a very impressive movie that I was invested in from beginning to end.

My review of One Night in Miami

19. The Gentlemen

This was actually the first 2020 movie that I watched. Initially I liked it quite a lot, it was very entertaining and was for sure one of Guy Ritchie’s best movies. However, upon a rewatch it held up for me, and I liked it even more. I really wasn’t expecting it to still be in my top 20 of 2020 over a year later.

The Gentlemen is very entertaining, with some strong writing throughout. It’s sharp, memorable, and really funny. Like with Snatch, there are multiple characters and storylines crossing over and intertwining. It may be known as an action comedy, but really the great dialogue is the action of The Gentlemen. The cast are all fantastic on their parts, with Matthew McConaughey, Hugh Grant, Charlie Hunnam, and Colin Farrell being my favourites of the performances. Guy Ritchie is at home directing in this genre. His style in this movie is his substance, it’s polished to perfection and it works to great effect. The Gentlemen is a return to form for Guy Ritchie, more so than RockNRolla, which was released over 10 years earlier. It’s darkly hilarious, constantly entertaining, and I really enjoyed watching it.

My review of The Gentlemen

18. Emma

emma_movie[1]

This is another movie that I wasn’t expecting to be in my top 20 by the end of the year. Until Emma, I hadn’t watched a single Jane Austen adaptation, but Emma proved to be a delightful experience of a movie that had me entertained from beginning to end.

Emma is great, hilarious, very witty, and snappy, with some rich characters and some great dialogue. Anya Taylor-Joy is pitch perfect in the title role, while the large supporting cast that consists of Johnny Flynn, Bill Nighy, Mia Goth, Miranda Hart, Josh O’Connor, Callum Turner and performed well on their parts. AAdditionally, Autumn de Wilde’s work as director is incredible. It is visually stunning and gorgeous, and all edited together incredibly well, along with having great production values. Much of the movie is very stylish, but it is done in a way that suits the material. I’ll admit that ultimately it took me a second viewing to understand and really ‘get’ this movie, but from that point, I found Emma to be such a fun and well made movie, and one of the movie highlights from 2020.

My review of Emma.

17. Black Bear

blackbear

Black Bear was quite an unexpected movie, one that definitely benefits from not knowing too much going into it. While it does make it a hard movie to describe or sell to people, I can assure you that it is well worth the watch.

I must emphasise that it’s a movie worth going into blind, especially with its significant turn some way into the movie. While it’s not perfect and does detach you from the narrative a bit, it does add something interesting to the film. What I can say is that it leaves a lot of room for interpretation and analysis. The writing itself is great, the dialogue is chaotic, sharp and very memorable. The acting work from everyone is great, with Christopher Abbott and Sarah Gadon being solid in major supporting roles. However it’s Aubrey Plaza who gets the most recognition from this movie and for very good reason, she’s fantastic here. Plaza is captivating and intense, some of the best acting work I’ve seen from her, and truly one of the highlight performances from the past year. It’s directed well too, beautiful to look at, and its intense camerawork gives the film a dynamic and real feeling. Sound design is great and sharp, and that paired with the bleakness of the cinematography and its haunting score helps creating a foreboding sense of dread. Black Bear is a mindbending, unexpected and well directed dramatic thriller, with effective tension throughout. To a degree it’s not for everyone, but I do think that it’s worth a watch.

My review of Black Bear

16. The Trial of the Chicago 7

The Trial of the Chicago 7

As a major awards season contender, The Trial of the Chicago 7 seems to have become firmly the least liked best picture nominee (which usually ends up happening to at least one nominee every year). I really do understand a lot of the criticisms, in fact some of my praise on this movie has decreased a little bit upon further thought even though I really liked it when I first saw it. But looking back on it, I still like it quite a lot.

The script was all the things you’d expect from Aaron Sorkin, with snappy and captivating dialogue, a fast pace, and some memorable moments. It locks you in with what’s happening from beginning to end. There’s also a massive ensemble cast for this movie, everyone is great including Sacha Baron Cohen, Yahya Abduel-Mateen II, Mark Rylance, Eddie Redmayne, John Caroll Lynch, Jeremy Strong, and Frank Langella. Unfortunately, it does have some notable aspects which do take away from the movie, even in retrospect. It definitely has some Sorkinisms with some of the dialogue choices, how he chose to represent certain events and people on screen, and especially the ending. I would’ve liked to have seen a darker and more accurate representation of the real life events for sure. With all that said, I still think it was a good movie and I do think that it’s worth watching if you haven’t seen it already.

My review of The Trial of the Chicago 7

15. Mangrove

4283

Mangrove is the first entry in the Small Axe anthology, all of which are directed by Steve McQueen. I haven’t seen all 5 movies yet, but at the moment in time, I don’t see the rest of them topping this one. It’s solid in every aspect, and I was engaged from beginning to end.

Steve McQueen gives a great examination of the themes and subject matters in the forefront as he sheds light on an incredible true story. It’s smaller scale, yet very compelling story of a community together, fighting for their human rights. It’s quite a powerful movie, and I was invested throughout. It takes a while to get to the trial, but the first half of the movie is necessary as we are introduced to the people and the Mangrove itself. Then when it gets to the courtroom drama, it is riveting and well written. The cast are all great, with the highlights being Shaun Parkes, Letitia Wright and Darcus Howe. McQueen’s direction here is strong, his work here is more subdued and restrained compared to his other work but it’s very effective here. All in all, it’s a well crafted and passionate historical drama. While I can’t speak for the quality of the entirety of Small Axe, I do think Mangrove is worth checking out at the very least.

My review of Small Axe: Mangrove

14. Never Rarely Sometimes Always

sidney-flanigan-stars-as-autumn-courtesy-focus-features

Never Rarely Sometimes Always was one of the most surprising movies from 2020. It’s a very small indie movie that got a lot of traction, and then acclaim, and it definitely deserved all the attention it has been receiving.

What was immediately noticeable about Never Rarely Sometimes Always was its approach to storytelling. It’s not so focused on dialogue and it makes a lot of use out of silence, speaking volumes by saying a little. It tells a story through subtext and silence, from the character’s actions, the performances and the direction, making the movie feel all the more real. It resists going all in on unwelcome melodrama or larger ‘dramatic’ and overtly emotional moments, instead focusing the attention on being more natural. It’s empathetic and honest too, and by the end is very powerful. The acting is impressive from Sidney Flanigan and Talia Ryder in the lead roles, both performances are subtle, genuine and powerful and share great chemistry together. The whole movie feels authentic from the sets, to the sound, and to the cinematography and camerawork, especially with what they focus and linger on. I did want more character development, but it is the sort of movie where you aren’t given the full context of everything, or know why certain people do what they do, and I think that really works for the film. Never Rarely Sometimes Always is a raw, nuanced and powerful movie, and one that you should definitely check out if you haven’t already.

My review of Never Rarely Sometimes Always

13. I’m Thinking of Ending Things

2178079a0820c021021f8f2cfbee53b0

Charlie Kaufman’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things was definitely one of the most polarising movies of 2020. It’s really not for everyone, however I’m glad that I’m one of the people who liked this movie quite a lot.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things isn’t a horror movie in the conventional sense, but it is quite bleak, melancholic and depressing, yet very well written from Kaufman, with many layers and much to talk about. I was invested, even if much of the movie consisted of long conversations, I was fascinated with what was happening. The acting from everyone is great, with Jesse Plemons, Toni Collette and David Thewlis all performing greatly. However, it’s Jessie Buckley who’s the standout here, delivering one of the best performances from 2020. Kaufman’s direction shines a lot here too, from its stunning (and 4:3 ratio) cinematography, to the great and off kilter editing that indicates that something is really off throughout. There’s not much clear cut explanations about much of what the film is trying to say, and I admit that I don’t exactly understand everything. For me it’s quite possible that a rewatch could improve or break the movie for me. For now, I’ll just say that I had a really good experience watching it. It’s a strange and confusing film that will frustrate many, but I thought it was great.

My review of I’m Thinking of Ending Things

12. Saint Maud

SM-017-R

Saint Maud had been one of the most anticipated horror movies from 2020, and while some people were disappointed with the film after all the hype, I thought it was great. It’s a short and simple, yet effective and intimate psychological horror film.

Saint Maud is less intense horror and scares than creepy, disturbing and unsettling, with a creeping sense of dread throughout. It was a slow burn of a character study, that I was invested in throughout. This movie is a look at religious fanaticism, mental illness, loneliness and isolation. Morfydd Clark is amazing, mesmerising, and captivating in the lead role, one of the highlights of the film for sure. Rose Glass directs this movie incredibly well, I really want to see what she makes next. The movie is visually stunning with gloomy cinematography and memorable imagery, and features some great sound mixing and music, all of which combine together to build suspense and tension as well as a chilling atmosphere. It could’ve benefited by being a bit longer to flesh out its ideas and themes, but all in all, Saint Maud was a great horror film.

My review of Saint Maud

11. The Invisible Man

VZyE6GjqjQKWTaeQPVtk3H[1]

The Invisible Man was one of the earlier movies from 2020 that still managed to get released before cinemas closed and movies started to be delayed. It still remained a very memorable movie even amongst all the other newer releases, and one that I’m still incredibly impressed by.

This is a modern adaptation of the original story, and that certainly seemed difficult to make, definitely hard to make an invisible man actually scary. However, director/writer Leigh Whannell and co. pulled it off, and the tweaks to modernise the story worked to great effect. The story is essentially about domestic abuse and gaslighting, and explores the traumas in an abusive relationship. That was more unsettling than the actual idea of a man being invisible. The movie is unnerving, and you feel as paranoid as the protagonist. While some of the concepts and ideas on paper might sound silly, it actually works here. As great as the rest of the movie around her is, Elisabeth Moss was key to making it succeed as well as it did, she gave an incredible performance on her part. Whannell directed this movie so well, this and Upgrade shows him as a great horror filmmaker and I’m looking forward to seeing what he makes next. The use of lingering camera shots and movements are so effective, making you unnerved at what you’re seeing, or not fully seeing. Combining that with the great visual effects and the powerful sound design and score, and it really escalates the already tense atmosphere. If you’re a fan of horror, I highly recommend checking out The Invisible Man.

My review of The Invisible Man

10. Possessor

image-w1280

There have been some great horror movies from 2020, but Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor is my favourite of them all. A disturbing, unsettling and incredibly well-made psychological horror film, it made for a very memorable experience.

Possessor is a very creative, ambitious and unapologetic movie, packed with so many ideas. It doesn’t hold your hand, requiring you to put the pieces together of what’s happening in the story. It’s deliberately paced yet I was very intrigued throughout. The futuristic setting is bleak, and much of the movie is unsettling even before it gets to the brutality and shocking images. The cast are all great, especially Andrea Riseborough and Christopher Abbott as the leads. Brandon Cronenberg directs this film incredibly well. It’s a visually and aesthetically stunning movie with a great colour pallet, and some outstanding hypnotic, surreal and nightmarish sequences. It’s an assault on the sense from the very first scene all the way to the end. Possessor is very much not for everyone, the gore at the very least will turn people off, and some might not be as into the story. But it was one of the most riveting and intense experiences I’ve had watching a horror movie recently.

My review of Possessor (2020)

9. Soul

22soul-blackness1-mobileMasterAt3x-v3

I went into Soul not being quite sure of what to expect. I just saw one of the trailers and knew that it was a Pixar movie from the people who made Inside Out. I didn’t expect it to be as great as it turned out to be.

If you haven’t seen it already, I recommend going into Soul without not knowing much about it. It was a lot deeper than expected, with it being a journey that really makes you think about life. It’s a beautifully told and very human story that’s full of sincerity, honesty and heart about what it means to be alive, as well as the purpose of life. It’s Pixar’s most mature movie by far, in fact I see older audiences getting much more out of the movie. At the same time, it is entertaining and there’s some good humour here too. The characters are great, even the brief characters who only have a few minutes of screentime are memorable, and they are voiced by a great cast including Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Graham Norton and Rachel House. The movie is also directed well by Pete Doctor, beautifully and stylishly animated with its stylised photorealism approach to the locations and characters (at least when the movie takes place in the real world). It’s only enhanced further by the outstanding score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Soul is one of Pixar’s most clever, poignant and honest films, and one of their best.

My review of Soul

8. Minari

minari_copy-compressed

There had been a lot of hype and anticipation for Minari based off the early reactions, and they were absolutely justified. It’s fantastically made on every level, and was all around an incredible experience.

Minari is a heartfelt and empathetic portrait of the immigrant experience from the perspective of a Korean-American family in the search of the American Dream, showing the hardships they go through. Their story is tender, genuine, funny and heartwarming. Director Lee Isaac Chung translates his own personal childhood story to the big screen in such a beautiful way. The cast all deliver truly great performances, especially Steven Yeun, Alan Kim and Youn Yuh-jung. Minari is a great and truly personal family drama. Watch this as soon as you can.

My review of Minari

7. Nomadland

Nomadland-2020-scaled

Nomadland is one of the most acclaimed movies from 2020 and it’s for very good reason. It’s a poetic, quiet and contemplative character study, and an intimate look at grief and loss. It’s great on pretty much every front.

Nomadland is plotless yet character driven as we follow the main character become a nomad over the course of the movie. It really is a story about real people and real stories, full of many memorable and heartfelt side characters who leave their mark on the film in an effective way. Despite it not really having a driving force throughout, we get lost and invested we follow the main character on her spiritual journey. The acting from everyone is great. Along with the performances from the real life nomads in the supporting cast, Frances McDormand here gives quite possible her best performance yet. Chloe Zhao’s direction is nothing short of extraordinary, and on a technical level the movie is pretty much perfect. The cinematography is natural, personal and gorgeous. Whether its be capturing beautiful landscapes or mundane areas, Zhao makes everything look beautiful. I do understand if people don’t like the movie, but I do think that it’s worth a watch at the very least.

My review of Nomadland

6. Another Round

anotherround2.0

Released later in the year, Another Round quickly became one of my favourite movies of 2020. A dark comedy about drinking, life and more, it is energetic, hilarious yet heartbreaking and compelling.

The plot is about drinking but instead of just focusing on the negative effects, the film shows both the positives and negatives, while looking at serious subject matters including alcoholism, discontent lives, midlife crises, and marriage. It’s honest in a way that’s not sappy, it feels genuine. There’s a lighthearted tone throughout, so it’s easy to watch and is entertaining, but it also has emotional moments and darker aspects that stick with you. The cast are great especially the main 4 actors in Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Lars Ranthe and Magnus Millang, with Mikkelsen giving one of his all-time best performances. Another Round is a humane, warm and cathartic dramedy that shows the benefits and drawbacks of alcohol, and is a very reflective and entertaining movie about life, friendship and day drinking. Check it out if you haven’t already.

My review of Another Round

5. Sound of Metal

sound1-mobileMasterAt3x

Sound of Metal really crept up on me, an impactful and genuine drama that’s incredibly thoughtful, powerful and well made. I’m so glad that it’s receiving all the acclaim and awards recognition, because it absolutely deserves them.

While Sound of Metal might be structured in a predictable way in that it’s about someone who has something happen to them that changes their life, and then they have to grow to accept their new circumstances, it doesn’t play out how you’d expect. It feels real and you are invested with what happens. It’s thoughtful, sensitive, and impactful, never once getting to the point where it feels heavy handed. It’s an insightful look into the experiences of people that we can only imagine ourselves. It focuses on quiet and powerful character interactions and moments over larger dramatic moments. This is only also helped further by the impressive direction from Darius Marder, especially with the incredible use of sound mixing. Then there’s the outstanding acting, Olivia Cooke and Paul Raci giving memorable supporting performances, and Riz Ahmed’s powerfully affecting performance is his career best. Definitely worth checking out as soon as possible if you haven’t already.

My review of Sound of Metal

4. Promising Young Woman

elle-promising-young-woman-1609268794

Promising Young Woman was one of the most talked about movies from 2020, leaving quite an impact on critics and audiences. Stylish, provocative and excellently made, it was one of the past year’s most memorable movies.

The writing is strong, subversive and unpredictable. It is tonally all over the place, jumping between dark drama and thriller to comedy, it’s a movie that’s rather hard to categorise. It is a little more than what I expected it to be, while it is sort of a revenge movie as advertised, it’s also a character study, and the film was surprisingly nuanced. The performances from everyone are all great, but it’s the career best performance from Carey Mulligan that stands out most of all. At the very least, this movie is an excellent showcase for her excellent acting talents. Emerald Fennell’s directorial feature film debut is great, sporting an intoxicating visual style with the cinematography, costumes and production design. Unpredictable, well crafted, shocking and timely, Promising Young Woman is a movie where everyone is going to have a strong opinion on it. If you haven’t already, watch it for yourself.

My review of Promising Young Woman

3. Da 5 Bloods

da-5-bloods-rev[1]

Da 5 Bloods showcases all of Spike Lee’s greatest talents and is amongst his best movies. Ambitious, urgent and impactful, it’s very well crafted and all around incredible.

Da 5 Bloods really is an epic war movie from Spike Lee. It’s very well written with a balanced tone, featuring dark comedy as well as emotional and character driven moments, with multi-dimensional and complex characters. It’s a truly emotional journey that works on so many levels, with so much depth here. There’s some hard-hitting commentary about race in America, PTSD, the ramifications of war and more, and it’s done in an intelligent and relevant way. It’s deeply empathetic, and through and through feels like a passion project. The acting is fantastic from everyone including Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters, the late Chadwick Boseman, and especially Delroy Lindo. On a technical level it’s great, from the stunning cinematography to the well-tuned editing and more. Da 5 Bloods is one of the best films about the Vietnam War, and one of the most powerful war films I’ve seen. I feel like it’s been forgotten as more movies came out in 2020 but I really do think it’s one of that year’s best.

My review of Da 5 Bloods

2. Mank

ghows-TX-201209915-b357e706

One of the more divisive awards movies, Mank definitely didn’t work for everyone really, it’s a rather niche movie. It’s not one of David Fincher’s more rewatchable movies by any means. However, I’m one of the few people who loved this film, and I do think it’s great for what it is.

While as it was pitched and seemingly marketed as a movie about the writing of the classic film Citizen Kane, it’s more about the main character of Mank, and the events and people which inspire him to write the movie. It’s a film about Hollywood during the 30s and 40s, the politics at that time and the flaws of the Hollywood system. While it took me a while to figure out what the movie is about, I thought it succeeded in just about every single way imaginable. The whole cast is great, with the likes of Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried and Lilly Collins delivering some great works, with Oldman particularly giving the best performance I’ve seen from him. It’s also perfect on a technical level, David Fincher directs this excellently. There’s a lot of attention to detail to recreate the look of film in the 40s with the black and white, film grain, and sound mixing, and there’s tributes to Citizen Kane as to be expected. While it could easily be seen as just another typical Hollywood biopic, Mank really does feel like there’s passion behind it. As I said earlier, it is one of the more divisive movies from 2020 and very much isn’t for everyone. But I do think that it is worth a watch.

My review of Mank

1. Tenet

9fa8d592-66e5-4108-8d08-bd4c75e8930a

Tenet was one of my all time most anticipated movies of 2020, Christopher Nolan’s name already sold me on it and the film itself looked spectacular from the trailers. I managed to watch Tenet in cinemas twice, and I loved it. While I expected another 2020 movie to come along and take the top spot on this list, nothing really had come close to topping Tenet as my favourite movie of the past year.

Tenet is at its core is a large-scale espionage and spy movie, which just happens to have a sci-fi time aspect to it. There are plenty of twists and turns, and the story itself could be complex and challenging. While it’s confusing on a first viewing, on repeat viewings it makes so much more sense, and you can see how well put together it is. Even if you can find issues in the movie like how some of the characterisations aren’t as strong as they could be, it’s nonetheless one rollercoaster of a ride. It’s ambitious, thrilling and such a fantastic experience from beginning to end. The cast including John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, and Kenenth Branagh all perform their parts greatly. However of course much of the film’s success comes down to the direction from Christopher Nolan, on a technical level it is pretty much perfect. It’s very well shot and has some incredible action sequences, in fact I’d say that this movie has some of the best action that Nolan has done. From the opening opera house sequence to the climactic action scene, it’s exhilarating and overwhelming. The practical effects and sound design are outstanding too, and that’s even before you get to Ludwig Goransson’s excellent score, which fits the rest of the movie perfectly. It’s one of my favourite Christopher Nolan movies, it’s among my very long list of favourite movies, and it’s my favourite film of 2020.

My review of Tenet

What are you favourite movies from 2020?

Top 40 Anticipated Movies of 2021

Top-Anticipated-Movies-of-2021

2020 was a weird year for film, mostly because much of the movies with release dates set for that year were pushed back through to 2021. In fact, a great number of the movies I had on my anticipated movies of 2020 list were pushed back at least a year.

2021 will very likely have the same issue with pushbacks, a number of these movies probably won’t come out this year. In any case, there’s a lot of exciting movies set for release in 2021 and I hope they deliver (provided they actually release this year).

40. Black Widow

After Avengers: Endgame, people are starting to drop off out of interest of the MCU, and I’ll admit myself as being one of these people. There have been talks for under a decade of a Black Widow movie ever since her on screen debut in 2010 with Iron Man 2. However, despite appearing frequently in the MCU movies, she’s never gotten her movie, until now that is.

A film about Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) in her quests between the films Civil War and Infinity War.

There’s an undercurrent of feeling that this movie feels years too late, and it’s particularly frustrating that it takes place after Captain America: Civil War, because this just means that it should’ve been made 3/4 years ago (however I suppose it’s better than being yet another origin story). What makes matters worse is the fact that Black Widow in the MCU is now dead, so it almost feels in vain. The trailers look pretty good, rather standard Marvel movie stuff, but has enough intriguing bits to make me interested. I generally like Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in the movies, but I really do feel like she hadn’t been used to her fullest potential in her previous appearances. While I still don’t feel like the character would be used to her fullest potential here, at least this time she’ll be front and center, and not just a co-lead at most. Additionally, Black Widow has a solid supporting cast with Florence Pugh, David Harbour, Rachel Weisz and Ray Winstone. I don’t necessarily know if it’ll be much better than the standard MCU level quality (the trailer certainly makes it look like it’s not much more than that), I can’t deny that I’ll watch it day one.

39. Untitled Spider-Man 3

Even though I liked the first two movies, my anticipation for the third Spider-Man movie in the MCU is relatively above average. With that said, some of the details about it that have been released recently, does have me somewhat interested.

While no plot details have been revealed, it will no doubt follow up on the ending of the last Spider-Man movie, in which Spider-Man’s identity is revealed and he is framed for murder. While it is building off from a cliffhanger, I’m not sure how much the third movie will actually pay off on that. You’ve got the actors from the previous Spider-Man returning with Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, and Marisa Tomei. What really has me interested however are some of the other confirmed casting. First there’s Benedict Cumberbatch who’ll return as Doctor Strange, and his involvement opens many possibilities as to what is going to happen in this movie. And then there’s the announced casting of Jamie Foxx as Electro (who played the role in The Amazing Spider-Man 2) and, Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus (who played the role in Spider-Man 2). With them, and possibly even more actors from the past versions of Spider-Man, things are seemingly leading towards a live action version of the Spider-Verse. I feel like it’ll either succeed really well, or be quite a mess, hopefully it’ll be the former. Either way, I’m at least interested.

38. The Suicide Squad

suicide-squad-2-full-cast-roster-dceu

The Suicide Squad is a follow up to 2016 Suicide Squad, though it does seem to be more of a soft reboot than an actual sequel. There are parts of it that I’m interested in, and there are other parts that I’m not interested in.

Imprisoned convicts from Task Force X are sent on a new, sentence-easing mission to the South American island of Corto Maltese to destroy Jotunheim, a Nazi-era prison and laboratory which held political prisoners and conducted experimentations.

Reprising their roles from the previous Suicide Squad are Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, and Viola Davis. They were quite good in that first movie, I hope they also get a lot to do in this coming movie too. Additionally, there’s quite a number of great additions to the cast with Idris Elba, John Cena, Peter Capaldi, Sylvester Stallone, Pete Davidson, David Dastmalchian, Michael Rooker, Taika Waititi, and Nathan Fillion. One of the biggest selling points is James Gunn, mostly known for his recent work with the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, who’ll be the writer and director of the movie. His involvement is a good thing and a bad thing at the same time. From the glimpses of behind the scenes and released footage, there are some parts of the looks that I like, and there are other parts I don’t like. The plot itself is a little more fitting for these characters, as at least from the initial description it doesn’t appear to have a world ending plot, which was a problem with the 2016 Suicide Squad. I also like how it is embracing an R rating fully, which will make sure it differentiates itself from the Gunn’s other comic book movies. I do like the GOTG movies but I’m not a massive fan of them or the style, so I’m only really mildly interested in the movie as opposed to highly anticipating it. I am rather mixed on some of what’s here, but I am interested enough to check it out in cinemas.

37. Prisoners of the Ghostland

Prisoners-of-the-Ghostland-1-1

I know of Prisoners of the Ghostland as being a movie with Nicolas Cage, and from the premise and some of the things I’ve heard of it, it has me quite interested.

A notorious criminal, Hero (Nicolas Cage), is sent to rescue the governor’s daughter, who has disappeared into a dark supernatural universe. To escape the nightmare world, Hero must break the evil curse controlling the mysterious Ghostland.

The cast list includes Nicolas Cage, Sofia Boutella, and Ed Skrein, which is a pretty good lineup. I’ve not really seen any of director’s Sion Sono’s films, but from what I’ve heard he’s an incredibly unique filmmaker, with a lot of crazy movies. I think there’s something worth noting, and this ultimately is what sold me on the movie so much. Nicolas Cage has said that this is the wildest movie he’s done. Considering all the movies that he made, for him to say that, it’s something. Keeping that in mind as well as the director and the given premise, I think this will be one of the craziest and memorable movies of the year.

36. Sherlock Holmes 3

sherlock-holmes-2009-1

The last Sherlock Holmes movie starring Robert Downey Jr. was released back in 2011. Its ending hinted at a coming sequel, but despite it being in development for quite some time, it seemed like it would not happen. However, as it turns out, the third movie is going to happen, with Downey Jr. and Jude Law reprising their roles of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson.

Not much is known about this movie as this time, except the returning leads as well as the director. With the third movie, it will be Dexter Fletcher who directs instead of Guy Ritchie, who made the past two movies. Ritchie’s work in the past movies was very distinct and stylistic, and I’m not sure other directors could really replicate that. With that said, I’ve seen Fletcher’s past movies with Eddie the Eagle and Rocketman, and his work on those have been good. So despite the long wait, I’m very much looking forward to check it out.

35. Occhiali neri

Dario-Asia

I’ve seen two of Dario Argento’s movies, Suspiria and Deep Red, but those two are enough for me to know him as a great director. The last movie he made was Dracula 3D all the way back in 2012, but now he’s making his directorial return with Occhiali neri. This alone has me quite interested in it.

Diana (Stacy Martin), a young woman who lost her sight, finds a guide in a Chinese boy named In. Together they will track down a dangerous killer through the darkness of Italy.

Suspiria and Deep Red are fantastically directed movies, and there’s plenty other of Dario Argento’s work I really want to see. With that said, I’ve not seen Argento’s more recent movies, and his later works with Dracula 3D and the like haven’t received the best critical response. Nonetheless I am curious to see him do another movie. Along with Argento directing, there’s also Stacy Martin in the lead role, Martin has delivered great performances in films like Nymphomaniac and Vox Lux. I’m looking forward to seeing the two working together. Beyond the lead and the director and the premise, there’s not a whole lot of information about the movie, the premise sounds decent enough. It’s enough to make me curious and pay attention to the movie.

34. A Quiet Place Part 2

A Quiet Place was one of the biggest surprises of 2018, a very effective horror movie, and it worked well for what it was. Because it was so successful, a sequel was greenlit with the same crew. While a sequel doesn’t seem necessary, I’m open to seeing what ideas they have in mind for the follow up.

The Abbott family must now face the terrors of the outside world as they fight for survival in silence. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realise that the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats that lurk beyond the sand path.

John Krasinski returns to direct the sequel, which is good because he did a good job with the first movie. Along with the returning main characters with Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe as the family at the centre, you have the additions of Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou, both are very talented actors and I’m looking forward to seeing what they do in this  movie. I don’t think A Quiet Place needed a sequel, it was fine as it is, but I’m hoping Part 2 proves me wrong and does something special.

33. The King’s Man

I’m a big fan of Kingsman: The Secret Service, it was something fresh and entertaining. I even liked The Golden Circle, even though it has its issues and wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be. Now director Matthew Vaughn isn’t going straight into the third movie in that series, but instead directing a prequel about how the Kingsman came to be, and that’s actually something I’m willing to see.

As a collection of history’s worst tyrants and criminal masterminds gather to plot a war to wipe out millions, one man (Ralph Fiennes) and his protégé (Harris Dickinson) must race against time to stop them.

After some mixed reactions to The Golden Circle (even from those who liked the first movie), the idea of making a prequel was probably the best next move for the series. It’s definitely embracing the time period and seems different from the first two movies, yet you can clearly tell that it’s a Kingsman movie, and that it’s directed by Matthew Vaughn. The cast is large and great, with Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arteton, Rhys Ifans, Matthew Goode, Tom Hollander, Daniel Bruhl, Djimon Hounsou, Charles Dance, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Stanley Tucci involved. I am actually more confident in this movie than The Golden Circle, and I’d be surprised if it didn’t end up being fun at the very least.

32. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Nicolas-Cage-Pedro-Pascal-filming-of-The-Unbearable-Weight-of-Massive-Talent-37

This is one of the most meta movies ever, if the prospect of Nicolas Cage playing himself in a movie sounds just as appealing to you as it does to me, this should be on your anticipated list too.

A cash-strapped Nicolas Cage (Nicolas Cage) agrees to make a paid appearance at a billionaire super fan’s birthday party, but is really an informant for the CIA since the billionaire fan is a drug kingpin and gets cast in a Tarantino movie.

I think it’s pretty clear why I’m interested in this movie so much. Nicolas Cage is straight up playing a version of Nicolas Cage with his own name attached to the character. Cage (the real life Cage) has made a very insane and impressive legacy and career for himself, and the movie seems to be a homage to his very colourful history. It will also no doubt present him plenty of opportunities for him to really let loose (as he’s known for doing). Additionally, Pedro Pascal and Neil Patrick Harris are involved with the cast, both of whom I like. Now understand that the whole premise is what has me so looking forward to the movie, I’m not sure if it’s going to be any good or not. The director Tom Gormician has previously directed That Awkward Moment, which I’ve not seen but the reception of that movie seems to be a bit mixed. Whatever the case, I can’t see a situation where I don’t enjoy The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent on any level.

31. After Yang

EOVE0rkX4AEgDRg

Columbus is a great and fantastically made movie that’s definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already. That was the first movie from director Kogonada, and I was interested in seeing what he would next make. His next project happens to be a sci-fi movie, and I’m interested in it from his past work in Columbus alone.

In a world where robotic children are purchased as live-in babysitters, a father and daughter attempt to save the life of their robotic family member, Yang, who has become unresponsive.

Columbus was a visually stunning looking movie, with an incredible atmosphere from beginning to end. While based off the plot summary After Yang is going to be a different kind of movie, I’m interested to see how Kogonada will bring those elements from his first movie here. The cast involved are also good, including Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith, and Haley Lu Richardson being part of it. I’m curious to see how After Yang is.

30. The Power of the Dog

DSC00991-1024x768

I’m mainly interested in The Power of the Dog for the cast and the director. With that and the premise, I think it has some potential.

A pair of brothers who own a large ranch in Montana are pitted against each other when one of them gets married.

I’ve not watched anything from director Jane Campion but I heard that she had made some great work including Top of the Lake and The Piano. Additionally, the cast are good, including Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Thomasin McKenzie, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Adam Beach. I don’t have much more to say about the movie, there’s just a lot of talented people involved that I have to see how it turns out.

29. Don’t Look Up

dont-look-up

I’ve generally liked the movies of Adam McKay’s that I’ve seen, but it’s his more recent films with the turn towards drama that captured my attention really, with one movie being about the financial crisis of 2007-2008, and the other being a biopic of Dick Cheney. He has a new movie coming out, and I’m actually looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

A pair of astronomers try to warn everyone on Earth that a giant meteorite will destroy the planet in six months.

First of all, the cast is absurdly large, it’s kind of ridiculous. As of right now, Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Timothee Chalamet, Ariana Grande, Himesh Patel, Kid Cudi, Matthew Perry, Tyler Perry, Ron Perlman and Chris Evans are part of the cast. It really does feel like some of these would have to be cameos or something. Adam McKay writes and directs this, and with it being a political satire disaster film, it seems like it’s right in his wheelhouse. As previously said, I’m a fan of McKay’s more recent work in The Big Short and Vice even though I know a lot of people aren’t really fans of them. Despite Vice being a biopic, it definitely leaned into some political satire in some ways, so it’ll be great to see McKay go all out with that with Don’t Look Up.

28. Pinocchio

main

This is not the only movie from Guillermo del Toro on this list. I don’t think a lot of people are aware of his second 2021 movie from him, that being a Pinocchio movie of all things. Normally I wouldn’t be interested, but his name alone being attached to this project has me intrigued.

A darker version of the classic children’s fairy tale of a wooden puppet that transforms into a real living boy.

To clarify, Guillermo del Toro is co-directing with Mark Gustafson (who’s work I’m not familiar with), but del Toro being attached to it has me very interested. I haven’t seen any version of Pinocchio in movies (unless the one from Shrek counts). From what I understand though, the original story always has been a dark story, but it seems that the movie will be very dark, in the Del Toro way. With the likes of Hellboy movies, Pan’s Labyrinth and more, he’s definitely familiar with the dark fantasy genre. Pinocchio 2021 will also be stop motion animated, so I’m expecting that it will look quite unique and fantastic. There is indeed a voice cast that includes Ewan McGregor, David Bradley, Ron Perlman, Tilda Swinton, Christoph Waltz, Cate Blanchett, Tim Blake Nelson, John Turturro and Burn Gorman. All things considering though, it’s Del Toro directing that has me interested most of all.

27. Bullet Train

5f03a71d84a08c24a23543c2_o_U_v2

With the director and the cast involved, it sounds like Bullet Train could be quite good, and one of the highlight action movies of the year.

Five assassins find themselves on a Japanese bullet train, realizing that their individual assignments are not unrelated to the others.

David Leitch is a pretty good action director, with his work from directing Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2, and Hobbs and Shaw, as well as co-directing John Wick. He’s definitely familiar with the genre, and with this premise I think that there’s a lot of potential. It’s not just that, Bullet Train has one of the best casts of 2021 with Brad Pitt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Joey King, Logan Lerman, Michael Shannon, Zazie Beetz, Lady Gaga, Brian Tyree Henry, Karen Fukuhara and more. Plotwise I’m not really sure what to expect, but I think we are going to get an entertaining and well made action movie.

26. The Last Duel

25281506-0-image-a-38_1582822369375

Despite a lot of his movies being relatively hit or miss, I’m always interested to see what movies Ridley Scott is directing. One of his two 2021 movies is a historical drama thriller set in medieval times, which Scott is definitely familiar with. With him as director, and a great cast lined up, The Last Duel has a lot of potential.

In 14th-century France, best friends Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) and Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) are ordered to fight to the death after Carrouges accuses Le Gris of raping his wife.

Ridley Scott as a director has been a little all over the place in recent years, in the past 8 years he directed The Martian, Alien: Covenant and All the Money in the World, but he has also directed Exodus: Gods and Kings and The Counsellor. I have no idea which category The Last Duel will fit into, but I’m sure he’ll direct the movie well enough to make it worth watching at the very least. Then you also have a pretty solid cast with Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer and Ben Affleck. Additionally, along with Nicole Holofcener (who wrote the underrated Can You Ever Forgive Me?) writing the script, Affleck and Damon will be on board writing as well, making this their first writing collaboration since Good Will Hunting. Much of the movie looks great, the one problem is the premise, which is a bit iffy to say the least. To repeat, what causes the titular last duel is one main character raping the other main character’s wife. With the movie essentially having rape as a plot device, I can see how that would turn a lot of people off, even if it’s based on fact. Aside from that, everything else about the movie looks great and has the potential to be something good.

25. Halloween Kills

halloween-kills-excl

I liked 2018’s Halloween, it was a good follow up to the original movie. I also thought it was a good conclusion for the series and characters. Unfortunately, they decided that this movie would be the first in a trilogy, with Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends acting as the second and third movies. Even though they should’ve stopped the series at this point, I can’t deny that I’m at least somewhat interested in seeing what they have in store for the next instalments.

The saga of Michael Myers (Nick Castle) and Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) continues in the next thrilling chapter of the Halloween series.

David Gordon Green did a really good job at directing the last movie, it wasn’t that scary to me, but it was handled so well on the whole, so I’m glad that he’s returning for this movie. Additionally, you have the main cast from the previous movie returning, with Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak and Nick Castle reprising their roles. Despite my disappointment that the last movie didn’t conclude the whole series after all, there is one thing I’m confident about, and that’s the fact that they actually planned out 2 movies, with the last literally being titled Halloween Ends. This means they actually have a plan for the story arc, it’s much more contained, and aren’t going to just release more sequels (until they inevitably reboot yet again in the future). While I can certainly see how things could go wrong, I have enough confidence in the people involved to deliver another solid movie.

24. Spiral: From the Book of Saw

Chris_Rock_Spiral

While I am still catching up on watching all the Saw movies, it seems many of the movies in the series were on repeat, even if they do have a continuing and twisting plot throughout. A lot of elaborative traps, disposable 1-2 dimensional characters, and a whole lot of gore, all are to be expected from each Saw movie. With Spiral: From the Book of Saw however, it seems to be quite different, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

Working in the shadow of an esteemed police veteran (Samuel L. Jackson), brash detective Ezekiel “Zeke” Banks (Chris Rock) and his rookie partner William Schenk (Max Minghella) take charge of a grisly investigation into murders that are eerily reminiscent of the city’s gruesome past. Unwittingly trapped in a deepening mystery, Zeke finds himself at the center of the killer’s morbid game.

For some context, Spiral came about when Chris Rock (who’s a fan of the Saw movies) pitched an idea to Lionsgate. This movie is the outcome of that, with him being an executive producer and story writer. Director Darren Lynn Bousman made Saw 2-4, someone who’s clearly familiar with the series, however from the trailer at least it seems to be quite a different movie. The trailer shows hints of the plot, no hints of Jigsaw, not a big emphasis on traps or gore. It seems more like a murder mystery then… well a Saw movie, and at this point I think that’s a good thing, with it being a refreshing instalment to the long running series. I’m interested in seeing how this movie will tie into the other Saw movies as well.

23. Candyman

m4ZYTv9DHmKENWZGQ2Wxjm

The original Candyman from the early 90s is a horror classic for sure. It did receive a couple of sequels which I hadn’t watched myself, but from what I heard wasn’t quite at the level of the first movie. I am very curious about this new Candyman movie just entitled Candyman, which is meant to be a direct ‘spiritual’ sequel to the first movie. It’s looking pretty great so far.

A “spiritual sequel” to the 1992 horror film ‘Candyman’ that returns to the now-gentrified Chicago neighborhood where the legend began.

Again, the fact that this new Candyman movie will be a spiritual sequel to the original is good, it is at least a step above being a remake. Nonetheless, not sure what the movie will be about just yet. The lead will be played by Yahya Abudul-Mateen II, and we also have Tony Todd returning, and I assume that he’s reprising his role as the Candyman. If he is, then that’s great, because he’s fantastic in that role. The trailer makes the movies look good, especially on a visual level. I’m really interested in checking it out.

22. No Sudden Move

Soderbergh-No-Sudden-Move-Cast

I’ve not seen most of Steven Soderbergh’s movies, but I generally like them, and I’m paying attention to whatever he makes next. His new movie No Sudden Move will indeed be another heist movie, but it’s not Oceans Fourteen, and looks like it will be quite an enjoyable movie.

Set in 1955 in Detroit, No Sudden Move centers on a group of small-time criminals who are hired to steal what they think is a simple document. When their plan goes horribly wrong, their search for who hired them – and for what ultimate purpose – weaves them through all echelons of the race-torn, rapidly changing city.

Steven Soderbergh is a very good director, among the highlights of the work I’ve seen from him include Traffic, Unsane, Side Effects and Contagion. I’ve heard that some of his other work is not great, but the premise of No Sudden Move sounds like something that Soderbergh would excel at. It’s not just that, the ensemble cast that Soderbergh is working with is incredibly impressive. This cast includes Don Cheadle, Benicio del Toro, David Harbour, Ray Liotta, Kieran Culkin, Noah Jupe, Brendan Fraser, Matt Damon, and Julia Fox, that’s an impressive lineup. Them, and the director come together to form a potentially really good movie.

21. Godzilla vs. Kong

GODZILLA vs. KONG

I liked the MonsterVerse movies, with the two recent Godzilla movies and Kong: Skull Island. Now their incarnations of Godzilla and King Kong will be clashing after years of build-up. There are some concerns that I have, but no doubt it’s something that I’m really looking forward to seeing on the big screen.

In a new world where man and monster now coexist, Monarch must lead the way to a prosperous future alongside the Titans, keeping humanity in check. However, rival factions that want to manipulate the Titans for war begin to rise under the guise of a nefarious conspiracy, threatening to wipe out all life on the planet. Meanwhile on Skull Island, strange seismic activity draws the attention of Godzilla and Kong alike.

I’ve seen some of the older King Kong and Godzilla movies (outside of Peter Jackson’s King Kong), including one of the movies where the two have fought each other. I can’t wait to see these modern incarnations of these titans clashing, especially with the fantastic visuals today. In addition to Millie Bobby Brown and Kyle Chandler returning from Godzilla: King of the Monsters, you have Alexander Skarsgard, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Eiza Gonzalez, Jessica Henwick and Demian Bichir being added to the cast list. I’m aware that the human characters aren’t particularly anything special in the MonsterVerse movies, but that’s nonetheless a pretty good cast. This movie is directed by Adam Wingard, who made You’re Next, The Guest, and Death Note (the latter of which wasn’t all that good), and I’m interested in seeing what he has planned for this movie. Despite the concerning amount of delays (even before the covid delay in 2020), I’m sure it will at least be something spectacular to see on the big screen.

20. The Matrix 4

MV5BN2I5NzlmMWYtYjIwYy00Y2ZiLWI0ODgtYjAxNDZiZGJlMjlhXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzk1MDQ2MQ@@._V1_

The Matrix was a massive hit upon its release and made a huge impact on film and pop culture on the whole. It was so successful it received two sequels in 2003 with Reloaded and Revolutions, making a trilogy. There have been talks of a sequel for a while, however it seemed unlikely that it would actually happen. As it turns out, there will be a 4th instalment to the series under a couple of decades since the last entry. While I admit I’m not a massive fan of the trilogy (though I do like them), I am curious to see what will happen next in the story.

As of this time, nothing about The Matrix 4’s story has been revealed, but I am curious about what direction it will go in. Lana Wachowski returns to direct, after co-writing and co-directing the previous Matrix movies with her sister Lilly. I’m glad at least one of the sisters will be directing, I can’t imagine any of the Matrix movies being made by anyone else. Of the cast from the original movies, Keanu Reeves, Carrie Anne-Moss and Jada Pinkett Smith will be returning and will be great to see back (though the lack of Laurence Fishburne is noticeable). Also, newer additions to the cast include Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Neil Patrick Harris, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, all of whom are also really good performers and will no doubt be good additions to the cast. I’m really not sure what to expect from The Matrix 4, but I’m interested in it for sure.

19. Eternals

As I said when talking about Black Widow, I’ve been growing less interested in the MCU. While I’m going to watch all of their upcoming movies, it will take some new places and characters to make me particularly interested in their newer instalments. Thankfully, it looks like The Eternals is going to be one of the MCU movies I’m actively looking forward to.

In a story spanning over 7000 years, the Eternals, an immortal alien race created by the Celestials, protect humanity from their evil counterparts the Deviants.

I don’t really know anything about the Eternals from the comics, what little I know is that they are a powerful race of cosmic beings who’ve been around for millions of years. Most of the MCU protagonists are human, or at least start as such, so to immediately start off and take place in this kind of world, it sounds exciting. You also have a great cast, with the likes of Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek, Barry Keoghan, Gemma Chan and Kit Harington. The director is Chloe Zhao, and while I haven’t seen The Rider, her work on Nomadland is nothing short of spectacular. If she really was given as much creative freedom as she said, then this has the potential to be something incredible. Most MCU movies are decent at least, and I’m sure that the Eternals will be good too, but I also think it has the opportunity to be one of the most unique entries in the series.

18. Soggy Bottom

Soggy_Bottom-607824837-large

Paul Thomas Anderson is a great director, his movies range from being good to absolutely masterful. So, I’m naturally interested in whatever he makes, no matter what the premise is. Not quite sure what to expect from his next movie Soggy Bottom (if PTA is really going to stick with this title), but I know that I’m going to watch it day one.

Paul Thomas Anderson has directed some incredible movies, including There Will Be Blood, Phantom Thread and Magnolia. So we already that it will be very well shot and made, and pretty much perfect on a technical level. There’s also a good cast involved, including Bradley Cooper and Benny Safdie. The lead is even played by the son of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Cooper Hoffman. From early reports, Soggy seems to be about a high school student (played by Cooper Hoffman) who becomes a famous child actor in the 1970s. That idea sounds decent, if a little underwhelming, given that it’s the next movie from PTA. Then again, I remember being particularly uninterested going into his last movie Phantom Thread based off the premise, and it ended up being one of my favourite movies of that year. So I’m open to see how the film turns out when it releases.

17. Those Who Wish Me Dead

those-who-wish-me-dead-angelina-jolie

Taylor Sheridan showed himself to be a good writer, and then director with Wind River, so I’m generally interested in what he does next. His next film certainly sounds like it could be another solid film from Sheridan, and there’s a lot of talented people involved.

A female-driven neo-Western set against a wildfire in the Montana wilderness. A teenage murder witness finds himself pursued by twin assassins in the Montana wilderness with a survival expert (Angelina Jolie) tasked with protecting him — and a forest fire threatening to consume them all.

Again, Taylor Sheridan is a big reason why I’m so interested in this movie. This is not the only neo-Western that Sheridan has written with Hell or High Water and Wind River, the latter of which he directed. He’s great at this sort of sub genre, and so I’m pretty confident that the writing and directing side will be top notch. On top of that it has a talented cast with Angelina Jolie, Nicholas Hoult, Tyler Perry, Jon Bernthal, and Aiden Gillen. My excitement is all just based off the talent involved, and I hope it all pays off well.

16. Gucci

ladygaga-adamdriver-robertdeniro-2000x1270-1

Like what I said with my bit on The Last Duel, I’m always paying attention to what Ridley Scott is making, even if he can be hit or miss with much of his movies. Gucci has a pretty good premise at it is, and if done right could be among Scott’s best recent movies.

The story of how Patrizia Reggian (Lady Gaga)i, the ex-wife of Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), plotted to kill her husband, the grandson of renown fashion designer Guccio Gucci.

I know pretty much nothing about Gucci, however just the premise alone has me quite interested, it could be something quite great. Ridley Scott is a great director, and this is one of his most interesting projects that he’s signed onto, definitely more so than The Last Duel at the very least. Additionally the cast in this is quite talented with Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jeremy Irons and potentially Al Pacino and Jack Huston. The premise and talent involve have me paying attention to this movie.

15. The Lost Daughter

olivia-coleman-jessie-buckley-dakota-johnson-peter-sarsgaard-1280x720

The Lost Daughter will be Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut. That, the premise and the cast involved has me quite interested.

A woman (Olivia Colman), while on a summer holiday, finds herself becoming obsessed with another woman and her daughter, prompting memories of her own early motherhood to come back and unravel her.

The Lost Daughter is based on a book of the same name, which I’m not familiar with. The premise does sound interesting, enough to get me on board with it to watch. Also, I’m interested to see how Gyllenhaal does as a director. Another large reason I’m interested in the movie is the cast, which is massively talented consisting of the likes of Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Dakota Johnson, Peter Sarsgaard, Olivia Jackson-Cohen and Ed Harris. The premise and talent involved alone has me on board to check it out.

14. Don’t Worry Darling

PRC_174585951

Don’t Worry Darling has me mainly interested with the people involved with it, both with the director and actors. Additionally with it being a horror and psychological thriller with a premise with potential, it does interest me quite a bit.

An unhappy housewife (Florence Pugh) in the 1950s is discovering a disturbing truth, while her loving husband (Harry Styles) hides a dark secret.

I will say that I was unfortunately one of the only people who didn’t like Booksmart, but I thought that Olivia Wilde’s direction in it was good, and was looking forward to seeing what she did next. The prospect of her directing a psychological thriller has me very interested in seeing what he does with that. Then there’s the actors involved. First of all you have Florence Pugh and Harry Styles in the lead roles, Pugh has been on fire with plenty of great performances recently, and while I haven’t seen a lot from Styles, his performance in Dunkirk does show him to be a solid actor. The rest of the cast also includes Chris Pine, Gemma Chan, KiKi Layne and Wilde herself, and they’ll no doubt provide a good supporting cast for the movie. There seems to be a lot of secrecy surrounding the movie, and with that and the talent involved, I am very curious about this movie.

13. The French Dispatch

The-French-Dispatch

I had been catching up on Wes Anderson’s whole filmography recently. While I’m not sure I’d call him one of my favourite directors, I really do like his movies and I love The Grand Budapest Hotel. I definitely appreciate him as a filmmaker, and I’ll for sure check out any future movies he puts out. I’m not exactly sure what The French Dispatch is supposed to be at this time, but I’m getting the feeling that it’ll really surprise me.

A love letter to journalists set in an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional 20th-century French city that brings to life a collection of stories published in “The French Dispatch” magazine.

Whether you love, hate or are indifferent to Wes Anderson, you can’t deny that he makes movies like no other director. I’m not really sure what to expect with the given premise but I’m interested to see what he does, especially with his distinct style. As per typical of Anderson, he has a phenomenal cast, and it’s actually overwhelming how large it is. Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Timothee Chalamet, Jeffrey Wright, Benicio del Toro, Lea Seydoux, Tilda Swinton, Saoirse Ronan, Kate Winslet, Elisabeth Moss, Willem Dafoe, Christoph Waltz, Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman are just some of the names involved in the cast of this movie. With that cast and Wes Anderson directing, I’m looking forward to watching The French Dispatch whenever it comes out.

12. Decision to Leave

Park-Chan-Wook-2

While I haven’t watched as many Chan-wook Park as I would like, he’s definitely a great director, whose work I’m interested in checking out. Decision to Leave will be his first movie since The Handmaiden, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he’s doing next.

A detective investigating a man’s death in the mountains meets the dead man’s mysterious wife in the course of his dogged sleuthing.

From what I can tell, Decision to Leave will be a romantic murder mystery, and I’m interested in seeing Chan-wook Park’s take on this. From watching Oldboy, The Handmaiden, Thirst and I’m a Cyborg but That’s Ok, it’s clear that he’s a masterful filmmaker, and his involvement alone has me looking forward to his latest film.

11. Blonde

While biopics can be very typical and usually end up being just a display of some good acting at best (at worst its failed Oscar bait), the upcoming film about Marilyn Monroe sounds like it’ll be very interesting. The talent involved is difficult to ignore, and the story and movie on the whole seems like it’ll be anything but conventional.

A fictionalized take on the life of Marilyn Monroe (Ana de Armas).

Andrew Dominick is quite a talented filmmaker, with Chopper and Killing Them Softly, but of course he’s known for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, which was masterful. For him to take on this story, I’m definitely intrigued. Ana de Armas has been a rising star these past years, with the likes of War Dogs, Blade Runner 2049 and more recently Knives Out. Now she’s in the lead role as Marilyn Monroe, and just from the set pictures, she at least looks the part, and I have no doubt that she’ll also bring it on the acting side too. You also have Adrien Brody, and Bobby Cannavale in supporting roles. A great director and cast could still result in a typical biopic, however, the source material its based off is quite unique. Blonde is based off the historical novel of the same name, and according to the author, it’s a work of fiction that shouldn’t be regarded as a direct biography of Monroe’s life. I haven’t read the book myself, but it does sound like there’s potential there for an interesting movie. Also, according to Dominik (who wrote the script in addition to directing) “the script contains little dialogue and he has described the film as being an avalanche of images and events”. I’m all for unconventional biopics, and Blonde could end up being a complete surprise.

10. The Tragedy of Macbeth

2560

The story of Macbeth has been told so many times, and that also means plenty of adaptations on the big screen. The last major on-screen adaptation I’m aware of was 5 years ago, and so naturally the idea of yet another Macbeth movie sounds rather tired. However, there’s something special with the latest adaptation, that being the involvement of the Coen Brothers (or rather one Coen Brother), that alone has me incredibly looking forward to it.

After being convinced by three witches, a Scottish Lord sets out to become the King of Scotland.

The Tragedy of Macbeth will be the first film directed by just one Coen Brother, in this case Joel Coen. The writing and direction by the Coens are great and truly unique, and the idea of Joel Coen taking on the classic story of Macbeth does interest me quite a bit. Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand will play Macbeth and Lady Macbeth respectively, both of them are powerhouse performers who will no doubt be great in their parts. Brendan Gleeson, Corey Hawkins, Harry Melling and Ralph Ineson are also part of the cast, they are good actors too who will no doubt deliver too. I’m not expecting the story to change that much, but I’m nonetheless interested to see how it is done by Coen.

9. Old

55988195-447d-4e09-a6aa-13bba8c7025c

M. Night Shyamalan’s comeback has been really great to see. After returning to his roots with The Visit, and continuing strong with Split and Glass (the latter two being amongst his best work), it’s pretty clear he’s still got it as a director. Very little is known about his next movie titled Old at this time, but I’m already on board with it.

While we don’t know anything about the plot of Old itself, we do know that it will be a thriller, and that it will be based off a graphic novel named Sandcastle by Pierre Oscar Levy. Apparently “The events are set in motion when a group of people find a dead body on a beach and slowly realize there is something unnatural happening on that beach.” The story has been described as an existential horror story about the inevitability of death, and I’m interested in seeing how Shyamalan handles that. Old however apparently won’t be a straight adaptation, which is why it’s merely inspired by Sandcastle rather than being based on it outright, nonetheless it does have me intrigued. On top of the director and premise, there’s also a great cast in Eliza Scanlen, Rufus Sewell, Thomasin McKenzie, Alex Wolff, Vicky Krieps and Abbey Lee. With all of these factors being considered, I’m really interested in how Old will turn out.

8. Mission Impossible 7

08835682

The Mission Impossible series has been continuously improving with every instalment (with the exception of Mission Impossible 2). Even then, Mission Impossible: Fallout released back in 2018 caught me off guard by how great it was. It was an engaging action movie, with incredibly practical action sequences, for sure one of the best action movies released in recent years. With the same team returning for the 7th instalment, I am looking forward to immensely.

I remember being a little disappointed that Fallout would be directed once again by Christopher McQuarrie after making Rogue Nation, breaking the conventions of a different director for each entry in the series. However after Fallout, I’m on board with him doing plenty more movies in the series. We are already know the stunts are going to be great, with every instalment featuring some particularly impressive practical stunt. Fallout was full of them, and I’m looking forward to the exciting set pieces that the 7th film will have. We’ve also got Mission Impossible cast members returning in Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Vanessa Kirby and Angela Bassett. Additionally there’s Hayley Atwell, Pom Klementieff, Shea Whigham and Esai Morales who have been added to the cast, I’m looking forward to seeing their parts in the story too. It’s really hard to imagine the 7th film topping Fallout, but if it’s anyone where that level at all, I can’t wait for it.

7. Army of the Dead

Zombie movies don’t excite me immensely, there’s only a select number of them that I particularly like a lot. One of those is Zack Snyder’s remake of Dawn of the Dead, and with Army of the Dead he’ll be returning to that genre, and with it being a zombie heist film, I’m really looking forward to seeing what he does with that.

Following a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas, a group of mercenaries takes the ultimate gamble, venturing into the quarantine zone to pull off the greatest heist ever attempted.

Zack Snyder’s debut film Dawn of the Dead really stood out among modern zombie movies and it was mostly to do with his direction. 17 years later, I’m looking forward to seeing what he’ll bring to his next zombie movie. It seems that Netflix are all in with this movie too, given that they have already planned some spin-offs. It was announced that a prequel film and anime television series are in development to expand the franchise. That shows the level of confidence that Netflix have in it, they clearly figured that they have a hit on their hands and that has me even more excited. I’m not expecting it to be groundbreaking, but I get the feeling that it’ll be something fun at the very least.

6. The Green Knight

the-green-knight_a24_july-30-2021_

I’ve liked the movies I’ve seen from director David Lowery, with Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Pete’s Dragon and especially A Ghost Story. So I’m open to seeing any new movies from him, and his latest movie with The Green Knight looks like it could be one of his best movies, certainly one of the most exciting films of 2021.

A fantasy re-telling of the medieval story of Sir Gawain (Dev Patel) and the Green Knight.

David Lowery is a very talented director as shown in his previous movies, so he’s definitely got a good handle of this movie. The Green Knight also has a pretty good cast, with Dev Patel, Barry Keoghan, Ralph Ineson, Alicia Vikander, Kate Dickie, and Sean Harris involved. The story is apparently based of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which is apparently a classic tale, but I’m not familiar with that. I was originally just interested in the movie because of the talent involved. However with the brief trailer that was released, I’m really loving the vibes and look of the movie, and I get the feeling I’m going to love this movie.

5. No Time to Die

PdamFUd547ufrpAGEenRTc

No Time to Die will be the final film with Daniel Craig in the role of James Bond (who is by far my favourite version of the character), so it’s quite a big movie. Add on top of that the talent involved, and it seems like it could be something special.

James Bond (Daniel Craig) has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica. His peace is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) from the CIA turns up asking for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain (Rami Malek) armed with dangerous new technology.

There is a lot of talent involved with this movie. Along with Daniel Craig, you have returning Bond actors with Lea Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Rory Kinnear and even Christoph Waltz reprising their roles from the past movies. The new cast are also good, with Lashana Lynch, Ana de Armas, Billy Magnussen and Rami Malek, the latter of whom will be playing the main villain. However that’s not all that excites me, the director of this is Cary Fukunaga, I have seen his work on Maniac. While I haven’t seen his work on True Detective Season 1, Beasts of No Nation or Jane Eyre, I’m aware that he’s a very talented filmmaker. For him to take on a James Bond film, I can only imagine how incredible it’ll be. The trailer itself certainly indicates that the movie has a lot of promise. I remember having some issues with Spectre, mainly for the mix of old and new Bond. However it seems like No Time to Die has the right level, having the right amount of Bondisms, as well as having a dark, character driven and genuinely great story. From the talent involved to the looks that we had of the movie, it looks great and I can’t wait to see how it turns out, despite all the delays.

4. Last Night in Soho

MV5BYzBlNTk0NjYtNjg3OS00MGQyLWE3Y2QtY2Q2MmQxNzU5ZTIwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjU1NzU3MzE@._V1_

I generally like Edgar Wright, I love his Cornetto trilogy and I liked Scott Pilgrim and Baby Driver a fair bit. However there’s something about the brief descriptions about Last Night in Soho which has me particularly excited for it. From the talent involved and the premise, it looks like it could be something truly special, and potentially Wright’s best film.

A young girl (Thomasin McKenzie), passionate in fashion design, is mysteriously able to enter the 1960s where she encounters her idol, a dazzling wannabe singer (Anya Taylor-Joy). But 1960s London is not what it seems, and time seems to fall apart with shady consequences.

First of all, you have a great cast involved. Anya Taylor-Joy and Thomasin McKenzie are in the lead roles, both of whom are some of the most exciting actors working today, and I can’t wait to see their work here. The supporting cast including Matt Smith, Terrence Stamp and Diana Riggs are also good. Edgar Wright has proven to be a very talented filmmaker, known for his very snappy and sharp style that works well. Last Night in Soho would be something new from him however, a psychological horror, and it’s said to be inspired by other horror films like Don’t Look Now and Repulsion. That excites and intrigues me immensely, and I can’t wait to see it.

3. Nightmare Alley

77f079efa73271a75d6f078312351635

I’m a fan of Guillermo del Toro’s, and naturally I’m interested in whatever he’s working on. His next movie, since the Oscar winning Shape of Water, sounds very intriguing, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he does with this.

An ambitious carny (Cooper) with a talent for manipulating people with a few well-chosen words hooks up with a female psychiatrist (Blanchett) who is even more dangerous than he is.

No trailer or footage has been released so far, but the set pictures and the premise does have me very interested. The cast is great with Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Willem Dafoe, Ron Perlman, Richard Jenkins, Toni Collette and many more, I’m interested to see their work. Guillermo del Toro’s direction is great in all his movies, and while Nightmare Alley won’t be a horror movie, it will be a psychological thriller, and I’m looking forward to his take on that. I’m expecting another great film from Del Toro.

2. Zack Snyder’s Justice League

WrBUobKWKvfrQ6vdN87LmJ

The Justice League movie released back in 2017 was one of the most disappointing movies I’ve ever seen. It’s pretty clear what happened behind the scenes, Joss Whedon took over for Zack Snyder as director and completely changed everything, with bad reshoots and editing. Even before the director’s change though, there was pressure on Snyder from WB to change certain elements. Ever since the movie’s theatrical release, people have been calling for the Snyder Cut to be released. It seemed like it would be one of those things that would never happen beyond a documentary about what could’ve been. However in March it actually was confirmed that it would come, and I am incredibly excited for it.

Following the death of Superman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Batman and Wonder Woman recruit the Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg to form the Justice League and protect the world from Steppenwolf and his army of Parademons, who seek the three Mother Boxes.

It’s known that Zack Snyder’s directors’ cuts are much better than the theatrical cuts. However, this new cut is not just a new cut, but a completely different movie in itself. It’s a large scale epic, with a huge amount of world building, character development and the like. This means that Zack is able to go back and change things to how he wants, and complete his uncompromised vision. This even means being able to revert the villain Steppenwolf’s design back to the original design, changing Superman’s suit to black (like he wanted to), and being able to release not a 3 hour cut, but a 4 hour cut. I can’t wait to see what Snyder has in store for his Justice League.

1. Dune

0520-Dune-Tout-Lede-a

Dune was my most anticipated movie of 2020 and was unfortunately one of the movies that were pushed back. I’m not familiar with the source material, I only know Dune from watching David Lynch’s own attempt at adapting the source material. But from the trailer, combined with the fact that Denis Villeneuve is directing it, I couldn’t be more excited for it.

A mythic and emotionally charged hero’s journey, “Dune” tells the story of Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet’s exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence-a commodity capable of unlocking humanity’s greatest potential-only those who can conquer their fear will survive.

You’ve got a truly excellent cast involved, with the likes of Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Dave Bautista, Stellen Skarsgard, Charlotte Rampling, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, David Dastmalchian and more involved. And let’s not forget that Villeneuve is directing this, he’s one of the best filmmakers working today. He already took on the daunting task of directing a sequel to Blade Runner, one of the most iconic sci-fi movies of all time. Now he is taking on adapting a highly significant and influential sci-fi novel. From the trailer that was released, it looks great and on such a large scale. This movie will cover roughly the first half of the Dune story, which is good as this means that the story gets to be spread across two movies, but will be a problem if this movie doesn’t do well enough to get a follow up. I do sincerely fear that this movie won’t do well with audiences, as most people don’t even know what Dune is. Whatever the case, the prospect of a Denis Villeneuve directed Dune just sounds overwhelmingly amazing, and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us.

What are your most anticipated movies of 2021?

David Fincher Films Ranked

David Fincher Ranked

With Mank out now, I decided to have a look back at director David Fincher’s past movies and rank them.

David Fincher is one of my favourite directors of all time. Fincher is known as being a perfectionist, with his meticulous attention to detail when it comes to the visual style and performances on displays. He has established himself as one of the most distinct, known and revered filmmakers of modern film. Most of his films explore the dark impulses of humanity; things such as jealousy, perversion, and compulsion. They aren’t particularly upbeat by any means, but I love watching them.

I’d consider all of his movies to be really good at worst, and excellent at best. Even the movies lower on this list have a lot of great stuff in it.

11. Panic Room

hq6[2]

Most people would have another Fincher film in the last place, but for this I’ll have Panic Room. A home invasion thriller, while it’s a fairly standard entry in the genre, it is made distinct and unique by how incredibly directed it is.

It’s a pretty familiar and conventional home invasion movie, but the script despite some faults is reasonably strong, and the movie is quite entertaining and tense throughout. The cast are all good in their parts from Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart through to Forrest Whitaker and Jared Leto. However it’s Fincher’s direction which makes it stand out so much. Stylish, dark, claustrophobic and tense, it really locks you into this one house that the movie largely takes place in from beginning to end. There’s not much about the movie that is bad, or anything concrete that firmly places it in the last place in his filmography, it’s just not quite at the level of his other movies.

My review of Panic Room

10. Alien 3: Assembly Cut

Sigourney-Weaver-and-Tom-Woodruff-Jr.-in-Alien-3-1992

Alien 3 is widely known as David Fincher’s worst movie by most, and even he disowned the movie, mainly because it is known as one of the most infamous cases of studio interference in a movie. However, I do like Alien 3 a lot more than most, specifically the Assembly Cut, which has been gaining something of a cult following. It’s definitely flawed but it has some great aspects to it too that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Instead of taking the easy path and following in line with the previous movie in the franchise with Aliens, Alien 3 not only moves closer in line to the original Alien, but it establishes itself as its own movie with its own unique style, and is considerably bleaker and more nihilistic. That naturally alienated some fans but I was on board with the new direction. One of Alien 3’s greatest strengths is that it is directed incredibly well by David Fincher. The creative filming, the stunning cinematography and the horror scenes, his work here was great. Along with some good supporting performances in the cast in Charles Dance and Charles S. Dutton, Sigourney Weaver gives her best performance as Ellen Ripley here. That’s not to say that there aren’t some issues with the movie. The CGI moments of the xenomorph have not aged well, and you can still tell that the movie has been greatly interfered with. Overall though, I thought it was a fitting conclusion to the Ellen Ripley Alien trilogy. If you haven’t already seen Alien 3, watch the Assembly Cut, it’s well worth your time.

My review of Alien 3: Assembly Cut

9. The Game

images-w1400

The Game isn’t one of Fincher’s stronger movies but I’d say that it is one of his more underrated work. Suspenseful, unique and weird, it’s a pretty good thriller overall, even if you have to suspend your disbelief quite a lot.

David Fincher spins an incredibly entertaining and unpredictable thriller, which escalates as the story continues and becomes crazier and crazier. There are twists and turns and keeps you interested right to the very end. Fincher’s direction is great, slick and stylised, with an intoxicating atmosphere through great cinematography and camerawork. While his character wasn’t that interesting of a protagonist, Michael Douglas’s performance made him really work, and he conveyed all the emotion that was required. The third act and the reveal in that final act is for sure far fetched, and it raises a ton of unanswered questions which really hurts the movie. It’s understandable that it’s the biggest criticism for most people, however I went along with it alright. The Game was worth going into not knowing much, it was a nice surprise when I first saw it and I even enjoyed it more on a second viewing.

My review of The Game

8. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

MV5BODY5NjY0NDY4N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTgxMTg3Mw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1490,1000_AL_[1]

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is one of Fincher’s lesser liked movies. It’s one of his most ‘award’s baity’ movies and it doesn’t even seem like one of his movies. It was the last movie I had yet to watch from him and it turned out to be quite great, even if it’s the film in his filmography I’m least likely to revisit.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is David Fincher’s Forrest Gump, a period piece movie following an individual over the course of their unusual and extraordinary life. It just so happens that the individual is an old Brad Pitt aging backwards. I won’t deny that it is a pretty odd movie for Fincher to take on, but I think there’s a lot of merit to it. It’s by far Fincher’s most emotional movie, as it examines life from an unconventional angle. The cast are great with Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton and others giving really solid performances, even if they aren’t the highlight of the movie. It doesn’t look like a Fincher movie, but he nonetheless directs it incredibly well. Beautifully shot and with incredible special effects (particularly to make Brad Pitt able to portray Benjamin Button at different stages of his life), it holds up fairly well today. If you haven’t seen The Curious Case of Benjamin Button already, I do highly recommend watching it and seeing it for yourself. It is emotional yet somewhat uplifting, and well worth your time.

My review of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

7. Mank

ghows-TX-201209915-b357e706

Mank is the latest film from David Fincher, and it just so happens to be his most different and his least accessible movie for audiences, requiring a knowledge or interest in old Hollywood and/or Citizen Kane. It wasn’t quite what I expected really and so far the response from most people has been a bit polarised, but I thought that it turned out to be quite great.

Mank is once again another very well made movie from David Fincher, and while I really wasn’t expecting much from it considering it’s about the writing of Citizen Kane, it surprised me. The movie wasn’t just about Citizen Kane, it was about the life of protagonist Herman J. Mankiewicz and Hollywood in the 30s and 40s, as well as politics at that time, which helped influence some of the elements in Mank’s screenplay for Citizen Kane. It is also one of the most scathing critiques of Hollywood I’ve seen. The script from Fincher’s late father Jack is great, and I was quite intrigued during the movie, at least once I figured out what it was really about. The performances all across the board were fantastic; Gary Oldman gives a career best performance as Mank, Amanda Seyfried is fantastic, Lily Collins is really good, and Charles Dance also really stands out in his limited screentime. The direction from Fincher is also a shining point, much like with Benjamin Button, you wouldn’t recognise that he directed it if you didn’t know that going in. Such great measures are taken to set it and make it look like it is on film, impressive considering that it was filmed on digital. Everything from the black and white cinematography, lighting, editing and the score comes together to form a film that’s just about technically perfect. Even though this is likely one of Fincher’s least rewatchable movies, I still consider it to be quite great, and one of the best films of 2020.

My review of Mank

6. Gone Girl

gone-girl-df-05063_05054_comp5_rgb

On paper, Gone Girl seems very much in Fincher’s wheelhouse and looks like something he could make in his sleep, but what starts out as a pulpy possible murder mystery turns out to be a lot more than just that. Gone Girl is great, and on repeat viewings it’s even better, as you see how incredibly well crafted it is. Among his greatest films

I won’t get too into why this movie is so good because that would involve touching upon some significant spoilers. However I will say that all around this movie is very well made and put together. The script from Gillian Flynn, who adapted her own novel of the same name exceptionally, is fantastic. It subverts the usually straight faced murder mystery and is an effective satire and commentary about marriage and media politics. On first time viewings, it keeps the audience guessing and guessing how it would all end, with plenty of twists, turns and reveals. The performances are all great. Ben Affleck gives a believable and effective performance on his part, and Carrie Coon, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry and more all do great work in the supporting cast. However, it’s Rosamund Pike. who gives a pitch perfect performance as the complex character of Amy Dunne, who stands out among them all, taking this movie to a whole other level. David Fincher’s work as a director is once again amazing. Gone Girl is incredibly well crafted, stunningly shot, and does very well at making you feel uneasy and unsettled, from the editing to the score. One of the more disturbing films in Fincher’s filmography (mostly on a psychological level), Gone Girl is truly great. If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend going into it knowing next to nothing, it’s quite an experience.

My review of Gone Girl

5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

the_girl_with_the_dragon_tattoo-Rooney-Mara

As we all know, David Fincher directs thrillers very well, and so he was the perfect person to direct the American adaptation of hit Swedish book The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I’ve not seen the Swedish movies so I can’t say for certain which I consider better, but I consider the 2011 movie on its own to be fantastic. While it’s generally well received, I actually do love this movie more than most people.

Despite it being an American and Hollywood production, when you imagine an American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, what would initially come to mind certainly isn’t this. It’s committed to being quite bleak and dark mystery thriller, with a long runtime and a complex and incredibly engaging story. The cast all give tremendous performances, Daniel Craig gives an understated and truly effective performance but it’s of course Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander who shines the most, with such a phenomenal presence and being both imposing and empathetic when on screen. Fincher’s direction might actually be the star of the whole film, it’s so well put together, and has this bleak feeling that really works in the film’s favour. It’s edited to perfection, keeping you constantly locked in and goes quite a long way to keep you constantly invested and on board with everything that happens. It’s also a stunning looking movie, it is so atmospheric and understated that the visuals draws you into this world and setting immediately, and the chilling score elevates the tension and fear. It’s a shame that Fincher and co. weren’t able to complete the rest of the trilogy. Some people may consider it one of Fincher’s weaker work, but I consider it to be one of his best.

My review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

These next 4 movies are very close, and I’d say that they are interchangeable.

4. Fight Club

MV5BMjk3NTYyMzc4Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODU3ODMzMw@@._V1_

Fight Club was very controversial and divisive upon its release. However from the point it released on home media, it grew a cult following and now it is widely regarded as an all time classic. Angry, stylised, satirical and entertaining from beginning to end, it’s well deserving of all its acclaim. If you haven’t seen it yet, you really should watch it as soon as you can knowing as little as possible.

Despite all the misinterpretations and some of its bad reputation, Fight Club is unironically an intelligent and well-made movie, it really was ahead of its time, with its commentary about capitalism, mental health and masculinity. It’s highly influential and had a massive impact (for better and ford worse). Also rewatching it recently it was much funnier than I remembered, with pitch black humour injected into the movie throughout. The story and characters are incredibly twisted but had me on board and entertained from beginning to end. Fincher’s direction was great, very stylised, and really puts you in the head of the main character. The cast all do great work, mainly Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter, with the first two giving some of their all time best performances. It used to be my favourite of Fincher’s movies, and it still remains one of his best movies for sure.

My review of Fight Club

3. The Social Network

The Social Network is quite possibly David Fincher’s most acclaimed movie of his entire career. The story of Facebook doesn’t sound interesting on paper, but Fincher, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and co. took this story and made it into a riveting and phenomenal movie, which I would class as a modern classic.

The Social Network is amazing on pretty much every level. Aaron Sorkin’s script and has you kept interested, entertained and invested throughout the whole story. It’s very fast paced, snappy, and the dialogue is perfect, drawing you into absolutely everything that’s happening. The acting all around was great, Jessie Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Rooney Mara, Justin Timberlake and more give incredible performances in their parts. This script is already fantastic, but it’s also paired with David Fincher’s perfect direction, which takes it to another level and puts it on the screen in the best way possible. The scenes are filled with such intensity, style and are very sleek. The whole movie is edited fantastically, there really was no fat left over, and conveys so many information within 2 hours. It cuts between multiple points in time and yet you can follow everything very well. It’s one of those movies that every time I revisit it, I’m blown away at just how amazingly made it was. All around, The Social Network is an incredible movie, and again, is a classic.

My review of The Social Network

2. Se7en

8-Seven-ASC-008

Se7en is David Fincher’s first movie after his difficult experience with making Alien 3, it really showed everyone his strongest talents and that he’s a fantastic director. It’s an incredible well made piece of filmmaking that still holds up 25 years later.

Se7en is one of the best neo noir films for sure. The story is far from predictable, with a well thought out script with plenty of twists and turns that keeps you invested. It’s very intriguing and entertaining as we are looking into this mystery along with the main characters. It takes you to an incredibly impactful memorable finale, and while there’s plenty of jokes surrounding it mainly around a now iconic line, it’s a genuine haunting and affecting ending to an already dark story. The performances are fantastic from everyone especially Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt, who make for a great dynamic. Fincher directed Se7en greatly with such a dark and stunning visual style and effective disturbing imagery that heightened the tension, showing enough to unsettle you but not too much that it feels like it’s trying too hard. Among one of my favourite films of all time and essential viewing for sure.

My review of Se7en

1. Zodiac

1595597368_18-p-zodiak-film-36

Zodiac is David Fincher’s most complex movie to date, an excellently made and intriguing mystery thriller based on true events. With this film, Fincher is at the top of his game, and it is a masterpiece for sure.

Zodiac works excellently on every single level. The script is perfect, it engages the viewer with its great dialogue, and the screenplay is packed with witty dialogue and interesting characters. There was a lot of attention to detail, from the writing to the direction. We are discovering the mystery alongside the main characters, and the time really flies by as you become just as obsessed as they are. It keeps you engaged and interested in every twist and turn, and never loses you. The cast are great, especially the three main leads in Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo. Of course, Fincher directs incredibly well. It’s perfect on a technical level, very well shot and accurately recreates a vision of 1970s’s San Francisco. It may not be as dark as Se7en or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but the fact that Zodiac is based on true story, and a case that wasn’t really solved, makes it even more unsettling and haunting. The moments of tension and suspense were nervewrecking, from the Zodiac killing scenes to the iconic basement scene. Above all else, Zodiac is Fincher’s most complete movie, along with The Social Network. I’ve seen it so many times and like all of Fincher’s films, it gets better with every viewing.

My review of Zodiac

How would you rank David Fincher’s filmography?

Christopher Nolan Films Ranked

Christopher Nolan Ranked

With Christopher Nolan’s latest film Tenet finally out now, it’s time for me to rank all his 11 movies.

Nolan has cemented himself as one of the most distinct and visionary filmmakers of the past couple decades. His filmography ranges from low budget indies to big budget blockbusters, and he’s known for making original, ambitious and challenging movies, with creative and high concepts, while experimenting and testing the limits of what a movie can be. Popular with both audiences and critics, his name practically sells his movies at this point.

It’s incredibly difficult to rank most of his movies. Aside from one movie, his movies range from great to excellent, so some of the movies’ rankings are interchangeable.

11. Following

Following is the first film that Christopher Nolan made, and it’s by far his worst, not that it’s bad by any means however. It’s a straightforward, low budget, black and white neo noir thriller, with some twists and turns, and it’s only about an hour long. It also doesn’t contain a whole lot resembling Nolan’s work outside of some twists in the story. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before, and isn’t as intriguing or interesting as you would think given his later movies.

Indeed, you do sort of need to go into it looking at it as a student film, and as that it actually does work. From that angle, Christopher Nolan directed Following really well, the black and white and 16mm film stock really added to the mystery noir feel throughout, and the plot was interesting enough to keep your interest right to the very end. It’s quite an effective debut for a first time director, and I’m glad that I saw it. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to everyone, but for those who are fans of Nolan, I’d highly recommend checking it out, even to see how far he’s come as a filmmaker since 1997.

My review of Following

10. Insomnia

insomnia[1]

It really says a lot about Christopher Nolan that Insomnia is his worst movie (excluding Following of course), most directors would dream to have their worst movie be the level of this one. Sure, it’s nothing special, and Nolan has made way more impressive films, but as a crime thriller and murder mystery, it really works well.

Insomnia is a pretty standard crime thriller and doesn’t do too much that’s unexpected, but you’re engaged throughout. As the movie goes on you found out that it’s a character study to a degree that only appears as just a murder mystery. Christopher Nolan’s direction was good as expected, it’s not as stylish or overtly impressive as say Inception or Interstellar, but he captured the isolated and haunting environment effectively, and the atmospheric and psychological elements are handled well. Performances were also great, with Al Pacino as a morally grey and conflicted anti hero, and Robin Williams in a rare villain role as the killer, the two of them are impressive on their own and particularly shine when they are on screen together. Insomnia is definitely worth seeking out if you haven’t seen it already, one of Nolan’s more underrated movies.

My review of Insomnia

9. Batman Begins

Batman-Begins-christian-bale[1]

Batman Begins brought back Batman to the big screen after the last attempt at a Batman film (Batman and Robin), and it was a very fresh take that added a lot of well needed energy to the character. It had a more dark and gritty take on the character, and on the whole it was incredibly well made. With a compelling and entertaining take, Batman Begins succeeds incredibly well, and Nolan was the perfect person to helm this movie, and it made him a household name.

Batman Begins seemed to make the idea of a billionaire dressing up like a bat to fight crime actually work in a serious way. It’s an origin story, and while it doesn’t really break the mold or anything, it’s all set up really well, and I love the choices that Christopher Nolan made to create his version of Batman’s universe. While it does follow the template for superhero origin stories, it’s deeper and more thematically complex than you’d initially expect it to. The cast from Gary Oldman, Michael Caine all the way to Liam Neeson play their parts very well, and Christian Bale absolutely works in his part as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Although I like most consider The Dark Knight to be the best of Nolan’s Batman movies, there are parts of Batman Begins which do stand out among the trilogy. The biggest example of this is Gotham itself, in The Dark Knight it felt like Chicago and in The Dark Knight Rises it felt like New York City, but in Batman Begins it really felt like a realistic Gotham City that felt like no other city, and stood out quite a bit. Now the third act does fall into typical climaxes that you’d expect from some comic book movies, and some of the aspects of the action aren’t quite as polished as the two sequels, even though they are still entertaining. On the whole though, it’s still a really good comic book movie, and gets better the more I watch it.

My review of Batman Begins

8. The Dark Knight Rises

bane_batman_dark_knight_rises[1]

It was honestly hard choosing between this and Batman Begins for which non Dark Knight movie in the trilogy should be higher on the list. The Dark Knight Rises edges it out just a little bit, it is by far the most divisive movie in the series, but I truly love it, and it really gets better with every subsequent viewing.

After The Dark Knight, a sequel just seemed like it would be too hard and overwhelming, especially with all the success and acclaim that the movie received. With the follow up, they don’t copy the previous movie, and instead they go in a completely different direction. First of all, it is sombre in tone right from the beginning, and is an emotionally charged epic of a movie. It is a slower paced and contemplative movie compared to the other movies in the trilogy. It is also more of a Bruce Wayne movie, he doesn’t even wear the Batman costume all that often, and the story is great, suspenseful and truly compelling. At the same time it is an epic conclusion with some impressive action set pieces. It’s a spectacle for sure, especially at the end. The cast all performed very well as expected, Christian Bale gives his best performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman in the whole trilogy, and the rest of the cast with the likes of Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and others as usual perform exceptionally. The new additions to the cast were also great, especially Anne Hathaway as Catwoman and Tom Hardy as Bane. The latter of whom had a daunting task of following up on Heath Ledger’s Joker, but he really proved to be a memorable antagonist and a threatening presence, and at this point is almost as iconic. Honestly the only problems I had with the movie is that occasionally the stuntwork in the action scenes doesn’t always work. All in all, The Dark Knight Rises was an emotionally satisfying and great conclusion to the trilogy, and a great movie in itself.

My review of The Dark Knight Rises

7. Dunkirk

g0AwQEULCLQGQQ7ni2t_ilEv69ZBoBNQ7W3iRNlHD3Q[1]

Dunkirk was a masterpiece in visual storytelling, and one of Christopher Nolan’s most distinct movies in his filmography. A tense war movie taking place from three different perspectives, it is a pure cinematic experience that is exhilarating even upon repeat viewings.

As expected, Christopher Nolan’s direction is outstanding and is the main standout from the movie. It feels incredibly real, and Nolan’s use of practical effects played a large part in that. It is incredibly tense and suspenseful from beginning to end, and it is exhilarating and epic. Dunkirk is pretty much perfect on a technical level. The cinematography is outstanding, the editing is tight and Hans Zimmer’s score is outstanding, really raising the tension and immersing you even more into the movie. It’s not an R rated movie but it really conveys the horrors of war more than effectively. While the characters aren’t anything special and don’t really have much to them, it’s very clear that Dunkirk isn’t supposed to be a character driven movie. Not to mention that despite that, the cast are quite good, with the likes of Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh giving effective performances. Dunkirk is yet another excellent film from Nolan, and for sure ranks amongst the best movies from the war film genre, especially in recent years.

My review of Dunkirk

6. Memento

MEMENTO, Guy Pearce, 2000

Christopher Nolan’s second feature film Memento was the movie that really showed him off to be a talent to be watched. A film that famously plays its scenes in reverse order could’ve easily fallen into just being a gimmick movie, but by the end it’s clear that it is so cleverly put together, and on the whole is an outstanding film.

This neo-noir has a very intimate and engaging story, the script is probably its strongest aspect. On the first viewing you are really trying to piece everything together before it all comes together at the end, and it’s pretty intriguing. And of course, it is even better on a second viewing when you know what’s going on, and you can really see that Nolan has put together the story excellently. Although there may be some versions of the movie placing all the scenes in chronological order, it’s pretty clear it wouldn’t work nearly as well compared to the film as it currently is. Nolan’s direction ties everything together, making it a mix between a mind-bending psychological thriller and gritty revenge flick. The acting was also great all around, especially Guy Pearce in the lead role, giving a layered and great performance. Memento is a fantastic movie, impressive on all fronts and definitely a film that is worth watching multiple times.

My review of Memento

5. The Prestige

edf272d36446daf1885b4b6ba81920ecf57e1fcff50ef5c673be21ab4b9be3eb[1]

I’m not sure where The Prestige ranks for most people in Nolan’s filmography, but is really great. A highly original movie about magicians, it is engaging to watch from beginning to end, and even better on repeat viewings.

A movie about a rivalry between two magicians could’ve been silly (it certainly sounds silly on paper), but Nolan really pulled it off. I really liked it the first time I saw it, but a second viewing only made me realise how exceptionally well made it was. The story and ideas I appreciated a lot more, and this made it shoot up higher on my list of favourite Nolan movies. There are so many twists and turns, and it’s intelligently written and complex. There are multiple layers to the movie that you begin to notice long after watching the movie. It’s directed masterfully too, as expected from Christopher Nolan, the visuals are outstanding and I really liked the portrayal of ‘magic’. Performances were really great, especially those from Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, some of their most underrated work. If you’ve only seen The Prestige once, I implore you to see it again, it’s a completely different experience.

My review of The Prestige

4. Tenet

rev-1-MGR-09452-MSG_High_Res_JPEG

Christopher Nolan’s latest film manages to position itself into the top 5 of this list.  While I do need to watch it again for sure, I do feel fairly confident in it being at least number 4 or 5 slots. Tenet is another engaging and spectacular movie from Nolan, it was an incredible experience for sure, and I can’t wait to see it again.

Nolan spins a creative and twisty story that is his most complex, which is saying a lot. A time inversion espionage thriller, it’s his most ambitious film for sure, with so many big ideas and things happening. However he pulled it off. It’s entertaining to watch too, it’s an absolutely riveting movie, with barely a chance to breathe across its 2 hours and 30 minute runtime. It’s directed incredibly well as to be expected, so excellently put together. There are some spectacular set pieces too, and possibly some of the best action that Christopher Nolan has ever directed. All of this is accompanied by a flat out perfect score from Ludwig Goransson. The cast all brought their A game, especially John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki and Kenneth Branagh. As of this time, the only slight issue I had was with the sound mixing drowning out some important dialogue, but on the whole I loved it, and I can only see it getting better upon further viewings.

My review of Tenet

3. Interstellar

Mann_(planet)[1]

This movie definitely divided viewers upon its release, some viewers loved it, some viewers hated it. I personally really liked it when I saw it, however half a decade later with a few more viewings, and I love it now, becoming one of my all time favourite movies.

It really did require multiple viewings to get a firm grasp of what was going on, but once I knew what was happening, I loved it. A large scale and ambitious space epic, yet with an intimate and truly emotional story, it’s truly something special. Nolan’s direction was excellent too as to be expected, his handle of everything was great. On a technical level it’s pretty much perfect, the visuals are outstanding, with amazing cinematography from Hoyte van Hoytema, and Hans Zimmer’s euphoric score here is among his best work. The acting from everyone is commendable, especially from a spectacular Matthew McConaughey. It is also by far the most emotional of Nolan’s movies, I’m not really sure how some people call Nolan’s movies ‘cold’, when Interstellar is literally about the power of love. If there’s any problems I might have, it’s that most of the characters aside from Matthew McConaughey’s weren’t that developed and some of the dialogue can be a little too on the nose and heavy handed with its themes, but that wasn’t a big problem for me. Even though I have some small problems with the movie, I love pretty much every other aspect. All in all, Interstellar is a spectacular experience of a film.

My review of Interstellar

These next two are interchangeable, I went back and forth on these two for a while and now even I’m not certain about my placing of these.

2. The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight

One of the all time best comic book movies ever made and known as among the most acclaimed movies of the 21st century, Christopher Nolan took what he did with Batman Begins and brought it to a new level with the sequel. I’ve seen this countless times, it gets better with every viewing and every time I’m just blown away at how fantastic it is.

Pretty much everything that can be said about The Dark Knight has been said already, it really pushed the envelope on what a comic book movie could be. A bleak crime thriller that takes influence from films like Heat, the script is so perfectly put together and constructed. It’s also a lot more complex than the previous movie, layered with so many themes about chaos, anarchy and morality, and is truly a compelling story with interesting ideas. At the same time, it really works as a Batman movie. Of course, it would be wrong not to mention Heath Ledger’s Joker when talking about this movie, which on top of surprising everyone, was just a genius character and performance in itself. Ledger and Nolan crafted a truly compelling and memorable character that instantly became iconic. As fantastic as the rest of the movie is already, he really makes the film. That’s not to say the rest of the performances from the other cast members weren’t great because they were; the likes of Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, and especially Aaron Eckhart all played their parts well. Nolan’s work behind the camera is also excellent as expected, along with the entertaining set pieces starting off with one of the best opening sequences to a movie ever, it is tightly and efficiently directed. There’s a very good reason why The Dark Knight is known as one of the best comic book movies of all time.

My review of The Dark Knight

1. Inception

Inception-movie-image

It was incredibly difficult picking a number one movie among Nolan’s entire filmography, but in the end I had to go with Inception. Revolutionary, bold, innovative, layered, intelligent and very complex, it’s a very special movie.

Inception has a great cast, everyone fits their characters, from Leonardo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt through to Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy, and they all have great chemistry together. The story is just so great, it is such a high concept story, with some original and thought provoking ideas. All the rules about dreams are clearly written and told, and the exposition is actually handled well and not heavy handed. Inception also has an emotional backbone, especially with regards to main character Cobb (played by DiCaprio), and this character study was quite interesting to watch. It’s also got an entertaining and engaging story, with some twists. But of course it’s Christopher Nolan’s fantastic direction that stands out the most, the effects were ground-breaking and are still impressive to watch to this day, and there are some truly gripping set pieces. It’s tightly edited, absolutely stunning to watch, and Hans Zimmer’s score is iconic and pretty much perfect. This movie is working at such a high level at all fronts, every time I watch it I’m still blown away by it. 10 years later it remains a truly impressive piece of cinema.

My review of Inception

How would you rank Christopher Nolan’s filmography?

Top 30 Best Films of 2019

best movies of 2019

2019 has been a fantastic year for film, whether it be from legendary and acclaimed filmmakers or very promising up and comers, there have been a lot of great movies and I’m now here to acknowledge my 30 favourites of last year.

Now to preface this list, I haven’t gotten around to watching every film single movie from 2019, however I think I watched the movies that would likely end up in my top 30 favourites of the year. As of right now, I’ve seen 94 movies from 2019, and I’m satisfied with the movies that I chose to watch.

Also, if I have made a very positive review of a particular movie from 2019 and it’s not here, it didn’t make the cut, whether it was never in that position to begin with or if my opinion on it significantly dropped between then and now.

Honourable Mentions

While I’m not going to go into too much depth with them, there are some movies that missed out on being in the top 30 which I think deserve being mentioned at least.

  • Dolemite is My Name
  • The Farewell
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Light of My Life
  • Luce
  • Official Secrets
  • The Souvenir
  • Us

 

Without further ado, here’s my full list.

30. Pain and Glory

Pain and Glory is an emotional, and intimate movie that has been growing on me the more I’ve thought about it, and I actually want to watch it again sometime in the future. The first half was decent, with the first act in particular being a little too slow for my liking, and I didn’t really know what the movie was really moving towards. However by the time it gets to the second half, it really picked up and comes together, becoming something great. The story is very self reflective and melancholic, it felt really personal and special. The cast are all good but it’s of course Antonio Banderas who shines the most, a truly emotional performance, played absolutely perfectly. Pedro Almodovar also directed this really well, and he’s definitely a filmmaker whose other work I definitely want to check out now. Pain and Glory is well worth seeing if you haven’t watched it already.

My review of Pain and Glory

29. Avengers Endgame

dab8658631.0[1]

Avengers: Endgame is one of only two comic book movies which will be making an appearance on this list. Even though I was absolutely loving it when I first saw it, it’s pretty clear now that a lot of my hype played a huge part in my enjoyment. No it’s not a 10/10, no I’m not quite sure I’d still go so far as to say it’s one of the best comic book movies of all time, and yes there’s a bunch of issues that I could list. But even after re-watching it, it’s still quite impressive how well they ended this 11 year-long movie arc, I think they mostly pulled it off. Giving this movie a 3 hour long runtime really helped it quite a lot, particularly for the main characters, and it really does feel like an epic conclusion to this storyline. It does get very fan servicey, but with this essentially being a giant conclusion, it’s expected, so that didn’t bother me too much. Endgame is entertaining, and most of the handling of the characters was good. There are some issues I had with the story for sure, from some plot decisions I wasn’t quite a fan of, and moments that could’ve been handled better. However I just can’t deny that I still think this movie is quite good, flaws and all.

My original review of Avengers: Endgame

28. High Life

High Life is… a very weird movie, it’s still strange even just thinking back on it, and that makes it a very hard movie to recommend. However it does so many things that I just admire, that I can’t help but put it on this list. There’re so many weird and interesting ideas that this movie has, I didn’t fully grasp a lot of what the movie was trying to say, but I was more than willing to be on this bizarre ride. You really felt the runtime with the slow burn pacing throughout, but didn’t take away from my immersion of the movie too much. Claire Denis’s direction is amazing, it’s such a stunning movie, and effectively eerie and full of dread throughout. The cast also all perform well, with Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Mia Goth, and more. While I’m not confident that I can say that I loved High Life, there’s a lot of great things in there, and it made me curious to see Denis’s other movies.

My review of High Life

27. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

As this is a Best Films of the year list, I’ll get this out of the way quickly: yes my love for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood have decreased immensely, and to get an idea of how much, it went from my third favourite to my second least favourite film of Quentin Tarantino. Even though I didn’t feel the magic that I experienced when I first saw it though, that doesn’t mean there’s a lot here that isn’t still great. Tarantino’s love for cinema is on display from to start to finish, and he really put everything together well. His direction is excellent, bringing late 60s Hollywood bacl onto the big screen. His writing is strong, the characters memorable, and the dialogue great as usual. The tribute to Sharon Tate was beautiful, and gave her the happy ending in the movies that she sadly didn’t get in real life. Topping that off is a stellar cast, led by two great leads in Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. Even though I couldn’t really get into the movie on the second viewing, there’s at least a lot in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood that I really admire and worth praising.

My original review of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

26. The Art of Self-Defense

One of the most surprising movies to come from 2019, darkly hilarious, disturbing, and entertaining all at once. The satire and commentary on the likes of toxic and hyper masculinity is for sure ham fisted and over the top, but it works for its intentionally ridiculous style and story. Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots are great in their roles, but it’s Alessandro Nivola who steals the whole movie in one of the best supporting performances of the year. Not many people have seen The Art of Self-Defense yet, so definitely get around to it, particularly if you’re a fan of dark comedy.

My review of The Art of Self-Defense

25. Rocketman

After Bohemian Rhapsody, one could be excused for not expecting much from Rocketman as far as music biopics go, but it actually turned out to be the anthesis of the former. It was basically as perfect as an Elton John biopic as you could possibly get. Sidestepping the typical biopic tropes, it’s unconventional, uncensored and unsensitized, and it really was a fantastical musical, with Elton’s music used excellently throughout the film. At the centre of it all is Taron Egerton, who completely embodies Elton John, not just with the singing and performing, but also with the spirit and character of the music icon. Rocketman was visually stunning and entertaining throughout, one of the stand out cinematic experiences I had from the past year.

My review of Rocketman

24. Motherless Brooklyn

0689460985703[1]

Before watching Motherless Brooklyn, I wasn’t expecting to like it so much despite the talent involved (mostly due to the initial reactions), but I was actually surprised by it. The script may be a bit bloated and messy in parts, and it could get a little side-tracked at points, but on the whole, I was really into this movie. It’s a very solid neo-noir, with an intriguing central mystery that I was invested in throughout. Edward Norton’s direction embraced all the noire elements, and while for some that might be a little overbearing and trying way too hard, it personally got me more into the atmosphere and the overall story. Making the movie even better was the great cast with the likes of Norton, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alec Baldwin, Willem Dafoe and more, all performing excellently in their roles. I’d say that Motherless Brooklyn it’s worth giving a watch whenever you get the chance to see it.

My review of Motherless Brooklyn

23. Dragged Across Concrete

One of the more controversial movies on this list, S. Craig Zahler’s Dragged Across Concrete is a dark and gritty crime drama that I rather admired. The script creates an effectively unpleasant and bleak world, with deliberately flawed and unlikable characters, and while that will turn plenty of people off, I still liked it for that. It was such a well-crafted and put together movie, with a very effective final act to cap it all off. It’s directed excellently, and the lead performers in Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn play their roles very well. Dragged Across Concrete does have its issues, it is a little too long, and while I think most of the slow burn works for this film, the pacing at certain points is a little too slow for its own good. It’s not for everyone, but I think it’s really good.

My review of Dragged Across Concrete

22. A Hidden Life

A_Hidden_Life_1.0[1]

Terrence Malick’s latest film is amongst his best work in his filmography. Although like with many of his other movies, it felt drawn out at points and indeed it’s a very long film, it didn’t take away too much from how incredibly well made it is. It’s an incredibly breathtaking and stunning film, so amazing to watch. However it’s not just great because Malick directed the movie well, that’s to be expected, the story itself was also good. The more straightforward narrative worked, with an emotional backbone that I don’t even remember seeing in Malick’s other movies, not for a while at least. Add on top of that two very great performances in August Diehl and Valerie Pachner, and you have an all around incredible film.

My review of A Hidden Life

21. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Matthew Rhys (Finalized);Tom Hanks (Finalized)

Mister Rogers (Tom Hanks) meets journalist Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) in TriStar Pictures’ A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD.

What could’ve been just a standard Fred Rogers biopic turned out to be a genuinely heartfelt and touching movie. A story about love and forgiveness that deals with its topics with maturity (much like a Mr Rogers episode), it’s actually quite compelling and can speak to everyone, whether or not you’re familiar with Rogers. Tom Hanks and Matthew Rhys deliver on some great performances, with Hanks completely embodying the character and spirit of Fred Rogers and Rhys also giving a believable and emotional lead performance. Marielle Heller also directs it quite well, with some particular creative choices that help this movie stand out as being more than just a run of the mill biopic. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a lot more than it initially appears to be, definitely a movie that everyone should see.

My review of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

20. Ford v Ferrari

It’s a real credit to James Mangold that he managed to make a movie about racing to be entertaining and endearing to all, even those who weren’t interested in the subject matter. It may at first seem like a conventional sporting biopic, but it managed to have you engaged in the story and characters, and isn’t only just built on the racing scenes, even though those are great too. The cast all work together, with Christian Bale giving particularly fantastic performance. It’s directed by Mangold immensely well, with the racing scenes being particularly tense, gripping and really well filmed. If you haven’t seen Ford v Ferrari because you don’t think you’d be into it, don’t let that stop you from checking it out, give it a chance.

My review of Ford v Ferrari

19. John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum

John Wick Chapter 3 is at least on the level of its predecessor, a fast paced action flick that’s entertaining from start to finish. The world and lore of the John Wick series is expanded further, and there’s a sense of urgency throughout as Wick is constantly on the run, not giving him or the audience too much time to breathe. The action is as usual filmed fantastically, with multiple exciting and entertaining setups and scenarios. Keanu Reeves as usual shines in the best role of his career, great on an action level as well as a performance level. As far as criticisms go, I guess at times the action can get overwhelming and borderline tiresome at points, however I see that not becoming too much of a problem on repeat viewings. I can’t wait to see the John Wick series progress even further, these three movies are already one of the best action trilogies of all time.

My review of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

18. 1917

MV5BY2ZhMjI5MWEtOTVkYi00MjU1LWExOTgtYzIzZWY1YzQyZDM0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjg2NjQwMDQ@._V1_SY1000_CR0015001000_AL_[1]

Much has already been said about Sam Mendes’s war movie, and I’d say that it generally deserves a lot of its wide praise. On a technical level it is masterful, the method of shooting the movie to look like it was filmed in one shot paid off and wasn’t used as just a gimmick, it immerses you and puts you through the horrors of war that its main characters are experiencing too. Even though its lacking on a story and characterisation front, George MacKay’s lead performance manages to make up for a lot of that, and the payoff at the end is genuinely fantastic. While time will tell whether the movie will hold up past this year, it’s still a technical achievement on a massive level.

My review of 1917

17. The Last Black Man in San Francisco

the_last_black_man_in_san_francisco_still[1]

The Last Black Man in San Francisco unfortunately didn’t get quite the amount of attention that it deserved. It’s a personal, affecting and melancholic story, that’s greatly written and felt very real. While its plot wasn’t driven by anything and it meanders a little, I was invested throughout it’s runtime. The two main performances from Jimmie Fails and Jonathan Majors were great, some of the most believable on screen friend chemistry I’ve seen in a while in a movie. On top of all that it was directed incredibly (in an amazing debut from Joe Talbot), particularly featuring some of the best cinematography and music in a 2019 film. Definitely watch this whenever you get the chance to, it needs a lot more love and attention.

My review of The Last Black Man in San Francisco

16. Joker

Joker has caused quite the stir upon its release, not only from people believing that it would spark real life violence (it really just made some people dress up as clowns and dance down some stairs), but also from people who really hated on the movie itself. While I don’t love it as much as when I first saw it in cinemas, I still think it’s great. Joker is very different for a comic book movie, a dark and grounded character study that’s reminiscent of movies from the 80s from the likes of filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese. It seems like this movie was a bit of an experiment to try something new within this genre, and it seemed to have paid off quite well. That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of movies that handle its topics and themes in more depth, however for a comic book movie to go there and actually try to say something, that’s still a step forward for the genre. Writer and director Todd Phillips has done a lot better with this than I thought he would, not that I disliked the couple of movies I’ve seen from him already, but he really impressed here with his work on Joker. It completely sets you in this dark and grimy version of 80s Gotham City, with stunning cinematography and an eerie and excellent score throughout. However at the centre of it all is Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck/Joker, who’s excellent, thankfully so since this movie relies on him so much. Phoenix really show’s Arthur’s descent into becoming the Joker, and it’s really a performance like you haven’t seen him give before. While I’m not quite sure I’d say that it’s his best performance, at the very least it’s one of his best. One could say that this movie could’ve done without being associated with a comic book character such as Joker, and that’s true, I still like what they did here. While the similarities between this movie and classics like Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy don’t bother me too much, it would’ve been better if it was able to be a little more different. On the whole though, I still think that Joker is a very solid movie.

My review of Joker

15. Dark Waters

Dark-Waters-Todd-Haynes-and-Ed-Lachmans-masterful-nightmare[1]

Mark Ruffalo stars as “Robert Bilott” in director Todd Haynes’ DARK WATERS, a Focus Features release. Credit : Mary Cybulski / Focus Features

Dark Waters wasn’t a movie I was expecting much from, but it actually turned out to be pretty great. While it is a pretty familiar and conventional legal drama, it’s nonetheless very good for what it is. Once the lead character is engaged with the lawsuit at the centre of the movie, you’re locked in too, all the way through to the end. This story and topic are very important and relevant, making it worth seeing, but it’s also handled very well as a movie in itself. The acting was also great, with Mark Ruffalo being particularly strong in the lead role. Engaging, important, and well made all round, Dark Waters is definitely worth your time.

My review of Dark Waters

14. Glass

Despite Unbreakable’s now cult following and Split’s generally positive reception, people seem a little divided about Glass. I was one of the few people who loved the movie from when I first saw it, and I still really like it today. Sure it has its typical M. Night Shyamalan-isms, mainly with the writing and especially some of the dialogue where it just feels very unnatural. However, I thought the movie was handled well on the whole, and I was generally fine with the direction it went in with the story. Some people were expecting a much larger scale movie with a big conclusion to this story, but I loved that Shyamalan still kept it as a smaller movie at its core. The performances are all great, from Bruce Willis, Samuel. Jackson, Sarah Paulson, to Anya Taylor-Joy and more. However it is James McAvoy who shined the most, managing to top his performance in Split, he’s truly spectacular. Glass ranks among M. Night Shyamalan’s best films.

My review of Glass

13. Uncut Gems

uncutgems2.0[1]

The Safdie Brothers have created another effective thriller with Uncut Gems. It’s full of energy from start to finish, and the tension escalates further as the lead character Howard Ratner just keeps making bad decisions, landing him into more threatening situations. On a technical level it’s also great, with the Safdies managing to top their work on Good Time on a directing level. The acting from everyone is really good but it’s of course Adam Sandler who really stands out in a career best performance, as a character that only an actor like him would be able to make him bearable and somewhat likable. I think I’ll have to watch this movie again, and it has a second act that slows its pace down a little too much, but on the whole Uncut Gems is great.

My review of Uncut Gems

12. Honey Boy

Honey-Boy-LaBeouf[1]

Honey Boy is an incredibly raw and personal film, and really a standout from 2019. Shia LaBeouf’s very vulnerable and therapeutic script just worked perfectly, and it’s an intimate and affecting story. Alma Har’el’s debut immediately shows her as a director to pay attention to, beautifully dreamlike, even in contrast with many of the harrowing scenes. It also features 3 excellent performances in Noah Jupe, Lucas Hedges, and Shia LaBeouf, with Jupe and LaBeouf’s particularly delivering some of the most emotionally performed scenes from 2019. I do think that it really needed to be a little longer to flesh out certain aspects, especially for the present day storyline, that’s the only thing that I really had a problem with. Outside of that, Honey Boy is fantastically made, heartfelt, and emotional and by the end, cathartic.

My review of Honey Boy

11. Doctor Sleep

A movie based off the sequel to Stephen King’s The Shining doesn’t sound all that great, in fact it sounds like it could be a disaster. But Mike Flanagan and co. have managed to handle this movie significantly well, way better than I thought they would. The recently released 3 hour long director’s cut is even a little better than the theatrical, with some additional scenes fleshing out the movie just a little more. The cast are great, from Ewan McGregor as Danny Torrance, to Kyleigh Curran who holds her own as Abra Stone. But it’s of course Rebecca Ferguson who steals the movie as Rose the Hat, who’ll no doubt go down as one of the most iconic horror movie villains. While Doctor Sleep is a follow up to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and indeed references it many times (mostly in the last act), it manages to stand on its own. Flanagan adds his own unique voice and style to the story, and has delivered on something truly great. It’s captivating, character driven, and really works at bridging the gap between the book and the movie. I think in some years it’ll be regarded as one of the best movies based on Stephen King’s books.

My review of Doctor Sleep

10. Waves

2e13fc2b2394[1]

Waves turned out to be quite the polarising movie amongst audiences. The two part structure (one part chaotic and intense, and the other much more calm and slower), and aspects of the direction which could be sensory overload at times, were things that you either loved or hated, thankfully I gravitated more to the former. It’s an incredibly emotionally powerful movie, featuring some of the most affecting scenes of the year. The performances were excellent too, with the likes of Kelvin Harrison Jr., Taylor Russell, Sterling K. Brown and more delivering on some incredibly acting. Trey Edward Shults’s writing and directing didn’t work for everyone, but I thought that he crafted an impactful, gorgeous and ultimately great film with Waves, and I’m glad to count myself as one of the people who loved it.

My review of Waves

9. Portrait of a Lady on Fire

merlin_165236463_0cf5d864_13ad_46ff_93c4_0f240fe4a1f2_superJumbo.0[1]

I wasn’t sure what to expect Portrait of a Lady on Fire to be, and it was a beautiful and intimate film so excellently put together. The acting from the two leads Noemie Merlant and Adele Haenel were great, their interactions drive the movie and their chemistry was completely believable. Portrait is also one of the best directed movies of 2019, it’s a gorgeous looking movie and handled with such care, perfect on a technical level. It’s a movie I definitely want to revisit in the future, I get the feeling that I haven’t had quite the full experience with that some others had. However, I can tell that it was something really special.

My review of Portrait of a Lady on Fire

8. Marriage Story

marriage-story-1[1]

Noah Baumbach’s empathetic movie about divorce has cemented itself firmly as the best movie about the topic. So much of the film’s success is due to its writing, which was fantastic. While the movie at first looks like another typical movie about divorce, there’s some real honesty behind it all. It’s not just an emotional slog and just people arguing for 2 hours and 15 minutes. Instead we are following the main characters as they go through this process of divorce, filled with light hearted moments, sad moments, painful conflict, and a satisfying yet bittersweet conclusion at the end of it all. There are some parts that aren’t so perfect, it very strongly feels like Charlie’s (Adam Driver) film a lot more than Nicole’s (Scarlett Johansson), and I wasn’t emotionally invested in these story and characters as much as I thought I would be, even though I was engaged with what was going on, but even then the complaints aren’t so huge. The cast are all around great but of course the highlights were Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, who give incredibly performances. They felt so believable and natural, some of the best performances of the year for sure. Definitely check out Marriage Story when you can, it is well worth your attention.

My review of Marriage Story

7. Knives Out

merlin_164868198_872c64c4-866c-471d-a14a-5dd68a278ec6-superJumbo[1]

Knives Out proved to be one of the most entertaining and surprising movies of the year. Rian Johnson’s shown once again that he’s one of the most exciting talents working today. While his direction is superb, it’s his script that particularly shines, smart, subversive, hilarious, and with many twists and turns that keep you entertained throughout. There’s also an ensemble all star cast who perform their roles excellently, with Ana de Armas, Daniel Craig, and Chris Evans really excelling in particular. This is an original whodunit that we don’t get nowadays (at least not one that’s not based on source material), and I hope we get a resurgence of these types of movies. I’m glad to be hearing that there’s plans for sequels following Craig’s Benoit Blanc, because I’m looking forward to seeing what Johnson does next with this genre.

My review of Knives Out

6. Little Women

little-women-sony-pictures-1565716806[1]

I really wasn’t expecting much from Little Women, but I ended up really loving it. A heartfelt and genuine movie about growing up, Greta Gerwig has crafted a modern version of the classic story for today’s audiences to love. What could’ve just been a stale and by the numbers movie, she gave so much heart, personality, life and energy that makes it delightful to watch from start to finish. While I’m aware that some people are mixed on this aspect, I loved the use of the non-linear structure with two different storylines, and the way it cut between the two was fantastic. The ensemble cast were all great as their characters, with Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh particularly standing out. Many people have already started calling this a future classic, and I don’t really disagree with that. I can honestly see myself revisiting this multiple times in the future. The more I think about it, the more I love it.

My review of Little Women

5. Ad Astra

While this movie isn’t really for everyone, certainly a lot slower than most people were expecting, I really loved Ad Astra. Despite being on a such a large scale, it feels incredibly intimate, absolutely a character driven movie throughout. It is indeed a slow movie, but I found myself incredibly wrapped up with the plot over the 2 hour runtime. With themes about masculinity, fathers and sons, and moving on, the story is written and told beautifully by James Gray. His direction is outstanding and presents an immensely stunning and immersive movie, with sequences ranging from absolute beauty and wonder to tense fear and horror. Outside of the direction, this movie is really Brad Pitt’s show, giving one of the best performances of his career, subtle yet beyond emotional and powerful. Haunting and very personal, Ad Astra was truly transcendent, and one of the highlight cinema experiences I’ve had this past year.

My review of Ad Astra

4. The Nightingale

One of the most controversial and divisive movies of the year is also one of my favourites. Jennifer Kent had already impressed me with The Babadook, which I consider one of the best horror movies in recent years, but she is somehow on a whole other level with The Nightingale. Brutal, harrowing, and uncompromising, it is so well put together. Its widely criticised on screen acts of violence are painful to watch, but necessary. Starting off seemingly as a rape revenge movie, this film could’ve easily fallen over to being exploitive or a revenge fantasy. But Kent keeps the focus steady, never glorifying any action taken, while adding the right level of depth and empathy to the story and characters. The acting was fantastic too, with Aisling Franciosi, Baykali Ganabarr, and Sam Claflin giving some of the best performances of the year. Franciosi is particularly outstanding, and if this movie had any awards attention, she would be deservedly one of the frontrunners for Best Actress (she’s my personal pick for that category anyways). The Nightingale isn’t for everyone, and I can’t blame you if you can’t sit through it, it’s personally not one that I’d watch again. However, I can’t deny how much of a powerful impact it had on me, and has still stuck with me ever since I saw it.

My review of The Nightingale

3. The Lighthouse

the-lighthouse-pattinson-defoe[1]

Robert Eggers’s sophomore film is just as fantastic as his debut film The Witch. With a dark atmosphere throughout, it starts off relatively tame, and slowly becomes more unhinged over time, culminating in a effectively unforgettable third act. It’s hard to pin down this movie to being a single genre, it’s original, bizarre, creepy, funny, horrifying, and one of the most memorable movies of the year. Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe gives some of the best performances of their careers (career best in Pattinson’s case), both as two people slowly growing insane together. There’s also glimpses of some interesting depth to this movie, that I’m looking forward to exploring upon some rewatches. With his two movies, Eggers has made himself known as one of the most unique and exciting up and coming filmmakers to really pay attention to, and he’s easily becoming one of my favourites.

My review of The Lighthouse

2. Parasite

Bong Joon-ho’s latest has been receiving acclaim from audiences everywhere and for very good reason. A perfect mix of comedy, thriller, and horror elements, Parasite is one of those movies that’s ‘overwhelming well made’. A Hitchcockian thriller about class divide, capitalism, and the like, Bong has written and directed this so incredibly, and it’s got to be one of the best crafted movies I’ve seen all year. I was already loving it for the first half, but the second half cemented it as not only one of my favourite films of the year, but of the decade. The ensemble cast should also receive plenty of praise for their great performances too, each of them played their roles perfectly. Parasite is one of those movies where not only is the movie itself entertaining, but witnessing the excellent filmmaking was also entertainment. Bong is a master of his craft, and has made something special. If you haven’t seen it yet, go into it knowing as little as possible. To talk in further depth about how great it is would be to ruin the surprise for those who haven’t seen it. I can say that Parasite is truly an extraordinary piece of filmmaking.

My review of Parasite

1. The Irishman

TI_KS_063[1]

Martin Scorsese is very likely my favourite director, and with the cast, the premise, and this film being over a decade in the making, I couldn’t wait to see what he had in store. Even with extremely high expectations, I was truly blown away by what he’s delivered. While Scorsese has made mob movies before, he’s never made one like this. Gone are the excess, thrills, and luxury, and instead we are seeing this storying from the perspective of a dying man with many regrets that he can’t make right. While it starts off like a typical gangster movie, after the first act it turns into something else entirely. It’s written excellently, ranging from being genuinely entertaining and even funny, to sombre, reflective, and melancholic. Scorsese’s skill as a filmmaker are on full display here, over 5 decades of experience have led up to this movie. Don’t let the runtime scare you, this is likely the most invested you’ll be watching a 3.5 hour long movie. Even the daunting task of de-aging the main actors was pulled off mostly successfully (outside of one particular scene with questionable directing choices). The acting is effective too, from the quiet but powerful and dangerous Joe Pesci, to the explosive and wild yet emotional Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa, to then of course Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran the titular character, the latter of whom gives a stoic and subtle, yet greatly heartbreaking performance. The Irishman is one of the best from Martin Scorsese’s career, and it’s potentially his best film yet.

My review of The Irishman

What are your favourite movies of 2019?

Ranking the 2020 Best Picture Nominees

ranking 2020 nominees

This shall be the second year that I’ll be ranking the Best Picture Nominees for the Academy Awards. While I’m not as emotionally invested in Awards Season as a bunch of other people are (way too invested I should add), I’m still nonetheless paying attention to what’s going on with it.

Considering the disappointing awards (even just for the nominations) last year, this year’s line-up is a considerable improvement. I actually managed to predict all the Best Picture nominees correctly, aside from assuming that The Two Popes would somehow get in as well. Usually I can predict that the Best Picture winner will be between two particular frontrunners, but this time it’s between four, and I’m not actually sure which one will win. Predictions aside, looking at my least favourite nominees this year compared to last, you can really see the stark difference in quality. It might not necessarily what I’d pick for the nominees, but it’s mostly a line-up I’m okay with.

So along with ranking the Best Picture nominees, what I’ll be doing is that I’ll talk briefly about my thoughts on each movie, then talk about its awards chances.

9. Jojo Rabbit

Considering last year with Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book, having Jojo Rabbit as my worst of the nominees for Best Picture is a considerable step up. Now I really loved Jojo Rabbit when I first saw it, it was hilarious, well written, and all around very entertaining. Thinking about it more, while I still liked the movie, I realised there wasn’t a whole lot to it at its core. The message against Nazis, hate and fascism is forever timeless and one that I fully support. However, beyond that, it doesn’t really have much to say. For a satire, and one by Taika Waititi, I know it could gone a little further than it actually did. At least the movie is set from a child’s perspective, so there’s some excuse for the simplicity of Jojo Rabbit. Nonetheless, I felt it could’ve said a little more. With that said, what it gets right, it does very well. It’s well written and directed by Waititi, it has some entertaining scenes, and even a couple effective emotional scenes. The cast was also great, with Roman Griffin Davis and Thomasin McKenzie (who really was the standout Supporting Actress performance in this movie) being the highlight performers. Overall a solid movie that could’ve been even better.

Jojo Rabbit isn’t winning Best Picture, this much I can say for sure. It may have received some praise and some awards nominations, but I really don’t see it going further than that. It has much better chance at some of the technical categories like Production/Costume Design.

My review of Jojo Rabbit

8. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

I’m aware how potentially controversial it is that this movie is so low on this ranking, and surprising most of all to me considering how much I loved it when I first saw it. Let’s just say that my opinion on it has been decreasing recently, and I had a rew-atch to see how I would feel about it. Even though I have enough things to say about it to make up another review, I’ll condense it for here. There’s nothing I can really pin down as being actually bad, in fact I could still call this a great movie. Quentin Tarantino’s love for cinema and Hollywood is on full display here as he brings its late 60s era onto the big screen. It’s a great looking movie with some stunningly filmed sequences, and Tarantino as usual writes a good script, especially with the dialogue. While not everyone was a fan of how it was handled, I thought the tribute to Sharon Tate and giving her a happy ending was great. It gave the audience a glimpse of who Tate was, instead of just the perception of “Roman Polanski’s wife who was killed by the Manson family”. What I’ll remember most positively most of all with the movie are Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt in their roles of Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth, which ranks some of their best performances. So you’re probably wondering where the ‘however/but’ comes in after all that high praise. Even though most of the decisions make sense and there’s nothing I inherent had an issue with, I just couldn’t get into it this time. Maybe when I first saw it, it was the anticipation and hype, maybe it was some onscreen cinema magic that really grabbed me. Whatever it was, it wasn’t present for my second viewing, and it just didn’t have the same effect on me. Despite how warm the movie, is especially compared to Tarantino’s other movies, I really lacked a connection to the story and characters, which didn’t help when this was a movie not driven by anything and was 2 hours and 40 minutes long. At a point it became tedious to get through to the end, even if it wasn’t unpleasant to watch. To put it simply, it’s a movie that I admire and appreciate more than I actually love.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is one of the frontrunners for Best Picture, and it could very well get it. Quentin Tarantino hasn’t had one of his movies win the top awards, it’s a leading contender in some other categories (including Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Screenplay) and it’s a movie about Hollywood, so you know it has at least a solid chance. You can probably tell I’m from up above that I’m less than enthused about this idea. While it’s a solid movie and as far as Best Picture winners go it would fit in just fine, it just sounds rather predictable and most of all safe for the Academy to award. I guess I could accept if it won (especially considering last year’s Best Picture winner), but I’d be seeing it more as a career win for Quentin Tarantino more than for the actual movie itself.

My initial review of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

7. Ford v Ferrari

James Mangold’s Ford v Ferrari surprised me in how great it was. For a movie that’s about racing, it could really appeal to anyone who could relate to having a passion for anything. It wasn’t just a movie about cars (even though it was that), it was a drama that most people could really get into, even if some of the structure and certain moments do feel typical of most sport movie biopics. We are following our underdog main characters in Matt Damon and Christian Bale and root for them as they try to achieve the seemingly impossible. When it came to the racing itself, it was engaging, intense and great to watch, with 95% of it practical making the movie even more enjoyable. On top of that it’s further elevated by a solid cast, with Christian Bale particularly giving yet another outstanding performance, and possibly one of his best. While at its core Ford v Ferrari is another racing biopic, Mangold and co. managed to make it a little more than just that.

Honestly, I’m a little surprised Ford v Ferrari actually got into the nominees despite all the praise, when I predicated that it would get nominated, I just throw that in as a guess. With that said, it’s got the same amount of chances as Jojo Rabbit winning Best Picture, in that it’s not going to win. However, it actually has a shot at winning some of the awards in the technical categories that they’ve been nominated for like Best Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and the like. I wouldn’t be surprised if it managed to sneak away with one of those awards, but don’t expect it to be walking away with the top prize come Oscar night.

My review of Ford v Ferrari

6. 1917

MV5BY2ZhMjI5MWEtOTVkYi00MjU1LWExOTgtYzIzZWY1YzQyZDM0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjg2NjQwMDQ@._V1_SY1000_CR0015001000_AL_[1]

Early on, 1917 was quickly written off as ‘just another war movie’, especially after being released a couple years after Christopher Nolan’s World War 2 movie Dunkirk, however it’s a little more than that. A technical achievement, Sam Mendes took on this ambitious task and delivered on some great results. Much has been said about how they made the movie look like it was filmed in one shot and it’s indeed impressive and lives up to all the acclaim. More than a gimmick, it really immerses you in the daunting environments and dire situations that the protagonists are stuck in, never allowing a break at any point. However, 1917 is more than this technique, and I hope people recognise some of the other special choices that were made that make it work so well. I will say that I’m not sure the movie will be quite as impressive once it leaves cinemas, and I don’t know how well it will last. While most of the major cast basically just have notable one scene cameos, the leads with George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman are great, with MacKay particularly shining. What would’ve taken 1917 to the next level is if the handling of the story and characters better. While I’m definitely on board with the protagonists and their goal, I wasn’t as invested in them as I would’ve liked to have been, and so the downtime and characterisation scenes didn’t work quite as well (although MacKay’s performance compensated for at least half of that). With that said, that didn’t stop the movie from having a very effective emotional payoff at the end. Overall, 1917 is an impressive piece of filmmaking from 2019.

1917 is one of the four frontrunners for Best Picture, with the win at the Golden Globes establishing it as a big player. Like Ford v Ferrari, it’s a very technical based movie, and on that side of things it’s very impressive (no idea why it got nominated for Original Screenplay though). While I’ll get to the other two frontrunners later, it seems like this and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood would be one of the ‘safe’ choices for the award, and as that I wouldn’t be so excited if it did win. Not to say that it’s completely undeserved though, story and characters aside, 1917 is a filmmaking achievement, so I guess I’ll be comfortable enough with it winning even if it’s really not at all my first choice for the award.

My review of 1917

5. Joker

49730-JOKER_-_Actor_Joaquin_Phoenix__6___Credit_-_Nico_Tavernise_-1[1]

So, among all the divisiveness surrounding Joker, I’m very much on the side of people who really liked it. It’s generally good throughout and I don’t have many complaints, however the third act is where it all comes together and really becomes great. Joker is very different for a comic book movie, a dark and grounded character study that’s reminiscent of movies from the 80s from the likes of filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese. It seems like this movie was an experiment to try something new within this genre, and it seemed to have paid off quite well. Todd Phillips has done a lot better with this than I thought he would, with the movie completely setting you in this dark and grimy version of 80s Gotham City, with stunning cinematography and an eerie and excellent score throughout. However, at the centre of it all is Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck/Joker, who’s excellent, thankfully so since this movie relies on him so much. While I’m not quite sure I’d say it’s his best performance, at the very least it’s one of his best. One could say that this movie could’ve done without being associated with a comic book character such as Joker, and that’s true, I still like what they did here. While the similarities between this movie and classics like Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy don’t bother me too much, it would’ve been better if it was a little more different. On the whole I still think that Joker is a very solid movie.

It’s no secret that despite all the backlash against this movie, Hollywood clearly loves Joker, with the Academy Awards giving it 11 nominations. It has a good chance at winning some of these, with Best Score having a good chance (alongside Thomas Newman’s score for 1917), and is the frontrunner for Best Actor with Joaquin Phoenix. With that said, they probably aren’t going to give Best Picture to Joker, there are other movies that are way ahead of it, and I haven’t seen it win Best Picture in any other awards shows. One thing for sure though, it would certainly spark quite the divisive reaction if it somehow got it at the end of that night.

My review of Joker

4. Marriage Story

marriage-story-1[1]

Noah Baumbach’s bittersweet yet hopefully story of divorce is incredibly well made. Showing the process of divorce as well as its effect on a family, it’s very well put together. Baumbach has directed it all very well but his writing is what’s particularly incredible, reaching a range of different emotions and most importantly feels genuine and human above all else. The cast were all great, with the leading performances from Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson truly tremendous, and some of the best from this past year. I guess my one gripe is that although I was very much engaged in this story, I was slightly disconnected from the characters, despite how intimate and character driven this movie is. I’m also not sure if it’s a movie that’s going to hold up that well on repeat viewings. With all that being said, from my one viewing of Marriage Story, it ranks among the highlights of movies to come from 2019.

Marriage Story is indeed receiving critical acclaim from pretty much everyone, but it doesn’t seem to be winning many Best Picture awards from many award shows. Even if it wins some of its awards like Adapted Screenplay, it’s very unlikely that it’ll win Best Picture. If it does somehow win it however, even though it’s not my personal favourite of the nominees, it’s still a great movie that I’d be satisfied seeing being given the award.

My review of Marriage Story

3. Little Women

little-women-sony-pictures-1565716806[1]

I wouldn’t have thought months ago that Little Women would be one of my favourite movies of the year, but indeed it was quite the surprise. While I’m not familiar with the other adaptations or even the original story, Greta Gerwig seems to have done a great job at making this version of Little Women instantly appealing for today’s audiences, crafting a warm and heartfelt film that certainly has the potential of becoming a beloved classic. Her writing and direction were fantastic, and although not everyone was a fan of the parallel storylines that the film cut between, I thought it worked perfectly for the story (I really wished it got nominated for Best Editing at least). The whole cast were all great, with Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh particularly standing out as great performers. The more I think about Little Women, the more I really love it, and I can’t wait to see it again in the future.

Despite the nominations, Little Women doesn’t really have a great chance to win Best Picture. It might be able to win for some of its nominations like Best Costume Design, and possibly Best Adapted Screenplay (competing with The Irishman). However, don’t expect it walking away with Best Picture at the end of the night, not that I’d have a problem if it somehow did.

My review of Little Women

Now these next two are interchangeable. I firmly believe that if either of them win, they’d be firmly the best ‘Best Picture’ winner of the 2010s.

2. Parasite

Parasite is one of the most acclaimed films of the year, and for very good reason. Bong Joon-ho’s latest starts off simple at first but over time becomes something completely different, a Hitchcockian thriller so excellently written and directed, truly made by someone who’s a master at their craft. Even watching it again more recently, I was just enthralled by how well made it is and still holds up, it’s entertaining and hilarious at first and then becomes incredibly dark and tense. The themes of class divide, and the like were also implemented perfectly in the story. The cast were great and deserved a lot more praise than they’d been receiving, it would’ve been nice to see at least one of the actors receive a nomination. Parasite is an extraordinary film, and it’s very satisfying to see it receive the love and praise that it deserves.

Parasite is one of the frontrunners for Best Picture, and it’s great to see a bunch of support for it. It’s already got Best Foreign Film in the bag, could possibly get Best Original Screenplay (although competing with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Marriage Story), and maybe even some technical awards, so it would seem it has a shot at the big award. There’s just one problem, it’s a foreign language movie. This isn’t the first time a foreign movie has been nominated for Best Picture, but none of them have actually won. Now it’s not impossible for it to break through, with Parasite already being loved by Hollywood, even breaking through to American audiences. However, I can still see the voters being snobby over the fact that they have to read subtitles for it and choosing another film instead. If it does somehow manage to win though, that will be quite an achievement, and could even pave the way for the Academy to recognise even more foreign movies (beyond the foreign movie category) in the future.

My review of Parasite

1. The Irishman

robert-de-niro-the-irishman[1]

Martin Scorsese is my favourite director, and with so many excellent movies under his belt, for his latest film The Irishman to be my favourite of his work, that’s saying a lot. While on paper it could’ve been just another mob movie from him, and indeed it starts off like that (albeit a really good one), Scorsese ventures into territory he hasn’t covered before. He’s at the top of his game, telling a melancholic and contemplative story about betrayal, regrets, and growing old, taking place over a lifetime. The ambition of this project is incredibly high and could’ve failed on many aspects, but Scorsese and co. have pulled it off. The whole cast is good, but particularly the trio of Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci gave incredible performances, some of the best of their careers (and considering some of their movies, that’s saying a lot). The Irishman is not only one of the best movies of the year, it’s also one of the best movies of the decade, and shall be remembered in the years to come.

The Irishman is one of the frontrunners for Best Picture, and a while ago I would’ve said it was the definite frontrunner above the others. There are a few things that might stop it however. Some voters won’t like the long runtime or just dismiss it as just another Scorsese mob movie, but most importantly there’s also the fact that it’s a Netflix movie, and of course certain parts of Hollywood really are against Netflix. The question is whether that is going to stop the Academy voters from voting for a Martin Scorsese film. The biggest indication that it might not win however is the fact that the Irishman himself, Robert De Niro, wasn’t even nominated for Best Actor. The fact that the most important person of the movie, the titular character who the story entirely surrounded, wasn’t seen by voters to be important enough to be nominated, might also mean that they might not find the movie itself worth voting for. Not to say that it can’t pull it off, in other awards circles it has been winning quite a bit, but there’s even a bit of an uphill battle that they’re fighting here, despite being a frontrunner.

My review of The Irishman

What’s your ranking of the Best Picture Nominees, and what do you think of the nominees?

Martin Scorsese Films Ranked

In the lead up to The Irishman’s release, I wanted to go through most of Martin Scorsese’s filmography. Now that I’ve seen all of his movies including The Irishman, I decided to create a ranking of all of his feature films. It wasn’t particularly easy, especially with 25 movies to go through, but I’m pretty firm on my placings for the time being.

Scorsese’s has an impressive body of work and even today is still making incredible movies. Of the filmmakers active since the 70s who are still making movies today, he’s by far the best of them, continuing to challenge himself, trying new things, and evolving with the times. Most of his movies are great, and even those at the bottom of this list aren’t necessarily bad. With a few exceptions, I’d say that most of the movies on this list are well worth watching.

25. Boxcar Bertha

Martin Scorsese’s second movie wasn’t the best progression for him as a filmmaker. While it is a technical improvement over his first movie, Who’s that Knocking at My Door, it didn’t feel like one of his movies, it felt like a Roger Corman exploitation movie, because that’s what it really was. It ticked the boxes of an exploitation movie, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll get what you want. But for the rest of us, we aren’t exactly left with much.

What ultimately elevates this movie to being above average was a lot of what Scorsese manages to do with his direction. You can tell that although it has to meet the criteria of a Roger Corman movie, its being directed by someone quite capable. The climax of the movie particularly takes quite a turn and starts to feel like a Scorsese movie, as he takes the plot to a dark place. Some of the performances here are also good, especially from the lead performance by Barbara Hershey. Although I think that Boxcar Bertha is by far and away Martin Scorsese’s worst movie, there is some merit to it. However, unless you’re really into exploitation movies, I’d say only check it out if you’re wanting to watch every single movie in Scorsese’s filmography.

My review of Boxcar Bertha

24. Who’s that Knocking at My Door

Let’s face it, if you’re considering watching this movie, it’s only because Martin Scorsese directed it. Indeed, it actually takes quite a bit of probing and searching to even find a copy of this to watch. Now he didn’t start off his career firing on all cylinders with his debut movie, it’s very low budget and unpolished, it drags at points, and has its fair share of issues. It’s nothing remarkable all things considering, going into this movie definitely requires looking at it like it’s a student film, and as that it’s quite good.

You do see shades of what Martin Scorsese would have later in his movies, from his great use of music to the scenes, to some prominent themes like catholic guilt. As a dialogue driven movie (written by Scorsese as well), it’s actually solid and feels rather genuine and real. Also the lead performances from Harvey Keitel and Zina Bethune ultimately carry much of the movie. On its own I’m not sure I can call it a good movie, but if you’re interested in seeing where Scorsese started, then give it a watch.

My review of Who’s that Knocking at My Door

23. New York, New York

New York, New York was Scorsese’s musical experiment, and it was definitely one I was very curious about as I didn’t know what to expect from him. Unfortunately, it’s a little bit of a mess. For one, it’s trying to be a tribute to musicals, but it also attempts to deconstruct them, and the two really clashed. The more unpleasant aspects of the movie surrounds Robert De Niro’s character, who plays one of the most unlikable (co) protagonists I’ve seen in a movie. While I get the feeling that the lead relationship (between De Niro and Liza Minnelli’s characters) is deliberately toxic, it still makes it really hard to watch. I couldn’t get invested in the lead characters, and so the movie suffered for it, it mostly felt uncomfortable more than anything. Lastly, Scorsese movies can be long, but you really felt the 2 hour and 40 minute runtime, and it dragged at many points. Overall it wasn’t easy to sit through.

That’s not to say that this movie is bad, there’s a lot of good parts to it. Liza Minnelli was really good, whether it came to her singing and performing, or the more dramatic portions. Additionally, while I bagged on De Niro’s character, he does play the role really well for what he’s given to work with, maybe a little too well. The musical sections elevated the movie up when they happened, when Scorsese is just going for a tribute to musicals he actually excels greatly at it, and I actually wish that New York, New York was more like that. The last 30 minutes of the movie I thought were handled well, both in terms of the musical side and for where the characters end up. New York, New York was a rather mixed bag unfortunately, but there’s still a lot of good to be found there if you’re willing to give it a try.

My review of New York, New York

22. Gangs of New York

Every rewatch of Martin Scorsese’s films that I’ve seen before have been quite positive, with me liking each film even more than the last time I saw it. Gangs of New York is unfortunately the exception, and was actually rather disappointing. Despite the likes of Steven Zaillian and Kenneth Lonergan working on it, the script is rather messy, with so many characters and subplots, most of them not particularly well developed in interesting in the slightest. It’s also one of the rare movies of Scorsese’s where it just drags. Even some of the cast are a mixed bag. However it seems like much of the film’s problems can be attributed to that of producer Harvey Weinstein, who seemed to have interfered heavily with the production. From the cutting of an entire hour to certain directional and technical decisions seeming not like Scorsese at all, even if the movie still would’ve been very flawed, I can’t imagine that most of the problems weren’t because of him.

It’s not all bad though. The setting and premise certainly was interesting, we haven’t seen that time period shown in movies much so it definitely had potential. Had the movie focussed a lot more on that and lessened the focus on some of the characters’ subplots, it might’ve worked a little better. A lot of Scorsese’s talent shines through very well, it feels like on a grand scale, and the production design, costumes, etc, are all fantastic. There are even some moments of the film that are truly excellent, and it definitely picks up in the second half. Some of the actors also do well, but the highlight is Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill the Butcher, with his performance making this film essential viewing. Gangs of New York may not be Martin Scorsese’s worst movie, but it’s definitely his most disappointing, especially as this was a movie he’s been meaning to make for decades beforehand. It’s still worth watching, but it’s rather flawed.

My review of Gangs of New York

21. After Hours

After Hours is one of Martin Scorsese’s weirdest movies, but on the whole it’s really good. There’s not necessarily a bad thing with the movie, however I feel like it’s missing something. While I was rather entertained by the movie, I was wondering what the point of everything was. Not that every movie needs to have a point, but I got the feeling that the movie was trying to say something, and I haven’t picked up on what that is yet, even after two viewings. But it’s hardly an actual flaw, nonetheless I can see myself liking the movie a lot more if that aspect is resolved for me.

After Hours is straight forward and simple, a nightmarish and surreal representation of a night that never ends, with the lead character coming across disastrous event after even more ridiculous incidents. While at first it seemed like it would be a tense thriller, it features some effective comedy which makes it rather entertaining. It’s also a stunning movie, and Scorsese really captured the setting very well. The cast of unique characters were also good, anchored by a solid everyman lead performance by Griffin Dunne. Even if I don’t consider After Hours amongst Scorsese’s best movies, I’d say that it’s still very much worth watching. In fact, I’d say that every movie in this list from this point upwards is worth seeing.

My review of After Hours

20. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

This is one of Martin Scorsese’s lesser known movies. You wouldn’t think that between Mean Streets and Taxi Driver that he would take on a family drama, but that’s what he did with some really good results. Outside of a few parts that dragged a little bit and a needless comic relief character, this movie is really well made and deserves a lot more attention than it had received.

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is a genuine and emotional journey with a mother and son as they try to find a new life together. While it easily could’ve felt melodramatic, it feels sincere enough that you’re able to stay on board for the entirety of the story. The cast was great, from the likes of Diane Ladd, Kris Kristofferson, Harvey Keitel and others who perform their parts really well. But it’s Ellen Burstyn’s central performance as Alice that stands out, this is ultimately her movie. If anything, this movie is essential viewing for her Oscar Winning work alone. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore really should be seen by more people.

My review of Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

19. Cape Fear

A remake of the 60s thriller Cape Fear after making the now classic Goodfellas seemed like a not so exciting move from Martin Scorsese, but he still manage to add a lot to the material that most directors probably wouldn’t have done. It’s a genre movie for sure and at times is a little ridiculous, but at least you get the feeling that Scorsese knew that and played on that quite well. Additionally, he still managed to give the movie much more complexity, making it more compelling on the whole.

Cape Fear is a slow burn thriller that’s constantly engaging all the way through, with the tension building up as it progresses, culminating in a thrilling final act. The cast was fantastic, with Robert De Niro made for a very menacing and memorable villain, at least being on part with Robert Mitchum’s Max Cady from the original, albeit very different. However the most noticeable upgrade is with the family characters. Their actors with Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange and Juliette Lewis play their roles exceptionally, but also the characters are much more complicated and flawed compared to the typical and clean family from the original. This made the movie not only a tense thriller, but a modern family drama. Cape Fear may not reach a level above being a solid thriller, but it didn’t need to be much more than that, and there are some surprises in there as well.

My review of Cape Fear

18. Mean Streets

Mean Streets is the movie that put Martin Scorsese on the map as a filmmaker to pay attention to. Sure it’s very rough and loose, but at the same time there’s something endearing about it, and it actually kind of works for the nature of the plot, characters, and the world they exist in. Even though I couldn’t really emotionally connect to the plot and characters, I was still somewhat interested to see where it was going, and more importantly see how far Scorsese progress as a filmmaker and how he started.

Part of what made Scorsese known so much when this movie came out of it was just the amount of energy he added to it. Sure he hasn’t reached the technical skill yet for future films like Raging Bull, the direction is a little rough and the budget was quite low, but from this film alone you can definitely tell that the director behind the camera is very talented. There are a number of memorable scenes in the movie, and much of it is because of how well it’s directed. The cast is also good, with Harvey Keitel in the lead role giving one of his best performances. And then there’s of course Robert De Niro, in one of his most explosive and memorable roles as Johnny Boy, marking the first (and not last) collaboration between him and Scorsese. Martin Scorsese has for sure made plenty of better crime movies as well as movies on the whole, but this is undoubtably one of his most important films of his career.

My review of Mean Streets

17. The Color of Money

The Color of Money is sometimes looked at in a negative way and dismissed as just a pointless sequel to The Hustler, which was known as a classic. Aside from the fact that I liked this movie a lot more than The Hustler (I just think that was okay), I really liked the movie on the whole and it surprised me quite a bit. It may not be anything too special, but it’s just too well made to skip out on.

As someone not super into pool games, if a movie about that really gets you invested in it throughout, you know that it’s good. It’s written sharply and is very well paced, never allowing for a moment for you to lose interest. The trio of Paul Newman, Tom Cruise and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio are great and work perfectly together. However the reason why this movie works so well is the direction, and it’s outstanding on a technical level. Everything from the camera movements, the cinematography and the editing were on top form, the pool scenes are particularly engaging and entertaining to watch. The Color of Money isn’t anything special, but it’s just so entertaining and excellently made that it’s really worth checking out.

My review of The Color of Money

16. Kundun

All I knew about Kundun going in was that it was about the Dalai Lama and that Martin Scorsese directed it. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was really surprised at how great it was. I guess maybe some of the early portions were a little slow and the plot didn’t have any real structure, but at a certain point I was engaged all the way through to the end, and I was constantly impressed at how fantastically made the whole film was.

As someone who didn’t know much about Dalai Lama, it was a very interesting and informative experience, and I learned a lot about him and the history around him. It certainly helped knowing that the script was written based on interviews with the real life Dalai Lama. So it’s already interesting, but what made it even better was how it worked on a technical level. Martin Scorsese’s masterful direction, Thelma Schoonmaker’s editing, Roger Deakins’s gorgeous cinematography and Phillip Glass’s grand and haunting score all work together flawlessly. I was constantly astounded at how well this movie was made, it was on such a grand scale and handled with such care, it was really impressive. Whether you’re here for the story of the Dalai Lama or to see a very well made movie, you should definitely see Kundun.

My review of Kundun

15. The Age of Innocence

The Age of Innocence is quite different to Martin Scorsese’s other movies, but it’s still rather impressive overall. I’m not sure I can quite say that I love it quite yet, it does take a while to get into the movie, and the voiceover explaining everything can be annoyingly overbearing at times. However there’s a lot here that I appreciate, from his direction, to the story, to the great lead performances.

After the first half an hour or so, I become invested enough with the characters and the story, more than I thought I would. On a technical level, it was stunning to watch, the production design, costumes, were all well made, and it was just very well directed on the whole. The trio of Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder also give some great performances at the centre of the film. I think there’s a lot to this film that there is to unpack, and I only experienced some of it on my first viewing. I get a feeling like I’d get a lot more out of it on a second viewing, but even now I’d say that it’s definitely worth seeing for yourself.

My review of The Age of Innocence

14. Hugo

Hugo was the first film I saw from Martin Scorsese, I liked it back then but it’s a movie that older audiences are likely to ‘get’ more. As an older person now, I can definitely say that I appreciated much more of the movie, and there’s a lot more to the movie than it initially appeared to be. Aside from some unneeded comedy (mostly surrounding Sacha Baron Cohen’s character), it’s a great movie.

8 years later, Hugo is still visually gorgeous and stunning to watch, Martin Scorsese really used CGI in the right way to create an exciting environment for the film to take place in. While it is a bit of an adventure, it’s not the kind that you’d expect it to be. Hugo is secretly Martin Scorsese’s tribute to cinema, and particularly to the silent era, a period of cinematic history that’s not usually talked about. The cast was good, with every performer doing their part, even if they are only in a few scenes (or in Jude Law’s case, just one). Of the bunch, I’d say Ben Kingsley stands out the most as Georges Méliès, with this remaining his best performance in a very long time. Hugo doesn’t get a lot of praise nowadays but it’s good, it still really holds up well.

My review of Hugo

13. The King of Comedy

The King of Comedy started off being one of Martin Scorsese’s forgotten movies but over time has been receiving a bunch of recognition and has built up quite a following. Despite the title, it’s not necessarily funny (at least not much of the time), it’s unnerving, and unfortunately still relevant to today’s culture with regard to celebrity and fame obsession.

The King of Comedy is quite an original movie, and is greatly written. The only disappointing part of the movie that the direction by Martin Scorsese was quite good, but there was nothing too special to it, it certainly wasn’t very flashy and you didn’t really notice it throughout. Robert De Niro here is in one of, if not his weirdest character as Rupert Pupkin. It’s a performance like no other he’s taken on before. The rest of the cast also did well, including a solid performance by Jerry Lewis. The King of Comedy may be uncomfortable to watch, but it’s great and is among the essential Scorsese films to watch.

My review of The King of Comedy

12. The Aviator

The Aviator and Gangs of New York are the closest thing to ‘award baiting movies’ that Martin Scorsese has made, and the former certainly seemed like it would be just that, with it being a biopic of a famous person. However, watching The Aviator again more recently really reminded me how fantastic the movie actually is, and doesn’t deserve to be lumped in with the group of ‘just another biopic’ movies. Incredibly ambitious, detailed and great on a technical, and acting level.

Biopics can be hit or miss, as their can often just follow conventions and structures. However Scorsese treating the biopic of Howard Hughes like a character study (which Scorsese is familiar with the likes of Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, etc) went quite a long way to making this work. Along with the setting being interesting, Scorsese makes it entertaining and interesting as we go through some decades of Hughes’s life. At 2 hours and 50 minutes, of course there are small portions which may drag a little, but on the whole I was thoroughly engaged in the movie. The acting is great, with all the performers with the likes of John C. Reilly, Alec Baldwin, Alan Alda, Kate Beckinsale and more delivering their parts, and of course Cate Blanchett who’s fantastic as Katharine Hepburn. However it’s Leonardo DiCaprio, who is at the centre of the whole film as Howard Hughes. He and Scorsese brought this person onto the big screen and captures so many sides to Hughes and all of his nuances. DiCaprio has a number of fantastic performances but his work here is a strong contender for his best. The Aviator is quite a lot to take in, but I do think that it really should be seen.

My review of The Age of Innocence

11. Bringing Out the Dead

Another one of Martin Scorsese’s forgotten movies, Bringing Out the Dead is really great and I personally think it’s among his best. A strange, haunting and disturbing yet fantastic movie.

This movie is a Paul Schrader written character study on a very different protagonist for Scorsese, and it was very well made. It’s even surprisingly darkly hilarious at points, actually making it entertaining and not as depressing as it seemed like it would seem at first. Martin Scorsese captures a haunting and gloomy New York, and getting you into the head of the barely sane protagonist. Nicolas Cage gives an outstanding performance at the centre of the movie, and its one of his best. Throughout he really conveys someone who’s burnt out and haunted. And yes, his iconic brand of craziness (which shows at points in the movie) works perfectly for his character. Definitely a movie worth seeing.

My review of Bringing Out the Dead

10. Shutter Island

Martin Scorsese’s psychological thriller from the early 2010s still holds up pretty well. On the first viewing it’s a great mystery thriller, it’s engrossing and captivating, as has some twists, turns and suspense, keeping you guessing until the very end. Martin Scorsese directs it incredibly well, placing you right at that gothic location effectively, with some gorgeously dark and gloomy cinematography fitting the tone of the movie so well. The cast are all good, with Leonardo DiCaprio giving a spectacularly great performance, especially in the third act. So on the whole, it’s already great as a one time viewing.

However, you really get the full experience on a second viewing, when you know everything that really happens, it’s almost a different movie and an even better experience when watching it. Outside of an explanation of a reveal towards the third act that isn’t really handled the best, on the whole it really works well. Check it out if you haven’t already and if you have seen it once, give it another viewing when you can.

My review of Shutter Island

9. The Last Temptation of Christ

I wouldn’t have guessed before watching that The Last Temptation of Christ would rank among my favourite Scorsese movies but here we are. There have been plenty of movies about Jesus, and it seemed like it could very well be more of the same. With this very realistic and human take on Jesus however, I was rather invested in it.

Even on a lower budget, Martin Scorsese delivered incredibly well on directing this, from the cinematography to the production design and the editing. The performances were also great, particularly an outstanding Willem Dafoe as the very human and conflicted Jesus. Even if you’re not particularly interested in religion, I’d say that it’s really worth watching The Last Temptation of Christ, there’s a lot to admire about it.

My review of The Last Temptation of Christ

8. Raging Bull

Raging Bull was Martin Scorsese’s comeback after the disappointing performance of New York, New York, and it ranks amongst his best work. is a hard watch for sure, but it’s undeniably so well made that it really needs to be seen. It’s a classic for a reason.

Raging Bull is directed wonderfully by Scorsese, in fact this is one of his best directed movies. From the black and white cinematography, to Thelma Schoonmaker’s editing, it’s a masterclass in filmmaking. The acting all round is good but it’s Robert De Niro who’s front and centre as the self destructive Jake LaMotta. Such a transformative and excellent performance, and even in a much lesser movie, it would be watching for his work alone. Raging Bull is brutal and excellent, and essential viewing.

My review of Raging Bull

7. Goodfellas

It’s easy to see why Goodfellas made a massive impact on its release. No other gangster movie beforehand had been like this, so full of energy and put together in this way, and this launched Scorsese’s career even further.

Even at 2 hours and 30 minutes, Goodfellas is incredibly fast paced, never allowing for a moment for you to grow even slightly bored. Taking you through the life of Henry Hill, it throws you into his lifestyle of thrills and excess and gives you a glimpse into why people like him would get into crime. The performances by Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and more are great too, all playing their parts excellently. Although there’s still quite a number of his movies I consider better than Goodfellas, it’s one of the most essential Scorsese films to watch.

My review of Goodfellas

6. The Wolf of Wall Street

This is the closest that Martin Scorsese has made to a full on comedy, and he did a great job at this. A different kind of crime movie, this time taking place with white collared criminals, it’s well written, darkly hilarious and entertaining, and just incredibly well made.

Martin Scorsese directed this on such an impeccable level, filled with an incredible fast pace and high energy, really getting you into the headspace of our main characters (who unfortunately are real people). It’s incredibly entertaining and memorable. While some people have definitely taken the movie the wrong way in thinking that this movie endorses them (both resulting in backlash and unintentional support with people celebrating the main characters, which wasn’t the intention), Scorsese actually does pretty well balancing all the elements and telling the story as it is, just like he did with his gangster movies. The cast are all good with the likes of Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Jon Bernthal, and more, but it’s Leonardo DiCaprio who really stands out, giving a career best performance as Jordan Belfort. The Wolf of Wall Street is a reminder about how excellent of a filmmaker Scorsese still is.

My review of The Wolf of Wall Street

5. Silence

Silence is not easy to watch at all, but it’s incredibly well made and essential viewing. Scorsese’s latest film about faith is very well put together, and I’d go so far as to say that it’s at least a near masterpiece.

Silence is an extraordinary movie in just about every aspect. Martin Scorsese is very restrained with his direction, and his work here is beautiful. The acting across the board is great, from Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, Shinya Tsukamoto, to Issey Ogata and more. However it’s Andrew Garfield’s show, he’s in almost every scene of the movie, and the movie follows his journey throughout. It’s by far the best performance of his career. Silence is one of Scorsese’s least rewatchable movies, with the pacing and how gruelling it can be, but it’s also one of his finest put together films.

My review of Silence

4. The Departed

The-Departed-2006-jack-nicholson-31068265-2560-1705[1]

The Departed is what gave Martin Scorsese his first Best Director and Picture Oscars, but despite what a lot of people say about it apparently being makeup awards for him, the acclaim was well deserved. It’s a great crime thriller, very entertaining and very well put together, and it still holds up for the most part.

Although it’s a remake of a foreign movie, The Departed really worked well for what it is. It is greatly written, incredibly memorable and with very quotable dialogue. There’s also an outstanding ensemble cast, with the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, and more, all delivering on their parts very well. 14 years later, The Departed remains one of Scorsese’s finest films.

My review of The Departed

Now these next few films are interchangeable.

3. Casino

Bringing this down from number 1 was incredibly difficult. Casino was the movie that got me into film as an art form, even at the age of 15 and not fully understanding everything in the movie, I knew that what I was watching was something special. I wondered how differently I would view this movie watching it 4 years later, but I only love it even more now.

To briefly address this the obvious, yes, I do like it noticeably more than Goodfellas. Although there are many similarities, I liked the larger scale, it was more ambitious and I even though Joe Pesci was better here (despite playing a similar character). It’s directly excellently as well, and Scorsese managed to make that 3 hour runtime fly by. The cast was also great, with the trio of Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci working excellently and at the top of their game. Casino unfortunately gets labelled just Goodfellas all over again, but it deserves a lot more praise than that, I think it’s one of Scorsese’s best.

My review of Casino

2. Taxi Driver

Taxi Driver is a psychological thriller that made quite the impact on its release, and it has held up well over 4 decades later. It’s masterfully made on pretty much every level.

An excellent character study, effectively written by Paul Schrader. Scorsese directed this incredibly well, the city of New York is captured so well, and you effectively feel dirty and disconnected throughout. Robert De Niro gives possibly a career best performance as Travis Bickle, completely embodying the unstable and deranged protagonist of the film. I know that many of Scorsese’s movies could be called masterpieces, but Taxi Driver really is a masterpiece.

My review of Taxi Driver

1. The Irishman

Maybe it’s a little premature to put this at the top of his list, but having seen this movie twice, I’m reasonably confident in my decision. The Irishman is some of Scorsese’s finest work, and it really shows how much he’s evolved as a filmmaker.

While The Irishman is another gangster movie from Martin Scorsese, it’s a fresh take on it that he hasn’t done before. From start to finish, The Irishman is excellent. Despite being 3 and a half hours long, it actually flies by and done greatly. For the first third or so it’s Scorsese in familiar gangster territory, and he’s particularly great at that. After that point however, it becomes something entirely different. The Irishman is about looking back at life, mortality and regret, and that last act is some of Scorsese’s most emotional work yet. The cast is outstanding, with Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, all 3 legendary actors, giving some of the best performances of their career. Unsurprisingly Scorsese handled all of this excellently, all his decades of filmmaking experience have led up to this movie. The Irishman is a spectacular movie, and one of the best films of the last decade for sure.

My review of The Irishman

What’s your ranking of Martin Scorsese’s films?