January usually heralds peak quality in terms of cinema releases as Oscar contenders come to the fore. Here’s five for your consideration.
Bonkers brilliance from Yorgos Lanthimos
By turns tender, hilarious and deeply unsettling, The Favourite finds Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos bringing his unique flavour of misanthropy to the English period drama. This is a stark depiction of women searching for power within the confines of a patriarchal society.
As the film progress, it soon becomes clear that Queen Anne (Coleman) is nothing more than a chess board for Sarah (Rachel Weisz) and Abigail (Emma Stone) to play their strategies upon. Stellar directing, performances from all the leads and a shout out to the Irish D.O.P. Robbie Ryan and his fish eye entrapment of the cast as they stride from room to room.
Shadow power plays
Dick Cheney (Christian Bale) was the 46th Vice President of the United States serving under George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell) from 2001 to 2009. To many, he exemplified all that stank of that administration. In Vice, writer-director Adam McKay assembles a top drawer cast led by Bale with Amy Adams playing his wife Lynne to illustrate Cheney as the real power supplementing Bush’s ineffectual leadership to his own ends and those of his cronies. This is a solid satirical takedown of Cheney and his cohorts replete with McKay’s trademark swish enveloping of the narrative.
Why wait for On The Basis of Sex?
Felicity Jones and Arnie Hammer star in On The Basis of Sex, a retelling of the life of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg which lands next month but it will be hard pressed to eclipse the real-life story so elegantly captured by Betsy West and Julie Cohen. It traces Ginsberg’s emergence from the Harvard Law School in the late ‘50s, where she was one of nine women in a class of over 500, to her pioneering work on gender equality across a series of seminal cases.
At it’s heart is a deeply adorable love story between Ginsberg who is now 85 and still serving and that of her late husband Marty.
Monsters and Men
A triptych of Black Lives Matters tales
Reinaldo Marcus Green follows a trio of men in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, affected by a police shooting in their neighbourhood. Considered from the perspective of a young father Manny (Anthony Ramos), who captures the incident on his iPhone, a racially profiled cop played by John David Washington and a high-school baseball star turned activist Zyrick (Kelvin Harrison Jr), while Monsters and Men never quite realises its potential, it is still timely and necessary.
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Forging a dodgy future
Melissa McCarthy and Richard E Grant have a winning chemistry in Marielle Heller’s tale of the lengths a writer goes to.
Others to look out for… Glass, Destroyer, The Mule, Bergman – A Year in a Life
Words: Michael McDermott