I often remark that, since retirement, the years seem to pass in a blink. But when I sat down to produce the year’s best from the big screen, it turns out that the top three were from way back at the beginning of 2016 – and seeing them seems so very long ago now here we are on the cusp of Christmas. The State Cinema has recently announced another expansion with more viewing rooms added. For me, it’s one of the city’s gems and it seems it is about to become even more so. Typing this up during my Devonport stay for the festive season, I am so looking forward to getting back to Hobs to see such Boxing Day fare such as ‘La La Land’ and ‘Rosalie Blum’. Will they make the cut for next year? Time will tell, but here’s my pick for the last 12 months :-
1. The Big Short– for the performances of Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale and especially Steve Carell – and, yes, Margot Robbie in the bath tub too – it was worthy of a top gong alone. But the story it told of the greed that almost bought the world to its knees financially – and the fact that those responsible remain unpunished and still feeding off the system with their snouts in the trough is salutary – even more so as we are about to enter the brave new world of the Trumpster.
2. Youth – this two-hander from director Paulo Sorrentino, starring Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel, is a visual treatise to the foibles of ageing. When the naked girl enters the swimming pool, the looks on the two old codgers faces just about says it all.
3. The Bélier Family – Louane Emera – I defy anyone not to fall in love with her on screen. She’s the daughter of profoundly deaf parents who are unable to hear her do what she does so well – sing. ‘Le Parisien’ stated it was ‘Outstanding. A film that makes you laugh, think and cry.’ It truly does.
4. I, Daniel Blake – the saddest feature I saw all year – and with the increasing divide between the ruling class/rich and average Joe, it’s probably happening here. Ken Loach has always been an agent for change and going into bat for life’s battlers, but he’s excelled himself with this heart-breaker.
5. The Nice Guys – here Russell Crowe plays straight man to a maniacal Ryan Gosling, with it being the movie of the year that got the most belly laughs from me. Angourie Rice as Ryan’s character’s sensible daughter steals a few scenes from her on-screen father.
6. Hell or High Water – this movie tells why Trump won middle America. A fast paced contemporary western or cops and robbers – take your pick, Jeff Bridges and Chris Pine are great as they lock horns across magnificent Texan vistas.
7. Goldstone – transfer the above to Outback Oz and you have the same vibe here, except it’s a greedy corporation that’s the villain of the piece. Alcohol sodden Aaron Pedersen is sensational. Best local product.
8. ‘Hunt for the Wilder People‘ – ranking with ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ as the funniest movie ever out of NZ, this ran for forever at the State. It has its faults, but it will charm your socks off.
9. ‘Sing Street’ – loved this Irish production about the power of music, with some terrific performances from a cast of young actors.
10. The Beatles Eight Days a Week – took me back to when I was going to be forever young. Another time – but the foursome really were marvels.
HMs – Trumbo, The Daughter, The Danish Girl, Florence Foster Jenkins, The Founder, God Willing, The Light Between Oceans, Testament of Youth, Brooklyn, Bridget Jones’ Baby, Sully, Me Before You.
Stinkers-The Arrival, Like Crazy
Reviewers give their Top Tens =
Leigh Paatsch – the Mercury : La La Land, Hell or High Water, Hunt for the Wilder People, Spotlight, Mustang, Brooklyn, Queen of Katwe, I Daniel Blake, Zootopia, Doctor Strange
Sandra Hall – the Age : I Daniel Blake, Hail Caesar, Mustang, Snowden, The Founder, Margueritte, Weiner, Room, Hunt for the Wilder People
Craig Mathieson – the Age : La La Land, Arrival, Carol, Hell or High Water, Son of Saul, The Handmaiden, Elle, A Bigger Splash, The Fits, Under the Shadow