War

DANGER CLOSE: THE BATTLE OF LONG TAN

Director
Kriv Stenders
(RED DOG, RED DOG: TRUE BLUE, AUSTRALIA DAY)

Stars
Travis Fimmel, Anthony Hayes, Richard Roxburgh, Daniel Webber, Nicholas Hamilton, Luke Bracey, Matt Doran and Stephen Peacocke

Inspired by a true story, this Australian war film chronicles a fight for survival against all odds. It is August 18, 1966 in the South of Vietnam where 2,000 experienced soldiers from North Vietnam descend upon a rubber plantation called Long Tan. Standing in their way are 108 young and mostly inexperienced Australian and New Zealand soldiers, who have been sent there by Major Harry Smith (VIKING’s star, Travis Fimmel).

DC_Main_A4poster

If there is just one attribute that DANGER CLOSE: THE BATTLE OF LONG TAN is reliant on, it’s the building of momentum. During its opening act where momentum is yet to be formed, this Aussie war movie can be a little distancing. As the sound of enemy attack nears, but hasn’t yet targeted the young soldiers, the script brings out the rebelliousness and cheek of these young men more so than it lets us in on their innocence and fear. Though I’ve got little doubt that the behaviour we do witness is derived from being (understandably) afraid in such hostile and foreign territory, being able to perceive this mental fragility would have generated momentum much sooner. Furthermore, overseas audiences may struggle with some of the language used and accents spoken, particularly during scenes where combat can be heard in the foreground and background. Fortunately, DANGER CLOSE: THE BATTLE OF LONG TAN’s saving grace throughout earlier stretches is its stand-out cinematography and use of locations, which really are something to behold and always remain a prominent part of this film. As does the gloriously rendered and utterly powerful score too.

Major Harry Smith (Travis Fimmel) during the Battle of the Long Tan
Once the soldiers and their enemies clash at Long Tan, DANGER CLOSE becomes an intermittently tense and action-packed drama. Though sometimes visually repetitious, the film’s momentum continues to grow as the shot-callers and major players of vital proceedings garner more screen time. A small handful of combat sequences during the final act are superbly executed by Kriv Stenders that manage to distinguish themselves from all others too. By the end of this overall very good film, if the fate of some of these young men doesn’t touch you, then please ensure you remain seated for some important last words to appear on-screen that will leave a very sombre feeling indeed.

3 ½ stars

Viewer Discretion
MA15+ (Strong war themes and violence)

Trailer
DANGER CLOSE: THE BATTLE OF LONG TAN

Moviedoc thanks Transmission Films for the invite to the screening of this film.

DANGER CLOSE: THE BATTLE OF LONG TAN is released in cinemas throughout Australia from August 8th, 2019.

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
Follow on Twitter – Moviedoc / LIKE on Facebook – @moviedoc13

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Leigh’s Best Films of 2018, Plus Much More!

Hello everyone

Firstly, thank you for every review you have read, liked, shared, commented on and even chatted to me about in person. Thanks to your support and the help from my wonderful co-writer Jell, I was able to experience another very productive year of film watching and reviewing.

In total, I personally watched 161 films officially released in Australia in 2018 alone, which is 20 more than I what I was able to see last year! And that isn’t even including movies that I’ve seen more than once (A STAR IS BORN, for instance) or releases from previous years!

It was a strong year. Thirty-four films received a minimum of 4 stars from me and just one was given 1 star or less. Therefore, I’ve now extended the top end competition to a ‘Best 22 of 2018’ list and simply named my worst movie of the year.

As I write this post from the cold, grey-skied but beautiful country Germany, I trust that you will thoroughly enjoy the read below. I also hope that after reading through, you will add a few movies to your watch list to view over the Christmas break very soon. As always, feel free to drop a comment once you do.

Jell and I have BIG plans for Moviedoc in 2019. We look forward to these coming to fruition soon and throughout the year, and thank each of you for your continued support in 2019!

My Best 22 of 2018

Each of the following films received 4 stars from me.

Let’s begin with a film that is surely a heavy favourite for many of you this year! At number 22 (yes, 22, that is how strong the world of cinema is in 2018!) is…

22

Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

There is just no valid reason as to why BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY wouldn’t feature somewhere in everyone’s best-of list in 2018. It achieves exactly as intended more potently than most other movies, is exhilarating to watch and what about that outbreak of acting from Rami Malek!? WOW!!!

21

John Cho in Searching (2018)

Why is SEARCHING in my top 20? SEARCHING deserves to be here due to the inventive and often innovative use of technology, screen imagery and social media to present and tell its utterly captivating and mystery-filled missing person story. Demands greater effort of its viewers than similar types of movies that is absolutely worth its while.

20

Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet in Beautiful Boy (2018)

Drug addiction and death from drug overdose continues to worsen in numbers in the U.S, as well as in other parts of the world. This story, based on a pair of memoirs, is a tender, truthful and confronting journey through a young man’s battle with drug addiction and his father’s best endeavours to save him. BEAUTIFUL BOY is as heartbreaking as it is crucial and the performances from Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet are outstanding.

19

Human Flow (2017)
The first of a small handful of documentary feature films to make my best 21. In HUMAN FLOW, Ai Weiwei demonstrates that you just do not know what life is like in someone else’s shoes, until you wear them. This film literally adopts a ground-zero approach to document the stories of displaced refugees in twenty-three countries around the world. If you don’t feel an ounce of empathy for what they are forced to endure during Ai Weiwei’s unforgettable film, then I’m afraid you are devoid of this essential human characteristic.

18

Elisabeth Moss, Claes Bang, and Terry Notary in The Square (2017)
You have never seen a man’s professional and personal life come undone in quite as bizarre and uniquely hilarious fashion as this. THE SQUARE is indisputably thinking outside of the square in its clear efforts to stun, enthral and unnerve its customers. A true arthouse great!

17

Niza Jay in Inxeba (2017)
This is the most courageous film to be released in 2018. The most internationally awarded film in South African history, THE WOUND (INXEBA) tackles two very sensitive subject matters – the extremely private and traditional Xhosa initiation into manhood and the awakening of its gay male character‘s sexuality. If you admired Oscar-winning film MOONLIGHT, then you will appreciate THE WOUND (INXEBA).

16

American Animals (2018)
When a movie is unique, brings something new to the genre and is excellent, you can expect that movie to always make my ‘best of’ final cut. This true story is no exception. A heist film quite unlike any other, AMERICAN ANIMALS is a seamless blend of feature film and documentary that is perfectly balanced, well thought-out and a cleverly executed film. It’s also a seriously entertaining one. Recommended viewing!

15

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born (2018)
The second movie in my best 21 that will be a favourite of many this year and may also get some Oscar-love in February. The classic story of the simultaneous fall of one star as another rises is so engaging and involving and boasts beautiful performances from director Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, who share an immediately absorbing chemistry on screen. Here is Jell’s full review of A STAR IS BORN.

14

Diane Kruger in Aus dem Nichts (2017)
This gripping German dramatic thriller is inspired by actual events that tells of a fictional story about a woman who is seeking justice after losing her husband and young son in a targeted bomb attack. Diane Kruger gives a tour de force lead performance and IN THE FADE (AUS DEM NICHTS) is hugely accessible to
a worldwide audience.

13

David Kellman, Robert Shafran, and Eddy Galland in Three Identical Strangers (2018)
Regardless of exactly how much you know about the three subjects of this documentary and their story, you will experience a rollercoaster of emotions watching THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS. 

12

Laurence Fishburne, Steve Carell, and Bryan Cranston in Last Flag Flying (2017)

One of the greatest surprises and most underrated movies of 2018, LAST FLAG FLYING is one of those movies that will be liked immensely by almost every person who sees it. Yet somehow, you probably haven’t heard of it let alone watched it! The three lead actors work brilliantly together as former marines – Reverend Richard Mueller (Laurence Fishburne) and alcoholic bar owner Sal Nealon (Bryan Cranston) who accompany Larry ‘Doc’ Shepherd (Steve Carell) as he prepares to bury his son who’s been killed in the Iraq War. This is not a heavy film, as it may sound, in the slightest. In fact, one of its great surprises is just how much hearty laughter is derived from the affectionately crafted script that makes every word and action matter. I could go on, but just see it for yourself already!

11

Matvey Novikov in Nelyubov (2017)

From Russia, without love. Director Andrey Zvyagintsev’s follow-up to the excellent 2014 drama LEVIATHAN could only be produced in Russia with international financial support after the Russian government disapproved of that film. In LOVELESS (NELYUBOV), the son of a bickering married couple who are finalising their divorce while selling their large apartment goes missing. As gripping to watch as it is a driven film. Not far from being of the highest quality of a very similar French film lodged within my top 4. Highly recommended!

10

De sidste mænd i Aleppo (2017)
Ok, this isn’t easy to watch. But for those of us who care enough to witness real footage featuring a group of volunteers known as ‘The White Helmets’ saving hundreds of lives in their city during the Syrian Civil War, it is essential viewing. A confronting, harrowing but utterly inspiring documentary that should be watched prior to Australian documentary CHASING ASYLUM.

9

Isle of Dogs (2018)
The stand-alone stand-out in the animation genre for 2018. Wes Anderson’s near-masterpiece, ISLE OF DOGS features family-friendly animation work that is breathtakingly detailed, an intelligently conceived and written story and an outstanding score. All of which provide first class entertainment and are complimented by the iconic movie-making style of Wes Anderson. You will never, ever regret watching ISLE OF DOGS.

Each of the following films received 4 ½ stars from me.

8

Marina de Tavira, Marco Graf, Yalitza Aparicio, Daniela Demesa, Diego Cortina Autrey, and Carlos Peralta in Roma (2018)
Named after the neighbourhood in Mexico City it is set, ROMA is a semi-biographical journey into the upbringing of writer and director Alfonso Cuarón (GRAVITY). Patience is required as ROMA does take time to form a discernible narrative and is visually drawn-out. However, no other film released this year overwhelmed me with utmost appreciation post-credits quite like this one. Set in the early 1970s, filmed in black and white and available now on Netflix, allow yourself to fall under the irresistibly immersive spell cast by Cuarón. But please, do so in the right mood!

7

Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, and Olivia Colman in The Favourite (2018)
It’s not new news that Yorgos Lanthimos’s (THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER) period comedy/drama THE FAVOURITE boasts three outstanding performances from three outstanding actresses. Jell’s review also supports this. But what also elevates this ripping movie from being great to reigning supreme is its piercing writing, flawless character development and innovative score. THE FAVOURITE is just as fresh and jaw-dropping to the period drama genre as last year’s LADY MACBETH.

6

Sam Neill, Bryan Brown, and Hamilton Morris in Sweet Country (2017)

Released very early this year, award-winning indigenous filmmaker Warwick Thornton’s (SAMSON AND DELILAH) SWEET COUNTRY is a masterful work of striking authenticity and raw storytelling. Our country has home-grown a healthy number of films that boast these characteristics, but rarely at the consistently high standard so prevalent in this ‘meat-pie’ Western. 

5

Tom Cruise, Angela Bassett, Henry Cavill, Rebecca Ferguson, and Simon Pegg in Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018)

Well, well, well! Perhaps some of you expected MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT
to be as spectacular a movie, not just a spectacular action movie, as what it is. Credit to you if so. But for me, this, along with AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (which narrowly missed my best 21) were some of the most pleasing surprises of 2018. The secret to its success? Tom Cruise has sprinted a little over 24,000 feet on screen throughout his 37 years in the movies. In summary, the more Tom Cruise runs, the better his movies are. In summary, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT races towards the finish line a victorious movie in every possible way, with Cruise in first place. The best action film since MAD MAX: FURY ROAD.

The top 4 is so incredibly tight, you could just about consider each of these films equal for claiming best film of the year. I had to be VERY picky to not award 5 stars to these movies below.

4

Léa Drucker, Denis Ménochet, and Thomas Gioria in Jusqu'à la garde (2017)

I had knots in my stomach from beginning to end in this searing and utterly realistic fictional French drama about a mother and father’s bitter dispute over custody of their young son. The opening act, which is intentionally ambiguous in deciphering which parent is genuine, is immediately engrossing. Once this piece of detail has become completely clear, CUSTODY (JUSQU’À LA GARDE) casts an ominous tone and a stranglehold upon the viewer that leads to finale more heart-stopping than any other you will see on the screen this year. Riveting. Gut-wrenching. Unmissable French cinema at its finest.

3

Christine Choueiri, Adel Karam, Kamel El Basha, Diamand Bou Abboud, Camille Salameh, and Rita Hayek in L'insulte (2017)

In this Lebanese drama, two men – a Lebanese Christian and a Palestinian refugee – have a heated exchange that lands them both in court in a case that gets national attention. THE INSULT (L’INSULTE) conveys its story and messages so precisely and powerfully. This outstanding movie is a prime example of how to take an issue that is more personal and specific to the country it hails from and extract essential key themes to make the film pertinent and hugely involving to people belonging to every race, religion and ethnicity.

For those of you who don’t (ordinarily) watch subtitled films, I guarantee you that the stories told in THE INSULT, CUSTODY, LOVELESS and IN THE FADE are far from being foreign and will immediately arouse your interest. Give them each a go, at the very least. You’ll thank me later!

2

Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce in The Wife (2017)

From scenes very early in this film, it is obvious that Joan Castleman’s (Glenn Close) calm exterior is harbouring tension that is gradually rising. Tensions triggered by long-time husband, Joe (Jonathan Pryce) that rise furthermore during a business trip to Stockholm. The build-up and revelations to follow are sublimely structured and written in this riveting and outstanding drama that features impeccable acting performances from Pryce and Close. I left the cinema in such awe of what I just saw and was moved emotionally for days after. Do not miss THE WIFE, which I believe is Glenn Close’s greatest opportunity yet to win her a very first Academy Award.

THE BEST MOVIE OF 2018

Daniel Day-Lewis and Vicky Krieps in Phantom Thread (2017)

I’ve selected PHANTOM THREAD my best movie of 2018, partially on the basis of being bias. It is the epitome of the exact type of character-driven drama that is right up my alley. This film maintained a certain unparalleled connection with me that was last achieved by 2012 Danish drama, THE HUNT. A story set in 1950s London featuring multi-layered and psychologically complex characters at its fore, PHANTOM THREAD is about a male dressmaker (played by Daniel Day Lewis in his typically finest form) whose very particular habits and structured living of life undergoes drastic and unpredictable change when he meets a younger woman and romantic interest (played by an electrifying Vicky Krieps). This outstanding film’s production is as flawless as its narrative. Production design, cinematography and the score are of the highest possible quality, just to name a few. A treasure to every sense for cinema aficionado’s and fans of this genre especially.

Some films that I am yet to see that are/will be released in 2018, which may occupy a place in my best of list are:

THE WILD PEAR TREE

As they say, what goes up must come down. Now, let’s get right to the bottom of my list. Here is…. 

THE WORST MOVIE OF 2018

Suspiria (2018)

How did one of my most anticipated films of the year result in easily being the worst? How is it even possible that director Luca Guadagnino hits rock bottom with this SUSPIRIA “remake” after his five-star masterpiece still sitting at the top of my “Best Films of 2017 List”, CALL ME BY YOUR NAME? This intentionally grotesque and absurd film is the most divisive and the most pretentious movie of 2018. The fleeting moments of impressive imagery and whispers of a comprehensible plot never make so many of the dreadful scenes you must endure and cannot unsee over a painstaking two and a half hours worth their while. On a positive note, at least the poster for the film isn’t misleading – SUSPIRIA really is as big a mess as it suggests! Read (or re-read) Jell’s hilarious review of SUSPIRIA and watch the Italian original from 1977 instead.

Now, we move along to plenty of additional stand-outs, highlights and low-lights in cinema throughout 2018…

THE BEST 3 FILMS OF 2018 AVAILABLE ON NETFLIX

ROMA (4 ½ stars)
ON MY SKIN (SULLA MIA PELLA)
(4 stars)
THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS
(4 stars)

The acting stand-outs

*OF refers to being my Oscar favourite
*OW refers to being Oscar worthy

Best Actress and/or Supporting Actress Performances

Glenn Close – THE WIFE (OF)
Sonia Kruger – IN THE FADE (AUS DEM NICHTS)
Lady Gaga – A STAR IS BORN (OW)
Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone – THE FAVOURITE (All OW)
Emma Thompson – THE CHILDREN ACT (OW)
Daniela Vega – A FANTASTIC WOMAN (UNA MUJER FANTÁSTICA)
Millicent Simmonds – for her debut performance in WONDERSTRUCK
Joanna Kulig – COLD WAR (ZIMNA WOJNA)
Thomasin McKenzie – LEAVE NO TRACE
Keira Knightley – COLETTE (OW)
Saoirse Ronan – ON CHESIL BEACH, THE SEAGULL and LADY BIRD
Amy Adams – VICE (OW)

Best Actor and/or Supporting Actor Performances

Rami Malek – BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (OF)
Jonathan Pryce – THE WIFE (OW)
Denis Menochet – CUSTODY (JUSQU’À LA GARDE)
Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne and Steve Carell – LAST FLAG FLYING
Bradley Cooper – A STAR IS BORN (OW)
Nick Robinson – LOVE, SIMON
Timothée Chalamet – BEAUTIFUL BOY (OW)
Jonah Hill – DON’T WORRY, HE WON’T GET FAR ON FOOT
Charlie Plummer – LEAN ON PETE
Tim Blake Nelson – THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS
Christian Bale and Sam Rockwell – VICE (OW)

These movies might have missed out on a spot in my best 22, but they are each very good, deserve a mention and you might like to check these out further…

WONDERSTRUCK (4 stars)
A QUIET PLACE
(A very strong 3 ½ stars)
LADY BIRD
(A very strong 3 ½ stars)
LADIES IN BLACK
(3 ½ stars and perfect to watch this Christmas!)
UPGRADE
(3 ½ stars)
THE CHILDREN ACT
(3 ½ stars)
WHAT WOULD PEOPLE SAY? (HVA VIL FOLK SI)
 (A very strong 3 stars)
TWO IS A FAMILY (DEMAIN TOUT COMMENCE)
(A very strong 3 stars)

These films also missed my best 22, but were much better than I had expected…

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (4 stars)
DEN OF THIEVES (4 stars)
BLOCKERS (3 ½ stars)
GRINGO (3 ½ stars)
GAME NIGHT (3 ½ stars)

And these movies ended up being some of the biggest let downs and/or are the most overrated films of 2018…

SUSPIRIA (1 star and I just had to mention it once more!)
THE BREAKER UPPERERS (1 ½ stars)
MY FRIEND DAHMER (1 ½ stars)
THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST(2 stars)
THE 15:17 TO PARIS (2 stars)
RED SPARROW (2 ½ stars)
BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE(2  ½ stars)
A SIMPLE FAVOUR (3 stars)
YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE (3 stars)
HEREDITARY (3 stars)

Without spoilers, here are just some of the most memorable and/or greatest moments and highlights in cinema in 2018…

A couple of heated verbal exchanges inside the hotel room in THE WIFE
The finale of
CUSTODY
The set-piece sequences, chase and fight scenes in
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT
Two harrowing sequences involving the main protagonist that I cannot describe without including spoilers in
ROMA (but you will know of which ones I speak of once you’ve seen the film!)
The conversation and laughter shared by the three lead actors of
LAST FLAG FLYING during a loss of virginity discussion
The utterly bizarre sexual encounter and the performance artist “entertainment” sequence in
THE SQUARE
The breaking of new ground in mainstream cinema by
LOVE, SIMON
The depiction of drug addiction, the diner scene and the final scene in
BEAUTIFUL BOY
The final performance sequence at Wembley in
BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY
The mathematical whiz chicken from the “Meal Ticket” story & the imagery, location and music scored for the “All Gold Canyon” story in the film
THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS
The more frequent appearance of black & white cinematography used to perfection in
ROMA, COLD WAR and WONDERSTRUCK
The depiction of motherhood in
TULLY
The appearance of Cher in
MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN
The brothel sequence filmed via security cameras in
YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE

And some low-lights of cinema that I’d like back please…

143 of the 152 minutes of SUSPIRIA
Anne Heche’s horrible attempt at acting in MY FRIEND DAHMER
The bodily sensations and dispensing of bodily fluids from Muppets in THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS
All of the excruciating and lame performances in IN LIKE FLYNN
All of the awkward and poor acting on display in
The nun in THE NUN
The lack of promised genuine scares and the laughable ending of HEREDITARY

For some fun to compare opinions, here are five films that I nominate Jell to watch and rate sometime in 2019…

CUSTODY
ISLE OF DOGS
IN THE FADE (AUS DEM NICHTS)
WONDERSTR
UCK
THE ARTIST

Highest grossing film – Worldwide

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR ($2,048,815,482)

Highest grossing film – In Australia

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR ($46,825,158)

Compiled by Leigh for Moviedoc
Follow on Twitter –Moviedoc / LIKE on Facebook – @moviedoc13

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OVERLORD

Director
Julius Avery

(SON OF A GUN)

Stars
Wyatt Russell, Pilou Asbæk, Jovan Adepo, Mathilde Ollivier, John Magaro and Iain De Caestecker

The names headlining this feature film might be less familiar, but do not assume for even a second that OVERLORD isn’t in competent hands. This ambitiously scripted, tenacious and bloodthirsty R18+ war action/horror movie is produced by J. J. Abrams (who confirmed this is not an entry in the Cloverfield franchise) through his Bad Robot Productions banner. Writer Billy Ray (who contributed to writing THE HUNGER GAMES and CAPTAIN PHILLIPS) composes the story and screenplay for OVERLORD, and up-and-coming Australian filmmaker Julius Avery directs, whose next project is set to be a new feature-length adaptation of FLASH GORDON.

In 1944 during WWII, a small team of American soldiers led by Corporal Ford (Wyatt Russell) are on their way to Nazi-occupied France on the eve of D-Day, when their plane is gunned down. Their assignment, which must continue, is to locate and destroy a German radio tower located inside an old church. The remaining survivors of the crash, including Private Ed Boyce (Jovan Adepo), Tibbet (John Magaro) and photographer Morton Chase (Iain De Caestecker), are about to discover an entirely different breed of horror that exists behind enemy lines.

Image result for overlord film stills

If you were to read this film’s script or even seek out more details than I’m willing to disclose, OVERLORD would sound as ludicrous on paper as it sometimes is. The conception and first few layers of development are well thought-out, but beyond that it isn’t meticulously written and does reveal a few improbabilities and inconsistencies. Most of which involve Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier), a French-German civilian and Captain Wafner (Pilou Asbæk). All of this is being mentioned purely to soften and shape expectations before you head to a big screen and see OVERLORD, rather than to deter you from doing so. The highly effective meshing of graphic horror into its WWII setting, a high volume of high-octane action sequences, its sheer bloodiness and loudness are seriously attention-diverting enough to deafen these imperfections, for most part. What’s also noticeable is the fact that less CGI is used to create the special effects, which can lend OVERLORD a rather old-school horror movie feel that many will savour. Elements of its origin are completely abandoned once the horror component of its genre is in full swing. Though the setting does change somewhat and despite relishing this transition, OVERLORD could have found more completeness had these elements remained in the background throughout. Nevertheless, OVERLORD is always extremely committed to its craft and should have no difficulty attracting and securing its ideal demographic. Hopefully I help it to achieve just that.

3 ½ stars 

Image result for overlord film stills

Viewer Discretion
R18+
(High impact violence)

Trailer
OVERLORD

Moviedoc thanks Paramount Pictures for the invite to the screening of this film.

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
Follow on Twitter Moviedoc / LIKE on Facebook – @moviedoc13

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BEST & WORST MOVIES OF 2017 including the highlights and some low-lights

Hello everyone

Firstly, a huge thank you for every review you have read, liked, shared, commented on and even chatted to me about in person. Thanks to you and your incredible support, I had a very productive year of film watching and reviewing!

In total, I got to see and review 141 films officially released in 2017 alone, which is 15 more than I was able to see at this same time in 2016! Of these, more than 25 movies received a 4 star rating from me, so I have compiled a ‘Best 25’ list this year as well as a ‘Worst 5’.

I hope you thoroughly enjoy reading this post. I also hope you take away a handful of films to see that you’ve never previously heard of or watched!
As always, please get in touch to share your views and best & worst movies.

I look forward to your continued support and interaction in what will be an even bigger and busier year of film watching & reviewing in 2018, where I hope to review a monthly classic and bring a review or two fresh from my attendance at film festivals!

Moviedoc 🙂

Moviedoc’s Best 25 Movies of 2017

25
WONDER
4 stars

A beautiful and meaningful story featuring a great cast that will make you cry a little but feel plenty of joy

24
PADDINGTON 2
4 stars

As sweet as marmalade itself and a sequel that’s every bit as good, if not better, than the first film. Paddington is no one-trick teddy bear!

23
THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE
4 stars

Arguably and in my opinion, this is the best rendition of Batman, ever! Utterly hilarious at times and scores Moviedoc’s #1 spot (just!) for best family film of 2017!

22
INGRID GOES WEST 
4 stars

All at once, this is an uncomfortably funny, dreadfully saddening and downright frightening exposé of just how far a social media addiction and obsession can take a person. Highly recommended!

21
GIFTED
4 stars

A splendid drama! One of the most underrated films of 2017! If you haven’t already, it is time to unwrap this true gift of a film.

20
THE BIG SICK
4 stars

A broadly appealing and wholly accessible romantic comedy-drama that’s not only based on a true story but even stars one of the real-life subjects; stand-up comedian, actor and writer, Kumail Nanjiani

19
BABY DRIVER
4 stars

It’s been a solid year for heist movies and this is the best of them. Flawless car chase sequences and an outstanding music score drive this slick and unique heist film. Hopefully BABY DRIVER won’t lose popularity due to co-starring Kevin Spacey, for it absolutely deserves to be seen.

18
MISS SLOANE
4 stars

Enthralling! I’ve been told those who are into TV Series “House of Cards” will want to see this. Sorry for making another connection to Kevin Spacey!

17
FENCES

4 stars

Can be a challenge to watch, especially during the first half. However, Denzel Washington’s Oscar-nominated performance playing a character he’s portrayed on Broadway 114 times before and Viola Davis’s Oscar-winning acting are so stellar in a movie that becomes absolutely riveting

16
THE BEGUILED
4 stars

Beautifully filmed and impeccably acted by one of the stand-out ensemble casts of the year. An excellent film from director Sofia Coppola.

15
MOONLIGHT
4 stars

You haven’t seen a story quite like the one told in MOONLIGHT before. This is the Best Picture Winner at the 2017 Academy Awards earlier this year. Brave and heartfelt storytelling.

14
MOUNTAIN
4 stars

A majestic and breathtaking cinematic experience. The Australian-made MOUNTAIN is 2017’s best documentary feature.

13
THE SALESMAN
4 stars

This is acclaimed Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s (THE PAST, A SEPARATION) latest feature film. An immaculately devised and strongly executed domestic drama with a gripping finale.

12
DUNKIRK
4 stars

A minimalist war film that draws maximum anxiety and exacts a claustrophobic stranglehold over its viewers from start to end thanks largely to the ever-present score by Oscar-winning film composer, Hans Zimmer

11
HOUNDS OF LOVE
4 stars

A similar breed of film to 2011’s SNOWTOWN, HOUNDS OF LOVE is an unnerving and tense dramatic thriller that showcases an outstanding music score, cinematography and acting. The best Australian film of 2017.

10
LAND OF MINE
4 stars

An Oscar-nominated foreign film taking place after WWII, which depicts a group of very young German POWs sent to Denmark to clear thousands of hidden land mines. Stomach-turning tension is guaranteed.

9
LOVING VINCENT
4½ stars

The first-ever oil painted feature film about Vincent van Gogh is never solely limited to its visual capabilities. A sublime film.

8
SILENCE
4½ stars

Martin Scorsese’s passion project and three-hour epic is a bravely written piece that is expertly penned toward the most religiously devout. A near-masterpiece.

7
WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES
4½ stars

The PLANET OF THE APES film series is now officially one of my favourites, if not my absolute favourite film franchise. Combines mesmerising CGI and cinematography with a powerful and relevant story that has a strong message for humankind. I just love it!

6
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
4½ stars

The storytelling structure, its well-studied account of key themes and the honesty of its writing and character depiction achieves MANCHESTER BY THE SEA A-grade status.

5
PERFECT STRANGERS
4½ stars

What happens when a close-knit group of friends meet for dinner and share every text message, email and phone call received with one another? You will want to find out! Italian comedy PERFECT STRANGERS features one of the most cleverly conceived and carefully-considered screenplay’s of the year.

4
GET OUT
4½ stars

Movies as genius as this are few and far between. Masterfully and studiously crafted, intelligently written and flawlessly executed, GET OUT is a broadly appealing and accessible horror film at heart that functions as a menacing mystery invite to all. If you haven’t already, please accept your invitation, pronto! You will not regret it.

3
LADY MACBETH
4½ stars

Witness one of the most conceivably written, daring and exciting character transitions seen in recent years. This fierce, fearless and electrifying film turns the period drama genre on its head in near flawless fashion and is the breakout film for its star, Florence Pugh, who is scintillating. Unmissable!

2
DOWNSIZING
5 stars

The last film to receive 5 stars from me was THE HUNT in 2013! Well, it had to take something very special to break that lengthy drought. Simply put, you have never seen a film quite like DOWNSIZING before. It is extraordinary. I admired its continual refusal to yield to any form of mainstream cinema convention, despite being a mainstream-friendly release. It also unearths one of the truest & most beautifully conceived and written characters I’ve seen in any film. Hong Chau (from acclaimed TV Series Big Little Lies) is just superb as Ngoc Lan Tran, in what is one of this year’s acting highlights. Absolutely amazing in every way imaginable.

THE BEST MOVIE OF 2017

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME 
5 Stars

It took me until February, 2018 to see this sensual and picturesque masterpiece. CALL ME BY YOUR NAME not only met my high expectations, it by far exceeded them. This slow-building drama set in northern Italy during a hot summer in 1983 is so precise and honest yet powerfully subtle in its articulation of the complex emotions and sensitive scenarios involving its characters. It takes some time for the forthcoming relationship to develop, yet does so organically and in complete avoidance of all stereotypes. By the time its extraordinarily moving and meaningful finale arrives, CALL ME BY YOUR NAME simply overwhelms. The ultimate meaning and key themes of this beautifully produced film earn an equal amount of appreciation as the stunning production, stand-out score and immaculate performances achieve.

Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet in Call Me by Your Name (2017)

Moviedoc’s Worst 5 Movies of 2017

5
BAYWATCH
1 ½ stars

Not even the charismatic Dwayne Johnson can save BAYWATCH from drowning in its own dump.


4
CHIPS
1 ½ stars

Unfunny. Sexist. Nasty. Avoid!


3
JIGSAW
1 star

Jigsaw may do a Jesus by way of his resurrection, however he is certainly no saviour to the eternal damnation sentenced upon the viewer in this dreadful reboot. Now, please stay dead.

2
SNATCHED
1 star

Goldie Hawn should have remained in her fifteen-year movie hibernation. Terrible movie.

THE WORST MOVIE OF 2017

T H E  M U M M Y
1 star

An unacceptable first instalment in Universal’s rather forced Dark Universe film series that seemingly exists purely to rival Marvel and the like. Yet sadly, THE MUMMY still grossed $409.1 million worldwide, which means there’ll probably be more to come. A score of just 5.5 on IMDB and 16% on Rotten Tomatoes more than justifies why this utterly dreadful reboot is the worst of the 141 movies released this year I have seen.

Still with me? Good! Now we go to some highlights and low-lights of 2017

The acting stand-outs of 2017

Timothée Chalamet in CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
Hong Chau – DOWNSIZING
Florence Pugh – LADY MACBETH
Danielle MacDonald – PATTI CAKE$
James Franco – THE DISASTER ARTIST
Emma Booth and Stephen Curry – HOUNDS OF LOVE
Naomie Harris – MOONLIGHT
Denzel Washington and Viola Davis – FENCES
Aubrey Plaza – INGRID GOES WEST
Teresa Palmer – BERLIN SYNDROME
Barry Keoghan – THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER
Sonia Braga – AQUARIUS
Oscar Isaac – SUBURBICON
Hugh Grant – PADDINGTON 2
John Lithgow and Salma Hayek – BEATRIZ AT DINNER
Nicole Kidman – THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER & THE BEGUILED
Dev Patel and Sunny Pawar – LION
Pierre Niney and Paula Beer – FRANTZ
Brian Cox – CHURCHILL
Jessica Rothe – HAPPY DEATH DAY
Tiffany Haddish – GIRLS TRIP
Sally Hawkins – MAUDIE
Hugo Weaving – JASPER JONES

Films to add to your watch list not in my Best 25 from 2017

PATRIOT’S DAY
LIFE
BATTLE OF THE SEXES
THEIR FINEST
A MONSTER CALLS
COLOSSAL
LION
COLLATERAL BEAUTY
SUBURBICON
THE BOSS BABY
BERLIN SYNDROME
LOGAN
THE DISASTER ARTIST (But watch clips from YouTube of THE ROOM first, if you haven’t already seen it!)

Most over-rated and/or most disappointing films from 2017

KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE
JACKIE
MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS
VICTORIA & ABDUL
THINGS TO COME
THE SNOWMAN
A CURE FOR WELLNESS
GOD’S OWN COUNTRY
LOVING
A SILENT VOICE
ALONE IN BERLIN
TRESPASS AGAINST US
GOLD
THE FLORIDA PROJECT

The highlights in films from 2017

Hong Chau’s character in DOWNSIZING
The uniquely hand-painted visual experience in LOVING VINCENT
The extreme slo-mo’s in HOUNDS OF LOVE
The development of the relationship and the first intimate scene between Elio and Oliver in CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
The atmosphere and the battle sequences staged in DUNKIRK
The real footage of a tightrope walk between two mountain peaks in MOUNTAIN
The final dinner table scene in THE BEGUILED
The car chase sequences and the music score in BABY DRIVER
A reaction from a particular water monster in THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE
The birthday party sequence & guest arrivals in TONI ERDMANN
The visual and aural experience in GHOST IN THE SHELL
The dialogue and its delivery from Tiffany Haddish in GIRLS TRIP
The final action sequence on the ice in Iceland in THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS

Best horror film

GET OUT
(A clear stand-out, however if that’s not scary enough for you, then try out IT COMES AT NIGHT, HAPPY DEATH DAY and IT. None of these films managed to scare me though!)

Best crying film
A MONSTER CALLS
(Even though its title suggests this belongs in the above category! Not the first time director J.A. Bayona has claimed this spot at the end of the year. THE IMPOSSIBLE was his previous movie)

Best lol film

PERFECT STRANGERS
(However, if you want something more mainstream, then try THE DISASTER ARTIST and GIRLS TRIP)

Best love story or romantic film

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME

Most unique/strange films

THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER
MOTHER!

Highest Grossing Film – Worldwide

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
($1.26 Billion)

Highest Grossing Film – In Australia

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 
($36.3 Million)

Compiled by Moviedoc
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LAND OF MINE

Director / Martin Zandvliet (A FUNNY MAN)
Stars / Roland Møller, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, Louis Hofmann, Joel Basman, Emil Belton and Oskar Belton

Denmark, 1945. Five years of German occupation and six years of war have finally come to an end. Shot at historically authentic locations, this excellent Danish/German production was nominated for Best Foreign Language Picture at the most recent Academy Awards.

At the conclusion of WWII, an estimated 2,600 German POWs were sent to remove over two million land mines that are buried under the sand along the west coast of Denmark. Almost half of these men died or were severely injured. Many of whom were just young boys.

_MG_1092-2.jpg

Telling just one of these several untold true stories of its kind, LAND OF MINE distinctly articulates its premise and summons palpable tension right from the opening frame.

As you could imagine, watching these frightened and innocent youths learning to defuse a land mine before completing the assignment on-site is a harrowing experience. Knowing the fate that awaits if just one wrong move or lapse in concentration occurs is beyond unsettling. But before LAND OF MINE begins to sound like unbearable viewing, the value to be gained from this devastating true story is beautifully depicted, as humanity and friendship are formed from some of the most unexpected places soon after its opening. While there is fear, it is met with bravery. Solitary is comforted by support. LAND OF MINE eloquently demonstrates why these adolescent men became the victims and faced unfathomable punishment for actions they were powerless to sway.

LAND OF MINE is quite a landmark achievement that boasts a precisely written narrative that resoundingly resonates with society of today. Its music score heightens anxiety levels and deepens emotional connections just as intended. Lastly, the venerable and affecting acting performances from each member of its cast contributes greatly to its powerfully conveyed universal themes. Highly recommended.


4 stars
 

LOM_Still_061.jpg

Viewer Discretion/ MA15+ (strong themes and violence)

Trailer / LAND OF MINE

Moviedoc thanks Palace Films for the invite to this film screening.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

©

 

2016 – The Best Films, The Worst and More ! !

 Hello everyone

Firstly, a huge thank you for every review you have read, liked, shared, commented on and even chatted to me about in person. Thanks to you and your incredible support, I had the most productive and enjoyable year of film watching and reviewing yet! 

In total, I got to see & review 126 films released in 2016 alone! Of these, more than 30 received a 4 out of 5 rating from me, the most in any year since I first started reviewing! As such, I have compiled a ‘Top 30’ list this year and ‘Bottom 5’ only.

I hope you thoroughly enjoy reading my thoughts and verdict below. I also hope you take away a handful of films to see that you’ve never previously heard of or watched!
As always, please get in touch to share your views and best & worst movies. I look forward to your continued support and interaction in what will be an even bigger and busier year of film watching & reviewing in 2017!

Moviedoc 🙂

Moviedoc’s Top 30 Movies of 2016

30

VICTORIA
(4 out of 5)

The star attraction of this German suspense/drama is its cinematography – VICTORIA is shot as one single continuous take. It’s a stunning feature of this arthouse film that continually impresses, especially when you consider the key events executed throughout. The titular character, a young Spanish woman in Berlin, meets a German man and his friends at a club. As the night out progresses and Victoria leaves the club with the men, she learns of some dangerous secrets. Watch VICTORIA and experience real-time suspense unlike any others. Unpredictable and hugely tense!

Sorry, Moviedoc did not write a review of this film 😦

29

ME BEFORE YOU 
(4 out of 5)

It may not be Moviedoc’s number one romantic drama of the year, but ME BEFORE YOU is easily the best “crying movie” of 2016. Some of its themes caused an unnecessary revolt during its cinematic run here in Melbourne. But this surprisingly quality romantic drama will be remembered for being heartbreaking on so many levels. Stars GOT’s Emilia Clarke too guys, just sayin’ 😉

Full Review – ME BEFORE YOU

28

HELL OR HIGH WATER
(4 out of 5)

In many film critics top 5, HELL OR HIGH WATER is a gritty and absorbing crime drama about two brothers who turn to crime in order to pay off a debt and the Texas ranger hunting them down, who is due for his retirement. Has depth, genuine tension and the best performance we’ve seen from Jeff Bridges since 2010’s TRUE GRIT. 

Full Review – HELL OR HIGH WATER


27

JULIETA 
(4 out of 5)

As mainstream as a Pedro Almódovar film gets. This Spanish drama, like any Almódovar film, features a layered story with full-bodied, richly-drawn characters. It is about how a chance encounter triggers a broken-hearted woman’s search for answers. An important lesson is unearthed during its excellent finale.

Sorry, Moviedoc did not write a review of this film 😦

26

KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS
(4 out of 5)

You wouldn’t pick it by the poster, but KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS is an American production. The best animated film of 2016 has a very accessible plot for kids – a young boy named Kubo who must find a magical suit of armour to fight an evil spirit from the past – and exceptionally creative, dazzling animation that is guaranteed to immerse adults into the story. 

Sorry, Moviedoc did not write a review of this film 😦

25

THE REVENANT
(4 out of 5)

A forgotten film of 2016, it seems. But how could anyone forget the movie that finally saw gold statuette in hand of Leonardo DiCaprio? What the poor guy has to go through in order to win his first Oscar brings out the most uncompromisingly tough performance we’ve seen from the star. The film is pretty darn good too! Brutal and slow-moving, yet an utterly engrossing and remarkable story of vengeance. The Academy Award winning cinematography is outstanding too.

Sorry, Moviedoc did not write a review of this film 😦


24

HAIL, CAESAR! 
(4 out of 5)

This Coen-brothers film is an intelligent and original comedy that will especially appeal to fans of Wes Anderson. Set during the 1950’s at a Hollywood film production, a “fixer” addresses several complications and conundrums both on-set and in his personal life. Great cast and great fun! 

Full Review – HAIL, CAESAR


23

Microbe & Gasoline 
(4 out of 5)

One of the rare gems of 2016, and I bet you’ve never heard of it! This French feel-good comedy has an irresistible sense of adventure and is about two teenage guys who build a makeshift motorhome and take-off, fleeing their mundane and depressing suburban lives. An affectionate, heart-warming and crowd-pleasing journey not to be missed! 

Film Review – MICROBE & GASOLINE

22

ZERO DAYS 
(4 out of 5)

This documentary will easily be the most misjudged film of the year. What ostensibly begins as a film merely documenting a malicious computer superbug emphatically ends as one powerful cautionary tale. A film you would think has nothing to do with you, then by the end, has everything to do with you. ZERO DAYS is an awakening from master director Alex Gibney (GOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE PRISON OF BELIEF). 

Full Review – ZERO DAYS

21

BROOKLYN 
(4 out of 5)

This is an Oscar-nominated tale about an Irish immigrant that finds love in New York, then is left with a tough decision to make when her past catches up with her. A romantic drama told with real warmth and beauty led by a confident performance from its A-grade star, Saoirse Ronan. 

Sorry, Moviedoc did not write a review of this film 😦

20

LA LA LAND
(4 out of 5)

Unlike so many others, LA LA LAND is not my best film of 2016. That does not mean it is a let down by any means either. This music-driven film released on Boxing Day throughout Australia is packed full of effortless and endless creativity & striking originality that is utterly delightful to be in the presence of. Go and enjoy Emma Stone & Ryan Gosling play lovers for a third time in a feature film! (Hook up in real-life already!)

Full Review – LA LA LAND

19

ELLE
(4 out of 5)


My personal runner-up for best foreign language film of 2016 is an utterly engrossing film consisting of several separate sub-plots, all of which are connected to the lead character of ELLE, Michèle (a brave performance in a demanding role from Isabelle Huppert) who hunts for a man who has physically assaulted her. Dutch filmmaker Paul Verhoeven’s French language erotic drama/thriller is an unmissable film for viewers who appreciate a psychologically complex work of profound characterisation and layered storytelling.

Sorry, Moviedoc did not write a review of this film 😦

18

THE HATEFUL EIGHT 
(4 out of 5)

Like THE REVENANT, THE HATEFUL EIGHT feels forgotten about. Bound to test the patience of even the most ardent Tarantino fans, this ultra-violent Western flick earns its place well inside my Top 30, courtesy of a near-faultless screenplay as we experience the masterful work of our famed director unwrapping the layers of tension and mystery, one layer at a time, in a magnificently methodical and meticulous manner.

Full Review – THE HATEFUL EIGHT

17

I, DANIEL BLAKE
(4 out of 5)

The famous proverb “Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes” is honestly and realistically exemplified in a film about a 59 year-old carpenter who is forced to turn to welfare support, as a result of a workplace incident. This is one of those films that is so true to life, it’s as close to watching a documentary a feature film can get. A truly involving and utterly valuable Irish drama.

Full Review – I, DANIEL BLAKE

16

HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE
(4 out of 5)

Ricky Baker is a name you won’t be forgetting any time soon. Nor is Julian Dennison, the young actor playing Ricky, in a breakthrough performance. This clever and triumphant smash-hit Kiwi comedy proved a winner with critics and audiences alike earlier in the year. If you somehow missed it, get onto this “majestical” film pronto, bro. 

Full Review – HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE

15

ARRIVAL 
(4 out of 5)

The mostly tired and often repetitive alien-invasion genre experiences an invasion of originality and innovation in ARRIVAL. This suspenseful drama is about an expert linguist who attempts to communicate with extra-terrestrial forces that have landed several spacecraft throughout the world. Watch this superior film over the upcoming PASSENGERS and ten times before you attempt INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE. 

Full Review – ARRIVAL

14

EYE IN THE SKY 
(4 out of 5)

The opposite of escapism. That is what EYE IN THE SKY is, a gripping and strongly immersive motion picture about an operation to catch a group of terrorists in Kenya, before their next attack. But the team are about to be thrown their toughest conundrum yet when an unforeseen move takes place. EYE IN THE SKY gives the viewer a two-sided story that forces you to question what you would do in this scenario. A seriously compelling and thought-provoking dramatic thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat.

Full Review – EYE IN THE SKY

13

SPOTLIGHT 
(4 out of 5)

This year’s Best Picture Oscar winner handles its controversial and sensitive subject matter (child molestation within the Catholic Church) with utmost professionalism and sincerity. As a production, SPOTLIGHT is unshowy, honest and never sensationalised. A very deserving winner at the 2016 Academy Awards.

Full review – SPOTLIGHT

12

TRUMBO 
(4 out of 5)

Bryan Cranston stars as Dalton Trumbo, a Hollywood screenplay writer during the 1940’s who is believed to be a communist by a US agency. Based on a true story, this highly engaging and exceedingly informative film is bolstered by its surprising humour and Cranston’s astonishing work in the lead role. 

Full Review – TRUMBO

11

MUSTANG
(4 out of 5)

A French, German & Turkish co-production which was nominated for best foreign language film at 2016’s Oscars is a most profound experience chronicling the lives of 5 orphaned, close-knit sisters. Growing up in ultra-conservative surroundings, their lives are changed forever after an innocent encounter. Based on the director’s real-life experiences, this foreign tale contains a message of utmost significance to anywhere in the world. This is the best foreign film of 2016.

Full review – MUSTANG


10

SING STREET
(4 out of 5)

Another rare gem of 2016. This small Irish comedy/drama with a big heart is viewed from the eyes of a teenage male who doesn’t know how to impress the girl he wants, so he starts his own rock band! Aside from its wonderfully endearing nature, this terrific movie features a stunning soundtrack as well as original music written and performed for the film. I guarantee you’ll have a great time watching SING STREET.

Full review – SING STREET

9

CHASING ASYLUM
(4.5 out of 5)

It is difficult to think of a more pertinent film to see right now than this. CHASING ASYLUM is a documentary that uses real footage secretly filmed to expose the conditions and treatment of asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru. A film which acknowledges that the Australian Government has succeeded in stopping the boats and claiming lives have been saved by doing so, but at what cost? A must watch, especially for people who value truth and humanity.

Sorry, Moviedoc did not review this film ;(

8

THE NEON DEMON 
(4.5 out of 5)

When I first watched THE NEON DEMON, I absolutely loved the first two-thirds, then hated the last third. Since then, this sick, twisted and absolutely brilliant film has grown and grown on me. So much so, it is the number one film of 2016 that I cannot stop thinking or talking about. This is Nicolas Winding Refn’s (DRIVE, ONLY GOD FORGIVES) deliciously exaggerated and darkly comical take on a group of supermodels who will stop at nothing to achieve their dreams. You will either love or loathe what is the strangest film of 2016. But do be warned – Beauty doesn’t get uglier than this! Unforgettable and Unmissable for horror and arthouse cinema fans.

Full review – THE NEON DEMON

7

THE DANISH GIRL 
(4.5 out of 5)

THE DANISH GIRL is a deeply empathetic and stunningly rendered production about an artist couple living in 1920’s Copenhagen whose relationship together begins to evolve and be challenged when Einar (played beautifully by Eddie Redmayne) decides to become a woman. An open-minded audience will be rewarded with breathtaking acting, studious direction from Tom Hooper (THE KINGS SPEECH) and a beautifully told story of love, sexual identity and self-discovery. Has been one of this year’s best films all year. 

Full review – THE DANISH GIRL

6

EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT 
(4.5 out of 5)

The most authentic movie of the year is also the first film in over 30 years to be filmed on location in the Amazonian jungle and Amazon River. Filmed in beautiful black and white, EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT is the story of two Scientists searching for a rare flower known for its healing powers. For those of you who value a complete immersion into a foreign world, way of life and have a genuine appreciation towards culture in all its forms, one of the most memorable and grandest films of the year awaits.

Full review – EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT

5

ROOM 
(4.5 out of 5)

Based on the popular novel of the same name, this deceptively layered, subtly powerful and poignant drama is about a Mother (Oscar winner Brie Larson) and her young son (an astonishing Jacob Tremblay) who survive inside the tiny confines of what they refer to as “ROOM”. With their only visible access to the outside world coming via a skylight, curiosity and determination sees them hatch a dangerous plan to escape. The end result is a brilliantly bold, psychologically complex and a deeply rational film. 

Full review – ROOM

4

CAROL 
(4.5 out of 5)

CAROL, a wholly absorbing and completely transfixing film set in the 1950’s which focuses on an intimate relationship being formed between the titular character and a young aspiring photographer. The greatest romantic drama of 2016 is an outstanding production in every aspect (costume, set design, you name it) and is led by two truly immaculate acting performances from Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. 

Full review – CAROL

3

HACKSAW RIDGE
(4.5 out of 5)

There haven’t been many Australian-made films this year that have pushed a three-star rating, sadly. Well then, aren’t we lucky that good old trusty Mel Gibson brought this American story to our shores for production! Desmond T. Doss, a medic who served in the Battle of Okinawa during World War II, never used a weapon while on the front lines, saving many lives in the process. Quite simply, this is one of the greatest (anti) war films of the 21st Century. While you experience some of the most impacting scenes ever filmed on the battle grounds, Gibson’s superior handling of HACKSAW RIDGE and Andrew Garfield’s career-best performance ensure sight is never lost of why we’re even here. A stunning film.

Full review – HACKSAW RIDGE

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC
(4.5 out of 5)

Not a superhero film, but it is a super film. Taken from the personal experiences of writer/director Matt Ross, CAPTAIN FANTASTIC is about a Father who is raising his six children in the forest of the Pacific Northwest. This family live a very unorthodox and secluded life, so when the need to travel beyond arises, will they be ready for the confronting journey that lies ahead? Best described as an amalgamation of ROOM and the 2006 road movie LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, yet very much its own film. What truly stands-out about this comedy/drama is the humour which is extracted from the most unconventional of places and an extremely thought-provoking screenplay. A true highlight of 2016, don’t underestimate just how brilliant this movie is. It made second place for good reason 😉

Full review – CAPTAIN FANTASTIC

1

45 YEARS 
(4.5 out of 5)

Even I am surprised by my choice of number one ranking this year! Truth be told, no film came closer to receiving the perfect score in 2016 from me. And no film, as a whole, hit me harder than the story of an elderly couple, almost 45 years married to one another, who receive shattering news that threatens to change the rest of their lives. And maybe even everything before this day. There is a valuable life lesson to be learned for ears willing to listen. A subtle, yet powerful message from the older to the younger. The carefully considered writing, sophisticated handling of all proceedings and impeccable acting work from leads Charlotte Rampling (who was Oscar nominated earlier in the year) and Tom Courtenay catapult this extraordinary film to the top of my list

Full review – 45 YEARS

That was quite a read! Now, something short and sweet. Here are the worst movies of 2016!

Moviedoc’s Bottom 5 Movies of 2016

5

HIGH-RISE
(1.5 out of 5)

Life for residents in a tower block begins to run out of control. This dystopian dark comedy starring Tom Hiddleston certainly has appealing elements. But this highly obscure film remains a mystery to me above all else. It becomes too irritating and off-putting to continue caring about. See, I don’t like all weird movies!

Sorry, Moviedoc did not write a review of this film 😦

4

NOW YOU SEE ME 2 
(1.5 out of 5)

A magic film, without any magic. This sequel is a careless whisper of the intrigue and alluring mystery summoned from the previous outing. Do not bother.

Full review – NOW YOU SEE ME 2

3

BACKTRACK
(1.5 out of 5)

You have probably never heard of this misfiring Australian mystery drama/horror starring Sam Neill and Oscar-winner Adrian Brody, who plays a psychologist experiencing a few issues of his own. Good, let’s backtrack then and keep it that way!

Full review – BACKTRACK

2

INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE
(1 out of 5)

20 years. That is how long it has been since the original INDEPENDENCE DAY premiered on our big screens. 20 years on, and this sequel doesn’t just fail to bring something new to the alien invasion genre, it just fails. Miserably. It only has the film below to thank for not being named the worst movie of 2016.

Full Review – INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE

1

BLAIR WITCH
(0.5 out of 5)

The most frightening aspect of BLAIR WITCH, is just how bad it actually is! Should only be shown to severely misbehaving children for disciplinary reasons by responsible adults. If you get through this once, as I somehow did, you’ll never want to see another minute of it again. 

Full review – BLAIR WITCH

While there have been countless acting performances of the highest quality, here are my top female and male performers of 2016

Actress of the Year
Alicia Vikander
(THE DANISH GIRL & THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS)

Actor of the Year
Bryan Cranston
(TRUMBO & THE INFILTRATOR)

And finally, to some additional bits and pieces. These films did not make my Top 30 or Bottom 5. 

Top 5 Most Underrated and/or Under the Radar Films

AMERICAN HONEY (4 out of 5)
ROSALIE BLUM (3.5 out of 5)
ANOMALISA (3.5 out of 5)
BRIDGET JONES’S BABY (3.5 out of 5)
THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS (3.5 out of 5)

Top 5 Most Overrated and/or Overly Hyped Films

SULLY (2.5 out of 5)
RED DOG: TRUE BLUE (2 out of 5)
THE LADY IN THE VAN (2 out of 5)
MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2 (2 out of 5)
THE BIG SHORT (2 out of 5)


Add These 5 Films To Your Watch List

A UNITED KINGDOM (3.5 out of 5)
WHERE TO INVADE NEXT 
(3.5 out of 5)
SWISS ARMY MAN 
(3.5 out of 5)
THE FENCER 
(3 out of 5)
NERVE 
(3 out of 5)

These are some films that deserve a mention and ought to be watched, depending on your taste

ALLIED (3.5 out of 5)
DEADPOOL (3.5 out of 5)
DOCTOR STRANGE (3.5 out of 5)
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (3.5 out of 5)
WAR DOGS (3.5 out of 5)
SON OF SAUL  (3.5 out of 5)
THE SHALLOWS (3 out of 5)
THE FOUNDER (3 out of 5)

Best Horror Film 
DON’T BREATHE 
(3.5 out of 5)

Best Prequel/Sequel
THE CONJURING 2 (3.5 out of 5)

Best Remake
THE JUNGLE BOOK (3.5 out of 5)

Highest Grossing Film – Worldwide
FINDING DORY ($1.027 Billion)

Highest Grossing Film – In Australia
FINDING DORY ($36.1 Million)

Compiled by Moviedoc
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FREE STATE OF JONES

139 minutes, Biography Drama

It feels a long time ago since we last saw Matthew McConaughey star in a lead role. And it takes very little time to remember why we’ve missed the A-grade actor on the big screen. McConaughey simply anchors FREE STATE OF JONES, giving a finely attuned performance portraying real-life figure Newton Knight, whom this film is inspired by. During the American Civil War in Jones County of Mississippi in the year 1862, Newton – known as a deserter (military terminology for someone abandoning post without authority) – forms an armed rebellion of slaves that have escaped captivity along with other fellow deserters, whose cause together is to fight the Confederacy.

 

 

FREE STATE OF JONES is worth a watch, purely due to the work of McConaughey and the unyielding goodwill & bravery constantly at the fore from his titular character. These strongest aspects of this war drama earn it the care that Knight’s tale deserves, even though a laborious and sometimes difficult to distinguish narrative mount a challenge to ones concentration and commitment throughout an overly generous running time. Seemingly placed here as an attempt to modernise this project, a relevant and also true sub-plot (taking place more than 80 years into the future!) is abruptly interjected into the film screenplay that never quite manages to successfully integrate itself with the rest of FREE STATE OF JONES. And to be fairly honest, this sub-plot actually deserves much more than that. Hopefully it gets the green light for a feature film of its own someday. Nevertheless, the aforementioned goods, the true events depicted and the thematic ground being covered are likely to moderately engage audiences. Especially those who like a solid biographical film.

 

3 out of 5


Viewer Discretion 

MA15+ – Strong themes and violence


Moviedoc wishes to thank StudioCanal and Village Cinemas Crown for the invite to the Media Screening of FREE STATE OF JONES.

Review by Moviedoc

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