20 – Bad Moms
The adults-behaving-badly comedy is a genre almost totally dominated by men. For every Bridesmaids there are, literally, three The Hangovers. The irony is that in real life men behave badly all the time. The idea that Adam Sandler acting like a teenager is in some way a special and unique thing is preposterous – we are all, consistently, surrounded by men acting like teenagers. This is why so many of these comedies have only one straight-laced character, who is taught the art of behaving badly by his badly behaving best friend (usually Seth Rogen, sometimes Owen Wilson). But no matter how you dress it up, the joke is pretty stale.
Bad Moms works because the pent up energy of somebody who spends ten hours a day with a toddler is easier to relate to than somebody who has a decent job but is bored with it for some vague reason or other. It also works because it the script is very funny and the brilliant cast capture the R-rated-Mean-Girls vibe perfectly. It is also, because it is a film about being a parent, able to occasionally wind down the anarchy and show its heart without it feeling like a cop out.
19 – Welcome to Me
This was released in the UK nearly twelve months after its US release, and even then it only made it to a handful of cinemas. It’s a shame because this is a great film, funny and warm and inventive, with lots to say and a stunning central performance from Kristin Wiig. She plays a lottery winner who pays a struggling television network to show hours and hours of her own chat show. Both the chat show, which is messed-up and frequently hilarious, and the overarching narrative, which is sad and beautiful, work brilliantly. It will change the way you think about carbohydrants.
18 – Call of Heroes
One of the finest action films of the year. There are some right lovely fight scenes in this one.
17 – Midnight Special
Sorry Sarah, I really liked this. I know you said we would have words if this was in my top twenty, but can those words be about how Michael Shannon is great? Or how it is possibly the best chase film of the last decade? Or how any arguments about plausibility are moot because the film occupies a purely cinematic space, like a Hitchcock sci-fi movie, if such a thing were to exist?
16 – Long Way North
This is a ridiculously beautiful looking animation. Look. Just look at it…
15 – Under the Shadow
You see, I do like horror films. Just not many of them. Under the Shadow is bloody brilliant though. The scares are fun, electrifying, there is nothing pointlessly upsetting or cruel or nasty just to outdo what has come before. Under the Shadow has confidence in its story, and its script, and the notion that less is more, that the imagined is more interesting than the shown. Also, Narges Rashidi is phenomenal in the lead role.
14 – 13th
It is refreshing to see a documentary that is this smart, laying out its argument, step by step, with the precision of a surgeon. In a world where so many film makers think Stuart Maconie remembering something is sufficiently intellectually challenging for their audience, it is a pleasant surprise to be treated to the thoughts of so many professors, philosophers, activists and politicians. If you have Netflix, and you haven’t seen this yet, put it to the top of your ‘to watch’ list.
13 – Zootropolis
We all love this one, don’t we? Of course we do, because it is amazeballs. It’s worth saying though, that as well as being a masterpiece in the art of making you feel all warm and fuzzy, it also has some incredible animation. The train journey to the city is spectacular, especially on the big screen.
12 – Florence Foster Jenkins
Everyone involved is on top form in this one. Meryl Streep is great, Hugh Grant puts in one of his finest performances, and Simon Helberg lays the foundations for a successful transition from television to cinema. What truly raises it to the heights though is how, despite being hilarious from start to finish, it is never cruel toward its subject. It is rare to see so much kindness in a comedy, or in its characters.
11 – Divines
Proof, as if it were needed, that Netflix should spend less time making four movie deals with Adam Sandler and more time checking out the winner of the Caméra d’Or at Cannes. Divines is a magnificent film, easily the best drama Netflix has bought the distribution rights to. It will make you laugh, cry, and all that stuff. It is wonderful. And I’m going to say it: whoever wins the best actress Oscar this year will have stolen it from Oulaya Amamra. That’s just a true.