10) The Hateful 8
Tarantino knows his genres and with his second western he offers homage with his own inevitable flair. I saw this three times one of those in glorious 70mm at the IFI. Outstanding performances from Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Walton Goggins make for an epic yarn which speaks volumes about current race relations in America.
The most haunting montage in 13th is when audio from Trump election rallies are put to the violence and abuse of black people from the 1950 and 60s. An amazing documentary which shows how the mass incarceration of black people has been occurring since slavery has been abolished.
Five orphan girls are taken from school by their conservative Uncle and made live a sheltered life in rural Turkey as they are married off one by one. A frank look at religious conservatism that is equal parts bleak and heart-warming. What shines through is the comradery between sisters and the older generation of women who were subjected to the same fate.
7) A Date for Mad Mary
Seána Kerslake’s outstanding performance set this Drogheda tale apart from the crowd. An honest heartfelt performance about coming to terms with oneself wherever it may take you.
6) Embrace of the Serpent
A journey in the Amazon to find a plant with healing properties told 40 years apart with the common thread of a shaman by the name of Karamakate. It allows us to see the effect man has not only on nature but remote societies. Shot is sumptuous black and white with outstanding performances with nods to Apocalypse Now and the work of Werner Herzog it’s certainly one to check out.
5) The Revenant
Certainly seeming like a film from 2015 even though being released in Ireland on the 15th of January, The Revenant stills looms large in my memory from all those months ago. Director Alejandro G. Inárritu paired with his cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and the talent of DiCaprio all combine to provide a visual feast.
Jim Jarmusch has Adam Driver play Paterson a bus driver who lives in Paterson and is a budding poet in his spare time. The film is slow paced and quiet, gently showing the routines of an ex-marine as he tries to figure out his life. Full of Jamusch oddities and conversations it’s a treat for fans and first timers alike.
3) Sing Street
John Carney’s “The Commitments for Children” is a lovable tale with super songs to match. A potential for best song at the Oscars.
2) The Light between Oceans
An old fashioned romance that had me hooked from the beginning and leaves you with the quandary of what would you do? Always a bonus for a film.
1) Midnight Special
Some scenes from Jeff Nichols feature Midnight Special still cause me to get emotional as I think back to them. Like all good sci-fi films there is more going on than at first glance. Michael Shannon is trying to get his son away from a cult and the government at the same time as both are concerned with his unusual gifts. It also stars Adam Driver in a very Spielberg-esque character, as a curious scientist with a heart of gold. The film looks at the effect on a family torn apart by a child who doesn’t conform to any norms with standout performances from all concerned.