Here they are, in order of seeing, the best, to my eyes, of this year’s new releases; the films I enjoyed most and would happily see again.
Loveless : Andrey Zvyagintsev
Western : Valeska Grisebach
BlacKkKlansman : Spike Lee
Cold War : Pawel Pawlikowski
The Rider : Chloe Zhao
The Miseducation of Cameron Post : Desiree Akhavan
Lucky : John Carroll Lynch
Nae Pasaran : Felipe Bustos Sierra
Skate Kitchen : Crystal Moselle
Shoplifters : Hirokazu Koreeda
Disobedience : Sebastian Lelio
Roma : Alfonso Cuaron
The Old Man and The Gun : David Lowery
Okay, I know the last mentioned is a little on the lightweight side, especially when compared to a heavy-duty [but brilliant] film like Loveless, or Cold War, or Cuaron’s Roma, but it does have an absolutely sparkling performance by Sissy Spacek, who – excuse the cliché – lights up the screen whenever she appears. And hey, I’m of the age when I can happily take sustenance from watching someone of, shall we say, advancing years running the screen and living a mostly happy and fulfilling life – even if that life does comprise robbing banks. I felt the same about the Harry Dean Stanton character in Lucky, just as I did about the real-life Rolls Royce workers who refused to handle airplane engine parts that were destined to be used by the Chilean government against their own people. Watch those deeply principled yet otherwise ordinary, now elderly men finally getting their due recognition in the final scenes of Nae Pasaran and hold the tears back if you can. More movies for old geezers, that’s what I say!
And the most disappointing film of the year? For me, without a doubt, Nuri Bilge Ceylon’s The Wild Pear Tree. After watching his marvellous Once Upon a Time in Anatolia for the third time just a few days before, I was hoping for something more striking and cinematic than his previous effort, the dull, overly-Chekovian and aptly titled Winter Sleep, which won the Palme D’Or at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. Sadly, no such luck. Until – far too late – the last twenty minutes or so, Ceylan’s latest film revolves around three hours of argument and aimless conversation, relieved only by his trademark shots of empty and beautiful Turkish countryside.