Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Critical Week: A time for reflection

Press screenings always go slightly bonkers at this time of year as critics try desperately to catch up with everything before casting votes in year-end awards. I vote in three awards - the Online Film Critics Society released its nominees this week (the nominations deadline was last Saturday), the London Critics' Circle Film Awards (of which I'm the chair again) has its nominations deadline this Friday, and Galeca's Dorian Awards nominations are due next month. Anyway, in this flurry of screenings, I've seen what just might end up as my favourite film of the year, Charlie Kaufman's Anomalisa, an inventively animated and staggeringly personal exploration of self-image and human interaction.

Other awards screenings included The Revenant, Alejandro Inarritu's bravura and thoroughly harrowing survival tale starring Leonardo Di Caprio; Joy, the nutty and rather wonderful biopic reuniting Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro and writer-director David O Russell; and The Danish Girl, a rather too-pretty biopic but strongly pointed starring the excellent Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander.

Regular releases screened this week included Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's goofy comedy Sisters, Brad and Angelina Jolie Pitt's handsome but stilted drama By the Sea, Jackie Chan and John Cusack's splintered Chinese action epic Dragon Blade, the charming British holiday romance Sparks and Embers, the rightly acclaimed Everest doc Sherpa,  the introspective American indie drama The Surface, and the offbeat Italian micro-budget drama Water Boys. I also took the time to delight in the starry joys of Sofia Coppola and Bill Murray's holiday extravaganza A Very Murray Christmas.

This coming week, the only movie anyone is talking about is Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which I'll get to see on Tuesday the 15th, a couple of days before it opens. Also screening: Ron Howard's seafaring epic In the Heart of the Sea, the British Winter Olympics biopic Eddie the Eagle, Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell squaring off in Daddy's Home, and Stephen Dorff in American Hero.

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