We’ve taken a leaf out of Santa’s book, and have decided to reflect on the films of the year by determining which ones have been ‘good/nice’ and which ones have been downright naughty/bad. All of the team have put forward three films on their nice list and three for their naughty lists, giving their reasons why certain films have made the right or the wrong impression. So, grab a mince-pie and some egg nog and join us to examine the lists. Ho, ho, ho!
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
It’s a shame this didn’t get talked about more, because not only was this one of the standout films of the year, but also one of the best adaptations of a book in recent times. Adapted from the book by Emily M. Danforth, the story follows Cameron Post (played by Chloë Grace Moretz), a teenager who is discovered kissing another girl and sent to a conversion therapy center.
Moretz steals the show in an incredibly subtle performance, that’s unlike anything she has done before. Forrest Goodluck, Sasha Lane, and John Gallagher Jr. also provide excellent support as people she meets at the center. The film’s other highlight is director Desiree Akhavan, who works incredibly hard to tell the story in her own unique voice.
This year; Searching reminded us that you don’t need fancy visuals or a big budget to entertained, you just need a compelling story. Framed as though we’re watching through a computer screen, the story follows David (John Cho), a single father who goes on a desperate search to find his daughter after she goes missing. The gimmick of telling a story this way has been done before, but not this cleverly.
The emotional points of the film stand out a lot more while the film’s “pin-drop” moment is up there in the top five cinema scenes of this year for me. As David, Cho gives his best performance to date and one of the best of all year. He perfectly captures what a parent goes through as they are living through their worse nightmare. Debra Messing is also on fantastic form as Vick, the detective assigned to David’s case.
Spike Lee added his distinctive style to this real-life story and, the result is his best films in recent times. The story is set in the 70s and follows Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), an African-American cop who infiltrates a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan with the help of fellow cop Flip (Adam Driver). The script does a brilliant job of balancing the hilarious nature of the story, with its shocking reality while also keeping the audience in the dark as to how it will end.
John David Washington is fantastic as Stallworth, portraying him as a charming yet stoic man who wants to do more to change the environment that holds him back. In his role as Flip, Adam Driver shines in a reserved and nuanced performance. Laura Harrier is also on great form as Patrice, Stallworth’s girlfriend. Klan leader David Duke also shows up and is portrayed in an excellent performance by Topher Grace.
Peppermint could have been a quiet knockout. A low-budget action-drama about a woman who seeks revenge against the people who killed her family, this film could have been an awesome film that avoided the clichés of the genre.
Instead, we got a film that added nothing new apart from a few decent fight scenes and an awful plot. The best thing about this film is Jennifer Garner’s truly astonishing performance that, to me, will go down as one of the underrated performance of this year.
With an awesome cast, intriguing premise and a decent director behind the camera, this looked to be the thriller of the year. The film we got was dull with an overly complicated plot that dragged the run-time out longer than it needed to be. There are a few interesting moments which would have made the film more compelling had they been fully explored.
With that said, there are a couple of good things from this film. Firstly, the muted cinematography by Jo Willems is stunning and does a great job of showing the cold climate of Russia. Secondly, all the cast are great in their roles with Jennifer Lawrence and Joel Edgerton being the standouts.