So as mentioned on my Twitter, I’ve set myself a couple of New Year’s resolutions, and of course they’re all movie themed!
My main aim is to watch 100 films that I have never seen before, with a couple of stipulations:
- This won’t include new releases at the cinema – those will go towards my grand target of trying to watch 365 films in total this year!
- At least 25 of these new watches will be films directed by women. (I’ll highlight these ones in red)
This page may change over the year, but for now I’ll be doing some mini reviews for my 100 new watches; you’ll find the most recent at the top and the oldest at the bottom. Do stay tuned and watch this space however…things might change!
#35 American Graffiti (1973) (Watched 29/03/18)
I’ll always find these glimpses into a microcosm of a sub-culture fascinating, and American Graffiti is no different. Films like Dazed and Confused were undoubtedly cut from the safe cloth as this, and whilst the filmmaking from Lucas isn’t perhaps mind-blowing, he proves to be deft at handling characters and this was definitely something that came into play in his later work. American Graffiti is about cars, girls, teenage rebellion and growing up, and is a great throwback to the early 1960s. The soundtrack is pretty wonderful as well!
#34 Paths of Glory (1957) (Watched 25/03/18)
Perhaps one of Kubrick’s lesser seen films, this is surprisingly one of the more accessible ones. Noticeably shorter than some of his later works, Paths of Glory is a wonder to look at, scathing, funny, intelligent and powerful in places as well. A fantastic performance from Kirk Douglas especially, this was truly the sign of the great things to come for Kubrick.
#33 The Killing (1956) (Watched 25/03/18)
Funnier than I anticipated, The Killing unfolds with all the master storytelling prowess you would expect from a Kubrick film. Perhaps lacking in some of the visual flair of his later films, The Killing instead showcases some fantastic storytelling and a great ensemble cast.
#32 Miss Representation (2011) (Watched 10/03/18)
It isn’t the most creatively made documentary but the facts and the voices speak for themselves. More relevant now than perhaps even at the time it was released, this is an important documentary which highlights the massive injustices women face and particularly how this stems from the representation of women in the media.
#31 Good Time (2017) (Watched 10/03/18)
The cinematography is the MVP of this crime thriller, with the garish neons being particularly eye-catching. It’s fast-paced, intense, well-shot and the synth score is great as well. Possibly the best R-Patz has ever been as well, Good Time is a tightly-wound, self-contained thriller that is exactly what it says on the tin; a good time!
#30 Strong Island (2017) (Watched 09/03/18)
A deeply personal film that will undoubtedly resonate with many. This may be the story of one man and one family but it tackles themes that unfortunately are a whole lot bigger. Intimate and raw film-making that’ll make you angry at the massive injustice.
#29 Whitney: Can I Be Me (2017) (Watched 09/03/18)
Left me with the same tragic emptiness that Amy did, Can I Be Me is a devastating portrait of a tortured soul who despite her immeasurable talent, could not defeat her own demons. Touching, poignant, and not the easiest of watches, but one which showcases the talent and truth of a remarkable woman.
#28 Icarus (2017) (Watched 09/03/18)
This type of documentary is SO up my street. I love stories that start of as one small, personal story and then develop in totally unexpected and world-changing ways. It veers into slightly manipulative territory towards the end which knocks it down half a mark and whilst it is very obviously pushing an agenda, no one can question its motives. The interspersed quotes from Orwell’s 1984 further cement how terrifyingly real its dystopian vision has proved to be and highlights the importance of truth; a perfect metaphor for the CRAZY places this documentary goes and it’s commendable quest for the truth.
#27 Whale Rider (2002) (Watched 09/03/18)
It took me a little while to warm to this one but it’s impossible not to be charmed by the end! It is empowering, educational, and stringently respectful of its culture, which makes for a slightly alienating watch in places, but the performances – particularly from a young Keisha Castle-Hughes – are captivating
#26 The Levelling (2016) (Watched 08/03/18)
Remarkably accomplished for a debut film, Hope Dickson Leach’s naturalistic style and social-realistic narrative could draw comparisons with fellow female filmmaker Clio Barnard. With a stunning performance from Ellie Kendrick, this film is powerful, poignant and full of quiet potency.
#25 Sorcerer (1977) (Watched 04/03/18)
Unrelentingly tense, Friedkin’s follow-up to The Exorcist may be less well known but it is no less amazing. With incredible performances, particularly from Scheider, and some of the most nerve-shredding scenes committed to film, Sorcerer is a genuine masterpiece.
#24 Christine (2016) (Watched 28/02/18)
An incredible performance by Rebecca Hall anchors this film but it is undoubtedly a fascinating story. It is a little on the long side and whilst it has a lot to say about mental health, and the media, it doesn’t necessarily land all of these plot points. It makes a surprising companion piece to Nightcrawler, and similarly it has moments which will stay with you long after and a truly incredible central performance.
#23 The Garden of Words (2013) (27/02/18)
Lacking some of the thematic punch of Shinkai’s other films, but the animation is absolutely stunning and the use of rain is particularly gorgeous. The characters are flawed but there is such beauty in watching them interact. This was undoubtedly a sign of the great things to come for Shinkai.
#22 5 Centimeters Per Second (2007) (Watched 25/02/18)
Makoto Shinkai already has a reputation after the exceptional Your Name, but head a bit further back and you’ll find the stunning 5 Centimeters Per Second. This collection of connected short stories telling the story of Takaki and Akari’s relationship is beautiful to watch, poignant and will make your heart ache with longing.
#21 Fish Tank (2009) (Watched 25/02/18)
I love Andrea Arnold and I loved this movie! Striking performances and pretty uncompromising in places, but it’s a powerful watch and Arnold’s direction is superb.
#20 The Wound (2017) (Watched 24/02/18)
The Wound boils with a quiet intensity, and there is the constant sense that we the audience are the observers to this introspective world, both in terms of the cultural traditions, and the brief releases of the sexual tension. The scenes of intimacy gradually progress from being quite raw and uncompromising, being shot with harsh framing or silhouetted in near-darkness, to being noticeably more sensual and intimate as the truth quietly reveals itself. Throughout, we are made to feel like the outsiders, and this does make for an alienating watch in places, but the performances and the quietness of the whole thing are captivating.
#19 mother! (2017) (Watched 17/02/18)
A cacophony of sheer insanity, each scene ushering in a new breed of chaos, and more allegory than you could shake a stick at. It’s a wonder a film like this even exists, and whilst undeniably divisive, this is certainly a film that’ll get people talking. I’ve never seen anything like this before and I’m not sure I will again. And I’m not sure I’d want to!
#18 Once (2007) (Watched 12/02/18)
Much more low-budget than I was expecting, but this is pure and honest filmmaking with a charm that permeates throughout. The naturalistic conversation style between the two leads gave off “Before” Trilogy vibes which can only ever be a good thing, plus the music is great. Proving that music transcends all other barriers, and ending on a surprisingly bittersweet note, Once is a truly lovely film.
#17 Submarine (2010) (Watched 10/02/18)
Quirky, unique and endlessly inventive, Submarine consistently and constantly delights, presenting a fresh take on the coming-of-age genre. The soundtrack is also superb, and the creative decisions in the film-making showcase Ayoade’s directing talents.
#16 Song of the Sea (2014) (Watched 10/02/18)
Maybe one of the most delightful films I’ve ever seen, this charming Celtic tale of grief, loss, and family is full of magic, wonder, and fantastical imagery. Not far removed from the magical tales of Studio Ghibli, this is an unforgettable animated film which would appeal to adults and kids alike.
#15 The Selfish Giant (2013) (Watched 10/02/18)
Clio Barnard seems to have a knack for the naturalistic and whilst this doesn’t always work for me (I wasn’t a fan of Dark River), The Selfish Giant has an odd charm to it. The characters feel well-developed and the two young leads have a believable friendship. Never shying away from it’s realistic depiction of poverty and hardships, this is a quietly powerful film that slowly yet surely gets under your skin. Heartbreaking, tragic and poignant in the most unexpected ways.
#14 Persepolis (2007) (Watched 09/02/18)
An easy to digest yet no less hard-hitting account of growing up in troubled circumstances and the particular repression that comes from being a female in these circumstances. A rebellious spirit and a fascinating insight into youth culture run in tandem with this making for a charming and funny watch in places as well. Frank in its portrayal of themes as diverse as mental health, War, love, family and more, this is a film which transcends nationalities and offers a uniquely personal film that has appeal beyond its origins.
#13 Lost in Translation (2003) (Watched 29/01/18)
Gorgeous cinematography and a perfect depiction of loneliness and soul-searching, with a beautiful central relationship between the two kindred spirits played by Bill Murray and Scarlet Johansson. The sense of isolation in a bustling and busy environment is expertly portrayed. It’s a little slow, but when something is this pretty to look at, it’s not the worst thing in the world.
#12 I Am Not Your Negro (2016) (Watched 27/01/18)
A reflective documentary brimming with quiet rage, it expertly weaves between the past and present to show that scarily few things have changed. Perhaps one day this film won’t feel so necessary, but right now, and then, and in the immediate future, this film is an important one.
#11 Where the Wild Things Are (2009) (Watched 10/01/18)
This film was so bloody charming. Capturing the innocence and escapism of childhood and tackling some pretty weighty themes as well, thoroughly enjoyed it!
#10 Never Been Kissed (1999) (Watched 09/01/18)
Early noughties Sarah would’ve absolutely loved this film, I’ve let myself down by not watching it until now. Barrymore is so likeable, and it’s predictable romantic fluff but who cares; films don’t need to be masterpieces all the time.
#9 Nowhere Boy (2009) (Watched 09/01/18)
It’s commendable that this biopic focuses on such a small part of such a recognisable person’s life. Focusing on his relationship with the two most influential women in his life, this is a personal snapshot which unfortunately never escapes the trappings of the most interesting story being the one that follows it. However, it deserves plaudits for sticking to its vision and putting this across in an engaging way; Taylor-Johnson is especially charming as the young Lennon.
#8 The Virgin Suicides (1999) (Watched 09/01/2018)
A cautionary tale of repressed sexuality which blends an undeniably dark subject matter with soft aesthetics. Kirsten Dunst is the standout, and whilst this is a commendable and bold film for a debut, it is one which I imagine would be difficult to revisit due to the subject matter.
#7 Julie & Julia (2009) (Watched 08/01/18)
This was exactly the kind of inconsequential fluff I needed when I put this on. It’s so damn charming, Meryl Streep and Amy Adams are both delightful, and it really made me want to eat food. This is the film equivalent of comfort eating your way through an entire tub of ice cream; and you won’t feel guilty at the end of either.
#6 Children of Men (2006) (Watched 08/01/18)
Wow. I’m annoyed that I am only just watching this film for the first time now. It’s so simple, so crushingly naturalistic, and so chilling. For a dystopian future there are far too many frightening parallels in terms of many people’s current views on immigration and refugees that really resonated. It is ultimately though, a story of hope and survival with terrific performances and a final shot that will stay with me for a long time. Amazing film.
#5 Office Space (1999) (Watched 07/01/18)
Yeeaahhh I’m going to have to go right ahead and disagree with the positive reviews for this film. It’s not terrible, it does have some funny moments for sure, but relatable workplace comedies have been done so much better since, and the severe lack of well-rounded female characters in this one let’s it down. It’s fine, but that’s about it.
#4 Certain Women (2016) (Watched 07/01/18)
Quiet, contemplative and considered character study about 4 women in the forgotten part of America. The gorgeously bleak landscapes lend themselves well to this reflective and meditative film, and whilst there is a certain disconnect to the individual stories, the focus on the women themselves ensures this film is nothing short of captivating.
#3 Selma (2014) (Watched 06/01/18)
A powerful, important and timely film focusing on a perhaps lesser known part of Martin Luther King’s life. Anchored by a career best performance from David Oyelowo, DuVernay’s direction is intimate and personal, managing to avoid too many biopic cliches, and never compromising the important subject matter. Hopefully there’ll be a day when this film won’t seem at all relevant to our current world and we can marvel at how far we’ve come; until then though this film remains as vital as ever.
#2 An American in Paris (1951) (Watched 06/01/18)
Whenever I’m feeling a bit under the weather, I seem to reach for a classic movie, at the moment rotating between The Wizard of Oz or Singin’ in the Rain. Today being one of those such days, I had hoped to add another film to that repertoire, and An American in Paris didn’t let me down. It’s a simple enough, classic Hollywood love story, and quite frankly I will watch absolutely anything that Gene Kelly is in. It doesn’t hold a candle to Singin’ in the Rain, but I thoroughly enjoyed it; the 17-minute ballet being particularly gorgeous. Watching this, it isn’t hard to see where La La Land took some inspiration for its final epilogue as well, and that’s always going to be a plus in my books!
#1 Pleasantville (1998) (Watched 05/01/18)
Not just my first “first watch” of 2018, but my very first film watched this year; being on holiday I’ve started a little late! I confess I hadn’t even heard of this film before, but nevertheless it seemed like a great one to get started with. On the whole, I did really enjoy this film; it’s fresh, funny, and surprisingly still relevant. The effects hold up remarkably well and the black & white/colour contrasts look stunning. Thematically, it had surprising depth as well and some really memorable moments. Towards the end, it didn’t feel like it was able to follow through with all of its big ideas, but nevertheless, a highly enjoyable film.