Most avid movie fans I know spend January seeing the year-end releases that are being talked up for awards. I propose an alternative: why not seek out good films and great performances that the award-givers have overlooked? Almost all of these titles are now available for streaming, rental, or purchase… and they’re almost certain to be better than the junk that studios foist upon us in the early months of the new year.
Ralph Fiennes in A Bigger Splash. This is the second time Fiennes has been overlooked for a great piece of work; last year it was his wonderful performance in Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. This time he costars with Tilda Swinton and Matthias Schoenarts as a bombastic rock ‘n’ roll producer who intrudes upon their quiet getaway on the Italian island of Pantelleria. We’ve never seen Fiennes in a part quite like this. He’s unforgettable and the film is delicious. Read my original review HERE.
Rebecca Hall in Christine. Rebecca Hall has done consistently fine work in films big and small, from Vicky Cristina Barcelona to Iron Man 3, but she’s never had a starring showcase like this. As real-life 1970s TV reporter Christine Chubbuck, she paints a credible portrait of a woman who can’t overcome her growing anxieties. Read my original review HERE.
Ethan Hawke in Born to be Blue. Hawke has been doing great work lately, but his portrayal of doomed jazz musician Chet Baker is one of the best things he’s ever done. He’s not only convincing as a gifted trumpeter but imitates Baker’s distinctive singing voice perfectly. This one got away from me in its all-too-brief theatrical release and it’s well worth seeing. Kudos to writer-director Robert Budreau and costar Carmen Ejogo.
Sam Neill in Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Sam Neill is always good (did you see him in Steven Knight’s British TV series Peaky Blinders?) but is taken for granted somewhat. Taika Waititi’s entertaining yarn casts him as a bluff, bearded man of few words who leads an orphaned kid from the city into the New Zealand wilderness to escape from the clutches of Social Services. I missed this sleeper the first time around; don’t you make the same mistake.
Sally Field in Hello, My Name is Doris. Many of us have watched Sally Field grow up on screen, so it may be jarring to see her playing a dowdy older woman. But she’s hard to resist even if the film is uneven. You’ll be well rewarded for your time. Read my original review HERE.
Tomorrow, Part 2: Good movies you may have missed
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