Tag Archives: The Witch

My Favourite Films of the Year

Last year was been shit. In fact it was dog shit.

However, there were some absolute bangers released (both in terms of film and music). These are my favourite 10 films of 2016 (listed in no particular order/of the films I have seen – there are so many left on my ‘to watch’ list that I am sure are amazing too).

  1. Deadpooldeadpool.jpgDirected by:
    Tim Miller

    Written by:
    Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick

    – Ryan Reynolds
    – Morena Baccarin
    – Ed Skrein
    – Stefan Kapicic
    – Brianna Hildebrand
    – Karan Soni

    Romantic comedy/Sci-Fi/Superhero movie

    Wade (Ryan Reynolds) creates the alter-ego Deadpool after being subjected to a rogue experiment (which he turns to after discovering he has incurable cancer) that leaves him with accelerated healing powers and a quest for revenge for being disfigured.

    Why I loved it:
    This film is hilarious. It has a dry, quick script which is cutting. It’s a film that takes the mick out of its own genre, and is not afraid to subvert it at the same time. It’s a mixture of the humour of ‘Ant Man’ (2015) combined with the comic book style narratives of ‘Zombieland’ (2009) and ‘Kick-Ass’ (2010) (but less naivety and more sass). Even if (like me) you’re not totally convinced by superhero films as a genre, you’ll love this one.

  2. Green Room
    green room.jpg

    Written and Directed by:
    Jeremy Saulnier

    – Anton Yelchin
    – Joe Cole
    – Alia Shawkat
    – Callum Turner
    – David W. Thompson
    – Mark Webber
    – Patrick Stewart


    A band on tour play an off-road gig in a secluded part of the American Pacific Northwest, and accidentally witness a horrific violent act. Consequently, they unintentionally become the targets of a terrifying gang of skinheads (who own the bar they have played in), and so have to try and escape as the skinheads attempt to cover all evidence of the crime.

    Why I loved it:
    I went into the cinema expecting this film to be a tongue-in-cheek, black comedy movie about a band trying to escape a room they become trapped in after witnessing something they should not have. I was pleasantly (or shockingly) surprised to find out that this was in fact a fully fledge horror film about neo-Nazis, and was fully gripped/horrified in equal measures. There is an excellent balance of music, gore and suspense. It was not what I was expecting, and had a resounding impact on me. I loved the style/way it was filmed, and the acting is great. If you like dark, subtle horrors you’ll like this.


  3. The Witch
    Written and Directed by:
    Robert Egger

    – Anya Taylor-Joy
    – Ralph Ineson
    – Kate Dickie
    – Harvey Scrimshaw


    Set in New England in the 1630s, a family lead a devout Christian life on the edge of a community they have been banished from. One day, their baby disappears from under the eyes of their eldest child, which their younger children blame on the ‘Witch’ that lives in the woods.

    Why I loved it:
    I am a Northerner, so first and foremost, I loved the broad English Northern accents of all the actors. I also love this period of American history, especially the suspicion aroused by devout Christians suspecting that the unusual women of society are all witches. In turn, I liked how the film captured the traditional themes of witchcraft in a subtle, natural way (like the act of becoming possessed). If you like old-school horrors, you’ll love this.

  4. Nocturnal Animals
    Written and Directed by:
    Tom Ford

    Amy Adams
    – Jake Gyllenhaal
    – Michael Shannon
    – Aaron Taylor-Johnson
    – Isla Fisher
    – Ellie Bamber
    – Arnie Hammer


    The Edward Sheffield (Jake Gyllenhaal) writes a novel about his ex wife Susan Morrow (Amy Adam) and dedicates this to her, despite not having spoken to her in years. The name of the book is ‘Nocturnal Animals’ (named after her), and as she reads this ‘devastatingly beautiful’ piece, she sees parallels of her life within the book, through dark and thrilling action.

    Why I loved it:
    I know I said I would not rate these film in any order, but I have to say that this was my favourite film of the year. This is because this film had the most impact on me. The plot is so simple yet so gripping. The cinematography, script and acting are flawless. I left the cinema feeling ill at ease in the best way. If you want a film that will entice and make you leave the cinema feeling a little introspective, then watch this!

  5. My Scientology Movie
    my scientology.jpg

    Written and Directed by:
    John Dower

    – Louis Theroux
    – Rob Alter
    – Tom Cruise
    – Paz de la Huerta
    – Tom De Vocht


    This is a documentary about Scientology (a 1950s religion founded by sci-fi author L. Ron Hubbard shrouded in mystery and controversy). The investigative journalist Louis Theroux follows Mark Rathburn (a former senior church official), as well as other ex-members, and recreates scenes that these past members have personally experienced. They are unable to gain access to the ‘Churches’ facilities, and so have to recreate these scenes in a studio with hired actors.

    Why I loved it:
    I love Louis Theroux, so am probably a little biased with regards to recommending this. I think he is so engaging, and speaks on a level that anyone and everyone can connect with. Similarly, this topic is fascinating, and highlights (like most American subcultures) all the hypocrisies of this weirdly eccentric scientific based religion. I went to a Q&A session of this, and was blown away by how engaging Louis Theroux is. I know how long it takes to make a good documentary, so although the idea of Scientology has been done (and some may view this as outdated and tired), this was definitely worth the wait. It was eye opening, fascinating, and made me want to learn more about Scientology (and religion/cults in general).

  6. 10 Cloverfield Lane
    10 cloverfield lane.jpg
    Directed by:

    Dan Trachtenberg

    Written by:
    Josh Campbell, Matthew Steucken and Damien Chazelle
    John Goodman
    – Mary Elizabeth Winstead
    – John Gallagher Jr.


    Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has an accident when another car hits hers (when she’s distracted from witnessing something flying through the sky), and wakes up locked in a room. She discovers that this is an underground bunker habited by 2 other men. She has to figure out what has happened and / or escape from the unintentional trap she has got herself caught in.

    Why I loved it:
    It just was not what I was expecting. When I read about this sequel to ‘Cloverfield’ (2008), I thought it was going to be just that – a sequel. I thought it was going to be filmed in exactly the same way (with the same handheld style footage), in the same way (an alien invasion where the characters of the movie are trying to escape impending death), and full of actors I only half recognised. Consequently, I was happily surprised that none of this rang true. I loved the original, but am glad that they did not just replicate this, and instead produced something that was different from your run-of -the-mill alien invasion films/was grilling and had a great cast and soundtrack. This was a happy surprise. A lot is captured in this film despite its small setting and sparse cast – very entertaining and one of my favourite films of the year.

  7. A Bigger Splash
    bigger slplash.jpg
    Directed by:
    Luca Guadagino

    Written by:
    David Kaiganich and Alain Page

    – Tilda Swindon
    – Matthias Schoenaerts
    – Ralph Fiennes
    – Dakota Johnson

    Paul De Smedt (Matthias Schoenaerts), an ex drug addicted actor, and Marianne Lane (Tilda Swindon), a singer recovering from a throat operation, take refuge in France. They bump into the Marianne’s old boyfriend (Ralph Fiennes), and so end up putting him and his young, volatile ‘daughter'(Dakota Johnson) up for the weekend. Things turn a rye as tensions (both psychological and sexual) build as the four have to deal with living together.

    Why I loved this:
    I liked the way it was filmed. I was not 100% sure what the film was about before watching it, and could not entirely predict what was going to happen. I liked the style of the film (the setting, costumes, behaviour), as well as the cast. I like the soundtrack, and it just reminded me of a cool 60s film with edge. Both Tilda Swindon and Ralph Fiennes were great (and Matthias Schoenaerts is just so handsome and cool) – another winning film in my eyes. This is based on the film ‘La Piscine’ (1969), which I definitely want to watch.


  8. Hail, Caesar!
    hail caesar.jpg
    Written and Directed by:
    Joel and Ethan Coen

    – Josh Brolin
    – George Clooney
    – Alden Ehrenreich
    – Ralph Fiennes
    – Scarlett Johansson
    – Tilda Swindon
    – Channing Tatum
    – Jonah Hill

    Black comedy

    Set in the 1950s, this film focuses on the Communist writers strike in America in a comical, ironic way. Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), a famous actor, is kidnapped by the writers guild, and is held for ransom.

    Why I loved this:
    It was made by the Coen Brothers. The storyline was very slow, and little to nothing happened (except for the above mentioned synopsis). However, not much has to happen in a Coen Brothers’ film for it to be a success. The manner in which they tell stories is just brilliant. They are always composed of grand schemes undermined by the flawed characters that create them. I like this era (1950s McCarthyism, with American film studios at their classiest, sprinkled with a smidge of Communist fear), and it is just captured so well – the unjust contrasts of the era (that arguably still persist today) perfectly captured in this piece.

  9. Finding Dory
    Directed by:
    Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane

    Written by:
    Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane, Victoria Strouse and Bob Peterson

    – Ellen DeGeneres
    – Albert Brooks
    – Ed O’Neill
    – Kaitlin Olson
    – Hayden Rolence
    – Ty Burell
    – Diane Keaton
    – Idris Elba
    – Bill Hader
    – Sigourney Weaver

    Comedy/Animation/Adventure film

    A forgetful fish named Dory ( tries to find her real family with the help of 2 other fish, but sadly loses her way.

    Why I loved this:
    This is the second sequel mentioned in this list and, like the first, I was expecting this to be a complete replication of the first film (‘Finding Nemo’ (2003)). However, I was pleasantly surprised that this, again, was not the case. I was terrified that Pixar could not create another film that would hold up to the original, so really did not want them to make this – but am happy that they did. There were obvious parallels between each of these the film (as the original cast are featured/the story is pretty much a continuation of the first), but with a strong cast of new characters, fantastic humour (suitable for all ages), and interesting storyline, this film comes into its own. It was cute and Pixar has definitely done it again – another fantastic animation!

  10. Bridget Jones’ Baby
    Directed by:
    Sharon Maguire

    Written by:
    Helen Fielding, Dan Mazer and Emma Thompson
    – Renee Zellweger
    – Gemma Jones
    – Jim Broadbent
    – Sally Philips
    – Shirley Henderson
    – Colin Firth
    – Patrick Dempsey


    Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) has a baby, but is unsure who the father of her baby is. There is a 50/50 chance that it is either her ex (Colin Firth) or a one night stand (Patrick Dempsey), and so she has to tackle the situation and deal with the fall out of this.

    Why I loved this:
    I love chick flicks (when they are good), and this one is fantastic. I liked the first film, but was not balled away by the second, so did not know what to expect. I ended up falling in love with this. I could (and have to many people) poke holes in the plot of this film, but in spite of all this, thought it was cute and a great way to reintroduce this character (created by the author Helen Fielding). I liked all the actors involved (even Colin Firth – who I find annoying in anything other than ‘Love Actually’ (2003)). I have put this in my top 10 as I find it hard to find a good chick flick, but when I do, I can watch them over and over again. I have already watched this 4 times, and it has not even been out for a year yet….It’s a goofy, classic.



‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ (2015) -8/10

Recently, I bought ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ on DVD. I can’t remember the last time I bought a DVD. Ordinarily, I only buy DVDs of my favourite films, or when I need something to watch on a long journey and do not have internet access. Both of these reasons are why I purchased ‘Mad Max’. Firstly, as mentioned in a previous post, I have recently broken my laptop, so am limited with what I can watch. Secondly, other than ‘The Witch’ (2015), I think that ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ was probably my favourite film released that year. It had such an impact on me that I ended up watching this at the cinema 3 times. The only other film I did that with was probably ‘Deadpool’ (2016).

‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ is the fourth instalment of the ‘Mad Max’ franchise, and is set in a post-apocalyptic world (following a nuclear holocaust), in which the world has become a desert wasteland and civilisation has collapsed. Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) is a survivor who is captured by the War Boys, the army of the War Lord Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), and taken to Joe’s Citadel. Max is designated as a universal blood donor, and is imprisoned and used as a “blood bag” for a sick War Boy called Nux (Nicholas Hoult). Meanwhile, Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), one of Joe’s lieutenants, is sent in her “War Rig” (an armoured truck) to collect gasoline. She instead drives off-route, with 5 of Joe’s wives (selected and imprisoned for breeding purposes) – taking them to the “Green Place” (a lush place run by women that she remembers from her youth) as a refuge. Joe heads his entire army in pursuit of Furiosa, calling on the aid of nearby armies, which Max gets caught up in.

I think that the main reason that this film had such an impact on me was because of the film’s strong cinematography. The manic effects that the shutter speed has on the action in the film is just amazing. It captures the erratic actions of the War Boys which, in turn, emphasises their unstable ideals and the post-apocalyptic world in which they exist. Similarly, the special effects of certain scenes show the War Boys’ nihilistic ideas about Valhalla (the afterlife that Immortan Joe promises his War Boys will live in once they have sacrificed themselves in war for him), which are portrayed through their fast-paced, unpredictable movements within the high speed car chases.

Like the special effects of this film, the vivid colours of this piece help to create this immersive, surreal apocalyptic world. I read somewhere that the director (George Miller, who directed the previous 3 ‘Mad Max’ films) wanted this movie to be released in black and white. He then planned to release a special edition of this for cinema release, but again, this dream was not realised. Although this would have been great to see, I think it would have detracted something from the film that was eventually released. I think that the colours used in the final film emphasised the starkness of the desert wasteland that the movie was set in. This, in turn, enhanced the intense emotions of the characters, as well as the surreal, post-apocalyptic characters (like Immortan Joe). This horrific War Lord comes alive in this world created by these saturated colours.

After watching this film, I researched how well this film had done in terms of critical acclaim/awards it had received (as I was vaguely aware that this film had done well at the Oscars). Although ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ did not win an Academy Award for ‘best picture’ at the 2016 Oscars’, it did win the most awards of that year. These included Oscars for the following;

  • film editing
  • sound mixing
  • costume design
  • sound editing
  • production design
  • makeup and hairstyling

The above are all the strongest composites of ‘Mad Max’, and are what make this film one of my favourites of 2015. I agree that it should not have necessarily won best film (although for me, I do not think that ‘The Revenant’ (2015), which did win that year, was worthy of an Oscar either – but that opinion is for another blog…) This is because I am aware that broadly speaking, not many people would have appreciated the plot of ‘Mad Max’ (as essentially, this is based around an intense, high-speed car chase). Nonetheless, the film’s strong points (the editing, sound, production design and costumes) won big, and rightly so.

Now, I said that the film was just an ‘intense, high speed car chase’. In broad strokes, this is exactly what this movie is. However, I do not want to diminish this film in any way. Sure the plot of the film is actually rather simple (involving an escape and pursuit), but the protagonist is not actually the suspected lead character of the movie. The protagonist of this film is not actually Max, but is instead Charlize Theron’s character Imperator Furoisa (which is something that I was not anticipating). She is fantastic, and this film is where I fell in love with Theron. She is such a badass fighter, yet has an endearing side to her (in her need to escape and save others). I also like the bond that Furoisa and Max strike between themselves. Actually, I like how all the characters within this film interact. Although the plot runs seamlessly with little dialogue, the character development in this film is effective, as you can easily identify and connect with the characters through their journeys and back stories.

I recently read another interesting article on the production of this film (I was that taken aback by the look of its production that I wanted to know how it was created), which stated that this ‘Mad Max’ instalment had a 10 year delay in productions, as the team struggled finding the funds and location in which to make this movie. I am kind of glad that it took them this long to bring us this instalment of the ‘Mad Max’ franchise, as the location/intricate sets, productions and costumes are what makes this film. The same article stated that this film had to have 150 cars specifically built for it (not only to give it their authentic, unique apocalyptic-look, but also to enable the crew to film these intense scenes) – which blew my mind. This proves that time, patience and expertise are essential for film making (and that CGI/throwing large sums of money at a film is not always what is needed, time and vigorous decision-making is also required).

The main reason I liked ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ was the visual and audio aspects of this film. I personally think that the plot is gripping in spite of its simplicity (as it is essentially a prolonged car chase). However, the strong acting establishes great character development in spite of a lack of dialogue. Similarly, I liked that Max was not the protagonist (despite the film being named after him), and that the main focus is on Furiosa trying to rescue 5 women (most of whom are models first and foremost, so their acting is not as strong – but are, nonetheless buoyed by the strong leading actors around them/fast-paced scenes). The world Miller creates is such a devastatingly post-apocalyptic spectacle, and is an absolute masterpiece. In my eyes, visually the film is like a surrealist piece of art, set to a destructively amazing soundtrack. If you’re interested in plot solely, then this film is probably not for you. However, if you (like me) are more interested in a fuller scope of cinematography (like how films are edited, the sound mixing and things like that) then you will love this film.