The month kicked off as any year usually does, with a handful of potential Oscar nominees finally hitting UK cinemas after their festival debuts the year before. Darkest Hour featured a blistering performance from Gary Oldman, though little else. Joe Wright’s drama about Churchill in the lead up to Dunkirk rested on the talents of its lead, who mostly kept things afloat even when the script faltered. As someone who disliked Pan, but loved Atonement, I’m also searching for a Wright film to match up to that. This isn’t it, though it can still be admired for what it is.
Also powered by an Oscar-winning lead performance was Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri. This was a frank, bruising and yet darkly funny drama from Martin McDonagh that not only took Frances McDormand to victory, but also left room for captivating supporting roles from Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell. It’s still to be determined exactly what Abbie Cornish was there for. It’s a shame to see her sidelined – and her IMDb doesn’t look much more promising.
Next up came The Post, Steven Spielberg’s take on the Pentagon Papers’ expose by Katherine Graham and The Washington Post. As always, Meryl Streep delivered (and was rewarded with multiple awards nominations). Considering how decent and timely the film was, it is sad that Tom Hanks was largely overlooked. It felt like Captain Phillips all over again. I remember sobbing like a child at the rescue scene of that film. Like a child. Downsizing and Coco followed, the latter proving, once more, that Pixar can knock it out of the park with a rich narrative, while the former disappointed, aside from a scene-stealing performance from Hong Chau and having an intriguing premise.
The month ended with Early Man. This one let me down the most as, with an Aardman film, I had such high hopes that came undone. Even now, it’s difficult for me to work out exactly who the film was intended for. I’d love nothing more than for Nick Park to make another Wallace & Gromit film, however the chances of that are slimmer by the day. Perhaps not even another film. I reckon a new Wallace & Gromit series, or standalone episode, would be a whole lot better.
There are other films from this month that I saw, such as Molly’s Game and The Commuter, though it’s hard to really think of much to say about those.
I always like January at the cinema. It’s a chance to reflect on the year before and spend cold days off in a heated room with coffee and the occasional tub of popcorn. In fact, this extends all the way through until March. It’s not uncommon for me to see two or three films on the same day. Sadly, this seems to happen less and less since I’m now working full time.
Best film of the month: Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri
Best performance: Tom Hanks in The Post
Random thought: New series of Wallace & Gromit is a must
Films seen this month: 6
Films seen to date this year: 6