With three Academy Awards to his name, Daniel Day-Lewis is one of the most decorated and respected actors of his generation. Since he announced his surprise retirement last year, his final film has been rife with anticipation. His cinema curtain call sees him reunite with writer and director Paul Thomas Anderson for 1950s romance drama Phantom Thread. The plot follows couturier Reynolds Woodcock (Day-Lewis) who, with his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) runs a high-end dressmaking company in London. Whilst dining out for breakfast, Reynolds meets impressionable German waitress Alma (Vicky Krieps) who succumbs to his elegance and charm. They embark on a relationship, but she struggles to accustom to his peculiar routines.
When we talk about visionary directors, imaginations don’t come more vivid than that of Mexican filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro, known for concocting weird and wonderful dark fantasy fables. His latest effort is 60s romantic drama The Shape of Water, which follows mute cleaner Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) who works with her friend Zelda (Octavia Spencer) at an underground government laboratory. When their boss Colonel Strickland (Michael Shannon) brings a mysterious sea-creature to the facility to be held in captivity for scientific research, Elisa and the amphibian form an unorthodox relationship.
As America endures the ‘fake news’ era of the Trump administration, legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg casts his directorial eye over the government’s corrupt past with political drama The Post. Centered around attempts to publish incriminating Vietnam War secrets, the plot follows the struggle of a newspaper heiress trying to keep her business afloat. Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) runs The Washington Post with loyal editor in chief Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) by her side. When journalist Ben Bagdikian (Bob Odenkirk) tracks a source that leads him to the Pentagon Papers, a moral battle between the press and the government ensues.
The balancing act of black comedies can be difficult to judge but writer-director Martin McDonagh manages to tread this line impressively. Following a five-year gap, he returns with his third feature Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The crime drama centres around Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand), a mother grieving the death of her daughter who was raped and killed seven months prior. Taking matters into her own hands, she targets Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) with billboards asking why there have been no arrests. This sparks a hostile reaction from Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell) and the rest of the community, and the fallout leads to significant consequences for the town.
The events of Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of Britain’s troops from Dunkirk, were told on-screen across land, air and sea last year. Now the story is revisited once again in Churchill biopic drama Darkest Hour, directed by Joe Wright. As Nazi Germany continued to invade Western Europe, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain loses control of his cabinet and is forced to resign from his position. Despite severe doubts from his party, Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) is reluctantly appointed as his predecessor. With the support of his wife Clementine (Kristin Scott Thomas) and secretary Elizabeth Layton (Lily James), he endeavours to guide the nation through World War II.
“David Lowery serves up a surreal slice of paranormal absurdity with A Ghost Story, finding long-lasting intimacy in a film that is utterly and eternally universal. The lonely protagonist is trapped by space but not time, creating thought-provoking cinema that intelligently highlights both the significance and insignificance of the marks we leave on the world in our wake”.
“As a work of filmmaking, it’s an immediate classic, fit to stand beside the best of Werner Herzog and Stanley Kubrick – though it’s also entirely its own thing, classical to its bones yet not quite like anything that’s come before it”.
“There is tremendous entertainment value in the dinners and musical evenings that the women lay on for their wolfish guest. Kidman’s delivery of the line, “Would you cay-uh for a digestif, corporal?” is very entertaining”.
“With its minimalistic cinematic approach, Manchester by the Sea manages to tell a heartrending story with maximum impact. Lonergan’s precise filmmaking, both in the script and the visuals, is cleverly geared towards the performance of Casey Affleck, which doesn’t for one second fail to deliver”.
“Raw marks a masterful directorial debut from a skilled filmmaker who presents a visceral feast for the eyes and ears that should be avoided at all costs by the sensitive and squeamish. It may be the most disgusting film I’ve seen at the cinema but the frequent shocking sequences are reined in by a sharply clever script that ensures that the craft of storytelling is at the forefront of the film’s vision”.
“Moonee, along with her friends Scooty and Jancey, goes off exploring around odd pastel coloured buildings that resemble the run-down ruins of a Wes Anderson set, and through their playful escapades the movie masterfully captures the mischievous adventure of childhood. The narrative flows like a summer holiday; wild and sprawling with no strong sense of where one day ends and another begins”.
“Jordan Peele achieves shockingly smart satire as well as shuddering trepidation with his remarkable directorial debut. His subversive vision is powerful and scarily topical, and is transformed into an intensely enjoyable cinema experience”.
“The trick to why La La Land works so well is the clever balancing act between nods to romanticised nostalgia and the harshness of reality. For example, mesmerising musical sequences can be ended abruptly by the shrill sound of an incoming call, illustrating the juxtaposition between the era they revere and the world we live in today”.
As the modern revival of Star Wars continues, director Rian Johnson takes the reins for the eighth episode of the space-opera saga. The Last Jedi picks up where 2015’s The Force Awakens left off, as the dwindling Resistance prepares to do combat once again with The First Order. As Rey (Daisy Ridley) tracks down Jedi master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to ask for help with the impending battle, her fellow fighters including defector Finn (John Boyega) and pilot Poe (Oscar Isaac) remain at base, with General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) fronting the army. Meanwhile, the First Order, led by General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) plan an attack to wipe out their enemies once and for all.