52 Films By Women 2016 Wrap-Up

By Orla Smith

Amongst everything that happened this year, I know I made at least one really good decision: I decided to partake in 52 Films by Women, a challenge to watch one film by a female director every week during the year, in order to promote work by female artists. That was my original intention: to do my small part in helping to bolster woman directors, especially as I’m hoping to become one myself in the future. What I didn’t realise in January was how much this challenge would help me in return.

My 25 Most Anticipated Films of 2017

By Orla Smith

Isn’t it nice that it’s time to look forward? Emerging from the squalor of 2016 leaves us with a brand new slate; 2017 is a fresh page on which we can write all our hopes for the future. The reality is, we’re nowhere near out of the woods yet, but it’s nice to dream, isn’t it? That’s what the movies are all about – some of them, anyway – and the treasures before us are unimaginable. Sure, many are bound to disappoint, but amongst all this potential, at least some will be fulfilled. Here are the 25 films that excite me most about the year to come. They’re only a taste – many missed the cut, such as Jason Reitman’s (hopefully) comeback ‘Tully’, Sundance premiere ‘The Discovery’ and Hugh Jackman’s final Wolverine venture ‘Logan’.

December Film Wrap-Up

By Orla Smith

This month was, well… awful. In more ways than one, but film-wise it was also less than fruitful. Amongst eleven films I saw in December, there were a few valuable gems, as well as a whole bunch of dull anchors trying to bring everything else down with them.

  1. Collateral Beauty

Well acted, covered in sugary, family-friendly wrapping-paper, but largely senseless drivel.

MY RATING: 1.5/5

  1. The Birth of a Nation

Nate Parker’s controversial ‘The Birth of a Nation’ provoked the question: should we separate the art from the artist? And isn’t it nice when you don’t have to feel guilty about praising the artist when the art is so inept?

January Film Preview

By Orla Smith

2016 is over – thank god – which means there’s a whole new year of movies in front of us, although as always the UK is stuck in the past. Most of what we’ve got to look forward to from January is the residue of this awards season – or the meat, depending on how you look at it. These are the five I’m most looking forward to, bearing in mind that ‘La La Land’, ‘Manchester By the Sea’ and ‘Lion’ won’t be appearing given that I’ve already seen them (and they’re all varying degrees of excellent). ‘Trainspotting 2’, ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ and ‘Christine’ just missed the cut.

‘Barry’ Sends Off Obama’s Legacy with Sharp Wit and Intellect: Review

Devon Terrell astonishes in a debut performance as a young Barack Obama find his way in early 80s NYC.

By Orla Smith

Of course, neither could have known it at the time of production, but the two Obama movies we’ve gotten this year (‘Southside With You’ and now ‘Barry’) feel less like explorations of an important political figure than they do tragic, tear-stained farewells to his legacy. ‘Southside’ was a more frivolous affair, detailing his first date with future wife Michelle Obama, but in this second go around the focus is very firmly on the man himself at a different time in his life, with an identity only half-shaped: not Barack, but Barry.

‘Lion’ Buoys a Familiar Conceit With Warm Subtlety and Soul: Review

Garth Davis’ directorial debut fits the Weinstein Company mould with welcome grace, as well as delivering stellar performances from Dev Patel and more.

By Orla Smith

This is the movie that we get every year. In 2016 we’ve been blessed with ‘Moonlight’ and ‘Manchester By the Sea’, even ‘La La Land’: strong awards contenders that aren’t stuffy or predictably popular. They don’t follow the ‘Weinstein’ formula. ‘Lion’ is by that very same company, and could easily have fallen into the same trappings that confine so many of their movies; but it has a weapon, and his name is Garth Davis. This being his directorial debut after working on TV series ‘Top of the Lake’, Davis crafts a piece of work that could never be called stale or boring. ‘Lion’ is gentle, gorgeous and immersive.