So long and thanks for all the films

Another Courier year comes to an end, so here’s the round-up of our favourite films we watched during our time as your beloved editors

16th May 2016

Rhian Hunter

It’s been a strange year for film. I’ve been perpetually unsure if it’s been really awful, overall, or really great. The saturation of superhero films has been my biggest pet peeve – as much as I love being film editor, there’s only so many Iron Mans and Captain Americas you can Photoshop before going slightly insane. Deadpool was the standout for me – slightly different to the usual superhero movie formula, full of witticisms, but also unfortunately a tad cliché. It’s terrible as they’ve probably been the blockbusters of the year, but I didn’t bother to see any of the others.

But those aside, there have been some hidden gems dotted throughout the year that I’m super glad to have had the chance to see. I’d have to say Carol was the standout for myself; outstanding performances all round and probably the most emotionally draining experience of my life – poignant, heart breaking, heart-warming; all in one two-hour film. Macbeth was another highlight; despite the whispery and growly delivery of 90% of the lines (if you’ve seen it, or read my review back in October, you’ll know what I’m talking about) Michael Fassbender’s wonderfully emotional, devastatingly real portrayal of Shakespeare’s mad King of Scotland overrode all of the tiny issues with the film to maintain its place on my list of the best this academic year. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, High-Rise was absolutely fantastic; a phantasmagorical orgy of raw human emotion featuring naked Tom Hiddleston on a balcony… what more could you ask for?

And, of course, there’s Star War: The Force Awakens. I’m not sure anyone could write a piece on top films of the academic year without giving JJ Abrams’ masterpiece a nod. As someone who grew up with the prequels, loved the originals and has forever been yearning for one final trilogy to cement their excellence in cinematic history, The Force Awakens, did just that and so much more. I can’t wait for Episode VIII.

I think there’s more to look forward to yet though. X-Men: Apocalypse looks absolutely insane, Tarzan with Alexander Skarsgard and Margot Robbie is one to look out for. I’ll be sad not to be a part of the Film section next year, but with some of the exciting film prospects over the summer and winter, I’m sure they’ll manage without me.

Simon Ramshaw

In my stint as Film editor (the bigger and badder sequel of which is coming to you this October), I’ve just about had some time to watch some films (funnily enough) that I’d like to tell you about.

The end of 2015 to the beginning of 2016 has been a bit of an odd period for film, as it’s been dominated by blockbusters that are in danger of becoming self-parodies of themselves. The colossal Batman v Superman suffered from this most heavily, embracing the studio’s hell-bent messiness in the face of doing something interesting with DC’s fledgling franchise. On the other hand, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was note-perfect, hitting the nostalgic beats hard and bringing the franchise back to life (even) better than Abrams did with Star Trek. You’ve all seen this one, so I don’t know why I’m recommending it, but yeah, best blockbuster evah.

On the opposite end of cinema, I saw a wonderfully-calming quasi-western Jauja, starring Lord of the Rings’ own Viggo Mortensen as a Danish captain in colonial Patagonia who frantically searches for his missing daughter across the arid but beautiful wasteland. There’s a third-act twist that I actually couldn’t possibly tell you about, but Jauja is like those self-help tapes that you stick on to calm any anxiety you might have. Seek it out, it’s lush.

At the other end of that spectrum is the 2016 one-two punch of the Kurt Russell-starring Bone Tomahawk and New England horror The Witch, which are two of the most hopelessly terrifying experiences you can possibly have in a cinema. While Bone Tomahawk nearly put me into shock with its no-holds-barred brutality, The Witch slithers its way into your mind and doesn’t let you go for at least a week. So, if you’re a fan of Satanic goats, then this is the film for you.

OR, if you want something super, SUPER alternative, delve into Harmony Korine’s Trash Humpers, the most ridiculously anti-art film I’ve ever seen. It is exactly what it says on the tin, where the elderly residents of Nashville, Tennessee go about at night and literally hump trash. They do other things, mostly in the vein of Jackass, but if Jackass was an utterly horrifying exploration of how much intentional crap your audience can endure in a feature length film.

So watch Trash Humpers if nothing else.

Emma Allsopp

So it’s been a great academic year for films, and being a film editor, I’ve seen quite a few of them.  One of the biggest thing for me this past year has been Star Wars, which I hadn’t previously seen (only two of the prequels which put me off).  I watched the three originals, and obviously The Force Awakens, which I loved.  My mind has been opened to the wonders of it, finally.

Another great experience this year was Macbeth as I am an English Literature student and a Shakespeare fanatic, and at the time I was studying a module which included the play.  This film had by far the best cinematography of the year; it truly was beautiful.  It also didn’t hold back from the grim reality of Macbeth, encapsulating the blood and barren Scottish heath perfectly.

Trainspotting was a film that I’d always wanted to see, but only got the chance to this year.  It did not disappoint me, it was truly high-octane and adrenaline-filled.  I was struck by how deep and disturbing it was, but the contrast between the energy and the darkness was hugely captivating.  I will definitely be watching it again as I’m sure I missed quite a lot since it is so packed with content.

One film I was very excited for this year was Room, especially after it garnered a lot of critical acclaim.  I was stunned by this film, its exploration of abduction was so layered and detailed that it was heart-breaking and moving in equal measure.  I was very disappointed by the fact that Jacob Tremblay was not nominated for an Oscar, as his performance was absolutely outstanding for such a young actor tackling such a heavy subject.

High-Rise has been my favourite by far this year though as I had been waiting so long for it, and it finally arrived and it delivered!  It was so twisted and dark that I was gripped from start to finish.  The performances were brilliant, with Tom Hiddleston being wonderfully detached as Robert Laing.  Jeremy Irons also gave a great performance as the architect, Anthony Royal.  I will definitely be watching this again, multiple times.

I’ve really enjoyed this year, both editing and watching all the films.  I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as me.

Hopefully see you all next year!

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