Favourite female film characters with brightly coloured hair

Someone I know recently dyed her hair pink. She’d previously had it purple, or was it green or blue? I forget, whatever the colour I remember it looked cool at the time, because, let’s face it, if you’ve got bright hair you’re automatically fifty per cent more interesting than most of us.

I mean… it’s the same with someone with unusual tattoos. Are they more creative? More artistic? A tortured soul? Perhaps they are. I’d like to hope they are. Whether they are or not, I find these artistic additions and enhancements to people’s outward-facing personas to be endlessly fascinating. I get drawn in, like a moth to a flame.

And this got me thinking, as I do, about characters in film with bright hair, as there are a bunch – from Natalie Portman’s stripper in Closer to manic pixie dream girl Ramona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim. I am sure there are lots more, but below are a few I thought I’d pick out.

Who would yours be?

Natalie Portman as Alice in Closer (2004)

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Milla Jovovich as Leeloo in The Fifth Element (1997)

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Angelina Jolie as Gia Curangi in Gia (1998)

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Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Romana Flowers in Scott Pilgrim Vs The World (2010)

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Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Noni in Beyond The Lights (2014)

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Lea Seydoux as Emma in Blue Is The Warmest Colour (2013)

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Kate Winslet as Clara in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

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Robert Pattinson and Daniel Radcliffe: indie darlings

So recently I watched The Rover starring Robert Pattinson. Then I caught the trailer for Daniel Radcliffe’s new film, the straight shot of demented madness that is Guns Akimbo, and it got me thinking… both these actors got their breaks in big franchise movies for children and teens (Radcliffe with Harry Potter and Pattinson with Twilight) and both, once free of those juggernauts, have spent the last eight years or so plying their trade in increasingly weird and wonderful films, about as far from the mainstream as you can get.

And that, in my book, has to be applauded.

I mean, I’m sure they’ve had many offers to return to big studio movies, yet they’ve stuck to their guns, akimbo… so to speak.

I guess my point with this piece is that I want to draw attention to them and give them some credit. Pattinson is arguably the better actor, but both have taken on some really interesting projects and really pushed themselves as actors, quietly rising up the ranks in my estimations. It’s as almost if the franchise movies that put them on the map is some kind of debt that they’re both working off.

So here’s to them. And to some of the films they’ve given us. Here are a few below.

Daniel Radcliffe

Is age 30 with 41 acting credits to his name. He’s played Allen Ginsberg, Igor, and a farting corpse. He’s tackled historical drama, fantasy, comedy, and demented action – his latest film sees him wake to find he has guns bolted to both his hands. It’s mad, unexpected, and delightfully weird.

The Woman In Black (2012)
Kill Your Darlings (2013)
Horns (2013)
Victor Frankenstein (2015)
Swiss Army Man (2016)
Now You See Me 2 (2016)
Imperium (2016)
Jungle (2017)
Beast of Burden (2018)
Guns Akimbo (2019)
Escape From Pretoria (2020)

Robert Pattinson

On the other hand, is a little older (33) and with a couple less acting credits (39), but has trod a similar path, albeit worked with more auteur directors: David Cronenberg (twice), James Gray, the Safdie brothers (who recently did Uncut Gems with Adam Sandler), Claire Denis and, this year, he’s in Christopher Nolan’s latest, Tenet.

Cosmopolis (2012)
The Rover (2014)
Maps To The Stars (2015)
The Lost City of Z (2016)
Good Time (2017)
High Life (2018)
The Lighthouse (2019)
Tenet (2020)
The Batman (2021)

Sexiest characters in the Walking Dead

Over the seasons, The Walking Dead has gotten more and more grim. Literally, nothing good ever happens. The characters go through hell and then some, then dust off and go again.

I’m very close to being done with watching it. But it did get me thinking, despite all the characters being permanently under a layer of blood and dirt, the show does have quite a few sexy actors in its line-up.

I know I know, I’m shallow and a terrible person. But one of the reasons we watch film and TV is to be entertained right? And yes, granted, good storylines are great, compelling characters hook us in, but, if I’m honest, it does help if they’re attractive too right? Yeah, I’m going straight to hell.

Anyway, here are my favourites from across the show.

THE MEN

Jesus, played by Tom Payne

He’s a young, peace loving dude with kick ass martial arts moves, piercing blue eyes and an impressively hipster beard. In recent seasons he’s served as Maggie’s close advisor (with me vaguely hoping they become a couple at some point). He remains one of the show’s most moral characters.

Shane, played by Jon Bernthal

Ah Shane, how we miss thee. Actor Jon Bernthal was a big part of what made the first season so good. His tension with Rick was palpable and fans loved his intensity and charisma, to the point where he often thoroughly dominated most scenes. Although, weirdly, I’ve managed to choose a picture of him looking kind of cuddly.

Ezekiel, played by Khary Payton

Who doesn’t love a character that gets introduced as ‘the King’ and comes with his own pet tiger? Ezekiel is regal, wise and noble. All things a king should be. Plus, he’s just so damn cool. As his kingdom collapsed under the threat of the Saviours it was interesting to see him adapt and grow.

Negan, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan

First Shane, then the Governor, then there was a gap in our lives. At least in terms of a big, bad Walking Dead bad guy. That was until Negan showed up in his leather jacket, oozing charisma and sex appeal, whilst menacingly swinging his barbed wire bat, Lucille, as he monologued evilly all over the place. And we loved him for it.

Rick, played by Andrew Lincoln

Over the seasons Rick’s fortunes – and mental state – have gone up and down, largely depicted by what kind of majestic beard he’s sporting. Not that his beard defines his character, he’s driven, strong, brave and selfless, basically the ultimate hero, and thus forever captures our hearts.

Aaron, played by Ross Marquand

The show’s first openly gay character, Aaron, is a bit of a bad ass. Tough, sensitive, resilient and brave, we first meet him as a recruiter for the Alexandria community. He forms a close bond with Rick and, as the show progresses, he grows a beard, which makes him look even more fetching.

THE WOMEN

Sasha, played by Sonequa Martin-Green

A firefighter pre-apocalypse, Sasha sought sanctuary in Rick’s group with her brother Tyreese. Her brother lasted a little while before biting the dust, yet Sasha – a far more interesting character – endured and went on to become a core member of Rick’s team as the group’s sniper. As a testament to her ability to hold the screen, when Martin-Green left the show she went on to become the lead of Star Trek: Discovery.

Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Cyndie, played by Sydney Park

Introduced in season 7 as part of an all-female community called Oceanside, Cyndie and her gang had previously encountered Negan’s Saviours and had since chosen to stay as far away from them as possible. We meet her when Tara gets separated from the main group and they form a bond of sorts.

Maggie, played by Lauren Cohan

Talk about the evolution of character. When we first meet Maggie she’s just one of Hershel’s daughters, living on a peaceful farm and somewhat oblivious of the danger in the world. She grows and toughens through the show to become one of the main group’s leaders, heading up the Hilltop tribe. After the death of her partner Glenn she becomes tougher and harder, assuming a key leadership role and is as essential to the group’s survival as Rick, perhaps more so.

Rosita, played by Christian Serratos

I read somewhere that when Rosita’s character was introduced it was pretty much as the male fantasy version of post apocalyptic – short shorts and a crop top. Over time this was toned down as her character was beefed up. Particularly after she suffered the loss of her partner, Abraham.

Top ass-kicking actresses on TV that I like lately

Lately, I’ve started to become dimly aware of something. A lot of TV shows I’m currently watching seem to have not only a decent gender balance in general, but also well-written female characters in leading roles. Perhaps this has been the case for a long time, but, somehow, I’ve just noticed it. Maybe these characters have always been present, but perhaps in the past just to serve the journey of the male characters? Sort of mild fridging, or pre-death fridging perhaps? But now, in the golden age of streaming TV with Netflix and Amazon Prime, and in the age of #metoo and #timesup, female characters seem to have more agency. Are we at some sort of turning point? I asked this in a recent post about action women in film, and I think the same applies to TV.

It’s kind of a refreshing and exciting place we find ourselves in, from a storytelling point of view. At the very least, as recipients of said stories.

So with that in mind, below are a selection of characters that have entered my TV watching world in various guises, from women that plot and scheme, through to those that straight up fight, to those that code and those that build. TV people take note, more of these characters please. Modern storyelling needs them, now more than ever.

Thandie Newton
As Maeve in Westworld

As one of the AI ‘hosts’ of Westworld, Maeve starts out as a madam in a brothel, but quickly becomes one of the show’s key characters, breaking her programming and fighting back against her creators. She evolves to the point where she controls other hosts and has them do her bidding in a mission to rescue her daughter.

Hannah New
As Eleanor Guthrie in Black Sails

Eleanor, following in the footsteps of her father, runs a black market operation out of Nassau, dealing with cut-throat pirates day in day out. And, in an environment where the only other female characters of note are prostitutes, she cuts her own path as a canny businesswoman, striking unsavoury deals with dangerous pirates to keep her enterprise going.

Kathryn Winnick
As Lagertha in Vikings

Married to a farmer with big ambition and King-in-waiting, Ragnar Lodbrok, Lagertha starts the show as a shield maiden, but makes her dismay clear when Ragnor leaves her behind during his first raids on England. She’s firmly part of the team on the next raid and remains a key figure throughout the show, growing in power to become the Earl of a nearby area, as well as a key figure in the viking raids on Paris. Whilst she’s a fierce warrior on the outside, she’s really an emotionally complex and thoroughly interesting character. Her fractious relationship with Ragnor is one of the most compelling and watchable things in the show.

Lindsey Morgan
As Raven Reyes in The 100

As the youngest zero-G mechanic to come through the ranks of humanity’s last survivors in space, Raven is clearly smart as hell, highly capable and about as tenacious as you can get. Not only does she launches herself in a tiny rocket to get to Earth, she builds homemade bombs to fight the ‘grounders’, and bests a homicidal AI through a combination of frantic coding, no sleep and a lot of coffee. And she does most of this after being shot in the spine and having to relearn how to walk.

Mackenzie Davis
As Cameron Howe in Halt and Catch Fire

Cameron enters the show early, being recruited by Lee Pace’s stuffed shirt ex-IBM sales guy to build a PC that’ll blow the big boys out the water. She acts as a good foil to the show’s buttoned-up, tightly wound male characters, in that she dresses like a geek, listens to punk rock and heavy metal whilst coding and does things very much her own way, to the chagrin of the men.

Maggie Siff
As Wendy Rhoades in Billions

Maggie is a psychiatrist tasked with ensuring the traders of Bobby Axelrod’s (Damien Lewis) hedge fund remain ruthless and committed when it comes to their work. She’s equally close to Bobby as well as his arch nemesis, Chuck, the District Attorney hellbent on destroying him – who also happens to be her husband. Oh, and on the side she’s a Dominatrix in the bedroom, giving Chuck a spanking when he gets out of line.

The rise of the action woman

Recently I was listening to a podcast with Alicia Vikander, one where she talked about her role as the new Lara Croft and how the character has been rebooted as a more realistic heroine for modern women.

She mentioned how it seems there’s momentum these days, indeed appetite, towards high quality, well put together, action-driven films that feature a female lead. She mentioned Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde and others, which got me thinking, is there momentum? Was there a specific moment that was the turning point?

Thinking back, Angelina Jolie has done the bulk of the heavy lifting since about 2000, with Charlize Theron playing her part too. But did they pave the way for the films we see now or has this been a longer time coming?

For me, I think the ’90s are a good place to start.
So below are the films and the various time periods that, for better or worse, I consider to have had a hand in where we are now. I’ve listed the actress, character, film, year, whether they were lead, co-lead or in a prominent supporting role, and the Rotten Tomatoes score, to give a rough indication of how the film was recieved by audiences.


THE 1990s

Yes we had Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley in Alien at the tail end of the ’70s, but the ’80s were dripping in macho testosterone. So, for me, the ’90s is where this movement started to gain traction, with actresses like Linda Hamilton and Geena Davis leading the way, putting in decent performances in exciting, entertaining movies.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) 92%
Sarah Connor (supporting) – Linda Hamilton

The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996) 68%
Samantha Caine (lead) – Geena Davis

G.I. Jane (1997) 55%
Jordan O’Neil (lead) – Demi Moore

The Matrix (1999) 87%
Trinity (supporting) – Carrie-Anne Moss

THE 2000s

The good work the ’90s women put in gets somewhat undone at the start of this decade, with a bunch of terrible films (Eon Flux the biggest offender) and, whilst it’s no fault of the various actresses involved, it took a one-two punch of Angelina Jolie (Mr and Mrs Smith) and Uma Thurman (Kill Bill) to set things right. So by the end of the decade we were getting better films – and characters – with greater frequency (Hanna, Salt).

Then, by 2012, we’d probably reached a turning point. Angelina Jolie (aged 35 in Salt) couldn’t fly the flag forever, so others had to step up. Enter women like Jennifer Lawrence (22 in Hunger Games) and Saoirse Ronan (17 in Hanna), actresses that appealed and inspired a younger generation and helped push things further forward.

Charlie’s Angels (2000) 68%
Natalie Cook (co-lead) – Cameron Diaz, Dylan Sanders (co-lead) – Drew Barrymore, Alex Munday (co-lead) – Lucy Lui

Tomb Raider (2001) 20%
Lara Croft (lead) – Angelina Jolie

Resident Evil (2002) 34%
Alice (lead) – Milla Jovovich

Eon Flux (2005) 9%
Eon Flux (lead) – Charlize Theron

Mr and Mrs Smith (2005) 59%
Jane Smith (co-lead) – Angelina Jolie

Kill Bill (2003) 85%
Beatrix Kiddo (lead) – Uma Thurman

Wanted (2008) 71%
Fox (supporting) – Angelina Jolie

Salt (2010) 62%
Evelyn Salt (lead) – Angelina Jolie

Iron Man 2 (2010) 73%
Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (supporting) – Scarlet Johansson

Hanna (2011) 71%
Hanna (lead) – Saoirse Ronan

Hunger Games (2012) 84%
Katniss Everdeen (lead) – Jennifer Lawrence

2015 ONWARDS

In 2012 Disney acquired Star Wars as a property and set about making plans to expand the franchise with new films and characters, ones that would appeal to a modern audience. The majority of moviegoers want to see female characters better represented on screen, so franchises like Star Wars really need to lead the way.

Additionally, along with Marvel’s MCU and a smattering of female superheroes, even DC studios got in on the act, with a female-led action movie in Wonder Woman (something Marvel could only really match with supporting characters in films like Black Panther). Momentum and quality, though, had really shifted. If the below selection are anything to go by.

Mad Max (2015) 97%
Furiosa (supporting) – Charlize Theron

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015) 93%
Isla Faust (supporting) – Rebecca Ferguson

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) 93%
Rey (co-lead) – Daisy Ridley

Rogue One: A Star Wars story (2016) 85%
Jyn Erso (lead) – Felicity Jones

Wonder Woman (2017) 92%
Diana Prince (lead) – Gal Gadot

Atomic Blonde (2017) 77%
Lorraine Broughton – Charlize Theron

Black Panther (2018) 97%
Shuri (supporting) – Letitia Wright and Okoye (supporting) – Danai Garira

Top 10 films about making films

I recently watched a film in which the plot revolved around, or at least touched on, the process of making a film. Which got me thinking about other films where this happens. Here are ten of my relatively recent favourites.

Their Finest (2016)

A rather sweet WWII-set flick which tells the story of the relationship between two screenwriters (Sam Claflin and Gemma Arterton) writing a screenplay for the Ministry of Information to boost troops’ morale. Also includes Bill Nighy doing Bill Nighy, which is always a good thing.

Tropic Thunder (2008)

In an attempt to make a war film more authentic a hapless director (Steve Coogan) drops his actors into the Vietnamese jungle. Trouble is, they end up in the middle of a real drug war. It takes some of the filmmakers (including Nick Nolte and Danny McBride) a while to realise what’s actually going on.

The Aviator (2004)

As part of the thread of this film, billionaire and aviation tycoon Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) is trying to make the film Hell’s Angels which, whilst it went on to be one of the highest grossing films of the silent era, it still lost money due to the inflated budget.

Get Shorty (1995)

Mobster (John Travolta) is sent to Hollywood to collect a debt from film producer Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman). But upon pitching his life as a movie idea he finds being a gangster and a producer are not that different.

Saving Mr Banks (2013)

For a film about the making of Mary Poppins and the relationship between its author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) and Walt Disney (Tom Hanks), it’s incredibly sweet-natured. Particularly the scenes where they’re coming up with the songs.

Son of Rambow (2007)

School bad boy Lee Carter (Will Poulter) and Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner) become friends, in sort of an odd couple way when they bond over a film they’re making for a competition. Their friendship gets tested when more kids join in and Lee feels cut out.

King Kong (2005)

Ambitious director Carl Denham (Jack Black) manages to persuade playwright Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody) and actress Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) to head to Skull Island to film his new flick. However it all goes awry when Kong kicks off, swipes Ann and heads off into the jungle.

Super 8 (2011)

A bunch of kids (including Elle Fanning) are making a zombie movie, when all of a sudden they witness a train crash. Turns out it was no accident, and a series of events and disappearances follow. It’s up to the kids and Deputy Jackson Lamb (Kyle Chandler) to discover the truth.

Cloverfield (2008)

A bunch of rich and attractive New York kids (including Lizzy Caplan and T.J. Miller) are having a party when a huge monster starts smashing up the city. They film their experience on a camera as they try and flee the city with their lives.

While We’re Young (2014)

Middle-aged filmmaker Josh Schrebnick (Ben Stiller) is stuck in a rut. Until a young, hip guy called Jamie (Adam Driver) turns up. He breathes new life into Josh’s film but then enjoys more success in weeks than Josh did in years. So, inevitably, sparks start to fly.

Top five film and TV characters called Michael

A silly post now. I just want to celebrate my name. That, and I had a sneaking suspicion there were some cool film and TV characters called Michael. After all, it’s one of the oldest – and most popular –  names in the world.

Here’s a few that float my boat.

Mikey, The Goonies (1985)

Played by the legend that is Sean Astin, Mikey was the driving force behind the adventure – and subsequent scrap – the gang gets into with the Fratellis. They did find a One-eyed Willie’s pirate ship and treasure though, so that’s win.

Mike Lowry, Bad Boys (1995)

‘Mike Looowwry… Why don’t you whip it out for her, big boy? Yeah, right on your forehead.’ Martin Lawrence winding up Will Smith’s Mike Lowry, the smooth ladies man of their cop duo, in what is probably Michael Bay’s second best film (after The Rock of course).

Michael Corleone, The Godfather (1972)

Al Pacino, in his best role. No question. Those haunted eyes, realising what he has to become to take over as head of the family. Probably the scariest – and best dressed – Michael in this list.

Michael Burnham, Star Trek: Discovery (2017)

Not only is Michael Burnham, the lead character, a female with a male name, she is also a person of colour. Go Star Trek for mixing things up. Played by Sonequa Martin-Green, her character is a disgraced Starfleet officer who finds a place aboard Captain Lorca’s (Jason Isaacs) technically advanced ship, where she’s instrumental in the fight with the Klingons.

My five favourite modern Westerns

Yes, there are loads of bona-fide classic Westerns out there, with the bulk being from the ’50s and ’60s. That said, there new ones being made all the time. It’s a genre that continues to fascinate us as moviegoers.

And with these new stories, filmmakers are finding new ways to tell them and present them, and make them relevant for a modern audience. Here are some that I like to come back to whenever I can.

Open Range (2003)

Cattle herders Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall run into Michael Gambon’s despicable rancher. He takes a dislike to them coming to town with their cattle and the whole films builds to an almighty showdown. It’s a thoughtful, considered type of story though, with solid performances across the board.

3:10 To Yuma (2007)

Christian Bale and Russell Crowe were both on fine form in this story, one where Bale, an ex-rifleman, becomes the reluctant minder of Crowe’s notories outlaw. His mission: to get him onto the prison train to Yuma, all the while being pursued by his gang who are trying to free him.

The Assassination of Jessie James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

With cinematography from the great Roger Deakins and masterful performances from both Casey Affleck as Ford and Brad Pitt as James, this is both a critically acclaimed film and one overlooked by the general public. It’s worth your time, though.

Tombstone (1993)

Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp and Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday, and a cast that also included Bill Paxton and Sam Elliott as good guys and Powers Boothe, Stephen Lang and Michael Biehn as the bad guys, what’s not to love? There’s even a scene where two characters insult each other in Latin.

Django Unchained (2012)

Originally, Tarantino wanted Will Smith in the lead role, however Jamie Foxx smashes it. It’s also heightened by a powerhouse performance from DiCaprio. Not that you would expect anything less.

My top seventeen films of 2017

This year has been a bit of a bumper for good films. Putting together a list, yet again, I realise there are so many I haven’t seen. Here’s those that I have, a top seventeen and the order in which I liked them. Plus a rather large number that I am yet to see, but want to, and have heard good things.

1. Get Out

Off-kilter and deeply unsettling. The first two thirds of this film puts certain deeply held prejudices into stark focus. Little micro-aggressions of racism that people of colour experience, in a way that white people simply cannot comprehend. This film achieved big at the box office, from a miniscule budget – doing strong numbers in the States. Frightening, vital storytelling.

2. Thor: Ragnarok

Taiki Waititi is an odd man. This is not an understatement. His past work includes a documentary style vampire film, What We Do In The Shadows and a highly unusual road chase movie Hunt For The Wilderpeople. Then Marvel gave him a superhero sandpit in which to play. The result is Ragnarok, the funniest, strangest film to come out of a studio that’s seventeen films in.

3. Baby Driver

Edgar Wright left Ant-Man over creative differences to go and make this. Silver lining and all that, because this is, by far, Wright’s best film. It’s practically a musical, in terms of how effortlessly and brilliantly songs are weaved into its DNA. And the performances across the board are surprising and inspired. A helluva lot of fun.

4. A Monster Calls

This came out New Year’s Day 2017, so you can be forgiven for forgetting it. But you shouldn’t, because it’s one of the most emotionally affecting films I’ve ever seen. Utterly heart-breaking stuff from director Juan Antonio Bayona.

5. Moonlight

Oscar winner (eventually), this film should be on your ‘must watch’ list. A big break for director Barry Jenkins, with outstanding performances from all three leads, playing the same man at three key points in his life. Languid, dreamy, painfully well observed.

6. Logan

It’s nice that director James Mangold got another crack at Wolverine as a character, because he could finally create the film he wanted to create, with the studio giving him a huge amount of freedom. The result being a very much stand-alone X-Men film, but also the best Wolverine story by some distance. And a fitting send-off for Jackman in the role.

7. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2

The first Guardians film had little expectation, but surprised everyone, particular in terms of comedy. And then came the difficult second album. It doesn’t quite have the emotional impact of the first film, but there’s loads of good stuff in it, and it comes darn close to topping the first.

8. Spider-Man: Homecoming

Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, two chaps that had a crack at the role. Neither are as good a fit as the latest bloke, Tom Holland. It helps that this film is now part of the MCU and Iron Man’s inclusion adds a nice wrinkle to Peter Parker’s progress as a hero; in that Tony becomes a sort of surrogate father figure. Plus, Michael Keaton as a bad guy. Someone you’d want in any movie, if you can get him.

9. mother!

Darren Aranofsky is no stranger to controversy. He wrote this script in what he described as a ‘fever dream’, with star Jennifer Lawrence reportedly throwing it across the room after reading it and telling the director there was something wrong with him. Only to later say he was a genius. This film works on many allegorical levels and granted, it’s a tough watch, but a visceral one from an auteur filmmaker.

10. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Coming from a background of indies such as The Brothers Bloom, Brick and Looper, Rian Johnson was an interesting choice for Disney, in terms of continuing the story of Luke, Leia and the gang with all that force stuff. It’s hugely polarised a small portion of the internet but still opened to the second biggest weekend in movie history, so it can’t be that bad. For me, I thought it was a great story and possibly the best of the new films yet.

11. Wonder Woman

Finally, DC came up with a movie that was less of a CGI-fest, although they couldn’t resist descending into this territory come the film’s final third. Luckily, the rest of the movie was more progressive and engaging, and all the fish out of water stuff with Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince was a delight. It also gave us a female superhero as the lead of a blockbuster for the first time, one that has gone on to inspire countless women and girls around the world.

12. Free Fire

Ben Wheatley, as a director, is no stranger to dark stories and messed up visuals. And he’s always had mostly a British cast to work with. As his name has grown everyone wants to work with him now, and this film represents his biggest, most A-list cast to date. So what does he do? Stick them all on the floor in a dirty warehouse crawling around shooting at each other for an entire movie. Hilarious and genius.

13. Hidden Figures

This film is about racism AND sexism. It tells the story of the amazing work done by three women of colour who worked at NASA during the space race with Russia in the ‘60s. All three were instrumental in some of NASA’s biggest achievements at the time. Definitely file under ‘feel good’ movie, but it’s also one that highlighted the true story of three women who dealt with ingrained racism and sexism in the most magnanimous, humbling way.

14. Blade Runner: 2049

Living up to the original film must be a tough gig, and it’s a brave director that takes on the challenge of giving us a sequel, but Denis Villeneuve, hot off of films such as Arrival, Sicario and Prisoners, thought himself up to the challenge. It helped that he had the legend that is Roger Deakins on cinematography duty. It’s too long, but a decent sequel and Gosling was a good fit.

15. The Lost City of Z

Based on the true story of British explorer Percy Fawcett, played by Charlie Hunnam, and his forays into South America and the Amazon in search of an ancient lost city. The film is too long, but takes its time setting everything up, and has a real Apocalypse Now feel about it at times. Recommended.

16. What Happened To Monday

Netflix release, this film went under a lot of people’s radars but it’s pretty darn good. Starring Noomi Rapace it’s a sci-fi set in a world where families are only allowed one child, due to the population. Willem Defoe’s character ends up with seven identical girls, which he names after each day of the week. On their name day they take turns going out into the world. So Monday goes to work on Monday, Tuesday on Tuesday and so on. Then Monday vanishes. It’s up to the remaining sisters to discover what happened. Outstanding performances from Rapace as all of the sisters.

17. okja

Okja, this year, was one of those modern oddities, in that it was released exclusively on Netflix and featured an A-list cast, including Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano and Jake Gyllenhaal. It tells the story of a world where food is scarce so a corporation grows super pigs. A girl becomes attached to hers and fights to save it from slaughter. Directed by Bong Joon-ho it’s supremely strange but lovingly told.


There’s also a rather hefty list of films I have yet to see. These are:

Dunkirk
Lady Macbeth
The Meyerowitz Stories
Call me by your name
The Florida Project
God’s Own Country
Personal Shopper
The Shape of Water
Mudbound
Raw
War For The Planet of The Apes
The Death of Stalin
La La Land
John Wick: Chapter 2
Logan Lucky
The Beguiled
Detroit
Elle
Jackie
The Handmaiden
Paddington 2
Manchester by the Sea
Split
Lion
Prevenge
The Love Witch
Collosal
My Cousin Rachel
Patti Cake$
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
A Cure For Wellness
Gerald’s Game

My favourite films from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s

Recently I got into a conversation with my partner about old films. Classic films. And it turns out I’ve not seen that many, so I can’t really call myself a cinephile. Because – and here’s where I ‘fess up – I’ve seen ALMOST NOTHING from before 1950. It’s an issue I’m – very slowly – trying to address.

But it did get me thinking about what I HAVE seen, and how the bulk of my cinematic knowledge starts in the 1970s.

So, here are some of my favourites from those three decades. What would you make your list?

1950s
Some Like It Hot (1959)
North by Northwest (1959)

1960s
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Mary Poppins (1964)
The Great Escape (1963)
Dr No (1962)
Barbarella (1968)

1970s
Star Wars (1977)
Alien (1979)
Apocalypse Now (1979)
The Godfather (1972)
The Godfather: part two (1974)
Animal House (1978)
Serpico (1973)