“I, Tonya” (2017)

Margot Robbie gives an incredible performance as Tonya Harding, perfectly capturing both the positive and negative aspects of her personality, making her sympathetic without completely absolving her. Allison Janney also does incredible work as her cruel, nasty and horrific mother. The film’s unique presentation was a great way to tell this story, with the use of the unreliable narrator trope managing to cast doubt over every character’s version of events. However, I do wish more had been done with the composition to really mess with the audience’s perception of reality. Regardless, this is an incredibly well-made, smart, and funny film, that manages to make a very tired and well-worn story seem fresh by looking at it from a different point of view.

Rating: 4.5/5

“The Patriot” (1998)

This movie tries to combine a viral outbreak movie, and an insurrection thriller, a combination that just plain doesn’t work. Although Steven Seagal doesn’t quite reach his lazy and self-congratulatory attitude that will define most of his works in the Noughties, you can definitely see the warning signs here. The action is sparse, and when it does finally rear its head, it’s ineptly staged and incomprehensible. This film is poorly paced, dull as a rock, and is too incompetent to handle either the outbreak plot, or the militia plotline with any semblance of skill. This isn’t a laughably bad film, but it is a very bad film that’s simply too boring to offer anything of value.

Rating: 1/5

“From Up on Poppy Hill” (2011)

There’s definitely a lot to like here. In particular, the characters of Umi and Shun are very likable, very relatable characters, and they make for compelling and cute leads. And the plot about the clubhouse that deals with the merits of tradition vs. progress is certainly interesting, especially considering the time period the story takes place in; post-war Japan. The film unfortunately does indulge in melodrama and convenient storytelling clichés. Still, thanks to its incredible mood and atmosphere that you would expect from a Ghibli film, as well the well written main characters, it helps forgive a lot, and the end result is a cute movie that, while not reaching Ghibli’s top-tier material, is just fine and definitely worth watching.

Rating: 3.5/5

“Searching” (2018)

It’s like a slightly better version of Unfriended, albeit with some of the same problems. This is an intriguing and high-concept thriller with a unique presentation, and in some instances, a lot of attention to detail and effort was clearly put into the presentation. Most of the issues come with the film’s script, which occasionally relies on logical gaps that can be difficult to swallow. But the rest of the film from its composition, to a great lead performance by John Cho, as well as being a genuinely solid mystery, is simply too good to ignore.

Rating: 4/5

“You Were Never Really Here” (2017)

Joaquin Phoenix gives the performance of a lifetime in this dark, brutal, bone-chilling vigilante drama. Director/Writer Lynne Ramsay manages to construct a film that feels both like an arthouse film, and a more familiar and conventional film simultaneously. She keeps the film’s focus as it should on the main lead, diving very deep into his character, often with little or no dialogue, and does a masterful job of telling the story visually, using the medium of film to her fullest advantage. There’s not a second wasted in this taut, brisk thriller, and it easily ranks as one of the very best films of the year and one that was severely overlooked in 2018.

Rating: 5/5