Happenings

Film Fight 2020: April

Despite cinemas being shut for the whole of April, I found a pretty good seam of new releases (giving myself a little more leeway with the film fight rules here). There are 12 films in the April Film Fight.

The Platform

The Occupant

Vivarium

Lost Girls

The Jesus Rolls

System Crasher

Code 8

Coffee And Kareem

Badlands

Sweetheart

Rising High

Extraction

The April Winner

Given the sheer number of films, pretty much the entire gamut of good to excellent are here so picking a winner is tough. That said, it has to be System Crasher: a powerful, difficult look at trauma in children and the effects.

Film Fight 2020: March

A little late to post (I forgot!) and light on cinema viewings (global pandemic!), but the March Film Fight still has 5 films.

The Invisible Man

Spenser Confidential

The Hunt

The Last Thing He Wanted

Freaks

The March Winner

The winner is The Invisible Man for a genuinely tense and enjoyable update on a classic, that has something to say, and is well-executed.

Film Fight 2020: February

A relatively quiet month, due to being busy with a few other things, so only four films in the fight.

The Rhythm Section

Uncut Gems

Underwater

Horse Girl

The February Winner

The winner for February is Uncut Gems. Tense, anxiety-producing, with an ending that’s as effective as it is inevitable.

Film Fight 2020: January

The first Film Fight of 2020 is… shockingly on time. Seven films this month.

The Gentlemen

Jojo Rabbit

Little Women

The Lighthouse

1917

Parasite

The Personal History of David Copperfield

The January Winner

Lots of very strong contenders this month, but Parasite is a masterpiece. It works almost flawlessly from start to finish to bring you into its world, and pulls you through it one twist at a time.

Film Fight 2019: Finale

So, Film Fight didn’t remotely run to schedule this year. I all but abandoned it for a number of months, due to being busy elsewhere. As per my perennial caveat, Film Fight is done in a (not particularly serious) knock-out style: it can pick a first place, but everything else is unknown.

First up, the honourable mentions: films that were good but didn’t win their month:

  • Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  • Velvet Buzzsaw
  • High Flying Bird
  • The Breaker Upperers
  • Three Identical Strangers
  • Captain Marvel
  • The Kindergarten Teacher
  • Paddleton
  • The Highwaymen
  • Unicorn Store
  • The Sisters Brothers
  • Avengers: Endgame
  • John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
  • The Dead Don’t Die
  • American Factory
  • Joker
  • The Day Shall Come
  • Knives Out
  • The Irishman
  • Motherless Brooklyn

Not a bad set there, but fewer than last year. Probably a few more bigger budget action films too.

Now, the monthly winners:

  • January: The Favourite
  • February: If Beale Street Could Talk…
  • March: Us
  • April: Eighth Grade
  • May: Prospect
  • June: Booksmart
  • July: Spider-Man: Far From Home
  • August: Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
  • September: In The Shadow of The Moon
  • October: The Laundromat
  • November: Dolemite Is My Name
  • December: Marriage Story

The first half of the year produced some solid winners, then some more questionable choices up until December (which was overstuffed).

I was surprised and impressed by Prospect. It’s indie sci-fi done right: understated, well-realised, with an interesting story that leaves you wanting to more.

Eighth Grade is an exceptional directorial debut. There are scenes where the combination of performances, shot composition, lighting, and editing are all perfectly brought together to ratchet up the tension, releasing it just at the right moment.

At times almost dream-like and dizzying, and at others painfully real, If Beale Street Could Talk… is an incredibly well-done film about a romance doomed to fail, due to an unaccepting world.

However, I’m really struggling to pick a winner between the next two.

Early in the year, we had The Favourite, for which Olivia Colman rightly picked up an Oscar. Either of the other two leads (Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz) could have picked it up too. Strong performances, offbeat comedy, and a great story. This worked well on every level. It had been my choice for winner for almost the entire year until…

Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story delivered a masterclass in performance, direction, and staging. I can’t say it better than my original review: “beautiful, bittersweet, infuriating, delightful, difficult; a rollercoaster, evoking the ups and downs of a real breakdown.”

I might kick myself after watching The Favourite again, but I think the winner is Marriage Story for its rawness; it made me cry because I was both sad and happy, and that’s a hell of a thing for a film to do.