Films I loved in January 2020

Saoirse Ronan as Jo March and Emma Watson as Meg March in Little Women

Greta Gerwig’s Little Women is a smart and endearing adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved 1868 novel. By restructuring the narrative and including sly self-awareness it succeeds in being a warm tale of sisterhood, a romance rich in period detail, and a smart critique of class and gender.
Released in Australian cinemas 1 January 2020

George MacKay as Lance Corporal William Schofield in 1917

Shot in long takes stitched together to appear as a continuous shot, 1917 is a technically bold and innovative WWI film about two British soldiers attempting to complete an urgent mission. The resulting spectacle is intense and immersive, while also being sobering and emotionally engaging.
Released in Australian cinemas 9 January 2020

George MacKay as Ned Kelly in True History of the Kelly Gang

Justin Kurzel’s adaptation of Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang is a giddy deconstruction of the masculinity mythology central to the Australian bushranger’s story. The film’s punk energy and queerness results in a gleefully bewildering, brutal and subversive experience.
Released in Australian cinemas 9 January 2020

Lu-La (voiced by Amalia Vitale) and Shaun (voiced by Justin Fletcher) in A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon is more-or-less a claymation variation of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial where Shaun attempts to help a stranded alien go home, but with the good natured, inventive and Keatonesque visual humour that characterises Aardman Animations. It’s hilarious.
Released in Australian cinemas 9 January 2020

Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood presents American children’s television host Fred Rogers through the eyes of a cynical journalist, allowing Rogers’s philosophy of compassion to be expressed sincerely, especially when the film stylistically adopts his silent and still manner. The results are quietly profound.
Released in Australian cinemas 23 January 2020

August Diehl as Franz Jägerstätter and Valerie Pachner as Fani Jägerstätter in A Hidden Life

Terrence Malick’s exploration of what it means to aspire to a state of grace continues in A Hidden Life, a based-on-a-true-story about an Austrian farmer in World War II who refuses to pledge allegiance to Hitler. It’s a powerful and beautiful film about taking an ethical stand over self preservation.
Released in Australian cinemas 30 January 2020

Adam Sandler as Howard Ratner in Uncut Gems

Adam Sandler is astonishing in Uncut Gems as a fast-talking jeweller, compulsive gambler and modern day Icarus. His reckless and self-sabotaging attempts to beat fate and win himself the perfect life results in a film that is an expertly crafted adrenalin rush of operatic anxiety.
Released on Netflix 31 January 2020

Thomas Caldwell, 2020