One of the great pleasures of cinema is the variety of forms in which greatness can appear. Great cinema seldom comes in the form of the stuffy, awards-baiting dramas that dominate screens during this time of year – although Martin Scorsese’s Silence and Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea are both well worth seeking out this January. As an alternative to all of those cynically green-lit Oscar candidates stinking up the multiplexes, we’ve tried to highlight some of the more disreputable treasures, and genuinely ambitious pieces of film art that are screening near you in the coming weeks.
Look for the humorous, left-wing writing of Neville Smith in HOME’s retrospective, or the extraordinary work done by Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul in Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives which is showing as part of the FACT’s Haunting the Unknown season. We also make a case for the gold hidden in action stylist, John McTiernan’s Predator and look at why you really shouldn’t miss the chance to see the five-and-a-half hour restoration of Napoleon.
Here are our top 5 picks
Programmed in conjunction with No Such Thing as Gravity at FACT, Haunting the Unknown is a film season that takes a look at the spaces science leaves to the imagination and the supernatural presences that pop up to fill those spaces.
Kenneth Lonergan’s third film in sixteen years is a supremely intimate excavation of familial grief and tragedy. Starring Casey Affleck delivering a career best performance, this is one of the most exiting new releases of the year.
Abel Gance’s extraordinary depiction of the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte is a landmark in cinema history, lauded by directors such as Martin Scorsese and Stanley Kubrick, but a film that few audiences have had the opportunity to experience until now.
Whether you choose to focus on its depiction of the fragile nature of muscular masculinity or just enjoy the rollicking thrill ride, John McTeirnan’s Predator is definitely worth catching on the big screen.