There Will Be Blood
A very strong contender for film of the year, let alone best February film. Paul Thomas Anderson, with only his fifth film, stakes a claim as one of the best young directors working today. Daniel Day Lewis’s powerhouse of a performance is at the centre of this bold and striking epic.
Arriving on the back of much hype and internet-driven hoopla, this JJ Abrams-produced (and, god love him, Matthew Reeves-directed) monster film delivered so much more than a standard genre piece. Barely leaving you time to breathe, this was a rare treat – pure visceral, sensory cinema.
Well-acted and amusing, Juno is a good film without quite deserving all its hype. A slight reliance on character quirkiness and eminently quotable dialogue means it runs the risk of appearing a little too smart for its own good. An underlying warmth, though, with some very good performances, ensures that it should hold up well upon repeat viewing.
Be Kind Rewind
A pleasant oddity from Michel Gondry, Be Kind Rewind isn’t quite all it might have been but still has plenty to enjoy. More gently amusing that outright funny, it trades on nostalgia and an appreciation of DIY cinema. Mos Def marks up another decent performance, while Jack Black avoids being particularly annoying.
Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead
With a distinguished director (Sidney Lumet) and a very good cast performing well (an excellent Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hunt and Albert Finney), this still doesn’t quite add up to the sum of its parts. Feeling more like a master class in good acting, there is much to admire but not love, as the various elements and overlapping/flashback structure fail to quite mesh.
There Will Be Blood
Day-Lewis deserves every praise that is laid at his outstanding feet, so good is his performance that its difficult to imagine the film being half as good without him in the lead-role. Not as instantly fantastic as No Country For Old Men, but much more open to topical discussion. (Is Dano playing twins, or is he just schizo? Is Day-Lewis’s character nothing more than the Devil playing mortal for a lifetime, constantly trying to dig his way back home?)
Margot At The Wedding
Nicole Kidman’s performance is this is as subtlely destroying as Day-Lewis’s is bombastic. A must-see for anyone who think’s their family is the most effed up.
Not as good as all of America would have you believe, and only made it this high on the list due to the generally week month that February turned out to be. In spite of this, Ellen Page was great, and the script is genuinely good, even if it’s not the be-all-and-end-all of modern quirky comedy that many had been expecting.
Will be forgotten in about 6 months, but should serve as an important flagstone (along with Beowulf) as one of the movie’s that should the new direction cinema was been taken in.
It should be ridiculously easy to hate Ryan Reynolds, but instead he makes it incredibly difficult to do so. He carries this entire movie using only his charms and Abigail Breslin. Which as everyone knows are two of the most powerful weapons in Hollywood right now.
Dis-Honorable mention: Jumper, for being such a huge disappointment.