Hauling Like A Brooligan

Stephen Gallagher

Movies of the Year

It’s awards voting time again and although in previous years I’ve kept a strict silence over my preferences, I’ve noticed that I seem to be the only one doing it. I suppose it’s hubris to imagine that anyone really cares… so in the interests of humility I’ll tell you what I’ve liked this year.

I’ve been able to raise my movies-seen-in-a-cinema quotient this year, so now I’m using screeners to catch up on the contenders I’ve missed. On Wednesday I watched The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and the second of Vincent Cassell’s Mesrine movies, both flawed-and-interesting, neither the best work of the people involved. Gilliam’s a genius, but I’m beginning to wonder if he actually knows what a story is. Parnassus closely resembles his Baron Munchausen, replicating most of its pleasures and its faults.

It’s interesting to compare the back-to-back Mesrine movies with Michael Mann’s Public Enemies. Whereas Public Enemies follows the Hollywood model by elevating and mythologising its subject, there’s never any doubt that Cassell’s Jacques Mesrine is a genuinely nasty piece of work, and all the more fascinating for it. It’s not necessary to romanticise in order to understand.

So far my favourite movies of the year have been Let the Right One In, Up, The Hurt Locker, District 9, Up in the Air, Star Trek… I enjoyed Me and Orson Welles despite the slightness of its coming-of-age story, mainly because of Christian McKay’s spot-on turn as Welles. It goes beyond mimicry and into real character work. He’s from Bury, Lancashire, and has mostly done theatre before this. His challenge now is to build a career that doesn’t involve forever being ‘the Orson Welles guy’.

A combination of travel, location, weather and workload make it unlikely that I’ll get to see either of the late-released Avatar or Sherlock Holmes before voting closes. From what I’m hearing I suspect I’ll find things to like in both of them, but since the rule is that you don’t vote for anything you haven’t seen, they’ll probably have to struggle through without my support.

Guilty pleasure; the French ’60s spy spoof OSS 117: Rio Ne Repond Plus. Biggest disappointment; The Lovely Bones. I’d been hoping for another Heavenly Creatures – for me, Jackson’s masterwork – but I found it about half as good as an average episode of Dead Like Me.

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3 responses to “Movies of the Year”

  1. For sheer enjoyment, I'd recommend seeing both 'Drag Me To Hell' and 'The Hangover'.

    I saw 'Avatar' in 3D last night expecting to dislike it but to my surprise, I found it a real spectacle and certainly something to see on the big screen. Can't stand wearing the glasses though…

  2. I agree with both of your choices. It's also worth having a look at It's Complicated, if only for enjoyment. Off to luxuriate in Orson Welles and me. Well, him.

  3. I agree with Stan. When I first saw the preview of Avatar, I said 'no way' but after hearing good things about it, I finally saw and thought it was very good.

    Sherlock Holmes was suprisingly good and it's always a joy to see
    Robert Downey Jr.

    Up in the Air was great. The whole concept about the lonely man who makes an important decision, very appealing to me.

    I want to read The Lovely Bones before seeing the film. Too bad it's had bad reviews, Rachel Weisz is one of my favorite actresses.