7. The Favourite
This may be Yorgos Lanthimos’ most accessible film, though that’s not saying much next to the inscrutable wackiness of The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer.
Olivia Colman plays Queen Anne in an absurdist take on the real life relationships between the Queen, her confidante (Sarah Churchill played by Rachel Weisz) and her cousin (Abigail Hill played by Emma Stone). Colman is outstanding as Queen Anne and plays her as equal parts nuanced depressive and over the top parody. All of her best actress awards are more than deserved but it’s the strong trio of leads that really makes the film connect. Also, shot out to Nicholas Hoult who steals almost every scene he’s a part of.
Ari Aster’s second film is even more horrifying and depressed than his first, Hereditary, but it’s working in a completely different way.
It’s as oppressive to watch, but Hereditary smothered you by increasing its insanity level so that by the end your nerves were shredded. Midsommar takes a different tact, its oppression is in everything being in the daylight. Nothing is hidden, nothing unseen. You could argue that both endings are equally as horrifying but the journey is unique. Midsommar slowly and, almost apathetically, reaches a crescendo that you somehow feel complicit in.
Recommended for you: Hereditary (2018) Review
5. Little Women
I don’t really like period dramas (although The Favourite might’ve changed that slightly) and even I thought this was a lowkey masterpiece.
Greta Gerwig is the real deal and will be a force to be reckoned with for a long time to come. Little Women is spectacular in its simplicity – just like Lady Bird. The non-linear narrative and the editing required to pull it off are particular highlights. It’s assured filmmaking with the cast delivering beyond expectations. Florence Pugh continues to be a revelation and one of the most versatile actors around; just look at her 2019(!), and she has Black Widow coming out in 2020. Saoirse Ronan effortlessly anchors everything and has gifted Greta with her best performance to date. The whole experience is like a warm hug and it’s a new favourite Christmas film of mine.
Recommended for you: Lady Bird (2017/18) Review
4. The Souvenir
Joanna Hogg’s semi-fictionalised film of her experiences at film school, and particularly her relationships, is quietly devastating. Championed by Martin Scorsese, The Souvenir stars Honor Swinton Bryne as Julie, a film school student who falls in love with a secretive older man (Tom Burke as Anthony). It manages to capture self doubt and guilt manifested into a toxic relationship, showing its destructive quality on creativity and confidence. It poses the question; what if a relationship made you hate yourself? It’s the anti-Call Me By Your Name. A second part is on the way already and it’ll be interesting to see if Hogg keeps such a self-reflective stance or gives the character of Julie (and by proxy the talents of Honor Swinton Bryne) room to do more.