Rocks is realism at its best. The film follows titular character Olushola “Rocks” Omotoso and her struggles when her mother unexpectedly leaves her to take care of herself and her young brother.
Director Sarah Gavron stated that she decided to get into filmmaking to ‘make a difference’, and Rocks is clearly a feature in which her mission is felt. We watch Rocks struggle to maintain her everyday life at school as a normal teenager whilst also being the sole care giver to her younger brother. This is often heartbreaking to watch, yet the film does not attempt to demonise Rocks’ mother, instead seeking to represent the realities of the situation.
Rocks is like nothing else in British cinema. Despite an impassioned motive, Gavron’s hand in the film is extremely subtle. The central performances are so naturalistic that it often feels as if you are intruding into their lives. Rocks is a coming of age film like no other, exploring both universal themes of friendship and schooling but also very specific issues of mental health and poverty.
Released at the beginning of the year, 1917 was heralded as the cinematic experience of the year and it did not disappoint. Although telling a very simple story of two soldiers tasked with getting a message from point A to point B, the film is unexpectedly complex. You know what is going to happen at the climax – it was in the trailer – but that does not make it any less impactful when it does happen. In the moment, you’ll realise that you have been holding your breath for most of the run time.
PhDs can, and I am sure will, be written about the cinematography of 1917; it is truly a film to be watched on the biggest screen possible, preferably right at the front so all you can see is the screen. As well as being one of the best shot films of the year, it has one of the best performances by George MacKay. It was also filled to the brim with amazing cameos (keep your eyes peeled for the Hot Priest!).
6. Uncut Gems
Uncut Gems proves once and for all that Adam Sandler is a brilliant actor. The fact that he was not nominated for an Oscar is one of the worst things to happen in film in 2020.
The Safdie Brothers return with their own unique brand of anxiety driven cinema. Uncut Gems makes Good Time feel like a Pixar movie. We follow Howard (Sandler) as he runs around New York trying to turn a bad bet into a good bet. Howard is a gambling addict and we should not be rooting for him, however Sandler is so excellent that you can’t help but to want him to win. The sound design only helps to increase this anxiety throughout a film in which you feel every moment.
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