We may only be halfway through the year, but there have already been plenty of great movies to sink our teeth into. From slow-burn indie darlings to crowd-pleasing blockbusters, the past six months have provided something for all tastes, proving that we don’t have to be mid-awards season to experience great cinema. Check out the following 15 films that we think are the best of the best:
This review contains spoilers for Westworld Season 2, Episode 6 ‘Phase Space’. For the rest of our Westworld coverage, click here.
Westworld’s latest episode comes after the bloodbath that was “Akane No Mai”: an episode that expanded on the lore of the series and introduced “Shogun World”. In a season that still struggles to keep a steady hand on its sprawling plot, this addition truly blossoms into its own in episode six of the series, where the heart of “Shogun World” is displayed in all its glory, and each character battles with choices they must make.
After discovering her new voice, Maeve must face the first of these heavy decisions – whether to use her power in order to beat the Shogun or allow Musashi to fight him honourably. “We each deserve to choose our fate,” Maeve declares. Unlike Dolores, Maeve has not become godly in her new-found power, as evidenced multiple times across their respective character arcs. Sure enough, the shogun and Musashi continue their fight untamed by Maeve’s “witchcraft,” in yet another overt display of gore and violence.
One of the greatest joys of film festivals is discovering films that don’t make the advertising headlines, yet leave you with the knowledge that you have witnessed something brilliant. This can certainly be said for Meryem Benm’Barek-Aloïsi’s Sofia, in a truly remarkable debut that boldly explores themes often relegated to the title of “women’s cinema”: social status, family ties, and unwanted motherhood. Such themes may well be off-putting to viewers more interested in murdered sex workers and dismembered breasts, but there’s no accounting for taste.
Sofia, our eponymous protagonist, is a young Moroccan woman who lives with her parents in Casablanca. In the middle of dinner one evening, she suddenly begins experiencing pain in her lower body. Rushing to the kitchen, fluid breaks down her legs, commencing a barrage of problems as she must give birth to and parent a child whose existence she had been completely unaware of. Simultaneously, and perhaps most notably, Sofia must deal with the ramifications of single motherhood in a country where sex outside of marriage is illegal.
“Why do you want to sue your parents?”
“For giving me life.”
This is how Capharnaum begins its onslaught of bleakness, in a statement reflective of emotional exhaustion rather than genuine financial interest. The origin of these words is twelve-year old-Zain and his decision that comes after a lifetime of abuse, neglect, and poverty. The film’s narrative expands as the child explains what has led him to the courtroom in which he stands, through a series of flashbacks leading to his arrest for “stabbing a son of a bitch,” and his counter-accusation against his parents.
Classic films can be a bit daunting when you don’t know where to start. French New Wave? Italian Neorealism? German Expressionism? What do they all mean? Sometimes you don’t need to jump in the deep end with the 6-hour epics — there are classic films that are just as accessible as those made today, with the added bonus of operating as an easy gateway into the world of classic film. All it takes is that one movie — so we asked our regular writers: What film got you into classics?
Adolescence is an important time for all of us. It’s a rollercoaster of unexplainable emotions – emotions that often cannot be accurately captured in words. It’s the first time we feel attraction, discover sexuality, and explore romantic relationships. It’s a crossroads for all, but it can be especially painful for LGBTQ+ youth. While heterosexual and cisgender teenagers will see their own desires reflected in the rest of their community, their trans and same gender attracted counterparts can often experience the throes of adolescence in complete loneliness.
Much of French filmmaker Céline Sciamma’s work focuses on the unique conflicts of adolescent life. Her camera juxtaposes the joy of new maturity with a fear of the unknown, calmly recounting the stories of strikingly individual characters. Her work is best watched collectively, for maximum appreciation of her minimal style, but if you’re looking for somewhere to start, take a look at the summaries below.
It’s almost that time of the year again. Red carpets are being prepared, critics are gathering their caffeine tablets, and social media is beginning to buzz about the latest and greatest films from across the world. Cannes Film Festival has always marked the film calendar with ingenuity and controversy alike, and this year is no different. Dramas this year include a return of Nazi-sympathiser Lars von Trier to the lineup after a supposed seven year ban, a long and exhausting battle with Netflix (in which nobody really won), and a lack of female directors in competition (a dismal 14%). On the other hand, the 3 Days at Cannes programme will allow 1000 young cinephiles access to one of the most exclusive film events of the year, the competition jury is majority women, and Cannes’ very first Kenyan feature – discussed below – will compete in the Un Certain Regard section. One step forward, two steps back.
Regardless of all this, we’re excited because Cannes always means one thing: fantastic films. In preparation for the festival, we’ve put together a short list of those premieres that we’re most keen to see.