Top films this January

Eva Mackevic

Check out the best and worst in film this month, from the lauded Favourite to the divisive Vice 

Film of the month: The Favourite 

Kick off the new year in naughty, naughty fashion by plunging into the deranged, decadent and dramatic world of director Yorgos Lanthimos. The maker of The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer travels back to 18th-century England this time, telling the story of the histrionic Queen Anne and her two confidants, Lady Sarah and maid Abigail, who viciously compete for her attention.

While there are many things to love about The Favourite, the cast is undeniably its biggest asset. Olivia Colman is brilliant as the unhappy, childishly erratic queen whose mood swings are as ferocious as her appetite for food, games and sex. Her primary source of happiness, however, is her advisor Sarah (Rachel Weisz)—a manipulative, fiendishly clever woman who uses Anne’s affection to shape the political climate of the country to her liking.

Yet Sarah’s influential position is threatened with the arrival of the charming Abigail (Emma Stone) who quickly works her way up from a lowly servant to the queen’s key lady-in-waiting. Sweet, doting and kind—or at least posing as such—she’s the answer to everything Anne longs for in the dominant, steely Sarah. Buckle up: it’s a wonderfully manic, over-the-top, often gross and hilarious two hours of hedonistic pleasure.

 

Colette 

It may not be the world’s most ground-breaking biopic, but with its sumptuous settings, gorgeous costumes and opulent cinematography, Colette is nevertheless a truly dazzling one.

Keira Knightley plays the famed French novelist amidst a long, tortuous journey towards finding her own voice—a role that brings out a new, refreshing side of the actress. However, it’s the standout performance from Dominic West that truly makes this film. As Colette’s much older, worldly husband, Willy, he achieves a subtle balance between irresistible charm and blatant boorishness.

 

Stan and Ollie 

Steve Coogan and John C Reilly step into the shoes of one of the most iconic comedy duos in the world, Laurel and Hardy, as they embark on a toilsome farewell tour of post-war Britain. While the script lacks a certain spark, it’s a generally agreeable biopic, largely thanks to the very capable cast. John C Reilly delivers a faithful portrayal of the booming “Babe”, and Coogan works wonders as the eternal perfectionist, Steve Laurel.

But the real scene-stealers here are their wives: the cartoon-voiced Lucille Hardy played by Shirley Henderson, and Nina Ariadna as the blunt-as-a-meat axe Russian, Ida Laurel. Paired together in a scene, they make for a delightful comedy duo in their own right. 

Read more: Best of Laurel and Hardy 

 

Beautiful Boy 

This harrowing drama tells the true story of Nic Sheff—a young man coping with addiction, and the devastating effect it has on his nearest and dearest. Featuring astounding performances from Steve Carell and rising star Timothee Chalamet, as well as a fantastic soundtrack spanning everything from Nirvana to Gorecki, it’s a heart-rending portrayal of addiction and a thought-provoking take on parenthood.

 

Vice 

You can probably guess without even watching the film that Christian Bale is remarkably good as former vice president Dick Cheney in all that makeup and prosthetics, Amy Adams is in great form as his wife Lynne, and Sam Rockwell will make your heart sing with joy with his ridiculousness and vivacity as George W Bush.

However, none of these scintillating performances can elevate the unnecessarily long-winded, slow and forced affair that is Vice.

Letting its sole, heavy-handed agenda of wiping the floor with Cheney take over, Vice seems to frequently forget one crucial detail along the way: the fact that it’s a comedy film and it should at least try to entertain its viewers. It tries to haphazardly rectify this with some sporadic satirical twists and Michael Moore-style editing but nevertheless ends up lifelessly dragging its feet (along with the audience) for almost two and a half hours.