The best new films to see at the start of 2018by Francine Stock / December 14, 2017 / Leave a comment
Published in January 2018 issue of Prospect Magazine
Frances McDormand as “Mildred Hayes” in THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI. Photo by Merrick Morton, courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Released on 12th January In this wide-open award season, I’d wager that Frances McDormand (below) will get nominated for this tale of maternal grief in a small town. She plays Mildred, whose daughter was murdered months earlier and the perpetrator still unknown. Mildred takes her complaint against the police public on large billboards. Writer/director Martin McDonagh spins his strong cast (Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell) with his acclaimed mix of dark humour, startling violence and sudden tenderness. There’s no moment in this film when you’re in doubt of the humanity that lies beneath. Downsizing Released on 19th January Science-fiction is not where you’d expect director Alexander Payne (Sideways, About Schmidt) to go. Occupational therapist (Matt Damon) is a guy with a mid-life dilemma. How to live well—or as well as his wife would like—within limited means? Luckily, Nordic scientists have pioneered a radical solution: you can be shrunk down and live a sustainable lifestyle in a Lilliputian gated community. The film risks outstaying its welcome, but its jokes and observations about ambition, consumption and conservation are spot on. The Final Year Released on 19th January For the last 12 months of the Obama administration, documentary-maker Greg Barker was given access to the US foreign policy team: Secretary of State John Kerry, US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power and speechwriter Ben Rhodes. As they jet-set round the globe tackling Iran, Syria, Cuba and the rest, Barker’s subjects are impressively fluent and charismatic and like their president, skilled at controlling their own image. Yet they don’t anticipate the election result: footage from that evening is extraordinary.