The beginning of the year has become a treasure trove of cinematic treats for Irish movie fans. Keeping films fresh in the minds of awards-season voters often means they’re released just before Christmas in the US, so they reach our shores between the Golden Globes and the Oscars. Esther McCarthy selects the movies you really don’t want to miss
Even when the story occasionally falters, Gary Oldman’s Winston Churchill is a character and a performance you can’t take your eyes off.
It’s the greatest compliment to Oldman that you can’t see where he ends and the WW2 leader begins.
He disappears into the role and is regarded as an Oscar favourite.
Directed by Joe Wright (Atonement, Anna Karenina), the film aims to go at Churchill’s story from a unique and novel perspective — whether to negotiate with Hitler, as some in his cabinet compel him, or to take a stand and rally his nation.
Terrific performances make the most of London/ Irish director Martin McDonagh’s (In Bruges) moving and wickedly funny script.
Frances McDormand is the force of nature who elevates it to a serious awardsseason contender.
She plays Mildred Hayes, a feisty mother who rents three billboards to call out the local police, who’ve failed to secure a conviction or arrest for the murder of her daughter.
They include the much-loved chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) and the violent and immature officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell, excellent).
Set in a visually vibrant Mexico, Pixar’s latest introduces us to Miguel, a lively boy who dreams of becoming a musician just like his idol, a successful traditional singer.
When he lands in trouble with his family, Miguel is transported into the other worldly Land of the Dead, where circumstances force him to piece together his real family history and identity.
Coco, the studio’s comic story with a bittersweet touch in its tale, deals with big themes in the same way as Inside Out did.
It won Best Animated Feature at the Golden Globes.
Steven Spielberg’s drama about journalism and truth feels timely and urgent, and is his best in some time.
It deserves to be making more noise on the awards circuit.
It tells the story of the Pentagon Papers scandal which gripped US politics from the perspective of Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham (Meryl Streep) and her editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks), who are very much at odds over the decision whether to publish.
It’s not just a political decision.
There are big implications for Graham, her paper and her staff. It’s an old-school drama carried by a terrific cast.
Released to coincide with the 100th anniversary of World War I’s Spring offensive, Saul Dibb’s conflict drama is a moving tale of innocence lost.
It’s a thoughtful, intelligent film.
An adaption of the 1930s film and play which has certainly stood the test of time, it focuses on one group of men at the front in Aisnein 1918.
The young, naive Raleigh (Asa Butterfield) is posted there, and encounters men jaded and brutalised from conflict, and painfully aware of their likely demise.
Dibb immerses us in the manner that Christopher Nolan did in Dunkirk.
Daniel Day-Lewis has famously said his performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s (There Will be Blood, Magnolia) latest will be his last.
He’s joined by Lesley Manville in this opulent, lavish drama, set in the glamour of post-WW2 London.
Day-Lewis is an accomplished dressmaker, Reynolds Woodcock who, along with his sister (Manville) is at the heart of the thriving British fashion scene, designing for socialites, celebrities and even royalty.
However, when he falls for a younger woman (Vicky Krieps), his career-driven, committed-bachelor lifestyle is turned upside down.
A multiple awards-season contender so far, the latest from Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) is a fairy tale for grown ups.
Sally Hawkins, already great in Maudie and Paddington 2 in the past year, knocks it out of the park again as the lonely, mute Elisa, who works as a cleaner in an 1960s research facility.
However, her life is transformed when she and her colleague (Octavia Spencer) come across a top-secret research project, and she befriends the other-worldly creature.
Michael Shannon is having a blast, and bringing some real menace, as the villain of the piece.
Everyone loves the story of a down-on-his-luck fighter, but Paddy Considine’s latest film goes at it from an entirely different angle.
The lifelong boxing fan directs himself in this tale of Matty Burton, a middleaged, middleweight former champ who’s keen to earn enough to keep his family going after impending retirement.
However, following a brutal fight with a controversial opponent, Matty finds his devastated body must take on another battle entirely.
It’s Considine’s first feature as director since the gritty Tyrannosaur, and he’s aided and abetted by the new Dr Who, Jodie Whittaker.
In a year without Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird or Frances McDormand in Three Billboards, Margot Robbie would be picking up awards all over the place for her terrific performance in this punkish biopic.
Director Craig Gillespie builds on the promise he showed in Lars and the Real Girl, subverting the conventions of the sporting biopic.
It tells the notorious story of ice skater Tonya Harding and the attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan through the characters involved themselves, leading to a movie that is hilarious and sombre.
Allison Janney, as
Harding’s terrifying mother, picked up a Golden Globe for her performance..
Saoirse Ronan and first-time director Greta Gerwig have been picking up awards all over the place for their work on this film, one of the best-reviewed of the past year.
Based loosely in the world of Gerwig’s own background, it centres on Ronan’s sarcastic teenager, anxious to break out of life in Sacramento, California, and her relationship with her equally forthright and spirited mother.
The Irish actress picked up a Golden Globe for her performance, and is regarded as a dead cert for an Oscar nomination on January 23.
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