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I’m lucky enough to live just around the corner from the Duke of York’s, England’s oldest independent cinema; and so this year I made the most of my Picturehouse membership. I like movies that blend a touch of realism with a sense of style: Sean Baker’s The Florida Project, Mike Leigh’s Peterloo and Kore-Eda Hirokazu’s Shoplifters satisfied those needs. 

Andrew Haigh’s Lean On Pete, Debra Granik’s Leave No Trace and Chloe Zhao’s The Rider explored the natural world, and the vulnerability of youth.

Warwick Thornton’s ‘aboriginal Western’, Sweet Country, and Rungano Nyoni’s tragicomic I Am Not A Witch broke genre boundaries and brought marginal lives into the spotlight.

The performances of Joaquin Phoenix in Lynn Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here and Charlize Theron in Jason Reitman’s Tully revealed two stars at the height of their powers. Saoirse Ronan (in Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut, Lady Bird) and Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) were perfectly cast, while Harry Dean Stanton waved goodbye in Lucky

And there was superlative acting from Amanda Seyfried in Paul Schrader’s First Reformed, Elizabeth Debicki in Widows and Amy Adams in HBO’s Sharp Objects. (Widows director Alexander McQueen used music to thrilling effect, while Spike Lee boldly interpolated footage of last year’s Charlottesville riots in his BlacKkKlansman.)

I need to catch up on some other releases I missed, like A Gentle Creature, Cold WarBad Times at the El RoyaleBlindspotting3 Days in Quiberon, Black 47, and Roma. At home, I discovered older gems like Herk Hervey’s Carnival of Souls (1962) and Tim Hunter’s River’s Edge (1986.)

On the small screen, I enjoyed watching Paul Giamatti in Tamara Jenkins’ Private Life, and Julia Garner in the Netflix series, Ozark; and documentaries about Ruth Ellis and Recy Taylor. On video, HBO’s Carnivale helped to smooth over my Twin Peaks withdrawal.

It was a good year for classic film readers, with new biographies of Diana Dors and Claire Trevor; a collection of writings from Thomas Gladysz of the Louise Brooks Society; and Karina Longworth’s in-depth look at Howard Hughes and the women of Hollywood.

And of course, all things Marilyn were covered with biographies from Michelle Morgan, Charles Casillo and Andrew Norman; Tommy Redolfi’s graphic novel, Marilyn’s Monsters; and Elisa Jordan’s tribute to Rockhaven, the pioneering women’s sanitarium whose patients included Marilyn’s own mother.