3 Days in Quiberon, A Year in Films and TV, Albert Finney, Australia, Ava DuVernay, Black 47, Blindspotting, Derry Girls, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, Hollywood Book Club, If Beale Street Could Talk, Ireland, James Baldwin, James L. Neibaur, Jean Harlow, Jennifer Kent, Joaquin Phoenix, Ken Loach, Letters From Hollywood, Lisa McGee, Marlon Brando, Martin Scorsese, Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood, Patsy Kelly, Quentin Tarantino, Roddy Doyle, Romy Schneider, Rosie, Shane Meadows, Sharon Tate, Sorry We Missed You, Starring Red Wing!, Sue Lyon, Sunset, Susannah Grant, The Irishman, The Nightingale, The Sisters Brothers, The Virtues, Thelma Todd, Transit, Unbelievable, When They See Us, ZaSu Pitts
Irish filmmakers explored past and present: firstly Black 47, an anti-imperial ‘revenge Western’ set during the potato famine; and Rosie, a scathing indictment of the current housing crisis, as penned by novelist Roddy Doyle.
Europeans revisited historic conflicts with a touch of magic realism. Sunset adds supernatural elements to the simmering tensions of pre-World War I Budapest, while Transit has been described as ‘Casablanca meets Kafka’.
Another colonial ‘revenge Western’, Australian director Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale adds a woman’s rage into the mix; while 3 Days in Quiberon, a portrait of actress Romy Schneider, offers a feminist take on the celebrity biopic.
Blindspotting pairs Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal in a wildly funny, yet thoughtful tale of San Francisco gentrification; while Ken Loach’s latest, Sorry We Missed You, deconstructs the gig economy in a fast-paced thriller.
Moving on from This Is England, Shane Meadows brought us this year’s TV highlight with The Virtues, exploring his Irish roots and the persistence of trauma. And Channel 4 also gave us another season of Lisa McGee’s sparkling comedy, Derry Girls.
Film historian James L. Neibaur published two great books about funny women in thirties Hollywood this year. Firstly, his in-depth look at Thelma Todd’s comedy shorts, paired with ZaSu Pitts and Patsy Kelly, is a great companion to Kino-Lorber’s box-set; and secondly, a welcome tribute to the films of legendary Jean Harlow.
Among this year’s best biographies are Starring Red Wing, Linda M. Waggoner’s fascinating history of film pioneer Lilian M. St. Cyr; and with The Contender, William J. Mann explores the ambivalence of Marlon Brando.