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Director: Paul Thomas Anderson Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, Lesley Manville Running Time: 130 minutes


Throughout his long and acclaimed career, Daniel Day-Lewis has embodied personalities that burst forth from the screen, simply too powerful, or imposing, or strong of will to be restrained by mere celluloid and silver. From Christy Brown to Daniel Plainview to Abraham-by-God-Lincoln, DDL has method acted his way through dominating characters, willing audiences into awe, the most impressive man in the room when he isn’t really in it. In his supposed last performance, as the wonderfully and ludicrously named Reynolds Woodcock, DDL applies that same level of performance and applies it to a fussy dressmaker in the immaculate fashion scene of 1950s London. Working once again with Paul Thomas Anderson, the pair have taken what may seem at first glance to be an understated love story and intricately sown some of their best work just underneath the surface, a beautiful piece of work with as many hidden thrills as anything their fascinating main character himself might design.

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It has been a year. In 2017 there was a lot for film fans to contemplate, but in what they say on the screen and in the wider film business. Month after month, entertaining, challenging and interesting films found their way onto Irish screens, either from Hollywood or any number of our own talented Irish directors. It was a year where the sickeningly pervasive culture of abuse in cinema was thrust into the headlines by brave survivors no longer willing to suffer in silence. It was also a year in great filmmaking, where talented, diverse directors were given the opportunity to show their talent, several for the first time, where performances transported us just as believably to the far-off future, the underprivileged, overlooked present and even outside the fluid realm of time altogether. This is Film In Dublin’s list of the best films of 2017, the films that moved us, entertained us, opened our eyes and otherwise expressed everything that cinema is meant to be, in a year that showed that cinema doesn’t always achieve those lofty ideals behind the scenes.

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Director: Michael Showalter Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Ray Romano, Holly Hunter, Bo Burnham, Aidy Bryant Producer: Judd Apatow Runtime: 124 minutes


The whole ‘Boy meets Girl’ shtick seems to have become a staple of Judd Apatow’s career. Usually concerning themselves with a funny American layabout and his/her sudden brush with romance, these films mix situational comedy with some dramatic elements in order to offer a modern spin on the ‘Rom-Com’ experience. However, while Apatow’s name is attached, this is very much Kumail Nanjiani’s film. As such, The Big Sick doesn’t just follow this formula, it improves on it as it demonstrates a high-standard of comedy mixed with some impressive writing to boot, making this Rom-Com one of the funniest and best films of the year.

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Director: Terry George Starring: Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Le Bon, Christian Bale Running Time: 134 minutes


Between 1915 and 1923, the Ottoman government systematically murdered 1.5 million Armenians, massacring men and/or working them to death in forced labour while deporting women, children and the elderly into death marches through the desert. It was a genocide that to this day, the Turkish state has refused to acknowledge. As one of the bleakest acts in relatively recent human history, the Armenian Genocide is undoubtedly worthy of being told to a wide audience, which makes The Promise all the more frustrating. Despite having a relatively high budget, talented and well-known actors and someone with a good track record in historical drama behind the camera in Terry George (the Irish director having directed Hotel Rwanda in addition to writing films like The Boxer and In The Name of the Father), The Promise is hampered in its depiction of history because of its choice to set that history as the backdrop to a romance that is not especially interesting.

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Director: Damien Chazelle Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone Running Time: 128 minutes


 

Having been subjected to months of hype and subsequently inevitable backlash, it has been almost impossible to go into La La Land without expectations being shaped one way or another. Is it truly the greatest thing since sliced bread, is it a musical for people who don’t like musicals, does it deserve the onslaught of accolades or is it merely the dreaded “Oscar Bait”, to be forgotten as soon as everyone files out of the Dolby Theatre on February 26th? That label and the associations that go with it, that La La Land is deliberately designed at every level to take home Academy Awards, are cynical accusations to make, but we live in cynical times. That is what makes La La Land such an appealing throwback, an abandonment of reality that shows its beautiful stars pursuing and achieving their dreams in the brightest light possible. There’s not much of our real world in struggling actress Mia’s massive apartment decked in classic film posters, or on the various, impossibly romantic dates she shares with jazz fanatic Sebastian. Reality is the antagonist of La La Land, right from the opening where dozens and dozens of motorists abandon an LA gridlock for a showstopping musical number, through Mia’s numerous, disastrous auditions and Seb’s jazz dogmatism setting him back over and over, reality is what the characters are trying to overcome to find happiness.

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Directed by: Morten Tyldum  Starring: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen  Running Time: 116 mins


Passengers is not the nice romantic sci-fi film you’ve been led to believe. What’s disconcerting is that it thinks it is. Thanks to a horribly misguided plot development in the first act of the movie Passengers is a film so far from what it wants to be that it’s staggering to imagine how anyone involved thought it was a good idea. Not only is this plot development completely unnecessary, it unintentionally transforms the whole thing into a profoundly uncomfortable experience.

Fair warning to all here, it’s going to be kind of impossible to discuss the film’s issues without stating what this plot development entails, so rather than continuing to talk in circles, let it be known there are spoilers ahead!

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