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The Wayward Wolf Annual Film Awards – 2017:

WWAFA Wolf Image 2017

Well, didn’t 2017 just fly by, folks?

And with the spectre of death looming ever larger over each and every one of us, the Wayward Wolf is here once again to make some sense of it all by picking over the bones of the year (just gone) in film, with the…

2017 Wayward Wolf Film Awards (The WWAFAS)!

76 (that’s SEVENTY-SIX) films were viewed on the big screen this year, one more than in 2016, and it has to be said that the standard was mind bogglingly good at times. So good in fact that there’s virtually nothing in it between the top ten entries. Indeed, picking the best film was harder this year than in any of the preceding four or five years that I’ve been doing all of this reviewing malarkey.

I should also acknowledge that there were a few choice films released in 2017 which seem to be have received all manner of rave reviews yet somehow slipped through my net for one reason or another, such as: God’s Own Country, Happy End, I am Not Your Negro, Good Time to name but four. Do bear this in mind then before bemoaning their lack of inclusion!

Lastly, you’ll notice that there is an absence of a Best Documentary category this year. Despite having seen any number of them on television during the year – including some magnificent serialised OJ Simpson and Vietnam documentaries, not to mention the brilliant Jim & Andy – unusually (for me), I’ve barely managed to see any on the big screen during 2017. Hopefully that’s something that can be rectified in 2018.

Don’t forget, it’s only films viewed in a cinema by yours truly – with a 2017 UK release date – that have been considered in the final reckoning.

And so, without anymore to-do, it’s on with the show…

 

This Year’s WWAFA Categories:

1. Best Soundtrack

2. Best Foreign Language Film

3. Best Actress (Lead or support)

4. Best Actor (Lead or support)

5. Worst Film

6. Best Film

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Best Original Soundtrack:

 

The Top Five: (in descending order):

5. It’s Only the End of the World  – Gabriel Yared

4. Jackie – Mica Levi

3. A Ghost Story – Daniel Hart

2. La La Land Justin Hurwitz

But the winner is…

1. Hans ZimmerDunkirk

As excellent as many other soundtracks have been in 2017, this year there was a clear winner. Hans Zimmer’s superb score is a precision piece of work complimenting magnificently Christopher Nolan’s epic vision of war. I’ve seen this relationship described as perfectly symbiotic, and truly it is. A superbly powerful emotionally charged soundtrack and a thoroughly deserving winner.

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Best Foreign Language Film:

 

The Top Five: (in descending order):

5. It’s Only the End of the World

4. The Handmaiden

3. Raw

2. En Man Som Heter Ove (A Man Called Ove)

But the winner is…

1. Toni Erdmann

Sandra Hüller’s subtle performance is absolutely spot on in Maren Ade’s wonderful film which fuses “a mostly subtle strand of comedy with an underlying melancholia in this absorbing tale of a disfunctional father/daughter relationship.”

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Best Actress:

 

Narrowly missing out on the top five in 2017, it’s only fair that we acknowledge the following brilliant performances:

Florence Pugh and her gloriously conniving performance in Lady MacBeth.

Teresa Palmer’s excellent portrayal of a girl held captive against her will in Berlin Syndrome.

Jennifer Lawrence’s breathtaking adrenalin-charged performance in Mother.

Sandra Hüller’s splendid performance in Toni Erdmann.

And Clare Foy, Julia Roberts and Natalie Portman for their roles in Breathe, Wonder and Jackie respectively.

 

The Top Five: (in descending order):

5. Tatiana Maslany – Stronger

4. Viola Davis Fences

3. Annette Bening Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

2. Ellie Kendrick – The Levelling

But the winner is…

1. Isabelle Huppert – Elle:

A reassuringly superb performance from Huppert as “a woman whose experiences earlier in life have resulted in something of a twisted psyche…”
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Best Actor:

 

Some truly memorable performances in 2017, and it would be remiss of me not to mention the handful that narrowly missed the cut:

Andrew Garfield had quite the year when you consider that his superb performances in both Silence and Breathe weren’t even his best performances of the year!

Terrific performances also from:

Jake Gyllenhaal in Stronger, Michael Keaton in The Founder, Geoffrey Rush in Final Portrait, both Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet in Call Me By Your Name and Jamie Bell in Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, whilst Vincent Cassel’s rage-fuelled performance in It’s Only the End of the World was also a big highlight.

The Top Five: (in descending order):

5. Jim Broadbent – The Sense Of An Ending

4.  Willem Dafoe – The Florida Project

3. Casey AffleckManchester By the Sea

2. Andrew GarfieldHacksaw Ridge

But the winner is…

1. Denzel Washington – Fences:

An absolute masterclass from the ever impressive Denzel Washington, one part of a hugely impressive ensemble cast.

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Worst Film:

 

As was the case in 2016, there were reassuringly few poor films this year (at least this was the case with regard to the films that I saw, personally), and so, as with last year, there are just the three worst film entries in this particular category…

The Top Three: (in descending order):

3. Hampstead

2. Alien Covenant

 

But the winner is…

1. Denial

There are almost certainly umpteen more ‘conventionally’ awful films from 2017 than Director Mick Jackson’s Denial – a film which may well boast the likes of Timothy Spall and Rachel Weisz amongst its impressive cast, but sometimes it’s simply a film’s totally one-eyed unbalanced approach to its subject matter that’s enough to infuriate sufficiently and earn it the ‘not so’ coveted, Worst Film WWAFA.

Denial is most definitely one such film.

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Best Film:

 

Ten absolutely tremendous films, but there can be only one winner…

 

The Top Ten (in descending order):

10. The Handmaiden 

9. La La Land 

8. Fences

7. A Ghost Story

6. Raw

5. En Man Som Heter Ove (A Man Called Ove)

4. Toni Erdmann

3. Mother

2. Manchester By The Sea

 

But the winner, and Wayward Wolf Film Of The Year for 2017, is…

 

1. The Florida Project

It was always going to take something special to pip the rest to the post this year, and Sean Baker’s wonderful The Florida Project had all the right ingredients to do just that. Enchanting, moving and uplifting… “as poignant and wonderful an observational slice-of-life tale as you’re ever likely to see.”

 

So that’s it for another year!

It only remains to wish everyone an excellent 2018 and to leave you all with the full and final 76-strong, Wayward Wolf film list for 2017.

 

Ciao for now.

The Full 2017 Wayward Wolf Film List (in order of preference):

1. The Florida Project

2. Manchester By the Sea

3. Mother

4. Toni Erdmann

5. En Man Som Heter Ove (A Man Called Ove)

6. Raw

7. A Ghost Story

8. Fences

9. La La Land

10. The Handmaiden

11. Lion

12. The Sense of an Ending

13. Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

14. Certain Women

15. It Comes at Night

16. The Founder

17. Lady MacBeth

18. American Made

19. The Party

20. A Monster Calls

21. Dunkirk

22. Get Out

23. The Red Turtle

24. It’s Only the End of the World

25. Elle

26. Moonlight

27. Call Me By Your Name

28. The Levelling

29. Blade Runner 2049

30. Berlin Syndrome

31. The Lost City of Z

32. The Beguiled

33. Gifted

34. Wind River

35. Stronger

36. T2 Trainspotting

37. Breathe

38. Hacksaw Ridge

39. Baby Driver

40. Wonder

41. Churchill

42. Alone in Berlin

43. Hidden Figures

44. Mountain

45. The Glass Castle

46. Mindhorn

47. Final Portrait

48. The Killing of a Sacred Deer

49. The Death of Stalin

50. Hell on Earth

51. The Ritual

52. Murder on the Orient Express

53. Detroit

54. Logan (Noir)

55. The Belko Experiment

56. Jackie

57. Their Finest

58. Life

59. War for the Planet of the Apes

60. Silence

61. Borg vs McEnroe

62. IT

63. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

64. Kong – Skull Island

65. Tiszta Szívvel (Kills on Wheels)

66. The Secret Scripture

67. Ghost in the Shell

68. Suburbicon

69. Jigsaw

70. Colossal

71. The Snowman

72. Power Rangers

73. Fai Bei Sogni (Sweet Dreams)

74. Hampstead

75. Alien Covenant

76. Denial

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The WWAFAS 2017: Shortlist (provisional)

ww-2016-awardWith 2017 fast drawing to a close, the WWAFAS (Wayward Wolf Annual Film Awards) committee (the voices in my head) has drawn up a 20 strong provisional shortlist for the best film of 2017…

The nominees are based upon films with a 2017 UK theatrical release date.

And the top 20 nominees – as of November 11th – are as follows:

In no particular order…

  • The Florida Project
  • Mother
  • American Made
  • A Ghost Story
  • En Man Som Heter Owe (Full review coming soon)
  • Dunkirk
  • The Red Turtle
  • It Comes at Night
  • The Handmaiden
  • Raw
  • The Sense of an Ending
  • Lady Macbeth
  • Certain Women
  • The Founder
  • Fences
  • Toni Erdmann
  • La La Land
  • Lion
  • A Monster Calls
  • Manchester By The Sea

So, as we enter a time of year traditionally associated with Oscar-nominated film releases, I’d imagine there’s a fair chance that we could see some changes to that list before December 31st.

But just who will be walking away with this year’s Best Film WWAFA?

 

 

WAYWARD WOLF 2016 FILM REVIEW: The WWAFAS!

The WWAFAS: 2016

ww-2016-award
A much sought after WWAFA*

 

That’s right, it’s the second annual WWAFAS, folks (Wayward Wolf Annual Film Awards – you can wipe that clueless look off your faces for a start), brought to you as ever in conjunction with the barren and dusty confines of my own confused and barely-used mind.

Yes, we made it. A whopping seventy-five cinema visits made during 2016 (Rogue One was squeezed in on a technicality, viewed as it was in the early murmurings of January 1st, 2017, whilst the drunken masses were unconscious), and seventy-five reviews have duly been written and published.

Not too bad for a part-time film reviewer. You’ll excuse me I’m sure if I just take a brief self-congratulatory moment now and give myself a well-earned pat on the back.

Back suitably patted, it’s on with the show…

 

I say it every year, but once again I really have been bowled over by the quality that’s been on offer this year (2016), which was at times staggeringly good, with only a small handful of turkeys on show (at least concerning the seventy-five films that I saw, personally). In fact, I’d say that 2016 has seen the highest quality of film output for many a long year which has been reassuringly comforting, and a most welcome antidote in the face of the sadly still relentless regurgitation of endless comic book / superhero etc. remakes and spin-offs, not to mention the tiresome big-budget blockbuster clone-a-like tedium that interminably spews from ‘you know where’.

Yes, despite all of that, it seems that the world of film-making, in general, is in a pretty healthy state right now, and long may that continue.

But, without any more to-do, it’s time once again to raid the charity shop, don that poorly fitting tux or moth-eaten glamour dress, powder your noses, make your excuses, stroll down the red carpet of your minds, and take your seats for the biggest show in town**

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for the annual celebration of the good, the bad and the downright ugly of film, 2016 – Wayward Wolf style…

 

 

*Clearly just a Mats Jonasson glass sculpture.

**assuming that everything else has been cancelled and there’s literally nothing going on.

This Year’s Seven WWAFA Categories:

1. Best documentary

2. Best soundtrack

3. Best foreign language film

4. Best actress

5. Best actor

6. Worst film

7. Best film

First and foremost, the list of films from which I’ve made my assessments is by no means exhaustive. Only films with a 2016 UK release date and which were personally viewed by me at a cinema during the year, have been considered.

Best Documentary:

 

Top Five: (In descending order):

5. Amanda Knox – An intriguing if ultimately unconvincing (in terms of case clarity/closure) HBO documentary looking at one of the most controversial crime investigations of recent times.

4. Lo & Behold: Reveries of the Connected World – Werner Herzog’s often comical look at the history of the internet, done Herzog-style.

3. The Music of strangers – A superbly uplifting demonstration of the global unifying and healing properties of music. inspirational.

2. Weiner – Brilliant warts-and-all look at the rise and self-destructive fall of Anthony Weiner, and the perils and minefields of the political system.

And the winner is…

1. The Beatles: 8 Days a week (The Touring Years)

Ron Howard’s joyous ode to the Beatles’ years as prolific touring artists brings to our attention once again just how incredible a live act the fab four really were. It’ll make your spirits soar!

Best Original Soundtrack:

 

The Top Five: (In descending order):

 

5. Mike Lévy (as Gesaffelstein)Disorder

4. Nick Cave / Warren EllisHell or High Water

3. Alberto Iglesias – Julieta

 2. Cliff Martinez – The Neon Demon 

And the winner is…

1. David Lang: Youth

Innovative and evocative, David Lang’s soundtrack both compliments and substantially affects the form and flow of Paolo Sorrentino’s wonderful meditation on ageing and our coming to terms with our own mortality.

Best Foreign Language Film:

 

The Top Five: (In descending order):

5. Mænd og Høns (Men & Chicken) – Idiocy abounds in Anders Thomas Jensen’s offbeat and genuinely hilarious comedy.

4. After love – There’s no escape from toe-curlingly tense and awkward scenes-a-plenty in this tale of love in its death throws, played out superbly under one roof.

3. Rams – A subtly charming Icelandic tale of two feuding shepherd brothers and their love for their flocks.

2. Julieta – Pedro Almodovar’s beautiful, bitter-sweet story of hope, despair and forgiveness.

And the winner is:

1. Son of Saul

Extraordinarily well realised tale of concentration camp horror and the daily tightrope walk for survival. A film made all the more powerful for its lack of visually gratuitous content. What the eye doesn’t see…

Best Actress:

 

The Top Five: (In descending order):

5. Jennifer Lawrence – Joy: A hard-working and put upon mother who fights her way to the top. Jennifer Lawrence’s performance is gritty, mature and highly convincing.

4. Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins: Meryl Streep’s portrayal of the musical socialite with delusions of grandeur is warm, generous of heart and predictably superb.

3. Emily Blunt – The Girl on the Train: A fine performance from Blunt – a woman with serious addiction issues and everything that accompanies such an unfortunate predicament.

2. Laia Costa – Victoria: An emotion-filled yet tender portrayal of a role that must have taken every last ounce of concentration and commitment to successfully pull-off. Incredible achievement.

And the winner is…

1. Brie Larsson – Room:

Along with her young co-star, Jacob Tremblay, (equally deserving of an accolade), Brie Larsson is absolutely stupendous as the young woman and mother forced to create an entire world for herself and her young son, within four small walls. A monumental performance.

Best Actor:

The Top Five: (In descending order):

5. Jake GyllenhaalNocturnal Animals: Two roles in one. Both, equally captivating.

4.  Bryan Cranston – Trumbo: Light-hearted yet weighty performance from Cranston who well and truly makes the role his own.

3. Géza RöhrigSon of Saul: Röhrig’s understandably restrained emotions belie the mental horror and torment that his character must have endured. Incredibly powerful.

2. Tim RothChronic: A secretive yet intense performance of quite some note. Roth’s finest hour, and a truly memorable film

And the winner is…

1. Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant:

DiCaprio pips the rest to the award thanks to a visceral, gritty and uber-physical performance of passion and determination in Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s cinematic epic.

Worst Film:

 

A reassuringly low number of really poor films this year, and so, as last year, just the three worst entries in this particular category…

3. The Finest Hours – Dreadfully drippy Hallmark-esque, seafaring yarn. Not entirely awful, but every bit an archetypal ‘straight to bargain bin’ TV movie, if ever there was one. Considering the film’s apparently considerable budget, that really is quite some achievement.

2. The Shallows – Inoffensive early signs are soon vanquished by ove-blown, unnecessarily gadget-driven drivel about a shark with a vendetta – or something. Comically bad in places.

 

And the winner is:

1. Zoolander 2

You just know when you’ve witnessed the year’s worst film, and there was surely no doubt in anyone’s mind once they’d watched the hopelessly dismal, trying-way-too-hard yet still woefully unfunny, Zoolander 2; a film that’s probably as stand-alone awful as it is when placed side-to-side with its vastly superior – and crucially actually funny – predecessor.

Best Film:

As already mentioned, it’s been an incredibly difficult decision this year. The final ten will follow, but as there were so many worthy films, a quick mention for a handful that narrowly missed the cut:

  • Bone Tomahawk – A grisly piece of B-Movie Western nonsense that will have you laughing and recoiling in horror, simultaneously. Gruesome and terrifically entertaining.
  • Trumbo – Bryan Cranston’s almost cartoonish portrayal of Dalton Trumbo is splendidly entertaining in Jay Roach’s biopic of Hollywood’s infamous screenwriter.
  • The Neon Demon – Nicolas Winding Refn’s highly-stylised, visually stunning fable set in the vacuous and morally bankrupt world of the fashion industry.

 

The Top Ten (in descending order):

 

10. The BFG – Spielberg does great justice to both himself, and Roald Dahl’s memory in this charming, big budget animated adaptation of the Norwegian author’s delightful children’s tale.

9. The Beatles: 8 Days a Week (The Touring Years) – Winner of the Best Documentary WWAFA for 2016 (see above).

8. Nocturnal Animals – Director Tom Ford’s visually sumptuous, thoroughly engaging, dark, moody and sinister tale with both Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal on top form.

7. I, Daniel Blake – Dave Johns is a revalation as Daniel Blake in Ken Roach’s hard-hitting damning indictment of the sorry state of the UK benefits system.

6. The Big Short – A thoroughly  entertaining yet serious look at the predictably slippery practices of the banking industry that led to the financial crash of 2008, and those that were wise enough to take full advantage of it.

5. Room – A real sense of claustrophobia pervades in this psychologically intense piece with mesmerising performances from Brie Larsson and Jake Tremblay.

4. The Revenant – A huge, sprawling cinematic epic of a film absolutely made for the big screen. Thoroughly engaging and magnificently acted by Leonardo DeCaprio.

3. Chronic – Tim Roth has never been better, playing, brilliantly, a detached, almost morose palliative care worker barely going through the motions of life.

2. Son of Saul – (See the Best Foreign Language Film section, above).

 

And the winner, and Wayward Wolf film of the year for 2016, is…

 

1. Victoria

A staggering one-take logistical achievement, a fact that shouldn’t and indeed doesn’t detract from what is, in itself, a superbly enthralling thriller that lives long in the memory.

 

And there you have it!

A film that saw only a limited UK release and seemed to quietly pass by has taken top spot, but for those who managed to catch it, you’ll agree – a deserved if maybe surprise winner of the Best Film WWAFA for 2016.

It only remains to wish everyone an excellent 2017 and to leave you all with the full and final 75-strong, Wayward Wolf film list (in order of preference), for 2016.

Cheers for now…

 

The Full 2016 Wayward Wolf Film List (in order of preference):

1. Victoria

2. Son of Saul

3. Chronic

4. The Revenant

5. Room

6. The Big Short

7. I, Daniel Blake

8. Nocturnal Animals

9. The Beatles: 8 Days a Week – The Touring Years

10. The BFG

11. Trumbo

12.The Neon Demon

13. Julieta

14. Weiner

15. Youth

16. Rams

17. War Dogs

18. After Love

19. Men & Chicken

20. Paterson

21. Hell or High Water

22. Bone Tomahawk

23. Anomalisa

24. Demolition

25. Florence Foster Jenkins

26. Notes on Blindness

27. Dheepan

28. Disorder

29. Cafe Society

30. The Music of Strangers

31. Midnight Special

32. Green Room

33. Little Men

34. Lo & Behold: Reveries Of The Connected World

35. Arrival

36. The Infiltrator

37. Joy

38. Amanda Knox

39. Where To Invade Next

40. Everybody Wants Some!

41. Marguerite

42. My Scientology Movie

43. Blair Witch

44. The Hateful Eight

45. Triple 9

46. Eye In The Sky

47. The Girl On The Train

48. A Hologram For The King

49. Eddie The Eagle

50. The Witch

51. Spotlight

52. 10 Cloverfield Lane

53. David Brent – Life On The Road

54. Wiener-Dog

55. Jason Bourne

56. High-Rise

57. Money Monster

58. The Nice Guys

59. Hail, Caesar!

60. The Secret Life Of Pets

61. Rogue One

62. Bridget Jones’s Baby

63. The Girl With All The Gifts

64. Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

65. Maggie’s Plan

66. Creed

67. How To Be Single

68. Deadpool

69. Alice Through The Looking Glass

70. A Bigger Splash

71. Indignation

72. Morgan

73. The Finest Hours

74. The Shallows

75. Zoolander 2