(125 minutes) PG
Words, words, words. The observation that friends and enemies alike made about Winston Churchill. This Churchill (played by Gary Oldman) is a farting, tipsy human: full of self-doubt in private with Clemmie (Kristin Scott Thomas, drawn tight as a drum) but raging with belligerent confidence in the House of Commons. He knows he has become prime minister because no one else wants the job and, true to his assessment that fascism is worse than communism, knows any peace with Hitler won't be worth a fig. Winston believes in war, even though he's not always very good at it.
(107 minutes) M
This is one of Austrian director Michael Haneke's lightest films, though it touches on most of his usual gloomy themes. Along with the alienation fuelled by technology, we get another dose of the miseries of old age, embodied by Jean-Louis Trintignant. Haneke's distaste for the hypocrisy of the bourgeoisie is an old chestnut on display, so too his repulsed fascination with pop culture. Formally Happy End is a crafty piece of work and, as ever, the director relishes the chance to get some garbage and chaos into his finicky frames. Selected release
(119 minutes) MA15+
The magnificently appointed Margot Robbie is perfectly cast, even down to the physical likeness. This could be her year. Tonya was not built like her rival Nancy Kerrigan, the all-American girl she had kneecapped in late 1993, on the way to a spot on the US Olympic skating team. Or did she? Steven Rogers based his script on extensive interviews with some of the real participants, and director Craig Gillespie (Australian, like Robbie) treats it like a mock documentary. For Tonya, ain't no such thing as the truth.
(140 minutes) M
Aaron Sorkin's first film as a director is set in the esoteric world of high stakes poker and if you're not a member, you may need a glossary to appreciate its finer points. In a tone that is both confessional and controlled, Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) looks back over her childhood and adolescence when she was on her way to becoming an Olympic skier. It's a true story, based on Bloom's memoir of the years in which she ran a poker game patronised by some of Hollywood and Manhattan's most famous names. Sorkin brings a documentary-like thoroughness to the script. Bloom's success comes to the attention of the Mafia and after that, nobody wins.
(130 minutes) M
This is perhaps the greatest movie ever made about sewing. Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and starring Daniel Day-Lewis as the designer Reynolds Woodcock, who presides over the House of Woodcock – a fictional version of a 1950s London fashion house. Reynolds is also an artist, and that's really what the film is about, rather than fashion or design. The beautiful fabrics and the phalanx of elderly ladies who sew his exacting designs for the crowned heads of Europe are merely handmaidens to his greatness.
(88 minutes) MA15+
In The Wound, a group of Xhosa men go into the South African mountains for three weeks to initiate a group of boys into manhood. No going back now. We are in the woods with these men and you can almost feel the pain. The film confronts all kinds of taboos, starting with the secrecy, but the bigger one is to come. Xolani (Nakhane Toure), the caregiver, is a young man of about 30 who does this every year, leaving his job as a storeman to initiate younger men into Xhosa manhood. He's also gay. Kwanda (Niza Jay), his initiate, senses it quickly. Takes one to know one. Kwanda is more comfortable with his sexuality, even though much younger. The script is sensitive and fearless – a bit like Kwanda. Selected release
(116 minutes) M
Steven Spielberg's film concentrates on one of The Washington Post's owner and publisher Katharine Graham's most courageous acts. Played by Meryl Streep, Graham backs editor Ben Bradlee in his determination to publish excerpts from the Pentagon Papers. What happens next is a rehearsal for The Post's Watergate expose and it's all the more tantalising because we have the advantage of hindsight — unlike the main players. As Bradlee, who is said to have loved the limelight, we have Tom Hanks, a safe if unimaginative choice. Hanks just about gets there.
THE SHAPE OF WATER
(123 minutes) MA15+
Fresh from playing the world's most devoted foster mother in Paddington 2, Sally Hawkins again shows her gift for pantomime as the mute heroine Elisa, employed as a cleaner at a high-security government laboratory in Baltimore about 1962. At the lab one day, she learns of the presence of a humanoid amphibian, a careful blend of the grotesque and the gorgeous. Part of the film's argument is that "normality" does not exist.
(113 minutes) MA15+
Set in 1929, Sweet Country could be described as a western — or at least the latest in a series of politically charged Australian period pieces that rework aspects of the genre, such as John Hillcoat's The Proposition and Rolf de Heer's The Tracker. Sam Kelly (Hamilton Morris) is an Indigenous man on the run with his wife Lizzie (Natassia Gorey Furber) after shooting a sadistic landowner. Pursuing the fugitives over the red sands and salt flats is a group that includes a dogged police sergeant (Bryan Brown) and a cagey tracker (Gibson John). Selected release
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
(115 minutes) MA15+
The billboards in director Martin McDonagh's latest film are on a remote road near the home of Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand), whose teenage daughter Angela (Kathryn Newton) was murdered seven months before the story starts. Mildred rents the billboards for a year, using them to spell out a blunt message that sets the tone for a series of confrontations between the implacable Mildred and the generally disapproving townsfolk, including the weary town sheriff (Woody Harrelson) and the slow-witted, racist sheriff's deputy Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell).
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