Hi There and Happy New Year,
In this first newsletter of 2023, here are your very kind and interesting responses to my recommendations for the best film and TV from 2022. Hopefully these lists in response will give you a lot more inspiring viewing for the New Year. (Mind you, I’ve already watched a number of outstanding new shows over Christmas and early Jan – Motherland, Detectorists, I Hate Suzie Too, I Am Ruth and the definite highlight – the first two wonderful episodes of Happy Valley S3).
10) Ms Marvel
9) This Is Going To Hurt
8) The Bear
6) The Great
3) The White Lotus
10) The Inspection
9) The Banshees of Inisherin
8) Know Your Place
7) The Eternal Daughter
4) Small, Slow But Steady
3) After Yang
2) Everything, Everywhere, All At Once
1) Women Talking
PS: I’m particularly keen to see WOMEN TALKING. I missed it at the London Film Festival and I think Sarah Polley is an outstanding writer / director.
Both HACKS and THE WHITE LOTUS S2 were up there for me this year. That final episode – the physical comedy of Jennifer C was just *chef’s kiss* but I loved the whole crazy season. Other highlights for me included SHOWTRIAL – I thought Celine Buckens played a blinder and loved to hate her. YELLOWJACKETS for the surprises. THE THIEF, HIS WIFE AND THE CANOE was a great short series. For total joy and fun I loved JULIA. I continued to binge-watch GHOSTS which also just makes me enjoy 30 minutes of my life. BAD SISTERS was probably my favourite show of the year – the great plot from the (was it originally Scandi?) TV series coupled with the Horgan wit was a total win for me. In film I couldn’t help be both disturbed and drawn to the strange THE LOST DAUGHTER. Dakota Johnson’s portrayal of motherhood was so relatable at times it made me look away. Oh and lastly I adored Bridgerton Season 2 mostly for Jonathan Bailey who I would now watch in anything. So much great TV though – I haven’t even got onto what I’m waiting on for more (THE MORNING SHOW and SUCCESSION if you’re asking)..!
The Responder – don’t normally enjoy crime shows but such a great example of how they can work when the characters / world are as rich as this one.
This is Going to Hurt – I know it was divisive but the mental health plot twist will stay with me for a long time, and the show was so unique in its ability to be heartbreaking and funny at the same time.
Pachinko – a bit cheesy but such a great example of how to adapt a book (also a great read) and play with storylines / structure, and introduce audiences to a story they’ve probably never heard of before.
I Love That For You – the unsung hero of TV comedy this year, full of twists and turns and complex multi-generational female characters … it devastates me that more people haven’t watched this show.
Dopesick – what a great example of how to make such a depressing story thrilling via playing with non-chronological storytelling!
Bad Sisters – a bit on the nose at times with an overly simplified villain, but what a great satisfying finale with an important message in its twist.
The Rehearsal – I think I mentioned this to you previously, but this is the most original show I watched this year – mockumentary that ends up being a brilliant portrait of the human condition.
Severance – the most thought provoking show I watched this year, highly original with a brilliant acceleration of drama and pace.
Somewhere Boy – a brilliant example of how a show can explore so many complex issues via one very simple story, I found this devastating.
The English – if you’re happy to accept Western tropes and a bit of operatic melodrama, this is really gorgeous, ambitious and moving!
Flee – a brilliant example of experimentation with documentary storytelling, and an important story for our times.
The Lost Daughter – wonderfully atmospheric and uneasy throughout, loved this building of tension and drama.
Compartment no.6 – a film that I think went unnoticed but the Russian in me loved, about two strangers meeting on a train in an anti-romance film.
Good Luck to You, Leo Grande – a brilliant piece of chamber comedy that I think made all women leave the cinema feeling very empowered and very moved.
PS: On Roxy’s recommendation I just watched this and she’s right – it’s great. Such a simple but powerful premise, two brilliant performances and some lovely, touching writing (you can watch it on amazon prime).
Official Competition – this was just a great bit of fun, fantastic twists and turns, and a joy for anyone who works in the arts.
Triangle of Sadness – a great example of how “low” forms of comedy can actually allow us to explore poignant themes.
The Origin of Evil – I’m not sure if this is out yet (I watched it at the London film festival) but it’s a great French black comedy thriller and satire on wealth with a fantastically plotted story.
All My Friends Hate Me – a very odd film that ultimately wasn’t entirely satisfying, but really dug into its themes, and has a final scene that will stay with me for a while.
As a lover of high concept drama, this really hit the mark. Many years in development, the investment has really paid off. It follows four characters who’ve split their home and work life so they have no recollection of each when they’re living the other. Mysteries get answered, each more devastating than the next, with a final episode so tense, I forgot to breath.
The latest Jordan Peele story was as horrific as it was innovative. Shot mostly in the daytime, it utilised novel camera techniques to make day, night. With emotive sound design and muted colours, it was quite chilling. Structurally, it’s ‘Jaws in the clouds’ (which is Beowulf), but regardless, it’s a fresh mix of horror and sci-fi with some shocking moments.
I saw this with a little knowledge of its likely impact. But this still wholly underprepared me for the final scene. The film was funded with £350k of Scottish Screen money and has more than made its return. With its blanched tones and multiple changes of pace, it slowly builds to its colossal conclusion. With its perfect use of music arrangement, many tears were generated at my screening.
I also enjoyed The Worst Person in the World, which is tied neatly to Aftersun, as both the lead characters have ADHD. How do I know? Well, they’re fictional, so whatever the viewer chooses is valid. But there are many moments familiar to those who know AHDH: impetuousness, duality of feelings, speed of thought, work and money issues. Why should this be? Well, aren’t the most memorable characters often those that behave differently from what we’re used to? And for those with ADHD who saw it, I imagine, like me, they had some challenging, as well as validating, moments.
A huge thank you to Shane, Cesca, Roxy and Merlin for responding so interestingly and allowing me to include their thoughts. And apologies and many thanks to those who also responded but whose contributions I didn’t have room for this time.
ONE DAY SCRIPT-EDITING COURSE London Friday February 10th
I’m very happy to say that I will be running my one day script-editing course on Friday February 10th in London. You can book here –
The next newsletter will be on Friday January 27th.
January 13th 2023