Matt's Blog

Blog

Interview - Director Steve S. DeKnight Goes 'Action' With Pacific Rim: Uprising

Steve S. DeKnight Interview

Oscar winning director Guillermo del Toro was at the helm of the original Pacific Rim but for this sequel, Steve S. DeKnight had his name on the back of the director’s chair.  I caught up with DeKnight when he was recently in Australia to talk about how to make a big blockbuster action movie…

Matt:  I’d love to delve into the art of making an action movie – what you know and what you’ve learned during this particular film.  I guess I’ll start out with the special effects and the visuals.  Given so much of what we see on screen is created with visual effects, how do you work as a director?  What’s the relationship you have with the visual effects guys?

Steve:  You have to work very closely with your visual effects supervisor.  I was extremely lucky to have Peter Chiang from Double Negative as my wingman.  I love him to death as a person and he’s brilliant at what he does.  You need to work in tandem with the visual effects supervisor making sure you’re getting the live action stuff you need.

One of the great tools that we usually don’t have time to use on TV is Previs.  It’s basically a stripped down computer animation version of what you’re seeing.  It’s a rough blueprint but it is moving images as opposed to storyboards.  For any of these big action scenes, we plan everything and then we Previs it.  It’s not like the old day where we have a tennis ball and we tell the actors “imagine a giant monster here.”  I always had my iPad with me and Peter Chiang by my side so I could show the actors what’s happening.  It’s a huge advantage and it makes the shoot go much faster.

Matt:  Do the action scenes have to be very well choreographed then?  I guess you don’t have a lot of flexibility to mix things up because of how expensive the scenes are.

Steve:  You have to make sure you know what you’re doing.  In this movie, we had to know what was going on outside the Jaegers because that informed the action inside the Jaegers where the actors were.  For instance, if a sequence called for them to throw a punch, we needed to know if they were throwing right hook or a left jab because once we shoot that, we can’t go back and reshoot that without a lot of expense.  You have to really nail down your choreography before you start shooting.

Matt:  Where do you draw the line between what can be achieved by building a huge set and what can be done in front of a green screen with the background inserted in later?

Steve:  These days, there is no line.  We obviously never built a 270 foot robot that could move.  That was a little beyond our technology and our budget.  That said, there are things in the movie that you could swear that are real but actually are not.  There’s a scene were John Boyega jumps out of his Jaeger and onto its arm, onto the street and then takes off running.  I was reviewing it to make sure the visual effects in the scene were correct and then I realised that none of that was real.  We didn’t build one single real element of that scene.  It fooled even me for a moment.

Matt:  I was looking at some of the scenes were the Jaegers are fighting and the sound effects are so loud, so distinctive.  I have no idea how the sound engineers come up with that stuff.  How do those guys apply their craft?

Steve:  We had an amazing team at E Squared who had worked on films like Transformers and Godzilla.  They’re magicians.  I’d be sitting with them and saying “that sounds great” and they’d be saying “that’s my cabinet door from home”.  For me, the sound and music are equally important as the visual effects.  All three of those go hand in hand.

Matt:  How do you find all these great craftsmen to work behind the scenes?  Some of the guys you’re working with here have some great credits to their name.  Do they lobby you or do you have to go seeking them out?

Steve:  It’s a little bit of both honestly.  For instance, when we were looking for a director of photography, Legendary sent me a long list of people.  I looked for those people who were the director of photography on movies that I’ve loved.  One name that jumped off the page at me was Dan Mindel.  I had loved his work with J.J. Abrams like on Mission: Impossible 3, the Star Trek movies and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  I never thought I’d be able to get him but we met up and he signed on.  This entire movie has been like that.  I had the same reaction to John Boyega as I never thought we’d get him either.

Matt:  One element I always find amusing in big disaster action films is that you have shots of extras screaming and running away from things.  How easy are those scenes to shoot?  To get everyone on the same page, doing what you want them to do?

Steve:  Whenever you’re wrangling together big crowds of extras, that’s under the purview of the first assistant director.  There are rules about what a director can and can’t tell someone who doesn’t have speaking lines.  It’s very convoluted.  So basically, the director has to tell the first assistant director what to tell the crowd.  I had a guy, Nick Satriano, who was brilliant at dealing with those crowds.  He was always upbeat and positive and got them to give it their all.

Matt:  I’m not quite sure what the budget is on a film like this but I’m guessing it’s pretty hefty.  Wikipedia tells me $150 million but I’m not sure how accurate it is.  The question I was going to ask is as a director – how conscious are you of costs?  Is there an accountant looking over your shoulder saying “um yeah, not quite sure we can afford that?”

Steve:  Yeah, of course.  When you get to a budget this big, a little bit extra here or there won’t break the bank but coming from TV, I’ve always had to be very budget conscious.  There were things I had to cut.  Without running anything as it’s in the trailer, there’s a big attack in the Shatterdome where some drones have gone half Kaiju.  Part of that scene was to have John Boyega and Scott Eastwood’s characters get inside Gypsy Avenger and have a fight with one of the Kaiju drones.  It would reach a point where they hit the drone so hard that it knocks its alien brain out, it lands on the ground, sprouts legs, and tries to eat the cadets.  I loved it but it added $10 million to the movie so we had to cut it.  There’s always give and take but you usually end up with something on screen that’s a great compromise.

Matt:  Now I believe that most of the shoot took place at Fox Studios in Sydney but there were some exteriors shot around Brisbane.  I was trying to see if I recognised any places in Brisbane but was struggling.  Is there any particular scene I should keep an eye out for?

Steve:  You have some hope.  There’s a bunch of stuff shot in Brisbane to double as Tokyo.  Also, a good chunk of the opening in the Jaeger scrapyard was shot in a decommissioned factory up there.

Matt:  Now the door has certainly been left open another instalment in this franchise?  Do you know what the plans are?

Steve:  Yes, in broad terms.  As I was developing Uprising, I was jotting down a bunch of notes about what I’ll do in the next movie.  I didn’t want to paint ourselves into a corner and not have anywhere to go.  There is a plan for the next movie which will need some fleshing out but I’m hoping that the audience shows up for this one and it warrants the third part of the trilogy.  I’m also hoping my schedule allows me to be a part of it.

Matt:  And can you tell us what you’re working on at the moment?  What are we going to see from your next?

Steve:  I have a tonne of projects swirling but none I can officially talk about.  I have plans to shoot a small, three-person thriller as a bit of a pallet cleanser and also some other really gigantic projects in both film and television.

Oscars 2018: 'The Shape of Water' Takes Top Prize

And so another Oscars has come and gone.  It was one the most predictable Oscars in recent memory with the favourite winning in most categories.  I only managed 14 out of 24 which is a poor result compared to others but that’s because I was hoping for a few upsets that never eventuated.  It was great to see Jordan Peele win best original screenplay for Get Out but sadly there wasn’t enough love for the film to carry it over the line for best picture.  It was The Shape of Water (a weaker movie in my opinion) which took the honours.  The Academy made the wrong choice but I say that every year.

The major winners were:

Best picture – The Shape of Water
Best director – Guillermo Del Toro (The Shape of Water)
Best actor – Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)
Best actress – Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Best supporting actor – Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Best supporting actress – Allison Janney (I, Tonya)
Best original screenplay – Get Out
Best adapted screenplay – Call Me by Your Name

Thank you to everyone who entered by 18th Annual Pick the Oscars competition.  I always pick tough categories and this year there was just one lucky person who managed 6 out of 6 – Jordan Bastian.  Those with 5 out of 6 were Jamie Jensen, Lisa Malouf, Sarah Ward, Brady Duncan, Nigel Middlebrook, Prue Knox and Sam Dagan.  It seems the hardest category to predict amongst the entrants was best picture.

I didn’t manage to win any money on this year’s Oscars but I came out even thanks to a tidy win on Frances McDormand.  It’s ironic that I backed her to win 21 years ago and she’s come through for me both times.  As I like to keep a record of my ups and downs over the years, here’s the updated table of my Oscars punting…

1996 – profit of $750 – won on Susan Sarandon
1997 – profit of $300 (cumulative profit $1,050) – won on Frances McDormand
1998 – loss of $250 (cumulative profit $800)
1999 – loss of $250 (cumulative profit $550)
2000 – profit of $620 (cumulative profit $1,170) – won on Kevin Spacey and Michael Caine
2001 – loss of $190 (cumulative profit $980) – won on director Steven Soderbergh
2002 – profit of $480 (cumulative profit $1,460) – won on Halle Berry
2003 – profit of $275 (cumulative profit $1,735) – won on Catherine Zeta-Jones and Adrian Brody
2004 – profit of $150 (cumulative profit $1,875) – won on Sean Penn
2005 – profit of $214 (cumulative profit $2,089) – won on Hilary Swank
2006 – profit of $350 (cumulative profit $2,439) – won on Reese Witherspoon
2007 – profit of $1,463 (cumulative profit $3,912) – won on Eddie Murphy at Globes, Alan Arkin & West Bank Story at Oscars
2008 – profit of $268 (cumulative profit of $4,280) – won on Tilda Swinton and the Coen brothers
2009 – profit of $253 (cumulative profit of $4,533) – won on Mickey Rourke & Kate Winslet at Globes, Kate Winslet at Oscars
2010 – loss of $830 (cumulative profit of $3,703)
2011 – profit of $30 (cumulative profit of $3,733) – won on Social Network at Globes, Tom Hooper & King’s Speech at Oscars
2012 – loss of $640 (cumulative profit of $3,093) – won on Jean Dujardin at Oscars
2013 – loss of $850 (cumulative profit of $2,243) – won on Ang Lee at Oscars
2014 – loss of $72 (cumulative profit of $2,171) – won on Matthew McConaughey at Globes and Oscars
2015 – loss of $50 (cumulative profit of $2,121) – won on Eddie Redmayne at Oscars
2016 – profit of $1,325 (cumulative profit of $3,446) – won on Mark Rylance and Spotlight at Oscars
2017 – profit of $870 (cumulative profit of $4,316) – won on Damien Chazelle, Casey Affleck, Emma Stone and Mahershala Ali at Oscars
2018 – profit of $330 (cumulative profit of $4,646) – won on Frances McDormand and Three Billboards at Globes and Frances McDormand at Oscars

It’s been such a wild race in terms of best picture.  Hopefully next year can offer up something just as exciting.

Brisbane Film Critics Select 'Get Out' As Best Of 2017


Since 2011, I have been pulling together a list of the best movies of the year according to the Brisbane-based critics who I run into regularly at preview screenings.  Those films to have topped prior year lists have been Drive in 2011, Argo in 2012, Gravity in 2013, Boyhood in 2014, Mad Max: Fury Road in 2015 and La La Land in 2016.

To come up with an overall top 10, I’ve used a simple points system and applied it to the list of each critic. It is as follows:
 - 3 points for the top film on each list.
 - 2 points for the films ranked between 2nd and 5th on each list.
 - 1 point for the films ranked between 6th and 10th on each list.

If two films finished on the same score, the film that appeared on the most number of top 10 lists is ranked higher (as an indication of wider approval).

This year's #1 film was Get Out.  Of the 10 critics surveyed, 7 had it as one of their top 5 movies of the year.  Released in Australia back in May, it could be a serious Oscars contender when the nominees are announced in a few weeks.

Call Me by Your Name finished 2nd in this year's poll with last year's Oscar winner, Moonlight, rounding out the places in 3rd.  Three other films appeared on at least half of the critics' respective top 10 lists - Blade Runner 2049, Dunkirk and The Florida Project

On that note, here are the top 10 movies of 2017 according to Brisbane critics…

Brisbane Film Critics - Top 10 of 2017
1.  Get Out
2.  Call Me by Your Name
3.  Moonlight
4.  Blade Runner 2049
5.  Dunkirk
6.  The Florida Project
7.  Jackie
8.  Baby Driver
9.  The Big Sick
10. mother!
 
You can view a table of all the votes and final scores by clicking here.

A big thanks to all the critics who were able to contribute. Hopefully we'll do it again next year!

You can check out information on all the Brisbane critics (along with their choices for the best and worst of 2017) below.

 

 

Matthew ToomeyMatthew Toomey

Born in Brisbane, Matt Toomey was introduced to the world of cinema when he landed a job at a video store fresh out of high school in 1995. A few years later, he started his own website and reviewed movies regularly on a community radio station. In 2005, he joined the team at 612ABC and can be heard reviewing the latest releases every Thursday morning. He can also be heard weekly on regional ABC throughout Queensland.

Website: www.thefilmpie.com
Twitter: @ToomeyMatt

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Call Me by Your Name
2. 20th Century Women
3. A Monster Calls
4. Manchester by the Sea
5. Get Out
6. Moonlight
7. Toni Erdmann
8. Coco
9. Dunkirk
10. Land of Mine
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Lion
Best Animated Film:
Coco
Best Documentary:
I Am Not Your Negro
Best Performance:
Timothée Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name)
Worst Film:
Transformers: The Last Knight
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Call Me by Your Name

 

Sarah WardSarah Ward

Sarah Ward is a freelance film critic, arts writer, and film festival organiser. She is the Australia-based critic for Screen International, a film reviewer and feature writer for ArtsHub, the weekend editor and a senior writer for Concrete Playground, a writer for the Goethe-Institut Australien's Kino in Oz, and a contributor to SBS and SBS Movies, Metro Magazine and Screen Education. Her work has been published by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Junkee, Lumina, Senses of Cinema, Birth.Movies.Death, Broadsheet, Televised Revolution, and the World Film Locations book series. Sarah is also the editor of Trespass Magazine, and a film and TV critic for ABC radio Brisbane, Gold Coast, and Sunshine Coast.

Websites: www.artshub.com.au
www.concreteplayground.com
www.screendaily.com/sarah-ward/1100859.contributor
www.goethe.de/ins/au/en/kul/sup/kio.html
www.sbs.com.au/guide/person/sarah-ward
www.sbs.com.au/movies/person/sarah-ward
www.trespassmag.com
Twitter: @swardplay

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Call Me By Your Name
2. The Florida Project
3. Moonlight
4. Raw
5. Get Out
6. Toni Erdmann
7. The Killing of a Sacred Deer
8. Jackie
9. Good Time
10. mother!
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. The Shape of Water
2. Nocturama
3. Sweet Country
4. Zama
5. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Hounds of Love
Best Animated Film:
Coco
Best Documentary:
I Am Not Your Negro
Best Performance:
Harry Dean Stanton (Lucky)
Worst Film:
A Few Less Men
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Happy Death Day
Call Me by Your Name

 

Garry WilliamsGarry Williams

Garry Williams is a reviewer for Film Club, a radio program broadcast on 4ZZZ-FM (102.1FM) each Thursday from 6-7pm.

Website: www.4zzzfm.org.au
Twitter: @thegeegenie

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Wind River
2. Miss Sloane
3. Get Out
4. Blade of the Immortal
5. Ingrid Goes West
6. Denial
7. Manchester by the Sea
8. Thor: Ragnarok
9. Baby Driver
10. Blade Runner 2049
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. The Shape of Water
2. Sweet Country
3. Manifesto
4. Citizen Jane: Battle for the City
5. The Last Goldfish
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Australia Day
Best Animated Film:
The LEGO Batman Movie
Best Documentary:
Right Here: The Go Betweens
Best Performance:
Cate Blanchett (Manifesto)
Worst Film:
A Few Less Men
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Only The Brave
Wind River

 

Peter GrayPeter Gray

Peter Gray is a Brisbane based freelance entertainment writer specialising in film. Currently the entertainment reporter/film reviewer for QNews, Queensland’s largest LGBT publication, and regular contributor to Hush Hush Biz, The Iris and This is Film.

Website: hushhushbiz.com
qnews.com.au
theiris.com.au
Twitter: @ratedPDG

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. mother!
2. Dunkirk
3. Moonlight
4. Call Me by Your Name
5. Get Out
6. Blade Runner 2049
7. Miss Sloane
8. The Disaster Artist
9. Paddington 2
10. Lady Macbeth
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
2. Darkest Hour
3. Mudbound
4. Lady Bird
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Berlin Syndrome
Best Animated Film:
Coco
Best Documentary:
Whitney: Can I Be Me
Best Performance:
Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)
Worst Film:
A Few Less Men
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
47 Metres Down
mother!

 

Ella DonaldElla Donald

Ella Donald is a student and freelance journalist and film critic. You can read her work in places like Vanity Fair, The Guardian, The Saturday Paper, Vice, Little White Lies and various Fairfax outlets.

Website: elladonaldwriter.wordpress.com
Twitter: @ellafdonald

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. 20th Century Women
2. Moonlight
3. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women
4. Call Me by Your Name
5. Baby Driver
6. The Florida Project
7. Jackie
8. The Big Sick
9. Blade Runner 2049
10. The Greatest Showman
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. Lady Bird
2. Wonderstruck
3. Step
4. Columbus
5. Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Jasper Jones
Best Animated Film:
Coco
Best Documentary:
I Am Not Your Negro
Best Performance:
Ensemble (Professor Marston and the Wonder Women) and Timothée Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name)
Worst Film:
A Cure for Wellness
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Gifted
20th Century Women

 

David EdwardsDavid Edwards

David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb Magazine and writes about film and television.

Website: www.theblurb.com.au
Twitter: @TheBlurbMag

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Personal Shopper
2. Get Out
3. Jackie
4. The Big Sick
5. Blade Runner 2049
6. Dunkirk
7. Manchester by the Sea
8. Logan Lucky
9. Final Portrait
10. The Killing of a Sacred Deer
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. Lady Bird
2. The Death of Stalin
3. The Exception
4. Dave Made a Maze
5. The Square
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Ali's Wedding
Best Animated Film:
Loving Vincent
Best Documentary:
Chasing Trane
Best Performance:
Kristen Stewart (Personal Shopper)
Worst Film:
Free Fire
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Spider-Man: Homecoming
Personal Shopper

 

Dave CreweDave Crewe

Freelance film critic with a fondness for arthouse and grindhouse films in roughly equal measure. Obsessed with David Lynch. Founding editor of ccpopculture, and freelances for SBS Movies, Junkee, The Brag, Metro Magazine and Screen Education, amongst others.

Website: ccpopculture.com
Twitter: @dacrewe

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Personal Shopper
2. Moonlight
3. Call Me by Your Name
4. Song to Song
5. Paddington 2
6. Good Time
7. Logan
8. Alien: Covenant
9. Raw
10. Jackie
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. Nocturama
2. Lady Bird
3. Mudbound
4. Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton
5. How to Talk to Girls at Parties
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Hounds of Love
Best Animated Film:
Coco
Best Documentary:
Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton
Best Performance:
Kristen Stewart (Personal Shopper)
Worst Film:
The Snowman
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Only the Brave
Personal Shopper

 

Michael DaltonMichael Dalton

Former “screens” editor for m/c reviews, now contributor at TOM.

Websites: http://www.tommagazine.com.au/

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Dunkirk
2. Blade Runner 2049
3. Moonlight
4. The Florida Project
5. Logan
6. God's Own Country
7. Jackie
8. It
9. Hidden Figures
10. Paddington 2
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
2. The Shape of Water
3. The Party
4. All the Money in the World
5. Wonderstruck
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Don't Tell
Best Animated Film:
The LEGO Batman Movie
Best Documentary:
I Am Not Your Negro
Best Performance:
Steve Carell (Battle of the Sexes)
Worst Film:
mother!
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Logan
Dunkirk

 

Baz McAlisterBaz McAlister

Baz McAlister is a writer and deputy night editor at The Courier-Mail and co-hosts 'Force Material', a podcast about the secrets, history and influences of Star Wars.

Website: bazmcalister.wordpress.com
www.forcematerial.com
Twitter: @bazmcalister

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
2. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
3. Baby Driver
4. Get Out
5. The Big Sick
6. Thor: Ragnarok
7. Brigsby Bear
8. Blade Runner 2049
9. Dunkirk
10. Logan
 
 
Best Australian Film:
That's Not Me
Best Animated Film:
Coco
Best Documentary:
Kedi
Best Performance:
Mark Hamill (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)
Worst Film:
Justice League
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Happy Death Day
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

 

Adam RabocziAdam Roboczi

Adam Raboczi is a reviewer for 4ZZZ’s Film Club (Thursdays @ 6pm) and manages the show’s Facebook page.  He occasionally makes overcomplicated music videos.

Website: 4zzzfm.org.au/program/film-club
facebook.com/4zzzFilmClub/
Twitter: n/a

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Good Time
2. mother!
3. Get Out
4. Blade Runner 2049
5. The Florida Project
6. Dunkirk
7. Baby Driver
8. Ingrid Goes West
9. The Disaster Artist
10. The Big Sick
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. Okja
2. The Endless
3. Brawl in Cell Block 99
4. Antiporno
5. Nocturama
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Hounds of Love
Best Animated Film:
The LEGO Batman Movie (or Valerian of you ignore the humans)
Best Documentary:
Becoming Bond
Best Performance:
Terry Notary (The Square)
Worst Film:
Collateral Beauty
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (surprised by how I enjoyed it)
Good Time

Matt's Top 10 Movies of 2017

This will be my last e-newsletter of the year and in keeping with tradition, it’s time to reveal my top 10 movies of 2017.  I love doing this because it’s a way of closing the book on the year and summing it up with 10 really amazing films that I can’t wait to watch again.

All of my old lists (going back to 1996) can be found on my website by clicking here - http://www.thefilmpie.com/index.php/special?id=174.

Honourable mentions go to Ingrid Goes West, Jackie, Lion, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Paddington 2, Beatriz at Dinner, The Edge of Seventeen, Wonder Woman, Beatriz at Dinner, Thor: Ragnarok, Gifted, Perfect Strangers, Detroit, Loving and Spider-Man: Homecoming.

But my top 10 in reverse order are…

10. Land of Mine (out Mar 30) recounts a fascinating piece of post-World War II history. It follows a group of young German prisoners of war who had to locate and disarm more than 150,000 land mines on a Danish beach. Unlike traditional war films, the tension comes from moments that are eerily quiet (as opposed to big action sequences). The moral is as relevant today as it's ever been.

9. Dunkirk (out Jul 20) is an intense, unrelenting drama that follows members of the British army, navy and air force as they try to escape the beaches of Dunkirk, France in May 1940. Great use of sound, music and time combined with a noticeable lack of dialogue. I was a sweaty mess by the end.

8. Coco (out Dec 26) is this year's best animated feature. It's the story of a 12-year-old kid from Mexico who stumbles into the Land of the Dead and goes in search of his great-great-grandfather. This is beautifully touching tale that has a lot of say about celebrating the past and why me must remember those who have come before us. The walking, talking skeletons are great too!

7. Toni Erdmann (out Feb 9) is a wonderful German comedy about a father who used unorthodox techniques to reconnect with his middle-aged, workaholic daughter. I’m struggling to think of a more warped, out-of-the-box comedy from the past year. You'll have no idea what's around each corner.

6. Moonlight (out Jan 26) follows a kid named Chiron who is from a poor, troubled neighbourhood in Miami. It is split into three segments with each providing a glimpse of Chiron’s at key points in his life. This is a remarkably good movie about one man trying to find love and his place in the world. The performances are hard to fault.

5. Get Out (out May 4) is an unorthodox horror-thriller that could be game changer for the genre. Instead of frightening the audience with blood, violence and creepy noises, writer-director Jordan Peele puts you on edge by having to listen to unsettling conversations. The less you know going in, the better!

4. Manchester by the Sea (out Feb 2) is the story of a man who has distanced himself from his family but is force to reconnect after a tragic event. This is an exquisitely well-told tale about the way we deal with trauma and loss. It also has a surprising amount of comedy. The performances, headlined by Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges, are wonderful.

3. A Monster Calls (out Jul 27) is based on the novel by British author Patrick Ness and is about 12-year-old boy trying to come to grips with his mother's terminal cancer. This is a beautiful coming-of-age drama with some wonderful visual imagery. It delves into the ways we deal with grief whilst also reminding us that there are many different perspectives when looking through the prism of life.

2. 20th Century Women (out Jun 1) is an observational drama set in 1979 about a 55-year-old mother (Annette Bening) trying to connect with her 15-year-old son. Drawing from personal experiences, Mike Mills has created a remarkable film that offers tragedy, laughter and reflection. I could listen to these characters talk and watch them interact for hours.

1. Call Me by Your Name (out Dec 26) is a hauntingly beautiful love story set in northern Italy. Director Luca Guadagnino makes the most of the idyllic setting and perfectly captures both the exterior and inner beauty of his characters. Dialogue is used sparingly with Timothée Chalamet gives the performance of a lifetime. If there’s been a better film released during 2017, I haven’t seen it.

I saw and reviewed a total of 204 films this year which made it my highest total since 2011.  I look forward to starting the counter again from scratch as 2018 begins!

Have a great Christmas and an awesome start to the New Year!