10 of The Best Films I Have Seen This Year (So far) + 5 Honourable Mentions – Mid Term Report

Hello All,

I thought I’d do something different this month, I’ll still write about the films I have seen in July, but I wanted to take a moment to recognise 10 of the very best that I have seen so far. Some of these have gone into my favourite list now – I hope to keep watching them as I develop as a filmmaker.

So far, I have seen a lot of films up until this point, so I’ll be adding some honourable mentions too. There have been so many films, so I want to mention them as well. I’ll be back towards the end of the year with a complete 2021 list. This list is in no particular order – I don’t particularly like to rank films above others (unless it’s Paddington) because films resonate differently. In any case, I hope you enjoy the selection.


I hope you like what you see.

Honourable Mentions

Here are some of the other films which I felt like I couldn’t leave off the list, no particular order, but I think all of these films deserve some love. You should take a look – I promise you won’t be disappointed. You can also check out my previous lists for more on the honourable mentions below.

Sound of Metal

Director: Darius Marder

Studio: Caviar, Ward Four, Flat 7 Productions

Release Date: 2020

Currently on Amazon Prime (At time of writing)

Solaris

Director: Steven Soderbergh  

Studio: Lightstorm Entertainment

Release Date: 2002

Currently on Disney+ (At time of writing)

Morvern Callar

Director: Lynne Ramsay

Studio: Company Pictures

Release Date: 2002

Currently on BBCiPlayer (At time of writing)

The Falling

Director: Carol Morley

Studio: BBC Films, British Film Institute

Release Date: 2014

Currently on Amazon Prime (At time of writing)

Soul

Director: Pete Docter

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios

Release Date: 2020

Currently on Disney+ (At time of writing)

The List…

St Maud

Director: Rose Glass    

Studio: Escape Plan Productions, Film4 Productions, British Film Institute, A24

Release Date: 2020

Perhaps one of my new favourite films ever. An incredible portrait of a character emerging from trauma into loneliness while looking after a retired dancer. This film keeps you guessing to the very last frame – it’s a rich, textural film in terms of its visuals and score (which is incredible). Recently added to the Amazon Prime library – it’s an electrifying watch and well worth your time.

Currently on Amazon Prime (At the time of writing)

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Director: Andrew Domnik    

Studio: Virtual Studios, Scott Free Productions, Plan B Entertainment

Release Date: 2007

A masterpiece in every aspect – a study of legend, fame and cowardice all methodical put together through incredible direction, cinematography and performance. An older Jesse James is placed on the back foot as he plans a heist – along with him are the titular Robert Ford and his brothers as anxiety, jealousy and tension build through the power dynamic of the legendary outlaw and his new gang members.

Currently on Amazon Prime (At the time of writing)

The King of Comedy

Director: Martin Scorsese  

Studio: Embassy International Pictures

Release Date: 1982

In terms of his quality, his back catalogue is one of the most consistent and impactful. I feel like this places him as one of our greatest ever directors. An uncontroversial opinion, but this is Scorsese’s best film. This absurd and realistic depiction of fame holds so much weight to this day it’s hard to believe it came out so long ago. Robert De Niro is on the form of his life as Rupert Pupkin, a failing comedian who decides to kidnap Jerry Lewis and hold him a ransom so that he can appear on his show.

Currently on Amazon Prime (At the time of writing)

Parasite

Director: Bong Joon-ho

Studio: Barunson E&A

Release Date: 2019

Bong Joon-ho’s meditation of social class is a gripping, funny and violent affair, which details the almost impossible nature of climbing the social ladder. This film is difficult to describe in such few words, but it is worth the watch and a bona fide masterpiece, which I think gets better as time goes on. Not only because of how remarkable the direction, writing and performances are, but how relevant it is in this current climate. A must watch.

Currently on Amazon Prime (At the time of writing)

Raw

Director: Julia Ducournau

Studio: Petit Film, Rouge International, Frakas Productions, Ezekiel Film Production, Wild Bunch

Release Date: 2016

A coming of age film with cannibalism – what’s not to like. Following Justine, as she starts her first year at veterinary school – a hazing ritual sparks something in her, breeding a desire for flesh. An incredible rich film in regards to its depiction of maturation and how the characters grow and form. It’s unsurprisingly a very graphic film, which I think balances very, very well. I loved this film.

Rental

The Babadook

Director: Jennifer Kent

Studio: Screen Australia, Causeway Films

Release Date: 2014

A landmark in the horror genre, Jennifer Kent’s feature debut centres on a young mother and her child relationship, which harks back to deep-seated traumas which affect them both – from this, the titular Babadook is born. This is a defining film in the genre because of how simple it is – while also presenting us characters that we care about, which make the scares and tension build in such a more personal way. I love this film so much – I think it’s incredible.

Currently on Amazon Prime (At the time of writing)

Mowgul Mowgli

Director: Bassam Tariq

Studio: Pulse Films, Left Handed Films, BBC Films, Cinereach, VICE Studios, RYOT Films, Silvertown Films

Release Date: 2020

Riz Ahmed plays British-Pakistani rapper ‘Z’ – an up and coming rapper who gets the chance to see his career take off with a supporting role on a rapper’s tour of America. Out of nowhere – he is struck down by a debilitating muscle disease that compromises his body. An introspective look into identity, generational traumas and religion. A hard film to put your finger on, but as it takes over – it flies with a verve, which comes from a powerhouse performance from Ahmed – who is emerging as one of the most diverse and incredible actors working today. This needs to be experienced over and over again. My first use of the BFI Player – an incredible service dedicated to the cinema – a must for any cinephile.

Currently on BFI Player (At the time of writing)

Under the Shadow

Director: Babak Anvari

Studio: Wigwam Films

Release Date: 2016

A suspenseful and terrifying experience, but also a demonstration of what makes horror so compelling. Presenting ideas that resonate, while presenting characters that we care about. A mother and her daughter live in Iran during the Iran/Iraq conflict – the mother elects to stay in the city while her husband is away on the front lines. As a bomb hits their apartment complex – djinn spirits invade – tormenting the family as they try and survive. A tense and compelling film that is so worth the watch.

Currently on Netflix (At the time of writing)

Booksmart

Director: Olivia Wilde

Studio: Annapurna Pictures, Gloria Sanchez Productions

Release Date: 2019

I really, really, really love this film. Olivia Wilde coming of age comedy populates a world with real, three-dimensional characters who never enter the cliché category at any point. Every single character is taken seriously and never the butt of the joke. The film follows two high school students who decide to let go and have a wild night of partying before they go to college – from there it goes strength to strength as it gets wilder and wilder – a really great film.

Currently on Netflix (At the time of writing)

Ran

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Studio: Herald Ace, Nippon Herald Films, Greenwich Film Productions

Release Date: 1985

One of my personal favourite films now. Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece translates Shakespeare’s King Lear to feudal Japan to create a film that reminds you why cinema exists. An action laced politically charged story which gets more and more chaotic as a whole country teeters on the brink of war. An absolute masterclass in the art form from one of the greats of cinema. Kurosawa was 75 when he made this – his eyesight was failing, he nearly took his own life. This was supposed to be his last film, but he made more after this and cinema wouldn’t be the same because of directors like him. Ran is truly a great and important film in the landscape. A goosebump-inducing film that knocked me out.

Currently on BFI Player (At the time of writing)

I hope you check out the films on the list. They’re extremely moving pieces that I think deserve to be watched for so many more reasons than what I have mentioned. I have slowed down a little on watching the films due to current projects which are taking more time.

Stay safe, be present, enjoy things that you like.

Adam

Stills courtesy of FILMGRAB / Kiss Them Goodbye / Bluscreens.net / anothermag.com / Elevation Pictures / Movieclips Classic Trailers / movienco.co.uk / screenmusings.com / Screen Goblin /commonsensemedia.org / NME / Joe’s Movie Blog / cultandexploitation.blogspot.com / fancaps.net / ingloriousbaguettes.com

Published by Adam Shafi

Here's my work, ranging from films to essays. Hope you enjoy it!

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