Malak El-Gonemy’s choice of TV and film to watch before the year’s end
December 27, 2015
One Christmas dinner, two (plus twenty) bottles of wine, and three selection boxes later you find yourself lost and confused in that strange limbo period that I like to call ‘no longer Christmas but not quite New Year’ (I know, it’s catchy). It’s a strange old time and it can prove to be very confusing and disorientating. Or maybe you’re still drunk. You might find yourself wondering…what do you do when the last mince pie has been eaten? What happens when turkey-and-potatoes-and-stuffing-and-sprouts-and-maybe even some parsnips-sandwiches are no longer a thing? Is it still acceptable to have chocolate for breakfast, lunch AND dinner?! And, the most dreaded question of them all, what will fill the empty void in your heart when you look down and realise that your Christmas socks are no longer cute and seasonal, but instead tacky and embarrassingly out of place?
It’s at this time of year that January rain and dreary talk of New Year’s resolutions becomes a thing of the very near future, and all the Christmas cheer slowly diminishes into the past. Now, you might have been willing to let this happen in previous years, perhaps you’re even one of those people who gets excited by the prospect of ‘new year, new me’.
Well, NOT THIS TIME. Sorry, 2015, but I refuse to let you go without putting up a fight. A fight that comes in the form of the mother of all distractions and procrastinations – the big screen. That’s right, step aside internet, it’s good old-fashioned movie time. And lucky for you, I’ve comprised a little list of my top films and TV programmes of 2015. If you haven’t managed to watch these already, now is the perfect time. And if you have…watch them again because they’re great, or watch all of the Harry Potter’s in a row because they’re even greater. Or, if you’re really struggling, create a strange static Christmas world and watch Home Alone, Elf, and Love Actually on repeat. By all means do all of the above, but only after you’ve read my carefully put-together list.
This list is certainly non-exhaustive, and these are also not necessarily the best films/ TV programmes of the year. They’re just a little selection from the last 12 months that I believe are worth shouting about. Or writing about.
Channel 4’s new series takes the human life and fragments it, exposing our view of humanity and raising frightening questions about what it means to be alive in our society. It’s difficult to provide a synopsis that doesn’t sound like EVERY other programme out there at the moment, but Channel 4 manage to squeeze out something very unique with this series. Whilst it is described as a ‘sci-fi thriller’, the success of Humans is that it not only deals with themes that go way beyond the realm of science-fiction, but it also manages to incorporate the surreal and the strange into the very much every day and the normal. If you’re interested in psychology, the post-human, or anything remotely to do with what makes us who we are, then make sure you give this series a watch.
Whatever your own personal views, there is no doubting director Asif Kapadia’s skills when watching this documentary. This affecting and honest piece of film-making deserves recognition, despite the inevitably problematic nature of anything that deals with the death of a celebrity. Some have argued that the film focuses too much on the lows of Winehouse’s life, presenting her as a helpless player amongst the massses, whilst others see it as the perfect celebration of her talent. Personally, I think this kind of debate will be around as long as biographical documentaries are. However Amy is viewed it is undoubtedly an exceptionally powerful piece of work, and one that demands watching should you want to form your own opinion of this highly publicised and talked-about film.
There isn’t much more I can say about this other than how RIDICULOUSLY amazing Saoirse Ronan is. Her performance is the kind that audience’s will love, budding actress’s will be incredibly jealous of, and everyone will adore. That’s without mentioning the fact that John Crowley’s direction is full of nuance and intelligence in the way he brings this story to life. Set in 1950’s Brooklyn, the film “celebrates the brashness and optimism of American life as encountered by the immigrants [whilst also being an] alert to the homesickness they feel for the country they have left behind” (Independent, 2015). Beautifully put, I cannot recommend watching this film enough. Strangely, I was sceptical at first; I wasn’t too sure about the trailer, and the story-line didn’t seem too inviting, but how wrong I was! Watch this NOW and be prepared to be blown away by the touching story, the remarkable acting and the fantastic direction.
4. The Secret Lives of Children at Christmas
World’s apart from the previous selections is this noticeably less intense, but equally enjoyable episode of Channel 4’s series: The Secret Life of 4, 5 and 6 Year Old’s. May I just clarify here that I do NOT refer to this as an example of the best TV of the last year by any standard, BUT I do think it is suitably festive (and ridiculously cute), especially amongst my other picks which are all relatively dark. Allow yourself to remember your own/your children’s nativity as you see the troubles and tribulations of a group of infants as they put together their own version, involving lasagne-making shepherds and a very sassy Mary. There are tears, there are tantrums, and even a Richard Dawkins-style debate about the existence of God, straight from the toddlers’ mouths. It makes for riveting TV and is the perfect way to quell your post-Christmas blues.
As a final word, I have to apologise to all the Star Wars and James Bond lovers out there who are probably tearing their hair out at the fact I’ve included crying toddlers over Spectre or The Force Awakens. I have to admit that I haven’t watched either film yet (I know, sorry) and so I feel it would be highly misleading were I to include them here, but please, add them to your own list if you wish….similarly, I am yet to watch Steve Jobs, but I know that it could very well have made the cut. I will take my own advice and get watching!
Happy viewing and a Happy New Year!