With awards season coming to a close with last night's Oscars, we thought we would do a roundup of some of our favourite films, tv, and books from the past year. There's still some winter left here in Copenhagen, so go grab a blanket and hunker down.
TOP FIVE FILMS
1. The Revenant - Yes, the one that got Leo his long-awaited Oscar. Well deserved, in our opinion. Carrying a movie of that length without full range of your vocal cords while also being in freezing temperatures (and, you know, sleeping in horse guts) could not have been easy. Alongside the harrowing situations shown, the landscapes and cinematography are just as breathtaking. Also nice to see First Nations actors finally getting some screen time and acknowledgement too.
2. It Follows - Even if you aren't usually a horror film fan (and we're not), give this one a try for the awesome John Carpenter nods, like the long panning sequences and the creepy, slow building synth score. Instead of relying on gore, the anticipation is what drives this film. It's a nice little parable on what it means to grow up, and the ambiguous time setting with hints of nostalgia thrown in helped make it more universal (and aesthetically pleasing).
3. What We Do in the Shadows - This one made me (Nicola sadly isn't into vampires) laugh more than any other movie this year. I've been a fan of Jemaine Clement since the days of Flight of the Concords, and love a good mokumentary, so it's not surprising. Plus, it's about time that someone poked (get it? as in staked? soooorry) some fun at what is essentially a very ridiculous genre - that of vampires in popular culture. And, swearwolves. I mean, what more could you want?
4. Room - Oh man, all the feels with this one. I loved that this movie was introspective and took it's time with progressing the storyline. It also felt right being told from the child's perspective (Jacob Trembley is amazing and adorable, and is also from Vancouver - holla!). The other thing that was so mind-blowing to me is that this happens in real life. Not only has happened once either, but several times, and continues to. So nuts. This world is a strange and beautiful place, and that was really conveyed in this film.
5. Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter - This one is bittersweet, and that combination of darkly funny and touching that I always fall for. The story is about a Japanese girl (and her pet rabbit Bunzo) who attempts to find the buried treasure from the film Fargo, in order to escape her monotonous life back home - despite barely speaking any English. The culture clash and language barriers make for some interesting encounters and it is also beautifully filmed.
TOP FIVE TV SHOWS
1. Olive Kitteridge - This is the perfect four part mini-series to binge watch on a rainy Sunday. Frances McDormand is incredible, as always, and the way the show moves through her life and marriage is moving in a quiet and powerful way. I especially loved part one, and would have been happy to watch a feature length film of it.
2. Togetherness - I am a huge fan of the Duplass brothers (Transparent is another fav), and feel like pretty much anything they touch is gold lately. This show always hits home for me, and seems so realistic and specific yet also seems to speak for a whole generation at the same time. I just love how they portray adult friendships and marriage in all their messy and wonderful ways.
3. Fargo - I thought season one started strong, but it fizzled out for me and I ended up giving up on it. This season, with it being set in the 70's, worked so much better for me. It's another great example of how good tv is right now - every episode had the level of quality of a really good film. And I'll never get over that accent. Looking forward to see what they do with next season!
4. Master of None - This was another surprise for me! Only having seen Aziz Ansari as Tom Haverford on Parks & Recreation, it was so nice to see him play a much more multi-dimension character (and with much better taste/less swag). It was also so refreshing to see issues of ethnicity and feminism be some of the main focal points, while still being really, really funny. I binged a few of his stand-up shows after this, and also recommend them!
5. The Jinx & Making a Murderer - I know, cheating a bit here. But if you like one, you'll like the other. I feel like everyone and their dog has seen these by now, but if you've been living under a rock (or you are my husband), maybe you haven't. I don't want to spoil anything in that case, because I think both are best when you know little to nothing about the specific cases involved. You can go down that Reddit rabbit hole later. Just don't watch watch All Good Things - the movie based on the case that The Jinx explores, and done by the same director. Even Ryan Gosling couldn't save it, which should give an idea of how not good it is. But the ending of The Jinx makes up for it all!
TOP FIVE BOOKS
1. When Breath Becomes Air - Get ready to cry a little bit (or, in my case, a lot) with this one. Written by a neurosurgeon after a terminal cancer diagnosis, this book explores what makes a life meaningful and worth living. Not only was this guy beyond inspiring, the insights about death and dying were fascinating, and it's a subject so many shy away from. If you like this one, I'd also recommend Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. It's not the cheeriest of subject matter, but in both cases, they are far from depressing.
2. Purity - I hesitated a little bit putting this one on here, because this is probably my least favourite of Jonanthan Franzen's oeuvre and I probably had too high expectations for it. It did sound a little too much, as one review that I read put it, like it was written by "a White Guy". I did like the epic, far reach of this one though, and the journey you were taken on with the characters - despite how unlikable most of them were.
3. Big Magic - Even with how overblown and cliche the whole 'Eat, Pray, Love' thing got, I like Elizabeth Gilbert and I think she has a lot of really interesting things to say about creativity. If you aren't convinced, go watch her her TED talk. Creativity is so integral to what so many of us do, yet it is often shrouded in this cloak of mystery or fear, so I loved this more down-to-earth and positive take on it.
4. The Girl on the Train - This is just a purely for fun one that both of us ripped through in a day. A proper can't-put-it-down read, that would be perfect for a vacation. A little bit like Gone Girl, it's a crime/psychological thriller where you are guessing until the end. It's not going to win any literary prizes anytime soon, but we are far from book snobs over here.
5. A Little Life - I found this one a bit hard to get into at first, but once you get to know the four characters this book revolves around, and their intertwined friendships, it's impossible not to get engrossed. This isn't a light book by any means, and you'll probably need that pack of tissues again. But it's one of those books that stays with you.