2021 In Review – Film

Trips to the cinema were a comparative rarity in the past year. I only made it out five times over the course of the year but I still saw plenty of movies. My top ten films of the year are below. There are a couple from 2020 that have crept in there that I watched after I compiled this list last year. Honourable mentions go to Saint Maud, a film that I thought was tremendous but just missed out on the top 10 due to my trip to the cinema yesterday to see another film in my top 10. My comments below are mostly spoiler free but there is one where I can’t talk about my love of the film without including spoilers. I have marked that entry appropriately.

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Wind River & Atomic Blonde

Happy September everyone!  Blockbuster season is nearly over with only a few out-of-season mega films (e.g. Thor Ragnarok and Star Wars Episode VIII) to come.  September/October and March/April tend to be my favourite times to get to the cinema as we’re outside blockbuster season and award season both (though there is still some of that dripping into UK cinemas in March) and as a result a lot of the most interesting, mid-budget films that tend to be my favourites see releases at about this time.  This year is no exception with the likes of Wind River (see below), IT, Mother!, Brimstone, The Death of Stalin, The Snowman oh, and the small matter of Blade Runner 2049, all ready to roll in the next couple of months.

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Dunkirk & well, Everything Else

Sorry folks, this post has been a long time coming.  I could blame going on holiday or dental surgery but instead I’ll just chalk this up to my usual excuse (laziness, in case it wasn’t obvious) and move on.  The good news is that because it’s been a few months there’s more films to talk about!  Yay?  You all wanted more of my inane blathering not less, right?  Of course you did.  12 reviews incoming.  No wonder it took so bloody long to write…

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Eliminators & Early 2017 TV Reviews

I have been tapping away at my keyboard all this week in an attempt to catch up with my film reviews but the length of time it’s been since my last post (over a month – sorry!) means that it sure is taking a while!  Rather than have the blog remain silent for even more time while I continue to flog the dead horse of my wit and invention I’ve put this little post together.  The bad news is that there’s only one film review but the good news is that you get a little bonus breakdown of TV reviews too!  In my last post I mentioned my new podcast (WIGWIONAWS – What Is Good What Is On Netflix As We Speak) where I dissect television with my co-host Michael but there’s a lot more stuff that I don’t get chance to cover on that so I’ve done my top 10 TV of the first half of 2017 as a little bonus.

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Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 & The Autopsy of Jane Doe

I have, for a while, considered branching out from film reviews into TV on Turn Back Sarah but for one reason or another (mostly because I can barely find the time to write the film reviews) I’ve never got to it.  Well fear not, dear reader, because if you are now sitting at home or on the bus or on a chairlift reading this and wondering exactly what my thoughts are on the landscape of television I have the answer.  Along with my good friend Michael Laycock I’ve started a podcast all about TV that you can find on iTunes, Audioboom and, hopefully, whatever other tool you use to access your pods.  It’s called WIGWIONAWS (What Is Good What Is On Netflix As We Speak) it is an hour of unprofessional chit-chat and the sound of my chair squeaking.  We’re hoping that as we go along it will become more professional and that I will find some WD40 so please bear with us while we work out what we’re doing.   Enough plugging, on with the reviews!  Oh, one quick note.  From this post on I’ve changed the format very slightly in that the titles of all of the films are now links to the trailers.  If you want to take a look just give them a click for a taster.

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Free Fire & Masterminds

There’s been a bit of a lull at the cinema recently so I’ve only got three reviews for you today.  I fully meant to see Ghost In The Shell but couldn’t quite muster the enthusiasm and failed to persuade my better half that she wanted to spend her Friday night watching a French girl turning into a cannibal (Raw was always going to be a long shot) and so here we are.  I am off to see Mulholland Drive tonight however.  David Lynch’s masterpiece is getting a re-release, as far as I can tell, simply because that new series of Twin Peaks is coming soon, and I’m not complaining.  It’s an amazing, captivating, weird, surreal tour de force and if you haven’t seen it I heartily recommend getting on that right away.  If you can’t make the cinematic re-release than catch up with it at home.

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Get Out & Life

Apologies to one and all for the delay in getting this latest installment of movie reviews out.  I’ve been somewhat caught up in TV recently which has distracted me from the silver screen.  The good news is that this means you’re about to get double value, you lucky sods.  Very shortly I’ll be posting up my review of the TV I’ve been watching in the first quarter of 2017 but in the meantime, here’s some film reviews.

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Logan & Denial

Logan (2017)


Director: James Mangold
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant
Synopsis: Years after the X-men have dissolved, Logan (Jackman) finds himself driving a limo on both sides of the US-Mexico border to afford medication for Professor Xavier’s (Stewart) deteriorating brain.  The arrival of a young girl (Keen) in his life forces him to emerge from his life of hiding however.

The box office success of Deadpool last year showed Hollywood that there was the appetite for more adult superhero adaptations and finally set the stage for what many hoped would be the Wolverine film they’d been waiting for since the character first appeared on our screens in 1999’s X-Men.  Jackman himself has said that he’s never felt he got Logan quite right and has been at pains to point out that he, director/writer James Mangold and all of the crew have done everything they could to bring him to the screen in this, Jackman’s last outing as the character.

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New Reviewing Code

I never liked the idea of giving films scores but recently I’ve begun to despair of it.  On Turn Back Sarah I have always rated films on a straightforward ten point scale, trying to provide a score that combines what I feel the objective quality of the film is and how much I personally enjoyed it.  The idea of assigning a number to a film to represent it doesn’t sit well with me however.  I have spent far too much time in the last few years agonising over whether a film deserves a 7 or an 8 or what the difference is between a 9 and a 10.  The fact that I can change my mind from one week to the next merely illustrates its obsolescence as a quality metric.  You can’t provide a qualitative score for what is an opinion and so I won’t be trying any more.

From this point forward, rather than assigning a film a score out of 10, I will rank each film against every other film that I’ve seen that year in terms of how much I enjoyed it and how much I appreciated its qualities.  The idea of comparing films against each other rather than against a rating system is a little more useful I think (whilst accepting that any rating system will be subjective and flawed).

There is the potential for this to be too specific to be useful though.  For this reason I will also keep track of two benchmarks in my ranking.  One will be the line above which every film is enjoyable and the second will be the line below which every film is not particularly enjoyable.  Anything between the two lines will be rated as ‘somewhat enjoyable’.  Consider everything in the top bracket to be wholeheartedly endorsed, everything in the second bracket to be cautiously endorsed and everything in the third bracket to be avoided.

With all this in mind, for each film from next week onward I will provide:

  1. A position reflecting where the film ranks in the list of films I’ve seen that year.
  2. The films either side of it in the rankings to provide reference.
  3. A couple of comparison films that can be used as a guide to the style and quality of the film.
  4. The films ‘enjoyability’ rating as a rough guide.

If this all sounds very long-winded and unnecessary well, then, I guess you’ve never met me because that’s pretty much what will be written on my tombstone.  It should be pretty self-explanatory when you see it in action.  To start off with, here is my ranking of every film I’ve seen this year.  If you note that it doesn’t line up with the ratings the films were given then you’ve hit on my exact problem with the current system!

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