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The Way Back
Ben Affleck is routinely treated like a Hollywood punching bag, consistently considered a comeback story even though he hasn't gone anywhere for over a decade.
Sure, we all know just how bad the Gigli years were after he and Jennifer Lopez split, but he's had an otherwise stellar career.
With lauded performances and directorial efforts including Argo and The Town, I have no shame in calling Affleck a favourite. So it should come as no surprise that The Way Back is an incredible effort.
Channeling his own addiction issues, Affleck plays Jack – an alcoholic assigned to coach basketball at his high school alma mater – with an understated, intense recognition of the character.
He's bar-none the best part of the film, sensitively directed by Gavin O'Connor, famous for Warrior and Affleck action vehicle The Accountant.
This is an absolutely intense feature that will astound you. Released as the pandemic began, it was forgotten in 2020, but it's now time to discover this one.
The Cable Guy
Wildly derided upon initial release, The Cable Guy was a pitch-black comedy completely unlike what audiences were expecting from Mr. Ace Ventura.
Gone were his slapstick stylings, replaced with an insane, desolate Jim Carrey people just didn't quite enjoy.
But decades later, Carrey's film about a mentally ill cable installer who becomes dangerously obsessed with becoming friends with a client has gained a cult following.
Carrey, Matthew Broderick and Leslie Mann all give pretty off-the-wall performances here, in a respectable effort that was ahead of its time.
Funnyman Ben Stiller also directs this effort, which is finally gaining the respect it deserves.
The Power Of The Dog
Perhaps the best film I've seen this year, the Netflix original Power Of The Dog is a tormenting piece of work you won't forget.
It follows rancher Phil – a scoundrel and fiend who treats everyone around him horribly – and the uneasy bond he forms with his new nephew.
Phil is a brute, and when the brother he consistently puts down brings home a new wife and her child from a previous marriage, he sets out to make their lives a living hell.
But he takes a shine to the boy somehow – a development that makes all around him wonder about his true intentions.
Writer-director Jane Campion produces her best work since Oscar favourite The Piano, made nearly two decades ago.
Benedict Cumberbatch gives the best performance of his career, and Jesse Plemons, Kirsten Dunst and Kodi-Smit McPhee are Oscar-worthy as well.
Expect some huge buzz around this one, a favourite for the Academy Awards this year.
Every once in a while, an actress can absolutely transform an average film into a spectacular showcase.
Halle Berry is an Oscar-winning actress with verve and power who, frankly, never quite recovered following the monumental failure of a little movie called Catwoman.
Berry saw a resurgence with thrillers like The Call, John Wick 3 and Kidnap, but she never really hit the awards-worthy stride she deserved. All that changes with Bruised, which also marks her directorial debut.
This Netflix original is an entirely average film that Berry infuses with more energy than she's given us in nearly two decades.
A story of Jackie, a former MMA fighter who fell off isn't much more than predictable. But this tale of facing your demons and finding strength through adversity is a perfect vehicle for a Berry comeback.
Though she may not yet be right back to the Oscar-winning ways of Monster's Ball, she sure is close.
Bruised may not be worthy of Berry's performance, but it's worth it just to see her punch above her weight again.
The Harder They Fall
This western has a zeal and flavour all its own, and is definitely one of the more entertaining films of the year.
Writer-director Jeymes Samuel creates a vivid film of revenge about an outlaw who chases down an outlaw and his gang when he realized the man who ruined his life is getting out of prison.
With an all-black cast of incredible characters and an entirely different take on the genre, it's an exercise in many things that work and a few that don't.
Jonathan Majors, Zazie Beats, RJ Cyler, Edi Gathegi, Idris Elba, Regina King, Damon Wayans Jr., Delroy Lindo, Deon Cole and more star in this incredible ensemble.
It's worth watching just to see its stars chew the scenery, and it's a heck of a spectacle.
Jordan Parker's weekly film reviews can be found on his blog, Parker & The Picture Shows.