During the last decade, Rotten Tomatoes has soared into the glorious position of the most popular film review-aggregation website in the world. While some (including a certain director on this list) would call it an oversimplification, its immense popularity is clear, due to its understandable algorithm and fascinating comparison between the tastes of professional critics and casual movie goers.
Whatever one’s opinion on the website is, it cannot be denied the influence it has on audiences around the globe and its consistency at picking out the best films from each year. With that being said, let’s have a look at ten great films from this year so far, with high Rotten Tomatoes scores.
10. Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese (United States, Martin Scorsese)
While Martin Scorsese is most known for his crime dramas, the Italian-American director has also consistently shown his capability with music documentaries, examples including the bittersweet The Last Waltz and the exceptionable George Harrison: Living in the Material World. The Oscar-winning director has even explored Bob Dylan before, with 2005’s No Direction Home, yet with Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story, he seems to blend the fictional and fantasy, culminating in a meandering music experience detailing Dylan’s 1975 ‘Rolling Thunder Revue’ concert tour.
It’s a strange but fascinating piece of film making, carried by Dylan’s beautiful outbursts of nihilism and melancholia. “Rolling Thunder was about nothing” he claims. Maybe so, but Scorsese uses the arbitrariness of the tour to make larger comments on a fuzzy time in America’s enchanting history. A sense of nostalgia and longing for a simpler time echoes throughout the bizarre tale, and at the centre, Bob Dylan shows us why he’s so adored across the world.
9. Woman at War (Iceland/Ukraine, Benedikt Erlingson)
A perfect black-comedy by Iceland’s very own Benedikt Erlingson, which uses climate paranoia (much like 2017’s First Reformed) to fuel its poignant, melancholic and comical story.
Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir plays Halla, a conductor for a choir who sets out to wreck electricity pylons and wires to cut the power supply of an aluminium plant in the Icelandic highlands. What ensues is a hilarious but deeply thought-provoking story of the extent people will go to fight for what they believe in.
8. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (United States, Quentin Tarantino)
After almost three decades in the film business, Quentin Tarantino is a household name. Known for his punchy dialogue, larger-than-life characters, excess of violence and love of feet, the Tennessee born writer and director returns to our screens with his 9th film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. With his previous two films set during the last years of slavery in America, suddenly seeing scene-stealing Brad Pitt casually wandering through the streets of 1969 Hollywood is a breath of fresh air.
A nostalgic and bittersweet tale carried by excellent performances and easily the most mature film from Tarantino this century. It doesn’t reach the heights of his earlier work, although most of us have stopped searching for anything as complete as Pulp Fiction for a while now. Nevertheless, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood sees Tarantino back to what he does best, and it’s beautiful.
7. Fighting With My Family (United Kingdom, Stephen Merchant)
Who would have guessed that fifteen years after The Office, Stephen Merchant would be directing Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Vince Vaughn and Nick Frost (among others) in a film about wrestling? It’s definitely a strange combination, yet Merchant’s knack for storytelling as well as a clear passion for the subject creates a heart-warming story of family and comradery.
Fighting With My Family is at its best when focusing on its relationships, testing Paige’s (played wonderfully by Florence Pugh) familial bonds and asking questions of her mental and physical strength. However, it is Jack Lowden’s portrayal as Zak “Zodiac” Knight who steals the film, offering us a powerful performance which delves deep into the uncomfortable subject of stepping back and appreciating what you have. It truly is a beautiful story that deserves to be seen by wrestling fans and non-wrestling fans alike.
6. Apollo 11 (United States, Todd Douglas Miller)
Spoiler Alert: they pull it off. Directed by Todd Douglas Miller, Apollo 11 is a stunning documentary, detailing the 1969 mission to land the first men on the moon. However, what makes Apollo 11 such a fascinating and unique experience is the decision to only include archival footage, making the documentary completely devoid of any interviews, narration or recreations.
While one might consider this to be a negative, it makes the film a more authentic and encapsulating piece of cinema, overall culminating in 93 minutes of epic scope, telling the remarkable tale of one of humanities greatest triumphs.