It’s only a couple of weeks until we find out who’s up for what at this year’s Oscars, but this week we’ve got the introduction of some genuine players for the big prize, not to mention an eerie Cornish thriller, a Nicolas Cage Western, and a maniacal robot with killer dance moves…

MOVIE OF THE WEEK: Empire of Light (dir. Sam Mendes)

CAST: Olivia Colman, Micheal Ward, Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Tom Brooke, Tanya Moodle, Hannah Onslow, Crystal Clarke, Monica Dolan, Sara Stewart, Ron Cook, Justin Edwards

CREW: Sam Mendes, director, writer, producer; Pippa Harris, producer; Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, composers; Roger Deakins, cinematographer; Lee Smith, editor

PLOT: In the early 1980s, a lonely woman named Hilary (Colman) works at the Empire Cinema in the coastal town of Margate. When she meets young new employee Stephen (Ward), they begin an affair that has lasting consequences for both of them…


1) Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes pays glorious tribute to the cinema experience with his latest historical epic

2) Olivia Colman delivers an incredibly layered lead performance, and has great support from the likes of Micheal Ward, Colin Firth and Toby Jones

3) It’s shot beautifully by legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins, who reunites with Mendes after his Oscar-nabbing work on 1917

4) Composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross fill in for Mendes regular Thomas Newman to produce a gloriously atmospheric musical score

5) It’s a must-see for anyone who loves going to the movies and getting lost in the wonders of the big screen, all of which are lovingly replicated here

Empire of Light is showing in cinemas from Monday 9th January 2023



Tár (dir. Todd Field)

CAST: Cate Blanchett, Noémie Merlant, Nina Hoss, Sophie Kauer, Julian Glover, Allan Corduner, Mark Strong, Sylvia Flote, Adam Gopnik, Mila Bogojevic, Zethphan Smith-Gneist

CREW: Todd Field, director, writer, producer; Scott Lambert and Alexandra Milchan, producers; Hildur Guðnadóttir, composer; Florian Hoffmeister, cinematographer; Monika Willi, editor

PLOT: Lydia Tár (Blanchett) is the world’s greatest living composer, and the first female conductor of a major German orchestra. However, her reputation and career becomes increasingly endangered as she engages in questionable behaviour that contributes to a significant meltdown…


1) Todd Field, the filmmaker behind In The Bedroom and Little Children, returns with his first film in fifteen years, and it’s quite the powerhouse vehicle to come back with

2) Cate Blanchett delivers the latest in a long line of career-best performances as the deeply flawed titular character

3) Being set in the world of classical music, you bet there’s plenty of stunning pieces all throughout the soundtrack, including an original score by Oscar-winner Hildur Guðnadóttir

4) It’s expected to be a serious contender this awards season, having already picked up numerous accolades for Blanchett’s lead turn

5) While the story and characters may be fictional, it speaks plentiful truths about post-#MeToo harassment and power in the industry

Tár is showing in cinemas from Friday 13th January 2023

M3GAN (dir. Gerard Johnstone)

CAST: Allison Williams, Violet McGraw, Ronny Chieng, Brian Jordan Alvarez, Jen Van Epps, Amie Donald, Jenna Davis, Stephane Garneau-Monten, Arlo Green, Michael Saccente

CREW: Gerard Johnstone, director; Akela Cooper, writer; Jason Blum, Michael Clear, Couper Samuelson and James Wan, producers; John Murphy, composer; Peter McCaffrey and Simon Raby, cinematographers; Jeff McEvoy, editor

PLOT: In the near-future, roboticist Gemma (Williams) unexpectedly gains custody of her newly orphaned niece Cady (McGraw). Gemma soon introduces Cady to the prototype of her latest creation: a doll-like android named M3GAN (Donald/Davis), which is programmed to be a child’s greatest companion, and quickly gains Cady’s trust. However, it isn’t long before the artificially-intelligent M3GAN becomes overprotective of her best friend, and things quickly become violent…


1) It’s a bonkers sci-fi horror that’s creepy, darkly funny, and most of all smart with its scares and characters

2) Not one but two horror icons are on board as producers: low-budget maestro Jason Blum, and James Wan of Saw, Insidious, and The Conjuring fame

3) This robot will most likely give you all the nightmares, with its eerily agile and petite figure as well as a bug-eyed marionette face that’s straight out of something like Team America or Thunderbirds

4) There’s gore and death aplenty, and nobody seems to be safe – not even the kids that M3GAN is sworn to protect

5) Be prepared for the freakiest/funniest robot dance sequence since Ex Machina

M3GAN is showing in cinemas from Friday 13th January 2023

Enys Men (dir. Mark Jenkin)

CAST: Mary Woodvine, Edward Rowe, Flo Crowe, John Woodvine, Joe Gray, Loveday Twomlow

CREW: Mark Jenkin, director, writer, composer, cinematographer, editor; Denzil Monk, producer

PLOT: In 1973, on an uninhabited island just off the Cornish coast, a wildlife volunteer (Woodvine) finds her daily observations of a mysterious rare flower slowly becoming a metaphysical journey into the soul, leaving her to determine what is real and what isn’t…


1) The second feature from BAFTA-winner Mark Jenkin is a psychological thriller unlike any you’ve ever encountered, visually or spiritually

2) Similar to his previous feature Bait, Jenkin shoots entirely on 16mm colour film stock with post-synched sound, adding to the authenticity of the time period as well as innovative in the modern age

3) It was shot entirely on location in and around old tin mines in West Penwith, Cornwall

4) Mary Woodvine and Edward Rowe, who previously starred in Bait, reunite with Jenkin in a pair of very different lead roles

5) The Cornish spirit is given an eerie feel in a psychological not-quite-a-horror that’ll leave you guessing until the very end

Enys Men is showing in cinemas from Friday 13th January 2023

The Estate (dir. Dean Craig)

CAST: Toni Collette, Anna Faris, Kathleen Turner, Rosemarie DeWitt, David Duchovny, Ron Livingston, Keyla Monterroso Mejia

CREW: Dean Craig, director, writer; Alison Benson, Sarah Gabriel, Marc Goldberg and Sarah Jessica Parker, producers; Will Bates, composer; Darin Moran, cinematographer; Annette Davey, editor

PLOT: When they learn that their wealthy estranged Aunt Hilda (Turner) is terminally ill, sisters Macey (Collette) and Savannah (Faris) attempt to get in her good graces before she passes, with the hopes that she will leave them her vast fortune. However, when they arrive, it turns out that they are not the only ones vying for Hilda’s affection…


1) Family greed has never been more hilarious than in writer-director Dean Craig’s outrageous satire

2) There are plenty of larger-than-life performances by an all-star cast, including Toni Collette and Anna Faris as our lead sister anti-heroes, and a moustachioed David Duchovny relishing in his inner sleaze

3) It’s a comedy that isn’t afraid to take itself to some dark and cruel places, which can often make for some huge laughs

4) With Sarah Jessica Parker credited as a producer, you know there’s going to be a fair bit of raunch to entice everyone’s inner Carrie Bradshaw

5) Fans of the hit show Succession may well find plot similarities to latch on to, as well as a fine Brian Cox substitute in Kathleen Turner

The Estate is streaming exclusively on Sky Cinema from Friday 13th January 2023

The Old Way (dir. Brett Donowho)

CAST: Nicolas Cage, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, Shiloh Fernandez, Noah Le Gros, Nick Searcy, Abraham Benrubi, Clint Howard, Kerry Knuppe, Adam Lazarre-White, Craig Branham, Beau Linnell, Andrew Silvestrone, Christine Sivestrone

CREW: Brett Donowho, director, producer; Carl W. Lucas, writer; Micah Haley, Robert Paschall Jr., Johnny Remo, R. Bryan Wright and Sasha Yelaun, producers; Andrew Morgan Smith, composer; Sion Michel, cinematographer; Frederick Wardell, editor

PLOT: In the Old West, Colton Briggs (Cage) is a retired gunslinger living a peaceful life with his wife Ruth (Knuppe) and their daughter Brooke (Armstrong). However, when a gang of outlaws – led by Boots (Fernandez), whose father was killed by Colton years prior – come to wreak havoc on Briggs’ family, he and Brooke are forced to work together and defeat their new enemies, all while Colton comes face to face with his past…


1) Nicolas Cage dives head-first into the Western genre for the very first time – I know, I’m just as surprised as you are! – and, of course, has plenty of fun with it

2) He’s got a fierce on-screen partner in young Firestarter actor Ryan Kiera Armstrong, as well as an intimidating antagonist in Shiloh Fernandez

3) It’s a hell of a coup for director Brett Donowho, who delivers his biggest production to date after a career of low-budget horrors like Salvation and A Haunting At Silver Falls

4) It’s the kind of gritty, unforgiving Western that would have undoubtedly cast Clint Eastwood back in the day, or possibly even John Wayne

5) How long has it been since the last major Western we’ve had in cinemas? Honestly, at this rate, a film like this coming to cinemas at all nowadays is an event, so make the most of it while you can!

The Old Way is showing in cinemas, and will be available to rent/buy on most digital platforms, from Friday 13th January 2023

Dog Gone (dir. Stephen Herek)

CAST: Rob Lowe, Johnny Berchtold, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Susan Gallagher, Nick Peine, Annabella Didion, Bruce Soscia

CREW: Stephen Herek, director; Nick Santora, writer, producer; Jeremy Kipp Walker, producer; Emily Bear, composer; Michael Martinez, cinematographer; Amy McGrath, editor

PLOT: When his beloved dog Gonker goes missing along the Appalachian Trail, his owner Fielding Marshall (Berchtold) reluctantly teams with his father John (Lowe) to set out and find him, before the lovable canine goes too long without the medication he needs to survive…


1) Former teen heartthrob Rob Lowe fully adopts the middle-aged parent role in this winning family drama, which he also executive produces

2) It is based on the incredible true story that captured the hearts of a nation, especially after it was adapted into a book by Pauls Toutonghi (which serves as inspiration here)

3) Director Stephen Herek, who previously helmed cult classics like Critters, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and The Mighty Ducks (among many others), brings the same amount of loving energy to this slightly more grounded adventure

4) Dog lovers will fall head over heels for the hapless Gonker, whose perilous journey through the Appalachian wilderness recalls the likes of Homeward Bound and Lassie

5) What better way to kick off the New Year with your family than by sitting down together and taking in a bright and optimistic film that has something for everyone?

Dog Gone is streaming exclusively on Netflix from Friday 13th January 2023

Skinamarink (dir. Kyle Edward Ball)

CAST: Lucas Paul, Dali Rose Tetreault, Ross Paul, Jaime Hill

CREW: Kyle Edward Ball, director, writer, editor; producers TBA; Jamie McRae, cinematographer

PLOT: One night, young siblings Kevin (Lucas Paul) and Kaylee (Tetreault) wake up to find that their father (Ross Paul) has disappeared, along with all the windows and doors – and in their place is possibly something terrifying…


1) Get ready for your nightmares to have nightmares when you experience this unique and utterly terrifying new horror from debut filmmaker Kyle Edward Ball

2) The seriously creepy trailer gives it the look and feel of a vintage horror flick from the 1970s, which adds to the unnerving atmosphere more than any cheap modern jump-scare

3) The pitch-dark cinematography and naturalistic performances by its young unknown cast make it feel so much more authentic of a spooky experience

4) It’s already chilling critics to the bone, who have (as of writing) given it a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with some labelling it as one of the scariest movies to come along in a long while

5) Most cinemas seem to be so reluctant to show it on their screens, that the only place you can check it out is at the legendary Prince Charles Cinema in London’s Leicester Square

Skinamarink is showing exclusively at the Prince Charles Cinema in London from Friday 13th January 2023 (it will be streaming exclusively on Shudder later in the year)


That’s about it for this week – thanks for joining us, and be sure to come back next week for a whole new set of movies to work up an appetite for!

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