Gary Oldman is utterly transformed and Oscar-worthy as Winston Churchill in Joe Wright’s gripping retelling of a pivotal moment in British history. Days after becoming Prime Minister in May 1940, Churchill is thrust into a baptism of fire. Allied forces are cornered at Dunkirk. The threat of invasion looms. A cabal of politicians led by Lord Halifax (Stephen Dillane) pushes hard for peace talks. Faced with an unprepared public, a sceptical king (Mendelsohn), and his own party plotting to oust him, Churchill must decide whether to negotiate with Hitler or stand and fight. Based on a screenplay by Anthony McCarten (The Theory Of Everything), this lavish period drama thrillingly depicts the bubbling cauldron of backroom conflict in Churchill’s momentous first weeks in office. It’s a rousing story of leadership, and makes for a wonderful companion piece to last year’s immersive epic Dunkirk.
Having wittily addressed the social consequences of an aging population in Nebraska, writer-director Alexander Payne now turns his wry gaze on global overpopulation. A financially stretched couple (Wiig and Damon) decide to take the plunge when a team of Norwegian scientists discover a way to shrink humans down to six inches tall and ensconce them in utopian villages. Not only does this new Lilliputian community consume far less of the world’s resources, but their money is worth so much more. However, downsizing has unexpected downsides. Besides its breathtaking technical achievement, the film gives an entirely fresh perspective on fundamental human norms. Co-stars Damon and Wiig are wonderfully supported by Hong Chau and Christoph Waltz, who plays the couple’s small but sleazy playboy neighbour with uproarious zeal.