10. Stories We Tell
A gem of a documentary made by acclaimed actress and director Sarah Polley (Go, Take This Waltz) about the skeletons in the closet of her offbeat Canadian parents. This is a raw, surprising and ultimately really moving portrait of memory and family. It would be hard to drag your family’s dirty laundry out for the world to see, but Polley does it with heart and class.
9. Spring Breakers
Throw three former Disney stars, a writer/director known for stirring things up and a cornrowed James Franco into a den of iniquity (in the form of a fluorescent Florida) and you have a movie that makes you want to shower until you feel clean again. While Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers will have you feeling queasy with the onslaught of teen sex, dub step, violence and drugs, it will also leave you thinking about it for days. Plus, James Franco possibly delivers the performance of his career as a Riff Raff-inspired lecherous thug with heart.
8. Captain Phillips
An unabashed thriller looking at the consequences of globalisation, this movie is taken to the next level by two things: it’s a true story and it sees a return to form from big screen favourite, Tom Hanks. Classic edge-of-your-seat fare with a deeper message.
7. Frances Ha
Greta Gerwig, playing free-spirited dancer Frances, literally steals the show in this gorgeous hipster roam around New York, directed by Noah Baumbach. Gerwig co-wrote the script in which she attempts to reconnect with her best friend while expertly encapsulating every young adult trying to figure out life.
6. Before Midnight
The third instalment of this quietly brilliant series (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset) following the romantic journey of an unlikely couple played by Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke does not disappoint. Presented almost in real time, the film gracefully tackles big questions of love, marriage, men, women and the universe.
5. Fruitvale Station
The jarring true story of Oscar Grant, a young black man shot dead in a train station, is likely to leave less resilient audience members in tears with its explosive, draining conclusion. You know what’s going to happen the entire way through, but that doesn’t soften the blow in the slightest – an achievement for a low budget film from a first-time writer/director.
4. The Spectacular Now
Like the John Hughes films of the 80s, this sweet, honest film is the coming of age story for this generation. It’s essentially about budding young love, but don’t let that tried and tested subject matter fool you. The scope of the film is as a big as its heart and no stone of troubled youth is left unturned.
The surprise success of the year, Rush is an incredibly well-made, exhilarating sports drama. Based on the rivalry between two famous Formula 1 drivers, Chris Hemsworth delivers a solid, charasmatic performance as Englishman James Hunt, but it is Daniel Brühl who truly brings it home with portrayal of singleminded Austrian Niki Lauda.
2. Blue Jasmine
Whether you’re a fan of Woody Allen or not, this addictive examination of the downfall of a society woman is fascinating and brilliantly acted. Cate Blanchett, reminding everyone why she deserves an Oscar, excels as Jasmine; a deeply flawed, vain and surprisingly loveable woman who finds herself suddenly at the bottom of the food chain. With strains of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, Blue Jasmine is essentially an exploration of what constitutes happiness.
It’s the popular choice, sure, but you would have to have the composure of a Buckingham Palace guard or the emotional range of a brick to not be completely absorbed in Alfonso Cuarón’s space epic. Sandra Bullock is emotionally raw, George Clooney is appropriately charming and the action of the film leaps off the screen, as visually stunning as it is engaging. Leaving the cinema, you will feel a combination of satisfaction and vertigo, knowing that your money has been well spent on a riveting journey from the heights of space to the bottom of the ocean.