So we are coming to the end of another year and what a year. With over 300 films to pick from, this year has been a bumper 12 months for film. Strange that a year when the Summer Blockbusters disappointed and Disney looked like they were crashing and burning, this year has been the toughest for choosing the best. Yes, there’s been so many.
So I thought I’d give you a roll call of the films that didn’t make my top ten but deserves recognition for almost making the list.
Evil Dead; Robot & Frank; The Stone Roses: Made Of Stone; Zero Dark Thirty; Django Unchained; In The House; You’re Next; American Hustle; Saving Mr Banks; Frozen; Sunshine On Leith; What Maisie Knew; Call Girl; Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa; Metro Manila; Blackfish; Mud; Wreck-It-Ralph; Side By Side; A Late Quartet; Cloud Atlas; Trance; A Kidnapping; Behind The Candelabra
This bitter sweet coming-of-age comedy/drama boasts a terrific cast (Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Maya Ruldoph) all on top form but it really belongs to two people: Alison Janney as the worst mother in the world, and the brilliant Sam Rockwell, who I want to be when I grow up. (It also holds a special place in my heart as the first film I saw with my now girlfriend)
One of the simplest films this year and yet it stayed with me ever since. A beautiful poignant tale of a young girl who wants a bike. That’s it. Except the social importance of this film speaks volumes. Firstly it’s set in Saudi Arabia in which girl’s don’t ride bikes and it’s the first film directed by a woman and filmed in that country. Magical and heart-felt.
Documentaries have been extraordinary this year and this one is an emotional roller coaster from British director Lucy Walker. Snowboarder Kevin Pearce’s incredible battle to walk again after a horrific crash, only to then want to return to the slopes. A tale of courage and the strength of a family, this was a masterpiece of how to make a great documentary.
In a summer full of disappointments after disappointments, this was the perfect example of how to make a proper blockbuster: superb set pieces, excellent special effects, a cracking script and a baddie that really steals every scene. It also marked Benedict Cumberbatch as a superstar. If there were awards for best blockbuster, this would sweep up.
It’s been a cracking year for Steve Coogan. Starting off slowly in the disappointing The Look Of Love, Coogan starred in this year’s funniest comedy, Alan Partridge, Alpha Papa, the incredibly moving What Maisie Knew, voiced a character in the excellent Despicable Me 2 and co-wrote and starred in this brilliant drama about a woman’s search for her son. It doesn’t hurt having Judi Dench on cracking form in the lead, either.
Films are made to be discussed and one that demanded talking about was this independent thriller based on true events. What would you do if you had a phone call from someone claiming to be the police about an employer? Would you do what he asked? With superb naturalistic performances, this was a film that both fascinated and shocked in equal measures.
This was my number one film up to June. It has slipped slightly but it’s still a big, fat bundle of joy as Joss Whedon takes on the Bard with this low budget delight full of terrific performances and true joyous celebration of Shalespeare’s most enduring love story. Plus it has the best scene stealing performances ever from Nathan Fillion.
I really didn’t think I was going to see anything better after watching Ron Howard’s pulse-racing Formula 1 drama about the rivalry between James Hunt and Nikki Lauder. This was adrenaline-fuelled excitement throughout and you didn’t have to be a fan to like. I am so pleased it has done so well and can’t wait for the arrival early next year of it on Blu-Ray.
After watching the excellent, A Kidnapping, I wondered if there was room for a second film about modern day pirates. There certainly if, especially if they are as good as this triumph from Paul Greengrass with Tom Hanks on first class form as the title character, the leader of a freight ship taken over by Somalian pirates. Tense doesn’t even come close to describing this film.
It might seem like a cop-out as this is the top film on most of these lists but how can it not be. A beautiful, immersing experience that, for the first time, actually showed what can be done with 3D. Sandra Bullock is at her best as the stranded astronaut and with some of the best use of cinematography ever, this has already been regarded as a modern classic. And rightly so too.