As we usher in a new year of film, I thought I would offer you my two pennies worth in the “Best Films of the Year” debate! I hope you find something you enjoy…
1. The Hunt (Denmark) dir. Thomas Vinterberg
Mads Mikkelsen in a phenomenal performance as a devoted schoolteacher whose entire life is at once shattered by one child’s jealous lie.
2. The Selfish Giant (UK) dir. Clio Barnard
A devastating picture of the social hardships facing the youth of modern day northern England lifted by standout performances from the two young leads, Conner Chapman and Shaun Thomas. Review
3. What Richard Did (Ireland) dir. Lenny Abrahamson
A privileged Dublin teenager battles with who he thought he was and who he turns out to be after a mistake that haunts his family, friends and future.
4. Before Midnight (USA) dir. Richard Linklater
Jesse and Celine fight for the love they have shared since meeting on a Vienna-bound train almost two decades ago during a family holiday to Greece in the third instalment of the Before trilogy.
5. A Hijacking (Denmark) dir. Tobias Lindholm
The cook of a hijacked Danish cargo ship is at the centre of escalating negotiations between Somalia pirates and the CEO of the company he works for.
6. Blackbird (Canada) dir. Jason Buxton
Beautiful Canadian debut feature about misconceptions and the danger of assumptions. A standout performance by Connor Jessup as a teenage “Goth” who is seen as a threat to a small town society.
7. The Spectacular Now (USA) dir. James Ponsoldt
Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller triumph in a poignant coming-of-age drama tackling teen alcoholism. Review
8. Fruitvale Station (USA) dir. Ryan Coogler
Harrowing expose on the events surrounding the fate of Oscar Grant III in the Bay Area of San Francisco on the last day of 2008, featuring an Oscar-worthy lead performance from Michael B. Jordan. Review
9. The Human Cargo (Italy) dir. Daniele Vicari
An insightful documentary that tells of the opportunistic seizure of a cargo ship by 20,000 Albanians seeking a better life in Italy in the early 1990s. Review
10. You’re Next (USA) dir. Adam Wingard
Sharni Vinson graduates as a horror chick in the most terrifyingly fun film I have seen in a cinema for a long time.
Notable mentions: Le Joli Mai (France), Gravity (USA), Lesson of the Evil (Japan), Stoker (UK), Stories We Tell (Canada), Valentine Road (USA), Wadjda (Saudi Arabia), Blue Jasmine (USA), Gloria (Chile), Zero Dark Thirty (USA), The World’s End (UK)
Ben Haller, 2014.