Directed by Don Hall & Chris Williams
Big Hero 6 was an utter delight to behold. The hi-tech world of San Fransokyo is visually stunning, and beautifully anchored by the relationships that form the story. I’m 21 years old now, but something about seeing an young asian protagonist (that isn’t Mulan) in a Disney film made me giddy inside. Disney’s on a hot-streak at the moment.
Directed by Peter Jackson
Capping off his second trilogy, Peter Jackson could honestly be worse for wear. It’s always an achievement to translate such a rich world to the big screen, and you can see the efforts of his team have paid off: which is why it feels like a shame when the film falls into shockingly cliched dialogue and events which ultimately takes the audience out of the magic. Legolas can’t be that flawless, surely. In the end, The Hobbit is the movie series we now have, but probably didn’t need.
Directed by Ruben Östlund
Force Majeure is a gripping tale about relationships and the lies we tell to both ourselves and others. It blew all of my expectations out of the water, with each scene moving along with great dialogue, performance and some of the best cinematography of the year. This is a film where everything has been crafted with purpose and incredible attention to emotion. I don’t want to give too much away: I hope people can find a way to search out and watch this brilliant film.
Directed by Christopher Nolan
With Interstellar, Christopher Nolan once again delivers a cinematic experience like no other. A sprawlingly ambitious epic, Interstellar is a piece of work that evolves through its many acts, paying homage to the traditional filmmaking of a bygone era, whilst maintaining his signature tendency towards visual spectacle. The characters of his film didn’t quite get to evolve as much as everything else did, but finding faults really cannot diminish from the sheer ability and imagination of the director.
Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu
It feels so unworthy to describe Birdman as just a film: it’s more of a pure, cinematic experience, with masters of the craft behind the wheel. Within ten minutes, you know that the filmmakers knew exactly what they were trying to do from the get go, and they absolutely knocked it out of the park. The script is sharp, self-referential and incredibly intelligent, the performances are hypnotising and outrageous, and the cinematography has to be among of the most impressive of the last century. Don’t even get me started on the soundtrack. There’s no way I can even begin to describe the plot of the film and possibly do it any justice. Just please watch it. And tell your friends.
Directed by Isao Takahata
Sometimes, you watch a film and you’ll continue through your day like it never happened. Sometimes, you’ll watch a film and it’ll completely cleanse you of all the pain and hurt you’ve ever felt in your life, just for a moment. Princess Kaguya is one of those films. Like a moving watercolour, the film is beguiling in the way it moves, sounds and feels. It’s a film that sings to the heart and the soul. I hope every person, young and old, has time in their lives to watch it. It’s a film that makes you appreciate the world and all of it’s beautiful imperfections. Apparently, it took Isao Takahata and his team about eight years to finish Princess Kaguya. Was it worth it? Holy shit yes.
Directed by David Fincher
David Fincher continues his streak of showing us people that are simply far too smart and manipulative for their own good. Meticulous and cunning like the characters, the film creeps along, slowing dripping information and throwing red herrings all over the place. In the end I feel like Gone Girl was like a jigsaw puzzle that had all the right pieces, but in the end, left you feeling kind of empty and lonely when all was said and done. It could been because the film did feel very long and drawn out, and there isn’t really anyone to root for. But then again, maybe I shouldn’t do puzzles by myself.
Directed by Damien Chazelle
From the first scene of Whiplash, my eyes, chest, ears and every other fibre of my being was glued to the screen. Whiplash was one of the most surprisingly visceral movie-going experiences I have ever had. The film has such high-octane, kinetic energy, that just bounces from scene to scene, ramming all of the senses into oblivion. It embraces the universal pressure of trying to be the best version of yourself there can be, to the people that are – and shows that it’s a place of torture that ultimately, we inflict on ourselves. The director of the film, Damien Chazelle, is still less than thirty years old. And I couldn’t be more jealous for that reason. He is the J.K. Simmons to my Miles Teller.
Directed by Craig Johnson
Nine times out of ten, we want to see our main characters succeed. We want them to be happy, to find love and themselves, just as we’d hope the same for us. It doesn’t hurt that the two main characters of Skeleton Twins are Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader, two of the most loveable people in the entire world. What they and the filmmakers give us however, are two people who couldn’t possibly feel more isolated and unhappy. It’s in the moments when these characters find a glimpse of connection and joy when the film utterly triumphs. They aren’t extraordinary human beings, but they feel extreme highs and lows, just as we do. This is a film that reaches out to us, and I was more than happy to reach back.
Directed by Steven Knight
I admire the bravery of the filmmakers, shooting the entire film within the confines of a moving car: low-budget filmmaking is still alive. Tom Hardy convincingly plays a man torn between his own morals, learning the hard way that you can never please everybody. Ultimately, it was a bit difficult to relate to Locke as the film went on, other than having that feeling of, “Damn, I’d really hate to be in his position.” A clever film, but one that just falls a bit shy of becoming a fully engaging experience.