Okay, so I didn't fall in love with all of them. But these eight movies definitely are worth a watch.
The Place Beyond the Pines - just gorgeous. Absolute perfection. Okay, I'll stop talking about Ryan Gosling (his character in this film is pretty much my ideal man) and focus on the actual movie. The story has a subtle power, the acting is perfectly fine-tuned (especially the young actors, both of whom really impressed me) and the direction is so good that I was surprised this movie hadn't had more buzz. Aside from the obvious - hello, Ryan Gosling AND Bradley Cooper? In the same film? - it also touches on the very interesting theme of guilt, exploring it beautifully. I absolutely recommend this film. Grade: 9.5
Interstellar - David had to nag me into watching this movie. I hadn't heard good things about it and was a bit sceptic. Note to self: never doubt Christopher Nolan again. After masterpieces such as The Prestige and Inception, this film is...even better. The story blows my mind and the direction is as gorgeous as always with Christopher. This film is packed full of Oscar-worthy actors - Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain and the always-amazing Michael Caine - but it's the little girl that plays Cooper's daughter that surprised me. Unpredictable and stunning, this is a sleek sci-fi flick that this sceptic loved. And PS - David claims there is research pointing to the fact that everything in this movie could actually happen. Which makes it even cooler. Grade: 9
Birdman - okay, so this won the Best Picture Oscar. And I think they deserved it (even if it's a tight battle with Interstellar) mainly because of the direction and Michael Keaton. But - SPOILER ALERT - the writing was a bit off. When my friend and I frantically Googled the ending after having finished it (didn't everyone?), an interview with the writers emerged, saying that there isn't a specific thought to the ending - they wanted to 'leave it open'! So lazy and inconsiderate of your audience. I very much enjoyed the unique narrative of this film and found myself wanting more when it ended, but reading that interview gave me the sense of 'we just wanted to try something weird'. It felt unfinished. Plus point: Emma Stone really shines and Edward Norton is, well, Edward Norton. Grade: 8.5
The Theory of Everything - I expected so much more from this movie! I'll start with the good points: I was completely mesmerised by Eddie Redmayne. The research and dedication he put into the role of Stephen Hawking is beyond commendable and he really deserved his Oscar. BUT, and this is a big but, the story just isn't strong enough. I don't care about his wife (I cared especially little for the actress who played her. She had her moments, but most of the time she was bland and nowhere near Eddie's caliber). I don't care about their relationship! I want to know about the genius of Stephen, about his research and philosophy. This was just a story about a guy in a wheelchair. Unmemorable and sometimes banale, this movie's highest point is Eddie. Grade: 6.5
Forrest Gump - yes, I hadn't seen it. Stop bothering me about it. You know what? I'm kinda glad I hadn't, because boy is this movie a handful. Aside from the fact that it lasts for ages, it's also incredibly sad. I'm not even going to write SPOILER ALERT because I'm the last person on the planet to see it, but come oooon, how can you make a movie like this and have it end that way?? Here we are, rooting for this adorable dude with the cutest accent ever, for the better part of three hours, and how does he end up? No words, people. No words. And it's not the best movie ever, because of the way it ends. The only thing that makes it worth it: Tom Hanks offering some of the best acting I've ever seen. Grade: 7.5
Gran Torino - woooow. I must admit, David had to cajole me into this one as well. After Million Dollar Baby, which I passionately hate, I was against anything Clint ever again (and it's safe to say you probably won't see a review of American Sniper here any time soon, but I do keep an open mind). I am so glad I watched Gran Torino - it is a masterpiece. Heartfelt and honest, this is a movie made by someone who's passionate about storytelling, and tells it like it is. It's heartbreaking, of course, and made me cry with anger as well as sadness. I'd watch it again in a heartbeat. Grade: 8
The Wrestler - as a Darren Aronofsky fanatic (Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream are two of my favourite movies), I was expecting great things from this movie, and did it deliver. The story is conveyed in Aronofsky's signature style - tension right from the start - and sucks you in. The energy between Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei is interesting on so many levels, and Evan Rachael Wood is memorable as Mickey's estranged daughter. The quiet desperation that seeps through the story is brilliant and hey Birdman, THIS is how you do an 'open ending'. Grade: 8
Cast Away - I can already hear you going, 'but how can you not have seen it?'. I'll tell you something: not only had I not seen it, but I would happily have gone on with my life never having seen it if David hadn't...yeah, I bet you see a pattern by now. I'm glad I saw Cast Away and do recommend it (because of Tom Hanks) but it's a difficult movie. I suffer from anxiety and this film felt a bit claustrophobic. It made me nervous on several occasions. I'm glad that at least they didn't have him killing any animals (except for a few fish), but that feeling of complete loneliness was tough to stomach for me, even if Tom Hanks' powerful acting came to his best in the island scenes. And the ending just doesn't 'pay back' everything that the character has lost. A compelling watch, though. But then I'm sure you've seen it already. Grade: 7.5
What are some movies you've seen and loved this year?
NB: I'm sorry about the spoilers. But I feel there's no point talking about a book or movie if you can't discuss the ending. But hey, at least I put the alerts in big bold letters!