Directed by: Nigel ColeStaring: Sally Hawkins, Bob Hoskins and Andrea Riseborough
Made in Dagenham is a gem of a film, thought-provoking, entertaining and emotional.
It tells the true story of the 187 women working as machinists for Ford Dagenham plant whose fight for better pay and conditions played a key part in the battle for equal pay nationally and internationally.. A sparkling performance from Sally Hawkins as Rita the leader of the group is complemented by excellent performances from the whole cast including Bob Hoskins, Geraldine James and Jaime Winstone and a show-stealing portrayal of the fiery Barbara Castle MP by Miranda Richardson. Aside from the serious issues the film also provides a wonderful wallow in nostalgia.
Directed by: Jose CampanellaStaring: Ricardo Darin, Pablo Rago and Carla Quevedo
Winner of an Oscar for Best Foreign Film, Campenella’s thriller is set in Buenos Aires in 1999. It tells the story of a retired investigator whose attempts at writing a novel are frustrated by his inability to forget a rape and murder he was unable to resolve twenty five years earlier. At this time Argentina was becoming a military dictatorship and his enquiries put him at odds with the judiciary and tested him to his limits. A beautifully made film with terrific central performances.
Directed by: Aaron SchneiderStaring: Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek and Bill Murray
Felix Bush (Robert Duvall) is a hermit in 1930’s Tennessee, who has no regard for anybody in the town or anyone who wants to know him.
One day, after a fellow old hermit dies, he hears people in town telling stories about him. As a consequence Felix decides that he needs to get stories about himself out into the public. He recruits Frank (Bill Murray) the local funeral home director to host his funeral. This way Felix can hear what everyone is saying about him, and therefore bring the truth of his past out in the open. However, will he be able to get anyone to attend, and thus be able to reveal his secrets?.
Directed by: Sylvain ChometStaring: Gianni Di Gregorio and Alfonso Santagata
Based on a script written by Jacques Tati in 1956, Chomet’s hand-drawn animation tells the story of an ageing Parisien magician who leaves France to find work and ends up in Edinburgh. On his way north he acquires a young female companion from rural Scotland.
It is a semi-silent film with mumbled fragments of dialogue and one does have to adjust to the gentle, undemanding pace of the film but it more than rewards the patient viewer. The film functions chiefly as an elegy to the lost world of music-hall entertainment and viewers will be mesmerised by Chomet’s breathtaking animations. Described as a ‘love letter to Edinburgh’, we will soon associate Edinburgh with Chomet’s “beautiful and melancholy masterpiece”.
Directed by: Mike LeighStaring: Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen, Oliver Maltman and Lesley Manville
A richly rewarding Oscar nominated ensemble drama from director Mike Leigh conveying sweetness, gentleness and sadness, about family and friends as we follow the four seasons passing. Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen play Tom and Gerri, a happily married and content middle-aged couple whose home has become a magnet for lost souls. It is their relationship with Mary, a lonely divorcee, in particular which makes us think are they really a sane, nice couple or are they complacent and self-satisfied?
With strong performances Leigh wrings drama from domestic details such as a fraught drive to a station, and this compassionate film’s power creeps up on you and is deeply involving.
Directed by: SebastianStaring: Staring Catalina Saavedra, Mariana Loyola and Alejandro Goic
Winner of the best foreign film and best actress prizes at the Sundance Festival, Silva’s film centres on the household of a wealthy Chilean family. Their maid Raquel, wonderfully played by Catalina Saavedra, is tired of her repetitive job and is distant and grumpy.
The kind family try to ease her life by hiring younger assistants. Raquel is terrified that she will be usurped and uses a succession of antics to try to sabotage the new arrivals. One day however she meets her match… The Maid is part a dark comedy and, at part a psychological thriller at times hilarious and at others terrifying.
Directed by: Richard AyoadeStaring: Craig Roberts, Noah Taylor, Sally Hawkins and Yasmin Paige
This spirited and warm film debut from TV comic Richard Ayoade (The IT Crowd) has been adapted from the 2008 novel by Joe Dunthorne. Submarine is a retro coming-of-age tale narrated by nerdy 15 year old Oliver (Craig Roberts) set in 1980’s Swansea.
Oliver’s chief concerns are trying to lose his virginity to his realistic girlfriend (Yasmin Paige) and keeping his parent’s marriage from falling apart. His dad is a deeply depressed ichthyologist (scientists who study fish!), whose profession provides the film with its central images; his mother is a discontented civil servant drawn to an old flame. It’s a stylish, touching film much influenced by the French New Wave. It has been described “a bit too cool for school” but also as visually distinctive and consistently witty.
Directed by: Tim Hetherington, Sebastian JungerStaring: The 2nd Platoon in Afghanista
For this Oscar nominated documentary, directors Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger spent a year with the men of Battle Company 2nd of the 503rd Infantry Regiment 173rd Airbourne Brigade Combat Team.
This platoon of battle-weary men were in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, nicknamed the most dangerous place on earth. There are interviews with the soldiers, but the bulk of the film documents their lives, and looks at how different people cope with such horrors as are experienced in this film. It has no political agenda, seeking just to tell the story of these brave men, and how each man interacts with his fellow soldiers and how they all deal with loss and tragedy.
Since this film was released Tim Hetherington was killed in the Libyan conflict.
Directed by: Alfred HitchcockStaring: James Stewart, Grace Kelly and Raymond Burr
Widely regarded as Hitchcock’s’ finest hour, thanks to its heady mixture of suspense and mystery coupled with some excellent acting from James Stewart, and Grace Kelly.
James Stewart is the photographer who is confined to a wheelchair with a broken leg; he passes his days by spying on his neighbours out of the window at the back of his apartment. His relatively harmless voyeurism takes a sinister turn when he sees the man in the opposite flat indulging in some seriously dodgy behaviour (lots of surreptitious use of kitchen tools etc.) and begins to suspect he may have murdered his wife… an essential and unmissable film.
Directed by: Jim LoachStaring: Emma Watson, Clayton Watson, David Wenham and Greg Stone
A powerful, deeply moving account of a major social injustice. Watson plays Margaret Humphreys, a social worker who uncovers a post Second World War scandal of monstrous proportions concerning the deportation of 130,000 children from Britain to Australia, echoing the transportations there in the 19th Century.
Some children as young as four were deported and some falsely told that their parents were dead. Jim Loach, Ken Loach’s son, in his directorial debut, depicts Humphreys, as she meets ex deportee children who had been promised oranges and sunshine, and unearths the full horror of what happened to many of them in Australia. Something the authorities had been at pains to cover up,
and did so for decades. Watson’s is a luminous performance of undemonstrative decency.