Directed by: Dustin HoffmanStaring: Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly & Pauline Collins
Set in Beecham House, a home for retired musicians, Cecily, Reggie and Wilfred hear rumors that a new resident is expected to arrive soon, but they receive a shock when the new arrival turns out to be their former singing partner Jean (Maggie Smith). Her subsequent career as a star soloist, and the ego that accompanied it, split up their long friendship and ended her marriage to Reggie (Tom Courtenay), who takes the news particularly hard. Her arrival disrupts the equilibrium in the home, but will time heal old wounds? Can the famous quartet patch up their differences in time for Beecham House’s gala concert?
Directed by: Michel HazanaviciusStaring: Berenice Bejo, James Cromwell, Jean Dujardin
Shot in black and white, a debonair comedy and charming love story but so much more. George is an older, established silent movie star at the top of his game in 1927. Peppy is beguiled by him and he helps her start her career in films and sets her on the path to fame. He is teacher, mentor and would be lover. It is a love made impossible by fate and the reversal of status that ensues, as Peppy goes on to embrace ‘talkies’ while George rejects them as a mere fad. George belongs in silent film and the film (The Artist) sides with him by being silent. Form and content coincide in a silent homage to silent film even as it is superseded by sound. One of the most eloquent films ever made.
Directed by: Asghar FarhadiStaring: Golshifteh Farahani, Mani Haghighi, Merila Zarei & Rana Azadivar
‘About Elly’ won the Silver Bear for best film at the 59th Berlin Film Festival. A gripping psychological drama. A group of middle-class friends travel from Tehran to spend the weekend at the seaside. Sepideh invites Elly, a young teacher who they barely know, in order to introduce her to their recently divorced friend Ahmad, just returned from Germany. The children are playing in the sea and Elly is asked to watch them. Out of the blue, one of the children is found drowning. After rescuing him, they seek out Elly, but she has disappeared. What has happened to Elly?
Directed by: Ang LeeStaring: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan and Adil Hussain
Based on the 2002 Man Booker prize winning novel by Yann Martel, this supposed unfilmable book is brought to the screen by director Ang Lee. It is an intense, emotional story of survival and triumph and is about religion, India, a zoo and a shipwreck. The film tells the story of an Indian teenager shipwrecked in a lifeboat with a ravenous Bengal tiger. They encounter many marvels – a sky full of fish, an ocean swimming with iridescent jellyfish, a carnivorous island. Ang Lee brings these wonders to the screen with dreamlike intensity and with breathtaking computer animation that can be both harrowing and magnificent.
Directed by: Ben AffleckStaring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin and John Goodman
An Oscar winner for best picture in 2013, this widely acclaimed film is about the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis directed by and starring Ben Affleck. Although the unlikely plot appears like a far-fetched Hollywood movie, it is based on the remarkable true events surrounding the attempt to rescue six imperiled American diplomats, from Tehran. George Clooney was the producer who took on the project when the screenplay was passed on to him; the CIA led mission having been declassified in 1997.
Directed by: Eric Toledano, Olivier NakacheStaring: Francois Cluzet, Omar Sy and Anne Le Ny
An irreverent, uplifting comedy about friendship, trust and human possibility. Based on a true story of friendship between a quadriplegic millionaire Philippe (Francois Cluzet) and a street smart ex-con Driss (Omar Sy). It starts when aristocratic and intellectual Philippe is interviewing candidates for the position of his live-in carer. The young offender turns up, not really looking to get the job, and is surprised when he is hired. The film depicts an unlikely camaraderie rooted in honesty and humor between two individuals who, on the surface, would seem to have nothing in common.
Directed by: Paul Thomas AndersonStaring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adam
Winner of top prizes at the Venice 2013 festival, this is a film about disturbed characters and their power over others. Freddie Quell (Phoenix) is a damaged sailor newly demobbed from the Navy who falls under the spell of charismatic, cult leader Lancaster Dodd (Seymour Hoffman). Unable to hold down a regular job, Quell is subject to brainwashing techniques and becomes Lancaster’s violent henchman. They develop a mutual dependency which forms the basis of this intelligent psychodrama. Amy Adams, as the latest Mrs Dodd, and the lead actors deliver excellent performances, supported by superb cinematography.
Directed by: Lenny AbrahamsonStaring: Jack Reynor, Sam Keeley and Roisin Murphy
Teenager Richard (Reynor) seems to have everything. He comes from a middle class family, is successful at school and the natural leader of the local rugby club team. All the girls fancy him and it seems he is destined for a successful future. Then one night at a party violence erupts and Richard’s life changes forever. Adapted from a novel by Kevin Power, with a superb performance by young actor Reynor, this is a compelling film with a Scandinavian feel to its cinematography and sense of brooding.
Directed by: Steven SoderberghStaring: Catherine Zeta Jones, Channing Tatum, Jude Law
A brilliant noir, psychological thriller and a satire on the mental health profession. The destinies of beautiful, yet troubled Emily who suffers from depression, and greedy and vain British Dr Banks intersect. She has experienced the good life until her husband is imprisoned and the future becomes uncertain. Dr Banks is the sinister psychiatrist who brings out Emily’s neuroses. A whole society is keeping anxiety at bay; the pharmaceutical industry is exposed as greed abounds and doctors sit on advisory panels (then pressurize them into corporate irresponsibility concerning drugs). Emily is both scared and scary at the same time, inspiring fear and fascination in us. A gripping and disturbing thriller.
Directed by: Malik BendjelloulStaring: Rodriguez, Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman, Dennis Coffey
The film is a quest to find the American singer / songwriter who was a huge hit in South Africa but unknown to the rest of the world. The music attacked the prejudice, injustice and suppression of 60’s America, and found an audience in the apartheid society of 70’s South Africa. Tracks were banned from the radio, and with limited information available, a myth began to grow around the artist. The end of apartheid and the growth of the internet did not bring any easy answers. However the story of the search, the music and an insight into a closed society conspire to make a very watchable film and a worthy winner of Best Documentary in the 2013 Oscars.