Directed by: Sian HederStaring: Marlee Matlin, Emilia Jones, Troy Kotsur & Daniel Durant
In the 2022 Oscar winner for best film Ruby, a teenage child of deaf adults (CODA), acts as her parents’ interpreter. She has a gift for singing and dreams of becoming a singer but is torn between her obligations to her parents who are unable to appreciate singing, and to her dreams. CODA is a superior coming-of-age gem, both funny and poignant by turns.
What could feel cliched is instead fresh and insightful. The cast of mostly deaf actors, including Troy Kotsur who won the best supporting actor Oscar, bring a rare warmth and authenticity to the film.
Directed by: Florian ZellerStaring: Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman & Mark Gatiss
Anthony is an ailing, mischievous octogenarian living alone in London, and gradually succumbing to dementia. He rejects the carers that his daughter Anne introduces, but feels abandoned when she tells him she is moving to Paris. Confused and upset, Anthony is starting to lose his grip on reality, struggling to differentiate between past and present. It is also difficult for Anne as she grieves the loss of her father, while he is still alive. A deeply moving film that reflects real life for so many people, with an Oscar winning performance from Anthony Hopkins nearly thirty years after his first Academy Award.
Directed by: Alexander NanauStaring: Catalin Tolontan & Dan Alexandru Condrea
Directed by Alexander Nanau, COLLECTIVE follows a crack team of journalists at the Romanian newspaper Gazeta Sporturilor, as they try to uncover shocking, widespread corruption. After a deadly nightclub fire, the mysterious death of the owner of a powerful pharmaceutical firm, and the quiet resignation of a health minister – seemingly unrelated events, all within weeks of each other, the team of intrepid reporters expose a much larger, more explosive political scandal. Gradually, they manage to reveal a vast healthcare fraud that enriched moguls and politicians and led to the deaths of innocent citizens. COLLECTIVE is a fast-paced, real-time detective story about truth, accountability, and the value of an independent press in partisan times.
Directed by: Max BarbakowStaring: Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti & J.K.Simmons
Stuck in a time loop, two wedding guests develop a budding romance while living the same day over and over again. When carefree Nyles and reluctant maid of honour Sarah have a chance encounter at a Palm Springs wedding, things get complicated when they find themselves unable to escape the venue, themselves or each other. Max Barbakow’s debut film offers some crisp writing with a nihilistic bite to the humour, alongside some legitimate heart and soul.
Directed by: Ben SharrockStaring: Amir El-Masry, Vikash Bhai, Ola Orebiyi & Kwabena Ansah
A wry and poignant view of the international refugee experience, set on a remote fictitious Scottish island where a group of asylum seekers await the results of their asylum claims, including Omar, a young musician, who has carried his father’s oud all the way from his homeland. The film avoids the familiar emphasis on the exploitative hopelessness of refugees seen in many films and instead depicts the absurdities of misplacement with a refreshing narrative angle and great perceptiveness. It is infused with sadness and humour whilst also being empathetic. A comedy that savours its remote environment while keeping its subjects at the centre of the story.
Directed by: Joachim TrierStaring: Renate Reinsve & Anders Danielsen Lie
A romantic drama is not the usual Keynsham film choice, but this very modern story following Julie (Renate Reinsve) through the meaning of life and quest for love is not to be missed. A truthful, tender masterpiece about how coming of age has no age-limit – love, for others and for ourselves, is what makes every risk and loss worthwhile. This film is sweet and gentle and funny, in ways that are undoubtedly conventional but also very real. It’s the kind of film we’ve all seen done so badly that it’s an unexpected treat to see it done well and to realise that its themes are very important: Who do you fall in love with? Who is “the one”? When do you realise that you are just settling? Reinsve’s performance is just so good. A star is born.
Directed by: Chloe ZhaoStaring: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn & Linda May
Following the economic collapse of a company town in rural Nevada, Fern packs her van and sets off on the road, exploring a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad. This film is a character study on the forgotten and downtrodden, which captures the restlessness left in the wake of the Great Recession. It features some real nomads as Fern’s mentors and comrades in her exploration through the vast landscape of the American West. It won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2021, also a third Best Actress award for Frances McDormand.
Directed by: Aleem KhanStaring: Joanna Scanlan, Nathalie Richard & Talid Ariss
Aleem Khan’s film After Life is a restrained, psychological probing debut which follows a white Muslim woman on the trail of her husband’s secret life. Following the unexpected death of her husband, Mary (Joanna Scalan) pieces together the separate lives of her late husband, a ferry captain who worked between the ports of Dover and Calais, after finding the identity card of a French woman and some intimate messages on his phone. Her curiosity and her grief take her across the Channel where her husband’s double life emerges. Khan’s debut confidently blends old-school melodrama with a contemporary political consciousness. It is a beautiful but devasting exploration of love, loss, grief and identity.
Directed by: Tamara Kotevska & Ljubomir StefanovStaring: Hatidze Muratova, Nazife Muratova & Hussein Sam
The most awarded film out of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival,Honeyland is the first film to compete for both the best documentary award and best international feature film. It tells the fascinating story of a wild beekeeper in the Balkans. It has a strong ecological message but it is the life story of the woman, Hatidze, at the centre of the film which has resonated with viewers worldwide. When a cow herder, his wife and seven rowdy children move in to the otherwise uninhabited village, she welcomes the company. She even teaches him beekeeping though cautions him not to take too much honey. Her warnings go unheeded with terrible consequences. Honeyland is a miraculous feat, shot over three years as if by an invisible camera, with not one furtive glance towards the film-makers.
Directed by: Roger MichellStaring: Jim Broadbent, Dame Helen Mirren & Fionn Whitehead
Director: Roger Michell /UK 2021
June 1st 2023 Starring: Jim Broadbent, Dame Helen Mirren & Fionn Whitehead
Roger Michell’s final feature film brings good-natured, Ealing-style energy to the 1961 true story theft of Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington. Jim Broadbent is in his element playing Kempton Bunton, a Robin Hood figure using the publicity of the theft as a platform to pressure the government to invest more in care for the elderly – he had long campaigned for pensioners to receive free television. What happened next became the stuff of legend. Only 50 years later did the full story emerge – Kempton had spun a web of lies. The only truth was that he was a good man, determined to change the world and save his marriage – how and why he used the Duke to achieve that is a wonderfully uplifting tale.