If you are looking for something different, this is one of the best Anime films to come out in years. Its hand-drawn animation is stunningly beautiful, the main characters don’t feel like caricatures and the story is both funny and moving. This movie really felt like a breath of fresh air, and I can’t recommend it enough. Try and track it down, it is well worth it!
I confess that I have been unfaithful to Pedro Almodovar recently. I really had no interest to watch his latest movie, and I still haven’t seen the previous one either. If sometimes Almodovar is a bit too “out there” for you, this is one of his less brash and more nuanced movies. A beautiful and touching slice of life, wonderfully told, with two superb central performances, this was one of the best movies of the year, without a doubt.
La La Land
We watched this last night, and I can’t get it off my head. From the director of Whiplash (who by the way, is 31 years old…) comes an all-singing, all-dancing hommage to the musicals of yesteryear. It is nostalgic, yet modern and fresh, romantic, but realistic, joyful and bittersweet at the same time. It is a masterpiece, and a tour de force from Emma Stone. This movie is going to win a ton of awards, and it will be all deserved.
The Princess and the Frog
This has been on hard rotation in our house recently, and is becoming a real favourite of mine. Not very successful at the time, it is fair to say that it has now been reassessed and is widely credited as the turning point in Disney’s renaissance. With a strong independent female lead, great music, amazing Louisiana accents, I urge you to go and watch it!
First things first: Yes, I agree, this is not as good as Oldboy (but then again, how many things are?). However, this movie is still head and shoulders above most of Hollywood’s production. Disturbing, provocative, full of twists and turns, just sit back and enjoy the ride.
This made me laugh. A lot more than many so-called comedies. It obviously has something to say about today’s society, but never in a preachy way. The kids almost steal the show, but I really hope that Viggo Mortensen will (at least) get nominated for the Oscars!
A Royal Affair
Another entry in my Oscars collection, this is a fantastic movie about Denmark’s “revolution” which really proves how much of a superb actor Mads Mikkelsen really is. After watching this, I am really looking forward to seeing The Hunt when the DVD is out in the UK this week.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
An amazing coming-of-age story, and a superb performance from the young cast. This is funny, touching, warm, and packs a powerful punch near the end. I won’t spoil it any more for you, just go and watch it.
Stranger Than Fiction
I can’t believe I completely missed this one when it came out, and then never heard about it until a friend pointed it out today. And then I watched it. And I liked it. A lot. A huge lot. With a stellar cast, a wacky premise, but not as silly as it sounds, and a big heart, it just might very well be the best thing I have watched this year so far. Oh, and one more thing, if you want to be surprised, don’t even watch the trailer below, just dive right in, enjoy, and tell me what you think about it afterwards.
Speech is overrated. And sometimes, even talking too much about a movie is both unnecessary and counter-productive. Just go and see this little gem. It deserves every award coming its way. And then some.
Much Ado About Nothing
I watched it again with Christine the other day, and it is still one of the most delightful Shakespeare adaptations out there. Easy, breezy, fun, with a great cast (beautiful chemistry between Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh, of course, but let’s not forget Denzel Washington, Keanu Reeves, Michael Keaton and the very young Kate Beckinsale and Robert Sean Leonard), this is a great summer movie.
I am not usually a huge fan of big period pieces, costume dramas and other literary classics adaptations, but I will make an exception for this one. A perfectly melancholic translation to the screen of E.M. Forster’s novel, it simply oozes Britishness (in a good way), and will positively ravish you. Even if you are a cynical skeptic like me.
Ang Lee certainly made some bigger and more famous movies (Brokeback mountain, The ice storm and Crouching tiger, hidden dragon) but this one is an overlooked little gem. A beautiful love, duty and espionage story set in Japanese-occupied China, this movie deserves to be on your Netflix queue. Oh, and if you are wondering where you have seen Joan Chen (Mrs Yee) before, this is where…
Out of Sight
Steven Soderbergh makes some interesting movies. This one may be one of his most straightforward directing efforts in terms of basic plot, but both the stylish visuals and the fantastic chemistry between Jennifer Lopez and George-before-he-became-a-sex-symbol-Clooney make this a great smooth and cool film to watch if you missed it when it first came out.
Breaking the Waves
You don’t need a big budget. You don’t need big names on the poster. You don’t need a complicated story. You don’t need a happy ending. You don’t need any of that, to make one of the best and most powerful movies I have ever seen. Just trust me blindly on this one and watch it. It will stay with you for a very long time.
As I (slowly) work my way through the list of all my favourite movies, I realized that between all the 40s classics, I like Casablanca, I really enjoy The Maltese falcon, but Laura is the only one I really truly love. A perfect little gem of a film noir with Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews, don’t miss it if you have never watched it before.
A Very Long Engagement
How do you film the horror of the First World War trenches and still somehow make a work of art with such glorious photography? Only if you are Jean-Pierre Jeunet (who also directed Amélie) can you solve those contradictions and make a beautiful movie full of larger then life characters. A highly recommended movie based on a novel by Sébastien Japrisot (PS: my favourite book from him is la dame dans l’auto avec des lunettes et un fusil)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
From one of my favourite directors David Fincher comes a beautiful and magical old-fashioned story about a man with a very peculiar problem, a woman, and life bringing them together or keeping them apart. If this sounds like the most banal storyline, the movie is anything but. Served by a great ensemble cast of talented actors, superb special effects, a fantastic short story from F. Scott Fitzgerald, this is truly a masterpiece.
We caught that one randomly because I vaguely remembered hearing/reading something good about it somewhere (yes, a very precise feeling, as you can tell), and what a pleasant surprise! A little French/Lebanese movie about a group of girl friends working in or around a beauty salon, it is a comedy but with serious undertones about modern life in Beirut. Optimistic and charming, it will definitely leave you smiling.
As I compile the big list of movies that I want to post here, sometimes the problem is not to pick which films to write about, but to choose which ones to leave out. As a huge Paul Thomas Anderson fan, that choice was particularly hard. This is a strange but touching and beautiful love story, and, much to my amazement, it proves that Adam Sandler can act, when he really wants to…
Is this Alfred Hitchcock’s best movie? Quite possibly. The perfect confluence of a great story, great cast (James Stewart is superb, but Kim Novak is simply mesmerizing), and a masterpiece of film-making. Witness the first use of the Dolly zoom to great effect, long before it was famously picked up by Steven Spielberg for Jaws.
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
Although I like George Clooney’s more stylish Good night, and good luck, I have a thing for his directorial debut. A story at the same time strange, touching and funny, filmed in a very personal style, it is definitely an oddity, but a good one!
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
This is what a Woody Allen movie can (should?) be. Fun, light, breezy and a great film at the same time. Scarlett Johansson, Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem have fantastic on-screen chemistry, and the actors are obviously enjoying themselves immensely. This may be my wife’s favourite movie of the last couple of years, and we could watch it again any day.
The Philadelphia Story
My favourite screwball comedy. Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and James Stewart at their witty best. Need I say more? Forget about the Grace Kelly/Bing Crosby/Frank Sinatra musical remake High society which is a lot less fun, this is the real deal.
I didn’t think that sadomasochism would make a great movie subject matter, nor that you could make a beautiful love story out of it, but it turns out I was wrong. Forget your preconceptions and watch Secretary. You will not be disappointed.