2016 Top Ten

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‘We are Number One.’…and two, three and four, five and so on. It’s belated but I’ve finally found time to notch up my favourite 10 movies from last year. Surprisingly this was easier because there weren’t too many great films released in 2016! You could say most were Rotten! Ahaha…moving quickly on then to number 10….

…but quickly before that, here’s a few films that almost made the grade…The Neon Demon, Deadpool, The Witch, Moana, The Invitation, Captain America: Civil War, Eddie the Eagle, Midnight Special, The Girl with all the Gifts, The Danish Girl, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping then The Little Prince and Hush would have been on the list but didn’t gain theatrical releases so sadly, I didn’t include them.

So, in at ten –

10) GREEN ROOM…AND NOCTURNAL ANIMALS

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Enter the Green Room, a nightmarish small space in a neo-Nazi skinhead filled club. This movie brilliantly delivers on unsettling tension and dark turns as a band are menaced and killed. Full Review. Similarly, Tom Ford’s stylish Nocturnal Animals gives tension to the nth degree, the gritty story-within-a-story standing out as the best thing.

9) THE JUNGLE BOOK

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I don’t dislike the original Walt cartoon from yesteryear, but The Jungle Book isn’t my go to animation from them…so I was pleasantly surprised by this movie which looks incredible, the CGI landscape and animals are epic, Sethi as Mowgli blends into the darkly presented story very well and it zips along nicely as a well modernised tale. You wanna read my review-oo-oo? I know you do-oo-oo. Jungle Book

8) ARRIVAL

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Clever, gorgeous, intellectual, timey-wimey, language and love co-exist but with aliens. The story is always engaging, Adams’ performance is natural and affecting in her story that just happens to feature hovering space crafts and circular lingo. Arrive at my review.

7) ZOOTROPOLIS

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Fun but also incredibly on point about the very real politics of stero-typing and racial prejudice, this fluffy family flick is more in depth and smartly told than you’d think. Don’t be a sloth, quickly click on my review for Zootropolis.

6) 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE

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Dropped on us from nowhere, the Cloverfield world is expanded with this shift of genre as we get a claustrophobic thriller centered on relationships, mystery and danger instead of the found footage device. It was such a surprise and a fantastic film to boot. Tension kicks into overdrive, music is used so well and Goodman is a scary monster. Cloverfield

5) KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS

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Laika have done it again by golly! This is such a rich and awesome stop-motion fantasy that goes over some very interesting and cultural textures whilst still featuring the humour and charm you’d expect. I want to see it again to just admire the work put into making this beautiful film. Kubo.

4) VICTORIA

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I am so so…so glad that I got to see this film. It isn’t just the sheer marvelling feature of shooting the entire movie in one-take but the performances are fascinating and believable, the story is engaging and you connect to the world as Victoria becomes involved more and more.

Well….we’ve reached the golden trio, the three musketeers, the tricycle of brilliance from last year. What’s in at number 3 then??

 

3) SING STREET

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Ah, what a charming and musically gorgeous film. The coming of age story is fun in itself but added with 80’s nostalgia, humour and songs, Sing Street becomes a movie to feel happy watching. I re-watched it recently and still found myself adoring every moment.

2) HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE

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Ricky Baker. Ricky Baker. A hero for the ages. This is a gem of a film with bittersweet moments, heartfelt tenderness, sharp comedy, coming of age and bonding adventures, randomness, lush locations and the ever reliable brilliance of Taika Waititi behind it all. Hunt the Wilderpeople down now…it’s so worth it if you haven’t seen it.

It’s here, Bully’s special prize. Iiiiiiin 1 –

 

 

1) THE HATEFUL EIGHT

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It had to be, as a Tarantino fan there was almost no question that this movie would hit the heights but it’d still have to be a good film and gladly it is. Three acts that all soar with incredible cinematic talent both behind and in front of the camera. Morricone on board for the score ensures the sound is perfect. Seeing it in 70mm also helped elevate the special sweeping look of this western blood soaked Quentin extravaganza. Dialogue, violence, humour and details are as crisp as ever and I loved every second. 8

Til next year…maybe…let’s see what 2017 has to give us hey?!

2015 Top Ten

Well, I’ve left it long enough, either forgetfulness or not knowing where to start has seen it shuttle through eight days of January 2016 so it’s only right that before February hits us I run down my top ten movies of last year. This was hard, because I still haven’t seen some films that may have landed in the list, i.e. ‘Star Wars’ or because I had to drop some films I liked and found interesting, i.e. ‘It Follows’ or ‘Shaun the Sheep: The Movie’! Also please comment on agreements and disagreements you have and what you would put in your 2015 top ten, that would be cool! Enough pre-amble…on to the main event, in at #10…

10) Love and Mercy

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Wonderfully crafted and somewhat magical in the way it constructs the making of music and Brian Wilson. Paul Dano and John Cusack are equally fascinating and bring an engaging damaging sense to the man behind the Beach Boys. Read my Good Vibrations for this film by clicking on Love and Mercy.

9) Kingsman: The Secret Service

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Bundles of fun can be found within this secret service as we see probably the best spy movie of 2015 hit heights of energy, spoofing and class sequences. The mix of action and spy story-telling is sublime and the comic substance really makes for a riveting watch. Manners maketh man over at my full review for Kingsman.

8) The Lady in the Van

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Perhaps I loved this quite a lot because of the whole writing aspect. The Alan Bennett wit is ever present, Maggie Smith is a delight to watch and the mystery of who the lady is becomes a great narrative alongside Bennett’s typical Brit routine of politeness. The Lady in the Van review.

7) The Theory of Everything

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Here mostly for Eddie Redmayne’s brilliant immersion into the part of Hawking but also because Felicity Jones weighs up the other side of the relationship with captivating poise. It’s a well-told story done in a typically awards season way buy wow is it ever emotional. Review here.

6) The Voices

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I’d love this to be higher I truly would, but pretty much all of the following films became hard for me to order. This quirky dark comedy is so masterfully made, the performance by Reynolds is fun and disturbing and you just never know where you are with the film which is just great. See Voices and read my words at my review.

5) Inside Out

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When Pixar releases two films in one year, you know at least one of them will be reaching top ten lists everywhere and without any hesitation it must be this one concerning Riley and her head full of emotions that try to do their best to help her move to a new state. The movie is smart, emotional, fun, colourful and emotional…welp, I know I said that already but it is. I’ll need a minute, check out my review while I mull over sadness.

4) Whiplash 

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At one moment in 2015 this was my favourite film but it sadly drops a few places, that doesn’t make it any less exhilarating though. The music is phenomenal, both Teller and Simmons are incredible acting off each other and for a film about drumming this becomes one of the best edited and tense features I’ve seen for a while. My Whiplash review at my tempo.

3) Ex Machina

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Ugh, I adore this film, the sleek quality, the worrying theme of technology, the beginning of Alicia Vikander’s rise, the Oscar Isaac dance and the fantastic ending. It’s so well shot and written and I may just have to watch it again right now. Ex Machina review.

2) Room

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This has not even hit UK screens yet but I’m writing it up for 2015 because I was lucky enough to be studying in America when it was released there. Hopefully you’ll agree once you see it that the story is beautiful and raw, the performances from the two leads are heart-wrenching and engaging and the whole world and tragic darkness of its past are effortlessly created by Abrahamson and the source material of the novel. Review of Room.

 

1) Mad Max: Fury Road

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What a film, what a lovely film. I’ve seen this race in at a lot of top spots recently and it’s not difficult to see why as we get introduced to a dystopian world full of sandstorms, cars and strong women. The shots are absolutely amazing, the sequences and practical effects make the film stand out as true testament to what can be done and this really needs to be up for Best Picture because it isn’t just entertainment, it’s a greatly crafted feat of film-making too. Hop on down to my Fury Road review by clicking on Mad Max.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ten from the Bottom ’15

We’re in a new year everyone, yay, congratulations, Auld Lang Syne and all that mumbo jumbo! Truly for me it’s exciting because it means another 366 (leap year this time folks) days of movies to enjoy, dislike, repeat view and immerse myself into. Oscar Season is well and truly here and that can only mean it’s time to look back at movies of 2015, but why start with the top notch film-making gems, I’d like to hover over the weaklings of last year and see what struggled to make me find any redeeming factors! And if you want to then please comment letting me know what films you didn’t like. So…here we go at number ten is…

10) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

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Sadly the last film of what could have been a ground-breaking and revolutionary series goes out with a laugh and a wimper. The biggest issue is that it should never have been split into two features, making this Part 2 outing drag and feel lifeless even with all the attempts at action. The story feels expositional at times, a loss of life is hardly impacted and wow…that epilogue…sheesh. See what else I had to say —> Mockingjay Part Deux.

9) Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse 

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Falling wayside of any clever zombie comedy smarts and in fact comedy, is this teenage aimed smutty and over the top B movie type. It has some alright moments and the premise is neat but the execution is poor as jokes that would be short and sharp with any other director are left to sag in full sequences. Not terrible but no Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland entertainment either. Be prepared by checking out my review of SGTTZA.

8) Chappie

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Now this is a film I’d almost forgotten about which is a huge shame considering the talent I thought Blomkamp possessed. It begins okay and there are some enjoyable moments amongst the mess but at the end of the day it is a mess of spare parts, South African rap duos, mullets and forced meanings that leave you wanting the film with plenty of tinkering to create a better robot movie that isn’t scratchily written. Chappie says “click on Chappie name.”

7) Joy

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Now I only just viewed and reviewed this film and I wasn’t impressed, I didn’t go in with high expectations granted but I did hope it would surprise me. The only surprise with this film is how uninteresting it seems for a story that could have been uplifting and inspiring. Lawrence only just makes this film watchable. Joyfully nod or grouchily disagree with my review by clicking Joy.

6) Blackhat

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This is a film that literally gave me a headache because of how dull it was. I thought Michael Mann would be on form but even his sense of style with film-making seems to falter. The movie is messy, long and lacking in grit or tension. Use cyberspace and internet non-hacking ease by clicking on Blackhat to see the full review.

5) Terminator Genisys

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From the outset this film lands in the worst category for that damn spelling. Also the whole big bad technological threat is something we all have anyway. There’s so much messing with the original that it craps on what we loved about it, the dialogue is lame and muddled and the story is frankly awful but I somehow enjoyed parts and that’s why you may be shocked to find it here at only number 5. Find out where my review all began at Terminator Genesis — yes, I will not spell it how they want.

4) Hot Pursuit

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Women in film is becoming more powerful as the years tick by but this film almost threatens that ideal and vision of strong funny females by sticking two capable actresses in a dumb, predictable and unfunny cop movie. Just hotly pursue my review for more bad feelings! Hot Pursuit review.

3) Hot Tub Time Machine 2

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Another film with hot in the title and another hot mess of a movie. John Cusack seemed to smell the stench of rotting script and didn’t return. Messing with time is the main aim of the plot but it feels crass and cheap lacking any reason other to offend or cater to people who I don’t want to know. HTTM2.

2) Accidental Love

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Satire done at its absolute worse, this film is neither a funny prod at politics and health care or an endearing rom-com. It’s in fact a film that should have read the warning signs and never got made, but it did get dug up and I implore you not to fall down the grave hole of seeing this. Accidental (Release)…Love.

And in at the top stinker position is a British film, which saddens me as last year another film from home hit the same heights of being the worst movie, but if you saw or ever see the following flick than blessed heaven help you if you could absolutely honestly say you enjoyed it…

 

 

1) Absolutely Anything

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This is absolutely anything other than a film worth seeing, the return and possible last reuniting of the great Monty Python gang is just terrible, Simon Pegg is annoying and the script is childish. Just read my review, I have absolutely nothing else to say.

Please let me know if you agree or disagree or pop down some of your worst films of last year, it’d be cool to see what else may hit the fan. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014 Top Ten

The year is nearly over and so comes a time for me to reflect on the many releases I’ve seen in 2014. What better way to celebrate the starry gems of this movie calendar than my top ten list of great films to hit screens over the last 12 months.

This is one of the hardest posts I’ve had to muster up, trying to whittle down a heck load of films to just 10 is difficult, they have to mean something or be darn good. So it’s a real shame to see that films like ‘Nightcrawler’, ‘Interstellar’, ‘The Double’, ‘The Lego Movie’ and ‘The Raid 2’ among plenty of others not quite make it.

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To mirror the sparkling trail of Interstellar’s poster, let’s have a look at what I liked a lot in 2014. (opinions of course, don’t all hate me).

10. EDGE OF TOMORROW – A whirlwind summer movie of explosions, fun and Groundhog style playing with time. It was so nice to see Tom Cruise not be Tom Cruise for the first part of the film and even better for a blockbuster to not be a prequel, sequel or dud idea. Jump around in time here.

9. DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES – Groundbreaking motion capture work, Serkis is on fire in his world of make believe and Caesar is amazing. The story is not perfect but tense and the tank shot with Koba gets this a place in my top ten alone. A dark set up to what warring drama should come in the next outing. My hu-man work lies at this review link – DOTPOTA.

8. GONE GIRL – A gritty exploration of human relationships in different lights. David Fincher gets the best out of the source material novel and his cast, Tyler Perry dropping his drag routine to stand out and Rosamund Pike having one of the best performances this year. A suspenseful mystery with twists and shocks. My Gone Girl review.

7. WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS – Laughs come aplenty in this spoof vampire mockumentary, it sadly didn’t get the light of day in many screens, pretty apt for the vampire curse of sunlight but if you can, see this New Zealand movie. It’s dry, clever and silly from start to finish. Every character is a riot and the story is great. Drop your crosses and let my review in – WWDITS.

6. THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL – A quirky and typically Wes Anderson movie with a spiffing turn from a comedic Ralph Fiennes. There’s wonderful doll house imagery of the hotel and its surroundings, big stars make fun dizzying appearances and the ride is zany enjoyment throughout. Check in here.

5. BOYHOOD – A magnificent idea, not a film per say, more a cinematic project of puberty and family. It’s well done and amazing to sit and witness these characters progress in front of you. I really want to see it again just to capture the well placed pop cultural totems to signal changes of time. The newcomers are exceptional and play off Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette to convince us they’re a true family. Read my full review of Boyhood.

4. THE GUEST – An electric thrilling triumph that may not have lasted very long but has stuck in my mind to this day and hopefully it will survive as a great cult film. Dan Stevens is a steel eyed god throughout this blend of genres. Tension mixed with horror, ‘Drive’ like sounds and sights all make for a visual smack of cinema gold. See what else I have to praise for The Guest.

3. INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS – A very grey scaled Coen Brothers affair but artfully done and Oscar Isaac steals the show as down on his luck Llewyn. It stood as my favourite film of the year for quite a well, reflecting on 2014 has shuffled one film in particular, but that’s still to come. This movie has exquisite music, cold but believable depressing feelings and top notch acting. It truly was snubbed in my view at the last Oscars but what can I do?! Read my once favourite film review here.

2. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY – The entry of number 3 was pushed aside by this Marvel juggernaut, mostly because I’ve watched it multiple times, it’s the best comic book movie to exit from the Marvel universe at the moment, every character is genuinely excellent, the formula may be the same but the alien setting and space vibe lift it to frankly stellar levels. Chris Pratt is a great every-man hero, Groot and Rocket are cute yet vicious sidekicks and Drax is one of the best characters of the film. Witty, snappy and stuffed with sci-fi, I cannot wait for James Gunn to return with the sequel. If you like Pina Coladas and reading reviews then hyper jump to my thoughts of GOTG.

1. HER – This and Inside Llewyn Davis got wider releases in the UK in 2014 so technically stand as candidates so happily I put this film as my favourite. Looking back I see this pipping Guardians and Llewyn because of its stylish and romantic look. The film is emotional and balanced with a hefty yet light performance from Joaquin Phoenix. The fashion, the technology and the soundtrack are perfect. The Spike Jonze script deserved its Academy win and poetically this was my first ever review for this blog. So check out how my writing may have changed here Her.

Please feel free to like, comment and let me know if you agree or what your top films of 2014 are. I love film opinions and would love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks 2014, it’s been wonderful.

2015. I’m ready.

Ten from the Bottom

It’s nearly Christmas time, by jolly holly it’s in fact Xmas Eve…so what better way to celebrate than honouring the big fat turkeys of the movie calendar. Some could quite easily slip into the top or bottom (however you want to look at it) ten list but by watching their trailers I never saw the film as I didn’t want to waste my time knowing it would be bad. So alas, Transformers, The Giver, The Best of Me or in fact Free Birds and others will not appear as I’ve never (luckily) seen them.

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Sound the festive horn people, my list of ten worst films from 2014 is as follows. *of course this is my opinion, so don’t virtually jump on me, but please do let me know what your choices are*

10. LUCY – It has some rather cool ideas and the first 30-40 minutes or thereabouts are slick and watchable but then hell breaks lose and Luc Besson decides to think the film is smarter than it is and all bets are off as Scar-Jo becomes a goddess. See the further review of ‘Lucy’ by clicking here.

9. NEED FOR SPEED – Very cheesy, the vehicular tricks aren’t that inspiring or dramatic. Aaron Paul is uninteresting, Imogen Poots has one of the worst female characters in history and the story is as flat as a second rate tyre. Race on over to check out my review of ‘Need for Speed’.

8. JERSEY BOYS – Clint Eastwood gives the Four Seasons biopic some grit and style but on the whole it feels long and lacking of soul or magic. Watch Get on Up instead. Review under the lamppost ‘Jersey Boys’.

7. MALEFICENT – Takes a Disney classic and twists it to hideous new forms in a pointless retelling, it looks crystal clear in style, magic and darkness but evil is sucked out to make bad good and ruin the original tale. Jolie’s class, a metaphor and the imagery make it bearable. Read my review here – ‘Maleficent’.

6. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES – Childish, badly scripted and acted. Produced by Michael Bay. Megan Fox. Terrible nightmarish turtle CGI, a bland villain, Megan Fox and Michael Bay. Turtle review to be found here – ‘TMNT’.

5. SAY WHEN – Okay for the intended audience member I guess, though it’s entirely predictable, not that funny at all and Sam Rockwell can do so much better. It’s just an awkward film that lags. Review here – ‘Say When’.

4. A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST – Some alright thought processes and a few laughs but having a moustache musical do take the biggest amount of chortles says it all. Too much toilet humour. Too long. Too Seth self indulgent and a wholly limp movie. Head over to the wild west here ‘AMWTDITW’.

3. THE NUT JOB – Poorly animated with even poorer plot work and jokes. The characters aren’t likable or engaging and for a cartoon the score should be fun and livelier but there’s no spark in that department either. Messy drivel that should be shelved out of memory but it’s forever stuck up there. Get nutty reading ‘The Nut Job’ review.

2. ANNIE – Needless, underwhelming, badly sung, performed and written. Just a terrible terrible film that drags with cloying cutey wutey stuff, bad taste tech subplots and Cameron Diaz in full on pantomime mode. My most recent movie review to be seen here – Annie’.

1. NATIVITY 3: DUDE WHERE’S MY DONKEY?! – I really don’t want to give this any more of my time, my fingers deserve better than typing about this miserable British seasonal film. Just read my review instead, you’ll understand. ‘Nativity 3’.

The Movie Brick Road

A new page taking on the wonderful journey of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tinman, the Cowardly Lion and Toto, as it goes travelling through actors and films to resemble the yellow brick road quest in Oz!

Along the way I’ll look at the best non-colour films, the best witches, leading ladies and so on. It’ll be a movie journey covering as many angles as I can muster!

Right, we better start at the beginning. The world of Kansas awaits and to try and fit with the brown sepia style the Gale’s farmhouse was shot in, I’ll  go down that sort of road and discuss briefly some movies without colour. It’s time to look at five great black and white movies:

These aren’t in any particular order but are my favourite movies that utilise the lack of colour to tell their story. Also apologies from the outset as guiltily, I still haven’t seen ‘Casablanca’ or ‘Schindler’s List’ so they don’t appear here.

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Click this link right here —–> moviebrickroad to read up on the five films laying on the yellow brick road and keep checking back to see the moviebrickroad expand as more films in the format of the journey from Kansas to Oz appear.

Best of the Rest

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‘The Great Gatsby’, ‘All is Lost’ and ‘Iron Man 3’ are the three films of 2013 that didn’t quite make my top ten but were films I still remember and enjoy, so I thought I’d acknowledge them here. There are others that could easily be here too but these three were the ones I picked for varied reasons.

Firstly with the speak-easy alcohol fuelled jazz age of Gatsby, directed by the slick director Baz Luhrmann. He always has an eye for glamour and mixes up ideas with a funky exterior and this film packs a punch with the 1920’s look blasted incredibly with well fitting urban and contemporary music, we move swiftly from Wall Street to the hidden bars and are accompanied by artists such as Jay Z and Lana Del Rey. One blend that really worked was Will.i.am’s upbeat charleston-RnB number at Jay Gatsby’s party where you can’t help but marvel at the liquor flowing, the flappers dancing and the sheer rich visuals of the mansion celebrations. It’s a unique tale on the story to appeal to present day audiences but it works with the addictive lifestyle of the story, in terms of obsessions this film shows it all. It looks beautiful, sexy and glossy and delivers the ultimately simple love story with a heightened degree of modern flair.

The lone and powerful story of one man trying to overcome his loss in the middle of the ocean is an interesting story and all credit to delivery lies with Robert Redford who plays the captain of his tragedy with waves of expressions considering he speaks barely in the film. That in itself is a brave move to have no words but the story is still told and probably better as words would feel forced and ruin any interpolation. Having no dialogue leaves us imagining how we’d fare, we’re left to hear the sea splashing, the water seeping into his ship/home, hear the eerie emptiness of nothing in that void of the ocean. The ending is one key factor that made me put this film in this list as it’s different and leaves an element of interpretation. It’s a dramatic story and one with ‘Gravity’ like feats to battle but whereas this has less visual wizardry it utilizes smarts and silence as it’s trump card.

Lastly I put ‘Iron Man 3’ in the list, yes it didn’t compare at all to the first Iron Man movie but it’s more a story centred on Tony Stark as the hero and choosing to have the Marvel character without his suit was a bold move, most of the time it is Stark fighting as the man and not the machine, even the whole plane/monkeys in the sky sequence is not as it seems and the suit is just a clever…and expensive accessory to the wit and brains of Tony. Shane Black directed this feature and with that you get a more buddy cop dynamic as with the ‘Lethal Weapon’ films. It’s an often funnier affair with blacker moments of Stark trying to deal with the aftermath of ‘The Avengers’ wormhole saga. Pepper Potts too becomes a hero and I don’t care what anyone says, all the comic book fanboys and girls may disagree but the twist involving Mandarin was highly enjoyable and Ben Kingsley revelled in that role with such feverish glee that I couldn’t help but love the idea. An entertaining blockbuster film.