A year is a long time in movies, with so many films getting released each week it is almost impossible to view every film that comes out at the cinema and retain any social or professional life. There are, of course, some movies that I haven’t yet been able to see which may have featured on this list. The likes of The Place Beyond The Pines, Only God Forgives, Elysium & After Earth (just kidding) are all notable absentees, but based upon what I have been able to see this year, I feel I have come up with a fairly broad list that includes movies from all types of genres.
If you think I have missed anything then let me know in the comments section below.
Gravity has been lauded by critics and is bound to receive many awards over the next few months. The cinematography is stunning and the visual effects are literally out of this world, and with George Clooney & Sandra Bullock the only actors to appear on-screen in its 91 minute runtime it’s a feat in itself that the film holds your attention for as long as it does. So why is it so far down on my list? Well, while I am not knocking the film whatsoever, I’m not sure how much replay value it has and simply don’t know how many times I can go back to this film and enjoy it as much as the first time around. I’m sure I will watch it again, but until then I am reserving judgement on where it stands in the “classic” bracket.
9. Man Of Steel, Zack Snyder
Superman was in desperate need of a reboot, and while opinion was divided on the 2006 effort from Bryan Singer, the fact remained that DC & Warner Bros. needed their big blue boy scout bringing into the modern era. Director Zack Snyder was brought onboard along with Christopher Nolan and writer David S. Goyer to help steer this & future DC projects, and meant the film had to be good. So, while Man Of Steel was certainly not to everyone’s taste, and indeed set the tone darker than anything Marvel has so far offered, the film did exactly what it set out to do and made Superman relevant again.
The Conjuring was a film I had been massively looking forward to ever since I saw the first teaser trailer online. Director James Wan is stepping into blockbuster territory with 2015’s Fast & Furious 7, but it’s his impact on the horror genre that will serve up a large part of his legacy, & The Conjuring is his best film to date. The true life story of paranormal investigators Ed & Lorraine Warren is a chilling ghost story, that while maybe a tad predictable at times never fails to entertain and features some truly scary moments. With a sequel and a spin-off in development, it is hoped that Wan will return to the horror genre at some point, and who wouldn’t want to him come back for another of the Warren’s cases?
7. Side Effects, Steven Soderbergh
The story of a young woman and how her life begins to fall apart after being prescribed drugs by her psychiatrist is something that sounds like it should be on a Channel 4 documentary instead of a major Hollywood film. Full credit must then go to director Soderbergh who crafted a clever story that unravels brilliantly, and makes full use of its ensemble cast. With the likes of Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum & Catherine Zeta-Jones headlining, it is maybe somewhat surprising that Jude Law is the one who steals the show. Law plays Dr. Jonathan Banks, a man who unwittingly has his world completely ripped apart around him. This allows Law to go from confident business type to a man who has nothing in a flash, and his transformation is remarkable. It’s a shame that this film was released way back in February as it is sure to miss awards season, and possibly runs the risk of being lost in the shuffle.
What a delight this film was. Having had no real anticipation for this movie, I was unsure of what to expect, the easiest comparison I could make would be to say it’s like Toy Story but with video game characters coming to life instead of toys, but it’s so much more than that. The cast of characters and the actors voicing them are just as memorable as Buzz & Woody ever were. With John C. Reilly heading a cast that includes the likes of Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch & Alan Tudyk the gags come thick and fast. Bagged full of charm and some striking visuals, Wreck-It Ralph is already a personal favourite & will surely go down as a Disney classic.
5. Iron Man 3, Shane Black
Marvel are a studio that like to take risks, so what bigger risk was there than to put their favourite hero in the hands of guy who has only previously directed just one other film? Shane Black has of course been around Hollywood since 1987 when he wrote the first Lethal Weapon movie, then went on to pen the likes of The Last Boy Scout, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang as well the remaining three Lethal Weapon movies. To me Iron Man 3 was the perfect answer to last years Avengers: Assemble and took us back to some, relative, basics, one hero on his own with nothing but his wits and ingenuity to save himself and the one person who means anything to him from mortal danger. While the twist at the halfway point annoyed many a fanboy, the result was something no one saw coming and proved that Marvel really are prepared to take the big risks to earn the big rewards.
The definition of a slow burner, The Wolverine, proved there is still room for old man Logan in the current climate of superheroes and their various franchises. After being burned by the calamitous X-Men Origins: Wolverine, my hopes were not particularly high this time around, but with James Mangold stepping in to direct, he let the film focus on Wolverine and isolated him from the rest of the X-Men in order to tell a story that felt developed and give the character a purpose in his eternal existence. The result was a superhero movie that differed from anything else we saw this summer, and gave us a smart, low-key story that stands alone from the other X stories while also, with the help of a mid-credits sequence, became part of something much bigger.
3. You’re Next, Adam Wingard
You’re Next is a throwback to the great horror movies of the 1980’s and if you didn’t see it at the cinema then you really did miss out. Sharni Vinson stars as Erin, who develops a certain knack for survival when a stay at her boyfriends family home takes a turn for the worse and she has to dispose of a gang of wannabe attackers in continually inventive ways. With nods to the likes of Friday The 13th and A Nightmare On Elm Street, You’re Next was immense fun for a horror for a horror film, and contained the type of dark humour that was done so well in the original Evil Dead series, which means I really can’t recommend this film enough.
Pacific Rim was the film that did exactly what it said on the tin, and provided us an apocalyptic battle between mankind in their giant metal machines known as Jaegers, and the monstrous Kaiju that threaten the world. Yes it’s over the top, features some truly chunky dialogue and had some of the strangest character names ever put to the silver screen, Stacker Pentecost anyone, but Pacific Rim was a visual delight. Say what you want about plot holes or the sheer ridiculousness of it all, but if you wanted something more than giant robots & giant monsters smashing seven bells out of each other, then you came to the wrong place.
1. Star Trek Into Darkness, JJ Abrams
Yes, I loved 2009’s Star Trek, so my hopes were extremely high for this years follow-up, but thankfully I was not disappointed one bit. I’m sure die-hard Trekkie’s have many problems with JJ Abrams and his attempt to reboot their beloved series, but for me, the films have everything I could wish for. There’s a real sense of adventure to this film, and even though it repeats some of the beats from 2009, it still manages to pack a few surprises and features some breathtaking action sequences. The scene where the Enterprise falls to earth has to be a contender for scene of the year surely? While it won’t win any awards, it’s exactly the kind of film that makes the summer blockbuster season such great fun, and its a genuine shame that Abrams won’t be returning for the third entry in the franchise. Whoever takes the directors seat has a hard act to follow.