Category Archives: Top 10s

Top 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2015

As part of EdgarReviews’ 12 Days of Christmas, a Top 10 will be posted every few days from 14th December to 25th December.

2015 is set to be one of the biggest years in film history. The sheer amount of hotly-awaited blockbusters (Terminator: Genisys, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World, Avengers: Age of Ultron to name a few) is only one of the reasons why next year will break box office boundaries. The amount of potentially fantastic films is so impressive that there’s no room for the Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain drama, A Most Violent Year, the nostalgic hits of Terminator: Genisys and Jurassic World, David O’Russel’s latest, Joy, and the Marvel centerpiece, Avengers: Age of Ultron.

10: SPECTRE

UK Release Date: 6th November 2015
US Release Date: 6th November 2015

I haven’t been too impressed by the Daniel Craig era of James Bond. Casino Royale was unfulfilling, Quantum of Solace was objectively poor and Skyfall didn’t have the feel of a Bond movie. But I’m excited for Spectre. Very excited. And that’s because of its bolstered cast. Lea Seydoux is the new Bond girl, Andrew Scott joins Craig as an ally, and most importantly, Christoph Waltz is the new Bond villain. Anybody who has seen Inglourious Basterds will know that he’s going to knock it out of the park.

9: THE MARTIAN

UK Release Date: 27th November 2015
US Release Date: 25th November 2015

When it comes to cast ensembles, it’s hard to turn your head away from The Martian. Helmed by Ridley Scott, this film could potentially be a return to form for the wayward director (Prometheus was shunned and Exodus is currently getting lacklustre reviews). The film follows Matt Damon as he attempts to survive while being stranded on Mars with limited resources. Add to that promising premise with a cast featuring Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Kristen Wiig, Sean Bean, Jeff Daniels and Chiwitel Ejiofor, The Martian has enough starpower to be stunning. If Scott can keep the film running smoothly and not place visual set-pieces over substance then we could be looking at one heck of a film.

8: THE GOOD DINOSAUR

UK Release Date: 27th November 2015
US Release Date: 25th November 2015

PIXAR are, for the first time in their history, releasing 2 films in one year. The first, Inside Out, looks relatively underwhelming. The second however, The Good Dinosaur, shows much more promise. The film tells the tale of an Apatosaurus named Arlo befriending a young boy. It poses the question: what would happen to the Earth if Dinosaurs were never wiped out. With the ingenious premise we’ve come to expect of PIXAR, their sumptuous visuals, and a stellar voice cast (Frances McDormand, Neil Patrick Harris, Bill Hader), The Good Dinosaur is my bet to be the animated film of the year.

7: PAN

UK Release Date: 17th July 2015
US Release Date: 24th July 2015

I’ll be completely honest; until it’s fantastic trailer, I wasn’t sold on Pan beforehand. It seemingly followed a long string of sub-par gritty fairytale reboots (no, I’m not even gonna try and list them all), but I’m hopeful that Pan will break this run. Simply put, the film looks wonderful from both a visual and stylistic perspective. Of course it would; the film is directed by Joe Wright, known for his adventurous directorial style – both Anna Karenina and Atonement were wonderfully crafted. Pan itself follows Levi Miller as the titular character, swept away from his orphanage where he battles against Hugh Jackman’s frightening Blackbeard. Rooney Mara, Garrett Hedlund, Amanda Seyfried and Cara Delvigne also star; Pan is yet another fantastic cast ensemble of 2015.

6: THE HATEFUL EIGHT

UK Release Date: TBA
US Release Date: TBA

The only reason The Hateful Eight is not higher up on my list is because I don’t rate Quentin Tarantino as highly as others do. But anybody who doesn’t look forward to Tarantino’s next flick following the success of Django Unchained worries me. It looks just as bloody, violent and iconic as his previous films; and yup, its cast is also fantastic. Samuel L Jackson, Bruce Dern, Tim Roth, Kurt Russell, and potentially both Jennifer Lawrence and Channing Tatum feature. In terms of plot points, it’s being kept under wraps (unless of course you’ve had the fortune of peeking at its leaked script that caused a flurry of backlash and Tarantino to momentarily drop the project).

5: THE SEA OF TREES

UK Release Date: TBA
US Release Date: TBA

Matthew McConaughey has already proven himself as a fine actor, and The Sea of Trees looks to be another addition to the ‘McConaissance’. Featuring both McConaughey and Ken Watanabe, the film follows the pair as they befriend one another following an attempted suicide. Directed by Gus Van Sant, The Sea of Trees is seemingly a gem in the flurry of blockbusters in 2015.

4. STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS

UK Release Date: 18th December 2015
US Release Date: 18th December 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens had to be on this list somewhere, despite me not being a huge fan of the Star Wars franchise (both the originals and the prequels). Sending nerds into delirium with its announcement, the trailer more than shows that JJ Abrams is comfortable with helming such a huge project. The cast itself is also impressive: Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and the return of the familiar Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford makes this an unmissable film. Whether you enjoy the franchise or not, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a film you need to see in cinemas.

3. CRIMSON PEAK

UK Release Date: 16th October 2015
US Release Date: 16th October 2015

Guillermo Del Toro’s latest project, Crimson Peak, tells the story of a woman (Mia Wasikowska) who mistakenly marries a suspicious character (Tom Hiddlestone). The acclaimed director goes back to his horror roots, which is a welcome sight when you look at his last film, the horrendous Pacific Rim. The cast is one of the best of 2014, with the aforementioned actors plus Jessica Chastain and Charlie Hunman. I don’t usually go for horror, but Crimson Peak has certainly piqued my interest…

2. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

UK Release Date: 15th May 2015
US Release Date: 15th May 2015

Forget Star Wars, Jurassic World, Avengers and Terminator – Mad Max: Fury is the blockbuster I’m looking forward to most of all in 2015. Just look at the trailer – it’s absolutely stunning. Aside from being a visual masterpiece, the film looks entirely engrossing, a rare feat when the plot consists of a 2 hour car chase. Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult all star in the film, though the hero is George Miller, a director that was made famous due to his Mad Max films. If you remain doubtful that Mad Max: Fury Road isn’t going to be excellent, just remember this – the studio was so impressed with the film that they walloped a hefty added budget to reshoot and make the flick even more spectacular.

1. BIRDMAN

UK Release Date: 1st January 2015
US Release Date: 14th November 2014

My most anticipated film of 2015 is also the earliest film released in the list; already released in the US, us UK citizens only have to wait til the start of 2015 for Birdman. I’ve only seen one film from its director, Alejandro González Iñárritu, which was Javier Bardem’s Biutiful, a fantastically morbid and grim look at Barcelona that makes me excited for Birdman. The film has been picking up awards in abundance, is a frontrunner in numerous categories for the Academy Awards, and will most likely grab a Golden Globe. It’s been met with universal acclaim, where critics have especially pointed out Keaton’s performance. That’s not to say Keaton is the only A-list actor in the film – Naomi Watts, Zach Galifanakis, Emma Stone and Ed Norton all put in strong performances. Birdman looks to be a mind-bender of a film, with beautiful cinematography and fantastic camera work – the whole film is made to look like one continuous shot. I’m definitely hyped for it.

Top 10 Films 2013

2013 was a fantastic year for films, where there were many stand-out flicks in both serious and comedic genres. Honourable mentions go to The World’s End, Trance, Les Miserables, The Impossible and Side Effects. Despite their individual brilliance, the fact that they didn’t make the top 10 is testament to the plethora of fantastic films released in the UK in 2013, and how strong they were.

10. CAPTAIN PHILLIPS

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While certainly a slow-starter, Captain Phillips grew into one of the most tense and fixating films of the year, and was deservedly nominated for a myriad of Oscar categories. Following, er, Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks), through a terrifying ordeal where his boat is captured by Somalian pirates, (Barkhad Abdi with a particularly exquisite performance), the film focuses on raw emotion and conflict of morals rather than stunning adrenalin-pumped sequences; a wise decision by director Paul Greengrass. However, only the film’s dying moments makes Captain Phillips a great film, as opposed to a good one.

9. ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES

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2013 was filled to the brim with excellent comedies. Anchorman 2 is no doubt one of them, a sequel that lived up to the high expectations surrounding it. It’s truly hilarious, containing some magnificent moments that had the whole audience crying with laughter (no hyperbole used). Following Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrel) and his news team (Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner) through silly antics (the plot is barely there), the film descends (or ascends) into brilliant madness that is, at times, side-splitting (and at other times, unfunny, such as a dinner scene involving Ferrel and his ‘black lingo’). Yet for every damp squib, there’s three or four quotable lines (‘A black man always follows me when it’s sunny’ or ‘No offence, but you’re a stupid asshole!’), or an achingly-funny sequence.

8. ONLY GOD FORGIVES

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Only God Forgives is frustrating to watch. As with Nicolas Winding Refn’s previous film, Drive, it’s visually vibrant and makes great use of non-diegetic sound. Yet it’s much harder to follow and shrouded by intrigue that comes across as both interesting and pretentious drabble. On my first viewing, I was slightly nonplussed as to what I thought of the film; I was impressed by it’s atmospheric qualities, but both the characterisation and the seemingly non-existent plot hindered it. Second and third viewings have made me appreciate each performance and their subtlety (Ryan Gosling is good, but is completely outclassed by Kristin Scott-Thomas’ despicable motherly figure), as well as giving me more opportunities to pick out the symbolism and metaphorical meaning behind each scene. If you are to watch Only God Forgives, do so without the expectation of a formulaic plot or conventions associated with thrillers. It’s understated, unnerving and exquisitely framed.

7. UPSTREAM COLOUR

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Did you understand Upstream Colour on first viewing? No, neither did I. Shane Carruth’s long-awaited followup to 2004’s (wildly-overrated and just as confusing) Primer sees a woman (Amy Seimetz) taken over by a worm-like parasite, a man that enters her life (played by Carruth), a group of pigs and the farmer that keeps them in order, and… uh, that’s it. The audience is tasked with putting the film’s numerous strands into a coherent plot. It’s once again utterly ostentatious, but not in a way where its knowingly-pretentiousness is a burden. Beautifully shot and fantastically scored (by, er, Carruth once more), Upstream Colour appears as 2013’s most confusing, distorted and interesting film. Multiple viewings are recommended.

6. ALAN PARTRIDGE: ALPHA PAPA

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Steve Coogan effortlessly transfers his TV persona onto the big screen, in a much more impressive way than Mitchell and Webb’s The Magicians. The reason why? Alpha Papa is undoubtedly the funniest comedy of 2013. Slapstick merges seamlessly with stunning one-liners spewed from a top-class script: “We’re asking, what is the worst monger? Iron, fish… rumour… or war?”. Amazing. Coogan isn’t self-indulgent either in the way he wants to show Partridge off to the audience, ever keen to embarrass himself, or portray himself selfishly. The humble performance was just the pinnacle of what had been a stellar year for Coogan, appearing in other such films as What Maisie Knew and Philomena. Funny stuff.

5. FILTH

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Tragically unheard of over in the States, Filth contains James McAvoy’s best performance to date. He plays a despicable Scottish psychopath with a childhood shrouded in mystery and problems with both his family and his work. Fixated on sex, drugs and anything that can be deemed offensive, the film starts comedic and quickly grows dark and dreary, descending into one of the most depressing films of the year. At times incredibly surreal, the performances of every actor in the film are outstanding, where Eddie Marsan and Shirley Henderson particularly stand out as supporting cast. Filth is the best adaptation of one of Irvine Welsh’s novels since Trainspotting, and for that earns a place on my top 10.

4. GRAVITY

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Gravity’s minimalistic plot is by no means unintentional; if anything, it helps capture the audience more vividly in the overwhelmingly realistic details weaved into the film. More impressive is the immeasurable, inescapable tension felt throughout the film. Akin to All is Lost and Captain Phillips, the plot involves the feeling of helplessness as character(s) are trapped in a situation from where there is seemingly no way out. And for a large part of the film, you can sense that Bullock’s character’s future is escaping from her grasp. Does she make it back to Earth? Well, this is a high-grossing Hollywood film, so I’ll let you make your mind up from there. What particularly impresses is Sandra Bullock’s physical acting, where she epitomises fragility and fear with little dialogue. While the Oscar for Best Actress went to Cate Blanchett for her work in Blue Jasmine, Bullock perhaps gives the performance of her career in this film. Stunning visuals also work in the film’s favour, which helps to engage with the audience as if you’re in place of Bullock. Mesmerising, Gravity is a spectacle of a film where you need to watch it in the 3D medium to appreciate it fully.

3. CLOUD ATLAS

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Opening to a £6m box office return, Cloud Atlas is criminally underrated, inaccessible and relatively unheard of. Which makes no sense; it’s helmed by the directors of the Matrix Trilogy, features a number of A-list actors (Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent), and has an ambitious scope that it just about manages to achieve. Cloud Atlas is an epic, and not short of a masterpiece. It’s a mixture of emotions, action and pace that rarely seem cluttered; and while not every story (in Cloud Atlas, six intertwining stories are told in fantastic detail) is impressive, the flick is visually stunning, and has a magnificent score that resonates with the audience for days on end.

2. THE GREAT GATSBY

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A movie that was slammed by critics, being too in-your-face, boisterous, and absolutely not atypical of the era it was set in. Well, it seems like critics miss the point of Baz Luhrmann and his style. This film perhaps encapsulates everything Luhrmann moreso than Romeo & Juliet, or even Moulin Rouge. It’s also the film I prefer the most out of the trio; booming music, incredible visuals that, contrary to what most people think, don’t tire you out the longer you progress into the movie, and once again, dazzling performances. Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgerton steal the show; Mulligan as a romantic woman torn between her husband and Gatsby, and Edgerton as a plastic, slimy, charmless husband to Mulligan. Edgerton’s brutality is exquisite. As too is Mulligan’s facade of a sweet innocent woman. DiCaprio’s performance, on the other hand, is what would be expected of Gatsby, but it’s a little overplayed at times.  Nevertheless, if you’re a fan of Luhrmann, The Great Gatsby impresses and entertains on so many levels, with the only afterthought being a gobsmacked “wow”.

1. THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES

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“If you ride like lightning, you’re gonna crash like thunder.”

Derek Cianfrance’s latest film since Blue Valentine is absolutely incredible. It tells the tale of a motorcyclist (Ryan Gosling), as he tries to support his family. A cop (Bradley Cooper in his best ever performance) enters the fray and the consequences of their encounter are told in the film’s final act. The Place Beyond the Pines is the most moving film of 2013, featuring a raw, understated performance from Ryan Gosling (his best ever performance) and a haunting soundtrack that etches its way into the audience for some time after the end credits appear. A masterpiece, the film manages to be both thrilling, tense and emotional, each attribute balanced perfectly by Cianfrance as not to dominate the film. Dane DeHaan, who plays Gosling’s son, brings out another fantastic performance, a definite rising star that has a great future ahead of him. What makes The Place Beyond the Pines so special is its ability to resonate with the audience, to show a raw and fresh reality that strikes deeply into the audience’s heart.