So, I’ve picked the best of the films on TV over the Christmas period – but what if absolutely none of them take your fancy? It could happen! You might want to see something more recent – in which case the Christmas holiday is the perfect opportunity to catch up with the best movies of the year now available on DVD. Here’s a few ideas.
On paper, a near-silent, French film doesn’t look like an award winner, but this swept all before it on its way to being the big Oscar winner of the year. Set during the arrival of the talkies, it traces the rise and fall of movie star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin). It re-creates the period beautifully, has charm and style – and it also has Uggie, who steals just about every scene.
Only recently on DVD, this is one my films of the year. J C Chandor’s directorial debut is a financial thriller, set at the start of a financial crisis. A superb ensemble cast, led by Kevin Spacey as an 80s relic in red braces and including Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons and Stanley Tucci create a sense of foreboding in a cold hard city. You may have missed this one first time round, due to its limited distribution: if you did, get the DVD. You won’t regret it.
This was the year that Wes Anderson went mainstream. Until this summer, his films were regarded as eclectic, quirky and not for the masses. But Moonrise Kingdom changed all that, with its simple tale of two runaway teenagers who fall in love. Gentle and beautifully observed, the film retained Anderson’s trademark cock-eyed view of the world while leaving behind some of the self-indulgence of previous offerings.
The Dark Knight Rises
One the year’s blockbusters, this was the third and final part of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy and a fitting finale. We were on familiar territory with the cast of Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman, but there was a new, almost faceless adversary in the muscular shape of Bane (Tom Hardy), hell-bent on the destruction of Gotham. While not of the calibre of Heath Ledger’s Joker, his style of anarchy produced some great set pieces and the film left the door open just a crack to allow for the possibility of another series, although with a different director.
One of the year’s big award contenders, Alexander Payne’s family drama allowed George Clooney to demonstrate that he’s not just a pretty face. I would have given him the Oscar for his performance as the father trying to reconnect with his daughters after his wife’s accident. A stuffy, at times pompous character, he also has a strong sense of decency which sees him through a series of painful events. Essentially a film about self-knowledge, The Descendants is thought-provoking and uplifting at the same time.
And that’s my lot! I hope that, among the TV films and DVDs, I’ve suggested something to whet your appetite and that, whatever you find yourself watching over the holiday, you enjoy it.
Have a great Christmas and join me around New Year for my look forward to the films on the horizon for 2013.
Jingle, jingle ………