Saturday, 27 December 2014

My Top Twenty Films Of The Year

This year has been truly fantastic. From indie flicks, to big budget fodder there has been something for everyone. I have managed to see 49 new released this year and here is my top twenty. NOTE: this is on UK releases, so 12 Years a Slave, Inside Llewyn Davis make it in and Birdman, The Theory of Everything don't make it.

20) A Dangerous Game

Donald Trump makes a great villain. The sunny disposition that clouds into a demon scowl (when confronted by cheeky interviewers). The bionic hair. The chutzpah. At one moment in A Dangerous Game, Anthony Baxter’s sequel to You’ve Been Trumped, his documentary about the billionaire’s golf-course-building invasion of Scotland, Trump stands on a green receiving a plaque from the “American Academy of Hospitality Sciences”. Turns out: the Academy has three trustees, one named Donald Trump. I was a big fan of Baxter's You've Been Trumped and was interested to see what happened after. Baxter weaves all this together into a fascinating and fairly damning indictment not so much of golf, but of the arrogant culture of exclusivity that has overtaken it worldwide. And while anyone who’s been following the story will know this film has a somewhat happier ending, it remains a plea for eternal vigilance. As environmental lawyer Robert F Kennedy Jr puts it: “There are lots of Donald Trumps out there.” It's a good job there are lots of Anthony Baxter's out there too.

19) Cherry Pie 

Everyone has gotten to that point in life where all they want to do is run. Run as far as they can. Away from everything and on their own. Zoé tries to escape herself. She travels north through bleak landscapes until she gets on a ferryboat, where a mysterious woman suddenly disappears. In the winter coat of a stranger, Zoé reaches the other side of the Channel. Cherry Pie is a lesson in how to make a film with limited plot. There's no twists, heavy dialogue or even characters of note. This is a clinic in filmmaking, editing and sound design, and it's worth watching for that alone. Technically, the film is superb. Logically and narratively-speaking, the film is odd to say the least, but it's enticing and gripping. Narrative is minimal in Cherry Pie, as is dialogue. What exactly motivates Zoé, what she thinks, where she is going - we can only guess. She slowly sinks into a catatonic silence.  It's a film I'd like to study, for sure. Everything feels like it's there for a reason and I would love to find out why.

18) Stations of the Cross

When reading the synopsis for Stations of the Cross, I was afraid that the chosen format of 14 fixed-angle scenes, numbered and named as per the 14 Stations of the Cross, would effectively work out as a sort of harness. We’ve seen that many times before, when the format takes over and the content suffers. However, it becomes clear very early on that the format won’t hamper this particular film, which is a strong offering from director Dietrich Brüggemann. The central character is 14-year-old Maria, but her uncompromising mother is also a key figure in the drama as it unfolds in 14 distinct scenes, the first of which shows a priest with a group of children, sitting around a table and talking about the essentials of what their true Catholic life will entail. They’re together in preparation for the sacrament of Confirmation, and from that moment on they’re expected to stand up for their faith, and to defend it against everything that deviates from the Ten Commandments and the Seven Sacraments. Aided by strong and convincing performances from Lea van Acken as the innocent and deeply religious Maria, and Franziska Weisz as her fanatic mother, Stations of the Cross brings to light the importance of tolerance in a society where extremism is ever increasing and bigotry is rife. It’s a film that speaks to its audience with minimal camera movements, as the story unfolds with a finesse that’s rarely found in modern cinema.

17) In Order of Disappearance 

In Order of Disappearance tells the story of a man who snow ploughs the wild mountains of Norway, and becomes a vigilante after gangsters murder his son. Recounting the story wouldn’t really give much of an indication of why this particular film is so impressive. The narrative is definitely good but it’s the way it’s told that makes it a winner. The script is full of funny dialogue, with characters often going off on humorous tangents about, for example, why only cold countries have a welfare state or how nice Norwegian prisons are. The script is full of this humour, and it never feels forced or flat. Most movies about revenge tend to focus on the spectacle of cruelty and bloodshed, delivering a film filled with somewhat morally justified killings, but no meaning behind them. That’s not the case with this film. Like many other Scandinavian masterpieces, In Order of Disappearance delivers a deep and meaningful story. The script tries to focus on the conflicts and personal tragedies behind the murders, which makes it not just a great gangster flick, but also a great drama. With Hans Petter Moland’s directing style, every gesture, look and sentence has a meaning. Of course, this impact is helped by some great performances by Stellan Skarsgard, Bruno Ganz and Pal Sverre Hagen.

16) Nightcrawler

Jake Gyllenhaal has spent his entire career playing the creepy guy. Some would say he's now typecast, but somehow he manages to keep his performances fresh and exciting. WithNightcrawler, he puts in a tour-de-force performance, which is arguably his best. Part satirical view of media sensationalism, part success story, Nightcrawler is one of those rare films that is not only superbly entertaining, but sophisticated and thought-provoking in equal measure. Ultimately, Dan Gilroy has created a terrifically dark and humourous attack on today's media industry. Fincher'sGone Girl may have attacked the media, but Nightcrawler tears it limb from limb as viciously as Lou Bloom breaking into a house to shoot the remnants of a burglary.

15) Only Lovers Left Alive 

I've been a big Jim Jarmusch fan for a long time. In fact, I would go as far to say that Down By Law is probably in my top ten films of all time. So when I heard he was making a vampire flick I was exciting. I mean, it could do with the Jarmusch touch after the diabolical run of form the vampire genre has gone through. Of course, one knows that a Jim Jarmusch movie about vampires is not going to be like any other vampire film. In fact it would be unkind to class this as a vampire movie. Only Lovers Left Alive is a highly stylized and atmospheric film bemoaning the passing of the great rock n roll and Hippy era. Here we have a vampire couple (Swinton & Hiddleston - both excellent and perfectly cast) living an isolated life in an abandoned house in Detroit, USA. Hiddleston used to be a famous rock n roll artist who has become a recluse collecting old guitars and records. They survive by purchasing blood samples from a corrupt doctor. We also have one of their old vampire friends (John Hurt) living in Tangiers where the blood is specially pure. Things take an unexpected turn when Swinton's mischievous sister (Mia Wasikowska) visits them. Only Lovers Left Alive has cult film written all over it. The music is great too and blends perfectly with the atmosphere. It's a mesmerising and simply wonderful watch. 

14) Dallas Buyers Club 

Of course now this is just a stopgap in the McConaissance, but if you dig deeper this is a heart-warming biopic that will make you feel good and bad about society at the same time. At times Mr. McConaughey's acting abilities may have been in question, but doubtless there has always been a genius just waiting to explode. And explode it does in Dallas Buyers Club. Given a fully explored and developed character, he is the centrifugal force of the engaging plot of an American tragedy, seamless direction, lively dialogue and creme de la creme supporting actors. This actor, who proves he can blur the lines between acting and real, rises to the ranks of Dustin Hoffman, Sean Penn, Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, our Grand Pere, Jack Nicholson, and his own idol, Paul Newman. Unquestionably, he deserves a spot in Academy Awards for Best Actor. At long last, given the opportunity, he has proved to possess truly exquisite talent; to be an actor's actor, worthy of study, deep respect, even awe. He skillfully brings to life an oddball cowboy character to the level of hero, and mesmerizes the audience at every single breath, by every stretch of his emaciated gorgeous heart, soul and body. Shirts off to Matthew McConaughey, and may you never doubt his abilities again.

13) Guardians of the Galaxy

Dare I say it, I was starting to get bored of Marvel's Cinematic Universe. The Avengers was fantastic, but Iron Man 3, Thor 2 and even Captain America 2 disappointed. The perfect remedy? A giant tree, a talking raccoon, a brute of a man who takes everything literally, a kick-ass assassin and the next Indiana Jones. James Gunn brought his perfect blend of humour and action to the MCU and it's so perfect it makes you wonder why it's never happened before. The characters are so carefully crafted, the world is already an exciting place to explore and it's simply the funniest Marvel film to date. I am much more excited to hang our with Rocket, Quill, and pals then I am to see the guy in the tin and the dude with the shield. 

12) Blue Ruin

On the surface, Blue Ruin is a down-the-line, ticks all the boxes revenge thriller. What it actually is is something much different. The film comes from Jeremy Saulnier, who could be introducing a new genre to cinema: the multiple-twist movie. The plot seems pretty straight forward at first. Dwight (Macon Blair) is a homeless man living on the outskirts of an amusement park. One day he finds that the man who killed his parents is about to be released from prison. Clearly, Dwight has no intention to turn the other cheek in this case and he sets out to a successful assassination. It's a stripped down tale, but it's far from a straight forward one. Whenever you get comfortable, Blue Ruin changes into something else. It is a consistently unpredictable, twisty, and excellent thriller. At no point will you be quite sure where the film will take you, or what direction it will go next, up until the final scene. Saulnier's vision of crime drama with moral issues is in fact a breath of fresh air in a stagnant genre.Blue Ruin never leaves Dwight’s perspective, everything goes through him and Macon Blair portrays him sublimely. Despite being in every scene, I still feel like I haven't even scratched the surface of the character. He gives nothing away, but he's still very easy to follow and great to watch. There's this subtlety that Blair brings to the character that makes him almost mesmerising. He's a gripping character, which makes the film gripping. This is Macon Blair's film, more so than Jeremy Saulnier's film, and he completely owns it.

11) The Grand Budapest Hotel 

It has often been said that Wes Anderson walks the fine line between folly and genius. In the The Grand Budapest Hotel, however, this distinction no longer exists: the ridiculous becomes brilliant, and brilliant has never been this ridiculous. 

It is his best work, or at least the film which has all of Anderson's creative impulses working in one direction, producing a coherent work of art. His films have always been quirky, charming and out-of-this world, but never before has the audience been immersed in Andersonland as fully as with this film. The colours, the camera movement that switches between different parts of the set, the music, the lens angle distortion, the ridiculously stellar cast, all of Anderson's trademark elements, combine to produce the ultimate Anderson film. The absolutely ridiculous CGI is used perfectly to add to the surrealism of the movie. It is also extremely well crafted, not only visually, but structurally. Unlike some of his previous work, the editing, the pacing and the rhythm of "Budapest" are pitch-perfect. On the other hand, it seeps with nostalgia, a bittersweet longing for an age long past, and the fascinating characters it produced. It is technically a detective comedy, and one has to note that the genre seems to suit Anderson's peculiar brand of filmmaking very well. But never before has Hitchcock's Macguffin been as explicitly embodied as by the "Boy With the Apple". The plot is merely a mechanism that allows Anderson to transport his vision onto the screen, a vision of a peculiar world seemingly different from our own, but filled with just as much loss and, at the same time, human compassion as ours. There is comedy, but its either very subtle or incredibly over the top, and most viewers are uncomfortable with both. There isn't a single 'ordinary shot', pretty much every image is out of place to such an extent that they begin to form one coherent film, and a fantastic one at that.

10) Nymphomaniac Parts 1&2

After the wild buzz and months of chatter surrounding Nymphomaniac, I more or less expected a provocative, pretentious, incomprehensible porno film. I thought it would be a shallow artistic excuse to show lots of explicit sex in an attempt to shock the audience and create controversy. I was wrong. Is it provocative? In many ways, yes, and there are plenty of scenes that might be considered tasteless or mindlessly shocking. But if had to describe the film in one word, I wouldn’t use ‘provocative’. Instead, I would use ‘imaginative’. Typical to Lars Non Trier’s style, Nymphomaniac is so full of creativity and cinematographic exuberance that it’s hard not be impressed. The nice thing is that Von Trier never takes himself too seriously and, in a way, it’s a pity that the film is primary about sex. So much attention is given to the genital close-ups that it overshadows everything else, including the creative way in which the film is made. Nymphomaniac is dark, thrilling and poetic. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just a film about sex either. It’s a film about loneliness and being alone, a film of pain and pleasure that’s held together by intertwined plots and characters. Fans of Von Trier won’t be disappointed.
9) The Golden Dream
The Golden Dream is the debut feature by Mexican director Diego Quemada-Díez, previously a cinematographer and camera operator on 21 Grams and The Constant Gardener. This film carries a similar weightiness and moral heft to those films, yet retains a dreamlike quality that at times leaves the film in debt as much to Terrence Malick as Alejandro González Iñárritu. It also looks like it's been heavily inspired by the works of Ken Loach. A flowing, lyrical film, at times startlingly beautiful, The Golden Dream hypnotises the viewer with its constant movement, its unceasing rhythm. It can also be shockingly brutal, and abrupt departures leave us longing for a Hollywood narrative that will grant us resolution, aching from the inability to find out what happened to those who are lost. On this journey, it's easy to be laughing one moment and dead the next. Only the dream is consistent, but can America possibly deliver what is promised? It's notoriously difficult to make this kind of film work, both at the scripting stage and in the execution. What Quemada-Díez has achieved is a triumph.Beautifully shot, and powerfully told, The Golden Dream succeeds in telling a political story, personally. Using improvisational techniques and non-professional actors, Diego Quemada-Diez's astounding and gripping début feature is a piercing and poetic road movie.
8) Inside Llewyn Davis 

I love folk music and I love the Coen brothers. I am completely smitten. I have long admired Joel Coen and Ethan Coen and what they have offered the realm of cinema. I am in love with Fargo still until this day, and they've provided solid efforts on nearly every outing since. Their newest endeavour that focuses on the folk scene in 1961 is an absolute dream. Everything from the impeccable Oscar Isaac to the music that enriches the deepest trenches of the soul, Inside Llewyn Davis is one of the best pictures of the year, plain and simple. It's the Coen Brothers finest film since FargoIn some ways, this is a perfect fit for the Coen’s. They’ve showed their love for music in O Brother, Where Art Thou’s outstanding soundtrack, they’ve shown they can write an interesting, if flawed character that we still want to root for in every Coen film ever and they’ve shown they can write a film in which nothing happens but everything is interesting. Everything is slow, but very, very rewarding. In its running time of 105 minutes, few definite conclusions are drawn in regard to Llewyn's career and with the film ending in the same place as it started, it seems unlikely that he will break free from his cycle of obscurity. But then, the film really isn't about Llewyn's 'career' or his friends, because this is a film about Llewyn. The beginnings of the film highlight a raw, unabashed view on rejection and obscurity accompanied by this nagging expectation that Llewyn's life might blossom into a success story. But ultimately, that's not what the film is about and it's goal is not to satisfy filmic convention. Inside Llewyn Davis is very simply, a soulful and beautifully drawn portrait of a man and his music.

7) Under the Skin 

Firstly, there is no obvious narrative in this film, because it does not have a big significance or importance here. On the most basic level it is a story of an alien imposing a woman and seducing men from all over Scotland in order to drain their flesh. This is the most simple summary of the movie. On deeper layers it is a serious study of our society. The film's main focus is on the inside and outside of things, the philosophy of form and material. Johansson's character is struggling in this society. She is always portrayed as going against the stream, she is lost in the sea of rushing people who do not want to get deeper into things, because they know they could be hurt. This is represented in a very subtle visual way. For instance, roses look nice in the film, but they have spikes which make rose seller's hands bleed. A piece of cake seems delicious, but the taste of it is disgusting. It is always the fight between the surface and depth in this film, the first impression and further investigation. I believe it is a very important theme for our society where people are afraid of making commitments or engagements, where they seek for quick pleasures, even though they need true and honest love. The film is very strong visually and stylistically. In order for the reader to get a glimpse of what it is, I will say that it is sort of a combination of Kubrick, Lynch and von Trier. And that's as big a compliment as you can get. 

6) Locke

One location films have been successful through the years. From films such as PhoneboothRed Eye and Flightplan have proven that with a tight enough script, you can create a tense and entertaining film set in a single location. It does all come down to the script, though. Without a good script, you could end up with Snakes on a Plane...Eek! With this, comes Steven Knight's new film, Locke.  A film where the whole story takes places inside the confines of a car, and with Tom Hardy as the only actor on screen. It is testament to Hardy's acting nous that he can pull off such a taught, powerful performance solely based on reactions to the increasingly dramatic phone calls. Locke is unrelenting in his belief of doing the right thing and we see why when he has imagined conversations with his father, an apparently neglectful and emotionally absent figure in his life. These scenes in particular are beautifully shot with the use of Locke looking into the car mirrors for the man who isn't there. It's a wonderful film that deserves a lot of credit. Hopefully this will shortly be recognised as a seminal British feature film. A remarkable achievement, story telling and performance at the very highest level and hugely entertaining. Collaboratively it's nothing less than a cinematic tour de force. Filmed in just eight nights and with very low budget, the film is literally a lesson of how unique and quite fantastic minimalist cinema can be.

5) We Are The Best!

Music creates this nostalgia that holds so strong that no matter what you will always love it. Much like Inside Llewyn Davis heralded folk music, Lukas Moodysson's We Are the Best! heralds punk music more than any film around. It's punk. Even more punk than Julien Temple's The Filth and The Fury, the great documentary about the Sex Pistols and England in the late 1970s. Presented are a few young individuals who think alike and don't waver for a second to present their own opinions. They're unique - just like the rest of us - and just so you know, just because disco came around, doesn't mean punk's dead.Moodysson concentrates on the exuberance of youth, celebrating the highs of friendships and the chaotic lows of arguments, boyfriends, parents, jealousies, growing up and everything else! Everything is treated with a lack of cynicism, everyone is treated with a sense of perspective and affection. Of course, it helps that you've got three genuine and utterly infectious teenage girls to make you laugh constantly. Hedvig, Klara and Bobo display in their own individual way their sensitivities and uncertainties with life. It's not just heart-warming though, it's also terrifically funny. The children are innocent, yet also know more about the world than most adults. They're funnily written characters, with a great outlook on life. There's something lovely about seeing these children loving the punk life. A life that has a bad reputation. They bring something beautiful and intelligent about it. It's a hardcore film that's cute, sad, very funny, very Swedish and human from the core on out. The script is great, the dialogue should be a blueprint on how Swedish realism should be, Moodysson still claims the throne as the best living Swedish director, and this film will live on forever. I really hope this gets syndicated throughout the world, because that's what it deserves. Punk is back, baby! "Brezhnev, Reagan. F*** off!" 

4) Gone Girl

Gone Girl marks Fincher's tenth feature film and his most mature work since Fight Club. Centering on Nick Dunne, a husband desperately trying to find his wife all while having police and media accuse him of murder. The story sounds straight out of the Scott Peterson case and the film looks unlike any film I've seen in recent years. Lead by an all star cast featuring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick Harris, Gone Girl rises above the pack with smart storytelling, phenomenal pacing and perfect performances. What it does so brilliantly is it taps into the audience's psyche regarding marriage and the ideology behind a sanctioned union that is corrupt. It is really heavy stuff when the story really gets to the meat and bones of it all. With plenty of twists and turns, Gone Girl keeps you, not only second guessing the whole idea of marriage, but the intentions of every character in the film. It is truly one of the most twisted films adapted from an even sicker and twisted book that's out there right now. Gillian Flynn does wonders with her adaption from her own novel. The dialogue is crisp, the characters are multi-layered, it truly is a pitch perfect script that doesn't have one false moment in it. Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike are fantastic in this film. This is a different Affleck, a very human and realized Affleck. Nick Dunne is a wonderful role for him and captivates just how good he can be with a terrific director. Harris and Perry give well rounded performances as well but are nothing compared to Affleck and Pike. David Fincher and his long time collaborator and cinematographer, Jeff Cronenweth create a dreary, horrific tone for Gone Girl that makes every twist and turn that much more gut wrenching. Every shot is meticulously planned, showing each shot as if it were a still frame that spoke a thousand words. It is truly gorgeous filmmaking. And now for the score...Trent Reznor and Atticus Finch deliver a perfect score, besting their Social Network and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo score. If Reznor won for Social Network, I fully expect not only a nomination but a win for this film. Overall, this is a mesmerising film that demands multiple viewings to truly get the full experience. It is impeccably made, beautifully acted and an all around near perfect film.

3) 12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave is very, very hard to watch. Is it because this is an American tragedy, done by Americans? Is it the guilt of someone's ancestors manifesting it in your tear ducts? I can't answer that. Only the person who says it can. The structure of this country is built on the backs and blood of slaves. But slavery didn't just exist in America, it was everywhere. It occurred for over 200 years and believe it or not, it still exists in some parts of the world today. If you've seen McQueen's other works then you'll more or less know what kind of movie to expect (if you haven't then please stop reading and watch Hunger and Shame). 12 Years a Slave is dark and raw, it exposes everything, without sugarcoating it. It is definitely hard to watch; but in my opinion, it is not only worth watching but necessary. Films exploring themes of slavery are few and far in between and never has one been quite as exhaustive and effective as this one. McQueen is a fearless filmmaker, continuing his streak of unfiltered brutality within human depths. He frames his actors' faces in extreme close-up, the eyes staring into despair, the nostrils fuming in aggression. Naked flesh are shown not because of erotic content, but rather because of desperation and futility. Long takes and wide shots are not uncommon in his films, and here they showcase a plethora of fantastic scenes and performances that work to discomfort the viewer as much as possible. McQueen doesn't just allow the audience to tackle slavery, he guts the audience and leaves them for the consequences. This is an extremely uncomfortable film to watch. Beautifully shot locations are placeholders for unsettling sequences before and after, contemplated by Hans Zimmer's poignant and at times horrifying score. This all works to create a nightmarish time and place where hell walks on Earth. Steve McQueen has created another masterpiece.

2) Boyhood

On the surface, Boyhood is just a coming of age film, and not the first in Richard Linklater's career. Beneath the surface it is one of the most unusual projects in film history and easily Linklater's opus magnum. It depicts the growing up of Mason (Ellar Coltrane), a dreamy, imaginative, sensitive boy, son of a single mother without much luck when it comes to men and an easygoing though slightly irresponsible father. The unusual thing: Linklater filmed this over the span of twelve years, assembling the same cast every year. What we see is a boy of seven growing into a young man just starting college.The light narrative touch Linklater is such a master of is all there as he weaves the scenes together effortlessly into a long narrative in which time moves on naturally. Mason grows older without breaks, moves from childhood through adolescence to young adulthood. The adults, too, developed, move on, grow older, regress occasionally. The film consists of scenes depicting ordinary lives, the camera is unobtrusive, at times almost documentary- like, the music well-chosen and supportive, the narrative rhythm organic. There is some drama, charming banality, the film isn't free of clichés and stereotypes, yet it breathes life in what is a stream of living, trying to find a way, drifting along, seeking direction. In a way, everyone tries to grow up, father, mother, children. this could have been just an impressive project. As it stands, it is a true masterpiece, an entirely compelling and – though completely unsentimental – deeply moving film.What's so unique about Boyhood is that these individuals (including Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, and Linklater's own daughter, Lorelei Linklater) evolve and age within a scripted narrative that is not 'like' a time capsule, this is a completely authentic period piece that retraces an era from the cultural response to September 11th, through the election of Barrack Obama, and into the age of social media saturation. As you watch these actors morph through more than a decade of their lives within a few hours, the story becomes as engaging as its concept. Linklater has not made a bad film and that is continued by Boyhood. It sets a new standard in the exploration of film's potential and reinforcing the limitlessness of DIY filmmaking.

1) Pride

It’s really difficult to deliver a feel good film that doesn’t shy away from serious issues without descending into mawkishness or sentimentality. Pride is neither. Instead, the film commemorates the hitherto unremarked but nevertheless remarkable alliance between Welsh miners and London lesbians and gay men. It is an enjoyable, well-made and sometimes uplifting movie set in a bleak period of British history. Pride is a political film in the best sense: it’s about people joining together to take control of their own destinies, a theme which has a long history in UK cinema, going back at least to the fantasy of Passport to Pimlico to the based-on-fact Made in Dagenham, with The Full Monty and Billy Elliott in between. The film, so appropriately named, delivers a moving story about pride, friendship and solidarity. When I wasn’t laughing at the incredible performances from the top cast, I was crying at the emotional and moving story that runs through the film.That is not to say that it shies away from the horrors both the miners and the LGBT community faced back then. It does not avoid the shadow of aids or the genuine issues gay and lesbian people faced in the 1980’s. This so easily could have slipped into a tragic or an over politically charged story, but instead it’s beautifully written and balanced. It’s funny but very moving, with a perfect blend of comedy and seriousness. This is certainly a political film, but you don’t have to be into politics. Simply, you have to have a heart. It’s uplifting to see how totally disparate groups can support each other and learn more about both communities in the process. It starts with the music of Pete Seeger and ends with Billy Bragg, two activist musicians who I greatly admire. The dialogue is well thought-out, and delivered convincingly by a stellar cast, who are always believable in their roles. It never strays into the offensive, or to the other end of the spectrum, patronising. It restores my faith in humanity, traditional British fairness and good nature. I had wondered how we turned around the institutionalised homophobia which saw Britain’s LGBT people crushed under the Sexual Offences Act of 1967 to the legal enshrinement of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act of 2013 – in only a few short decades. Now I know how this journey started, through a beautifully, well handled story. This movie has jumped straight to the top of my best films of the year.