There have been a lot of good films this past year, from the critically lauded (The Hurt Locker), to the summer blockbusters (Star Trek). But then there were also films you didn’t see. And since the DVDs are out, here’s a list of films for your next trip to Netflix or Blockbuster.
South Africa has been the topic of some big name films, from Clint Eastwood’s Invictus to the sci-fi hit District 9, but Pete Travis’ historical thriller on the end of Apartheid emerged as the most engaging and intense one of them all. Never feeling predictable, Endgame is a film rife with tense standoffs, sudden violence and people working to overcome fear and mistrust. The cast is particularly brilliant, with Chiwetel Ejiofor’s turn as the burdened Thabo Umbeki being the highlight.
Five Minutes of Heaven
Like Endgame, reconciliation played a role in Oliver Hirschbiegel’s look into the aftermath of the Troubles of Northern Ireland. Years after he murdered an IRA member in cold blood, the reformed killer Alistair Little (Liam Neeson) goes to meet his victim’s brother (James Nesbitt). Taking its back story from true events, Five Minutes of Heaven is a powerful, moving film, with Neeson and Nesbitt giving powerful performances that drive the movie.
State of Play
Based off a hit BBC miniseries, State of Play was certainly one of the smartest films of the year. When a congressman’s (Ben Affleck) aide is murdered and revealed to be his mistress, he turns to his journalist friend (Russell Crowe) for help in surviving the media backlash and figuring out what happened. Full of twist and turns, the film not only serves as a powerful critique on the state of today’s media, but is also a complex, intelligent thriller with great leads. Fans of the Bourne trilogy or the classic All the President’s Men should definitely check this one out.
If State of Play was smart, Push was genius. Featuring unique concepts and interesting twists, Push was probably the most underrated film of the year. In a world where psychic powers are real and those who have them are hunted by the world’s governments, fugitives in Hong Kong end up being hunted by both government operatives and local gangs. The film gave strict rules to the psychic powers, both deconstructing them and grounding the film. The cast, while not A-list stars, shines, especially Chris Evans, Cliff Curtis and Djimon Hounsou. While not an all out action film, fights in Push are some of the most original of the entire year, featuring glass-shattering screams and telekinetic gunfights.
It Might Get Loud
This is a must see for fans of rock and roll. Davis Guggenheim, the director of the environmental documentary An Inconvenient Truth, moves to a more engaging topic, bringing together Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White to discuss their affinity for the electric guitar. Part biography, part discussion and part concert, It Might Get Loud is a tribute to the staple instrument of rock and roll and three greats of the genre. Plus, the scenes where the trio plays together are amazing and a must see.
Nazi zombies, that is all. This Norwegian action-comedy is a wonderful mix of twisted humor, over the top violence and great direction from Tommy Wirkola, who summed up the film’s origin as “We thought ‘what’s more evil than zombies? Nazi zombies!’” Featuring excellent production values, an excessive amount of fake blood and a cast who really seem to be enjoying the film, Dead Snow is quite simply a comedic masterpiece.