Tom Hanks has had a lull in the past decade but Captain Philips marks a return to form in this sensational true story of the hijacking of a Maersk container ship off the east African coast. Hanks' performance is sublime alongside Somalian newcomer, Barkhad Abdi, who provide one of the year's most intense films.
The Way Way Back
Set at a water park near Cape Cod, this was one of the films that surprised and charmed me the most. Steve Carrell refreshingly plays the straight guy as a patronising step-father type figure to the moody 14 year old Duncan, portryayed exceptionally by Liam James. On a summer vacation Duncan finds life with his mum (Toni Collette) and her new boyfriend (Carrell) unbearable so manages to escape to the local water park where he strikes up an unlikely friendship with the owner, the hilarious Sam Rockwell.
Tarantino delved into the world of the Wild West and has produced an absolute gem. Christoph Waltz deservedly bagged an Academy Award for his portrayal of Dr King Schultz but stellar performances from Jamie Foxx, Samuel L Jackson and Leonardo Di Caprio combined to give Tarantino another hit. A perfect soundtrack, over the top deaths and a scene that completely takes the mickey out of the Ku Klux Clan, what more could you want?
Steve Coogan and Dame Judi Dench proved the perfect duo in this heartwrenching true story about Philomena Lee and her quest to find the son that was taken her away from her over fifty years ago. Dame Judi gives a faultless performance as the compassionate Philomena alongside Coogan's grumpy portrait of journalist, Martin Sixsmith. It's very hard not to like this film as the unbelievable truth of the story stuns you between the tears and the laughter.
I've never been the biggest Sci-Fi fan but Gravity simply blew me away. If there was ever a film that is mandatory to see at the cinema, this is it. Appreciated best on the biggest screen and in 3D, Alfonso Cuaron used revolutionary visual effects creating an authenticity unlike any other film I've seen. Sandra Bullock continued to show her versatility as she is our only companion in a film centred around isolation, desperation and determination. One thing is for sure, I don't want to go into space!
The Kings of Summer
Stand By Me is one of my favourite ever films so I approached The Kings of Summer with excitement but also with trepidation after various comparisons between the two. They are certainly worthy as this indie film captures a coming of age tale, as three teens decide to escape family life and build a home in the woods. The cast are simply perfect from the rebellious Joe, played by future star, Nick Robinson to his stern but loving father, portrayed by Parks and Recreation's Nick Offerman. Try it, you''l love it.
Saving Mr Banks
For the first time on the big screen, cinemagoers got to see Walt Disney brought to life and who better to do it than Tom Hanks. It was very hard to dislike Hanks' depiction of the man behind the mouse and likewise it was hard not to become wrapped up in the magic of Mary Poppins. Emma Thompson expertly played the detestable Pamela Travers as we are swept away with the iconic music played to her by the Sherman brothers. A fascinating insight into the making of a Hollywood classic this was one of 2013's feel good films.
“This is what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again, and again, and again. Let me prove it to you.” -Tom Hanks as Walt Disney, Saving Mr Banks
Woody Allen brought us the unique but charming Midnight in Paris in 2011 but it is Blue Jasmine that really shows us there is life in the 78 year old yet. Cate Blanchett as Jasmine is unequivocally the best thing about the film, a performance you can get lost in with her chaos, insecurities and instability. San Francisco provides a gorgeous backdrop to the life of the fallen socialite, complimented brilliantly by Sally Hawkins as Jasmine's innocent sister.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty avoids being pretentious and annoying, it sweeps you off your feet and takes you on an adventure you didn't know you needed. A unique concept that brings Walter's daydreams to life provide surreal but funny moments, in particular a Benjamin Button spoof. Directed and starring Ben Stiller, the film is a giant epiphany to throw caution to the wind as he's sacked from his job at Life magazine, it's time to turn life into an adventure.
Perhaps a bit of curveball to some but this for me was the funniest film of the year and I actually preferred this to Paul Feig's previous film, Bridesmaids. Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy are the perfect comedy duo as they aim to bring down one of Boston's biggest drug rings. Slapstick comedy, biting one liners and impressive action mean this is a comedy full of big belly laughs.
Honourable mentions: Frozen, The Impossible, Mud, Iron Man 3, This is the End