20. The Square (Al-Midan) -Egypt/USA- Arabic/English. Directed by Jehane Noujaim. I love documentaries as ways to learn more (it's how I passed my Financial History exams) and the Arab Spring was one of the biggest events of my recent life and I sadly don't know much about it. This film, given the topic, is surprisingly not depressing. It is vibrant and really illuminates the events with energy and showcases the motivation, hope and perseverance of the people.Of course, with a film of this honesty there is much that is difficult to watch when capturing an event which was so filled with turmoil. But the best recommendation is the film manages to give clarity to a situation that seemed very confusing and leaves us with a hopeful feeling for Egypt.
19. The Lunchbox - India- Hindi/English. Directed by Ritesh Batra . So usually when you say Indian film and love story it generally is silly and not usually quality. There are exceptions, of course (Bombay, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge) but they're usually the exception. That's why it's great to find a good one. This film really shows the transformational power of love, the kind of love really the movies have us chasing our whole life after. I heard once in a workshop that your short story is "give the character a goal, then an obstacle. It's good when the reader wants them to overcome the obstacle". This is that in film. You want the characters to come together. And, of course, the reason I watch Hindi films a lot is because I like seeing India and Mumbai as a setting could almost get a supporting actor credit, offering up its reality of a place of hopes, dreams and loneliness.
18. Like Someone in Love ( ライク・サムワン・イン・ラブ /Raiku Samuwan In Rabu) - France/Japan - Japanese. Directed by Abbas Kiarostami. Kiarostami, in this like in Certified Copy is playing with identity and perception. Dropping us into a story and then changing the story. You spend as much time enjoyably confused and you do being taken in. An excellent combination in a film and one that I'd never really experienced much. The film is more like a nature documentary observation than a character study but the character interplay is still the basis of the film, just doesn't feel scripted. And the climatic end is really fitting.
17. The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu/ 風立ちぬ)- Japan - Japanese. Directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The last Miyazaki film (he's retiring) and that's quite depressing because his films have been probably the best of animated for my entire life (Princess Mononoke & Kiki's Delivery Service were the first anime films I ever saw). He ended off on a high making us want more too. It is beautifully complex, as it has to be depicting pre-war Japan and the topic of designing weapons. The movie is both a classic story (smart kid comes good, has his ideas corrupted/misused by others. Also tragic love story) as well as a sumptuously crafted fantasy.
16. The Wolf of Wall Street - USA- English .Directed by Martin Scorsese. Still not out in the cinemas last time I checked but I was lucky to see it abroad. Been looking forward to it all year and it did not disappoint. Hilarious and the breaking of the fourth wall is always appreciated when it's done well (by me) and it's done well. The film is a huge portrayal of vice and excess but in no way glorified which is uncommon (and probably needed). All the more amazing is that it's based on a true story. DiCaprio is spot on and just as good in comedy as any drama role, maybe even better.