MIFF Recommendations

It’s that time of the year again, with the Melbourne International Film Festival just weeks away and over 300 films from around the world on display this time around! I’m eagerly anticipating catching as many films as I can from July 31 to August 18 and thought I’d give some recommendations on the great films I’ve seen so far, as well as my most anticipated.

As well as the site, I’ll be updating the films I see with this list on Letterboxd. Let me know which films you will be seeing this year and your thoughts on any as you see them!

Recommended Films:

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Boyhood – The best film I’ve seen from the MIFF line up so far. Filmed over 11 years, it’s fantastic film-making. Playing August 2 and 6.
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Movie Review – The Raid 2 (2014)

Providing action just as brilliant and breathtaking as the original, The Raid 2 takes a slightly different route to The Raid, with a noticeably stronger plot. As opposed to the relatively simple storyline of the first film, the layered story works well for the most part, but the highlight of the film is still the thrilling action sequences.
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Only a short time after the first raid, Rama goes undercover with the thugs of Jakarta and plans to bring down the syndicate and uncover the corruption within his police force. Gareth Evans returns to the director’s chair after the big success of The Raid: Redemption and he keeps the sequel fresh with a much deeper storyline that the first. Iko Uwais also returns as Rama and it’s his fantastic action scenes that give the film a great base. Along with Yayan Ruhian and newcomer Arifin Putra, the film is filled with interesting characters.
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86th Academy Awards Predictions

After going 20/24 with my predictions last year, it’s that time of the year again to lock in my official predictions for the 86th Academy Awards! There’s some tough categories as always this year, but I’d be very surprised if any of the major categories had an upset, except perhaps Best Supporting Actress. Here’s my full predictions:
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BEST PICTURE:
12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity
Her
Nebraska
Philomena
The Wolf of Wall Street

Winner: 12 Years A Slave
Confidence: 90%

I’d be very surprised if Gravity can upset 12 Years A Slave, a film I’ve had locked in now for the best part of 6 months.
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Top 50 of 2013 – #10-1

Welcome to my final post in the Top 50 films of the year countdown. It’s been another awesome year of movies, I hope you enjoy my top 10 and thanks for checking out the list!

Without further ado:
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#10 – Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa

My funniest film of the year, Steve Coogan is hilarious as Alan Partridge and the 90 minute run-time flies by. When famous DJ Alan Partridge’s radio station is taken over by a new media conglomerate, it sets in motion a chain of events which see Alan having to work with the police to defuse a potentially violent siege. Nothing else to say, I hope it makes you laugh as much as it did for me.

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Top 50 of 2013 – #20-11

Entering the top 20 films of 2013, all highly recommended!
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#20 – Prisoners

Highly gripping, tense and well acted from Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano and co. There’s no telling what’s going to happen; When Keller Dover’s daughter and her friend go missing, he takes matters into his own hands as the police pursue multiple leads and the pressure mounts. Awesome cinematography from Roger Deakins and I didn’t feel the 153 minute run-time either.

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Top 50 of 2013 – #30-21

Crossing the half way point of my countdown, we are starting to get to the films I really loved, ones I will definitely rewatch in the near future. As always, let me know which of these you enjoyed, I’m sure #25 will feature as many people’s best of the year!

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#30 – Stories We Tell

One of only two documentaries in my countdown, looking at director Sarah Polley’s quite interesting life growing up. While the source material is decent, it’s the way it’s highlighted through small amounts of information and interviews that is great. There’s plenty of humour from the interviewees which is fantastic, especially given it’s not quite a happy story. With some decent reenactment scenes, the film’s final third does feel a bit long but it still finishes well and definitely gets some emotion out of you. I didn’t see that many documentaries this year but it would be well worth catching this one.

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Top 50 of 2013 – #40-31

The next 10 films in my Top 50 of the year are up now. (Check out yesterday’s post if you missed the start.) Let me know if any of your favourites are in this set of 10!

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#40 – Oblivion

Already recognized at #2 in my “Best Rotten Films of the year” list, Oblivion was also good enough to slot in at #40 on my end of year list, arguably the most underrated film of the year. From my review: Oblivion is an often enthralling Sci-Fi film with stunning cinematography and a soundtrack that provides tension and intrigue around every corner. It’s complex plot may not be perfect but the music and the film’s ease on the eye does enough to carry it and give an entertaining, suspenseful viewing.

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Top 50 of 2013 – #50-41

Welcome to my Top 50 films of the year! Thanks for all the comments, views and film discussion over the last 12 months and I hope you enjoy the countdown. Please bear in mind these are my favourite movies of the year, I’m not attempting to judge a films quality, but more-so how much I enjoyed or appreciated the fantastic films of the last 365 days. I think it’s been one of the best years in a while.

Here are the first 10 films in the countdown:

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#50 – Spring Breakers
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The most divisive film of the year (just ahead of Only God Forgives), Spring Breakers almost missed my 50 even though I made the effort to see it twice. The film was such an experience though and just had to be included, there are plenty of elements I loved even if it was a little long. Spring Breakers is rated R for a reason. There’s nudity, drugs and adult themes throughout, however it’s much more than just softcore porn. We watch four girls going wild over Spring Break, including a great performance from Selena Gomez who breaks out of her Disney mould with a character that felt real and innocent as a girl stuck in a chaotic, scary drug world. The soundtrack is hard hitting and the cinematography is beautiful too, with some fantastic lighting and camera techniques trialed throughout. James Franco‘s unique, strange character of Alien was a highlight and the “Everytime” scene was amazing and powerful.

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Top 50 of 2013 – Notable Absentees

The Top 50 is nearly here! Today’s final pre-countdown post looks at some notable absentees that I’ve seen from the year but haven’t made the final cut. I love end-of-year lists but one of my hates is eagerly anticipating your favourite movie of the year on a list, getting to the #1 spot and realising it was left out completely!

For this reason I’m going to mention a few 2013 films that for one reason or another I didn’t like quite enough to make my 50, but still wanted to recognize as films I’ve seen from the year. After the Top 50, I will make my letterboxd list public again so you can see the full rankings of the 130+ films I’ve seen. Interestingly, only 2 of the 9 Best Picture nominees haven’t made my Top 50 this year compared to 4 in last year’s (although I haven’t seen Nebraska.)

Without further ado, the notable absentees:
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Leo in The Wolf of Wall Street ILD-01112-ct.JPG Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine

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Movie Review – Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)

Boosted by a strong performance from Chris Pine in the lead role, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit recovers from a slow start to deliver a largely gripping action film. With enthralling scenes and decent stunts, it’s sure to leave most audiences entertained.
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Director Kenneth Branagh (Thor) introduces us to Jack Ryan before he is recruited by the CIA’s William Harper, solidly played by Kevin Costner. We learn about Ryan’s origins as a financial analyst as well as meeting eventual girlfriend Cathy (Keira Knightley) which while a necessary introduction to the story, does feel a little too slow.

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