Adventureland One of the most overlooked (and best) movies of this year, Greg Mottola’s paean to post-college dead-end jobs and the zombies who inhabit them is a tender, insightful and sympathetic film that makes the best use thus far of Twilight’s Kristen Stewart and her damaged-girl allure.
Duplicity When it comes to slick, designer-suited espionage thrillers, nobody this decade represents harder than Tony Gilroy, writer of the Bourne trilogy, as well as Michael Clayton and State of Play. With Duplicity, Gilroy takes over behind the camera as well with a dialogue-heavy yet consistently intriguing spy tale in which Julia Roberts (who finally seems comfortable here after countless years of cold, stiff outings) and Clive Owen are forced to work together years after a chance romantic encounter – or not so chance. The film folds in on itself so many times that it makes the Oceans films seem clear as day by comparison, but it’s so much fun along the way that you’ll be grinning as you scratch your head.
Hunger Far from a political film, this story of imprisoned IRA politico Bobby Sands and the nine others who died from a hunger strike is one of pure artistry. It’s the kind of film that makes cinéastes giddy with glee. A stunning debut feature for British director Steve McQueen that won everything (including the Golden Camera award at Cannes) except recognition from the Oscars, the movie features a harrowing performance by Michael Fassbender as Sands, who physically wastes away before viewers’ eyes.
Goodbye Solo Red West isn’t an actor; he’s a force. Formerly Elvis Presley’s bodyguard , fired when he tried to break Elvis’ drug dealer in half, West (playing a character known as William) pops into the cab of an African immigrant and gives the driver $1,000 to take him to the top of a mountain. No return trip is planned. As Solo, the cab driver, Souleymane Sy Savane matches director Ramin Bahrani’s quest for ultra-realism every step of the way, and the two actors at the heart of the film develop chemistry that can’t be rehearsed.
Sunshine Cleaning Amy Adams and Emily Blunt play sisters in desperate need of money who start a cleaning service catering to post-mortem scenes. Director Christine Jeffs’ brilliant casting takes everything we thought we knew about the lead pair’s prim-princess and posh-career-girl personas and turns it on its head. Stirring memories of jobs we’ve all had to do that went against our sense of self, Cleaning is a brave, evocative work that fits neatly into the debt-burdened zeitgeist.