In this marvellously moving tale, Colin Firth is impressive as King George VI, the British monarch who suffered from a terrible nervous stammer. From the outset, when he freezes on national radio, the tension of striving to uphold his image is palpable. And it's George's wife Elizabeth (the future Queen Mother, played by a sprightly Helena Bonham Carter) who drives him on, unlike his distant father (Michael Gambon), who continually puts him down. Elizabeth engages the services of speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), who is a breath of fresh air in a world of stifling formality, although his intimate approach initially maddens George. Director Tom Hooper (The Damned United) deftly captures a man in limbo amid the scandal of his brother Edward's abdication of the throne and the run-up to the Second World War, while Firth manages to express George's crippling fear without losing any dignity. Inevitably, his friendship with Lionel becomes pivotal, but what comes across just as powerfully is how lonely life can be at the top. This is the type of thing the British film industry does so well - a bit of history, a bit of social comedy, a few liberties with the truth and a flag-waving finale.
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck wrote and starred in this unmissable, moving drama directed by Gus Van Sant. Damon plays Will, a wrong-side-of-the-tracks janitor at top college MIT, who has an exceptional mind and whose mathematical genius is discovered by one of the professors (Stellan Skarsgård) at the school. However, Will is an emotionally troubled young man, so a psychologist (Robin Williams) with problems of his own is brought in to help him. Skilfully directed and stunningly performed by Damon, Williams, Skarsgård, Affleck (as Will's best friend) and Minnie Driver (as Will's intellectual girlfriend), this is mesmerising from start to finish. It deservedly won Oscars for Damon and Affleck's screenplay as well as for Williams's subtle performance.
Surpassing its predecessor in terms of sheer spectacle, this sequel to Ridley Scott's outer-space nightmare from director James Cameron is an outstanding science-fiction thriller. Sigourney Weaver wakes up 57 years after the original events unfolded, only to be told that the planet where she first met the alien predator has been colonised. When all contact with the inhabitants is lost, she's sent in with a crack squad of marines and hurtles headlong into a hi-tech house of horrors that delivers plenty of shocks and nail-biting suspense. Masterfully controlling the tension and moving the involving plot at a lightning pace, Cameron exploits everyone's worst fears and carries them to the riveting extreme in this consummate Oscar-winning fright-fest.
A teenager in 1950s Ireland becomes pregnant, and is sent to a home for `fallen women', while her baby is forcibly taken from her and sent to America to be adopted. Fifty years later, she meets a disillusioned political journalist who helps to reunite her with her son. Fact-based drama, starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan.
An American agent working with the French resistance is sent on a mission to rescue a German general who has been imprisoned for his part in a plot to assassinate Hitler and take him to Allied territory. He faces a crisis of conscience when he realises the captive officer is the man who had his fiancee executed. Second World War drama, starring Van Johnson and Jean-Pierre Aumont.
Elizabeth Bennet is one of five sisters whose mother is determined to find them suitable husbands. The arrival of a wealthy gentleman and his friends at a nearby mansion leads to an introduction between Elizabeth and the stand-offish Mr Darcy, to whom she takes an instant dislike. However, an unexpected romance eventually develops. Period drama, based on Jane Austen's novel, starring Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen and Judi Dench.
Leonardo DiCaprio's fourth collaboration with director Martin Scorsese finds him playing a federal marshal investigating the disappearance of a patient at an isolated mental asylum. Adapted from the Dennis Lehane bestseller, this 1950s-set puzzle movie has a psychodrama twist in the tale that some may see coming early on, but there is still fun to be had as Scorsese weaves his operatic thrills in the distinctly gothic surroundings. The director's fevered imagination draws on the creepiness of Val Lewton's 1940s horrors, the expressionistic Cabinet of Dr Caligari, and the dark glamour of Douglas Sirk's 1950s melodramas, packaging them up with his consummate film-making skill. It may be overlong and overly explained, while the heightened theatricality also works against it, but as an exercise in pure style over clichéd content Shutter Island weaves an impressive and gripping spell.
A slave named Django is tracked down by eccentric German bounty hunter Dr King Schultz, who offers him his freedom in exchange for help bringing three criminals to justice. The unlikely allies continue their partnership after the job is done, and fight to rescue Django's wife from a sadistic plantation owner. Quentin Tarantino's Oscar-winning Western, starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L Jackson.
A free black man living in pre-Civil War New York is abducted and sold into slavery. He spends the next 12 years struggling to survive and maintain his dignity in the face of brutal treatment, while clinging to a desperate hope that he can return to his family. Oscar-winning historical drama based on Solomon Northup's autobiographical book, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch and Brad Pitt.
Remembered today for its rollicking good humour and the fabulous Marlene Dietrich performing See What the Boys in the Back Room Will Have, this is one of those comedy westerns that has universal appeal. Here's lanky and lovable James Stewart as Tom Destry, who manages to clean up the lawless town of Bottleneck by using a slow drawl rather than a quick draw. Chief villain is scowling, snide Brian Donlevy, and there's marvellous character support from Mischa Auer, Charles Winninger and Allen Jenkins. Dietrich, cast against type, and Stewart, in his first western lead, strike sparks off one another (and in real life, too!), and the cat-fight between Dietrich and Una Merkel has never been bettered. Director George Marshall keeps well back, and some may find his style rather flat, but he served his players perfectly and created a comedy classic. There are three other screen versions of the Max Brand novel, but none is as good.
This absolutely wonderful comedy thriller from Stanley Donen (co-director, with Gene Kelly, of On the Town and Singin' in the Rain) nearly out-Hitchcocks Hitchcock. With a MacGuffin so clever you'll never guess, and a dream pairing of Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn on ravishing Parisian locations, what more could you possibly want in the way of movie entertainment? There's a clever plot (by Peter Stone) that never lets up, a marvellous romantic score (by Henry Mancini), star-making turns from Walter Matthau and James Coburn, and some magnificent set pieces: Grant taking a shower fully-clothed; Hepburn and Grant falling in love on a Paris river boat; and a one-handed villain in a roof-top cliffhanger. This terrific movie's got the lot. Jonathan Demme directed a disastrous remake in 2002, with Mark Wahlberg and Thandie Newton in the lead roles.
Legendary American showman Phineas T Barnum designs a space rocket, which he hopes will take him to the moon, but his scheme is threatened when two crooks get wind of his plan and decide to sabotage the craft. Sci-fi comedy, starring Terry-Thomas, Lionel Jeffries, Burl Ives, Gert Frobe, Dennis Price and Hermione Gingold.
The crew of a cargo spacecraft answer a distress call from a derelict alien spacecraft. However, their mission of mercy has fatal repercussions when a deadly, seemingly indestructible alien monster gets aboard their ship and starts killing them one by one. Ridley Scott's sci-fi horror, starring Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Ian Holm and John Hurt.