A Single Man
A Single Man was the 2009 directorial debut of the designer Tom Ford, and is based on the (similarly fabulous) novella by Christopher Isherwood. It's the story of George (Colin Firth), a university lecturer mourning the loss of his lover (Matthew Goode). It's an unsurprisingly beautifully shot film, and although there isn't a great deal of plot, it's quietly heartbreaking. Firth really should have won an Academy Award for his completely out-of-character performance as George, and there are really good performances by Julianne Moore as his friend who is clearly in love with him, and Nicholas Hoult as one of George's students. Not exactly uplifting, but well worth a watch.
Another 2009 release, An Education is a firm favourite of mine. Directed by Lone Scherfig and based on Lynne Barber's memoir, it's the story of Jenny (Carey Mulligan) a teenager desperate to escape her mundane life. She is therefore easily taken in by the handsome, charming and older David (Peter Sarsgaard) and experiences a very different 'education'. When I first watched this film, like Jenny, I thought there was something rather romantic about being whisked off your feet to Paris by an older man. Obviously as years have passed I've realised that there is very little romantic about Jenny and David's relationship, but this film is great. It cemented Carey Mulligan as one of my favourite actresses and there is excellent supporting performances by Dominic Cooper as one of David's associates, and Rosamund Pike who has one of the film's greatest laugh lines. There is also a heartbreaking scene with Jenny and her father (played by Alfred Molina) which makes me cry every time.
Romeo + Juliet
I am sure I am not alone in just straight-up loving this adaptation of Romeo & Juliet. Baz Luhrmann's modernised 1996 Romeo + Juliet stars baby-faced Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes as the star-crossed lovers, and it's just pretty much perfect. I know Shakespeare purists don't like that Luhrmann cut parts of the text, but from it's technicolor beginning, to its fabulous soundtrack and great performances all round (John Leguizamo as Tybalt and Harold Perrineau as Mercutio stand out; and you get a brief cameo from Paul Rudd as Paris) I simply adore this film.
Another Baz Luhrmann film, but another all-time favourite. In case you somehow don't know, Moulin Rouge is the story of Christian (Ewan McGregor) a young struggling writer who heads to the inspirational city of Paris in the midst of a bohemian revolution. There, he comes across the courtesan & Moulin Rogue performer Satine (Nicole Kidman) and the pair fall in love. The musical gets its music from a variety of original & pop songs but they all work in context of the story. A visual feast, with stunning costumes and an excellent ensemble cast make this film one that I can watch again and again. Sadly it doesn't end happily (but you can always just pretend the last 10 minutes doesn't happen), but it is still a great film.
Pride & Prejudice
So, two potential controversial opinions coming up. 1) I don't particularly like the novel of Pride & Prejudice. 2) I prefer this 2005 adaptation to the BBC miniseries. Pride & Prejudice is obviously the story of Lizzie Bennett (Keira Knightley) who has a disastrous first meeting with Mr Darcy (Matthew Macfayden) but eventually they figure out that they are meant for each other. Joe Wright's opening scene is one of my absolute favourites and the score by Dario Marianelli is perfect. As a theme for these films, the ensemble acting is great particularly Tom Hollander as the horribly awkward Mr Collins, Simon Woods as an adorable Mr Bingley and Rupert Friend as the moustache-twirling Mr Wickham. The entire Bennett clan is great with launchpad performances by Jena Malone (of Hunger Games fame) and Carey Mulligan (as above). There are so many moments in this film that make me gooey (the hands and the carriage guys!); it's just lovely.
There will definitely be a part two of this, simply because I kept thinking of more films that I love as I was writing this. What are some of your favourites?