Director: Mike Nichols. Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross. USA 1967. 105 mins.
This archly hilarious observation of smug, middle-class American mores remains a delight half a century after its release, as callow college graduate Dustin Hoffman is seduced by Mrs Robinson (Bancroft). Bancroft’s career-defining role is perfectly matched by Katharine Ross as her daughter, who ultimately takes Benjamin’s fancy. The Graduate confirmed director Mike Nichols’ talent for socially astute storytelling, with fabulous performances from some of his generation’s finest actors.
Director: Jonathan Teplitzky.
Starring: Brian Cox, Miranda Richardson, John Slattery. UK 2017. 98 mins.
June 1944. Allied forces stand on the brink of invasion, but one man stands in their way: Winston Churchill. Exhausted by years of war, Churchill (Cox) fears that history will remember him as an architect of slaughter if the landings fail. Churchill is the untold story of the haunted frailty of Britain’s most celebrated leader, revealing his vital relationship with his wife Clementine (Richardson), the confidant who inspired him to greatness.
Director: Mark Webb.
Starring: Chris Evans, McKenna Grace, Lindsay Duncan. USA 2017. 101 mins.
Gifted is a moving story about choices, compassion and family, all underscored by a wicked sense of humour. Frank Adler (Evans) is a single man raising a child prodigy – his spirited young niece Mary (Grace) – in a coastal town in Florida. Frank’s plans for a normal school life for Mary are foiled when her mathematical abilities come to the attention of Frank’s formidable mother, Evelyn (Duncan), whose plans for her granddaughter threaten to separate Frank and Mary.
Swiss director Claude Barras’s debut feature is a beautifully rendered, stop-motion animation, adapted by the gifted screenwriter Céline Sciamma (Girlhood, Tomboy) from Giles Paris’s eponymous novel. The improbably nicknamed Courgette (Schlatter) is a shy, bug-eyed kid, consigned to an orphanage after his alcoholic mother’s sudden death. However, Courgette’s unhappiness is tempered by the kindly policeman who escorts him to his new home and adventures with the other misfit children – a football-loving tomboy, shy Alice and an introverted dinosaur fan – are cleverly wrought to show how lessons learnt can shape a child’s character and prepare them for adult life. The story of the growing pains of youngsters is lovingly told, the animation and colouring terrific - all brilliantly befitting the narrative of a film that’s much more than simply kids’ entertainment.
Director: Michaël Dudok De Wit. France/Belgium/Japan 2015. 81 mins.
Renowned Japanese animation giant Studio Ghibli’s first-ever international co-production is a perfect collaboration with Oscar-winning Dutch animator Michaël Dudok De Wit. The Red Turtle, almost a decade in the making, is a dialogue-free fable about a castaway on a desert island, and a touching ode to the cycle of life and the resilience of family. Presented with an elegant simplicity, the sublime visuals pack a real emotional punch. Described by critics as a ‘quiet little masterpiece’ and a ‘wordless wonder’, The Red Turtle won the Special Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard section at this year’s Cannes. Michaël Dudok De Wit previously made the Oscar-winning animated short Father And Daughter in 2000.
Director: Edgar Wright.
Starring: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Kevin Spacey. USA 2017. 113 mins.
Young getaway driver Baby (Elgort) relies on the beat of his personal soundtrack to be the best in the game. After he meets the girl of his dreams, he sees a chance to leave his criminal life behind. But one last heist puts his love, life and freedom on the line. With an eclectic soundtrack ranging from Queen and Martha Reeves to The Beach Boys, Edgar Wright’s musical crime caper rolls out one terrific tune after the other.