1. Pride. When I went to see a preview screening of Matthew Warchus's film about the unlikely partnership of a group of gay and lesbian activists and the miners of a small Welsh town in the 1980s, I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I absolutely loved the film. The huge ensemble cast put in great performances and the film is moving, powerful and funny, while telling an important story about a troubled period of British history.
2. Interstellar. Christopher Nolan has become one of my favourite directors and although I still prefer Inception and The Dark Knight, his latest film, Interstellar, literally took my breath away. It's long and could do with some tighter editing, but it's also a beautiful story about life, the Universe and everything. Interstellar is the kind of film that it is really best to see unspoiled, but suffice to say that it is both totes emosh and dead amaze. If you can find it on the big screen anywhere, you should definitely try to see it in a cinema, but if not, find the biggest TV screen you can.
3. Gone Girl. Another great film from another of my favourite directors, David Fincher — after I watched Gone Girl, I started rewatching his back catalogue, and found a lot of similarities to Gone Girl in Zodiac and, especially, The Social Network. If you don't know the plot of Gone Girl or haven't read the book, where have you been? It's hard to review the film without spoiling it, but it's a stylish, sexy thriller with more twists than Spaghetti Junction. Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike are both excellent in the lead roles in the exercise of unreliable narration.
4. The Imitation Game. Who would have thought two science-related movies would make it into my top five? I work for a science journal, so it's always nice when someone makes a film that relates to science but is still a fantastic and engaging film in its own right. Morten Tyldum's The Imitation Game is a biopic of the great mathematician and pioneer of computer science, Alan Turing, and focuses on Turing's involvement in the cracking of the Enigma code during World War Two and then his conviction after the war for gross indecency. Benedict Cumberbatch is superb as Turing, and The Imitation Game is a moving and fitting tribute to a great man whose life was cut way too short.
5. The Grand Budapest Hotel. This was the film that finally made me understand the hype about Wes Anderson. The Grand Budapest Hotel tells the story of a concierge (played by Ralph Fiennes) of a famous hotel in a fictional European country. The film jumps between many different time periods and is utterly wacky, but very fun and is made with that precise, meticulous attention to detail that Anderson fans have come to adore. My hardest top-five choice was between this movie and Richard Linklater's Boyhood, and although they are very different movies, each director showed his own unique and fastidious devotion to the craft of movie-making: Anderson with the eye for the minutiae and Linklater with his ability to tell small, simple stories over long time scales.
Other films I watched this year (re-watches are in italics):