To a certain generation (my generation) Imelda Staunton will always be first and foremost Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter series. She was one of the best casting decisions in the franchise and was a perfectly evil Umbridge. Every time she was on screen it looked liked she was having so much being bad.
She’s done some great voice work in Chicken Run (2000), Arthur Christmas (2011) and in The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! (2012) – I was obsessed with Chicken Run as a child and it went through a phase of always being on TV during the holidays whether that was Christmas or Easter.
Imelda Staunton played Hefina Headon in Pride (2014), a woman who organised community support during the Miner’s strike of the 1980’s, and she was brilliant. Pride was one of my favourite films of last year and Imelda was funny, strong and had some great softer moments in the film too.
This past year I’ve been to the cinema 63 times so narrowing all what I’ve seen to my top ten has been a bit difficult to say the least. When I first went through my Films of 2014 list I narrowed it down to 16 – getting rid of six films from this list was hard so they are my honourable mentions.
Honourable mentions: 12 Years a Slave
Don’t get me wrong this film is amazing but I saw it January, it really affected me then but I have never felt like I wanted to see it again. Locke
Tom Hardy is incredibly in Locke but it is a slow moving film. The Purge: Anarchy
Frank Grillo is totally badass and awesome in this and it was the perfect audition to play The Punisher… if he wasn’t already Crossbones in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that is Lilting Lilting is such a sweet yet heart-breaking film and both Ben Whishaw and Pei-pei Cheng are brilliant. Fruitvale Station
It starts like a punch to the gut with the real footage of the incident on the station platform. Michael B. Jordan’s performance is brilliant and Fruitvale Station is all the more important and sad because what happened to Oscar Grant is still happening today in America. Begin Again
The music’s wonderful (listening to the soundtrack on repeat got me through my dissertation), the characters are all flawed but ultimately likeable.
Now for the top ten, these are all very close and really they could probably be in any order but here we go!
10. Belle Belle is a brilliant period drama that’s led by Gugu Mbatha-Raw who gives a great performance as a woman born into wealth and status but isn’t seen as one of the elite due to the colour of her skin. The supporting cast is also great and it’s a beautiful film.
9. 22 Jump Street
It’s very rare that a sequel is better than the first film, especially when it comes to comedy sequels, but 22 Jump Street is brilliant. I love the meta and how self-aware it is and Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are the perfect duo.
8. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
It’s political, it’s a family drama, it’s about survival and the performances and animation are incredible. (more…)
Pride is about the true story of a group of lesbian and gay activists who rallied together to raise money for the miners on strike in 1984. The UK miners’ strike from 1984-1985 was due to the government’s plans (led by Conservative Margaret Thatcher) to close dozens of coal mines and pits across the country. Those on strike were obviously not getting paid so were in need of financial support from supporters across the country. It was a desperate situation for miners and their families but that doesn’t mean that they were necessarily happy to be receiving money collected by gays and lesbians – in part due to the prejudice against the gay community, especially with the emergence of AIDS.
Pride shows this conflict between the miners and the LGBT community – two communities that had a common ground due to being attacked by the police, the tabloids and the government – is handled very well. It brings a lot of humour and shows that there are both differences and similarities in people where you’d perhaps least expect it. The culture-clash yields surprising, funny and touching consequences.
Joe (George MacKay) is the audience’s eyes as he stumbles into London’s Gay Pride march and meets Mike (Joseph Gilgun) and the rest of the gang that will become the Lesbian and Gays Support the Miners group. Joe is coming to terms with his sexuality and is having his eyes opened to this different world, just like the audience is.
The cast is undeniably brilliant. It is a showcase for long-standing British talent like Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton and Paddy Considine as well as upcoming talent like Gilgun, MacKay and Faye Marsay. There is great chemistry between all of the cast and the humour and comrade feels as natural as the moments of conflict. American Ben Schnetzer portrays Mike, the leader of the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners group, and gives a (hopefully) breakout performance. He’s both confident giving a speech to a less than welcoming crowd at the working men’s club in a Welsh village and sensitive to the discrimination faced by both the LGBT community and the miners.
The screenplay is simultaneously witty and heartfelt. It is very easy with a true story to become too sentimental and cheesy but Pride doesn’t fall into that trap. If anything the script has faith in the audiences intelligence (which is very refreshing), sub-plots are often given just enough development for audiences to be left to think “Does that mean…?” Pride is laugh out loud funny, clever but also knows when and how to work the more emotional moments.
Pride is well-directed by Matthew Warchus (Pride is only his second film) as he makes the most of the big set-pieces in the working men’s club as well as the more quiet moments between two characters. The cinematography is beautiful and shows the Welsh countryside at its best. Pride also has a brilliant soundtrack combining Welsh hymns with disco and Frankie Goes to Hollywood.
Pride is a historical comedy-drama that’s well written, well-acted and well-directed. It’s funny, moving and ultimately uplifting and gives you hope for what people can achieve. 5/5.