Her – 7.5/10.

A man falls in love with his operating system.

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This is not at all an original premise, the idea of a man falling in love with something not human is all the rage at the moment with recent critical success’s Lars and the Real Girl and Ruby Sparks and the idea of a machine becoming self aware is, of course, as old as time ( 2001: A Space Odyssey, Terminator 2 many many others). Her is similar to the aforementioned as it is a very SERIOUS movie (unlike Weird Science say). They go to great lengths to let you know you should be taking this very SERIOUSLY. THIS IS IMPORTANT!. Not many laughs or moments of light relief just lots and lots of very deep and meaningful dialogue between the, to be fair, excellent Joaquin Phoenix and the voice of Scarlett Johansson (who also does well to make what is essentially just a voice into a full, fleshed out character).

The dialogue is poetically impressive in parts but it isn’t really enough to carry a full movie. The general ‘be wary of where technology is taking society’ message is both unoriginal and too vague to really add anything, so Her ends up being just a character study and the supporting characters don’t have enough screen time or charisma to turn a decent quirky flick into something better.

I was also really excited about the prospect of Arcade Fire providing the soundtrack but it is quite disappointing and forgettable. In terms of the Oscars I certainly would not begrudge Her winning best original screenplay (for which it is nominated) but it shouldn’t come close in anything else.

12 Years a Slave – 7.5/10.

A free man is abducted and sold into slavery.

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A quite frankly astounding supporting cast (Brad Pitt, Paul Giamitti, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Fassbender, Paul Dano) frame a solid but not Oscar worthy performance from Chiwetel Ejiofor. The real stars are Michael Fassbender who froths with indignation one minute and charms the next and relative newcomer Lupita Nyong’o as luckless slave Patsy.

I am not really familiar with Ejiofor’s previous work but he didn’t have enough screen presence and almost faded into the background when up against heavyweights such as Pitt and particularly Fassbender.

One thing that 12 Years a Slave does indicate is the versatility of director Steve McQueen, coming as it does after the vastly different Shame. This will probably win Best Picture but it probably wouldn’t make my top ten of 2013.

IMDB TOP 250 #178

Won 3 Oscars (9 nominations):

Best Picture

Best Supporting Actress

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Social Network (second viewing): 8.5/10

‘I think if your clients want to sit on my shoulders and call themselves tall, they have the right to give it a try’

Rooney Mara, left, and Jesse Eisenberg in Columbia Pictures' "The Social Network."

Master director David Fincher brings us the story of world conquering website Facebook from its humble beginnings through to present day with all the court cases and disputes in between. Jesse Eisenberg is perfect as founder Mark Zuckerberg, aloof, arrogant, yet vulnerable at the same time. Arguably even better is Armie Hammer as the Winklevoss twins, he plays both twins, both very different characters. Andrew Garfield is as classy and reliable as ever as Zuckerberg’s ‘only friend’ and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin.

Fincher’s direction is superb as always as he continues to show his flexibility following such varied works as Seven, Fight Club and Zodiac. The other star of The Social Network is writer Aaron Sorkins snappy, clever, funny and Oscar winning script, any watchers of The West Wing or Newsroom will be familiar with Sorkin’s style but The Social Network could well be his most accomplished work yet. Trent Reznor’s excellent and also Oscar winning score add to what is a brilliant film.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – 9/10

An introverted, socially awkward freshman is taken under the wing of a group of seniors. Should be really pretentious and annoying – ends up being brilliant.

THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER Ph: John Bramley © 2011 Summit Entertainment, LLC.  All rights reserved.

¬†Stephen Chobsky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower starts off as a straightforward but very good teen movie, think Heathers, Submarine, Juno etc but as the films goes on, the growth of the characters is reflected in the growth of the film and it becomes possibly the best movie of 2012.
Ezra Miller shows a totally different side to the menacing Kevin he played in We Need to Talk About Kevin. Emma Watson shrugs off Potter and Logan Lerman is a revelation in the lead role.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is moving and at times hilarious. A coming of age tale that also touches on mental health, homosexuality, drug use and music (it has a great soundtrack). So many different layers, some wonderful symbolic and metaphorical stuff, loads of memorable lines, throw Paul Rudd into the mix as a inspirational English teacher and what more could you ask? Watch it.