In Arthouse’s first ten months it’s screened some wonderfully innovative films, not least the ambitious Boyhood with its unique and ground-breaking treatment of the passing of time; Inarritu’s Birdman which used daring camera techniques to create a stream of consciousness magical comedy; the funny, clever and strange Frank featuring Michael Fassbender with a huge papier mache head, and the powerful and compelling Selma, the first Hollywood film about Martin Luther King. The electrifying Whiplash was another great one.
There have also been some really important insights into political and social realities in the US, Latin America and Europe, such as the story of Guatemalan children trying to reach the US border in the Golden Dream, a grim depiction of Roma life in An Episode in the Life of an Ironpicker, and Fruitvale Station, a deeply shocking account of racism and the police in the US . Being Alice hasn’t got to an Arthouse screen yet, but the Spanish animation Wrinkles was an equally moving story about Alzheimer’s disease. The best for this reviewer though, was Wes Anderson’s tragicomedy The Grand Budapest Hotel. Colourful, quirky, an elaborate spectacle like a many layered wedding cake, affecting, sad and moving. It had it all.
Michael Keaton in Birdman, J K Simmons in Whiplash, Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking in the Theory of Everything, and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in God’s Pocket and A Most Wanted Man were all first rate. My Best Actor, though, goes to David Oyewolo as Martin Luther King, not just to right the wrongs of the Oscar nominations, but because his charismatic performance was truly spellbinding, conveying a real sense of King’s intelligence, dignity, fear and self doubt, and of the frightening and bigoted world African Americans confronted in the struggle for equality.
As always, the opportunities for exciting roles for women actors weren’t as plentiful. My favourites were Felicity Jones in the Theory of Everything, Berenice Bejo in The Past, and Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl, but my winner is Marion Cotillard in the French film Two Days, One Night for a convincingly honest and moving performance in a great film.
Not quite as great as my winner for Best Foreign Language film, though. The Past was close, as was the haunting Ida, and the atmospheric and chilling psychological thriller Stranger by the Lake, but the winner is Benedikt Erlingsson’s Of Horses and Men. Quite simply, I’ve never seen a film like it – beautifully filmed, shocking, unexpected and darkly comic. One of the first films I saw at Arthouse but with two scenes that will be forever imprinted on my memory.
Best original song has to be ‘Glory’ from Selma, sung by Common and John Legend and Best Original Score goes to Alexander Desplat (The Grand Budapest Hotel).
It’s all been fantastic entertainment, and now there’s another year of exciting films ahead of us at Arthouse – I can’t wait!