5. We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)
Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, We Need to Talk About Kevin explores the relationship between Eva and her son Kevin. Unable to bond with Kevin as a baby, Eva finds herself struggling to deal with Kevin as he grows from a difficult toddler to a sociopathic teenager. When Kevin’s behaviour spirals out completely out of control, Eva is left to deal with the devastating aftermath of his actions.
Directed by Lynne Ramsey, We Need to Talk About Kevin premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. The film grossed eleven million dollars against its budget of seven million dollars and was named by many as one of the best films of 2011.
Simultaneously incredibly disturbing and yet also incredibly thought-provoking, We Need to Talk About Kevin brings together a brilliant cast and gives audiences a visceral and cerebral experience. You cannot fail to have a strong reaction to this film, and it evokes so many emotions and discussion points for anyone who watches it. We Need to Talk About Kevin is a film that stays with audiences and is without a doubt one of the best British films of the 2010’s.
Trivia: Red, blue, yellow and white, which are the colours on the target for the bow and arrow, are in every scene.
4. Ex Machina (2014)
When computer programmer Caleb Smith wins a competition to spend a week with the company’s reclusive CEO at his private mountain estate, he is surprised to arrive to find out that he has been chosen as the human component in a Turing test. In this test he must test the capabilities and consciousness of beautiful robot Ava. However, Caleb soon finds himself drawn to Ava when it turns out that she is more self-aware than either man had thought capable.
Ex Machina was made on a budget of $15 million and grossed over $36 million worldwide. Upon release it was critically acclaimed and was recognised as one of the best films of the year. Ex Machina was nominated for Best Original Screenplay and Best Visual Effects at the 88th Academy Awards, winning the award for the latter.
Ex Machina was the brainchild of Alex Garland, who wrote and directed the film. Garland was inspired to write Ex Machina after years of discussions with a neuroscientist friend who told him that machines could never become sentient. However, when Garland was eleven years old, he experimented with a computer that he often felt like had a mind of its own. Putting the two ideas together, he wrote Ex Machina.
Garland wanted complete creative freedom with his project and so he endeavoured to make the film on as small of a budget as possible.
Making incredible use of a single location and using a great script, Ex Machina is the perfect example of how a film doesn’t need to be made up of lots of components to be highly engaging and watchable.
Trivia: The film was shot as live action and all the effects were added in post-production.
3. Kill List (2011)
Ex-soldier Jay was left emotionally and physically scarred after a hit job went wrong in Live. Now eight months later, he is pressurised by his partner to take on a new assignment.
Directed by Ben Wheatley, Kill List was a not a box office success and only made $462,206 against its $800,000 budget. However, Kill List has become one of the most talked about British films of recent times due to its controversial nature. Dividing audiences and critics, Kill List is simultaneously called one of the best films of recent times and one of the worst films of the recent times. Regardless of which category you agree with, Kill List does have the distinction of being a highly evocative, emotive and well-made film.
Trivia: The rainbow which features prominently in the film is a real one. A rainbow was originally intended to be written into a different scene but was changed when the crew spotted a real one during filming.
2. 45 Years (2015)
Kate and Geoff Mercer are happily planning for their forty-fifth wedding anniversary party, when a letter arrives for Geoff that changes everything. Discovered, frozen and preserved in the icy glaciers of the Swiss Alps is the body of Geoff’s first love. With their anniversary party five days away, will there be a marriage to celebrate by then?
45 Years grossed fourteen million dollars at the box office and was a critical success. The film received much praise and in particular has been praised for its incredible performances. At the 65th Berlin International Film Festival, Charlotte Rampling won the Silver Bear for Best Actress and Sir Tom Courtenay won the Silver Bear for Best Actor. Rampling was also nominated for Best Actress at the 88th Academy Awards.
Favouring performances over action packed scenes, 45 years is a masterclass in acting and a showcase for leads Rampling and Courtenay. 45 Years shows audiences that filmmaking can be mature and quiet without being boring, and that drama can be found even in the most unlikely circumstances.
Trivia: Whilst in the café, George tries to convince Geoff that he should take up playing the ukulele because it is a good hobby. In real life, Sir Tom Courtenay who plays Geoff is an avid ukulele player.
1. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
Set at the height of The Cold War, and based on the novel of the same name, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sees disgraced spy George Smiley rehired in secret by his government after it is suspected that a double agent has infiltrated the British Secret Intelligence Service.
Directed by Tomas Alfredson, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was released to critical acclaim. It won Best British Film at the BAFTA Awards and was nominated for three Academy Awards. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was also a commercial success and grossed over eighty million dollars at the box office against its twenty-one-million-dollar budget.
Praised for its script, performances and direction, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is widely regarded as the best adaptation of John Le Carre’s novel. With great attention given to the setting and atmosphere in which the story takes place, Alfredson’s adaptation accurately and vividly brings to life the bleak time period and the paranoia and suspicions that were rife at the time.
Trivia: Filmmakers searched for the right actor to portray George Smiley for over eighteen months. They were on the verge of cancelling the film, when producer Tim Bevan suggested Gary Oldman.