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Movies You Must See: If You Haven’t Already

By Ella Stening - 17 Feb 2014

Calling all film buffs, you will lose cultural cred if you have not ticked off this 'must-have-seen' movie list below. These are the Oscar front-runners, plus a few other gems, that have tickled The Urban List's fancy in recent months. From Wall Street mayhem, tales of family and the home, to love and artifical intelligence, expand your imagination.

AMERICAN HUSTLE
Irving Rosenfeld is a con artist who is forced into the dangerous yet alluring world of Jersey Mafioso. This crime-comedy-drama is based loosely on the late 1970's Abscam operation conducted by the FBI. Winner of Best Motion Picture at this year's Golden Globe Awards, American Hustle is tipped to clean up at the Academy Awards in March. Expect the soundtrack to be on high rotation this summer.

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor (Christian Bale), Best Actress (Amy Adams), Best Supporting Actor (Bradley Cooper), Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Lawrence), Best Costume Design, Best Director (David O. Russell), Best Original Screenplay

HER  
The latest from director Spike Jonze, Her is a light sci-fi / rom-com about an isolated and timorous man (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with an artificially intelligent operating system that has the personality and voice of a woman, who he names "Samantha" (aka Scarlett Johansson). The pair bond over stories of life and love, but ultimately their relationship is doomed. Stay tuned, Her could very well be the dark horse that takes out Best Picture in 2014.

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Best Original Score, Best Original Screenplay (Spike Jonze)

AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY
A disparate group of resolute women of the Weston family are brought back to their Mid-West childhood home by a family crisis involving the disappearance of the woman who raised them. Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning play of the same name, by Tracy Letts, this film is packed with a stellar cast, of note Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts.

Oscar Nominations: Best Actress (Meryl Streep), Best Supporting Actress (Julia Roberts)

GRAVITY
An obvious choice but one you must see if you haven't already, and in 3D. This visual feast by Alfonso Cuarón (a triple Academy Award nominee for Best Film, Director and Editor) centres around a pair of astronauts (Sandra Bullock and George Clooney) whose trajectory is disturbed by catastrophic damage caused to their vessel, The Explorer. The accident is a result of a Russian missile attack upon a neighbouring satellite. This is a super modern take on the traditional survival themes we all know and love, and the CGI is breathtaking. 

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actress (Sandra Bullock), Best Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki), Best Director (Alfonso Cuarón), Best Original Score, Best Visual Effects

BLUE JASMINE
When the life of glamorous and wealthy New York socialite Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) goes to rack and ruin, she decides to move in with her sister at her cluttered and modest San Francisco apartment, in order to rebuild her life. Jasmine fantasises about becoming an interior designer, and the reality of her life ultimately becomes blurred. Cate Blanchett took out the prize for Best Actress at the Golden Globes for her performance.?

Oscar Nomintations: Best Actress (Cate Blanchett), Best Supporting Actress (Sally Hawkins), Best Original Screenplay (Woody Allen)

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET
Leonardo Di Caprio is our pick for Best Actor at this year's 86th Academy Awards for his role as Wall Street malefactor Jordan Belfort. Based on Jordan's memoir of the same name, the controversial flick is the self-glorification of his own vulgar antics involving money, sex and drugs.

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), Best Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill), Best Director (Martin Scorsese), Best Adapted Screenplay (Terence Winter)

THE RAILWAY MAN
The Railway Man, starring Colin Firth, is the real-life story of British prisoner of war Eric Lomax, who was captured by the Imperial Japanese Army, sent to a POW camp and forced to work on the Burma Railway. Still plagued years later by the psychological trauma of his experience, and with the help of his wife Patti (Nicole Kidman), Lomax finds and confronts one of his captors.

BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR
Red (metaphorically) raw and beautifully honest, Blue Is the Warmest Colour pivots around the passage to adulthood of French 15-year-old Adele, who is experiencing her first love. Adele becomes enamoured with a blue-haired girl she sees in the street, and who soon enters her life, resulting in a decade-long, spellbinding love story. This tale has resonated widely with international auridences for its profound, fervent and at heart, universal love story.

LA CAGE D'ORÉE (THE GILDED CAGE)
La Cage D'orée is a heartwarming and amusing story about a Portuguese family who fled their homeland, leaving a life under dictatorship in order to reside in Paris. Written and directed by Ruben Alves, this slightly autobiographical comedy is a charming homage to hard-working migrant families.

PHILOMENA
Judi Dench's performance is elegant and refined, as a woman who fell pregnant out of wedlock and was convinced to offer her child for adoption by the local Catholic Church. Many years later, Philomena meets Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) and together they make a plan to locate her long-lost son in return for an editorial piece on her story. This is a high-calibre film, which blends themes around faith, the power of forgiveness, and the Catholic Church.

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actress (Judi Dench), Best Original Score, Best Adapted Screenplay (Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope)



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