7 films to see in February

As we're starting to count down the days to the Oscars, the February film selection is proving itself to be a great prelude to the big event. It's a varied one, too! There's laughter, drama, heartbreak and history, featuring some of the greatest actors around.  

1. Loving

It’s difficult to imagine that until 1967—only 50 years ago—interracial marriage was forbidden in the Southern states of the US. Loving is a beautifully filmed true story based on a shy and unassuming couple, Richard and Mildred Loving, who were jailed, then barred from their home state of Virginia after marrying in Washington, DC. Richard was white and Mildred black.

Their plight reached the desk of a young lawyer working with the US Civil Rights movement and he battled to get their case in front of the US Supreme Court and alter the Constitution. Stars Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga deliver a very human drama that will move you to anger and fury at the senselessness of our not-so-distant past.

 

2. The Founder

If you think a film dedicated to the man who turned a fast-food joint into the McDonald’s empire couldn’t be that interesting,you’re wrong. Michael Keaton stars as
the shady salesman Ray Kroc in an entertaining, controversial and Oscar-tipped parable of self-made excess gained at the expense of others. This is a film in tune with our politically cynical times—and more satisfying than a Big Mac!

 

3. Fifty Shades Darker

Fans of Fifty Shades of Grey are in for a thrilling ride! We left Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) rejecting the lifestyle of her billionaire boyfriend Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and walking away. The sequel opens with Grey in hot pursuit, and Ana soon falls under his erotic spell. But the course of kinky love doesn’t run smoothly as jealousy rears its ugly head in the shape of Ana’s new boss and Christian’s ex-lover.

 

4. Denial

Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson and Timothy Spall star in David Hare’s gripping courtroom drama, based on the libel case that made headlines in the 1990s. Writer Deborah Lipstadt branded the Hitler historian David Irving (Spall) a Holocaust denier, a liar and a bigot. He promptly took her to court. It’s down to her legal team, headed by Richard Rampton (Wilkinson) to prove the Holocaust happened in order to win the case.

Video interview: Timothy Spall and Deborah Lipstadt talk about truth-seeking in the age of "alternative facts" 

 

5. Lion

Nicole Kidman plays an Australian woman who adopts two Indian boys in this intimate, Oscar-worthy true story. Dev Patel, of Slumdog Millionaire fame, is Saroo, a young man who embarks on an epic search for the Indian family he was accidentally separated from as a five-year-old. The shining star of the film is actor Sunny Pawar, who delivers an astoundingly real and penetrating performance, including a bathtub scene with Kidman that will stay with you forever. There will be tears.

Read our full review of Lion
 

6. 20th Century Women 

Family and identity are the central themes in this riveting 1970s-set film starring Annette Bening in one of her finest performances yet. Sixty-year-old Dorothea is a single mother bringing up her teenage son in a large ramshackle house in California. She has free-spirited lodgers who become surrogate parents to her “kid”, but her desire to provide him with stability doesn’t go to plan.

 

7. Toni Erdmann 

This offbeat, big-hearted German-Austrian drama might be one of the best films about a father-daughter relationship ever made! Ines is a successful young businesswoman whose whole life seems to revolve entirely around work. Her dad Winfried, on the other hand, is a dedicated practical joker who will stop at nothing to spend more time with his daughter. At almost three hours long, Toni Erdmann might seem a bit daunting, but its thoughtful, nuanced execution and superb acting make every minute worth it. 

 

 

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