By Eleanor Ovens
1) The Shawshank Redemption
Rated second on IMDB’s list of ‘Top 100 Greatest Movies of All time’ and a universal film favourite, The Shawshank Redemption delivers everything it promises. Set within the walls of the fictional Shawshank Prison in the 1950’s, the film follows alleged murderer Andy Dufrane and his group of delinquent, yet surprisingly compassionate, friends through the trials and tribulations of prison life. Narrated by the seductively smooth voice of Morgan Freeman, The Shawshank Redemption is inundated with highs, lows and an unbelievable escape story courtesy of Stephen King; this is definitely not one to miss.
2) Good Will Hunting
Another commendable mention exuding quality and heart is the Oscar-winning 1997 drama Good Will Hunting. The film concentrates on the misunderstood but brilliant Will Hunting (Matt Damon), who has a genius level IQ yet chooses to work as a janitor at a local university. His talent is then discovered by a Mathematics professor who vows to help the misguided youth reach his untapped potential, under the condition he undertakes therapy. A compelling story from start to finish, Good Will Hunting demonstrates emotion at its most vulnerable whilst remaining irresistibly entertaining. Starring the late, great Robin Williams as Hunting’s therapist, the film’s emotional climax is a promised tear-jerker, guaranteed to stay with you long after the credits roll.
3) Dead Poets’ Society
Beautifully directed and written, Dead Poets’ Society is an often overlooked screen gem which rarely, and questionably so, appears in people’s top 10 lists. Featuring the fresh-faced Ethan Hawke and the dazzling Robin Williams, Dead Poets’ Society is fundamentally a film about seizing the day (or carpe diem in Latin). Williams enthrals with his performance as the eloquent English teacher, John Keating, who inspires students through his teaching. Dead Poets Society is a captivating film with a poignant script which makes it awfully hard not to fall in love with Williams all over again.
4) Still Alice
Now an unfamiliar choice but a gripping story in its own right, Still Alice conveys the devastating impact of Alzheimer’s on both its victim and their family. Julianne Moore leads the cast as the renowned linguistics professor Dr Alice Howland who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at just fifty years-old. As the once vibrant woman begins to lose her sense of identity, her three children can only watch on helplessly as their mother disappears more and more each day. An awards favourite, Still Alice reveals the intricacies involved with such a life-shattering disease, touching audiences with its sheer honesty and pain.
Another more recent and less-known addition, Room is often an uncomfortable watch due to its disturbing and unsettling subject matter. The film is based around a young woman and her son who have been held captive for years in an enclosed space. Once the pair finally gain their freedom, viewers watch as the boy experiences the world for the first time. Directed through the perspective of a young child, Room shows what it would be like to see the world within four walls. A heart-breaking tale of the power of motherly love and a child’s ability to find light in the worst of situations. Above all, the film shows how the human spirit can transcend physical boundaries and outshine in the darkest of times.