Directed by: Mike Leigh. I’ve mentioned Mike Leigh recently, as I came across High Hopes, and Naked before that. This one was apparently up for the Oscar two years ago, which is surprising. This would be in strange company amidst all of the overwraught histrionics that usually gets Hollywood’s attention. Another Year is essentially a restrained little movie about a nice, quiet, humble couple weathering the ups and downs of life with their assorted friends and family. One of the most jolting things I noticed was how un-stylized it was for a Mike Leigh movie: there are no absurd contortions, no despicable character types—just some really believable human characters. The main antagonism comes from Mary, a well-meaning but hopeless and obnoxious character, played with nothing less than sheer genius by Lesley Manville. I’m not sure if she got awards for this, but she damn well should have. Mostly though, the story centers on this perfect couple of Tom and Gerri—the amazing Ruth Sheen and Jim Broadbent. I’m sure people have imagined this noticeably middle-class, well-to-do couple as a happy outcome of the bare-survival couple from High Hopes (Philip Davis even pops up for a cameo—so does Edna Doré apparently but I missed it). Unlike the two other Leigh films I’ve seen, this film seems to shift focus to a much more comfortable economic strata—indeed, Tom and Gerri look to me like some ideal, enviable couple, but not absurd or unbelievable, and nothing short of lovable. This film never seems overdone or fantastical or pedagogical or anything of the sort. It’s a movie brimming with emotion but not offensively so. It’s simple and specific, but in a way that makes it universal. These characters will stay with you for years, I think. Definitely one of my favourites of the year.