Christmas gift guide: Cream of the cinematic crop


Lavish period pieces, rampaging killer arachnids, indie gems and barmy sci-fi: the best TV and film DVDs of the year

Source Code (12)

This loopy sci-fi thriller makes little sense, but is such fun it doesn't really matter. Jake Gyllenhaal wakes up on a train opposite Christina (Michelle Monaghan), who calls him Sean. Only he isn't Sean: he's a military pilot called Colter. Eight minutes later, the train blows up. He awakens again - this time in a battered module. A shadowy controller informs him he's part of a "time reassignment" programme, and that his mind will be projected into the body Sean repeatedly until he finds out the train bomber's identity. An absolute blast.

How much: £12.49

Where from:

The Hour (15)

The most enjoyable TV drama of the year, The Hour centres mainly on Ben Whishaw's quick-witted reporter and his determination to unearth the truth about the supposed suicide of a friend. His investigations compromise his boss Bel (Romola Garai), who he happens to be in love with. Smarmy news anchor Hector (Dominic West), is also rather keen on ambitious Bel. Set in 1956, the action encompasses the Suez Crisis, a lot of boozing and smoking, some sex - and a host of terrific performances.

How much: £15.93

Where from:

The Social Network (12)

Aaron Sorkin's whip-sharp dialogue pings like a Rafael Nadal forehand in David Fincher's compelling and droll look at the rise of Facebook and the demise of the founders' friendships. We begin as Jesse Eisenberg's socially inept Mark Zuckerberg creates a website that allows students to rate females by their "hotness". It's a big hit and Zuckerberg quickly twigs that social-networking sites are the way forward. He enlists his (only) friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) to supply the finance. Lawsuits ensue...

How much: £5

Where from:

Monsters (12)

Bowie was mistaken: it turns out the spiders are from Jupiter (not Mars), specifically one of its moons, Europa. And they're 50ft tall, menacing and have "infected" half of Mexico. Cynical photographer Andrew Kaulder (Scoot McNairy), must escort his boss's daughter (Whitney Able) out of the country, through the infected zone, to the US border and safety. Gareth Edwards' ingenious sci-fi makes wildly inventive use of his shoestring budget, applying terrific use of natural, unnatural and creepy strings to increase the suspense of this beastie/romance hybrid.

How much: £5

Where from:

True Grit (15)

Jeff Bridges bagged a long-deserved Oscar for last year's Crazy Heart, but he's better in this far superior film, the Coen brothers' straightforward and faithful take on Charles Portis's genre-bending Western novel. Bridges is Rooster Cogburn, a sozzled, one-eyed marshal hired by Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), a whip-sharp 14-year-old girl, to avenge the slaying of her father by Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) and his grubby gang. True Grit benefits from repeat viewings, and exquisitely captures the severity and melancholy of the old West.

How much: £6.99

Where from:

Winter's Bone (15)

Chances are that Missouri's tourist board won't be endorsing Debra Granik's nerve-racking slice of Midwest gothic anytime soon. Jennifer Lawrence plays Ree, a resolute 17-year-old saddled with her two siblings and a near-catatonic mother. She desperately needs to find her missing father, who has signed over the family's homestead as bail bond collateral- otherwise they'll be made homeless. The teen scours the vexing terrain of the Ozark Mountains, where the locals are far from helpful. A gripping, taut drama.

How much: £5.99

Where from:

Mildred Pierce (15)

Kate Winslet delivers a powerhouse performance (when doesn't she?) in Todd Haynes's faithful and relatively restrained adaptation of James M Cain's novel. Winslet's put-upon Mildred (her husband has left her, it's the Great Depression and her daughter Veda, is proving to be cruel), develops beautifully in HBO's immaculately composed five-hour mini-series. After traipsing the streets for work, Mildred swallows her pride and becomes a waitress. And because she's smart and a great cook, she blossoms. However, two things keep holding her back. The vile Veda ("You're such a sap mother") and Guy Pierce's feckless Monty ("I don't do anything, I loaf"). Brilliant.

How much: £14.99

Where from:

Submarine (15)

Bookish, duffel-coat-wearing Oliver (Craig Roberts), who is bullied at his Welsh comprehensive, is smitten by acerbic Jordana (Yasmin Paige). He defends her honour in the playground, refusing to call her "a slut", and gets walloped for his troubles. He also, briefly, gets the girl. However, his gloomy home life, with his neurotic mother (Sally Hawkins) and glum dad (Noah Taylor, excellent), is impeding his happiness. Richard Ayoade's debut film, adapted from Joe Dunthorne's novel, is very stylistic and references "400 Blows", "Harold and Maude" and "Rushmore". It's not terribly funny – in fact it's rather sad – but Roberts and Paige are good together and there's some tangy dialogue.

How much: £8.99

Where from:

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Apprentice Receptionist

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join this w...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Receptionists - Seasonal Placement

    £12500 - £13520 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced Hotel Receptionists...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission : SThree: Hello! I know most ...

    Recruitment Genius: Project / Account Manager and IT Support

    £20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This world leader in Online Pro...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn