Two years ago, Emily Blunt showed up as a hard-boiled, protective hen with a Remington in Rian Johnson's Looper. The British actress and wife of renowned good guy John Krasinski surprised many with a fierce performance that belied her prim image. Nothing she had done previously (The Devil Wears Prada, The Jane Austen Book Club) predicted she could become an action star, of all things. Blunt was pegged as more of a Kate Winslet-type than a Michelle Rodriguez. How wrong we all were.
Blunt was explosive in Looper and now, in 2014, she's taking things to another level. Alongside Tom Cruise, still one of biggest action stars in the world, Blunt stars in Edge of Tomorrow, the latest big budget, kill-the-aliens battle spectacular to hit theaters. Well, okay, there are one of these movies every week now, but still. Blunt is fantastic as Edge of Tomorrow's greatest soldier and symbol of hope against a seemingly invincible foe. It's further proof Blunt has serious spikes for one thing, but more importantly, it's proof she can hang with the best. She was offered the Black Widow role in Avengers but had to decline so it seems like fate: Emily Blunt Action Star.
Edge of Tomorrow
In the near future, a savage alien race has attacked Earth and is proving unstoppable. Humans have stemmed the tide with the creation of powerful battle suits that are proving effective against the alien 'mimics'. One soldier in particular stands above the rest. the "Angel of Verdun" Rita Vrataski (Blunt) who has killed more mimics than anyone and does so with a long sword like a helicopter blade. There's hope for the humans, but soon that hope is erased when untested military PR man William Cage (Cruise) is dropped on the front lines and sees the enemy has been expecting the attack. He's killed, but is soaked in mimic blood, giving him the power of limited invincibility. When Cage dies, he immediately wakes up 24 hours in the past like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. He will relive the scariest day of his life over and over again. But Cage learns Rita once held the same power which is how she became such a great warrior. Together, they team up to discover the mimics' lone weakness and take Earth back from the alien horde. With a distinct satirical vibe, Edge of Tomorrow dazzles with great action sequences hissing with danger. Plus, the team of Cruise and Blunt is formidable. See it.
The Fault in Our Stars
Through a mutual friend at a cancer support group, Hazel (Woodley) meets Augustus (Elgort). Stricken with terminal lung cancer, Hazel regards herself as a time bomb, and she's scared to hurt anyone around her by dying. But she falls for Gus anyway and the two begin a heartwarming relationship that transcends the limits of our time here on Earth. Based on the novel by John Green, The Fault in Our Stars is a modern romance that's made to get the waterworks going (if the Shakespearean title didn't give things away already). It's melodrama, but high-brow melodrama. See it.
Parks and Recreation star Jenny Slate finally gets a chance to tackle a lead role in Obvious Child, the story of a comedian coming of age after a one-night stand leaves her shockingly and unwillingly pregnant. It's an "abortion comedy" according to the film's marketing materials, which should tell you all you need to know about Slate and writer/director Gillian Robespierre's senses of humor. In a movie world where unwanted pregnancies inevitably become welcome, life-changing occurrences (Juno, Knocked Up), look for Obvious Child to take a less obvious route. See it.
Starring: Jan Bijvoet, Hadewych Minis, Jeroen Perceval, Alex van Warmerdam
From the files of the weird and wonderful comes Borgman, a unique thriller from Dutch filmmaker Alex van Warmerdam. Borgman stars chameleon Jan Bijvoet in the title role as a mysterious drifter who enters the lives of a snobbish upper-class family under false pretenses and immediately wages psychological warfare. Fans of Dogtooth or Funny Games should take note, Borgman looks to be one of the weirdest, wildest movie experiences of 2014. See it.
Strong stars here as a kind of medium who has the ability to access other people's memories. He takes on a new case where he must enter the mind of a 16-year-old girl (Vera's sister Taissa Farmiga) who may or may not be a sociopathic killer. Anna marks the directorial debut of frequent Guillermo Del Toro and Pedro Almodovar collaborator Jorge Dorado so the project had promise. Is also has Strong, one of Britain's most-underrated charactor actors in a rare lead performance. See it.