Five must-see films: March

Arbitrage, Oz the Great and Powerful, Side Effects, Trance and The Host make it onto our best in show list for the cinematic month



Release date: 1 March 2013

Starring: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, Brit Marling

Synopsis: Richard Gere plays Robert Miller – a mult-billionaire who is about to sell the hedgefund he’s managed with his daughter for a hefty profit. But Miller has been secretly cooking the books to cover an investment loss and, to compound his problems, flees a car accident that kills his mistress, Julie. Trying to evade an arrest that will compromise the sale and likely expose his financial irregularities, Miller must convince his suspicious wife (Sarandon) not to tip off the cops.

Why you should see it: Gere’s leading performance has been widely praised by critics, gaining him a Golden Globe nomination for best actor, with many deeming him worthy of an Oscars nod. Add in a nail-biting balance of sex, danger and manipulation and you have an edge of your seat dramatic thriller that will guarantee you leave the cinema satisfied.

Oz the Great and Powerful

Release date: 8 March 2013

Starring: James Franco, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis, Zach Braff

Synopsis: When small-time circus magician Oscar Diggs (Franco) gets hurled away from Kansas by a tornado to the mysterious Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot. Here are a people whose long-held prophecy lead them to believe he is the great wizard who will save them from their epic problems, offering him the fame and fortune that always eluded him back home. But three witches – Theodora (Kunis), Evanora (Weisz) and Glinda (Williams) are not convinced of his abilities and Oscar must prove himself using his magical arts as well as determine who is good and who is secretly evil…

Why you should see it: For any fans of Judy Garland’s iconic turn as Dorothy Gale in MGM’s 1939 classic, this film – charting the rise of the Wizard of Oz himself – is worth a watch. But don’t expect much resemblance to the original as director Sam Raimi swaps musical sing-a-longs for some pretty glitzy CGI magic. Throw in a star-studded Hollywood cast and you have an audience that stretches way beyond its dedicated Oz fan base…

Side Effects

Release date: 8 March 2013

Starring: Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum, Catherine Zeta-Jones

Synopsis: Psychological thriller about Emily Taylor (Mara) whose husband Martin (Tatum) has just finished serving a four-year prison sentence for insider trading. Following an apparent suicide attempt, Emily is referred to psychiatrist Jonathan Banks (Law) who puts her on experimental drug Ablixa. But the complicated side effects of the trial lead to a giddy climax of death, blackmail and betrayal.

Why you should see it: TotalFilm calls it a “fiendishly ingenious tale that doesn’t need pills to play with our perceptions” – and as Steven Soderbergh’s last offering (at least for a while), dedicated fans of his previous successes Erin Brockovich and the Oceans films will want to check out his final feature. As ever with Soderbergh, this isn’t an easy ride for cinema-goers, instead offering a cerebral workout that belies your expectations at every twist and turn. 


Release date: 27 March 2013

Starring: James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel

Synopsis: Psychological thriller following the story of fine art auctioneer Simon (McAvoy) who helps a gang of thieves led by Cassel’s Franck to steal a Goya masterpiece from a major public auction. But Simon double-crosses the gang and a blow to the head robs him of his memory, so Franck hires therapist Elizabeth (Dawson) to help reverse his amnesia and locate the painting. However, as they journey deeper into his psyche, the boundaries between reality and suggestion in Simon’s mind begin to blur.

Why you should see it: It’s been a couple of years since Danny Boyle’s last film – and this will be his first cinematic offering since his critically-acclaimed opening ceremony. Granted this does not boast the Queen and James Bond on its casting list, but the trailer bears all the hallmarks of a nail-biting thriller complete with explosions, tension and bloody gore. 

The Host

Release date: 29 March 2013

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Diane Kruger, Max Irons, Jake Abel

Synopsis: This one’s a little tricky to get your head around… Humanity is all but extinct and the Earth has been colonised by “Souls” – a parasitic alien race that inhabit our bodies, erasing the original occupants. Melanie Stryder (Ronan) falls in love with Jared (Irons) but when she’s captured by the invaders, a Soul named Wanderer enters her body in a bid to access her memories and apprehend the remaining free members of the human race. But Melanie – who incidentally is still partly conscious – bombards her visitor with memories of Jared and the pair establish a connection, leading them to set out on a mission in search of her loved ones. 


Why you should see it: For any fans of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight, this film is a must-see. Her follow-up novel (and soon-to-be trilogy) The Host topped the New York Times best-seller list when it was released back in 2008 and, although there’s no Edward and Bella this time, there’s plenty of supernatural romance to delight Meyer’s fan following. Add a leading role from rising star Saoirse Ronan – whose previous credits include Atonement, The Lovely Bones and Hanna – and you have another blockbuster franchise to delight the tweenage masses.