The best films of 2014

  • 21/12/2014

'Tis the end of yet another cinematic year, one full of highs and lows, and always rewarding.

Every year, around about now, I like to throw my ten cents worth in with my top ten.

There will be drumming, there will be apes, there will be boys. And with all top ten lists, there will always be a Dark Horse.

This year, there really is one.

1) Boyhood
Simply put, Richard Linklater's Boyhood transformed me. Given my love for his Before trilogy it was hard to imagine loving another of his films more, but Boyhood is just breathtaking in its intent, scope and ambitious execution, it's story enduringly resonating, and is cinema as it should be. May it win the Oscar!

Grand Budapest Hotel

2) The Grand Budapest Hotel
This is Wes Anderson's richest story to date, and his most accessible film yet. A glorious aesthetic and an hilarious and enduring central performance from Ralph Fiennes make this film a definitive highlight of my 2014 viewing.

3) The Dark Horse
When a film has you holding back tears in the opening minutes, it's clear it's going to be special. Beautifully told, bravely executed, and truly inspiring, The Dark Horse is one of the best pieces of New Zealand cinema you will ever see.

4) 12 Years A Slave
As brutal a watch as this film most certainly is, it's in the unflinching intimacy of director Steve McQueen's storytelling, in the stillness, where the impact of 12 Years a Slave lies. Well-deserved of its many Oscars this year, including Best Picture, this film is a standout for me.

Her

5) Her
It's the dreamlike tenderness, the wonderful performances and the thought-provoking premise which elevates Her to the dizzying heights of my top five. I just loved every single moment of it.

6) Calvary
Calvary is another wonderful pairing of director John Michael McDonagh and his muse Brendan Gleeson, and as you might expect from these filmmakers, Calvary does have its dark comedic moments. But prepare for something far more serious and contemplative, an epic parable of good and evil which builds into an intense and ultimately very emotional experience. Even better on a second viewing.

Whiplash

7) Whiplash
If it's possible to leave a cinema feeling out of breath, your bones aching, then that's exactly how Whiplash left me. I had been warned this film was an intense watch, but "intense" doesn't even begin to cover the half of it! Told with a ferocious and unrelenting energy, this story keeps you guessing all the way through to its breathtaking grand finale. Outstanding.

8) The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
After repeat viewings of this Apes, the film was a no-brainer for my top 10. Please take this opportunity to marvel once again at the wonder of Weta, and to bow at the feet of Caesar himself; as make no mistake, this is Caesar's show. The astonishingly tender and terrifying performance of Andy Serkis is a career best, and delivered with the staggeringly seamless technical genius of Weta Digital it will defy your own common sense. You will believe these apes are real. I'm left raising my imaginary fist in the air and bellowing the age-old cliché - All Hail Caesar!

9) Interstellar
If there is perfection in imperfection, and I believe there is, then Interstellar personifies that. The sensory spectacle Nolan delivers is nothing short of extraordinary, and within it a beating heart which mainlines both an intimate and a universal portrayal of what makes us human, the film's flaws rendered tiny specks in the compelling vastness of his big screen endeavour.

10) The Lego Movie
A movie about Lego. Enough said. Sometimes these kind of feel-good, You-Are-Special movies can leave me with a sugar headache - alienating rather than inspiring. But this story avoids that trap with its pacey scripting and insanely clever animation, along with an excellent voice cast bringing the familiar characters alive.The delightful and heart-warming twist at the end is just the icing on the Lego cake.

My Film3 Golden Lemon for 2014 is a tie this year between The Inbetweeners 2 and A Million Ways to Die in the West. I simply cannot decide which of the two is worse.

My colleague and fellow film reviewer Daniel Rutledge's top ten films of the year are:

1) The Raid 2

2) Why Don't You Play in Hell

3) Boyhood

4) Whiplash

5) The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

6) It Follows

7) Cold in July

8) Wadjda

9) Nightcrawler

10) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

...

Happy movie-watching over the festive season and here's to all the great films to come in 2015.

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source: newshub archive


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