The year is finally over and frankly, I gotta say, it’s been a fantastic year for cinema! There have been a lot of terrific gems and because of this, I have expanded my list from ten to twenty favourites this year. I feel bad saying this but I have four movies from this year in my all time favorites list right now. Each film on this list blew me away one way or another, whether it was a pleasant surprise or a fantastic thrill or a powerful work of art. Unfortunately, I did not get to see such films as Selma, Theory of Everything, A Most Violent Year, Mommy or Foxcatcher because I either have not had time or they are not playing where I am. So, as always, time to give away my twenty favorite films of 2014.
This is going to be a lengthy list, but there were so many fantastic films and there are a few that did not make the list but deserve to be mentioned. These films are:
- 22 Jump Street
- X-Men: Days of Future Past
- The Raid 2
- Maps to the Stars
- Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
- Alan Partridge
- Willow Creek
- The Trip to Italy
- How to Train Your Dragon 2
Now for the top twenty films that I loved this year. This is my opinion after all so please don’t take this list too seriously. If you have an opinion different from mine, I totally respect that. Also, please feel free to leave your favourites of the year in the comment section below. I can’t wait to see what you all thought.
Over the year, I have become a big Lars von Trier fan seeing such excellent films of his as Antichrist and Breaking the Waves to name a couple. When I first heard about this film, I was nervous. I had a strange feeling this could be nothing but five and a half hours of artsy porn with absolutely no depth and substance. Thankfully, I was completely wrong and Nymphomaniac is something very fascinating to admire. Despite this being part of von Trier’s Depression Trilogy, this film is a lot more uplifting than the other two films in said trilogy. The main theme of the film is accepting who you are despite flaws you may see in yourself and the film illustrates this theme flawlessly with the dynamic between Joe and Seligman. Though this film brings up some points I disagree with and the ending is a little off from the rest of the film, Nymphomaniac is still able to bring me in and keep me engaged with its ideas for such a lengthy run-time.
- The Lego Movie
This could have gone either way, being brilliant or terrible, but with Phil Lord and Christopher Miller directing and writing, this turned out to be brilliant. There is a lot of wit and charm as well as some truly hilarious moments, which mostly spawn from a scene stealing performance by Will Arnett as Batman. What makes this movie so special though is not the humour, the wit or the charm, but mostly that ability to bring the audience back to a time in their childhoods when imagination was the greatest tool one could have. This movie does not acknowledge this beautiful and simple tool, it celebrates it and shows the impact an imagination has on not just children, but also the people around them. The animation is also stunning to look at as well as so vibrant and fun. This is easily my second favourite animated film of the year that everyone can adore.
- The Interview
I know this is an especially odd choice considering this is on the official Razzie shortlist as I write this list, but I thought this movie was hilarious and surprisingly quite thought provoking. James Franco is quite fun to watch play the goofy Dave Skylark and Seth Rogen is interesting as the straight man this time around, but the standout of this entire film is Randall Park as Kim Jong Un. He plays the role brilliantly without any restraint and it’s so amazing to watch him. While he is not as brilliant, I think he portrayed Un the way Chaplin portrayed Hitler as both demeaned both dictators and made them look moronic. The film also satirizes the celebrity news industry, the CIA as well as North Korea, but the film’s strongest message is the power of words and the impact that one person standing up can have on a nation.
- The Imitation Game
The Imitation Game really surprised me with how smart, detailed and honorable it was to it’s subject: Alan Turing, a man who created a machine that outsmarted the German Enigma code and prevented the war from going on any longer than it did. Benedict Cumberbatch is phenomenal as Turing and really carries the film. That said, the rest of the cast including Keira Knightley, Mark Strong and Matthew Goode are also great, but Cumberbatch is the scene stealer here. Another key part of what makes this film so great is the screenplay, which deserves to win the Oscar for Adapted Screenplay. It’s smart, funny, clever and treats Turing with lots of respect and honours his work and importance to furthering technology. Definitely go check it out.
- The Guest
When I saw Adam Wingard’s prior film from last year, You’re Next, I thought he had some potential to create a truly fantastic thrill ride, but it was not that film. I guess he saved all of that high power energy for his newest film, The Guest, because it was so damn awesome! Sure, the film starts off a little slow, but when it gets going, it’s running really fast and does not stop until the very end. Dan Stevens and Maika Monroe are fantastic in this film and are obviously having the time of their lives playing the guest himself, David and the daughter of the Peterson family, respectively. This also has some terrific action scenes, including a very Terminator-esque fight in a bar and some fantastic shoot-em-up moments. I also adored how retro this movie is. It has a constant eighties feeling throughout the entire film. This movie is a ton of fun and probably Adam Wingard’s most interesting and best work to date.
- Under the Skin
This was a very fascinating and transcending experience. Scarlett Johansson is amazing in the lead role and the director, Jonathan Glazer, has created something both visually stunning, emotionally deep and relatively quiet. This film is not for everybody, it’s a very slow moving piece of film that doesn’t explain everything through exposition, but that is the beauty of it. The film discusses so much about the ideas of humanity and even a bit of assimilation as we see Johansson’s character, an alien, starts to resemble her human counterparts around her on Earth and becomes more comfortable as a human. It is an extremely powerful film with an amazing message that is worthy of watching by anyone who is more than willing to watch it.
Despite the lower rating on Rotten Tomatoes than most of his movies, Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar is probably one of my favorite movies of his. Sure, the exposition is a little too much, but Interstellar is a very special movie that reminded me of both Spielberg and Kubrick’s efforts for the science fiction genre creating both a fun space adventure as well as a deep exploration of time, the universe and mankind. Visually, the film is stunning and probably has the most beautiful looking special effects of the year rivaling Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. The performances across the board are fantastic and make up for the weak writing, especially Matthew McConaughey and a young Mackenzie Foy who portrays a ten year old Murph. The two of them have amazing chemistry and are easily the stand outs. Hans Zimmer’s score was also a fantastic change from his usual work and it is also amazing. I was surprised at how much I liked Interstellar, one of the best experiences all year.
To quote Domhnall Gleeson’s character, “How to describe Frank?” This is a very difficult film to explain because it went in a lot of directions I did not expect it to. The film is dark, hilarious, filled with glee and very passionate like the title character. The film’s writing is extremely strong. Despite the dark content, the film has a very heartwarming feeling to it, especially when we get to know the characters The characters are so well developed to a point where I loved every one of them so much and felt horrible every time something bad happened to them. This is also due to the strong performances, especially Michael Fassbender as Frank who deserves some recognition this awards season and probably will not due to the large competition. He was hilarious, touching and brilliant to watch on screen. The music is also very refreshing and has one of the best original songs I have heard all decade so far (I Love You All). This is not a film I would recommend to everyone, but for the select few, Frank is definitely worth seeking out.
- The Babadook
I thought last year’s The Conjuring was easily the strongest horror film in years, but The Babadook blew it out of the water. The film creatively tries to scare the audience instead of resulting to pathetic jump scares and most of the terrifying moments in the film come from the main theme and source of drama in the film. The whole film deals with the idea of grief from the perspectives of a widower and her young child. The monster itself is much deeper than we are led to believe and once the monster is revealed in its true metaphorical form, it is probably one of the scariest things I have ever seen in a film. Director Jennifer Kent is extremely good at creating atmosphere and tension throughout to create a terrifying and insane climax. Essie Davis as the widower is absolutely amazing in the film and totally deserves an Oscar nomination for her excellent performance. I cannot wait to see more from Jennifer Kent and I hope that this film opens new doors for her in the film industry.
- The Double
This was easily one of the most interesting films of the year. Visually, this film is stunning as Richard Ayoade has an eye like Terry Gilliam. The sets look beautiful and the production design is incredible. It’s also great to watch Jesse Eisenberg work his magic portraying two different characters and making them as distinctive as he can while making them the same. There is so many fascinating ideas going on throughout the film including depressing themes and some fantastic comedy. The score also fascinated me greatly and the cinematography was incredible. Definitely worth checking out to see the talent inside Richard Ayoade.