Best Films 2014

Here’s the countdown of my favourite films of 2014. I didn’t review all of them originally, but where I did I’ve included a link.

10. Gone Girl
Ben Affleck is going from strength to strength and Gillian Flynn has given us a completely gripping story and one that offers plenty of promise for her future writing output. With the mighty David Fincher at the helm and adding another top quality title to his catalogue of first class films, seeing it is a no brainer.
Read original review here

9. Under The Skin (Jonathan Glazer, 2014)Scarlett Johansson Under the Skin
An erotic sci-fi thriller, with Scarlett Johansson starring as an alien at large in Glasgow, seducing unsuspecting men before murdering them in the most bizarre of fashions. With a description like that, what’s not to like? Subtly effective, it kept my intrigue on edge throughout. 

8. Giovanni’s Island / ジョバンニの島 (Mizuho Nishikubo, 2014)
It is overall a very depressing subject matter. By this I’m talking Grave of the Fireflies sort of level of depressing. There were many teary eyes as the film reached its conclusion, and that is testament to what a fantastic job Nishikubo has done here.
Read original review here

7. Marvellous (Julian Farino, 2014)
A late entry into this list (so late so I haven’t got as far as reviewing it yet). A moving BBC biopic of cult legend Neil Baldwin, former kit-man at Stoke City FC, with English actor Toby Jones in the lead role. It was at times hilarious, at times devastating. Well worth watching (and it might be on iPlayer if you’re quick about it). The most entertaining 90 minutes of TV concerning Stoke City FC in a long time.

6. Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, 2014)
Llewyn Davis Singing

The soundtrack is clearly the driving force behind the storyline. One of the greatest achievements the Coens manage is to allow our attention to be fully dedicated to the music. It’s never a case of starting a song and cutting away to a montage or separate conversation whilst the song goes through the motions of a second verse or middle 8. It is clear they are truly passionate about the music that drives the story and in almost every case the song is uninterrupted from start to finish. It could well be the greatest Coen Brothers soundtrack yet, and if you’ve heard the O Brother Where Art Thou? OST then you know what a compliment that is.
Read original review here

5. ’71
Doctor Who Series 8 Iconic

Despite his frequenting of the tabloids, Jack O’Connell keeps on proving himself to be an actor with plenty of natural talent and it’s fantastic to see him building on his excellent performance in last year’s Starred Up. With a fantastic support cast (Sean Harris stands out as Captain Sandy Browning), this is a solid film worthy of your attention. Seek it out.
Read original review here

4. Guardians of the Galaxy
A breath of fresh air for the still thriving but bordering on repetitive superhero film market, finally Guardians of the Galaxy has given us all some great new characters to enjoy on the big screen… and the lunchbox manufacturers some new faces to stick on their products. Hilarious, fast-paced and an awesome soundtrack to boot, this is a great start to an inevitable franchise.

3. Nightcrawler

Gyllenhaal is a wonder to watch in a film like this. He has chosen his films wisely over the years and has a body of work he can already be very proud of, including Donnie Darko, Jarhead, Brokeback Mountain, Zodiac and Source Code. This is definitely amongst his best overall, and I’d go as far as say that Lou is his most defined character yet. He plays sinister very well and clearly knows how to make his audiences tick. At times it’s a real joy to watch, at times it made me want to cover my eyes; both responses indicative that I was hooked.
Read original review here

2. Lilting

Hong Khaou’s Lilting is one of the best films I’ve seen this year. It’s a stunning study of the emotions people go through when someone they are close to dies with a secret, and the difficult resolutions they find to deal with the loss. If you get a chance to see it, then grasp it with both hands. Watching it is a deeply moving experience.
Read original review here

1. The Imitation Game

Every so often I see a new film that absolutely blows my socks off, where the storyline sits perfectly with my mood and I get totally enthralled in the joyous and rare occasion of seeing what could be one of my favourite films of all time. The Imitation Game was one of those films.
Read the original review here.

Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

Based on the novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl deals with some pretty hefty topics: dishonesty, the media, the recession. It’s a powerhouse of a film and one that will surely be busy come the awards season next year.

The film opens with a title sequence of quickly cut still-camera shots of various (at the time) inconsequential locations, soundtracked by an uneasy score by Fincher favourites Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The manner in which this is portrayed, as if someone is recounting evidence from memory, is designed to throw the viewer. The cast and main crew are also listed, but they aren’t on screen for long before fading away. It put me on edge and was a very original and effective way to set the tone before any of the plot unfolded. This discomforting tone was continued throughout, usually exacerbated by the jarring score.

The plot centres around Affleck, very effective in the role of Nick Dunne, a man accused of murdering his wife Amy (played by Rosamund Pike). He vehemently denies the accusations, but slowly realises that proving his innocence is not going to be a straightforward task. The journey is one that had me gripped from start to finish, and on several occasions my wife and I looked at each other in shock at the new twists we were being thrown – the sign of a wonderful thriller.


Affleck’s career about-turn is quite astonishing. After starting off promisingly in the late 1990s, by 2005 his reputation within the industry had withered and it was even worse amongst the general public, his name being dragged through the tabloids time-after-time and dwarfing any positive publicity that might have been doing the rounds for his cinematic outputs (though when you release Daredevil and Gigli in consecutive years those kinds of reviews are harder to find). When he finally came back with critically-acclaimed films like Hollywoodland and Gone Baby Gone, the cinema-goers didn’t jump on the bandwagon immediately, probably because by this point he was seen as tabloid fodder rather than a respectable artist. It is perhaps this experience with the wider media that gave Affleck a reality on which to base such a memorable performance, with Dunne struggling against the media to maintain his reputation amid accusations that seem to take on a life of their own, certainly beyond the police investigation (and probably influencing their opinions too). It’s a perfectly pitched performance from a highly skilled actor.

The film is not without its limitations. The ending seemed a little bit confused, as though everyone involved couldn’t decide where or how to end it and tagging on a couple of extra scenes that maybe could have been cut. There is a lack of resolution that leaves us wanting a little bit more, which isn’t always a bad thing but in this case frustrating. It was perhaps intentional, though I can’t immediately offer a reason why it was intentional. It’s hard to discuss without ruining the ending, so I’ll leave it there.

Rosamund Pike is an absolute revelation as Amazing Amy. I’d be surprised if she’s overlooked in Oscar season for a performance as good as this. Equally, Neil Patrick Harris plays a convincing and effective role as Desi Collings, the disturbed and disturbing ex with twisted motives to get involved with the situation.

This is the first feature film adaptation of Flynn’s work – the second will be released next month in the form of the Charlize Theron-starring Dark Places – and you can clearly see the influence of her background working in the media. The subtext of the plot is really a lambasting of the modern media and their influence on people’s lives, sacrificing one person’s privacy for the sake of a good story for the wider population to enjoy.

Ben Affleck is going from strength to strength and Gillian Flynn has given us a completely gripping story and one that offers plenty of promise for her future writing output. With the mighty David Fincher at the helm and adding another top quality title to his catalogue of first class films, seeing it is a no brainer.

Gone Girl is out in cinemas worldwide now.