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
/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/002/60589995/files/2014/12/img_0083.jpg
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)
IMG_9234
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)
Marvellous
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
rocket
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
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
IMG_9227

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.

Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy, 2014)

“The closer you look, the darker it gets” declares the poster for Dan Gilroy’s directorial debut Nightcrawler. And so it was. As I sat in the cinema wondering how far Jake Gyllenhaal’s character would take it, the answer tended to be “Oh, that far.”

The film is a bildungsroman tale of Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal), a young man driven by money and success, and willing to go to any lengths to achieve it. He gets hooked on the idea of freelance crime journalism, specifically filming violent crimes and accidents with a personal camcorder, with the plan to sell them on to local news station KWLA manager Nina (Rene Russo). However, as his business grows and the stakes are raised, he goes to great lengths to ensure he rises to the top of the pile and stays there, no matter what the consequences are.

IMG_9506.JPG

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.

The plot works as a game of oneupmanship unto itself, and this operates across the board. The characters become fuller and more dislikable as the time progresses, the gore gets gorier, the action gets more explosive and by the final act the whole movie had me whipped up into a frenzy of disbelief. Well played Gilroy.

IMG_9507.JPG

The supporting cast includes a top-form Bill Paxton (whoopee-fuckin’-do) as a rival video journalist, and a further emerging Riz Ahmed, who Brits may remember from the excellent Four Lions. Ahmed is one of my favourite British actors and it was a nice surprise to see him with such a big role in an American blockbuster.

As the finale approached, I found myself getting increasingly engrossed by Lou’s actions. His morals become so loose by the end that there is nothing remaining. His actions are fuelled by a desire to earn money, which is only possible because the viewers of KWLA are hungry to see the gruesome truth of their city. It’s an intelligent method of storytelling that we are enticed in the same manner into Lou’s own story, and by the end I found myself questioning my own morals, sitting on the edge of my seat, watching in excited disbelief.

This is an excellent film and it’s well worth seeking out whilst it’s still in cinemas. Check it out!

Nightcrawler is in cinemas worldwide now.