And before you grumble, yes we’re all sick of ‘top ten of the year’ lists but you know what they say, if you can’t be a part of the solution, be a part of the problem. So this is me (metaphorically) spitting in the eye of the naysayers.
And here we go…and in no particular order…
January is always a month for quality Oscar-bait entries and 2014 was no exception. This movie had outstanding acting (from everyone, not just those nominated/winning glittery awards) and an unsweetened moral at its heart that avoided the sentimental pitfalls that hamstrung other movies like 12 Years A Slave. It’s bold, sardonic and brimming with compassion so how can you argue with that?
again another movie that came out in the pre-Oscar rush. And while it may not have broken much new ground for the director after his yuppie triumphs of the Eighties (incidentally, look what you did to Charlie Sheen, you heartless monster!) it was still a glorious, balls to the wall drug-fest. Mad as a bag of cats and just as fabulous, the film caters to all audiences and as a result shot straight onto this lists with full honours.
this one is pretty much topping every poll from last year and quite honestly, deservedly so. For sheer commitment to the story (imagine making a movie for over ten years!) and for its eye for the minutiae of growing up in modern America the film is an original masterpiece of cinema. You might think that casting your own daughter in one of the main roles speaks of an off-putting vanity project but the chemistry between the cast members is one of the most beautiful things about the flick. So give the film a chance, it’ll warm the cockles of your heart, I promise.
or ‘the gays vs miners throwdown’ movie. I wasn’t expecting much from this to be frank but I was forced to eat my words after seeing it. Chock full of gritty characterisation and intimate charm the film is a Ken Loach kitchen sink drama with a little extra wry humour thrown in for good measure…. and Bill Nighy is an understated genius in the thing. Wonderful, heartbreaking and important.
misogynistic or not (and you can see one of my previous posts for the answer to that!) this is a dark, cynical look at wedded bliss as well as an old-fashioned murder mystery. I’m not going to give anything away about the ending but suffice to say both Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike show their acting chops throughout even surrounded as they are by talented support acts (my favourites being Carrie Coon’s Margo and Kim Dicken’s Detective Boney.) If you like your dramas a little bleaker than average and you’re not averse to a grand dose of human wickedness then this is definitely the movie for you.
a sci-fi movie in the list?! Have I lost my mind?! Well maybe, but you won’t see another science fiction offering that does so much with its inbuilt narrative restrictions. Playing out like an otherworldly version of Christopher Nolan’s Memento, the film is a cerebral fantasy for adults and turns out to be just as entertaining as it is mind-boggling. And for me, it makes the list purely for the arguments you can have about what really happened at the ending down the local pub! Seriously, there were fights guys. Actual fights…
Unlike Pride mentioned above I knew I was going to love this from the first time I saw the trailer. Spike Jonze’s penchant for crazy upside-down love stories is well known (and thoroughly endearing) but Her really takes it to the next level. With a striking central performance from Joaquin Phoenix (who did wonders with a role that for the most part had him acting alongside a tinny mechanical voice let’s not forget) this is a beautiful glimpse into the unending human need for connection. And that’s something we can all relate to, right? I can’t think of a single person who wouldn’t learn something from this stunning slice of American drama so I say this loud and proud- get it on DVD. You won’t regret it.
to be fair, you don’t often see an Australian horror film get the word of mouth that this film did. And there’s no way around it, the movie deserves every whispered recommendation it got. With a female director (unusual in itself for the genre) and an allegorical bent (is The Babadook repressed grief? Guilt? The mother’s lack of maternal instincts?) this is horror with something to say. Fear with a legitimate grounding- not a claim many horror films can make these days with the surplus of found-footage blah-fests. And on top of that, it’s creepy as faf. All very good reasons to catch it, if you haven’t already.
I don’t think I really need to explain this one if you’ve seen the Raid. It’s another chop socky explosion of riotous violence with both humour and heart. Our hero Rama is back for a second go albeit with a bigger playground… but instead of diluting the action as usually happens, the expanded setting simply gives the star a more intricate swingset to play on and boy does he deliver! Bursting with crazy characters and an array of weaponry you couldn’t even believe, the film is mental-tastic, eye-glueing fun. And that’s basically what we all want from a cinema trip out, isn’t it?
another British entry and another triumph. You may sneer at this one for being an unnecessary remake of Dougray Scott’s Enigma but to put it boldly, you’d be wrong on this particular occasion. This is a personal drama, the biography of a genius who almost had his significance wiped from the records by a callous British Government. It’s an important tale that needs to be told and the fact that it’s directed with such assurance by Morten Tyldum (and contains a startling central performance by man of the moment Benedict Cumberbatch) just adds to the many reasons it should be on this list. It’s interesting that the film is currently nominated for five Golden Globes. And if one or all of these facts don’t convince you to give the film a watch then in the spirit of honesty…I kind of despair a little about the current state of civilisation. You don’t want to bring me down do you people?
So there you have it…now bring on the opinions, good people. Agree? Disagree? I want your thoughts…let the fighting commence!