Well, another year is over which means, as usual, every movie blogger has to post about their favourite movies of the last year. But, seeing as I (a) haven’t seen every movie released last year and (b) get really confused by what movies qualify for that specific year, depending on where you live in the world, I thought I would just do a list of the best films that I have watched in 2014. Some of them weren’t released last year but who cares, huh?
So, in no particular order (and with reviews of Frozen, Frank and ’71 yet to be posted)…
1. Nightcrawler (2014) – I say this list is in no particular order, but Nightcrawler may well be my favourite film of the year anyway. Another acting tour de force by Jake Gyllenhaal as sleazy but ambitious photographer Lou Bloom, the whole feel of the movie recalled Hollywood classics from the seventies golden days.
2. Frozen (2013) – I watched Frozen right at the beginning of 2014 and didn’t go much on it at all. I watched it again recently with my son, and consequently the whole family fell in love with it and it has been on about fifty times over Christmas. Harks back to the Disney glory days, and the songs are something else! Oh, and TEAM ANA by the way.
3. Interstellar (2014) – I was anticipating Interstellar for most of 2013, let alone 2014, and it didn’t disappoint. A visual feast, with a great cast and a reminder of the magic of cinema. Who cares that it had flaws, it was still better than most films released last year, through shear ambition alone.
4. The Raid 2 (2014) – The sequel to the impressive first film was more of the same kick-ass kung fu but on a whole different scale. Mightily impressive from start to finish, and even non martial arts fans could find something enjoyable in it.
5. The Guest (2014) – A real surprise for me this one.No huge stars (unless you like Downton Abbey) but just a shear joy to watch, mainly because it never took itself seriously. It new exactly what kind of film it was and played to it’s strengths.
6. Boyhood (2014) – Another hugely ambitious project from Richard Linklater and, like Interstellar, reminded you of just how special films can be.
7. Begin Again (2014) – Another surprise for me this year was Begin Again. Who would have thought that Keira Knightly could have pulled off the role of ‘credible indie singer-songwriter’? The songs were good, the cast was top notch and a feel good factor pervaded the whole thing.
8. Next Goal Wins (2014) – If I did list these films in order, Next Goal Wins would have appeared near the top of the list. It had me laughing one moment and crying the next, exactly what all good films should do. And you didn’t have to know or care about football (soccer) to like this. As long as you were human and had a heart you would love it.
9. Chef (2014) – Another feel good hit of the summer. I’ve never been a huge Favreau fan, but his latest really warmed my heart, and made my stomach rumble too. The food looked great, the soundtrack was cool, the characters charming and the end result was his best movie in years.
10. ‘71 (2014) – I literally only watched this the other day and have no idea how wide a release it got, but it deserves a worldwide release as it was fantastic. Full of tension and suspense, ’71 tells the story of a young English troop caught on his own in an extremely hostile Belfast at the height of the troubles. His battle to stay alive in a place he doesn’t know was gripping from first to last.
11. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) – My favourite director, Wes Anderson, was back doing what he does best. And this could even be his best yet. If you’re not a fan of Anderson it might not have won you over, but no one could deny the faultless acting and visuals on display. Feinnes was a revelation.
12. Blue Ruin (2014) – Possibly one of the best and most interesting Indie movies released last year, and a real antidote to all the feel good movies I’ve just noticed inhabiting my list! Macon Blair was great as Dwight, a down on his luck hobo out for revenge.
13. The Lego Movie (2014) – Everything was awesome in Lego world. A crafty, immensely inventive and funny take on everyone’s favourite building blocks. The voice cast were great and some of the cameos were excellent. I defy anyone to have watched this and not liked it.
14. The Hunt (2012) – This Danish hard hitter is a couple of years old now, but I watched at the beginning of the year and was just wowed by it. Mads Mikklesen was fantastic as Lucas, accused of molesting his best friends daughter. A terrifying tale of what people choose to believe, and how quickly things get out of hand.
15. Frank (2014) – Another I’ve not got around to reviewing yet, but, despite my reservations (I grew up with Frank Sidebottom on my TV screen, and wondered what it was all about), I really enjoyed the strange array of characters and the human story underlying it all. Gleeson and Fassbender on top form.
As always, there are some films that so nearly made the list, and some that are so bad they should have a list all to themselves…
Coulda, woulda, shoulda: Guardians of the Galaxy, Gone Girl, The Drop, Edge of Tomorrow, Cheap Thrills, Locke, Life After Beth, The Monuments Men, St. Vincent, Stonehearst Asylum, Wake in Fright, Calvary, Foxcatcher
Not in a milion years: Grand Piano, Night Moves, Earth to Echo, Good People, Life of Crime, Happy Christmas, Labor Day, The Longest Week, Nymphomaniac, Pompeii, Are You Here