A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
As 2014 draws to a close, I’m continuing my personal awards season with the second and biggest bunch of prizes.
Some are good, some are bad and some you may disagree with. Either way, I want to make it known that these are selections from the films that I have seen throughout the year. I’ve tried my best to see as many as I can, but ultimately, I’m one guy who has a job and university to focus on.
Have a look, see what you think, and let me know what your picks would be! Happy reading everybody!
WORST FILM OF 2014
Tripe. Absolute, laziness at it’s finest. Melissa McCarthy has become such a typecast individual that she thought the best thing to do in this co-written abomination with her husband was to typecast herself in the leading role.
Forget creative control – let’s just go with what the public are used to. Well Melissa, we are in fact used to utter garbage unfolding on-screen before our eyes, but not at this level.
There were some contenders this year, but “Tammy” by far and away was the most unfunny piece of pond scum on the list.
Ralph Fiennes – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Mr. Gustav H. is brought ever so fabulously to life through an unmatchable performance from the one and only Ralph Fiennes. With an unfamiliar comedic flair being exhibited with such ease and grace, Fiennes steals every scene he occupies from start to finish in Wes Anderson’s star-studded flamboyantly chaotic comedy.
Rude, obnoxious and fascinatingly quirky, Gustav is a one-of-a-kind character that is played so perfectly by a one-of-a-kind actor.
I hope we get to see more of Fiennes’ fine comic capabilities in the not too distant future!
Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
Menacing, unpredictable and truly, truly diabolical – Pike proves she’s the real deal in Fincher’s latest masterpiece. It is an OSCAR-worthy performance without a doubt. She brings a new kind of crazy to the screen and boy is it a pleasure to watch!
I had not previously seen Pike in anything, but from people inform me, her performances have been relatively fine. It’s fair to say she stepped it up for Amy, and I truly hope she picks up OSCAR gold for this one!
Starlord – Guardians of the Galaxy
I actually had trouble picking this one. When looking back on the heroes of 2014, we didn’t have all that many to pick from. Going with the easiest option, I chose Starlord, the cool, funny and goofy protagonist from “Guardians”. Other nominees included Caesar from “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”, Curtis form “Snowpiercer” and Captain America from “The Winter Solider”.
I haven’t seen “Big Hero 6”, so Baymax didn’t qualify unfortunately. Starlord may not be the ‘best’ hero in terms of morals and what not, however he was by far and away the most entertaining to watch.
He was very unique and portrayed to perfection by Chris Pratt!
Hercules (Kellen Lutz) – The Legend of Herules
With Katniss Everdeen being a very strong contender, Kellen Lutz’s pathetic attempt to personify the demigod legend of mythology proved to be slightly more insufferable.
Not only is his acting lousy, the script he’s made to read is enough to make anyone cringe in agony. I sympathise with Lutz for having to endure this labor, however it doesn’t forgive him for accepting a February release film – we all know the outcome of them…
Koba – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Koba for me, was an intriguing villain that had so many layers to him. Experiencing a significant change and progression in character motivation, Koba’s conflicts with Caesar and the other apes becomes really uneasy to watch.
Although the film needed a primary villain from within the collective colony of simians, Koba’s disagreements with Caesar are the ones you want to see resolved before it gets out of hand. On many ways, you sympathise with Koba, given his horrible backstory, but on the other hand, you become against him after we see him completely lose control.
I didn’t think that an ape could posses so much depth, but I’m not complaining. Koba is a fantastic antagonist and is well worthy of the prize!
Rhino – The Amazing Spiderman 2
3 minutes. That’s the maximum amount of screen time given to Paul Giamatti’s Rhino – the most underused, underwhelming and awkward villain seen all year.
It was obvious that Giamatti didn’t want to be there, plus the writing behind Rhino seemed to have been conjured up 40 minutes before filming. Awfully utilised, awfully animated, poorly executed and unnecessary beyond belief, Rhino’s inclusion in the latest ‘Spidey’ flick almost justifies “Spiderman 3’s” attempted triple threat of antagonists.
Honestly, no other villain has made me shake my head in a sigh of disappointment more than Rhino, and I really hope the next film can make his inclusion worthwhile. I’m tipping otherwise…
This guy, am I right?
The world cannot stop talking about Chris Pratt! A down to earth, funny and charming guy, Pratt has burst on to the filmic screen in a big way with “Guardians” and now “Jurassic World” coming our way soon. He knows how genuine, effortless comedy works and it is such a joy to watch. Well done Chris!
Jack O’Connell deserves an honorable mention. The “Skins” star has also progressed significantly with regular work and solid performances. A future star with a lot of talent, O’Connell will be on a lot of people’s radars!
Martin Freeman has also had a standout year, but to classify him as a breakout star isn’t quite right for me as he’d had a lot of previous success. Nevertheless, well done, Martin!
When will this man stop?
2013,14 and now 15 see Hardy working endlessly with major motion pictures and television roles left, right and centre. From “Locke”, to “Peaky Blinders”, to “The Drop”, to “London Road”, “Child 44”, “Mad Max: Fury Road”, “Legend”, “The Revenant”, “Taboo” and finally, “The Suicide Squad”, Hardy has his work cut out for him.
Thankfully, he’s one of the best actors living today, so plenty more of Hardy is anything but a bad thing.
It will be interesting to see Hardy in yet another DC comic role too! I have no doubts in my mind that he’ll be marvellous as usual!
The Wolf of Wall Street
This was released on Christmas Day 2013 in the U.S. however it didn’t make its way over to Australia until early 2014. I’m a huge fan of DiCaprio and Scorsese, don’t get me wrong, but “The Wolf of Wall Street” is not a fantastic film.
It’s a 3-hour mess of sex, drugs and filthy debauchery that focuses all too much on glorifying it’s central disgusting protagonist. Sure, it’s a cautionary tale at heart, but there are endless unnecessary scenes blended with all-round stupidity that is just not appealing for me.
I grew very tired of people raving about “Wall Street” and I cherish the time I spend with people I can share a more negative opinion with regarding it. Lets just say these conversations are few and fare between…
The Two Faces of January
This is one that’s worth a watch at least. I really enjoyed “The Two Faces of January” as it paid homage to the classic thrillers in a very sophisticated manner.
It wasn’t the most energetic and suspenseful picture, however it had a lot of commendable qualities about it, most notably the conflict between characters and the solid development/arks of each member.
The score was great, as was the cinematography! There was a fantastic sense of struggle and tension within the sweltering Mediterranean settings that transitioned so well to the big screen.
I would definitely recommend this underrated treat!
Guardians of the Galaxy
Yet another award for this one…
This was the most surprising fro many, seeing as most audiences had absolutely no prior knowledge of these ragtag misfits.
Speculative and intrigued, audiences left “Guardians” with a wide smile on their faces and proceeded to praise Marvel’s ambition and risk taking. If you haven;t seen “Guardians” yet, I highly, highly, highly recommend it.
Amazing Spiderman 2
I was actually a little bit excited for this one. Apart from the trailer that ruined every single major plot point and the suspect inclusion of multiple villains, “The Amazing Spiderman 2” looked somewhat appealing.
Sadly, it turned out to be a crock of crap that was predictable, cliche, cringeworthy and incredibly tedious. The mid-credits scene was the icing on the cake of all-round disappointment.
Lift your game Sony, let Marvel have their hero back!!
Nightcrawler – Dan Gilroy
This may seem to be an interesting answer, but Dan Gilroy’s career has never been in the director’s chair. This is Gilroy’s first officially directed motion picture which may be hard to believe, given just how professional it looks.
Made on a minimal budget, “Nightcrawler” is an achievement above all else and one of the year’s best films.
Action sequences are directed to perfection as well as the performances from the leading and supporting cast. I was very, very impressed with this film for endless reasons.
An honourable mention must go to Australian Jennifer Kent. Her debut horror “The Babadook” is a sensational first feature that deserves a watch. It goes against the norm of today within the genre and generates a real sense of uneasiness and tension.
I’m looking forward to the future work of Kent, as well as Gilroy of course!
X Men: Days of Future Past
A scene that plays on both technological advancements in filmmaking as well clever screenwriting, the “Quicksilver kitchen scene” from “Days of Future Past” is easily my favourite scene from 2014.
It’s funny, clever and oh so entertaining!
The character of Quicksilver lasted a little too short in the grand scheme of things, but with such a crammed ensemble cast such as this one, one show-stealing scene is more than we could ask for from an otherwise smaller contributor.
Alluding to nothing crucial within the plot and getting the audience on the wrong path was exactly what made the ultra-mysterious, highly exciting trailer for David Fincher’s “Gone Girl” the best of the year.
Forget “Star Wars”, this is how a solid thrilling trailer should be made. Nothing is spoiled, everything is hidden and so many questions are left open, forcing curiosity and intrigue upon its viewers!
With limited dialogue and scattered visuals, “Gone Girl” instantly became a must-see after seeing this amazing trailer for the first time!
Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bwNPpKWBRk
An honorable mention must go to “Avengers: Age of Ultron”. Expecting something loud and fun, I received a very dark, disturbing trailer that really haunted me for a bit.
Playing on the famous “I’ve got no strings” tune from “Pinocchio”, “Age of Ultron” pushes the irony and menacing tone of everything within it very well. I am very much looking forward to next year.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Classic after classic that accompanies the film to perfection and says so much about backstory, character and relationships.
Sweeping the awards in spectacular fashion, I tried to look elsewhere for this award, but ultimately “Guardians” prevailed.
I thoroughly enjoyed “Grand Budapest Hotel’s” score, and if I separated this award into two, Anderson’s latest would get the chocolates, however “Guardians” is too strong for me.
Not since “Drive” have a downloaded the soundtrack to film on Spotify immediately after watching it.
That’s got to stand for something, right?
There were some fantastic documentaries this year. It was “Tim’s Vermeer” that impressed me the most however through sheer fascination alone.
For such an original idea to be pursued in such a brilliant way, this documentary is something special.
The end results of attempting to replicate a classic Vermeer painting from scratch and with absolutely no painting skills are extraordinary to say the least. This is one to watch and marvel at!
TIE! – True Detective & Fargo
I couldn’t bring myself to split these two. It’s like choosing between children, it can’t be done, at least morally…
Being a movie fan compared to television, I didn’t get around to many shows in 2014, however from the ones I did get into, these two were by far and away the best of the bunch.
Both are short series that explore character on such an incredibly engrossing level. Every episode left you yearning for more, whilst the the casts were astonishingly good!
Season 2 of “True Detective” has a lot riding on it now, let’s just wait and see how it compares…
How To Train Your Dragon 2
I have not seen “Big Hero 6”, but I’ve heard it’s brilliant. Not released until next year, I have to wait and see how it compares on 2015’s list.
I didn’t see many animations is year, but “How To Train Your Dragon 2” win me over completely. On the spur of the moment, my girlfriend and I decided to go and see it one afternoon in a cinema packed full of children and families.
Everyone was well behaved, the film was great and we both left with enormous smiles on our faces.
This is what sequels are all about!
Snowpiercer – Joon-ho Bong (South Korea)
A limited release film with a stellar cast, “Snowpiercer” was one that slipped under many people’s radars. For those who were lucky enough to see this gem from 2014, I dare say they would have been impressed all round; I certainly was.
This is a bold, entertaining and different story that deals with apocalyptic themes very well. Isolating the world to a constantly moving train, the drama, tension and chaos is at an unwaveringly high level and it makes for some cataclysmic viewing!
It’s one that will stick with you for a while, in the best possible way!
So there you have it! My awards for 2014!
Thank you for having a look and let me know what you think in the comments section below!