A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
2014 has been a great year for filmmaking. There have been countless gems and fulfilling flicks that justify their immense anticipation. 2014 brought us a lot of sequels, two “Hercules” films, as well as major announcements of forthcoming instalments that made every geek’s head explode.
“Star Wars VII”, “The Jungle Book”, “Toy Story 4”, “Jurassic World”, “Batman V Superman”, the Marvel and DC slates, the new “Terminator”, the list goes on…
We lost some incredible talents in 2014 as well. The likes Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Williams passing generated mass grief amongst adoring fans across the globe.
Other losses included Corey Monteith, Paul Walker, Dennis Farina, James Gandolfini, Richard Griffiths and Roger Ebert, amongst several others. All were exceptional talents from their field of strength and significant losses to the industry. Rest in peace.
I set myself a goal for 2014 and accomplished it with great satisfaction. I ventured to the cinema more times in 2014 than I had ever done before and I am so glad I did.
With the goal of seeing as many films as I could that both fit in to my schedule and that I could afford, I managed to see some absolute classics that I would not have otherwise.
Keep in mind, due to later and limited release dates/locations, I have not managed to see the following:
– John Wick
– American Sniper
– Inherent Vice
– The Imitation Game
These will therefore be categorised under 2015’s films and go into the running for next year’s list!
Before my list commences, there are some honourable mentions that didn’t make the cut, but that I enjoyed nonetheless. They include:
– The Two Faces Of January
– How To Train Your Dragon 2
– Good Vibrations
– The Lego Movie
– Under The Skin
– Edge of Tomorrow
– X-Men: Days of Future Past
– Still Life
– The Double
So with all that said, let’s jump in to my Top 10 favourite films of the year!
Here it is, 2014’s best picture.
An absolute knockout from one of the greatest modern directors in the industry. David Fincher’s “Gone Girl” is what mystery/thrillers are all about! Based upon Gillian Flynn’s highly popular novel, “Gone Girl”, starring Ben Afleck and Rosamund Pike, as well as Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry stands above the rest in spectacular fashion.
Not reading the book is arguably the best thing you can do before viewing this film. Being clouded by the unknown and being passively lead down the wrong path time and time again through the meticulously crafted promotional material proved to make the end result that much more impressive.
I saw it on opening night before the U.S release with a group of friends in a perfectly packed cinema which made for an exceptional evening watching a masterpiece unfold in amazing fashion.
This is up there with with Fincher’s best and has confirmed his return to 90’s-esque perfect form!
I was very excited for this one from all the way back in 2013, oh how time flies! Making sure we did the film justice, my girlfriend and I saw Wes Anderson’s latest picture in a Gold Class theatre; a suitable environment for such an occasion.
Ralph Fiennes is at an all-time best as Gustav H, the eccentric hotel concierge, whilst Anderson-regulars such as Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray and now Adrien Brody provide the usual high standard of laughs.
His biggest ensemble to-date, the likes of F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Wilem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton and Saoirse Ronan have climbed aboard the Anderson train of quickness and style, producing an absolute riot!
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” is zany, colourful, fun and extremely well written, resulting in a jam-packed picture that almost every demographic can enjoy.
This is my favourite of Anderson’s works and I look forward to his long and prosperous career ahead!
Calculated, maniacal and obsessive – we haven’t seen Jake Gyllenhaal like this in a long time. One of my favourite article headings of the year that focuses on Dan Gilroy’s “Nightcrawler” simply says “Donnie Darker” – brilliant!
“Nightcrawler” is a tantalising thriller that delves into the deep, dark, dingy world of journalism. With central despicable protagonist Lou Bloom becoming increasingly blank and sociopathic, “Nightcrawler” is one of those films that you’ll love so much, simply because all the characters are just so awful; you simply can’t look away.
Gyllenhaal is on a solid streak of form as of late, and with 4 more features coming our way, 2015 looks to be a fantastic year for him.
This was something truly unexpected. An entire world reduced to a constantly moving train that voyages over apocalyptic frozen wastelands. Exploring status, hierarchy, wealth, conflict, rebellion and everything in between, Joon-ho Bong’s “Snowpiercer” is a triumph from 2014 that is packed full of messages and action.
It’s stylised in an unforgiving manor, plus the performances from Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Jamie Bell, Ed Harris, Octavia Spencer, Ewen Bremmer and Kang-ho Song are spectacular!
The effects aren’t world-class, but the experience of everything in and outside of the train cancel it out, and then some!
There hasn’t been a film like “Snowpiercer”, at least not this year. I urge you to hunt it down and experience it for yourself!
This is the smallest film on the list, but my goodness is it grand in so many areas! Tom Hardy absolutely shines as Ivan Locke (especially through his hybrid Welsh accent), but it’s the screenplay that allows this stage drama-like narrative to translate so seamlessly to the big screen.
The action doesn’t leave the car, but through dialogue and clever editing, we understand circumstances and character state of mind, even if they’re never seem in person.
There is backstory, current situation and even the future being explored within “Locke” and it’s definitely worth the watch.
It definitely won’t be everybody’s cup of tea as it is very very slow paced, but for me, everything within “Locke” just worked! Hardy can do no wrong! (except for ‘This Means war’, but whatever!)
How can a film that took 12 years to make and literally captured a boy’s coming of age in the most natural way be snubbed by a film that took a few days to film from entirely within a car?! Blasphemy!
Well, that’s just the way it is for me sadly. But, comparing aside, “Boyhood” is an amazing film that deserves the praise it’s receiving.
The cast is fantastic and the story itself it relatable throughout. Ethan Hawke is perfect to play Mason’s father, and Patricia Arquette is at her career best!
Lead actor Ellar Coltrane is sensational as the real life character of Mason, and the journey we witness him embark on becomes an engrossing affair very very quickly.
This is truly something special for not only cinema, but the viewers from similar demographics. There is something for everyone within “Boyhood” and it is a must-see!
This ragtag group of misfits have brought arguably the most joy to fan’s worldwide this year. Not only was “Guardians” a stunningly surprising film, it was Marvel’s most entertaining picture by a country mile.
When “Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War” are announced but I’m most excited for “Guardians 2”, that must stand for something!
“Guardians” is hilarious and brave with excellent characters who offer excellent chemistry and conflicts. I’ve said enough about this film in other posts, but the soundtrack deserves one more mention. How it works within the story so perfectly is just one of the many things “Guardians” has going for it!
The villain isn’t anything special, but never again will you see a dance-off that postpones the concluding battle…
I was sceptical for the first, and ecstatic for the second. The reboot of “Planet of the Apes” has proven to be extremely successful and the sequel has smashed the first straight out of the park!
The best sequel of the year, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is darker, more explorative of character and exhibits a conflict that stand for so much. The motion-capture graphics are phenomenal, as is the performance from OSCAR-worthy Andy Serkis.
I saw this film twice on the big screen, and both screenings left me speechless. Not only was I reduced to tears for the first screening (yes, I’ll admit it), it was borderline the second time around.
The human/ape interaction creates many split attitudes and some truly gritty tension. “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” has one of the best opening sequences from 2014 that immediately submerges you in the daunting, post-apocalyptic world.
The directorial style has improved with “Dawn” and hopefully can continue with the next instalment!
Well, what a difference a year makes, ey?
After seeing “Frank” and writing my extensive review of it, I was adamant that it would be and remain my favourite of the year. Time has passed and I have since watched it twice more.
Upon the re-viewings I have realised that I enjoyed 8 films more than “Frank”, especially Wes Anderson’s “Grand Budapest Hotel”- a film I announced had been replaced by this as my favourite of the year.
“Frank” is a solid and quirky comedy that focuses of creative expression, exposure, fame and even some darker tones such as mental illness and suicide.
The script is brilliant, as are the performances, but the characters are just so atrocious and pretentious, I love to despise them, but that’s precisely the point. I don’t know, films with unlikeable characters just do it for me, I must have a problem…
Anyway, with some very funny and unique tunes, cleverly edited montages and brilliant slapstick antics, “Frank” is a lot of fun, but maybe only for a singular viewing.
Something that detracted from the experience for me was finding out Michael Fassbender’s Frank (the paper mache head-wearing frontman of the band ‘Soronfrbs’) was a stunt double for quite a lot of the film.
Either way, “Frank” is a great lot of fun that is well deserving of it’s place on my favourites list of the year!
A sign of a great documentary is when it can match it with the big-gun feature films. I’m not sure if many people saw “Tim’s Vermeer”, but personally, it blew me away.
Documentaries are meant to amaze, inspire and tell unique and fascinating stories; “Tim’s Vermeer” did just that.
Centred around the unthinkable and impossible task of replicating a classic Vermeer painting from scratch with no artistic abilities but some engineering professionalism, Tim Jenison takes the audience on an amazingly tedious and goliath year’s worth of labor and endurance.
Patience, tolerance and precision are required from Jenison, and the emotions that boil up along his odyssey-like challenge are amazing to watch unfold.
It changes Tim and those around him. This is a fascinating watch that also introduced me to my word of the year; ‘verisimilitude’!