The phrase “Best Films” doesn’t mean much coming from anyone. We all have our opinions and tastes and that’s what makes each critic unique. So below you will find my favorite films of 2014. The Top 10 to be exact.
There were a few other films that didn’t make my list but deserve your attention for various reasons. Tusk for it’s perfect tone, The One I Love for its slow reveal of a bizarre story, and two really cool martial arts films: Die Fighting, and The Raid 2.
I thought each one of the ten below were great films. I hope that, if you haven’t yet, you check some of them out. And please let me know what I missed. There is nothing better than watching a great film that you haven’t seen before.
10) Obvious Child – Gillian Robespierre, USA, 84 min.
‘A wonderful and funny take on the one-night stand pregnancy story. Written and directed with a smart and sweet style, its full of truthful moments. The whole thing is anchored by a great performance by Jenny Slate, who manages to be very funny and very real at the same time.
9) Snowpiercer – Joon-ho Bong, South Korea, 126 min.
Bong has made a habit out of making films that defy genre conventions. His latest continues that trend in telling the action-packed, funny and strange story of a train circumnavigating a frozen Earth in the apocalyptic future. It’s full of social commentary, unforgettable characters and scenes, and many twists and turns. If I had to describe it, which I can’t, I would say it’s like the video game Bioshock on a train.
A man taking phone calls in a car for eighty minutes. That’s it. But the film is written like a thriller, and as it went on I was compelled by the story and the character that was developing. Tom Hardy fully realizes the potential for the smart dialog and turns the character into a real person. A real person that had real feelings and motivations and had me caring about what happened to him.
7) Interstellar – Christopher Nolan, USA, 169 min.
I didn’t care about the science behind this. It’s a big film that makes you think about big questions. It’s bold and messy but full of great ideas and lots and lots of scale.
6) Under the Skin – Jonathan Glazer, UK, 108 min.
Glazer is one of the most interesting filmmakers working today and this film deserves it’s comparisons to Kubrick. Scarlett Johansson is the perfect choice for this otherworldly tale of an alien seducing and killing men in the Scottish countryside. The style is experimental, yet refined, and contains incredible images that I will never forget.
5) Gone Girl – David Fincher, USA, 149 min.
The idea behind this film is great, but for it to work the director has to pull off a very tricky balancing act. Fincher is definitely the one for the job. His direction is so precise that the idea of Ben Affleck killing his wife or him just being an ignorant jerk are both equally compelling. It’s a complex task but the film works like a well-oiled machine.
4) Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson, UK, 100 min.
This film felt like Wes Anderson took all the of the good things he learned from his previous films and combined them into one beautiful and charming movie. The production design is superb as always, and the nostalgic framing and effects work so well for the story being told. It also helps that the film is full of amazing characters and performances from an ungodly amount of incredible actors.
3) Two Days, One Night – Dardenne Brothers, Belgium, 95 min.
The Dardenne Brothers have a great style. They do not tell you what is going on in the film. The characters talk like they are real people and don’t explain plot points to an audience. While you watch you slowly learn what is going on and who the characters are. To make things even more real they film with a naturalistic style. Natural light, no music. Just great performances by all around, especially Marion Cotillard, who plays a factory worker who has to convince her fellow employees to give up their bonuses so she can keep her job.
2) Big Hero 6 - Don Hall and Chris Williams, USA, 102 min.
I think this is a perfect film. The directors, writers and animators know what makes movies great. Beautiful animation, a touching story, imaginative characters, and a unique setting: San Fransokyo, a Japanese American hybrid futuristic city. And what a sense of adventure! What struck me the most was how they understood the concept of a team. These genius lab students turned super-heroes have unique skills and each one gets a chance to shine throughout the film. Throw in the super-likeable Baymax and his fist-bumps, and you really have a winner of a movie.
1) Whiplash – Damien Chazelle, USA, 107 min.
A film about the price of excellence. Miles Teller plays a young jazz musician trying to be the best at his craft. Not just good, but the best. And J.K. Simmons, in the most unforgettable performance of the year, is just the man to get him there. He’s the mythologically legendary conductor who runs an ensemble with the best musicians in the school. Watching him drive Miles Teller to musical heights and personal lows is thrilling.
The editing and music are amazing and tie together perfectly. And it all builds through some powerful turn of events and into a dynamite ending. Chazelle directed the hell out of that ending. After the film was over, I just had to lean back and take a deep breath because I was spent. Now that is the sign of a good film.