30 December 2014

My Top 5 Movies of 2014

I feel like I have neglected the cinema this year — mainly because I've just been so busy doing other things — but I've still watched almost 100 movies. I acquired both a TV and a Netflix subscription this year, so just over half of the films on my list are re-watches or attempts to catch up on movies I missed while they were on the big screen. It was tough to narrow down my longlist of ten films to my top five, and in the end, Boyhood, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, BirdmanNightcrawler and Twelve Years a Slave didn't quite make the final cut. My favourite five films of 2014 are, thus, as follows:

1. Pride. When I went to see a preview screening of Matthew Warchus's film about the unlikely partnership of a group of gay and lesbian activists and the miners of a small Welsh town in the 1980s, I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I absolutely loved the film. The huge ensemble cast put in great performances and the film is moving, powerful and funny, while telling an important story about a troubled period of British history.

2. Interstellar. Christopher Nolan has become one of my favourite directors and although I still prefer Inception and The Dark Knight, his latest film, Interstellar, literally took my breath away. It's long and could do with some tighter editing, but it's also a beautiful story about life, the Universe and everything. Interstellar is the kind of film that it is really best to see unspoiled, but suffice to say that it is both totes emosh and dead amaze. If you can find it on the big screen anywhere, you should definitely try to see it in a cinema, but if not, find the biggest TV screen you can.

3. Gone Girl. Another great film from another of my favourite directors, David Fincher — after I watched Gone Girl, I started rewatching his back catalogue, and found a lot of similarities to Gone Girl in Zodiac and, especially, The Social Network. If you don't know the plot of Gone Girl or haven't read the book, where have you been? It's hard to review the film without spoiling it, but it's a stylish, sexy thriller with more twists than Spaghetti Junction. Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike are both excellent in the lead roles in the exercise of unreliable narration.

4. The Imitation Game. Who would have thought two science-related movies would make it into my top five? I work for a science journal, so it's always nice when someone makes a film that relates to science but is still a fantastic and engaging film in its own right. Morten Tyldum's The Imitation Game is a biopic of the great mathematician and pioneer of computer science, Alan Turing, and focuses on Turing's involvement in the cracking of the Enigma code during World War Two and then his conviction after the war for gross indecency. Benedict Cumberbatch is superb as Turing, and The Imitation Game is a moving and fitting tribute to a great man whose life was cut way too short.

5. The Grand Budapest Hotel. This was the film that finally made me understand the hype about Wes Anderson. The Grand Budapest Hotel tells the story of a concierge (played by Ralph Fiennes) of a famous hotel in a fictional European country. The film jumps between many different time periods and is utterly wacky, but very fun and is made with that precise, meticulous attention to detail that Anderson fans have come to adore. My hardest top-five choice was between this movie and Richard Linklater's Boyhood, and although they are very different movies, each director showed his own unique and fastidious devotion to the craft of movie-making: Anderson with the eye for the minutiae and Linklater with his ability to tell small, simple stories over long time scales.

Other films I watched this year (re-watches are in italics):
  • The King's Speech (TV)
  • Forrest Gump (TV)
  • Zoolander (TV)
  • Easy A (TV)
  • Sixteen Candles (TV)
  • The Terminator (TV)
  • Twelve Years a Slave
  • Out of the Furnace
  • The Wolf of Wall Street
  • The Firm (TV)
  • Stardust (TV)
  • The Runaway Jury (TV)
  • Goodfellas (DVD)
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (TV)
  • The Skin I Live in (TV)
  • Black Swan (TV)
  • The Dallas Buyers Club
  • The Book Thief
  • The Monuments Men
  • Ocean's Eleven (TV)
  • Philomena
  • August: Osage County
  • Ain't Them Bodies Saints
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Veronica Mars
  • Mamma Mia (TV)
  • Locke
  • Tropic Thunder (TV)
  • All the King's Men (2006) (DVD)
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  • Despicable Me (TV)
  • Frank
  • Her
  • The Counselor (plane)
  • Runner Runner (plane)
  • The Lego Movie
  • The Shawshank Redemption (TV)
  • The Two Faces of January
  • Belle
  • A Long Way Down
  • Divergent
  • Begin Again
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  • The Heat (TV)
  • Scream (TV)
  • Boyhood
  • Best in Show (TV)
  • Lilting
  • Dead Poets Society (TV)
  • North by Northwest (TV)
  • What If
  • Legally Blonde (TV)
  • Spy Game (TV)
  • Cruel Intentions (TV)
  • Back to the Future
  • Sin City: A Dame to Kill for
  • Before I Go To Sleep
  • The Castle (DVD)
  • Pride
  • The Riot Club
  • Anchorman
  • Maps to the Stars
  • Gone Girl
  • The Maze Runner
  • The Drop
  • Birdman
  • The Prestige (DVD)
  • Good Will Hunting (DVD)
  • State of Play (DVD)
  • American Psycho (DVD)
  • Alien (DVD)
  • Nightcrawler
  • Friday 13th (DVD)
  • Mr Turner
  • Interstellar
  • The Imitation Game
  • Contact (DVD)
  • Zodiac (DVD)
  • Horrible Bosses 2
  • Horrible Bosses (DVD)
  • The Royal Tenenbaums (TV)
  • Frances Ha (TV)
  • Once (TV)
  • Dom Hemingway (TV)
  • Elf (TV)
  • The Muppet Christmas Carol (TV)
  • Christmas Vacation (TV)
  • Home Alone (TV)
  • Nativity (TV)
  • 50/50 (TV)
  • Kill Your Darlings (TV)
  • Frozen (TV)
  • The Railway Man (TV)

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