The Ten Best Films of 2014

Here we are again. I’ll attempt to keep my commentary diatribe-free this year, and focus mainly on the nitty-gritty. Besides, who needs another rant? There were an abundance of terrific films released in the 2014 calendar year, but there’s not one critic who gets to all of them. I read a story that claimed the New York Times film reporter team reviewed one thousand releases last year. Wow. I saw 60 of them. That’s a little bit down from my 2012 & 2013 numbers, but still solidly above my 2011 totals. This is also my 29th annual Top Ten list, and I’m already wondering how much I’ll get to cover this year, for next February’s 30th anniversary rollout. At least 60 would be nice. Stuff I missed? I wish I had seen “Selma” in time for this year’s tally, but I’ll rectify that before the Academy Awards. It’ll be too late for my Ten Best, but in time for the big night. Will it prove to be the best of the nominees? Also, David Cronenberg’s “Maps to the Stars” did get a short qualifying run in L.A., but no New York area showing outside of the annual NYFF. There’s a chance I’ll consider that a 2015 release, being that it won’t arrive on the east coast, until the end of this month. Plus, I’ve heard nothing short of fantastic about Sweden’s “Force Majeure”, but I’ll have to be content with catching up with the DVD release later in February. I’m chomping at the bit for all three.

Still, I experienced some pretty astonishing motion pictures in 2014, a couple of them even managed to work their way onto the Oscar Best Picture roster. My #1 has held my top position, ever since I saw it back in April. It’s failure to garner any type of Academy recognition whatsoever, just proves how much quality work the annual dog-and-pony show ignores. I never miss the three-hour plus extravaganza, but it never fails to piss me off in some way. One of these days ScarJo is going to get an award, and it will be ridiculously overdue. My #2 may be the best work TC has ever done…it’s difficult for me to think of a more perfect summer blockbuster since I’ve been reviewing movies. Probably “Aliens” back in 1986. So, don’t miss it. #3 is from a director who has catapulted to being one of my favorites, with just three films in as many years. He’s never disappointed, and he directs, perhaps, my top male performance of the year. Of course–ignored by Oscar (alright, there are some mini diatribes). The #4 selection came out of nowhere, and barely saw a theatrical run. Another of the best performances I witnessed in the calendar year, from a guy that most have never heard of. #5 is a harrowing work from Cambodia, that received a foreign film nom last year, but didn’t see stateside release until 2014. And #6 is in the race for Best Foreign Language Film this year, and it sports a running time of less than 80 minutes. #7 is the year’s most talked about film, and I still believe it wins Best Picture. #8 should be among the Best Pic nominees, if anything because its director is up for the category’s top award. #9 marks the 2nd year in-a-row, that an adult-oriented vampire movie wrenched the genre back from the teens and tweens. And #10 grabs the last slot by a hair over the honorable mention crew, because it’s a helluva lot of fun. The Ten Best Films of 2014 are:

1) Under the Skin

2) Edge of Tomorrow

3) A Most Violent Year

4) Blue Ruin

5) The Missing Picture

6) Ida

7) Boyhood

8) Foxcatcher

9) Only Lovers Left Alive

10) The Grand Budapest Hotel

Honorable Mention

The Babadook

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Finding Vivian Maier

Nymphomaniac: Vol. 1 & 2

Venus in Fur

The Worst of the Year

The Judge (cheesy daddy issue drama)

The Monuments Men (silly all-star WW II adventure)

The Nut Job (flatulent animated squirrels)

Unbroken (Jolie cannot do it all)



4 comments on “The Ten Best Films of 2014

  1. Sad to say I have only seen one of your top ten films Mark. I better start catching up.
    Happy to say I haven’t seen any on your worst list!

    • Ha! Cheers, my friend…and I’ve only seen a tiny fraction of the New York theatre that you squeezed in last season, during your fortnight! Which film did you see? I hope you liked it, whatever it was. Buried in snow here in the New York area today…something tells me Aussie weather is better. And thanks for the recent retweets! ML

      • I saw A Most Violent Year, which I would probably say I admired than I enjoyed.
        Re-reading your review of this one made me think about the film’s quality in a different way.
        Oscar Isaac certainly gave finely calibrated performance. (On a more superficial note, I loved that Jessica Chastain’s hair looked like Krystle Carrington from Dynasty).
        Boyhood and Grand Budapest Hotel would be the next two I am most hoping to see from your list.
        Yes, sunny skies here. And I will be back for another jam-packed NY fortnight in April!

  2. Two wonderful films, “Boyhood” and “Budapest”…let me know what you think. Looking forward to the April fortnight binge! ML

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