- Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
A brilliant meld of astonishing cgi and a gripping tale of man vs ape (and also one of ape vs ape, and man vs man, man vs a lack in natural resources, and generally everyone vs that nobstick with the gun who started all the nonsense). I knew it would be a good sci-fi action movie, but I wasn’t expecting something quite this fantastic.
Beautiful scenery, beautiful acting, Calvary is the work of a director who is becoming one of his generation’s absolute finest. With a dark and meaningful script that is sometimes also hilarious, this is the best film to come out of Ireland, well since John Michael McDonagh made his last movie.
Definitely the most surprising addition to this list, sold as essentially a Black Widow movie sans the marvel title, I went in expecting just that, a decent enough superheroish movie with Scarlett Johansson in it. How wrong I was. Lucy was visually stunning and while the character of the Black Widow is always one that strikes as a little bit misogynist (all the leather and slow camera panning), Lucy is one of the few truly gender neutral films I can think of, in that you could switch the gender of any character and the narrative wouldn’t change at all. I will also always hold this film in my heart due to the 2001-esque journey from the beginning of time to the edges of the universe scene, which very nearly blew my mind.
Probably the most downright odd movie in this list, Frank is most definitely Michael Fassbender’s best work with him playing the titular role which was visually inspired by Frank Sidebottom. A film that has the balls to put its biggest name behind a papier mache face for the entirety of a movie is always good in my books. But Frank is also a sonic triumph with the band’s actual music being a brilliant meld of psychedelic with some genuinely catchy and highly listenable hooks blended in.
The movie of 2014 that I admired the most. The patience and the sheer drive and vision it would take to complete such a project is awe-inspiring enough. But the movie itself is a masterpiece. You begin to wonder whether it really is a film with actors in it, or is Richard Linklater just filming a genuine family going through all of these problems. If it wins the Oscar (And I reckon it will) it will be well deserved.
I have never gasped more at anything than I did at Interstellar. Christopher Nolan here is at his head-spinning best, and honestly I have never been more pleased that I saw a film at the cinema rather than on a TV or a laptop than I was with Interstellar. The sheer enormity of the film almost demands big screen viewing, but at the heart of the film is a beautiful father daughter tale, and that is what makes Interstellar so special, that while on the surface it is huge and incredible, the reason the sequences are so potent is because you really care for the characters.
- The Babadook
The scariest film of the year. The Babadook creeped me out like no other film has done. Made a triumph because the director Jennifer Kent understands what is scary in a film, it’s not things being quiet and then going boo, it’s not being constantly dimly lit and having aggressive violins in the background, it’s fearing for the safety of the characters and not knowing what is about to happen. In the Babadook those two features are mixed with a skill and passion that had appeared almost permanently absent from the horror genre for the last however many years.
A film I was so emotionally invested in I cried at 11 separate points, Her is the story of a relationship that you completely fall in love with yourself. It is about technology and what might happen if we continue a certain trajectory, but truly this is a love story, a beautiful one too. Sonically and Visually Her is a success, and Joaquin Phoenix gives his best performance to date. A truly wonderful movie.
- The Grand Budapest Hotel
Wes Anderson’s latest and greatest outing The Grand Budapest Hotel is the most symmetrical, the funniest, the most intricately designed, the most impressively acted and most importantly the most heartfelt movie Anderson has ever made. It succeeds as a romp, or as a comedy or even as a Drama. If you watch this and don’t love it, honestly there is something wrong with you.
- Under the Skin
Absolutely stunning in every department. But especially in those of cinematography, soundtrack and Scarlett Johansson. A film that doesn’t need lavish amounts of dialogue to let you know what is going on, an honestly often will only subtly hint at what is going on, this is a movie which will have you absolutely hooked from the off, and will not let you go even after the movie is finished. Scarlett Johansson has never been better, and in my opinion nor has 2014.