This one must be the last of such lists to hit, since 2014, after all, is long gone. A quick word explaining why may be in order, so bear with me.
The time boundaries of such lists are, as much as the traditional number 10, arbitrary; I have, traditionally, used “Oscar eligibility” as a general guideline. For the past few years, as I was on top of the new releases and situated in a place where the releases are timely, that presented no particular challenges. 2014, however, was different; film distribution here can be incredibly delayed and, as a matter of fact, a few films (
Inherent Vice, A Most Violent Year, Mr. Turner, Still Alice chiefly among them) that could very well belong in this list haven’t been released locally yet. I have, however, watched enough to make me publishing this list minimally comfortable for me.
All that said, without further ado, my Top 10 Films of 2014:
Memorable for more than one reason: its peculiar combination of the black as black, dry as dry sense of humor with a sad observation of the human condition; its equally peculiar sense of aesthetics; its precision. There is no such thing as unique, but in today’s landscape, this is as close as it gets.
The most purely entertaining film of this list. It’s anchored by the great, kinetic acting by the central pair of actors. Elation and tension are given in equal measures by the jazz score.
It’s almost easy to forget, amid all talk of how this film was done, how profoundly humane and touching this is. Nevertheless, it’s an artistic achievement of the greatest order to have such consistency over time.
This story could easily slipped away into heavy-handed characterization or melodrama. It does not; it’s delicate, respectful (caring, even) and rousing. It’s also a great crowd-pleaser. (For whatever this information is worth, this may have been one of the few films this year where applauses erupted at the end.)
So dark and so good. Jake Gyllenhaal creates an incredibly interesting character (pathetic, threatening and charming in equal measures) and gives an amazing performance; it’s a pity that the plot could not keep going.
The combination of Wes Anderson’s usual subdued tone with a broad, comedic character played with great energy by Ralph Fiennes work greatly. His care for visual detail and the lovely Alexandre Desplat’s score also makes this a great sensorial experience.
All-too-belieavable (specifics or not), this sad tale has great performances and gives a great chance to look into a panel of human reactions.
Neither of these films will leave your mind for weeks; not that you them want to or that they should. They share stunning (and stunningly different) locations and wonderful visuals, but more importantly, while both have very specific local flavor, they tell stories that can happen almost everywhere; they are, above all, clear windows into the dark rooms of mankind.
A rigorous, ponderous film. It’s distant and cold, but the story is rich, the most intriguing fact-based of the year, and the acting is top-notch; neither of the trio of actors have been better.
Ava DuVernay achieves the rarer-than-it-should-be feat of making a film that is important and good at the same time. Powerful story, great acting: what more is needed?
While the story may be hard to follow and fully understand, emotionally this film is very clear; the relationship at the center of it makes this a very touching blockbuster, a rare sight.
(Edited to include A Most Violent Year and Inherent Vice in the honorable mentions session.)