Thursday 5 March 2015

Films of the Year 2014 - Part 3


Forgot to finish my films of the 2014 posts. So here it is condensed into one last part. The other bits are here and here.

Remember how the year started? All is Lost, American Hustle, Twelve Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street, Inside Llewyn Davis and Dallas Buyer's Club all released within a few weeks. Fantastic films, all connected to last year's award's season.
[And then there was Her of course - still THE most awful, overrated piece of crap I've had to watch all year.]
And the Spring continued to produce good films . . .


It was a very blokey year wasn't it? This is my way of putting a positive spin on the profusion of great roles for men (but the disappointing number for women).

Jack O'Connell was good in Unbroken and Starred Up but brilliant in '71. Nicholas Cage gave one of his great performances in Joe whilst Tom Hardy was equally as good in Locke; so too was Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler.

I usually dislike Mike Leigh films - a lot - I just think they're full of caricatures and I hate the way he patronises his working class characters. I was surprised then that I enjoyed large sections of Mr Turner so much. Some of the usual problems are still there - the portrayal of Turner's housekeeper Hannah Danby is painfully bad but Timothy Spall is every bit as good as people say. You get a great sense of his 'genius' and a remarkable understanding of his inability to see the truth about himself.

Ralph Fiennes was in another period piece that similarly showed up a national treasure to be quite a bastard. His portrayal of Charles Dickens in The Invisible Woman was fantastic - every bit as good as his revelatory turn in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Anyone, btw, who doesn't love Wes Anderson's films should probably just go away. Harsh, but fair.

Official Grand Budapest Hotel movie poster. Photography by 20th Century Fox.

I still can't quite decide how good Calvary is - I worry that too many of the characters are one-dimensional and that the dialogue is too slick, but on the other hand, like all the McDonagh brothers' films, I kinda love it. Brendan Gleeson invests it with humanity, dignity and integrity.

Weird and wonderful

Only Lovers left Alive is virtually perfect - only blighted by too many Marlowe/Shakespeare jokes. Tilda Swinton is brilliant too in Snowpiercer. This review will give you an idea of why Boon Joon-ho's film is so interesting AND why its such a tragedy that Harvey Weinstein's meddling means it still may not get a UK release.

I watched Frank again too - Fassbender is SO good; the film is so tender and funny and is only let down by an overly sentimental ending.

haider 12th day collection

Vishal Bhardwaj's Haider. Watch it! Watch it! Watch it! Brilliant throughout but the final section elevates into masterpiece territory. Bollywood does revenge tragedy - better than Omkara and Maqbool. Even better than 2013's Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola - which is going some. I wrote about Imtiaz Ali's Highway when it came out here. A second viewing made me forget any doubts I had. Annoyingly there is a lot of nonsense written about this film - and many want Ali to return to lightweight fare. I hope he ignores it all and continues to do what he wants.

The lists

I'm not sure if any of this year's top twelve, except Ida, Two Days, One Night and Winter Sleep, would make last year's list. That said I've watched most of these films twice and they all stand up to a second viewing extremely well. Weird, maybe it just maps onto my own heightened sense of isolation and dislocation at the moment. I missed Leviathan due to a cold (and the crappiness of Birmingham cinemas) but by all accounts it's brilliant. Out on March 9th - the Blu-ray has been ordered.

My top 5 in a Sight and Sound stylee (in no order)
  • Ida (Pawel Pavlovski)
  • Pride (Matthew Warchus)
  • Highway (Imtiaz Ali)
  • Two Days, One Night (The Dardenne Brothers)
  • Winter Sleep (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
A top twelve:

  1. Ida
  2. Winter Sleep
  3. Pride
  4. Two Days, One Night.
  5. Highway
  6. We are the Best
  7. Inside Llewyn Davis
  8. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  9. Haider
  10. Twelve Years a Slave
  11. The Homesman
  12. Queen
Finding no place for John Michael Mcdonagh's Calvary, Ritesh Batra's The Lunchbox, Jennifer Kent's The Babadook, Lenny Abrahamson's Frank and Yann Demange's '71 are my biggest regrets.

I seem to have missed quite a few of the documentaries this year, especially Citizenfour and The invisible War. That said I really enjoyed Finding Vivian Meier and Manakamana.

A note on Boyhood and Under the Skin. Both films have featured widely in best of 2014 lists. I admire their adult sensibilities and enjoyed them, especially Glazer's film: Mica Levi's soundtrack is a thing of greatness. Yet, I can't get that excited about either of them especially Boyhood. I appreciate the magnitude of the project and the achievement but.....I will watch it again.

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