end of year 2014 film

2014 End Of Year Lists: Films

3.1.15


Once again, forget all other lists. you’re in the spoiler-free, trend-spitting-at, commercial-break-free, movie loving D//E zone and these are the Films Of The Year…

Here’s our list of 30…

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#30. Boyhood


Putting Boyhood up on the last place is a statement, saying: “This is a good enough film to be among the year’s best, but enough with it already!” If it wasn’t for the aging in real time gimmick, the world wouldn’t have gone nuts about it nor the actor’s performances, of which Ethan Hawke’s, a frequently overlooked, great actor, was the best. Richard Linklater tries too hard to intentionally point out each timeframe’s ways, the pop hits, the technological advances and how the actors age, particularly the kids, who as kids normally do, grow. People got ecstatic about it, dropping their pants about how this movie is just like real life and named it “movie of the year” in a million lists, but that is not real life, it’s just a movie with a nice gimmick, in need of an interesting storyline to keep someone engaged for the hundred hours that it lasts. If you haven’t seen Boyhood yet, you should, but don’t get fooled, it’s not the “movie of the year”, come on…

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#29. Edge of Tomorrow


After watching trailers for this one earlier in the year, I never expected it to be one in our final list. The story is adapted from the Japanese viz media book entitled Everyday Is Kill and comes with a very fresh sense of humor to it. The cinema I saw it in, was packed out on the second week, so the word that was going round was that it was surprisingly good and so it was. Tom Cruise was perfect in the leading role and I have to say supporting actor Bill Paxton probably steals the show, whether it’s intentionally meant to be this funny or not, it doesn’t really matter, but for that and the fact it features an actually clever intricate plot, it’s going straight in our year’s finest.

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#28. Still Alice


Julianne Moore didn’t win an Oscar those four times she’s been up for one so far, with the far more popular movies she was nominated for, but this time she might make it, because the world (and the Academy) loves heartbreak, drama and the drama disabilities bring to someone’s life. The all-star cast delivers strong performances without a single exception, the film is beautifully directed from the directorial duo of Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland and given the fact that Glatzer has been diagnosed with ALS himself, it’s no wonder why Still Alice feels so honest and ultimately a heartbreaking film, like it’s intended to be.

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#27. Willow Creek


Bobcat Goldthwait is a mighty talented human being, period. Willow Creek is nothing like his previous film, God Bless America (which would probably had been at this list’s #1 spot if the year was 2011) but it’s still crazy good, despite that nine out of ten reviews will probably tell you otherwise. Goldthwait is gutsy enough to show you his main characters staying still in the dark in a tent, crapping their pants for twenty minutes at the eerie sounds the woods produce, all this after an already pretty slow build-up and without even trying, still keep you hooked for the whole time. And it’s about Bigfoot, what more do you need?

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#26. The Judge


Shangai Nights, Wedding Crashers and The Change-Up director, David Dobkin tries something different for a change, a drama about the dysfunctional relationship of a prodigal son, who happens to be the best lawyer on earth and his principled father, the judge and he does it mighty well. Both protagonists prowl for at least a nomination at this year’s Oscars, fair enough given that you’ll probably reach for the phone to call your dad right after watching this.

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#25. The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty


Ben Stiller, the director that brought to the world Zoolander, The Cable Guy and Tropic Thunder, this time tried with a little more thought provoking film, that may have its flaws, yet it’s gorgeous visually, funny and heartwarming. This might have been a better movie in the hands of another director, but in the hands of Stiller it’s honest and still worth a watch.

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#24. Under The Skin


This time around, Jonathan Glazer, the music video director who made Birth with Nicole Kidman a decade ago, managed to shake the movie world with his latest film. Scarlett Johansson does not disappoint with her hypnotic performance in an overall visually stunning film, made upon its many influences and after ten years in the making. If you’re willing to take in the long shots and silences, you’re in for a thrilling sci-fi drama like no other.

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#23. Tusk


Kevin Smith’s weirdest film to date, Tusk is maybe the most hated movie of 2014. Blending comedy and horror, it did terribly in the US theaters and drew hateful reviews even amongst Kevin Smith’s fans, totally expected for a mad story in which all of its characters are assholes and there’s no one to root for, but watching it from a humorous perspective and putting aside the sickness to your stomach, it should be hard to enjoy a deliberate b-movie, destined to become a cult classic.

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#22. The Sacrament


One more found-footage-style movie in our list, The Sacrament was a weirdly believable account of a cult experience, clearly exploiting the real-life horror of Reverend Jim Jones and the Jonestown Massacre story, as it follows in documentary style the main character, who travels with the company of two journalists to an undisclosed location to find his missing sister. Upon entering Eden Parish and meeting the community’s leader, it becomes apparent to the newcomers that this paradise may not be as it seems. Ti West is among the currently hottest names in horror and this just furthers his establishment in the genre. The House of The Devil is one of our favourite indie horror flicks and The Sacrament just bolsters that. Using similar casts in his films, along with the likes of Adam Wingard, West proves that it’s not a bad thing to fund raw talent and use it across all his work. Keeping that pace it seems like in just a few years, West like Wingard will be an indie horror household name.

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#21. Life After Beth


Staring Dane Haan and Parks & Recreation’s Aubrey Plaza, Life After Beth is a so called Rom-Zom-Com, that had its funny and sweet moments. Plaza put in a great performance, actually she was hilarious with how she went from a sane likeable person to a crazy psycho zombie at the sound of a strum of a guitar. This comedy brings a lot to the Rom-Zom-Com table, in quite a different vain than Warm Bodies. It’s got heart, gore and funny one-liners in it, aren’t those enough?

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#20. As Above, So Below


Another found-footage movie, AA,SB revolves around a young alchemy scholar and takes places under the streets of Paris. Under the streets and into the caves they encounter from tranced-like cultists and other chilling elements to the mighty gates of Hell. The setting is perfect and the imagery is great, with some clever aspects and twists and turns around each corner, however it makes me wonder if this was actually better if it wasn’t a found-footage film and if it was made like this just to follow a trend or maybe just to stand out from the very claustrophobic 2005 movie The Descent by Neil Marshall.

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#19. VHS Viral


VHS Viral was the third chapter in the found-footage anthology horror series, very much in the style of ABCs of Death. In previous movie installments, we’ve seen some shorts in directed by Adam Wingard, Jason Eisener, Gareth Evans, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, and the directing quartet known as Radio Silence. Viral follows fame-obsessed teens who unwittingly become stars of the next internet sensation, including a short written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes). Although not as strong as a film in general as its predecessors, Viral offers up something new, a completely standalone storyline in which contains four segments. It might not make clear sense for everyone, but the idea behind Viral is deserving enough for its inclusion in this list.

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#18. This Is Where I Leave You


A bittersweet comedy with an all-star cast, This Is Where I Leave You circles around the many members of a dysfunctional family. Rising star Adam Driver stands out as the youngest, rebel son, next to the many wonderful performances in this sharp movie, possibly the year’s guiltiest pleasure.

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#17. The Purge:Anarchy


It didn’t take long to develop a sequel to The Purge, a film which had quite a lot of potential, concept-wise. The converted sequel worked even better this time outside the home environment, and worth the risk of venturing outside the box.

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#16. The Babadook


A weirdly wonderful, yet bleak Australian movie, The Babadook focuses on coping with a major family death. Although it takes some time to ramp up, when it does, it feels a very nerve-racking and moving experience. There’s a retro vibe about it, creepy in the similar design of The Exorcist. Everything from the set, location up to the clothing is odd and unsettling so naturally, that brings the creep-factor up a notch. Released on the same time as Ouija, it certainly shows the distinction in what’s scary and creepy.

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#15. Horns


Horns is really a deeper movie than what one would expect from the way it was advertised. After Piranha 3D, Alexandre Aja still looks like he likes his fun, but this time in a more elegant way, as Horns turns out to be a romantic fantasy film with plenty of dark humour. Radcliffe is perfect in his part, forcing you to empathize with the main character from the very start, well supported by the rest of the cast, Juno Temple, Max Minghella, Joe Anderson and Heather Graham. Overall, Horns is a genre mixing, well written and produced move, with an outcome not easy at all to predict.

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#14. Interstellar


Interstellar was this year’s Christopher Nolan movie and it lived up to everything we expected. Hans Zimmer to provide the score, for which few people complained about how it was heard over some of the dialogue, but on the other hand maybe it only served as an extra strength when the film was ramping up. The early trailers didn’t justify how epic the film is, they probably made it look more like a tech-filled sci-fi flick and if you went into it with that mindset, you could come out disappointed. What we have here is a remarkable journey through space time continuum, in order to save humanity and the more imperative aspect, which is the relationship between a father and his children and the bond that holds a family together.

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#13. Foxcatcher


Almost a decade after Capote and three years after Moneyball, Bennett Miller returns with another compelling drama, drawn from real life, the story of Olympic Wresting Champions, brothers Mark and Dave Schultz and their psychotic millionaire coach, John Du Pont. The movie reeks of Oscar qualities and it’s almost certain that all three of its stars will be nominated, but keep the IMDb starmeter aside while watching, because that’s not the case here. Miller feeds to the mainstream a cold, bleak movie, dealing with failure and manipulation. It’s really remarkable how engaging a sad look at the bizarre friendship of some almost incomprehensible characters can be.

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#12. X-Men: Days Of Future Past


The seventh movie in the X-Men saga, Days Of Future Past marked the return of the first two X-Men films director, Bryan Singer. The new additions to cast are equally impressive with the returning characters, comprising a remarkable all-star cast, whose chemistry seems stronger than ever. Usually the more sequels they make, the worse a movie is, but that’s not a case with the latest X-Men. If you had to watch just one superhero movie this year, Days Of Future Past should have been the one.

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#11. Honeymoon


Leigh Janiak directorial debut is based on a simple horror/sci-fi theme, that of the supernatural invisible enemy from the unknown, centered around a newlywed couple played by Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway, two aspiring young British actors with great chemistry between them. The movie keeps a slow pace that never actually picks up, but the strong performances and the psychological factor are effective enough to make Honeymoon standout from the horror bunch of 2014.

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#10. Gone Girl


David Fincher’s pairing with author Gillian Flynn finds him at his very best since Fight Club, bringing to the screen a crime story with many twists and a lot of tension. The film is visually impressive and its leading actors deliver great performances, giving their characters much style and depth. Despite the plot holes you might find if you look deep enough, ultimately you’ll sit through Gone Girl for two and a half hours without a single dull moment.

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#9. Cold In July


A modern day noir western thriller, Cold In July features outstanding performances from all its three protagonists, Michael C. Hall, Sam Shepard and Don Johnson. Like an early Coen Brothers’ movie scored with Carpenter-esque synths, Cold In July is intense and exhilarating from its opening, through the twists and the turns, to the dirty, brutal end.

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#8. The Drop


Like a more art-sy Scorsese gangster movie, The Drop is graced with a somewhat phenomenal cast, Tom Hardy, Noomi Repace and the late James Gandolfini. Hardy smashes the accent and boy, is he becoming the master of any role! Its script is great, with unexpected twists and turns along the way and you never feel the film’s pace is dipping either. To see Gandolfini in the role he does best one more final time, was truly a blessing.

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#7. The Skeleton Twins


Saturday Night Live alums, Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig deliver both great performances in a combination of comedy and drama, alongside the equally notable Ty Burrell. The Skeleton Twins balances a dramatic storyline about two siblings’ messed up lives with lots of comedic relief, shedding light into the darkness of the times of two common people characters, in a bittersweet tale where failure meets hope.
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#6. Nightcrawler


Nightcrawler is a chilling thriller on so many levels, with the main area for the film’s theme is based on power and corruption. Gyllenhaal plays a hauntingly strange, yet power hungry character who will stop at nothing to increase his company’s profile. One of Gyllenhaal’s best performances of his ever-growing career with equally great performances from the supporting cast, including Rene Russo.

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#5. Coherence


Coherence is a mindfucking, no budget film with Twilight Zone qualities that almost entirely takes place in a dining room. How can you get sci-fi out of a dining room full of jerks, you have to avoid spoilers and see for yourself, because the part that’s most fun about this film, is trying to figure out WTF is going on as the script develops. Technically, stuff like this or Primer from a decade ago are exactly how small (or no) budget films should be made.

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#4. Starry Eyes


Tense and intimidating from start to finish, Starry Eyes is destined to be a cult film upon its release. Including some of the most impressive gore scenes you could see in recent movies, this film draws you in and keeps you at the edge of your seat, taking the cliche subject of the wannabe actress in a downward spiral and turning it to something very fresh and creative. Alex Essoe delivers an excellent performance, that pretty much certifies that we’ll see more of her in the future.

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#3. Metalhead


Directed by Ragnar Bragason, Metalhead, tells the story of a family dealing with the tragic loss of their oldest son in a brutal tractor accident, mostly centered on Hera, the younger daughter, portrayed by Thorbjorg Helga Thorgilsdottir. Even though the film intensifies a lot on metal music and its imagery, it’s not the music that it is its main focus. It’s a drama, a tragic tale dealing with loss, pain, isolation, anger and dispair that ultimately meets cleansing, in one of the most cathartic bitter ends you could see in a movie.

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#2. Only Lovers Left Alive


Jarmusch’s latest movie, his best in a long while, is a vampire love story like no other. Despite its subject, Only Lovers… is not a horror movie, but a romantic drama that features characters the viewer can immediately empathize with and a quiet, humble storyline full of fascinating cultural references and set in stylized dark ambiance. All performances without exception are impeccable, this is a much intelligent film and Jarmusch is once again at his best.

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#1. The Guest


When it came to compiling this list, it was a dead cert that Adam Wingard’s The Guest would be at the top of the pile. Not only does the movie entertain but it further cements the importance of Barrett and Wingard as a filmmaking duo. It would seem Wingard’s movies get better and better each time. The Guest is The Terminator meets Michael Myers, a true masterpiece for the genre. After the success of the 2011 cult hit You’re Next comes another throwback genre film with Dan Stevens as the eponymous ‘David’, a former soldier in Afghanistan, playing the part with so much charm, that you couldn’t imagine anyone better. The former Downton Abbey star brings his English wit and charm to an American southern role perfectly, but it’s not just the acting that’s great about this movie, it’s the host of nods to other eighties cinema. The atmosphere lends itself to the likes of Halloween, with a soundtrack that’s also a star and winner of this film. Thick loud synths and electronic ambiance lay over the key scenes, yet another nod to eighties b-movies, makes you think that all movies in the world should be made using this style. The Guest is D//E’s movie of the year.

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Once again, in actual list form…

  1. The Guest

  2. Only Lovers Left Alive

  3. Metalhead

  4. Starry Eyes

  5. Coherence

  6. Nightcrawler

  7. The Skeleton Twins

  8. The Drop

  9. Cold In July

  10. Gone Girl

  11. Honeymoon

  12. X-Men: Days Of Future Past

  13. Foxcatcher

  14. Interstellar

  15. Horns

  16. The Babadook

  17. The Purge: Anarchy

  18. This Is Where I Leave You

  19. VHS Viral

  20. As Above So Below

  21. Life After Beth

  22. The Sacrament

  23. Tusk

  24. Under The Skin

  25. The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

  26. The Judge

  27. Willow Creek

  28. Still Alice

  29. Edge Of Tomorrow

  30. Boyhood

 ZR/RS

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