(This post was originally published on 26/12/2014 on a previous blog.)
In the second of these traditional “of the year” posts, I’m going to present a list of what I consider to be the top 3 films of 2014, and a couple of honourable mentions that for various reasons couldn’t fit on the list.
The Lego Movie: The Lego Movie is easily 2014’s best comedy, it’s fast paced stream of witty, on the nose, jokes make this movie a joy from start to finish. But The Lego Movie does much more than this, the film also has a gorgeous visual style as well as a great cast of characters all voiced by an equally strong cast of actors. Overall, this is an excellent, laugh out loud comedy which definitely deserves a watch.
Sonic Highways: The reason this couldn’t be included on the list is because it isn’t actually a film, instead it was a series of 8 hour long episodes broadcast on TV. This documentary follows Foo Fighters as they journey across America recording their latest album and learning about American musical history along the way. Anyone with a passion for, or interest in music will appreciate the care and attention that has gone in to making this documentary, The level of polish on show is excellent and the star studded list of musical legends who join the Foos on their journey make this one of the best documentaries I have watched in a long time.
But now, on to the main list:
Interstellar is undeniably one of this year’s biggest film events, The hype machine was in full swing for this one. Interstellar breaks new ground for Christopher Nolan in many ways, not only is it his first foray into the Sci-Fi genre but it’s also his first film without his regular cinematographer, Wally Pfister, in nearly 17 years and the film looks different. The visuals reach a much larger scale than Nolan has ever taken on before, although at times this can make the films smaller visual moments feel lacking. The narrative is gigantic and could easily be a little overwhelming for some viewers but it’s a beautiful and ultimately very human story which is made to feel real and very affecting by the excellent performances from Anne Hathaway, Mathew McConaughey and, perhaps the real star of the show, Bill Irwin. Ultimately Interstellar feels big, it feels important and it feels real, It’s not a perfect film, but it is extremely impressive and an awesome achievement for everyone involved.
2: X-Men: Days Of Future Past
I’ll be honest, the recent surge of superhero movies and superhero movie announcements haven’t impressed me much, but Days Of Future Past, this is how you make a superhero movie. The film is stunning in almost every way, the visuals, both the colourful dystopian future and the authentic yet more pastel past, are beautifully directed and shot. The cast is stunning, featuring strong performances from both sets of on screen X-Men. Patrick Stewart, Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, Ian McKellen, James McAvoy, Ellen Page and even more put in stunning performances here and this is only half the cast. The only weak link is Jennifer Lawrence whose character is vital to the story and yet there is nothing eye catching or memorable about her performance. Speaking of the story, The narrative of the film is stellar, it weaves itself across two timelines, one in a dire future, and one altering the past, in the hope of avoiding said future. In the hands of any other director this could quickly become overwhelming and hard to follow but not only does Singer manage to balance the film very well, but the film reaches a conclusion that will make the jaws of diehard fans of X-men, both new and old, drop to the floor. This is the best Superhero film since the Dark Knight Trilogy, and that in my book, is high praise indeed.
1: The Wolf Of Wall Street.*
The Wolf Of Wall Street feels like the longest film I have ever watched, yet every scene in the film feels vital. The movie tells a long story, with intricate details spanning a fairly long amount of time. But the narrative is so involving and well told that the movie flies by. Leonardo DiCaprio is, of course, the star of the show here, playing a man who is utterly deplorable and yet so hard to dislike. DiCaprio shows off in every scene that he is in, especially when he showcases his ability to pull off physical comedy. But he is not the only member of the cast who deserves to be championed here, Jonah Hill also does a fantastic job in his role as the frequently drunk on power, amongst other things, Donnie. Margot Robbie also deserves huge praise for her realisation of “the duchess”. The film is utterly filthy, yes, but at no point does it feel like it’s going to far, everything the audience witnesses is perfectly grounded in the films narrative and so, thanks to excellent pacing, the films content only shocks when it’s supposed to. Ultimately this movie tells a very human story of the rise and fall from power, but it various emotional twists and the relationships we watch play out set it apart from the rest and make it a very special piece of cinema, and easily the year’s best film.
*The Wolf Of Wall Street was released in january 2014 in the UK hence why it is included in this list.