Wednesday 31 December 2014

The best of 2014 part two

Numbers 15 to 6 on my top 25 films of the year...

15. We are the Best (Lukas Moodysson)
Uplifting celebration of youthful rebellion and friendship focusing on the three members of an all-girl punk band in 1980s Stockholm. It would have been easy for this to be patronising or slip into sickly sentiment; instead it crackles with energy, humour and chaotic charm. White Lung, or somebody equally punk-rock, really need to cover 'Hate the Sport' right now.
14. '71 (Yann Demange)
Although Unbroken received decidedly iffy reviews (I haven’t seen it yet myself), Jack O’Connell has still had a truly stellar year. He was great in prison drama Starred Up but ’71 is the better film – a taut, edge-of-your-seat thriller set in Belfast during the Troubles.
13. Bastards (Claire Denis)
Bleak (that word again), brutal French revenge flick starring the magnificently grizzled Vincent Lindon. Frequently disturbing and grubbily believable, its darker moments rattled around in my head for days after I’d first seen it.
12. Blue Ruin (Jeremy Saulnier)
On the surface it's a revenge thriller with all that entails but as the plot develops it becomes so much more – a commentary on other revenge movies, a critique of US gun law, and a fascinating character study to boot. Maybe Kickstarter is good for something after all…
11. Guardians of the Galaxy (James Gunn)
Not a bad year for the superhero blockbuster with enjoyable new outings for both the X-Men and Captain America. This was the best of the bunch, though, an action-packed treat that was also joyous, wildly inventive and laugh-out-loud funny.
10. Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch)
Tom Hiddlestone and Tilda Swinton are on gloriously camp form in this arch and highly amusing vampire film that balances its jet-black humour with melancholy ruminations on decay, disillusion and ennui.
9. Welcome to New York (Abel Ferrera)
Gerard Depardieu is immense (in so many ways!) as a thinly-disguised version of disgraced former head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn. A horrible, unflinching, forensic examination of a powerful sociopath whose every act is steeped in misogyny and selfishness. Hard going at times but worth every minute.
8. Pride (Matthew Warchus)
I was worried this was going to be twee and patronising – a Richard Curtis-style take on the Miner’s Strike with all the difficult, political stuff taken out. I needn't have worried; Matthew Beresford’s script is hilarious and moving, every performance is spot-on and, most importantly of all, it's unapologetically left-wing.
7. The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)
I was trying to remember the last time I loved a Scorsese movie as much as this one. Casino? Goodfellas? Whatever, Wolf marked a blistering return to form for the director, with Leonardo DiCaprio’s charismatic turn as uber-capitalist con-man Jordan Belfort a revelation. It was slyly subversive, too, satirising and skewering modern capitalism even as it was inviting you to empathise with Belfort and his gang.
6. Boyhood (Richard Linklater)
Not only a great film but also a genuine feat of dedication, organisation and sheer bloody-mindedness. Filmed at various stages over 12 years with the same cast, it follows Ellar Coltrane’s Mason as he grows from a tousle-haired six-year-old into a talented and likeable young man just starting college. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette – as Mason’s mum and dad – are both superb. Low on melodrama, this is just life as it’s lived and it’s never less than fascinating.  

Numbers 5 to 1... coming soon

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