Friday 2 January 2015

The best of 2014 part three

Numbers 5 to 2 in my 25 favourite films of the year...

5. Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy)
A no-holds-barred satire on the American Dream every bit as scabrous and vituperative as Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars. Jake Gyllenhaal has never been better as TV crime reporter Lou Bloom, a perfect anti-hero for our times; rapaciously greedy, weirdly antisocial and thoroughly amoral. The fact it has been mentioned in the same breath as classics such as Network, Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy says it all really.

4. Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel Cohen & Ethan Cohen)
I love films that hold their nerve and don't sell out their characters and story with cheap, uplifting endings designed to send audiences home with a soppy collective smile. Thankfully, the Coens can always be relied upon to deliver perfect denouements and so they do again, in a sublime comedy/drama that is as much a celebration of their titular folk musician's failure as it is a rumination on it. Brilliant music, too.

3. Ida (Pawel Pawlikowski)

Beautiful, haunting Polish drama about a young noviciate (novice nun) discovering everything she thought she knew about her life was wrong. What unfolds is a revelatory, heartbreaking road trip into the Holocaust's heart of darkness. Only one criticism: at 82 minutes, it's too short - I wanted more of the characters (especially Ida's haunted alcoholic aunt), more of the stunning cinematography and more of a story that had me gripped from its first minute.

2. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson)

A sad, funny, gorgeous-looking piece of work with a fantastic performance from Ralph Fiennes as the extraordinary Gustave H. Yes, it's quirky, silly and positively surreal at times but it's also never less than thoroughly charming. My favourite Wes Anderson film... until the next one.

Come back later today when I reveal my favourite film of the year...

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