Boyhood! Boyhood! Boyhood! With all due respect to the Richard Linklater film, I think people love how Boyhood makes them feel rather than loving the film as a whole, which IS certainly the sign of a great film. However, I don’t think it’s the BEST film of 2014. To me, Boyhood serves as a big-screen experience that overwhelms viewers with joy, but I don’t envision people kicking back at home to watch the film. Will I watch Ida over and over? Yes. Will I watch Whiplash over and over? Yes.
I saw Boyhood, liked it and respect how everyone involved committed two weeks per year for several years. The great thing about cinema is that individuals have their own reasons for liking a film…or LOVING it. Below are 10 films that I LOVED.
Honorable Mentions: Lukas Moodysson’s We Are the Best!, Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler, Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook, Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman, Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive
Haven’t Seen: Jean-Luc Godard’s Goodbye to Language 3D, Ava DuVernay’s Selma, Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, Ruben Östlund’s Force Majeure, Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan
10. Palo Alto (Directed by Gia Coppola)
I connected a lot more with Gia Coppola’s feature debut than I did with Boyhood. Palo Alto features a group of up-and-comers and captures the essence of youth without forcing it on the viewer.
9. The Trip to Italy (Directed by Michael Winterbottom)
Michael Winterbottom’s 2010 film The Trip featured hilarious banter and impressions from the leads, and his sequel managed to offer something deeper while still bringing the laughs. The central theme of Lord Byron allows for plenty to be explored.
8. Wild (Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée)
Reese Witherspoon gives an Oscar-worthy performance in Wild, and the cinematography is beautiful, however Vallée’s tight direction prevents the film from becoming a “connect the dots” of emotion and redemption. He subtly references the lead character’s personal flaws but focuses on her inner strength.
7. Starred Up (Directed by David Mackenzie)
I took a deep breath after this film was over. Jack O’Connell will literally become a star this week once Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken hits theaters, but his snarling performance in Starred Up can’t be missed. It’s a prison flick that challenges typical notions of how inmates interact.
6. The Immigrant (Directed by James Gray)
While Marion Cotillard gives an incredible performance, the poignant direction makes this film a visual wonder of 2014. The remarkable framing reminds of classic Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni films, and the scenes between Joaquin Phoenix and Cotillard boast an Italian Neorealism feel.
5. Gone Girl (Directed by David Fincher)
Shocking and delightfully sick, Gone Girl highlight’s America’s fascination with pop culture and the showboating of marriage bliss. Let’s face it: couples have problems like anybody else and they aren’t solved by watching reality TV. David Fincher’s film will be studied for decades to come as a timely portrait of American life.
4. Two Days, One Night (Directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
Marion Cotillard probably won’t receive an Oscar nomination for her remarkable performance, but she certainly deserves it. As a married and emotionally troubled woman attempting to save her job, Sandra (Cotillard) personally visits numerous co-workers, all of whom have their own reasons for choosing a bonus over someone’s financial well-being. Not every actress could demand attention in such a role, but Cotillard nails it.
3. Interstellar (Directed by Christopher Nolan)
As Robert Bresson once said, “I’d rather people feel a film before understanding it.” Interstellar moved me, and I didn’t find myself fact checking the science so I could complain on Twitter.
2. Ida (Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski)
If there’s one film from 2014 that I would recommend to casual moviegoers, this is it. Visually, Ida is my favorite film of the year and Agata Trzebuchowska’s screen presence will leave a mark on anyone who watches.
1. Whiplash (Directed by Damien Chazelle)
“There are no two words in the English language more harmful than good job.” What does it mean to be great? I loved Whiplash because Damien Chazelle highlights the blood, sweat and tears that come along with pure devotion to one’s craft; the hard work when nobody’s there to pat you on the shoulder. The final scene…wow.