So we've put our heads together and have come up with our particular favourite movies of the year. Is your favourite here?
Gleefully, Mark Warchus weaves a phenomenal and emotional picture, that ardently and aesthetically clashes two cultures though pallets, setting and tone. But really, teaming up with Stephen Baresford script the film is much more about portraying the underdog and oppressed folk of both the LGBT and mining community with tact, courage and fully realised characters. The crux of Pride lies in its story and message. Provoking a variety of emotions, though the film may be tinged in entertainment and hilarity (there a many, many funny moments), the visceral aspects are undeniably strong. While never saturating or preaching, the films essence is about understanding and unity through strife. Though the scourge of humanity are indeed rife that will encourage a sea of rage in you, it is very much a celebration of the unity found in protest. There is a fire burning within Pride that'll overcome you, that what these people went through and what some continue to go through is wrong. Warchaus makes sure that impact hits right.
It's clear that a review about this film and it's contents simply cannot end without mentioning the powerful remnants it leaves behind. If anything, it should highlight the urgency to stand together with your fellow man when times of hardship hit. Too long we have lived in hate, prejudice and mindless apathy. This nation is a strong one made of thousands on differences. This movie joyfully gives reason for togetherness, it strips away the boundaries and becomes about the essence of humanity; love, compassion and empathy. If this film could, not only entertain but change your view point and give you flames to speak out then it has done what it should do. This is, without doubt, one of the best films of the year.
Pride is a film Britain should be proud of.
The Lego Movie
It’s very rare to come across a film aimed at children that can fill the room with a magical sense of whimsy and excitement with an appeal that stretches across an all-age audience. It’s a rare sight at the end of a film to see people humming, whistling or full on singing the theme song gleefully and without shame. That’s the general feeling that was felt across the world in many cinema screens when The Lego Movie was released.
At first, a movie centered around a bunch of building blocks from Billund in Denmark would seem somewhat preposterous and ludicrous but this film worked in pretty much every way right from the beginning. Introducing a new world is not easy to pull off well in a film but getting to know the Lego world that Emmett thinks he knows is an absolute joy. It’s riddled with stabs at the more conformist ways in which we live our lives in society as well as simple, non-offensive comedy which sets the tone for the rest of the film’s comedy side. Beyond the laughter though lies a beautifully told story that looks at a seemingly ordinary person do the extraordinary. It teaches us about the importance and power of imagination, the ability to question what is around us and the joys of friendship and teamwork with the backdrop of stunning animation and fantastic imagery.
This is a film that brightened up 2014 significantly in the film industry. It’s a film recommended for everybody everywhere. It’s a film that one cannot afford to miss!
You’re Next was definitely the favourite of last year's Fright Fest. Most were very eager, this year, to see director Adam Wingard’s latest movie The Guest. Starring Dan Stevens, who is best known for appearing in Downton Abbey, the movie revolves around a small-town suburban family who lost a son in the Afghanistan war. David (Stevens) turns up unannounced one day to pay his respects and soon integrates himself into the family’s life, sticking up for the bullied younger brother and keeping an eye out for the stunning older sister. However, David is not exactly what he seems and soon, bad things start to occur around him.
The best thing that The Guest gets right is striking a near perfect tone. There’s a constant, unspoken threat of violence permeating almost all of the early scenes but also a healthy dose of very carefully crafted black humour much like You’re Next. As such, you’re never quite sure if a scene is going to conclude with a belly laugh or someone getting their teeth knocked out, making for a pleasingly unpredictable first act or so. Because this weirdly tense-funny atmosphere is generated so well, the film gets away with what would be an otherwise too-ridiculous second act twist that sets the pace for a joy ride until the film’s conclusion
The Guest is sharp, witty and most importantly, fun. It might not reach quite the same heights of brutality and gore as You’re Next, but as a slice of American, small-town life gone hideously wrong, it doesn’t make a single misstep. You could argue it takes its time to hit its stride in its early sequences, but the viewer may feel the slow-burn approach really paid off later and there are enough thrills and spills in the rest of the film to more than make up for any supposed time-taking. The Guest opened this year’s Fright Fest and has proven a very worthy choice for one of the best films of the year.
I have struggled over the best movies for some time and even whilst writing my list over at Cookie N Screen (shameless plug, I know), the spots have danced around. It doesn’t even include films that I haven’t seen yet (with The Guest spinning around in my brain after literally just finishing it, I feel bad that it is scarce on my list). Nevertheless, the more I think about the movies this year, the more that this film comes screaming to the top with a bleak humour and understated ferociousness.
John Michael McDonagh is a fiercely daring filmmaker who can balance the stunning emotion of mortality alongside humour and darker elements. His film The Guard show-cased the over-excited and drug fuelled escapades in a glorious way. But his finest work is Calvary. The story of a priest given seven days to life by someone in his parish is drama at its best. It’s stirring, complex, mysterious and emotional. What works best is not allowing the audience to know the perpetrator and then presenting us with different levels of deceit and evil within the town that toils with our minds. The comedy may be dark but it is humanistic as well, making us laugh at points then really flummoxing us with the drabber elements. Combined, it makes one of the more intellectual films this year that still burns with this visceral undertone that comes to a head in it’s shocking conclusion.
Terrifying at times but humorous, McDonagh is astutely aware of his characters and brings them to life whilst balancing an unravelling plot. At the core of Calvary is Brendan Gleeson’s ingenious performance as Father James as he grapples with his religion and his impending murder, all the while trying to sort out the affairs of his flock. Surrounding Gleeson’s award winning turn (he recently picked up the BIFA for his superb performance) are the likes of Kelly Riley, Chris O’Dowd and Domhnall Gleeson who each give an evocative turn within the film (especially his son Domhnall who gives one of the more terrifying monologues in the show). The cast pull together to give an engaging life to the script and McDonagh’s clever direction.
It’s enthralling to the bitter end; battling theological and ethical themes with a subtle comedy to it as well. Calvary is superb and my number film of the year.
How To Train Your Dragon 2
Oh what a year 2014 has been.
With titles such as 12 Years A Slave, Guardians Of The Galaxy, Paddington, Calvery, '71, The Boxtrolls and Gone Girl to name but a few, it's been a gooden.
Yet it is that selective time of year where all the I'm With Geek family must chose their favourite. It is never an easy choice but there is one film this year that captured my heart like no other.
Dreamworks Animation released How To Train Your Dragon back in 2010 and was an absolute game changer for the studio. When news hit the film would become a trilogy, fans were understandable worried. The trailers started to hit home and our fears began to wayne. Finally, the sequel was released and boy was it worth the wait.
Set five years after the original the film aged its entire animated cast, a feet unseen in most Western animation. All the characters we love returned with new additions to expand the films universe. Yet still the biggest highlight will always be young Viking Hiccup and his Night Fury dragon Toothless. The heart and soul of the franchise it's their tale of true friendship that captures our hearts.
Possesing not just a great story arc and characters, it is easily the studios best animation to date, with effects that truly rival Pixar for quality. Not a perfect film with small improvements to think upon; the character of Astrid is severely under-used this time round and the new villain, Drago Bloodvist needs further development. Despite these minor things, the film will make you laugh and cry in equal measure.
With the final instalment of the trilogy set for 2017. there is so much to hope for. Director Dean DeBlois has hinted that it may go into the dragonless reality of the books after dragons have sadly died out. Dragon 3 will wrap up the franchise that has captured imaginations everywhere and seal the fate of the boy and his dragon.
The films release will also mark Dreamworks Animation going head to head with long standing rival Pixar, who release Toy Story 4. What a year 2017 will be! For now, How To Train Your Dragon 2 is my film of 2014. It captures the heart of my inner child that still wants to believe dragons really exist.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Rise of the Planet of the Apes was one of the best movies of 2011, and its sequel genuinely blows it out of the water. Set ten years after its predecessor, Caesar (Andy Serkis) and the apes have grown as a nation on Earth, but their peace is interrupted by a group of humans who have survived the deadly virus spawned in the first film. At first, they hold a fragile peace, but that is soon destroyed and both species find themselves on the brink of war to become the dominant species on Earth.
What makes Dawn a masterpiece is it’s ability to take common tropes of the Hollywood blockbuster and do them in a way quite unlike anything you’ve seen before. Some scenes in this film should be generic, should be something we moan at, but they’re not. They still feel entirely new, because director Matt Reeves puts an artistic spin on them, and it pays off so well. It’s also helped a lot by its stunning script and great performances Jason Clarke (hugely under-appreciated), Gary Oldman, Andy Serkis and Toby Kebbel as Koba, easily a front runner for villain of the year.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes isn’t just an improvement on its predecessor, it’s a masterpiece of modern cinema.
The Monuments Men
Films based on real life events are amazing to watch because you see these things happening and think “wow, that really actually happened in real life.” The Monuments Men is one of those films. It takes you back to World War Two, and shows you a side to it that has never really been revealed. You have those typical war films like Saving Private Ryan,The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and Inglorious Bastards. But The Monuments Men takes you behind the scenes to look at a group of men who, although do not participate in front line action, do their own part to cause the downfall of the Nazi regime.
It has an absolutely brilliant cast. George Cloony, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville and Cate Blanchett all do a wonderful job in taking us back to the later years of the war. The film is well written, directed and produced by Clooney and the plot keeps you engrossed right up until the end credits. There is hilarious humour with serious tones, amazing cinematography and an overwhelming message that the culture of the people is extremely important, to their growth, to their survival and to their very existence.
Clooney and his team created a wonderful piece of Cinematography that really makes its own mark on the historical and war film genres.
The Way He Looks
Calvary, Guardians of the Galaxy, 12 Years A Slave…any one of these diverse and brilliant films could have been my favourite of 2014. But in actuality, my heart belongs to a unique little Brazilian love story with a lot of soul. The Way He Looks, the debut feature by writer/director Daniel Ribeiro, focuses on blind teenager Leo, as he grapples with growing up, making friends and falling in love around the barrier of his disability. Ribeiro chose a blind protagonist specifically to show that sexuality is innate, as Leo falls for his male best friend without actually being able to see his male physical form.
But far from a plot device, The Way He Looks is just as honest a reflection on disability, and the difficulties and prejudices associated with it, as it is one of sexual self-discovery. Beautifully shot, with bright, sumptuous cinematography and some atmospheric, trippy sequences as we see the world through Leo’s eyes, The Way He Looks is a visual delight as much as it is an emotional one, and the three young leads of the film are surely future stars in the making. The Way He Looks has been chosen as Brazil’s entry into the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar category against all expectations due to its subject matter in what is usually perceived to be a religious, conservative country. That is both a testament to how society is progressing, and how brilliant this film is. I for one will be very surprised if The Way He Looks doesn’t make the final short-list.
The Raid 2
When it came to choosing what I thought to be the best film of 2014 I was faced with a tough choice. It’s been a record breaking year in terms of the number of personal cinema visits I’ve enjoyed, but there are plenty of movies that have slipped through the cracks too – some of which I know will be vying for gongs come awards season. Nevertheless, I sat through a lot of excellent flicks this year and the one that stands above all others (though only by a fine margin) is The Raid 2.
The first movie in this series wowed audiences and critics alike back in 2012; it was a confined meat-grinder of a martial arts film that did things I haven’t seen before. Its sequel takes things to greater heights, in terms of plot, characters, spectacle... and runtime. This is a 150 minute long movie, a third of which is made up of insane action the like of which Hollywood can only dream of producing.
Welsh director Gareth Evans is the undisputed master of delivering thrills and is rapidly establishing himself as the best action director working today. The choreography, invention and sheer madness of each spectacular set piece will blow you away no matter how many times you watch it, and it’s for that longevity that I am naming this as my best film of 2014.
As a Nolan fanboy, some people may be surprised when I say that Interstellar isn’t the best film of the year. For me, the best film of the year is David Fincher’s version of a date movie, Gone Girl. Based on the best selling book by Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl documents the story of one of the most messed up couples of all time. What I loved about the film was the fact that because I never read the book, I had no idea what the hell was going to happen, and it was the best feeling. This is one of my problems with films that are adapted from books, if you’ve read the book; you know what’s coming up next. But if you haven’t, you can just enjoy the ride and that’s what I was able to do. Every twist and turn was great and completely unexpected.
If there’s one thing I could confirm about Gone Girl before I saw it was that the performances would be great. Batfleck, I mean Ben Affleck, was great as Nick, Kim Dickens and Carrie Coon were real discoveries for me, great in their respective roles, Tyler Perry brings great comedy to the film as Tanner Bolt and I can never see Neil Patrick Harris the same way ever again. But the standout and possibly best performance of the year was Rosamund Pike as “Amazing” Amy. Before Gone Girl, the only film I had properly seen Pike in wasThe World’s End, but I knew of her work and knew of the potential she had. Her portrayal of Amy Elliott Dunne is a career making performance; she has become a hot property and has even gained award nominations for the role (fingers crossed on an Oscar nominations).
I believe not knowing what was going to happen in Gone Girl is the reason I love it. There are great star making performances, brilliantly written, wonderfully directed and strangely enjoyable, especially if you’re single like yours truly, but the film stands out from every thing else. Plus, it is the only film this year that physically shocked me, and it’s been a very long time since a film did that to me.
It's So Good, We're Talking About It Twice...
Fortunately, the combination of director David Fincher, Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike resulting in the most spell bounding thriller of 2014. This is truly a perfect example of just how well a film can be produced. Based on Gillian Flynn’s novel, this adaptation is impeccable and hits the mark on so many levels. The one word that pops into my head apart from the standard, ‘fantastic’, ‘great’, ‘amazing’ is shocking. Gone Girl is shockingly good. No one is afraid to push the boundaries here in every possible way. The script, the performances, the edit, all mix together so seamlessly creating a very yummy cocktail of crime, mystery and drama. A true cinematic experience that everyone; no matter how much they can’t stand Ben Affleck in Daredevil should make the time to see.
Mockingjay - Part 1
Making a film out of a beloved book can go one of two ways – really, really well, or really, really badly. Luckily, for the Hunger Games series, and especially Mockingjay – Part 1, the series has managed to survive in the age of books being turned into films, and either sinking (ie Vampire Academy) or swimming (Harry Potter).The third film in the series continues to follow the story of the girl on fire, Katniss Everdeen. She has now survived the annual Hunger Games twice. Katniss wakes up in District 13 and now has an entirely new life that she must adjust to, quickly. She must also deal with who she can and cannot trust. She’s also dealing with a whole mix of feelings, including worrying about and missing Peeta.
The film is well shot, well thought out. Mockingjay is a little more intense than its two predecessors, a little more raw. While it still has its moments of humour, it is starting to show the beginning of a rebellion. The viewer knows that, this time, something serious is truly going to happen. The story is more gripping than the first two. Jennifer Lawerence takes it up a notch as Katniss, giving a truly solid performance. The rest of the cast is also stepping up their games. Noone particularly outshines another, as they are really on the ball.
The odds are in Mockingjay’s favour.
Guardians Of The Galaxy
2014 has been a great year for cinema. Many films have graced our screens, but when it comes to the ‘best’ films of the year, there can be no denying; Guardians of the Galaxy has to be one of them. It may in a many ways, seem like the obvious choice – you’ve got Marvel, a relatively unknown team of unlikely superheroes, a major Hollywood cast and enough trailblazing action to keep you entertained for hours. Oh, and it did feature a gun-wielding talking raccoon (seriously, who didn’t love that guy?). Both a critical and financial success, Guardians of the Galaxy had more classic one-liners than you could count, a coherent plot-line that actually made sense for the most part and a feel-good soundtrack that just made you want to suit up and join the unconventional team in their adventures. What made the film so undeniably great was that it didn’t follow the usual superhero tropes and conventions, paving an entirely different path for the sub-genre where you can have such a bizarre mix of creatures, people and tree-like humanoids and it will still work on screen.
Guardians of the Galaxy did a great job in reminding us what fun really looks like, and proved itself to be the feel-good film of the summer.
On the surface, Boyhood is just a coming of age film, and not the first in Richard Linklater's career. Beneath the surface it is one of the most unusual projects in film history and easily Linklater's opus magnum. It depicts the growing up of Mason (Ellar Coltrane), a dreamy, imaginative, sensitive boy, son of a single mother without much luck when it comes to men and an easygoing though slightly irresponsible father. The unusual thing: Linklater filmed this over the span of twelve years, assembling the same cast every year. What we see is a boy of seven growing into a young man just starting college.
The actors deliver outstanding performances. While much has already been said about the main characters, I was also deeply impressed by the performance of the side characters as well. As an example, the actor of the second husband of Olivia excels in one of the most emotionally straining scenes of the movie. The script is touching and feels natural. There are so many scenes and details in the movie where you feel unbelievable close to the actors. When Patricia Arquette says as mother Olivia "I thought there would be more" you instantly think about your own (family) life and its constant flux.
This is more than a coming of age story; the title "Family" or "Motherhood" would be just as appropriate. Set in Texas, the screenplay is natural and reminiscent of plenty of Linklater's other work: a film that begins with dialogue unlike any other Linklater films evolves into thoughtful, poignant discourse not unlike that from the "Before" series. One character in a late-night nacho scene was perhaps a callback to the heady "Waking Life." With that said, this absolutely is not a mere think piece. What makes this film truly fantastic is how accessible the material is, given its scope. Without giving any narrative away, I'll say that the story itself is absolutely engaging and not without surprises. I laughed, gasped, covered my eyes, and I damn sure wept.
This is a film about life. Involving everything that our lives involve: All the drama just as much as the habits, the boredom as well as the beauty. Although all the adult actors are excellent (particularly the different husbands of Mason's mother all delivered memorable performances), what is most impressive is to observe Ellar Coltrane and Richard Linklater's daughter Lorelei - brother and sister on screen- develop into talented young actors. Particularly Coltrane shows great depth without huge gestures and I hope we'll get to see a lot more of him in the future.
Boyhood is the most powerful and unique coming-of-age film ever made and it will be proclaimed as a classic for the years to come
What Do You Think?
Was 2014 a great year for films?
Is there something you don't agree with?
Let us know in the comments below!