Saturday, 3 January 2015

Films Of The Year 2014

As 2015 gets underway with a slew of interesting films, what better time to look back at what 2014 had to offer?

Well, yes, last week probably, but tough - I was busy.

Busy catching up with the films that I'd missed, as you asked, which is just as well as it means the Top 10 we unveiled on the podcast has been ripped up and thrown away thanks to a couple of late entries.

It does mean that four of this year's Top 10 weren't actually reviewed in the normal way, but them's the breaks.

It also means that two other hotly anticipated flicks - Nightcrawler and Boyhood - were happily thrown on the 'ignore' pile. Providing an unusual sense of satisfaction in the process.

There were, of course, other films that came close to the Top 10, but sadly fell short - films like Captain America The Winter Soldier, X-Men: Days Of Future Past, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes and Blue Ruin all came within a gnat's kneecap of the final count.

But there's no prizes for second place (or first place come to that), so it's time to stop the waffle and start the countdown...

10) The Devil's Bargain
A low budget horror film that has still yet to find a general release (but is available online), The Devil's Bargain was the surprise package of the year. Evoking the 70s Hammer-era both in look and tone, impending Armageddon has never been so chilling. It also made me dig out an old Shooter Jennings album, which was nice.

9) Calvary
Never has the tale of a priest who's been told he's going to be shot been so much fun. Similar in tone to The Guard, but darker and slower-paced, Brendon Gleeson is again superb in the central role. He's not the only good performance, though, as everyone plays their part in making this an engrossing, gripping tale.

8) Guardians Of The Galaxy
Yes, I know many would have this higher up on their lists - and it would have been higher here, but for the other seven. Guardians is great though. Big, bold, brash and oodles of fun from the off, Chris Pratt and co deliver the surprise hit of the summer that leaves you with a big grin on your face. And singing If You Like Pina Coladas.

7) Locke
Sure, 90 minutes of a man driving to London doesn't exactly sound like fun - but it's Tom Hardy. And he's driving to be at the birth of a child he had with a one-night stand. And he's telling his wife on the way. While trying to co-ordinate a construction project. A project he's fired from while driving. It's compelling and gripping and you won't take your eyes off the screen for a second.

6) Paddington
This was higher up the list until a couple of late entries, but this is still the best family film of last year. It has jokes for the kids, jokes for the adults, a bear you've loved all your life, a bath ride down the stairs, a use for toothbrushes that will have you doubled-up with laughter... I could go on, but I'm just making myself want to go and watch it again.

5) The Babadook
Another, along with Locke, that got hoovered up at the end of the year, this low budget horror film will leave you sleeping with the light on. Eschewing the modern trend of 'quiet quiet quiet BANG', The Babadook (about a grief-stricken mother, her only child and a children's book) is genuinely proper scary. Five minutes from the end, I realised I hadn't moved for half an hour and had been holding my breath for at least five minutes. It's just brilliant.

4) The Grand Budapest Hotel
There are lots of reasons why this is so high up the list - first, it's brilliant. B, it's a film geek's wet dream with all the changing aspect ratios. Thirdly, Ralph Fiennes is simply hilarious. And that's not all. This is a film made with a lot of love, the jokes come thick and fast, it rips along at a frantic rate of knots and to top it all it became the number one film in the UK on word of mouth. It actually climbed the chart. And that just never happens.

3) The Imitation Game
Benedict Cumberbatch is on something of a roll at the moment, and here as the war hero Alan Turning he has pulled off one of his finest performances. Gripping, funny, exciting and with an ending that makes your furious (because you can't believe what happened to a man you've come to love and admire), this ought to be hoovering up awards for fun in the coming weeks and months.

2) '71
I actually saw this when it was out, but sadly never got the chance to write the review. Not that I'm sure I could have done this film justice. The tale of a soldier sent to Belfast during The Troubles who gets separated from his unit and has to find his way back to the barracks (crossing battle lines, hiding from everyone, running for his life and hiding from everyone else) left me breathless.

1) Pride
Another of the late arrivals, and I'm gutted I didn't get to see it sooner because I'd have had more time to watch it again and again. Telling the tale of a group of gay and lesbian friends who decided to raise money to support the striking miners in 1984, Pride has you grinning from the off and moist of eye on so many occasions the second half of the film was a tad blurry. Hilarious, moving, inspiring and with a crackin' soundtrack, this British gem has the lot and deserves to become an instant classic.