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January 17, 2015

2

Top 10 Films of 2014

by Franz Patrick


Below are my choices for the Top 10 Films of 2014. It must be noted that the list may change slightly if I happen to come across great movies I had missed prior to this post. The same rule applies to all of my annual Top 10 Lists. In other words, my lists are updated continually. My hope is to provide alternative movies that are absolutely worth seeing that may not or will not necessarily appear on “Top Critics” picks. Underneath each picture is an excerpt from my review which can be found in the archive. In the meantime, dive in and, as always, feel welcome to let me know what you think.



Boyhood
Richard Linklater

“Having seen Michael Apted’s tremendous achievement called the ‘Up’ series, where the same seven-year-olds are interviewed and filmed every seven years so we can learn the many different directions their lives have taken, I was more nervous and anxious than excited to watch Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood.’ I was concerned that given the two projects’ similarities, it would be difficult to sit down and absorb Linklater’s work as is without the gnawing need to compare… It is a most pleasant surprise that [this film] offers enough originality and confidence to separate itself from the aforementioned behemoth of a project…”



Joe
David Gordon Green

“Every once in a while a movie comes along and manages to hit all the right notes without ever hitting a wrong one. One waits for the film to stumble somehow—whether it be a performer stepping outside of his character for less than a second or a shot that lingers for a beat too long—but it never does. David Gordon Green’s ‘Joe’ is that kind of film… [The] keen screenplay by Gary Hawkins eradicates the expected trappings by focusing on the specificities of the characters. Because we are emotionally invested in who they are, what they have to say, and what they will do next, we are left unguarded when it comes to just about every turn of event. It is a rural drama with a powerful gravitational force and once one is caught up in it, the claws of suspense is deeply embedded in our spines…”



The Raid 2: Berandal
Gareth Evans

“…American filmmakers who wish to have some sort of a hand-to-hand combat in their work should look up to this movie for inspiration. It is generous with wide shots, the editing is never choppy so we can actually appreciate each punch and kick thrown, it knows when to use silence so we can wince at every blow, and the style—whether in terms of location, style of clothing, sort of weapons wielded—changes with every big action scene. It is such a joy to watch this level of creativity. [Writer-director Gareth Evans] knows his material is over-the-top but he has fun with it. Thus, we enjoy what’s projected on screen…”



7 cajas
[7 Boxes]
Juan Carlos Maneglia, Tana Schembori

“…What impressed me most is the level of detail of the marketplace. I have not been to the specific outdoor market where the film was shot, but I have been to others like it. While growing up in the Philippines, my mother, brother, and I would go to the market just about every weekend to buy goods—from fresh fish, meat, and vegetables to local spices, knickknacks, and school supplies—and there are three things I will never forget: the buzzing of the crowd, the stench of the products and hardworking people, and the heat that envelops every square inch of the outdoors. Based on personal experience, this film gets those details exactly right and it is a joy to see a version of my memories of childhood being represented on screen…”



I Origins
Mike Cahill

“Writer-director Mike Cahill creates a love letter to the spiritual but scientifically-inclined…”



Nymphomaniac
Lars von Trier

“…There is a level of irony to it. Through a solemn narration, we learn that Joe is expecting a sexy and steamy encounter since the language barrier will force them to focus on their bodies and to determine what they need from one another telepathically. Instead, it almost turns into some sort of farce. Body parts flopping about—utilizing quick close-ups of sexual organs from time to time—made me snicker and then laugh uncontrollably. The scene has a two-fold function: to take us out of the situation by creating a lightness and to leave us off-balanced for what is about to come…”



Godzilla
Gareth Edwards

“…[Director Gareth Edwards] gives us more than just repetitive shots of the monster roaring or screeching and destroying landmarks. [His] work is an antithesis of movies like Colin and Greg Strause’s nonsensical and brain cell-destroying ‘Skyline’ and all of Michael Bay’s painfully generic, boring, unambitious, waste of time, and maddening ‘Transformers’ sequels. Here, while we are able to see chaos and destruction, the key is that we are given time to appreciate them. It is done through humor, camera work that does not shake relentlessly when our eyes are supposed to be transfixed on a particular point, and a sense of perspective.”



Nightcrawler
Dan Gilroy

“Standing out almost immediately in ‘Nightcrawler,’ written and directed by Dan Gilroy, is the way nighttime hovers like a thick gloom in downtown Los Angeles—beautiful, curious, eerie, and dangerous all rolled into one vivid dream of a filmmaker with a keen eye for not only what looks good on screen but also how certain images, framed just right, can allow the audience to feel or think a certain way. In this sense, the picture is an achievement in presentation and execution. It is made for people who crave looking closely at things, just like the main character played exceedingly well by Jake Gyllenhaal…”



Obvious Child
Gillian Robespierre

“…[Jenny Slate] has a way of pinpointing the comedy in the sadness and distress from what is supposed to be funny. Already, this sets her ahead of performers who are unable to find the contradiction in their characters and build something from it. This is why when [the main character] skewers the details of her personal life up on stage, most of the remarks are funny but we recognize that they stem from not only awkward situations but real feelings like disappointment, regret, feeling out of one’s depth. Thus, the humor is not one note. It is sharp sometimes, raunchy at times, and just plain silly in other instances…”



Ekspeditionen til verdens ende
[Expedition to the End of the World]
Daniel Dencik

“…Each person we meet is a storyteller. No one is mentioned by name but we remember their faces. Particularly memorable is the man who notices a pile of bones along the shore and addresses us to try to imagine a former life that was once there. Along with his enthusiastic voice, he employs his limbs and hands to help paint a picture in our minds. He directs us to the location of the campsite, where the adults prepared food, and where children played. It is likely that those bones had been there for hundreds of years—maybe thousands—and it is so moving that he is able to grab the audience and allows us to see through someone else’s eyes for a couple of seconds…”

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jan 19 2015

    I loved Boyhood and Nightcrawler. They both ended up on my list: http://fastfilmreviews.com/my-top-10-movies-for-2014/

    I enjoyed Godzilla quite a bit too. It couldn’t quite make it into my list but easily one of the better big budget Hollywood films of the summer.

    Reply
  2. GaryGreg828
    May 29 2015

    NightCrawler is my favorite film of this list, at least from the titles I’ve seen.

    I actually tried to watch “Obvious Adult” and turned it off after like 10 minutes b/c her stand-up wasn’t funny and it seemed she was trying to be like a female Louie; the plot also seemed to be stale and started off like many mainstream comedies about a person being fired or dumped at the beginning; thus will have to spend 90 minutes improving themselves and provide mandatory character arc. Seen it done to death. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the boyfriend comes back at the end and she rejects him.

    I started “Joe” and turned it off after like 30 minutes b/c I was bored as heck. Nicolas Cage was terrible and nothing was happening. I felt like I could walk up the street and find some city workers and observe their typical day and I’d have “Joe”. I’m sure something happened later, but I was too bored to stick around any longer to find out what it was.

    I have not seen “The Raid” or part 2, but I need to. I have heard a ton of good things about both of them. It just usually takes me a while to watch action movies b/c most are so bland to me. But when they are done right, they are a blast to watch, which I heard is the case, here.

    Godzilla was pretty good; it wasn’t on my top 10 list, but it was very well-done and a huge upgrade from the disappointing 1999 version.

    I didn’t like Nympho much. I didn’t think you did, either. I must be getting you mixed-up w/ another blogger who didn’t care for it.

    I haven’t heard of the other films you listed. But that’s good b/c it shows you watch so much more than the mainstream stuff. I like the list a lot b/c of the versatility; even if I hated all 10 of your titles, I would still like the list b/c of how versatile it is.

    You may have to bump one to make room for “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night”. :)

    Reply

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