Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Top Ten Films of 2014

1
THE IMMIGRANT
(James Gray, USA)
""The Immigrant" may be an especially timely exploration of the American immigrant experience from a historical perspective, but Gray never overplays his hand. It unfolds like a great novel, evoking the grimy beauty of turn-of-the-century New York City. "The Immigrant" is an American masterpiece, an achievement worthy of standing alongside the works of Coppola and Leone."

2
UNDER THE SKIN
(Jonathan Glazer, UK)
"A haunting exploration of humanity (and human sexuality) through the eyes of a murderous alien seductress, "Under the Skin" is the most important work of science fiction of the decade, calling to mind the work of Kubrick, Lynch and Tarkovsky."

3
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
(Wes Anderson, USA)
"Evoking a kind of nostalgia for a world in a time that may have never existed, Anderson imbues his film with a wistful sense of melancholy that shines through the elaborately detailed mise-en-scene and opens up his singular snow globe aesthetic in ways we haven't seen since "The Royal Tenenbaums.""

4
THE LAST OF THE UNJUST
(Claude Lanzmann, France)
"The word "monumental" may not be enough to describe Claude Lanzmann's gargantuan, 3 1/2-hour documentary counterpart to his landmark 1985 chronicle of the Holocaust, "Shoah." Was Murmelstein a hero or villain, a savior or a traitor? Lanzmann lets us decide, meditating instead on the moral gray areas of an atrocity we only thought we understood as black and white."

5
THE TALE OF PRINCESS KAGUYA
(Isao Takahata, Japan)
"A heartbreaking Japanese folk tale that features some of the most gorgeous animation ever to grace the silver screen. Its chalk and watercolor drawings are unlike anything else out there and easily put the computer graphics of its American counterparts to shame. If anyone still needed convincing that animated films were works of art, this should put any doubts to rest once and for all."

6
BOYHOOD
(Richard Linklater, USA)
"Filmed over the course of 12 years, "Boyhood" represents an unprecedented achievement in cinematic history — watching its young cast grow up for over a decade, capturing their journey from adolescence to adulthood in one of the most achingly honest portrayals of childhood ever captured on film."

7
GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE
(Jean-Luc Godard, France)
"No other film this year pushed or challenged film form quite like this one, with its radical use of 3-D, handheld DV cameras and bold, oversaturated colors, Godard may as well be inventing his own artistic language here. If this is truly the future of cinema, count me in."

8
TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT
(Jean Pierre, Luc Dardenne, Belgium)
"Told with Dardenne's trademark austerity that occasionally recalls the neorealist films of Vittorio De Sica, "Two Days, One Night" is an ultimately hopeful film, but one that raises some serious and complex questions about human nature and our instinct for self-preservation."

9
MR. TURNER
(Mike Leigh, UK)
"A staggeringly immersive film, from the striking period detail to Timothy Spall's guttural, growling emulation of Turner. Each breathtaking frame looks like it could have been painted by Turner himself, drawing us ever deeper into the artist's world. It's a remarkable exploration of the sometimes miniscule line between genius and madness."

10
AMERICAN SNIPER
(Clint Eastwood, USA)
"Eastwood's trademark efficiency is the perfect match for such a tale, allowing Bradley Cooper's extraordinarily nuanced performance to do the heavy lifting. There is no one better suited to deconstructing the mythology of the American hero with such sensitivity, and Eastwood knocks it out of the park."

HONORABLE MENTIONS

"Winter Sleep" (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey), "The Way He Looks" (Daniel Ribiero, Brazil), "Stranger by the Lake," (Alain Guiraurdie, France), "The Congress" (Ari Folman, Israel), "Stray Dogs" (Tsai Ming-Liang, Taiwan), "Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)" (Alejandro G. Inarritu), "Calvary" (John Michael McDonagh, Ireland), "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night" (Ana Lily Amirpour, Iran), "Like Father, Like Son" (Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan), "Interstellar" (Christopher Nolan, USA).

Click here to read my entire top ten write-up in The Dispatch.

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