Saturday, 20 December 2014

The Film Exciter's Top Five Films Of 2014 (In No Particular Order)

5. Interstellar - Christopher Nolan's space-opus had the hype machine firing on all cylinders from the off, even if in the end Interstellar turned out to be a relatively straight-forward sci-fi drama. The screenplay and logic creaked and groaned, but the abyssal chasm of deep space and time, wonderfully realised by an armada of animators, technicians and mathematicians, all under Nolan's undeniable mastery, proved too literary a premise to ignore.

4. Honeymoon - This little independent movie from first-timer Leigh Janiak re-wrote what the vast and often tired horror genre was capable of, namely to use the established tropes and conventions to tell an intimate story with real heart and longing. A real exploration of post-marital contentments and anxieties, Honeymoon gave us two richly drawn protagonists (intelligently played by Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway), and probably the most heartbreaking relationship of the year.

3. Ida - I'm really, really tempted to call Paweł Pawlikowski's film flawless, well aware of the critical corner one can find oneself painted into on using the word. But the truth is I can't find any evidence to the contrary. Agata Trzebuchowska gives the most beautifully understated (and indeed the second most iconic) performance of the year as a novice nun in 1960s Polish People's Republic who along with her hedonistic aunt, seeks to discover the fate of her parents who died during WWII.

2. Under The Skin - The director of Sexy Beast directs Scarlett Johansson as a Glasgow-traversing, organ-harvesting alien on the brink of an existential crisis in this highly-stylised art-cum-found-footage movie, his third in a decade and a half. Oh, as Glengarry's Blake might say, have I got your attention now? Wholly absorbing and re-delineating the acceptable boundaries of mainstream Cinema, Glazer's film is an absolute, undeniable marvel.

1. Enemy - the more successful of the two films this year that took inspiration from the Dostoyevsky novella The Double (the other being Richard Ayoade's), Denis Villeneuve's deeply unsettling film was underpinned by an extraordinary two-role performance by Jake Gyllenhaal, forever banishing into the ether any doubts regarding his status as one of the greatest actors of his generation. Enemy also incidentally wins 2014's award for the most ruminative and (cardiac) arresting closing scene.


Spike Jonze's HerScarlett Johansson (again) played a husky-voiced Siri we all believed we could fall in love with; J. C. Chandor's All Is Lost - a deeply meditative, dialogue-free chamber film about a man (Robert Redford) adrift on the open seas; Richard Linklater's Boyhood - an acclaimed, experimental drama in which we all became surrogate parents to Ellar Coltrane's Mason, watching him grow up over eleven years; the Australian psychological horror The Babadook written and directed by Jennifer Kent, about a mother, her son, and his terrifying pop-up book; and Dan Gilroy's Nightcrawler, featuring probably the performance of the year (and possibly of his career) by Jake Gyllenhaal as an unctuously ambitious burgeoning video-journalist.