Well what a year it’s been for movies. 2014 saw the likes of The Lego Movie, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians Of The Galaxy all dazzle with box office brilliance. The awards went to the likes of 12 Years A Slave, The Wolf Of Wall Street and The Dallas Buyers Club. All films that made this year great, and yet none of them manage to make FilmJuice’s Top Ten Favourite Films Of 2014. So join Editor Alex Moss as he takes us on a guide to our favourite films of 2014. The only rule here is the film has to have been released in the UK in 2014, sorry Birdman, you miss out by one day, maybe next year.
10. Edge Of Tomorrow
It may not have set the box office on fire but Edge Of Tomorrow is an original, big budget film that more than delivers on its promise. Tom Cruise plays the cowardly soldier conscripted to fight an alien race who are slowly taking over the world, that is until he dies in battle and inherits their ability and finds himself in a repeating time-loop. Director Doug Liman managed to find endless ways of keeping the action thrilling and the comedy coming thick and fast injecting a smart riff on the video game mentality of repeatedly dying. Central to the film’s success was the chemistry between Cruise and Emily Blunt with the pair both delivering wonderfully glib performances. If more summer films where this inventive and genuinely fun, think Groundhog Day meets Full Metal Jacket, we probably wouldn’t be rolling our eyes at the endless conveyor belt of superhero films currently bombarding the silver screen.
Memorable Moment: Desperate to get rid of his new-found power Cruise propositions Blunt to see if he can “transfer” the power to her, she’s not into it.
Click Here for FilmJuice’s Edge Of Tomorrow Review
Spike Jonze’s love-letter come parable to the modern age of technology rightfully took home the Best Original Screenplay at this year’s Oscars. It’s a beautiful, funny and heartwarming romance between a man and his computer operating system but beneath it all there is a smart, subtle message that while technology, in theory, has the ability to bring us all closer together in reality it only manages to isolate us from actual human interaction. Joaquin Phoenix mesmerises in the lead role while Scarlett Johansson’s husky tones are near impossible not to fall for.
Memorable Moment: Theodore encounters a foul-mouthed alien child in a computer game who manages to perfectly conjure the magic of the film in one simple scene.
Click here for FilmJuice’s Her review
8. Under The Skin
Going to the cinema should be an experience, and not always a pleasant one. Under The Skin, like its title suggests, does just that; it slow-burns and burrows its way into your very soul causing you to squirm and gasp in desperate horror as the near dialogue free story unfolds. Scarlett Johansson plays the nameless woman luring men to their doom on the A-roads of Scotland but it’s director Jonathan Glazer’s direction that dazzles the most. Oppressive, immersive and deeply unsettling Under The Skin creates imagery that will leave an indelible mark on your eyelids.
Memorable Moment: The year’s most chilling scene as Johansson watches in fascination as first a dog, then a woman and finally a man all drown while their toddler child screams his lungs out on a beach. It will make your heart stop with terror.
Click here for FilmJuice’s Under The Skin review
7. The Guest
From the darkly warped minds of director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett who brought us You’re Next comes the year’s most off-the-wall, crazy brilliant thriller. Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens plays the titular guest who at first seems like he’s in town to help the grieving Peterson family only to become the most charming psychopath ever seen on screen. The film is aided by a nostalgic John Carpenter-like soundtrack and could easily spawn a long-running franchise. Imagine Jason Bourne with a lot more psychological issues than just amnesia and you’re somewhere close to loving the madness that is The Guest.
Memorable Moment: Barroom brawls are a dime a dozen in films but in The Guest they’re bone-breakingly original.
Click here for FilmJuice’s The Guest review.
It may have taken eleven years to make, with director Richard Linklater shooting for a month each year in order for lead actor Ellar Coltrane to age accordingly, but boy was it worth the wait. One of cinema’s most smartly reaslised coming-of-age stories Boyhood is warm, affecting and often funny in its familiarity with growing-up. Coltrane, Patricia Arquette and Lorelei Linklater, daughter to the director himself, all excel but it is Ethan Hawke as Mason’s often absent, slightly free-spirited father who conjures the most magic.
Memorable Moment: Mason’s dad tries to connect with his two children only to discover they’re a little more clued in that he expects. It’s simple, humorous and straight to the point, much like the whole film.
Click here for FilmJuice’s Boyhood review
5. Starred Up
David Mackenzie’s gritty prison drama is both inventive and rarely conforms to the expected. Jack O’Connell plays the Starred Up criminal who is considered so violent he has to be moved from a Young Offenders Institution to a maximum-security prison, where his dad just happens to be living at her Majesty’s pleasure. Written by Jonathan Asser, who drew from his experiences as a prison therapist, Starred Up will rattle you to the very core without ever sacrificing a thumping emotional heart. The Shawshank Redemption this is not but with two pounding lead performances from O’Connell and his on-screen dad Ben Mendlessohn this is a film that needs no locking-up.
Memorable Moment: Knowing the guards are about to pounce on him O’Connell’s Eric Love covers himself in baby oil making him one slippery customer.
Click here for FilmJuice’s Starred Up Review
In a world where instant media is taken for granted Nightcrawler is a perfect slice of ghoulish delight as Jake Gyllenhaal’s rubbernecking news hound covers everything from car crashes to live-action murders. Written and directed by Dan Gilroy this is a stunning, gripping and often nerve-shredding affair. What makes Nightcrawler so captivating is its ability to have you rooting for a sociopathic anti-hero played with unflinching morals and deadeyes by Gyllenhaal.
Memorable Moment: Gyllenhaal’s Louis films a police pursuit he was instrumental in orchestrating, the morals are questionable, Louis’ sick glee is infectious.
Click here for FilmJuice’s Nightcrawler review
Christopher Nolan has long since become one of mainstream cinema’s most cerebral directors but while Interstellar may have fried the brain a little more than usual it also made the heart soar like never before. Matthew McConaughey, on now typically riveting form, plays the man trying to choose between saving humanity and seeing his family back on Earth as he travels through a wormhole to find a more hospitable planet. Nolan’s visuals are easily one of the most jaw-dropping things in cinema this year with a script that keeps you planted firmly to the edge of your seat. It’s the sort of film that gains traction with repeat viewing.
Memorably Moment: McConaughey’s Cooper jumps forward 23 years due to time delineation and witnesses his children literally age before his eyes via video messages. You’ll find something in your eye and a lump in the throat.
Click here for FilmJuice’s Interstellar review
2. Gone Girl
No one does black-comedy like David Fincher and with the help of a stunning script by Gillian Flynn, adapting her own novel, Gone Girl proved to be the year’s darkest, cruelest and most utterly compelling film. Ben Affleck plays the ambiguous husband of Rosamund Pike’s ever so slightly unhinged Gone Girl. While the plot keeps you guessing the real treat is in Flynn and Fincher’s ability to make you assess your own moral compass through venomous dialogue and gripping twists. Not so much a date movie as a divorce movie but worth every penny of the alimony settlement.
Memorable Moment: Rosamund Pike, in every sense this is one of the year’s most jaw-dropping performances.
Click here for FilmJuice’s Gone Girl review.
John Michael McDonagh’s Calvary is best likened to a perfectly poured pint of Guinness; it’s jet-black throughout with just a hint of hope glistening on the top in pearly white. Having made us repeatedly laugh with The Guard, Calvary manages to up the comedy while somehow making a film so thought-provoking and rich you’ll watch the credits in stunned silence mixed with a tear in the eye and a smile painted across your face. The cast are all stunning with an award worthy turn by the always reliable Brendan Gleeson as the priest desperate to tend to his sinful parish bringing pathos and an endlessly entertaining dry delivery.
Memorable Moment: Chris O’Dowd tries to explain that his wife is not quite right in the head: “I think she’s bipolar, or lactose intolerant, or one of the two”.
Click for FilmJuice’s Calvary review.