By Ray Manukay
And here are my favorite films of 2014…
#15: A Most Wanted Man
#12: Begin Again
#11: The Imitation Game
And my Top 10 Films of 2014 are…
#10: Inherent Vice
directed by PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON
Thomas Pynchon’s works are noted for their complexity, digressions and eccentric characters. All of those traits are present in the challenging and off-kilter Inherent Vice.
The film is an intentionally, awkward, mish-mash of genres that prefers to be absorbed rather than deciphered. Just when the viewer starts to get some semblance of the direction the story is taking us, Paul Thomas Anderson and Thomas Pynchon delightfully take the viewer down a different and more complex rabbit hole.
This is where the film can make it or break it for the viewer.
Although one can argue Inherent Vice fails to deliver a satisfying, traditional, and tidy cinematic story. The truth is Inherent Vice is more about the journey than the destination.
And it is a great journey. One that deserves and arguably requires repeat viewings to fully be appreciated.
directed by JIM JARMUSCH
I’d be hard pressed to come up with a genre more over-saturated in entertainment than vampires.
But director Jim Jarmusch still manages to add his own unique, eccentric spin to the vampire mythology. Less interested in the typical blood lust and super-powered abilities that most stories about the creatures focus on , Jarmusch examines the emotional and psychological price of immortality.
How torturous would it be for immensely educated, centuries-old cultured beings to exist in a world full of primitive, base and short-sighted, immature humans?
Putting aside the philosophical element of the film Only Lovers Left Alive is just a cool movie. Beautiful look, hip feel, and just an awesome overall uniquely Jarmusch vibe.
#8: Blue Ruin
directed by JEREMY SAULNIER
Revenge. In all it’s bloody, complicated and sticky forms and consequences.
Arguably, some of the most suspenseful and thrilling cinematic sequences of the year.
The less the viewer knows about the film going in the better. I’ll simply say check it out.
#7:The Raid 2
directed by GARETH EVANS
At its core The Raid 2 features cops, robbers… and just plain, wicked, violent, gangster shit.
But story is not what one watches The Raid 2 for.
Super extended and elaborate fight sequences and thrilling non-cgi action make this the best pure action film of the year.
Don’t let the subtitles intimidate. Just pure, glorious, bloody action.
directed by JAMES GRAY
If the reader has never heard of the film The Immigrant I wouldn’t be surprised. Released without any promotional support…at all.. the movie came and went with barely a whisper.
The problem is that The Immigrant was a fantastic movie.
Not only does the film feature excellent performances from Joaquin Phoenix and Marion Cotillard, The Immigrant is also an absolutely gorgeous film.
I mean incredibly, stunning and jaw dropping production design. During my screening I literally paused the film mid-viewing just to admire the scenery and cinematography.
At one point I became convinced that director James Gray and his cast and crew took a time machine to 1920’s New York and shot this film.
Shamefully under-rated The Immigrant deserves to be seen and rightfully praised. Don’t let this film slip by.
directed by DAN GILROY
I am of the strong opinion that most television news is more harmful than helpful or even informative for that matter.
Nightcrawler confirms my beliefs.
Dan Gilroy’s look at exploitative network news is at once illuminating and morbidly thrilling. Featuring an excellent performance by Jake Gyllenhaal, the movie examines the relationship between news reporting and providing entertainment to the masses.
It is easy to blame the media for the seedy featured content shown nightly on news programs. But the truth is that we the audience feed that machine.
The villainous or arguably strangely heroic Lou Bloom, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, is simply, good or bad, a product of this machine.
The film is likely not receiving the usual award season buzz because of its scathing critique of the media. But if one puts all that aside Nightcrawler is an excellent film that will leave the viewer thinking.
directed by CHRISTOPHER NOLAN
Much has been said about Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar.
The truth is I don’t really have much more to add to that conversation other than to say Interstellar is a thrilling, fascinating and surprisingly touching movie.
I get where the negative criticism comes from. Interstellar can be dense with the science talk, and at times overly sentimental.
But there is no denying that it is an awe inspiring, thought provoking film, by a visionary director in Christopher Nolan that is at the top of his game.
directed by WES ANDERSON
Everyone knows what they are getting when they sit down to one of Wes Anderson’s films.
There are parodies everywhere of his distinct style.
But The Grand Budapest Hotel is likely a turning point for the director. Besides being his most mature film to date, The Grand Budapest Hotel displays the confidence of a developing master storyteller.
The film is uniquely his own, but unlike his previous, frivolous film Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel has surprising substance and touching, emotional depth which stays with the viewer long after its final frame.
Rather than just being stylish for the sake of it. Like his films usually are. Wes Anderson uses his traditional, gorgeous, eccentric, visuals to emphasize the beauty of the memories of various characters. They are precious representations of a cherished time gone by. Combined with the touching narration, it gives the film a poignancy, previously unthinkable in a Wes Anderson film.
Probably the most moving movie of the year. Without being overly sentimental or dramatic.
directed by DAMIEN CHAZELLE
But Whiplash illustrates, probably most accurately, the sacrifice, struggle and uncompromising drive to be great.
J.K. Simmons delivers a performance for the ages, simultaneously, provoking disgust and admiration in his portrayal of Fletcher. But all the while keeping the character feeling real and human.
Is Fletcher an evil manipulator or a much needed artistic motivator?
That is the cinematic argument of the year and one that should provide plenty of debate and conversation amongst viewers for years to come.
Easily the most exhilarating film of the year, Whiplash also delivers one of the most satisfying, inspiring, cinematic experiences of all time.
And my favorite film of 2014 is…
directed by BOON JOON-HO
Fight your way to the front.
Snowpiercer rightfully fought its way to the front by being the most remarkable film experience of the year.
Demonstrating a wide variety of genres and powerful themes, Snowpiercer not only hits the viewer in a visceral sense, but also on an intellectual and political level.
Snowpiercer raises challenging questions, while also entertaining viewers with breathtaking action.
Featuring an inspired performance from Chris Evans and a brave, eccentric one from Tilda Swinton, Snowpiercer is also arguably the best and brightest that the science fiction genre has ever offered on film.
Illuminating and thought-provoking Snowpiercer for me, was easily the best film of the year. And likely will be recognized as one of the best films of the decade.
If the viewer is looking for a movie with everything. Literally. Snowpiercer is it.
The perfect representation of a great, thrilling and unique year in cinema.