It is that time of year again when everybody becomes an instant expert and delivers their ‘Best Films of the Year’ list, whether we asked for it or not. In keeping with this long established, but ultimately meaningless, tradition, I too hereby proffer a list of what I believe are the best films of the year. Like just about everybody else who compiles such lists, I haven’t seen every film released this year (I’m certain that some of these people haven’t seen any more than the 10 films they have listed given some of their inclusions), so this list is drawn from the 78 movies that I have seen in cinemas in 2014 (regardless of when they were initially released).
Given that it is impossible to remember enough about every movie I have seen over the last 12 months to accurately evaluate and compare all of them, I am relying primarily on the reviews and ratings that I posted on Letterboxd in the days following each screening. Given that there will be many movies with the same or similar ratings, I am also, of course, taking into account the way in which a film has continued to resonate with me long after I saw it, which always suggests that there is something particularly prescient or powerful about a particular production.
Ultimately, my list cannot be any more or less ‘correct’ than anybody else’s (other than those who clearly have no idea what constitutes a good movie) because all such lists are, unfortunately to some extent, subjective (even though we should always strive for objectivity when evaluating anything). However, the reality is that there are some movies that are just so good that they simply cannot be overlooked or ignored by anybody who expects to be taken seriously in constructing such rankings.
The list should not necessarily be seen is being presented in any particular order as all of the films listed in this group of ten is outstanding and attempting to narrow the order into some kind of sequential evaluation of merit seems a little pointless. They are all excellent and they all deserve to be celebrated and admired. Of course, they are not the only great movies released this year and there are plenty more for which justification for inclusion could easily be mounted.
So, with the preamble out of the way, my Top Ten movies of 2014 (in no particular order) are:
Two Days, One Night
Broken Circle Breakdown
Dallas Buyer’s Club
Grand Budapest Hotel
Because compiling such a list is so difficult, perhaps more so for me because I tend to seek out the better movies and avoid the rubbish that floods the multiplexes, here is another ten fabulous films that could quite legitimately have made anybody’s ‘best of’ list for the year:
Under the Skin
Inside Llewyn Davis
We are the Best
The Lego Movie
On the local front, there were some great Australian films released this year, including Charlie’s Country, 52 Tuesdays and Predestination, all of which are as good as, if not significantly better, that so many other films that somehow secured much bigger audiences.
And the worst?
Fortunately, I didn’t see too many stinkers this year but the worst, by far, was the god awful Zac Efron-starring Are We Officially Dating? (released as That Awkward Moment elsewhere). The only saving grace for this utterly insipid film is the fact that I didn’t pay to see it. Other major disappointments were Transcendence, the nonsensical Noah, Bad Neighbours and a couple of Aussie flicks in Wolf Creek 2 and These Final Hours.
Overall though it was a very good year for quality films, particularly for those prepared to seek them out. Whilst it is frustrating that so many great films are hard to access due to very short theatrical runs or being restricted to only one screen, it is always a joy when you watch something truly special that reinforces all the reasons you love movies and, perhaps more importantly, reminds us why movies are so important.