With the Golden Globe Awards now announced, I have taken a look back at the movie reviews I have written over the past year. When I counted the reviews posted in 2014 (=28 this year about movies released in 2014), I wanted to see what would be my top ten favorites. Again, it wasn’t easy, as both television and cinema have continued to produce phenomenal story-telling.
This list is not ranked –only my top ten for 2014, grouped by genre. These are movies I saw in 2014, not necessarily ones released in 2014. [Full disclosure: I have not seen “Selma”, “Wild”, “Still Alice” or “Foxcatcher” yet and some of the foreign films in the “independent” category were released before 2014.]
Indies and Foreign
1) Whiplash ( December 8, 2014 review) The parameters of artistic sacrifice in the face of a tyrannical teacher are questioned but not answered. Psychologically disturbing and thrilling all at once, we see a young prodigy become enslaved to his own ambition. These performances are not to be missed.
2) Lunchbox (July 9, 2014 review) This Indian film is a quirky romantic tale of two very lonely and desperate people attempting to find something to live for. A psychological study of loneliness and hope, “The Lunchbox” masterfully questions how much an individual is willing to risk to change his or her life.
3) Belle (May 26, 2014 review): A very moving personal account of a freewoman’s innocence in the face of the pervasive racist realities around her and her courageous confrontation with societal forces, which refuse to accept her the way she wants to be.
4) Blackfish (April 19, 2014 review): The film maker begins work on this film after the death of an experienced trainer by an orca while performing in the popular Shamu show. Documentaries can still create change — and for SeaWorld the perception of theme parks is forever changed by this film.
5) Boyhood (August 30, 2014 review): The decade-long time-span for shooting the story is in itself pioneering, but “Boyhood” is so much more. This coming-of-age story is about all families, families we know and families we grew up in.
6) “Gone Girl” (October 13, 2014 review): Probably the blockbuster film of 2014, “Gone Girl” has received both critical praise and Oscar buzz since its debut on October 3. Like the novel, the film leaves you questioning how well you truly know those around you, perhaps especially the person you married. Are there secrets you may never know?
7) Incendies (September 24, 2014 review): This film, nominated for a 2011 Best Foreign Film Academy Award, still remains largely unseen. Incendies” tells the family saga of twenty-something twins, who are determined to know the mystery of their reserved mother’s life even though they have not had a warm, affectionate relationship with her. There is an unforgettable ending that is sure to shock any viewer. To say more would be to ruin this film.
8) Theory of Everything (December 20, 2014 review): A moving and inspirational biopic of the relationship between the cosmologist Stephen Hawking, and his first wife Joan, is a testament to strength of character, heroism, and human values. This film should win Oscars!
9) Imitation Game (forthcoming review on January 19, 2015) Another superb biographical drama, this time about the Enigma code-breaker and father of computer science Alan Turing, who sacrificed so much during the Second World War in order to bring that war to an end earlier than expected. Watch for my complete review on January 19!
10) Grand Budapest Hotel (April 14, 2014 review) Wes Anderson’s films have always been quirky, idiosyncratic and goofy originals. All of his trademarks combine to produce the ultimate wackiness in his humor. The absurdity that defines his style makes “The Grand Budapest Hotel” crazy and hilarious!