top 20 of 2014
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Grand Budapest Hotel is a British-German comedy-drama film written and directed by Wes Anderson and tells the story of a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between WW1 and WW2 and his friendship with a young employee who becomes his most trusted protégé… An all-star cast including Ralph Fiennes, Adrien Brody, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton and Owen Wilson.
‘With its signature zooms, satirical tableaux and fiercely ordered visual palette (architecture is everything, from the hairstyles to the shot compositions) this is Anderson-world writ large: a hermetically sealed environment in which reality is something you only read about in books, and the upheavals of the interwar years provide tonal rather than political background. What slices the surface is the rapier-sharp wit, with Fiennes on point at all times, a dashing foil for his director’s comedic cut and thrust.’ The Guardian
‘An opulent and elaborate cartoon romp that exists under a deep ocean of Andersonian melancholy.’ Little White Lies
Darkly comic Irish thriller starring Brendan Gleeson. Gleeson plays Father James, who is the local clergyman of a rural Irish parish. During confession one Sunday, an unseen local informs Father James of his plan of killing him as a way of gaining retribution for abuse he suffered as a young boy at the hands of another Catholic priest. Left with only seven days to make his peace, James visits those within his community while trying to track down his potential killer. Through his exchanges with the locals, which include a cuckolded butcher (Chris O’Dowd), a wealthy businessman (Dylan Moran) and an atheistic doctor (Aidan Gillen), James realises that the institution to which he has dedicated his life is becoming obsolete, causing him to doubt the validity of his faith.
‘On the strength of only two films, McDonagh and Gleeson are a director/star team on a par with Ford/Wayne, Fellini/Mastroianni or Scorsese/De Niro. Calvary is gripping, moving, funny and troubling, down to an uncompromising yet uncynical finish.’ Empire
3. Under The Skin
BAFTA award winning Scarlett Johansson give an unforgettable performance in Jonathan Glazer’s critically-acclaimed third feature after Sexy Beast and Birth.
An alien entity inhabits the earthly form of a seductive young woman who combs the Scottish highways in search of human prey to plunder. It lures its isolated and forsaken male victims into an otherworldly dimension where they are stripped and consumed. But life in all its complexity starts to change the alien. It begins to see itself as ‘she’, as human, with tragic and terrifying consequences. Under The Skin is about seeing ourselves through alien eyes.
‘Glazer’s astonishing film takes you to a place where the everyday becomes suddenly strange, and fear and seduction become one and the same.’ The Telegraph
‘It’s an intoxicating marvel, strange and sublime: it combines sci-fi ideas, gloriously unusual special effects and a sharp atmosphere of horror.’ Time Out
4. Inside Llewyn Davis
Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is at a crossroads. Guitar in tow, huddled against the unforgiving New York winter, he is struggling to make it as a musician against seemingly insurmountable obstacles–some of them of his own making. Living at the mercy of both friends and strangers, scaring up what work he can find, Llewyn’s misadventures take him from the baskethouses of the Village to an empty Chicago club–on an odyssey to audition for a music mogul–and back again.
Brimming with music performed by Oscar Isaac, Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan (as Llewyn’s married Village friends), as well as Marcus Mumford and Punch Brothers, Inside Llewyn Davis, in the tradition of ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ is infused with the transportive sound of another time and place.
‘One of the Coens’ best.’ The Guardian
‘A Triumph’ 5 stars. Little White Lies
5. The Wolf Of Wall Street
Revered filmmaker Martin Scorsese directs the true story of New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio). From the American dream to corporate greed, Belfort goes from penny stocks and righteousness to IPOs and a life of corruption in the late 80s. Excess success and affluence in his early twenties as founder of the brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont warranted Belfort the title – ‘The Wolf of Wall Street.’
Money. Power. Women. Drugs. Temptations were for the taking and the threat of authority was irrelevant. For Jordan and his wolf pack, modesty was quickly deemed overrated and more was never enough.
‘A big, unruly bacchanal of a movie that huffs and puffs and nearly blows its own house down, but holds together by sheer virtue of its furious filmmaking energy and a Leonardo DiCaprio star turn so electric it could wake the dead.’ Variety
Our top 20 films of the year:
1 The Grand Budapest Hotel
3 Under The Skin
4 Inside Llewyn Davis
5 The Wolf Of Wall Street
7 Guardians Of The Galaxy
8 The LEGO Movie
9 The Raid 2
11 The Wind Rises
12 Only Lovers Left Alive
13 The Punk Singer
15 Blue Is The Warmest Colour
16 Two Days, One Night
17 20,000 Days on Earth
18 Mistaken for Strangers
19 Northern Soul
20 I Am Divine