The Films of 2014

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I have managed to see eighty two of the films released in UK cinemas this year. I feel as though this number verifies my movie geek credentials but the figure is only a fraction of the possible total, with around that same number being released every single month.

Clearly then there are a fair few that got away from me. Most notable among these is probably Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, which has come up in many of the critic’s lists of the year, but I also particularly regret not finding time for Map to the Stars, ’71, Mr. Turner and the London Film Festival winning Russian movie Leviathan. (I know this might seem strange when I sat through Brett Ratner and Dwayne Johnson’s Hercules but there it is.)

All in all, I think it’s been a good year for films, certainly in terms of my own viewing. There clearly was some dross, Transformers Age of Extinction (actually the highest grossing film of the year), Grace of Monaco and Pudsey the Movie do not seem to have been well liked but I chose not to watch them. There wasn’t anything I saw this year that I didn’t enjoy on some level. The spoof rom com They Came Together was corny and puerile, embarrassing itself by taking on targets it was shamefully unworthy to challenge, but the likeable leads carried it. A Million Ways to Die in the West was also gently amusing and Anchorman 2 may have been a lot more fun to make that it was to watch but Steve Carrell is brilliant in it. Even the shallow and lazy Godzilla, which was easily my biggest disappointment of the last twelve months, featured some cool monsters doing cool things.

At the other end of the spectrum there have been some superb motion pictures, including a handful of excellent foreign language films. As a rule I don’t like best of the year lists that are full of flicks no one has heard of but movies like Ida, The Past and The Lunchbox came on my radar and were just fantastic. In terms of big release films, I thought Begin Again was just lovely, Interstellar may have had plot holes as big as it’s wormholes but it was majestic, The Grand Budapest Hotel was a quirky joy and Inside Llewyn Davis was a great mix of character and simple storytelling.

Despite the best efforts of Michael Bay, there were some excellent blockbusters this year as well. My favourite of these was not actually Guardians of the Galaxy, although I loved it. Personally I thought both Edge of Tomorrow and X-Men: Days of Future Past had the edge on it, largely due to their focus on plot and well as kicks and giggles.

Speaking of X-Men, Jennifer Lawrence continued her assent, largely in films she was contractually obliged to make (I shall politely ignore Serena) and Scarlett Johansson finally proved she was a major talent in films as diverse as Her, Lucy, Under the Skin and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. That last film also gets extra points for destroying the basic set up of the Agents of SHIELD TV show which improved that series no end.

I also recently spent an unreservedly enjoyable two and a half hours in Middle Earth which is not something I’ve been able to say for a decade.

Following here is my full list of 2014 films, arranged in preference order. This is a favourites list based entirely on my own tastes, opinions, expectations and experiences. A film ranking highly doesn’t necessarily mean it is a better piece of cinema; Nightcrawler is a much smarter and more accomplished movie than Begin Again for example, I just didn’t enjoy it quite as much. Similarly The Wolf of Wall Street was way more impressive than the new Robocop, I simply didn’t like spending time with the main characters so it ranks lower.

Forgive me then if you were one of the many who loved The Lego Movie or Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and I hope you can see past my reserved response to Paddington or The Raid 2. This is how the year was for me. Over half of those listed are reviewed in full elsewhere on the blog so if you want full justifications for their positions have a search and see what you can find.

You should know that the top forty three come heartily recommended. After that point I have reservations, clearly the further you go the greater my reservations.

…..

1. Ida
2. The Past
3. Calvary
4. Under the Skin
5. Begin Again
6. Two Days, One Night
7. The Lunchbox
8. Interstellar
9. X-Men: Days of Future Past
10. The Grand Budapest Hotel

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11. Her
12. Inside Llewyn Davis
13. The Story of Children and Film
14. Edge of Tomorrow
15. Guardians of the Galaxy
16. Nightcrawler
17. The Wind Rises
18. Blue Ruin
19. Locke
20. The Guest

21. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
22. 12 Years a Slave
23. Frank
24. Oculus
25. The Imitation Game
26. The Invisible Woman
27. Chef
28. August: Osage County
29. Starred Up
30. Tracks

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31. Dallas Buyers Club
32. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
33. Belle
34. Fury
35. The Babadook
36. The Skeleton Twins
37. Lone Survivor
38. Lucy
39. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
40. The Boxtrolls

41. Paddington
42. Gone Girl
43. How to Train a Your Dragon 2
44. Pride
45. American Hustle
46. St. Vincent
47. Only Lovers Left Alive
48. The Maze Runner
49. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
50. Life Itself

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51. Transcendence
52. Black Sea
53. The Fault in Our Stars
54. Joe
55. Zero Theorem
56. Muppets Most Wanted
57. The Congress
58. 22 Jump Street
59. Divergent
60. The Lego Movie

61. Robocop
62. Afternoon Delight
63. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
64. The Monuments Men
65. Maleficent
66. Noah
67. The Raid 2
68. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
69. A New York Winter’s Tale
70. The Double

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71. Tinker Bell and the Pirate Fairy
72. Planes 2: Fire and Rescue
73. The Wolf of Wall Street
74. A Million Ways to Die in the West
75. Hercules
76. Non-Stop
77. Serena
78. Godzilla
79. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
80. Rio 2

81. Veronica Mars
82. They Came Together

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