THE 10 BEST FILMS OF 2014 SO FAR

As we enter July I think now seems a good time to list my favourite films of the year so far, and though there has been many that have not quite achieved their initial potential, many that I expected to be average and were average and most certainly an abundance of stinkers, there have still been some excellent films. Of course my lack of being able to see a vast majority of films on their initial cinematic release means that there may be some films already out (in the UK) that may end up appearing in my final top 10 of 2014, but here are 10 films I highly recommend to all and stand, in my view, to be the best films of the year at the end of 2014.

The basic criteria, as always, is for the film to have its initial UK cinematic release in 2014. I appreciate that a couple of the films on this list would be on 2013 lists for those in some other countries, but I first saw them in 2014 (when released here in the UK) and therefore deserve to be on this list.

Noteworthy mentions that did not quite make it into my top 10:

Exhibition (Joanna Hogg), The Invisible Woman (Ralph Fiennes), Stranger by the Lake (Alain Guiraudie), Wrinkles (Ignacio Ferreras), Bastards (Claire Denis), 1: Life on the Limit (Paul Crowder), Inside Lleweyn Davis (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen), Dallas Buyers Club (Jean-Marc Vallée), Her (Spike Jonze). Reviews of all these can be found by clicking on ‘The Best of 2014’ in categories on the right hand side.

10. The Raid 2 (Gareth Evans)

HTR 2014, BEST FILMS 10

Though certainly not “the greatest action film ever” (as is quoted on the poster) in my view, as it was too long and very light on actual plot, none of us actually watched The Raid 2 for its thoughtful plotting did we? Evans set the bar phenomenally high with The Raid’s unparalleled action sequences, and somehow surpassed that here with some phenomenally staged and downright bonkers action set pieces that truly take the breath away, proving that old school physical fisticuffs are far more thrilling than CGI.

To read my review, click here

9. Edge of Tomorrow (Doug Liman)

HTR 2014, BEST FILMS 9

If you had asked me at the start of the year what my favourite action blockbuster of the year so far six months later would be, and as much as I am a huge Tom Cruise fan, I would never have though it would be Edge of Tomorrow. Though the plot may be more than a little daft, the whole narrative is delivered at such a thrilling breakneck pace that we are not given chance to even question it. With a refreshing running time of less than two hours (Michael Bay take note!), Liman and Cruise inject enough humour and surprises to make the repetitive  and potentially frustrating narrative tremendous fun and never wear thin, even if the film’s climax cannot quite match the high standards set before it.

To read my review, click here

8. The Past (Asghar Farhadi)

HTR 2014, BEST FILMS 8

Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation was in my view one of the best films of2011 and his first film not in his mother tongue of Iranian is yet another powerful and engaging drama that explores the subtle complexities of human relationships. There are no clear heroes or villains in this film, they just demonstrate the flaws and virtues that we all have, and this along with Farhadi’s raw dialogue and the committed performances, makes for one of the year’s most emotionally involving dramas.

To read my review, click here

7. Calvary (John Michael McDonagh)

Kelly Reilly and Brendan Gleeson in Calvary

John Michael McDonagh’s follow up to The Guard certainly still has the dark and dry humour of every film from either of the McDonagh brothers, but is so much more than that. It is a haunting and deeply engaging drama all held together by a commanding performance from Brendan Gleeson. Though the subject of the narrative may be the last days in the liufe of a priest, faith is not necessarily about religion and Calvary asks many poignant questions we can all relate to, and that combined with some dark and subtle humour throughout, makes for one of the year’s most emotionally satisfying dramas.

To read my review, click here

6. The Lego Movie (Phil Lord and Christopher Miller)

HTR 2014, BEST FILMS 6

It is commonly accepted that The Lego Movie simply had no right to be as good as it was, and how good was it? It is in my view one of the funniest and most enjoyable (not to mention visually stunning; it is real Lego for God’s sake!) films of the year that manages to achieve that balance of appealing to all ages and utilise Lego’s infinite ability for total randomness, but yet still feel disciplined enough to work as a narrative. Yes the plot does descend a little into cheesy schmaltz, but with the gags coming thick and fast and the constant array of famous (Lego) cameos that is more than forgivable.

To read my review, click here

5. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson)

HTR 2014, BEST FILMS 5

Wes Anderson’s latest may most certainly not be a departure from his trademark attention-to-detail style and may not win him new fans (though a deservedly impressive box office return may suggest otherwise), but it is for me his most genuinely fun film for a long time. It is a true madcap caper of a film with a slightly random narrative and humongous cast list that only Wes Anderson could pull off with such aplomb. Holding it all together is a truly charismatic leading performance from Ralph Fiennes, and it is impossible not to watch The Grand Budapest Hotel without a smile on your face the entire time.

To read my review, click here

4. The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)

HTR 2014, BEST FILMS 4

One of two entries that I am very much aware will appear on many other people’s 2013 lists, but with a UK theatrical release of 17th January it is a 2014 film for me, and there is no way Marty’s best for many a year cannot not feature on one of my best of lists for any year. Despite having an understandably off putting three hour running time, The Wolf of Wall Street never feels anywhere near like this as it is a riotous romp from start to finish that is all held together by a truly magnetic leading performance from Leonardo DiCaprio. Yes the characters may well be morally bankrupt (pun intended), but when they are so much fun to watch and the film never tries to take any genuine moral stand point, does that really matter?

To read my review, click here

3. Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch)

HTR 2014, BEST FILMS 3

Though we most certainly do not need yet another vampire film, trust Jim Jarmusch to prove that we do as long as he is the one making it. Visually the film is wonderful and the script as hilarious as it is intelligent, with a plethora of constant references to modern and past culture. As the two immortal lovers Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton are marvellous and just such a pleasure to watch onscreen and spend time with. Jarmusch has great fun with the fact his characters are immortals, making Only Lovers Left Alive intelligent and witty, but never venturing into self indulgent, making for me one of the gems of the year and a film that is a true pleasure to watch from start to finish.

To read my review, click here

2. Locke (Steven Knight)

HTR 2014, BEST FILMS 2

85 minutes of Tom Hardy driving a car along English motorways while constantly taking phone calls does not sound like the most riveting of concepts, yet with an incredible performance from Hardy and yet another superb script from Steven Knight it is in my view one of the year’s greatest dramas. Every line of dialogue, delivered with an ever increasing sense of despair from Hardy, has a huge significance in the shifting tectonics of the protagonist’s life, and with not a single word wasted in Knight’s taut script, it is a film that grips hard and never lets us go from start to finish. The film is also beautifully shot, only adding to the overall feeling of claustrophobia, isolation, loneliness and desolation; this is storytelling and film making of the highest order.

To read my review, click here

1. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen)

12 Years a Slave

I appreciate that many would have this in their 2013 lists, but I did not see it until its UK theatrical release on 10th January 2014, and so for it not to appear on any ‘best of’ list would be simply criminal. In an age when so many films just up the misery for the sake of it and end up feeling contrived, quite alienating and often embarrass themselves by how cynically made they are, 12 Years a Slave is a breath of fresh air. Of course it is very much a harrowing watch (as it should be), but Steve McQueen’s film is made with such genuine integrity for its subject matter and his unflinching style of long takes truly grip and mesmerise from start to finish. 12 Years a Slave is for me it is an absolute masterpiece of a film and essential viewing.

To read my review, click here

About MoodyB

An extremely passionate and (semi) opened minded film reviewer, with a hint of snobbish.
Gallery | This entry was posted in All Film Reviews, BAFTAs 2014, Blockbusters, British Films, Oscars 2014, The Best of 2014, The Burford Top 10s, World Cinema and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to THE 10 BEST FILMS OF 2014 SO FAR

  1. Pingback: July Fluff n’ Stuff | silence cunning exile ... maple syrup

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