This has been the toughest to compile Year End Top Ten list yet. There are so many great films that only just missed out. To set the parameters, all my selections are based on UK release dates so no places for: Snowpiercer that I have seen but has not received a UK release or Birdman that came out this week. For the first time, there is a film so good that it makes the list despite seeing it on DVD not at the cinema.
Boyhood: It’s an obvious choice, but its obvious for a reason, its brilliant. With a concept that could easily have descended an interesting but forgettable gimmick actually lends the film a unique prospective. The main reason it works is the honesty that Richard Linklater brings to a movie like few filmmakers, his perfect casting also helps. (July)
Only Lovers Left Alive: There is so much more to Jim Jarmusch’s hypnotic and haunting vampire movie than the perfect casting of Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as vampires. Its warmth and dry humour negates the need for horror or even a great deal of plot. Like all the best films, you will still be thinking about it for days. (February)
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Possibly Wes Anderson’s most Wes Anderson film. Something between a farce and a caper masquerading as a murder mystery. Two framing mechanisms, result in a story distorted by two potentially unreliable storytellers giving an almost fairytale feel. Ralph Fiennes is a revelation, his delivery is deadpan and his timing perfect. (March)
Calvary: John Michael McDonagh’s follow up to The Guard reunites him with star Brendan Gleeson. It’s a far darker film, in fact, it is the darkest and bleakest of black comedies but equally liberating and uplifting. With a narrative that asks more questions of society than it gives answers it is a film to make you think, but you will certainly laugh along the way. I couldn’t find a cinema showing this so saw it on DVD. (April)
Edge of Tomorrow: For all the films that are interesting, clever or thought provoking somethimes a movie needs to be fun, and Doug Liman’s time loop, action adventure, alien invasion, war movie is the most fun movie of the year. (May)
The Wolf of Wall Street: A three hour movie about a character I don’t, how does it make my top ten? The genius of Martin Scorsese as a storyteller, and Leonardo DiCaprio on top form. Scorsese’s best and funniest film in years, possibly DiCaprio’s best performance yet. (January)
Nightcrawler: Dan Gilroy’s debut feature (as a director) missed out on movie of the month in October to David Fincher’s Gone Girl but Nighcrawler makes the top ten because I have through more about it since seeing it and am more keen to see it again. Easily a career best performance from Jake Gyllenhaal as a totally repugnant character. (October)
Guardians of the Galaxy: Like Iron Man in 2008 I went into James Gun’s entry into the Marvel Universe with very little expectation but like Iron Man it just hit every mark. A fun action adventure like the original Star Wars and the best space adventure since Serenity. (July)
Interstellar: Christopher Nolan isn’t just a filmmaker, he is an artist, an artist that paints on the largest possible canvas. His most ambitious film yet isn’t as perfect as some of his other movies but still stunning. I haven’ made my mind up about the final act, this does relegate it a little down my list a little. (November)
Inside Llewyn Davis: Like so many of Joel Coen and Ethan Coen’s movies a lot rests on the leading actor, Oscar Isaac doesn’t disappoint. The setting is perfectly realised and the story is sublimely told, the only reason it isn’t higher up the list it the overwhelming sense of melancholy that is holding me back from seeing it again.