Wednesday, 18 February 2015

"I fell in love with him the way you fall asleep: Slowly, and then all at once."- MY FAVOURITE 25 FILMS OF 2014

          I saw 132 2014 films which is probably the most I have ever seen of any year. My first 2014 film was Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and the last one was The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her, which also gives you a sort of idea of the range of the films from last year. It had everything and I mostly loved all of it. I mean, if you go through my Letterboxd list, I honestly only really dislike the last 15-20 movies. So, it has definitely been a task choosing my top 25. I wish I could have gone with a smaller number but it wasn't possible because of the caliber of these films.

         One thing I noticed about my list is that most of the films are either bleak as hell or full of exhuberance and humour. In fact, the higher one goes on the list, the more fun my choices become. I think I chose heart over matter this time but I don't regret anything. I like films that make me happy. These films did. So without further adieu, these are my picks:


25.
The Double
I am a crazy Submarine fangirl so I was super excited to see what Richard Ayoade does next and The Double didn't disappoint. One of the most unique looking and sounding films of last year, it also features a spectacular Jesse Eisenberg performance (or two). Plus, it has Fight Club-esque elements so, obviously, I was pleased.


24.
Starred Up
I don't know how else to put it but to say that this film explores emotions through violence. It actually made me cry at the end which I wasn't expecting at all. It's very gritty and scary but there is a sensitive side to it as well. It also has fantastic acting all around and it has put my man, Jack O'Connell, in the well-deserved spotlight.


23.
Force Majeure
Many of the films in my list have to do with expectations put on people based on their gender. Starred Up was one, Force Majeure is another. This is a very darkly funny look at the male ego and what happens when a man doesn't react the way he is required to. It is also a gorgeous film and has the best crying scene that I have ever watched on film.


22.
Only Lovers Left Alive
Oh it's just so cool and romantic and dreamy. The cast is perfect. Even smaller roles like that of Mia Wasikowska and Jeffrey Wright stick with you long after the film is over. Also, it made vampires awesome again.


21.
The Babadook
I feel that the best horror movies are rooted in something real and emotional and The Babadook has that. It's a film about a mother's anxiety and guilt about her troubled son and their complicated past and all of this manifests in the form of the dreaded Babadook. It is also very cleverly made, my favourite thing about it being the Babadook book itself.


20.
PK
Rajkumar Hirani is my favourite Indian filmmaker and PK once again proved this. Tackling religion in a country like India is one of the most difficult things one can do, but then also managing to make a wholly entertaining film with lots of heart in it- that needs to be lauded.


19.
Locke
I had no idea what Locke was going to be about when I started watching it. Turns out, it is also about the male ego- the way one man, because of his past, has envisioned his life and during this car journey, everything he has ever built is put at stake and it is up to him to come to terms with this situation. It's riveting in terms of its story, acting (a phenomenal Tom Hardy is our sole hero) and the way the whole thing executed.


18.
Selma
One of my favourite things about Selma was its focus. I haven't seen many biopics that are centred like that, especially not in 2014. It is a story about one event and how it affects everyone connected to it and how that has repercussions not only in the time of when the film is set but even till now. It is a fantastically well-made film and one that is painfully relevant in the intolerant and oftentimes inhumane world we live in.


17.
Pride
This was originally going to be my favourite shot of 2014 not because it is some cinematographic gem (why I had to leave it out of my best shots list in the end :() but because it is one of the most beautiful moments in the cinema of last year. In it, a person comes out to a friend and then they just continue preparing bread for sandwiches because their relationship is based on something beyond sexual preferences and there is total acceptance of that between them. The film is full of these tiny but significant moments of human kindness and friendship and it is, therefore, simply a joy to watch.


16.
Birdman
I still feel terrible about not watching it in the theatre because I am fairly certain it would have been higher in my list if I had. Still, this film is a spectacle to watch and not simply because of the way it is shot but also due to its story, themes and acting. It is also very funny which I didn't expect it to be at all.


15.
Nightcrawler
Speaking of funny, there were so many moments of uncomfortable laughter during this film. But I couldn't help myself! It is a very clever film that gives us one of the most compelling monsters of our time in the form of Louis Bloom. It boasts of a game-changing performance by Jake Gyllenhaal and it totally makes the viewers complicit in the dirtiness that the film portrays. I enjoyed the hell out of it.


14.
Under the Skin
I really expected the film to go over my head and me hating it as a result. Instead, I loved it. The striking visuals and eerily fantastic score aside, this film subverts one's ideas about sexual predators, by literally putting the woman on the front seat. It is also about the beauty of this world and how it is perceived by an outsider. A wholly unnerving work of art that does get under one's skin and stays there.


13.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
This is the Wes Anderson film that even Wes Anderson haters like. And I love him so of course I cherish this film. It is as beautiful as it is funny. I do think it loses its footing a bit which is why it's not higher up on this list but on the whole, it makes one wistful for a place and time that probably never existed until Anderson made it real for us.


12.
Calvary
I have a thing for films about religion and Calvary had me hooked from its legendary first line itself (for those who don't know, it's "I first tasted semen when I was 7 years old." This is said during confession in a church- I know, right?). It is a bleak film that gives us a week-long look into a modern-day priest's life and the people and circumstances that he has to deal with while also trying to keep his faith alive. Of course, it has the McDonagh humour there too and a truly excellent ensemble lead by the one and only Brendan Gleeson, who gives his best performance to date in it.


11.
Queen
One of the first 2014 films I fell madly in love with and which remained in my top 10 until very recently. It is a very fun film about a simple Indian girl who goes on her honeymoon alone, which is where she finds herself. Much like English Vinglish from a couple of years back, this film also tackles the issue of the Indian woman's emancipation though on a broader scale. The film takes very smart decisions with the course of its heroine's adventures and I sincerely hope this is the start of a new trend in Bollywood.


10.
The Lego Movie
I really do feel that this is one of the most intelligent films of last year. It is full of contradictions that work almost miraculously. It is about a commercial product but it satirizes corporations. It makes fun of the "Chosen One" trope but it also pays homage to it. It is about creativity as much as it is about following rules. Most shocking of all, it has a fun Batman! Mind = Blown.


9.
Snowpiercer
This is the film which finally replaced Queen and that too upon rewatch. As much as the shock factor is responsible for the impact the film has on the first watch, knowing about it makes it even richer upon subsequent viewings. It is a very dark movie that explores questions about humanity and tyranny but also a really thrilling one where we never know what to expect. It has a truly tragic hero and one of the most fun villains of last year. The train itself is a marvel (no pun intended), through which we see some of the most spectacular sets and visuals of last year.


8.
Two Days, One Night
This is a movie that couldn't be more different than its predecessor in its setting and themes but is also something of a thriller. Of course it takes place in a very realistic backdrop and the conflict that drives the film seems very trivial but the amazing thing about the film is how it manages to give it its due importance because that's how real life is. It's the small things that matter and even those stand for something bigger like individual versus community, as shown in the movie. Added to that, we have the always sensational Marion Cotillard delivering yet another superb performance that elevates the film even more.


7.
Nymphomaniac, vol. 1
I chose not to consider Nymphomaniac as one big movie because to me, the first part can exist almost completely on its own. I mean, it does have my second most favourite ending of the year (#1 ending is coming next) and I don't particularly think of it as a cliffhanger but rather as another instance of Lars von Trier's twisted humour. 
Nymphomaniac, vol. 1 is the most entertaining von Trier film that I have seen and it's one of the most enjoyable films of last year for me. I found most of it hilarious, from the way numbers and angles appear on screen to Seligman's academic approach to everything Joe says to Joe's deadpan delivery, especially during the penis catalogue, to obviously the Mrs. H incident and so on. There are also moments of sheer beauty in this film and even the darker parts have an emotional resonance to them and are not for shock value (which, unfortunately, most of vol. 2 is). I think the movie is a very interesting exploration of a young girl's sexuality and I appreciate the way it is tackled. If only von Trier had not, well, von-Triered the second part, the whole story could have been so much richer.


6.
Whiplash
I just love how confident this film is. Nothing in it is out of place. It is a precise, stylish, gut-wrenching look at the beginnings of an artist and the ruthless teacher who gets him to that place. I have spoken/written enough about its ending. I love it to bits. In its entirety, however, there are other films I love more but it is definitely a game-changing movie for me because it has completely transformed the way I look at films now.


5.
Obvious Child
I just feel like gushing every time I talk about this film. An abortion romcom that never makes light of its issues but still manages to be incredibly funny and real and lovely. The writing, the characters, Jenny Slate's wonderful lead performance- all of it is on point. And of course, I have a soft spot for romcoms and any film which tries to find new directions in the genre, which Obvious Child does remarkably, has all my love.


4.
Gone Girl
(That btw is the funniest moment of the film for me.)
Gone Girl is just so many things- it's a murder mystery, an investigation into the lies that make a marriage, a satire about media, a look into societal expectations of what makes a "cool girl" and a "good guy" and how it tears it apart, a Hitchcockian thriller and so on. I basically think Fincher is God and in this film, he has teamed up someone with an equally twisted mind and sense of humour- Gillian Flynn. Both of them together, along with one of the best casts of the year, have given us this beautiful pulp masterpiece. I'm not even going to start with how great Rosamund Pike is in it because I'll never stop. It's just an excellent film that keeps on giving.


3.
Mommy
This film is the most alive movie I have ever seen. It is very hard to write about it because I don't have anything to compare it to. Sure, the plot isn't something very unique and Xavier Dolan himself has tackled many of its issues in his earlier films, but the film is bursting at its seams with energy and life. Even in the quieter moments, it gets to you because you are so involved with what you are seeing. And what you are seeing are these beautiful, flawed people who love each other but are also constantly hurting each other and it's just so immersive that you're left devastated by the end. Plus, there's the cinematography and the music and the acting and gosh, everything! Just like Whiplash but on a bigger scale, I will never look at movies and what they can achieve the same way again after having watched Mommy.


2.
Guardians of the Galaxy
As much as I love the space epic elements and all the fighting and cool shit in it, the ultimate reason why this film is so high up is its humour. It is precisely the kind of humour I love. AND there are like so many types within that! There's deadpan, sarcastic, plain fucking rude etcetera. Also, the humour has a place within the story of the film just like its amazing soundtrack does. As much as the film sticks to the Marvel formula, it also deviates from it in the ballsiest of ways and it actually references it IN the movie itself and I have mad respect for all of that. Finally, it is friendship that saves the galaxy. If that doesn't make you feel things, you're basically the grass that Rocket is made to kick.


1.
We Are the Best!
This film gives me ALL OF THE FEELS!
I have, again, spoken a lot about it on the podcast, but to give a gist of it, (I'm going to go into deep stream-of-consciousness mode now) the story of these three 13 year old Swedish girls from the 80s reminded me of my own teenage which took place in mid-2000s in Dubai and though the settings couldn't be more different, the fact is that this film is a celebration of female friendship at that age and I know what that feels like. I'm sure even guys can relate to it- when you have your own group of misfits and those moments when you feel like even more of a misfit but your friends are always there for you. And this is the age when adolescence is just starting and it's confusing and fun and the film captures all of that!

It may be set 30 years in the past but it takes place very much as the girls are living it. Therefore, it feels immediate and spontaneous, just like the song the make up. And oh god, that song was when the film had completely won me over because I WAS THAT GIRL! (In that I hated and still hate sports). There were numerous other places I connected completely with this film and even when I didn't, I had such a blast watching these three awesome girls find their way through punk and friendship.

This film is infectious with its warmth and sense of fun and I just love it with all my heart.


        And with that, I can finally and fully close the book on 2014. I don't know when we'll get a film year like that again or if I'll be able to watch so many films from one single year any time soon. It was definitely a transformative year for me as a cinephile and yeah, I loved it :)


My other Best of 2014 lists include:
Everything Else (i.e., Sexiest Characters, Favourite Characters, Ensembles, Objects and Quotes)


What were your favorite films of 2014?

16 comments:

  1. Great list! We Are the Best is such an underrated film, it was a wonderful film about friendship and growing up.

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  2. YEAH for The Double, it has grown soooo under-appreciated!

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    1. YEAH INDEED! I knowwww! What's wrong with people not appreciating it enough -.-

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  3. OMG! We Are the Best! I love that movie, and I love that it made your #1. And MOMMY!!!! I just reviewed that one at the blog. UGH, that gives me ALL of the feels. My favorite movie of the year, of the decade...UGH, of forever.

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    1. YES! I saw your post on both of them and I'm so glad you love them too :D

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  4. Great list! I love a lot of these on here, and there's some I haven't seen that I will now have to check out.

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    1. Thanks! And thanks for checking out all of my other lists too :D

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  5. Great list! Birdman really wasa remarkable theater experience, but it's still awesome that you loved it all the same. I haven't seen Queen, but it sounds really interesting. Going to try and check that one out.

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    1. Oh I can't wait to hear what you'll make of Queen. I don't think it should be too difficult to find.

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  6. Great list! I wish I could have seen so many films from 2014 in a theatre, especially Birdman and Whiplash. I feel that if I had for those two, they would also have been much higher on my personal list.

    So I guess We Are The Best is a must see! I'll check it out soon (hopefully).

    Btw, If I haven't been commenting a lot, I'm sorry for that, I just shifted houses and of course the Internet was slow as shit until last week. Catching up on your previous lists now!

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    1. Thanks! I totally understand what you mean. So bummed about missing out on Birdman.

      Yess! Watch it. It's sooo good.

      It's alright :)

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  7. Lovely picks. A lot of inspired choices too! Very happy to see Obvious Child make the list. I loved it.

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    1. Thank you :) It's brilliant!

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  8. We are the Best! at #1! I'm in love! Ugh, I hated leaving that out of my top 10. Mommy is my #1 now. :) I haven't seen PK or Queen, but I'm a fan of every other film on here. Terrific list!

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    1. It's okay. I am just happy you loved it. Mommy is my #2 now having rewatched it, though I am fairly certain my love for it will only continue to grow.
      Thanks!

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