Nat Thought – This list was hard. I wish I could say that’s because there were so many good films to choose from, but I struggled to even get a Top 5. As I’ve discussed a few times this year, and pardon me for the repetition if you’re a regular reader, I think all the good ideas were saved for television. So here’s my Top 4 and, to make it a less embarrassingly small list, I’ve added some that almost made it and a few that might have if I’d actually seen them yet. Let’s hope 2015 is a better year for film.
Only Lovers Left Alive
Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive is the coolest vampire film since, well, ever. Everything about it is sublime; visuals, music (both Jarmusch’s own band Squrl and the rest of the soundtrack) and of course Ms Sublime herself, Tilda Swinton.
Tom Hiddleston stars as an eternal being sick of living. He moans to Tilda, his long time lover, and she leaves her home in Tangiers to travel to deepest, darkest suburban Detroit to bring him out of his slump. Apart from a couple of small niggles with Tom Hiddleston, I was sucked right in to the languid, oozy lives of these intriguing beings who’ve seen and done it all.
You can read my full review here
(Anyone who’s a stickler for dates might realise this was first released in May 2013 at Cannes, but it didn’t get a UK release till February 2014, so pler to you)
As with Only Lovers Left Alive, I think the bulk of my love for Her was its originality and trance-like whimsical tone. Who would have thought the story of a man who falls in love with his computer’s operating system could be so tender and beautiful? Writer/Director Spike Jonze gets it just right and, again despite a couple of tiny niggles, Her is a near perfect statement on loneliness that exists in this era of selfies and cyber lives. Joaquin Phoenix is brilliant in what must have been a very difficult role to get right, as is Scarlett Johansson who only has her voice to work with.
You can read my full review here.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Super cool, super funny and often super poignant, Chris Pratt buffed up and cemented himself as the new action hero, as Guardians of the Galaxy went on to become the biggest film of the year. I think the Academy needs to come up with a new award for ‘Best Emoting By a Tree’ in honour of Vince diesel’s Groot, a creature who only ever mutters the words ‘I am Groot’ but comes away as the most poignant character of the whole film.
You can read my full review here.
Another Korean writer/director who is making his English language debut and wowing me (my 2013 list also featured Stoker’s Park Chan Woo), Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer is an action/sci-fi that blew me away this year, more so because I knew almost nothing about it. Chris Evans reminds us he’s not just a superhero, here playing the leader of a revolution on a climate controlled train holding all of Earth’s survivors following a man made ice age.
Take a chance and watch it with little information like me, or if you don’t trust me that much, you can read my full review here.
The ‘Almost Made It Onto My List’ list
22 Jump Street – silly sequel to the 2012 reboot of the 80’s TV show that gave the world Johnny Depp. I started laughing about half an hour in and kept laughing. Surprised the hell out of me.
Nightcrawler – creepy, moody and intense, Jake Gyllenhaal is the sociopath Lou Bloom, intent to be the best freelance news footage supplier in L.A. taking the industry saying ‘if it bleeds, it leads’, to scary lengths.
The Drop – Destined to forever be labelled ‘James Gandolfini’s last film’, Tom Hardy stars as the quiet, unassuming bartender whose life becomes entangled with the mob. As the biggest money making night of the year (Superbowl) approaches, things heat up for him and his cousin Marv (Gandolfini) as they get pressure from both the mob and a local nasty who uses his new puppy as leverage to get what he wants.
What We Do in the Shadows – hilarious mockumentary about four house-sharing vampires in New Zealand. Whilst I love just about everything about this, for me it would have been better as three separate half hour episodes. It’s very clever, but I struggled to stay interested for the full 90 minutes. After Only Lovers Left Alive, this is an easy second for my favourite ever vampire film and has ‘cult classic’ written all over it.
The ‘Quite Possibly Could Have Made It If I’d Seen It Yet’ List
It’s impossible to see everything that’s released each year, so below are some of the ones I’m pretty sure I’ll like when I get around to them.
St Vincent – Bill Murray as a grumpy old guy (what a stretch) who forms a friendship with his neighbour’s kid.
Birdman – Michael Keaton is an actor who used to be famous for a superhero role and is now trying to resurrect his career with a play. Written and directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, the man who gave us Babel and 21 Grams, there’s guaranteed to be a whole lot more happening than that description hints at.
Big Hero 6 – Disney’s latest animation feature that looks cute as hell.
Paddington – Celluloid update of Britain’s most famous Peruvian bear, this also looks cute as hell.
Mr Turner – definitely not cute (sorry Mr Spall), but a sweeping and scenic biopic of the renowned British artist’s last 25 years.