The Year End Film Festival kicks into higher gear with the first MCN tabulation of critic top ten lists (12/10). The results are always highly skewed this early in the process: not only a small sample size, but also it's early, nobody much has seen Inherent Vice yet (for example), but once they do it'll be top five, dontcha think? Mr Turner? Etc. But it has begun: a fine guide to the movies not to miss. (Red are my top picks. I've also added results from Metacritic's tally of Top Ten Lists (to 12/12): as MCN and Meta tally more and more lists, I bet their rankings will converge.)
1 Boyhood | iTunes, VIFF Jan1
d. Richard Linklater, summer release. Twelve years in the making, tracks a family through the son's school years. Sight & Sound #1, Guardian #2, Metacritic #1.
Extraordinary. My #2.
2 Whiplash | Intl Village etc
Training of a jazz drummer. Guardian #4, Meta #6.
Next on my watchlist. Can't wait.
3 Birdman | 5th Ave, SilverCity etc
d. Alejandro González Iñárritu. Meta #6.
Wow. Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, especially Edward Norton! My #3.
Historic civil rights march. Meta #8, New Yorker Top 30.
5 Grand Budapest Hotel | NetflixCDN, VIFF Dec26
d. Wes Anderson. Sight & Sound #6, New Yorker #1, Meta #2, Guardian #9.
I loved it, second only to my beloved Moonrise Kingdom among Wes's works. My #4.
6 Nightcrawler | IV, SC etc
Jake Gyllenhaal as L.A. crime journalist who crosses the line. Guardian #7, Meta #8.
7 Snowpiercer | iTunes
d. Joon-ho Bong. Gritty sci-fi, lots of fans. Meta #12
7 American Sniper
d. Clint Eastwood. New Yorker #6, Meta#17.
9 LEGO Movie | iTunes
10 Interstellar | Park, SC etc
d. Christopher Nolan. My friend Rick Bonn's absolute favourite. Meta #17.
11 Under the Skin | NeflixCDN, VIFF Dec27
Extremely stylized Brit flick. Sight & Sound #5, Guardian #1, Meta #3..
12 Theory of Everything | 5th, SC etc
Stephen Hawking biopic. Meta #11.
13 Gone Girl | IV, SC etc
d. David Fincher. New Yorker Top 20, Meta #10.
Lots of strong elements: in true Fincher fashion, ends up being about more than just the story. Still, didn't stick with me.
14 Only Lovers Left Alive | NetflixCDN
d. Jim Jarmusch vampire pic. Meta #12
15 Calvary | Black Dog, iTunes
d. John Michael McDonagh, brother of In Bruges guy. Surprised this ranks so high: it won't last. Definite Soul Food: film maker sets out to tell story of a good priest, and - for all the fallen humanity - sticks to it. And Brendan Gleeson's portrayal is memorable. Refs Diary Of A Country Priest. But I found the script mannered, and the story remarkably lacking in drama despite the high stakes, ultra-dramatic premise. Then found it pulled together in the last lap, very much so in the home stretch, and in retrospect even find myself interested in seeing it again, to my surprise.
16 Imitation Game
Alan Turing cracks Enigma code, WW2.
17 We Are The Best | iTunes, VIFF Dec28
d. Lukas Moodysson. Rambling, sweet-spirited story of three high school girls, wannabe punk rockers in eighties Stockholm. I liked it fine: not Top Ten material.
18 Fury | SC etc
Brad Pitt in a Sherman tank.
18 Edge of Tomorrow | iTunes
Tom Cruise vs aliens. Huh?
20 Inherent Vice | Toronto release Dec 25
d. P.T. Anderson. Joaquin Phoenix, Owen Wilson. Guardian #3, Meta #5.
Dying to see this, judging only by the trailer. Even moreso reading Indiewire 10 Films To Watch Before You See Inherent Vice, including Chinatown, The Long Goodbye, To Live And Die In L.A., In A Lonely Place, Breathless, Cutter's Way. But this one looks much funnier.
Listed, not yet Top 20, notable;
Olympic runner in a life boat and a Japanese prison camp. Chariots Of Fire / Life of Pi / Bridge On The River Kwai? But everyone insists it's good.
Foxcatcher | IV, 5th
Best Director, Cannes. Strange biopic about multi-squillionaire and Olympic wrestlers(!). Movie pal Peter Norman's #4, Meta #12.
The Babadook | VIFF Dec27
Debut feature of Aussie director about anguished single mom, monstrous six-year-old, and storybook bogeyman. VIFF: "Most impressive debut feature of the year also happens to be the scariest. At different times will remind you of Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, Rosemary's Baby and Repulsion, Poltergeist, Don't Look Now, Paperhous and Candyman, The Shining, Psycho and The Exorcist."
Two Days, One Night
Dardenne brothers. Guardian #6.
Non-MCN Top Films of 2014
1,000 Times Good Night | Dec 13 15 17, Jan 3
d. Erik Poppe, Norway. I liked his Hawaii, Oslo. Juliet Binoche as war photographer.
Citizenfour | IV
Snowden doc. Met #12.
A Girl Walks Home Alone
Top VIFF recommendation from my pal Karen.
d. Tommy Lee Jones.
My #1 favourite of 2014: alas, gone from the cinemas, not yet available elsewhere.
Ida | VIFF Dec30
Sight & Sound #9, Guardian #8, Meta #12.
The Immigrant | VIFF Dec29
New Yorker #5. VIFF: "Arguably the most underrated US movie of the year." Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner, Marion Cotillard, mean streets of 1920s New York.
Russian reworking of Book Of Job. Sight & Sound #3, Guardian #5.
Mommy | VIFF Jan1
Canadian winner of Cannes Jury Prize, Canada's Best Foreign Language Oscar nom. Troubled mother-son, visually stunning.
Mr Turner | Dec 19 limited release
d. Mike Leigh. Timothy Spall won Cannes Best Actor as Brit landscape painter. Sight & Sound #11.
National Gallery | VIFF Dec 26 27 28 31, Jan 3
Doc about London's National Gallery. Sight & Sound #11.
The Overnighters | VIFF Dec 17 30
Doc about crisis when North Dakota pastor opens church to homeless migrant workers. VIFF: "The Overnighters is remarkable for taking social documentary into the realms of ethics and morality, asking if the lip service our society likes to pay towards forgiveness, tolerance, rehabilitation and compassion holds up in the real world. It’s also ultimately a very moving portrait of a man embracing the example of Jesus Christ, but bound to fall short."
Winter Sleep | VIFF January 16 17 18 19 20 22 23 26 29
d. Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey. Cannes Palme d'Or. Sight & Sound #7.