2014 Review: Best of the Best

Here are the top 25 movies I’ve seen last year. All are hugely recommended and are essential viewing for pretty much everyone. Behold a gallery of cinematic art. Before I start counting down, here are a few honourable mentions:

Throne of Blood, The Imitation Game, Interstellar, The Raid 2, Badlands, Silver Linings Playbook, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, The Terminator, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Prisoners

Starting off my list…

25. Captain America The Winter Soldier: Marvel are staring to run out of steam, but judging from this awesome epic you wouldn’t have known. A superhero movie and political thriller bomb populated by fully developed and compelling characters and elevated by brilliant twists and turns, this is a bravura blockbuster more powerful than being hit in the face by Captain America’ shield.

24. 12 Years A Slave: The deserving best picture winner this year, this slavery epic has great acting, writing and directing but with its honesty and unflinching brutality, this is a hugely powerful and worthy (if slow at times) film but oh boy is it harrowing. Still, at least it’s funnier than Disaster Movie.

23. The Wind Rises: Hayao Miyazaki’s swansong soars high above most other recent animated movies and is a heartfelt, deep and visually glorious animation with a sense of humanity and emotion which rarely can be found in other films.

22. Terminator 2 Judgement Day: Completely a dream sequel, T2’s eye popping effects, great storyline, surprising dramatic depth and amazing action spectacle will make most other blockbusters look like walks in the park. With everyone on fine form and every dollar of its $100 million budget well spent, this is a must for action lovers.

21. The Godfather Part II: Another dream sequel, this has everything that was awesome about the first movie as well as new depth and an interesting expansion of the Godfather universe. The Godfather of sequels without a doubt.

20. The General: This may be a silent film but don’t let its age put you off. It’s funnier than a Mock The Week marathon and the stunts, slapstick, general insanity and genius never stop flowing throughout. Forget the Hogwarts Express; this is cinema’s coolest train ride.

19. Argo: Mixing Oscar baiting material and blockbusting entertainment with great success, Argo is for once an Oscar worthy movie that’s not about some big serious issue or pretentious drama. Instead, it’s a bitingly hilarious script mixed with set pieces so tense they’re more stressful than rush hour on the tube that overall makes more the most fun history lesson of all time.

18. The Lego Movie: EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!!!!!!!!! Only cynical viewers are going to have a problem with this delightful animated movie. For most, due to the endlessly gut bursting jokes, great action scenes, fabulous characters and wonderful visuals you’ll need a crowbar to remove that ear to ear grin from your face.

17. Dr Strangelove: Stanley Kubrick’s fiercely intelligent and darkly funny cold war satire boasts all the ingenuity and meticulous visuals that define the great director’s work. Who knew the end of the world could be so funny?

16. Her: Don’t let the weird premise put you off. This is a genuinely remarkable film with great acting, visuals and plenty of thought provoking social commentary. If a film actually makes a relationship between a man and an artificial operating system work, for that alone it deserves a best picture nomination.

15. Glory: A glorious historical drama which has it all; great acting, writing, cinematography and it’s both thrilling and deeply moving. This definitely should have been nominated for best picture.

14. No Country For Old Men: Some may find this meditation of law, fate and moral decay wrapped up in a nail biting cat and mouse thriller frustrating, but this brutally tense yet human masterwork defies convention brilliantly. Few other films could make a bowl cut so terrifying.

13. Reservoir Dogs: Not so much a film as an utterly electric cinematic powerhouse, you can almost see the sparks fly as great actors read off Quentin Tarantino’s marvellous dialogue. With great direction and a clever plot, this energetic drama threatens to blow up the TV.

12. M: Few murder mystery films will get under your skin like this one. Managing to make a man whistling a tune more menacing than the Jaws theme, and wringing terror, social commentary and great performances out of every frame, M is for masterpiece.

11. Oldboy: A relentlessly compelling revenge thriller filled with great acting, brilliant visuals and demented twists, Oldboy is a masterful, powerful, borderline harrowing nightmare you won’t want to wake up from.

10. It’s A Wonderful Life: A film near impossible to dislike, this finally gives The Shawshank Redemption a contender for the most inspirational film ever. Bursting with joy, emotion and humanity, this is essential Christmas viewing.

9. Stand By Me: Managing to pack humour, soul, adventure, drama and multiple tear jerking moments into less than 90 minutes, Stand By Me is the coming of age movie to end all coming of age movies.

8. Get Carter: A relentlessly brutal, thrilling and stone cold thriller featuring a towering performance from Michael Caine, this is the rare film which manages to be both nasty and utterly enthralling at the same time.

7. Boyhood: Epic yet intimate, sprawling yet deep, long but never boring, unique without being gimmicky and focussed entirely on one boy growing up yet still more entertaining than a John Woo action epic, Boyhood is one of the films of the year. It’s the same length as Transformers 4, yet this makes 3 hours vanish without explosions or action.

6. Birdman: What could possible beat Boyhood? This high flying superhero movie which isn’t a superhero movie. Beating everything in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this unique masterpiece really cannot be done justice with a review.

5. Children Of Men: Featuring social commentary, long takes and great performances galore, this is easily the best science fiction film of the 2000s and one of the best British films ever made. It sadly failed at the box office and is rather underrated, so just follow my advice and watch it ASAP.

4. Ran: Akira Kurosawa’s marvellous Shakespeare adaptation translates his brilliance to celluloid and the result is cinematic gold. A thrilling, sobering and artistic epic, Ran will leave you lying stunned in your seat. Sweeping, stirring and deeply emotional, an art gallery could be filled with stills from this visually stunning masterpiece.

3. The Third Man: Likely the best British film of all time, this is an older movie but it’s never slow, boring or pretentious. With great acting, amazing visuals, an ingenious script and some of the coolest film scenes of all time, this is a rattling, mind blowing roller coaster ride which frequently threatens to fly off the rails. And there’s not an explosion in sight.

2. Heat: Outrageously lacking in a single Oscar nod, this crime drama is one of the 20 best films I’ve ever seen. With amazing direction, flawless acting from Al Pacino and Robert De Niro and an incredible script, this really has it all. Still, despite the shootouts and emotional depth, the showstopper is 2 men having coffee.

And the best is……………………………………………

1. The Godfather: It’s a cliché to like this masterful crime saga, but it’s difficult not to. Faultless aside from excessive length and Marlon Brando’s sometimes unintelligible ramblings, this has everything a great movie should have and the film could be used as a guide to making a great film. Cinematic royalty on virtually every level, this one ignites the stars.

Thanks for reading!

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