A Look Back at 2014:
Cinematically 2014 was a long, bizarre year that seemed like it would never end, much like many of the runtime-be-damned films we watched. It’s hard to pinpoint a defining theme as filmmakers were all over the map and seemed to be throwing everything and the kitchen sink at viewers, though time travel (in fantastic terms in Interstellar and The Edge of Tomorrow while in more realistic terms in Boyhood) and biopics (especially at the end of the year) seemed to make the most compelling cases.
Strangely I found myself disconnected from many of the overly praised but still very high quality “independent” films (Boyhood, Birdman and Selma) while I found enormous entertainment value in the smartly crafted mainstream masterpieces (Interstellar and Gone Girl).
Early in the year we were treated to some of the strangest and most unnerving independent fare with the cold Canadian entry Enemy and the ever-odd Under the Skin, both slow-burn psychological thrillers that could make David Lynch squirm and swoon. At the end of the year, when it came to the biopics, The Imitation Game showed us how it should be done even when going by-the-numbers, while The Theory of Everything showed us how wrong by-the-numbers can go.
When it came to up-and-coming directors, Jeremy Saulnier (with Blue Ruin) and Jennifer Kent (with The Babadook) left us on the edge of our seats begging for more, while Ava DuVernay basked in the glory of being the first to attempt a MLK biopic with the noble Selma.
On the veteran auteur front, David Fincher delivered a dark comedy for the ages with Gone Girl while Christopher Nolan aimed for the stars with the year’s most ambitious and memorable effort, Interstellar. Meanwhile in a tale of two Andersons, Wes Anderson delivered his best yet with The Grand Budapest Hotel while Paul Thomas Anderson delivered his least yet with Inherent Vice…which was still a pleasing effort and a notch about Wes’ best.
When it came to performances, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Roger Ebert did unforgettable posthumous work as a spy in A Most Wanted Man and as himself in Life Itself, but it was Benedict Cumberbatch and David Oyelowo who ruled the biopic roost in The Imitation Game and Selma.
Women had their fair share of the limelight as well with Rosamund Pike giving a performance to die for in Gone Girl and Emma Stone lovely and luminous in Magic in the Moonlight while being lovely and troubled in Birdman. Patricia Arquette railed against the superficial Hollywood machine and showed the beauty of naturally aging, complete with emotional and physical ups and downs, in Boyhood. Meanwhile, it’s impossible to forget Julianne Moore’s master class in the act of forgetting in Still Alice.
Meanwhile, the worst film of the year…by 300 cubits…was the abominably terrible on every conceivable level, vile shit-filled and brain-dead Biblical disaster, Noah. There aren’t enough blogs on earth to allow me enough room to say how much I hate this film (and the year’s worst trend…pandering to fundamental Christians for money without any thought towards quality of product)…but Aronofsky essentially ruined his own legacy, as I’ll never be able to watch his masterful Black Swan again without thinking, “this is from the guy who directed Noah!”
The Schleicher Spin proudly presents:
The 9th Annual Davies:
Awarding Excellence and Idiocy in Film for the Year 2014
The Top Ten Films of 2014:
- Interstellar – Christopher Nolan
- Blue Ruin – Jeremy Saulnier
- Gone Girl – David Fincher
- Enemy – Denis Villeneuve
- The Imitation Game – Morten Tyldum
- A Most Wanted Man – Anton Corbijn
- Chef – Jon Favreau
- Life Itself – Steve James
- Boyhood – Richard Linklater
- Inherent Vice – Paul Thomas Anderson
- The Babadook – Jennifer Kent
- Birdman – Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu
- Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Matt Reeves
- The Drop – Michael R. Roskam
- Edge of Tomorrow – Doug Liman
- The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson
- Jodorowsky’s Dune – Frank Pavich
- Mr. Turner – Mike Leigh
- Selma – Ava DuVernay
- Top Five – Chris Rock
- The Two Faces of January – Hossein Amini
- Under the Skin – Jonathan Glazer
Best Picture: Interstellar
Best Director: Christopher Nolan for Interstellar
Best Actor: Benedict Cumberbatch for The Imitation Game
Best Actress: Julianne Moore for Still Alice
Best Supporting Actor: Ethan Hawke for Boyhood
Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette for Boyhood
Best Original Screenplay: Jeremy Saulnier for Blue Ruin
Best Adapted Screenplay: Graham Moore for The Imitation Game
Worst Screenplay: Darren Aronofsky for Noah
Best Editing: Interstellar
Worst Editing: Noah
Best Original Music Score: Hans Zimmer for Interstellar
Best Soundtrack (Music Previously Recorded Combined with Original Score): Inherent Vice
Best Use of an Old Song: Little Willie John’s “No Regrets” in Blue Ruin
Best Cinematography: Birdman
Best Special Effects: Interstellar
Most Underrated (0r Overlooked) Film: The Two Faces of January
Most Overrated Film: The Theory of Everything
Best Feel Good Film: Chef
Best Guilty Pleasure: 300: Rise of an Empire
Best Sci-Fi Film: Interstellar
Best Horror Film: The Babadook
Best Franchise Film: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Movie Trend I Thoroughly Enjoyed: Time travel both fantastic and literal (Interstellar, Edge of Tomorrow, Boyhood)
Movie Trend I Completely Ignored: Christian pandering (God is Not Dead, Heaven is for Real, Saving Christmas, etc…)
Biggest Disappointment: Nightcrawler
Worst Picture: Noah
Results from past Davies Awards can be found by clicking below:
We encourage feedback and suggestions for categories next year.
Reviews for many of the films mentioned here can be found under the “Movie Reviews” category.
Tell us what your pick was for Best Film of 2014.
What movies would make your Top Ten List?
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Written by David H. Schleicher