With 2015 fast becoming a reality, what better time to look back at movies in the year that was 2014?
As is tradition, let’s begin with…
WORST FILM OF THE YEAR – TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION
Having sex and accidentally crying out your mum’s name. Going for a bowel movement only to look down and see blood. Jelly wrestling Eamonn Holmes. The only thing worse than these is watching all 165 minutes of the fourth instalment of the over-heated, overlong, mean-spirited toy advert franchise. It cost $210m and no-one could transform the idea into a decent script?
ONGOING INDICATIONS THESE ARE THE END OF DAYS – TRANSFORMERS & MRS BROWN’S BOYS D’MOVIE’S BOX OFFICE
The only thing more depressing than a fourth Transformers movie is the fact it was 2014’s box office champion, with over a $1bn at the global box office. Further proof we are wandering lemming like into cultural extinction is the fact Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie took £16m+ at the UK box office. In 2013 Alan Partridge took £6m. Boo.
BEST ACTION SCENE – THE RAID 2
Onto happier matters – The Raid 2. This 5 star ballistic ballet boasted numerous set-pieces, but our favourite was the prison yard rumble. The climactic kitchen fight may have packed in more amazing martial arts, but for large scale choreographed mayhem that never degenerated into a mess, the scene was unmatched this year.
MAN OF THE YEAR – GARETH EVANS
The Raid 2 neatly brings us on to Man of the Year, which has to go Gareth Evans. In only four films Evans has graduated from pocket-money budgeted have-a-go director to the future of action cinema. His second feature Merantau deserves more recognition as a first rate old school martial arts actioner, laying the groundwork for The Raid. With The Raid 2 he expanded his storytelling ambition and one-upped the action, delivering cinematic adrenalin most blockbusters only dream of.
The Raid 2 was the number 2 movie in our Top 10 of 2014. Bested only by a horror film directed by our…
WOMAN OF THE YEAR – JENNIFER KENT
As debut movies go, Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook is up there with Blood Simple, Eraserhead and Reservoir Dogs. The actress-turned director had only the dry-run short Monster and a TV credit to her name when she wrote and directed this straight-out-the-gate horror classic. Cine-literate in its harkening back to the formative fears of silent movies, Kent’s film also created an instant horror icon, Mister Babadook, a terrifying figure part Nosferatu, part Papa Lazarou. Unsettling, riveting and disturbing, The Babadook is also an effective metaphor for bad parenting anxieties and unchecked repressed anger. And it’s a bloody good horror movie.
BEST MARKETING CAMPAIGN – THE INTERVIEW
Want to make your slapstick frat boy comedy the talk of every website, TV show, and newspaper across the world. Simply piss off a dictator with more money than God and then watch his cyber-wonks target you and the studio that stumped up the cash. Whether the controversy will spell boffo box office for The Interview is still to be seen – it quietly slipped into around 300 US cinemas and across on demand services making around $20m to date. Having your the CEO’s emails released for the world to peruse is thrown in as an added extra.
BEST LINE – GODZILLA
“The arrogance of man is thinking nature is in their control and not the other way around. Let them fight.”
Okay, it’s that second three word sentence that got us excited. Gareth Edwards’ underrated monster movie knew exactly how to depict its titular terrible lizard: exactly as Spielberg had done years before with Jaws, teasing with glimpses before a final good look. The simple but effective dialogue, delivered irony free by Basil Exposition scientist Ken Watanabe, heralded the best CGI monster smackdown to date, preserving the fun of the Japanese classics while adding a generous dash of awe.
BREAKOUT PERFORMER – DAN STEVENS
Hang on a sec, when did well-fed posho Downton alumnus Dan Stevens become a brooding, charismatic man of cinema? When he signed on to headline knockout US thriller The Guest. Slimmed down and buffed up, Stevens is pure Machiavellian magnetism as a war vet visiting the family of a friend killed in action and a fiendishly compelling bad guy. Stevens then cropped up again offering fantastic support to Liam Neeson in the hugely enjoyable thriller A Walk Among The Tombstones. His good year closed with a dashing portrayal of Sir Lancelot in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.
THE “I DON’T MEAN TO BE CHURLISH, BUT WAS IT REALLY THAT GOOD?” AWARD – GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
Saying you were slightly disappointed by Guardians of the Galaxy draws responses usually reserved for those who admit to punching puppies in the face. Or punching babies in the face. With puppies. We enjoyed it, don’t get us wrong. But, wasn’t it just a retread of what Joss Whedon was doing a decade ago with Firefly and Serenity? With a less interesting story that climaxed in a vertiginous fight and earthward plummet that also closed Captain America: The Winter Soldier?
It was fun but familiar, and personally we would have preferred to watch another Firefly outing.
THE DISAPPOINTED TEENAGER AWARD – UNDER THE SKIN
Under the Skin contains an hour of the most terrifying cinema you saw in 2014, including that beach infant moment that haunts us still. So bizarre and startling were numerous sequences that the film could present sex symbol du jour Scarlett Johansson in black underwear or nothing at all and not even the most hormone addled, Kleenex clutching teen would have been able to “use it”. An achievement indeed.
THE DELIGHTED TEENAGER AWARD – THE CANYONS
Crowd source funded, The Canyons was a new low for one-time important filmmaker Paul Schrader. But, lads everywhere rejoiced that Lindsay unleashed her Lohans on the world. How much would they have wanted to see director Schrader strip nude from the waist down, something he did to get his tempestuous star to come out of a cupboard and actually do some filming?
HIDDEN GEM OF THE YEAR – THE BORDERLANDS
Whenever the found footage genre seems to expire, along comes a nifty little gem to breathe new life into low-fi wobbly cam chills. The Borderlands follows a team of possession debunkers employed by the Catholic Church. In very rural Devon they investigate strange occurrences in a crumbling church, and what follows is a prime example of how to subtly ratchet disquiet into a third act horrorshow, with a twist as delicious as it is horrifying.
BEST “HOW TO REBOOT A FRANCHISE” AWARD – X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
Spoiler alert: X-Men: Days of Future Past continued the good work begun by the excellent First Class. And best of all, by using that favourite technique of the scriptwriter – time travel – it totally managed to scrub Last Stand from existence. Meaning we can welcome back Beast, Cyclops and Jean Grey without having to rely on younger selves / guilt apparitions etc.
BEST “HOW NOT TO REBOOT A FRANCHISE” AWARD – ROBOCOP (2014)
Guys, in the 1987 original you had a five star template on how to tell this story. How could you then deliver something so anodyne and anonymous? By chasing that ruinous PG-13 rating. Meaning we now have a 12 certificate RoboCop in the world and still no Dredd sequel. What a crime.
BEST “FUCK YOU, PAYING AUDIENCE” AWARD – THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has a tacked on tragedy so callous after 2 hours of surprisingly sweet character relationshipping, it became painfully apparent how unsure Sony was in building its superhero franchise. Word is they are now rebooting this reboot. But, the studio fared much better with…
BEST COMEDY AWARD – 22 JUMP STREET
Everyone agrees 22 Jump Street was non-stop hilarity. But, in a film with an Airplane level gag rate, what was the funniest line? We’re going for the scene when Channing Tatum’s dumb cop asks a key suspect what his tattoo is, only to get the reply – “It’s my old high school football team. The Plainview Red Herrings”. Smart and throwaway. Genius.
BEST FX AWARD – DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
The title might have been confusing (doesn’t Dawn come before the Rise?), but wet fur never looked so real.
BEST “GOD, I’M OLD” RE-RELEASE – PULP FICTION
Pulp Fiction turned 20 this year and we weren’t allowed to forget it. The film still dazzles two decades down the line, but the fact that twenty years have elapsed since I saw it as a wide-eyed undergraduate was a tad depressing.
BEST SWANSONG MOVIE – THE WIND RISES
With The Wind Rises Hayao Miyazaki ended a feature film directorial journey that begun 35 years earlier. The movie, a romanticised biopic of aeronautical engineer Jiro Horikoshi, contained all Miyazaki’s dominant themes – flight, pacifism and war, fantasy and reality. Controversially, it soft-pedalled on its subject’s invention of the Zero Fighter, the plane that cut a swathe through Asia during WW2. But, it was a fascinating denouement to an illustrious career.
BEST HONEST TRAILER – FROZEN
Honest Trailers always hit their mark, but this affectionate ribbing of the Disney juggernaut was a joy in its own right. Particularly the spot-on reworking of Frozen’s insanely catchy soundtrack. “Get it out! Get it out! Get this song out of my head!” indeed…
BEST “MAD AS ARSEHOLES” MOVIE – LUCY
Ironically, for a film about super intelligence Lucy is best enjoyed with brain thoroughly disengaged. A madcap mix of Nikita, Richard Dawkins, 2001 and Oldboy, it was wild, undisciplined, and just about got away with it. Scarlett Johansson managed to anchor proceedings, transplanting her dispassionate alien performance from Under the Skin and placing it amongst the guns and explosions.
“PLEASE RELEASE ME!” – SNOWPIERCER
Snowpiercer is a five star instant classic from The Host director Bong Joon-ho. A fantastic fantasy in which the last of humankind survive in a 1,000 carriage train that circles the earth, waiting out a new ice age. Rich in social commentary, the story has hero Chris Evans lead a fight from the deprivation conditions at the rear of the train to the luxury at the front. Dazzling, dangerous, whimsical and visionary, that The Weinstein Company gave it a cursory release in the US and seem to have relinquished any plans to release it in the UK is a scandal.
BEST SURPRISE – THE GENERALLY HIGH STANDARD OF MOVIES
In another year our top 11-20 films of 2014 would have been a perfectly acceptable Top 10.
11. Gone Girl
12. Dallas Buyers Club
13. 22 Jump Street
15. We Are The Best
16. The Lego Movie
18. The Borderlands
20. The Guest
BEST FILM OF THE YEAR – THE BABADOOK
It came from nowhere to be the best film of 2014. Check out our Top 10 of 2014 to read why it’s so good.
Overall, how did this year compare to last? Click here for our review of 2013.