Here’s a very short list of some of the films I enjoyed in 2014 and early 2015, with notes/subjective descriptions. If you have comments or suggestions, please do share.
Snowpiercer This has a Gilliam-at-his-best vibe. Set entirely on a train, in the future, and touches on many social issues. Based on a French graphic novel, with an amazingly choreographed action sequence and stunning cinematography. Oh, and Tilda.
Under the Skin Impossible (for me) to describe, you just need to experience it. You’ll know within ten minutes if it’s to your liking. Johansson at her very most absolute best. Glazer, too, for that matter.
Predestination Based on a short story by Heinlein. Shades of Minority Report, but that doesn’t do it justice. Sarah Snook, whom I’d never heard of, was one of the best performances I saw all year.
Edge of Tomorrow Based no the novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. One of the smartest time-loop action/sci-fi films out there. Great acting all around. A lot of fun to watch, and a big budget popcorn flick in the best sense.
Take Shelter Michael Shannon absolutely blew me away with his portrayal of a man who is having apocalyptic visions. Scary, heartbreaking, beautiful, powerful, really gets in your head. Chastain was quite good in this, too.
The Fifth Estate Interesting character study of Assange. Many creative liberties taken, I am sure, in the telling of this story. Daniel Brühl was fantastic. (So was Cumberbatch, but that goes without saying.)
The Awakening Atmoshpheric period piece. Some would categorize this as a horror film, but to me it’s just a fantastic ghost story. Imelda Staunton and Rebecca Hall. Gorgeous cinematography. One of my favorite movie endings, regardless of genre.
Only Lovers Left Alive The vampire genre, and Detroit, through the lens of Jarmush. Swinton and Hiddleston in a beautiful centuries-long romance would be enough, but small parts by Wasikowska, Wright, Yelchin and Hurt made me adore this film.
The Conjuring Creepy, intense, old school horror that utilizes camera angles, sound, and tension build-ups to scare you. I wasn’t fond of where the movie went, stylistically, near the end – but it’s still one of the best horror films I’ve seen in a good long while.
The Cabin in the Woods Equal parts love letter and poison pen letter to 1980s horror.
Troll Hunter A fantastic addition to the found-footage and mockumentary genres. A lot of fun to watch. Slyly amusing. I am very sad there is going to be an American remake.
What Maisie Knew Julianne Moore’s unflinching portrayal of a really dispicable person. Steve Coogan probably at his best – at least in a drama. Heartbreaking story of two really selfish people who don’t know fuck-all about being parents. Told from their daughter Maisie’s point of view.
Locke Dialogue-driven personal crisis drama. Tom Hardy, as well as every actor who is just a disembodied voice, were sensational.
Nebraska Humble slice-of-life film about a father-son roadtrip. The cinematography reminded me that there is beauty in the decay of the rural Midwest.
Boyhood No words. Snippets of life’s ordinary moments, filmed over twelve years and pieced back together by Linklater. Such beauty in the ordinary and mundane.
Chef If you’re offended by seeing someone work with meat – this is not for you. This film captures the passion and elegance of a chef’s relationship with food, wrapped up in a sweet father-son story, with a clichéd happy ending that still feels right. I’m guessing the R rating is for language? I’m excited to watch this with Nina. The language is pretty realistic and nothing she hasn’t heard before, but may be an issue for other parents.
All is Lost Robert Redford took my breath away. Little to no backgroud info on the sole character of this film, just a man on a boat by himself out at sea; it’s all about what’s happening in the moment. Inevitable conclusion, but impossible not to watch through to the very end.
Japanese Story Quiet little love story set in Australia.
The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child BBC animated shorts based on a children’s picture book. Pretty much the best voice casting ever, except maybe Batman from the Lego Movie.
Frank Quiet, quirky, bittersweet ensemble piece about a band. Fassbender’s best performance to date. The one movie I want to quote constantly, all the time, in a sing-song voice.
Ida Beautiful, sad film set in 1962 postwar Poland.