201420

There are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity

Let’s just not turn the calendar over, okay?

Let’s remain in 2014 for a great while longer and all catch up on the absolute bounty that this year gave us.  This was, after all, a year where damned near any film in my own top twenty-five could take the number one slot in any other year. What’s more – there are still so many titles from this year that I want to catch up with! Were we to remain in 2014 a little while longer, I might be able to finally consider IDA, and LEVIATHAN, and WINTER SLEEP, and LOVE IS STRANGE, and BEYOND THE LIGHTS, (and…and…and…)

Ever been on truly great vacation – a place where the food is to die for, the drinks keep flowing, the company is perfect and the view is to die for? You know that feeling you get halfway through, that “I’m never going home” feeling? That’s me this morning. The last twelve months gave us so many glorious experiences…let’s just stay on this vacation and open a little surf shop of our own, shall we?

If we must go – and, of course, we must – then please allow me one last moment to soak up the scenery, OK? I promise…right after that, we’ll go. For real. I mean it…

Ryan’s Top Five Films of 2014

ROCK - FIVE

#5. TOP FIVE

I feel as though too many modern comedies are playing things safe. In the hopes of playing to the broadest audience possible, comedies nowadays are afraid to be raunchy – or worse, are raunchy in all the wrong ways. It’s as though there’s some unwritten rule that a Hollywood comedy can’t have ideas that it wants to convey. So when Chris Rock decided that he wanted to write and direct a new comedy in this climate, it feels like a jolt to the system…like a teaspoon of horseradish dolloped on our usual cheeseburger.

TOP FIVE finds Rock walking away from his buddies at the GROWN UPS table and getting back to what he does best: writing and telling some of the sharpest comedy around. Along the way he comments on the nature of fame, celebrity, what it takes to get ahead and what it takes to get back up after being knocked down.

When you’re famous, everybody wants something from you, and when you’re famous everybody wants to be your friend…but only to a point, and that point can be like the edge of a cliff. TOP FIVE illustrates that wickedly, and is the first film to do so with Charlie Chaplin interpreted by way of gangsta rap.
(Full TOP FIVE review here)

Slate

#4. OBVIOUS CHILD

Not enough comedy for you? Well here’s one more, which means for the first time in all the years I have been keeping this site running that I have two comedies inside of my top five. No – I don’t know what the world is coming to either.

I feel like so few of us are truly equipped to handle personal crises. Where film usually shows us having a one-or-two scene panic, it usually has us getting our shit together in short order. The truth is that usually, we drift for weeks or months. Even if we manage to come up with an answer, odds are we are going to carry the bruise of the impact for quite a while. We get through it by reverting and we get through it by deflecting.

So few films show that accurately, and so few films show it with the sort of awkward wit and sloppy charm that Gillian Robespierre and Jenny Slate bring to OBVIOUS CHILD. This is a brave movie – for all sorts of reasons.

(full OBVIOUS CHILD review here)

Keaton

#3. BIRDMAN

I could be here all day discussing the meta implications of this story…of “what it means” to have Bruce Wayne, Gwen Stacy, and Bruce Banner arguing about art and artificiality in the age of the comic book blockbuster…of the commentary being made in a film that casts an actor who doesn’t get along with others in a role that has him not getting along with others…of how manufactured downtown Manhattan has become when it is dotted with these venues that are supposed to embody “real life”.

Such things though go beyond the point that BIRDMAN wants to remind us that the lady in the box isn’t really being cut in half. However, when the magician picks up the saw, we still find ourselves amazed.

All of this is fake – every film, every screenplay, every shot. Even our pieces of “nonfiction” are still manufactured; they are filtered, crafted, honed, and packaged for maximum effect. We spend hours, pages, and gigabytes discussing their plausibility and truth, but all of it is complete bullshit. Its like discussing the “meatiness” of a banana.

Fo maximum effect, please re-read this paragraph to the tune of a jazzy drum solo.

(full BIRDMAN review here)

Boy

#2. BOYHOOD

Behold the film that will be top dog on most people’s lists for the year – and deservedly so. It contains one of the most tangible stories of 2014, because we’ve all been that child growing-up feeling mixed-up, and some have even been the parents of those mixed-up children. The story isn’t high drama, but then again real life isn’t exactly high drama…which is what makes the film so unique.

For all the talk of its audacity and maverick nature, it’s the fact that it wraps itself around a very tangible, “everyday” adolescence that allows the film to become something that feels so genuine. That tangibility might be why it has stayed with us for so many months, because for as much as we want to escape in our cinemas and in front of our TV’s, sometimes we want to see something of ourselves…of our parents, and our children.

Director David Linklater has long been known for taking chances. BOYHOOD – his longest wager – might well be the one that pays out the biggest.

(full BOYHOOD review here)

selma

#1. SELMA

They say that your top film of the year can sometimes be a reflection of the year you had. So when I consider the fact that this was the year I found my camera lens capturing images like this, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that SELMA takes my top slot.

Thing is it’s not just about a film being timely, it’s also about whether or not it is good – and SELMA is tremendously good. It uses one moment to encapsulate a movement, and one stand to get to the heart of a man. Actually, that last point might be what makes me love SELMA so much. Fifty years after the Civil Rights movement, North America has pretty much lionized Martin Luther King Jr. In this film though, we see a man whose leadership is occasionally questioned, and whose marital fidelity is challenged. What’s more, all of it is done in a very mature and considered manner, leaving the drama and speeches for MLK to give when he steps up to the pulpit.

When you take those storytelling tacks and graft them on to a story which has become unfortunately pertinent again, you unleash an unforgettable moviegoing experience. Therein lays the hope for this movie – that it becomes unforgettable. Where civil rights are concerned, we have already forgotten too much. We need to be reminded, and for me there are fewer more beautiful, more powerful examples than SELMA.

(full SELMA review here)

Other films on my shortlist for 2014 include THE BABADOOK, CITIZEN FOUR, GONE GIRL, THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2, THE IMMIGRANT, INHERENT VICE, INTERSTELLAR, MOMMY, NIGHTCRAWLER, NYMPHOMANIAC, ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE, RICH HILL, and THE TALE OF PRINCESS KAGUYA.

What did you think? Please leave comments with your thoughts on the list, and your own selections for the best films of 2014.