2014 has been a great year for cinema. There have been brilliant films in almost every genre of Cinema. We list here 14 of the top which you definitely should’ve caught up with.
Richard Linklater has always been that visionary director in terms of pushing creativity and pulling off wonderfully written movies on miniscule budgets.
This film once again reminds us his incredible prowess while elaborating on everyday events and magical relationships that constitute ‘life’. Everything in life is derived from the interactions we share with our surroundings, our adults who try to influence us, our friends who define our behavior, the people we meet and the things we experience. Linklater purposefully avoids following a typical one set narrative here to bring out that very meaning of life.
The film is highly immersive, that at the end of it, we feel like we've been taken through a visual experience of a dear friend we've grown up with rather than watching a movie. How this was acheived with short schedules over twelve years only defines how remarkable a director Linklater is.
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It's interesting how the top movies of the year make use of minimal resources in setting. There's no grand budget, astonishing locations or incredible twists. Most of 'Birdman' happens in a single theatre building but it's crafted with such innovation and care that you hardly want to complain. Apart from how well made the movie is, it is also the most important movie in this list which spells out how most of us lead dysfunctional – largely unsatisfying – lives and try hard for relevance and popularity that matches the self-importance in our heads.
If I had the resources, I would personally shell out copies of this movie to every Indian 'star' actors and directors with the hope they made better use of money that is available.
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3.Force Majeure (Swedish - French)
A pitch black French comedy about how a split second decision can shake up the trust between a couple and a family unit as a whole. I am going to refrain from bringing out any further details for that would spoil the premise and i suggest you to go watch the film without browsing the interwebs. It's laugh out loud funny, highly awkward and makes you ponder over your hypothetical self and possible reactions when faced with a situation like that.
The film, among many other things, is very much about the internal, primal character in each person. It poses a question of whether or not it can be controlled or if a person can be blamed for his/her actions in extreme circumstances when this primal nature emerges.
A question one can never provide a truly convincing answer for.
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Writing and mere inclusion of this film in the list makes me feel biased as I am a huge Christopher Nolan fan. You might love him, hate him, consider him overrated but you do have to give it to him for re-defining the whole meaning of blockbusters and for constantly trying to make the most ambitious, thought provoking experiences that appeal to the common film-goer. We've had Gravity last year which took us to space but Interstellar lives up to its title with deeper quest to galaxies, worm holes, relativity, time dilation, future of human race, climatic conditions, the man – machine bond and the strength of human relationships. Apart from being a thrilling space adventure the movie tries to inspire a sense of exploration and the desire to never ever give up fighting for your loved ones. Despite its layer of dumbed down exposition, the film deals with several deeper meanings and themes and if you are someone who has the interest and time to read, I bring forward this reddit discussion thread.
It's a movie which grows on you and something that gets better with every watch like most of Nolan films. While we are discussing about its greatness or its failed attempt at becoming a cult classic, I am pretty sure Nolan is smiling and wondering how to stretch filmmaking boundaries with his next.
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5.The Grand Budapest Hotel
We are glad to have a filmmaker like Wes Anderson who still makes movies which remind you of the 70's. Exquisite use of sets, symmetric composition, fixed pan and dolly shots, simple stories built around a range of wonderful characters added with extraordinary usage of colors comprise his frames. Wes Anderson is truly unique in the sense that his movies could easily exists as separate dialogue and pictures. You feel like you could take a screenshot of pretty much any scene and overlay the dialogues to turn it into a children's story book.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is his finest film and I can't imagine how he can ever top this.
If you haven't watched or heard of it, do check out the trailer here to get what I am talking about.
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6.The Lego Movie
Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are new age comedy kings who try their best to ensure you rip your lungs out laughing. They had earlier remade the Jumpstreet series and the animated Cloudy with Meatballs that guaranteed equal amount of fun but this clearly stands out to be their best for the sheer passion by which it has been crafted. More of a tribute to childhood and creativity, this movie plays out as a love letter to the world of LEGO's.
It's filled with lovable characters and groundbreaking animation - the Lego Characters move in Lego motion, and they have different frame rates than their backdrops. There is a Lego ocean in the film and it’s a landmark in CGI. The ocean is a vast collage of blue Lego blocks that flow individually to give the illusion of water. So much gorgeous animation that deserves a separate article for itself.
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This is a movie which you can safely spend on buying a beloved Blu-Ray because you can imagine it to be a religious movie watching experience with your family and kids every year - something that'll eternally stay fresh despite multiple watches. It's probably also the best superhero movie there is and no Marvel/DC shizz can ever top the ensemble of Batman, Superman, Vitruvius, Gandalf, Dumbledore, Wonder Woman and Shaquile O Neal fighting together. A charming film that turns you into a 7 year old again and that makes you stand up, clap and cheer.
What brought me to the movie was the premise of a prodigy Jazz drummer. What i hadn't expected was how intense this movie would turn out to be. It's a simple tale of a passionate musician who seeks to become great and a brutally efficient master who helps him achieve it (does he?). The plot isn't anything new, and the twists and turns seem a tad predictable but what you take from it are the performances and it's music.
The music room scenes are beautifully constructed, they're not shot just as coverage of the actors in the scene, but dynamically to match the music and emotional context. Apparently, Chazelle storyboarded the film to the music score, which explains why Whiplash is a thrillingly musical film.
Your visual and auditory senses would thank you for watching this musical gem and if you can come out with the understanding of when the tempo is rushing or dragging, well, kudos to you!
Gone Girl is my favorite romantic movie of the year. In fact, I'd go on to call it a sequel to the numerous candy flossed romantic films which come out every year. It's probably the only film which talks about how disastrous your life can turn once the romance dies out and you are left with the wrong partner. It's filled with lies, cheating and flashes the consequences of pissing each other off while simultaneously serving as a clever satire on the news media. The movie is funny and haunting at the same time thanks to the precise filmmaking from the professor of dark arts - David Fincher. Rosamund Pike delivers the best acting performance of the year while Ben Affleck is perfectly casted as the guy who has no clue how to respond to all that's happening around him. I hope Bollywood remakes it marking the film debut of Arnab Goswami.
There's a reason I am following up Gone Girl with Nightcrawler. Both the films shed light on the evil side of the media - in their own ways of course. If Gone Girl brings upon a darkly comical satire, Nightcrawler is more evil and disturbing. Both the movies have news representatives twisting stories for their own channel's benefits, though Nightcrawler plays out the cityscapes of L.A as an additional character while Gone Girl focuses on the relationship drama.
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Jake Gyllenhaal's Lou Bloom is devilishly wicked and some dislike might go to the steady character arc where you are constantly hoping for something good to happen, only to see it doesn't. In fact, like most movies with such iconic dark characters, the absolute tension in the film comes from how the environment and surroundings are affected by his presence. Similar to the Joker's depiction in Dark Knight, Nightcrawler celebrates the dark side of the Lou Bloom by making you enjoy his viciousness, by making you pray for his failure and by leaving you to helplessly watch other characters fate decided by his actions.
This was one film I had no clue how to put my thoughts down. The movie was highly overwhelming and incredible that i was left dazed for a long time after the movie. It talks about Eric, a troubled and explosively violent teenager who is transferred to adult prison where he finally meets his match - a man who also happens to be his father. The script is written by a former prison psychotherapist which explains it's brutal and uncomprising look at life behind bars, something that also makes it the most realistic prison movie ever made. The protagonist Jack O' Connell pulls off one of the best acting performances of the year and it's sad to see how underappreciated this movie is.
The film's press pack came with a glossary of code words used in the movie which is a helpful aid if you plan on watching this film.
"Starred Up" : someone who is transferred prematurely from juvenile detention to adult jail; "kanga": officer; "tech": mobile phone; "kick off back door" : anal sex, and "straightener": pre-planned fight
I don't remember the last time I've watched a truly scary psychological horror/thriller film like 'The Shining'. Of course, we did have 'The Conjuring' last year which was cleverly crafted but not one that avoids the typical horror template. The Babadook's scares come from within the story itself rather than the sudden jump scares that most movies resort to. It's a story about a mother who struggles to discipline her ‘out of control’ 6 year-old, Samuel, a son she finds impossible to love. Shot on a low budget with simple stop motion usage and no elaborate vfx for the scares, this is a beautifully crafted movie and has a female writer-director which probably explains the central motherhood theme. It's also a movie which you take along with and ponder over it s wonderful ending and themes when most horror movies are satisfied in only providing popcorn scares.
12.Edge Of Tomorrow
You might call it a surprising inclusion but i was trying to pick one for all genres and 'Edge Of Tomorrow' was the best entertaining action flick in a long time. The trailer when i'd watched seemed full of shit with Tom Cruise talking about escaping time. The movie surprisingly turned out to be a neatly executed enjoyable sci-fi action flick with no nonsense subplots.
It sticks true to what an action film should do to the audience, not to let them question the premise and justify the action and fight sequences. The sci-fi element here does just that and provides enough weight to obsess over it.
And there's also Emily Blunt doing her thing –
13.What we do in the Shadows
Viago, Deacon, and Vladislav are vampires who are finding that modern life has them struggling with the mundane - like paying rent, keeping up with the chore wheel, trying to get into nightclubs, and overcoming flatmate conflicts. This IMDB description spikes your curiosity and sounds hilarious enough for you to check this movie out.
Moreover, anyone who has watched this. Flight of the Conchords video would vouch for the creativity of these guys. The movie truly delivers and you are left grinning throughout its length.
Paul Thomas Anderson is the modern day genius filmmaker. He is a master of framing, character design and cinematic control. Anderson makes you react to his films in ways that are completely different than any other. He blends essential elements together, and makes a scene so compelling, intense, and beautiful that you're sucked in, yet perplexed. He uses long, screeching, disjointed music that doesn't tell you what to feel - it tells you how the character is feeling in a way that words can't. He uses colors to create his worlds, and by the time you finish, you wish you were in his vibrant film.
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Having said all that, it's also interesting to see how each of his movies are highly unique and if you have checked the range of neon filled character posters of Inherent Vice, you know you are in for a trip. A one of a kind trip that once you start watching the film, you realize the plot doesn't matter and it's all about immersing yourself in the drug induced fictional world set in the 70's and tagging along Joaquin Phoenix's Doc as he meets one interesting character after another.
The Honorable Mentions:
The Double; Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes; John Wick; Begin Again; Chef; The Raid 2; Foxcatcher; Guardians of the Galaxy; Locke; Under the Skin;
The Indian Scene:
1) Ugly 2) Sulemani Keeda 3) Haider 4) Queen 5) Jigarthanda 6) Miss Lovely 7) Drishyam 8) Lucia
Disclaimer: Certain review points have been taken from professional critics and online fan threads to better drive the point across.
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