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Tuesday
Jul082014

Halfway Pt. 4: Top Ten Movies of 2014 (Thus Far)

For today's Tuesday Top Ten it's your last peek at Nathaniel's top ten list for 2014 until the official one at year's end. Only films that have already played theaters in regular release are eligible hence endearing indies like Happy Christmas (currently On Demand) or instant classics like Love is Strange or next weekend's highly raved openers (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Boyhood) cannot yet apply. Herewith my ten favorite pictures of 2014 thus far since we've already looked at favorite sights and favorite sounds. 

You should see all of these movies. How many will stick around for the official top ten of 2014? I haven't a clue. That's half the excitement of drawing these invisible lines in the sand and waiting with hot anticipation for the rest of the year's wonders

TOP TEN FILMS OF 2014'S FIRST HALF
(ALPHA ORDER)

BEGIN AGAIN (John Carney) 104 minutes
Weinstein Co | June 27th| Box Office Rank of 2014 (At This Moment) #85 with $1.7 million

Like a new favorite song you can't stop playing, it's hard to even suss out why it's so damn loveable. My hunch is that its ephemeral endearments are powered by the combo of writer/director John Carney's sincere musicality (he captured lightning in a bottle with Once) and Keira Knightley's wonderfully relaxed but emotionally astute work as an abandoned musician who genuinely doesn't care about fame and fortune but has lots of love for music and people... whether or not they deserve it.

CAPTAIN AMERICA 2 (Anthony & Joe Russo) 136 minutes
Marvel/Disney | April 4th | Box Office Rank of 2014 (At This Moment) #1 $257 million

The best superhero film since the genre's peak in 2004 with that Spider-Man 2 and The Incredibles double-whammy and the best yet from Marvel Studios. I've probably raved enough this year but practically everything works from performance to action to theme and especially the firm sense of identity and character work at its core (here's a fine piece on that). That sense of self saves this superhero film from the generic problems that plague its genre. [Review]

CHILD'S POSE (Calin Peter Netzer) 112 minutes 
Zeitgeist | February 19th |  Box Office Rank of 2014 (At This Moment) #170 with $97 thousand 

Romania's 2013 Oscar submission continues the super annoying but enormously familiar trend of gambling its entire US release strategy around an Oscar nomination that doesn't materialize. Which is a pity since gold statues aren't everything (Ida proves that memorable foreign films don't need any awards buzz at all to find their natural fanbases but more on that in a minute) and this arguably overripe melodrama about a rich bitch trying to cover-up her son's crime is gripping. [Review]

alien invasions, travelling nuns, and mouthy toys after the jump...


EDGE OF TOMORROW (Doug Liman) 113 minutes
Warner Bros | June 6th | Box Office Rank of 2014 (At This Moment) #19 with $90.8 million

If you'd told me that this summer would feature a movie that absorbs and alchemizes video game mentality and physicality and even narrative structure I would probably have said "gross!" and refused to see it. In fact I only went to see it due to the warm critical response after fearing exactly this. But Edge of Tomorrow manages to do that exact thing and still feel like cinema... instead of the boring 'if only I were a video game' emptiness of so many blockbuster setpieces and sometimes entire movies. [More]


GODZILLA (Gareth Edwards) 123 minutes
Warner Bros | May 16th | Box Office Rank 2014 (At This Moment) #6 with $197.9 million

What were the chances that the year's most derivative blockbuster based on a story that's been done dozens of times  for the past 50+ years, would also prove to be the most artfully executed of the traditional blockbusters? I guess that's what you get when you hire an inventive fresh talent like Gareth Edwards who didn't need a big budget to make a stir (see: Monsters) but who knew what to do with the big bucks once he got 'em. I wish he cared as much about characterizations as superbly constructed visuals and inventive action beats but so few blockbusters do any of those things well to complain about one that gets two out of three right. [Review]

IDA (Pawel Pawlikowski) 80 minutes
Music Box Film | May 2nd | Box Office Rank 2014 (At This Moment) #73 with $2.8 million

Pawel Pawilowski isn't exactly a new discovery (remember My Summer of Love with Emily Blunt?) but his fantastic new film Ida, which finally surpasses his terrific breakthrough Last Resort (2001) as his best should considerably raise his reputation and profile. This precise, provocative, and vividly executed story about an orphan novice (Agata Trzebuchowska) on the brink of taking her vows in 1960s Poland is one of a kind. Ida is suddenly encouraged to leave the convent to meet her only living relative, a wordly Communist named Wanda (the brilliant Agata Kulesza), and the two women embark on a journey to uncover Ida's past. You won't be able to stop thinking about it once you've seen it.

Oscar Note: I believe, but am not certain, that this is eligible for Polish submission for Oscar this year; it seems to have opened in Poland right around the time of the dividing line between Oscar years (for foreign language movies that's September/October). They'd be smart to submit if it they can. It has, rather incredibly, just outgrossed last year's buzziest Oscar winner in the category (Italy's The Great Beauty) and all without the benefit of awards season to boost its profile and "it" factor. Its extremely successful US run will make it eligible in ALL Oscar categories apart from foreign film.


THE LEGO MOVIE (Phil Lord & Chris Miller) 100 minutes
Warner Bros | Feb 7th |  Box Office Rank 2014 (At This Moment) #2 $257.1 million 

Everything is NOT awesome when a movie that is essentially and proudly a shameless commercial to move toy product off shelves is not only a massive hit but a critical smash, too. But, you know, it's not a perfect world and we get the films we deserve from our consumer dollar histories. And as such this movie is a ton of clever fun. [Review]


SNOWPIERCER (Bong Joon-Ho) 126 minutes
Radius-TWC | June 27th |  Box Office Rank 2014 (At This Moment) # 88 with $1.5 million

74% of you will die

...for it. The rest might well hate it but Bong Joon-Ho's grim, daring and often shocking dystopia, adapted from a French graphic novel, should be seen on the big screen (pity that Radius-TWC seems to have so little face in a movie with so many marketable elements. It arrives on VOD very soon despite performing quite well in limited release). Consider its in-your-face political verve, linear rushes of energy, visual inventiveness, quotable absurdities (many courtesy of Tilda Swinton - "be a shoe") and eclectic but mostly awesome global casting. It shouldn't feel so revolutionary for a sci-fi film to understand that the future will not be composed solely of white American men since, you know, the present already isn't. But it does all the same. Snowpiercer definitely isn't perfect but it shames the timidity and emptiness of a lot of action movies. [More]


STRANGER BY THE LAKE (Alain Guiraudie) 97 minutes
Strand Releasing | Jan 24th | Box Office Rank 2014 (At This Moment) #122 with $325 thousand 

The brief but explicit gay sex is what got and kept people talking but it's hardly the sum total of what this French thriller has to offer. There's also formal beauty (those parking lot shots. squeee), confrontational sexual politics, smartly chill performances, and those brilliantly sustained parallel tracks of existential ennui and corporeal danger. [Review]

 

UNDER THE SKIN (Jonathan Glazer) 108 minutes
A24 | April 4th | Box Office Rank 2014 (At This Moment) #75 with $2.5 million 

This eery dread-filled movie about an alien woman prowling for victims but unable to quell her curiousity about them is mesmerizing and demands to be seen again and theorized about. Jonathan Glazer, a true visionary (who we sincerely hope doesn't wait another ten years for film number four) is now three-for-three. If you haven't yet seen his entire filmography have yourself a triple feature this month of Sexy Beast, Birth and Under the Skin and be very alarmed that people aren't building shrines to him and worshipping daily.

a few more notes for the more obsessive/completist readers

JUST OUTSIDE THIS TOP TEN
Test and Enemy

FILMS I MISSED THAT I MEANT TO SEE (DVD TIME): 
Only Lovers Left Alive, Non-Stop, Le Week-end, Locke, Blue Ruin, and We are the Best

FILMS I MISSED (ON PURPOSE): 
Transformers: Age of Extinction, Amazing Spider-Man 2, 300: Rise of Empire (though my Eva Green love has me questioning that decision a bit)

FILM I WANTED TO LOVE AS MUCH AS EVERYONE ELSE BUT JUST COULDN'T GET THERE
Grand Budapest Hotel - Thrilled for Wes Anderson who has done so much great work. But still a wee bit mystified why it was this one that became so popular. The Royal Tenenbaums and Moonrise Kingdom remain my favorites by a considerable margin. This would rank just above Life Aquatic for me (my least favorite) and roughly on par with The Darjeeling Limited which I like well enough but no more than that.

ONLY FILMS I SAW TWICE
Captain America: The Winter Soldier and How To Train Your Dragon 2  for similar reasons of double-checking my initial surprising response be that total love (the former) or surprising indifference / vague liking (the latter)

BEST MOVIE THAT'S STILL INSANELY W/OUT DISTRIBUTION
Xavier Dolan's Tom at the Farm

FAV DOCUMENTARIES 
Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me was an entertaining hoot. 2014 also saw the release of last year's amazing foreign film nominee The Missing Picture. Inexplicably Strand waited until AFTER its festival buzz / Oscar hoopla to open it. It arrived in mid March to dismal box office (only $52,000) missing its media window entirely.

WORST OF THE YEAR (THUS FAR)
Jersey Boys and That Awkward Moment

FILM THAT IS GREAT BUT MADE ME SO ANGRY WITH ITS 'DID IT OR DIDN'T IT?' OSCAR QUALIFYING CAGINESS
Chile's Gloria made my top twelve last year but more and more I suspect it did NOT go through with the 2013 qualifying run that its Academy paperwork promised it would... (each year the Academy releases a list of 250+ titles that are eligible in all categories but the list comes in early December, before some of the titles have actually gone through with it). Roadside Attraction did not respond to our inquiries this past January to determine that it was in fact eligible in 2013 so now I feel I've compromised my own awards since it definitely played theaters in 2014 (where it was a hit at the arthouse with a $2.1 million gross this past winter). I still love the movie but my god I hate the 'one week qualifier' system. Hate it hate it hate it. Films should not be eligible when they pull that peek-a-boo bullshit business but the Academy encourages it even though it's resolutely anti-moviegoer. Perhaps I should go back to my "only if it opens in NYC" rule and ignore Academy one-week qualifiers?

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Reader Comments (47)

Lots of gaps in my viewing so far this year, but here's where my list stands.

1. Stranger by the Lake
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
3. Test
4. Snowpiercer
5. YSL / Yves Saint Laurent
6. Finding Vivian Maier
7. Omar
8. The Immigrant
9. The Lego Movie
10. Monuments Men

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

No love for 'Obvious Child'?

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBeau

No love for Xmen- Days of Future Past?

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Top 10 to date, with a lot still to catch up with:

1. Visitors
2. Grand Budapest Hotel
3. Only Lovers Left Alive
4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
5. Boyhood
6. We are the Best
7. Snowpiercer
8. Strangers on the Lake
9. X-Men: Days of Future Past
10. Starred Up

I cheated a bit by including Boyhood and Starred Up since they are 2H14 releases here in the States, but whatever. I've seen 'em, and I'm including 'em!

Worst movie of the year: The Amazing Spider-Man 2, easily.

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

Great list nathaniel!!! We our a few I think should of been on your list: 'The Pretty One' a movie you will love once a distribution deal is announced which I saw at Dances with films "The Toy Soldiers" a great movie with stunning performances its a must see

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdavid

Jamie & Beau -- i liked those ones but not well enough to make the top ten of the first half. X-Men doesn't age well do to its woman problem (sigh) and Obvious Child i'm kinda like Budapest Hotel on. I see the love and want to be down with it but i'm only at "like"

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

Best movies I've seen so far
1.The Toy Soldiers
2.Begin Again
3.Obvious Child
4.Lego Movie
5. The Immigrant
6. Snowpiercer
7. The Grand Budapest Hotel
8. The Pretty One
9. Rover
10. Under The Skin

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdavid

Only Lovers Left Alive! I think it would bump out Child's Pose, maybe. It's great. Also Borgman! Under the Skin and Obvious Child would also be on there for me. And I loved Edge of Tomorrow too.

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBRB

1. Stranger by the Lake
2. Only Lovers Left Alive
3. Gloria
4. The Grand Budapest Hotel
5. Godzilla

Other good movies: Edge of Tomorrow, Under the Skin, Ida, Noah, Locke

Most baffling: The Immigrant - big fan of Gray's Two Lovers, but I found this to be pretty disappointing...

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

Am i the only one that put Noah as there #1. It was looney but so much to talk about. A biblical epic like no other

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJosh

Snowpiercer hasn't arrived at the indie theaters in my area, but it is at the big Loews multiplex. I've been waiting for it to come to one of the smaller theaters, but since they're bringing it to VOD soon does that mean its theatrical run may be done soon and I should see it ASAP wherever?

Also, Top 10:
1. Only Lovers Left Alive
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
3. The Lego Movie
4. Ida
5. Cold in July
6. Godzilla
7. We are the Best!
8. Edge of Tomorrow
9. The Double
10. Noah

Worst: Monuments Men

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdoughyjunn

The only three I feel resolutely positive about so far are Under the Skin, Grand Budapest Hotel, and Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, but I stupidly missed Stranger by the Lake (really tried to see that one but kept screwing up), Captain America 2, and others.

I also love Enemy more and more in retrospect, but I remember being incredibly annoyed with its first half when actually watching it. Oh, the portent...

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Keller

I am now fully convinced I should see Edge of Tomorrow. I don't know if I should thank you or send you hate mail.

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoey

My list isn't ranked at this point, but I didn't even feel comfortable posting a top 10 based on the quality of films I've caught so far.

Rigor Mortis
The Lego Movie
Snowpiercer
Muppets Most Wanted
Obvious Child
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Belle

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

Love that the alphabet has put together Stranger by the Lake and Under the Skin. For me they're by far, the best of the year, even though they make you wonder what's wrong with relationships, human or alien, straight or gay :)

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

Great List!
I'm dying to watch Ida and Begin Again. Palo Alto and The Immigrant are also high on my list to see, but you didn't mention them.

Mine is something like that:

1. Only Lovers Left Alive
2. Snowpiercer
3. Stranger by the Lake
4. Under the Skin
5. Enemy
6. Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho (The Way He Looks)
7. Young & Beautiful
8. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
9. X-Men: Days of Future Past
10. The Strange Little Cat

But I didn't see some important ones like Grand Budapest Hotel (which just opened in Brazil)

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterremy

Your awards, your qualifying rules.

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

1-X-Men: Days Of Future Past B+
2-Captain America: The Winter Soldier B+
3-Neighbors B+
4-Edge Of Tomorrow B
5-The Amazing Spider-Man 2 B-/C+
6-Maleficent B-/C+
7-Godzilla B-/C+
8-Noah C+
9-RoboCop C+
10-Under The Skin C

Just to explain the Top Ten (thus far) a little bit:

X-Men: Days Of Future Past as number one: I saw it three times in theaters, I thought it was flawed but well-done and it lived up to my expectations: It put the X-Men film series back on track and was worth seeing in theaters multiple times. I'm certainly not dismissing the issues Nathaniel and others brought up about the film but the story it told engage me.

TASM2 & Maleficent over Godzilla: All three film have huge script issues but of the three, Godzilla is the one that is most undone by them. It shoves these (extremely) stock characters to the forefront in an attempt to have an emotional anchor to the film and it fails miserably; and the things the film did do right, like the final fight, it held back and teased to annoyance. The other films, while not having the visual showmanship of Godzilla (moreso TASM2 than Maleficent in that regard), at least made me care about the characters at some point and I felt something other than "Please end this soon".

RoboCop over Under The Skin: The former was better than it had any right to be and the latter, while certainly more artfully done, didn't truly engage me like I thought it would. Ultimately, Under The Skin will probably be only one I revisit and will likely improve on a second viewing. These rankings are just based off of what I felt after my initial viewings of them.

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Armour

Top 5:

1. The Grand Budapest Hotel - I was initially uncertain about this movie on first viewing, despite how funny it was, due to the tone, but after rewatching I think it's well-balanced. Best movie of the year so far, and my #2 work from Anderson (behind Moonrise Kingdom).

2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier - I debated whether this or DOFP should be in second place, but I think TWS is ultimately more consistent as a film, even if DOFP's highs are a bit higher.

3. X-Men: Days of Future Past - Superb blockbuster filmmaking, and would probably be #2 if the future segments didn't feel a bit orphaned at times.

4. The LEGO Movie - Pure fun.

5. The Fault in Our Stars - I debated which of several B+ movies deserved the fifth spot, and ultimately picked this one because I really love Woodley's performance.

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSean C.

Firstly, my agree/disagree on your post:

Agree wholeheartedly - EDGE OF TOMORROW, THE LEGO MOVIE, UNDER THE SKIN

Happy for it to be in a Top Ten (because everything has to please me) - CHILD'S POSE

Disagree - CAPTAIN AMERICA 2 (I am in the minority who saw this as nothing new on the genre, and therefore part of the demise of the superhero trend (although THE NOT-AMAZING SPIDERMAN 2 did so much more towards that goal) but given I love the DARK KNIGHT trilogy, I think we just accept that we each have different needs from the genre), GODZILLA (too empty of human character for me), IDA (not bad, but felt so much "been here before" with both it's WW2 and Catholic duty themes), STRANGER BY THE LAKE (I really wanted to love this - I don't want to think that it's because I am straight that I don't appreciate it, because I believe that great cinema should transcend everything - but I couldn't get into it's level of arty).

My recommendation to you would be to check out both ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE and LE WEEKEND. Also, if you do love Green so much, 300 2 is Ok as a brainless piece of entertainment (it doesn't inslt you as much as SPIDER-MAN 2)

My lists* (because of laziness, I will just piggy-back your blog instead of making my own....):

The great:

A CASTLE IN ITALY (UN CHÂTEAU EN ITALIA)
CAMILLE CLAUDEL 1915
EDGE OF TOMORROW
THE GOLDEN CAGE (LA JAULA DE ORO)
GORE VIDAL: THE UNITED STATES OF AMNESIA
HER
HOUSTON
THE LEGO MOVIE
MICHAEL H. PROFESSION: DIRECTOR
NEBRASKA
ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE
ONLY MY MOTHER
THE RAID 2
SUZANNE
TO KILL A MAN (MATAR A UN HOMBRE)
2 AUTUMNS, 3 WINTERS (2 AUTOMNES, 3 HIVERS)
UNDER THE SKIN


The average/ordinary/shite:

THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN 2: RISE OF ELECTRO
BELLE
FATHER’S GARDEN – THE LOVE OF MY PARENTS (VATERS GARTEN –
DIE LIEBE MEINER ELTERN)
FOLIES BERGÉRE
GRUDGE MATCH
HANNAH ARENDT
IT BOY (20 ANS D’ÉCART)
JUST A SIGH (LE TEMPS DE L’AVENTURE)
MADEMOISELLE C
MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM
MR. MORGAN’S LAST LOVE
TOUR DE FORCE (LA GRANDE BOUCLE)
WRESTLING QUEENS (LES REINES DU RING)

*Based on Australian release dates (or, in some cases, festival films watched in 2014)

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTravis C

Great list! You're a genius, Nathaniel! Now, can you replace Manohla? You're in NY. And after her Jersey Boys review, she needs to go. Tell 'em I sent you.

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCharlieG

So is "coding fixes" a euphemism or something?

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterArthur

Under the Skin was amazing, especially watching it in a theater. Begin Again which I saw last year felt like a convoluted mess.

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNikki

My rule of thumb is when the film is first conveniently available. If I have to drive more than an hour to see a movie, then it won't qualify until it becomes available on DVD or streaming. So, here's my top ten to date:

FILMS:
1. Like Someone in Love
2. The Past
3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
4. Gloria
5. The Act of Killing
6. Stranger by the Lake
7. The Lego Movie
8. Under the Skin
9. Cutie and the Boxer
10. Snowpiercer

PERFORMANCES:
1. Paulina Garcia (Gloria)
2. Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
3. Scarlett Johansson (Under the Skin)
4. Patrick d'Assumçao (Stranger by the Lake)
5. Tadashi Okuno (Like Someone in Love)
6. Bérénice Bejo (The Past)
7. Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer)
8. Ali Mosaffa (The Past)
9. Guy Pearce (Breathe In)
10. Bukky Ajayi (Mother of George)

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterW.J.

I've seen so few movies this year that, technically, Kevin Costner's "3 Days to Kill" would make the Top 10.

I did really like Captain America 2 and loved loved loved Enough Said.

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

I haven't seen the last 2 on your list yet, but from what I have seen I think the year has 4 standouts so far - Only Lovers Left Alive, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Neighbors, and Captain America 2. I don't get the love for Stranger By the Lake at all.

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

Arthur -- it is not. When I go to update the code -- the charts are not built as standard blog due to all the visuals and structure -- the pages disappear as i'm working on them. There's some glitch happening.

July 8, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I included STRANGER BY THE LAKE in my 2013 roster since it opened not only in its native country, but also my home country (Australia) so I felt by the time early 2015 comes around we're all discussing films it'll feel REALLY old. As for IDA, yes, Poland would be smart to submit it. I could see it getting cinematography nomination as well if they played their cards right.

My top ten of the year would be...

1. Under the Skin
2. Happy Christmas
3. Hawaii
4. Like Father Like Son
5. 52 Tuesdays
6. Obvious Child
7. Canopy
8. Hide Your Smiling Faces
9. The Lego Movie
10. Stand Clear of the Closing Doors

With honourable mentions to Ida, Aim High in Creation, The Babadook, Exhibition, Grand Piano, My Prairie Home (Canadian release), and many others.

Like Father, Like Son is another that hedged its bets on Oscar (Japan didn't even submit it) and then it went out into the world with barely anybody even knowing it was out let alone seeing it. Sigh. 52 Tuesdays and Canopy have recieved their Australian releases so I've included them. They'll be out later this year in America. I have seen films that should be on the list (Listen Up Philip, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night), but aren't out yet.

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

Nymphomaniac lords over the year so far for me, and could conceivably lord over the rest of it too.

Nathaniel, I was curious to hear your reaction to it. Did you get to see it?

My Top 10 would roughly go

1. Nymphomaniac
2. Under the Skin
3. Child's Pose
4. Stranger by the Lake
5. Only Lovers Left Alive
6. Edge of Tomorrow
7. It Felt Like Love
8. Ida
9. Drinking Buddies
10. Gloria (was this a '14 release? If not, Budapest Hotel can go here)

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commentergoran

Oh, Missing Picture was a '14 release? Than that goes in at #9 on the list above.

I should also add I've not been able to see Snowpierecer, We Are the Best or Begin Again yet, though looking forward to all of them.

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commentergoran

And I co-sign everything you say re. Anderson/Grand Budapest Hotel.

Except for the bit about Life Aquatic, which is a morbidly underrated near-masterpiece with astounding, novelistic depth to be found beneath its admittedly busy surface.

Anderson is however yet to top Tennenbaums for me, though Moonrise Kingdom came close

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commentergoran

I'm surprised by your gushing love for Captain America 2. I thought the action was fantastic, Scarlett Johansson was lovely, Marvel's casting of Sam L Jackson is FINALLY starting to pay off in these films and Chris Evans continues to play it straight in, at times, interesting ways compared to his marvel superhero counterparts. However, I did not find the main character's arc compelling at all here (was much better in the first film) AND the villains are incredibly weak. The best friends flashbacks and emotional conflict that the film's success really hangs on was eye rollingly bad - and it really drags the film down.

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny

I'm glad you have Snowpiercer & the Lego Movie on there. Both were great fun, and will likely be on my year-end list. I'm also a big fan of Neighbors.

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny2

So far (based on New Zealand release date):

1. Her
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
3. Captain America 2
4. 12 Years a Slave
5. The Wolf of Wall Street
6. Lone Survivor
7. The Raid 2
8. 22 Jump Street
9. The Past
10= Edge of Tomorrow
10= Aberdeen

We're a little behind the rest of the world.

July 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNico

Nathaniel, it's time to dump Oscar qualifying relases. In my book Gloria, The Wind Rises, Ernest and Celstine, The Missing Picture, and Labor Day are all 2014 US films and are in my lists for this year. I don't play these games that the studios do.

My top 10 so far:
-Burning Bush
-A Field in England
-The Immigrant
-Like Father, LIke Son
-Locke
-Only Lovers Left Alvie
-Snowpiercer
-Stranger by the Lake
-Under The Skin
-The Wind Rises

And I'd be fine if this was my top 10 at years end. Quite amazing.

Just outside: Gloria, Nymphomaniac (thanks to Part 1), Young and Beauitful, Joe, The Double, Edge of Tomorrow, Noah

Have yet to see from the 1st Half: Dormant Beauty, Le Week-end (on instant now), Ilo Ilo, Heli, Norte the End of HIstory

July 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJuanL

Was I the only one who hated The Lego Movie? Sure it had some funny and clever moments but it was so exhausting and I had a headache from the filmmakers trying to making something snappy and cutesy out of every second. It was an assault on my senses.

July 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commentero.s.

JuanL -- in some ways i want to. but on the other hand i do see most of the qualifiers the year they're qualifying for so it's also weird to "hold" them until the next year. basically i just hate the system but we live in it.

July 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Am shocked to see thw exclusion of Grand Budapest and The Immigrant, and the inclusion of Begin Again.
Jaw-dropped by the fact that Ida grossed more than Under The Skin, Begin Again and Snowpiercer.

July 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercraver

Top 10 of 2014, so far (based on French release date):

1-Under the Skin
2-Maps to the Stars
3-Black Coal,Thin Ice
4-Ocho apellidos vascos
5-Tom at the farm
6-The Dance of Reality
7-Life of Riley
8-The Lego Movie
9-Snowpiercer
10-The Grand Budapest Hotel

July 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

Stranger by the Lake, Under the Skin, and possibly Ida or Snowpiercer are also in my Top Ten so far.

So are Blue Ruin and Le Week-End. See them!

July 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Agreed on Grand Budapest. VERY Wes Anderson without very much to say, IMO.

LOL @ "74% of you will die... for it." I did!

July 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBD

"Edge of Tomorrow"? Really?? Drek.

July 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKeppler

Hmmmm...should've kept my film journal up to date. OK, here are 10 just off the top of my head that I've really enjoyed/respected thus far (in no particular order):

1) How To Train Your Dragon 2
2) Finding Vivian Meier
3) X-Men Days of Future Past
4) Captain America: The Winter Soldier
5) The Lego Movie
6) Belle
7)The Grand Seduction
8) Edge of Tomorrow
9)The Fault In Our Stars
10) A pile up of several things I liked that were nonetheless flawed: "Maleficent" "Chef" "Jersey Boys" "Joe" "Locke" (Can we just say that all of these had terrific performances even if the movies didn't quite come together?)

July 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDback

01. Stranger by the lake
02. Under the Skin
03. The Grand Budapest Hotel
04. Like Father, Like Son
05. Finding Vivian Maier
06. X-Men: Days of Future Past
07. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
08. Begin Again
09. The Fault in Our Stars
10. Noah

July 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterManuel

I always have trouble with Top Ten lists, mainly because it's easy to pick a few for the top of the list...but how to choose/rank those further down? How to pick one's 8th choice over one's 9th choice...you get the idea.

Anyway, the top three on my list so far this year are the only three I've seen more than once, and in this order: Ida; Locke; The Grand Budapest Hotel. Everybody should see them.

As for others...and as far as release dates in Montréal are concerned...here goes, in no particular order:

Under the Skin
Quay d'Orsay (French; really great performance from Thierry Lhermitte; supposedly being released in the US later this year under the title The French Minister)
Jimmy P.: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian
Enemy
Tom at the Farm (Nat, this was only released in Québec in late March, so it's not surprising that it's not yet gotten a US release, given the general American bliness to good Québec films.)
The Lunchbox
Je fais la mort (Really good French comedy; it's shown at a couple of US festivals under the title Playing Dead.)
The Immigrant
The Double
Venus in Furs

I haven't seen all that much good in documentaries, though I did like Tim's Vermeer. (I wasn't so crazy about Finding Vivian Meier.)

And, as for worst films of the year:

Jersey Boys
Transcendence
The Face of Love (Nat, did you see this one?)
Three Days in Havana (English Canadian)
Bunker (Québec)
A Thing for Beauty (Denys Arcand's latest; I think he's really lost the knack.)
9 Mois Ferme (Really stupid French comedy)

July 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBill_the_Bear

I have to say that Godzilla and X-Men: Days of the Future Past are two of the most embarrassingly bad screenplays in a long time. Still, visuals and actors save both film from being total waste and make 'em watchable and even entertaining. The case with XM, is specially horrid, as treats audiences as complete flatliners, with constant cheating and actually messing up a story that was actually bulletproof on the source material.

July 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJesus Alonso

Bill the Bear -- yeah, i saw Face of Love for The Bening. It was not good, no.

July 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

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