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« Interview: "Virunga" Producer Joanna Natasegara | Main | Looking Back: Season 1 Recap »
Monday
Jan052015

Best of the Year: Nathaniel's Top Ten

Previously we looked at ten runners-up -- practically an alternate top ten if you will the year was so good. Now on to the list you've been waiting for as our own awardage begins. 

The years best films marched in the streets in London and Alabama, cruised Scotland with nefarious intent, uncovered skeletons in Poland, and jogged around DC. They performed on the stages of Manhattan while also house hunting there; neither activity is for the faint of heart. Only two of them sprang from books though another cast its biggest spell while holding one. Two taught us about history in ways that felt absolutely relevant and useful to how we live now and one let us watch 12 years of it unfold. The thing that unites all ten is the imagination, fine judgement (when to employ a light touch and when to hit hard) and technical prowess of the filmmakers and actors, lifting their scenes, themes and stories however mundane, silly, deep or fanciful to greater heights that we could have reasonably expected.

With deep appreciation...

NATHANIEL'S TOP TEN FILMS OF 2014

CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER
(Anthony Russo & Joe Russo)
Disney. April 4th
138 minutes 

The public has been more than generous with Marvel Studios over the years as they stumbled into surprising glory given that they were playing with a half deck having sold so many key characters. Ten films in: perfection! Captain America: Winter Soldier artfully dodges nearly every typical superhero movie problem (as well as general sequel problems) with a stunning grasp of mood, total commitment to a "square" character, a smart choice of villain, and thrilling action scenes that feel authentically dangerous (a complete rarity in blockbusters) rather than like stop-and-gawk "setpieces" with no actual stakes. Add in Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson both embracing their supersized charisma and physical perfection (while deepening their rapport and characterizations) and you have the year's best popcorn entertainment.

 

THE BABADOOK
(Jennifer Kent)
IFC Films. November 28th 
93 minutes 

You can't intellectualize away its terror, though reviews and many a future masters theses will try. This alarming horror film, a brilliant debut for Australian director Jennifer Kent, is as hard to shake as its title character whether you take it as a straightforward monster film, a mental illness or grief allegory, or get hung up on its minefield of taboos (mothers who don't much like their children / over-medication of children / weapons in schools). It's as rich and imaginative a study of depression in its own creepy-crawly way as Lars Von Trier's Melancholia so it's wonderfully apt that Jennifer Kent once apprenticed with the Danish provocateur

Eight with more than enough Great after the jump...

 

MOMMY
(Xavier Dolan)
Roadside Attractions. Qualifying Run.
139 minutes 

My friend Jason said it best I think when he said "Mommy's too much. Mommy's not enough, Mommy's just right" Or maybe it was Missy Elliott who said it best whe she sang "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy | Damn Mommy, roll like armies | Mommy ass like a Cadillac | Mommy give 'em heart attacks" or maybe I said it best when I said "Dolan pushes the key sequences to such heightened extremes that you can practically see the psychic umblical cord still connecting this "Mommy" to her Bad Seed son; it's made from barbed wire." The point is this: a wave of chaotic thoughts, dischordant sounds, conflicted feeling, crazy ideas, multiple songs, and memorable images wash over you when Mommy is playing.  It's a miracle that the three central characters in Mommy have the stamina to make it through the whole movie they're so exhausted and exhausting. What keeps winding them up? The prolific man behind the camera and boy is his new baby alive. 


LOVE IS STRANGE
(Ira Sachs)
Sony Pictures Classics. August 22nd
94 minutes 

Ira Sach's romantic drama, the year's most delicate beauty, begins with a quick wedding. Though the ceremony is meaningful to all gathered, it's also a technicality: gay seniors Ben and George (John Lithgow and Alfred Molina summoning incredible romantic history) have been defacto married for decades. Unfortunately the happy couple will soon be forced to separate and live with friends and relative while they embark on the nightmare for Manhattanites: the real estate search. Like many of the best films of this unusually interconnected year, Love is Strange's cumulative emotional potency is greater than any one scene though its easy to name check several delightful and perceptive ones. But it's stealth strength comes from the way it pokes and prods and shadows and tests numerous individual bonds within its tightknight commuynity(in this case closest friends and blood relatives) is greater than any one scene, though I can name several delightful or perceptive ones. By its last artistically daring but spiritually generous moment, when the film leaves Ben & George's home behind to wordlessly follow their young nephew out of their new home and back out into the world he's just beginning to live in, I was a mess of tears.

SELMA
(Ava DuVernay)
Paramount. December 25th
127 minutes 

Ava DuVernay's Middle of Nowhere (which made this very top ten list in its year) was a fine calling card. For her follow up she's considerably upped the scale but managed to retain the intimacy which is the best we could have hoped for. If only every cinematic history lesson were this visceral. DuVernay's interrogation (using her own words) of history feels so immediate and resonant that it's rather like one of those Shakespeare productions done in modern garb. Your head knows that the story is of the past but all your other senses tell you this is happening. right now. And come to think of it, it is. History is made in the present and Selma is a gorgeous reminder that civil rights and voting rights are not battles long since won. They are wins that must continually be defended. Selma is at once a great history lesson, a tense political drama, a tribute to the power of a communal voice (embodied in the booming voice of Martin Luther King Jr by way of David Oyelowo) and a righteous rebuke to conservative politicians today who are still shamelessly trying to surpress the black vote. 

 

IDA
(Pawel Pawlikowski)
Music Box Films. May 2nd
82 minutes 

Pawlkowski's merciless precision, there's zero fat on this picture, should put the world's filmmakers on notice. Suffer no fat, directors, and make every cut and lingering unbroken shot count. Ida's austere black and white visuals and cold-eyed precision of purpose could well make for stifling viewing in a lesser film but the odd framing keeps the eye ever alert, and Ida's incredibly gripping story, alien to most every viewer, surely, (unless you grew up in a convent and discovered your true heritage recently) is emphatically understood. Pawlikowski's gutsiest move may well have been in casting: He paired a novice as the novice (heh) with a seasoned professional as her worldy aunt. The friction in performance styles, one unknowable and unformed, the other layered and complicated with all the baggage expertly conveyed, plays like a miracle, a perfect bifurcated companion to the film's substance, style, and unforgettable characters. 

 

PRIDE
(Matthew Warchus)
CBS Films. September 26th
120 minutes 

I originally dubbed it "the year's most adorable movie" and that holds. But don't misunderstand; it's no "Feel Good" trifle (though you'll definitely Feel Good - capitals intended). Deceptively light on its feet, in both senses, this exquisitely crowded ensemble picture's emotions run deep, sturdy and universal. It has important things to teach us about self-worth, empathy, activism, turning lemons into lemonade, and embracing those we have little in common with. By the end of the picture, you'll tear up at the mere mention of a logo of two hands gripping each other in solidarity. Pride is easily the year's most underappreciated "Best," and will surely have a long happy life on cable and dvd/bluray where more people will discover it and join its lively parade. They'll be quoting it as they march, too.

 

BOYHOOD
(Richard Linklater)
IFC Films. July 11th
165 minutes

Some movies win on performance. Others on technical virtuosity or a fine screenplay. Boyhood won -- and I don't mean this dismissively because it's no small feat -- by not fucking up. Richard Linklater's conceptual experiment, launched in 2002, was genius. And also insane. By all means do embark on a 12 year project when you can't even contract actors for that long and don't even know what your career will hold by then. (Though it seems impossible to grasp he began this before School of Rock or even Before he first reunited Celine and Jesse!)  By all means make it up, sort of, as you go along though childhood will gift you with some universals. Boyhood's openheartedness and concept would be enough for an interesting decent movie. Add in the sharp unheralded comic timing of Patricia Arquette and the ragged spontaniety and lost boy charm of Ethan Hawke and you've got an entertaining moving sprawl of an experience and not just a thoughtful movie. The film's most famous line is already "I just thought there'd be more" but Boyhood is plenty. [Full Review]

 

BIRDMAN: OR THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE
(Alejandro González Iñárritu)
Fox Searchlight. November 14th
119 minutes

I've seen Birdman twice and both times it's completely wowed me on three levels simultaneously: technical, thematic, performative. Riggan Thomson and Michael Keaton both found redemption of a kind with their unexpected career moves, and I think you can say the same about their guide, the formerly heavyhanded killjoy Iñárritu who did an about face with this whatsit lark that's swift, verbal, inventive, strange and funny. But lately I've been thinking a lot about all the seriocomic mysteries on the periphery of Birdman's dizzying vision (glorious glorious vision provided by the master Emmanuel Lubezki). What's with the dancing reindeers? Is the play within the movie as terrible as it looks or an idiot savant success as Tabitha suggests? Does Tabitha the critic even exist? What plays did Mike Shiner make his name on? What does Sam see when she looks up into the sky or is she actually just a projection of me, watching this movie, elated. I'm marvelling that once it starts soaring it never comes back down. I'd ask for a Birdman 2 but that didn't work out so well for Riggan Thomson.  

 

UNDER THE SKIN
(Jonathan Glazer)
A24. April 4th
108 minutes

Perhaps when Jonathan Glazer filmed Nicole Kidman's immortal opera scene in Birth ten plus years ago she was actually looking at a workprint of Under the Skin brought back from the future? Surely that's what everyone looks like while watching the mesmerizing Under the Skin.  Earlier this year in the hopes of better understanding its inexorable hold on me I hosted an episode of "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" I hoped the exercize would help me to understand it but I'll admit that I feared the familiarity would demystify it. The fears were unfounded and the articles only convinced me we'd just begun to think through this movie. Glazer's alien masterpiece, at once confounding and accessible, abstract and earthy, erotic and sickening, doesn't fade nonchalantly from the memory as so many films do. It merely recedes into inky blackness or disappears in a fog until its ready to startle you again, flashing a perfectly conceived bracing new image at you. A new image that you've paradoxically seen before. It remains alien but it can't be unseen.  

 

Please do share your feelings about these ten beauties in the comments and, if you're done jamming movies in your eyeballs, your own top tens if you're so inclined. 

P.S. If you're curious about previous years of top ten, remember there's a pull down menu from the top banner to look at such things!

 

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Reader Comments (56)

25. X-Men: Days of Future Past
24. Whiplash
23. Enemy
22. Tale of Princess Kaguya
21. Nightcrawler
20. We are the Best!
19. Lego Movie
18. Lilting
17. Obvious Child
16. Begin Again
15. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
14. Ida
13. Snowpiercer
12. Gone Girl
11. Force Majuere
10. Wild
9. Pride
8. Two Days One Night
7. Only Lovers Left Alive
6. Love is Strange
5. Babadook
4. Mommy
3. Birdman
2. Under the Skin
1. Boyhood

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAR

Great list. The one omission that I was actually surprised about though was the lack of Obvious Child! Nevertheless I always find your thoughts interesting and you've now persuaded me to give Under the Skin another go. I was not impressed on my first viewing but feel it needs another shot.

As for my top 10, seeing as I'm still missing Selma, A Most Violent Year, Wild, Unbroken, Ida, Mommy and Two Days One Night I'm not confident it will stay this way. I've rewatched everything except for spots 1, 8, and 10.

10. Pride
9. Boyhood
8. Mr. Turner
7. Grand Budapest Hotel
6. Obvious Child
5. Gone Girl
4. Fury
3. Only Lovers Left Alive
2. Begin Again
1. Whiplash.

I feel I need to see Whiplash again to really figure out if I got more out of it or Begin Again. At first I was hesitant to put Begin Again so high but after the re-watch I'm pretty confident in how much I adore everything about it.

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMynt Marsellus

Under the Skin's title is a perfect description of its effect on its audience. Great list

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNate T

Nice list.

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterErik

That is a very interesting top 10. I tried watching Under the Skin, but I couldn't finish it. I got to around 45 minutes left, and I had to give up. It was just too strange for me. I really liked both Birdman and Boyhood. I'm really excited to see Selma, which hopefully I'll be doing on January 11th. Since I don't have a full top 10 just yet, since there are just a few left to see, I'll rank my top 5.

1. Unbroken
2. Gone Girl
3. Birdman
4. Interstellar
5. Guardians of the Galaxy

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAl Robinson

1. Boyhood
2. Under the Skin
3. Mommy
4. Inherent Vice
5. Whiplash
6. Foxcatcher
7. Two Days One Night
8. Gone Girl
9. Winter Sleep
10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTyler

Great list! Here's mine: Under the Skin, Norte the End of History, Leviathan, Birdman, National Gallery, Heli, The Immigrant, Unrelated, Goodbye to Language 3D, Mr. Turner.

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

John for a second i read that as 3D MR TURNER and I was very unnecessarily excited to think of what that might look like because CINEMATOGRAPHY.

January 5, 2015 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nice list. I'm still missing A Most Violent Year, Wild and Mommy, but my top 10 by now would be something like that:

1 Boyhood
2 Birdman
3 Leviathan
4 Foxcatcher
5 Selma
6 Gone Girl
7 Whiplash
8 The Grand Budapest Hotel
9 Inherent Vice
10 Under the Skin

Foxcatcher is so good, but awards aren't giving it the atentions it deserves. I'm still hoping Bennett Miller will make the cut.

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNathanael

3D Mr. Turner would certainly be the best film of the year.

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Now I wonder what's in your 21 to 30 list?

Is either Godzilla or Dawn of Planet of Apes in there?

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRico

I hate that I still live in an irrelevant town (will be moving to LA in a few months) so I haven't been able to see so many movies bc of the way they do this crap. And some you can't find online until around now (some you can't even find now).

BUT I'm glad you put Birdman above Boyhood. I love both, but I do think Birdman is the better film overall.

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

Great lost, Nathaniel!
My top 3 is Mommy - The Grand Budapest Hotel - Birdman.

About Boyhood - I liked it the first time but after the second time I thought that it is not that engaging for a 3-hour movie. I love the direction but unlike a lot of people, I think that the screenplay is its weakest point.
After this I played it (or told to watch it) for some internarnational friends, for my family etc and I was almost slaughtered. All of them said that it was just "an American story" :D

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel B.

i wish i hadn't pulled down that menu for previous years; i'd missed (or wilfully forgotten) that beasts of the southern wild was your number one of 2012. it was, by far, my worst of that year.

i'll probably have my best of 2014 list compiled around mid-2017, but so far the grand budapest hotel leads the way...

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterpar

I didn't personally connect much with the films released in 2014, so for me it was not a very strong year. Here is my top 10 out of sixty 2014 releases I saw last year (128 movies total):

1. Nightcrawler
2. Under the Skin
3. Ida
4. Birdman
5. Two Days One Night
6. Begin Again
7. The Grand Budapest Hotel
8. Whiplash
9. Life Itself
10. The Babadook

Last year's:
1. The Act of Killing
2. Stories we tell
3. Short Term 12
4. 12 Years a Slave
5. Like Someone in Love
6. The Square
7. Wadjda
8. Her
9. Enough Said
10. Before Midnight

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMr. Goodbar

Stranger by the Lake
Boyhood
Under The Skin
Ida
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Force Majeure
Gone Girl
Jodorowsky's Dune
Like Father, Like Son
X-Men: Days of Future Past

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterManuel

10. The Lego Movie
9. The Immigrant
8.
7. Boyhood
6. Nightcrawler
5. Guardians of The Galaxy
4. Begin Again
3. Interstellar
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
1. Gone Girl

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterfadhil

LOL silly me
8. Snowpiercer

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterfadhil

You know, I totally get what you say about fearing becoming too familiar with Under the Skin. I watched it some time ago and loved it, but since I started hearing more and more about it and I saw it sneak in so many top 10 lists, I'm kind of afraid of rewatching it or even thinking about it out of fear of it losing its magic. I'm glad you say that fear is unfounded.

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLucky

Top 15:

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Only Lovers Left Alive
A Most Violent Year
Edge of Tomorrow
The Homesman
Under the Skin
Nightcrawler
Inherent Vice
Le Week-end
Begin Again
Gone Girl
Whiplash
Birdman
Selma
Pride

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

I haven't seen Mommy yet (I'm so jealous that so many people in this thread seem to have caught it already!). Even still, we share 5 out of the same Top Ten. Maybe that's why this is my favorite blog-- I narcissistically love hearing praise for my faves? Or maybe you make me better appreciate these films? Who knows.

Ideally, I would have liked to see Mommy, Mr. Turner and A Most Violent Year before posting this, but I'll do it anyway. Out of 110 fiction films, my Top Ten for 2014 are:

10. Blue Ruin
9. Land Ho!
8. Ida
7. Le Week-End
6. Selma
5. Pride
4. Under the Skin
3. Gabrielle
2. Birdman
1. Stranger by the Lake

And I'll add as a teaser: I'm betting that I already have one of my Top Ten for 2015! (And no, not due to any release date shenanigans.)

Much love to TFE-- thanks for a great year in film coverage!

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Love the list. So happy that so many genre films are getting attention this year. I don't think any of them (Birdman aside) are going to pop in for major consideration at the Oscars, but it's nice to see critics rally around them for once.

My own top 10:

10: Into the Woods
9: Under the Skin
8: Dear White People
7: Snowpiercer
6: Boyhood
5: Gone Girl
4: Selma
3: Birdman, or, The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
2: Only Lovers Left Alive
1: Obvious Child

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

Under the Skin ... excellent choice.

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCharlieG

I always feel ridiculous posting a top 10 list at this point, because I haven't seen half the films released last year yet. But here we go:

10. A Most Wanted Man
9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
8. Ida
7. Snowpiercer
6. Begin Again
5. Gone Girl
4. Foxcatcher
3. Whiplash
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
1. Boyhood

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

No Wild Tales? :(

I just saw Love is Strange. Strong lead performances and very nice final 15 minutes but the rest I really didn't care about. The characters were kinda weird and annoying. It was at its best when it focused on the two leads.

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

Alphabetically:

Begin Again
Birdman
Ida
The Immigrant
Mommy
Only Lovers Left Alive
Selma
Stranger by the Lake
Under the Skin
Wild

HMs: Boyhood, Capt. America, Snowpiercer

Ask me tomorrow and it may change, though!

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTyler

OMG!!!

You're number 1! Thank you god!

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

Love reading your Top Ten list as always, Nathaniel! Of course, it helps that we have similar taste - four of our Top Five films overlap, and I have yet to see Ida (I know, I know...). Actually, I haven't seen too many films to definitively list my Top Ten, but as of now these are the films that make the cut (in rough order): Under The Skin, Pride, Birdman, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Boyhood, Grand Budapest Hotel, The Lego Movie, Test, Stranger by the Lake, and Theory of Everything.

The only film that could possibly compete with Pride for "Year's Most Adorable Movie" is GBF, which is just the cutest damn thing you ever did see (even though it's not exactly "good").

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Fewer movies seen this year than past years (so subject to change by March):

1. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
2. The Skeleton Twins
3. Birdman
4. Fury
5. Tracks
6. Calvary
7. Ida
8. Guardians of the Galaxy
9. Snowpiercer
10. Boyhood

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

Paul Outlaw- I love your artfully designed top 15.

Interesting that Wild doesn't show up on many commenter lists. I've haven't seen a bunch of films (incl. Inherent Vice, AMVY, Selma), but it wouldn't make mine either.

Great to see love for Under the Skin though!

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPam

I think I rewatched Under the Skin more often than any other film last year (with the possible exception of Free Fall). In other words, good choice.

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCraig

Sad Man -- i updated the first post with a top 30 so there's a bit on WILD TALES now... but yeah, i'm already sad it's not in my top 20. *sniffle* If only numbers were that flexible.

the craziest thing is that STRANGER BY THE LAKE (#15) was very firmly ensconced in the top ten last year before its released was delayed. 2014 was so much stronger than 2013.

January 5, 2015 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I can't have yet a top 10 ( Selma hasn't open yet here and also a few others) but generally looking at the various top 10 lists I'm a bit surprised at the love for Under the Skin ( which I barely finished ), Begin Again ( which was for me just another indie romantic comedy ) and even Grand Budapest Hotel ( which I liked but I forgot about it immediately after ).

I loved Pride and Force Majeure - but probably Birdman will be at the top of my list. It's such an original movie that happens to be quite entertaining as well.

I'll give Under the Skin another try - though I can't bring myself to do it just yet.

Also, I saw Clouds of Sills Maria at some festival - I hope that one gets released in US as it was another great original and entertaining movie, not to mention an acting showcase for Juliette Binoche.

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered Commenteradelutza

This was solid. Here's mine:

Guardians
Under the Skin
The Double
Top Five
Snowpiercer
Grand Budapest
Interstellar
Gone Girl
Inherent Vice
Birdman

Under the Skin confounded me, but it's also stuck with me more than any other film here and I feel like if I revised this list in a few years time it'd crawl up higher and higher...

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCharles Bryan

Great list as always.

I would just like criticize your number one choice, not to undermine your authority or intellect, but to perhaps start a debate about the film. Too often when people say they don't like the film, passionate fans will dismiss such claims by saying that we don't get it or understand it, and that "smart artsy" films are not for us.

But Under the Skin is clearly one of those love it/hate it films. Many passionate cinephiles I know (including myself) find it boring and pretentious, and not even pretty to look at (save Scar Jo's body and those creepy scenes in the dungeon).

My problem with the film is this: It's okay that I don't understand it, and that it is meant to be ambiguous and intellectually stimulating. Like the main character, it is cold and distant. The difference, however, between Under the Skin and films like Holy Motors or Mulholland Dr., other popular art-house films that don't quite make sense, is that the latter two are always interesting minute-to-minute. Under the Skin, for me, had moments of intrigue (the aforementioned dungeon scenes), but a lot of it was Scar Jo driving around in a car or walking around in the woods. I don't know about the rest of you, but this isn't exactly stimulating cinema in my view.

I suppose all of this might be subjective, but I'd be curious to hear other opinions. Did you all find this film riveting from start to finish, or like me, were you intrigued by some moments and bored by others? And to those who were stimulated by every second of this film, what about those long scenes of Scar Jo driving or roaming around appealed to you?

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

Under the Skin, Love is Strange and Ida would probably get my vote for the most overrated movies of the year, but that's just me being peevish. Lovely write ups even if I couldn't disagree with you more :)

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

@Joseph:
I only watched Under the Skin once and I did have those moments in which I questioned what Glazer was trying to do or what the script was adding up too with its repetitiveness or whether or not Johansson's accent was accurate. However, after the movie ended, I felt I'd been given a visual and sensorial experience that my mind and body had been deeply affected by, which is proof that I had witnessed something special. That kind of experience can only be personal, hence the divisiveness this movie promotes. I personally respond well to movies that tries to expand cinema as an art form, which I believe is the case here.

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMr. Goodbar

Fabulous list. Thanks for making us 'think' about the movies!

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

@ Pam: Thanks! One of the benefits of mild OCD.

If I had done a Top 20 instead of 15, Wild would probably have made the cut...

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Denny
What movie is GBF?

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMe

I haven't seen enough this year for a full list, but here's my top 5.

1. Under the Skin
2. Gone Girl
3. Inherent Vice
4. Nymphomaniac
5. The Knick (it's the most exciting filmmaking Soderbergh has done in years, so whatever it counts)

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterchasgoose

@ Joseph

As Mr. Goodbar mentioned, I think the whole of Under the Skin is more than the sum of its parts. Sure there are slightly boring parts and one could argue that its repetitive, but I can't remember the last time I had such an overwhelming experience and was so affected by seeing a movie. I saw it in a giant screen theater in Times Square with some fancy extra loud sound system (why they gave it that theater still confounds me, but I'm so happy they did) and the fact that I literally couldn't process anything but the movie made it very easy to just slip into the world of the film. When I left the theater it took me a couple hours before I could get my bearings and interact normally with the world around me. Under the Skin just does a great job of immersing you into the completely alien worldview of Scarlett Johannson's character. Also while I definitely agree with those who found it hard to follow or that it wasn't really clear what was going on all the time, the film definitely had an internal logic that Glazer adhered to. It's just that he didn't necessarily let the audience in on it.

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterchasgoose

Films I haven't had the opportunity to see yet: The Imitation Game, Selma, Inherent Vice, Foxcatcher, various and sundry foreign films.

Unlike Nathaniel, I'm a huge superhero fan, so my list has three. I considered removing one, but I do try to be honest, and there are few things that thrill me more than to see the genre done well.

10. Begin Again - Lovely romantic fantasy.
9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier - In some respects the most middle-of-the-road of the superhero films, but it's a perfectly-assembled action film with great characterization.
8. X-Men: Days of Future Past - In some respects the least-heralded of the three great superhero films of last spring/summer, but it's got the most thematic weight.
7. Whiplash - Riveting depiction of the sacrifices toward becoming a great artist, while also interrogating the implications of that concept. J.K. Simmons understandably gets most of the awards attention, but Miles Teller is almost as good.
6. Life Itself - A wonderful tribute to Roger Ebert.
5. Gone Girl - Another strong foray by David Fincher into pulp filmmaking; and as someone who's been a Rosamund Pike fan for over a decade, glad to see her finally taking centre-stage.
4. The Immigrant - A terrific modern morality play, centered around a brilliant Marion Cotillard performance.
3. Guardians of the Galaxy - Pure fun.
2. Boyhood - Richard Linklater is the cinematic master in the examination of the subject of time, and this is his most fascinating project in that regard.
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel - I was unsure about the tone of this at first glance, but on subsequent viewings it has been confirmed to be a masterpiece in my view. And it inspired me to look into the writings of Stefan Zweig.

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSean C.

Damn! Now I've got to sit through Captain America. Hope there's a lot of shirtlessness!

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Did Mommy play in NY?? I remember when only movies that opened in NY were eligible for film bitch awards a d your top ten, so... Did Mommy play in NY or did you just change the rules now?

Also, do you know when it's opening for real? (I hear conflicting things)

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterConrado

Conrado -- i changed the rules when I started getting screeners as a member of the BFCA so now I dont have to worry about missing qualifiers. It did not play in NYC.

I've also heard conflicting things about when it will open. since it got booted out of the foreign film race, we could see it delayed indefinitely. That's always the danger when distributors bank on Oscar's fickle favor.

January 5, 2015 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I really do wonder how much "Under the Skin" rewards repeat viewings. I just saw it for a second time today and I still think it's hypnotic and plangently powerful, but almost all of the mystery that was so tantalizing on the first go kind of dissipated this time. What once seemed obscure and somewhat frustrating now feels straight-forward and a little obvious in its metaphor. Still strong, insinuating work though.

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Read 'em & weep

BEST OF 2014
MOMMY
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
CALVARY
THE BABADOOK
LISTEN UP PHILIP
UNDER THE SKIN
THE TALE OF PRINCESS KAGUYA
A MOST VIOLENT YEAR
WHIPLASH
LOVE IS STRANGE

RUNNER UPS - Alphabetical
71
AMERICAN SNIPER
BIRDMAN
CHILD'S POSE
INHERENT VICE
LOCKE
STARRED UP
THE CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA
THE IMMIGRANT
WILD

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKDBHWD

My top ten (so far):

Pride
Gone Girl
Captain America: Winter Soldier
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ida
Stranger by the Lake
Interstellar
Guardians of the Galaxy
Under the Skin
The Imitation Game

Still have a few to watch (Boyhood, Selma, AMVY, and Love is Strange). I've only just watched Under the Skin today, and I hate snap judgements - but I loved it. Thanks, Nat. I never would have watched this (nor Ida, nor Stranger by the Lake) without TFE!

January 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTravis

All I have to say is SO much YES for Under the Skin being your number 1! Also stoked to see The Babadook make your list :)

January 6, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney

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