Best Movies Of 2014

Another year is drawing to a close, bringing cold sweats and minor existential crises: where is our life going? Is Kim’s bum REALLY that big? Can we ever learn to like eggs when they smell like farts but are such a good source of protein? To distract our feverish (and slightly drunk – it is Xmas party season) mind, we’ve drawn up our traditional Top 10 Movies Of The Year list. Without further ado, in (hic) reverse order:

Deux_jours,_une_nuit_poster10. 2 Days 1 Night. Gotta love the French: “J’ai une idée! We will mek a moral drama about le socialism and les workers rights! In a Belgian factory! Wiv a mother ‘ou is getting ze sack!” “Ah, but zat is not bleak enough, no?” “OK, zen ze mother ‘ou is getting ze sack, ‘ow about she es sick wiv ze depression as well?” “Ah oui! C’est magnifique!”  And then they went and cast Marion Cotillard, so the dullest cinematic prospect ever conceived was amazing.

frank-movie-poster-michael-fassbender-600x4529. Frank. We salute it for various reasons. Primarily for the most ostentatiously cavalier use of Michael Fassbender, ever.  Hire one of the most talented actors of his generation then hide him under a giant papier-mâché heid. For virtually the entire film. Respect.

 

MrTurner_Final8. Mr Turner. Logic says you couldn’t win Best Actor at Cannes with a performance based primarily on grunts. Logic be damned. Timothy Spall channelled his best Gloucester Old Spot to take home the gong in Mike Leigh’s utterly charming, witty biopic.

 

 

20140415153532!Maps_to_the_Stars_poster7. Maps To The Stars. We love it when Hollywood bites the hand that feeds it. Maps To The Stars bares its bleached white teeth and shellac coated claws to swipe mercilessly at La La Land’s narcissism and egoism. All the more cutting with the recent, unfortunate expose of catty emails from Sony execs…

 

under the6. Under The Skin. Scarlett Johansson.  As a man-eating alien. Driving a white van. In Glasgow.  The Sloth can only presume the idea emerged during a game of Boggle. And it was every bit as strange, original, unsettling and downright barking mad as you’d expect.

 

329411,xcitefun-the-lunchbox-poster5. The Lunchbox. We’re not a particularly sentimental animal but occasionally we make exceptions. The Lunchbox was one such sweet, emotional and poignant exception, set against a rich and vivid portrayal of downtown Mumbai. Viewer Warning: overwhelming cravings for curry experienced at your own risk.

 

GOTG_Payoff_1-Sht_v4b_Lg4. Guardians Of The Galaxy. Talking raccoons! Talking trees! Sony Walkmans! Green aliens! This is what we want! Join The Sloth in giving praise and thanks to the someone, somewhere, who remembered that movies are supposed to be fun.

 

 

Boyhood-movie-poster-MAIN13. Boyhood. You’ve heard the critics salivating over this. 12 years in the making…astonishing director’s vision…incredible achievement, yadda yadda. What really got The Sloth was it draws you unsettlingly back on a journey through your own past 12 years.  History flashing before your eyes.

 

nightcrawler-poster2. Nightcrawler. This looked so mouth-wateringly fabulous on paper – Jake Gyllenhaal as a manic sociopath in a dark media satire, with the always-terrific Riz Ahmed on the side – we thought we would only be disappointed. We weren’t. We’ve not watched the News At Ten since. Shudder.

 

whiplash1. Whiplash. We emerged from the press screening with our head spinning and cheers ringing in our ears. Cheers! From miserable, unimpressible, been-there-done-that, grumpy journos! A dark, exhilarating, 100 mins of sheer adrenalin.

 

 

Agree? Disagree? Cor blimey, That Sloth doesn’t have a clue what they’re talking about? Tell us – what made your list?

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Boyhood. They Grow Up So Fast.

Boyhood-movie-poster-MAIN1Is there anything more evocative of time and place than music? Boyhood, famously shot over a 12 year period, opens with Coldplay’s Yellow and The Sloth immediately was shot back to a time before they were completely uncool.

Richard Linklater’s wildly ambitious plan of signing up Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, child actor Ellar Coltrane and his own daughter, Lorelei Linklater, to play the lives of a family of four from junior school to college graduation must have stemmed from genius or insanity. Aside from the logistics of getting them all together each year, how could he have predicited Ellar Coltrane, playing Mason whose boyhood we are following, would still be willing to be filmed age 15?  We can only begin to imagine the reactions of the Hollywood media lawyers: “You want to do what?” At least Richard could threaten disinheritance to sway any grumblings from Lorelei.

Logisitics aside, what actually happens? Well, life. Marriages break up, renew, break up. Children gain friends, lose friends, enter puberty with all the messy baggage that brings. Houses are sold and bought, jobs are sought. Nothing dramatic and yet it is utterly compelling. The minutiae of 12 years compounded into 160 minutes against the backdrop of history – the Iraq war, the demise of Bush, the rise of Obama, all set to the musical soundtrack of the past decade.

In a time when we’ve grown used to actors being aged, usually badly, by makeup and prosthetics, watching genuine aging before our very eyes is both fascinating and a wildly uncomfortable memento mori. Boyhood is an astounding achievement not so much for the story it follows onscreen, but for how it makes us pause and reflect on the past 12 years of our own lives. Did yours pan out how you wanted?

UK release 11 July 2014. DVD release 10 November.

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