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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Mr. Turner. Grunt Work.

MrTurner_FinalWe have to confess we approached Mr Turner feeling somewhat negative. We’re no philistine, but 2 ½ hours on the life of a painter? Who, to our knowledge, wasn’t in the habit of doing anything particularly exciting like cutting his ear off or harbouring absinthe/opium habits? What we hadn’t taken into account is Mr Turner is written and directed by Mike Leigh.

We meet William Turner (Timothy Spall), the celebrated painter of land and seascapes, at the height of his career. He is moneyed and successful. He lives with his father in a large and comfortable London house and has two illegitimate daughters by Sarah Denby (Ruth Sheen) and a new grandchild, whose existence he publicly denies. Brusque to the point of rudeness, solitary and bumptious, he is a curious individual, evidently damaged by being left by his mother early in life.

So what happens? Well, tangibly not a lot. We follow Turner’s daily life, his visits to the Royal Academy where he insults and taunts his great rival Constable. His trips to Margate where he found inspiration for his seascapes and a rare happy relationship with a widow, Mrs Booth (Marion Bailey). We see him suffer pretentious salons where the great and not so great pompously discuss art and philosophy.

It’s tremendous. Like a cross between Jane Austen and Blackadder, it possesses a marvellously witty script that is somehow both contemporary and period, completely bringing to life the social and artistic circles of the day in all their bickering, hierarchical glory. But it’s not without emotion. His callous, borderline cruel treatment of others is held up for our observation and judgment. Anchored by a memorably eccentric, growling, bestial performance from Timothy Spall, comprising porcine grunts, sagging jowls and disparaging eye rolls, a trip round the Tate Gallery will never be quite the same again.

UK release 31 October

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