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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Nightcrawler. How Low Can You Go?

nightcrawler-posterThose of a nervous disposition, The Sloth strongly recommends you look away now. Nightcrawler sees Jake Gyllenhaal play Louis Bloom, one of the most memorably creepy characters to hit the screen for quite some time.

An unemployed loner with intense ambition, Louis’ manic stare and spouting of management-speak clichés learnt online lead most who meet him to give him a wide berth. Unable to find normal employment, Louis chances upon lone shark cameramen filming a car crash on an LA freeway, to sell the images to TV networks. Seeing the same footage on the following morning’s news, Louis decides this could be the vocation for him.

Acquiring a basic video camera, police radio interceptor and hapless assistant Rick (Riz Ahmed), Louis is soon hot footing it to accident scenes and jamming his lens into the faces of the dying and injured. Peddling his ill-gotten wares to a local TV station, he encounters hard-bitten director of news Nina Romina (Rene Russo) who, valuing ratings over morals, urges Louis to bring her footage of “victims that are white, well off, injured at the hands of the poor or minorities.” Her wish is Louis’ command and, being a resourceful type, he doesn’t stop there. Being first on the scene means he can ‘dress’ his ‘set’ as he wishes – dead body not quite in the best light? No matter, Louis will move it. And soon he graduates to not just videoing the news but orchestrating its creation – no matter the cost.

Jake Gyllenhaal is extraordinarily good as Louis. Gaunt, haunted and obsessive, we’ve no idea what gutter he crawled out of, but he’s so disconcertingly real it simply doesn’t matter. A timely and deeply, darkly troubling satire, Nightcrawler looks at our increasing appetite for ghoulish news stories and asks just how low can we go in the quest for TV ratings? Perhaps the most disturbing aspect is just how plausible some of it seems.

UK release 31 October 2014

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