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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The Lunchbox. Meals On Chaotic Wheels.

329411,xcitefun-the-lunchbox-posterOh to be an office worker in Mumbai. No soggy, over-priced lunchtime sandwich for them. Instead, they receive fresh, home-cooked meals delivered from kitchen to desktop every day by the legendary Dabbawallahs. Their infinitely complex system of transporting thousands upon thousands of tiffin boxes all across the city famously Never. Goes. Wrong. The Lunchbox explores what might happen if it did.

Ila (Nimrat Kaur) is married to Rajeev (Nakul Vaid) but the spark has gone. Rajeev works long hours and spends home time glued to his phone. Surmising the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, Ila decides to cook up a storm for Rajeev’s lunchbox. But the box is erroneously delivered to accounts worker Saajan (Irrfan Khan), an introverted widower. Figuring out the mistake, lla sends a letter via the following day’s tiffin box to chastise the greedy so and so who happily noshed her husband’s lunch.

And so begins a correspondence between unseen strangers. Both lonely, Ila and Saajan find solace in the daily letters, soon confiding their innermost thoughts and feelings to each other. The older Saajan offers wisdom and advice to the younger Ila, who in turn gives him hope. Growing closer, they start questioning whether their relationship is turning into something more than just epistolary.

This is a beautiful film. Poignant, wistful and understated with perfectly realised characters, it’s emotional without ever being mawkish. It’s also marvellously funny in places, particularly the disembodied voice of ‘Auntie’, an eccentric neighbour who dispenses love life advice and cooking tips to Ila.  But perhaps the biggest character is Mumbai itself, captured in all its hectic, rush hour chaos, deftly circumnavigated by the army of singing, clapping, head wagging Dabbawallahs. If you can’t take a trip to India anytime soon, The Lunchbox is the next best thing.

UK release 11 April 2014

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