Tuesday 30 December 2014

Top 25 Films of 2014: Part Three

Following on from my previous post couting down from numbers 15-6 which can be found here, these are my top five favourite films of 2014:

5. Pride

Tackling the true story of the 1980's miners strikes and the support offered to them by LGSM (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners), this life-affirming drama is incredibly moving as well as being very funny. If you like Shane Meadow's films (and let's face it - who doesn't?) then I implore you to seek this out as it is a powerful and important film that encapsulates the era exceptionally well much like This is England. You can read my full review here: http://filmbantha.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/cinema-review-pride.html

4. The Past

Asghar Farhadi's superb follow-up to the 2012 Oscar winner for the Best foreign picture (A Separation) is another enthralling drama with an added poignancy that brings a surprising emotional heft to the story. When an Iranian man returns to Paris to finalise his divorce with his French ex-wife he begins to unravel a heinous act when he reconnects with his step-daughters. This is bold and beautiful storytelling from one of cinema's most accomplished directors, and although others may disagree, I believe that this is Farhadi's most masterful work to date.

3. The Raid 2

Following a film as game-changing as The Raid was bound to be an incredibly difficult feat but director Gareth Evans and actor Iko Uwais took the sequel in an entirely new direction whilst still providing its fans with the relentless action sequences they were craving. Expanding the story introduced in the original to create an epic crime saga meant that the action could be transported to a whole host of locations to include a phenomenal mud-drenched battle in a prison yard, a high-octane car chase and an unforgettable struggle in a nightclub. This is what cinema was created for; pure entertainment that left me completely speechless and, if the third part of the story continues to be as breathtakingly awesome, I cannot wait to see what Gareth Evans has in store for us.

2. Birdman

Michael Keaton bares all in this staggering black comedy as a washed up actor once famous for his role in Birdman who is trying to eke out a living as a Broadway actor, and the parallels to his own past as Tim Burton's Batman add gravitas to what is arguably a career-reviving performance. Keaton puts everything on the line, and his trust in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's direction pays dividends with his decision to use only long takes picking up on every nuance that Keaton packs into his character, as well as providing numerous breathtaking shots as the camera glides effortlessly around the stunning location on Broadway. Edward Norton, Emma Stone, and Naomi Watts are so perfect in their supporting roles that it constantly feels like you are watching the greatest show on earth unravel right before your eyes, but it is Keaton who steals the limelight, and as the weight of his past successes come crushing down it all feels so perversely satisfying. I've not left the cinema with a smile on my face that big for some time, and with the knowledge that I would have happily headed straight back through those doors to watch Birdman all over again, right there and then.

1. 12 Years A Slave

With his impressive debut Hunger and its equally as awe-inspiring follow up Shame, Steve McQueen was well on the way to becoming one of my favourite directors. His masterpiece, 12 Years A Slave, is a film that completely broke me, with Mcqueen ushering in a devastating tale about the plight of a free man (Solomon Northup) wrongly imprisoned and sold on as a slave. Such a harrowing tale will inevitably deter some viewers; its stark depiction of the violence and brutality experienced by slaves will test audiences to their limits but there is no denying that this is an important story that needed to be told. Chiwetel Ejiofor's unforgettable portrayal of Solomon Northup may just haunt your dreams forever, with his unwavering hope of freedom in the face of unimaginable adversity being an inspiration to all.

So if you agree/disagree with any of my choices or believe I have wrongly left any films off then let me know. For a full list of every new release I have seen in 2014 ranked in order from my favourite to least favourite then head over to my Letterboxd account here - http://letterboxd.com/filmbantha/list/2014-releases-ranked/

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