Today, writing a blog about football, about my beloved Arsenal, would be too much of a bummer. And I would also be repeating myself to the pleasure of, er, nobody. So, instead, I’m going to talk a little bit about my favourite 5 of films of 2014. After all, what is the point in making lists if you do not share them with anyone? More to the point, Jo and I have spent so much time at the cinema or, to be precise, Greenwich Picturehouse this year that I think it would be silly not to write this blog.
So, without further ado, and in reverse order, my top 5 films of 2014. My only criteria for these is that the film must have been either on general release, or about to go on general release, when I saw it. Otherwise, the Picturehouse screening of Jaws a few months back would be sitting on top of this list without argument.
5) Blue Ruin– this revenge story was dark, gripping and not without a sense of humour. To me, it had a lot in common with a Coen Brother movie, or Winter’s Bone, which is undoubtedly a good thing. Blair Macon’s central performance as Dwight, a man out to avenge the murder of his parents and who discovers a few things along the way, was a revelation and I remember leaving the cinema that day feeling a little shaken. Again, this is a good thing.
4) Mistaken For Strangers– Ok, this is a bit of a cheat because I think this film was at least 18 months old by the time it got a proper release, but there’s no way I’m not including it here. Why? Well, it’s Tom Berninger’s film about his big brother Matt and Matt’s band, The National. And you all know how much I love The National. Actually, I guess what the film is really about is Tom’s relationship with Matt and how Tom manages to climb out from under the shadow cast by his older, taller, more famous brother. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll laugh some more and- obviously- the movie has a killer soundtrack.
3) Gone Girl– A late entry to the top 5 and one, which regretfully, bumps Wes Anderson’s delightful The Grand Budapest Hotel out. But this David Fincher film of Gillian Flynn’s book is a pure cinematic treat. Ben Affleck is almost perfectly cast as the villainous husband insisting he’s done nothing wrong, whilst Rosamund Pike is truly amazing as Amy (see what I did there?). Even though it seems like the whole world has either read the book, or seen the movie, I don’t want to say too much more here. However, with Kim Dickens and Tyler Perry grabbing all the best lines, David Fincher has made arguably his best film since Se7en. It’s 3/4 of a psychological thriller, 1/4 totally bonkers and it had me Jo a.
2) 20,000 Days On Earth– I started writing a blog about this look at the world the great Nick Cave lives in a few weeks ago and realised that I couldn’t really do it justice. And now, I’m going to try in a paragraph… Unlike anything else on this list, except Mistaken For Strangers, I’ve seen it twice now and its strange, emotional, exhilarating power remains. This is a film that really stays with you. We wake with Nick Cave and experience a day in his life as old collaborators drop in for a chat, he drops in on a colleague for lunch, pauses to examine just how he became “this thing” and goes about creating the music that ended up on 2013’s Push The Sky Away. That makes it sound, I suppose, like a glorified promo film for a new album, but this is so much more than that, it’s a must see.
1) The Double– Richard Ayoade’s follow up to the brilliant Submarine. Once again, Ayoade has gone to literature for inspiration, this film is based on a Dostoyevsky short story. Jesse Eisenberg has two roles, as Simon James and his double James Simon. Simon is a worker who is totally ignored by everyone he works with, even the security guard at his office doesn’t recognise him. He lusts after his coworker Hannah, artfully played by Mia Wasikowska, but she doesn’t want to know. One day, James- who looks just like him, but is a bit more Tyler Durden than The Narrator, rocks up at the office and makes an immediate impact on his colleagues- much to Simon’s confusion. Weirdness ensues. I loved everything about this film; the cinematography which gave the film such a wearied look, the creaking sound design was spot on and, basically, I just found it hilarious. A bit of a shame, then, that it seemed to slip in and out of cinemas unnoticed.
And that is my top 5, with honourable mentions for, natch, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Her (which was a dead lock for the top 5 until the last 20 minutes), Locke, Dallas Buyers Club and Maps To The Stars.