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My 2014 Favorites - Xanadon't

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Top Ten (or so) Movies of the Year

The popular consensus would have you believe that 2014 was a terrible year in film, but I disagree. I think its more so a matter that the finest offerings were spread evenly throughout the year, leaving an admittedly lackluster "award season" crop in its wake. I found plenty of cinematic output to enjoy this year, and considering how much I've still yet to see, it could prove to be a very fine movie year indeed.


An absolute treasure of a film that will be discussed long after so many other 2014 titles have disappeared into obscurity. Director Alejandro Inarritu has given us an instant classic, a film that is as exuberant, energetic and playful as it is contemplative, intelligent, and thematically ambitious. The insanely accomplished visual technique only adds to the sheer magic, and I can't praise the film enough for its ability to exist as both an intensely personal exploration and a broad statement about the nature of filmmaking, theatrical arts, and criticism. Birdman is at once a highly literary and multi-layered virtuoso and a sharply funny, purely engaging whirlwind of ingenious movie-making. It's easy among the most noteworthy cinematic achievements of the decade.
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People who added this item 1521 Average listal rating (1017 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8.1


Wes Anderson seems to have gone from indie-filmmaking darling to an Academy approved heavyweight overnight, which I find a bit curious, but can't say displeases me. Certainly it's the Academy voters' esteem for the man that has changed more so than Anderson's unique skill-set and sense of style. All the expected Anderson tropes, nuances, quirks, and minutia are present and in perhaps the biggest scale we've seen from the artist. There's so much here to be delighted by and I personally loved and identified with the way the movie treats the theme of nobility in servitude. Oh, and the movie is fucking hilarious.
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People who added this item 587 Average listal rating (436 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.8
The Babadook (2014)


One of the finest surprises of the year, this Australian horror film impressed me on every level, from the strong lead performances, to the smartly told, tightly constructed story, to the shades of early Roman Polanski, German Expressionism, and even a touch of The Shining adding to its meticulous, fully realized sense of style. Themes of grief, resentment, and familial estrangement play heavily in this horror film that works as both a boogeyman story and a chilling work of psychological terror. English language horror films of this caliber seem to come around only once every three to five years so make every effort to see it.
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People who added this item 259 Average listal rating (162 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.4
Calvary (2014)

There are so many places that this could've gone wrong for me, yet the intelligent examination of faith, community, and morality drove the film while Brenden Gleeson gives us one of the finest performances and characters to hit the screen all year. The movie is at once tough and beautiful, gritty and darkly comic. Far too under-seen for all that this film has to offer.
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People who added this item 831 Average listal rating (561 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7
Snowpiercer (2013)


Snowpiercer is far more than the grimy, post-apocalyptic scifi-action movie we've grown accustomed to. This is imaginative, inspired filmmaking touting none-too-subtle socio-political rage and a wicked sense for achieving maximum visceral and psychological impact. Snowpiercer is a wild ride, punctuated by strong performances and stunning visuals.
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People who added this item 492 Average listal rating (273 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 6.7
Inherent Vice (2014)


Paul Thomas Anderson simply can't be stopped. No other filmmaker has attempted to adapt a Thomas Pynchon novel to the screen, yet I got the impression that Anderson felt exactly at home with the material. Set in greater L.A. 1970, rarely does it seem contemporary directors are able to capture such a complete and perfectly keen sense of time and place. Myriad characters and plot lines shift and swerve their way through this darkly comic neo-noir opus, and when all is said and done (or not done?) I was left a bit bewildered and happy for having surrendered to the film's unique pulse and erratic vibe.
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People who added this item 581 Average listal rating (326 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.3


Jim Jarmusch has birthed yet another cult classic, this time lending vampire mythology his singular style and easy sense of cool. Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston give equally commanding and nuanced performances as two world weary vampires, survivalists that have seen centuries come and go, but none perhaps so troublesome as the present. The film is sensuous, moody, and often mesmerizing, and there's a keen and often surprising sense of humor at work too.
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People who added this item 398 Average listal rating (296 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 8.1
Wild Tales (2014)
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People who added this item 112 Average listal rating (83 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.8
The Lunchbox (2013)


Strong candidate for the most overlooked film of the year, The Lunchbox is a nearly flawless film and a wonderful and thoughtful love letter to what it means to be human and to long for deeply felt human companionship. It's efficient and smart, and a joy to watch.
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People who added this item 401 Average listal rating (277 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.1
Locke (2013)


Watching Tom Hardy drive around in a car was one of the most purely captivating film experiences of the year. Holy shit is this guy a natural born actor. I'm not saying that Tom Hardy is as great as Marlon Brando... but I'm kinda saying that. Locke feels very much like a well conceived short story that has no business being adapted into a movie. Yet the whole thing works, and often works extremely well. Locke opens a window into human drama in a way that really made me sit up and take notice.
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People who added this item 213 Average listal rating (114 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.5
Mood Indigo (2013)


So playful. So inventive. So teeming with joy and whimsy. And a touching romance at its core. Mood Indigo is almost exhausting to keep up with, but there are so many satisfying checkpoints along the way, it's well worth the journey.
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People who added this item 600 Average listal rating (358 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.3


Enigmatic, haunting, cold, bizarre, and seductive, Under the Skin isn't a great film and it won't work for everyone. But there's something about it that mesmerizes and clings to the psyche. When it all boils down, this may be little more than a visually unique fascination, but hey at least it's not an overstuffed, longwinded bore.
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People who added this item 996 Average listal rating (600 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.9
Boyhood (2014)


Boyhood is a great achievement and deserves to be recognized as such, but is only a good, not great, movie. If you've only seen Boyhood once, keep it that way. I promise that a revisit doesn't do the movie any favors.
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People who added this item 307 Average listal rating (198 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.1
The Drop (2014)


The Drop isn't necessarily all that special a film, but it's a solid movie that benefits from a great core cast and another right on the money performance from Tom Hardy-- who as luck would have it also plays one of the most curious and mysterious characters of the year.
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Cutting Room Floor

More movies I enjoyed but missed the cut.
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And a couple of bonus docs

I haven't found myself in the mood for documentaries this year as I have in years previous... so I've really only watched those that have inherent interest to me. These two stood out.
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People who added this item 116 Average listal rating (76 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.8
Life Itself (2014)
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Sights Unseen

Films I still intend to catch up with.


My life is way different and far busier than it was two years ago, which is why I'm never around Listal anymore. But I'll never be able to resist creating a yearly "Best Of..." movie list. So despite not having the time I'd normally put into this sort of thing, here it is: A rundown of my favorite films of 2014. Cheers!

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Comments

Posted: 2 years, 10 months ago at Feb 11 1:10
Haven't had any luck getting Two Days, One Night to show near me. That's one I really wanted to see before compiling my list. Things may have changed a lot in 2014, but I'm just as happy to read this as in previous years. :)
Posted: 2 years, 9 months ago at Feb 17 5:30
So glad to see mutual favorites show up, and we're completely agreed on Birdman.

Since I don't see them here, if Why Don't You Play in Hell? and Frank aren't on your radar I'd say they're both worth checking out.

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