Best of 2014

We made it to 800 lists- 802 to be exact!  With that said, the lists seem to be stalled, so I think it’s time to put 2014 in the books.

2014 will be remembered as the year of Boyhood, Richard Linklater’s magnificent 12-year project.  The film was included on 536 lists and topped 189 of them – both records by our count.

The Grand Budapest HotelBirdman and Whiplash top off a strong top four for 2014 – and fortunately each was rewarded with a Best Picture nomination.

 

50. Enemy (34 lists; 1 top spot)

Watching “Enemy,” in which Gyllenhaal cleverly delineates the character differences and confidence levels of the two leading roles, it’s clear that the movie is messing with you, in a highly calibrated fashion. — Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

49. Jodorowsky’s Dune (35 lists)

For those with any interest in cult cinema or just the bizarre behind-the-scenes stories of any film production, Jodorowsky’s Dune is a fascinating document of one of the most legendary films ever not made. — Ian Buckwalter, NPR

48. Chef (35 lists; 1 top spot)

Chef is lightweight, and could be seen as just a blatant attempt to cash in on the whole food-truck phenomenon, but it’s so engaging that it really doesn’t matter. — Cary Darling, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

 

 

 

 

47. Stray Dogs (36 lists; 2 top spots)

The director’s austere minimalism has always been suspended between the mesmerizing and the distancing, and in his latest feature, the concentration on elliptical observation, mood and texture signals an almost complete rejection of narrative. — David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

46. Manakamana (38 lists; 1 top spot)

“Manakamana” is a haunting experience, one that requires patience (and then some) but that offers spiritual, philosophical, and aesthetic rewards beyond the immediate power of words to describe. — Ty Burr, Boston Globe

45. Mommy (38 lists; 3 top spots)

Defiantly a movie for the here and now, something so immediate, its very form resembles Instagram photos or smartphone videos. — Peter Howell, Toronto Star

44. Winter Sleep (39 lists; 2 top spots)

The esoteric world of masterful Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan proves as vibrant and uneasy as ever in Winter Sleep, a Chekhovian meditation on a marriage that returns to the mood of the director’s early films like Climates and Clouds of May. — Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter

43. Nymphomaniac (40 lists; 2 top spots)

A ferociously entertaining experience in which one finds von Trier at the peak of his craft, linking together ideas about female sexuality, fly-fishing and artistic creation with equal amounts of playfulness and intellectual rigor. — Scott Foundas, Variety

Note: Includes votes for Nymphomaniac, Vol. 1 and Nymphomaniac, Vol. 2

42. American Sniper (40 lists; 5 top spots)

The best movies are ever-shifting, intelligent and open-hearted enough to expand alongside an audience. “American Sniper,” Clint Eastwood’s harrowing meditation on war, is built on this foundation of uncommon compassion. — Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News

 

41. Leviathan (45 lists; 6 top spots)

This is a whale of a movie, grotesque and a little bloated but impossible to ignore. — Dave Calhoun, Time Out

40. Stranger by the Lake (50 lists; 6 top spots)

The film is a Hitchcockian murder story in which the Hitchcockian elements-style as well as content-are stood on their heads in order to realize a philosophical vision that’s no less sophisticated than Hitchcock’s own. — Richard Brody, New Yorker

39. Obvious Child (53 lists; 3 top spots)

Whatever talent or care Robespierre has goes into guiding the actors toward real gentleness, including Slate, who spends the movie with big, untamed hair. Her affect is brazenly ungroomed. — Wesley Morris, Grantland

38. Love is Strange (55 lists; 3 top spots)

This beautifully observed ensembler shines on the strength of its two leads, John Lithgow and Alfred Molina, who conjure four decades together as they enter the “for better, for worse” phase of their union. — Peter Debruge, Variety

37. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (57 lists; 2 top spots)

The Marvel faithful will turn up for the action scenes, and the directors, brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, add an uncommon sharpness to sequences of urban warfare — these Heat-grade bullet volleys have a real ping to them. — Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York

 

36. Blue Ruin (61 lists; 2 top spots)

“Blue Ruin” is a movie about revenge, but it reaches far past the bottom-shelf titillations of fantasy to tell a richer, character-driven story with a protagonist who’s less avenging angel than ghost. — Barbara VanDenburgh, Arizona Republic

35. Listen Up Phillip (63 lists; 3 top spots)

Why would anyone want to spend time with these people? Because they’re fools with great gifts, and Perry almost lovingly explores the gulf between the beauty with which they create and the smallness with which they live. — Ty Burr, Boston Globe

34. The Raid 2 (64 lists; 3 top spots)

Just when you think the movie has gotten as wonderfully, violently over-the-top as possible, it manages to keep upping the ante until its exhausting climax. It leaves you drained, but not enervated. — Alfonso Duralde, TheWrap

33. Calvary (66 lists; 6 top spots)

The tension of Calvary is fitful at best, and much of the movie trips into silliness, but in Brendan Gleeson — in his proud bearing and his lamenting gaze — we see the plight of the lonely believer in a world beyond belief. — Anthony Lane, New Yorker

32. Locke (69 lists; 1 top spot)

Hardy rises to the gimmick and grounds “Locke” with a performance as watchably charismatic as it is minimalist. You can’t take your eyes off him – which is fortunate since there’s no one else there. — Ty Burr, Boston Globe

31. Wild (70 lists; 5 top spots)

What the book communicates better than the movie is just how grueling the Pacific Coast Trail can be…But that’s only a quibble. Like the book, the movie inspires wanderlust, whether the quest is for your body or your psyche. — Roger Philpot, Fort Worth Star Telegram

30. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (71 lists; 3 top spots)

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the best and brainiest blockbuster of the summer, the kind of movie you hope for when you pay your money and buy your popcorn. — Peter Howell, Toronto Star

29. A Most Violent Year (73 lists; 4 top spots)

Just when we’re settling into the film being a Lumet-ian character-driven drama, Chandor will, on more than one occasion, organically segue to an adrenaline-packed truck chase that’s as exciting as any big action-movie moment of recent memory. — Alonso Duralde

 

 

28. We Are the Best! (74 lists; 2 top spots)

Funny and frank in its observations, the film is a delightful snapshot of female friendship at that age, from the giddy highs to the melancholy funks, from the sustaining bonds to the jealousies and stinging betrayals. — David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

27. The Theory of Everything (74 lists; 5 top spots)

Redmayne uses his eyebrows, his mouth, a few facial muscles, and the fingers of one hand to suggest not only Hawking’s intellect and his humor but also the calculating vanity of a great man entirely conscious of his effect on the world. — David Denby, New Yorker

26. Life Itself (76 lists; 2 top spots)

James cuts – as in all of his best work – straight to the human heart of the matter, celebrating both the writer and the man, the one inseparable from the other, largely in Ebert’s own words. — Scott Foundas, Variety

 

25. Goodbye to Language (83 lists; 17 top spots)

Godard can’t stop himself from exploring new ways to make pictures. He seems to enjoy doing so almost as much as he enjoys frustrating the expectations of those who still want a movie to have a beginning, a middle and an end, in that order. — Mark Jenkins, NPR 

24. Mr. Turner (88 lists; 8 top spots)

“Mr. Turner” is a harsh, strange, but stirring movie, no more a conventional artist’s bio-pic than Robert Altman’s wonderful, little-seen film about van Gogh and his brother, “Vincent and Theo.” — David Denby, New Yorker

23. Citizenfour (101 lists; 8 top spots)

Adapting the cold language of data encryption to recount a dramatic saga of abuse of power and justified paranoia, Poitras brilliantly demonstrates that information is a weapon that cuts both ways. — Ronnie Scheib, Variety

22. Edge of Tomorrow (102 lists)

It’d be easy to dismiss Edge of Tomorrow as just another blunt-force summer movie, but it’s sharp as a scalpel in the deft hands of its makers, with the kind of smarts, wit, filmmaking and force too many other summer films can only dream of. — James Rocchi, Film.com

21. The Immigrant (103 lists; 8 top spots)

The film is earnestly and unabashedly melodramatic to an extent that may baffle audiences accustomed to clever, knowing historical fictions. But it also has a depth and purity of feeling that makes other movies feel timid and small by comparison. — A.O. Scott, New York Times

20. The Imitation Game (104 lists; 3 top spots)

The movie is undeniably strong in its sense of a bright light burned out too soon, and the often undignified fate of those who dare to chafe at society’s established norms. — Scott Foundas, Variety

19. Foxcatcher (104 lists; 4 top spots)

Steve Carell offers a tour de force of slow-burning menace. Foxcatcher, one of the year’s very best films, exposes the diseased underbelly of American exceptionalism and knocks the ground out from under you. — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

 

18. Two Days, One Night (110 lists; 8 top spots)

The Dardenne brothers take on a movie star and lose none of their beautifully observed verisimilitude in another powerhouse slice of working-class Belgian life. — Scott Foundas, Variety

17. Force Majeure (128 lists; 3 top spots)

This brilliant, viciously amusing takedown of bourgeois complacency, gender stereotypes and assumptions and the illusion of security rubs your face in human frailty as relentlessly as any Michael Haneke movie. — Stephen Holden, New York Times

16. Interstellar (135 lists; 15 top spots)

It’s an amazing achievement that deserves to be seen on the biggest screen with the best sound system possible. Nolan has crafted Interstellar as a movie theater experience. Watching it at home, no matter how good the sound system is, won’t match. — James Berardinelli, ReelViews

15. The Babadook (136 lists; 5 top spots)

The Babadook

Who thinks up a film like The Babadook? Actress-turned-debuting-feature-director Jennifer Kent has the narrative chutzpah to show her entire hand in the pop-up story and then make us squirm as foretold events come true. — Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York

14. Inherent Vice (146 lists; 17 top spots)

As with Magnolia and Punch-Drunk Love, the director has created another vivid Los Angeles, one that doesn’t lean too hard on its pop-culture references to TV’s Adam-12 or Neil Young’s gentle Harvest album. — John Rothkopf, Time Out New York

13. Only Lovers Left Alive (163 lists; 9 top spots)

A smidge more commercial than Jarmusch’s meandering previous effort, “The Limits of Control.” But it still feels like an in-joke intended only for select acolytes, who will probably love it with an undying passion. — Leslie Felperin, Variety

12. The LEGO Movie (178 lists; 9 top spots)

Pop-culture jokes ricochet off the heads of younger viewers to tickle the world-weary adults in the audience, with just enough sentimental goo applied at the end to unite the generations. Parents will dab their eyes while the kids roll theirs. — A.O. Scott, New York Times

11. Snowpiercer (181 lists; 12 top spots)

In different hands, Snowpiercer might have been just another generic action movie. Yet with South Korean director Bong Joon-ho at the helm, it’s instead something more off-kilter and more disturbingly satisfying. — Cary Darling, Fort Worth Star Telegram

10. Selma (182 lists; 18 top spots)

“Selma” is one of the best American films of the year – and indeed perhaps the best – precisely because it does not simply show what Dr. King did for America in his day; it also wonders explicitly what we have left undone for America in ours. — James Rocchi, TheWrap

9. Ida (184 lists; 17 top spots)

[The] screenplay is a model of economy, as precise as the lensing by Ryszard Lenczewski and Lukasz Zal, who often position their subjects at the bottom of the frame, emphasizing personal insignificance within the totalitarian machine. — Peter Howell, Toronto Star

8. Guardians of the Galaxy (199 lists; 17 top spots)

The movie knows that junk art is still art, that no one is more in need of something to speak for them than the inarticulate – and with that it takes the secret pull of comic geekdom and elevates it to a kind of bittersweet, obsessive romanticism. — Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger

7. Gone Girl (258 lists; 11 top spots)

The movie is phenomenally gripping-although it does leave you queasy, uncertain what to take away on the subject of men, women, marriage, and the possibility of intimacy from the example of such prodigiously messed-up people. — David Edelstein, New York Magazine

6. Nightcrawler (258 lists; 18 top spots)

Nightcrawler curves and hisses its way into your head with demonic skill. This is a deliciously twisted piece of work. And Gyllenhaal, coiled and ready to spring, is scarily brilliant. — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

5. Under the Skin (277 lists; 54 top spots)


Johansson provides an extraordinary window into an alien being; through her eyes, we see and hear the world as someone not from here would. Her performance is the payoff that makes Glazer’s enigmatic storytelling choices so effective. — Alonso Duralde, TheWrap

4. Whiplash (302 lists; 32 top spots)

You don’t have to be a jazz fan for Whiplash to zap you with its thrumming live-wire beat (although it doesn’t hurt). If you can appreciate the sight of two totally dialed-in performers simmering until they boil over, that’s enough. — Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly

3. Birdman (354 lists; 60 top spots)

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman is so good, so profoundly entertaining, so confident that it makes you wonder whether the other Iñárritu — the director of such weighty magazine spreads as 21 Grams, Babel, and Biutiful — was a fraud all along — Wesley Morris, Grantland

2. The Grand Budapest Hotel (415 lists; 26 top spots)

This is one of Anderson’s funniest and most fanciful movies, but perversely enough it may also be his most serious, most tragic and most shadowed by history, with the frothy Ernst Lubitsch-style comedy shot through with an overwhelming sense of loss. — Andrew O’Hehir, Salon.com

1. Boyhood (536 lists; 189 top spots)


Perhaps never has the long arc of the journey from childhood to college been portrayed as cohesively and convincingly as Richard Linklater has done in a film that can be plain on a moment-to-moment basis but is something quite special in its entirety.– Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter

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