The end of the year is neigh and with the likes of Birdman and Whiplash not making their way to UK cinemas until next year, I think it is a safe time to start my top ten movies of the year. As usual, this is completely subjective and I’m not even claiming the movies that make this list are the best ones, but rather the ones I enjoyed the most. I also obviously didn’t see every single film released this year. Basically, please don’t waste your time telling me I’m wrong.
A revenge thriller with a twist, the twist being that the person engaging in the revenge is actually a bit useless. Funded by Kickstarter and directed by Jeremy Saulnier, who’s only previous feature-length film was the brilliantly titled Murder Party, the was one of the years most surprising delights. Macon Blair brilliantly portrays Dwight, the aforementioned hapless revenge seeker and the whole movie manages to toe the line between the kind of darkness that is unsettling and a delicious spread of black humour. It is one that many might have missed, but I suggest you get back to it ASAP.
Talking about dark and unsettling, Jake Gyllenhall’s performance as morning news camera man Jake Bloom, was one of the performances of the year. Nightcrawler is dark, twisted and horribly uncomfortable to watch at times. Much like the car accidents the film portrays, it becomes a movie that you want to look away from, but find yourself unable to do so.
The hype around Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar was huge and the response to it has been undeniably split. To some, it was an overlong and overly complicated mess. To me, it was a hearkening back to the sci-fi of old. I may not have understood all the science of Interstellar, but it didn’t matter, because at its heart, it wasn’t a film about science. At its heart, it was a film about a man who feels the need to explore the universe and the effects that has on his relationship with his daughter. It’s a simple tale and one that Nolan beautifully brought to life.
Talking about David Fincher’s Gone Girl is hard, even now, because I don’t want to spoil a thing. What I can say, is that in a year full of great performances, Rosamund Pike manages to be one of the most bewitching. This is a movie that both embraces the ridiculous and also has some real points to make about society in 2014, particularly the role of the media. The aforementioned performance from Pike and a very strong one from Affleck ground a movie that could have been a mess, but instead is one of my movies of the year.
The only documentary on the list and in another year one that could have easily been in the top three, if not on top. Next Goal Wins tells the story of American Samoa, the worst national football team in the world, who once famously lost 31-0 to Australia. The documentary charts their attempts to reach the World Cup under the guidance of Dutch coach Thomas Rongen. However, the football quickly begins to play second fiddle to the characters that directors Mike Brett and Steve Jamison found. People like Jaiyah Saelua, the first ever transgender player to feature in a FIFA match, who spends time discussing the dress she will wear to the premiere, but also tackles like Vinny Jones. They make this world come to life and whether you are a football fan or not, you can’t fail to fall in love with this team and the country that they represent. In a year where football has shown a lot of its dark and ugly side, I can’t recommend Next Goal Wins enough as a way to remind you why you feel in love with the game to begin with.