This last look at the best films of 2014 will change your life. Or at least help you discover a fun place to hang out on the internet.
C’mon, who do you think has better taste in films, huh? Those of us who bring you Europe’s Best Website, or the British Academy of Film and Television? Possibly – probably – your own opinions about the best films of last year are the ones that matter to you most.
Still, lists and prizes tell you something about the people that made the lists and gave the prizes. And both tell you something about what that year at the pictures was like. So, the morning after the Baftas seemed like a good time to share our Best Films of 2014. Our motivations probably aren’t that different to Bafta’s – we want to celebrate films; we want ensure History Will Remember what we thought was good – and like Bafta, this is also a kind of advert for ourselves. But unlike Bafta, we are inviting YOU to be part of the glamour. MostlyFilm is (sort of) run by a (sort of) collective and we have a message board where we pitch ideas for articles, argue about films, make jokes and fall-out with each other over the best way to make scrambled eggs. It’s become a bit of a tradition that when we share our best-of lists, we invite new readers over to the board. So if you like our list you can join in knowing there are some like-minded people over there. And if you don’t like it, you should definitely join in to make sure it’s better next year. Okay. Here’s the list:
20. The Lego Movie / Cold in July
19. We Are The Best
16. The Babadook
14. The Guest
13. Gone Girl
12. Winter Sleep
The films that we liked that didn’t quite make our top ten. We start with three popular and critical favourites – The Lego Movie, We Are the Best, Pride – that featured in several other best-of polls but that we were (perhaps) a little cooler on. I think there’s a cracking triple-bill of genre pictures in there too: you can come round my flat to watch Cold in July, The Babadook and The Guest anytime (that’s even the order we’d watch them in). And if you’re made of sterner stuff there also a trio of austere – but possibly brilliant – films, Ida, Leviathan and Winter Sleep. Finally, in Gone Girl and Nightcrawler we have a couple of sort-of glossy, sort-of dark, sort-of thrillers that, in different ways, aim for a sweet spot between the best kind of classy and the best kind of vulgar. Onwards!
10. Guardians of the Galaxy
We all suffer from Marvel-fatigue but we seem to like the funnier, ensemble Marvel pictures – Avengers Assemble made it into our top five in 2012. Still, Jim Eaton-Terry thought this was better still and ‘pretty much the best of the Marvel Studios films, managing to be far, far funnier than The Avengers, narratively more coherent than any of the Iron Man series, and to go into deep space without being as laughably awful as Thor.’
9. The Past
Our own Ron Swanson captured how absorbing, humane and delicate this film is, in his review.
You should read Niall Anderson’s precise and poignant review of Her.
On our message board MrsMills said that Paddington was ‘just fabulous. I loved the script, a great balance between in jokes from films, about the way London is depicted in films and adult/kid stuff. Really caught the spirit of the books and every member of the cast was great too’. And JohnCooperClarke agreed ‘Absolutely lovely in every way. I wasn’t in a happy mood but it’s impossible not to be warmed by this. Everyone in it is fundamentally lovely (except the villainess who is delectably evil). Even Capaldi’s UKIP neighbour comes good in the end. Like I said, lovely.’ What? Is that the actual John Cooper Clarke? You’ll need to join the board to find out!
6. Wolf of Wall Street
This divided posters on our message boards, and even those that had a blast also had some caveats. Bigi said ‘Three hours flew by, and I enjoyed it enough, but my main thought afterwards was that the source material, which popped blatantly through in the speeches to camera and voice overs, was probably weak.’ sloanepeterson found it forgettable ‘the only thing that was memorable was Matthew McConnaisance’s chest-thumping. I think some of the sex and drugs could have gone. It’s no more interesting to watch someone snort eight lines of coke than one, even of some if them are from a woman’s breasts/bottom/body-part-which-we-can’t-identify-because-we-never-see-her-face.’ And Hankinshaw had a niggling worry ‘My main problem, and this bugged me most of the way through it, was that the dwarf tossing seemed extremely difficult to accurately score.’
5. Edge of Tomorrow
This was our favourite blockbuster this year. On the board veal literally spoke for us all when she said: ‘Yeah I really loved this – and yes, the end doesn’t make any sense but would we rather they’d just DIED? The real treats for me were Tom doing those lovely little shrugs and flinches when he was going through the J squad acquaintances for the first, most confident time after he’d realised what was going on, it was very pleasurable and I loved Tom the coward not Tom the hero and thought this was the first seriously smart choice of roles he’s had in ages.’
4. Inside Llewyn Davis
We argued about the film’s structure and about who the Gorfein’s might be related to and EnoughRope said ‘I loved this, maybe loved is the wrong word but I responded strongly, got weepy afterwards and have been listening to the songs quite a bit since. I think it’s the recognition of failure, and how rare it is for a film to show someone doing their very best and still failing, but not heroically, just falling short like most people fall short of their dreams.’
3. Under the Skin
MaxFischer called this ‘a divisive future cult classic’. Some of us thought it was a masterpiece. On the board we talked a LOT about how many erect penises are in it.
Like a lot of people, we responded to how real this felt. A bit too real for Thalia ‘It was a very stressful watch. I think because it felt like watching someone’s life rather than a movie. During the scenes with the drunk stepfather, my heart was racing and the whole thing was just awful and upsetting. I also got really stressed when they were mucking about in the half-built house. I really thought something horrible was going to happen to one of them what with those sharp things they were throwing around. I am glad all films aren’t like that. It would be exhausting.’
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
We are a mix of Wesophiles and Wesophobes. But this seemed to find favour with both. John Cooper Clarke (who identifies as ‘a Wes-agnostic’) said ‘ I suppose this is perfect for me because I love Lubitsch, I love the thirties, I love carefully contrived works of art that somehow, despite all the artifice, manage to allow real emotion to bleed through. I loved everything about this, in other words.’ When we spoke about this film we also, because we’re fancy, talked about aspect-ratios a lot.
So there you have it. And, look, despite the combative title for this article, we aren’t so different to Bafta, which gave the top prizes to Boyhood and the most prizes to The Grand Budapest Hotel. If you want to see how we made the list (and then see us arguing about list) come over to the message board. (We’re also talking that last really great episode of Take Me Out. Have you seen it?)
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