Stuart’s top ten films of 2014

Once again, I’m surprised by my own geekiness. Here are the top ten films of 2014, starting from my absolute favourite. Two Aussie films made the list this year, and special mentions should go to The Babadook (an expertly-executed film I wanted to enjoy more) and These Final Hours (which did a lot with very little.) Also, the genius Blue Ruin would be at the top of the list, except for the fact that I don’t think it ever got a proper cinema release in Australia. Make sure you catch it on disc, however.

Interstellar1. Interstellar

Christopher Nolan’s most emotionally effective movie to date, this sci-fi trip into the unknown has lofty goals and succeeds in every department. Equal parts breathtaking and surprising, I loved every minute of it. The visual effects and art design are such that I don’t think the film will age too badly, either.

Tracks2. Tracks

Mia Wasikowska’s portrayal of Robyn Davidson’s trek across the Australian desert is brilliant. Never resorting to glib explanations for Robyn’s action (a trap most biopics fall into), this was a powerful story.  Wasikowska is ably supported by rising star Adam Driver also.

All is Lost3. All is Lost

It’s Gravity on a boat! With barely any dialogue (and a much smaller budget than that other film) All is Lost manages to be gripping from start to finish. I wish there wasn’t that one voice-over at the start of the film, but it’s a minor quibble.  Robert Redford is phenomenal in his struggle to survive against impossible odds.

The Wind Rises4. The Wind Rises

Finally a second Miyazaki film that I enjoyed from start to finish. A fictionalised account of aeroplane engineer Jiro Horikoshi, this is a fantastic final film for Miyazaki. Where most of his films leave me feeling unfulfilled (see Ponyo) or run out of steam by the end (see Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away), The Wind Rises was pretty darn close to perfect.

Edge of Tomorrow5. Edge of Tomorrow

Unfairly under-appreciated at the US box office, Edge of Tomorrow is rip-roaring fun, and a lot funnier than the trailers led us to believe. Ignore the stupid final few moments and you have an superbly breezy popcorn action movie.  Cruise and Blunt are at the top of the game, and you get a wondrously over the top Bill Paxton, too…

Captain America: The Winter Soldier6. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Marvel really impressed with this particular instalment, a film that actually shook up their cinematic universe. Even if we all knew the identity of the mystery antagonist, the pacing, dialogue and action was so good that it didn’t matter. A huge improvement on the first film, it even managed to make ‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’ slightly better…

Predestination7. Predestination

The Spierig Brothers knock it out of the park with their third feature. An adaptation of Robert Heinlein’s ‘All You Zombies’, this particular piece of circular insanity is a brilliant time travel movie boasting an amazing performance by Sarah Snook. They’ve always been good at action and humour, but here they evolve into really good dramatic directors.

Veronica Mars8. Veronica Mars

I am what you would call a marshmallow, so it comes as no surprise to find this lurking in my top ten. It’s probable that anyone who hasn’t seen the show would watch this and wonder what all the fuss is about, but this satisfied the Raymond-Chandler-meets-Nancy-Drew-sized craving that I’ve had since the show’s demise in 2007.

Snowpiercer9. Snowpiercer

A divisive film, this one, and for good reason. Is it a serious dystopian sci-fi, a hyper-violent action movie or a ridiculous pantomime? At the end of the day, it seems to be all three. Go in expecting the unexpected, and I think you’ll be fine. Director Bong Joon-ho wanted to adapt the film since 2005, so it was definitely worth the wait to finally see it on screen.

Locke10. Locke

I was hoping for some kind of Buried meets Falling Down, but Locke turned out to be a fair bit more intellectual than that. A drama that edges into thriller territory, the screenplay is an impressive feat simply because it makes a man talking on the phone so damn interesting.

My 2013 top ten can be found here.