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Old 12-31-2014, 09:27 AM   #27
Foggy Foggy is offline
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Dec 2008

1) Boyhood

Directed by: Richard Linklater
Written by: Richard Linklater
Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke

Why I like it: A 3 hour film chronicling 12 years seems like a tough sit, but Richard Linklater's heartwarming and uncynical approach to filmmaking invites viewers into something wildly experimental and has you at ease almost instantly once the film begins. The film begins to mould throughout the duration as the characters begin developing their identity as they come across moments of there lives that are seemingly out of their control and their choices not only shape those around them, but themselves as human beings. It's a dense film that's only as important as you allow it to be, but it's one that emotionally engaging without cheap heart string pulling manoeuvres and completely timeless to anyone of any age or gender. Honestly a once in a lifetime movie.

2) Foxcatcher

Directed by: Bennet Miller
Written by: Dan Futterman & E. Max Frye
Starring: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo

Why I like it: Bennet Miller's precise and methodical slow burning psychological thriller is an exercise in making a viewer uncomfortable sitting within the reflection of a monstrous creature. Steve Carrell excels as the unstable and unsettling John DuPont, a man corroding from the inside from loneliness, unable to connect to people emotionally due to how they perceive him. Hid money and his power consume him into madness as his search for longing leads him on the path towards two wrestling Brothers, Mark and Dave Schultz, who both struggle to connect to each other, to the point when the two are introduced they don't even feel like brothers, despite the sense of a long history between the two. The film builds up to a chilling, yet seemingly inevitable conclusion, as the cracks and damage of the American way are revealed juxtaposed with the internal struggle amongst almost all men.

3) Calvary

Directed by: John Michael McDonagh
Written by: John Michael McDonagh
Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Chris O'Dowd, Kelly Reilly

Why I like it: Bitter black comedy with a huge focus on drama instead of laughs, Calvary is a study on the shattered reputation of Christianity in today's world. Set in a quiet rural village in Ireland, a Priest is threatened to be murdered due to the mistakes of other priests in the world. As the week continues, he's forced to deal with sins of the villagers along with his own anxieties of what's right and his position as a practitioner of Religious beliefs. What makes the film is that it's never anti-religious, but takes Christianity and the teachings as philosophy and tests that both within the shattered image of the Catholic Church and the wider issues in the world, and Brendan Gleeson's character, while undoubtedly a good man, is as flawed as anyone else, both with pride and anger, yet is challenged with the stature of being guidance towards the villagers. Dark and daring, filled with great characters and performances and emotionally charged, undoubtably one not to miss out on when catching up with the years best.

4) Birdman: or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance

Directed by: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Written by: Alexander Dinelaris, Nicolás Giacobone, Alejandro González Iñárritu & Armando Bo
Starring: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone

Why I like it: Birdman is a lavishly produced and directed soapbox movie, fully energised with audacious ambition and uncompromising performances. Following a nest of actors and family working in a Broadway play, all with some element of disconnect from the real world, Michael Keaton's Riggan Thompson is an actor on the brink of reinventing his career, with the main goal becoming an artist looked upon for years to come around the world, yet seemingly lacking in anything profound to say. The seemingly unedited camera whips back and forth between the characters who all singularly range from being loathsome to apathetic as the script spits venom at celebrity obsessed media in a increasingly claustrophobic world where everyone has a medium for expressing themselves yet no one really having anything important to say. It's a film with a huge array of ideas grounded by wonderfully unhinged performances.

5) Mr. Turner

Directed by: Mike Leigh
Written by: Mike Leigh
Starring: Timothy Spall, Marion Bailey, Paul Jesson

Why I like it: Mr. Turner is an unusual and unconventional bio-pic. It takes the painters techniques and work in an attempt to understand the way his life headed, while also looking at his social class background, he was a character who managed to surpass the strict boundaries and lifestyle most in his situation would have to conform to, to do what he loves, and has inspired artists of all sorts throughout the ages, despite the class structure, along with the Industrial revolution, being the downfall of him. Surprisingly witty and beautifully photographed by Dick Pope, Timothy Spall's performance of the titular artists is currently one of my favourites of the year, capturing his begrudging eccentric persona while not shying away from the man questionable sexual attitude and neglect for his home life.

6) Frank

Directed by: Lenny Abrahamson
Written by: Jon Ronson & Peter Straughan
Starring: Domhall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Fassbender

Why I like it: Frank is a bizarre and wonderful comic creation, despite the main character based around the look of comedic musician Frank Sidebottom, the story is more inspired by the tragic real life stories of Daniel Johnson and Captain Beefheart. As a band stuck on the fringes of society invites a plucky new keyboardist to record a new album, they soon find fame on social media as the band mental health is challenged. I think Frank is the film that utilised social media the best in a year chocked film of films tackling the subject, as the social disconnect essentially places people is a situation of receiving cynicism and humiliation of their own choosing, with those laughing being away from the context or the people affected. It adds a tragic and extremely relevant element to a very funny film, and has one of the sweetest endings of the year. Packed full of fun bizarre music and wonderfully off the rails performances, this one was simply a lot of fun and destined to be a cult classic.

7) Godzilla

Directed by: Gareth Edwards
Written by: Max Borenstein
Starring: Aaron Taylor Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston

Why I like it: Godzilla is a huge budgeted monster movie that delivered on what people needed. It didn't place the audience as spectators, but instead as victims, teased with huge monster battles but never receiving the pay off until the final third, the film builds a huge sense of dread around Godzilla himself despite never seeing him so often. The sound design in this film is hugely impressive and the Lovecraftian inspired designs and visuals add a grandiose stage for us to view when the film pays off. And trust me, when the film pays off, it's ****ing awesome!

8) Nightcrawler

Directed by: Dan Gilroy
Written by: Dan Gilroy
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed

Why I like it: Disturbing yet slick and stylish rags to riches story featuring the standout character of the year, Lou Bloom. We follow this sociopathic void of a person as he becomes a free runner camera man for a failing news channel, capturing news stories that give sensationalist America their fix of doom and misery in the morning, while neutralising fear, and often thinly veiling racism/stereotyping while hiding real issues, which just so happens to be behind the camera. A deconstruction of Media Coverage in a wider frame of an ironic deconstruction of the American dream, Nightcrawler is a creepy, deliciously humorous film with a phenomenal performance from Jake Gyllenhaal.

9) Inherent Vice

Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Written by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Katherine Waterson

Why I Like It: While it might (well, more than definitely will) take more than first glance for Paul Thomas Anderson's psychedelic detective epic to get to the bottom of, the film raises all the Whos? Wheres? Whats? Whens and Hows? With little to no interest in actually answering them, instead plunging you head first into a sprawling web of dysfunctional characters who are as rich and engaging than any mystery conjured up by the paranoia driven times. While daft and hilarious, the film has a melancholic centre, shot through wonderfully authentic heat damaged 35mm film and a sweet soundtrack that sucks you into the time period, acting as a love letter to the era, as the characters find themselves in a world that is quickly leaving them behind. While not the most refined pieces of Anderson's work, I think this is one that will grow to be one I'll be very fond of in years to come.

10) Gone Girl

Directed by: David Fincher
Written by: Gillian Flynn
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Carrie Coon

Why I like it: A tightly woven suburban nightmare that might be director David Fincher's sharpest and most biting film since Fight Club. A film where everyone is both a perpetrator and victim to their own punishment and those around them, the film has been deemed misogynistic and misandrist and the more and more outrageous and preposterous the events in the film get the further gets towards unveiling and confronting the truth in society today towards gender politics and marital bonds. All within the framework of the patronising world of sensationalist media, the film lingers on the mind with many questions yet the story of the film is compelling and the pace is snappy that the film works phenomenally well as twisting thriller if that is what one demands of it.

11) Interstellar

Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Written by: Jonathan Nolan & Christopher Nolan
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway

Why I like it: Interstellar is a film receiving a lot of flack, and while I agree that director Christopher Nolan's mouth may have been bigger than his mind here, Interstellar is a hugely ambitious, exciting adventure filled with thrilling spectacle and storyline that isn't afraid to dabble in sentimentality and has the chops to pull off the emotion it promises. McConaughey proves himself a phenomenal science fiction leading man in a film that requires a lot of heavy work from him to ground the film in a sense of realiy. With some fantastic practical effects work and utterly stunning cinematography, while at being the only film this year that made me teary eyed more than once, Interstellar proves Christopher Nolan is a master storyteller in the world of celluloid.

12) The Raid 2

Directed by: Gareth Evans
Written by: Gareth Evans
Starring: Iko Uwais, Julie Estelle, Arifin Putra

Why I like it: It's f***king mental mate!! There's one geezer at the end of the film who reduced to being Spaghetti Bolognese, it's bloody f**king awesome!!!!

13) Whiplash

Directed by: Damien Chazelle
Written by: Damien Chazelle
Starring: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist

Why I like it: A brilliant piece of drama that electrifies the screen and reinvigorates the spirit. J.K. Simmons is superb as an oppressive teacher, who's problematic philosophy and almost torturous practices take a huge emotion toll on a young drummer. What makes Whiplash such a great breath of fresh air is that it's wonderfully stripped back of glam and excess and places it's drama well amongst the blood, sweat, tears and saliva of the action within the orchestra. The final 10 minutes is one of the most fantastic pieces of filmmaking of the year, delivering a absolutely belting climax that is simple yet theatrically pulse-pounding.

14) A Most Violent Year

Directed by: J.C. Chandor
Written by: J.C. Chandor
Starring: Oscar Isaacs, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo

Why I Like it: A Most Violent Year is a film that plays with your expectations from the very get go. The film in fact takes place with the most violent year in question as an aftermath, as Oscar Isaacs deals with the repercussions of starting a business in such a hostile world. Advertised as a gangster flick, the film deals with more with cooking books than crooked crooks, using the iconography of the gangster genre to show moral ambiguity instead of cheap thrills. Borrowing from the likes on Sidney Lumet and Francis Ford Coppola, this period thriller is less about thrilling than it is raising questions of how far one is willing to go, both against the law and their own ethics for the American dream.

15) The Rover

Directed by: David Michôd
Written by: David Michôd
Starring: Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson, Scoot McNairy

Why I like it: Nihilistic post apocalyptic western set 10 years after a devastating economic crash makes for one of the most unsettlingly violent films of the year, with gunshots blasts carrying the weight of a life being taken, and the desolate landscape running parallel to the remains of society and humanity. The film follows Guy Pierce on track to receive his stolen car, and nothing much else other then some highly tense encounter, we see this former shell of a man fight for what seems to be the only thing left remaining in his life. Harrowing and distressing, might make it hard for some to watch, but it's worth watching if you can stomach it.

16) The LEGO Movie

Directed by: Chris Miller & Phil Lord
Written by: Chris Miller & Phil Lord
Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell

Why I like it: This could of been a heartless, shameless cash in for a toy corporation, but bizarrely enough, The LEGO Movie ended up to be one of the most richly dense satires of the year, even to the point where it's baffling to get your head around. A postmodern deconstruction of the entertainment industry, an ironic twist on the conventions of the heroes story, the effects storytelling and filmmaking can have on a kid and his imagination, heck the thing is often so self-reflective that the fact it's a LEGO movie about things in our lives feels almost paradoxical in and upon itself. Christopher Miller and Phil Lord's idiosyncratic animated masterpiece could be something timeless and profound if it wasn't for the corporate label and the amount of generation X humour manoeuvring around it, but for all that it's worth, it's one hell of an inventive, surprising and hilarious film.

17) Under the Skin

Directed by: Jonathan Glazer
Written by: Walter Campbell & Jonathan Glazer
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Adam Pearson, Paul Brannigan

Why I like it: A bizarre mixture of cinema vérité and acid trip science fiction, Under the Skin is a haunting film about an Alien who disguises herself as a woman who roams the streets hunting for men to seduce and harvest. The film offers little in the terms of answers, or even narrative coherence, but it aims to alienate the audience as much as possible, often seeing through the aliens eyes, as she grows more accustom to life on Earth and humanity infects her. Often terrifying in it's stillness and maddening in it's silence, it's quite odd to believe this is one of the more life affirming films on my Scarlett Johansson gets her tits out.

18) Guardians of the Galaxy

Directed by: James Gunn
Written by: James Gunn & Nicole Perlman
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista

Why I like it: While I think the affection for the film has gone a bit overboard, Guardians of the Galaxy is easily the most relaxed and confident films of the year. The unorthodox characters and off-kilter comedy makes for a ton of fun and most of all, it's a blockbuster that has an identity. While most most films feel like they're stretching to reach the widest margin of audience possible, Guardians is so comfortable within it's own skin that the fun is simply infectious and the craftsmanship is so stellar, that for any shortcomings, Guardians of the Galaxy is simply the most likeable film of the year.

19) The Grand Budapest Hotel

Directed by: Wes Anderson
Written by: Wes Anderson
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Saoirse Ronan

Why I like it: Wes Anderson's tale of tales passed through time is deliriously witty and colourful with characters and setting, the film has a bitter and poignant edge with an almost naive view on violence and the hardship of war while never shying away satirising not war, but human nature. The heightened reality of the film offers lots of secrets within it's beautiful presentation, however, as is often the case with a Wes Anderson film, the substance is in the style, not behind it. Featuring a wonderful cast and a superb performance at the front by Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a great mix of poignancy and hilarity.

20) A Most Wanted Man

Directed by: Anton Corbijn
Written by: Andrew Bovell
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, Rachel McAdams

Why I like it: A wonderfully woven political thriller featuring a multi-layered performance from the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman, where you never quite know how pernicious his acts will go in the name of security in regards to he's careful manipulation of his chess pieces on a national scale, and how much he can really trust his allies of other countries. While not quite as carefully constructed and mind-wringing as it's closest cinematic relative (Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy), the film has a terrific handle on it's slow burning pace that leads to a devastating climax that is similar in vain to the pessimistic conclusion of Chinatown as true malicious motives come to light.

21) Selma

Directed by: Ava DuVernay
Written by: Paul Webb
Starring: David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Oprah Winfrey

Why I Like It: Selma just feels like it's alive, it has a real energy to it that makes you want to stand up and speak out. David Oyelowo is fantastic as Martin Luther King Jr. portraying him not as an important figure but instead a resilient force of nature that will stand up for what he believes to be right. As the film delves into the moral ground of staging protests and potentially leading people to their deaths for what they believe is right, while also adding in moments of humanity to King, through his family and friends, lead to a really rich experience that does get it's hands dirty while not cheapening the inspiration and achievements of the time. And hopefully will inspire a few people to see what they can do to what ever prejudice dwells in our world today.

22) The Double

Directed by: Richard Ayoade
Written by: Richard Ayoade & Avi Korine
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, Wallace Shawn

Why I like it: Richard Ayoade's dystopian Kafka-esque comedy takes place in an Orwellian nightmarish retro-verse, making the film a huge departure from his reasonably charming directorial debut, but thankfully his brain is as big as the films ambition. Centring around invisible timid worker drone Simon James as his life is thrown into disarray by the arrival of his identical doppelgänger James Simon that is everything he's not, charming and outgoing, the two begin to battle over control of their own lives. Inspired by Terry Gilliam's Brazil, David Lynch's Eraserhead and Krzysztof Kieślowski's A Short Film About Love to name a few, the film portrays a world where happiness feels unobtainable, a language that is simply not understandable as your identity is rubbed out gradually and the more isolated you become. Despite all it's mind bending and array of influences, The Double never feels anything less than personal and inventive.

23) The Guest

Directed by: Adam Wingard
Written by: Simon Barrett
Starring: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Brendan Meyer

Why I like it: Genre bending 80's fest featuring a really unnerving performances from Dan Stevens as an enigmatic house guest who manages to charm his way into the house of a grief stricken family, but if the John Carpenter inspired sound cues and Halloween decorated town is anything to go by, not is all as it seems. Delightfully silly and pulpy fun, despite a slight analogy for PTSD, the film is never burdened with enough darkness for it to be taken seriously as the film veers more and more into a horror film the more the family begin to become central to the violence.

24) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Directed by: Matt Reeves
Written by: Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver
Starring: Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Toby Kebbell

Why I Like It: Despite taking some narrative shortcuts when it comes to certain minor characters, the second Planet of the Apes prequel is enormously effective at taking it's time and setting up the relationship between characters and the drama to play out with interruptions, which is made all the more effective by the known outcome of the series. The motion capture effects are incredible, often coming close to photorealism, however it's the writing and performances behind those effects that keep the film so compelling.

25) Lucy

Directed by: Luc Besson
Written by: Luc Besson
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Min-sik Choi

Why I Like It: Rigorously ludicrous and insanely ridiculous. Lucy is energy drink cinema at it's most audacious, dealing out shotgun philosophy in spades, Lucy is the shortest film on my entire list, yet in under 90 minutes it manages to address the dawn of man, the afterlife, the existence of god, the universe and everything within it and the reinvention of human kind while blowing up shit and killing a mass load of the yakuza. It's just madness.

Last edited by Foggy; 02-11-2015 at 11:11 AM.
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Al_The_Strange (01-06-2015), Darth Marcus (02-12-2015), Hucksta G (02-09-2015), Mandalorian (01-01-2015)