Saturday, December 20, 2014

My Top 10 Favorite Films of 2014

Oh Lordy, it's that time of the year again. It was a solid year at the movies. And I thank North Korean hackers stopping yet another James Franco/Seth Rogen jerking each other movie from coming out in theaters. Two films I saw early on this year held their impact- Under the Skin and Love Battles, and topped this year's chart, while Boyhood really surprised me since I was never into Linklater's work. As usual, there were some spectacular documentaries: The Look of Silence, The Iron Ministry, Manakamana and many others. Godard never seizes to amaze me, so too Breillat. So without further a do:

*Click on title for full review

1. Under the Skin - Glazer
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My mind was made up early on this year, after watching Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin that nothing would beat this film as my favorite. And I was right. Audacious and cinematic, looking at humanity through the eyes of alien in the form of Scarlett Johansson, the film is a profound, hypnotic headtrip for sure.

2. Mes séance de lutte/Love Battles - Doillon
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The sheer force of physicality of Love Battles is just mind-boggling. Unlike von Trier's hollow exercise on human sexuality, Doillon's grand experiment has real resonance and honesty that can't be duplicated.

3. Cavalo Dinheiro/Horse Money - Costa
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Pedro Costa does it again here with Horse Money. Bravely exorcising his non-actor subject's own past without guise or limitation.

4. The Look of Silence - Oppenheimer
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Perhaps the bravest of all filmmaker working today, Joshua Oppenheimer faces the evil from victim's point of view this time. The film is just as compelling and disturbing as last year's Act of Killing.

5. Jauja - Alonso
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Finally got to see a Lisandro Alonso film and happy to report that it is magical. I have a lot to explore from this Argentine auteur's filmography coming new year!

6. Eden - Hansen-Løve
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Eden is a film of lasting impression. It gains its poignancy long after you watch the film. It's sprawling epic that is tender and touching and beautiful. This might end on my top 100 some day.

7. Adieu au langage/Goodbye to Language - Godard
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3D Godard! Certainly one of a kind experience.

8. Clouds of Sils Maria - Assayas
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Perhaps the most entertaining non-Hollywood Hollywood film of the year.

9. Black Coal, Thin Ice - Biao
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Biao Yinan's neo-noir is the whole package: handsomely crafted, compelling characters, great narrative pull - everything we want in films. It reminds us that Chinese cinema's future is not in mega million CG wu xia films but in low-budget independent filmmakers like Biao Yinan, Li Yang, Lou Ye, Jia Zhangke, Ying Liang and so on.

10. Abus de faiblesse/Abuse of Weakness - Breillat
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Breillat's stroke didn't stop from her from making a brilliant depiction of a sexual power game. It made even better.

The Rest:

11. Timbuktu - Sissako

12. Ida - Pawelikowski

13. Le Meraviglie/The Wonders - Rohwacher

14. La Grande Bellezza - Sorrentino

15. The Iron Ministry - Sniadecki

16. Frank - Abrahamson

17. Die Zeit Vergeht Wie Ein Brüllender Löwe/Time Goes by Like a Roaring Lion - Hartmann

18. The Dance of Reality - Jodorowsky

19. Manakamana - Spray, Velez

20. Boyhood - Linklater