Here are our picks for the Top Ten Movies of 2014.
1. Boyhood: The story of a young boy growing up before our very eyes, Richard Linkletter’s groundbreaking cinematic masterpiece was shot for a couple of weeks a year in a schedule that spanned twelve year. We first meet Mason (in a breakthrough performance by Ellar Coltrane) when he is seven and follow him through the trials and tribulations of childhood, parental divorce, teenage angst and finally college life. Strong performances all around but particularly from Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason’s parents make this film an exceptional, experimental stand out.
2. Nightcrawler: Jake Gylenhall has never been better in this thriller from first time director, Dan Gilroy. Gylenhall plays a creepy sociopath determined to make a name for himself in the gritty world of Los Angeles street journalism with deadly results. This is a must-see.
3. Ida: It’s 1962 and a young apprentice nun (first time actress, Agata Trzebuchowska) is about to take her vows at convent in Poland when she discovers that she is Jewish and a holocaust survivor. The naive, innocent girl and her hardened aunt who is her only living relative, set out to find the graves of the girl’s parents. By the end of the journey, she has a major decision to make. Shot in glorious black and white and brilliantly directed by Pawel Pawlikowski, this a compelling film where every frame is like a photograph you would be happy to hang on your wall.
4. Whiplash: Writer/Director’s Damien Chazelle’s real life experiences at the music conservatory inspired this well crafted face off between a determined and talented drum student and the college professor who is determined to bust his balls. Both Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons are excellent in their roles and this film takes you on a fun ride that ends in face off that is both loud and satisfying.
5. The Imitation Game: The story of Alan Turing who in the early 1940s led a motley group of scholars, linguists, chess champions and intelligence officers in cracking the so-called unbreakable codes of Germany’s World War II Enigma machine. The film follows this genius, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who under nail-biting pressure helped shorten the war and, in turn, save thousands of lives, only to be jailed a few years later for the criminal offense of homosexuality, at that time a crime in the UK.
6. Birdman: A cinematic roller coaster about a Hollywood superhero (Michael Keaton) trying to get respect on Broadway. Keaton gives the performance of his career in this whirling comedy in which the laughs promise to hurt.
7. Selma: A compelling and well told film about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s 1965 campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. The epic march from Selma to Montgomery organized by Dr. King culminated in President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement.
8. The Theory of Everything: Eddie Redmayne shows true star power in his portrayal of Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s greatest living minds, who falls in love with fellow Cambridge student Jane Wilde. Once a healthy, active young man, Hawking receives an earth-shattering diagnosis at age 21 years yet manges to embarks on his most ambitious scientific work, studying the very thing he now has precious little of – time. Directed by Academy Award winner James Marsh, the film is poignant and thought provoking.
9. A Most Violent Year: Oscar Isaac totally dominates the screen in this drama that follows the lives of an immigrant (Isaac) and his wife, Jessica Chastain as they attempt to capitalize on the American Dream, while the violence, decay, and corruption of the day threatens to destroy all they have accomplished. The film’s slow reveal works beautifully. A Most Violent Year will go on to be a classic.
10. The Grand Budapest Hotel: Wes Anderson’s film recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune — all against the back-drop of a suddenly and dramatically changing Continent.