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Reviews

The best films of 2014

Third Way Reviewers

Catherine von Ruhland's top 10 films

1 Leviathan
Andrey Zvyagintsev's epic retelling of the book of Job won Best Screenplay at Cannes, Best Film at the London Film Festival and is Russia's Academy Awards entry. A man is trapped in a web of injustice and tragedy in his fight to keep his home from a corrupt mayor's compulsory purchase. A masterly film of global contemporary resonance.

2 Calvary
A man walks into a confessional and gives a good Catholic priest a week before he's killed for the sins of the Fathers. Very black humour met plain sheer blackness as Brendan Gleason - superb wrestling with faith and fate - was chillingly set upon by Sligo demons (son, Domhnall and Aidan Gillen especially terrifying) in a spiritually muscular who'lldoit.

3 The Golden Dream
A Latin-American Stand By Me in which four- Guatemalan teens including a young Indian embark on the treacherous journey to the USA. Featuring real-life train-top migrants as extras, this was by turn a gritty, touching and tragic tale of global inequality and desperation. Falling snowflakes proved an apt and moving metaphor for the fragility of human hope.

4 Two Days One Night
The seemingly mundane tale of a factory worker's appeal to colleagues over a weekend to save her job at the expense of their bonuses became a captivating humanist parable in the Dardenne Brothers' hands. Marion Cotillard excelled as the heroine who grows through the struggle. 'We put up a fight, didn't we?' was her inspiring end-call to the value of community.

5 Ida

6 Under The Skin

7 Boyhood

8 We Are The Best!

9 Joe

10 Only Lovers Left Alive

Catherine's Turkey: A Long Way Down

 

Gareth Higgins

1 Calvary
High Noon, Diary of a Country Priest, and Ryan's Daughter walk into the bar where John Michael McDonagh makes films about imperfect people doing perfect things. The magnificent Calvary is various parts horrifyingly absurd, politically challenging, and credibly redemptive.

2 The Congress
The most visually splendid film of the year, and the most moving. Robin Wright works to subvert military-industrial-entertainment superficiality in an extraordinary take on Stanislaw Lem's novel about identity, love, economics, culture, revolution and healing.

3 The Immigrant
James Gray's melancholic yet hopeful drama evokes the tone and hues of The Godfather; Marion Cotillard is still the best actress working today, and Joaquin Phoenix her match. A film about selfish behaviour collapsing when it beholds courage. It's a shame that this went straight to DVD in the UK, for it's one of the most truly cinematic works of the year.

4 The Grand Budapest Hotel

5 Locke

6 Ida

7 Interstellar
Extravagant adventure cinema, misunderstood as being sentimental. Looked at more closely, the exploration of time is an intelligent grappling with not just how things work, but what God might be - a loving voice rescuing us into the future.

8 The Past

9 The Lego Movie

10 Pride

Gareth's Turkey: The Jersey Boys

 

Jeremy Clarke

1 Interstellar (IMAX or regular)

2 Boyhood
Shot over 12 years, Richard Linklater's ambitious narrative tells the story of six-year-old Mason (Ellar Coltrane) growing up in Texas with his sister Sam (the director's daughter Lorelei) and their mom (Patricia Arquette). Their separated dad (Ethan Hawke) appears intermittently. Covering the period in 165 minutes (which fly by), it ends with Mason aged 18. This brave project could easily have gone pearshaped, but provides a remarkable look at the journey from childhood to adulthood.

3 Locke
Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) gets into his car at the construction site he manages in Birmingham and drives to London. His professional and personal lives threaten to unravel en route as he makes and receives a succession of phone calls. The entire narrative takes place within the vehicle, but the drama invoked by the clever script will have you on the edge of your seat. Hardy rises to the challenge: you can't take your eyes (or ears) off him.

4 I Origins (October issue)

5 The Congress (Summer issue)

6 Wrinkles (May issue)

7 The Boxtrolls
Many children's films are mindless fodder made with a cynical eye on the box office. Not so this subversive stop-frame epic. Unafraid to take pot shots at the establishment, it is, like the best fairy tales, equally happy to explore politically incorrect subject matter. Children will adore it, but there's plenty here for adults.

8 Joe (July/August issue)

9 Moebius
The Korean bad boy Kim Ki-duk delivers a slice of extreme cinema in a dialogue-free tale of adultery, castration, guilt and desire. As in The Wolf of Wall Street, you're wondering whether you really should delight in observing dysfunction, but deeply flawed though the characters are, they prove compelling. The performances are extraordinary.

10: The Wolf of Wall Street
Scorsese remakes Goodfellas, substituting stockbrokers for gangsters. Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) has a knack for moving money from other people's pockets into his own only to blow it on the kind of excesses that are held up as both aspirational lifestyle and cautionary tale. We want him to get away with it yet are somehow morally gratified when he's caught.

Jeremy's Turkey: Tammy