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Another interesting year in the world of film as the crossover between more esoteric and – forgive this term but – “arthouse” type films into the mainstream continues with a great force than before, with many films that would usually slip under the radar of the multiplex audiences have been embraced.

The likes of Boyhood, Grand Budapest Hotel, Her and Under The Skin happily rubbed shoulders with the big popcorn blockbusters such as Guardians Of the Galaxy, Captain America – Winter Soldier and Godzilla at the cinemas and in the hearts of film goers. There is still a huge discrepancy between the box office returns of these films but at least different flavours of film were being sampled this year. A portent of things to come perhaps?

For my tastes however the focus is again on World Cinema and the odd gem, many of which a lot of people will not have heard of let alone seen. Each to their own but it would be nice if more distributors and cinema operators would give foreign films a chance to reach a wider audience.

As ever this list of made up of films where the UK release dates were in the year 2014, so while some people were fortunate to see some of them at film festivals in 2013, we the unwashed masses had to wait until this year to see them.

Anyway this is my own personal list so agree or disagree as is your wont.

 

10. Winter Sleep

winter_sleepNo-one is more surprised than me to have a Nuri Bilge Ceylan film in my Top Ten, not because I don’t like his films, they just never struck me on the same level as his ardent fans, due to Ceylan’s fondness for long uneventful takes. Learning this film was over three hours long filled me with dread but Ceylan has in fact created a strangely compelling if garrulous film of immense insight, pathos and power while dissecting social issues such as religion, poverty and fame.

Read the full review HERE

 

9. Miss Violence

miss_violence

This unsettling film from Greece about abuse within the family unit is a grim and unforgiving affair, the latest to shine an unflattering light on modern Greek society. Any film which begins with a teenage suicide isn’t going to be an easy watch but Alexandros Avranas keeps us hooked with the sheer chilling veracity of the main characters and the horrors of their disturbing lifestyle. Upsetting and uncomfortable viewing but a viscerally potent experience.

Read the full review HERE

 

 8. The Raid 2

The_Raid_2When Welsh director Gareth Evans rewrote the martial arts film rulebook with The Raid in 2011, the question was how he and his star/fight choreographer Iko Uwais would follow this up. The answer was simple – turn everything great about the first film up to 11! Admittedly a tad long, this is the most exciting and inventively violent film to arrive in some time, and it has a fairly strong storyline to boot. Unbridled brutality never looked so good!

Read the full review HERE 

 

7. Moebius

moebius

Korean auteur Kim Ki-Duk is not afraid to reach deep into the darkest recesses of his imagination to find inspiration for his films, and this dialogue free outing is as dark as they get. Castration, incest and fetishes are just some of the themes touched upon in this unflinching and gruesome psychodrama but Kim manages to inject a bizarre touch of tenderness and poetic beauty to such a disturbing premise. Probably just as well it is only 85 minutes long!

Read the full review HERE

 

6. Two Days, One Night

two_daysThe unstoppable Marion Cotillard teams up with the renowned Dardenne Brothers and delivers another powerhouse performance as a woman who learns she is to be sacked to afford a bonus for her colleagues, and has just one weekend to convince them to change their minds. It may boast a simple premise but Cotillard works her magic to turn this into a tense and emotional drama which exposes the best and worst sides of human nature in times of austerity.  

Read the full review HERE

 

5. Like Father, Like Son

like_father

Hirokazu Kore-eda continues his run of touching family dramas with this gut wrenching tale of two boys who learn they were given to the wrong families at birth and try to acclimatise to a totally different lifestyle with their natural parents. Kore-eda is able to lift this beyond a mere soap opera storyline regarding clashing social statuses into a sweet but emotionally driven exploration into what truly makes a good parent. Charming and sentimental without being mushy, this is slice-of-life drama as it should be.

Read the full review HERE

 

4.The Snow White Murder Case 

snow_white_murderThe current king of the twisting mystery comedy Yoshihiro Nakamura heads into a slightly darker direction with this sprawling jigsaw puzzle revolving around the murder of a beautiful woman where the prime suspect in the case is found guilty by social media and struggles to clear her name. We find Nakamura in rare satirical mode as he pokes fun at the rash jumping to conclusions of the general public without the facts, which are muddy throughout. A gripping and enjoyable treat of a film.

Read the full review HERE

 

3. Shady

shady

Made on the meagre budget of £10,000 by Japanese newcomer Ryohei Watanabe, this impressively astute chiller tells the tale of two outcast schoolgirls who become friends, only for the relationship to be ruined by one of them getting a little too possessive. A taut and well crafted thriller with an unexpected twist, this stunning debut introduces us to a unique new voice of Japanese cinema in Watanabe as well as the two leading ladies, all of whom have big futures ahead of them.

Read the full review HERE

 

2. Snowpiercer

snowpiercerWith this dystopian thriller Korean director Bong Joon-ho achieved the rare feat of making the successful transition to Hollywood where so many other Asian directors have failed. Based on a French graphic novel, in the distant future the remaining members of the human race travel on board a perpetually moving train, where the rich/poor caste system is very much still in place, leading to a rebellion by the poor and the revelation of a shocking secret. A superbly tense and violent sociological psycho drama which does the Hollywood blockbuster better than most Hollywood blockbusters!

Read the full review HERE

 

No. 1 – 12 Years A Slave

 12_Years_BD

This may have been on many “best” lists for 2013 but its official cinema release wasn’t until February 2014. Steve McQueen’s powerful and uncompromising Oscar Winning adaptation of the autobiography from real life slave Solomon Northup strikes deep with its eye opening expose on the black slave trade in 19th America. Featuring a stellar performance from Chiwetel Ejiofor and a stunning debut by Lupita Nyong’o this film defies its beautifully shot visuals and occasional melodramatic narrative by successfully getting deep under the skin of the viewer with its provocative and harrowing central subject. A triumph pure and simple.

Read the full review HERE

 

And that was that. As ever it was hard to whittle the list down to just ten especially when the likes of Nymphomaniac, Tom At The Farm, Starred Up, The Past and Black Coal, Thin Ice didn’t make the cut. Unfortunately there are some highly rated films I never got to see before the year ended (Ida and Tokyo Tribe for starters) which presumably would have made this a very different list.

What delights do 2015 hold in store for us in the world of film? We’ll find out shortly enough!

Thanks for reading and until next time, this is the Man in Black saying Sayonara!

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9 thoughts on “MIB’s Top Ten Films of 2014

  1. 12 Years was a good one and I love seeing Snowpiercer here. Miss Violence sounds interesting. The only other Greek movie I’ve seen is Dogtooth and that was very well done. I’m going to have to save this one.

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  2. The only film I’ve seen on this list is “Two Days, One Night”. It’s a brilliant film, especially when you consider it’s basically Marion Cotillard trying to keep a brave face while talking to others or sitting in a car. She has the charisma to carry this film because it all depends on her performance. She was amazing.

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