2014: My year in film

A list seen this year in San Francisco, London, New York, Sydney, and occasionally, VOD and mid-air.

Initial tweet-reactions to the “5 star” films included. Note to self: read a thesaurus.

In alphabetical order, by star rating…

5 star

20,000 Days on Earth
The mind of Nick Cave brought to us in spectacular, hybrid fashion. Haven’t enjoyed a film as much this year!

“Straight up, nothing fancy” Hawke’s character says at one point. It’s true. It’s also a near-perfect, natural time capsule of moments growing up.

A most essential and terrifyingly timely film that needs to be seen. Snowden, Greenwald and Poitras are heroes.

Finding Vivian Maier
I’m filled with sadness that Ms. Maier didn’t get to see how the world has embraced her work. A lost talent and complex personality packaged up to be narratively and emotionally as strong as anything this year.

An unforgiving tragedy helmed by a master storyteller in Bennett Miller. Tatum and Carell are unrecognisably good.

Frame after frame of black & white beauty that’s soft, still and restrained. I marvel at Pawlikowski’s confidence and vision.

Unparalleled as pure spectacle and wonder. Nolan’s ambition overshadows any faults. McConaughey’s acting, the sound design, and editing made it even richer as a cinematic experience on second viewing.

Hoyte van Hoytema must have watched 2001 many a time! Even Zimmer’s score had some welcome unfamiliarity to it.

Life Itself
A touching tribute to a great man and all he loved. Thank you, Steve James. And thank YOU, Roger. The entire theatre laughed and cried in unison. Two thumbs up.

Maniacal, desperate, living the American Dream by way of network television. Gyllenhaal continues his incredible run. The city of L.A., score, humour and editing all stand out.

Only Lovers Left Alive
Simply oozes style and wickedness. The soundtrack will have no equal this year. An instant all-time favourite.

The Double
Offbeat brilliance from Richard Ayoade. Jesse Eisenberg better get an Oscar nom. A fantastic double act.

The Square
There won’t be a braver, more important film this year.

Two Days, One Night
Marion Cotillard gives *the* performance of the year. Completely transformative. A masterwork in realism.

Under the Skin
Singular, seductive, striking sci-fi. Wow to the score, cinematography and Johansson’s all-consuming presence.

Phenomenal! J.K. Simmons is terrifying. Miles Teller’s energy and intensity is out of this world. What a star! The only thing to do at the end is stay sunken in your seat and clap. That rhythm is playing in my head and I can’t stop it.

4pt5 star

12 O’Clock Boys




Edge of Tomorrow


Force Majeure

Gone Girl

Jodorowsky’s Dune

Like Father, Like Son

Mr. Turner

Obvious Child

Starred Up

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Selfish Giant

The Wind Rises

4 star

A Coffee in Berlin

A Touch of Sin

August: Osage County

Captain America: The Winter Soldier




It Felt Like Love


Lone Survivor


Skeleton Twins

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her/Him

The Fault In Our Stars

The LEGO Movie

The Lunchbox

The Rover

The Theory of Everything

Tim’s Vermeer

Venus in Fur


3pt5 star

22 Jump Street

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

A Most Wanted Man

Begin Again

Blue Ruin


Guardians of the Galaxy

How To Train Your Dragon 2

John Wick

Palo Alto

The Guest

The Immigrant

The Invisible Woman

The Raid 2

The Way He Looks

What if

3 star

7 Boxes

A Summer’s Tale

Bad Neighbours


Labor Day

Magic in the Moonlight

Nymphomaniac: Vol I

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Stranger by the Lake

The Interview

The One I Love

The Signal

The Two Faces of January

Transformers: Age of Extinction

X-Men: Days of Future Past

2pt5 star

In Secret

Nymphomaniac: Vol 2


The Dance of Reality

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

2 star

Big Hero 6

Cold in July

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes



The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

The German Doctor

1pt5 star

Child’s Pose


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