The Best Films Of...

The 100 Best Films of 2014 | #50 – #41

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FilmOnTrial‘s The 100 Best Films of 2014 continues with entries #50 to #41. What made the list? What didn’t? Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and check out the previous part (#100 – #51) here.


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50_3Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

With Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a science-fiction franchise was reborn after it had fallen into despair (cheers, Burton). But that was only the start; Matt Reeves of Cloverfield notoriety has made his best film yet with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, a thoughtful, intense observation on humanity’s role in the wake of Apedom on Earth. Action is mingled with meaningful spectacle, and with the added bonus of Andy Serkis’ greatest motion-capture performance yet, Dawn is a crowdpleaser with both a brain and a beating heart.

‘Ape. Together. Strong!’

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49_1

We Are The Best! (Vi är bäst!)

Lukas Moodysson gets his mojo back with the youthful We Are The Best! As the title suggests, there is much pride to be found in the film’s power trio of young, rebellious pubescent punks. It’s an all-out girl war on a landscape dominated by men, and even if they can’t quite play their instruments, they’ve still got the better songs. Terrific filmmaking from an established auteur, and the director’s best since Together.

‘Punk’s dead. Didn’t you know that?’

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48_1

Manuscripts Don’t Burn (Dast-neveshtehaa nemisoosand)

There is room for bravery in cinema, even with the assumption that cast and crew enjoy the filmmaking process in glamour, style and fame. That is not true for Manuscripts Don’t Burn;  Mohammad Rasoulof’s political comment is fierce and courageous, as its actors are not credited to save them from being spurned by their own country. True commitment like that can only result in one thing: An incredible film that is as profound as it is scary.

‘Cut out the guerrilla act. That’s over now.’

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47_1

The Guest

God bless movies like The Guest. When a mysterious stranger (Dan Stevens) comes to stay at a family’s home, an innocent yet impressionable young daughter (Maika Monroe) slowly figures out he is not all as he seems. It’s as if The Terminator were given a midnight movie makeover, and injected with the kind of black humour that can only be found in Eighties throwbacks. Its style is only part of its charm, however, as the only thing equally as thrilling are the two incredible performances from Stevens and Monroe.

‘Mrs. Peterson? My name is David, Mrs. Peterson. I knew your son, Caleb.’

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46_1The Skeleton Twins

Two of film and TV’s most gifted comic actors come together to make possibly the year’s most tender drama. Playing siblings who are reconnecting after a decade apart, Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig bring some of 2014’s most heartfelt acting to the fore. As things bubble under the surface, and lives cross over old, worn paths with plenty of belly laughs along the way, The Skeleton Twins becomes the prime example of an overused word: Dramedy.

‘Does the dog die at the end?’

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45_1

20,000 Days on Earth

Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard’s mercurial biopic / concert film / hallucinogenic fever dream pushes all the same buttons Nick Cave would’ve pressed himself. Even if you’re not a fan of the man’s music, he still strikes a figure of true enigma; walking like a vampire along Brighton’s beaches, Cave carries a rich history of sex, drugs and rock n’ droll behind him – but it’s Forsyth’s and Pollard’s resignation from straight reality that makes 20,000 Days on Earth the best music biography of recent years.

‘In the end, I am not interested in that which I fully understand.’

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44_1

Only Lovers Left Alive

Jim Jarmusch takes his time when he finally gets round to making movies. His celebrated back catalogue covers a range of genres, and his latest, Only Lovers Left Alive, takes hold of the vampire nadir and gives it a sharp kick up the jacksie. Tom Hiddlseton and Tilda Swinton have rarely been better as the gothic duo Adam and Eve (yes, those are their names), who mope about in the dark, philosophising rather brilliantly on how high art is tied to mortality.

‘I just feel like all the sand is at the bottom of the hour glass or something.’

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43_1

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

A Marvel movie that tackles issues in the real world was always going to be a dubious proposition; thankfully, directing team the Russo brothers took the square-as-a-stamp Steve Rogers and made him an action hero with traditional values in a modern world of suspicion, lies and surveillance. This truly ushered in ‘Phase Two’ of Marvel Studios’ grand plan, and while it was delivering brilliant set pieces (the elevator scene, for a great example), it knew exactly what it was doing every step of the way. Oh, and casting Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce, the shadowy head of SHIELD? A masterstroke.

‘Before we get started, does anyone want to get out?’

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42_1

Dallas Buyers Club

If it weren’t for its two Oscar-winning performances at its heart, Dallas Buyers Club may have been little more than a well-crafted drama posing as something greater. But thanks to Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, the story is lifted beyond the realm of mere conflict-and-catharsis and becomes something nearly transcendent in its tale of an AIDS-riddled bigot trying to turn his life around, and accepting those around him.

‘There ain’t nothin’ out there can kill fuckin’ Ron Woodroof in 30 days.’

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41_1

The Golden Dream (La jaula de oro)

First-time director Diego Quemada-Díez isn’t new to the world of moviemaking. He cut his teeth on cinematography with Ken Loach, which explains the astonishing beauty on show in The Golden Dream. It follows a trio of Guatemalan kids who want to make it to the US, in order to escape their current squalor and start a new life. Things, of course, don’t go exactly as planned – and Quemada-Díez never forgets to lend the proceedings an air of tranquility, terror, and eventually, heartbreak.

‘I feel as if I had a zoo in my stomach, as if a whole bunch of animals were running all over my body, from the excitement of going over to the other side.’

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< Previous: #100 – #51 | Next: #40 – #31 >

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About GaryGreenScreen

Freelance film critic.

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  1. Pingback: The 100 Best Films of 2014 | #40 – #31 | FilmOnTrial - December 31, 2014

  2. Pingback: The 100 Best Films of 2014 | #100 – #51 | FilmOnTrial - December 31, 2014

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