The Best Films Of...

The 100 Best Films of 2014 | #40 – #31

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FilmOnTrial‘s The 100 Best Films of 2014 continues with entries #40 to #31. What made the list? What didn’t? Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and check out the previous part (#50 – #41) here.


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Obvious Child

It’s nearly miraculous that Obvious Child exists at all. Jenny Slate perfectly channels Gillian Robespierre’s deft screenplay, whose film is a extraordinarily well-balanced take on the topic of abortion. Despite its apparent smallness of stakes, Obvious Child is filled with characters that constantly surprise you, and a message that’s more humanist than polemic.

‘You’re dizzy because you played Russian roulette with your vagina.’

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A Most Wanted Man

Simmering to a breath-stealing climax, A Most Wanted Man is a finer John Le Carré adaptation than Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and a much more chilling look at what goes on behind locked doors in secret buildings. It also includes the best Philip Seymour Hoffman performance since The Master, the best Rachel McAdams performance since, well, ever, and those last moments are as memorable as any produced this year.

‘It’s just an ordinary pen. Looks like a pen, writes like a pen, and listens like a pen.’

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38_1The Lunchbox (Dabba)

When a movie revolves around a central plot device, it can often run out of steam by mining its situational potential to death. But with The Lunchbox – where a man’s lunch is mixed up with that of another worker – that gimmick gracefully turns into a quiet hymn on growing old, connection, and finding a purpose in life. And all from a simple lunchbox.

‘Somewhere I read that the wrong train can lead you to the right station…’

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Ida

The most emotionally complex, potent and downright heart-flutteringly terrific picture on the Holocaust for a while. Ida covers much psychological territory, yet is struck through with a clarity of purpose that’s like a lightning bolt, its perceptive qualities mirrored by its clear-eyed monochrome. And it nails home its devastating points about religion, war, family, and sex in just over 80 minutes.

‘What sort of sacrifice are these vows of yours?’

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Locke

An experiment that paid off, Locke is an achievement in pacing, style, and character, all three attuned to the same wavelength so perfectly, Steven Knight’s movie becomes simultaneously a breakneck thriller and a tearjerker – and all set from behind a steering wheel. Tom Hardy continues to prove he’s a genuine asset for tiny films like this, carrying a picture where the landscape are the contours of his face and the gestures of his body; ‘powerhouse’ doesn’t quite cut it.

‘You make one mistake, Donal, one little fucking mistake, and the whole world comes crashing down around you.’

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Omar

Blending a political commentary and a love triangle perfectly, Omar digs its heels into you from the start and never lets go. A nation divided by a wall is no block to Omar’s motivations, which lead him to become – unwillingly – a double agent, pulled between his newfound secret occupation and the woman he loves. This is fine, fine storytelling from Hany Abu-Assad, a man who has discovered that a sociopolitical narrative can be the same as a romantic one.

‘Omar, there’s a price to pay if you want to revolt and liberate your country.’

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Wrinkles (Arrugas)

Using the medium of animation to show us sides of life too painful for regular viewing, Wrinkles takes a frank look at a man in the throes of dementia, living out the rest of his years in an old folk’s home. It doesn’t sound pretty, but this is an exceptional character study of redemption found in the most soul-destroying of places.

‘You are just bitter, Miguel. You just hate getting old.’
‘Me? Bitter? Not at all! I love being old.’

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22 Jump Street

‘My name is Jeff.’ That moment is only the start of a long string of delicately nuanced, perfectly timed comic performances in a film fit to burst with high-brow (and low-brow) comic set pieces to contain them all. Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller somehow managed the impossible; they made a comedy sequel that’s better, and even funnier, than the first. All together now: ‘Something cooooool!’

‘Fuck you, doves!’

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The Rover

Bleak to the point of breaking, The Rover is director David Michôd’s screw-you to a world expecting a follow-up in a similar vein of his acclaimed previous movie, Animal Kingdom. Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson are the ringleaders of this apocalyptic roadshow, an operatic Mad Max in the wake of an economic collapse, that will open your eyes while making you vomit from the heat, the fumes, and the bad attitudes of everyone in this Australian desolation. Also, watch out, via Pearce, for the best monologue of the year.

‘You should never stop thinking about a life you’ve taken. That’s the price you pay for taking it.’

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Paddington

Whodathunkit? Despite the dead-eyed teasers earlier this year, Paddington turned out to be one of the most charming movies ever, and the best live-action family film for a number of years. It’s also one of 2014’s best-directed movies; thanks to Paul King, who has an eye for what makes the little marmalade-gorging bear so endearing, we’re given a beautiful message that will stay in children’s minds, while making their parents think too. And it was all just in time for Christmas.

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< Previous: #50 – #41 | Next: #30 – #21 >

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About GaryGreenScreen

Freelance film critic.

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  1. Pingback: The 100 Best Films of 2014 | #30 – #21 | FilmOnTrial - December 31, 2014

  2. Pingback: The 100 Best Films of 2014 | #50 – #41 | FilmOnTrial - December 31, 2014

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