It is the most wonderful time of the year. That time I wreck my brain trying to put in order a list of the movies that stuck with me in 2014. Well, this year was a very special one for movies in general, I've watched many movies, as always, and I cannot recall a year where I had so many to choose that I simply couldn't pick at all.
But I did. Enough with the talking, here it is, my list of 2014 (+ honorable mentions)! Yay!
10. Hard to be a God (Trudno Byt Bogom) - Directed by Aleksey German
Director Aleksey German took fourteen years to create and release Hard to be a God, a book turned to film that many said to be impossible. Even though he passed away prior seeing his final piece ready, his wife and son took on the task of editing and shaping it into what German expected to be his last masterpiece.
I am not going to lie, this is the most visually unique and mentally exhausting film I have watched this year. The plot is extremely complicated to explain (please try your luck here) and I had no idea of what was going on at times. I felt tired, excited, confused and dirty ... but it spoke to me and I loved it.
9. Locke - Directed by Steven Knight
Who ever knew that a 90 minute movie about a guy driving around in a car and answering phone calls could be so incredibly engaging? For such a minimalistic effort, Locke was a hugely ambitious project precisely for its simplicity. Tom Hardy is fantastic, the scriptwriting is also excellent and the character development is terrific.
8. Gone Girl - Directed by David Fincher
What I really like about Gone Girl is how it feels like a movie I loved from the 90s - Dream Lover (James Spader foreveeeer!) but it took it to a whole different level. It is not worried about trying to surprise you with some shocking ending, it's just asking you to sit back, observe and relax while watching this couple's relationship unfold in a very bizarre way. Love it.
7. Thou Wast Mild and Lovely - Directed by Josephine Decker
I really really enjoyed this film. It was a weird mixture of Upstream Color, daydream, poetry, Tom at the Farm, nightmares. Josephine is a great director/scriptwriter that knows what to do with this amount of creative power. She takes it and runs with it, very very far. Check my review and interview with her here.
6. Ida - Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski
After Summer of Love, Pawel tops himself with this beautifully shot film. Ida became an orphan during WWII and spent her whole like amongst nuns; and before professing her vows to become one, she and her aunt goes on a road trip to find out what really happened to her Jewish parents. Great stuff.
5. The Dance of Reality (La Danza de la Realidad) by Alejandro Jodorowsky
Jodorowsky is one of my favorite directors of all time. Wait. He is more than that, he is a philosopher, writer, director, poet, thinker, whatever you name it, he is. This movie is a biography made by himself with his greatest memories growing up. He does not give you answers that are ready to consume, he asks you to elevate your level of awareness. It is more than a film, it is an experience. Check my review here.
4. Two Days, One Night (Deux jours, une nuit) - Directed Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
Now, this is what I call filmmaking. Simple story and execution that is elevated by Marion's acting skills. Raw, honest and very real.
3. I am Yours (Jeg er din) - Directed Iram Haq
It's an honest tale of a woman trying to please others before standing up for herself. This was a result of many hours of her parents confronting her decisions and making her feel worthless, Mina just wants to be loved. It is interesting to see how those poor decisions will end up getting in the way of her son's definition of love as well. It's gut-wrenching to see a girl pursuing happiness in all the wrong ways. Check my review here.
2. Viktoria - Directed by Maya Vitkova
Dreaming of the West, Boryana is determined not to have a child in communist Bulgaria. Nonetheless, her daughter Viktoria enters the world in 1979, curiously missing a belly button, and is declared the country’s Baby of the Decade.
Viktoria, to me, was a punch in the gut. But one of those punches that slowly sinks in your stomach and leaves you aching for days. All the positive and negative reviews are absolutely correct, and that makes this film priceless. We see the evolution of a wold pre-Viktoria, we are aware of the country's reality and what structure this family has in order to understand Viktoria's existence in this environment.
The film gives a complete 360 exploration on what is Viktoria, what she was and has become, where she is going, who she will be in the future. It will do all in a mix of drama and symbolism that is exciting to see. You will be thinking about it for some days, it's a treat. Check here a little more about it.
1. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (かぐや姫の物語) - Directed by Isao Takahata
What to say about a Ghibli film? You know the drill, beautiful animation, great character development and the quality of work that only Japanese people can do. This hand-drawn animation makes you feel as you're inside of a book, watching the words be illustrated before your eyes that will touch you and make you cry, as usual. Amazing, beautiful film that no other can reach.
Noooooow, I would love to mention some other films that were a pleasant joy to discover this year:
* Coherence - Directed by James Ward Byrkit
* Buzzard - Directed by Joel Potrykus
*My Blind Heart - Directed by Peter Brunner
* Blue Ruin - Directed by Jeremy Saulnier