2014 has been a superb year for film with releases from Christopher Nolan, The Wachowski’s, David Fincher, and Darren Aronofsky the re-invigoration of Marvel films by its left-field blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy, The Lego Film, and The Raid 2. Plus, we’ve covered Edinburgh and Glasgow film festivals, attended Edinburgh’s unbeatable Dead by Dawn horror festival, and covered some great Indy horror . So here it is, our top ten film of 2014!
The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears Dirs. Helene Cattet, Bruno Forzani
The second feature film from Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani, directors of 2009’s Amer, is a superior thrill-ride through a sumptuously shot giallo-inspired nightmare. Colorful, evocative, and mysterious, the film plays out like a fever dream concerto to Argento and the pulpy ideals of 80’s Euro trash, except it looks like legitimate art and feels like genuine terror. Read our review.
Under the Skin Dir. Jonathan Glazer
Jonathan Glazer’s latest feature sports Scarlet Johansen’s best performance to date and some of the most exquisite cinematography of the year. Not only does the film successfully introduce an alien technology that looks like nothing else out there, it also boldly accentuates the odd alien atmosphere of the Scottish landscape and leaves the viewer in a suitably shaken nihilistic mood. Read our review.
The Babadook Dir. Jennifer Kent
Incredibly impressive Indy horror from first-time Aussie director Jennifer Kent. Not only is it great to have a pitch perfect psycho-thriller in the guise of a classic monster movie, but one both written and helmed by a female director is still a woefully rare thing. Fantastic lead performances and unreserved honesty when discussing mental health make this an eerie and unforgettable experience.
4. Ai Wei Wei: The Fake Case Dir. Andreas Johnsen
The controversial artist and political activist is given an intimate canvasing in this fantastic documentary from Andreas Johnsen. Even though its an absolute pleasure to spend time behind closed doors with a contemporary legend and see how he works, but it’s an undeniably heart-warming thing to realise just how loving, mischievous, and humble a person he really is. On the other hand, Johnsen’s work also proves as an eye-opening case study of the brutal and totalitarian power the Chinese government exerts over its people. Read our review.
5. In Order of Disappearance Dir. Hans Petter Moland
Stellan Skarsgard goes full Neeson for this, a comedy of the blackest kind about a vengeful father who ends up getting tangled in a mess of Serbian and Nordic mafia war after his son is murdered. Skarsgard steals the show, navigating Moland’s perilously bleak world of dim-witted gangsters and unfortunate coincidences. Beautifully put together, and totally hilarious. Read our review.
6. Cold in July Dir. Jim Mickle
Like an old – slightly OTT – pulp novel, Cold in July is a gutsy ode to pulp that has a frankly commendable attention span. From Carpenter-esque stalker vibes, through buddy comedy road movie, finally landing on Mexploitation revenge, Cold in July is Jim Mickle’s most ambitious and gripping project to date, in a CV that is becoming increasingly impressive. If that’s not enough, Don Johnston and Sam Sheppard get their coolest roles in the past few years. Read our review.
7. Joe Dir. David Gordon Green
Apart from the fact Gordon Green’s latest features my favourite Nicholas Cage performance since Bad Lieutenant, its arguably the most sincere film I saw this year. Green tells a basic story with such heart, coaxing brutally honest performances from all his stars until the film kind of takes on a life of its own. A sad southern ballad of abuse and desertion that leaves two very different men alone to help and heal. Read our review.
8. Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla Dir. Stuart Simpson
Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla, from Monstro! director Stuart Simpson, was one of the stand-out features at Dead By Dawn this year. Much of the film’s punch lies in the fantastic performance of Glenn Maynard, who picks up the charicature of Warren and breathes such miserable life into him that the film’s dramatic conclusion comes as terrifying and heartbreaking as it does. Impressive low-budget psychological horror. Read our review.
9. Oculus Dir. Mike Flanagan
Its so refreshing to see a mainstream horror effort that is both enjoyably terrifying and pretty smart. Characters aren’t thick-as-mince and seem to have graduated the ‘Wes Craven school of surviving a horror flick’, that’s what makes this such a pleasure to watch: no matter how smart you are the threat is a step ahead. Original scares and perfect editing entwine past and present in this near perfect contemporary haunting. Read our review.
10. Welcome to New York Dir. Abel Ferrara
Never has Abel Ferrara been so on-point, this tale of degradation and corruption came in one of the most prolific years for US political and financial cock-ups. Depardeux delivers a stellar performance as the defiant and disgusting Deveroux, filling the vile characters boots with disgrace to spare. Jacqueline Bisset sneaks in in the final third and threatens to steal the show though. An arresting and frankly worrying piece of film. Read our review.