I think all UK movie-goers can agree that it has not been a bad film for year, right? 2014 got off to a good start with an impressive January that saw the releases of the Oscar nominated threesome: American Hustle, 12 Years a Slave and The Wolf of Wall Street. Since then the standard has never really dropped below a standard that was at very least tolerable, with only a few real clangers – The Other Woman, Blended, 3 Days to Kill and Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie – to really dampen our cinematic spirits.
Given that we are now halfway through the year, I have put together a list of my favourite films of the year so far. To make it interesting, I have disregarded the flicks that picked up ‘Best Film’ nominations at the Oscars, so the first three films named above are not included, as the general consensus is they are pretty great, so where is the fun in that?
So ladies and gentleman, in no particular order, here are my picks of 2014 (so far)…
Director: John Michael McDonagh
Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Chris O’Dowd, Kelly Reilly
“I first tasted semen when I was seven years old” is one hell of an opening line, and sets the tone for what is an extremely dark affair. If you have ever seen the The Guard – which was the first piece of work produced by the McDonagh-Gleeson partnership – you should know that they do not beat around the bush. Mysterious, powerful and very sinister, laced with a wicked dose of black humour, it is a film that will get right under your skin. 8/10
For our full review of Calvary, press here.
Director: Lenny Abrahamson
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Domhall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Looking beyond Michael Fassbender wearing a paper-mache head as he rocks the Frank Sidebottom look, this is an extremely quirky, yet surprisingly moving affair that really caught me by surprise. Sharp in wit, with a dark underbelly, Gleeson leads the way as the films narrator, the 20-something musical lover, Jon, who embarks on a strange journey of hope, despair and disillusionment, when he meets the enigmatic Frank and his band of misfits. It is different, it is strange, but it is very much lovable. 8/10
For our full review of Frank, press here.
Edge of Tomorrow
Director: Doug Liman
Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Brendan Gleeson
Taking this list a little more mainstream, Edge of Tomorrow is one of the better sci-fi films I have had the pleasure of viewing in recent years. On paper, its premise seems rather unoriginal. A film about repeating events over and over is hardly new, but Liman brought such a fresh approach to proceedings that though the movie is based on repetition, it never feels boring. Edgy, sharp and shot at a flying pace, this is Tom Cruise’s best role for years as he moves away from the arrogant big-head type and becomes, well, a bit of a wimp. It was also refreshing to see Emily Blunt move away from the rom-com genre to impress in a much more physical role, one she handled extremely well. 8/10
For our full review of Edge of Tomorrow, press here.
22 Jump Street
Directors: Phil Lord & Christopher Miller
Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube
21 Jump Street took everyone by surprise in 2012, no more so than its own cast and crew. We all know that sequels are more often than not pretty rubbish, and so fears over 22 Jump Street were fully justified. What makes Lord and Miller’s follow-up so successful though, despite that it probably is not quite as funny as the original, is that it revels in its own sense of self-mockery. It does not take itself seriously, in the slightest, and that is why I, and many others, love it. The Hill-Tatum ‘bromance’ was turned up a notch, whilst Ice Cube and Bridesmaids’ Jillian Bell really stepped up to the plate in supporting roles. 2014, despite all its good, was missing a funny bone. This, in its own satirical, quirky fashion, delivered on the funny, big style. 7.5/10
For our full review of 22 Jump Street, press here.
Other notable efforts include:
Inside Llewyn Davis: For the cats, and Oscar Isaac’s incredibly well delivered down-beat performance.
The Lego Movie: ‘Cos everything is freakin’ awesome.
The Grand Budapest: Simply for the fabulous Ralph Fiennes, nothing more.
Noah: It was just fantastically bonkers.
The Fault in Our Stars: A great weepie with a backbone.
Non-Stop: I do not care how stupid it was, Liam Neeson’s not to be messed with.
What has been your favourite film of 2014 so far? Leave a comment, or tweet me at @FilmTrance.