Looking Back at 2014 – Ten Favorite English Films of the Year

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2014 was the year where I kept chasing English films. There were a truckload of movies which caught my attention, for I just couldn’t keep myself off the marquee and finally ended up watching more than I actually planned to. While a lot of films were good while they lasted, few left an impact on me and called for a re-watch or a discussion with a buddy. Down below, is the list of my top ten personal favourites of the year. These films aren’t just films, they are ‘special’.

10) The Guest – Directed by Adam Wingard, Written by Simon Barrett

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This film is a cracker, right from the word go. Coming with the little twists thrown in at the right instants, the director manages to keep you guessing for most parts of the film. Playing the lead role, Dan Stevens as David Collins is terrific. The attitude which he flaunts adds some more spice to the film, along with the calm and composed dialogue delivery. The music comes off as another asset, albeit being simple and not too noisy. With something in it for everybody, The Guest offers entertainment on high levels. Badass is the word.

09) Nightcrawler – Written and directed by Dan Gilroy

9.Nightcrawler

Undoubtedly the surprise package of 2014. Helmed by a first timer who has taken care of both the writing and the direction, Nightcrawler belts you with two hours of exhilarating fun. Jake Gyllenhaal is simply superb in this film. Stitching himself into the shoes of Lou Bloom, he delivers a fantastic performance in a role which is hard to like. The cinematography is flawless too, as it easily sweeps you into the mood of the scene. Though the film is devoid of twists and possesses a linear narrative pattern, it gallops at a solid pace and ends on a high. Crawl is just in the name.

08) The Imitation Game – Directed by Morten Tyldum, Written by Andrew Hodges & Graham Moore

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Benedict Cumberbatch. Now this guy is an absolute freak. Acting runs in his blood, and that is evident in The Imitation Game, where the man comes up with arguably the best performance of the year. Reliving the role of the infamous Alan Turing, the film traverses on an interesting path built with strong performances, good making and a few uncanny jolts. Really wish the director had concentrated on the detailing to make this a better film, rather than the over-emotional final moments.

07) Fury – Written and directed by David Ayer

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Unlike the majority of war films, Fury dealt with just a short episode in the lives of five soldiers and a Sherman tank. However, what makes this click is the brilliant performances of Brad Pitt and Logan Lerman, in addition to the healthy emotional connect that the film leaves you with. The war scenes are skilfully choreographed; there are a couple of edge-of-the-seat moments too. Except for the logic tosses, Fury is a highly recommended watch which is definitely worth your time.

06) Enemy – Directed by Dennis Villeneuve, Written by Jose Saramago & Javier Gullon

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After watching this film, the reaction on your face will be nothing less than a ‘WTF’. Even a 100 re-watches will still leave you pondering over the actual plot of the film. Mind-numbing to the core, Enemy deserves a non-distracted viewing, some brain boggling and finally a debate to arrive at a conclusion, which still might be wrong. Jake Gyllenhaal knocks you out with his stupendous performance in a dual role. The body language, facial expressions and the confidence levels which he exhibits are on a different level. The gloomy and yellowish tone of the film is yet another bullet in this gun which will shoot you off your seat, sans a doubt.

05) Gone Girl – Directed by David Fincher, Written by Gillain Flynn

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An intense, disturbing and impactful film about marriage and its darker side. David Fincher’s ability to keep the audience glued with the dialogue driven narrative is the USP of the film. The twists are unveiled in brilliant fashion, as the director keeps you guessing on what is going to happen next. Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike come up with career defining performances, for I wouldn’t be surprised if the latter goes on to win the Oscar. Visually stunning too, Gone Girl will scare you on the very thought of marriage. You have to watch it to know it.

04) The Grand Budapest Hotel – Written and directed by Wes Anderson

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Wes Anderson’s films are known for their peculiarity. The director has a style of his own. The Grand Budapest Hotel walks in as a film which is wonderfully scripted, narrated, edited and presented. Boasting of a breath-taking act from Ralph Fiennes, the film brims with light humour all the way. The colourful tone of the film and the aspect ratio do bring in the feel of the olden days, along with the music which deserves a special mention. With interesting cameos at the high points, The Grand Budapest Hotel deserves a watch, for the making if not for anything else.

03) Interstellar – Directed by Christopher Nolan, Written by Jonathan Nolan

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A 100 words aren’t enough to describe this film. Acclaimed worldwide on various terms, Interstellar takes you on a journey of a lifetime within the three hours at the cinema hall. Christopher Nolan’s idea of combining science with the undying concept of love worked wonders in his favour, as the film turned out to become one of the biggest success stories of 2014. Matthew McConaughey’s performance will leave you smiling, crying and rooting at different instances; nothing less than a spellbinding one that. Interstellar, truly an out of the world experience.

02) Whiplash – Written and directed by Damien Chazelle

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Shot over a span of just 19 days, Whiplash is a tense and gut-wrenching tale packed with goosebumps. With the astounding performances of Myles Teller and JK Simmons, the director pulls you into the film and drops you into the room of the proceedings. While the music of the film is highly professional, the editing truly deserves an Oscar. The climax is an ultimate ripper and immediately rings bells for a re-watch. Whiplash is sublime, it is something much more than a good job.

01) Boyhood – Written and directed by Richard Linklater

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Boyhood follows the life of a young man from age 5 to 18. Thoughts of that going to be boring, and here comes the twist – Boyhood was shot with the same characters over a period of 11 years. Yes, Richard Linklater and his team deserve every bit of appreciation and more for this painstaking, herculean effort which is unfortunately one of the lesser known films of the year. The film is so close to reality that it actually feels like the events onscreen have taken part on the other side of the globe. The amount of detailing and the point that the director never makes a single wrong move is absolutely amazing. Boyhood has to be watched for the effort. It has to be watched for the perfection. It has to be watched for the experience. You just, have to watch it.

Reaching the end of the list, there are a few films which deserved a place on the list but just missed the cut. Here they are,

Locke – Two hours of Tom Hardy driving a car and you don’t get bored for a single minute. The Buried of 2014.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Though I badly missed James Franco in this one, it was a highly compelling biggie.

John Wick – Plain, hardcore action. Kickass comeback for Keanu Reeves.

Million Dollar Arm – Always loved the Indian connect in Hollywood’s films. This one was a harmless watch.

Foxcatcher – Steve Carrell. What an actor!

The Fault in Our Stars – Probably the best romantic film of 2014.

The Mule – Interesting attempt from the Aussies.

Predestination – Except for Ethan Hawke who looked out of place, this film works.

Notable films I still haven’t watched – Selma, Inherent Vice

There are two films of 2014 which didn’t work for me, although it did for the majority of the people around me. They are Birdman and American Sniper. While the first one is appreciable for its concept and the cinematography, the second is a complete yawnfest barring a few war scenes. These two, were the biggest disappointments of 2014 to my eyes.

We have now reached the end of this long piece and it’s finally time to say thank you. I hope you enjoyed reading my list, and do go back to watch the films you’ve missed out. You can catch me on FB or Twitter to drop in your feedback. Cheers!

Siddarth Srinivas

Follow @sidhuwrites

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