Putting the finishing touches on this list, it struck me – there were some terrific, female-lead films in 2014. The fact that this observation has not dawned on me while compiling other best of year lists is troubling. I would like to go back and review my choices – hopefully I do find some great films with strong female leads. But in general, 2014 offered a number of excellent films, it was difficult to narrow it down. I feel there are some honourable mentions that definitely deserve a higher placing alongside those in the Top 10 – perhaps I should re-evaluate my list rules at the end of this year to expand to a Top 20. Please read, debate and challenge me on my choices.
Honourable mentions: The Double, What We Do In The Shadows, Predestination, Nymphomaniac Volumes I and II, Birdman, The Babadook, The Lunchbox, 52 Tuesdays, Whiplash, The Raid 2, The Wolf Of Wall Street, Nebraska, The Man Whose Mind Exploded, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Appropriate Behavior, Two Mothers.
10. Blue Is The Warmest Color – Sprawling love story that at three hours long covers every aspect of a complicated and complex relationship between two women.
9. Two Days, One Night – Marion Cotillard stuns and dazzles as a woman battling depression and fighting for her job back over an emotional roller-coaster of a weekend.
8. Maps To The Stars – David Cronenberg is back on point (in my opinion) with this scathing take on Hollywood with Julianne Moore in top form as the bratty aging actor who strives to keep her star shining.
7. Short Term 12 – Almost documentary-like in its realism and naturalism, Short Term 12 features an amazing cast that handles the heartbreaking moments with ease.
6. Gone Girl – Ben Affleck and Rosumund Pike deliver career-best performances in this slick mystery-thriller with awesome twists that examines the different ways we behave for different people and in different scenarios.
5. Boyhood – While what was technically achieved (filmed throughout 12 years) is impressive, it is the performances (particularly Patricia Arquette) that amaze. A rare occasion in which a three-hour film did not feel like enough.
4. Nightcrawler – Hilarious black comedy/satire/ thriller on the hazy ethics of citizen journalism with Jake Gyllenhaal shining as the wide-eyed, enthusiastic, manipulative entrepreneur who will do anything for the best film angle.
3. Charlie’s Country – Important Australian film on the battles our Indigenous still have today to nurture their culture in a white world. David Gulpilil is heartbreaking as the elder who has spent his life trying hang on to his identity.
2. Her – Unusually plotted but emotionally charged look at how we connect with our technology and others that covers a range of themes that allows for repeated viewings.
1. Under The Skin – Mysterious, chilling, other-worldly, disturbing, hypnotic. The kind of film that is unusual and thinly plotted but mountains of ideas going on under the surface. Puzzling and alien to some, intriguing to others, this reviewer was utterly floored.