The simplicity of something like Italian neo-realism allows the power in and it surges.
Under the Skin
All the hallmarks of an up-its-own-arse production defeated by use of real issues, strong design and note perfect acting.
Maps to the Stars
Cronenberg demonstrates that he's been less off-form than just needing to work with the right girl. This is strong, brainy, funny, stylish and sobering.
Pleased to say that the year's best horror was not only a sustained psychological essay but local.
Why Don't You Play in Hell?
Sion Sonno bids 35 mm film making sayonara in this dizzying non-stop festival of crazy. Everything works. And boy is he good when he stops being too serious. My favourite of 2014!
One that might easily have fallen to either other list but through its persistent pursuit of big truth in the everyday detail it came out triumphant.
Blue is the Warmest Colour
A tale of epic intimacy earns its outsize screen time. About and feels like love and its resonance.
WhiplashFor being as brutal as its central process yet as musical as its goal. A toughly virtuoso pas de deux.
For trusting its leads to travel a subtly difficult path and for refusing to resort to cuteness as too many similarly themed films about ageing have. This one sticks to its theme about the tests of intimacy and doesn't get distracted.
Thoroughly enjoyable play of the Robert Heinlein mindbender sticks so faithfully to the source that it feels a misguided need to explain too much towards the end. It resurfaces undamaged by this.
Like the best albums this documentary about an album absorbs and surrounds, allowing us to walk through the nervous systems that made the sound. A great music movie.
Two Days One Night
Never was grim realism so elegant as here. Light on the outside, heavy on the inside.
Fable of culture so hungry that it doesn't care where its news comes from as long as it tastes good, delivered with a virtuoso performance from Jake Gyllenhaal. Lean and mean and walloping.
Spare and aching tale of the frayed ends of humanity borne on the shoulders of a performance that seems light but contains extraordinary anger from the great Eddie Marsan. As English as Loach and as Russian as Chekov. Beautiful.
Finding Vivan Maier