The beginning of the year means its time to look over the year that’s been and gone… wait it’s June already? Never mind, it’s always fine to look back, the past always shackles us anyway. Think of it as a mid year awards ceremony which still needs to think of the years gone by as if they are still shiny and new. Some of these have only recently received DVD releases anyway, so let’s roll with it!
10. Nightcrawler Having true passion for your job is something we would all like. Wouldn’t life be so much easier if we could engage in every aspect of our day to day role of earning money to keep afloat? Sometimes you just have to really push for what you want to do in life.
In Nightcrawler, Lou Bloom loves his job, a job which involves driving around looking for crime to record and use for a news station. The bigger the crime, the more fun he has, and his Patrick Batemen-esque persona makes for a truly energetic film to display just how vulture like the media can be when it comes to dragging out a top story. Might as well make money from what you enjoy doing, and Nightcrawler is a semblance of just what that can entail for some people.
9. Inside Llewyn Davis Inside Llewyn Davis is a series of events which don’t have much relation with each other. It can feel empty and cold, but that truly captures the feelings that run through Llewyn, the down and out folk singer who just can’t seem to catch a break. The folk music doesn’t dominate the film, this isn’t a musical, and instead it simply works as an extra layer, an objective, a way of life, to the characters we meet. Which include loose duets and drugged up jazz players. It was a time of diversity after all!
A film which is akin to A Serious Man in structure, but captures a time between the death of folk and the revival of folk. It’s got its own soul, and in it the humour and the darkness coincide with each other to tell a truly hopeless story. With cats.
8. Guardians of the Galaxy Superhero moves seem obsessed in brushing aside their comic book roots for something a little more generic. How can Avengers Age of Ultron possibly evoke the charm and character of the comic heroes when most of the film is coated in a moody mix of greys and blues? Guardian of the Galaxy embraces the fact that it’s a crazy comic book caper, and all it’s missing is some visual sound effects. Maybe for the sequel.
For now, we’re left with a film which is similar to director James Gunn’s Super in tone, but without the gore and drugs. Though with a talking raccoon and a walking tree which can only say ‘I am Groot’, maybe the latter was partaken during the creation process. Either way, few Hollywood blockbusters have packed so much charm and character since the days of the original Jurassic Park, Terminator, Ghostbusters and Star Wars.
When you’re a comic book hero, you got to let it all hang out. I mean, you aren’t ashamed, are you?
7. The Babadook There is an unofficial law in the world of horror; only one horror film can break out of the required boundaries and tropes to provide something truly chilling. Cabin In The Woods, You’re Next, and this year’s It Follows are those titles, and last year it was The Babadook. The Babadook is an imaginary horror transformed into something very real, yet the heart and true horror doesn’t lie in the monster itself, but what it represents.
A horror for those who aren’t afraid of the dark, but everything else that the mind can conjure.
6. The Grand Budapest Hotel The Grand Budapest Hotel is a top five star hotel vacation, and if Wes Anderson designed hotels rather than movies, this is what we’d get. A perfectly crafted set that is clearly artificial, but it’s akin to watching a play, seeing lobby boy Zero and hotel owner Gustave’s escapades play out on beautiful hand crafted stages. It’s funny, sweet and never lets up; this is no beach holiday.
Not one for lovers of cats.
5. Under The Skin Under The Skin is an alluring film starring Scarlet Johansson and what she does on her days off from acting; driving around Scotland picking up guys. Don’t be too drawn in though, you might end up falling for it.
The film runs by like a dream, everything slowly peeling away at the skin, and it’s a brilliant role reversal which leads to some chilling moments. The film will slowly drag you into the darkened rooms, and by the end of it you’ll most likely sit in silence, longing for the violins to keep on playing.
Also has the best movie soundtrack of 2014
4. The Raid 2 A sequel which falls in the trap of being more, more, more, but one that clambers back out of the trap, carrying all the extra excess. The story is grander in scope, the action wilder, and there are no action films in 2014 which can hope to match the style and adrenaline that pumps through this film.
Perhaps the only film to have a hand to hand combat fight inside moving cars, which goes on for about ten minutes. And that isn’t even the centrepiece fight!
3. The Wind Rises Miyazaki’s farewell isn’t as magical as one would typically expect from the master of animation. There is no spiriting away, or magical cat buses. Instead this is a grounded tale of the Japanese plane designer who ended up making the planes which were ultimately used as a last ditch attempt in the war.
Any magic is left sorely to the dream sequences, and it’s a film that embraces the beauty of art, Jiro’s bitter-sweet life, and the tragedy that can come from the reality of what you create.
The wind is rising, we must try to live!
2. Calvary What is religion to you in 2015? Calvary poses this question, as Father James wanders an Irish town, seeing each of his regular church goers break all that is good and holy. There is little positive for him to see, especially when his daughter has come to visit after an attempted suicide, and the notion that he may be killed at the end of the week, known through a church confessional.
Few films can capture the disconnection that is apparent with Christian values, and things shape and shift in darkly humorous ways. A film with the power to hold a cinema audience in silence once the credits roll. You won’t be getting up straight away to make a coffee after this one.
1. Boyhood Perhaps a clichéd number one, but one that’s deserving of being at the top spot of anyone’s list nonetheless. It’s a tale which spans 12 years, with each year shot as it comes, taking away any dodgy ageing make-up and actor changes as we see everyone naturally evolve as they should.
It’s a loose plot, stuffed with obvious villains and convenient moments which try to convey how great life is, but seeing it all move through the years brings about an intense feeling of nostalgia. This is a childhood we didn’t have, but one that we can find links with, to the point that we feel to have almost lived this boy’s life. And how many films can you say that of?
Honourable Mentions: Blue Ruin, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Dallas Buyers Club, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, Fury, Gone Girl, Joe, The Double, The Punk Singer, The Wolf Of Wall Street
The Shame Pile
There are some terrible memories we cling onto too, always haunting us in our sleep. 2013 had ten horrors causing me restless nights, so I aimed to be more careful in 2014. But no matter how careful you are in life, bad things always happen, it’s unavoidable. And thus, the nightmares continue.
5. The Monuments Men With an all-star cast including Bill Murray, Matt Damon, George Clooney and John Goodman, plus an interesting story about teams who’s main goal was to preserve the art during the war, The Monuments Men sounded like it would be a sure-fire hit.
But it’s so easy to turn potential into disappointment, and here we have Bill Murray delivering memorable lines such as ‘OK’, and all the clichés of war turning up right on cue. It’s like getting an ice cream with all your favourite toppings plus a unique twist to the formula, say pepper chocolate mixed with the Smarties and Munchie pieces, but each bite feels so unfulfilled despite what you can see packed onto the iced cream.
Sometimes it’s best to eat your favourite things separately, including your favourite actors.
4. Dumb And Dumber To The original Dumb and Dumber is a classic comedy, taking a pair of stupid friends through smartly written scenarios in which the friends stupidity helps move the story forwards. It was goofy, endlessly quotable and featured the best romantic dream sequence ever.
Dumb and Dumber To is a stupid film about two stupid friends who engage in stupidly written scenarios which acts as a rehash to the first film. A sequel which misses what made the original so great makes for a truly dumb movie.
3. Lucy Humans only use a tiny portion of the mind. And if you use the full potential, as Lucy does thanks to a stomach packed full of drugs, you can shape the world as you see fit. Which makes for an action film with lots of bizarre powers and an incredibly corny Korean mob to be slaughtered. Maybe the mind is too limited to accept and believe the madness, or maybe Lucy’s potential to awaken the mind is truly nonsensical?
Whatever the case, Johansson is in one of the best and one of the worst films of 2015. A lesson to always follow the director, never the actor or actress.
2. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 The Amazing Spider-man reboot came in response to how dismal Spider Man 3 was, and it’s managed to one up the third Raimi Spider-man with a business suit led sequel. Didn’t they learn that stuffing too much into one film leads to disarray and nonsense?
The Amazing Spider-man 2 has a lot going on, and a lot of character development seems to have been grinded into its simplest form, with Electro’s idea of being alone and unnoticed played to pie in the face level of subtlety, and the fighting is a fury of cheap cgi which wouldn’t look out of place in a videogame. Current car adverts have more immersive special effects.
The worst thing though is how focus tested the whole thing is. Peter Park loves Sony, has rooms full of ‘hip’ band posters such as David Bowie’s Low, yet listens to Phillip Phillips…
1. The Congress The Congress has a lot going for it. An idea which has actors and actresses agreeing to sell their identity off as a digitised character so they can star in films for all of eternity, a way of being truly immortal. Throw in a drug which turns everything into animation, and you have one real sci-fi trip, which raises a lot of questions, but ends up throwing them all into a blender.
The characters are passive, never taking control of the world they belong in, and the confusion of reality and animation seems to have little point other than to create an interesting visual contrast. But then the animation looks so poor, not even competing with the ancient animation style it tries to replicate.
The Amazing Spider-man 2 is a mess of corporate decisions, The Congress is a mess of creative and budgetary decisions. Which is the worst of the two? Well one looks down on everything with its nose lifted, the other just wants to make lots of money.
Maybe they both deserve the one spot…
2014 was a great year wasn’t it? I remember the time I sat in silence while the world was saved from an imminent threat. This happened a countless number of times. I even watched solitude while alone in my own room. I also remember the time I banged my head against a wall twenty six times to try and forget The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but there is no point trying to forget. The good, the bad… all you can do is face it head on.
All these films receive Channel Static imaginary fuzzy medals, except the shame list. They just receive a very real Channel Static stern look. Till next year, maybe in January, maybe in October, the Channel Static film awards are over!