Tue Dec 09 12:32:42 EST 2014
From the ridiculous to the sublime, as part of our ongoing year-end coverage, we recently looked at the worst films of the year, but we wouldn't want to rest on a negative note for too long, so there was only one way to go from there: to The Playlist's Official 20 Best Motion Pictures of 2014.
Traditionally, we've run separate lists by separate staffers, but this year, we also wanted to try something a little different. So for the first time ever, editors, staffers, contributors and contributing writers were polled on their top 10 lists, with ten points awarded for first place, nine for second etc, resulting in The Playlist's top twenty.
It's always worth noting that with Playlisters based everywhere from L.A. to Berlin, not everyone sees everything at the same time, and as we closed polling this past weekend, it's possible that we'd have seen certain movies yet to hit wide release climb higher (given the passion from the few who saw films like "Mommy, " "Selma" and "A Most Violent Year, " those in particular could have ended up further up the list). But nevertheless, it's been a fascinating process to watch the poll take shape (especially with the runaway number one film, which took almost twice as many points as its closest competitor), and we think we've ended up with a list that represents the site as a whole.
20. “The Rover”
If one takes “The Rover” on its own methodical, minimalist terms — an existentialist fable that burrows deep into the moralism of its corrupted, barren landscape — it’s hard to deny that writer/director David Michod’s sophomore effort wholly accomplishes what it sets out to do. Stripping away all narrative complexity to the point of abstraction, the character study really breathes, but in such a completely different way to Michod's triumphant last feature "Animal Kingdom, " that after just two features and a few shorts, Michod has us convinced he's the real deal. Featuring a stunningly grizzled, grimy lead performance by Guy Pearce, easily one of our favorite working actors, and an impressive turn from Robert Pattinson who is growing as a performer with every film, it's a movie that pulsates beneath the surface and in the long silences between dialogue and outbursts of violence. And it’s starkly beautiful to look at and to listen to, eschewing revelations and plot twists to deliver its deceptively simple story through mood, tone and atmosphere. [Read our review].
It’s amazing what filmmaker Ava Du Vernay has accomplished over such a short filmography — you’d never guess that “Selma” is only her third feature-length drama. The story of Martin Luther King Jr.’s pivotal civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama — a pilgrimage that led to the landmark passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act — “Selma” is deeply moving. And yes, it’s an “important” film, but one of such intelligence, craft, dignity and empathy, that any cynicism you may have about its motivations will quickly disappear. Alive and vital, “Selma” eschews traditional stuffy biopic notes, with David Oyelowo’s elegant performance proving effortlessly genuine. And the picture provides a warm, lived-in look into MLK’s life that is full of human dimension, while also being vividly shot by Bradford Young (the year’s MVP director of photography for “Selma” and “A Most Violent Year”), who imbues every frame with a textured authenticity and intimacy. “Selma” may check off all the Oscar boxes — it’s emotionally stirring, inspirational, crowd-pleasing, powerful and socially relevant — but if Best Picture has to hit these criteria, let “Selma” take it for all the right and honest reasons. Either way, this soulful, humanist triumph might be more worthwhile than anything you pay to see in theaters this year. [Read our review].