Apart from serving as a stark and somewhat worrying reminder about university work that I’ve not yet completed but absolutely should have, August is also the last month of summer blockbuster season. I’ve no idea why that’s relevant. Here are my top 10 films of the calendar year thus far. UK release dates. It’s about a month late.
We all love lists though, so I hope you fine folks’ll forgive me.
10. X-Men: Days of Future Past
Bryan Singer guides the X-Men franchise back to form with a rip-roaring circus act made up of mind bending time travel, slow motion wall-running and Wolverine being Wolverine. Days of Future Past manages its cast supremely well – even the underused Evan Peters is magnetic. Though, not Magneto. He could be. That joke wasn’t even planned.
Brendan Gleeson both runs and steals the show as Father James Lavelle in a film that plays its cards from the get-go, before promoting a townsfolk guessing game as darkly entertaining and intriguing as any before. The screenplay evolves as characters unravel and, through Father James, we become an integral part of it all.
8. The Lego Movie
Everything is awesome! And hilarious. And energetic. And utterly batty. A flick that proudly flaunts something for everyone, The Lego Movie is non-stop from start until finish; the incessant stream of laughter that spills from our mouths makes it difficult to regain control of breathing. The film ain’t perfect but when things are this gleefully mental, it doesn’t need to be.
For 85 minutes we sit in a car with Tom Hardy and for 85 minutes Tom Hardy magnificently transforms into an ordinary guy bearing a portfolio of problems, each one weightier than the previous. Locke is a moment in time driven by authentic normality that’s incredibly hard to come by on film.
6. Edge of Tomorrow
Doug Liman’s sci-fi extravaganza is even more than that: it’s startlingly funny, unconditionally engaging and the only film I’ve seen twice at the cinema this year. Tom Cruise flips perception on its head, but Emily Blunt is the one who kicks most ass. Edge of Tomorrow is summer popcorn cinema done intelligently. The correct way.
5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Hailed as more than simply one of Marvel’s superhero jaunts, The Winter Soldier captures a variety of interests. There’s both a political tinge and an espionage strand to go along with the familiar genre narrative, and these additions work. Chris Evans unveils his best performance as the Cap’n in a film that is considered by many to be the best Marvel output to date. Honestly.
4. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Dawn grabs the impressive progress made in Rise and swings to new, greater heights. The tone is more wrought and the outlook is increasingly bleak but, from acting to visuality, the execution is wholly sublime. To simplify Matt Reeves’ flick as the best looking film in a generation would be to do it a disservice. It is, but Dawn also boasts a fulfilling and rewarding foundation.
3. Inside Llewyn Davis
From smoky bars to icy streets, there’s no escaping the genuine purity of the Coen brothers’ folk piece. Its screenplay is morbidly delightful, and Oscar Isaac is a walking manifestation of just that. Llewyn is a bit of an ass yet we root for him. Peculiarly, and perhaps it’s just me, despite his downtrodden unluckiness we want to be him. Then again, it might simply be the allure of this latest Coen tale.
2. 12 Years a Slave
Formally recognised as 2013’s best film, 12 Years a Slave hit UK cinemas in January of this year. It’s inarguably the toughest piece on this particular list, and is certainly one of the most gruelling watches in recent memory. Not only is Steve McQueen’s retelling of the harrowing slave trade important, but it’s also incredibly well delivered. People should see this because it depicts a vile chapter that ought to be bookmarked as a warning to humanity.
1. Blue Ruin
Though it’s not as heavy as 12 Years a Slave, or as furnished as Inside Llewyn Davis, or as visually striking as Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Blue Ruin comes nail-bitingly close each time. This is simple storytelling relayed with a restrained confidence and wholesome purpose, and there’s even a tremendous lead performance from Macon Blair to cap it all off. It’s just brilliant.
I’m off to read about the geopolitics of Hollywood.
Images credit: Collider
Images copyright (©): 20th Century Fox, Entertainment One, Warner Bros, A24, Walt Disney Studios, CBS Films
20 thoughts on “Top 10 Films of 2014 (January-July)”
Cool to see Blue Ruin so high. An excellent film. There are a few here I still need to check out…X-Men, Apes, Locke, Lego, Captain America. The one I really want to see though is Calvary. I’ve been watching too much crap!
Blue Ruin really caught me off guard. It has a low key yet very edgy feel to it – Coen-esque – which I loved. I think there has been a solid mix of big successful blockbusters and smaller independent gems so far. Calvary is great!
It’s been a pretty strong year so far hasn’t it? Great list.
Indeed it has – sturdy mix of big and small films too. It’ll be interesting to see what the list’ll look like come December! Cheers mate.
Very interesting list.
I think there’s a decent mix in there, which can only be good thing!
Nice list, dude! Unfortunately, I haven’t seen a lot of these. I haven’t even heard of Blue Ruin! But as for Captain America, The Lego Movie, and X-Men–yes, yes, and yes. 🙂 I don’t know if I’d put Edge of Tomorrow in my top ten…well, MAYBE I would…but it was much, much better than I thought it was going to be. Such a nice surprise!
Thanks! 🙂 Blue Ruin is pretty tough going, but really good! I think Edge of Tomorrow makes it on the list because of how much it surprised me. Caught me off guard.
Very handsome list here, sir. Can’t really boot any of these off the top ten without feeling a bit guilty. I can’t wait to see Calvary, myself. That one looks really great. If it cracks your top ten, I think my excitement is justified too!
It gets better with age too. I really enjoyed Calvary at the time, but looking back it feels like an better film still! Hope you enjoy it Tom.
Man, you keep making me regret not seeing Blue Ruin at the festival. 🙂
Great list, by the way. Some excellent titles here.
Gutted you missed Blue Ruin! Hopefully it’ll come your way soon enough – would love to hear your thoughts. Cheers mate.
Yeah. I was slated to see that one at the fest, but I got very sick and opted to stay home for the night.
Apparently, I should have just sucked it up. 🙂
Probably for the best. This wouldn’t have made you feel any better with all of its incessant brooding hostility! 😉
Great list! I really want to see Blue Ruin and Locke still!
Hope you manage to – I think you’ll like ’em! Thanks Zoë!
Some awesome films here mate and good to see Locke on there, really enjoyed that. I’m dying to see Blue Ruin and Calvary, annoyed I missed those at the cinema.
It’s been a very solid year so far. The blockbusters have delivered for the most part, and the lower-key flicks have been consistently on point. I really, really like Blue Ruin, would love to hear your thoughts when you get around to seeing it! Cheers Chris.