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Sunday, 22 February 2015

The Thin White Dude's 8th Annual Awards for the Best and Worst Films of the Year (2014)




Amidst all of my mad schedule between working on this and the contracts right now (Red Bull's Crashed Ice is taking up a good bit of time), I think it's an achievement in itself that I got this done. The guts of this Best and Worst of 2014 was done over the course three days when I essentially just sat myself down for long sessions banging it out. Otherwise, I doubt that this would have got done, being up at Stormont under the shadow of the denizens that govern our country for most of the past four days. But anyway, here it is. 2014, as the following awards presentation will indicate, was a highly competitive and rich year of film as a whole. We got no less than six masterpieces and a number of great films otherwise, which at times made it rather hard when it came to deliberating who won what award. As you can see (spoiler alert!), the 3rd winner for The Thin White Dude's Championship for Independent/Unique Contribution to Cinema was Iain Forsyth/Jane Pollard's 20,000 Days On Earth, a bold, audacious and fictitious documentary on a day in the life of Nick Cave. Not to devalue it's own achievements, there was a wealth of entertaining and thought-provoking released over the course of the year. To conclude this introductory preamble, every year I'm constantly reminded by the fact that cinema is still a fairly young medium; literature has been around for many a millennia, it's really hard to date the 'beginning' of music, while painting has been more or less around since the dawn of humankind. Cinema is only entering it's second century, and every year I see more proof of the fact that we still have many great more years to come. 

So, let's get cracking!

Ground Rules

1. A movie must have received a release in theatres or on DVD in 2014



2. The numbers of eligible nominees for all categories are between five and ten, with the potential for increase if need be on Best Film and Worst Film.

3. Being a professional (though unpaid, mind), I am only going to discussing movies I saw in 2014 (so no Foxcatcher, Selma, etc.), and the movies in discussion have been watched in full, from start to finish. I won't be pulling any Rex Reed's here!

4. Most, but not all categories are arranged by alphabetical order in relation to the film nominated and not the individual(s) nominated.

5. Two new categories this year (The 1st Robert Altman Altman Award for Best Ensemble Cast in a Film from 2014, The 1st 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' Award for Best Sex Scenes in a Film from 2014). The former is in recognition of the many ensemble casts gathered for a film in 2014, in honour of one of the late Robert Altman's directorial trademarks, while the latter, referring to last year's spellbinding romance of the same name, is about the depiction of sexuality in cinema, a subject close to my heart.

6. These are the opinions of a jury of one.

7. These opinions and ground rules are also not so inflexible that I can't make a change or mould them whenever I see fit (both the Best Male Actor in a Leading Role and Best Director categories have been amended to feature eleven nominees).

8. Feel free to comment, share this article, like it, tweet it, blah blah blah. I really do take your opinions into account, I'm just a lazy bastard when it comes to shameless self-promotion on social media.

9. Expect a rebuttal if you do respond.

10. Carpe diem (what? I know it's a poxy buzzline everyone loves to use, but I needed a tenth 'Commandment' of sorts, didn't I?)!

Signed

The Thin White Dude



The 8th John Carpenter Award for Best Horror Film of 2014

And the winner is… Oculus (Blumhouse Productions/WWE Studios/Intrepid Pictures) – Mike Flanagan

Admittedly, 2014 as a whole wasn’t a great year for horror film, and I did miss the major horror film release of the year, The Babadook. However, I can safely say that Mike Flanagan’s Oculus is a great film more than deserving of this award. Taking a concept and working from the ground up, this is an intelligent and psychologically intense piece among the best horror films of recent years.

The 7th Kenneth Loach Award for Best Drama Film of 2014

American Sniper (Village Roadshow Pictures/Mad Chance Productions/22nd & Indiana Pictures/Malpaso Productions) – Clint Eastwood
Begin Again (Sycamore Pictures/Exclusive Media/Likely Story/Apatow Productions) – John Carney
Big Eyes (Silverwood Films/Electric City Entertainment/Tim Burton Productions) – Tim Burton
Boyhood (Detour Filmproduction) – Richard Linklater
Ida (Canal+ Polska/Danish Film Institute/Eurimages) – Pawel Pawlikowski
The Imitation Game (Black Bear Pictures/FilmNation Entertainment/Bristol Automotive) – Morten Tyldum
Whiplash (Sierra/Affinity/Bold Films/Blumhouse Productions/Right Of Way Films) – Damien Chazelle

And the winner is… Boyhood (Detour Filmproduction) – Richard Linklater

In the hardest fought genre-based category, with two masterpieces in there (thriller also has two masterpieces, but these two are a stronger duo), Richard Linklater’s Boyhood takes home the gong.  Boyhood is a perfect example of a film that you feel on a deep emotional level, with a truthful familiarity that makes you contemplate upon life itself. A remarkable work.

The 7th Sylvester Stallone Award for Best Action/Adventure Film of 2014

The Equalizer (Village Roadshow Pictures/Escape Artists) – Antoine Fuqua
Fury (Le Grisbi Productions/QED International/LStar Capital/Crave Films) – David Ayer
Guardians Of The Galaxy (Marvel Studios) – James Gunn
The Wind Rises (Studio Ghibli) – Hayao Miyazaki
X-Men: Days Of Future Past (20th Century Fox/Marvel Entertainment/Bad Hat Harry Productions/The Donners’ Company/TSG Entertainment) – Bryan Singer

And the winner is… The Wind Rises (Studio Ghibli) – Hayao Miyazaki

If The Wind Rises is to be veteran director Hayao Miyazaki’s last film, then he certainly went out with a bang. His swansong, although identified foremost as a biographical drama, has all the elements of an epic adventure film of the kind you might have seen come out of Hollywood. It’s a paean to his love of aviation, through which he entreats us to follow our dreams and live life to it’s fullest. 

The 8th GWB Award for Most Unintentionally Offensive Film of 2014

American Sniper (Village Roadshow Pictures/Mad Chance Productions/22nd & Indiana Pictures/Malpaso Productions) – Clint Eastwood: pissed off the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, civil rights activists, a number of film critics and Michael Moore

Exodus: Gods And Kings (Chernin Entertainment/Scott Free Productions/Babieka/Volcano Films) – Ridley Scott: pissed people off because of racial casting, Biblical scholars, historical scholars and certain elements of those of the Muslim faith
God’s Not Dead (Pure Flix Entertainment/Red Entertainment Group) – Harold Cronk: pissed off Michael Gerson, Catholic News Service, Answers In Genesis and a number of non-Christians
Hector And The Search For Happiness (Egoli Tossell Film/Film Afrika Worldwide/Erfttal Film/German Federal Film Board/Screen Siren Pictures) – Peter Chelsom: pissed off people who don’t like to drowned in overly-sanctimonious schmaltz
The Pyramid (Silvatar Media/Fox International Productions) – Gregory Levasseur: pissed off people who like a good horror film and who are sick and tired of the whole goddamn found-footage genre
Tammy (New Line Cinema/Gary Sanchez Productions) – Ben Falcone: pissed off people who saw that the man character was a boorish, obnoxious asshole and that the film was quite clearly a botched star-vehicle for Melissa McCarthy
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Nickelodeon Movies/Platinum Dunes/Gama Entertainment/Mednick Productions/Heavy Metal) – Jonathan Liebesman: pissed off people who remember what a hot property both TMNT and Megan Fox were before they were corrupted and Bayified
Transformers: Age Of Extinction (di Bonaventura Pictures/Hasbro/China Movie Channel/Jiaflix Enterprises) – Michael Bay: pissed off critics again, incurred the wrath of the Mak brothers, and caused Rentrak to doubt the authenticity of it’s box-office performance
Walk Of Shame (Lakeshore Entertainment/Sidney Kimmel Entertainment) – Steven Brill: pissed off people who don’t buy into the central premise of finding humour in a middle-class woman trying to get out of the nightmare that is a working-class neighbourhood.

And the winner is… Walk Of Shame (Lakeshore Entertainment/Sidney Kimmel Entertainment) – Steven Brill: pissed off people who don’t buy into the central premise of finding humour in a middle-class woman trying to get out of the nightmare that is a working-class neighbourhood.

While not the worst film among this crop, Walk Of Shame is the walking definition of unintentionally offensive. Writer-director Steven Brill casts the charming-by-default Elizabeth Banks into a film whose idea central concept is staggeringly outdated and pernicious. The population of the working-class areas Banks’ Southern self-described “good girl” finds herself seems entirely populated by perverted immigrant taxi-drivers, prostitutes, corrupt policemen, sexually-repressed Jews, drug dealers and which is also highly misogynistic. If there is one film that genuinely offended me from a moral standpoint in 2014, it’s Walk Of Shame.

The 8th Philip K. Dick Award for Best Science-Fiction/Fantasy Film of 2014

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (Chernin Entertainment/TSG Entertainment) – Matt Reeves
Edge Of Tomorrow (Village Roadshow/RatPac-Dune Entertainment/3 Arts Entertainment/Viz Productions) – Doug Liman
Interstellar (Legendary Pictures/Syncopy/Lynda Obst Productions) – Christopher Nolan
Lucy (EuropaCorp/TF1 Films Production/Canal+/Cine+/TF1) – Luc Besson
Maleficent (Walt Disney Pictures/Roth Films) – Robert Stromberg
Under The Skin (Film4/BFI) – Jonathan Glazer

And the winner is… Under The Skin (Film4/BFI) – Jonathan Glazer

The rest of the nominees here have an average budget of $146 million between them. However good some of them may be, I’ve decided to go for the modestly-budgeted and artistically audacious science-fiction erotic art thriller Under The Skin as the winner of this award. Packed with imagery that gives Luis Bunuel a run for his money, an off-kilter original score by Mica Levi and a stunning central performance from Scarlett Johansson, Jonathan Glazer’s guerrilla film is a potent, dark fairy-tale on what it means to be human.

The 8th Stan and Ollie Award for Best Comedic Film of 2014

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (Regency Enterprises/New Regency Pictures/M Productions/Le Grisbi Productions/TSG Entertainment/Worldview Entertainment) – Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu
Calvary (Reprisal Films/Octagon Films/Protagonist Pictures) – John Michael McDonagh
Horrible Bosses 2 (New Line Cinema/Benderspink/RatPac Entertainment) – Sean Anders
The Lego Movie (Village Roadshow Pictures/Lego System A/S/Vertigo Entertainment/Lin Pictures/Animal Logic/Warner Animation Group) – Phil Lord/Christopher Miller
Maps To The Stars (Prospero Pictures/SBS Productions) – David Cronenberg
Pride (BBC Films/Calamity Films) – Matthew Warchus
The Zero Theorem (Voltage Pictures/Zanuck Independent) – Terry Gilliam

And the winner is… Calvary (Reprisal Films/Octagon Films/Protagonist Pictures) – John Michael McDonagh

In a solid, varied year for comedy, John Michael McDonagh’s pitch-black comedy Calvary seals the deal. Leaps and bounds above his debut feature The Guard, McDonagh’s crafts a finely balanced portrayal of a good priest attempting to find some semblance of faith among his tormenting parishioners, who inhabit a seemingly godless world. Fronted with graceful power by Brendan Gleeson, it’s pitched just right between comedy and drama, for while being at raucous and entertaining, it’s also harrowing, coming with a message that packs a punch.

The 8th ‘I Am Legend’ Award for Biggest Disappointment of 2014

The Expendables 3 (Nu Image/Millenium Films) – Patrick Hughes: after Simon West made The Expendables 2 a rollicking romp, the third in this trilogy is as pompous and self-important as the original
Godzilla (Legendary Pictures) – Gareth Edwards: so much untapped potential with that universal metaphor
The Grand Budapest Hotel (American Empirical Pictures/Indian Paintbrush/Babelsberg Studio) – Wes Anderson: admired in some respects, but massively self-indulgent and positively dripping with quirk
The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies (New Line Cinema/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/WingNut Films) – Peter Jackson: considering the standards set, this is a major step down
Inherent Vice (IAC Films/Ghoulardi Film Company) – Paul Thomas Anderson: an anomaly stripped of the character and personality associated with both Anderson and Thomas Pynchon
A Million Ways To Die In The West (Media Rights Capital/Fuzzy Door Productions/Bluegrass Films) – Seth MacFarlane: following the hilarious Ted with a sub-par Woody Allen-esque homage to the Western genre
The Theory Of Everything (Working Title Films) – James Marsh: a good movie, but resplendent with all the traits of pure Oscar-bait

And the winner is… The Grand Budapest Hotel (American Empirical Pictures/Indian Paintbrush/Babelsberg Studio) – Wes Anderson: admired in some respects, but massively self-indulgent and positively dripping with quirk

I would have went with Inherent Vice, considering how much I was looking forward to it, but there’s something dastardly Pynchonian about how much it sucks. In that light, I’ve went for the other Anderson, whose picture The Grand Budapest Hotel was massively acclaimed, successful at the box-office and will be a big player at the Academy Awards. I can understand them awarding the craftsmanship of those behind the film’s detailed mise-en-scene, but I can’t understand Best Original Screenplay going to this massively self-indulgent, portentous mess of a film that is decent at best and the most overrated of Best Picture nominees in years.

The 6th Walt Disney Award for Best Animated Film of 2014

The Lego Movie (Village Roadshow Pictures/Lego System A/S/Vertigo Entertainment/Lin Pictures/Animal Logic/Warner Animation Group) – Phil Lord/Christopher Miller
The Wind Rises (Studio Ghibli) – Hayao Miyazaki

And the winner is… The Wind Rises (Studio Ghibli) – Hayao Miyazaki

And for those not keeping count, we have our first multiple award winner, with The Wind Rises picking up it’s second in this year’s crop. Tough competition came in the form of the legitimately barmy brilliance of The Lego Movie, but Hayao Miyazaki proves with The Wind Rises that his work is the gold standard of animation. If this wasn’t an animated picture, it would have been the kind of biographical drama that could be a top Oscar prospect, but Miyazaki keeps it grounded and far from Oscar-bait pitfalls, giving us a charming and imaginative film up there with his best. Arigato, Miyazaki-san!

The 4th Sergei Eisenstein Award for Best ‘Unintentional’ Propaganda Film of 2014

American Sniper – Clint Eastwood: “America, fuck yeah!”
The Basement/Do You Like My Basement? – Roger Sewhcomar: Proof that I too could make a better low-budget horror film than The Basement
Exodus: Gods And Kings – Ridley Scott: Biblical source material by way of Gladiator, punctuated by Batman’s ever-changing facial hair
God’s Not Dead – Harold Cronk: it’s totally kewl to ram religious beliefs down everyone’s throats
Hector And The Search For Happiness – Peter Chelsom: life-changing journeys always make for great drama
Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie – Ben Kellett: decrepit old women are inherently hilarious
The Purge: Anarchy – James DeMonaco: leftist revolutionary subtexts do not maketh a great movie: discuss…
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Jonathan Liebesman: cause we all really wanted Michael Bay to take another beloved franchise and turn it upside down
The Theory Of Everything – James Marsh: harrowing true stories are masterworks by default and tick all of the Academy’s boxes

And the winner is… God’s Not Dead – Harold Cronk: it’s totally kewl to ram religious beliefs down everyone’s throats

God’s Not Dead follows the story of an evangelical Christian student who stands up in defiance of his atheist philosophy professor’s insistence that God does not exist. It was a surprise hit, grossing over $60 million off a $2 million budget, which says a lot about prominence of evangelical Christianity in the States but also the recent resurgence of the Christian film industry. However, I feel God’s Not Dead is a hypocritical film guilty of the same crass ignorance with which it depicts all non-Christian characters in the picture. It espouses its views as forcefully and insultingly as Kevin Sorbo’s simple-minded atheistic professor. It has all the qualities of a propaganda piece. 

The 6th Walter Murch Award for Best Sound Design/Mixing in a Film from 2014

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (Chernin Entertainment/TSG Entertainment) – Matt Reeves
Edge Of Tomorrow (Village Roadshow/RatPac-Dune Entertainment/3 Arts Entertainment/Viz Productions) – Doug Liman
Fury (Le Grisbi Productions/QED International/LStar Capital/Crave Films) – David Ayer
Interstellar (Legendary Pictures/Syncopy/Lynda Obst Productions) – Christopher Nolan
The Lego Movie (Village Roadshow Pictures/Lego System A/S/Vertigo Entertainment/Lin Pictures/Animal Logic/Warner Animation Group) – Phil Lord/Christopher Miller
Lone Survivor (Emmet/Furla Films/Film 44) – Peter Berg
Oculus (Blumhouse Productions/WWE Studios/Intrepid Pictures) – Mike Flanagan
20,000 Days On Earth (Corniche Pictures/BFI/Film 4/Pulse Films) – Iain Forsyth/Jane Pollard
Under The Skin (Film4/BFI) – Jonathan Glazer
Whiplash (Sierra/Affinity/Bold Films/Blumhouse Productions/Right Of Way Films) – Damien Chazelle

And the winner is… Whiplash (Sierra/Affinity/Bold Films/Blumhouse Productions/Right Of Way Films) – Damien Chazelle

I know, the movie’s about music, so it seems an obvious choice. In this case, the obvious choice is the best choice. Damien Chazelle, drawing on his experiences as a jazz drummer, has the sound department on this film design, mix and edit it within an inch of its life. Every little detail, be it the beat of a drum or the intonation on a syllable in a conversation, is mapped out meticulously. It’s this attention and instinctive knack for what sounds appropriate that makes Whiplash stand out aurally.

The 7th Paul Schrader Award for Best Screenplay of 2014

Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu/Nicolas Giacobone/Alexander Dinelaris, Jr./Armando Bo (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)) – Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu
Richard Linklater (Boyhood) – Richard Linklater
John Michael McDonagh (Calvary) – John Michael McDonagh
Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) – David Fincher
Rebecca Lenkiewicz/Pawel Pawlikowski (Ida) – Pawel Pawlikowski
Phil Lord/Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie) – Phil Lord/Christopher Miller
Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler) – Dan Gilroy
Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) – Damien Chazelle

And the winner is… Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) – Damien Chazelle

Second consecutive award for Whiplash! This film marked the arrival of a new cinematic voice in Damien Chazelle, whose display of young prodigious talent here is up there with that of Paul Thomas Anderson on Boogie Nights. As I mentioned earlier, Chazelle draws on his own experiences, but in this context he creates an intensely engaging onscreen tête-à-tête between Andrew Neiman and Terence Fletcher akin to a big fight atmosphere. Amidst this drama, he posits questions of what it means to be an artist, to achieve true genius in one’s given field, and what it takes to be the best version of you that you can be. 


The 5th Edith Head Award for Best Costume Designs in a Film from 2014

Edge Of Tomorrow – Doug Liman
Fury – David Ayer
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson
Guardians Of The Galaxy – James Gunn
The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies – Peter Jackson
The Imitation Game – Morten Tyldum
Inherent Vice – Paul Thomas Anderson
Interstellar – Christopher Nolan
Maleficent – Robert Stromberg
X-Men: Days Of Future Past – Bryan Singer

And the winner is… Edge Of Tomorrow – Doug Liman

Edge Of Tomorrow may not be one of the bigger winners at this year’s awards, much the same as can be said for its marketing campaign(s) and box-office intake. However, don’t let that fool you into thinking that it isn’t one of the better films of the year, because it is. One of the reasons it stands out is the realization of its mise-en-scene, and the costume designs in the film are incredible. In particular, the skill and craftsmanship in the highly detailed battle-suits made for some of the best action scenes with large numbers I’ve seen in recent years. 

The 8th ‘Real Steel’ Award for Most Surprisingly Entertaining Film of 2014

Big Eyes (Silverwood Films/Electric City Entertainment/Tim Burton Productions) – Tim Burton: went in slightly unenthused for another Tim Burton film, found myself pleasantly charmed for a lot of it
Calvary (Reprisal Films/Octagon Films/Protagonist Pictures) – John Michael McDonagh: went into it quite sniffy, considering The Guard preceded it, came out thinking it was among the best films of the year
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (Chernin Entertainment/TSG Entertainment) – Matt Reeves: expected a good movie, but not the best Apes movie since the original 1968 film
Edge Of Tomorrow (Village Roadshow/RatPac-Dune Entertainment/3 Arts Entertainment/Viz Productions) – Doug Liman: thought we’d get a straight Tom Cruise film, much as I like Cruise, but we got an intelligent, bombastic and highly satirical film all in one bargain
The Lego Movie (Village Roadshow Pictures/Lego System A/S/Vertigo Entertainment/Lin Pictures/Animal Logic/Warner Animation Group) – Phil Lord/Christopher Miller: expected a fun kid’s movie, saw a legitimately bonkers surreal comedy which manages to be simultaneously both pro and anti-capitalist
Lucy (EuropaCorp/TF1 Films Production/Canal+/Cine+/TF1) – Luc Besson: expected a romp, got a widely entertaining and at times rather ingenious one
Oculus (Blumhouse Productions/WWE Studios/Intrepid Pictures) – Mike Flanagan: had only one good word-of-worth, saw a genuine game-changer that plays by it’s own rules after hooking you in
Pride (BBC Films/Calamity Films) – Matthew Warchus: was worried it was going to be overly sanctimonious, instead a got a witty, honest portrayal of gay activists banding together to help Welsh miners
Whiplash (Sierra/Affinity/Bold Films/Blumhouse Productions/Right Of Way Films) – Damien Chazelle: expected a good movie, got a great movie

And the winner is… Calvary (Reprisal Films/Octagon Films/Protagonist Pictures) – John Michael McDonagh: went into it quite sniffy, considering The Guard preceded it, came out thinking it was among the best films of the year.

Second up for Calvary, three horses in the multiple award winners (The Wind Rises and Whiplash both with two). As I mentioned, I wasn’t bowled over by The Guard, and I think if you took Brendan Gleeson away from the part of Gerry Boyle it would actually be a bad movie. Calvary however, is a confidence and assured work from John Michael McDonagh, and in my admittedly not-so-humble opinion, the best screen work from either he or brother Martin McDonagh. It’s a remarkable work among the best to ever emerge from Ireland that deserves to be celebrated.

The 7th Christopher Doyle Award for Best Cinematography in a Film from 2014

Emmanuel Lubezki (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)) – Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu
Larry Smith (Calvary) – John Michael McDonagh
Michael Seresin (Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes) – Matt Reeves
Jeff Cronenweth (Gone Girl) – David Fincher
Ben Davis (Guardians Of The Galaxy) – James Gunn
Ryszard Lenczewski/Lukasz Zal (Ida) – Pawel Pawlikowski
Hoyte van Hoytema (Interstellar) – Christopher Nolan
Robert Elswit (Nightcrawler) – Dan Gilroy
Michael Fimognari (Oculus) – Mike Flanagan
Daniel Landin (Under The Skin) – Jonathan Glazer

And the winner is… Emmanuel Lubezki (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)) – Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu

Although this is usually always a hard-fought category with great looking movies, the award clearly deserves to go to Emmanuel Lubezki for his seamless work on Birdman. Innaritu’s proposing of doing much of the film as an extended take must have been a logistical nightmare, but Lubezki executes it flawlessly, playing as much a part in telling this modernist madcap tale as anyone else involved in the production. Chivo, now a three-time award winner in his second consecutive year from this reviewer, has firmly etched himself among the all-time great DP’s. 

The 5th Rick Baker Award for Best Make-Up/Hair in a Film from 2014

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes – Matt Reeves
Fury – David Ayer
The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies – Peter Jackson
Inherent Vice – Paul Thomas Anderson
Gone Girl – David Fincher
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson
Guardians Of The Galaxy – James Gunn
Maleficent – Robert Stromberg
X-Men: Days Of Future Past – Bryan Singer

And the winner is… Guardians Of The Galaxy – James Gunn

Guardians Of The Galaxy stood out from pack of summer blockbusters for it’s distinctive flavor and personality, and the terrific make-up/hair is a reflection of this. Harking back to the aesthetics of monster movies, science-fiction and the physical application of make-up/hair, David White’s designs for characters like Gamora, Drax, Ronan, Yondu, Nebula, Korath and The Collector ensure that visually they all look unique. Furthermore, there is almost a psychedelic quality to the multitudinous variety in the color palettes used throughout, so that visually it’s never tiresome in this wonderfully realized world.

The 7th Lucio Fulci Award for Most Excessively Violent Film of 2014

Child Of God (Rabbit-Bandi Producions/Made In Film-Land) – James Franco
The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies (New Line Cinema/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/WingNut Films) – Peter Jackson
Inherent Vice (IAC Films/Ghoulardi Film Company) – Paul Thomas Anderson
Tammy (New Line Cinema/Gary Sanchez Productions) – Ben Falcone
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Nickelodeon Movies/Platinum Dunes/Gama Entertainment/Mednick Productions/Heavy Metal) – Jonathan Liebesman
Transformers: Age Of Extinction (di Bonaventura Pictures/Hasbro/China Movie Channel/Jiaflix Enterprises) – Michael Bay
Walk Of Shame (Lakeshore Entertainment/Sidney Kimmel Entertainment) – Steven Brill

And the winner is… Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Nickelodeon Movies/Platinum Dunes/Gama Entertainment/Mednick Productions/Heavy Metal) – Jonathan Liebesman

It might have been passed as a 12A by the BBFC, PG-13 by the MPAA and is ostensibly marketed towards a young audience, but I personally hate the idea of children watching something like this new TNMT film. Everything about it screams excess, from the goggle-eyed way the camera’s apex of movement seems to Megan Fox’s ass to the constantly crass and overbearing wisecracks of this wholly unfunny incarnation of the central characters. There is one scene in particular, which sees the Turtles injected with ‘Adrenaline,’ monitors effectively screaming in caps “OVERDOSE IMMINENT.” If that isn’t a blantant reference to drugs, I don’t know what is!

The 7th Ennio Morricone Award for Best Original Score/Soundtrack of 2014

Various (Boyhood) – Richard Linklater
Patrick Cassidy (Calvary) – John Michael McDonagh
Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross (Gone Girl) – David Fincher
Tyler Bates/”Awesome Mix Vol. 1” (Guardians Of The Galaxy) – James Gunn
Hans Zimmer (Interstellar) – Christopher Nolan
Mark Mothersbaugh/Various (The Lego Movie) – Phil Lord/Christopher Miller
Warren Ellis/Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds (20,000 Days On Earth) – Iain Forsyth/Jane Pollard
Mica Levi (Under The Skin) – Jonathan Glazer
Justin Hurwitz (Whiplash) – Damien Chazelle
Joe Hisaishi (The Wind Rises) – Hayao Miyazaki

And the winner is… Mica Levi (Under The Skin) – Jonathan Glazer

Amid the fierce eclecticism of this year’s bunch, I’ve decided to go for the off-kilter choice. Bagging Under The Skin it’s second award (tying with The Wind Rises, Whiplash and Calvary in the running) is Mica Levi for her unusual yet brilliant score. The experimental soundscape, not dissimilar to chamber music, sounds fearsome, with its mix of loops and repeated hooks. Interestingly, the instrumentation does an about-face of what is normally expected, the violins screeching oppressively while the synthesizer, normally in film an instrument associated with dehumanization becomes more prominent as the main character develops human emotions. Admittedly, I have a bias towards the unusual, but this is the most audacious film score of the past four or five years. 

The 3rd Emotional Heartstrings Orchestra (EHO) Award for Worst Film Score/Soundtrack of 2014

Brian Tyler (The Expendables 3) – Patrick Hughes
Dan Mangan/Jesse Zubot (Hector and the Search for Happiness) – Peter Chelsom
Joel McNeely (A Million Ways To Die In The West) – Seth MacFarlane
Andy O’Callaghan (Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie) – Ben Kellett
Nima Fakhara (The Pyramid) – Gregory Levasseur
Michael Andrews (Tammy) – Ben Falcone
Brian Tyler (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) – Jonathan Liebesman
Steve Jablonsky (Transformers: Age Of Extintion) – Michael Bay
John Debney (Walk Of Shame) – Steven Brill

And the winner is… Andy O’Callaghan (Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie) – Ben Kellett

So, Brian Tyler bags two noms and twice-previous winner Rupert Gregson-Williams is conspicuous by his absence (and with four different films on two awards at present, right now it seems two is the magic number). However, this year’s dubious honor goes to Andy O’Callaghan’s score for Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie. Now, don’t get me wrong, the film is rubbish, but O’Callaghan’s work here is the epitome of everything I hate to hear in film music: following the traditional patterns, it’s full of innocuous swells, jingles and soft instrumentation, everything neutral and by-the-book, all the while vainglorious and pandering to the cult of personality built around Mrs. Brown. If I want to worship a batty old woman that isn’t my grandmother, then it’ll be Hyacinth Bucket! Now, would you kindly piss off?

The 3rd David Bowie Award for Best Theme/Song in a Film from 2014

Keira Knightley: “Like A Fool (Begin Again) – John Carney
Family Of The Year: “Hero” (Boyhood) – Richard Linklater
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross: “What Have We Done To Each Other?” (Gone Girl) – David Fincher
Blue Swede: “Hooked On A Feeling” (Guardians Of The Galaxy) – James Gunn
Teagan and Sara, featuring The Lonely Island: “Everything Is Awesome!!!” (The Lego Movie)
Eric Serra: “I Am Everywhere” (Lucy)
The Newton Brothers: “Oculus of Glass” (Oculus)
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: “Jubilee Street” (20,000 Days On Earth)
Mica Levi: “Love” (Under The Skin)
George Fenton: “The Zero Theorem (Main Title)” (The Zero Theorem)

And the winner(s) are… Blue Swede: “Hooked On A Feeling” (Guardians Of The Galaxy) – James Gunn and Teagan and Sara, featuring The Lonely Island: “Everything Is Awesome!!!” (The Lego Movie)

And with this one, Guardians Of The Galaxy becomes the fifth film to enter multiple award territory and The Lego Movie picks up it’s first. I decided to go with two winners here because both stood out prominently as anthems by which the film’s they are featured in are now associated in popular culture. In the case of Guardians, they took an existing song in the Blue Swede cover of Hooked On A Feeling and turned effectively into Peter Quill’s theme tune, while Everything Is Awesome!!!, an original written for The Lego Movie, captures the deliriously hypnotic brilliance of that film’s world. Both are outstanding examples of a single track defining an entire film.

The 1st ‘Blue Is The Warmest Colour’ Award for Best Sex Scenes in a Film from 2014

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignore) (Regency Enterprises/New Regency Pictures/M Productions/Le Grisbi Productions/TSG Entertainment/Worldview Entertainment) – Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu
Gone Girl (Regency Enterprises/Pacific Standard) – David Fincher
Ida (Canal+ Polska/Danish Film Institute/Eurimages) – Pawel Pawlikowski
Stranger By The Lake (Le Films du Worso/arte France Cinema/M141/Films de Force Majeure) – Alain Guiraudie
Under The Skin (Film4/BFI) – Jonathan Glazer

And the winner is… Gone Girl (Regency Enterprises/Pacific Standard) – David Fincher

I was contemplating whether or not to go with this one, because it almost constitutes a plot spoiler, right? However, I do feel strongly about the depiction of sex and sexuality onscreen, often overlooked in aesthetic and moral terms. In this vein, I give the inaugural award in this category to Gone Girl, picking up its second award among this year’s categories (six films are at two awards: which is going to break out from the pack?). In Gone Girl, though the sex is almost fetishistic in terms of it’s focus on sexual pleasure, the scenes all serve a purpose, adding the rich complexity of the story. As it stands, to use a phrase that could be horribly misconstrued as an innuendo, Gone Girl contains multiple sex scenes that could be placed among the greatest in all of cinema. 

The 6th Dante Ferretti Award for Best Production Design in a Film from 2014

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes – Matt Reeves
Edge Of Tomorrow – Doug Liman
Exodus: Gods And Kings – Ridley Scott
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson
Guardians Of The Galaxy – James Gunn
The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Fives Armies – Peter Jackson
Interstellar – Christopher Nolan
X-Men: Days Of Future Past – Bryan Singer
The Zero Theorem – Terry Gilliam

And the winner is… Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes – Matt Reeves

This year saw a mixed bag of films in terms of quality deliver in their production design, and the film I’ve chosen for this award not only features the best production design but is the best all-round film of the bunch. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes’ film world is marvelously realized, both in keeping with fictional post-pandemic setting and entrenching it in reality. By comparison to, say, the original 1968 film, whose world is completely unrecognizable to our own, this film’s world is frighteningly familiar. The sense of urban decay, nature invading our society, is palpable, hitting home all the more when we see that the apes have founded an almost utopian civilization. Marvellously done!

The 6th Stan Winston Award for Best Special/Visual Effects in a Film from 2014

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes – Matt Reeves
Edge Of Tomorrow – Doug Liman
Godzilla – Gareth Edwards
Guardians Of The Galaxy – James Gunn
The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies – Peter Jackson
Interstellar – Christopher Nolan
Maleficent – Robert Stromberg
Transformers: Age Of Extinction – Michael Bay
Under The Skin – Jonathan Glazer
X-Men: Days Of Future Past – Bryan Singer

And the winner is… Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes – Matt Reeves

And with its second consecutive win, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes becomes a late entry in the win for Best Film of 2014. The effects and production design categories featured Edge Of Tomorrow and Interstellar were terrific, either of whom would have been worthy winners, but once again Weta Digital have outdone themselves on this latest Apes installment. Both in terms of their work elevating that of the motion-capture performances by the actors and in terms of the realization of the film’s world, Weta’s contribution cannot be overlooked. For years, they have been the standard bearer of visual effects, and Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is another example of the storytelling abilities of strong visual effects.




The 6th Vic Armstrong Award for Best Stunt Work on a Film from 2014

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes – Matt Reeves
Edge Of Tomorrow – Doug Liman
Exodus: Gods And Kings – Ridley Scott
Fury – David Ayer
Guardians Of The Galaxy – James Gunn
The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies – Peter Jackson
Lone Survivor – Peter Berg
Lucy – Luc Besson
X-Men: Days Of Future Past – Bryan Singer

And the winner is… Lucy – Luc Besson

While Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes and Edge Of Tomorrow feature some terrific battles in an SF setting, Fury sees tank battles choreographed like car chases and Lone Survivor is ferociously high-impact, I’ve decided to acknowledge Luc Besson’s deliriously entertaining Lucy with this award. Besson has always been a master of choreographing action in his films, but what’s different here is that he goes completely over-the-top, indulging his every whim and yet, somehow, it remains not only a coherent movie, but also a great one. A lot of that is down to the wildly imaginative action sequences, which just see Besson, Scarlett Johansson and co go into flights of fancy, giving us a fun, ninety-minute b-movie romp. 


The 7th Thelma Schoonmaker Award for Best Film Editorial Work of 2014

Sandra Adair (Boyhood) – Richard Linklater
William Hoy/Stan Salfas (Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes) – Matt Reeves
Kirk Baxter (Gone Girl) – David Fincher
Fred Raskin/Craig Wood/Hughes Winbone (Guardians Of The Galaxy) – James Gunn
Lee Smith (Interstellar) – Christopher Nolan
David Burrows/Chris McKay (The Lego Movie) – Phil Lord/Christopher Miller
Steve James/David E. Simpson (Life Itself) – Steve James
Jonathan Amos (20,000 Days On Earth) – Iain Forsyth/Jane Pollard
Tom Cross (Whiplash) – Damien Chazelle

And the winner is… Tom Cross (Whiplash) – Damien Chazelle

With seven tying it at two awards, Whiplash breaks out, leading at three, with Tom Cross winning the award for Best Editing. In my review, I described Cross’ work as an example of jackknife editing, a description that I will stand by rather proudly. Considering that is only his third feature film editing gig, spending much of his career as an assistant editor, it shows the same kind of talent on display from it’s writer-director Damien Chazelle. Citing The French Connection, Raging Bull and The Wild Bunch as influences on Whiplash, you can see that in the ferocity of some of his exemplar use of montage, making even the most seemingly trivial of scenes have a momentous big-fight atmosphere.

The 8th James Cameron Award for Best Sequel of 2014

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (Chernin Entertainment/TSG Entertainment) – Matt Reeves: abiding and exceeding!
Horrible Bosses 2 New Line Cinema/Benderspink/RatPac Entertainment) – Sean Anders: for an unwarranted sequel, it milks a good bit of funny out of a seemingly dry cow
X-Men: Days Of Future Past (20th Century Fox/Marvel Entertainment/Bad Hat Harry Productions/The Donners’ Company/TSG Entertainment) – Bryan Singer: a compendium for fans of the X-Men franchise, uniting the two previous separate strands of it’s universe

And the winner is… Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (Chernin Entertainment/TSG Entertainment) – Matt Reeves: abiding and exceeding!

So, Whiplash’s lead is compromised by those damn dirty apes! While 2014 may not have been the best year for sequels (three nominations compared with last year’s five), Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is a worthy winner. As the best in the Apes franchise since the 1968 original (as a big fan of Conquest, that’s saying something!) and one of the best of 2014, Dawn was a great example of both abiding to the spirit of the franchise and exceeding itself in terms of expectations. At risk of sounding and making the usual allusions, it will be in future years seen as The Empire Strikes Back and The Dark Knight of this contemporary collection of Apes films.

The 7th Werner Herzog Award for Most Ingenious Film Concept of 2014

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (Regency Enterprises/New Regency Pictures/M Productions/Le Grisbi Productions/TSG Entertainment/Worldview Entertainment) – Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu: (nearly the entire length of a meta-modernist comedy consists of an experimental ‘long take’)
Boyhood (Detour Filmproduction) – Richard Linklater: (following a child over twelve years does not become a gimmick because of ingenuity)
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (Chernin Entertainment/TSG Entertainment) – Matt Reeves: (many of the primary characters in a big-budget summer blockbuster are non-human apes using sign language to communicate)
Edge Of Tomorrow (Village Roadshow/RatPac-Dune Entertainment/3 Arts Entertainment/Viz Productions) – Doug Liman: (Live. Die. Repeat.)
Interstellar (Legendary Pictures/Syncopy/Lynda Obst Productions) – Christopher Nolan: (Christopher and Jonathan Nolan dare to dream big, into the cosmos across the universe)
The Lego Movie (Village Roadshow Pictures/Lego System A/S/Vertigo Entertainment/Lin Pictures/Animal Logic/Warner Animation Group) – Phil Lord/Christopher Miller: (a capitalist movie that manages somehow to be anti-capitalist at the same time)
Nightcrawler (Bold Films) – Dan Gilroy: (the protagonist is a self-serving sociopath whose adventures serve as a commentary on our own behavior towards violence in the world around us)
20,000 Days On Earth (Corniche Pictures/BFI/Film 4/Pulse Films) – Iain Forsyth/Jane Pollard: (concerns itself with preserving the mythology of Nick Cave as opposed to the factual truth)
Whiplash (Sierra/Affinity/Bold Films/Blumhouse Productions/Right Of Way Films) – Damien Chazelle: (jazz drumming and a teacher-student tete-a-tete as a means for exploring the drive for personal ambition and satisfaction in life)

And the winner is… Boyhood (Detour Filmproduction) – Richard Linklater: (following a child over twelve years does not become a gimmick because of ingenuity)

Coming back into the fold is Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, picking up its second award. Although depicting the everyday life of a boy, as one of the film’s stars Ethan Hawkes describes, “It’s Tolstoy-esque in scope,” and you do get the sense that Linklater is using this concept as a means to explore the big questions of life as we come of age. Also, as I hinted at with my text up there, it does not become a gimmick: it could quite easily have become too obsessed with it’s own brilliance, but despite the epic nature of the concept, it’s kept thoroughly entrenched and grounded.

The 5th ‘Cemetery Junction’ Award for Most Overlooked Film of 2014

Big Eyes (Silverwood Films/Electric City Entertainment/Tim Burton Productions) – Tim Burton: Tim Burton actually puts his hands to some good material that isn’t dripping with quirk and trees with branches that curl and it tanks at the box-office
Edge Of Tomorrow (Village Roadshow/RatPac-Dune Entertainment/3 Arts Entertainment/Viz Productions) – Doug Liman: intelligent, original, non-franchise science-fiction/action/satire film featuring a bona-fide star in Tom Cruise fails to make a serious dent at the box-office
The Equalizer (Village Roadshow Pictures/Escape Artists) – Antoine Fuqua: violent vigilante b-movie romp with Denzel Washington wrongfully dismissed by critics
Gone Girl (Regency Enterprises/Pacific Standard) – David Fincher: one of the best films of the year and sure-fire awards contender gets mostly snubbed when it comes to the major awards ceremonies
Horrible Bosses 2 (New Line Cinema/Benderspink/RatPac Entertainment) – Sean Anders: shamelessly stupid but relatively entertaining and funny unwanted sequel generally shat upon by the critical majority
A Most Wanted Man (Demarest Films/Potboiler Productions/The Ink Factory/Film4 Productions) – Anton Corbijn: the final film featuring Philip Seymour Hoffman in a lead role is a taut, classy espionage thriller that didn’t get the attention it deserved
Oculus (Blumhouse Productions/WWE Studios/Intrepid Pictures) – Mike Flanagan profitable at the box-office, reviewed well, yet in the wake of The Babadook seems to have been forgotten about

And the winner is… Edge Of Tomorrow (Village Roadshow/RatPac-Dune Entertainment/3 Arts Entertainment/Viz Productions) – Doug Liman: intelligent, original, non-franchise science-fiction/action/satire film featuring a bona-fide star in Tom Cruise fails to make a serious dent at the box-office

With Edge Of Tomorrow bagging it’s second award, it means that nine films have entered multiple awards territory and the most awards for a given movie so far is three, so it’s obviously a highly competitive year. It’s appropriate then that Edge Of Tomorrow wins this one. Heavily pushed upon release by Warner Bros., when the film performed below expectations at the box-office it was all but forgotten about. Part of the problem lies in the indecisiveness of the marketing of the film. Based on the Japanese light novel All You Need Is Kill, early on it was decided that ‘kill’ was a dirty word the studio didn’t want in a major release, so this bland title was tacked on and the film was promoted as a typical Tom Cruise science-fiction/action vehicle. Cruise’s Cage is not the badass we see in the trailer, but instead is a cowardly scoundrel. Hell, even now on DVD, with the tagline LIVE-DIE-REPEAT becoming more prominent than it’s official title, Warner Bros. still can’t decide what to call the film. It’s a shame for an intelligent, original property among the best films of the year to be treated like yesterday’s rubbish.

The 1st Robert Altman Award for Best Ensemble Cast in a Film from 2014

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (Michael Keaton/Edward Norton/Emma Stone/Naomi Watts/Zach Galifianakis/Andrea Riseborough/Amy Ryan/Lindsay Duncan) – Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu
Boyhood (Ellar Coltrane/Patricia Arquette/Lorelei Linklater/Ethan Hawke/Libby Villari/Marco Perella/Brad Hawkins/Bill Wise) – Richard Linklater
Calvary (Brendan Gleeson/Chris O’Dowd/Kelly Reilly/Aidan Gillen/Dylan Moran/Issach de Bankole/M. Emmet Walsh/Marie-Josee Croze/Domnhall Gleeson/David Wilmot/Pat Shortt/Gary Lydon/Killian Scott/Orla O’Rourke/Owen Sharp/David McSavage) – John Michael McDonagh
Gone Girl (Ben Affleck/Rosamund Pike/Neil Patrick Harris/Tyler Perry/Carrie Coon/Kim Dickens/Patrick Fugit/Casey Wilson/Missi Pyle/Sela Ward/Emily Ratajkowski/Kathleen Rose Perkins/Lisa Banes/David Clennon/Scott McNairy/Boyd Holbrook/Lola Kirke) – David Fincher
Guardians Of The Galaxy (Chris Pratt/Zoe Saldana/Dave Bautista/Vin Diesel/Bradley Cooper/Lee Pace/Michael Rooker/Karen Gillan/Djimon Hounsou/John C. Reilly/Glenn Close/Benicio del Toro) – James Gunn
The Lego Movie (Chris Pratt/Will Ferrell/Elizabeth Banks/Will Arnett/Nick Offerman/Alison Brie/Charlie Day/Liam Neeson/Morgan Freeman/Channing Tatum/Jonah Hill/Cobie Smulders/Jadon Sand) – Phil Lord/Christopher Miller
Maps To The Stars (Julianne Moore/Mia Wasikowska/John Cusack/Robert Pattinson/Olivia Williams/Sarah Gadon/Evan Bird/Carrie Fisher/Jayne Heitmeyer/Jonathan Watton/Amanda Brugel) – David Cronenberg
X-Men: Days Of Future Past (Hugh Jackman/James McAvoy/Patrick Stewart/Michael Fassbender/Ian McKellen/Jennifer Lawrence/Halle Berry/Nicholas Hoult/Kelsey Grammar/Anna Paquin/Ellen Page/Peter Dinklage/Shawn Ashmore/Omar Sy/Evan Peters/Josh Helman/Daniel Cudmore/Fan Bingbing/Adan Canto/Booboo Stewart) – Bryan Singer

And the winner is… Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (Michael Keaton/Edward Norton/Emma Stone/Naomi Watts/Zach Galifianakis/Andrea Riseborough/Amy Ryan/Lindsay Duncan) – Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu

And with that, Birdman moves this race into double-figures, nabbing its second award! This award’s namesake is the late Robert Altman, a director who had a great respect for actors, and one of the great trademarks was his sprawling ensemble casts. Now, while each of these films had remarkable rosters of talented actors, Birdman is the one that takes home the gong. Michael Keaton’s Riggan Thomson may be the apex upon which the film is balanced, but the rest of the cast surrounding him are firing on all cylinders, helping to accentuate both his performance and the strength of the film as a whole. It’s a deserving inaugural winner of this award.

The 7th Katharine Hepburn Award for Best Supporting Role by a Female Actor in 2014

Patricia Arquette: “Olivia Evans” (Boyhood) – Richard Linklater
Carrie Coon: “Margo ‘Go’ Dunne” (Gone Girl) – David Fincher
Kim Dickens: “Detective Rhonda Boney” (Gone Girl) – David Fincher
Sarah Gadon: “Clarice Taggart” (Maps To The Stars) – David Cronenberg
Keira Knightley: “Joan Clarke” (The Imitation Game) – Morten Tyldum
Kelly Reilly: “Fiona” (Calvary) – John Michael McDonagh
Rene Russo: “Nina Romina” (Nightcrawler) – Dan Gilroy
Emma Stone: “Sam Thomson” (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)) – Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu
Robin Wright: “Martha Sullivan” (A Most Wanted Man) – Anton Corbijn

And the winner is… Patricia Arquette: “Olivia Evans” (Boyhood) – Richard Linklater

Boyhood gets it’s third win, putting it in joint pole-position with Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes and Whiplash! At the Oscars, unless we get a real surprise, it’s more or less a dead cert that Patricia Arquette is going to win in this category, something that she’d be fully deserving of. It’d be easy to be cynical and say that everyone fell in love with the performance because she’s the ‘Mother of America’ figure, but the fact is is that Arquette is fantastic in Boyhood. Ellar Coltrane’s Mason may be the main character, but Arquette’s Olivia is our anchor throughout the saga, and not only that, Arquette gives the character depth, honesty and sincerity. It’s hard not to feel for a mother who is so utterly devoted to her children through the years. A class act.

The 7th R. Lee Ermey Award for Best Supporting Role by a Male Actor in 2014

Riz Ahmed: “Rick Carey” (Nightcrawler) – Dan Gilroy
Evan Bird: “Benji Weiss” (Maps To The Stars) David Cronenberg
Josh Brolin: “Detective Christian ‘Bigfoot’ Bjornsen (Inherent Vice) – Paul Thomas Anderson
Patrick d’Assumcao: “Henri” (Stranger By The Lake) – Alain Guiraudie
Ethan Hawke: “Mason Evans Sr.” (Boyhood) – Richard Linklater
Toby Kebbell: “Koba” (Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes) – Matt Reeves
Dylan Moran: “Michael Fitzgerald” (Calvary) – John Michael McDonagh
Edward Norton: “Mike Shiner” (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)) – Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu
Michael Rooker: “Yondu Udonta” (Guardians Of The Galaxy) – James Gunn
J.K. Simmons: “Terence Fletcher” (Whiplash) – Damien Chazelle

And the winner is… J.K. Simmons: “Terence Fletcher” (Whiplash) – Damien Chazelle

Whiplash pulls into the lead with its fourth win! Once again, I’m going with the one that’s going to win the Oscar, for while there’s tough competition in Ethan Hawke and Edward Norton, I’d be shocked if J.K. Simmons didn’t win the Oscar, not least because he deserves it. His performance of the tyrannical and demanding music teacher Terence Fletcher is one of those parts that are infected with an entire person’s being. Simmons’ delivery of his acerbic and tongue-lashing dialogue is tremendous, and see his physical reactions throughout gives you the impression that the man is a walking explosion of violence waiting to happen. I can’t recall the last time I saw an onscreen character who was more psychologically intimidating than Terence Fletcher, and it’s great to see J.K. Simmons, always a reliable supporting player, get a meaty role of legitimate heft like this. Good job (DODGES CYMBAL THROWN AT HEAD)!

The 5th ‘Extras’ Award for Best Bit Part in a Film from 2014

Domnhall Gleeson: “Freddie Joyce” (Calvary) – John Michael McDonagh
Christopher Lee: “Saruman The White” (The Hobbit: The Five Of The Armies) – Peter Jackson
Emily Ratajkowski: “Andie Fitzgerald” (Gone Girl) David Fincher
Kevin Spacey: “Dave Harken” (Horrible Bosses 2) – Sean Anders
Benicio del Toro: “The Collector” (Guardians Of The Galaxy) – James Gunn
Mathieu Vervisch: “Eric” (Stranger By The Lake) – Alain Guiraudie

And the winner is… Emily Ratajkowski: “Andie Fitzgerald” (Gone Girl) David Fincher
Being a model who was cast on the basis of her appearance in Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines music video screams potential car crash, but Emily Ratajkowski is among the many great surprises of Gone Girl (third award for that film, for you folks at home). At the point in the film when your opinions of Nick Dunne change drastically, Ratajkowski in her short screen-time gives the character of Andie real empathy, elevating her beyond the status of two-dimensional moll to that of a human being. It also shows a natural intuition beyond that of many more experienced young actors, which could prove to be useful in carving a more prominent acting career in the future.

The 6th Michael Moore Award for Best Documentary Film of 2014

Life Itself (Kartemquin Films/Film Rites/CNN Films) – Steve James
20,000 Days Of Earth (Corniche Pictures/BFI/Film 4/Pulse Films) – Iain Forsyth/Jane Pollard

And the winner is… Life Itself (Kartemquin Films/Film Rites/CNN Films) – Steve James

While 20,000 Days On Earth was the more audacious documentary, more concerned with mythologizing Nick Cave than depicting fact, Steve James’ biographical documentary on the late film critic Roger Ebert, though more of a straight story, is the marginally better film. Interspersing various multimodal aspects, such as interviews with friends and family, clips exploring his relationship with Gene Siskel, with the absolutely harrowing scenes of the final months of his life. This touching tale of Ebert doesn’t shy away from his demons, such as his former alcoholism and occasional lapses into egotism, but even amidst his battle with cancer, it is a story of love (with ever-present devoted soul-mate Chaz), joy in the face of great struggles and, ultimately, triumph.

The 6th Peter Sallis Award for Best Vocal Performance by an Actor in 2014

Hideaki Anno: “Jiro Horikoshi” (The Wind Rises) – Hayao Miyazaki
Bradley Cooper: “Rocket” (Guardians Of The Galaxy) – James Gunn
Vin Diesel: “Groot” (Guardians Of The Galaxy) – James Gunn
Will Ferrell: “Lord Business” (The Lego Movie) – Phil Lord/Christopher Miller
Michael Keaton: “Birdman” (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)) – Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu
Keira Knightley: “Gretta” (Begin Again) – John Carney
Liam Neeson: “Good Cop/Bad Cop” (The Lego Movie) – Phil Lord/Christopher Miller
Rosamund Pike: “Amy Elliot-Dunne” (Gone Girl) – David Fincher
Chris Pratt: “Emmet Brickowski” (The Lego Movie) – Phil Lord/Christopher Miller

And the winner is… Chris Pratt: “Emmet Brickowski” (The Lego Movie) – Phil Lord/Christopher Miller

And with that, The Lego Movie gets its second award, becoming the eleventh movie to hit multiples. Whoa, the competition is fierce this year! 2014 was a star-making year for Chris Pratt, who headlined both the most popular superhero film of the year and, while it may have been snubbed at the Oscars, one of the most popular animated films of the year. Pratt plays the perfect everyman for this zany and bizarre comedy, balancing him just right between average Joe Chip (brownie points for the reference!) and wisecracking stumblebum. Emmet is our viewfinder into Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s wonderful interpretation of the joyous world of Lego, and to Chris Pratt we can be thankful for that. Now, I wonder how they all got on with those aliens from the planet Duplo?

The 8th Cate Blanchett Award for Best Leading Role by a Female Actor in 2014

Amy Adams: “Margaret Keane” (Big Eyes) – Tim Burton
Emily Blunt: “Sergeant Rita Rose Vrataski” (Edge Of Tomorrow) – Doug Liman
Karen Gillan: “Kaylie Russell” (Oculus) – Mike Flanagan
Scarlett Johansson: “Lucy” (Lucy) – Luc Besson
Scarlett Johansson: “The ‘Woman’” (Under The Skin) – Jonathan Glazer
Felicity Jones: “Jane Wilde Hawking” (The Theory Of Everything) – James Marsh
Agata Kulesza: “Wanda Gruz” (Ida) – Pawel Pawlikowski
Julianne Moore: “Havana Segrand” (Maps To The Stars) – David Cronenberg
Rosamund Pike: “Amy Elliot-Dunne” (Gone Girl) – David Fincher
Agata Trzebuchowska: “Anna/Ida Lebenstein” (Ida) – Pawel Pawlikowski

And the winner(s) are Scarlett Johansson: “The ‘Woman’” (Under The Skin) – Jonathan Glazer and Rosamund Pike: “Amy Elliot-Dunne” (Gone Girl) – David Fincher

Gone Girl heads into joint-first with four awards thus far, and Under The Skin slithers up the ranks with its third gong. Normally, I make a point of trying to not split awards, but as this and my David Bowie Award this year prove, I don’t abide so stringently that it clouds my judgment. As such, I find both Scarlett Johansson and Rosamund Pike to be worthy of acknowledgement for their work. Johansson is the anchor of Jonathan Glazer’s challenging art film, and it’s through her ever-so-minimally subtle transformation over the course of the film that we are able to understand the crux of it’s thematic content, as in, what it means to be human. In the case of Pike, we get a transformation of a wholly different type, and in this highly multi-faceted performance, with many ‘faces,’ Pike excels and becomes the actor she was always meant to be. She takes the ball and runs with one of the most challenging mainstreams roles for a female actor to take over the past few years. Both are masterclasses in acting, both are proof that the best female roles are to be sought in Europe or in genre films, and both, for all of their making me look indecisive, are equally commendable.

The 8th Kevin Spacey Award for Best Male Actor in a Leading Role from 2014

Ben Affleck: “Nick Dunne” (Gone Girl) – David Fincher
Bradley Cooper: “Chris Kyle” (American Sniper) – Clint Eastwood
Tom Cruise: “Major William Cage” (Edge Of Tomorrow) – Doug Liman
Benedict Cumberbatch: “Alan Turing” (The Imitation Game) – Morten Tyldum
Brendan Gleeson: “Father James” (Calvary) – John Michael McDonagh
Jake Gyllenhaal: “Lou Bloom” (Nightcrawler) – Dan Gilroy
Phillip Seymour Hoffman: “Gunther Bachmann” (A Most Wanted Man) – Anton Corbijn
Michael Keaton: “Riggan Thomson” (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)) – Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu
Chris Pratt: “Peter Quill/Star-Lord” (Guardians Of The Galaxy) – James Gunn
Andy Serkis: “Caesar” (Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes) – Matt Reeves
Miles Teller: “Andrew Neiman” (Whiplash) – Damien Chazelle

And the winner is… Jake Gyllenhaal: “Lou Bloom” (Nightcrawler) – Dan Gilroy

At long last, Dan Gilroy’s superb Nightcrawler picks up an award, and it’s a big ‘un, especially given that Andy Serkis was a shoe-in for this one earlier in the year! Speaking of awards of two being a recurrent theme here, this is the second consecutive year Jake Gyllenhaal has picked up an acting award for yours truly. Following on from his terrific turn as Detective Loki in Prisoners, Gyllenhaal gives his best performance to date, shape shifting into the visage of Lou Bloom. Taking all of his attributes (looks, charisma, understanding etc.) and turning them about-face, we follow and are enthralled by this menacing parasite. In every aspect, to his jabbering (rather eloquently, mind) on so much you want to slap him silly to the way he slinks about, moving into position like a hunting predator, Gyllenhaal’s entire fabric of being inhabits the creature that is Lou Bloom. Cementing his status as one of the best actors of his generation, Gyllenhaal’s disturbing portrayal of a sociopath learning to adapt, finding his place in society, is an incredible piece to a still-young body of work.



The 7th Akira Kurosawa Award for Best Foreign-Language Film of 2014

 Ida (Canal+ Polska/Danish Film Institute/Eurimages) Language(s): Polish, French, Latin. Country(s): Poland, Denmark, France, United Kingdom – Pawel Pawlikowski
Stranger By The Lake (Le Films du Worso/arte France Cinema/M141/Films de Force Majeure) Language: French. Country: France – Alain Guiraudie
The Wind Rises (Studio Ghibli) Language(s): Japanese, English, German, Italian. Country: Japan

And the winner is… Ida (Canal+ Polska/Danish Film Institute/Eurimages) Language(s): Polish, French, Latin. Country(s): Poland, Denmark, France, United Kingdom – Pawel Pawlikowski

Not dissimilar to the case with Nightcrawler, Ida is one of the best films of the year, and yet up ‘til now it has failed to pick up an award. Although all three up here were strong movies, I went with Ida because it’s a showcase of what I appreciate about foreign-language films. It’s hardly like they’re a genre, but when I watch a film from another country, I like to see something different, to see what a filmmaker can bring to the table that’s distinctive about their own culture. Pawel Pawlikowski’s tale, illuminating, dense and full of content (it’s simultaneously a buddy movie, a road movie, a Holocaust film, a coming-of-age story, a political allegory and an exploration of religion and faith), was a surprise crossover hit on release. With it’s touching on such universal themes, it’s easy to see why, and although it harkens back to the rich history of Polish cinema, it’s most similar to the work of the Swedish master Ingmar Bergman. Like Bergman, Pawlikowski crams so much into what is essentially a simple story, elevating it to the high standard of film we see in the finished product. 

The 6th Orson Welles Award for Most Promising Debut Filmmaker of 2014

Iain Forsyth/Jane Pollard (20,000 Days On Earth): takes an audacious concept that if done wrong could implode upon itself, but instead Forsyth and Pollard hold it together, adding a significant piece in the mythos surrounding Nick Cave
Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler): an excellent screenplay translated marvelously to the big screen, losing none of its strengths and featuring many things to it’s name, not least a cerebral lead performance from Jake Gyllenhaal

And the winner is… Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler): an excellent screenplay translated marvelously to the big screen, losing none of its strengths and featuring many things to it’s name, not least a cerebral lead performance from Jake Gyllenhaal

Nightcrawler becomes the twelfth film to have at least two awards, and with the joint-leaders, Gone Girl and Whiplash, sharing four apiece, it’s still anyone’s ball-game! Nightcrawler’s writer-director Dan Gilroy has been in the film business for a long time: his earliest credit is as a writer on 1992’s Freejack, released the same year he married Rene Russo, and his brothers, elder brother Tony Gilroy, writer and director, and fraternal twin brother John, editor, have numerous links to the film industry. At age fifty-five, one might call Dan Gilroy a late bloomer, but the fact is is that Gilroy directs with both the confidence and assuredness of a veteran, and gives Nightcrawler a sense of powerful immediacy akin to the film’s Martin Scorsese was making in the 1970s. This particular debutant has all the potential to be a gifted cinematic voice.

The 7th Steven Spielberg Award for Best Producer(s) on a Film from 2014

Alejandro G. Innaritu/John Lesher/Arnon Milchan/James W. Skotchdopole (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)) – Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu
Richard Linklater/Jonathan Sehring/John Sloss/Cathleen Sutherland (Boyhood) – Richard Linklater
Peter Chernin/Dylan Clark/Rick Jaffa/Amanda Silver (Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes) – Matt Reeves
Gregory Jacobs/Jason Hoffs/Tom Lassally/Jeffrey Silver/Erwin Stoff (Edge Of Tomorrow) – Doug Liman
Cean Chaffin/Leslie Dixon/Bruna Papandrea/Reese Witherspoon (Gone Girl) – David Fincher
Kevin Feige (Guardians Of The Galaxy) – James Gunn
Christopher Nolan/Lynda Obst/Emma Thomas (Interstellar) – Christopher Nolan
Roy Lee/Dan Lin (The Lego Movie) – Phil Lord/Christopher Miller
Jennifer Fox/Tony Gilroy/Jake Gyllenhaal/David Lancaster/Michel Litvak (Nightcrawler) – Dan Gilroy

And the winner is… Christopher Nolan/Lynda Obst/Emma Thomas (Interstellar) – Christopher Nolan

For this one, I’ve decided to go outré. Among the nominees, Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar was the only one which hadn’t won an award, but this isn’t a matter of having to merely acknowledge the film. No, the reason I give it to Interstellar is because no matter what way you look at the film, good or bad, you cannot deny the tremendous spectacle. Those primarily involved in the film have dared to dream big and I feel, even if the movie is at times problematic, certainly given us a memorable one. I gave it an eight out of ten when it came out, so while I certainly didn’t think it was bad, it wasn’t a masterpiece or among the best films of 2014. However, I do think that history is going to look kindly upon Interstellar, and who knows, in years to come it could be retrospectively viewed as this generation’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. I think a lot of that long-term impact will be down to the level of scope in the film’s production.

The 8th Stanley Kubrick Award for Best Director of 2014

Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)
David Fincher (Gone Girl)
Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler)
Jonathan Glazer (Under The Skin)
James Gunn (Guardians Of The Galaxy)
Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance))
Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
John Michael McDonagh (Calvary)
Hayao Miyazaki (The Wind Rises)
Christopher Nolan (Interstellar)
Pawel Pawlikowski (Ida)

And the winner is… Richard Linklater (Boyhood)

And so, Boyhood pulls itself up to joint-first, tying at four awards with Gone Girl and Whiplash. For a long time, out of this international Motley Crue (five Americans, two Englishmen, an English-born Irishman, a Japanese sensei, a Mexicano and a Pole), David Fincher was gonna be my pick and would have nabbed his second Best Director gong (he was the inaugural winner for Zodiac back on 2007). When Richard Linklater’s Boyhood came along though, I knew that this was a director firing on all cylinders. This long-term project gestated over twelve years in production, and, presented such a logistical nightmare, had all the potential to go wrong. Keeping control throughout but not without losing any of its essence, Linklater’s does a truly extraordinary directorial feat. Even though his creative process pushed to the nth degree, conjuring up and capturing onscreen the magical moments in life itself, it remains a grounded piece of work, a distinctive ‘Richard Linklater film.’ He is at his creative peak, putting his whole heart and soul into the film, and the big question remains: “where do we go from here?”

The 3rd Thin White Dude’s Championship for Independent/Unique Contribution To Cinema

20,000 Days On Earth (Cornice Pictures/BFI/Film 4/Pulse Films) – Iain Forsyth/Jane Pollard

While prominently featured in some categories, this is the first award that has went to Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard’s documentary on Nick Cave. The recurrent theme of this Championship of mine (part of what comes with it means the film’s poster goes as the cover for this feature) seems to be documentary-styled films. Although I’m not a fan of things being too meta or modernist, I admire when filmmakers are able to blur the boundaries between fiction and reality. In 20,000 Days On Earth, there is no boundary between fiction and reality, this fictitious documentary (paradox, right?) following twenty-four-hours in the life of Nick Cave sees these two separate entities marry into an organic whole, the fruit of which is myth. It’s appropriate, given that much of Nick Cave’s artistry is based upon using myth as a means to transcend borders, to depict what Werner Herzog describes as the “ecstatic truth.” It’s a cracking film that is as insightful and thought provoking as it also entertaining. 

The 6th ‘Drag Me To Hell’ Awards for 2014’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Steven Brill (Screenwriter/Director/Bit-Part Actor in Walk Of Shame): for taking the every-charming Elizabeth Banks and putting her in a hideously unfunny and morally pernicious ‘comedy’
Ben Falcone/Melissa McCarthy (Architects of Tammy): the two are behind most blindly narcissistic self-promotional passion project of 2014.
Jonathan Liebesman (Director-For-Hire on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles): you sucked before, now you’ve sold your soul to the Devil himself (Bay, cough!) and tainted a great franchise in the process
Devon Talbott (Actor in The Basement/Do You Like My Basement?): I don’t think it’s right that a film should have me wishing a painful and bloody death upon someone, but Devon Talbott’s Chad did just that

The 7th Alfred Hitchcock Award for Most Significant Player (Member of the Film Community) of 2014

Damien Chazelle (Screenwriter/Director of Whiplash)
Bradley Cooper (Lead Actor and Producer on American Sniper, Lead Actor in Serena, Voice Actor in Guardians Of The Galaxy)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Lead Actor in The Imitation Game/Voice and Supporting Actor on The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies/Voice Actor on Penguins Of Madagascar)
Scarlett Johansson (Lead Actor in Lucy and Under The Skin/Supporting Actor in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Chef)
Keira Knightley (Lead Actor in Begin Again, Laggies/Supporting Actor in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit/The Imitation Game)
Richard Linklater (Screenwriter/Producer/Director of Boyhood)
Christopher Nolan (Screenwriter/Producer/Director of Interstellar and Executive Producer of Transcendence)
Chris Pratt (Lead Actor in Guardians Of The Galaxy and Voice Actor in The Lego Movie)
Andy Serkis (Lead Actor in Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, Motion Capture Consultant for Godzilla and Second Unit Director on The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies)
Howard Shore (Composer on Maps To The Stars, The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies and Rosewater)

And the winner is… Scarlett Johansson (Lead Actor in Lucy and Under The Skin/Supporting Actor in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Chef)

With this win, Lucy sits on two awards, while Under The Skin enters the upper territory, running alongside Boyhood, Gone Girl and Whiplash with four awards apiece. While I would also like to flag up Chris Pratt, who had a real breakout year, Scarlett Johansson cemented her position as one of the leading female actors in the world this year. Competing against herself in the Best Female Actor in a Lead Role category, both Under The Skin and Lucy were much better films for her presence. Furthermore, Johansson’s work in 2014 is a widely varied bunch, showcasing her ability to move between projects of a different nature. One was a French action movie, another a big-budget Hollywood superhero blockbuster, then a modestly-budget comedy-drama and a guerilla independent feature shot in Scotland of all places. Johansson more than delivers on the recent resurgence of her popular prominence, taking advantage of her place in the star system to play a significant part in some of the better films of 2014. This year, her body of work has near enough ensured that she can thrive with continued success for the next ten years.

The 8th Ed Wood Award for Worst Film of 2014

The Basement/Do You Like My Basement? (Limey Films) – Roger Sewhcomar
God’s Not Dead (Pure Flix Entertainment/Red Entertainment Group) – Harold Cronk
Hector And The Search For Happiness (Egoli Tossell Film/Film Afrika Worldwide/Erfttal Film/German Federal Film Board/Screen Siren Pictures) – Peter Chelson
Inherent Vice (IAC Films/Ghoulardi Film Company) – Paul Thomas Anderson
Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie (That’s Nice Films/Penalty Kick Films/BocFlix/BBC Films) – Ben Kellett
The Pyramid (Silvatar Media/Fox International Productions) – Gregory Levasseur
Tammy (New Line Cinema/Gary Sanchez Productions) – Ben Falcone
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Nickelodeon Movies/Platinum Dunes/Gama Entertainment/Mednick Productions/Heavy Metal) – Jonathan Liebesman
Transformers: Age Of Extinction (di Bonaventure Pictures/Hasbro/China Movie Channel/Jiaflix Enterprises) – Michael Bay
Walk Of Shame (Lakeshore Entertainment/Sidney Kimmel Entertainment) – Steven Brill

And the winner is… Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Nickelodeon Movies/Platinum Dunes/Gama Entertainment/Mednick Productions/Heavy Metal) – Jonathan Liebesman

Entering triple negatives, having won Most Excessively Violent Film, director Jonathan Liebesman being among 2014’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalyspe and now this, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is an abominable film. It’s a shamefully crass piece of garbage with the same rotten core of serving to make money off the enthusiasm of kids in much the same way Michael Bay took away the Transformers from the children and gave it to the capitalist profiteers. The only difference is that this time he doesn’t have the stones to direct it himself, being too preoccupied with tendering a wholly different monstrosity and having a schmuck-for-hire in Jonathan Liebesman to do it instead. Not even Megan Fox, who after motherhood looks to be kicking her career into its second stage, comes off the better. Wasting her talents in such utter shite is no way to be revamp a career, for all the people around her do is point the camera so that the apex of everything shot is her rear end. The Turtles themselves are no fun, make decidedly stupid jokes, are ugly to look at, and just come across as all-round douchebags. I mean, seriously, people got paid good money to right this shit! I could write a better film with cardboard sets and a bunch of action figures for free (and screenwriting is my weak point in writing!)! Head colds and nasal problems are no fun, but they’re more enjoyable than Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (and help you write more inflammatory dialogue). If I were to scale this in terms of worst films, I would say it’s about equal to Barbarossa: Siege Lord and Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen, but not as bad something like Prom Night, Vampires Suck or the nadir of my reviewing years, Grown Ups 2. It is still like being force-fed waste, and I don’t like the way it tastes!

The 8th Clockwork Award for Best Film of 2014

Honorable Mentions

Edge Of Tomorrow (Village Roadshow/RatPac-Dune Entertainment/3 Arts Entertainment/Viz Productions) – Doug Liman
The Lego Movie (Village Roadshow Pictures/Lego System A/S/Vertigo Entertainment/Lin Pictures/Animal Logic/Warner Animation Group) – Phil Lord/Christopher Miller
Life Itself (Kartemquin Films/Film Rites/CNN Films) – Steve James
Oculus (Blumhouse Productions/WWE Studios/Intrepid Pictures) – Mike Flanagan
20,000 Days On Earth (Cornice Pictures/BFI/Film 4/Pulse Films) – Iain Forsyth/Jane Pollard

Top Ten Films of 2014

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (Regency Enterprises/New Regency Pictures/M Productions/Le Grisbi Productions/TSG Entertainment/Worldview Entertainment) – Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu
Boyhood (Detour Filmproduction) – Richard Linklater
Calvary (Reprisal Films/Octagon Films/Protagonist Pictures) – John Michael McDonagh
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (Chernin Entertainment/TSG Entertainment) – Matt Reeves
Gone Girl (Regency Enterprises/Pacific Standard) – David Fincher
Ida (Canal+ Polska/Danish Film Institute/Eurimages) – Pawel Pawlikowski
Nightcrawler (Bold Films) – Dan Gilroy
Under The Skin (Film 4/BFI) – Jonathan Glazer
Whiplash (Sierra/Affinity/Bold Films/Blumhouse Productions/Right of Way Films) – Damien Chazelle
The Wind Rises (Studio Ghibli) – Hayao Miyazaki

And the winner is… Boyhood (Detour Filmproduction) – Richard Linklater

And, taking the most awards of this year’s crop with five, I’ve decided for a change to go with what will probably be the Best Picture winner at the Oscars, Boyhood. I’m fairly late in joining the fold, the litany of those who have been singing the film’s praises. Indeed, this is one of the few films I can recall in my lifetime which upon release has garnered more or less universal acclaim (aside from the odd critic, who usually construct their opinions well, or hipster douchebag, who don’t like the film merely because everyone else does, and would groaning about it being the best film of the year if it didn’t seem that the Academy are actually going to recognize that for a change). To take stats, as it stands it’s currently Metacritic’s highest-reviewed film upon original release, and according to CriticsTop10.com it has set records for most appearances in annual top ten list and most first-place votes topping them. It has become a highly profitable film, being a low-budget indie and all, but one which people have flocked to since its release. As for me, I think it’s a majestic and wonderful work of cinema. I iterated earlier that there was so much that logistically could have went wrong, that it could have been a gimmick, but instead Richard Linklater keeps you engrossed so much that you just take it as it is, a beautifully told story, acted out with grace by his central cast, Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Lorelei Linklater and Ethan Hawke. It’s a story that is both at the core very simple, yet about so very much. It’s about growing up, it’s about family and it’s changing form in society, it’s about the ever-present philosophical questions posed towards the meaning of life. I could go on and on, waxing lyrical here, but as I’ve said, what Linklater is equally commendable as the scope of this is how much Linklater keeps it grounded. Fitting in rather comfortably with the rest of his oeuvre, Boyhood is both a continuation and an elevation of his art. Right from Slacker onwards, his directorial trademarks have been usually typified by highly conversational dialogue scenes (often probing his favorite existential preoccupations) and use of non-original music, both of which are featured in Boyhood. However, while he has made masterpieces in the past (Dazed And Confused, Waking Life, Before Sunset), Linklater kicks it up into a whole other gear here, outdoing himself. Honest, sincere and truthful, Boyhood is a remarkable movie and that I think I’m safe in saying this early on in it’s lifetime (it will continue and prosper, no doubt), among the greatest films of all time. 


Multiple Award Winners


Boyhood: 5 awards - The 8th Clockwork Award for Best Film of 2014, The 8th Stanley Kubrick Award for Best Director of a Film from 2014 (Richard Linklater), The 7th Katharine Hepburn Award for Best Supporting Role by a Female Actor in 2014 (Patricia Arquette: "Olivia Evans"), The 7th Werner Herzog Award for Most Ingenious Film Concept of 2014, The 7th Kenneth Loach Award for Best Drama Film of 2014

Under The Skin: 4 awards - The 7th Alfred Hitchcock Award for Most Significant Player (Member of the Film Community) of 2014 (Scarlett Johansson), The 8th Cate Blanchett Award for Best Leading Role by a Female Actor in 2014 (Scarlett Johansson: "The 'Woman'"), The 7th Ennio Morricone Award for Best Original Score/Soundtrack of 2014 (Mica Levi), The 8th Philip K. Dick Award for Best Science-Fiction/Fantasy Film of 2014

Gone Girl: 4 awards - The 8th Cate Blanchett Award for Best Leading Role by a Female Actor in 2014 (Rosamund Pike: "Amy Elliot-Dunne"), The 5th 'Extras' Award for Best Bit Part in a Film from 2014 (Emily Ratajkowski), The 1st 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' Award for Best Sex Scenes in a Film from 2014, The 8th David Fincher Award for Best Thriller of 2014

Whiplash: 4 awards - The 7th R. Lee Ermey Award for Best Supporting Role by a Male Actor in 2014 (J.K. Simmons: "Terence Fletcher"), The 7th Thelma Schoonmaker Award for Best Film Editorial Work of 2014 (Tom Cross), The 7th Paul Schrader Award for Best Screenplay of 2014 (Damien Chazelle), The 6th Walter Murch Award for Best Sound Design/Mixing in a Film from 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: 3 awards - The 8th Ed Wood Award for Worst Film of 2014, The 6th 'Drag Me To Hell' Awards for 2014's Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse (Jonathan Liebesman), The 7th Lucio Fulci Award for Most Excessive Violent Film of 2014

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes: 3 awards - The 8th James Cameron Award for Best Sequel of 2014, The 6th Stan Winston Award for Best Special/Visual Effects in a Film from 2014, The 6th Dante Ferretti Award for Best Production Design in a Film from 2014

Lucy: 2 awards - The 7th Alfred Hitchcock Award for Most Significant Player (Member of the Film Community) of 2014 (Scarlett Johansson), The 6th Vic Armstrong Award for Best Stunt Work on a Film from 2014

Walk Of Shame: 2 awards - The 6th 'Drag Me To Hell' Award for 2014's Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse (Steven Brill), The 8th GWB Award for Most 'Unintentionally' Offensive Film of 2014

Nightcrawler: 2 awards - The 6th Orson Welles Award for Most Promising Debut Filmmaker of 2014 (Dan Gilroy), The 8th Kevin Spacey Award for Best Leading Role by a Male Actor (Jake Gyllenhaal: "Lou Bloom")

The Lego Movie: 2 awards - The 6th Peter Sallis Award for Best Vocal Performance by an Actor in 2014 (Chris Pratt: "Emmet Brickowski"), The 3rd David Bowie Award for Best Theme/Song in a Film from 2014 (Teagan and Sara, featuring The Lonely Island: "Everything Is Awesome!!!")

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): 2 awards - The 1st Robert Altman Award for Best Ensemble Cast in a Film from 2014, The 7th Christopher Doyle Award for Best Cinematography in a Film from 2014 (Emmanuel Lubezki)

Edge Of Tomorrow: 2 awards - The 5th 'Cemetery Junction' Award for Most Overlooked Film of 2014, The 5th Edith Head Award for Best Costume Designs in a Film from 2014

Guardians Of The Galaxy: 2 awards - The 3rd David Bowie Award for Best Theme/Song in a Film from 2014 (Blue Swede: "Hooked On A Feeling"), The 5th Rick Baker Award for Best Make-Up/Hair in a Film from 2014

Calvary: 2 awards - The 8th 'Real Steel' Award for Most Surprisingly Entertaining Film of 2014, The 8th Stan and Ollie Award for Best Comedic Film of 2014

The Wind Rises: 2 awards - The 6th Walt Disney Award for Best Animated Film of 2014, The 7th Sylvester Stallone Award for Best Action/Adventure Film of 2014

RIP 2014-2015

A short list of deaths of noteworthy individuals whose work I admired in some shape or form from March 2014-February 2015.

Alain Resnais (Director): June 3, 1922-March 1, 2014 - Night and Fog, Hiroshima Mon Amour, Last Year In Marienbad, Muriel

Scott Kalvert (Director): August 15, 1964-March 5, 2014 - The Basketball Diaries

Bob Hoskins (Actor): October 26, 1942-April 29, 2014 - The Long Good Friday, Mona Lisa, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Brazil, Hook, Nixon, Mrs. Henderson Presents, Made In Dagenham

Gordon Willis (Cinematographer): May 28, 1931-May 18, 2014 - The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Annie Hall, Manhattan

Eli Wallach (Actor): December 7, 1915-June 24, 2014 - Baby Doll, The Magnificent Seven, The Misfits, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, The Godfather Part II

Dick Smith (Make-Up Artist): June 26, 1922-July 30, 2014 - Little Big Man, The Godfather, The Exorcist, Taxi Driver, Amadeus

Marilyn Burns (Actor): May 7, 1949-August 5, 2014 - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Robin Williams (Actor/Comedian): July 21, 1951-August 11, 2014 - Mork & Mindy, Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, The Fisher King, Hook, Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire, Jumanji, Good Will Hunting, Bicentennial Man, One Hour Photo, Insomnia, World's Greatest Dad, The Butler

Lauren Bacall (Actor): September 16, 1924-August 12, 2014 - To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep, Dark Passage, Key Largo, How To Marry A Millionaire?, Designing Women, Murder on the Orient Express, The Shootist, Health, The Mirror Has Two Faces, Dogville, Birth

Richard Attenborough (Director/Actor): August 29, 1923-August 23, 2014 - Brighton Rock, The Great Escape, 10 Rillington Place, Jurassic Park, Miracle on 34th Street, Gandhi, Oh! What A Lovely War, Cry Freedom, Chaplin, Shadowlands

Mike Nichols (Director): November 6, 1931-November 19, 2014 - Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, The Graduate, Catch-22, Carnal Knowledge, The Birdcage, Closer, Charlie Wilson's War

Edgar Froese (Musician/Composer of Tangerine Dream): June 6, 1944-January 20, 2015 - Sorcerer, Thief, Risky Business, Firestarter, Legend


Finalment

Well, hip hip huzzah for me, I've managed to keep on schedule! Believe you me, while I always like to think I'm able to do that, working to your own deadlines (with a relative level of flexibility) means that you can get a little complacent. As I've said over and over, we get no less than five masterpieces a year in film, and this year, I was lucky enough to see six which I felt reached that upper echelon of cinema. It's been at times daunting, troublesome and irritating, but I always have a blast doing these Best and Worsts at the end of the cinematic calendar year. I hope that even if you don't agree with some of my opines (or my occasionally overbearing manner) you can take away some food for thought, something to discuss, to provoke you to formulate your own opinions regarding the cinematic releases in 2014. It's been one hell of a week, and while there's part of me that, like Patricia Arquette's Olivia, holds back releasing my babies into the big bad world, you've just got to let them go and be what they're meant to be.

"Peace."

The Thin White Dude