Manuel Betancourt

2014: The Best in Film

January 5, 2015 · in Film

Back when I started blogging in 2007 (A Blog Next Door dot blogspot dot com, if you’re curious), I felt I should include myself in the end of year awards conversation I so cherished and obsessively followed. That’s how the Dorys (Door-ees, get it?) were born. Sadly soon after, graduate school overpowered my blogging passion and after crowning the best of 2008 (WALL-E) and 2009 (A Single Man), I swiftly bid them goodbye. So, as I’ve been trying to get back in the blogging game (see some of my posts over at The Film Experience), I figured I’d share the best of what I saw in 2014.

But before I offer my 2014 picks, I figured I’d give a bit of background offering my Top 10 Lists for the past six years, bringing The Dorys up to speed:

In Bruges

I’ve Loved You So Long
Revolutionary Road
The Wrestler
The Dark Knight
Burn After Reading
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Happy Go-Lucky
A Single Man
Up in the Air

Mary and Max
In the Loop
(500) Days of Summer
The Hurt Locker
Broken Embraces
District 9
Black Swan
Blue Valentine

The Social Network
The Ghost Writer
Never Let Me Go
Rabbit Hole
The Kids Are All Right
Certified Copy
Animal Kingdom
The Artist
Young Adult

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Zero Dark Thirty
Anna Karenina

Life of Pi
Magic Mike
The Sessions
Moonrise Kingdom
Perks of Being a Wallflower
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Stories We Tell
Enough Said

Short Term 12
Much Ado About Nothing
Frances Ha
12 Years a Slave

You immediately sense some patterns. I love me some female-centered storytelling (that said, I really need to make a better habit of seeking out more female-directed films for while Sarah Polley and Kathryn Bigelow have topped my list the past two years, I still only manage a 10% rate when it comes to including those), and while the boyfriend rightly asserts I tend to seek “depressing films” (see Short Term 12, Blue Valentine, I’ve Loved You So Long or Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close for some examples), when I look at these sixty films side by side, I notice that animation has been a staple of mine (WALL-E, Up, Mary & Max, Rango, Frankenweenie, Frozen), while clearly beautifully designed films (Anna Karenina, A Single Man, Revolutionary Road, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) tend to catch my eye.

You’ll see a bit of all of this in my picks below. I have yet to catch a few other prominent titles *coughUnbrokenWhiplashAMostViolentYearcough* but I am confident with the lists below. Over 35 films are singled out and I handily recommend all of them. As always, a Top 10 is less about naming “The Best” but about crafting a capsule for what I enjoyed throughout the year. It’s no surprise then that films about LGBT subjects, films with a feminist bent, and films that nest in themselves questions about media feature so prominently. As always, since I watched so few documentaries and animated features I’ve refrained from including separate categories for them.

1. Under the SkinFor being hypnotically alluring, making alienation both text & subtext. 
2. Selma.
For being visceral storytelling, making a weighty history lesson pulse with raw energy.
3. Mommy. For being aggressively synesthetic, making motherhood a three-way affair.
4. NightcrawlerFor being darkly frightening, making media sociopathy so unnervingly familiar. 
5. Lilting. For being so beautifully melancholy, making grief a language unto itself.
6. Wild. For being a kaleidoscopic memory trek, making a journey out of a free fall.
7. BirdmanFor being a sharp-tongued backstage satire, making myth-making a myth in itself.
8. Love is Strange. For being so touching, making a domestic crisis ripple with immediacy.  
9. Pride. For being a celebration of the will to effect change, making us beam with it. 
10. Gone GirlFor being a thrilling puzzle, making a cipher out of a twisted marital autopsy.

Runners-up (in alphabetical order): The Babadook, The Clouds of Sils Maria, Edge of Tomorrow, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Homesman, Ida, Into the Woods, The One I Love, Only Lovers Left Alive.

Best Director 2014
Ava DuVernay, Selma
Xavier Dolan, Mommy
Jonathan Glazer, Under the Skin
Jean-Marc Vallée, Wild
Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler

Best Actor 2014
Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
Bill Hader, The Skeleton Twins
Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ben Whishaw, Lilting
John Lithgow, Love is Strange

Best Actress 2014
Scarlett Johansson, Under the Skin
Anne Dorval, Mommy
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Cheng Pei-Pei, Lilting
Essie Davis, The Babadook

Best Supporting Actor 2014
Riz Ahmed, Nightcrawler
Andrew Scott, Pride
Edward Norton, Birdman
Chris Pine, Into the Woods
Zac Efron, Neighbors

Best Supporting Actress 2014
Laura Dern, Wild
Rene Russo, Nightcrawler
Kristen Stewart, The Clouds of Sils Maria
Agata Kulesza, Ida
Suzanne Clément, Mommy

Best Original Screenplay 2014
Ira Sachs & Mauricio Zacharias, Love is Strange
Justin Lader, The One I Love
Pawel Pawlikowski & Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Ida
Gillian Robespierre, Obvious Child
Olivier Assayas, The Clouds of Sils Maria

Best Adapted Screenplay 2014
Nick Hornby, Wild (based on Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail)
Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl (based on Gone Girl)
Walter Campbell & Jonathan Glazer, Under the Skin (based on Under the Skin)
John-Henry Butterworth, Christopher McQuarrie & Jez Butterworth, Edge of Tomorrow (based on All You Need is Kill)
Richard Glatzer & Wash Westmoreland, Still Alice (based on Still Alice)

Best Ensemble 2014
Gone Girl
Into the Woods

Best Cinematography 2014
Ula Pontikos, Lilting
Rodrigo Prieto, The Homesman
Robert Elswit, Nightcrawler
Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman
Ryszard Lenczewski & Lukasz Zal, Ida

Best Editing 2014
Sandra Adair, Boyhood
Martin Pensa & Jean-Marc Vallée, Wild
John Gilroy, Nightcrawler
James Herbert & Laura Jennings, Edge of Tomorrow
Spencer Averick, Selma

Best Costume Design 2014
Colleen Atwood, Into the Woods
Deborah Cook, The Boxtrolls
Patricia Norris, The Immigrant
Albert Wolsky, Birdman
Alexandra Byrne, Guardians of the Galaxy

Best Production Design 2014
Adam Stockhousen, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alex Holmes, The Babadook
Maria Djurkovic & Tatiana Macdonald, The Imitation Game
James Chinlund, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Marco Bittner Rosser, Only Lovers Left Alive

Best Sound Design 2014
The Babadook
Edge of Tomorrow
Under the Skin
The Boxtrolls

Best Makeup 2014
Only Lovers Left Alive
The Homesman
Into the Woods
Guardians of the Galaxy

Best Visual Effects 2014
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Under the Skin

Guardians of the Galaxy
Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Best Music 2014
Gregg Alexander, Begin Again
Mica Levi, Under the Skin
James Newton Howard, Nightcrawler
Alexandre Desplat, The Imitation Game
SQÜRL & Jozef van Wissem, Only Lovers Left Alive

Best Foreign Film 2014
Mommy, Dir. Xavier Dolan
Ida, Dir. Pawel Pawlikowski
Gloria, Dir. Sebastián Lelio
Force Majeure, Ruben Östlund
Ernest et Célestine, Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar & Benjamin Renner