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Thinking pop culture

The best of films, the worst of films: 2014

So it’s that time of year when everything gets boiled down to arbitrary lists of ten.

The top ten uses for milk crates in cafés.

The ten most mawkishly reported news stories.

The ten most offensive things my uncle said at Christmas. (For the record, him calling me “Toots” comes a close second to his casual use of “boong” over his pudding).

But, truth be told, I’m pretty much only interested in the movies.

Compiling my top five was effortless: Nightcrawler was 2014’s equivalent of Drive, a much-loved favourite from 2011. And Rosewater seamlessly slid into second spot because months on and I’m still so surprised at how crazily it was. And just because I continue to sing “Everything is Awesome” - and because that wretched earworm sits so gloriously disharmoniously with my cynicism - The Lego Movie of course, makes the cut.

The remaining five however, were a tad more of a tussle. I was, for example, more entertained by The Equalizer than by Her, but objectively Her was the better film. Birdman was pretty good, sure, but if I only gave it a 6.5 when I left the cinema, in good faith I couldn’t possibly elevate it to top-ten status. Equally, feeling sorry to see Transcendence in so many “worst films” lists is probably not reason enough to slot in it, even if it was actually quite decent.

Worth noting, the social scientist in me feels obliged to note that there seems something a wee bit challenging about writing a Best of 2014 list without actually having seen everything released.

Years ago for example, I did a interview with a newspaper about one of those “which country has the best lovers?” rubbish surveys. In lieu of the funny quip that the journo wanted, I chose the opportunity to highlight the substantial methodological flaw: unless the same person had sex with a decent sample of lovers from every single country then the study was malarkey rubbish. I’m not sure I convinced her.

But of course I digress.

Research methods aside, I’d say I saw more films than the average person. Something attributable to having lived in the US for three months and having had access to both $6 cinema tickets and lashings of time. Something that makes me feel less guilty about handing out gold stars and, conversely, lumps of coal.

So without further jibber jabber, my top ten:

  1. Nightcrawler
  1. Rosewater
  1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  1. The Lego Movie
  1. The Theory of Everything
  1. Mistaken for Strangers
  1. The Little Death
  1. Tim’s Vermeer
  1. The Skeleton Twins
  1. Her

Two casual observations:

  1. I haven’t actually written much about most of these films. Which I think points to my relatively firm belief that thinking too much about anything beloved strips some of the joy.

  2. Films 5 through 10 probably don’t fare particularly well if compared to others across a period longer than 12 months. Good films yes, probably not enduring ones though.

And, because mocking the turkeys is even more fun than lauding the brilliant: my list of 2014’s crappiest crap:

  1. The Guest
  1. Horns
  1. No Good Deed
  1. Annie
  1. Labor Day
  1. Under the Skin
  1. Sex Tape
  1. A Most Wanted Man
  1. Calvary
  1. The Homesman

Two quick comments:

  1. Cameron bloody Diaz! After The Box I swore I’d never make the mistake of seeing anything else with her name attached. How quickly one forgets.
  2. Was Rose Byrne performing in Annie under duress?

Cheers, Happy new year and here’s hoping that 2015 brings us many a celluloid pleasure!

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