Our two film critics, TRAVIS JOHNSON and DAVID O’CONNELL, weigh in on the best big screen offerings of the last 12 months.
10. All Is Lost: Robert Redford versus the sea in this beautifully shot adventure of man against the elements. All told with barely a word spoken.
9. Predestination: A Heinlein tale done right. A stunning performance by Sarah Snook in a stylish time travel thriller that was strangely ignored by audiences.
8. The Grand Budapest Hotel: As ambitious, quirky and amusing as you have come to expect from a Wes Anderson film.
7. The Babadook: A flawed but powerful Australian horror film with surprisingly deep psychological roots and a great central dynamic.
6. 12 Years A Slave: Chilling in its portrayal of the everyday life of slavery. A harrowing, but moving picture.
5. The Lego Movie: Everything is awesome. An intelligent and multi-layered film that works for both adults and children, based on a line of toys.
4. Calvary: A black comedy that at times is almost too dark to watch, as a priest undergoes his own personal Gethsemane. A divisive film that says a lot about the nature of faith.
3. Tim’s Vermeer: Penn and Teller make watching paint dry interesting. A fascinating study on the lengths to which obsession can drive you.
2. Nightcrawler: An icy dark shard of LA noire. Gyllenhaal is riveting as a self made man stitched together from utube and wiki, entirely lacking in conscience and empathy.
1. Guardians Of The Galaxy: Marvel turns a c-grade comic property into one of the biggest films of the year by getting everything right across the board. An ambitious leap in superhero films that takes audiences along for the ride. Proof that grim and gritty isn’t always needed for a superhero blockbuster, just a kick-arse soundtrack, a CG talking tree and raccoon combo, and Chris Pratt.
10. John Wick: A film that succeeds because it sets modest ambitions for itself and fulfils them admirably. Not a game changer, not a world beater, just a solid, stand alone action flick of the type we don’t see too many of these days.
9. The Lego Movie: Phil Lord, Chris Miller and newly minted superstar Chris Pratt spin gold from plastic in a movie that could have coasted on brand recognition and instead is genuinely moving and hilarious.
8. The Wolf Of Wall Street: Martin Scorsese continues his career-long examination of American venality in this shocking, absurd and all-too- plausible look at the making of a successful sociopath.
7. What We Do In The Shadows: Vampires share a house in modern day Wellington. From such a thin concept comes one of the best comedies in recent memory, with Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi leaving no comic possibility unturned.
6. Guardians Of The Galaxy: Marvel Studios prove that good storytelling and genuine spectacle count for more than brand name recognition with this endlessly entertaining space romp.
5. 20,000 Days On Earth: This fascinating portrait of Nick Cave as both an artist and a man eschews mere biography to reach for something deeper and more true. Unmissable.
4. Snowpiercer: A timely political allegory, a beautiful arthouse film and a kick- ass action movie all rolled into one. Pity nobody went to see it.
3. Nightcrawler: Dan Gilroy’s stunning directorial debut presents a world without hope, pity or decency and then makes us follow the exploits of a man perfectly suited to thrive in such an environment. Pundits are clamouring about Jake Gyllenhaal’s excellent performance, but that is only one part of an exquisitely machined film.
2. Calvary: The director and star of the excellent The Guard reunite for this brilliant meditation on mortality, morality and faith. Brendan Gleeson’s career- best performance anchors this darkly hilarious and deeply thoughtful film.
1. Whiplash: the price of excellence has never been so clearly defined as it is in this searing, name-making film from Damien Chazelle. Up and comer Miles Teller is brilliant as the ambitious jazz virtuoso who comes under the sway of J.K. Simmons’ saturnine music tutor, and as for the latter, the Oscar is his to lose. Not only the best film of the year but an instant classic.