Best Films of 2014

inherentvice

Here is my list of the best films of the year, along with links to those I’ve had the chance to review:

1. Inherent Vice
2. Mr. Turner
3. National Gallery
4. The Immigrant
5. Under the Skin
6. Venus in Fur
7. Stranger by the Lake
8. Tales of the Grim Sleeper
9. Night Moves
10. The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga

Honorable Mention: The Babadook, Boyhood, Citizenfour, Force Majeure, Goodbye to Language, Jodorowsky’s Dune, Listen Up Philip, The Naked Room, Nightcrawler, and Nymphomaniac

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R. I. P. Mike Nichols

the graduate

From cutting-edge standup to New Hollywood cinema and beyond, his influence was incalculable. Here’s my take on The Graduate, one of his all-time masterworks.

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Le Jour Se Lève (Marcel Carné, 1939)

daybreak

Le Jour Se Lève typically gets shoehorned, along with a handful of other collaborations between director Marcel Carné and screenwriter Jacques Prévert, into a filmic historical movement known by the oxymoronic catchall “poetic realism.” But, in many ways, it’s more productive to view this relentlessly dour and disillusioned masterwork as a feel-bad forerunner of film noir.”

Read my whole review of Le Jour Se Lève, opening on Friday in a new 4K restoration at NYC’s Film Forum, at Slant Magazine.

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Demons 2 (Lamberto Bava, 1986)

demons2br“Looking spectacular on Synapse’s otherwise barebones Blu-ray, Demons 2 trades in its predecessor’s penchant for wall-to-wall gore in favor of surreal shocks and quasi-Cronenbergian craziness.”

Read my entire review of Lamberto Bava’s surreal successor to Demons, out this week in a movie-only Blu-ray edition from Synapse Films, at Slant Magazine.

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The Vincent Price Collection II (Various, 1959-1972)

vincentpricecollection2brThe Vincent Price Collection II trumps the sophomore slump through the inclusion of several top-notch films, an overall excellent audio-visual presentation, and a bevy of bonus materials from Shout! Factory.”

Read my whole review of Shout! Factory’s admirable followup, out last week on a deluxe four-disc Blu-ray set, at Slant Magazine.

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Venus in Fur (Roman Polanski, 2013)

venusinfur“Roman Polanski’s Venus in Fur is a deceptively simple two-hander. Superficially, the film seems to unfold as a textbook study of role reversal (that staple of the psychodrama) in the tragicomic mode.”

Read my whole review of Polanski’s perversely engrossing new film, out now in a lamentably barebones DVD edition from MPI, at Slant Magazine.

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Hiroshima Mon Amour (Alain Resnais, 1959)

master

“Like the anonymous entwined bodies glimpsed in its opening moments, things tend to commingle in Alain Resnais’s revolutionary first feature, Hiroshima Mon Amour. Marguerite Duras’s oblique script builds on an ever-shifting groundwork of spatial and temporal indeterminacies, a structural technique borrowed from the French ‘new novel,’ in order to suture together past and present, private and public, desire and trauma.”

Read my whole review of Hiroshima Mon Amour, out this Friday in a stunning new 4K restoration at the Film Forum in NYC and other repertory houses across the country, at Slant Magazine.

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