by Jaime Grijalba.
People and critics that have the majority of the talk usually do lists based around the movies that were released in their country that given year, au contraire my own approach, where I just put forward the original date of release instead of the year that I ended up watching the movie. For example, I know that many international critics (outside USA) have named ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ (2013) as one of the best films of 2014, because it was released that year for them (around January), but I did watch it in 2013 and it made it to my list of 2013. In the end, this particular list is not much more than an exercise in style and sometimes an announcement: the great movies of any given year don’t usually play in Chile until later, if they ever get released. This will have links to reviews that I wrote anywhere anytime, and also we will obviously have some repeats from the top 20 films of 2014. Short paragraphs will be used only on movies that have not had any kind of writing beforehand.
10. Gone Girl (2014, David Fincher)
“It’s really rewarding to finally see a film that manages to numb you in such a way that it’s middle surprise feels actually like one, one that might’ve been predicted by some, but can’t actually be believed once it goes into the stretches that it goes, with such cruelty, violence and snark, which makes Rosamund Pike one of the best acting performances of 2014 mainly because of the bleak way in which she delivers her speech, the manner in which she reacts to certain events and mainly due to the monotone and otherwise affected speech patterns that she uses in every situation, she seems to be the parody of a parody of a parody, but it’s never truly funny, because she uses it in a world where that same parodied subject has sneaked through and became the accepted element of society.”
9. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen)
“This one is actually one of my favorite Coen Bros films. That’s because it achieves what some of the other best Coen films want to achieve, and that is tonal perfection, everything from the performance, the framing and the cinematography are done in such a way that it always points out to the same element: the theme, the depresion of failure, the gloomy shadows and the brilliant exterior, in a way really showcasing the mindset of the protagonist Llewyn Davis. What made me fall in love with a movie like this is how it managed to make me care and sing along a music style that I’ve never been really attracted to, the folk songs featured in the movie are addictive and a great addition, from the songs of Inside Llewyn Davis to Please Mr. Kennedy they are fun to watch performed and then listened afterwards from the soundtrack. Maybe one of the best moments of the movie is how Llewyn finds himself in Chicago, covering the whole travel that he goes through, way in and way back, it’s like a season in hell for him, for sure, it’s one of those moments that when you see his final decission (even though it takes the worst of turns) we understand the frustration and the imposibilities to be a better person, to be something that you want to be, but that you can’t, either because you’re having the weight of a great loss over your shoulders or maybe because you’re just not good enough.”
8. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013, Martin Scorsese)
“This is a big movie, not only in its length, but because of how much controversy, debate and fights have been initiated, how people should react to it, how the events portrayed support or not what was done by the real Jordan Belfort, yadda yadda, but in the end I have a major question: why do you care? People have their own reactions and thoughts regarding the movies they see, can we label them as wrong or right? No, we can’t, because those thoughts are part of an individual process, a moment when they are alone with themselves and take the choices they might have regarding the delivered movie. Think pieces left and right regarding the true intentions of Martin Scorsese, as if he was some kind of evil mastermind, where his intentions and goals were clear, he wanted to make a fun movie, one that would make the people go see it, get to know a little bit of story regarding their own goals and situation in a social world, not in hopes of having Belfort as a model of way of living, but as one figure to guilt. As much as Belfort uses compassion with us, he knows that he’s screwed and he wants us to pay attention to what he says, that’s why he speaks to us through the camera, trying to explain what he’s doing, and how does he do it, and how he isn’t really that bad. The fact that a movie can trascend the media and go into the depths of what is right and wrong, in a way how the aesthetic is really related to ethics in much more than a couple of ways.”
7. La danza de la realidad (The Dance of Reality) (2013, Alejandro Jodorowsky)
“But here is where I want to propose something. Alejandro Jodorowsky maybe the only filmmaker that until this moment has managed to put to the screen something close to the Latin American magical realism. Not because of the supernatural elements that sometimes appear and leave the spectator speechless, but his insistence on genealogy, with the place where all the problems come from, a burden from generations past, like how the Buendia curse manages to explain the disappearance of his descendants and Macondo, here it’s the personal history of the parents of young Alejandro who comes to explain the personality, his formation, his decisions, the way in which he seems to exorcise everything evil and sick that could’ve come from the external exchange of the roles that they play, of the exaggerated natural force.”
6. Relatos salvajes (Wild Tales) (2014, Damián Szifrón)
“At the time of the release and when I watched this, I said that it was one of the funniest comedies in a long time, and while I still think it’s a great movie, and one of the best of 2014, I don’t think I can stand by that comment, and that’s saying that I didn’t actually see a better straightforward comedy than this in the entire period. Not because it has decreased in its value, but because I think that its social issues have become more apparent recently, and the love that some people have borders on the fanatic, and that always makes me wonder about the real issues and what a film wants from a viewer in the end. Still, the short structure works, not an anthology as these are directed by the same Argentinian director (the second film from this country in the countdown so far), but as they follow a simple theme of how sometimes we can go nuts because of inequities in our daily life, and they come from every angle of society, whether they be the poor or the rich, the entitled or those that are more miserable, they all have their reckoning day, and while the violence inherent in that is quite astounding and sometimes even reprehensible, in this movie it manages to become something funny, and it can even work as a critique on that kind of behavior, even if its congratulated in the movie itself, one can work a way out of these politics and still enjoy the black, bleak and dark humor in these violence filled wild tales.”
5. 12 Years a Slave (2013, Steve McQueen)
“…hat movie moved me in a way that I couldn’t possibly think of, it’s great, it’s truly a great movie and I think that it deserves the spots that it has earned among the people who want it. Yes, this is a powerful drama, everything is just dripping emotions, knowledge and sadness from every moment and shot of the movie. The acting performances from everyone aren’t what you’d call showy in any kind, they find their way into your soul, and while some shout and some cry, they always feel real, at all times they feel as if they were really there in those times and with that language, those clothes, the feeling isn’t something I can easily describe how this movie managed to feel real. It didn’t affect me emotionally as much as some others would and have, but I find myself really liking the movie as what it is, as one of the most impressive feats of the year in terms of acting, directing and how do you construct a movie like this in terms of the framing, the timing and the way that the scenes and the movie itself never drags.”
4. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014, Peter Jackson)
The final installment of the Hobbit trilogy is maybe the strongest and the one that most swiftly goes by of the entire trilogy, and also a masterpiece that comes to crown what this incredible trilogy had to offer. While it doesn’t achieve the obvious greatness of the original trilogy of films based around the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, it does manage to bring forward its own themes, its own characters and manages to build something on its own. A wonderful series that here comes to a closure with a great fight sequence that just keeps going and manages to put you in the edge of your seat for more than an hour. I have a debt with you, an essay regarding the quality of these movies, since I seem to be the only one who likes these movies around here, so, there you go! Promise!
3. Interstellar (2014, Christopher Nolan)
“The rest of the film is a trip. An exterior and interior trip (as it should be), a search of a new planet in which to live, at the same time as our protagonist fights to come back so he can see his kids again, whom he has abandoned without any clue about when he’s coming back. And it’s now that we have to assume a reality, space travel isn’t fast, and we’re never going to become even close to traveling at the speed of light. It takes them two years to reach Saturn, and that’s just the first of the problems that they’ll face, specially when they realize that the approach to worm holes and black holes leads them, due to the relativity theory, to spend more time than what they thing in one place or another. A minute could end up being the difference between life and death in the planet that they’re trying to save.”
2. Yi dai zong shi (The Grandmaster) (2013, Wong Kar Wai)
Wow, I just realized that I’ve never written something about this movie. I absolutely adore this film, it’s easily one of the most beautiful renditions of violence ever put on screen and at the same time one of the best films about not fighting people and how it can affect our lives. A wonderfully sentimental film that wins something with every rewatch, with every single moment that you think of it, it becomes something more transcendent and more incredible.
1. Her (2013, Spike Jonze)
“For the people who have seen the movie, I think that I’m clear enough when I say that the concept of the relationship that Theodore ends up with Samantha (the OS names herself that), is maybe one of the most heartbreaking things that you could possibly hear, but in a way it manages to become real (as impossible as the concept of that happening with a real person is, as slutty as they try to be, that would be impossible), it doesn’t matter if it’s one or thousands, the concept of relationship that I have as something akin to an ownership, but not one of the body or the thoughts of your loved one, but of certain feelings and acts, that should only be inflicted upon you, the same goes with you, for that to become known to another person, that is what makes it shattering. The way I see relationships, is that if there’s love involved, that love implies a secret, there are certain things that you know about each other that no other person should know, because it would be impossible to feel love if two people know the same secret at the same time (yeah, exes don’t really count, but it should at the same time feel unique in its own way), and maybe the people who saw this movie and can’t find themselves involved with it don’t think that way, maybe they concept of ownership (more physical than in what I speak of in the case of the movie) is what makes them icky, what makes them in a way fearful, anything remotely or conceptually referencing the elements of that you own anything about your other one is something that bothers them, and that makes them hate it, as I’ve heard that they absolutely despise the attitude of Theodore towards the end, while I found myself sympathetic.”
10 Runner Ups: ‘La vie d’Adele’ (2013), ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ (2014), ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ (2014), ‘Noah’ (2014), ‘The Lego Movie’ (2014), ‘Godzilla’ (2014), ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ (2014), ‘A Most Wanted Man’ (2014), ‘La grande bellezza’ (2013), ‘Nightcrawler’ (2014).