The Best Films of 2014

Tom Browne

2014 has been a great year for movies. From the marvellously successful to the subtly brilliant, Reader's Digest editor Tom Browne lists his top 10

10. Mr Turner

 

Covering the final 25 years in the life of artist J. M. W. Turner, Mike Leigh’s latest drama is a rich, multi-layered triumph, which deservedly scooped the Best Actor award at Cannes for Timothy Spall’s superb central performance.

 

9. X-Men: Days of Future Past

 

What seemed to be a franchise running out of steam was triumphantly revived by this latest instalment, the most acclaimed and financially successful of the series. Thrilling set pieces, wonderful effects and a great ensemble cast add up to the perfect popcorn flick.

 

8. The Imitation Game

 

A relatively straightforward biopic of Alan Turing, the mathematical genius behind the cracking of the Enigma code during the Second World War, The Imitation Game is elevated by a stunning performance by man-of-the-moment Benedict Cumberbatch, an early contender for next year’s Best Actor Oscar.

 

7. Ida

Set in 1960s Poland, Ida follows the story of Anna, a young nun who visits her family before taking her vows and uncovers a troubling history. An understated drama shot in gorgeous black and white, this film has already picked up several awards and is Poland’s entry to next year’s Oscars.

 

6. 20,000 Days on Earth

 

Ostensibly a documentary about Nick Cave during the recording of his Push the Sky Away album, 20,000 Days on Earth turned out to be far more—a meditation of life, art and mortality, all set to a wonderful soundtrack.

 

5. Paddington

 

The family film of the year, a charming and hilarious delight following the adventurers of everyone’s favourite fictional bear as he arrives in London from deepest, darkest Peru.

 

4. Gone Girl

 

Amid accusations of misogyny and bucket loads of commentary about the portrayal of its characters, it’s easy to forget that Gone Girl, in the final analysis, is an engrossing, superbly made and wonderfully acted thriller, one that keeps you talking long after the credits have rolled.

 

3. Locke

A compelling one-hander that could easily have been a stage play, Locke follows a construction foreman (Tom Hardy) over the course of a single car journey from Birmingham to London as his life slowly unravels. Taut, focused and surprisingly nail-biting.

 

2. Under The Skin

 

Director Jonathan Glazer spent ten years trying to adapt Michel Faber’s novel about an alien who visits Earth and preys on men. The result is an offbeat, art-house classic—featuring a wonderfully otherworldly performance by Scarlett Johansson—which rewards repeat viewings.

 

1. Pride

 

Telling the true story of a group of gay and lesbian activists who raised money for the families of striking miners in the 1980s, Pride could easily have been clunky and sentimental. Instead, thanks largely to a wonderful script and a host of brilliant performances, it was a towering success, a film that makes you laugh, cry and applaud—often at the same time.

 

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