I enjoy reading critic’s lists like this but I always find them a little irritating to construct due to the release schedules for the ‘prestige’ films. Nearly all of last year’s major Oscar contenders I didn’t have a chance to see until this year, including 12 Years a Slave, Her, American Hustle, The Wolf of Wall Street and Inside Llewyn Davis. Of these, Wolf and Llewyn would probably both qualify for my mid-2014 best of, but I can’t help feeling a little redundant writing about them now when the professionals were all giving them their dues in December. So I’ve decided, for the moment anyway, to remove from consideration any of the big awards films from 2013 that only got their international releases in the early months of 2014. I was also going to do this at the end of June but decided to hold off so I could have a chance to see Under the Skin, which I suspected just might make the cut. As a result, my delay also meant another film had a shot at getting on there. On another note, I’m not going to do a ‘worst of the year so far’ now as well because I haven’t seen anything too awful really. There are a few films on my radar that I might masochistically check out later in the year so may well do a worst-of come December. Anyway, on with the list.
5. Under the Skin
So I am giving Under the Skin the number 5 position, even though I’m not sure how well it’ll hold up to a re-watch, but in the days since seening it it’s fascinating imagery has really stuck with me.
4. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
One of the other advantages of waiting to see Under the Skin meant that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes also qualified for the mid-year list. We’ve had a couple of almost-great blockbusters (X-Men DoFP and Edge of Tomorrow) but neither could fully deliver the way Dawn did. I’ll be very surprised if it doesn’t end up being the best big movie of the summer.
3. The Lego Movie
This is the only film I’ve seen twice this year so far, and the only one that’s reduced me to tears. Both things I would never have expected a few months ago.
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
After the mildly disappointing Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson’s reclaimed his position among my favourite working directors with his funniest film yet.
I had high hopes for John Michael McDonagh’s follow-up to The Guard but was really just expecting a bit more of the same. Instead he gave us a deeper, more mature yet still very amusing film that I knew the moment the end credits started rolling was going to be number 1 on this list.