As 2014 rolls to a close, I've compiled the film releases which I believe to be the ten best that the year has offered. From big-hitting blockbusters to small-time indies, my list includes films which were released between January 1st through to December 31st. This means that films I have been fortunate enough to see this year but are due for a 2015 release (Inherent Vice, A Most Violent Year, Whiplash) can only be in contention in next year's list.
The films I have not yet seen, which will be ruled out as a consequence, include: Boyhood, Ida, Lucy, Pride, Two Days One Night and X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Leo DiCaprio failed to win an Oscar once again for his brilliant portrayal of Jordan Belfort in Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street – a film which tracked the real-life story of a wealthy stock-broker's high life to his crime-corrupted dalliance with the FBI. Despite never reaching the heights of the filmmaker's efforts throughout the past decade (The Departed, or even Hugo), this black comedy remains thrillingly debauched throughout and is all the more impressive for it.
5. Guardians of the Galaxy
Cinema audiences have such faith in Marvel, what with their past Avengers-shaped successes, that when Guardians of the Galaxy arrived in the summer based on a fresh group of oddball individuals – including a talking raccoon and walking tree, no less – it still managed to prove the commercial and critical success of the year. Not bad going for a film whose downright brilliant opening credits sequence saw a sitcom supporting star (Parks and Recreation's Chris Pratt) jiving to Redbone's Come and Get Your Love in space.
4. Under the Skin
The Coen Brothers's foray into the folk music scene of early sixties Greenwich Village isn't so much a love letter than a pure exploration. Set to the backdrop of the titular Llewyn's muted exasperation at the failure of his singer-songwriting career (in what is sure to endure as a career-defining performance from Oscar Isaac), the brothers Coen once again effortlessly fuse all the required elements (cinematography, screenplay, not to mention a soundtrack to die for) in order to craft a film that would almost definitely be in a list compiling the best films of the past 15 years.