Best of lists are hard. Choosing the films I liked best isn’t hard, but keeping it to a reasonable number and ranking them is. One thing that’s not so much hard as it is annoying: coming up with something to say other than “I loved this and you should watch it”.
I saw a lot of films this year but there are plenty I missed. I didn’t see Birdman, Whiplash, or Mommy, all of which are on many other best of lists for the year (and in the case of Whiplash I can guess it would have made mine) but I also did see Boyhood, Gone Girl, 22 Jump Street, and a host of others that didn’t make my list.
All in all I saw over 75 of the movies released in 2014. Not a huge percentage when you think about it but certainly more than the average person.
So with all that in mind here are my favourite dozen movies from 2014.
You can put it away now: the idea that the unnervingly attractive Scarlett Johansson only became a superstar due to the fact that she is the human embodiment of a 1940’s bomber girl. It’s easy to decide on obvious categories – something that she has undoubtedly had to fight herself – and she could have effortlessly made her career as The Pretty Girl in all kinds of meaningless rom-coms and action flicks. But then you look at her filmography and you see a ridiculously diverse selection – from The Girl With The Pearl Earring and Lost In Translation to her deliciously deadly stints as Black Widow in the various Avengers, Iron Man and Captain America blockbusters.
And now, with director Jonathan Glazer’s adaptation of Under The Skin from Michael Faber’s novel, she can finally draw a line under the stereotype. In a movie that contains enough twists and horrors to keep you thinking for weeks, she carries the whole narrative while barely saying a word in a stunning, revelatory performance that is a career best to date.