He stared upwards at the blue patch outside. Hundreds – no, thousands just like him.
Sick of this house: this old empty house.
They were all up there: floating about, freely, surely.
Where are they going? Where was his invitation?
Later, he dreamt;
And in that moment, he too was free.
Directed by Richard Linklater
It’s taken me more than a month to properly digest Boyhood, Richard Linklater’s twelve-year project, and I think my mind is relatively clear enough to be as objective as possible with how I felt. But probably not. Because that would void all reason for even writing this in the first place. I watched Boyhood literally an hour after wrapping production of my most recent short film, and soaking in a strange mixture of relief and overwhelming fatigue, I sat in the front row of the sold-out theatre and disappeared for three hours. I became so engrossed in the film in a way that it was actively bringing back memories from my own childhood, at an alarming rate. In watching someone age rapidly in front of your eyes, you can’t help but feel nostalgia for what seemed like years, but was literally only 25 minutes ago. I wanted to stay in parts of Mason’s life, if only to try and hold on to memories of my own past that I felt had slipped away all too quickly. A film that can make you feel time as a tangible property, as something to cherish and despise at the same time, is a film that will remain in history for a very very long time. It’s not perfect, but shit, who even knows what perfect even looks like.
Directed by Bong Joon-Ho
Bong Joon-ho is one of the most dynamic and intelligent filmmakers currently working today. He just has complete control over cinema as a medium, and is always willing to go just an extra screw looser. Snowpiercer was a brilliant exercise in thrilling filmmaking with equal parts brain and muscle. It’s one of those films that you have no idea where it’ll go next but by god you just can’t wait to find out. The film continued to explore new territory both visually and tonally – and it’s fantastic to see that Bong’s sense of humour hasn’t been lost in his first English-language film. I’m so glad films like this exist.
Directed by Lukas Moodysson
We Are The Best! is a wonderful film highlighting the ups and downs of being the person that you might not have expected to become: in other words, yourself. You don’t pick your genetics, you don’t pick who your parents are, and quite often, you don’t pick who your friends are. These things are all products of the inevitable nature of time, and this film looks at how these aren’t necessarily good or bad things: but it’s what you do with it all that really matters. The performances of the child actors were absolutely stellar: I have no idea how the director did it, but he has my utmost respect.
Directed by David Gordon Green
The return of Nicolas Cage is nigh! Joe is traditional storytelling done right. It never tries to be anything bigger than it is: a story about a less-than-perfect-man who becomes a father figure to a less-than-perfect-teenager: but it ticks all the boxes. Nic Cage hasn’t been so empathetic in a long time, and his performance is matched by every supporting character inhabiting his world, aside from the random creep with the scars on his face. But the score and the cinematography were absolutely perfect in helping create the wonderful tone of transparency and lightness of being throughout.
Directed by Taika Waititi & Jemaine Clement
It’s hard not to love the work of Taika Waititi. You can tell by his films that his first priority as a filmmaker is to make people laugh. What We Do In the Shadows isn’t quite the cinematic heart-wrencher that Boy was, but it still succeeds in utilising the mockumentary format to great comedic effect. I hope more films like this are made: it has an energy that can only come as a result of friends making films with friends.
Directed by James Gunn
Guardians of the Galaxy is the feel-good movie of the year. James Gunn did a fantastic job at bringing the world and the characters to life, as each set-piece and conversation fires on all cylinders. It’s difficult to articulate just how entertaining the film was: it may be easier to say that the film was made by someone who truly adored the source material he was working from, and made all the right decisions in pulling it off. A film that stands on it’s own with great moments and sections for each character to shine, no matter how big or small. One of the best Marvel films to come out for a long time.
Directed by Matt Reeves
It’s a hugely ambitious concept, basing a majority of a film’s dialogue not only in a foreign language, but in that of a completely different species. Yet Matt Reeves pulls it off, with great visual storytelling and brilliant production design, The film looks great and owes probably more to Jurassic Park than the previous Planet of the Apes films. It doesn’t break new ground, but it was a very enjoyable time at the movies. Andy Serkis was amazing as usual.