112 contributors at Sight and Sound chime in with their typically esoteric choices for “the best films of 2014.” They’ve done a fine job proving that a lot of groups would rather predict which day Queen Elizabeth will kick the bucket than be accused of predicting the bloody Oscars. The BFI and Sight & Sound don’t care to predict the Oscars, don’t intend to, and refuse to try. And that’s fine. (But it does seem as if Sight & Sound wanted it to be impossibly hard for anyone to win their prize contest: “Predict the Sight & Sound Top 10 and Win the Harry Potter Blu-ray Box Set!” That contest looks rigged.)
Richard Linklater’s film hinges on the tension between past, present and future and wears its long production and philosophical heft lightly. It feels as effortless as breathing. Precious little happens, yet everything does.
2. Goodbye to Language 3D
Godard’s retina-invigorating ciné-poem… the densest but also the most cinema-bending film on the Riviera, one which made the entire audience squint, blink and panic in unison.
Balances the universality the director has always striven for with a brilliantly etched microcosm of the lawlessness that grips Russia today, where patronage, profiteering and power are intertwined.
=3. Horse Money
Brazen when it comes to bending cinema’s usual rules about the time and space(s) that characters occupy… a collision between cinematic history and authentic stories of suffering.
5. Under the Skin
I’ve been waiting most of my life for a film that combined the sensibilities of Tarkovsky and Norman J. Warren. Under the Skin was worth the wait. It still haunts me, and I suspect it always will.
6. The Grand Budapest Hotel
Anderson’s most complete fabrication yet, a fanatically and fantastically detailed, sugar-iced, calorie-stuffed, gleefully overripe Sachertorte of a film.
7. Winter Sleep
Without doubt a formidably achieved, intellectually substantial drama… when Winter Sleep comes alive, it is as powerful and suggestive as any Ceylan film.
8. The Tribe
Set in a school for deaf teenagers, it reimagines the language of sight and sound (or the absence of sound) in cinema to startlingly original effect; you watch and listen in a way that’s entirely fresh and unfamiliar.
A spare, haunting piece of minimalism… crafted with deceptive simplicity, riven with uncertainty… its indelible images are a stark reminder of Bazin’s dictum that film itself is a kind of miracle.
Jauja is such a marvellous experience: it shows that film is a medium that can lock up a history (or memories or dreams or nightmares) inside it, then release it in all the splendour of Patagonian skies.
=11. Mr. Turner
=11. National Gallery
=11. The Wolf of Wall Street
15. The Duke of Burgundy
=16. Two Days, One Night
=18. The Look of Silence
=18. The Wind Rises
The best films of the year – the overground, the underground, the widely released and the still emerging, from oldtimers and first-timers – as chosen by 112 of our international contributors and colleagues.