10 – Edge of Tomorrow: Live Die Repeat
This was one of those classic You-Can’t-Kill-Tom-Cruise action flicks that completely blindsided me. I did not expect to like it, but came out buzzing from the adrenaline fuelled, action packed ride that is Edge of Tomorrow. Emily Blunt + Powered Battle Suit = Righteous as Fuck
9 – Snowpiercer
Set in a frozen dystopian future years after the catastrophic aftermath of global warming, Snowpiercer tells the story of a revolutionary perpetual motion train that houses the last survivors of humanity. Featuring a class system that spans the entire length of the train – with the lowest and poorest inhabiting the ‘tail end’ – Snowpiercer is a truly fresh take on the classic Orwellian narrative and features fantastic performances from Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, John Hurt and a host of others. Amazing design, amazing cinematography and amazing action – this flick has it all.
8 – Captain America: The Winter Soldier
In the second instalment of the Captain America franchise, we get to see Cap come to grips with his past and his place in the 21st century. The Winter Soldier is an amazing graphic novel and arguably one of the best Captain America stories – and the movie is just as good. Fantastic writing, dark and gritty Cap, explosive action and one of the best elevator sequences the world has even seen easily makes this one of the best films of the year. Bucky NOOOOO!
Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance as the pioneering British mathematician and cryptanalyst Alan Turing is not only sublime but also arguably the best performances of his career. With a superb supporting cast that includes Matthew Goode, Keira Knightley (who isn’t awful for once) and Mark Strong – The Imitation Game is a poignant blend of tragedy and triumph.
6 – Nightcrawler
It is mind-blowing to think that Dan Gilroy (the guy who co-wrote Real Steel and The Bourne Legacy) made his directional debut with Nightcrawler. The profoundly engrossing and superb crime thriller features the sensational Jake Gyllenhaal as an aspiring video journalist, keen to make his mark and a name for himself – at any cost. With incredible performances from Jake Gyllenhaal, Riz Ahmed and Rene Russo, Nightcrawler is dark, confronting and has more edge-of-your-seat moments than a vacation with Nick Fury in Tahiti.
5 – The Fault in Our Stars
When I went to the pre-screening of The Fault in Our Stars with Maria, I was totally in the dark. I had not read the book, seen any trailers, heard any buzz or even know what the film was about. As it turned out The Fault in Our Stars was not only powerful but also inspiring. Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort’s performances as both Hazel and Augustus (respectively) were magnificent and utterly captivating. Josh Boone did a fantastic job of showing the confronting nature of cancer and not shying away from it, which resulted in something that is both beautiful and yet unequivocally heartbreaking.
4 – The Raid 2: Berandal
Gareth Evans is the master of martial arts thrillers. The first Raid (The Raid: Redemption) featured some of my favourite movie fight scenes, so I went into the second instalment in the Raid series very aware that I might be let down and disappointed. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The Raid 2 not only delivered a surprisingly intelligent and engrossing story of police corruption and the shocking nature of Indonesia’s criminal underworld, but it wraps it in some of the most atmospheric, hyper-violent and balls to the wall action you will ever see in a movie. The last 15 minutes of this movie is so intense you will be hanging off the edge of your seat. You’ll also never look at hammers the same again.
3 – Gone Girl
As with The Fault in Our Stars, I went into Gone Girl knowing very little about the story. What starts out as a classic thriller featuring Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) and his missing wife Amy (Rosamund Pike), quickly evolves into a mesmerizing and sophisticated whodunnit that keeps the audience in suspense throughout. Gone Girl’s masterful direction by David Fincher is reinforced by an accomplished screenplay adaption from the original author Gillian Flynn and brilliant score by the grammy award winning duo Trent Reznor and Atticus Rose. Exceptional performances from both protagonists (especially Pike) and supporting characters like Margo (Carrie Coon) and Desi Collings (Neil Patrick Harris) yields a flick that delivers on every level with an ending so good it joins the ranks of classics like Sixth Sense and Fight Club. You’ll find yourself screaming “ARE YOU SERIOUS” as the credits roll, or at least I did.
2 – Guardians of the Galaxy
“I am Groot” – the words engrained in every viewers mind after seeing Guardians of the Galaxy for the first time. That, or lyrics from the pants-explodingly good soundtrack featuring classics like ‘Hooked on a Feeling’ by Blue Swede, ‘Go All the Way’ by The Raspberries and ‘Fooled Around and Fell In Love’ by Elvin Bishop. Or perhaps lines from the stellar screenplay by Nicole Perlman and James Gunn that features more sidesplitting dialogue scenes than a Monty Python flick. There are so many brilliant aspects of Guardians that it’s hard to pick a favourite. What is clear though, is that James Gunn created a masterpiece. Gunn has managed to take relatively unknown characters and smash them into the forefront of Marvel’s stellar line up of heroes. Not only was Guardians the bravest and most outlandish movie by Marvel to date, but they managed to pull it off and had a blast doing it. Guardians of the Galaxy is a cinematic triumph and without a doubt the best flick to come out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
1 – Grand Budapest Hotel
I first saw Grand Budapest Hotel on a long haul flight to London. It was so good that I watched it twice on the flight and then again the day after I landed. I was so hooked that I ended up watching it another three times during my two weeks in the UK and then again on the flight back to Sydney. In total I watched it seven times in two weeks. Some would say that this is borderline obsessive (and they are probably right), but the Grand Budapest Hotel is perfect. On paper, the story is about a hotel owner called Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes) trying to prove his innocence after the murder of Madame Desgoffe und Taxis (Tilda Swinton). In reality; the narrative is a rich tapestry of complex character development, strengthened with stunning cinematography, an outstanding score from the award winning Alexandre Desplat (Zero Dark Thiry, The King’s Speech, Imitation Game) and a smörgåsbord of sensational performances from Ralph Fiennes and a plethora of unforgettable supporting characters. Grand Budapest Hotel is immaculately stylish, astonishingly sophisticated and the attention to detail is mind-boggling. Every time I watch it I find something new, some hidden detail or a line that can be interpreted differently. From every angle Grand Budapest Hotel is remarkable. Wes Anderson has meticulously crafted a cinematic masterpiece that will continue to enthral and amaze for years to come.
Samuel Spettigue – follow Samuel on Twitter at @ninjaspag.