Russ Fischer’s Top Ten Films of 2014

Lego Movie

10. The Lego Movie (Philip Lord and Chris Miller)
The subversive spirit seems to have been bled out of major studio films, but The Lego Movie is (a) unabashedly an ad for plastic building blocks and (b) unreservedly critical of the Lego company’s shift towards instructions and rules rather than free creativity. The movie is endlessly creative, wildly energetic, and often deliriously funny. Frankly, it is difficult to accept that this film exists as a thing backed by Warner Bros. and Lego. This movie has spirit and love, and a sly nature that makes it stand apart from almost everything else out there.

nightcrawler-jake-gyllenhaal

9. Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy)
Jake Gyllenhaal does career-best work as a man without morals or reservations who discovers that his sociopathic tendencies make him well-suited for success in business. Forget looking at Nightcrawler as a media satire — the media stuff is just the window into the film’s bigger concepts about business culture as a whole.

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8. Blue Ruin (Jeremy Saulnier)
When I first saw Blue Ruin at Sundance last January I loved the movie but probably wouldn’t have called it as a likely contender for year-end consideration. But cinematographer-turned-director Jeremy Saulnier achieves something that has become more valuable to me this year than ever before: he tells a good story with incredible precision and economy, maximizing the impact of every scene by removing extraneous details.

We Are the Best

7. We Are the Best! (Lukas Moodysson)
Three young girls form a punk band in early ’80s Sweden as a way to define and control their own identities, and in chronicling them Lukas Moodysson creates one of the best coming of age films I’ve ever seen. This movie gets what it feels like to be stuck outside cliques and social groups, and it perfectly captures the joy of screaming “fuck you” to anyone who tries to stifle your voice. Vulnerable, tender, perceptive, and brash, this movie shows how great it is to just do something, regardless of whether it has any potential to be great.

babdook-3

6. The Babadook (Jennifer Kent)
The best horror film I’ve seen in years is really a family drama that happens to feature a supernatural angle as a single mother and her young son deal with the shadow of loss and grief that hovers over their life before coming viciously to life as a vicious force. Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman are pitch-perfect as the mother and son, but the real star to watch here is writer/director Jennifer Kent, who we’ll be eagerly watching as the next couple years roll on.

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Next up: the final five!

Russ Fischer’s Top Ten Films of 2014 >>

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