by James Hansen
I've been meaning to post my Top 13 Films of 2014 for a while now. I had been planning on writing longer caps of each film in hopes to open the discussion beyond the confines of yet another list. Unfortunately, with the new semester in full swing and my dissertation writing and research progressing and taking precedence, I haven't found the time to spend on in-depth capsules. I may update this list with capsules in the future, but, with the Oscars gone and 2014 fully behind us, it is now or never for this damned list. On the plus side, I've been lucky enough to do plenty of publishing and coverage outside of my main site. I'll be updating the site with links to those posts in the near future. Links are embedded for the films I have been lucky enough to discuss at greater length already.
Looking at the works on this list, there aren't necessarily many connections. They range from shorts to features, narrative to documentary, Hollywood to experimental. Still, I think lurking below the surface of many of the best works of the year (and recent years) is a unique emphasis on spatial dynamics, both internal and external. Space and the surrounding environment become imbued within the characters, images, and hidden stories of these films. Further, each of these moving image artists shows an awareness of how the feeling of those spaces has the ability to transfer onto and into the viewer's body. At times disorienting, irritating, and/or overwhelming, these films place demands on the minds, eyes, and bodies of their viewers (not to mention their performers), and ask for a willingness to play in games without ever knowing all the rules. Active investigations don't need to end when the movies do.
Here are my Top 13 Films of 2014.
1. Goodbye to Language (Jean Luc Godard)
2. The Strange Little Cat (Ramon Zürcher)
3. Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson)
6. Story of My Death (Albert Serra)
9. Actress (Robert Greene)
10. Selma (Ava DuVernay)
12. The Babadook (Jennifer Kent)
13. John Wick (Chad Stahelski and David Weitch)