Was 2014 a good year for film? Here's my own top ten...
BrokenActually premiering at Cannes in 2012, Broken is harrowing, but hugely rewarding urban drama. Brilliant performances from old hands like Tim Roth and Cillian Murphy are all-but eclipsed by the utterly enchanting and naturalistic performance from young Eloise Laurence as 'Skunk', who stands out like a lone wild flower growing in an inner-city demolition site. The gritty narrative of Broken attempts to deconstruct Skunk's life, but showing more irrepressible spirit than the struggling adults inhabiting her world she ultimately achieves the happy ending which everyone, audience included, might have lost hope in.
The Winter SoldierA superhero movie where the lead character spends most of his time in jeans and a T Shirt, and Robert Redford gives us comic book adaptation cinema's most chilling and believeable villain so far. 2014 will be remembered as the year that Marvel did epic space opera, but more importantly in my mind, it's also the year they aced the espionage thriller. Being fans of the Agents of Shield TV series, the very strong impact which the events of Winter Soldier leaves on the narrative of the TV show is yet another plus for us. Hail Hydra!
Sunshine on LeithThe Scottish musical which isn't Brigadoon. Listening to Scottish D-Js was always an odd experience for me - something about a Glaswegian being professionally friendly is just wrong (you have to work at being pals with someone from 'No Mean City', and then they're your friend for life) Similarly, I couldn't imagine how a chirpy musical based on the music of The Proclaimers and set in contemporary Edinburgh was going to pan out. Fortunately, the inevitable 'cheese' is definitely blue vein rather than broadway or West End cheddar, with an uplifting ending which is more than worth the sometimes difficult journey to get there.
HouseboundNew Zealand made a pitch perfect comedy/horror film in 2014 - and also released What we do in the Shadows. Although the 'NZ-feratu' film gained all the accolades last year, for my money Housebound is where homegrown chills and spills were really at. Morgana O'Reilly's Kylie Bucknell is a Kiwi heroine for our times, tough, uncompromisingly direct and utterly fearless. Hire it tonight!
X-Men: Days of Future PastFrom the bleak and hopeless future, to a meticulously realised 1973, the latest X-Men film shows that it's traditional blend of ensemble action set pieces and intimate character beats still leads the pack in comic book movies.
These charcters have been with us for a long time now and this enhances how much we care about them, whichever version we might be watching. And the flying stadium scene - just, wow!