Top 10 Movies of 2014 Top 10 Films of 2014

Top 10 Best Films of 2014 – a less pre-mature list by a Malaysian

It may have taken me as long as the previous years to finally come up with a top 10 best movies list but I’m confident that this is the least pre-mature list from a Malaysian, and the least pre-mature one I’ve ever done before publishing. Why do I feel that it’s less pre-mature? Well simply because many others published their list at the end of last year when more than half of the award-nominated films were not widely released or even leaked online yet.

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I feel that local moviegoers are now more aware of award quality films than ever before and with the increase of demand, film distributors were more willing to release most of these award season-involved films before the coming Academy Awards this weekend. I hope this will continue to improve to a point we won’t ever need to stream leaked screeners anymore, not for the ones that aren’t banned in Malaysia at least.

It was a brilliant year for movies. I actually had a very hard time deciding the ranking of the films so I had to really judge and balance between entertainment, production, originality, performances, social-impact and purpose. Those Oscar nominated pictures that aren’t mentioned here at all are what I considered as films that were either overrated or were only nominated because most Oscar voters are old white Americans, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t like those films, I just liked these better. Personal preference, if you will. I don’t do Oscar predictions, but through my lists you’d roughly know which nominees I’ll be rooting for, and which are ones I would’ve snubbed instead. Without further ado, here are my top 10 favourite movies that are officially from the year 2014.

(*Only film distributors that sent in the release details of respective listed films are honoured here in brackets.)


10. Two Days, One Night

(French; not release in Malaysia)

two days one night marion cotillard

A simple and yet inspiring story of courage and compassion. Sandra, a poor female blue-collar worker (whose house and car look more expensive than mine) who faces layoff after taking time off to recover from her nervous breakdown. The factory management forces its workers to vote between Sandra and a much needed bonus pay. In attempt to save her job, Sandra reluctantly visits each and every one of her colleagues on the weekend to ask them to support her when the ballot day comes. A very good performance by Marion Cotillard in a role where her beauty somehow counts for nothing in the film.


9. Still Alice

Still Alice Julianne Moore

Not many would realise just how terrible early-onset Alzheimer’s disease is until they watch this heart-wrecking drama, which depicts the progress of the disease suffered by a highly respected intelligent linguistic professor who tries everything she can to counter memory loss while the situation gradually becomes more difficult for her loving family to bear as well. An undeniably strong emotional performance by Julianne Moore which will likely win her Best Actress at the Oscars. And somehow, I find Kristen Steward appealing in the film.


8. The Imitation Game

alan turing vs. benedict cumberbatch imitation game

A semi-biographical tribute to Alan Turing, the mathematician genius who’s not only one of the fathers of computer science and artificial intelligence, but also the one who actually shortened World War II by 2 to 4 years, and yet he was mistreated and unhonoured. The film is compelling, funny, emotionally engaging, and it does what’s necessary to emphasise the importance of this man’s contribution, and the unfairness of the UK’s society and law against homosexuality. Great performance by Benedict Cumberbatch which earned him the Best Actor nomination although I could think of a snubbed actor who deserved it more. Read full review >>


7. The Grand Budapest Hotel

(GSC Movies)

lobby boy grand budapest hotel still

Wes Anderson takes his extraordinary visual style and purposeful storywriting to another level in Grand Budapest Hotel. Backed by a lineup of great veteran actors and meticulously crafted set designs and sequences, the film is a tale of friendship between Gustave, a famous hotel owner, and his immigrant lobby boy Zero, when both of them get mixed up in murder of a guest who left a highly valuable painting behind for Gustave. It’s colourful, quirky, adventurous, unpredictable, sophisticated and on top of it all, a lot of fun. Read full review >>


6. Whiplash

(TGV Pictures; Malaysia release postponed indefinitely)

Whiplash still

Arguably the most gripping movie of 2014 and amazingly, it is neither an action thriller nor a horror flick. Jazz is not a sport or war, but Whiplash manages to turn it into a highly intense and scary psychological battle between a determined and ambitious music student who plays drums, and an outrageously mean and abusive teacher-conductor. Breakthrough performance for the young Miles Teller and a well deserved Best Actor in a Supporting Role nomination for J.K. Simmons but I’m not sure if the Oscars’d give it to him. Read full review >>


5. The Lego Movie

(Warner Bros. Pictures Malaysia)

lego movie group shot

The only animation from Hollywood, which deserves to be nominated for the Best Animated Feature, is not nominated. There’s just no way you would not be amused and lightened up by the toys in such a creative, ridiculous, action-packed and satirical fashion, not to mention its surprisingly thoughtful twist to what started out to be just silly adventure of an ordinary guy to battle evil to impress a girl. And where else can you see popular DC superheroes, the NBA All Stars, Ninja Turtles and Han Solo-Chewbacca together in the same movie? Everything is awesome indeed! It does, however, require the viewers to be well versed enough in pop culture (and the language) to be able to fully enjoy the awesomeness. Read full review >>


4. Gone Girl

(20th Century Fox Malaysia)

gone girl movie still

There’s probably no other marriage breakdown film that was able to keep me at the edge of my seat. Despite being 2 hours and a half, I actually didn’t mind if this dark suspenseful thriller was to go on for another hour ’cause it’s just so fun to watch this twisted chess match and media play between the unfaithful husband and his scary psychopathic type-A wife. This will be remembered as one of the best films by the great David Fincher. Congratulations to Rosamund Pike for the well deserved Best Actress nomination, but too bad her performance isn’t good enough to top other nominees’. Read full review >>


3. Nightcrawler

nightcrawler Jake Gyllenhaal still

A bizarrely thrilling and yet educational unique film with one of 2014’s best performance by Jake Gyllenhaal who transformed himself into a creepy jobless sociopath who ventures into freelance video journalism to make a good living. The film, to me, is like a metaphor of what it takes to be a morally incorrect but successful entrepreneur. I was absolutely shocked that the Oscars snubbed the film for not only the Best Actor category, but for Best Picture as well. Not only Gyllenhaal deserved to be nominated, I think he’s within the top three actors that should win it. The old voting members of the Academy Awards seriously need to be reevaluated. Read full review >>


2. Boyhood

ellar coltrane boyhood

I thought this film was going to be an overrated piece of gimmick but when I watch it, I find it easily relatable (even though I’m an Asian) and it made me smile during the film’s happier moments because I felt connected to the character. Boyhood captures the true essence of growing up in this era and offers a reflection of adolescence in almost three hours of running time without being boring. It doesn’t exactly have a plot, it’s just life as it is, realistically. Even if the film wasn’t shot over the course of 12 years with the same cast (which is an amazing achievement, by the way) literally seeing the kid actors grow up as though this is the real Truman Show, it would probably still be one of the very best coming of age films ever made. Read full review >>


1 . Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

(20th Century Fox Malaysia)

Michael Keaton Birdman still

Former Batman star Michael Keaton gave the performance of his career portraying sort of a fictional alternative version of himself, a washed-up actor who tries to revive his career by risking everything he has left in a Broadway play. The Best Picture would most likely go to Boyhood just because the Oscars usually award dramas and American historical/war thrillers more than anything else (please don’t give it to American Sniper, please!), but in terms of story, direction, screenplay, character depth, acting performances, humour, cinematography and basically everything else, there’s simply no film in 2014 that comes close to the impressive, innovative, meaningful, sophisticated and yet highly entertaining Birdman. It’s the kind of very special film that only comes in every few years… or every decade. Easily one of the most brilliant movies I’ve ever seen. Read full review >>

Honourable Mentions
– Selma (highly doubt the government would dare allow this to be released here)
– Foxcatcher (not released in Malaysia)
– Begin Again (not released in Malaysia)
– Wild (coming soon to Malaysia)
– What We Do in the Shadows (not released in Malaysia)
– Time Lapse (not released to big screens at all?)
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (20th Century Fox Malaysia)
X-Men: Days of Future Past (20th Century Fox Malaysia)
Edge of Tomorrow (Warner Bros. Pictures Malaysia)

Highly rated films I have not seen
– Song of the Sea (not released in Malaysia)
– The Tales of Princess Kaguya (only released in Japan in 2013)
– The Boxtrolls
– A Most Wanted Man (not released in Malaysia)
– Love is Strange (not released in Malaysia)
– Pride (not released in Malaysia)
– Obvious Child (not released in Malaysia)
– The Trip to Italy (not released in Malaysia)
– Force Majeure (not released in Malaysia)
– Mr. Turner (not released in Malaysia)
– Calvary (not released in Malaysia)
– Cold in July (not released in Malaysia)
– Mommy (not released in Malaysia)
– The Guest (not released in Malaysia)
– The Normal Heart (TV film)
– (and all Best Foreign Language Film nominees)

>> View Top 10 Worst Movies of 2014
<< View Top 10 Movies of 2013

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