My lists for 201320122011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007.
Honorable Mentions: A Field in England. Snowpiercer. Foxcatcher. The Raid 2. The Gambler. Enemy. Fury. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Godzilla. Guardians of the Galaxy. How to Train Your Dragon 2. 
Films I Missed: Jodorowsky’s Dune. The Railway Man. The Theory of Everything. Kill the Messenger. The Imitation Game. Winter Sleep. Bird People. Mr. Turner. Inherent Vice. Force Majuere. Two Days One Night. The Immigrant.



Nick on Calvary:

John Michael McDonagh doesn’t have an all-timer like In Bruges on his resume yet but he’s no pushover. Though his brother Martin made a classic, John’s mined the amazing Brendan Gleeson better. This is a odd little curiosity of a movie, one with a unique pace and integrity that shouldn’t work but does. There’s a mystery at the center, but not really. There’s a crisis of faith and conscience but not really. It’s just a great bit of time spent in a small town where a priest faces his own mortality and the loose ends in his life. Gleeson is amazing in a role that should earn him a nomination and the supporting cast is colorful enough to allow the sporadic humor to rise. It’s great seeing M. Emmet Walsh again too.

Current rating: 4 out of 5

Contributing factors: Acute humor. Great work by an unlikely but wonderful leading man. A ridiculous accent by Aidan Gillen. Beautiful countryside.

Performance to savor: Gleeson. Scruff has never worked harder for a man.

CHUD.com Pull Quote: “A film that reminds us of the greatness hiding in nooks and crannies.”

Vital Links: Buy it from CHUD and help us out.



Nick on Under the Skin:

Imagine if Lars Von Trier and Stanley Kubrick collaborated on a movie.

That’s this, a weird and deliberately paced riff on The Brother From Another Planet filtered through Lifeforce and given the texture of the filmmakers mentioned above. It takes a few viewings but Jonathan Glazer’s film is a winner. What a great balance of sci-fi and horror and the power of sex. A very bold move for an actress we thought had sold out.

Current rating: 4 out of 5

Contributing factors: Creepiness abounding. Scotland. Weird use of light and music. Unbridled nudity on both sides of the sex spectrum. Sci-fi done uniquely.

Performance to savor: Scarlett, especially the scene where she grabs a lamp to investigate her vagina.

CHUD.com Pull Quote: “You’ll never look at an obsidian space sex mannequin the same way again.”

Vital Links: Buy it from CHUD and help us out.




Nick on Edge of Tomorrow:

How does Doug Liman do it? Almost every movie he makes seems destined for the clearance bin and he somehow not only pulls it off but also usually contributes something that lasts (fuck Jumper though). The concept of a soldier dying and dying and dyining to figure a way to make it through a day is fantastic and the closest to a videogame ever put onscreen [which is funny since there wasn’t a game] and it works wholly. A great balance of action and humor and character work, and it allows Tom Cruise to be great and allows his haters to watch him die a lot as they’re being entertained. This one will be loved for many years.

Current rating: 4 out of 5

Contributing factors: Brilliant storytelling. Great world building. A conceit that never gets old. Great work from the cast up and down. Cruise at the top of his game.

Performance to savor: Cruise. Haters bound but the guy is fabulous. Emily Blunt is right there with him.

CHUD.com Pull Quote: “No film this year did a better job of investing every cent of entertainment possible onscreen.”

Vital Links: Buy it from CHUD and help us out.


Nick on Nightcrawler:

I liken this to a baby version of Taxi Driver. It’s such a great little look at a man’s descent into obsession that it’s hard not to overlook some of the rough edges. The Rene Russo subplot is handled poorly and there’s probably not enough effort put into the relationship with associate Riz Ahmed’s character but Dan Gilroy’s debut is as a whole fantastic. I’m a huge fan of his brother Tony but this shows the birth of possibly another great American filmmaker. Jake Gyllenhaal has officially lived up to the hype.

Current rating: 4 out of 5

Contributing factors: Jake in full creep mode. The city at night given its own life. Brutal look at the human condition. Pill Paxton!

Performance to savor: Jake, of course.

CHUD.com Pull Quote: “As intense as a story you know the ending of can get.”

Vital Links: Buy it from CHUD and help us out.


ruinbest #11

Nick on Blue Ruin:

Kickstarter has value!

This a great, messy little movie about revenge and all the spiraling shit that comes out of it. It’s not convenient. It’s not cool. And it forces a lot of questionable people and situations into a man’s life. It’s great to see a very common cinematic subject given a new life here and violence is handled in a way that echoes Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer than it does Payback, which is nice. A great little debut from Jeremy Saulnier.

Current rating: 4 out of 5

Contributing factors: Backwoods surprises. How messy the whole thing ends up being. Great pacing. Macon Blair’s bold and unpretentious leading performance.

Performance to savor: Blair.

CHUD.com Pull Quote: “The film that teaches you arrows are more painful than bullets.”

Vital Links: Buy it from CHUD and help us out.


Nick on A Most Wanted Man:

Philip Seymour Hoffman dying is insulting and sad on its own. That he died right as he really showcased what a leading man he can be makes it infinitely worse. The guy was a one of a kind and this movie is a fitting farewell from an already legendary actor. A sober and old fashioned spy flick with the actor donning an accent and a gruff physicality continues a long line of great John le Carré adaptations. Anton Corbijn made a great movie in The American and makes another here. A great flipside to Hoffman’s spy in the criminally underappreciated Charlie Wilson’s War.

Current rating: 4 out of 5

Contributing factors: Hoffman at his finest. Dafoe playing a bit against type. The grit of Hamburg delivered. A great interrogation scene.

Performance to savor: Hoffman.

CHUD.com Pull Quote: “A tentpole movie for thinking adults.”

Vital Links: Buy it from CHUD and help us out.




Nick on Gone Girl:

I hated this book. I hated that David Fincher did this instead of doing another Dragon Tattoo movie. I hated the fact a shitty EW writer became a sensation. I hated the response to Ben Affleck being chosen for this role. But mostly I hated my hate because it was unfounded.

This is a great bit of pop culture sleight of hand with Fincher delivering a twisty and entertaining movie masquerading as fluff but ultimately being one of the great relationship movies of all time. Brutal. Hilarious. Taboo. There’s a bit of Paul Verhoeven influence here whether planned or not and Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Carrie Coon, and Kim Dickens doing great work.

Current rating: 4 out of 5

Contributing factors: Tyler Perry being food in something. Pike in a star-making performance that deserves Best Actress consideration. Affleck, carrying the film perfectly. Emily Ratajkowski is not ugly.

Performance to savor: Pike. What a left field masterpiece of a performance.

CHUD.com Pull Quote: “The best relationship movie since War of the Roses.”

Vital Links: Buy it from CHUD and help us out.



Nick on Whiplash:

It’s a weird and unpredictable movie about drumming, which is a feat in and of itself. That the film eschews the whole “inspirational story” thing and descends into two men ripping themselves and each other apart is icing on the cake. Great performances, surprising moments, a love of music, and a movie that at times seems to capture the Rocky vibe and then deliver a gutpunch makes the total package a must see.

Current rating: 4 out of 5

Contributing factors: JK Simmons. Teller. The brutality of the upper echelon on the music world.

Performance to savor: Simmons. Your Best Supporting Actor of 2014.

CHUD.com Pull Quote: “The boot camp sequence of Full Metal Jacket but with drumsticks.”

Vital Links: Buy it from CHUD and help us out.



Nick on The Drop:

If Martin Scorsese was just coming out of film school and hadn’t made a crime film yet, this might be the shape it took. Michaël R. Roskam takes Dennis Lehane’s script and delivers a small, unshowy little gem with absolutely great work from Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini. Hardy is so good here and so subtle it makes you wonder just how deep his talent goes. This is a film that’s a sleeper all the way and I can’t imagine a lot of “top” lists featuring this but it stuck to my ribs like Thanksgiving dinner. Love this movie.

Current rating: 4 out of 5

Contributing factors: The dog. The great work by the leads. Great menace from the villains. Creepy ass actor playing Rapace’s ex. Just a nice, deliberately paced old school crime flick.

Performance to savor: Hardy.

CHUD.com Pull Quote: “Gandolfini proves once again why he was a signature talent.”

Vital Links: Buy it from CHUD and help us out.


Nick on Locke:

An entire movie set in a car and it works famously. Tom Hardy does it again, delivering a performance where he is the only actor and carries the lion’s share of the dialogue to perfection. In a movie with no action, no major revelations, and a plot that can best be described as subtle, I was riveted.

Current rating: 4 out of 5

Contributing factors: Great concept. Surprisingly restrained dramatic turns. Amazing central performance.

Performance to savor: The steering wheel is fantastic in this.

CHUD.com Pull Quote: “Tom Hardy is fast becoming one of the most versatile actors in the business.”

Vital Links: Buy it from CHUD and help us out.



Nick on Interstellar:

He didn’t stick the landing totally, but Christopher Nolan has delivered another vital movie and a new IP to boot. Great stuff throughout, particularly with world building and showcasing rare new visual touches to the crowded science fiction genre. The best new robots in a long time. Amazing approaches to planets and the cosmos, and deft handling of the passage of time. Interstellar is a winner, though it falls short of the lofty aspirations it seemed destined to attain. But it’s still fantastic. And Wes Bentley is likable in it! How did that happen?

Current rating: 4 out of 5

Contributing factors: Epic ideas and scope. Beautiful imagery. A lot of heart. Matthew McConaughey evolving his career even more.

Performance to savor: McConaughy.

CHUD.com Pull Quote: “It’s sad when a movie that is great is still considered a disappointment.”

Vital Links: Buy it from CHUD and help us out.



Nick on Boyhood:

This movie has no right being anything more than a neat experiment, but Richard Linklater isn’t your ordinary filmmaker. Ellar Contrane develops a character over twelve years and is revelation here, and the same goes for all the cast. Revisiting roles over such a long period of time is a luxury few get and it may be the quickest moving three hour film of all time. A must see.

Current rating: 4.5 out of 5

Contributing factors: A great concept delivered to perfection. Great acting.

Performance to savor: Ethan Hawke. This guy has blown my expectations out of the universe.

CHUD.com Pull Quote: “If you watch one movie this year…”

Vital Links: Buy it from CHUD and help us out.



Nick on Chef:

Just a great, fun movie, A film for foodies like few other and John Favreau showcases just how special his talent is. His focus on character has always been at the fore of his films and freed of the big event films he’s able to shone. A great performance and a great, fun movie about a man and his food and a man falling in love with his profession as well as his son. A true winner of a movie.

Current rating: 4.5 out of 5

Contributing factors: Love of food. A coming of age story for a grown up. Great performance. Great energy. Sofia Vergara on mute is the best thing in town.

Performance to savor: Leguizamo and Favreau.

CHUD.com Pull Quote: “The most broadly appealing and entertaining movie of the year.”

Vital Links: Buy it from CHUD and help us out.


Nick on Birdman:

This is left field bravura filmmaking to a “T”.Alejandro González Iñárritu goes nuts here, emptying his creativity like floodgates have opened and Michael Keaton delivers the performance of his career.  He and Edward Norton are impossibly good and Emma Stone does a terrific supporting turn. It’s not a movie for everyone and it’s most certainly an art film, but it’s phenomenal and rich and surprisingly poetic. A great coda to Keaton’s past career as a superhero onscreen.

Current rating: 4.5 out of 5

Contributing factors: Dizzying creativity and use of what would seem a very limiting location. Performances across the board that are top notch. The marriage of actor and project couldn’t be better. This is analogous to Keaton’s career in ways both heightened and sad. Norton is unstoppable.

Performance to savor: Keaton’s amazing but Edward Norton is back. What an effortlessly astonishing bit of work from one of our best actors.

CHUD.com Pull Quote: “Alejandro González Iñárritu just elevated his game up to his peers Cuaron and del Toro.”

Vital Links: Buy it from CHUD and help us out.



Nick on The Grand Budapest Hotel:

An amazing outburst of creativity. If Fantastic Mr. Fox was a perfect distillation of Wes Anderson’s genius, than this is a perfect distillation plus a dose of maturity that sends the filmmaker into new territory. It’s a film that adheres to no trope. It’s not easy to be this playful, artful, and rich and be endlessly entertaining. Everything about The Grand Budapest Hotel clicks into place. The cameos. The blending of worn-in comfort, intentionally retro FX, hilarious dialogue, and frantic but never pandering pace make this a rare mainstream art film that invigorates on every level.

A movie that came out in the first quarter and held its place all year. So rare.

Current rating: 5/5

Contributing factors: The style. The playfulness. Amazing performances from Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Adrien Brody, and Willem Dafoe.

Performance to savor: Ralph Fiennes is as good as he’s ever been and is a comedic revelation here. As good as he was in In Bruges, he’s a force of nature in this. Funny, heartbreaking, and adorable, sometimes all in one scene. It’s not an Oscar bait role but his performance is my favorite of the year.

CHUD.com Pull Quote: “The love of film is present in every frame and the culmination of everything that makes Wes Anderson a true original.”

Vital Links: Buy it from CHUD and help us out.

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