Warning! Warning! Read the disclaimer below and save an African kid’s life.
- This article is written based on the Malaysian movie calendar. In other words, The Revenant, Steve Jobs, Creed, The Hateful Eight, Joy, Spotlight, dan lain-lain ain’t out in cinemas yet. #ThankYouMalaysia
- Some of the movies on this list may make you go, “Bruh! Those movies were released in 2014! Check IMDb you idiot.” Again, this list is based on the MALAYSIAN movie calendar.
- I am a film lover first, film critic second. A random piece of information which may or may not be of importance to you.
- Art-House purists, get your pitchforks (or keyboards) ready.
Now that we’ve got that sorted out, let’s get straight to the good stuff.
10) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
Choosing number 10 was perhaps the most difficult thing I had to do while making this list. After twelve cups of coffee, three sleepless nights and the application of a complex mathematical equation, I chose Mockingjay – Part 2 over The Martian. *CUE HATE COMMENTS*
Objectively speaking, The Martian is great. Ridley Scott did a great job, the comedy is on point and this has got to be Matt Damon’s best work in recent memory. The Martian will most probably get an Oscar nomination for best picture. I had a great time watching this movie. I just had a better time watching Mockingjay – Part 2.
Mockingjay – Part 2 is perhaps the most divisive movie of the year. I don’t think this is a great standalone film. I also don’t think it’s the best in the franchise (second best, after Catching Fire). What this movie is, however, is a fitting finale to a phenomenal franchise. Mockingjay – Part 2 is to The Hunger Games franchise what The Dark Knight Rises is to The Dark Knight Trilogy.
9) A Most Violent Year
For a movie titled A Most Violent Year, this movie had almost no violence on-screen. That isn’t a bad thing, though. This is a movie driven entirely by dialogue and while that can be the best shit ever – The Social Network – it can also be an absolute snooze fest – Maggie (some Schwarzenegger garbage that you do not want to watch). Thankfully, A Most Violent Year is engaging from start till end.
Emitting a very The Godfather vibe, A Most Violent Year isn’t a movie about two opposite ends of a spectrum, but rather the one in the middle – the grey area. This is also a movie about focus and keeping your eye on the prize, begging the question, “What will and won’t you do to achieve greatness?”
This movie comes with a good script, turned into an almost-masterpiece by masterful performances from both my current favourite actors, Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain. Fun fact: This is the first of three mentions of Oscar Isaac on this list. #OscarIsaacCounterOne
I’ll keep this one short. I have two nit-picky problems with Sicario. One, this movie starts off with Emily Blunt as the main character, but by the end of it, she plays second fiddle to Benicio Del Toro and that felt slightly weird. Two, if it wasn’t for the stellar cast, this movie might have been the exact opposite of Nicki Minaj’s ass.
Oh who am I kidding, screw nit-picky problems. This movie is too damn awesome and probably not for the faint of heart. More often than not, I praise (or slam) directors, and then scriptwriters, followed by the actors. But this is one of those movies where the cinematographer deserves equal amount of praise. Roger Deakins (Skyfall, Shawshank Redemption) can do no wrong! As far as the Oscars go, this guy is in the same boat as Leonardo DiCaprio.
7) Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
This is quite easily one of the best comedies I have ever watched in my life. It’s not one of those shitty slapstick comedies which shouldn’t even be considered movies but rather one rubbish skit after another, mashed together until it’s at least 90 minutes long. White Chicks, Hanted House 2, Grown Ups 2, Jack & Jill, Pixels and OmgAdamSandlerpleasefuckingretire comes to mind.
Birdman isn’t a burst-out-laughing kinda comedy – it makes you chuckle, it makes you sad, it makes you think. But whether or not you love this movie will depend on whether or not you find the following funny: The movie is about a once popular actor on a downward spiral who at his peak used to play the superhero, Birdman. Michael Keaton is cast to play that role. Now, that’s comedy gold right there.
This is not just a brilliant comedy-drama though. Birdman is one of the most unique movies to ever grace cinema. The directorial efforts by Alejandro Inarritu and cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki in this movie is off the charts. The way the entire movie is made to look like one take blew my mind. I can’t wait to watch The Revenant in IMAX 2D!
6) Ex Machina
This movie is definitely not for everyone. It is extremely slow-paced, extremely quiet, and consists of just three individuals (one of which is a robot) in a building, talking to each other. If you’d like to know what a claustrophobic person feels, this is the movie for you. It’s brilliant.
How in the world did this movie not get nominated for best original screenplay at the Oscars, I have no idea. It’s not an easy task to keep a movie such as this interesting for two hours, but not only does Ex Machina pass with flying colours in terms of its engaging dialogue, it also makes you think about life, technology and shit. You know, stuff like “What if one day Siri tells you to go fuck yourself?”
5) The Imitation Game
Biopic is my favourite genre. The Aviator, Raging Bull and Jobs starring Ashton Kutcher The Social Network still manage to get my non-existent panties in a bunch even after countless viewings. The term “countless” especially applies to The Social Network which I have watched approximately 23424915 times.
The Imitation Game may not be as good as those movies, but it comes mighty close. This is a WW2 movie, only, it has nothing to do with soldiers, blood or nuclear weapons. Instead, it chooses to focus on the ingenious mathematicians who are just as heroic. The Imitation Game is also a story about love and homosexuality, one that is told both subtly and beautifully, deservedly winning the Oscar for best adapted screenplay.
4) Inside Out
Second best animation film of all time, only behind The Incredibles. And the only reason The Incredibles beats Inside Out is because I’m able to watch The Incredibles over and over and over and over and over again, but Inside Out only over and over again.
This movie is smart. I never thought I’d say that about an animation movie, but that’s really what Inside Out is: genius. A couple of years ago, I rewatched The Matrix and when the end credits rolled, it wasn’t the brilliant action sequences I was thinking about, but instead I asked myself, “What if it’s true?” 2 years later, I walked out of Inside Out asking that exact same question.
Here’s the cool thing about Inside Out: Different people are gonna love different elements of the movie – kids; the adventure, adults; the philosophical themes.
I’m still talking about an ANIMATION movie btw.
3) Mad Max: Fury Road
I’ve watched far too many pure action movies. Loved some – Die Hard, Casino Royale – and hated many – Hitman: Agent 47, The Transporter: Refueled. But not once have I walked out of a pure action movie thinking I’ve just witnessed a magnificent piece of art. And then came Mad Max: Batshitmotherfucking Fury Road.
As far as action filmmaking goes, the movie is a clinic and George Miller, the world’s greatest surgeon. No shaky cam, no quick cut editing, no nonsense. Instead, we get to watch every amazing scene in all its wide shot glory.
But wait, there’s more. This movie is, for the most part, all practical effects. Which means, if you see a car flipping 360 degrees and exploding, there is an actual car flipping 360 degrees and exploding. If you see grandmas riding motorcycles, you can bet there are actual grandmas riding motorcycles. Maniacs balancing on long poles perched on moving vehicles while throwing bombs on other moving vehicles? You can bet there are actual maniacs balancing on long poles perched on moving vehicles throwing bombs on other moving vehicles! If you see sons of bitches charging at top speed into a sandstorm while said sandstorm engulfs and causes them to explode like fireworks on Chinese New Year, YOU CAN BET… Okay fine, maybe that one is CGI.
But wait, there’s more in addition to the more above. For a movie with limited dialogue, Mad Max: Batshitmotherfucking Fury Road, has a good story, great characters and some profound themes – feminism, religion, government – to go with it. Oh what a movie, what a lovely movie.
This movie should have won the best picture award at the Oscars. Take nothing away from Birdman (which is an amazing movie), but Whiplash is just amazingerer? I know amazingerer isn’t an actual word – I can see the squiggly red line on Microsoft Word – but that’s what Whiplash is: amazingerer; more amazing than the amazing biasa.
Whiplash is the best sports movie I have ever watched (and yes, this includes Rocky), except it’s not about sports, but music. I honestly don’t think there is a better way to describe this movie.
Whiplash is one of those movies where it’s best you go in knowing nothing more than what the IMDb synopsis tells you. It is a contest between Ireallywanttobeagreatdrummer Andrew, played by Miles Teller – who ironically also acted in this year’s biggest letdown, Fucktastic 4 – and his Hitlerian coach, Fletcher, played by J.K. Simmons. The acting in this movie is flawless, their chemistry, even more so. I had already watched Whiplash three times and after watching it again last week, I was still captivated by the performances by these two. Perfect.
Acting is one thing, the message behind the unfolding events is even better. This is a movie so profound that by the end of it, I don’t even know if I’m inspired or disheartened.
1) Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.
Walking out of the cinema for the first time, I thought to myself, “This is undoubtedly my favourite movie of the year!” Walking out of the cinema for the 3rd time, and this could quite possibly be one of my favourite movies of all time. Probably. Not sure. Will let you know after I’ve walked out of the cinema for the 66th time. Take my money bitches!
The Force Awakens isn’t flawless; no movie is. But this movie isn’t just a movie, it’s much more than that. It’s the biggest event of the year. Considering we lost a couple of planes, lost a truckload of cash and have to pay 6% extra for fucking tampons, that’s indeed saying something.
You may love the Star Wars prequels and if you do, then great. But to me, The Force Awakens is the much needed CPR this franchise needed. GREAT MOVIE! #OscarIsaacCounterThree
Side note: Here’s a bunch of movies that didn’t make it on my list but are still pretty damn awesome – The Martian, Bridge of Spies, The Walk, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Dope, Me & Earl and The Dying Girl.
Happy new year and may the force be with you!