Best and Worst Films of 2014

It has been yet another great year for film and while I saw more than 100 new releases, there were so many more that I missed. My lists are based on the Australian release schedule.

Here is my list of the 10 best films of 2014:

10) Inside Llewyn Davis

This Joel and Ethan Coen film is a road trip story with a difference. It chronicles the life of a musician in the 1960s and has great performances from Oscar Isaac, Garrett Hedlund and Carey Mulligan. The film is a fascinating character study about an anti-hero dreaming of success in the music industry.

9) Her

I do not care how odd Joaquin Phoenix is, he is a phenomenal actor and he carries Spike Jonze's romantic film so well. Her is thought-provoking and moving. Its message about our reliance on technology will linger with you for a long time after seeing it.

8) The Grand Budapest Hotel

I absolutely adored every minute of this whimsical Wes Anderson film about the adventures of a concierge and a lobby boy between the World Wars. It is very funny and quirky, and has a large cast of talented actors in small but memorable roles. Ralph Fiennes is so charismatic and delightful to watch.

7) 12 Years A Slave

I have a controversial opinion about this film. I did not think it should have won best picture at the Academy Awards and I did not think its story was particularly unique. That being said, it is still very well made, has some great performances, especially by Lupita Nyong'o and Michael Fassbender, and has a powerful message about slavery and humanity.

6) Bad Neighbours

Yes, I am putting a comedy on my list, because it is hilarious and we all need some laughs to balance out the drama. This film will not win Oscars, but it is the best kind of escapism. Bad Neighbours is about a couple with a baby trying to deal with a house next door full of partying college boys. Seth Rogen and Zac Efron were brilliant but it was Rose Byrne who stole many scenes as a smart and ridiculously funny leading lady.

5) Guardians of the Galaxy

Chris Pratt is amusing and entertaining, while Zoe Saldana presented a strong woman on the big screen. Director/co-writer James Gunn took some very different Marvel characters and gave us absolute gold. A fantastic soundtrack of 70's and 80's music too.

4) Nymphomaniac: Volume I and II

This film said so much about sex, relationships, eroticism and love. It chronicles the sexually adventurous life of a woman who talks about her experiences with a man after he saves her from a beating in the street. Great performances, especially from Charlotte Gainsbourg and Stellan Skarsgard. Be warned, the film has some borderline pornographic scenes, particularly in volume II. Writer/director Lars von Trier has always pushed the boundaries and this is probably his most confronting film yet.

3) Gone Girl

I was obsessed with Gillian Flynn's novel and the film was almost flawless. Director David Fincher added his signature darkness to this already brooding psychological thriller and Rosamund Pike was a revelation in the leading role. Ben Affleck was also exactly how I imagined the male lead to be. You will certainly walk away from this film questioning how well you know the people in your life.

2) X-Men: Days of Future Past

This is what a superhero action film is supposed to be. With a cast including Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence and so many more, this is definitely the ensemble of the year. Bryan Singer, who directed the first two films in the original trilogy, returned for this project, while writer Simon Kinberg did a great job of adapting the comic with some tweaks to mould the two X-Men eras together perfectly. I cannot wait for the next film in the franchise.

1) Wolf of Wall Street

A great book, an equally fantastic film from legendary director Martin Scorsese. It is an unbelievable true story about Jordan Belfort's debauched lifestyle of drugs, sex and corruption. The film was absolutely hilarious, as well as having an important moral lesson. I still believe Leonardo DiCaprio should have won a best actor Oscar for his performance.

Honourable mentions:

- Boyhood
It was an innovative idea to make a film using the same actors over 12 years. It is also a very good coming of age story.

- Saving Mr Banks
I am probably in the minority here, but Emma Thompson blew me away and made me cry in this film about Walt Disney and Mary Poppins.

- Nightcrawler
Jake Gyllenhaal is creepy and dark in this thriller, which says a lot about the possible terrifying future of journalism.

- The Book Thief
It was always going to be difficult to adapt the novel, but the film did not lose any of its heart and remained a tear-jerker.

- Fury
A fantastic film about war and brotherhood. Controversy around the so-called "rape" scene should not deter you.

- Begin Again
Mark Ruffalo should be in everything. This film is so uplifting and sweet, while also making a statement about the music industry.

I am happy to say that I managed to notice some terrible films coming from a mile away and did not even bother seeing many of them. But there are always some that slip past the keeper.

Here is my list of the five worst films of 2014:

5) Grace of Monaco
Poor Nicole Kidman had so little to work with, such a terrible script.

4) A Most Wanted Man
This is definitely my most controversial choice on this list. I was bored throughout the whole film and even the "twists" along the way were unsatisfying.

3) Serena
What was Jennifer Lawrence thinking? I want to forget this film ever existed.

2) Blended
I think it is well and truly time we all give up on Adam Sandler ever producing a half-decent comedy ever again.

1) Winter's Tale
I had so much hope for this film but it went off the tracks so many times. Such a mess.

What are your best and worst films of 2014?