My personal ‘Best Picture’ of 2014

I have never liked the Oscars. I didn’t pay much attention but I do know Birdman received a lot of praise, and it was mostly well deserved. But of all the movies made last year, and there was a stack of great ones (many I am yet to see), there were only three that had me going back for more, back for more, willing to pay for another cinema ticket to see the same movie yet again. Those three movies were The Grand Budapest Hotel, which I saw three times at the cinemas and four times since on blu-ray. The second is Whiplash, a natural movie for me to enjoy over and over as I am a drummer myself, and when I watch Whiplash, I see myself in Miles Teller’s performance. The third is Inherent Vice; and my repeat visits have not been due to the insanely (and intentionally) convoluted plot, but because Phoenix and Brolin, along with the rest of the cast, costume design and direction, send us hurling straight into that tail-end of the 60’s, the end of Peace and Love. I guess I also see a little of myself in Doc’s character too.

I thought about some sort of top so-and-so list, but I started this blog proper in July last year. So rather than making a belated list after the insanely staggered releases of Awards Season films, I have decided to pick one. Forget the lists, I’d struggle to make a top 30 there are so many films I would want to list, and they would almost solely be from the second half of last year! So to challenge myself I am deciding on one film. This is my personal Best Picture nomination, bugger the academy I say!!

Aaaand so, without further ado, the Winner is….

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Who, us?

I feel this got lost in the Awards Season BS, as it was released mid-year and while I think it was nominated, it never stood a chance. Three times in three weeks is how much liked this film. And that was before it was released on DVD. Multi-faceted in so many ways, with some wonderful acting, a unique and hilarious sense of humour and intensely detailed, eccentric characters that are forever memorable, no matter the size of their role. Willem Dafoe was by far my favourite:

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“Did he just throw my cat out of the window?!”

 The film is also such an adventure, one that is so varied it includes murder, missing wills, chase scenes on snow, a prison escape, a pointless shootout within a hotel, and at the centre of it all Ralph Fiennes at his best, forming a truly amusing relationship with his new lobby boy. I laughed at this movie far more than any comedy this year… with the exception of Dead Snow 2 and What We Do In The Shadows.

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Perhaps my favourite, of many, sequences – the prison escape

This varied comic approach is what made the film for me, amongst everything else that was going on, and there was a lot (especially in under 100 minutes!). The long and hilarious adventure unfolds; further, and further, and further, getting more ridiculous as it goes. Each scene felt crazier than the last – I couldn’t stop laughing even when I knew what was coming! I feel like I have just gotten off a wild, hilarious roller-coaster that is filled with endless comic genius each time I watch it. Perhaps my favourite bit of humour, though there was truly a countless amount of it, was the call made to the Society of Secret Keys; or more accurately, the location of the phone booth they make the call from.

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The insanely surreal, fictional setting here make the comic elements of the film even better. In that regard it reminded me a little of ‘The Vampire Killers’, but a helluva lot funnier and much more varied in its story and its humour. This is truly one the most complete films I have ever seen. Even the OST is great, Alexandre Desplat showing his sense of humour; the quirky soundtrack here matches every step of the film and overshadows his other work of the year by eons. Everything else he has done sounds like simple, basic classical scores. Add to this blissful music some incredible art direction, The Grand Budapest Hotel represented for me the best looking traditional film of the year, with picture perfect photography and backdrops that give the film a very unique look and feel. In my humble opinion then, the perfect movie, varied in all the right ways, covering more ground in under 100 minutes than many films cover in over two hours.

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Everything about this film is truly unique. Perhaps it was because I was an Anderson newbie, but I have watched several of his films since and while I liked them all, none of them successfully blended so many different ingredients like this one does. I cannot find a single fault within this movie, so it therefore wins the coveted and entirely useless prize of Best Picture from an epileptic moondancer. I bet the cast couldn’t be more proud… if they knew who I was