The 40 Best Movies of 2014

Why 40? Why not. This has been an interesting (and to my mind, excellent) year for. There are a lot of truly great films being made these days, and don’t let anyone tell you differently.  What is in doubt, is whether or not this level of quality can be maintained considering that more and more people are only going to see big tentpole releases. The big tentpole action movie market is fairly strong, with Hunger Games, and Disney doing boffo box office. And new advances in technology and funding models are allowing independent film makers to make inroads they’ve never been able to make before. But while both of those scenes have built in audiences that aren’t really going anywhere, the mid-level budget Hollywood film seems to be a dying breed. Do you know how many movies in the US top 20 cost less than $50 million to make?

Exactly two.

Folks, there are a lot of great movies being made every day, that cater to every type of taste. You just have to look for them.

A few notes about this year’s list:

This isn’t comprehensive. It’s just not possible to see every highly rated film, and still have a job. Plus, the fact that some of the higher profile buzz movies don’t make it out until the end of the year, and some don’t even get released where I live until 2015, make it even more difficult. So things like Selma, and Inherent Vice, just couldn’t be considered.

Here we go.

40. A Most Wanted Man directed by Anton Corbjin

39. Finding Fela/Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown directed by Alex Gibney

38. Faith Connections directed by Pan Nalin

37. Obvious Child directed by Gillian Robespierre

36. The Master Builder directed by Jonathan Demme

35. The Grand Piano directed by Euginio Miro

34. X-Men: Days Of Future Past directed by Brian Singer

33. Only Lovers Left Alive directed by Jim Jarmusch

32. Locke directed by Steven Knight

31. Life Itself directed by Steve James

30. The Double directed by Richard Ayoade

29. Jodorowsky’s Dune directed by Frank Pavich

28. Snowpiercer directed by Bong Joon-ho

27. Tim’s Vermeer directed by Teller

26. The Babadook directed by Jennifer Kent

25. The One I Love directed by Charlie McDowell

24. Mommy directed by Xavier Dolan

23. Winter Sleep directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan

22. Two Days, One Night directed by Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne

21. John Wick directed by David Leitch & Chad Stahelski

20. Cheap Thrills directed by E.L. Katz

19. Guardians of the Galaxy directed by James Gunn

18. Blue Ruin directed by Jeremy Saulnier

17. It Follows directed by David Robert Mitchell

16. Gone Girl directed by David Fincher

15. Captain America: The Winter Soldier directed by Joe Russo & Anthony Russo

14. Starred Up directed David Mackenzie

13. Force Majeure directed by Ruben Östlund

12. Under The Skin directed by Jonathan Glazer

11. Boyhood directed by Richard Linklater

10. Grand Budapest Hotel directed by Wes Anderson

9. Frank directed by Lenny Abrahamson

8. Citizenfour directed by Laura Poitras

7. The Raid 2 directed by Gareth Evans

6. Wild Tales directed by Damián Szifrón

5. Whiplash directed by Damien Chazelle

4. Venus In Fur directed by Roman Polanski

3. Enemy directed by Denis Vileneuve

2. Nightcrawler by Dan Gilroy

1. Birdman directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu

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