My favourite films of 2014

1 01 2015

I was meaning to post this before the new year, but I didn’t, so just pretend I did.

I still haven’t seen a bunch of films this year, particularly more obscure ones — though I did watch Birdman and Gone Girl and they are not on my list for reasons I will mention some other time.

Let’s start with Special Cases:


I didn’t think it was that great. A lot of things about it were amazing, but it was a bit underwhelming for me. However, since I’ve been reading up on all the praise for it, I feel like I should watch this one again to really be able to judge it fairly.

The Wind Rises

Technically released last year, but I saw it in theatres this year so I count it as this year. Everything Miyazaki does — did? 😦 — is pure magic.

The Normal Heart

Technically a TV movie but oh so good. I cried so many times just watching the teasers. (Crying is usually a good indicator that I will like a film)

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):


I can’t say no to Chris Evans. Except when he’s Captain America.

The Internet’s Own Boy

Tragic, insightful, infuriating, inspiring. I will always remember this quote from the movie/Aaron Swartz: “What is the most important thing you could be doing right now, and why are you not doing it?”


Overlong, but full of drama with A+ performances across the board. Xavier Dolan is everything I’ll never be as a filmmaker.

(Also, I think this trailer advertises this as a kind of feel-good triumph film, which is utterly false. It’s so much better than this.)

The Skeleton Twins

We tend to consider the best films is usually bio-pics or dramas, but this little indie film does comedy and drama miles better than Birdman. I connected with this film is practically all levels (I have a twin sister, I’m gay, I’ll always love the guy who is in the closet and who will probably have a family), it was unreal. And Bill Hader really is as amazing as you’ve been hearing.

Rocks in My Pockets

A funny and poignant examination of a woman’s struggle with mental illness within herself and her family.

Obvious Child

Perhaps the funniest and best comedy I’ve seen this year, while still telling a poignant and heartfelt story.

And now… my favourite films of 2014!

11. The Way He Looks

The only one on this list I’ve seen twice in theatres. And I have almost never done that.

I was such a fan of this when it first was made as a fantastic short film as few years ago that when I was on the programming committee at the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, I immediately contacted writer/director Daniel Ribeiro to ask for a screener. It became one of the most loved short films at the festival. (You’re welcome, Vancouver audiences)

When I learned that Ribeiro had plans to make a feature, I — and many other gay boys around the world, no doubt — squealed with delight. I’ve been waiting years for this film — and it exceeded my expectations.

Warm, utterly charming, and just so freaking adorable, I dare you to not fall in love with these characters.

10. Whiplash

First of all, it helps that I got free tickets to this film. It also helps that this is a film about music and dedication, and having played piano since I was five years old, I liked the premise right away. But there are so many other great things about this movie to like.

Like Miles Teller, who, after watching a few of his movies and being indifferent about him as an actor and performer, truly impressed me here. The story is tight, editing is great (particularly in the last twenty or so minutes of the film), and film flows really well. A really entertaining film about the lengths we go to for (unattainable?) perfection.

9. Dear White People

I wanted to see this after I watched the first trailer. Like Damien Chazelle (the writer and director of Whiplash) and Daniel Ribeiro, Justin Simien’s Dear White People is his first feature. I think it’s great that there are new filmmakers who are telling fresh stories, doing new and exciting things in the art of cinema. In contrast with the first two films on this list, Simien is interested in pushing people’s buttons — but does so in a calculated, explored approach (though it may not feel like it).

This is not a film that is anti-white people, like many claim (by those who likely have not seen the film, no doubt), but one that tries to figure out where subtle views of race stem from in today’s world. Characters are complex creatures, full of contradictions. There is no perfect person here. Who are these people and why do they think like they do? are the questions Simien, through this film, poses. They are questions are not easily answered.

(Don’t read the comments in the trailer below. They’re not worth your time.)

The list continues tomorrow!



5 responses

1 01 2015
Rich Paschall

I watched your trailer for The Way He Looks, then the short on You Tube. I can not wait until the feature is available. It is totally charming. Thanks for sharing it.

1 01 2015

You’re welcome! I do hope you get a chance to catch it. It’s been around to film festivals, so you might be able to watch it that way. Otherwise, I think it’s coming out on DVD soon.

1 01 2015
Rich Paschall

In unbelievable coincidence, I found by checking around for the move it is opening for a week this Friday at a theater near me that shows foreign language and “art” films. Your timing was perfect.

4 01 2015
Rich Paschall

Every thing you said about The Way He Looks is true. I was a bit skeptical that I would like the longer version, shot a few years later. It did, however, exceed my expectations by a lot. I loved it and will probably see it again.

4 01 2015

I’m so glad you got the chance to watch it!

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