Anchored by two of the greatest child performances I've seen, this anti-war film deals subtly but with great impact with the way that two kids (six year old Brigitte Fossey and twelve year old Georges Poujouly) deal with the impact of conflict on themselves and their families (Fossey's parents die in a bombing raid and Poujoly's family take her in). Their naive way of dealing with the scale of death around them by creating an animal cemetery is just as moving as their relationship, which quickly grows into a brother/sister bond. The film leavens its tragedy with touches of humour, but the final scene is utterly, and honestly, heart wrenching.
Devil's Knot / The Fault In Our Stars
Devil's Knot may be the year's, hell perhaps the decade's, single most pointless film. I may recoil at the prospect of the Pudsey the Dog movie, but at least there's a reason for that to exist (the dog has fans, I hear). On the other hand, when a story has already been extensively explored in FOUR acclaimed documentaries it is totally redundant to make a dramatic version of that story which, for about 75 percent of its running time, simply restages the first of those films, adding, in the remaining quarter, some risibly written and shot material that adds nothing to our information on or understanding of the case. Atom Egoyan should be ashamed.
The Fault In Our Stars has a reason to exist (the book its based on has a fanbase, and is important to many of its readers) and Shailene Woodley tries hard in the lead, but that's all it has going for it. The screenplay is vomit inducing in its sentimentality (despite a voiceover promise to the contrary), Ansel Elgort is a plank, the characters are perfect cardboard cutouts, with no dimension and no flaws beyond their cancer diagnoses. It also has one of the most jaw-droppingly misguided scenes of 2014, set in the Anne Frank house. It's hideous, and I refused to walk out so I had the right to put it in this spot.
I nicked these categories from my friend AJ, who has been asking people to fill them out each month for many years at the joblo.com message boards. Only first viewings are eligible. If there is a tie films are listed in the order in which I saw them.
Best Actor: Georges Poujouly - Jeux Interdits / Michael C. Hall - Cold In July
Best Actress: Brigitte Fossey - Jeux Interdits / Angela Nedialkova - Avé
Best Supporting Actor: Ethan Hawke - Boyhood
Best Director: René Clément - Jeux Interdits
Best Screenplay: Nick Damici / Jim Mickle - Cold In July
Best Visuals: The Garden Of Words
Best Score / Use of Music: Cold In July
Biggest Surprise: Cold In July / Avé
Biggest Disappointment: Enemy
Most Fucked-Up Movie: The Nest [short]
“I’m Pretty Damn Sure No One Else Has Seen This” (and they should): The Garden Of Words
Best Scene: The ending ["Michel, Michel"] - Jeux Interdits
“Why Is He/She Still in Movies?”: Ansel Elgort - The Fault In Our Stars
One To Watch: Lorelei Linklater - Boyhood
Movie I Finally Got to Friggin’ See: Boyhood