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Peter Labuza’s Top 10 Films of 2014

Written by on December 30, 2014 


The one thing I’ll state about the year overall: I found it notable that, despite being in the “digital” era, over half of my list was shot on 35mm or 16mm. Whether that is a personal taste for grain or simply fighting against, to quote the title of one 2014 release, the dying of the light, is how you may interpret it.

Honorable Mentions


10. Abuse of Weakness (Catherine Breillat)


A woman thinks she’s possessing another, unaware that she’s really the one being controlled, a limp arm the only physical sign of the demon inside her. Clinically staged to a Hitchcockian degree, a horror film that uses the directness of the camera to bring us closer to a mystery that only a filmmaker capturing her own autobiographical past could understand with such chilling methodology.

9. “American Mythologies” Trilogy – The Immigrant / Inherent Vice / Jersey Boys (James Gray / Paul Thomas Anderson / Clint Eastwood)


Three directors in search of the mythic 20th century, capturing iconic surfaces to dig into the complexity behind them. Archetypes abound, but the camera pushes beyond the symbols of an era to find the cost of human emotion, whether through the close-up of a face, a two shot framing polar opposites as brothers, or the revelation of the artifice of light and sound. These are films looking at the past, but instead of giving a distant view from the present, they envelop us to show that we are standing directly in their moment, too.

8. Boyhood (Richard Linklater)


A documentary of This American Century, but ultimately a story of rejection, a hope for something beyond the city limits is a way out of family values, politics, Texas life, technology, and more. But as much as we may stage an alternative, we can’t help but be shaped by the factors that made us. “The moment seizes us,” defining us when we least expect it.

7. Manakamana (Stephanie Spray & Pacho Velez)


Technology and nature together, enabling a series of conversations between young and old, native and foreigner, religious and atheist, and even animal and man. A film that emphasizes our ability to look directly and understand, celebrating the small delights of this world — even a race to finish an ice cream bar.

6. John Wick (Chad Stahelski & David Leitch)


If Johnnie To can’t make movies the way he used to, Keanu Reeves can.

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