Best films of 2014: More lists!

A lineup of Christian film writers pick the top films of 2014 — and two of the top three picks star the same actress.

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With the Decent Films redesign now behind me (woo hoo!), it’s time to turn my attention to an annual project I’ve been putting off: my round-up of the year-end top 10 lists of some of my friends and peers (see previous years).

I’m a little late this year, having missed my usual self-imposed deadline of the Academy Awards in my efforts to complete the redesign project. (Then again, I haven’t actually watched the Oscars in at least a couple of years, so why should I set my clock by them?) To make up for it, I’m including more lists this year than ever before, nine in all.

Looking over the nine lists below plus my own top 10, three films stand above the rest — two starring Marion Cotillard.

  • The clear favorite is the Dardenne brothers’ Two Days, One Night, which appears on seven out of ten lists (counting mine), and which four of us (including me) picked as our #1 film of the year. (Alas, I have yet to review it — but I will.)
  • One film made six of ten lists: The Lego Movie, though it was no one’s #1. (I picked it for runner-up.)
  • After Two Days, One Night, only one broadly supported film was #1 on more than one list: The Immigrant, which appears on five lists below. (I admired The Immigrant but wasn’t grabbed by it at first blush; perhaps I need to give it another chance.) Two other films were also on five lists, though never at #1: The Grand Budapest Hotel and Only Lovers Left Alive. Then there is The Strange Little Cat, which is #1 on two lists but appears nowhere else.

A few notes:

  • For the sake of consistency, I’ve listed the top 10 films from each individual below, but not everyone has a top 10 list as such. Some have 15, 20 or 30. For the complete lists, check out of the links.
  • Consistency is a relative term, since the lists below were not all drawn from the same pool of films according to the same rules. Different writers elected to follow different rules of eligibility, so a film on one list might not have been considered for others.
  • In keeping with the overall character of my work, the lists below, as in past years, are all from film writers who are Christians, and whose film writing is informed by their faith. While I appreciate and value the work of many of my friends and peers who are not Christians, this annual round-up is meant to offer a cross-section of thoughtful Christian film writing. (That does not mean I agree with or endorse all the films listed below!)
  • The number of lists I’m tracking has grown slowly over the years. This year there are the most yet, and despite reaching out to several Christian women I know who write about film, I have nine lists that are all by men (ten, including mine). (A couple of past years I was able to include lists from Sister Rose Pacatte, but she didn’t publish a list this year, nor did any of the others. So this is not my fault. Christian women cinephiles, we need your voices!)

This year, since this is my blog, I’ve decided to call out films that overlap with my own top films list with parenthetical notes. So “Ida (#6)” means the film was #6 on my top ten list; I also noted runners-up (second tier) and honorable mentions (third tier). (This year it looks like I have the most in common with Joel Mayward and the least in common with Ryan Holt, whose top 10 has no overlap with any of my top 30 films.)

The lists

Evan Cogswell (Catholic Cinephile) has a top 10 (with runners-up and honorable mentions).

  1. Into the Woods
  2. Two Days, One Night (#1)
  3. The Babadook (runner up)
  4. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  5. Only Lovers Left Alive
  6. Begin Again
  7. Ida (#6)
  8. The Lego Movie (runner up)
  9. The Immigrant
  10. Gone Girl

James Blake Ewing (Cinema Sights) has a top 10.

  1. The Immigrant
  2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  3. Ida (#6)
  4. Calvary (runner up)
  5. The One I Love
  6. The Lego Movie (runner up)
  7. Noah (#8)
  8. The Wind Rises
  9. Under the Skin
  10. Only Lovers Left Alive

Christian Hamaker (Schaeffer’s Ghost at Patheos) has a top 20 with various addenda (other films, performances, etc.).

  1. The Immigrant
  2. Snowpiercer
  3. Under the Skin
  4. Birdman
  5. The Lego Movie (runner up)
  6. The Babadook (runner up)
  7. The Rover
  8. Norte: The End of History
  9. Mommy
  10. Like Father, Like Son

Ryan Holt (I’ve Seen That Movie Too) has a top 10 (unranked).

  • American Sniper
  • Blue Ruin
  • Gone Girl
  • Interstellar
  • Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons
  • A Most Wanted Man
  • Only Lovers Left Alive
  • Snowpiercer
  • The Trip to Italy
  • Venus in Fur

M. Leary (Filmwell) has a top ten with addenda (various other films).

  • The Strange Little Cat
  • Norte, The End of History
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Two Days, One Night
  • Trip to Italy
  • Stray Dogs
  • Listen Up, Philip
  • Last of the Unjust
  • Mr. Turner
  • Only Lovers Left Alive

Joel Mayward (JoelMayward.com) has a top 10 (plus a favorite documentary, The Overnighters, my #3 film of 2014).

  1. Two Days, One Night (#1)
  2. The Immigrant
  3. Ida (#6)
  4. The Lego Movie (runner up)
  5. Boyhood (#9)
  6. Whiplash
  7. Winter Sleep
  8. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  9. Noah (#8)
  10. The Babadook (runner up)

Victor Morton (Rightwing Film Geek) has a top 10 with various addenda (runners up, documentaries, unreleased films, etc.).

  1. Two Days, One Night (#1)
  2. Coherence
  3. Nymphomaniac, Parts 1 and 2
  4. The Babadook (runner up)
  5. The Lego Movie (runner up)
  6. Only Lovers Left Alive
  7. Gone Girl
  8. National Gallery
  9. Force Majeure (honorable mention)
  10. Stray Dogs

Kenneth R. Morefield (1More Film Blog at Patheos) has a top 10.

  1. Two Days, One Night (#1)
  2. Beginning with the End
  3. Siddharth
  4. A Most Violent Year
  5. Selma (#3)
  6. Fury
  7. Under the Skin
  8. Begin Again
  9. Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey
  10. Get On Up (honorable mention)

Jeffrey Overstreet (Looking Closer at Patheos) currently lists over 35 films (and counting). Here are his top 10 at this writing:

  1. The Strange Little Cat
  2. Selma (#2)
  3. Virunga (runner up)
  4. Two Days, One Night (#1)
  5. The Immigrant
  6. The Lego Movie (runner up)
  7. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  8. Mr. Turner
  9. Boyhood (#9)
  10. Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey