As it seems to be the done thing at this time of year, now seems as good a time as any to regurgitate my personal best and otherwise of 2014.
Best International Movie - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Movies are expensive, right? They take a long time to make and involve the hard work of a lot of people. So it’s only right to expect of those involved to aim for the highest possible standard. For his eighth movie Wes Anderson ignored his critics, stuck to what he does best and delivered the year’s most sumptuous demonstration of what is achievable in the medium of film.
Best Irish Movie – Frank
Lenny Abramson’s track record is still a 2-all draw in my book (I’ll see your Frank and Garage and raise you Adam and Paul and What Richard Did), but Frank managed the difficult task of being very funny while debunking the overly romanticised connection between artistic creativity and mental illness. It was a pragmatic antidote to the disingenuous “love conquers all” message of 2012’s criminally mawkish Silver Linings Playbook. The handicap of a giant papier-mâché head did nothing to diminish the unstoppable onslaught of Michael Fassbender. And who doesn’t dig Domhnall Gleeson?
Best Director – Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)
Picking the director of a movie released way back in January would seem to suggest that the rest of the year wasn’t up to much. It’s true that David Fincher or Christopher Nolan should have given McQueen a run for his money, but 12 Years a Slave was an emotional hand grenade that eclipsed the offerings of both by a significant margin. Honourable mention: Wes Anderson (who else?).
Best Male Performance – Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)
Best Female Performance – Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
Pike normally gets to enjoy the kind of press usually reserved for Katherine Heigl or Kiera Knightley. But the juicy role of barmy duplicitous Amy in David Fincher’s Gone Girl gave her an ample amount of business to get her teeth into, and she proved herself amply capable of carrying her first big lead role.
Most Overrated Movie – Boyhood (Richard Linklater)
Sometimes you don’t realise how out of step you are with the popular consensus until you hear what everyone else thinks. Boyhood is at the top of tons of end-of-year lists, but I personally think that a lot of folk are letting the elaborate process obscure the end product of what is a very, very average film. I found Boyhood to be a distinctly underwhelming experience, best described as “child grows progressively less interesting over three hours,” or “12 Years an Emo.” And let’s not forget that Linklater made School of Rock. Honourable mention: Lucy (Luc Besson).
Best TV Series – True Detective (HBO)
It was another good year for TV, so picking a favourite is a bit unfair. Nic Pizzolatto’s True Detective was the kind of thing that used to be David Fincher’s bread and butter. Pizzolatto and director Cary Fukunaga delivered eight hours of shifting narratives, multi-timelines and character ambiguity that never pandered to the lowest common denominator. The current word on season 2 is that Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn are taking over detecting duties from McConaughey and Harrelson. Between them I would say that Vaughn is in the greatest need of a McConaissance. Honourable mentions: Peaky Blinders (BBC), Orange is the New Black (Netflix).