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The Best Films of 2014 According to the Indie Film Community

The Best Films of 2014 According to the Indie Film Community

Every year, Indiewire turns to its faithful community in the independent film world to share their top 10 lists (and in some cases, top 11 lists), giving them the freedom to offer up not only great films but also TV, music and anything else that stood out to them about the year. We also invite them to share their resolutions and what they’re anticipating for the next 12 months.

As usual, we’ve cast as wide a net as possible, and the results reflect a whole lot of different perspectives on 2014 from many of the influencers who keep the medium alive throughout the year. Enjoy.

Michael Barker

Co-President, Sony Pictures Classics

11 Best in 2014
(Sony Pictures Classics releases exempt as usual)

1) Kara Walker at the Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
The subject is racism. A mind-blowing exhibit. Words cannot do justice to the experience.

2) “Inherent Vice”
PTA continues to hold his spot as our finest American director (although Bennett Miller, Wes Anderson, and Rick Linklater are giving him a run for his money this year). Joaquin Phoenix is Lebowski, Philip Marlowe a la Robert Altman, and Columbo rolled into one, supported by one of the best female casts ever (Reese Witherspoon and Katherine Waterston are true originals here). Who cares if much of Pynchon is indecipherable?

3) “Locke”
Masterful. Whole movie takes place in a car at night with one guy on the phone. More pure action in that car than in all of “Transformers.” Why is Tom Hardy not winning every Best Actor prize this year?

4) “Interstellar”
Now here’s a director with balls. In the context of a star-studded epic blockbuster entertainment, he convincingly shows us how we tell ourselves the world is okay and as we are good people everything will be fine when in actuality we are all doomed to hell. The only saving grace is a father’s meaningful relationship with his intelligent daughter. I have two daughters so this works for me big time. Every half hour of this three-hour movie is exponentially better than the half hour before.

5) “Boyhood”
Rick Linklater’s act of prestidigitation. Pure realism, which in reality is a major work of the imagination. Patricia Arquette at the kitchen table, well, it just doesn’t get better than that. Ditto Ellar Coltrane and, of course the one and only Ethan.

6) “Luminaries,” a novel by Eleanor Catton
If Charles Dickens was a 28 year old New Zealand female with a mean streak of metaphysics on her mind his name would be Eleanor Catton. A major book.

7) “Valley of Astonishment” performed at the Theater for a New Audience and “Tightrope,” the documentary shown at the Walter Reade Theater
At 89, Peter Brook is the most agile mind in the room. To him, the theatrical experience is an act of playing, which to succeed must be as organic and natural as breathing.

8) “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Fun and moving with a spectacular performance by Ralph Fiennes. A little Lubitsch and lots of the Marx Brothers.

9) “Mad Men” – “Waterloo”
One of the best “Mad Men” episodes ever, highlighted by a Robert Morse swan song.

10) Newly discovered (at least by me) masterpieces:

“Land Beyond the Sunset” (1912) shown at the Telluride Film Festival
Newspaper boy in a New York City slum, physically and emotionally abused by his grandmother, goes on a field trip, discovers the countryside, and kills himself. Fourteen minutes of cinema guaranteed to wreck you.

“Finger of Guilt” (Joseph Losey 1956) shown at Anthology of Film Archive
B-movie thriller Losey made while blacklisted and banished to London. The subtext of this movie goes deep into the mind of a blacklistee. A must for anyone in need of a reminder of this black mark in Hollywood history.

11) “Altman” directed by Ron Mann and “Life Itself” directed by Steve James
Two fine documentaries about two men I knew professionally and personally. The Altman documentary very clearly explains what I thought unexplainable, what made him tick and what motivated him in his unpredictable career, as told by the only person who really knew him, his wife Kathryn Reed Altman. Similarly, the glory of Roger Ebert’s life was his partnership with his wife Chaz and their triumph of mind over physical challenge. Kathryn Altman and Chaz Ebert are cause for human celebration, as are these docs.

2014 was a year of great loss. An important page in entertainment history has been turned with the passing of Mike Nichols. Malik Bendjelloul, the director of “Searching for Sugarman,” was a vibrant and beautiful man. As A.O. Scott rightly said, with Philip Seymour Hoffman, we lost the best one we had. The loss is so immense. He was an amazing human being. I keep “Magnolia” close by and watch some of it whenever I want to remember him. PTA wrote that part for him and it captures him down to his soul. Thank you, Paul.

Peter Biskind

Programming Director, FilmColumbia

In no particular order:

– “Particle Fever”
– “The Imitation Game”
– “Foxcatcher”
– “Boyhood”
– “Leviathan”
– “Homeland”
– “Manhattan”
– “The Green Prince”
– “Halt and Catch Fire”
– “The Bridge”

Gabriele Caroti

Director, BAMcinematek

Rather than a traditional top ten, I give you eleven films — divided into “New Releases” and “Repertory.” OK, the word “release” is a stretch as one of the films in the top hasn’t technically been released (#3), and another is not a film but a series which first premiered a couple of years ago (#5). And in the case of the rep five, I saw all these gems for the first time this year. I also give you my Top Five.

New Releases

1)  Manfred Kirchheimer’s “Stations of the Elevated” (1977/81, released 2014) & “Claw” (1958/68, released 2014)
OK, OK  –  this might be a conflict of interest but who cares. Yes, we premiered the Stations restoration at BAMcinemaFest and then gave this pairing a run. I’m still super bummed that the Times didn’t review it, and the reason was running time! Yet back in the day, Vincent Canby reviewed Herzog’s Woodcarver Steiner, all 45 mins of it, so what gives, Gray Lady? The film(s) of the year.

2) Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood”
Not much more/else needs to be said about this li’l chestnut.

3) Sabine Lubbe Bakker & Niels van Koevorden’s “Ne Me Quitte Pas”
I watched this for a jury and was, to use the French, “boulversé.” Exquisite, hilarious and transcendent — I wanted to write that in Flemish, but decided not to get too Belgian. Just watch the trailer.

4) P.T. Anderson’s “Inherent Vice”
So much to write, yet I will just say this: Can’s “Vitamin C” never sounded (or looked) this good.

5) Katja Blichfeld & Ben Sinclair’s “High Maintenance”
I am a late convert/adopter and I am deeply in love with this incredible series.

6)  Chris Rock’s “Top Five”
To quote the great Jesse Trussell, “like Rock making a Linklater movie.” Plus there’s Mingus on the soundtrack! Oh, and see below.


1)  King Hu’s “A Touch of Zen” (1971)
Life-changing! Thank you, Andrew Chan.

2) Mario Monicelli’s “L’armata Brancaleone” [For Love and Gold aka Brancaleone’s Army] (1966)
A proto-“Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” shot in ‘Scope and Technicolor by Carlo Di Palma. I can’t believe I went through life without having seen this. It stars a truly epic Vittorio Gassman, written by Italian comedy geniuses Age-Scarpelli, features a beautiful Luzzati title sequence, and it anchored Film Forum’s glorious Monicelli series. Thank you, Bruce Goldstein!

3) John Akomfrah’s “Handsworth Songs” (1987)
I can’t believe I went through life without having seen this, too. The world needs more Akomfrah. Thank you, Nellie Killian.

4) William Greaves’ “Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One” (1968)
And why didn’t I see this when Janus re-released it in 2005? Bonkers and beautiful — by the late, great Greaves.

5) Ben Best, Jody Hill, & Danny McBride’s “Eastbound & Down” (2009-2013)
I finally saw this brilliance this past year, and was, to use the French, “boulversé.” Plus it has the best, and possibly only use of “The Slits” in an American TV show.

My Top Five
1) Ghostface
2) Nas
3) Rakim
4) Tribe/De La

Resolution(s): I have many but I think I wrote too much above so I’ll leave you guessin’.

Looking Forward: Larry David on Broadway.

Charlotte Cook

Programming Director, Hot Docs

I can’t limit to 10 and this is in no order:

– “20,00 Days on Earth”
– “Alfred and Jakobine”
– “Beyond Clueless”
– “Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart”
– “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
– “Guidelines”
– “Ida”
– “The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz”
– “Life Itself”
– “Listen Up Phillip”
– “Living Stars”
– “Locke”
– “The Look of Silence”
– “The Possibilities are Endless”
– “Rich Hill”
– “The Measure of All Things”
– “The One I Love”
– “Under the Skin”
– “Waiting for August”
– “Whiplash”

– “The Affair”
– “House of Cards”
– “The Fall”
– “The Mindy Project”
– “True Detective”
– “Utopia”

Resolution(s): Greater representation and diversity across the board in all things we do. Develop resources and support for filmmakers working in circumstances, and with subject matter, that needs greater protection.

Looking Forward: Seeing “Selma” and “Black Mirror: White Christmas” as soon as humanly possible. On a personal note I started writing again this year and worked with students for the first time. I’d love to do more of both in 2015. Above all, and always, Hot Docs.

Christine Davila

Festival Programmer
“Assent” by Oscar Raby
An immersive documentary via Oculus VR by multimedia artist Oscar Raby. By far one of the most game-changing, vivid and unshakeable storytelling experiences I’ve had this year. I met Oscar at the Guanajuato International Film Festival and got a chance to experience his autobiographical story about exploring his father’s (and his own) perspective as a witness to tragic executions during the brutal military coup in Chile. Having experience Oscar’s film, I have a greater comprehension of what people are talking about when they say how VR is going to change the way we tell stories – and it is beyond thrilling. People going to Sundance, make sure to drop into New Frontier to check out “Assent.”
“20,000 Days on Earth” by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard
The uncool truth is that I was never a fan of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds — until now. Both content (Cave) and form are absolutely captivating in this artistic documentary. The dramatization of Cave’s 20,000th day on Earth is an engrossing introspection of his mind and memory. No matter whether you know Cave or his creative genius, the film resonates on an existential level. It’s a brilliant example of cinematic and innovative non-fiction.
“Who is Dayani Cristal?” by Marc Silver
Another example of innovative documentary. This is the film that I’ve seen most this year because of the many Ambulante screenings we had of it, including an unforgettable one down in Tijuana where the film was projected against the border wall. Each and every time I see it, I marvel at the incredibly intricate and super effective present/past/future structure. The editing is so on point. And every time I see it, I am unable to contain a deep emotional outburst, given the way it culminates in such a cathartic full circle way to reveal the answer to the question of the title.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” by James Gunn
I have to admit, if it wasn’t for a friend dragging me to this film I would have probably never seen it. But I had such a blast. More importantly I was struck at how strong and compelling the characters were drawn. The chemistry between them was all the more impressive given that some of the characters are completely CGI. I think you can tell the filmmakers had fun with it. Obviously the Awesome Mix Vol.1 made it even more appealing. They had me at the cold opening with “I’m Not In Love” by 10cc.
“The Mindy Project”
“Sex and the City” for the real, curvy brown girl but with more confidence, comedic bite and sharper wit. I adore Mindy Kaling and just ravished her book in a day and a half.
“The Babadook” by Jennifer Kent
A super talented woman writer-director. This is just how I like my horror; super edge-of-your-seat suspenseful with social and psychological commentary at the center of the scary beast.
“Güeros” by Alonso Ruizpalacios
A gloriously imperfect and really fresh Mexican film that has the unapologetic hunger to weave a number of stories about the experience of one’s personal Mexico. It’s the voice of a childhood nostalgia, a frustrated university student-activist, the cultural dominance of the elite and privileged, color-lines and class, culture and destiny. I’m glad the film has been received so well and hope U.S. audiences get a chance to see it soon.
“Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem” by Ronit Elkabetz and Shlomi Elkabetz
With the leanest economy of scale, this film features consummate performances and a daring script about a woman trying to divorce her deadbeat husband through an Israeli court presided by Rabbi judges.
“God Loves the Fighter” by Damian Marcano
This film from Trinidad is a discovery! Damian describes shooting guerrilla style in the ghettos of ‘Trini,’ having to change actors and story lines when some of his non-professional actors got shot or went to jail. People take note! He is the real deal. Like the kinetic, elaborate street-bard quality of Baz Lurhmann’s “Romeo and Juliet,” this fable not only has an equally electric dose of TNT and heart, but also an authenticity that you don’t find in ghetto crime dramas. I was happy to program it at this year’s Curacao International Film Festival Rotterdam in the competition for emerging Caribbean voices, where it won best feature. CHECK IT.
“The Look of Silence” by Joshua Oppenheimer
I really did not think it was possible to trump the audacity of “The Act of Killing” but the sequel does just that; it satisfies with the confrontation between killer and victim that some called for after the first film, and when finally given, flips the provocation. I’m especially struck by Adi’s stoic and brave quest, and, of course, the image of him testing folks’ vision with the kooky refractor lenses is once again, like the conceit of making a movie about it in “The Act of Killing,” a metaphor for testing people’s memory and whats recorded as history against what really happened.
“The Leftovers”
Specifically episode six, “Guest,” in which Nora Durst’s storyline is fleshed out. Nora is the most pitied person on the show because she lost both her husband AND two sons to the Departure. Although a couple episodes were maddeningly slow, this episode and the finale gave me chills from observing humans’ innate coping mechanisms in the face of inexplicable loss. The acting is fantastic, the writing compassionate, and I LOVE Max Richter’s theme score which evokes a lingering heartache between hope and damnation. 
Resolution(s): Get back to raising the profile and finding other ways to elevate the voices of U.S. Latino content creators. While the LGBTQ and Black communities have made strides in their representation as writers and directors in film — at least within film festival lineups — U.S. Latinos have not made much progress, which sucks because we have such a unique fusion of culture, heritage and identity in this country and seemingly no confidence to give us the space to exhibit and develop it.

Looking Forward: I’m happy to have found this year that there is a shift and desire for more of an open exchange between film festivals, gatekeepers and platforms to share best practices, work on diversity and work together on a holistic programming, so I’m eager to implement strategies and see a more open ecosystem. I also look forward to building on the work Ambulante is founded upon; democratizing and diversifying the audiences for thought-provoking independent documentary films by screening these films in a wide variety of alternative public spaces for everyone to enjoy.

Jeff Deutchman

VP Acquisitions, Millennium Entertainment

As usual, I’m excluding movies that I’ve been involved with. (But I hope “Boyhood” cleans up.)

Top 10
(in alphabetical order)
– “Enemy”
– “Exhibition”
– “Gone Girl”
– “Inherent Vice”
– “Interstellar”
– “National Gallery”
– “Norte, the End of History”
– “Stray Dogs”
– “Under the Skin”

Honorable Mentions
“20,000 Days on Earth,” “Actress,” “Blue Ruin,” “The Congress,” “Edge of Tomorrow,” “Gloria,” “The Guest,” “Ida,” “The Immigrant,” “Land Ho!,” “The Last of the Unjust,” “Love is Strange,” “The Missing Picture,” “A Most Wanted Man,” “Neighbors,” “The One I Love,” “Starred Up,” “The Strange Little Cat,” “Stranger by the Lake,” “Two Days, One Night,” “Visitors,” “Le Week-End,” “Winter Sleep.”

Change: I would like to see our industry become more transparent with data, but I would also like to see our industry do a better job analyzing the data that is already available. Special shout out to Tom Brueggemann for keeping it real.

Looking Forward: Midnight Special

Britta Erickson

Director, Denver Film Society

Top 10

1) “Boyhood”
A feat of filmmaking. As the mother of a 10-year old boy, it didn’t feel like a film, it felt like my life as a parent — past and future — had flashed before my eyes.

And, then in no particular order (not even alphabetical) the other nine films of the year that have stuck with me:

“What We Do in the Shadows”
I laughed from the first frame until the last. I can’t help but describe it as “The Big Bang Theory” meets vampires courtesy of the brilliant minds of Taika and Jemaine.

“Obvious Child”
An abortion rom-com (I hope that becomes a new genre) with heart and humor and does not ring false. Jenny Slate is brilliant. I’m in awe of her and writer/director, Gillian Robespierre.

Dystopia has never been so compelling, so frightening, or so well art-directed.

“Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter”

The Zellners continue to surprise me. So original. If you are a film-lover, you…like Kumiko, have had some fantasy about finding the “Fargo” treasure.

“I Origins”
Two words…Brit Marling. She could read the phone book to me and I’d be enamored. This film has been playing in the back of my mind ever since I saw it at Sundance, and I’ve been avoiding elevators ever since.

I saw this at Telluride and got to hear Xavier Dolan talk about it afterward. The Denver Film Society was a very early champion of Xaiver and his films and he certainly did not disappoint me with this Telluride FF premiere. I wanted to take him for an ice cream cone following his Q&A.

Struck a personal cord because it so perfectly captured the backstage shenanigans. arguments, insecurities, egos and drama of live theater production. Everyone in it is brilliant, but Ed Norton steals the show.

“Keep on Keepin’ On”
In a year where docs outshone narratives, this stands out for me as the most moving one. I fell in love with Clark Terry and Justin Kauflin. I already loved the Colorado-based production team…a most talented group of folks including the best documentary editor working today in my opinion — Davis Coombe.

“The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq”
Yep. Obscure. Thanks to the Los Angeles Film Festival for bravely programming this oddity. It bumped “The Lego Movie” — an “Everything is Awesome” film off of my top ten…

Resolution(s): I’m very resolved to growing the Denver Film Society’s Filmmaker Focus initiative (fiscal sponsorship, professional development and, hopefully, in the near future…grant-making) by leaps and bounds in 2014. The Denver/Colorado film scene — especially on the doc front — is really exploding. Can Denver emulate Austin as a great filmmaker community not on a Coast? I hope.

Looking Forward: I’m looking forward to the next great surprise – a film or a filmmaker that comes out of nowhere and rocks my socks. And, I’m also looking forward to the 3rd edition of the Stanley Film Festival which the Denver Film Society took over producing this past year — we’ve got some really spooky tricks up our sleeve.

Matt Grady

Founder, Factory 25

Top 10 Films
(That I’ve seen this year, that have been screened at festivals or theatrically)

1) “Heaven Knows What” by The Safdie Brothers
This film blew my mind like no other in the last few years…One of the best junkie films ever (sorry “Drug Store Cowboy”), and I do like a good junkie film.

2) “The Mend” by John Magary
This film sucked me into it’s uncomfortable world and made me cringe multiple times…I had such an physical emotional response to this film that reminded me that it’s much better to feel an emotion, even if it’s hate and disdain rather than watch another saccharine film that just goes through the motions.

3) “Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter” by David Zellner
Great story, acting, cinematography…Can’t find a flaw in this amazing film.

4) “Listen Up Philip” by Alex Ross Perry
The camerawork and bold use of voiceover really brought this film to the next level… And the idiosyncratic script was good too. I still like “The Color Wheel” a bit more but I might be biased.

5) “Buzzard” by Joel Potrykus
This is a true punk film that will hold it’s own and someday will be looked at with the same affection as “Repo Man.”

6) “We Are the Best!” by Lukas Moodysson
I missed this movie for most of the year and was hesitant to check it out as many people told me how much I was going to love it…They were all correct.

7) “Appropriate Behavior” by Desiree Akhavan
By far the best Brooklyn based comedy of the year that didn’t have a vampire in it.

8) “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night” by Ana Lily Amirpour
At first I thought it was ridiculous that people were calling the film a Vampire Western, but then once I watched it, I was totally sold. I loved that the lead vampire skateboarded around and that in a year where there has been a lot of vinyl porn on screen, this film had the best vinyl record playing scene.

9) “Actress” by Robert Greene
If this is actually a documentary, it’s my favorite doc of the year.

10) “Felt” by Jason Banker
The most singularly unique film that I’ve seen in ages.

Resolution(s): My resolution is to actually talk to people more, instead of e-mail/texting/messengering…I hope many people jump on this one.

Looking Forward: Looking forward to seeing “Entertainment” by Rick Alverson, to finally releasing the Caveh Zahedi Book/DVD retrospective and hoping to see a digital platform for indie films that becomes universally accepted and can garner a significant audience. Maybe Fandor? Netflix just isn’t indie friendly anymore and there needs to be a trusted home to watch great films.

Carlos Gutierrez

Co-Founding Director, Cinema Tropical

Some of the Best Latin American Films of the Year

“Dos disparos” / “Two Shots Fired” (Martín Rejtman, Argentina)
The remarkable Argentinean filmmaker is back with an extraordinary, understated and peculiar comedy, his most Rejtmanian film to date.

“El cuarto desnudo” / “The Naked Room” (Nuria Ibáñez, Mexico)
An unsettling and powerful look at childhood and psychological traumas. The perfect antidote to “Boyhood.”

“El lugar del hijo” / “The Militant” (Manuel Nieto Zas, Uruguay)
Perhaps the most overlooked Latin American film of the year, Nieto Zas’ sophomore film is a sharp and thought-provoking political tale.

“Heli” (Amat Escalante, Mexico)
Escalante presents a chilling, disturbing and potent diagnosis of the narco and its effects in some parts of Mexico.

“Historia del miedo” / “History of Fear” (Benjamín Naishtat, Argentina)
A strong psychological thriller, which marks Naishtat’s assured and promising directorial debut.

“Jauja” (Lisandro Alonso, Argentina)
An intriguing and engrossing film which marks an exciting point of departure in Alonso’s influential career. 

“Las niñas Quispe” / “The Quispe Girls” (Sebastián Sepúlveda, Chile)
The stark, debut feature from Chilean director Sepúlveda.

“Matar a un hombre” / To Kill a Man (Alejandro Fernández Almendras, Chile)
A fascinating and masterful meditation on the moral, philosophical, social, and personal consequences of revenge.

“Pelo malo” / “Bad Hair” (Mariana Rondón, Venezuela)
A wonderful and multi-layered tale of discrimination and retilliance from Venezuela. Full disclosure: the film is a Cinema Tropical release.
“Purgatorio” (Rodrigo Reyes, Mexico/US)
A poignant essay on the US-Mexico border, which consolidates Reyes as one of the leading Latino filmmakers in the U.S. Full disclosure: Cinema Tropical, worked on the film’s publicity campaign.

Resolution(s): Basically the same from 2014. We can no longer talk about the coming-of-age of Latin American cinema, as it’s been over 15 years since it reached a new level of artistry with the New Argentinean Cinema. Yet, it is regrettable that despite the magnitude and global influence of Latin American films, they still receive meager coverage from most of the film media outlets, and the distribution options are less and less. My personal and professional resolution is to keep heralding this outstanding body of work that does not show any sign of weariness yet.

Looking Forward: The U.S. theatrical releases of Martín Rejtman’s “Two Shots Fired,” Matías Piñeiro’s “The Princess of France,” Lisandro Alonso’s “Jauja”, and Alonso Ruizpalacios’ “Güeros.” It also appears Lucrecia Martel is (finally!) set to start production on her most recent and long-delayed film during the first quarter of the new year. Can’t wait!

Eugene Hernandez

Deputy Director, Film Society of Lincoln Center

Top 10
2) “Inherent Vice”
3) “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
4) “Stranger By The Lake”
5) “Love Is Strange”
6) “Only Lovers Left Alive”
7) “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night”
8) “Listen Up Philip”
9) “Manakamana”
10) “Selma”

Resolution(s): This weekend I picked up Steve Apkon’s new book, “The Age of the Image: Redefining Literacy in a World of Screens,” to read over my holiday break. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about diversity, literacy and education and how these topics and issues impact what we watch on screens and how we process (and then share) them in our world(s). I consider these ideas increasingly important to what we will see and explore in 2015 (and relevant to what I hope to achieve at work in the new year).

Looking Forward: I’ll take this opportunity to mention a program coming soon to the Film Society of Lincoln Center that I’m extremely excited about. We’ve just announced an essential survey of black independent cinema in New York leading up to the first feature film by Spike Lee. The list of more than 35 films, many that I’ve certainly never seen, is quite enticing. Our series will begin with William Greaves’s “Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One” and conclude with Spike’s “She’s Gotta Have It.” Notably, work by women directors was particularly prominent in this era of indie filmmaking and we’ll present an exclusive one-week theatrical premiere of Kathleen Collins’ 1982 film, “Losing Ground” (one of the first feature films written and directed by a black woman). The series is set for February 6-19 at Lincoln Center.

Marcus Hu

Strand Releasing

1) “Boyhood” – Richard Linklater
2) “Girlhood” – Celine Sciamma
3) “Maps to the Stars” – David Cronenberg
4) “CITIZENFOUR” – Laura Poitras
5) “Nightcrawler” – Dan Gilroy
6)” The New Girl Friend” – Francois Ozon
7) “Selma” – Ava DuVernay
8) “The Fault in the Stars” – Josh Boone
9) “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night” – Ana Lily Amirpour
10) “White Bird in a Blizzard” – Gregg Araki

Resolution(s): Stop making commitments to screen films you KNOW you won’t like.

Annette Insdorf

Director of Undergraduate Film Studies, Columbia University, and Moderator of 92Y’s “Reel Pieces”

I hope the following “best film” list is sufficient, given a very busy end-of-semester schedule. (My admittedly idiosyncratic choices tend to appear in categories.) I annotated only those titles that might be unfamiliar to readers.

Faith and Fertile Doubt
“Ida” (Poland)

Doing the Right Thing
“The Good Lie” (dir. Philippe Falardeau, about the “Lost” Children of Sudan in the U.S.)
“Watchers of the Sky” (dir. Edet Belzberg, documentary)
“Life Itself”

Bracing British Bio
“The Imitation Game”
“The Theory of Everything”

American Tension
“After the Fall” (directorial debut of Oscar-nominated editor Saar Klein)

Dramatic Claustrophobia
“Diplomacy” (dir. Volker Schlondorff, France)

Best TV
“The Newsroom” Season 3

Most Anticipated Film for 2015: “Ricki and the Flash,” directed by Jonathan Demme, script by Diablo Cody, starring Meryl Streep as an aging rock star, co-starring her daughter Mamie Gummer as well as Kevin Kline.

Mynette Louie

President, Gamechanger Films & Producer, “Land Ho!”

I am WAY behind on my movie-watching (haven’t seen “A Most Violent Year,” “Beyond the Lights,” “Birdman,” “CITIZENFOUR,” “Force Majeure,” “Gone Girl,” “Inherent Vice,” “Selma,” “Top Five,” and many more), but here’s my top 10 list to date:

1) “Under the Skin”
2) “Whiplash”
3) “Snowpiercer”
4) “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
5) “I Origins”
6) “Kelly & Cal”
7) “The Great Museum”
8) “Ida”
9) “Edge of Tomorrow”
10) “Belle”

Resolution(s): Next year, as every year, I intend to do whatever I can to get more women and people of color on both sides of the camera.

Looking Forward: I look forward to audiences getting fed up with superhero movies. And I look forward to launching at least three new Gamechanger films next year: Karyn Kusama’s “The Invitation,” Jamie Babbit’s “Fresno,” and So Yong Kim’s “Lovesong.”

Jason Ishikawa

Film Sales Company

“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Inherent Vice”
“The Look of Silence”
“Saint Laurent”
“Still the Water”
“The Tribe”
“Two Days, One Night”
“White God”
“Winter Sleep”

This list represents 2014 world premieres so the normal caveats apply: some have US theatrical releases scheduled for next year and one doesn’t have any theatrical released planned at all (my favorite film I’ve seen all year: “Still the Water”).

Kevin Iwashina

Founder and President, Preferred Content

Top 10 List
(in no particular order)

“Rich Hill”
It is an emotional essay of the endurance of the American Spirit – it also won Sundance.  Full disclosure – Preferred Content represented the film.

“House of Cards”
As as an agent, I learn a lot from that show …

“The Case Against 8”
What can I say, I am gay …

I think caucasian Americans are finally ready to address and accept the struggles of African Americans in the 20th Century. The conversation started with “Fruitvale Station” and they will continue with “Selma.” Ava DuVernay directed an accessible, but powerful film.

One of the best directed films by a first time filmmaker I have seen in a long time.  Plus, it won at Sundance!

I love the car chase scene.

“Still Alice”
 It was Julianne Moore’s best work.  One of my favorites from my friends at Killer Films.

“My Love From Another Star”
This Korean Drama is just as good as “Downton Abbey”

“Big Hero 6”
Asians can be heroes too and it has the Disney magic.

Not a film, not a TV show, but YouTube star LoAnthony inspires me.

Resolution(s): I think there are lot of exciting things going on in the digital content space.  It is like independent film in the 90’s.  There are no barriers to entry and young people are just trying and making things.  Additionally, the digital influencers (ie YouTube, Vine and Instagram Stars) are some of the most entrepreneurial people out there – they have a lot to teach us.

Looking Forward: I am looking forward to working with my dedicated and newly expanded team of narrative and documentary sales and film packaging executives at Preferred Content. The majority of us have been working together for over 2 years and most of the staff have started as my assistant and worked their way up within the company.  I am a proud father eager to continue teaching and guiding my children.

Scott Feinberg

The Hollywood Reporter

1) “Begin Again”
2) “Whiplash”
3) “Two Days, One Night”
4) “The Theory of Everything”
5) “Nightcrawler”
6) “Keep On Keepin’ On”
7) “Red Army”
8) “Wild Tales”
9) “American Sniper”
10) “Magic in the Moonlight”

Professional Resolution(s): To complete a book on which I’ve been working for some time and about which I am very passionate.

Looking Forward: To having all of the questions answered at the Oscars on Feb. 22 — and to a great new year of films after that!

Anne Hubbell

Co-founder, Tangerine Entertainment

As 2014 closes, it is, sadly, no surprise that there were so few feature films directed by women to choose from. However, there are some fantastic newcomers and it is heartening that Ava DuVernay’s “Selma” and Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken” are getting great reviews and real awards momentum. I am optimistic about the possibility of another Best Director Oscar nomination for a woman, and maybe even the 2nd ever win. (I actually haven’t watched either yet because I am waiting to PAY to see them when they open.) 

While I certainly didn’t catch everything that was released this year (“Ida,” “Beyond the Lights,” “The Interview” – for example), here are 10 of my fave movie experiences and a few other entertainment highlights from 2014 in alphabetical order…

“22 Jump Street”
OK. Maybe it is not art, but it’s fun to watch Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill’s bromance banter and even more fun to see them upstaged by the hilarious Jillian Bell. Perfect for hotel VOD or a long flight!

“A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night”
I know it seems like studios would have already mined this obvious territory, Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut feature surprisingly appears to be the first black and white, suburban LA, skateboarding vampire movie in Farsi.  I can’t wait to see what is next from this badass filmmaker!

“The Babadook”  
I confess that I really only saw half of this movie. The other half I spent with my eyes closed and my fingers in my ears.  If you want a smart scare, definitely check out Jennifer Kent’s emotionally engaging thriller.

Is there any end of year list that this film is not on?  Or any filmmakers that are not envious of the opportunity and support to make a movie over 12 years? Richard Linklater’s masterpiece is brilliant in concept and execution. 

“Butter on the Latch” and “Thou Wast Mild And Lovely”  
It was so exciting to see Josephine Decker burst out in early 2014 with this one-two punch at Berlinale. Her dreamy, emotional, tense work marks the start of a very interesting career.

“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Wes Anderson at his convoluted, meticulously designed, quirkiest best. It is a total joy. 

“Inherent Vice”
Paul Thomas Anderson’s rambling 70’s noir adaptation is beautifully shot and acted. I watched it straight, but it might be enhanced by some mood altering substances.

Kudos to Disney for making a dark, feminist, big budget, children’s film. 

“Obvious Child”
In her first feature, Gillian Robespierre managed to accomplish something that most seasoned directors can’t handle — she sure-handedly deals with a controversial subject and delivers a heartfelt, contemporary rom-com. 

“Only Lovers Left Alive”
I really fell for Jim Jarmusch’s nostalgic, hipster Vampire meditation on long-term relationships. 

Other stuff I binge watched or otherwise consumed:

 “The Comeback”

So happy this show is back. Lisa Kudrow’s brave performance as an actress over 40 who is trying to stay employed and relevant is both hilarious and uncomfortably true to life. 

“The Fall”
Gillian Anderson’s sexy, smart Detective Superintendent Gibson is one of the most rad modern women characters I have seen in years. 

“The Goldfinch” (as read by David Pittu)
I downloaded my first “book on tape” to my iPad to pass the time on a long solo driving trip. Are they all this good? (My L.A. friends say no.) Pittu’s inspired reading of Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is so vivid and moving, it made me wish I had about 20 more hours in the car!

“Hedwig and The Angry Inch” on Broadway
Neil Patrick Harris was fantastic, and I am psyched to go back in early 2015 when John Cameron Mitchell reprises the role! But regardless of who is starring, the music is what really comes through and makes the piece so special. 

“Peaky Blinders”
I just watched both seasons of this UK series and can’t wait for the 3rd. Digging all of the Shelby clan, especially Cillian Murphy and Helen McCrory.


After my initial six episode binge, it was really hard to wait a week in between each new segment. Sarah Koenig is smart and appealing as the new Nancy Drew of the “This American Life” family. 

“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”
Once a week is the perfect amount of comedy news coverage for me. And he is so super nerdy cute.

David Magdael

David Magdael & Associates, Inc.

2014 was a great year for film and TV in my opinion. It will go down as the year that Shonda Rhimes took over Thursday nights. So here we go —

1) “The Normal Heart”
Decades later it finally gets made and the timing of it was great. This particular film took me back to a time and place in my life personally, where dealing with the politics of HIV/AIDS were front and center and a major part of my life. Wow, how time flies. The casting of this film was so great.

2) “The Circle” / “Der Kreis”
I had the good fortune to work with Ernst Ostertag and Röbi Rapp, the two main characters of Switzerland’s submission to the Oscars, for 2 weeks. How cool was it to be with these two living legends, who happened to be the first same-sex marriage in Switzerland in 2003, and here they were telling the world their story.

3) “Difret”
Staying on the same thread of working with living legends, this year I was also blessed to be working on “Difret,” a film by Zeresenay Berhane Mehari, another fiction film based on a true story. This film won the audience award at Sundance 2014 and Berlin 2014 Panorama and was the Ethiopian submission to the Oscars. I worked with the real-life lawyer Meaza Ashenafi from Ethiopia, who defended the 14-year-old girl who, after being kidnapped into marriage and raped, escaped and shot her would-be husband. This court case changed the law and had a lasting impact on women and girls in Ethiopia. Meaza is this fierce female lawyer who won the Nobel Laureate for her work she does on behalf of women and girls. To work with her and be with someone who represents grace and greatness was incredible. I could see why Angelina Jolie became the film’s executive producer.

4) “Top Five”
I never laughed so hard at a film in Toronto in a long time. Everything about this film was great and the little nuances  and the script were great along with having Chris Rock make a film with his friends – mostly comedians and it delivered. Seeing it later with a real audience underscored the fun and smartness of this film. Chris Rock is great.

5) “Selma”
Ava DuVernay kills it on her third and first big film. How she captured an iconic moment, an epic man and gave us the private and intimate side of MLK was amazing and a true testament to a great new storyteller. The timing of this film is so right, as we celebrate and commemorate 50 years of the civil rights movement — many of us who stand on the shoulders of those who were there and many of us who are old enough to reflect where we were when this all went down. And the casting of this film is great — with Carmen Ejogo as Coretta and David Oyelowo as Martin — they were truly them. This was a very intense film.

6) The Documentary/Non-Fiction film genre was very powerful — some I didn’t even work on and some I did. All in all, it was a good year for Docs including, (in no particular order):
“Rich Hill;” “The Overnighters;” “Finding VIvian Maier;” “Particle Fever;” “The Internet’s Own Boy;” “Keep on Keepin’ On;” Glen Campbell – I’ll Be Me;” “Evolution of a Criminal;” “Songs From the Forest;” and “Out in the Night” — they all blew me away and reminded me why I do what I do.

7) “Beyoncé”
The visual album and the Los Angeles Film Festival’s decision to dedicate a whole festival program slot to screen all the videos from this album and have the individual directors in attendance for Q&As, was magical and brilliant. The audience was full of fans singing and talking back to the screen and even getting up and re-enacting the video at the same time. It was a great experience. And since we are the subject of Queen Bey, her “On the Run” stadium tour with Jay-Z was amazing and brilliant for using multimedia as part of their show.

8) The 25th Anniversary of Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing”
This film was life changing when it came out 25 years ago and then now, with all the events happening in America in Ferguson, New York, Los Angeles and other cities, it is even more relevant. As Samuel L. Jackson screams out in the film: “WAKE UP! WAKE UP! WAKE UP!” Yes indeed, wake up!

9) Shonda Rhimes Night on ABC
She gives Thursday night television new life and made #TGIT a household tweet on Thursdays across the nation. Thank you for “Scandal” and “How to Get Away With Murder” — complete with lots of steamy sex scenes of all kinds and some of the most diverse casting choices ever displayed on TV. 

10) Great TV
No particular order, but these TV shows BLEW me away this year: “Homeland;” “The Good Wife;” “How to Get Away With Murder;” “Scandal;” “House of Cards;” “Ray Donovan;” “Project Runway;” “Mad Men;” and “True Detective.” There were many WHOA! moments.  These TV Shows gave you hope that it can even be better. 

Resolution(s): I am going to moonwalk on the Great Wall of China for my 60th birthday and put it on YouTube.

Looking Forward: “Fast and Furious 7,” “True Detective” and the series finale of “Mad Men.”

Robert A. Maylor

Manager of International Sales, Magnolia Pictures

10) “Honeymoon”
Full disclosure: I work for Magnolia Pictures, distributor of the film.

I screened it with little knowledge of the premise but to this day, hold it up as an example of a great feature film debut. I was in film school by night at USC’s Peter Stark program and working at Magnolia by day when we acquired the film, and all I could keep thinking to myself after watching it was, “geez if I could tell such a tight, beautifully creepy and hauntingly loving story with my first feature after graduation, I’d be really proud of myself!”

9) “Brooklyn 99” – Season 1
I downloaded the whole first season for my flight to Brazil for the World Cup and by the end of my third day I was picking out new names for Amy Santiago’s sex tape and re-watching the series with anyone who would watch with me.

8) “Sons of Anarchy” – Season 6, Ep. 13 / Season 7: Eps. 12 & 13
Binge watched the whole series over the past few months to coincide with the finale. The endings of the last two seasons were perfectly unsettling, compelling and just right.

7) “Obvious Child”
I love humor in unexpected situations and “finding” artists I want to see succeed after seeing their work. I may also have a thing for female directors (see 10). Jenny & Gillian, kudos.

6) “Snowpiercer”
Minutes 40-55 = My favorite fight sequence of the year and simply mind-blowing visuals.

5) “Boardwalk Empire.” – Season 5: Ep. 1
Loved our glimpse into Cuba/Havana during its rise to international playground for the mob and Hollywood. Want to see more of it, especially with the recent news from Obama about our countries’ changing relationship.

4) “Game of Thrones” – Season 4 (all of it but especially the ‘Purple Wedding’ & ‘Mountain & The Viper’ episodes)
I usually watched episodes a week or two after they aired which led to a full on social media blackout and blocking of friends who couldn’t help but dish. You know your love for a TV show is real when you refuse to go on Facebook and see who liked your lunch pictures for fear of a spoiler.

3) “Key & Peele” – every episode
Speaking of social media, there’s nothing I love seeing more in my social media feeds than “Key & Peele” sketches I haven’t seen yet. And I can watch the “East/West College Bowl” all day, every day.

2) “Fargo”
Fact: I’ve never re-watched an entire drama series, start to finish, before this year. Enter “Fargo.” Going on three times it is still perfect.

1) “Boyhood” premiere screening at Sundance
If you’re lucky you have a few moments in life where you know you’ve just witnessed something truly special in its inception, execution and ambition. This was one of those moments for me. The cherry on top of it all was the Q&A afterwards with my boyhood man-crush Ethan Hawke, who epitomized cool to me ever since uttering the lines “…you look like a doily” in “Reality Bites.” Define irony.

Gary Meyer

EatDrinkFilms.com and EatDrinkFilms Festival (October 2015)
Former Co-Director, Telluride Film Festival

My Favorite Films Released in 2014
“Force Majeure”
“How to Smell a Rose”
“The Imitation Game”
“Life Itself”
“The Lunchbox”
“Mr. Turner”
“Particle Fever”
“Starred Up”

Films Screened in 2014 But Set for 2014 Release

This group of films were seen at festivals or in the screening process for the Telluride Film Festival in 2014. They are not opening in the San Francisco area in 2014. These films bode well for an exciting 2015 with a mixture of established directors and first-timers.

Asterisk (*) indicates that the film has no U.S. distributor to my knowledge.

“’71” (UK)
“Charlie’s Country” (Australia)*
“Corn Island” (Georgia)*
“Court” (India)*
“Dancing Arabs” (Israel)*
“Days of Gray” (Iceland)*
“Dukhtar” / “Daughter” (Pakistan)*
“Gett, The Trial of Viviane Amsalem” (Israel)
“Girlhood” (France)
“Gueros” (Mexico)
“Jimmy’s Hall” (Ireland)
“Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq” (France)
“Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter” (U.S.)
“Leviathan” (Russia)
“Mommy” (Canada)
“Next to Her” (Israel)*
“Salt of the Earth” (Germany)
“Self Made” (Israel)*
“Shadow Days” (China)*
 “Southern Rites” (U.S.)*
“Tales of the Grim Sleeper” (U.S.)
“The Amazing Catfish” (Mexico)
“The Look of Silence” (U.S.)
“The Strange Little Cat” (Germany)*
“The Wonders” (Italy)*
“Timbuktu” (Mauritania)
“Toto and His Sisters” (Romania)*
“Two Days, One Night” (Belgium)
“Wild Tales” (Argentina)
“Winter Sleep” (Turkey)

Thanks to the Noir City, San Francisco Silent, Morelia, Telluride and Turner Classic Movies Festivals plus the Pacific Film Archive, Stanford Theatre and the Smith Rafael Film Center for consistently bringing exciting rediscoveries and the chance to revisit long unseen favorites on the big screen.

Asterisk (*) indicates not previously seen.

“The Adventures of Robin Hood” (U.S.; Keighley and Curtiz; 1938), with Craig Barron (visual effects artist) and Ben Burtt (sound designer) deconstructing various technical aspects.
“A Matter of Life and Death” (UK; Powell and Pressberger; 1947)    
“Baal” (Germany; Volker Schlondorff; 1969)*
“The Best Years of Our Lives” (U.S.; William Wyler; 1946)
“California Split” (U.S.; Robert Altman;1974)
“Children of No Importance” (Germany; Gerhard Lamprecht; 1926)*
“Dostoevsky’s Travels” (UK; Pawel Pawlikowski; 1991)*
“The Docks of New York” (U.S.; Josef Von Sternberg; 1928)
“The Double Door” (U.S.; Charles Vidor; 1934)*
“Faust” (German; F.W. Murnau; 1926)
“Harbor Drift” (German; Leo Mittler; 1929)*
“In the Palm of Your Hand” (Mexico; Roberto Gavaldón; 1951)*
“The Kneeling Goddess” (Mexico; Roberto Gavaldón; 1947)*
“Light of Compassion” (Japan; Henry Kotani; 1926)*
“On Approval” (UK; Clive Brook;1944)*
 “The Other One” (Mexico; Roberto Gavaldón 1946)*
“The Parson’s Widow” (Sweden; Carl Dreyer; 1920)*
“The Quiet Man” (U.S./Ireland; John Ford; 1952) with Maureen O’Hara in person
“Ramona” (U.S.; Edwin Carewe; 1928)*
“The Road to Glory” (U.S.; Howard Hawks; 1936)
“Seven Years Bad Luck” (France; Max Linder; 1921)
 “Singing Lovebirds” (Japan; Masahiro Makino; 1939)*
“Under the Lantern” (Germany; Gerhard Lamprecht; 1928)*
“Victims of Sin” (Mexico; Emilio Fernández; 1951)
“Wooden Crosses” (France; Raymond Bernard; 1932)*

Jared Moshe


Top 10
(in no particular order)
“Top Five”
“The Homesman”
“True Detective “
“Life Itself”
“Under the Skin”
“The Interview” (No, I haven’t seen it but it’s looking like the most important movie of the year)

Resolution(s): This will be my first year as newly relocated Los Angelino. So my 2015 New Years resolution is to explore the city and discover new collaborators.

Looking Forward: The final half-season of “Mad Men.”

Olivier Père

Director, ARTE France

1) “Under the Skin” by Jonathan Glazer (released in France in 2014)
2) “Clouds of Sils Maria” by Olivier Assayas
3) “Saint Laurent” by Bertrand Bonello
4) “P’tit Quinquin” by Bruno Dumont (TV)
5) “The Grand Budapest Hotel” by Wes Anderson
6) “Only Lovers Left Alive” by Jim Jarmusch (released in France in 2014)
7) “Haganenet” by Nadav Lapid
8) “Kaze tachinu” by Hayao Miyazaki (released in France in 2014)
9) “Winter Sleep” by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
10) “Interstellar” by Christopher Nolan

Resolution(s): To support great filmmakers, as always…

Looking Forward: New films by Arnaud Desplechin and Quentin Tarantino, maybe…

Thom Powers

Programmer, DOC NYC, Toronto International Film Festival, Stranger Than Fiction

Resolution(s): Curating for SundanceNOW Doc Club has brought into focus for me how many great documentaries still aren’t easily available for various reasons. In recent months, we’ve finally given a digital platform to Shoah and ten docs from the Drew Associates collection featuring the work of Robert Drew, Richard Leacock, D.A. Pennebaker, Hope Ryden and others. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Countless classic docs are still held back due to cloudy legal issues or the rights holders’ inertia. In 2015, I want to rally attention around these lost films and help make more titles accessible.

Looking Forward: To “The Earth Moves,” the new doc by John Walter (“Theater of War”) about Philip Glass and Robert Wilson re-staging “Einstein on the Beach.” From the early cuts I’ve seen, it promises to be something special.

David Nugent

Artistic Director, Hamptons International Film Festival

The following list is in no particular order. I am also still catching up on some films from this year that I’ve heard are great.

A haunting examination of the dangers of unchecked power and wealth in America.

“Mad Men”
Thankfully, a less bleak and more hopeful (half) season.

What is there to say that’s not been said. A masterpiece.

From the cinematography, to the score and acting, a very impressive achievement.

“Force Majeure”
Probing, troubling and incredibly insightful.

“Cold in July” and “Blue Ruin”
Two grisly thrillers that reminded me how satisfying the genre can be.

“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Perhaps my favorite of Wes Anderson’s film. Ralph Fiennes’ mellifluous voice was one of the highlights of the year for me.

“Two Days, One Night”
Masters of cinema at the top of their game. I can’t fathom how this did not make the Academy’s Foreign Language Short List.

A riveting film from start to finish.

“Keep On Keepin’ On”
Spending time with Clark Terry and Justin in this film was a treasure.

Resolution(s): I resolve to check out a bit of the great television that is on these days. Between my need to watch many films, and the young baby we have who I don’t want to see screens, this has proved tough.

Mike S. Ryan

Producer, greyshackfilms.com

“Force Majeure”
“Under the Skin”
“Listen Up Philip”
“Stranger By the Lake”
“Only Lovers Left Alive”
“The Strange Little Cat”
“Winter Sleep”
“Night Moves”
“Inherent Vice”
“Mr. Turner”
“Love is Strange”
“Low Down”

Basil Tsiokos

Director of Programming, DOC NYC & Nantucket Film Festivals
Documentary Programming Associate, Sundance Film Festival

Top Ten Best Documentaries of 2014
Note: Alphabetical/unranked and only including films released theatrically in 2014. I’ve opted once again to include only nonfiction because I have not seen the majority of this year’s most-talked-about fiction.

“Actress” (Robert Greene)
“The Case Against 8” (Ben Cotner & Ryan White)
“CITIZENFOUR” (Laura Poitras)
“Concerning Violence” (Göran Hugo Olsson)
“Finding Vivian Maier” (John Maloof & Charlie Siskel)
“Life Itself” (Steve James)
“Manakamana” (Stephanie Spray & Pacho Velez)
“The Overnighters” (Jesse Moss)
“Rich Hill” (Tracy Droz Tragos & Andrew Droz Palermo)
“Tales of the Grim Sleeper” (Nick Broomfield)

Resolution(s): Spend more time away from computer screens when I’m not working.

Looking Forward: The 20th Anniversary Nantucket Film Festival, June 24-29!

Landon Zackheim

Programmer, Short Films – Sundance Film Festival
Programmer – AFI FEST
Programming Director – Stanley Film Festival
Head Short Film Programmer – Los Angeles Film Festival

Having not seen a few of the Oscar bait contenders released in December (like “Selma,”The Theory of Everything,” “Wild,” “Unbroken” and such) I feel confident that I can take full advantage of the parameters set forth by Indiewire to include other forms of content and media beyond feature films. As such, many great movies (like “Boyhood,”The Babadook,” “Phoenix,” “The Lego Movie,” “Whiplash,” “Ned Rifle,” “The Look of Silence,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Love is Strange,” “Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem,” “The Overnighters,” etc.) will function as incredibly worthy honorable mentions.

In alphabetical order:
“Force Majeure”
“Inherent Vice”
“Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter”
 “A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence”
“The Tribe”
“What We Do in the Shadows”

The remaining three slots go to:

Short Films:
“Yearbook,” directed by Bernardo Britto
(Honorable Mention: “Rat Pack Rat,” directed by Todd Rohal)
These vibrant, driven and authorial American short films examine what it means to be human in incredibly unique and ultimately rewarding and enriching ways with distinct and unforgettable voices. Seek them out.

TV Shows:
Louie” – Season 4, Episode 2, “Model”
(Honorable Mention: “Mad Men” – Season 4, Episode 3, “Field Trip”)
Conventional wisdom would dictate the two-part marijuana flashback episode of “Louie” and the episode directly preceding the mid-season finale of “Mad Men” as the hallmarks of both shows this season. But the episodes above represent to me the best aspects of both programs; showcasing the most captivating, self-contained episodes of each series (that reward steady viewing over the years) with equally gripping and diverse storytelling techniques.

Immersive Theater:
“Alone: An Existential Haunt”
(Honorable Mention: “Delusion”)
Both of the above are incredibly creative elaborations on classic haunted houses, taken to their committed, inventive and engaging extremes. Immersive, tactile and transmedia experience are here to stay and with the right guidance and authorship can contribute to the spectrum of content in unique and exciting ways. The creators of both “Alone” and “Delusion” are striving for interactivity and achieving a collaborative success that exists only for a season that more should be aware of. When they return next fall in their new iterations, more people should be ready for them.

Resolution(s): I would like to dedicate 2015 to finding new and helpful ways to showcase short films and filmmakers to welcoming audiences ready to seek them out, as well as making the 3rd annual Stanley Film Festival (Stanleyfilmfest.com), a four-day horror celebration at the hotel that inspired “The Shining” (April 30 – May 3, 2015) a fully experiential event to remember.

Looking Forward: Yorgos Lanthimos’s “The Lobster;” George Miller’s “Mad Max;” the impending Los Angeles theatrical debut of Punchdrunk (the company behind “Sleep No More”); the 60th Anniversary of Disneyland; the promise of new, boundary-pushing work for the “Oculus Rift;” and of course, the 2015 Stanley Film Festival (Submissions are open now, wouldn’t you know!).

Ryan Werner

Cinetic Media, BAMcinematek Programmer-at-Large

Top Films
“Goodbye to Language”
“American Sniper”
“Beyond the Lights”
“Force Majeure”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“The Immigrant”
“Inherent Vice”
“The Last of the Unjust”
“Life Itself”
“Listen Up Phillip”
“Love Is Strange”
“Only Lovers Left Alive”
“Stranger by the Lake”
“Tales of the Grim Sleeper”
“Two Days, One Night”
“What Now?  Remind Me”


“The Mend” (John Magary)
 “The Wonders” (Alice Rohrwacher)
“Jauja” (LIsandro Alonso)
“Horse Money” (Pedro Costa)
“Christmas Again” (Charles Poekel)
“We Come As Friends” (Hubert Sauper)
“For The Plasma” (Bingham Bryant & Kyle Mozan)
“Hill of Freedom” (Hong Sang Soo)

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