A somewhat muted sadness gripped a certain section of the nation’s populace towards the end of the year 2014. We knew it had to come – they couldn’t go on forever. And of course they were irreplaceable. Effervescent Margaret and the more reserved David were calling it quits after a lifetime on the small screen, telling us about the movies. For many their recommendations were, for decades, part of the fabric of life in our country – first at SBS, later Auntie. They had one of those magic chemistries as they bantered, agreed or disagreed. The ABC, apart from the fact they so appealed to the older demographic the organisation these days is at pains to eschew, would not make the same mistake as they made with the similarly much loved ‘Spicks and Specks’. They would also retire the format. We already had a notion of how it would be without them when replacements were used whilst the pair were in Cannes or Venice. ‘At the Movies’ felt as flat as a failed soufflé. If reports are to be believed, Margaret was a reluctant retiree, but without her partner it could not go on. Putting a substitute opposite would be unthinkable. As for David, he was simply fed up with having to attend Hollywood crap day in day out. He wanted to choose what he would view. He is still scribing for the Oz – presumably they allow this doyen the luxury of being selective, which is exactly what this fellow retiree is able to do.
Once upon a time, during my working years, back in regional Burnie for this film tragic, it was all quite dire. Although the local cinema, the Metro, did its best to cater for a variety of taste, it was with the blockbuster that the real money lay. The art house/foreign gems I loved rarely put in an appearance. For many of the offerings I enjoyed I had to wait for their arrival on the shelves of a local video outlet, the excellent Leisure Sales and Rental. Here I was fortunate the owner, like myself, had a penchant for the exotic, the non-mainstream. Those days are behind me. With North Hobart’s magnificent State Cinema complex, I have ample choice. Rarely do I have to sit through the mundane or deplorable. With judicious preparation, often assisted by David and his reviews, I have a fair idea I’ll like an offering before I purchase a ticket. And it seems to me that 2014 has been a golden year for cinematic excellence, thus the considerable number of Honourable Mentions (HMs) that follow what is, below, my choices as the top movies of the last twelve months.
10. – Healing – again Australian audiences chose to stay away from outstanding local productions. In this the eagle only just manages to outshine a memorable performance from Don Hany, ably assisted by ever reliable Hugo Weaving.
09 – Fading Gigolo – Woody Allen plays a pimp – and he’s so well suited to the role – in this atmospheric delight.
08 – Chinese Puzzle – our favourite group of students from ‘The Spanish Apartment’ return once again to show us how they are coping in the grown-up world of work and family responsibilities. They continue their machinations in the US of A.
07 – Dallas Buyers Club – As he has done on our small screen this year in ‘True Detective’ and also in our top film, Matthew McConaughey lights up the screen in his portrayal of an unlikely AIDS epidemic hero.
06 – The Past – in a seedy migrant suburb of Paris a stellar ensemble cast shine, dissembling family relations and presenting a different side to the City of Light.
05 – Philomena – Steve Coogan and Dame Judi Dench take us to tears and back in this heart-wrenching story.
04. – Calvary – Irish village shenanigans, with a shattering conclusion, present some Emerald Isle luminaries in a different light. Brendan Gleeson gives what surely will be his signature performance.
03 – The Great Beauty – an Italian response to our our ultimate selection – a true feast for the senses presenting Rome as its major star. It enchants and surprises from the get go.
02 – Still Life – Eddie Marsan of ‘Ray Donovan’ fame is comprehensively sublime as a small man leading an even smaller life – and then he rebels. The closing scenes are stunning.
01 – The Wolf of Wall Street – sex, nudity and drug induced addlement are to the fore in this Scorsese triumph. A brazen new Aussie starlet cannot outshine DiCaprio in this glorious paen to greed.
It is a testament to the year that there are so many HMs – The Invisible Woman, The Judge, Jersey Boys, The Trip to Italy, The Broken Circle Club, Pride, Keeper of Lost Causes, Folies Bergere, The Lunch Box and The Living is Easy with Eyes Wide Shut.
The Age’s takes on the best movies of the year = http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/the-10-best-movies-of-2014-20141224-12dimw.html