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TOH! Writers Pick the 10 Best Films of 2014 So Far

Thompson on Hollywood By TOH! | Thompson on Hollywood June 18, 2014 at 4:46PM

As July looms, the movie year is reaching its halfway point, and in the spirit of Indiewire's new Criticwire poll of 122 critics' favorite films of 2014 so far, we at TOH! offer up our own ten best lists.
'Only Lovers Left Alive'
'Only Lovers Left Alive'

As July looms, the movie year is reaching its halfway point, and in the spirit of Indiewire's new Criticwire poll of 122 critics' favorite films of 2014 so far, we at TOH! offer up our own ten best lists. Favorites that keep popping up include "The Grand Budapest Hotel," "Ida," "Only Lovers Left Alive" and "Under the Skin."

Scarlett Johansson in 'Under the Skin'
Scarlett Johansson in 'Under the Skin'

Ryan Lattanzio:

2014 already looks like an even more interesting movie year than the bar-raising 2013. I'd be perfectly content if this were my year-end top 10, though I had to wrest several films from this list as it is -- including Richard Ayoade's "The Double," which makes for a mind-shifting double bill with Denis Villeneuve's "Enemy," and there was much to love about Lars von Trier's wildly flawed "Nymphomaniac." And with guilt I leave off Jarmusch's "Only Lovers Left Alive," maybe his best film in over a decade.

1. "Under the Skin" (Dir. Jonathan Glazer) A terrfyingly nebulous thing of beauty, this is perfect sci-fi from a bygone era. Or a foretold future.

Cotillard and Phoenix in 'The Immigrant'
Cotillard and Phoenix in 'The Immigrant'

2. "The Immigrant" (Dir. James Gray) Gorgeously wrought, overflowingly emotional melodrama with rich substance to match its ravishing stylistic textures. Marion Cotillard should win everything for this, and it's a shame Harvey Weinstein has left the film for dead.

3. "Stranger by the Lake" (Dir. Alain Guiraudie) Disturbingly opaque, maybe-murder mystery as erotic as it is alienating -- in the best way.

4. "Borgman" (Dir. Alex van Warmerdam) Beneath the quiet surface of a seemingly perfect nuclear family roars a darkness waiting to get out, and oh boy does it ever, in this mischievous, arty domestic thriller. 

5. "Coherence" (Dir. James Ward Byrkit) A metaphysically terrifying, very low budget and utterly disorienting science fiction film that rearranges your brain as much as it does the genre.

6. "Ida" (Dir. Pawel Pawlikowski) Black-and-white drama at its most elegantly chiseled, with one gorgeous image after the next.

Ben Wheatley's 'A Field in England'
Ben Wheatley's 'A Field in England'

7. "Night Moves" (Dir. Kelly Reichardt) Reichardt uses her intensely focused eye for naturalism to build a tight old-school thriller featuring Jesse Eisenberg at his creepy best.

8. "A Field in England" (Dir. Ben Wheatley) Is this the first psychotropic historical horror ever made? Yet another brain-boggler, and in black-and-white, that rewards as much as it punishes.

9. "The Sacrament" (Dir. Ti West) Can Ti West save the horror genre? It looks to be so in this unforgiving recreation of the Jonestown massacre that boasts one of the great sequences of mounting terror in recent memory.

10. "Test" (Dir. Chris Mason Johnson) And if Ti West can save horror, Chris Mason Johnson can save queer cinema -- this subtly modulated AIDS panic drama deftly avoids the cliches of its predecessors.

What were your favorite films so far this year? Click through for more.

This article is related to: Reviews, Critics, Thompson on Hollywood

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.