At the beginning of the year I was recapping the best cinema had to offer in 2014, first by focusing on the best musical moments, then the best performances, from both male and female actors, and then finally the best posters. Of course, we couldn’t finish until we’d had a best films list. Enjoy!
2014 was a stellar year for cinema, one that was filled with incredible films from all over the world. I could easily fill out the honourable mentions with 100 films, but that would defeat the point a little bit. Any film that has been previously mentioned, but that does not appear here, is still well worth checking out and celebrating for its qualities. Bearing in mind I was unable to see Top Five or Inherent Vice, here are the Top 25 films of 2014. Behold!
We begin with:
Foreign Oddity Award: Miss Violence
Directed by Alexandros Avranas
Written by Alexandros Avranas & Kostas Peroulis
Starring Kostas Antalopoulos, Constantinos Athanasiades & Chloe Bolota
The Foreign Oddity Award is my way of being able to write about Miss Violence, despite it not quite being one of the best films I saw last year. It was definitely one of the most provocative. A Greek film about a family with a dark secret, this is basically in the same vein of the incredible Dogtooth, except with more child abuse and less black humour. The film begins on a young girl’s 11th birthday, and all seems relatively normal, if slightly off, as the family dance and celebrate in their own stilted way. However, when their backs are turned, the birthday girl walks to the balcony, smiles directly at the camera, and throws herself off, dying instantly on impact.
What follows is the strangest and most minimalistic credits I’ve ever seen, and then we’re stuck with the family as they attempt to piece their lives back together – but why did she kill herself? Much like Dogtooth, the father is an oppressive patriarch, except this time he rapes his grandchildren (and keeps his daughter around to keep popping them out), and other men pay him to have their way with them as well. It’s a bleak, depressing, unwavering look at what happens in some places of the world, with one particular sequence of uncut child rape being a scene that remains burned in one’s memory long after the film concludes.
Director Alexandros Avranas portrays the gruesome acts with a banality that allows the acts to stand on their own merits. It’s not sexual, or exploitative; it’s just a film that depicts the cruelty that occurs, and offers none of its own judgement or style to “make it worse”, or spare the viewer from some of the harder truths. Not a film I’d ever watch again, but definitely one I’d recommend for the experience, provided you’re not adverse to dark cinema.