The Boomtown Rap: Movies of 2014 – Best, Worst etc

A disclaimer or three:
“Best” and “worst” movie lists are inevitably reductive and subjective, so let’s accept that limitation from the outset. Further, I did not see every movie released in 2014, including some that have been extremely well received. And my viewing is heavily weighted towards arthouse/indie. Thus, the only meaningful approach I can come up with while factoring in the subjective nature of a qualitative roundup of the year’s films is to arrange my selections in categories that make sense to me, while acknowledging the classifications as idiosyncratic. So there ya go. Take ’em as you will.

Best Movies of 2014 (in alphabetical order, linked to my reviews):
Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed
Still Life [not reviewed]
The Grand Budapest Hotel

Other 2014 Movies I Loved:
Folies Bergère
Lygon Street: Si Parla Italiano
The Babadook
The Dark Horse
The Drop
The Little Death
20,000 Days On Earth (Note: loved the film – doesn’t mean I love Nick Cave)

Highly Recommended:
A Hijacking
Dallas Buyers Club
Gone Girl
Like Father, Like Son
My Sweet Pepper Land
Short Term 12
The Skeleton Twins
12 Years A Slave

Worth Seeing:
All Is Lost
A Thousand Times Goodnight
Healing [not reviewed]
Magic in the Moonlight
Oh Boy
Omar [not reviewed]
Rock The Casbah [not reviewed]
The Armstrong Lie
The Lunchbox
The Past (Pssst – very ‘arthouse’. Don’t see it tired.)
Zero Motivation

5 to 7
Kill The Messenger
The Broken Circle Breakdown
The Young Prodigious TS Spivet

Aussie Gems Deserving of Major Success that Local Audiences Ignored
(Fortunately, it seems that sheer quality can sometimes break through local indifference and lack of major promotional support – the buzz for these terrif films is good overseas, and international releases are in the pipeline. Note: I am not driven by patriotic fervour for national product; I just find injustice hard to stomach)
The Babadook
The Little Death


Most Unrelentingly Bleak, Humourless, Slo-o-o-w and Infuriating Arthouse Movie of the Year
Child’s Pose [not reviewed]

Weak, But I Liked It:
Fading Gigolo

Well Done, But I Hated It
Maps to the Stars

Exodus: God and Kings
The Railway Man [not reviewed]
The Wind Rises [not reviewed]

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes [not reviewed]

Probably Not Worth Seeing But Better Than ‘Meh’
My Old Lady
Only Lovers Left Alive
The Two Faces of January [not reviewed]

Chinese Puzzle [not reviewed]
Palo Alto
The Maze Runner [not reviewed]
We Are The Best!

Gloria [not reviewed]
Son of a Gun [not reviewed]
The Monuments Men

Most Annoying Film of the Year
The Infinite Man

Dog Of The Year:
Love, Rosie [not reviewed]

Disclaimer: The following movies were not included because I didn’t see them (but wish I had):

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
Finding Vivian Maier
Inside Llewyn Davis
Mr Turner
Under The Skin
Winter Sleep
Wish I Was Here

Top 20 Highest Grossing Films 2014 (Australian box office):
1. The Lego Movie – $27,757,563
2. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 – $25,084,153
3. Transformers: Age of Extinction – $24,862,352
4. How to Train Your Dragon 2 – $24,827,367
5. Guardians of the Galaxy – $23,291,983
6. The Wolf of Wall Street – $21,883,506
7. Gone Girl – $21,782,574 (saw)
8. X-Men: Days of Future Past – $21,121,336
9. 22 Jump Street – $21,000,729
10. The Other Woman – $18,812,986
11. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – $18,390,356
12. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – $17,074,003 (saw)
13. Neighbors – $16,807,772
14. Interstellar – $15,799,525
15. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – $15,627,840
16. Maleficent– $15,382,553
17. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – $14,859,113
18. The Maze Runner – $13,903,824 (saw)
19. Lucy – $13,873,306
20. Godzilla – $13,108,581

Happy New Year folx, good riddance to 2014 (nothing to do with movies), and here’s cheers to 2015!

Previous Annual Movie Best/Worst ofs
The Boomtown Rap Movie Awards For 2013
The Boomtown Rap Movie Awards For 2012
The Boomtown Rap Movie Awards For 2011
The Boomtown Rap Awards For 2010
The Boomtown Rap Awards For 2009
The Boomtown Rap Awards For 2008
The Boomtown Rap Awards For 2007

9 thoughts on “The Boomtown Rap: Movies of 2014 – Best, Worst etc”

  1. Only THREE crap movies all year?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Pull the other one! Yer gotta be kidding!

    One tenet that has served me well in my protracted journey through this fallen world is that: 90% of everything is C-R-A-P. And you’re suggesting that the movie world is the singular exception to this Golden Rule?

    Mr Stein, you are FAR too nice!

  2. Read a little more closely, Old C. I’d suggest you can safely file “Dog of the Year” under ‘crap’. Ditto “Most Annoying Film of the Year”. In fact, since crapness is a relative state, if you wanna, you can put a ‘crap’ bracket around everything in my list from “Ummm” down. I prefer a twist of nuance with my putdowns.

    You might also consider I saw hardly any of the Top 20 Grossing Movies. You can probably assume 90% of those could be added to the ‘crap’ basket.

    I don’t agree with your tenet. I reckon this is more accurate: 70% of everything is mediocre (apart from highest-grossing movies – see above), 10% is good or better than good, 15% is crap. The other 5% is just plain weird.

    Factor in the comments above, and I feel confident of escaping a guilty verdict on your “too nice” charge. But it’s good to be accused of being too nice for a change. The chappie who commented on my review of The Infinite Man wouldn’t agree with you, though. See:

    Cheers and good to have a comment from someone, anyone, even The Old Codger!

    PS: Please don’t call me Mr Stein. I have neither surname nor Christian name. Meine name ist rolanstein.

  3. As 39 movies out of 64 on your list warrant a ranking of “worth seeing” or better then your assessment that “10% is good or better than good” seems a little awry.

    I repeat my indictment: Signor Rolanstein, you are far too nice! Try to develop your inner nastiness; it’s there somewhere. You only have to find it!

  4. Old C, you need to factor in my entire response, not selected aspects of it in an effort to justify your position and undermine mine. I note you ignored my point about the Top 20, for example. There are other factors at play here, too, that I haven’t mentioned. For example, I reviewed most of the Perth Film Festival films, and these are usually a cut above the average fare. Also, my preferences are weighted towards “arthouse”, and the bulk of the films I see in any year come under this category.

    Contrary to your charges, I’m never “nice”. I spend a lot of time on my reviews and always strive to express my views with honesty and balance, backed up with evidence. If I happen to strike more movies worth seeing than not, then that’s just the way it is. There are a few filters built into those I view during a year, also. I don’t attend every media screening I’m invited to, for example. There are occasions when I stay away based on the genre of the movie or its content, and I am well aware that this is unfair, that it is not possible to KNOW whether a movie is great or crap without seeing it. But with limited time for reviewing, I have to apply some sort of process to maximise the chance of catching the movies that fit within my preference parameters and that I am therefore most likely to assess favourably.

    Also, while some product might stink overall, there are often some worthy aspects. A film might be mediocre, but feature a tremendous acting performance, or a brilliant scene that sticks and continues to resonate post-viewing. Those sorts of positives I might decide make the film worth seeing. I’m not in the business of being black and white. We live in an age of colour, ferchrissake! If you want the shock jock equivalent of a reviewer, it ain’t me babe.

    Besides, I’m sick of net nastiness. Every second bozo hiding behind the anonymity of a computer is a flame warrior. I was once into that shit, but as soon as the crowd arrives, I move away. Call me perverse. Just don’t suggest I’m anything but genuine, authentic and honest in my reviews. To charge me thus is just plain wrong.

    Don’t hesitate to call again, Old C. Expect a challenge, though, if you go asserting stuff that isn’t true, or directing personal criticism that you can’t back up with anything but generalities. It’s not the fact that the criticism is personal that bothers me. It’s that there is nowhere to go with discussion. I welcome comments on specific films, and if you take issue with my reviews per se, so much the better. Always in for a good argument where the source text is the reference point.

    Have you actually seen any of the films in my list? If so, do you agree with my assessments? Why/why not? We can actually get somewhere useful if you could argue in these more specific terms. If you catch films I’ve reviewed in the past on TV, DVD or Bluray, why not post a comment on them? Happy to engage. Otherwise, we’re reduced to a very limited and unsatisfying to-and-fro consisting of little more than “I’m right/you’re wrong”, and backed up with nothing but vague perception based on sweeping statements and generalities. Know wot I mean?


  5. Ok, you want facts: you asserted that only 10% of movies warrant a “good or better” rating but your list has a 61% predominance of good over mediocre and bad. Even if you include ALL Top Twenty movies as “crap” (and how you can do this without actually seeing them – bearing in mind your admonition about not judging unless you have seen the movie – I can’t understand) this still equates to a nearly FIFTY percent positive rating. in fact, taking these statistics further, there would have had to be three and ninety movies released in 2014, of which you viewed a mere 64, and EVERY SINGLE ONE of the 326 you didn’t see would have to be “crap” to justify your original assertion of only 10% of movies being good. Add in your stricture about not judging without seeing first and the ineluctable conclusion is that there is a radical disconnection between your statement about the percentage of good movies out there and your actual reviewing practices. And the corollary to this is that my “criticisms” are NOT the result of selective bias.

    Next, you state (well, actually, you imply) that you’re into nuance, balance, objectivity, impartiality, empathy, etc, and are strongly (if such a positive term can be used in this context) opposed to bias, prejudice, judgmentalism, point of view, opinion, and assertiveness. When you put on your critical “hat”, you necessarily try to purge yourself of your personal limitations and adopt an “all things to all men” ,” on the one hand, this…..on the other hand, that” even-handedness that you think is closer to reality than the converse approach that you identify with all the “flamers” and general Neanderthals out there. So you look for the GOOD in movies, especially the dead boring ones, and ignore all those pesky visceral reactions that you associate with “bias” and “subjectivity” and forget that they’re actually far more authentic than the effete tenets of Critichood.

    The thing is that aesthetic reality is ENTIRELY about bias; bias articulated and presented with all the “blow the walls of Jericho down” passion and assertiveness that the artist can muster. Watch a Hitchcock movie: every single movement of the camera is devoted to a single and unequivocal point of view. It’s not about nuance; nuance is for minor artists – the ones without a VISION and thereby compelled to dither around in the half-shades beloved of tepid modern-day critics. The mark of the great artist is that their point of view BLAZES THROUGH triumphantly in searing lightning radiance. You can’t HELP but see it; you don’t need coffee-sipping discussions to try to elicit what the artist is “trying to say”. Apparently, he needs the aid of the cognoscenti to get his message through!

    To conclude, you should inject a little more of the real Rolanstein into your reviews. You write superbly; now, if you can only get rid of that “nuance” and “balance” and all the dried-up accoutrements of the modern critic and say what you REALLY THINK!

    Thus Spake The Old Codger

  6. Old C

    I agree with your comments on “aesthetic reality”. Thing is, you’re talking about the artist, not the critic; the qualities of the great artist are not necessarily the qualities of a good critic. I would say that a critic does need to strive for balance, and to keep personal biases out of play, or to declare them. Doesn’t mean there can be no passion to the critic – but responses should be arrived at in cool reflection, and expressed carefully, fairly, not dashed off as Beethoven might have done a passage of music in a moment of irresistible inspiration. The artist has no business being fair, except to themselves and their work. The critic is failing in one of the fundamentals of their craft if they do not strive to be both accurate and fair in their assessments. Sounds like you’re after an Alan Jones of reviewing – sorry, wrong station you’ve landed on here. Shock jock entertainment is a long way off this frequency.

    I also share this view of yours: you don’t need coffee-sipping discussions to try to elicit what the artist is “trying to say”. Apparently, he needs the aid of the cognoscenti to get his message through!

    The problem for me as a reviewer, though, is that you’re fencing off the critic as having no purposeful function. Truth is, in the past I have probably made these sorts of declarations more often and more zealously than you. Then I found myself writing reviews and it has been hammered home to me over years that there is much to learn as a critic, and that a good review (in my terms) is not easy to write.

    As to whether a review, good or otherwise, actually has value – well, I’m not so sure on that. My blog stats tell me I have a readership, but I rarely receive comments on my reviews. I often wonder whether anyone takes a jot of notice of my assessments, laboured over for hours and sweated out with otherwise unaccustomed effort of thought though they almost always are. Be that as it may, I get something out of my reviewing: I get to ruminate and apply a rigour of thought to the movies I see that I otherwise would not, and the result is a better understanding as to what I think about a flick, how I rate it, and why. That is the only positive function of criticism of which I can be certain. A small thing, but something. I’m much more turned on by the prospect of pursuing creative endeavours in an artistic mode, than reviewing, but this is a review blog, and reviewing’s my mode of production when writing here. I have no pretensions about myself as a reviewer. I just do my best to accurately represent my views, with supporting evidence from the primary text, and give the reader some idea about the nature of the film I’m reviewing and whether they might want to see it.

    I accept that the stats I suggested about percentage of good/crap/mediocre don’t match my movie assessments for this year, but I’ve sought to suggest some reasons for that – which again, you’ve conveniently ignored. Also, I reeled those stats off the top of my head (as I assume was the case with those you put forward) – they are just hunch, and in terms of any real data, baseless.

    I think you’re just being argumentative for the sake of it with your response to my Top 20 comment. First of all, I didn’t think I needed to state the bleeding obvious with a disclaimer – but you’ve done that for me! Of course it’s risky business dismissing films as crap without seeing them, on the basis of their popular appeal! Duh. That said, lemme justify doing just that by generalising (which is all this discussion amounts to anyway). I’ll merely suggest that if the based-on-zilch stats we have been bandying about are likely to apply anywhere, it is to a Top 20 Highest Grossing Movies list. Popular opinion tends to focus on and privilege big-budget, big-celebrity-star, big-promo pieces, which are mostly action-driven and formulaic (Marketing 10 – give ’em what they want). Not generally to my taste, and I don’t apologise for that. Given my limited time and the fact that I am a freelancer not on any press payroll, it is my right to determine which screening invitations I attend. You might choose a different filtration process if you were to start writing reviews, but this is my reviewing gig and my call on what I review and how I determine that choice.

    I don’t accept you have the slightest basis for your weirdly committed conviction that I’m denying the “real rolanstein” (note: small ‘r”) and skewing my reviews towards the positive. If you can point to actual evidence of this in a specific review, let’s talk. Otherwise, there’s just no point.

    What you want me to do mon? I can’t alter my assessments just to suit your baseless hunch that I am in some way gilding the lily with my reviews. If you look a little further than your dodgy stats and your “feeling” that I’m not saying what I “really think” (that charge is offensive to me, BTW), you’ll find that there are numerous occasions in which my assessments were contra the overwhelmingly positive critical response. In other instances, I enthused about movies the majority of critics dissed. I agreed with the majority in other cases. Whatever, I’m always my own person in my responses, and have a policy of never reading other reviews before I publish mine. How, then, in isolating myself from other influences as far as practically possible, am I not saying what I “really think”? And how do you know my mind better than I do? Isn’t that an arrogant (not to mention irrational) position for you to be taking, apparently immovably?

    The fact is, you don’t know my mind better than I, and I put it to you that that’s not arguable. And incidentally, I take no notice of modern critical style, and couldn’t even approximate a definition of whatever that is. I have no idea about the “dried up accoutrements of the modern critic”, because I don’t read any of them in any depth, and am utterly uninterested in the notion of “the modern critic” (or any other sort of critic). I simply write as I find, and as well as I can. And frankly, I see no reason based on your writings here to take any notice of any advice you take it upon yourself to issue me, despite, I suspect, being in a state of ignorance about ALL the movies I assessed. If I am incorrect in this, do forgive me my suspicious mind, and name the movie(s) you’ve seen. Then, let’s talk!

    Again I say, refer to a specific review and SHOW me some evidence for your charges, and I’ll be happy to respond in detail. Otherwise, I can see no possible rational basis for your assertion that I am in some way being less than authentic in my reviews, and must therefore dismiss your criticism as coming from some personal angle that I’m not much interested in further pursuing, and that it would seem to me does not reflect well upon you.

    I’m not shitty (except about your bemusing insistence that I am not saying what I “really think” in my reviews) – I just don’t see any point in defending myself against criticism that you have thus far failed to support in any meaningful or rational way. Stop talkin’ vague stats, and start talkin’ specifics, and we have a conversation. Otherwise, as far as I can see you’re contributing nothing but dodgy stats and dry wind. Sorry, but I’m only doing as you advocate and being honest – which I strive to be always, especially in my reviews.


  7. Well, Mr Penis Forehead, you must remember I’ve gotta try to maintain a proportion of negative assessments so The Old Codger doesn’t get too upset. Gotta admit, though, I was genuinely bored in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Just not my thing, I guess. Sorry bout dat apebro, but if you wanna log back in and lemme know what you found cool about it, I’m all ears.

    A vaguely relevant aside: I watched Project Nim for the first time last night. Very upsetting and disturbing stuff. Would like to see Nim reincarnated on horseback with a machine gun getting even with that arrogant arsehole Herb Terrace and the other unfeeling STUPID bastards who tortured him in the name of science.


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