PLAYMAKER
The Playmaker
Let's play
PLAYMAKER
  • It's Tuesday
    What day is it?
  • Now
    What time is it?
  • Anywhere in Sydney
    Where are you?
  • What do you feel like?
    What do you feel like?
  • And what else?
    And what else?
  • LET'S PLAY
18° & CLEAR SKY ON TUESDAY 22 OCTOBER IN SYDNEY
By Sarah Ward
December 22, 2014
  shares

The Ten Best Movies Hardly Anyone Saw in 2014

They were box office flops in 2014. Give them some VOD love in 2015.
By Sarah Ward
December 22, 2014
  shares

Just as not all movies are created equal, neither are all stints on screens. The big, in budget and attendance, stick around. The small, in audience awareness but not in artistry or effort, might not stay that long.

Such a cinema environment sees many gems fall by the wayside in the battle for viewer hearts and minds – many that rank among the year’s best, too. So which 2014 films should you have perhaps taken a chance on instead of just seeing the latest shiny blockbuster? Here’s ten that local box office performance tells us you most likely missed, but really shouldn’t have.

cp-line

THE BABADOOK

Jennifer Kent’s debut feature is one of the best among Australian efforts, horror films, and haunted house fright fests — both of this year, and of all others. Alas, in a nation that rarely embraces anything spooky on the big screen en masse, it came and went quickly, though what it lacked in local attention it is now making up for in international acclaim. Such recognition is mere window dressing for a movie that allows its equally touching and terrifying content to make its own statement as it charts a single mother’s troubles when her six-year-old son finds fear in a formidable figure that springs from the page into his bedroom. The style, the story and the scares can now continue off-screen, too, courtesy of a crowd-supported production run of the pop-up book at the centre of the chills.

Read our full review.

cp-line

ALL THIS MAYHEM

Great dramas are made of the same ingredients as this stunning homegrown true tale, a rise to fame, a fall from grace, seeking glory at all costs, and getting mixed up with the wrong things among them. In Eddie Martin’s documentary, all this and more is wrapped up in a roller-coaster ride that starts in the Melbourne suburbs, reaches the heights of the international skateboarding scene, and comes crashing towards its conclusion with the tragedy of what might have been in different circumstances. For those unfamiliar with the story of brothers Tas and Ben Pappas, the film offers the best account you’ll ever experience. For those aware of the details, devastation still emanates from a feature suitably straightforward in structure and shattering in sentiment.

Read our full review.

cp-line

FORCE MAJEURE

While audiences flocked to Gone Girl’s twisty take on marriage and masculinity, a Swedish couple holidaying in the French Alps with their kids spawned the same musings in just as cynical and striking a fashion. Force Majeure begins with a seemingly impending avalanche, in the face of which, a man runs away as his family looks on. Watching the aftermath as the central pair fight in public yet drift apart in private is not only astute but also amusing in its insights. Writer/director Ruben Östlund has crafted an acerbic comedy of discomfort that says everything about the most intimate of interpersonal relations, with a mastery of form to match the complexity of theme.

Read our full review.

cp-line

MY SWEET PEPPER LAND

One feminist western – A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, which also earns many other descriptors, too – is starting to appear at Australian festivals and in niche screening runs; however, this year also brought another to local screens. Writer/director Hiner Saleem and actress Golshifteh Farahani combine to chart a teacher’s fight for independence in male-dominated Kurdistan, both excelling with the material. Also fuelling the narrative is a policeman’s quest for a new existence free from his gun-slinging past. In this tale of two outsiders endeavouring to establish their own identities and exert power over their own dominion, all the tropes unravel amid a desolate landscape, and given the parallels with the nation’s sociopolitical climate, the film ranges beyond its adopted genre.

Read our full review.

cp-line

THE MISSING PICTURE

Wading through the past to get a grasp on his – and Cambodia’s – present, filmmaker Rithy Panh attempts to fill in the gaps in his own and well as the collective memory. With the assistance of sculptor Sarith Mang, he assembles figurines and dioramas of clay and wood to restage scenes from his childhood, the fleetingly beautiful and the inescapably brutal among them. The documentarian earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film for his efforts, his latest offering continuing his prolonged fascination with the state of his country. As modest as it is meticulous, and as moving and illuminating, too, this is a picture that shouldn’t be missed. Pun intended.

cp-line

THE DARK HORSE

Stories similar to the real-life circumstances of Genesis Potini have been seen before on screen, steeped as they are in a relatable arc of redemption. What James Napier Robertson’s film perfects is the mindset of the troubled chess prodigy turned coach to marginalised youth, in every expressive image and atmospheric sound, and in a tone that never loses hope – just like its inspiration. Formula might seethe through the underdog story, but so does authenticity. The feature swept the recent New Zealand Film Awards for its earnest and emotional efforts, with acclaim rightfully thrown the way of star Cliff Curtis and supporting actor James Rolleston (worlds away from the work he is best known for, his titular role in the charming Boy).

Read our full review.

cp-line

THESE FINAL HOURS

When this Australian apocalyptic effort made its world premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival in 2013, it set audiences ablaze with excitement for its fresh cinematic talent and its invigorating approach to the end of the world. Fast forward to a year later, and the flames spluttered when Zak Hilditch’s debut earned a general release, a response that doesn’t reflect the skill and style of the movie. Nathan Phillips plays against type in a story not of special deeds but of looking beyond a selfish, self-serving mindset. As his protagonist, James, journeys from nihilism to humanism upon a road trip through Perth’s suburban streets — motivated by the lost, lonely girl he decides to help — he evokes a quiet awakening not just for the character but for a new Australian classic.

Read our full review.

cp-line

SON OF A GUN

Not even the lure of Ewan McGregor enticed patrons into theatres for Julius Avery’s first feature, another film coming out of Western Australia. As a veteran criminal masterminding a jailbreak, then caught in a web of mobster manipulation, the Scottish actor rightfully commands attention — but so do his co-stars, Australia’s own Brenton Thwaites as the innocent immersed in underworld dealings, and Swedish actress Alicia Vikander as the obligatory love interest. Yes, there’s no escaping the film’s fondness for standard crime caper cliches as it navigates prison hierarchies, daring heists and dalliances with Russian gangsters, but its embrace of its genre exceeds what could’ve just been an ordinary assembly of average parts. Avery also shows a knack for set pieces and a confidence with pace and tone that keeps everything moving beyond the familiar.

Read our full review.

cp-line

NYMPHOMANIAC

Lars von Trier doesn’t make films to cater for all tastes, to be certain. Danish cinema’s enfant terrible earned the label after making many a feature considered unpalatable by broader audiences. Four hours of his work may be an endurance test for some (and that’s the short version of his latest effort); however, his frank dissection of female sexuality demands to be seen. Lust eclipses love as the driving mechanism in the experiences of Joe as she grows from a girl into a woman, ever-aware of her carnal impulses. Some chapters hit the mark better than others, just as some performances — from a cast that includes Stacy Martin and Charlotte Gainsbourg sharing the lead role, as well as Uma Thurman, Christian Slater, Shia LaBeouf and Jamie Bell — suffer the same fate, yet the end product is never anything less than engrossing.

Read our full review.

cp-line

OUT OF THE FURNACE

A blink-and-you’ll-miss-it run in Australian cinemas excuses many from failing to cross paths with the latest feature from Crazy Heart writer/director Scott Cooper. Though he again steeps his story in the struggles of those striving for something more but continually restrained by their circumstances, here he places his stumbling characters in the midst of small-town malaise, post-war apathy and generational inertia. Excellent work from Christian Bale, Casey Affleck and Woody Harrelson lies at the core of an intimate, intricate effort played out with a brooding look and feel from start to finish. Also strong is the sense of conviction that helps patch over thematic similarities with other films.

cp-line

Published on December 22, 2014 by Sarah Ward

  •   shares
      shares
  • VIEW COMMENTS
  • Reader comments...

    Avatar
    Lyn Brook - July 27, 2015

    Good post - obscure but hopefully all the better for it! But the great thing is you sharing your thoughts Thanks

Tap and select Add to Home Screen to access Concrete Playground easily next time. x