If you’re anything like me, then film probably takes up a considerable amount of your leisure time. We’re spoiled for choice for great cinemas in London, which means if you know where to look, you’re always going to find something to watch, whether something golden from decades past, or something recent, offering the latest in technology and using the hottest actors to sell the story.

You could be forgiven for thinking that 2014 has been a slow year for film, at least when compared to last year. 2013 brought us Paolo Sorrentino’s instant classic The Great Beauty, along with Shane Carruth’s wonderfully original Upstream Colour. Not to mention new features from Lars von Trier, Steve McQueen and Nicolas Winding Refn, just to name a few. Though possibly one of the weakest years for film in recent times, there are certainly diamonds hiding in the rough.

5) Calvary


Calvary is John Michael McDonagh’s lastest offering, starring Brendon Gleeson, the star of McDonagh’s younger brother’s comedy classic In Bruges. Calvary’s strength lies partly in Gleeson’s masterful acting, which is to be expected given Gleeson’s last few perfomances, cementing him as possibly the greatest actor when it comes to calm, cold, realist character dramas, and partly in its measured character development, where it manages to stay compelling throughout, despite very little development in the plot. The film focusses on an Irish parish and its colourful inhabitants, including Game of Thrones star Aiden Gillen and the comedy legend Dylan Moran. A must watch for fans of Gleeson. (Fans of Gillen might be a bit disappointed.)

4) Mr Turner


Mike Leigh’s biopic of perhaps the greatest painter of all time. Starring Timothy Spall, whose performance is probably the greatest of his life, thoroughly deserving of his award at this year’s Cannes. A rich and human look at JMW Turner. The film also excels in the cinematography department, doing its best to illuminate and colour the world from the Painter of Light’s eyes. If you’re as into Turner as I am, then this you’ll love this.


3) The Double


Richard Ayoade’s take on Dostoevsky’s novel offers far more depth than his last couple of comedies.  The film, at times dark and psychological; always bleak and hilarious, stars Jesse Eisenberg whose performance grounds the film perfectly. For fans of David Lynch or Franz Kafka, not to mention fans of Ayoade’s earlier work. Not quite as wonderful as Submarine, but that might just be me.

2) Under the Skin


A psychological surrealist piece, probably the most experimental film of this year, also probably the best film to come out of the British Isles in a while. Scarlett Johansson’s performance is as unnerving as the bizarre plot. Visually and audibly the film shines; an unsettlingly eerie score frames the alien mental landscape that the film produces visually. For fans of experimental cinema, Upstream Colour, Persona.

1) The Grand Budapest Hotel


My film of the year might not come as any surprise. Wes Anderson’s comedy is without a doubt the best film he’s ever made. As meticulous as you’d expect, the film takes place in Anderson’s hand-crafted world of innocence, magic, sophistication and extravagance. The film’s sweet little clockwork world tightwalks above a surprising amount of depth. I’m reminded of David Foster Wallace as I follow what seems at first glance to be something reminiscent of Disneyland, stylish and graceful but largely empty, yet as the film develops you discover intrigue and a deceptive plot, every bit as postmodern as the visual cues suggest.