This has been one of the toughest end-of-year Top Ten’s I’ve ever come up with. Although there were many good movies this year, there hasn’t (for me) been a clear winner, and well I’ve not managed to get around to some of the real big hitters like 12 Years A Slave or Boyhood, to name two. However listed below is my final Ten of the year compiled from the best movies I watched and reviewed (for the first time) in 2014. Note: I try and limit the contenders to movies released in the last two years.
1. Guardians of the Galaxy
2. American Hustle
3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
4. The Wolf of Wall Street
5. Dallas Buyers Club
7. Inside Llewyn Davis
9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
10. Saving Mr Banks
Honourable mentions: Gone Girl, The Raid 2 and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Tom Hanks as Walt Disney. I didn’t predict that, but such a versatile and skilled actor can seemingly inhabit the bodies of many characters you may never have pictured him as … Forest Gump springing immediately to mind. This based-on-true-events tale tells the troubled history to bring much loved children’s book “Mary Poppins” to the big screen, and the difficult relationship that builds between the legendary studio mogul and author P L Travers (Emma Thompson).
From the start this is sprinkled with the whimsical, magical feel of the classic movie and has the timeless music and songs showcased throughout, albeit during their inception rather than being delivered by the stars. Jumping back and forth between the onset of Disney’s acquisition of the rights to Travers’ creation, and her childhood back in Australia … I was swept away by a very moving and emotional story with a brilliantly cranky Emma Thompson at the top of her game. Her performance may be at times unlikable and a tad annoying but expresses the complex personality and inner-demons of Travers well, and is equally mirrored by Hanks remarkable Disney … eye-opening for those not overly familiar with the man himself, and charming and likeable in a way only Hanks can achieve. Paul Giamatti as Travers’ chauffer is also good, and his slow-burning friendship with Travers is one of the movie’s highlights.
For me I would have liked less flashbacks (despite a rather good Colin Farrell as Travers alcoholic father) and a bit more behind the scenes of Mary Poppins’ production (no look-a-like Dick Van Dyke or Julie Andrews? A two second glimpse doesn’t count!). Yet this was still very sweet, uplifting and funny. Well worth checking out.
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