The Best Movies of 2014 - ATLFF Programmers Pick Their Favorites

January – when we look back on the previous year and make borderline-obsessive lists of things that were the best and worst of the last twelve months. Not wanting to be left out, we asked ATLFF film programmers Kristy Breneman (Programming Director) and Christina Humphrey (Programmer - Shorts) to share their favorite movie watching experiences of 2014.

Kristy Breneman, Programming Director

Films I was most excited about in 2014….

1. Butter on the Latch AND Thou Wast Mild & Lovely by Josephine Decker

I can’t express my excitement enough for these two deeply poetic films by Josephine Decker. She has mastered the visual expression of the unspoken word and used it to create haunting portraits that tap into the depths of our subconscious.

2. Obvious Child by Gillian Robespierre

This romantic comedy about abortion not only sheds light on an important and relevant topic, but it does so with honesty, wit, and humor, making it all the more impactful. Gillian Robespierre and her stellar cast accomplish so much in her feature directorial debut.

3. Boyhood by Richard Linklater

There are many things that fascinate me about this film, but what stands out the most is how much of Coltrane’s life and personality were written into the script. At a sneak preview screening in NYC, Coltrane stated that his characters interest in photography was actually a reflection of his own, and that this interest stemmed from all the time spent on set and being around the set photographer. Linklater, who was also in attendance, followed up by saying if he had shown an interest in football, that would have been written into the script instead, but he was glad it wasn’t. So are we.

4. Girlhood by Céline Sciamma

If there was an award for the most badass film of the year, Céline Sciamma’s Girlhood would certainly take the cake. Fingers crossed this film makes it to Atlanta.

5. Beyond the Lights by Gina Prince-Bythewood

Because Love & Basketball was my jam in high school and someone like Gina Prince-Bythewood shouldn’t have to wait 10 years to get her next film made.

6. Breathe (Respire) by Mélanie Laurent

Mélanie Laurent’s second feature film is a beautiful piece that plays with the dynamics of female friendship. Some of the most powerful scenes are created through magnificent framing in which these dynamics completely unfold as the characters move along the screen.

7. Metalhead by Ragnar Bragason

Ragnar Bragason’s Metalhead features stunning visuals of the Icelandic landscape, a strong female lead, lots of metal and a bit of destruction… what more do you need?

8. The Tribe by Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy

With no spoken dialogue and each scene being done in one take, this film creates a truly unique viewing experience. Once you are captured in the films rhythm, there is no escaping the events that unfold as the camera takes you through some of the most intense, intimate and unyielding moments.

9. The Babadook

Jennifer Kent’s feature directorial debut, The Babadook, was definitely one of the creepiest films I have seen all year. With its jarring camera angles, stunning cinematography, notable art direction, and a frightening performance by Essie Davis, this film has made quite the buzz over the past few months.

10. The Interview

Okay, so NO, this is not the best film I have seen all year, BUT the experience of going to a sold out theatre on Christmas Day with a crowd full of people ironically expressing their patriotism is a moviegoing experience that I will never forget. Plus when was the last time a film, especially one as ridiculous as this, created such hysteria that the President of the United States had to step in to address the nation and encourage them to “go to the movies?"

Christina Humphrey, Programmer - Shorts

1. Under The Skin // dir. Jonathan Glazer

This film breathes like no other film I’ve seen before. Jonathan Glazer stripped me of all expectations, shook me to my cinematic core, and then put a mirror up to it.

And Scarlet? Well, she’s flawless.

2. Ida // dir. Pawel Pawlikowski

I was constantly shuffling frame after frame after frame around in my brain whilst watching Ida. I was desperately trying to determine my favorite among all the favorites. I failed and love Pawlikowski for it. If anyone feels like emulating Wanda at a bar and discussing this Polish gem, I’m your girl.

If you liked Ida, watch Pawlikowski’s My Summer of Love. It won’t let you down.

3. Only Lovers Left Alive // dir. Jim Jarmusch

In early 2014 (and years before), I was groaning about vampire films. That is, until, Jim Jarmusch projected Tilda Swinton onto a screen licking an O negative popsicle and shoved me right back into place. You win, Jim. You win.

4. The Grand Budapest Hotel // dir. Wes Anderson

This gif says it all. I must admit, however, I’ve written a handful of sentences on The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes and nostalgia at Reel Georgia.

5. Nymphomaniac: Vol. I // dir. Lars Von Trier

Uma Thurman’s performance is epic in this film. I could watch her again and again. Additionally, because of Nymphomaniac, I can finally say I like Shia LaBeouf.

6. Selma // dir. Ava DuVernay

This film is monumental for many different people for a myriad of reasons. There’s no denying that. With Selma, I feel Ava is continuing to pry the door open for herself, camera in hand. I, for one, can’t wait to see what she does next.

7. We Are The Best! // dir. Lukas Moodysson

This film is so very charming. My face hurt afterwards from smiling. Underage drinking + awkward teenage years = “Hate the sport!”

8. It Felt Like Love // dir. Eliza Hittman

This coming of age film was so honest. It made me sweat, y’all. Gina Piersanti’s dirty feet are a force to be reckoned with.

9. Goodbye to Language // dir. Jean-Luc Godard

Admittedly, I’m a sucker for Godard. This is the film I’ve seen most recently on this list and I’m still trying to sort out how it made me feel and identify all of the films within the film Godard inserted. Overall, it overwhelmed me, and I liked it.

10. Thomas Bennett // dir. Nathan Honnold

I watch a lot of short films, friends. Thomas Bennett is, hands down, my favorite of 2014. It makes my heart beat like a hammer with thoughts of filmmaking and characters within Atlanta.