Daily | Lists | AV Club, Dissolve,

Life Itself

Poster by Luke Cloran

Three big online film publications have rolled out the results of their in-house polls, so let’s have a look, taking them in alphabetical order. First, though: As with Slant‘s list, each of the films on all three lists gets its case argued in a solid paragraph by a strong writer. You’ll want to give these lists more than a quick scroll.

Richard Linklater‘s Boyhood tops the lists at the AV Club and the Dissolve, both of which run to 20 films and feature contributions from Mike D’Angelo. Rounding out the team at the AV Club are A.A. Dowd, Jesse Hassenger, Ben Kenigsberg, Nick Schager and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky; at the Dissolve, Genevieve Koski, Noel Murray, Keith Phipps, Nathan Rabin, Tasha Robinson and Scott Tobias.

The highest ranking film on the AV Club‘s list that doesn’t appear on the other two is Ramon Zürcher‘s The Strange Little Cat at #7. “How rare to encounter a film (and a debut, no less!) of such casual brilliance and offhand delight,” writes A.A. Dowd. Also at the AV Club: the individual ballots and the results of the readers poll.

At the Dissolve, you’ll find Dan Gilroy’s directorial debut at #11; it didn’t make the other two lists. “If Jake Gyllenhaal weren’t so magnetic in the role of Bloom, Nightcrawler wouldn’t work. But Gyllenhaal is great, and Lou Bloom joins the ranks of classic movie creeps, fitting somewhere between Travis Bickle and Gordon Gekko.”

#1 at is Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin. Ida, which didn’t make the other two lists, is in at #5. “Director Pawel Pawlikowski has had success previously, including the well-received 2004 coming-of-age drama My Summer of Love, but he seems to have elevated his game by doing his first film set in his homeland,” finds Susan Wloszczyna. Ten ballots have made up the list, but 25 individual ballots have been posted.

So, too, has a word from the editors: “There is one film not on the list below that we all hold so close to our hearts that it proved understandably difficult to compare to the rest of the films screened this year. To say that we have a personal connection to Steve James’s documentary Life Itself would be a drastic understatement. Without Roger Ebert, none of us are here…. At screenings around the world, from Sundance to Ebertfest to Cannes, Life Itself has carried a rare emotional resonance. So consider it an unspoken, perhaps asterisked eleventh title.”

Another round of three. Cinephiles tend to keep their distance from the trades, but Variety‘s chief film critics are proven men of taste. Justin Chang‘s #1 is Boyhood: “The most experimental of mainstream filmmakers (or is it the other way around?), Linklater has transfigured the ordinary into the extraordinary—an achievement that belongs equally to Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke, giving long-arc performances of unerring emotional truth.”

For Peter Debruge, it’s John Michael McDonagh’s Calvary, “a powerful statement about faith and penance amid increasingly skeptical times.” And Scott Foundas goes with Goodbye to Language: “Decades from now, the inspired meeting of 3D and the singular cinematic poet and provocateur Jean-Luc Godard may claim a place in the canon alongside Chaplin’s smile and Al Jolson’s first words. But by any measure, Godard’s effusive/mournful, impish/heartfelt tower of moving-image babel was, moment by moment, the year’s headiest picture show in this galaxy or the next.”

“Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida is by far the best movie of the year,” argues David Denby in what may be his final top ten for the New Yorker. Last week, theater critic John Lahr broke the news via Twitter that Denby would be stepping down as film critic. New Yorker director of communications Natalie Raabe rushed to clarify that, as James Wolcott puts it, “not only would Denby continue writing for the magazine but that he would not be replaced—Anthony Lane would now be the sole movie critic, wearing a fresh carnation in his lapel to indicate he means business.”

At HitFix, Gregory Ellwood‘s #1 is Wes Anderson‘s The Grand Budapest Hotel, a “delicious box of Mendel’s perfection that is gorgeously made with pitch perfect performances and narrative surprises at turn after turn.”

“The 10 Best Film Scenes of 2014”: The staff at Slant write up “10 essential moments that kept our eyes open and thoughts racing more than any other.”

In lieu of a top ten, Filmmaker‘s Sarah Salovaara has “decided to discuss five thematic climaxes that illuminate or challenge what’s brewing between the frames in these five fantastic films”: Tsai Ming-Liang’s Stray Dogs, Frederick Wiseman‘s National Gallery, Ruben Östlund’s Force Majeure, Under the Skin and Goodbye to Language.

The Playlist picks the “22 Best Documentaries” (#1: Jesse Moss’s The Overnighters) and the “21 Best Performances of 2014″ (#1: the Birdman ensemble).

#8 in J.R. Jones‘s countdown at the Chicago Reader: Dan Krauss’s The Kill Team.

Warning of spoilers, the staff at Thompson on Hollywood look back on the “Ten Best Scenes of 2014.”

“As far as disgraceful social injustice and disgusting political corruption go, 2014 was a vintage year,” writes frieze co-editor Dan Fox. “So for me, two of the most significant works made by artists in 2014 were not artworks. The first of these, Laura Poitras’s film Citizenfour, is an astonishing historical document… What Citizenfour makes clear is how few documentary films actually record a story of global proportions unfolding in front of the director’s camera.” The second work, by the way, is the W.A.G.E. Certification campaign by Working Artists for the Greater Economy.

The 2014 Lists and Awards Index. For news and tips throughout the day every day, follow @KeyframeDaily. Get Keyframe Daily in your inbox by signing in at

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