(By Movie Moron) With 2014 about to be flushed away, to bob alongside the memories and fatbergs in the sewer of history, now seems the perfect time to slyly glance back over our shoulder at the Top 10 best British Films of 2014.
Oh and before we leap headfirst into the rundown (rundown, not rub down – shirt back on, please), for the purposes of this list we are defining a British film as a film made in Britain, set in Britain, produced using mostly British cash and/or with a good-sized rabble of British actors in it. Simple, eh? Cue the countdown!
20. Hector And The Search For Happiness
Simon Pegg packs up his ordered professional life to embark on a global odyssey, all in the name of discovering the secrets of a truly joyful life. It’s a quest which carries him across the globe, taking in China, Los Angeles and more.
And yet, for all his wandering, Simon discovers that true happiness actually begins at home, in the shape of soulmate Nick Frost, entirely naked and with a single daisy perched delicately between his meat-buns. [No it doesn’t – ed.]
19. The Railway Man
Colin Firth stars as Eric Lomax, who meets his dream girl (played by Nicole Kidman) on a train and promptly marries her.
Blimey, 10 minutes in and the movie’s over – who’s up for a pint?
Er, not so fast, chugalug. From that starting point we proceed backwards, delving into Eric the Younger’s experiences as a wartime POW (played by Jeremy Irvine, who does a decent impersonation of older-ego Firth), toiling on the Burma-Siam railway.
Based on the best-selling memoir by Lomax (who died in 2012), The Railway Man offers a solid, well-made WWII story, while feeling a bit much in the best possible taste to truly distinguish itself from similar tales told previously on the silver screen.
18. Cuban Fury
Okay, so yes, it’s more formulaic than an algebra textbook. And its reliance on its logline gag of lovably chubby Nick Frost shaking his sequin-clad ass is as heavy as… well, lovably chubby Nick Frost.
But hey, hold on there. Cuban Fury trots out just enough good-natured mirth to save itself, largely thanks to Frost’s innate likeability, not to mention the support provided by Ian McShane, aka Deadwood’s Al Swearengen, who shows up as a typically foul-tempered dance instructor.
Want to see a bespectacled man in his 50’s have a meltdown over a pack of cheesy wotsits? Downhill is a small, unfairly overlooked British comedy about four old school buddies, now middle-aged (including Jeremy Swift from Downtown Abbey, Karl Theobald from Alpha Papa and Ned Dennehey channeling Withnail), embarking on a coast to coast walk across the UK. En route they each go through a mid-life crisis.
From a first time feature director, it’s deceptively slight at first but by the end you’ll realise you’ve watched an accomplished, well-constructed character piece. The cast have a great dynamic and amusing moments abound. Admittedly you’ll probably appreciate it more if you’re pushing the grand old age of 30+.
The last time the writing of journalist Jon Ronson was committed to film, the result was Men Who Stare at Goats, an adequate but formula-friendly take on interesting true-life source material. For Frank, inspired by his own adventures with late British performance artist Frank Sidebottom, Ronson assumed scripting duties himself, alongside Goats screenwriter Peter Straughan.
And the result? Er, an adequate but formula-friendly take on interesting true-life source material.
As the ivory-tinkling main character, Domhnall Gleeson is stuck in irritating Richard Curtis vom-com mode that hopefully will have been lightsabered out of him by the time Episode VII opens. Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Carey Mulligan in Llewyn Davis, but minus any humour or charisma. So it’s left to Magneto himself, Michael Fassbender, to save the day, all from inside a papier-mâché head.