After 7 years of me doing end of year movie lists you should probably know the drill. No 2014 list for me, my soft spot for Asian cinema means that I will probably have to wait until next year (if not 2016) to watch all the best 2014 films. Instead here's a rundown of the best films I watched throughout 2014. As you might notice, most are from 2013 (Q.E.D.!). If you're looking for the previous editions, here you go: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008.
10. R100 (2013)
Hitoshi Matsumoto returns with another crazy comedy. It's pretty much impossible to describe what R100 is about, but if you've seen Matsumoto's other films you should roughly know what to expect. Quality between different scenes varies, the middle part is a bit dull, in contrast the entire finale belongs to the absolute best Matsumoto ever put on film. That alone is reason enough to give R100 a chance.
09. Minuscule - La Vallée des Fourmis Perdues (2013)
Minuscule is clearly aimed at a younger audience, but at the same time it's one of the most charming "bug" animations ever made. It's pretty a much a silent film that mixes real-life footage with little CG creatures. The effect is magical, even when the plot is pretty simple and hardly manages to hold everything together. It might not work as well when you've already seen the short films this is based on, but otherwise it's a superb little charmer.
08. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Wes Anderson finally did it, he cashed in on his potential. The Grand Budapest Hotel may well be his most stylized film and that's a good thing. It's probably also his funniest one, with a strong cast, lots of visual grandeur and a messy storyline that amuses from start to finish. It's 200% Anderson and it was about time he gave us that.
07. Geung Si (2013)
Chinese vampires aren't quite like their Western counterparts. There are no fangs, no stakes, no bloodsucking. Instead they act more like a cross between ghosts and zombies. It's good knowing this when watching Geung Si [Rigor Mortis] because it would be a shame to see Juno Mak's first feature film ruined by faulty expectations. It's by far the most atmospheric horror flick to come out Hong Kong ... ever. Mak's talent knows no boundaries.
06. Mogura no Uta (2013)
Aahhh, Miike is back. Mogura no Uta [The Mole Song] is a culmination of all the good parts of Miike's older work. It's a comedy, it's a crime flick, it has crazy Yakuza gangs and it's also very very weird with plenty of trademark Miiike moments. The all-star cast is clearly in on the joke, the film looks amazing and Miike shows there's still plenty of life left in him. It's the Miike film I've been dying to see the past 10 years.
05. Jigoku de Naze Warui (2013)
Some part of Jigoku de Naze Warui (Why Don't You Play in Hell?) is about Sion Sono's motivation to become a director, The other part is about a crazy bloodbath that embodies the genre-bending fun that characterizes Sono's work. Fumi Nikaido is on her way to great career, Sono is already there and keeping things fresh.
04. Kaze Tachinu (2013)
Quit while you're ahead. It's a strange thing to say about a director who passed his 70th birthday, but as a director Miyazaki is still in his prime. You don't need more proof than Kaze Tachinu [The Wind Rises]. It's a great film to end a sprawling career, an ode to an airplane architect wrapped up in strong moral ambiguity. Miyazaki will be missed, that's for sure.
03. Moi-bi-woo-seu (2013)
It took him a while, but Ki-duk has fully resurfaced. Moi-bi-woo-seu [Moebius] is a tough, relentless film, but it's not all gloom and doom. There's not a single line of dialogue, there's one actress playing two different roles and quite a few graphic scenes. It's reminiscent of the old Ki-duk, only more direct and more powerful. It's a film exclusively for the fans of his older work, others better stay away from this one.
02. Shi Hun (2013)
It took Mong-Hong Chung a while to direct a follow up to Di Si Zhang Hua [The Fourth Portrait], but Shi Hun [Soul] more than makes up for the wait. A superb mix of genres, blending traditional Chinese arthouse with strong, stylized crime cinema. It's a stunning film to look at, it comes with a terrific soundtrack and packs a mean punch. It's not as easy to get a grip on at first, but that just means you're watching something unique for a change.
01. Miss Zombie (2013)
The top spot is reserved for one of my favorite directors. Hiroyuki Tanaka has been recovering slowly for a little creative dip, but even then I hadn't expected such a major leap from him. Miss Zombie is a stylish, black & white arthouse zombie affair that really knows no equal. Superb soundtrack, lush visuals and an intriguing plot make this the best film I've seen all year. Just don't expect a run of the mill horror film, this is really something else.