We're now six months into the year, so now seems like as good a time as any to have a look back over the year so far and see how we're doing, quality-wise. After a bit of a mixed-bag at the Oscars – as per usual, the release dates were spread out from last October to this February, so some of the big hitters would've been on last year's Best Of lists – and a so-far good-but-not-great summer blockbuster season (lots of 4 star reviews, but we're still waiting on the 5-star big budget hit to blow us out of our seats), so it's been left up to the left-fielders to fill out our top five list so far.
5. BLUE RUIN
We first got to see this back in the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, to little fanfare or publicity, and it completely knocked the wind out of us. The story of an everyman who finds his entire life consumed by the want for revenge, this is what Drive would look like if it were directed by the Coen Brothers. The rumours are that off the back of this, director Jeremy Saulnier might be directing some of True Detective Season 2. If that's not a huge commendation, then we don't know what is.
4. AMERICAN HUSTLE
When the dust settled, it would appear that everyone say The Wolf Of Wall Street for what it was (a chance for a verified douchebag to be painted as a hero), while American Hustle saw one of the best up and coming directors David O Russell manage to out Scorsese Scorsese. With a too hot to touch cast including Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Louis CK and a never-scarier Robert De Niro, this was funny, smart and incredibly sexy.
3. THE LEGO MOVIE
Let's be honest, this had no right to be any good, let alone as good as it turned out to be. A big budget movie based on a world famous toy... they tend not to end up so great, quality-wise. But thanks to the whip-smart writing and directing from Phil Lord and Chris Miller (who were also behind summer hit 22 Jump Street), a spot on all-star voice cast and some incredibly inventive visuals, this is still the most fun we've had in a cinema this year.
As a follow up to hit comedy The Guard, John Michael McDonagh didn't go the same route as his brother (who went to American with Seven Psychopaths to follow up In Bruges), instead heading off to an isolated parish in Sligo headed by Brendan Gleeson, and giving us a pitch black dramedy dealing with the issues of religion, murder and the general pain of existence. The haters are just as numerous as those who love it, but for us, it was genuinely one of the greatest Irish movies ever made.
Spike Jones is a genius, on that we can all agree. When he announced he was making a rom-com-dram-sci-fi dealing with a man who falls in love with his computer, it sounded … weird. Little did we know it would end up completely spelling out the current mismanagement of love, technology, communication and the loneliness phenomenon of living in a big city. It was so powerfully insightful, so emotionally involving, and so realistically heartbreaking. Yep, still our favorite movie of 2014 so far.
With the good, must come the bad. And this year has not disappointed with the disappointments so far. You know it must be something pretty special when even the Adam Sandler movie doesn't make it into your bottom five...
5. WALKING ON SUNSHINE
This was basically two hours of white noise and bright lights, set to the soundtrack of songs we vaguely recognized, except that the cover versions were so bad, we can't be entirely sure. Camper than the American President's holiday home, with atrociously bad acting, shockingly poor directing (you can actually hear the voices echo in every interior shot!), it's just so obvious that this was someone trying to get some of that Mamma Mia money, while also just having a holiday in Greece.
Johnny Depp plus the cinematographer of The Dark Knight Trilogy on his directorial debut plus a much-loved script plus a great supporting cast should've ended with something great. Instead we got seventeen subplots all battling for superiority, Depp supplying his performance via Skype, and over $100 million of budget resulting in not a single action scene. The potential was there, and was systematically destroyed by wave after wave of bad decisions. Back to the DoP position, Pfister!
3. THE LEGEND OF HERCULES
Kellan Lutz isn't having a great 2014, as his animated movie Tarzan was also terrible, but in the same year that the born-to-do-it Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson is also releasing a Hercules movie, this was the bigger mistake. Directed by Renny Harlin, who hasn't made a half-decent movie in about fifteen years (remember Deep Blue Sea?!), and with Lutz bronzed up with glittery fake tan, and the plot lifted from bits of every Ancient Greece / Rome movie you've ever seen, it was quite a shockingly awful movie to behold. Oh well, at least Lutz still has The Expendable 3 to look forward to...
We don't enjoy coming down hard on Irish movies, because we know how difficult it is to get a movie made, especially when you're trying to do something new like an Irish sci-fi horror. Unfortunately, the makers of Collider tried to bite off more than they could chew, working from a script that feels like it was written by five different people, none of whom were talking to each other, and then directed in a series of dark rooms, with a group of actors who all thought they were acting in different genres. An absolute mess. Almost hilarious so. Almost.
1. I, FRANKENSTEIN
We will never forgive Aaron Eckhart for this. Someone must've seen Underworld and thought 'Let's do that, but with gargoyles and reanimated corpses!' But while Kate Beckinsale in a body tight leather cat suit is sexy, no amount of abs is gonna make Eckhart's made-from-bits-of-other-people character sexually appealing. Add to that the 1994 Playstation graphics during the WHATEXACTLYISGOINGONHERE action scenes, and a plot that... actually, we're not going through this again. Curse you, Eckhart!