2014 was a great year for Films. While films like Birdman, Whiplash, The Babadook were genre transcending; some films like Coherence, Interstellar, Predestination left us scratching our heads and a few others like The Theory of everything, The Imitation game made us familiar with historical events. But as we look back and go through the various films that were so religiously watched the past year, we see a lot of powerful films not getting their deserved recognition. So in honor of the various films that went off the radar here is our small list of 20 Criminally Underrated films that are a must see.
20. Of Horses and Men | Director: Benedikt Erlingsson.
‘Of horses and men’ is a strikingly original, absurd and unconventional tragic dramedy that is painted on the scenic beauty of Iceland through different episodic interaction between horses and their riders or owners. It’s fairly unpredictable and engaging. Intentionally missing subtitles for impenetrable language is a little annoying but that is the sole purpose of the director who makes you understand that relationship between men and horses is more expressive without spoken words. Director Erlingsson wants us to look at human behavior at its most primal, through the eyes of these horses.
19. Something Must Break | Director: Ester Martin Bergsmark.
Something must Break was an intense romantic tale of two people who are exploring sensuality and sexuality. Sebastian is a transgender male who accidentally happens to meet punk but sensitive Andreas, and they drift along doing prankish things.
Most of the intensity comes from both the characters trying to embrace the reality, where Sebastian is looking for intimate relationship with Andreas, she is finding it hard to accept his bisexuality. The film is original, intense, little difficult to watch and has terrific lead performances.
18. The Congress | Director: Ari Folman.
An excellent meta animation film that is impossible to fully get the first time. Folman makes a damning dissection of capitalism, IP wars, internet freedom, affects of aging for an artist, love and loss and many, many more socially relevant standpoints with his trademark off-center approach.
17. To Kill a Man | Director: Alejandro Fernández Almendras.
‘To Kill a man’ is based on the true story about a tormented family who is harassed over two years of time period by local thugs lead by Kalule. The film has very minimal dialogues and expressions and it does not get into details of what the family went through in those two years, except that they have been constantly bullied and harassed by Kalule and group. In the process, protagonist Jorge’s son is shot once and his daughter is sexually harassed. Finally, Jorge takes up the matter in his hand and seeks revenge on his own. At a run time of just 80 mins, this was one of the best revenge dramas of 2014. Almost as good as Blue Ruin, if not better.
16. Strangers By The Lake | Director: Alain Guiraudie.
Strangers by the Lake has been shot with acute realism on one location, near and around the lake that itself looks beautifully haunting, and scary by the end. It is a masterfully constructed mystery drama that takes its time to arrive at its plot.
Until then exceptional performances of actors playing peculiar characters and their life keeps you invested in the film. It is certainly not a comfortable watch, given that almost for entire time men on the beach are walking, cruising, conversing and exchanging romantic gestures naked.
15. Miss Violence | Director: Alexandros Avranas.
Miss Violence is one of those bizarre Greek films that is painted using a black brush on the black canvas. From the opening scene, where a 11 year girl commits suicide on her birthday, things get too horrifically complicated when the entire family pretends as if nothing has happened. On the top of that, the moment you settle for something good to happen after all those silent but disturbing scenes, it unfolds more hidden secrets of the family that might even offend your sense of family values. It carries uncanny resembles Dogtooth and Attenberg but Miss violence is more horrific in nature.
An oddball film about oddball characters. This weird film deals with people who range from being passionate about music to people for whom success is everything. The atmosphere of the film is very strange and it falls between being tragic and witty with a sort of humor that’s very raw. Frank is about two people. Even though they have a common medium – Music, their approach differs.
13. Bethlehem | Director: Yuval Adler.
The movie works on multiple level. It does not give room for you to breath throughout its running length. Primarily Bethlehem is a story of entangled loyalties midst of bitterness. With so many players, Bethlehem moves at a brisk pace, which sometimes does not fully explore the emotional nuance of the characters in the movie.
Said that, movie beautifully captures the dreadful consequences of Israel- Palestine conflict on day to day life of people inhabiting the place. Director Yuval Adler never takes side of any forces, but depicts them with utmost accuracy solely based on human characteristics.
12. Locke | Director: Steven Knight.
If you can look beyond the obvious, this Tom Hardy one-man-show, is a summation of grandiose notions – the car denoting the constant movements in life, the concrete being a metaphor for the need of a foundation in life or else everything comes crumbling down. Locke is one of those film that not only manages to get you by your gut and make your feel what the protagonist is feeling, it also manages to engross you into its premise that doesn’t really leave a confined car.
11. Lilting | Director: Hong Khaou.
Lilting was one of the most genuinely moving and soulful dramas 2014. The film never hogs on commercial or emotional content for the sake of evolving more than what it is. It deals with two people in grief from two different cultures over the loss of a common person. It’s been over an year now, but we can still not get the opening scene of the film out of our heads.