The best films of 2014

10. Men, Women & Children

Masterfully written and directed by Jason Reitman, the genius behind Juno, this film perfectly encapsulates our era by examining the effects of social media, texting, and the Internet on the psyche of society.

9. Tusk

In all my time spent watching movies, I can’t say that I have ever seen anything quite like this. Kevin Smith’s daring and chilling horror film is about a podcaster who is surgically transformed into a walrus. Part fable, part comedy, all horrifying, Tusk is far better than it has any right to be.

8. Gone Girl

This is a twisted and often hilarious satire on western life; it’s also the best thriller of the year. Gone Girl twists and turns, changing perspectives and the audience’s opinions of each character. Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck deliver memorable performances in their archetypal roles, as they challenge our perception of the hard-working American white man and his hot, blonde wife.

7. Boyhood

Shot over the course of 12 years with the same actors, Boyhood jumps from one year to the next as the actors age on screen from scene to scene. Never has a film reflected reality and time so closely.

6. Ida

Ida is an understated and subtly powerful film about not only an orphaned teenager’s identity but also the identity of an entire nation. At first glance, this is a simple story of discovery — but look closer, and it becomes a haunting portrait of Poland in a crisis of identity.

5. The Immigrant

I haven’t cried during a movie for a long time, but this story of a Polish immigrant who moves to America during the 1920s is an exception. The Immigrant offers up a palette of characters that are battered, broken, and stuck in horrible places while treating their decisions and backgrounds with respect and compassion.

4. The Lego Movie

The best animated film since Wall-E follows an average Lego person as he fulfills an ancient prophecy to help defeat the evil Lord Business who wants to glue the world on Taco Tuesday. The film deserves its popularity for its humour and playfulness, but it’s also worth noting the profundity of its themes and messages.

3. Citizenfour

This documentary by Laura Poitras takes place over eight days in the confinement of a hotel room in Hong Kong, where Edward Snowden and other journalists sort out how they are going to release confidential NSA documents. Poitras has made a thriller out of real life that acts as a wake-up call to those unaware of government intrusions on personal privacy.

2. Enemy

Denis Villeneuve is the greatest Canadian director working today. Enemy, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, is his most remarkable achievement to date — a dense and stylish examination of the internal psyche of a man caught in an affair. This surreal and eerie film gets in your head and refuses to leave.

1. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

The glory of Birdman is that it never ceases to entertain while remaining a profound artistic statement. It’s a movie that demands to be seen by film buffs and popular audiences alike. Birdman is technically innovative, intellectually challenging, gut-bustingly funny, and entirely dazzling.

Honourable Mentions:

The Babadook, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Foxcatcher, Frank, Hide Your Smiling Faces, Inherent Vice, Noah, Mommy, Top Five, and Two Days, One Night.