The very best crime movies of 2014
It’s coming up to the end of yet another year. Before we start looking towards 2015, let’s look back at 2014, shall we? It’s been a good year for movies with the likes of Interstellar, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Mr. Turner all hitting the big screen. But it’s also been a particularly strong twelve months for our favourite genre – crime. Here’s our pick of the best crime movies of 2014.
The very best crime movies of 2014
Gillian Flynn’s original book was a huge hit before David Fincher adapted it into one of the smartest films of the year. Afterwards? Who knows when she will eventually leave the bestselling paperback chart! A very good book was turned into an excellent film. Tight plotting, a chilling soundtrack and magnificent turns from its two stars, Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, put this twisting domestic thriller into the films of the year category. An Oscar nod next year? Quite possibly.
Intense, unsettling, irresistible. Jake Gyllenhaal’s Louis Bloom is a very strange but very oddly watchable main man in this ’80s-tinged LA-set outing. Don’t be distracted by the film’s sleek styling or Gyllenhaal’s magnetic performance though – this story of a sleazy tabloid crime cameraman’s descent into madness more than delivers as an unnerving crime thriller too. The grown-up Donnie Darko steals the show, sure – but he’s supported very able by the likes of Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed and Bill Paxton. An absolute must see.
Taking the revenge thriller genre and turning it on its head, Blue Ruin shows what would actually happen if a normal man decided to seek vengeance on the men that had wronged him and his family in real life. It’s so bleak and slow and with our ‘hero’ not being a naturally violent man, his mission takes you on a riveting journey where you truly don’t know where you’ll end up. This stripped-back noir very quietly demands your full attention. Seek it out.
The Raid 2
The Raid was perhaps 2011’s most surprising film. An action film directed by a Welshman, set in Indonesia and starring no one you’ve ever heard of. Who cares, eh? Well, lots of people as it turned out. Arguably the most intense, inventive and frenetic crime actioner ever filmed, many thought its madcap staging couldn’t be topped. But that was before they saw the heart-stoppingly fast-paced follow-up this year. Following rookie cop Rama’s one man mission to bring down a crime enterprise, The Raid 2 needs to be seen to be believed.
With two of the manliest stars it could have cast in Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini (in, sadly, his last screen role), this tale of a stoic Brooklyn bartender who works in his criminal cousin’s mob drop bar might not be the most original crime drama ever, but if you like your films uncompromising and reminiscent of the early work of Martin Scorsese, then this film should be left bruised and battered, right up your alley. It co-stars The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’s Noomi Rapace, Rust and Bone’s Matthias Schoenaerts and a very cute little pit bull terrier indeed.
A Walk Among The Tombstones
Based on Lawrence Block’s book of the same name, we see Liam Neeson take on a slightly different character to the kind we’ve come to expect from him of late. As former NYPD tough guy Matthew Scudder, Neeson is a recovering alcoholic and a man eager to keep violence in his past. Which isn’t always easy when you’re a private investigator hired by a drug dealer (Downton Abbey’s emerging star Dan Stevens) to investigate the kidnapping of his wife. It’s tough but thoughtful. A more mature and realistic version of the likes of Taken, this thriller is by-the-numbers, sure. But all those numbers are nearing ten out of ten.
Cold In July
Boasting an unusual leading cast including Dexter’s Michael C. Hall, character actor Sam Shepard and ’80s heartthrob Don Johnson, this muggy and murky potboiler – based on the 1989 novel by Joe R. Lansdale – sneaked in just a few cinemas in the UK with little to no fanfare. So we’ll forgive you if you’ve not heard of it. Catch it on DVD, though – it’s a seedy, strange and gruesome little slice of Southern Gothic, very much in the Cormac McCarthy style.
Before I Go To Sleep
SJ Watson’s 2011 novel of the same name was a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller, gripping crime fiction fans with its tale of crime, memory, trust and deception. And its adaptation didn’t disappoint. The sheer power of Nicole Kidman’s performance as the protagonist Caroline Lucas was a thing to behold. Ably flanked by talent such as Colin Firth and Mark Strong, fans of the book need only wait until mid-January for its DVD release.
The Keeper of Lost Causes
We’ve come to expect quality when we tune in for a Scandinavian crime show on TV, but Nordic film thrillers have generally lagged behind their small screen cousins a tad. So it was good to see ‘Kvinden i buret’ (as it’s known back home) really stand up and be counted this year. Following police inspector Carl Mørck and his partner Assad as they’re assigned a cold case of a missing woman, this top procedural drama works best when the top leads are sparring with one another. A superior cop outing.
A top year indeed for crime in film, we think you’ll agree. Here’s hoping 2015 lives up to the lofty heights of its predecessor…
What do you make of our list? Have we missed something off? Let us know in the comments below!