The Year in Film

Chronicle critics throw in for Boyhood


As we make our break with 2014, we reflect on the movies that will outlast the year – the best of the best that have already transcended the parameters of the calendar year. We present the Chronicle film critics' Top 10 lists with the usual caveats.

Making lists is exquisite agony. Critics tend to have a love/hate relationship with Top 10 lists. Composing them is an evaluative exercise, important for keeping the critical faculties sharp, steady, and in tune. Composing them is also a whiny struggle against the strictures of lists, the limitations of the measly 10 slots, the worthy movies that can find no place to belong on the list, and the vagaries of time (today's top pick could be tomorrow – or next month's – faded darling). The lists are really snapshots of moments in time, and may only reflect truths as they appear at the second the deadline buzzer sounds.

Reading other people's lists can be a blast – reactions can range anywhere between "my kid could paint that" for picks that seem obvious to "what were they thinking" for choices that seem bizarre or off-kilter. Maybe the lists serve as guides to movies that might have slipped past readers' radar during the year. Or maybe the lists slip from publication into your streaming queues. Others like to compare their own lists (informal or not) against those of the pros. Another way to look at these lists is to see reviewers' tastes side-by-side, making it easier to size up how their opinions compare and contrast with your own.

I'm delighted to see several titles on the Chronicle's combined Top 10 which have not appeared on every film list out there. Highlights include the Australian spook show The Babadook; Jim Jarmusch's vampires-in-love seduction Only Lovers Left Alive; the dazzling Snowpiercer; the taut, one-man-show Locke; and the punk girls coming of age in We Are the Best! Because the Chronicle makes all types of films eligible for Top 10 consideration, the celebrated documentary Citizenfour, the popular foreign film Force Majeure, and the widely beloved The LEGO Movie also appear in our combined Top 10.

Before the usual charges kick in about local boosterism, which arise whenever any of Richard Linklater's projects receive hometown recognition, I'd like to repeat the observation that Boyhood has been named Best Film by a vast number of national critics' groups, received several Golden Globe nominations, and is considered a top contender for Oscar nominations in numerous categories. Although only four out of six Chronicle critics put Boyhood on their Top 10 lists, the four who did listed the film as their No. 1 choice, making it a shoo-in for first place.

The Austin Chronicle's Top 10 Films of 2014

1) Boyhood (40)

2) Force Majeure (35)

3) Birdman: or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (33)

4) The Grand Budapest Hotel (23)

5) The Babadook (21)

Only Lovers Left Alive (21)

7) Citizenfour (18)

8) The LEGO Movie (13)

Snowpiercer (13)

10) Gone Girl (12)

Honorable Mentions: Locke, We Are the Best!, Whiplash (10)

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Top 10 Films 2014, -Boyhood, Force Majeure, Birdman: or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Babadook, Only Lovers Left Alive, Citizenfour, The LEGO Movie, Snowpiercer, Gone Girl, Locke, We Are the Best!, Whiplash

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