The 2014 Next Projection Film Awards (Complete)


Top Ten Films of 2014

1. Under The Skin 
2. Boyhood 
3. Stranger by the Lake 
4. The Grand Budapest Hotel
5. Ida 
6. Whiplash 
7. Inherent Vice 
8. Gone Girl 
9. Nightcrawler 
10. The Tale of Princess Kaguya 


Best Film of 2014: Under The Skin (Jonathan Glazer)

As one would expect, the entire atmosphere of the film is foreign; Glazer has coaxed the audience into the feeling of alienation despite the fact that the film is set in a city identical to any large and bustling society. He achieves this through his abstract technique. For example, the sequences of men being ‘consumed’ aren’t reminiscent of any alien consumption that has ever been explored on screen before. Their fate remains blurry whilst Glazer explores this through what the audience can only assume are metaphors; continually lavished with the identical scene of the unwary male following in the footsteps of the stripping female and slowly being submerged in the ground that the audience has just witnessed her walk across, this presents the viewer with a number of reasonable and logical explanations. That is before of course, the audience remembers that Under The Skin is devoid of humanly reason and logic, traits confined only to the psyches of humanity. These scenes don’t require explanation simply because the film doesn’t conform to the cinematic expectations of humankind. Like the subject matter, the film is as alien as the premise; it cannot be predicted, explained or comprehended that is it what makes the film so captivating. It’s this aspect of Under The Skin that some critics simply can’t palate; because this film follows no previous filmmaking formula, no filmic convention or typicality, it is positively alien to watch. Despite being at the heart of much of the film’s debate, this is easily the most commendable aspect of the film. Under The Skin is as unique and inventive as films get, offering a totally refreshing and new experience that is totally thrilling and enthralling to behold. [ZOE DE PASQUALE]

Runners Up: Top Ten of 2014 upcoming….

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Best Director: Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel

One of those oh-so-rare instances in which the Academy’s penchant for conflating “Best” and “Most” might actually make sense, Wes Anderson’s finest directorial job yet sees the indie darling finally fusing his hyper-stylised symmetrical sensibility with the peculiarities of the people he’s picked to enact it. If, as just about every critic endeavoured to point out, Anderson’s approach here is to use the eponymous hotel as a life-size doll’s house, it’s as the fulfilment of a career spent slowly drifting toward a now-ubiquitous style. Much as it might sound like a dreadfully impersonal way to work with one’s cast, Anderson’s evident takeaway from his stop-motion Fantastic Mr Fox has been to treat his actors like dolls; the manner in which he dresses and blocks the likes of F. Murray Abraham and Bill Murray foregoes the reserved respectability so many of his contemporaries might opt for instead in favour of a decadent decorousness that acknowledges human beings, in essence, as inextricable aspects of the movie’s mise-en-scène. [RONAN DOYLE]

Runners Up: Richard Linklater, Boyhood & Jonathan Glazer, Under the Skin


Worst Film of the Year: The Legend of Hercules (Renny Harlin)

The Legend of Hercules is not only a failure as a take on Hercules, but a complete failure as a film. From the acting to the visuals, the film is hard to watch and its many elements are as bloodless as its mediocre battle scenes. But don’t worry; all of the actors are real pretty. [DEREK DESKINS]

Runners Up: God’s Not Dead, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Winter’s Tale 


Best Actor: Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel

The finest example yet of Wes Anderson’s uncanny ability to hinge a character on the underscored ironies that exist between player and played, Fiennes’ M. Gustave exists at once as a ludicrous—and ludicrously funny—luvvy and an eloquent mouthpiece for Mitteleuropa melancholy. That so many of the film’s veritable army of a supporting cast had only the most inconsequential of appearances was a common criticism of the film, yet up against a player as on-form as this, who could possibly come out looking anything other than fleeting? Like a pristine fusion of a Noël Coward character and the playwright himself, Fiennes delights in the script’s shimmying from oh-so-English adages to pithy profanity, relishing the role for the once-in-a-career opportunity it is. It’s a testament to his work that we enjoy it tremendously too: Fiennes is every bit as much the eye-catching ringmaster of this vibrant circus as is Gustave of his own. [RONAN DOYLE]

Runners Up: Michael Keaton, Birdman & Jake Gylenhaal, Nightcrawler


Best Actress: Scarlett Johansson, Under the Skin

The true silver lining of Under The Skin, the touch that sets it apart from the rest is the truly stellar performance of Scarlett Johansson. She finally gets to shine in a career-defining role that should garner her critical acclaim across the board. Her praying mantis-like composure of the foreign femme fatale is captivating: the way in which she transitions from charming sultry seductress to emotionless, detached enigma is astounding. When her character smiles, Johansson artfully maintains this human nothingness in her eyes, allowing her smile to appear as nothing more than a muscle movement, lips stretched over teeth. There is no charm to her facial expressions, merely an unmoving absence of humanity. She has captured the essence of a foreign being perfectly and we, the audience, cannot relate to her at all despite her being (or at least appearing to be) one of our own. (ZOE DE PASQUALE)

Runners Up: Marion Cotillard, The Immigrant & Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl 


Best Cinematographer: Dick Pope, Mr. Turner

Mr. Turner introduces its protagonist with a beautifully captured establishing shot during his travels to Holland where he can be seen at work while making sketches of the picturesque landscape. The film is a visual delight with quite a number of impressive landscape shots that capture the beautiful scenery including sunsets and dramatic nature panorama shots. Cinematographer Dick Pope, who has worked with Leigh on quite a number of films already, is responsible for these stunning shots that resemble Turners actual paintings, especially in terms of the soft colors that are used and the warm but intense lighting of the scenes. (CORINA ROTTGER)

Runners Up: Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman  & Daniel Landin, Under the Skin


Best Foreign-Language Film: Ida (Pawel Pawlikowski)

As Anna weathers these existential crises, she finds another in a saxophonist (Dawid Ogrodnik) at a local dance hall. Ida sets itself up as the story of Anna reconciling herself with a world she has spent her life divorced from, experiencing temptation, but mostly just experiencing life after years of being sheltered. But it is also the story of Wanda, a bruised woman who has weathered hard times and has seen too much of the world she is revealing to her niece. Pawlikowski asks us to observe and embrace these women, but also to place them in a larger context within the history of his native Poland—at a place and a time where Poland was still recovering from the atrocities it had experienced at the hands of the Nazis, and the way it had in some sense perpetuated them. Though at first glance, Ida is a small scale, intensely focused drama of discovery, upon rumination it becomes clear the film has much more on its mind than just the fates of its two central women; it contemplates the fates of a nation, the sweep of history and the way it manages to catch people up in its swell, whether or not they have any desire to become involved. Anna learns much of herself as she glances back at her past, as she learns of the darkness from which she has come and tentatively tries to decide what it means for where she may be going. The world is out there, just beyond the edges of the frame, just beyond her perception. It’s begging to be found, and it’s stranger and more superb, more dangerous and more wondrous than Anna, or any of us, can possibly imagine. (JORDAN FERGUSON)

Runners Up: Two Days, One Night, Leviathan, Stranger by the Lake


Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Runners Up: Agata Kulesza, Ida  &Uma Thurmann, Nymphomaniac


Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Chazelle penned the script of the thriller, Grand Piano that was well reviewed by Next Projection. Chazelle follows up with a riveting thriller that builds the tension and erupts like a volcano. The narrative is simple. J.K. Simmons delivers a career-best performance and Miles Teller adds yet another terrific performance to his young career. Andew (Teller) is a young jazz drummer on his journey to becoming “one of the greats.” Standing in his way (or to help him on his way?) is his ruthless instructor, Fletcher (Simmons). Fletcher’s tactics resemble that of R. Lee Emery in Full Metal Jacket. Fletcher is more cruel however because the audience expects a drill sergeant to be mean; we are not conditioned to believe the same from a music instructor. (ADRIAN CHARLIE)

Runners Up: Edward Norton, Birdman  & Tyler Perry, Gone Girl


Best Youth Performance (under 21): Ellar Coltrane, Boyhood

Linklater took a considerable risk when he embarked on his 12-year project (2001-2013). Funding could have disappeared, key actors could have become permanently unavailable, and his lead, Ellar Coltrane, a six-year-old boy, could have grown disinterested in the role or dropped out for any number of reasons. Linklater also had to find and maintain the narrative spine connecting Coltrane’s character, Mason, across that world-changing 12-year expanse. When Linklater takes Coltrane – a young actor who both literally grew into the role and into Linklater’s indispensable collaborators on Boyhood – to the edge of young adulthood and the first real taste of parent-free independence (college), he’s also taken the audience with him on a unique, if at times overlong and meandering, journey. (MEL VALENTIN)

Runners Up: Noah Wiseman, The Babadook & Tony Revolori, The Grand Budapest Hotel  


Most Anticipated Film of 2015: Knight of Cup (Terrence Malick)

Knight of Cups is an American drama film written and directed by Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line, The Tree of Life, and The New World) and produced by Nicolas Gonda and Sarah Green. As of May 2013, the film was in post-production. Distributors have confirmed the film to be released in 2015. Watch the trailer for Knight of Cups right here.

Runners Up: The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Star Wars: The Force Awakens , Mad Max: Fury Road


Best Animated Film: The Lego Movie (Chris Miller, Phil Lord)

Had The Lego Movie been a bland piece of animated fluff, it would have certainly made plenty of money. The Lego brand holds such strength that plenty would have purchased tickets, if for nothing else than a sense of nostalgia and curiosity. Thankfully, The Lego Movie is so unlike the base simplicity of its many replaceable pieces. The film has a similar scattered and go-for-broke sensibility that Phil Lord and Chris Miller have instilled in their previous works Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street, but here it feels more measured and certainly more focused. The team understands everything that Lego represents. Legos are tools for imagination, interconnecting pieces that allow generations an outlet to create. As we grow older the sets and books of instructions pose limitations on our own minds. The buckets of Legos should serve as a reminder to let your mind wander and to push against the strictures of procedure. Yes, the film is absolutely hilarious, but past the ridiculous jokes it has something to say about the way in which we live. The Lego Movie is absurd and silly to the extreme and through all the laughs it manages a fresh wit that embodies all that Legos are to children and adults alike. (DEREK DESKINS)

Runners Up: The Tale of Princess Kaguya, Ernest and Celestine, Song Of The Sea


Best Comedy Film: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson)

The film features many of the director’s characteristic trademarks. One of them is Anderson’s collaboration with certain actors. Besides Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori, The Grand Budapest Hotel features a huge ensemble cast that includes many familiar faces from previous Anderson films such as Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Adrien Brody and Owen Wilson to name a few. Even though some of those mentioned only have small roles and just appear in one or two scenes, Anderson manages to keep on bringing them back to work for him. The comical mood of the film is highlighted by the use of colorful sets and props that are also quite common for Anderson and his aesthetic visual design. Especially the facade and the interior setting of the Grand Budapest Hotel is abound with kitsch.

Runners Up: The LEGO Movie, Obvious Child, Inherent Vice


Best Horror Film: The Babadook (Jennifer Kent)

Anchored by a stellar performance by Essie Davis, The Babadook is a creepy, nightmarish tale packed with plenty of twists and turns to keep its audience invested. Davis plays a widow whose young boy Samuel is nowhere near recovering from the death of his father, a problem that only worsens when a book filled with violent images and sinister monsters inexplicably appears on his bookshelf. Strange things begin happening around the house, ultimately culminating in one of the best haunted house scenarios in recent memory. First-time director Australian director Jennifer Kent succeeds in creating an overwhelming sense of dread and terror by showing as little as possible. There’s some really great writing on display here, from the way the film handles the mental illness metaphor permeating the entire story to the refreshing way it provides its young character with a complete arc. Cinema needs more directors like Jennifer Kent. Hopefully she’s here to stay.

Runners Up: Under the Skin, Cheap Thrills, Only Lovers Left Alive


Best Romance Film: Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch)

In Only Lovers, Jarmusch updates the vampire into a contemporary setting: there is an immortal/classically romantic musician with a suicidal outlook, his devoted henchman who traverses the underground music scene, and his hypnotizing and free-spirited wife who commands your attention with her blank stare. Jarmusch also updates another creature of the horror genre: zombies. The outside mortals are constantly referred to as “zombies,” evoking a post-apocalyptic denotation as well as a cultural wasteland connotation. The dichotomy of the vampires and the zombies establishes an “us vs. them” notion, one that is transposed from its horror roots into a conditional situation of brooding existentialism. (JOSE GALLEGOS)

Runners Up: The Fault In Our Stars, The Lunchbox, Stranger by the Lake  


Best Action Film: Snowpiercer (Bong Joon-ho)

For all its exquisitely designed set pieces, kick-ass action sequences, and larger-than-life performances, Snowpiercer works because of the small-scale elements of the film. Anyone can make a movie that is huge in scale, but it takes a true master to find the human drama amidst the chaos and tell it in a way that makes those big set pieces part of a journey rather than an obligatory action scene. Ultimately what Boon has created is a celebration of life, hope, and the human spirit embedded in one of the most unique films ever made. (DANIEL TUCKER)

Runners Up: The Raid 2, Edge of Tomorrow, Guardians Of The Galaxy  


Best Science Fiction Film: Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer)

There is little to complain about in Under The Skin, a film that provides audiences with what they undoubtedly crave: new and fulfilling experiences. Critics will slam it and say it lacks formula, pace, structure, thoughtful dialogue and artful vision but they of course, are missing the point entirely. The film is in a league of its own, a league that it has created just for itself. It is a polished and well-honed gem of a film and all the praise in existence wouldn’t be sufficient to award it the honours it deserves. Artfully enthralling, innovative and simply brilliant, Under The Skin is in one word, unmissable. If you are a human being, you are obligated to watch such a compelling and thought-provoking thriller. (ZOE DE PASQUALE)

Runners Up: Snowpiercer, Interstellar, Edge Of Tomorrow  


Best Documentary Film: Citizenfour (Laura Poitras) 

The genius of Citizenfour is that it represents the convergence of a pertinent topic, elite storytelling, and a resonating impact which is, for at least several years to come, yet unresolved. To bill this film as “the Edward Snowden documentary” (as even I have done) is to cheapen both the execution of the film itself, as well as the broad importance Citizenfour holds in American cinema and politics. Director Laura Poitras shoots and ultimately crafts the film like an effective undercover thriller, but don’t be fooled; the people are real, the documents are authentic, and the footage is the purest form of “source material” possible, making it an achievement in documentary filmmaking. (RYAN GIMARC)

Runners Up: Jodorowsky’s Dune, Life Itself, What Now? Remind Me 

The Next Projection Voting System

For every category each Next Projection participant was given 30 votes to spread amongst 1 to 3 selections. They were given the option of allocating 1 film 30 points or 3 film 10 points each; the breakdown and how the points were divided were entirely based on the participant. If the participant didn’t include any voting breakdown and only one film per category was provided, each selection was given 30 votes. If a participant did not feel they had seen enough to vote in any of the categories, they were allowed to skip the category entirely. With regards to the Top Ten Films of 2014 category, each participant was given 100 votes to spread amongst 1o films. As previously mentioned, how these points were divided up were based entirely on the participate. If a list of 10 films was provided but no voting breakdown indicated, each film received 10 votes each.


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