Friday, November 14, 2014

AFI Fest 2014: The Final Rankings

I can't think of a festival in Los Angeles that's ever been more of a whirlwind than this year's AFI Fest. Partly, that was because I was part of the New Auteurs jury (alongside Alonso Duralde, Eric Kohn and Anne Thompson), but mostly it was due to the fact that a mad rush of world premieres (some of them announced at the last minute) kept me watching and reviewing highly-anticipated Oscar contenders just about every day. I wouldn't have traded a moment of any of it.

Before I get into the rankings, I'd like to thank the AFI Fest staff, especially Jacqueline Lyanga, Lane Kneedler, Jenn Murphy and Landon Zakheim, who all took such good care of me. They run a fine festival.

Now, to the list. I should say that all 10 films in the New Auteurs section, which focuses on first- and second-time international directors, were all good enough to recommend. (You can see our list of winners right here. I co-sign on all of them.) I've been on juries before, and I know that this isn't always the case: Normally, you have to suffer through some real dogs. So, again, my thanks go out to the programmers for finding the wheat among the chaff.

As always with my rankings, they include films I saw before the festival elsewhere. (I decided to leave off Cinema Paradiso since I haven't seen it in years and barely remember it.) I already can't wait to see my No. 1 film again next year when it gets its official release. I've been intrigued by it since May: I'm happy to report that it lived up to the hype.

28. The Gambler
27. The Wonders
26. Viktoria
25. The Homesman
24. G├╝eros
23. Red Army
22. Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere
21. Blind
20. Happy Valley
19. Tales of the Grim Sleeper
18. Clouds of Sils Maria
17. Leviathan
16. A Most Violent Year
15. American Sniper
14. Run
13. Black Coal, Thin Ice
12. Thou Wast Mild and Lovely
11. Self Made
10. Violet
9. The Duke of Burgundy
8. Wild Tales
7. Jauja
6. Alive
5. Two Days, One Night
4. Still Alice
3. Eden
2. Foxcatcher
1. The Tribe