Films by Tour Guides

Letterboxd

The team at Letterboxd — a social network and online diary for film lovers — compiled its top 20 films for the 2014 festival based on all ratings cast by its 120,000 members to date, and they appear below (from Boyhood to Locke, list may be shorter in some regions). Any films premiering at the festival won’t have ratings, and thus were excluded.

The last few films (starting with The Dark Horse) are additional picks that caught the eye of one or more of the team.

Boyhood

Richard Linklater

Richard Linklater’s enthralling and moving drama of a boy’s progress from childhood to young manhood is truly unprecedented: it was shot over 12 years, capturing its star and his fellow cast as they themselves grew and changed.

Beauty and the Beast

La belle et la bête

Jean Cocteau

A beloved classic of French cinema returns in a stunning digital restoration. Lovely Josette Day and magnificent Jean Marais star in Jean Cocteau’s retelling of the great Gothic romance.

Under the Skin

Jonathan Glazer

Scarlett Johansson is an alien creature in human guise cruising Glasgow on a mysterious mission to lure young men. Jonathan Glazer’s eerie spellbinder amalgamates chilling fantasy with covertly filmed reality.

Jodorowsky’s Dune

Frank Pavich

A riotous look behind the scenes of the greatest movie never made: Alejandro Jodorowsky’s proposed super-production of Frank Herbert’s cult sci-fi novel Dune, which was to star Orson Welles, Salvador Dali and Mick Jagger.

Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

Jigoku de naze warui

Sono Sion

The latest from Japanese cult favourite Sono Sion (Suicide Club, Love Exposure ) delivers a rousing and hilarious midnight movie pitching two bloodthirsty Yakuza clans against a band of chaotic wannabe filmmakers.

At Berkeley

Frederick Wiseman

A thoroughly absorbing documentary exploring multiple facets of America’s most famously progressive public university, while students and administrators negotiate the gathering threats to accessible tertiary education.

Starred Up

David Mackenzie

Jack O’Connell plays a violent young offender transferred to the same high security facility as his long incarcerated father (Ben Mendelsohn). Jonathan Asser’s script imbues brutal prison drama with raw inside knowledge.

The Lady from Shanghai

Orson Welles

Vintage film noir gloriously restored. Baroque plot complications engulf footloose Irish sailor Orson Welles on a Caribbean cruise with a crooked lawyer and his sultry wife Rita Hayworth (then Mrs Welles).

We Are the Best!

Vi är bäst!

Lukas Moodysson

Swedish director Lukas Moodysson returns to the subversive high spirits of his earlier Show Me Love, adapting his wife’s graphic novel of 80s schoolgirl misfit friendship – and no-talent punkette attitude.

Winter Sleep

Kiş uykusu

Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Jane Campion’s jury awarded the Palme d’Or for Best Film at Cannes this year to this provocative and engrossing study of unwitting male pride and its fallout by Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

The Lunchbox

Dabba

Ritesh Batra

Classic movie romance beautifully transposed to the rhythms and flavours of modern-day Mumbai. Hearts are kindled when a lunchbox, designed to delight the cook’s husband, is accidentally delivered to a more appreciative stranger.

Manakamana

Stephanie Spray, Pacho Velez

In this hypnotic observational documentary from Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab, a fixed camera captures diverse travellers – from devout pilgrims to media-savvy metalheads – riding the gondola to and from a Hindu temple in Nepal.

Hard to Be a God

Trudno byt’ bogom

Aleksei German

A visionary ‘medieval’ sci-fi epic based on the Strugatsky brothers’ 1964 novel, this brutal, visceral and densely detailed final masterpiece by the late Russian maestro Alexsei German was over a decade in the making.

The Punk Singer

Sini Anderson

An inspiring close-up encounter with feminist punk rock legend Kathleen Hanna. Frontwoman for Bikini Kill throughout the 90s, then the hugely popular dance group Le Tigre, she’s a powerful presence onstage and off.

Home from Home: Chronicle of a Vision

Die andere Heimat: Chronik einer Sehnsucht

Edgar Reitz

This supremely cinematic epic of mid-19th century German rural life by Heimat director Edgar Reitz chronicles the quests and conflicts of country families hoping to escape poverty and famine by forging a new life in Brazil.

Enemy

Denis Villeneuve

Jake Gyllenhaal delivers two great performances in this compelling and creepy doppelgänger tale about a dishevelled university professor who spots his exact double performing in a movie, and tracks him down.

Snowpiercer

Joon-ho Bong

Korean auteur Bong Joon-ho’s much anticipated sci-fi epic, his first English language production, finally hits NZ screens in his original director’s cut. Starring Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton and Song Kang-ho.

Frank

Lenny Abrahamson

Michael Fassbender and Maggie Gyllenhall play fiercely avant-garde musicians in this weirdly celebratory satire of an obscure art rock band propelled via Twitter into the limelight.

The Double

Richard Ayoade

A faceless bureaucrat (Jesse Eisenberg) and his suave doppelgänger (Jesse Eisenberg) compete for Mia Wasikowska’s attention in Richard Ayoade’s stylish, retro-future take on Dostoevsky.

Locke

Steven Knight

Tom Hardy mesmerises as a man dealing with crisis on all fronts, making and taking frantic phone calls as he steers his BMW through the night. Steven Knight’s breathless feat of real-time drama is set entirely inside the car.

The Dark Horse

James Napier Robertson

Be the first in the world to acclaim a moving new New Zealand film. Cliff Curtis is superb as the late Genesis Potini, the speed chess champion who passed on his gift to countless East Coast children.

Life After Beth

Jeff Baena

This charmingly off-beat, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy breathes new life into the zombie flick. Starring Parks & Recreation’s Aubrey Plaza as back-from-the-dead Beth and Dane DeHaan as her confused boyfriend.

Housebound

Gerard Johnstone

Welcome home to the Kiwi horror house comedy that took SXSW by storm. Gerard Johnstone’s brilliant genre mash-up stars Rima Te Wiata, Morgana O’Reilly, Glen-Paul Waru and Cameron Rhodes.

Kung Fu Elliot

Matthew Bauckman, Jaret Belliveau

This surreal Slamdance-winning doco captures two years in the lives of a passionate amateur filmmaker, his supportive girlfriend and their outrageous cast – all trying to realise his dream of martial arts stardom.

Cold In July

Jim Mickle

This edge-of-your-seat thriller keeps you off-balance with unexpected consequences when reluctant hero Michael C. Hall kills an intruder in his Texas home. Also starring Sam Shepard and a scene-stealing Don Johnson.

The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

Brian Knappenberger

This lucid, punchy doco tells the story of Aaron Swartz, the tech genius who eschewed the rewards of Silicon Valley to become a net freedom activist and found himself targeted by the FBI.

Orphans & Kingdoms

Paolo Rotondo

In writer/director Paolo Rotondo’s debut feature, three teenagers on the run break into a deluxe Waiheke Island home and find themselves caught in a tense psychodrama with the conflicted owner.

Maps to the Stars

David Cronenberg

David Cronenberg’s gleefully toxic satire of Hollywood vanities stars Robert Pattinson, Mia Wasikowska, John Cusack, startling newcomer Evan Bird channelling Justin Beiber; and, in her Cannes-winning role, Julianne Moore.

It Follows

David Robert Mitchell

“With its marvellously suggestive title and thought-provoking exploration of sex, this indie chiller is a contemporary horror fan’s dream come true.” — Tim Robey, The Telegraph

Pulp: a Film about Life, Death & Supermarkets

Florian Habicht

NZer Florian Habicht’s acclaimed collaboration with Jarvis Cocker fixes the triumphant 2012 concert billed as Pulp’s last ever within a loving portrait of Sheffield and Sheffielders.