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Best of 2014

Feature: Shayne’s Top 20 of 2014 (Australian Release Schedule)

After years of being conflicted, I've finally made the choice that my end of year list would strictly adhere to the Australian release schedule. Therefore, to be eligible the film had to receive Australian theatrical or home release in the 2014 calendar year. This excludes exemplary films that I have seen (Birdman, The Imitation Game) from being included due to their delayed release in this country. 

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Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

2011's surprising Rise of the Planet of the Apes was an impressive showcase of how a fairly simple, modern science fiction story could be propelled to compelling new heights thanks to an emotional and industry-changing motion capture performance by Andy Serkis. The film wasn't perfect. The human characters were fairly one dimensional and the script had its issues, but the project was moving and clever enough to do more than justify its existence as a reboot. 

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Review: Dallas Buyers Club (2014)

Hollywood's current renaissance man, Matthew McConaughey, is almost completely unrecognisable as he radically transforms his much-beloved physique into a skeletal wasteland. Enjoying a rather impressive career revival (The Lincoln Lawyer, Mud, The Wolf of Wall Street), the severity of McConaughey's method acting pushes the actor to his absolute limits in order to deliver a tour-de-force performance that makes his career's earlier 'heart-throb' antics a very distant (and welcomed) memory.

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Review: 12 Years a Slave (2014)

12 Years a Slave is a beautiful and emotionally haunting film that deserves to be recognised for the masterful work that it is. It is also unapologetically confronting and upsetting viewing where audiences need to be prepared for the sheer explicitness of its content. Director Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame) presents a shockingly raw and unflinching depiction of America during its most shameful era.  

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Review: The Past (2014)

Esteemed Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s follow up to his Academy Award Winning A Separation, is a deliberately paced and realised study of family turmoil and the lies we are prepared to swallow and accept as adults.  Working for the first time outside of his homeland, the film’s exploration of the sheer inescapability of family brokenness seems to be a clear allegory for Farhadi’s own inner torment in dealing with the magnitude of the crises back in Iran. 

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