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Damien Chazelle United States, 2014

Huey McEvoy's rating of the film Whiplash

Acting-wise, it's up there with cinema's great head-to-headers (e.g. 'Sleuth'). But there's also a supreme confidence to the directing: the opening scene sets up the characters perfectly, with no fussy preamble, while those countless macro cutaways give it a kinetic energy to rival early Aronofsky or Boyle. There's also a pleasing ambiguity to Fletcher's actions, exemplified by the controversial ending.