Early best-of lists include ‘Birdman,’ ‘Boyhood,’ ‘CITIZENFOUR,’ ‘Under the Skin’

The 2014 best-of-the-year lists have begun rolling in. I've seen Ann Hornaday at The Washington Post speak up (props for the “Edge of Tomorrow” inclusion) and Sight & Sound's annual poll has just landed as well. The critics phase of awards season has commenced.

Let's start with Sight & Sound's list, keeping in mind that international release dates apply:

1. “Boyhood” (Richard Linklater)
2. “Goodbye to Language 3D” (Jean-Luc Godard)
= 3. “Leviathan” (Andrey Zvyagintsev)
= 3. “Horse Money” (Pedro Costa)
5. “Under the Skin” (Jonathan Glazer)
6. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Wes Anderson)
7. “Winter Sleep” (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
8. “The Tribe” (Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy)
= 9. “Ida” (Pawel Pawlikowski)
= 9. “Jauja” (Lisandro Alonso)
= 11. “Mr. Turner” (Mike Leigh)
= 11. “National Gallery” (Frederick Wiseman)
= 11. “The Wolf of Wall Street” (Martin Scorsese)
= 11. “Whiplash” (Damien Chazelle)
15. “The Duke of Burgundy” (Peter Strickland)
= 16. “Birdman” (Alejandro G. Iñárritu)
= 16. “Two Days, One Night” (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
= 18. “CITIZENFOUR” (Laura Poitros)
= 18. “The Look of Silence” (Joshua Oppenheimer)
= 18. “The Wind Rises” (Hayao Miyazaki)

Singular as always. Next, Hornaday's:

1. “Boyhood” (Richard Linklater)
2. “Birdman (Alejandro González Iñárritu)
3. “CITIZENFOUR” (Laura Poitros)
4. “Force Majeure” (Ruben Ostlund)
5. “Foxcatcher” (Bennett Miller)
6. “Under the Skin” (Jonathan Glazer)
7. “Selma” (Ava DuVernay)
8. “Edge of Tomorrow” (Doug Liman)
9. “Beyond the Lights” (Gina Prince-Bythewood)
10. “Locke” (Steven Knight)

There may be more out there already but I'll focus on these for a moment. Both lists share “Boyhood,” “Birdman” and “CITIZENFOUR,” and I absolutely expect that to be a trend as more and more lists begin to filter through. Laura Poitros' documentary, oversold as it is, is an irresistible zeitgeist choice for critics. “Boyhood” and “Birdman” appear to be the big tug of war for critical kudos this season, though critics groups – which begin doling out awards with Monday's New York Film Critics Circle vote – may well look elsewhere if things feel too narrowed too early.

Another film on both lists is “Under the Skin,” which is sort of interesting to me. I worship Jonathan Glazer and think that's a bold and brilliant film in many ways. It's catnip for a certain sort this time of year, though, so maybe it will be a trendy choice, too.

Metacritic high scores for the year include films like “Leviathan,” “Selma,” “Mr. Turner,” “Two Days, One Night,” “National Gallery,” “Ida,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Whiplash,” all of them present on one of these early lists. Others include “Virunga,” “Top Five,” “A Summer's Tale,” “The Overnighters” and “The Tale of Princes Kaguya.”

Speaking of “Whiplash,” I imagine that will be a dominant player on lists, too. And that's a fine example of an indie film the critics can get behind and really push as a must-see this time of year and potentially insinuate it in the Best Picture Oscar discussion.

We'll see how things shape up over the next month. For now, what are your favorite films of the year so far? And do you have any predictions for the upcoming critics voting? Sound off in the comments section.