You’ve seen the worst, now prepare for the best.
I had a lot of movies that I really liked this year too. And unlike the worst list, everything on this list I gave a 4 out of 4 too. This is the cream of the crop.
Some films I didn’t get to see yet from 2014 that may have made this list. I have heard good things about A Most Violent Year, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, many documentaries, and Two Days, One Night. I won’t update this list either, just know it in case you think one of these should be at the top.
Honorable Mentions: Fury, Joe, Whiplash. There were probably more 4 out of 4s, but these would have been the next in line I think.
15) The One I Love
The One I Love is one of those surprises to make my list. This film flew by me completely under the radar, only found it because I was looking up Mark Duplass movies in boredom. And hey, it was an incredible indie flick that was also very simple in nature.
The entire performance is resting on the shoulders of our two main leads, and their performances are incredibly realistic for this situation. It is a Science-Fiction movie without outer space or rockets or gadgets. Just love, romance, philosophical debate, and many questionable situations after another in a very morally gray way.
14) Muppets Most Wanted
For those of you who read my The Muppets review, I thought the movie was okay. I didn’t grow up on the TV show, never watched it, but understood most of the pop culture references to it. I think I ended up watching more Muppet Babies, which I don’t think is canon. But the sequel? Muppets Most Wanted? I smiled from start to finish.
The music was basically done by Flight of the Conchords and it showed. Everything felt witty and original. I don’t think there was a single disappointing song in the whole picture. Which is why, awkwardly enough, this was my highest rated musical for the entire year. There were a lot of movies that should have been contenders, but some failed miserably, some were pretty good, but none made me this happy and excited.
13) The Imitation Game
Now my list might start looking like other “real reviewers”, but I warn you not to get used to it. The Imitation Game was actually nominated for Best Picture and there are many reasons why. Benedict Cumberbatch is awesome, generally taken as fact. It is about one of the most exciting non combat parts of World War II, the solving of the German Enigma Code.
Now, I don’t care too much if a movie takes historical liberties with the past, as long as we get a good story, and I am pretty sure that is what occurred here. I think a lot of the drama may have been exaggerated or created, but the important truths are still in tact, and it sucks what happened to Alan Turing. I didn’t think it would make me cry, but sure enough, the drama always wins in the end.
12) X-Men: Days of Future Past
Comic movies?! It is hard to imagine that the same studio who makes The Wolverine and other shitty X-Men movies can put out a masterpiece like Days of Future Past. On its own, it is an ambitious title, because time travel is always a tricky subject. First Class was a good movie and a step in the right direction, but I couldn’t have imagined the sequel jumping this many leaps and bounds to give an incredible comic book movie experience.
Although not my favorite comic book year, it did help give some faith to Fox Studios and pump me up for the next X-Men flick, Apocalypse. I hope this leads to even more ambitions films in the future and willing to break the mold of a typical super hero plot line.
11) 22 Jump Street
Yes, back to the “what? really?” aspects of my list. 21 Jump Street surprised me, mostly because it seemed like such a bad idea, the cast didn’t make sense, and the reboot felt unnecessary. I was wrong. The idea for the sequel, 22 Jump Street, I also thought was terrible. And I was wrong again, but more.
Phil Lord and Christopher Miller must have been completely bonkers to write this movie, as they took the idea of a comedy sequel, and went meta as fuck with it. Channing Tatum is secretly a comedic mastermind. That has to be it. I was cackling in the theater, almost to the point of pain. I am excited for the next 20 sequels they produce.
10) Big Hero 6
2014 was also an incredible year for animated films. A lot of heavy hitters this year, definitely more than the last few years when there tended to be one film above the rest. Big Hero 6 was this years submission by Walt Disney Animation studios, who gave us Frozen, Wreck-It Ralph and Tangled. But it was also partnered with Marvel Studios, given the ownership and all, to give us an incredible animated movie.
What I remember the most about this movie is the color and imagery went into creating this futuristic cross-cultured city. Oh, an the fun action scenes. And the humor. And yeah, it is just a wildly fun movie. The studio keeps putting out incredible work, and honestly, I can imagine this taking best animated film just as easily as any other movie nominated.
9) How To Train Your Dragon 2
Which brings me to How To Train Your Dragon 2. Me and Dreamworks have not been getting along, giving me mostly crap or only okay stuff for the last few years. For the first How To Train Your Dragon, I mostly just hate how lazy the ending riding conflict felt, and thought it could have done a lot better.
I actually don’t know what I like more, between this and the last movie. They are by far my favorite animated films of the year. The only reason I am giving HTTYD2 an edge is due to its vast improvement over the original. They both went to some dark places, both made me cry, and both were beautiful in every way. But a great story that wasn’t afraid to get dirty and wasn’t afraid to set the franchise up for bigger and more intense things.
Look, if you had told me I had to watch a movie about a guy on the phone for an hour and a half, I would have been probably upset with you. I get enough of that by riding public transportation every once in awhile. Unless that film was Phone Booth, I probably wouldn’t care.
But despite the plot, Locke is about Tom Hardy on a phone, driving along the interstate, making the hardest decision of his life. And that is it. And I was floored by how invested I became in his story and the choices he made. This plus The Drop cemented Tom Hardy as a wonderful actor, but we already knew that from Warrior, right?
7) Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The third and final comic book movie on my list, Captain America: The Winter Soldier started off the summer blockbusters right. And in April at that! Marvel is doing great things by making their different movies into different genres under the Superhero subtext. This one is spy/espionage/political action movie, with a few comedic elements as well to keep us guessing.
Before this movie, like most people, I would have said Avengers was the best Marvel film, but this felt like Avengers 1.5. Guardians of the Galaxy was a great movie, but not one that I thought was super great. Chris Evans is making himself the most important actor to the studios and I hope he gets a sweet ass pay check to represent what this film did to the MCU.
At first I was upset that Nightcrawler wasn’t about the X-Man. And then I was upset that Jake Gyllenhaal turned down his role in Into The Woods to do this movie. Then I watched it and I smacked my past self right in the mouth.
Gyllenhaal is also doing the best work of his career and it is amazing what he did with this role. Probably the best portrayal of sociopath in a long time, this Thriller/Drama explored the dark side of human nature and how just an individual with no schooling and a lot of can do attitude can become a success. No matter what.
5) The Raid 2
I wouldn’t want to make a best list without featuring at least one foreign movie! And that same foreign movie is probably the best action movie in the last 10 years. That number is picked at random, I can’t think of a better action movie 11 years ago. I can only think of The Raid 2. You don’t even really need to see The Raid: Redemption to understand this one.
Admittedly, the plots of these films are a bit weaker. But if you want well choreographed and insane fight scenes, there is literally no better action movie to pick. Over two hours long, and slightly more plot, this movie has more action into its pinky than the entirety of Sylvester Stallone‘s last ten flicks.
4) Gone Girl
David Fincher is probably one of the more celebrated actors of our generation, so whenever he has a new movie, you know peopl are going to rush and see it. I personally was more excited to see Gone Girl because of Ben Affleck. He was the bomb in Phantoms, he was the bomb in this movie. Hell, everyone was the bomb in this movie.
Rosamund Pike gave one of those terrifyingly creepy performances that don’t come along very often. Hell, the last time I saw anything remotely similar would probably be…Nightcrawler. Ah yes, the year of the crazy. But if a movie can feature even Tyler Perry and think he did a great job, you know something magical has happened on your screen. Ever twisting and turning, the wild book turned into a wild movie.
3) The Grand Budapest Hotel
After I saw my first Wes Anderson movie, I was weirded out, didn’t get it, and thought I wouldn’t watch any more of his movies. Just like earlier, I was glad to be wrong, and I have definitely loved his last three movies. The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdoms were both top films the year they came out, but The Grand Budapest Hotel has to be the best movie he has ever made. He has always been great with his cinemetography and quirky characters, but he elevates his directing game to new heights with this picture.
At this point in the article, I am running out of things to say without sound repetitive. GBH is funny and dark, and a great performance from Ralph Fiennes. I think this movie will inspire a whole generation of youths to become Lobby Boys and Hotel owning enthusiasts.
Admit it, you probably figured out what the top two films were a couple movies ago. And that is because they have probably been the most talked about out of all the movies from 2014. I think Richard Linklater is one of my favorite directors. The Before trilogy is probably one of the best and most realistic trilogies ever produced. When I heard he was making a movie that took TWELVE YEARS capturing a boy growing up from 6 years old to 18, I could barely believe it. When I finally got to see Boyhood, the 2.5 hours seemed to flow by.
His journey was the audiences journey. I don’t know if I found it more relatable because I too am a white male or what, but it was like a nostalgia filled journey that I wish would never end. I demand a sequel, but from 18-35. Make this the closest thing I get to having a real life The Truman Show. A crowning achievement of film and directing and one that makes me feel like I gained a friend who I have known my whole life.
1) Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)
Ah Birdman. What a movie. 2014 has some of the most unique films of the decade, and it is a shame that they all had to come out months of each other. When I first saw Boyhood, I thought there was no way a movie would top it for me. It was such a great concept and just felt like the epitome of the movie experience. And then Birdman came along.
Birdman had everything. Deeply dramatic monologues. Comedy. Beautiful visuals. Many ways to interpret the movie after seeing it. Fantastic fucking acting. A great story line. Very meta at the right time. I was blown away with the “single shot” feel of it. Single long shots are some of my favorite things in movies, so making the entire movie with that experience blew every ounce of my mind. ALL OF THE OUNCES. Not to mention making the actors really know their stuff. Having to actually act, like people in a play! Which is what the movie is about! Agghhh! Even the soundtrack rocked.
Even. The soundtrack. Rocked.
And there you have it! The best of the best. Did I leave off anything you think should have been up here? Do you disagree with anything at all? Am I the stupidest person ever? Be sure to let me know and yell obscenities while doing it!