“There are no two words more harmful in the English language than good job.”
-Terence Fletcher (Whiplash)
2014 has rivaled some of the great years when it comes to movie releases. I haven’t had such a tough time narrowing a list down since the great film year of 2007. As a side note, because of where I live, there are a few films I’ve yet to see which very well might have made my list. Those movies are: Inherent Vice, Birdman, Selma, and Ida. I would also like to add that these are my favorite films of the year, not necessarily the best, although that may go hand in hand.
Bong-joon Ho’s sci-fi masterpiece about a group saved from a man-made climate change was one of my most enjoyed experiences in a theater this year. Chris Evans and John Hurt slide perfectly into the reluctant hero and mentor roles. Ho does a great job of turning this on its head at the end of the film. And WOW! What a performance by Tilda Swinton.
9. The Guest
The subversive You’re Next was a minor hit and landed in second place on my list last year. This year Adam Wingard lands on my list again. The Guest is a unique and fun action-thriller that stretches Dan Stevens’ acting to an awesome place. Wingard’s catchy ’80s style score adds another layer to an already fun film.
Boasting the best performance of the year, Nightcrawler is more than a cynical character study. Nightcrawler is a critique of American consumption. Jake Gyllenhal gives the performance of a lifetime, and director Dan Gilroy has positioned himself as an up-and-coming filmmaker.
7. Lego Movie
Whether it’s voicing an awesome animated character or being Star Lord, it’s the year of Chris Pratt. As the voice of Emmet Blockowski, Pratt brings the cliche’ of being an underdog to a new level. Lorde and Miller also rocked 2014 with multiple great movies, but Lego Movie was certainly a surprise. Everything is AWESOME!!!
6. Gone Girl
I had high hopes for David Fincher’s Gone Girl, and he certainly didn’t disappoint. Rosamund Pike was a revelation as Amy Dunne, and I can’t imagine her not getting a nomination by the Academy. Fincher’s beautifully gritty style elevated this story. Ben Affleck was perfectly cast, and this movie had one of the best twists of the year.
5. Blue Ruin
The one movie I can almost guarantee most of you haven’t seen is Blue Ruin. But guess what? It’s readily available on Netflix. I don’t want to give away too much, but Jeremy Saulnier has crafted a Cohen brothers-esqe thriller with heart. Macon Blair is great as a bumbling criminal who seeks revenge. Do yourself a favor and watch Blue Ruin ASAP!
4. 22 Jump Street
Lorde and Miller do it again. With their second entry on my top ten list, the directing duo give us the best comedy of the year. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill reach levels of hilarity that we haven’t seen in years! Ok that might be hyperbole, but this meta comedy was fantastic.
3. Guardians of the Galaxy
Like I mentioned before, this was the year of Pratt. Guardians was not only one of the most enjoyable films of the year, but it was also the highest grossing. Marvel is on a roll, and so is Pratt. Let’s hope they both keep churning out great films like this next year. James Gunn brought his unique visual style to the Marvel universe and didn’t miss a beat. Let’s not forget Dave Batista as Drax. That might have been the surprise of the year.
If I’m being absolutely honest, 1 and 2 are interchangeable, but for list purposes I chose Boyhood for number 2 (my wife’s number 1). Boyhood was such a beautifully shot, directed, edited, and acted film that I am confident it will win a ton of awards. Richard Linklater is a visionary, and the tenacity it takes to make a film like this is something most will never understand. I’m hopeful for the future of cinema because of films like Boyhood.
My favorite film of the year is Whiplash for two reasons: J.K. Simmons and Damien Chazelle. J.K. Simmons gives my favorite performance of the year as a drill instructor… I mean music teacher with penchant for demeaning his students. Damien Chazelle showed more promise than any other young director this year. His eye for talent and tension will make him someone to watch out for in the future. Not to be left out, Miles Teller was fantastic. I could watch him in anything, even Divergent!
There it is! My top ten movies of the year. A few honorable mentions are: The Babadook, Grand Budapest Hotel, Foxcatcher, Captain America, and Interstellar. The worst movie of the year was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which was just horrific. What were your favorite movies of the year?