Top 15 Movies of 2014

2014 was a great year for independent artist and for films that live below mainstream films. I tried to organize this list by the films I liked the most but also by the quality of the film.

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15. Boyhood – Incredible direction from Richard Linklater to make a film shot over 12 years, but it suffers from a rather bland story. Nonetheless hats off to the dedication of everyone involved with the film.

 

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14. The Imitation Game – This film gave a breath of fresh life into film watching for me. I love learning about World War II, but I never heard of Alan Turing and his integral involvement in the war and the pioneering of computers. Benedict Cumberbatch delivers a great performance here as Turing, and overall the film is good, but the score didn’t work for me at all. Here’s my full review.

 

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13. Edge of Tomorrow – If it wasn’t for Guardians, this would have been my favorite film of the summer. Sci-fi flicks are my favorites so I was pleased to see the concept of this film unfold. The decision to integrate comedy in the film definitely kept the spirit of the film fun. Unfortunately the final climax could have been more ambitious but nonetheless it’s an awesome film.

 

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12. American Sniper – This film is based on the life of Navy Seal sniper Chris Kyle, and how his tours in Iraq affected his life. Before seeing this film I didn’t know anything about the actual man, but after seeing all the backlash the film is receiving by people on the internet has me wanting to read up on him. However with that aside, it was a great film from Clint Eastwood, and excellent performance from Bradley Cooper. Here’s my full review.

 

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11. Foxcatcher – I think I let my expectations of this film get to high. Steve Carrel’s transformation was definitely shocking, but there was much left to be desired from his character. Channing Tatum gave a excellent performance here, quite possibly his best. Overall it was a well made film with great performances, but I wasn’t able to connect with it.

 

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11. SnowPiercer – This is an interesting film in a world that has frozen over forcing everyone to live on one massive train. The rich live near the front of the train with all the luxery and wonderful things from the world before, while everyone else is forced to live at the end of the train where the living conditions and food are unhealthy for you. Chris Evans is basically Captain America without the suit here as he leads a revolt to the front of the train. This provides for some shocking discoveries and great fight sequences. I love that the film is a simple theme that’s universal but placed in a sci-fi setting that approaches things with a twist.

 

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9. Guardians of the Galaxy – Talk about the funniest adventure of the summer! Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is already impressive but by including this lesser known comic into the mix was an ace decision. The whole entire cast were able to fit perfectly into their roles. The scope of this Galaxy gave me more than I could have ever wished for, surely director James Gunn will bring even more excitement for the second installment. “I am Groot.”

 

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8. Nightcrawler – Jake Gyllenhaal brings to life one of the most eccentric yet clever individuals of 2014, and it’s a shame he got snubbed by the Academy. This crime thriller shows the jobs of “nightcrawlers” and the extremities they go through to get killer footage for these news corporations. This is an excellent film in all areas of filmmaking but for a reason I’ve yet to discover; I wanted a little more from the film.

 

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7. Whiplash – This is the story of a young man (Miles Teller) at a prestigious New York Music School aspiring to become one of the drumming greats, but is physically and mentally tested by the cutthroat teacher Mr. Fletcher played excellently by J.K. Simmons. This is the sophomore film of director Damien Chazelle. There is so much energy contained in this film expressed through the jazz music, incredible editing, and the ferocity of J.K. Simmons. Overall this film is effectively inspiring and one i’ll watch again and again.

 

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6. Gone Girl – I have a love/dislike for this particular film. I have always admired the work of Fincher but never reached the level of loving his films. Gone Girl was definitely one great ride; I can remember all the tension it held and mystery it kept. However it was one of those films that left me satisfied enough to where I don’t need to see it again.

 

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5. Fury – Easily my favorite film of the year for many reasons. I already love World War II, but this time around here’s a film that focuses on a tank unit. I had my doubts about the cast, especially with these strange accents Brad Pitt can have, but man oh man was everyone on point here. This film had some interesting battle sequences, but where the film strikes gold lies within the drama and tension. This film had me able to feel for Norman (Logan Lerman), and the sequence inside the home of the two German women was blisteringly tense. The last thing is that it was shot on 35mm, and who doesn’t love a film actually shot on film.

 

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4. Selma – I did no anticipate how moving of a film this was going to be. Hats off to director Ava DuVernay for creating a film that expresses a more internal look at Martin Luther King Jr. all while having it take place in the time frame of one event. Credit to David Oyelowo who also was snubbed from an nomination, but puts in a phenomenal shift as MLK. I’m sure this film will be one that inspires a whole lot of young females aspiring to be directors, and a lot of black Americans wanting to succeed in the industry. Lastly the last shot in this film was in the essence of perfection.

 

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3. Interstellar – Have you ever heard of anyone crying in a Christopher Nolan film before Intersterllar? This Sci-Fi is a bold and ambitious adventure from the British-American director. Fully equipped with spectacular visuals and A list cast. There are comparisons with Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey which is unfair because they are definitely two different films, but where it hits the mark is through the sense of wonder, amazement, and adventure through the universe. Surprisingly the film deals with human emotion and pain extremely well and this is displayed best through a series of webcam videos. The only problem with this film for me was the final act but I admire the ambition. Let the McConaissance thrive on.

 

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2. Under the Skin – Yup, I may have lost my mind for this film being number two, let alone on this list. Jonathan Glazer brings a loose adaption of sci-fi novel of the same title. I’ve read about the novel and it left me wishing those themes and major points were more apparent in the film. Anyways this film left me in complete wonderment/confusion. The sequences were she lures men into her lair can become quite repetitive after a while, however every other scene asides from those were masterful. There wasn’t a single moment in cinema this year (that i’ve seen) that can match how horrific the scene on the beach was. Much credit to Scarlett Johansson for being able to go switch up displays of humanistic traits, and then being able to go on the complete opposite spectrum of what most humans would do in certain situations. What makes this film even more creepy, is the eerie score from Mica Levi, that is as effective as the score in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. My thoughts I believe have changed on this film but here you can read my full review.

 

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1. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – Easily the film that blew my mind away the most. Alejandro González Iñárritu brings such a wild film together with an incredible cast where they all give some of my favorite performances. Everyone ask my why this is my favorite film, and to be honest I don’t really know asides from the fact I’ve never seen anything done in such a manner. I’m already a massive admirer of Cinematography and the mastermind Emmanuel Lubezki continues to display an incredible vision and visuals here. I suppose Iñárritu must have stumped the Academy here with the editing. The film was made to look like it was done all in one take and they must have taking it literally because Birdman didn’t receive a nomination for editing. Regardless of a nomination or not, it’s incredibly impressive and complements the pace of this film and the nuttiness that lies in the flick. I’m going to have to watch this film again and again because there is just a load of things going on.

 

Well thanks to all who’ve checked out this post! Do you agree with these selections? or do you beg to differ somewhere? I would love to hear! Hopefully 2015 can be just as great, much love.

 

Honorable Mention:

Godzilla – The decision to have the jaws-esque reveal of Godzilla was the best decision for this film. Gareth Edwards handled this film well, but if only he could have gotten Bryan Cranston signed onto the film in the early stages rather than towards the end. The acting never quite reached the levels of his, but than again he’s Walter White.

The Rover – This was a great film with Guy Pearce & Robert Patterson. It has a great slow burn to it was some great action sequences, sadly the conclusion is slightly disappointing. I wonder if I said the word ‘great’ enough?

Only Lovers Left Alive

Only Lovers Left Alive – An interesting look at Vampires from a perspective far different from blood thirsty killers, but shows a more humanistic output. Tom Hiddleston & Tilda Swinton excel here. This movie isn’t about much but easily manages to captivate through the art, music, and interesting outlook on humans from these vampires.

Biggest disappointments:

Enemy – I would have never guessed it; two Jake Gyllnhaals and director Denis Villeneuve coming off the incredible Prisoners. I thought this movie would be destined for greatness, but I was disappointed by the lackluster story and the “shocking” ending. Here’s my full review here

Locke – I loved the look of this film and the great performance from Tom Hardy, but this film had the same problem as Enemy for me. Here’s my full review here

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The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wow, coming off Moonrise Kingdom I was more than enthused for this film. I refuse to believe this film belongs on this section, however until I watch it again this is where I stand. I enjoyed everything about it but the story wasn’t working for me at all; I hope next time around it’s different.

 

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