In my short movie loving life, there’s no doubt that 2014 has been one of the best overall movie years, especially in ratings. From start to finish, there have been movies that are fun, entertaining, emotional, heart warming, gut wrenching, action-packed, and a few that are the total package. Now that 2014 is coming to a close, it’s that time to talk about my personal favorites – here are my top 10 movies of 2014.
10. Edge of Tomorrow
Edge of Tomorrow holds the top spot for biggest surprise of 2014. With easily the worst marketing campaign of 2014, nobody was expecting anything from this movie. We were basically expecting another Oblivion, which starred Tom Cruise. But it was far from that, not just being one of this years best action/sci-fi movies, but overall movies as well.
First off is the story, and how incredible it was. It never slowed down or got boring, there was always something to look forward to. It kept you guessing until the very end, never knowing what’s coming next. A time traveling, sic-fi adventure with an alien attack happening where our soldiers fight wearing exo-suits? Hell. Freaking. Yes.
Normally when there is a Tom Cruise action movie, Cruise is usually the guy that takes it. but in this case, Emily Blunt crushed it and stole the show completely. Cruise was good, don’t get me wrong, but Emily Blunt just solidified herself as one of Hollywood’s best female action stars. She was freaking awesome, by far my favorite part of the movie. Cast her as Captain Marvel!
Jon Favreau may be best known for kicking of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe with Iron Man, but in my eyes his best work yet is Chef. This time doing one of his own projects, and making one of the best family fun movies I’ve seen. Five years ago, who ever would’ve thought a movie about a Food Truck would be interesting to tell, but damn was it good. The best aspect of it all? Focusing on the family element (specifically the father/son relationship) was key, and a total success.
I had so much fun watching Chef – it was heart warming, funny, and even brought tears of joy to my eyes. If you want to watch something to watch with your family or loved, there’s no doubt in my mind that Jon Favreau’s Chef is the one for you.
8. Guardians of the Galaxy
A Human raised by aliens + a human who becomes a ‘Destroyer’ + the universes most deadly assassin who is the daughter of the Mad Titan + a talking tree who’s the last of his species + a talking genetically altered ass kicking raccoon, sounds dumb right? Well add ‘Marvel’ to those and you get this awesome, incredibly fun, and badass movie Guardians of the Galaxy. It is definitely Marvel’s most less known property, and nobody thought a movie about a comic nobody knows would be this incredible.
I am in the group of people who have read the actual comics for Guardians, so I know the characters and world. And let me just say, this movie was pin point accurate. What James Gunn was able to do with this kind of property was just fascinating. It’s the perfect combination of action, adventure, comedy, obscurity, and just flat-out fun – the perfect example of why we go to the movies. As for the Marvel side of it, it opened up an entire new universe that these movies can play with. To worlds, species, characters, and yes, those crossovers everyone is hoping for! Guardians of the Galaxy is everything I had hoped it would be, I can’t wait to see where this franchise goes and what the MCU does with it. He (Chris Pratt) is Star-Lord!
Jake Gyllenhaal is probably my favorite working actor today. Every time he is on screen, it’s as a completely different character from the last. From End of Watch to Prisoners to Enemy, the guy is just magnificent to watch. You thought all those were good? In my opinion, Nightcrawler is his best yet. Not only did he transform his body like no other, but he BECAME Lou Bloom, there was no Jake Gyllenhaal in this movie, just Lou Bloom. He’s creepy, dark, twisted, and very driven – one of this year’s best characters.
Gyllenhaal is for sure the one that will be talked about when Nightcrawler is talked about, but much, much of the credit goes to Director Dan Gilroy. For a first time Director, he absolutely crushed it. Not only was he able to create the amazing character of Lou Bloom, but a world surrounding him that is just as creepy, dark, and twisted. Really taking the term ‘nightcrawler’ to a whole new level.
6. Gone Girl
I’m not much of a book reader, but I know that I’m a David Fincher fan. Even with that said, i really didn’t know what to expect when going into Gone Girl. The trailers always looked great and it helped with early reviews being very positive, but you just never know. Well I can say that whatever kind of iffy-ness I had was completely washed away, what David Fincher did with Gone Girl was amazing.
First off is the story, that incredibly written, thrilling, dark, grounded story. There really wasn’t a moment where I wasn’t invested and tuned in, there wasn’t a moment where it just didn’t make sense, there wasn’t a moment where I felt like something didn’t belong. Everything fit where it was suppose to, and every turn it made kept you on your toes and wondering what the hell is going to happen next. Then there was the casting, the phenomenal casting. This movie worked so well because of the characters and those playing the characters. If there is one thing David Fincher is good at, it’s characters, and this is where that shines.
5. The Imitation Game
I was able to catch this one Christmas Day as it finally came to my area, and it was as good as I thought it would have been, even better. The story of Alan Turing is absolutely fascinating, one of the few true stories that is without a doubt worthy of being told. What Morten Tyldum was able to create on screen was incredible, doing complete to Mr. Turing and his story.
As for those who were on screen, Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, and others absolutely killed it. Cumberbatch was by far the standout as he became Turing, he became this fascinating man with one hell of a purpose. Out of all the roles and movies I’ve seen him in, this is by far my favorite to watch. It’s one of the few movies from this year that I could watch a number of times and still be blown away by it.
Dystopian future movies are kind of coming out left and right these days, with most of them feeling the same, Snowpiercer is the one that is different and stands out. The fact that this all takes place on a (giant) train, but it’s still able to create a very interesting and big world. Unfortunately I couldn’t watch it in theaters as it never played in my area, but man was I into it the entire time. This is one of the two, maybe three movies that you just never knew what was coming, it always kept you thinking. How this story fills out and how these people live is kind of, scary really – going off a very dark and grounded vibe.
I recommend for any films fans to watch and try to understand why this never got the wide release it deserved. The story and plot isn’t just fascinating, but it’s executed almost perfectly – it does helps when your cast (led by Chris Evans) just absolutely crush it.
3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
When Rupert Wyatt’s 2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes came out, we kind of all expected it to be eh. When we walked out of the theater, we couldn’t believe how good it was and what was done. Planet of the Apes is one of the most beloved franchise, and we were just hoping a sequel could be just as good or just near as good. The sequel absolutely crushed it and was by far better, my personal favorite of the entire franchise so far. What Dawn did action wise, story wise, emotional wise, and mo-cap wise – it was flat-out brilliant.
When you think of Planet of the Apes, you think of a sci-fi/action genre type movie, well in my opinion, this movie falls under a drama/sci-fi with a side of action. On a emotional level, there was no better movie this year in my eyes. For a movie about Apes, we felt for these characters and this society of Apes. And instead of the humans just being an afterthought, they were focused on and developed just as well! But there is no question that what Andy Serkis and Toby Kebbell did with motion capture is a revolution, they have changed the game and both gave two of the best performances of this year, I don’t care if they are playing CGI apes.
2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Following The Avengers from 2012, we didn’t know what Marvel had in store for their movies, we didn’t know what was coming. And for one who has read the comics and knows The Winter Soldier story, holy hell did it live up to it and more. This movie holds my top spot for best story, it was incredible. The writing, the directing – it was all done just perfectly.
From the badass action (especially the hand to hand combat, amazing choreography) to the jaw dropping twists/moments to the 1970s spy thriller feel, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the second best Marvel movie ever, and best Marvel solo movie to date. It didn’t just tell a great story for Cap, Black Widow, and everyone else – but it told a great Marvel Cinematic Universe story, one that changed the MCU immensely leading into Avengers: Age of Ultron. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is the best comic book movie of the last two years.
Every so often we get a film that changes our perception, changes the way we look at film – this year, that was Birdman. A psychological drama that keeps a pace like no other, it just keeps trucking. Best part about it? The entire movie looked like one camera shot, that’s how much time and effort was put into this movie. When, as viewers, we can spot the effort put into this scene or an actor with his performance, we start to appreciate it more. For Birdman, I appreciate the whole damn thing because of how it was written, how it was directed, and how it was acted.
If you are still unsure about seeing it (don’t know why you wouldn’t), Michael Keaton’s performance is alone enough to see it. There are great performances everywhere like Edward Norton, Emma Stone, and Zach Galifianakis – but this is Michael Keaton’s show. Earlier I talked about how Jake Gyllenhaal became his character, well this is Keaton on screen. It almost feels like a story about Keaton and he is acting as himself. He is the Best Actor favorite at every award show for a reason. Birdman, its director, and Michael Keaton are my picks to win each nomination they are given. It’s a mesmerizing experience, one I could watch over and over again because of how different it and special it really is.
X-Men: Days of Future Past, 22 Jump Street, Hot to Train Your Dragon 2, and Fury.
Movies I haven’t seen (most don’t play in my area):
The Raid 2, Locke, The Guest, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Skeleton Twins, Foxcatcher, Whiplash, The Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game, Selma, Inherent Vice, and American Sniper.