Well, it’s that time of the year again where I countdown my favorite movies of the year. Like always I didn’t see every movie I wanted to. There were other movies I really wanted to see such as Boyhood and The Wind Rises, but best lists of the year are only relevant for so long. (I didn’t have a definitive best of 2013 until June of 2014, for example). So I’m just going to dive into the movies I liked best – that I saw – in 2014. Also, I wanted to make this a Top 10, but I remembered another movie after I already wrote about other some of my other movies so there!
Nightmare in Cincinatti
Taken out of contention because they were not commercially available… and they were shorts. But they were the movies I got most excited about. Why? Well, my favorite actor appeared in them…
11. Non-Stop – Speaking of movies I wanted to, but didn’t, A Walk Among Tombstones ranks pretty high. But at least I got to see one awesome Liam Neeson movie in theaters this past year. While action movies weren’t exactly scarce in 2014, this was one of the best old-school action movies of the year. The movie wasn’t perfect – It was kind of dialogue-heavy and the big reveal was kind of a “so what?” moment, but those are minor gripes in a well-acted and suspenseful thriller.
10. Into the Woods – Of course we get some spillover into 2015 as I saw this on New Year’s Day. This is another movie that was pretty flawed but still overall enjoyable. I know this movie was based on a stage play, but it still felt a little boxed into the one location. I also thought there were too many musical numbers that featured just one person singing by themselves. But what can I say? I liked the songs, I liked the characters, the moments that were meant to be funny made me laugh. So overall, this was a good movie.
9. Jersey Boys – 2o14 may have left me cold, but I feel like it wasn’t as bad as I built it up to be. For example, I did cross 3 films off my Broadway bucket list. There are few shows I wanted to see more than Jersey Boys, and I got tickets to see it for my birthday last year. And I got a double feature of this show as the movie came out in July. Some of you may wonder why I never wrote a review for this movie when I’m such a hardcore fan of the stage show. The problem is that because I love the stage show so much, a review of the film, I was worried that my review would just negatively compare the film to the stage show. And yes, there were issues – Although the music is present, only the final song has a big musical set piece. The characters break the fourth wall as in the stage play. And it left me wondering if this is a more straightforward biopic, why break the fourth wall? (Also, I did not like Eastwood’s decision to film in such muted colors.) Like the previous entries, the good outweighed the bad. So what if they weren’t big, Broadway-style set pieces? The music is still there, and it’s still good. And these are fascinating people with a fascinating story. Since stageplay tickets aren’t cheap, and there’s no guarantee of the next time Jersey Boys will play in my area, this will satisfy my palette for a while.
8. X-Men: Days of Future Past – I’m not going to lie, this is another movie I wanted to like more than I did. I never read the comics – I’ve actually never read any X-Men comics – so I guess some of the flaws in the story stuck out in the story. Like the fact that Wolverine just HAPPENS to be the only one who can go back, or the fact that the plot is basically The Terminator with X-Men. We also didn’t see as much of the future as I would have liked. At the expense of sounding like a broken record, despite the flaws I liked this movie. There’s a reason I’ve stuck with the X-Men movies – I like these characters, and jokes aside, Wolverine is a badass. Though we didn’t see as much of my personal favorite, Ian McKellan’s Magneto. The new addition of Quicksilver was awesome. The action scenes were incredible. I feel like the marketing may have lead to me not being completely satisfied with this movie. It wasn’t the end-all-be-all X-Men movie I thought it would be, but it was a solid action film, and the best X-Men movie so far.
Also, with the news of the Rogue cut, I’m mixed. Yes, I’m happy to hear about that – especially with how angered I was that Rogue was cut (yet Anna Paquin still got star billing for 3 seconds of screen time – I guess the good news is she still got paid a ton of money). But at the same time, I’m irked that it’s not an extended cut for the DVD/Blu release. I guess that’s one way to get us to see the same movie twice. Don’t expect the Rogue cut to appear on my best of 2015 (unless 2015 ends up being a very slow year). If I count movies just because I saw them in theaters, Saving Mr. Banks and even Ghostbusters would be on this list. And that would just be unfair to the other movies I saw.
7. Guardians of the Galaxy – Confession: I really liked this movie, but I didn’t go as crazy about it as everyone else. Though I think the fact that it’s on this list is indicative of how much I liked this. I hate to quote another critic like this, because it sounds like I only feel that way because they feel that way, but Oancitizen pretty aptly summarized how I felt about this one. The action set pieces kind of went on too long, the villains were forgetful (Come to think of it, I’ve most of the Marvel villains not named Loki forgettable), and there’s an undercurrent of sexism that rubbed me the wrong way. (Womanizer just happens to find “the one”, huh?) But this movie was too much fun to think about it. I’ve always valued character more than story, and this movie delivered on that – I really wanted to spend time with these characters. I wrestled with whether I wanted to rank this or X-Men higher. I think the difference is that while both movies were hyped to the gils, Guardians of the Galaxy lived up to what it promised.
6. Interstellar –
5. How to Train Your Dragon 2 – If there was one movie from this year, that I personally underrated, this is it. It wasn’t until I started compiling this list that I remembered how much I really loved this movie. I think it’s fair to point out that after having issues with every movie prior, this is the first movie on the list that worked on pretty much every level. The animation: Incredible. The fight scenes: Epic. The comedy: Funny. The characters: Lovable. I’ve mentioned not liking 3D in theaters, but this was one of the more worthwhile 3D experiences. Although there were movies I liked better from the year, this is the one I’m really glad I saw in theaters.
4. Gone Girl – I was late to the party on this one, but boy am I glad I saw it. I really hope my review of Man of Steel didn’t create the impression that I dislike non-linear storytelling because I do like it when it’s done right. And Gone Girl demonstrates how to effectively use that style. I love the way the fairy tale romance is juxtaposed with its not-so-fairy tale outcome. The film builds suspense and kept me guessing for the entire movie. The film’s criticism of the way the media sensationalize murder cases like this was on the money. While seeing Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry in the cast threw me off, they were both excellent in their roles (I’m less-surprised about NPH delivering a good performance though). Do I have any issues with this movie? Well, it dragged in a few spots – I did find myself checking my wristwatch a few times. The ending goes on for too long – it takes about 20 minutes to say what could have been said in a few lines.
3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
1.The Lego Movie