For my first post on my new blog, I’ve decided to finally publish my Top 10 list for movies of 2014. This has been a list I’ve been wrestling with for some time. Not necessarily because there were so many great movie (I actually think 2014 was rather a weak year for film in comparison to recent years), but, rather that I had a few films that I loved this past year and then a lot that I really liked. Very few films this past year stirred in me a passionate love for them. That being said, there were a couple that blew me away and there were a lot of films that may not be my favorites, but I can recognize them for the importance they have in the industry and the art. I plan on tackling the likes and dislikes I had with this morning’s Oscar nominations in a separate post, so for now I’ll leave my opinions of those out of this when discussing particular films. Because there were so many films that I liked, but wasn’t extremely passionate about I decided to simply list the runners up in no particular order. Anyway, I’ve rambled on enough. Without further ado…My Top 10 films of 2014.
A Most Violent Year
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The Skeleton Twins
The Theory of Everything
#10 – Snowpiercer
I had absolutely no expectations when I first saw this film. The Weinstein Co. tried something new with it’s distribution and that was to open the film back in June in only 8 theaters nationwide, BUT to simultaneously release the film on Video-on-Demand. Whether this strategy worked or not is beside the point because the movie is absolutely brilliant. I would say this is the best original sci-fi movie of the year. It is an absolute travesty that Tilda Swinton has gone most of this awards season without any recognition for her work in this film. She continues to prove again and again that she is one of the most versatile actresses working today.
#9 – Selma
Selma came into the awards race at the very last minute and was expected to make a huge splash. Well, a splash happened…not very huge, but that’s a different story. Anyway, I was nervous for this movie because I was afraid we were just gonna have another Lifetime-type movie about the Civil rights Movement or MLK’s life. Through incredibly sharp direction, Ava DuVarney has taken this film above and beyond. I was blown away by many of the performances and found myself absolutely enthralled by some of the sequences (as hard as they were to watch.)
#8 – Boyhood
I have to admit that I really liked Boyhood the first time I saw it last summer, but I didn’t love Boyhood. I was afraid going into it that it was going to be a kind of “gimmick” film. A movie filmed little-by-little over the course of 12 years? Gimmick! But after that first viewing, it stuck with me and I thought a lot about my watching this kid grow up before our eyes and that, in turn, made me think about my childhood. So I went back to see it again. And I loved it! Bawled my eyes out…I don’t know where this emotion came from the second time around that wasn’t there the first but it was a completely different experience for me. I’ve seen this film a number of times now and I’m so in awe of the simplicity of the film, but how much it says about our culture and about how families work. Especially Patricia Arquette’s performance… I’ve known her character in real life through a number of single mothers just trying to do the best for their kids and she captured that heart so perfectly. The film is destined for Best Picture at this point and while it’s definitely not my favorite of the bunch, it’s completely deserving.
#7 – Foxcatcher
Foxcatcher broke out early this year when it garnered rave reviews at Cannes and Bennett Miller went on to win Best Director at the festival. I was tense the entire time I watched this movie. That is a statement to the brilliant direction by Bennett Miller because the movie definitely does not move fast. It is a slow-burn of a movie, but man does it burn. First glancing at this cast, you kind of are taken aback by how random some of the casting seems. Career best performances from all three leads but most of all the astonishing Steve Carrell. Sure, he’s got the fake nose on, but this character is such a turn for him and is so terrifying, I completely forgot it was him. Channing Tatum is growing on me with each film he does. He’s proving that not only does he have a great eye when it comes to good projects but he also brings an incredible sensibility to the diverse work he does.
#6 – Gone Girl
I have to confess one of the reasons I am so obsessed with this movie is because I was so obsessed with the book. I understand a lot of people have problems with how fucked up the story is, but that’s one of the things I love best about it! From a technical standpoint, however, David Fincher has proved again that he is one of (if not the) sharpest directors in Hollywood. Every aspect of his films are so particular and so precise, it’s extraordinary to watch his work. From his unique cinematography style to his music choices to his razor sharp editing. He knows exactly what movie he’s making from beginning to end. Nobody could’ve handled this source material better than Fincher. Now… Rosamund Pike. What is there to say, she took a completely fucked up character from this book and made her so much more terrifying than I could’ve imagined. I need her to be in every movie now please….
#5 – The Imitation Game
After being slightly let down by The Theory of Everything, I was expecting yet another classic British biopic when I went into this movie. What I got was a biopic wrapped in a brilliant thriller and I loved it! What The Imitation Game does so well is not try to tell the entire story of Alan Turing’s life, but rather focuses solely on a brief period during the war when he was cracking Enigma. This allows for the characters to breathe and develop gradually rather than have giant sweeping arc like in the Theory of Everything. This was a wonderful ensemble piece led by Cumberbatch (who I’m obsessed with…but who isn’t?) and was very intelligently directed by newcomer Morten Tyldum. Not to mention Alexandre Desplat’s score is sublime… but when is his work not?
#4 – Citizenfour
Citizenfour is the best documentary I’ve seen in years. A lot of people can be thrown off by the idea of documentaries – thinking they’re gonna be slow or boring. This movie plays like you’re watching one of the Bourne films, and is also an important piece of cinema depicting our current government. This was another film that I was tense throughout most of it, but for a good reason. Poitras was with Snowden before anybody knew who he even was and filmed the entire experience as he became a global name overnight. Whether you agree with Snowden or not, this film is important for every American to see. If not simply for the information it provides, but to see a giant news story firsthand and not through the lens of our nation’s media. Documentary filmmaking at it’s finest.
#3 – The Grand Budapest Hotel
I love Wes Anderson movies. I’m not a die hard fan like so many people I know, but I really respect his visual style of storytelling. Because he is a writer and director , he’s able to mold his stories to fit into these outlandish worlds that he portrays onscreen. The Grand Budapest Hotel, however, is the first Wes Anderson film I became obsessed with back in March. I know a lot of die hards will direct me to Moonrise Kingdom or The Life Aquatic, etc. I’ve seen them, I’ve enjoyed them, but there’s something about this one that just…clicked. For a lot of people apparently too, because this is the most recognition an Anderson film has received and it’s extremely well-deserved. Anderson doesn’t just create a movie, he creates an entire world. And he brings along one of the best ensemble casts assembled in a while on a crazy-fun adventure. I couldn’t stop smiling during this movie and I’m so glad its getting the attention it deserves.
#2 – Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
What can I say about Birdman that hasn’t already been said? The most original screenplay of the year, the most complex cinematography of the year, one of the best ensembles of the year…. Everything about this movie is completely enthralling and it’s encouraging to see small, really original films like this being made still.
#1 – Whiplash
In my opinion, no film came remotely close to Whiplash this year. The movie feels like it’s ten minutes long because it’s a rollercoaster ride that starts immediately and never let’s you go. This is the movie around Hollywood that every body says “Well, Boyhood is going to get Best Picture, but my favorite movie was Whiplash.” The movie is so intelligently directed, you never really have room to breathe. The premise seemed kind of old news and dull to me when I first heard about it at Sundance, but watching it is a completely different experience. JK Simmons performance is nothing short of horrifying and inspirational at the same time. Whiplash is the kind of film that I want to make as an actor. The film was also filmed and put through post production in about a matter of 10 weeks to be submitted to Sundance in time, so it just goes to show that big budgets and studios and years aren’t always needed to produce an exceptional film.
Well, there you have it. My top 10 of 2014. I have high hopes for a lot of films in 2015 and think this year is going to be a lot better and more eclectic. Happy New Years guys and I hope you continue reading!