List created and owned by John McGinn
I hope everyone had a good Christmas. I spend part of my holiday seeing Unbroken, and I was certainly not impressed with Angelina Jolie’s film, and completing my Official list of the 15 Best Films of 2014. I still haven’t seen films like The Theory of Everything, BIg Hero 6, Foxcatcher, The Boxtrolls, The Drop, St. Vincent, and The Wild, and to be honest I don’t think any of the above films would make my cut for the best films of 2014 outside of maybe The Theory of Everything or The Wild. I did consider expanding my list to 20 films, but I didn’t want to delude or take anything away form the great films on my list. As for Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper and Inherent Vice I consider them 2015 films since their studios only released them in 2014 because they wanted the films to be considered for the Academy Awards and won’t get a wide release until 2015.
All right let’s move on to what I consider the best films of the year.
15. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
14. Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy is probably my second favorite Marvel Studio film to date behind of course The Winter Soldier. The film was perfectly casted with Chris Pratt giving a fun performance as Star Lord, Zoe Saldana gave a wonderful performance as Gamora, but what stole the film for me was Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon, and Dave Batista as Drax. I know many people questioned his casting as he is a lowly wrestler from the WWE, but they forget that Dwayne Johanson was a lowly wrestler from the WWF/WWE. In the WWE wrestling is just a stage acting like on Broadway so all the wrestlers have to be able to some what act, and Batista has always wanted to transition into acting, and put the work into it showing it in the disappointing Riddick, the direct to DVD House of the Rising Sun, and proved in in Guardians of the Galaxy as Drax wonderfully showing emotion transitioning form humor, sadness and anger. Now if it weren’t for the lackluster and just disappointing climax I’d have put Guardians much higher on this list.
Director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman like Boyhood, Snowpiercer and Under the Skin is uniquely filmed with the film feeling like one continuous shot with no breaks or editing, and while it certainly is unique and some times fun it can also wear on the viewer. The story of a fallen actor best know for his role as a superhero know as Birdman was perfect for Michael Keaton as his career has taken a some what similar path to Riggan Thomson, and I loved how the story pokes fun at the super hero genre, what it means to be an actor in Hollywood, and Broadway’s view of Hollywood and the film industry. The performances by Emma Stone, Edward Norton, Amy Ryan, and Naomi Watts were good, but what drives and makes Birdman such a good film is Michael Keaton as he easily gives the best performance of his entire career as Thomson he gives passionate and edgy performance, and while I do think Chris Evens should be nominated for best actor, Michael Keaton should win as he has in Birdman given the best lead acting performance of the year.
12. The Imitation Game
11. The Babadook
The best real horror films I think I remember seeing in nearly a decade. Jennifer Kent’s film is a near masterpiece giving a real insight in a single mother raising a troubled son, and how it affects both of them, and how these elements blend in with the horror elements making Babadook like John Wick one of the most refreshing horror/thriller/drama’s in years.
10. Edge of Tomorrow
8. John Wick
What a refreshing film John Wick is. Keanu Reeves’s is the best pure action film I have seen in years. John Wick is fun witty with great characters and some of the best action sequences I have seen in awhile. If you are a fan of action films John Wick is a must.
7. X: Men Days of Future Past
I really like the direction Fox and Bryan Singer are taking the X-Men properties.
Christopher Nolan has done it again in his flawed near masterpiece that is Interstellar. The Nolan brothers have in their script have brought us a intelligent and moving film that is reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. The scope and grandeur was awe inspiring as was Hans Zimmer’s score, which was one of his best scores of his remarkable career in Hollywood. The acting by Matthew McConaughey once again shows that the actor is back to the top of his game, and was aided by really good performances by Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, Mackenzie Foy, and Wes Bentley. The science based on ideas by theoretical physicist Kip Thorne was wonderfully done, and yes some of the ideas in the film are out there, but have been backed up by other scientists. The only real part of Interstellar that bugged my was Matt Damon. I like the actor, but his plot thread dragged on for to long, and the actor was wasted in the film, but outside of really that Interstellar is an amazing film.
5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The Winter Soldier is above and beyond the best Marvel Studio film to date with a great script with real substance to the story, and real character development that has often times been very lacking in previous Marvel films.
4. Gone Girl
What twisted film with great performances by Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. Gone Girl wonderfully showed in a twisted way the modern marriage, and certainly doesn’t make me want to rush out and get married.
3. Under the Skin
Scarlett Johansson certainly had a exceptional 2014 both personally and career wise with getting married and welcoming a daughter, and career wise Johansson has never been hotter with her continued and great performance as Black Widow in Winter Soldier, proving she could star in a solo action film in the fun Lucy that has made over 450 million world wide on a 75 million budget (counting the promotional budget as well), and finally giving one of her best performances of her career in the dark and down right strange Under the Skin. Jonathan Glazer’s film like the two above was uniquely filmed in gorgeous Scotland with Scarlett Johansson being the only actor in the film. Glazer used hidden cameras to film real Scottish citizens and had the help of locals who were given some roles, and it showed on film with Under the Skin feeling like it wasn’t a film at all outside of the creepy sci-fi elements.
Everyone can read my review of Snowpiercer for more for more information about the classic that is Snowpiercer, but let’s just say Bong Joon-ho Snowpiecer is one of the best and most original science fiction film I have seen in years, and like Boyhood, Snowpiecer was uniquely filmed taking place all only in a train with Captain America, Chis Evens giving the best performance of his career in which he deserves a Oscar nomination.
Just when I think Hollywood has run out of originality they brought me films like Under the Skin, The Babadook, Snowpiecer, Birdman, Interstellar, and finally my number 1 film of the year in Boyhood. Sure Richard Linklater’s coming of age film is a masterfully written, directed and acted film that alone would make it on to this list, but what make Boyhood such a special film and the best film of the year is how it was filmed. Boyhood was filmed over a 12 year period. Yes Boyhood was filmed over 12 years. Just think about that it has been never done before. It takes a tremendous amount of commitment by the director and actors, and that’s not counting the unpredictability of life like having the potential of Linklater or one of his stars dying before the film is finished. Boyhood is just a special film that everyone needs to see.
Honorable Mentions: Godzilla, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, The Maze Runner