Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Unofficial 20 Favorite Films of 2014 - #20 - #11

It's that time of the year when the best of 2014 lists come flying in from every direction, but I actually typically don't post mine just yet. My tradition is to make the previous year official on the day of the Oscars, as that gives me the first two months of the new year to catch up on films I am yet to see. While I have managed to watch 90 movies released in 2014 already, there are still so many more that I need to make sure to catch before I can really feel good about what I claim to be my favorites. Films like American Sniper, Into the Woods, Inherent Vice, Foxcatcher, Selma, A Most Violent Year, Wild, Whiplash, The Imitation Game and more, so many works receiving tons of praise that I must witness before my 2014 wraps up.

That being said, why not release an unofficial best of list now?

These are my the first ten of my current twenty favorite films of 2014:

20. Godzilla

My Review of Godzilla

Is it a flawless film? Of course not, but the pacing, the musical score by Alexandre Desplat, the confident direction by Gareth Edwards, and the jaw dropping visual effects all combined to make this a blast at the theater way back in May.

19. The Fault in Our Stars

My Review of The Fault in Our Stars

As a thirty year old man, I was apparently not the target audience of this film. As I always say though, there are no bad genres, only bad films, and The Fault in Our Stars is not one of them. I refuse to write off something for being a "chick flick" before I even get a chance to see it, and this hit so many wonderful notes for me and made me weep openly in the theater that day.

18. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

My Review of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

I was extremely pessimistic about a sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes as I thought the progression of the apes would prove to be silly. I am so glad I was proven wrong. Exciting action and excellent storytelling, not only was this a worthy second installment into the rebooted franchise, it turned out to be a rather large step up from the first in every way.

17. The Guest

My Review of The Guest

The 2014 film I most recently watched and I was surprised to find it entering my top 20 films of the year, but this fantastic genre film was a total blast and the final fifteen or so minutes were possibly the most entertaining of anything I have seen all year.

16. X-Men: Days of Future Past

My Review of X-Men: Days of Future Past

Another film that I admit I was pessimistic about in advance, as I thought it would be too crowded, a movie trying to do too much and thus it would succumb to its lofty ambitions. Again, glad to be proved wrong. I actually just revisited this on Blu-ray the other night and everything I loved about it in the theater held up just fine at home. A smart, stylish, entertaining film.

15. Enemy

My Review of Enemy

Last year the film Prisoners was my #2 of the year, a gritty, dark and disturbing thriller that had me truly riveted from start to finish. While not quite reaching those heights in 2014, director Denis Villeneuve is back again with his new film Enemy, a confounding and original work that made me literally yell out loud at the end, and then scratch my head as I wondered what I just saw. I am still not entirely sure, but I know it is great.

14. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

After a down year in 2013 for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I was hoping my boy Captain America would bring the intelligence and excitement back, with a little less focus on absurd humor and more on a solid script and some kick ass action. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was just what the doctor ordered, essentially a fantastically crafted spy thriller that so happens to have a superhero in it.

13. Under the Skin

My Review of Under the Skin

When I finished watched Under the Skin, the first thing I thought was "What the hell?!" but I had a pretty big smile on my face because I meant it in a very positive way. A truly bizarre experience, but the themes are pretty apparent and meaningful and I appreciated the way it was handled. Seriously though, some of the imagery seen here will keep you up at night. Some truly weird crap, without a doubt, and I loved it.

12. Blue Ruin

My Review of Blue Ruin

I thought I had Blue Ruin pegged from the get-go. I assumed it would go down a rather predictable path, but then something happened that surprised me: exactly what I thought would happen did...except all in the first act of the film. So much story to tell and I had no idea what to expect next. A smart revenge flick that keeps you on your toes until the very end.

11. Life Itself

My Review of Life Itself

Growing up, there was no Rottentomatoes or Metacritic to go to for every review you could imagine. I found my film criticism from two places: the Chicago Sun-Times, where I quickly flipped through in search of the written words of Roger Ebert, and also the television program Siskel and Ebert. I greatly admired Roger for his passionate love for film and the fact that he was able to create a connection with his readers and viewers by never seeming like he knew more than you. He wrote so that you would understand why he felt the way he did, and after you finished reading you truly were persuaded to either see or skip the film being reviewed.

Life Itself is hard to watch at times because it follows Roger to the very end and focuses on the good and the bad, but it is a remarkable tribute to the life of a great man.

My next list will be my current top ten of the year. Happy New Year everyone, here's to a hopefully great 2015.

No comments:

Post a Comment