Saturday, February 21, 2015

50 Best Films of 2014 - #10 - #1

10. Guardians of the Galaxy

Not only a top ten of 2014 entry, but easily my favorite movie from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One of my biggest complaints about some of the other films, specifically Iron Man 2 and Thor: The Dark World come to mind, were their attempts to be comedic yet completely failing at actually being funny. Thus I was concerned when I was told just how much of a comedy Guardians of the Galaxy would need to be, but boy did it deliver. Not just with laughs, with EVERYTHING. A joyous, exciting, heartfelt, clever blast of a picture.

9. The Babadook

If you knew me well, you would know how unheard of this is for me. I have a real hard time connecting to a horror film, as I usually think an interesting premise and creepy trailer ends up ruined by the same stupid and predictable tropes, bad writing and excessive gore. The Babadook is an Australian horror film, and it's bloody friggin' brilliant. If you are simply looking to be spooked, it's scary as hell. If you are looking for depth and characters to actually care about, you cannot go wrong here. The Babadook is a meaningful metaphor wrapped in an intense and terrifying film, and it works on every level.

8. Birdman

A completely brilliant, unique cinematic experience, Birdman was a joy to watch for it's fascinating narrative and amazing performances, but it went to a whole other level due to the technical genius on display throughout. This is actually a difficult movie to explain, you just need to see it and decide whether it works for you or not. Some have called it artsy nonsense, pretentious, and silly. I call it one of the best and most original pictures of 2014. 

7. The Tale of The Princess Kaguya

I was already a massive fan of the legendary Studio Ghibli, with My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away being their two masterpieces so far. I officially have a third movie to welcome into that category. The Tale of The Princess Kaguya is a completely spellbinding, heartbreaking piece of cinema that for me, despite also loving How to Train Your Dragon 2 and The LEGO Movie (both of which were in the previous list of ten), is by far the best animated work of 2014. 

6. Whiplash

I still get the chills whenever I think about the last 10 or 15 minutes of Whiplash, the most memorable sequence from any movie released last year. Seriously, it's so electric it made the hair on my arms stand up. That isn't to say that the rest of the film was lackluster in any way. Whiplash was destined to be one of the 15 or so best of the year, and then that finale happened, and I can't stop thinking about it over a month after witnessing it unfold. That's the power of incredible cinema, and what Damien Chazelle crafted here is just that.

5. The Grand Budapest Hotel

The masterpiece I had always been waiting for from Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel is gorgeous on so many technical levels and also a brilliantly clever comedy. I had no idea how good Ralph Fiennes could be in a comedic role, and it certainly isn't easy to execute the quirky and odd material of a Wes Anderson, but he absolutely nailed it. Seriously, his timing is so spot on perfect I felt like I was grinning from ear to ear anytime he occupied the frame. 

4. Interstellar

Big, bold and ambitious filmmaking. I am a sucker for it, always have been and always will be. I can forgive a flaw or two because I am so mesmerized by the spectacle of the whole experience, which explains why Christopher Nolan's Interstellar lands as the #4 movie of the year. It isn't a perfect film, I cannot lie, but with every ever so slight issue I have with it, I am in jaw dropping awe of EVERYTHING else that worked so damn well. I saw it twice in theaters, and I can promise you there will be 20 more viewings at home coming in the future.

3. Winter Sleep

By far my favorite foreign film of 2014, and one worthy of inclusion into the top 3 overall and yet Winter Sleep isn't even nominated by the Academy. Ah, such is the complicated and confused relationship I have with those people in charge of Oscar nominations, but so be it. I just hope the lack of recognition doesn't stop people from seeking out and watching this gorgeous picture, and while my voice is small and unimportant, it won't stop me from continuing to scream it from the rooftops: Winter Sleep is a triumph of cinema and easily the finest acted movie of the year.

2. Gone Girl

I can't stop falling more and more in love with the work of David Fincher. Just when I think I couldn't admire the man and his vision on a deeper level, here comes Gone Girl, another cold and calculated thriller that entertained me endlessly and made my skin crawl with its ominous tone and perfectly unsettling performances. Based on the incredibly popular novel by Gillian Flynn, one of the aspects of this movie that really elevated it to new heights was the screenplay by that very same writer, with Flynn adapting her own work. It's one thing to come in and chop apart the words of someone else, but to do it to your own? To have the humility and intelligence to say to yourself, yes I wrote this, but a lot of it doesn't work when translated to the big screen? That's really something special.

1. Boyhood

Life. It's a fucked up, weird, heartbreaking, devastating, fascinating and beautiful thing, and it was encapsulated so poetically and gorgeously by Richard Linklater. Watching Mason grow up really resonated with me on multiple levels. Not long ago I was a kid growing up dealing with the bizarre and bullshit issues that accompany adolescence, and yet now I sit here with a 7 year old daughter and I can't believe how fast time has gone. Watching twelve years go by over the course of less than three hours with such a graceful and natural fluidity really made me think about the fact that time is relentless. All we can do is accept it and enjoy the ride.


  1. I am improving. I have seen 5 of these. It looks though like I have a lot of viewing to do on disc.

    1. In April, The Babadook is being released on Blu-ray in a Special Edition format, where the cover is like the pop up children's book in the film. I have already declared to anyone willing to listen, my birthday is in April, I only want that. I think if I keep mentioning it twice a week until then, I will either a) get divorced because I drove my wife mad, or b) get the Blu-ray. I will take those odds.