There will always be a debate on which movies were the best. It goes on like that every year, and no one person has the same list. It is incredibly exciting to see all these films, dicuss them, and critique them, but it is even more difficult to narrow down the 100 or so that you have seen and pick ten of the year’s best. Now this isn’t exactly what I am here to do. Are there films better than the ten I picked, for sure. But honestly, these ten left the biggest impact on me. In fact, I found myself watching the following ten films multiple times, or have been talking about them non-stop. So below are my top ten films of 2014.
10 – The Lego Movie
Gorgeous, original, and funny, The Lego Movie is Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s best directorial features to date. Proving that they can turn any bad idea into gold, The Lego Movie looked to be one long drawn out product placement feature film, instead we are given rapid-fire jokes that just consistently hit their mark dead center. The film reminds us to embrace creativity using nostalgia and references from other films like Terminator, Star Wars, and more.
9 – Big Hero 6
It’s hard not to love such a squishy huggable character like Baymax, and yet Disney found a way to make the character more appealing by adding a bit of naivety to the endearing healthcare robot. Hugely entertaining, funny, and at times a bit suspenseful, Big Hero 6 refuses to shy away from of the darker themes that other films seem to gloss over. Disney’s first animated project based on a Marvel property proved to be one of the year’s best, and opens the door for lesser-known Marvel properties to become as popular if not more than their live-action counterparts.
8 – Edge of Tomorrow
Doug Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow is clearly the most underrated and most underestimated film of the year. Based on the Japanese manga All You Need is Kill, Tom Cruise plays a character that almost mirrors his career: something that just refuses to die. Emily Blunt also shines through, proving once again that the ladies can kick as much as their male counterparts. Though the rules of time travel seem to be written and rewritten over and over again, the film’s execution was flawless. With action sequences as awesome as the ones seen in the film, it’s hard not to come out of this without a smile.
7 – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Wes Anderson’s reputation using creative and beautiful set pieces to create these interesting worlds clearly shows through in The Grand Budapest Hotel. And like most of his films, the humor is witty, dry, and at times dark, which is a breath of fresh air in times where comedies can be bland and unoriginal. It’s a wonderful and imaginative film that can only be crafted by a person of Anderson’s talents. One can only hope that a world as ostentatious and fun as The Grand Budapest Hotel. And one can only hope that Ralph Finnes looks for more comedic roles, as he has proven that he can be a pretty funny guy.
6 – Gone Girl
David Fincher adaptation of the Gillian Flynn novel is a dark and grizzly commentary on mass media and the modern day idea of marriage. A thrilling and mesmerizing story from beginning to end, Gone Girl is sharp, funny, and at times questionable that is a reflection of our society. No doubt the disturbing tones might not sit well with a few members of the audience, but that doesn’t make the film any less entertaining.
5 – Birdman
If Gone Girl was a commentary on mass media and marriage, then it can be argued that Birdman is a commentary on Hollywood disguised as a comeback story. In an age where superheroes and YA novels reign at the box office, Birdman could not have come at a more perfect time. The film gets meta by having Michael Keaton playing Riggans, an actor whose claim to fame was playing the Birdman superhero of the 80s and 90s – somewhat similar to him playing the first two Tim Burton Batman films. Thanks in part to cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki the film’s seemingly one-shot take only enhances the storytelling, and makes the character’s journey that much more interesting.
4 – Selma
Where most biopics like The Butler get it wrong, Selma gets right. The film doesn’t unnecessarily focus on a character’s entire life and fill it with five-minute character vignettes. Instead the drama centers on one particular (and perhaps the most important) event in Dr. Martin Luther King’s life. The film’s release couldn’t be more timely, with what has transpired in the last few months, Selma reminds us what Dr. King was fighting for, what he died for, and how powerful his message is still today. The film has a razor sharp focus, and when backed with a powerful performance by David Oyelwow, it is one that should be included in a history class’ lesson plan.
3 – Snowpiercer
Bong Joon-ho‘s adaptation of the icy post apocalyptic French graphic novel “Le Transperceneige,” is one strange train ride that takes issue with politics, social classes, and the environment. Chris Evans leads a band of the poor lower class passengers to the front of the train where the middle and upper class reside. There they come across luxuries once thought to be extinct. Their linear journey is not without peril, as villainous characters played by Tilda Swinton, Alison Pill, and Ed Harris seek to put them in their place, and return order to the sacred engine.
2 – Guardians of the Galaxy
Before Guardians of the Galaxy there was only Earth and Asgard. Secluded to two worlds, the Marvel Cinematic Universe finally expanded by taking us to galaxies unknown. But the film was much more than that as James Gunn warped the way we see comic book movies by turning it into a hilarious action adventure that we can see over and over again. Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) an outlaw; Gamora (Zoe Saldana) an assassin; a Groot (Vin Diesel) a tree like humanoid that can only say “I am Groot”; and Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) a gun toting vermin with a short fuse made for an eclectic cast of characters, all of whom had excellent chemistry. Let’s not forget that awesome soundtrack.
1 – Whiplash
There are no two words in the English language more harmful than good job. To describe Damian Chazelle’s effort directing Whiplash would be just that, harmful. In fact those two words would demean the film. The film pits Miles Teller against J.K. Simmons in a battle of egos. Teller plays Andrew Neyman, a young drum student who is willing to give his blood, sweat, tears, and cymbals to the enraged and ferocious JK Simmons, who plays Terence Fletcher. The film may run at a short 106 minutes, but that doesn’t make it any less exciting to watch. It does play off the underdog storyline that we have all seen before, but Chazelle’s direction, turns an ordinary underdog film into a pulse-pounding, knuckling bleeding, bebop of good time. Watching Teller and Simmons in a battle of egos and pursuit of absolute perfection is electrifying and incredibly exciting to watch.