I know, I know. It’s February. Don’t Top 10 Lists belong in December? I guess you could make that argument, but the fact of the matter is that I didn’t get to see a lot of 2014 movies until January or February. And, with the Oscars this Sunday, I’d say that the 2014 movie season isn’t officially over until then. So, this is the perfect time to finally release my Top 10 list for 2014. But, instead of making it a Top 10 list, I’m going to rank ALL the movies I saw this past year from worse to best. So, without further ado, HERE WE GO!
48. Transformers: Age of Extinction
The bad movie that gives bad movies a bad name. Look, Transformers 2 and 3 were awful, but at least they were fun to watch. This was just plain horrendous. I expect forcing prisoners to watch this movie will be one of the big revelations in the next C.I.A. torture report (as if we need a sequel to that).
47. Men, Women and Children
It’s as if Fox News decided to make a movie about “what’s wrong with kids these days.” The answer: the internet. Why, Jason Reitman. Why?
46. This is Where I Leave You
A few laughs, but very uneven.
45. St. Vincent
Nice try, Bill Murray.
44. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
8 dumb movies squeezed into one.
43. The Disappearance of Elanor Rigby: Them
Anchored (I guess you can say that) by two good performances by Jessica Chastain and Will McAvoy, this turns out to be one big-ol’ snoozefest.
42. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Pt. I
Splitting the final book into two movies doesn’t really bother me (it seems to be industry standard now), but what bothers me is how boring this movie is, which is a huge disappointment considering how exciting the first two were.
41. The Equalizer
Fun, not-to-serious movie. Denzel still kicks ass.
40. Into the Woods
Disjointed with a really inconsistent flow, some decent performances and song selections keep this movie afloat for about an hour then loses steam and loses it quickly.
39. 22 Jump Street
Funny, but it really does suffer from the sequel-itis it tries to parody/point-out/pick on so much.
38. The Interview
The funniest movie of the year, and also one of the most important. It was never meant to be taken seriously, and its jokes thrive because of that.
37. The Judge
Great performances, especially from Robert DuVall, but the film seems to lose focus from time-to-time. Instead of just focusing on the relationship that really matters (the father-son one), it also tries to examine Robert Downey Jr.’s relationship with his brothers, his ex-girlfriend, a rival attorney, a young attorney, a girl that may or may not be his daughter, his actual daughter, his estranged wife, his old hometown, etc. The result of this stuffiness is a 2.5 hour film that really should only be 1 hour, 45 minutes long, and air exclusively on Lifetime.
I’m not going to deny the importance of this Oscar-nominated documentary – that message is really clear – but it really misses the mark a few times in terms of editing that really affect the overall narrative.
35. Big Hero 6
Very emotional, very touching, very fun.
34. The Battered Bastards of Baseball
Did you know that Kurt Russell’s dad used to own a minor-league baseball team? Neither did I. This feel good documentary that is better than most baseball movies I’ve seen.
33. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
I was never able to take the Hobbit films that seriously, and maybe the forced seriousness of the first 2 films is what bothered me the most about them. With this third film, we get a shorter movie that not only cuts to the chase, but revels in that amount of fun it’s having, and it makes for a fun experience.
32. X-Men: Days of Future Past
The X-Men film with the coolest synopsis, hands down. Wish we could have seen a little more development in Wolverine.
31. The Skeleton Twins
Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig….and even Luke Wilson…at their finest.
Good ensemble piece with an unbelievable development of the main character. Some great action and drama scenes throughout and masterful sound editing.
Unbroken kind of felt like two films in one. The problem is that one (the story of him surviving at sea) is much better than the other (the story of him in the Japanese detention camp). The scope of this film is admirable, and the cinematography is simply beautiful. Roger Deakins needs to win an Oscar sometime soon.
28. Obvious Child
Let the record show that I love Jenny Slate, and I can’t wait to see what she does after this. She owns this film, and absolutely nails it.
27. Edge of Tomorrow
Probably the film that surprised me the most this year. I didn’t expect it to be as good as it was, but I was thoroughly impressed by what I thought was going to be your average blockbuster.
26. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
“This is the best standalone Marvel movie yet,” said Allen in April. (He’d be saying this again with a different film in August…)
You’re literally watching history being made. The fact that this documentary exists is mind-blowing.
24. The Imitation Game
Benedict Cumberbatch is brilliant. The rest is kind of overrated, but overall it’s a pretty intriguing biopic.
23. The Theory of Everything
A beautiful film with two beautiful lead performances. My favorite thing about this film is that it is equally about Felicity Jones’s character as it is Eddie Redmayne’s (the showier performance of the two).
22. Big Eyes
The least Tim Burton-like movie Tim Burton has ever made. And yet, nobody seems to have heard of it. One of his best.
21. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
One of the smartest summer blockbusters in years. The human storyline is lacking, but overall, it’s an incredibly solid film with great motion capture performances.
Reese Witherspoon kills it. Laura Dern kills it. Both lay it all out there and put two very raw performances on the screen. This is a film about a journey, but it’s not about Reese’s character’s walk, it’s really about the journey through her mind. Past and present are beautifully weaved through fantastic editing.
19. American Sniper
Take away all the political commentary, and what you have is a really solid film with a really good performance by Bradley Cooper. The film’s intensity builds with Cooper’s deterioration, and you can’t help but feel for him.
18. Under the Skin
I’ve never seen a movie quite like this. Rather, I should say that I’ve never experienced a film quite like this. This is a film not concerned with following your average film conventions. It does it’s own thing, and it does so very well. Amazing sound design, score, cinematography and performance by Scarlett Johannson.
David Oyelowo is a powerhouse in this powerful film about the Selma civil rights march. It’s not your average biopic, as it focuses on one event rather than MLK’s entire life, and it thrives because of it.
16. Guardians of the Galaxy
Marvel’s two best standalone films were released in 2014. It’s crazy that this film went from “what is this?” before it was released to one of the biggest films of the year. Equally as funny as it is exciting, anchored by a group of flawed characters and faithful to James Gunn’s strange vision, this is easily the best film of Summer 2014.
15. The LEGO Movie
The coolest animated movie I’ve seen in years. The layers of irony are uncanny (the anti-commercialism film that really is kind of one big commercial), and nobody can deny the film’s smartness.
14. Life Itself
It may be a film about Roger Ebert, but it’s a universal story. An examination of his life becomes a look at life itself. Highly emotional, and very gripping as it doesn’t hold anything back (especially in terms of his medical treatments), I think Ebert would have given this two thumbs up.
13. Gone Girl
Another masterwork from the master David Fincher. Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck both take us through a narrative of twists and turns, each of which pay off very well.
Exciting, riveting stuff. The plot, get from Point A to Point B, seems simple, but it’s loaded with socioeconomic layers and intense action scenes and makes for one of the most mind-blowing movies of the year. We need more big-budget films like this.
11. Two Days, One Night
This beautifully, simplistic film has the ambitions of an adventure film in the sense that there is a singular goal to achieve, and a clear path to get there. In this case. Marion Cotillard has 2 days to convince 16 coworkers to forgo a bonus so she can save her job. Her performance is incredible, and her co-stars only elevate the overall film. Great stuff.
There’s a lot packed into this really short, 80-minute film. The black and white, 4:3 aspect ratio makes it look and feel like a European film straight out of the 60s, which makes you wonder if the film would have been considered the masterpiece it is had it been released in that decade.
9. Inherent Vice
Paul Thomas Anderson doing what he does best: making a great film. Take the haziness and flow of The Master, the ensemble-feel of Boogie Nights, and the light-heartedness of Punch Drunk Love, and you have yourself Inherent Vice, a drugged out, hell of a ride that sometimes makes no sense, but is always fun, gripping and intriguing.
All the elements, from the dark, moody cinematography to Steve Carrell’s transformative performance, work really well together to create this really tense, slow-burn of a film. Great performances all around.
7. A Most Violent Year
I don’t really understand how this film didn’t get more awards attention than it did. Oscar Issac and Jessica Chastain shine in J.C. Chandor’s third film, which only solidifies his position as one of the best up-and-coming directors in the business right now. The film reminded me a bit of the twisted “American dream” aspect of The Godfather Pt. II, as well as the Walter and Skylar White dynamics of Breaking Bad, but it truly stands on its own as a masterly crafted film.
Intense as any action film this year, with the tempo and steam of a classic jazz song. J.K. Simmons is (deservedly) getting all the attention for this film, but Miles Teller, the screenplay and the editing all deserve equal accolades.
Flawed, but outdone by its ambitions and scope, Interstellar is one of the most original, epic films in a while. Unlike most big budget films these days, the film is very tangible, and plays with the concept of time in a way that makes you forget you’re watching a film that is only 3 hours.
4. The Grand Budapest Hotel
Wes Anderson’s best, with an underrated performance by Ralph Fiennes. Everything about this film is beautiful: the performances, the costumes, the production design, the score, the cinematography, the sound design, the editing, etc. Funny, subtlety sad, and impressive, this film is Anderson’s masterpiece.
How does this movie exist? Such a specific plot, done in such a unique way, with an incredible ensemble anchored by Michael Keaton, Emma Stone and Edward Norton. A technical masterwork, and one of the coolest films I’ve ever seen.
How does this movie exist? Such a specific plot, shot in such a weird and dark way, and anchored by a career defining performance by Jake Gyllanhaal. Rene Russo and Riz Ahmed elevate the material, and it makes for an incredibly original piece that has a lot to say about today’s news media. The Taxi Driver of 2014.
How does this movie exist? What is there to say about Boyhood that hasn’t already been said before. Beautiful, emotional and pulled off really well despite the fact that it took 12 years to film. Boyhood isn’t just the best film of 2014, but one of the best films I’ve ever seen, one that I think everyone should give a watch. I’d love to see more films try to pull off the boldness this film did.