My TOP 5 Movies of 2014
I wasn’t going to put one of these up seeing as how we’re halfway into the first month of 2015, but the Oscars aren’t even on until next month, right? So who cares?
Unlike the past couple years, there were a lot of great films to come out this year. And if they weren’t great, they were entertaining at the very least and that’s more than I can say for the years prior. My Top 5 of 2012 was more of a collection of films that I thought were just better than the others, but didn’t really blow me away.
2014, however, was the balls.
I knew what this looked like it was going to be and thankfully, it was exactly that. Action done right, with just enough sentiment to make the characters feel like more than hollow shells, Keanu Reeves and team created the action movie so many action movies pretend to be. I might have even said that in the review, I don’t know, I just know everything you want is here. The cast is great too, from Reeves himself to every side character that may only have a scene or two, they all leave their mark.
Who didn’t love the scene when mob boss Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist) calls chop shop owner Aurelio (John Leguizamo) to ask why Aurelio hit Tarasov’s son and refused to work on his newly acquired car.
Tarasov: I heard you struck my son today.
Aureilo: Yes, sir, I did.
Tarasov: May I ask why?
Aureilo: Well, sir, he stole John Wick’s car and, uh, killed his dog.
Tarasov: [pause] Oh.
Tarasov is obviously a man of power and intimidation, and while we don’t lose respect for the character in this scene, it sets Wick, and the rest of the film up perfectly. An homage to old school John Woo films and the pinnacle of Action movies, period, you shouldn’t dismiss this.
Couldn’t leave this out. No way, no how!
Though Nolan has audiences pretty divided in terms of how great he actually is as a director, something that sticks out to me as the mark of a great film is the discussion (or debate) to be had from the film. But as an clear homage to 2001 as well as plenty of other classic Sci-fi films, the only thing that seems to hold the film back critically is the director’s reputation. Past that, we’ve got a movie that’s as engaging as it is unique.
Unique in terms of Science fiction as a genre, no. But how often are these subjects and backdrop featured in film currently? Gravity may be the closest thing to Interstellar in look but certainly isn’t science fiction (Well, not officially…) but other than that, the space drama is one not many attempt these days. Add in a wormhole, TARS the robot and a Hans Zimmer soundtrack, and you’ve got my fourth favorite movie of 2014.
The countdown and launch intercut with McConaughey’s character leaving was perfect dramatically speaking. After that scene, they had me. McConaughey continues his streak.
The most off the wall and distinct of my choices, it’s shouldn’t be surprising at all to see this on anybody’s favorite of 2014 list, director Alejandro González Iñárritu gives us an inside perspective on an all but forgotten actor Riggan Thomas’ first few days leading to the opening of his adapted play. Riggan also seems to be losing his mind.
Michael Keaton playing Riggan in this role is something similar to Keanu Reeves as John Wick; it’s the sort of thing that seems natural for each actor to play and this is a good as it gets for them, respectively. But while John Wick could be considered the reigning king of its genre, Birdman’s Riggan stands outside the castle howling at the moon. You know what I mean if you’ve seen it. With a supporting cast of Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Andrea Riseborough, the only thing some may have a problem with is needing to go to the bathroom in a film that appears to be one shot and not being able to find the right time to go.
Some of the best moments include when Riggan is going full Birdman in his mind (Birdman being the superhero Riggan is known for playing early on in his career and also serves as the devil on Riggan’s shoulder) and giving us a glimpse of what he could show this world were he to decide to take back the helm as the feathered superhero; giant mechanical birds, explosions, Michael Bay stuff- all at the snap of a crazy man’s fingers.
An emotionally intense and simultaneously hilarious buildup to see how Riggan deals with the impending deadline as well as egotistical actors and a daughter that’s about as messed up as he is. You’ve just got to watch it to get it.
As far as I’m concerned, this is Jake Gyllenhaal’s greatest performance with no question. Aside from Prince of Persia, of course. The story of a creepy guy going around at night doing creepy things and finding ways to get paid for them. Then he discovers that filming said things can get you paid if you sell it to the news and off he goes, like a twisted little brother to Drive’s Driver. This is another one that just has to be seen to have you engaged because telling you the plot doesn’t do much. Let’s just say that Gyllenhaal’s performance as Louis Bloom shouldn’t go unnoticed by any fans of film.
Another interesting aspect of this tale is the commentating on the news and it’s love of violence. No matter what Louis does, or what he films, they always pay out for it and the only real problem seems to be how much they’re willing to pay. If you’ve got any criticisms of the media and it’s glorification of the darker side of life (you should), you’ll be able to appreciate it.
Not to mention the amazing camerawork of Robet Elswit that really puts you into the world of Louis; dark streets with the occasional blinding streetlight outlining a motionless body doesn’t sound like somewhere you want to be but you’ll want to see it, that’s for sure. And I guess that says something about us as the viewers, doesn’t it?
I wouldn’t even consider myself a fan of writer/director Wes Anderson. Watching his movies almost feel like an obligation and before a viewing, it’s been built up in my mind that I’m going to be bored by witty, fast paced dialogue spoken by hipster characters in a time period I’m generally unfamiliar with.
Then I actually start watching and am reminded of how great the previous film was and I wonder where I got all those negative associations to begin with. Hotel is not only my favorite Anderson film, but this would have to be the one to change minds of anyone who isn’t a fan of his previous work. With a great cast, the story zigs and zags from one place to another so quickly but even if you were to (for some reason) fall asleep during the film, wherever you wake up proves to be as hilarious as the scenes before it.
I don’t want to spoil anything in case you haven’t seen it (and you need to see it), but the costumes, the scenery (even if it’s just a model) and the performances make this funnier than anything, but you also like the characters as well. Something I can’t say for most comedies that come out. I’m looking at you Hangover, or newest Adam Sandler movie.
Honorable Mention- Gone Girl, Guardians of the Galaxy, Edge of Tomorrow, The Raid 2, The Lego Movie
I guess you could also count this as my Top 10 since I listed five more. These films were all great in their own right. Guardians helped give Marvel a great year not only on a financial level, but a critical one as well; finally taking us outside of the tongue in cheek comedy of the Avengers films to a full-on Sci-fi comedy. Edge of Tomorrow (Or is it Live/Die/Repeat?) was unfortunately the movie where we’d all decided we’d had enough of Mr. Cruise and then he goes and leads the best film he’s done in years, not to mention another great Sci-fi film for the year. And The Lego Movie? The song is still stuck in my head.
Second Thoughts- Godzilla, Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
These are both great movies, don’t get me wrong. But I think my excitement in the moment led me to believe they were constructed better than they actually were. Do I still love them? Definitely. Did they also have their problems? You betcha.
I enjoyed it, you hated it- The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
While these movies were full of cliches, possible overuses of CGI, and just about every other reason to hate a big summer blockbuster, I still enjoyed them. Maybe something to do with being able to let go of my childhood and see them for what they were? Nah, that can’t be it. I still hate every single X-Men movie.
Well, there it is. Aside from a few dry weekends, 2014 was sweet; cinematically and otherwise. Aside from Magic Mike XXL, 2015 is looking bright as well.