This past year I kind of gave up on reviewing movies (took a bit of a hiatus from March to about August). This was partly due to being a bit bored with the process and because not many movies had been released that truly excited me. One movie really brought me out of that funk (Snowpiercer) and made me realize that 2014 was a pretty great year for movies. Here are my top ten picks and a few honorable mentions that, if I was in a different mood, might have been in my top ten.
One more thing, I know it’s kind of crazy to release a top ten of 2014 almost two months into 2015, but I figured if the Academy can wait that long, then so can I. Plus, I needed a bit of extra time to see everything.
As I stated above, this movie brought me out of my movie funk. The world created for this film felt so lived-in, and that’s what makes me want to keep watching it. I love the performances and the weird elements of the film, but it’s the feeling of the film in general that sticks with me. When “Snowpiercer” starts, you believe that these people have lived most of their lives on a train, no matter how stupid that sounds. This is the film from 2014 I will return to most in the future.
Definitely my favorite Oscar-nominated film of the year. The cinematography gets most of the attention, but the acting is the best aspect of this surprisingly funny film. This movie is the total package for me: great performances, impressive visuals, interesting theories, realistic drama, and actual comedy.
3. Inherent Vice
Paul Thomas Anderson is my favorite director. Pretty much anything he makes will end up in my top ten. I don’t recommend this movie to anyone who doesn’t care for Anderson’s films. Even then, I’m wary of recommending it. It’s weird and hard to follow, and that’s what I love about it.
I’m a sucker for science-fiction, and Christopher Nolan’s surprisingly emotional sci-fi film worked for me on every level.
5. Guardians of the Galaxy
Did I mention I like sci-fi (for the record, this makes three of my top five films science fiction)? The Marvel movies, while great, needed a jolt, and this is definitely that jolt. Sure, it still follows the basic plot of nearly every comic book movie, but it’s a lot of fun to watch.
6. Gone Girl
David Fincher is another director who can do no wrong in my eyes. He took what would normally be a TV movie and made it respectable. The great performances from the two leads helped out quite a bit, as well.
7. The Guest
This is definitely one of the weird ones that I liked this year. I recently described it as an ‘80s slasher flick pretending to be a standard thriller. Anything modern that’s reminiscent of an ‘80s slasher movie definitely has my attention.
Show up to see J. K. Simmons’s performance. Enjoy it for the overall great movie that it is.
9. American Sniper
Forget the controversy (which shouldn’t exist anyway) and just watch this effective portrayal of an American soldier on and off the battlefield.
10. John Wick
There are at least five other movies that I would put in this last spot, but I’m going with John Wick because it reminded me how great action films could and should be. This isn’t thoughtful art or anything, but it is a movie that I had one of the most enjoyable reactions to while watching.
Honorable Mention - Here are the five movies that easily could have been in the top ten: The Grand Budapest Hotel, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Edge of Tomorrow, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and Noah. I also really enjoyed Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Fury, The Babadook, and A Most Violent Year.