It was an excellent year for movies in 2014. Moviegoers were treated to blockbuster releases along with smaller films that packed a punch. Some of these films are just now beginning to gain wide release in 2015, but they were technically released in 2014 in select cites to qualify for awards season. I’ve not seen everything from last year, but from what I did see I have compiled my list of the top films released in 2014. A few glaring omissions from the list include: “Foxcatcher,” “Inherent Vice,” and “Still Alice,” though I hope to see them before the Academy Awards air. I’ll briefly share my thoughts on my top 15.
It’s hard to put into words the feeling I had after leaving this movie. There’s nothing too exciting about the plot, it’s just a movie that depicts real life. Shot over 12 years, “Boyhood” managed to capture an unmatchable feeling of relatability and realism in film that hasn’t been captured in some time. Intended to tell the story of a boy over 12 years, the film not only does it in an exceptional way but also provides in-depth looks into his parents’ journeys as well. Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke, in supporting roles, were really spectacular.
Three words sum up this movie: weird, fast and entertaining. I’m not sure any other movie from last year made me love it and yet still be questioning it as much as this one did after it was over. Michael Keaton captivates in his best role ever and supporting actors Emma Stone and Edward Norton provide astounding performances as well. It’s easy to see why the film managed to be the most nominated filmed at the Academy Awards.
It surprised me that this film did not make as much noise as it did. It’s an excellent film and one of favorite war movies ever. With strong performances by all involved, particularly Brad Pitt and Logan Lerman, the film captures the end of World War II and the last remaining battles on the front lines in a powerfully intense way. The last 15 minutes kept me on the edge of my seat more than any other movie last year.
I hadn’t read the book before going into this one, and, honestly, after watching, I would recommend people taking that route. The level of insanity, intensity and creepiness packed into this film easily makes it worth watching again and again. Ben Affleck is a great leading man in the film, but make no mistakes: Rosamund Pike owns every bit of this movie.
This is easily Reese Witherspoon’s best role to date. I was not expecting to like this film as much as what I did when I left the theater. Witherspoon carries the film on her shoulders, excuse the pun, and delivers a riveting and inspiring true story of a woman’s journey to overcome her demons.
I love Bill Murray and I love Melissa McCarthy. So, I imagined I would enjoy this film no matter the story. However, I turned out to love it. Murray turns in a performance that is Oscar worthy and McCarthy is just as good. She doesn’t get nearly enough praise for her acting versatility. I don’t often get emotional in movies, but this one is an exception. It is beautifully poignant from beginning to end.
“Guardians of the Galaxy”
Easily my favorite Marvel movie since “The Avengers,” this movie was one where, going into it, I was unsure of what to expect. The main thing that lured me in so much was the music in the trailer. Little did I know, music was an integral part of the film. It’s the blockbuster of the year, filled with excitement, action and a ton of heart throughout. Chris Pratt easily became the next big thing, and, quite honestly, I have faith in any film franchise he decides to takeover next.
I’m not sure I could love this movie more. It was easily my feel-good movie of the year. Jon Favreau created a truly beautiful film that captures a wonderful relationship between a father and son, while also detailing a fun adventure across the United States. Did I mention that the film is packed with delicious looking food as well? Yeah, it’s not one to watch on an empty stomach. It’s a fun ride that I didn’t want to get off.
People like to give Jennifer Aniston a hard time when it comes to her acting abilities and the films she’s been in. People still try poking fun at her after this film for trying too hard to be a “serious actress.” Well, I have news for them. She’s the real deal in this movie. Emotionally and physically, Aniston delivers her best acting performance in “Cake.” I’m saying that, putting all of my biased love for her to the side. Her performance is easily Oscar worthy and hopefully depicts a new path in her acting career. Easily, this is my most underrated film of the year.
Ava DuVernay did an excellent job directing this Martin Luther King Jr. biopic. The film portrays the events in Selma with haunting accuracy. The film manages to be emotional and thought-provoking 50 years after the events in Selma, Alabama. It is one of the best movies to ever capture the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
“The Theory of Everything”
Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones shine in this film about the life of Stephen Hawking. Redmayne, especially, delivers a mesmeric portrayal of the scientist.
“The Skeleton Twins”
Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader come together for one of the best “under the radar” films of the year. No other two leads provided as much chemistry as these two, who play siblings both struggling with personal problems. It’s a dark but tender film that never lacks heart.
J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller star in one of the crazier, intense films I’ve seen in awhile. It’s shocking, riveting and technically astonishing. Simmons, in particular, gives a stellar performance.
“The Imitation Game”
Benedict Cumberbatch stars in this smart, crafty film. It provided an interesting story that most may not know about and details the life of a complicated man who was deeply troubled. Cumberbatch can do no wrong is this film.
“A Most Violent Year”
It’s a more quiet mob film, but the suspense and feel of a classic gangster movie is still there. The cinematography and feel of the ‘80s is perfect. Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain prove to be a dynamic duo.
The rest of my movies of 2014, in no particular order:
“X-Men: Days of Future Past”
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier”
“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay”
“This Is Where I leave You”
“The Fault In Our Stars”
“22 Jump Street”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“The Good Lie”
“Big Hero 6”
“Into the Woods”
“The Hundred-Foot Journey”