So many great movies in 2014. Truly, a banner year for cinemafiles. What were the best (and worst), you ask? My choices, after the jump.
10. Night Crawler: Was it really that good? I don’t know. But it stuck with me for days afterwards. I found myself thinking about it A LOT. Jake’s ick factor was THROUGH THE ROOF. There’s a scene where he’s trying to seduce his boss and he was just so damn repellant you completely forgot that he’s JAKE GYLLANHAAL and OF COURSE YOU’D SLEEP WITH HIM. That’s acting with a capitol A. Give him the Oscar!
9. Guardians of the Galaxy: Chris Pratt! Chris Pratt! Chris Pratt! Watching my beloved Bright Abbot from Everwood (remember?) climb to the tippy top of the A-list has been one of the great joys of my life. My GOD he’s fun to watch. Of course, the movie didn’t make a lick of sense, and the bad guys were boring as fuck but Chris Pratt! Chris Pratt! Chris Pratt! And Groot!
8. Maleficent: It’s all about the turbans here. And Angelina’s prosthetic cheekbones. Umph. She’s just so beautiful. The audience literally GASPED whenever the camera landed on her. Yes, the story was a little… whatever… but the visuals alone kept me entertained. Plus: It was our first big-screen introduction to Brenton Thwaites as the prince! And that boy’s going to be a MAJOR PLAYER.
7. Grand Budapest Hotel: Wes Anderson at the top of his game. Twee beyond twee, but isn’t that what we came for?
6. Boyhood: It was a stunt, sure, but what an audacious stunt. It was looooooong. And the lack of real storyline, or plotpoints, or even just EVENTS made it feel longer, but we’ll never see anything like it again. So definitely: BEST OF THE YEAR.
5. The Lego Movie: Everything was awesome, indeed.
4. Birdman: A lot of people HATED this movie. Most everybody I talked to rolled their eyes when I even brought it up. But I thought it was a dazzling commentary on fame and post-fame, and social media’s role in all of that, and success, and –most importantly– failure. All two hours of it unrolls—or appears to unroll—in a single kinetic take, with sequences spliced together so cunningly that we cannot see the breaks. Brilliant. And Michael Keaton is a REVELATION!
3. Into the Woods: I’m still reeling. Saw it yesterday. Can’t stop singing it. Can’t stop thinking about it. It’s simply MAGNIFICENT! Meryl, of course – give her all the awards – but BILLY MAGNUSSEN as Rapunzel’s prince in those TIGHT LEATHER PANTS! With DAT ASS! WHOOOOOOOEEEE. And his song with Chris Pine “Agony” – PERFECTION! And the kid who plays JACK! And Red Riding Hood! I think her song “I Know Things Now” is one of the most unnerving numbers in musical history. Go see it, definitely. Everybody should see it. Sondheim is for everyone. Aspiring rappers, especially, should see it to witness the delicious ways the English language can be manipulated. Perfect movie is perfect.
2. Snow Piercer: This Korean-made science fiction thriller was verything a movie should be and more. Intriguing premise. Fabulous performances (Tilda Swinton is BEYOND), the bromance you’ve been waiting a lifetime for (between Chris Evans and Jamie Bell! WOW), and… Octavia Spencer: ACTION HERO? Sure, why not. The post-Apocalyptic battle between the haves and the have-nots feels like all too familiar territory at this point, but Snow Piercer veers from the familier to the sublime in a heartbeat.
1. Edge of Tomorrow: Yep. I’m going with this for number one. I’m telling you IT WAS THE BEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR. I went into in with zero expectations. Actually, negative expectations – I hate Tom Cruise. Loathe the very sight of him. But I’ll be damned if he didn’t pull off the most clever action movie of the decade. See it. I implore you. It’s so clever. So well-written. You’ll thank me afterwards.
Honorable mentions: The Maze Runner (Dylan O’Brien: WELCOME TO THE BIG LEAGUES!), Frank (he’s sooo hot), The Purge: Anarchy (a 10,000% improvement on the first one), The Babadook (terrifying, simply terrifying), and the Not-As-Bad-As-the-Reviews-Would-Have-You-Believe Award goes to The Interview, which was just an hour and 50 minutes of silliness. Certainly not the worth the international sturm-und-drang it caused. But then I like James Franco and Seth Rogen, and just about everything they do. Watch it. Then tweet me what you think. I’ll
Honorable acting mention: Kellan Lutz in The Legend of Hercules. I know, I know. But POOR DEAR. I don’t want this to be a career-ender for him. I love the big lug. I do. So: Look into the spinning hypno-wheel and repeat after me:
“Kellan Lutz was wonderful in The Legend of Hercules…. Kellan Lutz was wonderful in The Legend of Hercules… He deserves to be in more movies…. He deserves to be in more movies….” (Besides, how fun was he on The Comeback finale?)
Grace of Monaco: Shoulda, woulda, coulda been great. Nicole just poisons everything she touches these days, though.
Paddington: Too creepy. Scared the kiddies.
That Awkward Moment: I actually walked out of it. I actually walked out of a ZAC EFRON movie. That’s how bad it was. Even Zac’s beauty couldn’t keep me there.
Jersey Boys: Interminable.
Pompeii: Again, even the beauty of Kit Harington couldn’t save this snoozefest.
Heaven Is For Real: Don’t get me started on this treacle. I want to punch that little boy. “What’s heaven like, Joey?” “It’s beyooooootiful” POW! RIGHT IN THE KISSER!
This Is Where I Leave You: How can you have a movie with Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Jane Fonda (JANE FONDA FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!) and Jason Bateman… and it’s STILL boring and unfunny?
A Million Ways to Die in the West: Who gave Seth MacFarlane unlimited power? Was it us? And how can we rescind it?
Tie: I, Frankenstein and Dracula Untold: The Frankenstein stuff was just unwatchable dreck, and the Dracula crap-fest starred Luke Evans, whom I will never support. Ever, ever, ever.
Related: Check out HitFlix’s 25 Worst Movies.