Wednesday, January 07, 2015

10 Favorite Films From 2014

It just wouldn't be a blog without some sort of year-end review of the best movies in 2014. Since I don't see anywhere near a sampling of all the movies to come out in a year, I always do a list of the 10 best movies that I saw for the first time in the past year. This year's list is exclusively made up of titles released in the last year or so. I only saw 132 movies this past year, in contrast to the previous years 200+ counts, and I relied on alot of old favorites throughout the year. Plus, as I've mentioned last year - having a baby in the house cuts down significantly on movie watching time!

Saving Mr.Banks (2013; dir. John Lee Hancock)
Of course a movie featuring Walt Disney as a character is going to make this list of best films of the year. Tom Hanks brings my idol to life opposite Emma Thompson as PL Travers, the author of Mary Poppins. It was neat to see a number of people who I've spent my life reading about portrayed in dramatic fashion by an all-star cast. The film is actually more about PL Travers than Walt Disney, but it's still a charming tear-jerker of film.

Non-Stop (2014; dir. Jaume Collet-Serra)
A super tight thriller with Liam Neeson as an air marshal being framed for a terrorist attack that is about to happen on the plane he is on. There's so many quick little shots in this superb movie that throw you off the trail of who's behind the crime that it becomes an exhilarating ride from most of the film's run time. They also employ quite a few neat techniques to make texting an interesting thing to watch in a movie. This is Liam Neeson's best action film since the fantastic first Taken picture.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014; dir. James Gunn)
This is a popcorn blockbuster done to absolute perfection. Everyone in the cast is fantastic, the action is top-notch, the story easy to follow, and even the somewhat familiar space opera settings seem fresh this time around. What stood out the most for me with this movie, was the relentless sense of humor running throughout the entire flick. Even straight-up comedies have trouble keeping the entire movie funny, and this Marvel blockbuster was just painfully funny all the way through. I loved it! Easily the funniest of the Marvel films, and also the most accessible to those who haven't followed the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014; dirs. Anthony & Joe Russo)
One of the coolest events of the past movie year was how much this Captain America sequel tied in with Marvel's Agents of SHIELD TV show. Although I would have liked to have seen more characters from the small screen crossover to the big screen, it was still a hoot to have this big budget action/thriller wrapped up with one of my favorite television shows. The action sequences here are top notch and the storyline relevant to today's headlines. This was a real tense, action-packed film that also had a great sense of humor throughout.

Don Jon (2013; dir. Joseph Gordon-Levitt)
A funny and delightfully vulgar romantic comedy with a great cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Glenne Headly and Brie Larson.

The Lego Movie (2014; dirs. Phil Lord & Christopher Miller)
As you've probably heard by now, there is no reason a movie based on building block toys should be so darn good. Yet, pretty much everyone agrees that The Lego Movie was one of the most fantastic movies of the past year. The movies manages to take us to a place we've never been, and give us a really good story mixed with hilarious humor from beginning to end. Unlike other toy based movies, it's only later when you are walking through the isles of Wal-Mart do you realize how much product they were selling us.

 Dallas Buyers Club (2013; dir. Jean-Marc Vallee)
Simply put, this is one of the only Oscar-contender kind of flicks I watched this past year and it was really good. Matthew McConaughey is fantastic as real life Ron Woodroof, a guy who contracts AIDS and helps other AIDS patients get the medicine they need. Jennifer Garner is also in this, she's always very good and Jared Leto is superb in this as well. I had no idea who Leto was before watching this, but he won the Oscar for best supporting actor - so you know he's good. McConaughey was also awarded an Oscar for her performance here.

Muppets Most Wanted (2014; dir. James Bobin)
The Muppet's 8th big screen outing was my favorite movie of the past year! It's not at the top of my list just because it's a Muppets movie, it's because 24 years after the death of Jim Henson - they finally nailed a Muppets production in the exact style of the old Muppet movies and shows. Gone are the literary adaptions or reunion attempts of the past four movies and instead is a zany, music filled crime caper that's big on laughs and little on plot development. There's at least a dozen superstar cameos, a soundtrack filled with goofy toe-tapping tunes, and the zany and irreverent sense of humor that made the Muppets a household name back in the 70's. Muppets Most Wanted is easily the best Muppets production since the passing of Jim Henson in 1990, and even though their last film, The Muppets (2011),  has it's loyal a life long Muppets aficionado I declare this film ten times better!

They Came Together (2014; dir David Wain)
True parody is dead. Over the last 10 years of so, parody has been watered down to just pointing something out or making a pop culture reference and leaving it at that. Then along comes They Came Together, which not only pokes fun of every contrivance of the modern romantic comedy, it also offers up zany puns, visual gags and hilarious set pieces to boot. Hands down the funniest movie of the year, this under-the-radar comedy is destined to find it's fans one day.

Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever (2014; dir. Tim Hill)
I saved this one for last because I know it's inclusion pretty much negates my entire list but hear me out...This was a funny movie! Now, honestly the 10th spot on my list should have gone to We're The Millers or Enough Said or even High Noon but I wanted to include Grumpy Cat because when was the last time a TV movie (on Lifetime no less) tried to be silly and zany AND actually pull it off?! The Christmas TV movie has become a genre which is here to stay. There are literally dozens of new Xmas made for TV movies each year now. Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever attempts to skewer those flicks with this silly caper about a mall robbery and a young girl who befriends Grumpy Cat and tries to save the day. I had zero interest in Grumpy Cat before this movie, but my kids and I laughed out loud several times at the feline festivities. (Also, it was directed by the same guy who did Muppets From Space!) This will definitely be required holiday viewing next Christmas time in our household!

What were some of your favorite film discoveries of 2014?

1 comment:

Tom said...

I thought Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was one of the best films of the year.

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