While many people complain about the poor state of show business, especially in light of the recent capitulation of Sony, it’s really been a fantastic year for movies. In fact, the movies on my honorable mention list are all great, which makes putting together a ten best list that much sillier.
DISCLAIMER: The movies on this list are only movies that I’ve seen in 2014 so flicks like “Inherent Vice”, “Selma”, or “A Most Violent Year” don’t make the list as I sadly and inexcusably haven’t seen them yet.
Honorable Mention (in no particular order): “Wild”, “Neighbors”, “22 Jump Street”, “Snowpiercer”, “Boyhood”, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”, “Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier”
10. “Edge of Tomorrow”
This movie was criminally overlooked by the public, probably because most people are just tired of seeing Tom Cruise save Earth from aliens. It’s a shame because this is the finest Cruise vehicle in years and everyone missed out on a breakout, killer performance from Emily Blunt.
9. “Guardians of the Galaxy”
You would really be hard pressed to find a more fun movie released in 2014. Judging from the box office returns, almost everyone agrees. This movie took fairly unknown Marvel characters, cast them with fairly unknown actors, then became a worldwide hit. It also has made Chris Pratt a bonafide movie star.
Creepy and shockingly believable, there may not be a grittier movie released in 2014. Jake Gyllenhaal has never been better as a sociopathic cameraman obsessed with power and money. This movie is so disturbing that you may feel the need to shower afterwards.
7. “The Drop”
Sadly, this is the last time we’ll see the late James Gandolfini in a movie. He really couldn’t have gone out any better, as a bit of a lovable, bar-owning loser that gets in over his head with the Brooklyn Russian mob. Tom Hardy’s mysterious bartender barely speaks, but once this movie hits its plot-twisting crescendo, Hardy shows why many people compare him to Marlon Brando.
This is probably the most divisive movie of 2014. The effects are incredible, as it looks like this movie was actually filmed while in orbit around Saturn. Yes, it plays a bit fast and loose with time travel, but Christopher Nolan compensates for it with an emotional, intense, intelligent movie that never ever lets up.
5. “Gone Girl”
It’s hard to tell if this is a movie meant to skewer the media or scare the beejeezus out of every husband in the country. Regardless, it’s a wild ride with approximately 32 twists that only a director like David Fincher can pull off. Rosamund Pike also drops one of the iciest, most ruthless performances in 2014.
4. “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
If this movie had been released in the last sixty days, there is no doubt that Wes Anderson’s hilariously manic tale about Ralph Fiennes’ eccentric hotel concierge would be considered for several awards. Instead, it was released earlier this year and has become Anderson’s biggest movie to date. It’s delightfully vulgar, yet playful, which is why the Cult of Wes should only get larger.
Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu should clear off area on his mantle for two guaranteed Academy Awards: Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. These are lock wins for him as writing a screenplay like this one with the idea that you could actually shoot the movie is as ambitious as film making gets. Also, when Michael Keaton accepts his Best Actor Oscar, let’s all hope he does it in his Beetlejuice voice.
2. “American Sniper”
Sometimes, movies directed by Clint Eastwood seem like he’s sleepwalking. Then, there is this movie. Not only is it an amazing tribute to Chris Kyle, one of the finest soldiers the United States as ever seen, it shows how a movie can be anti-war while giving reasons for how evil can only be stopped with war. Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of Kyle will surely give him another Oscar nomination and there is a greater than good chance he wins. From his beefed up size to his strong Texan dialect, it’s a transformation for an actor unlike any other this year.
This is the most terrifying movie of 2014. The reason it’s so frightening is that the intense, violent relationship between Miles Teller’s young drummer and J.K. Simmons’ manipulative, overbearing, larger than life jazz band conductor seems like it could actually happen in the world of ultra-competitive music conservatories. It is also a master class in movie making from first time director/writer Damien Chazelle. Simmons is a lock for Best Supporting Actor at virtually every award show and if Teller and Chazelle’s work is overlooked, it’s an absolute crime.