I always like to end the year with a Top 10 list of my favorite movies. Having not seen some critical favorites such as Birdman, Boyhood, Inherent Vice, or Foxcatcher (and many others), this list feels woefully incomplete. However, since I won’t be able to see those films until 2015, this is the best I can offer before the end of the year.
Let’s start with #1…
1) The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson) You’re either a Wes Anderson fan or you’re not. I’m not sure that there’s much of an in between. Me, I’m a fan. The Grand Budapest Hotel is Anderson’s funniest film. It’s hilarious. Everyone is in top form, especially Ralph Fiennes. I also think Alexandre Desplat’s score is something of a wonder. It’s not often that I’ll call a comedy my favorite film of the year, but this is a special film. I adore The Grand Budapest Hotel.
2) Guardians of the Galaxy (James Gunn) I was a bit of a comic book geek growing up but I admit I never heard of the Guardians of the Galaxy. So I was happy to go into a Marvel movie with a clear head and no knowledge about where certain arcs were heading. It was... refreshing. This movie is a total blast, I felt giddy for much of its 120 minutes. Gunn makes a Marvel movie to rival the thrills of classic Star Wars. And any movie with a talking raccoon is cool by me. Can’t wait for the sequel.
3) The Lego Movie (Chris Miller & Phil Lord) One of the year’s biggest surprises. I don’t know, I guess I expected a Lego movie to be a simple cash grab, but Miller and Lord have repeatedly shattered expectations before and this is their best film yet. Smart humor and visually excellent.
4) Why Don’t You Play in Hell? (Sion Sono) Gonzo, go-for-broke filmmaking at its finest. Japanese madman/director Sion Sono is one of the most original artists working in film today and I think this is one of his finest films. I wrote a rambling review over at CityOnFire.com if you want to give it a read.
5) Godzilla (Gareth Edwards) Okay, so if you know me then you know I’m a Godzilla nut. So admittedly I am willing to forgive some of the sins of Edwards’ Godzilla. But even ignoring my fan status, I really appreciate the visual style Edwards gave the film. CGI has lost its ability to 'wow' in recent years but Godzilla and the Mutos are truly awe-inspiring in the film, reminding me of how I felt when watching Jurassic Park for the first time in theatres. The visuals make the audience feel small when viewing the onscreen spectacle, which is harder than it sounds. It’s not a film without some flaws, but I love it just the same.
6) Snowpiercer (Joon-ho Bong) A fantastic piece of dystopian sci-fi. Snowpiercer had a long, winding road to American theatres, but it was worth the wait. Read my full review over at CityOnFire.com.
7) Enemy (Denis Villeneuve) 2013’s Prisoners was one of last year’s biggest surprises. With Enemy, director Villeneuve and star Jake Gyllenhaal reteam for a smaller but equally impressive film. This is a dark and weird little story. It screws with your head. I was jittery for hours after watching this one.
8) Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Anthony & Joe Russo) I thought Captain America: The First Avenger was one of Marvel’s weakest films, but the sequel surprises by being one of Marvel’s very finest. You can strip away the superhero stuff and the plot would work just as well as a Cold War paranoia thriller. It reminded me a bit of Three Days of the Condor (so it’s very cool to see Condor’s star Robert Redford in a supporting role here). This is an excellent superhero flick, a very good spy flick, and a damn fine actioner. There is a lot to like about The Winter Soldier.
9) Noah (Darren Aronofsky) Okay, so I understand this film bugged some people. Personally, I liked it a great deal. It’s incredibly ambitious filmmaking and one of the best religious-themed films I've seen in a long time. Of the two 2014 religious epics maybe Ridley Scott’s Exodus stayed closer to the Bible stories, but I’m thinking Aronofsky’s Noah will be the one that’s remembered.
10) Fury (David Ayer) Back in March, director David Ayer gave 2014 one of its worst films with the Arnold Schwarzenegger crime pic Sabotage… Ayer then followed it up with the October release of Fury, one of the year’s best. That’s range. The Brad Pitt WWII tank drama is a brutal, visceral experience from beginning to end. There are some visuals in Fury that I’ll never get out of my head, no matter how hard I might try. Not exactly a film you 'enjoy', but it's very well made. Good movie.
The rest of my Top 25 looks a little something like. . .
11) Edge of Tomorrow (Doug Liman)
12) Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch)
13) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Matt Reeves)
14) The Raid 2 (Gareth Evans)
15) X-Men: Days of Future Past (Bryan Singer)
16) Oculus (Mike Flanagan)
17) Blue Ruin (Jeremy Saulnier)
18) Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy)
19) Gone Girl (David Fincher)
20) Begin Again (John Carney)
21) Chef (Jon Favreau)
22) Interstellar (Christopher Nolan)
23) Afflicted (Clif Prowse & Derek Lee)
24) As the Light Goes Out (Derek Kwok)
25) John Wick (Chad Stahelski & David Leitch)
What about you? What are some of your favorite films of the year?
Writer of horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Lover of books and film. Lifelong Godzilla fan. Reluctant blogger.
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