“Boyhood” Reigns as Best Film of 2014.
First of all, thank you for following me for another year. 2014 has been another fine year at the theaters. And while I saw plenty of films I didn’t particularly care for, there were those I have a duty as a critic to spread the word about. The most important thing I’ve learned in 2014 is there is a great diversity of impressive films out there. For every independent darling like Boyhood, there’s also a mainstream film breaking barriers like Captain America: The Winter Solider.
So like my “worst of” list, this isn’t a definitive list of the best movies of 2014. Even though, I make it my goal to see as many movies as possible to review. A few acclaimed films like The Theory of Everything, Locke and Nightcrawler slipped through the cracks. Also, some awards hopefuls like Selma, A Most Violent Year and Mr. Turner haven’t reached my area yet. Regardless, I’ll be checking out all these films sometime in 2015.
Honorable Mentions: Chef, Foxcatcher, Life Itself, Enemy, Blue Ruin
10. Gone Girl
David Fincher hit a home run with Gone Girl. While many of his previous films like Zodiac and Fight Club are considered more cult films, Gone Girl gambled with a more mainstream film. Still, Fincher retained much of his signature tense storytelling. While not as engaging as a Hitchcockian mystery, Gone Girl was anchored by solid performances by Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. It’s one of those movies that makes me want to read the source material immediately.
09. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Apes on Horses! Apes on Horses! That’s a page from Schmoes Know of course. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is by far the reboot’s The Empire Strikes Back. 2011’s Rise of the Planet of Apes revitalized the 45-year-old franchise. Dawn, however, took the ball and ran with it. Dawn was not just a summer blockbuster film. It was an experience, thanks to its compelling story and top-notch visuals. Andy Serkis proves time and time again he is the king of motion capture. Give him an Oscar already.
08. The Grand Budapest Hotel
After adoring Moonrise Kingdom in 2012, I could not wait until Wes Anderson’s next project. The Grand Budapest Hotel exploded with such whimsical charm exceeding Moonrise. This wild caper set in fictional Republic of Zubrowska left a smile on my face. Ralph Fiennes was hysterical as the flamboyant concierge Gustave H. and with so many Anderson regulars having a blast, I was too. It’s one of the rare early releases of 2014 to holds it weight for so long. FULL REVIEW
The world of Snowpiercer is a strange one. The survivors of a global warming experiment gone wrong are stuck on a perpetual train. Loaded with hard-hitting social commentary, Snowpiercer opens the wounds of class inequality in a futuristic setting. Chris Evans headlines Snowpiercer as a barely recognizable rebel. Between Snowpiercer and Captain America: The Winter Soldier last year, Evans is at the top of his career.
06. The Imitation Game
World War II films are a dime-a-dozen in Hollywood. The Imitation Game isn’t one with its guns blazing on the battlefield. Rather, Game examines the backbone to winning the war. Cracking enemy codes. Benedict Cumberbatch gives a standout performance as Alan Turing. It’s a role of such delicate duality. He’s uncovering secrets about the Nazis. But he’s forced to keep his own secrets about his sexuality under the radar.
05. Under the Skin
It’s understandable to see why Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin is so polarizing. The film requires plenty of patience as Scarlett Johannson’s mysterious woman seduces lonely men for 90 minutes. Glacially paced, Under the Skin remains a provocative piece of cinema that ponders countless questions. Like the next film on this list, Under the Skin is a modern success story at recapturing the art of Stanley Kubrick.
Interstellar is an interesting choice on this list. The first time I saw Christopher Nolan’s space epic, I was ill and couldn’t really enjoy it. That being said, I went back two more times, the final occassion in IMAX. Slightly more accessible than last year’s Gravity, Interstellar is a sumptuous visual feast. The final hour is overly ambitious, treading the line of a modern-day 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Whiplash is by far the most nail-biting film of 2014. I was in band when I was younger. But never have I seen a more cutthroat relationship between teacher and student. J.K. Simmons gives the best performance of his career, pushing Miles Teller beyond his limits. He’s already had plenty of experience as J. Jonah Jameson in the Spider-Man films berating Peter Parker. Teller’s at the top of his game too. He’s proving himself a worthy player in Hollywood real fast.
Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity) could be looking at his second consecutive Oscar. Birdman is a hauntingly beautiful piece of cinema. With a few tweaks along the way, Birdman is fluidic real-time storytelling that I’ll never forget. Michael Keaton is the most relevant he’s been since his days as Batman. Ironically enough, the Birdman character has plenty of similarities to the Caped Crusader.
Saying Boyhood is the best film of 2014 is like a broken record at this point. But it’s 100% true. Richard Linklater goes the distance (literally) with Boyhood. Filming over 12 years with same cast seems like a gimmick at first glance. Boyhood captures the everyday moments in a young man’s life. Think of it as a spin on Linklater’s iconic Before trilogy. Not every day is drastically life-changing. It’s the little moments and building blocks that make you how you are. At 2 hours and 45 minutes, there is no more emotionally riveting experience in 2014 than Boyhood.
Have you seen any of these films? Tell We Live Film which films make your Best of 2014 list down below.