Since the Oscar noms were just rolled out, Noah and I figured it was probably time that we rambled a bit about our Top 10 Films of 2014. Take a look! My list is at the top, his is at the bottom.
JOHN’S TOP 10 FILMS OF 2014
10) The LEGO Movie
If I were to sort this list by how many times I watched something in 2014, The LEGO Movie would most definitely end up in the #1 slot. It’s hilarious, charming and great for both kids and adults.
Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar is certainly not a perfect film, but I’ve yet to get over just how immensely ambitious it is. The world needs more filmmakers like Nolan.
08) Gone Girl
David Fincher is an incredible storyteller, and his adaptation of Gone Girl is just further proof of that. The whole damn film is a rollercoaster of craziness.
Nightcrawler blurs the line between right and wrong so much that you start to wonder if you might secretly be the kind of person who is willing to do terrible things. That’s impressive (and super creepy). Also, I firmly believe it’s the best thing Jake Gyllenhaal has ever done.
06) The Grand Budapest Hotel
I didn’t really like Moonrise Kingdom. I thought it felt too much like Wes Anderson trying to make a Wes Anderson film, and it largely just agitated me. Thankfully, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a return to form for Anderson. There’s honestly not a single character in it that I wouldn’t watch tool around for hours.
05) Captain America: The Winter Soldier
While Guardians Of The Galaxy is the most entertaining film that Marvel put out in 2014, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the most important. Its serious tone is fantastic, and I really dig the way it completely flips the Marvel Cinematic Universe right on its head. No longer can anyone say that the films between Avengers entries are filler.
04) Inherent Vice
Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice is the bigger, weirder, drugier version of The Big Lebowski. I plan on watching it religiously once it’s available on blu-ray.
When I saw Whiplash I squirmed around in my seat so much that I’m pretty sure I annoyed everyone in the theater. What an intense film! What an ending! JK Simmons and Miles Teller have never been better.
02) Force Majeure
Force Majeure is a fascinating film. It dives into some really important stuff – masculinity, family dynamics, married life – and it does so with such a twisted sense of humor that you receive an experience that’s both uncomfortable and enlightening.
I was roughly halfway through my first viewing of Richard Linklater’s Boyhood when I knew it would be my #1 film of 2014. It’s simply about growing up, and I love that about it. Think Terrence Malik’s Tree Of Life without all of the whispering and dinosaur scenes.
Here’s how I think my list would have looked if I had selected 35 films instead of 10. And yes, this is just an excuse to give a slew of movies a minor mention. 2014 was a good one, man!
35 – Dead Snow 2
34 – I Am Here
33 – Frank
32 – Chef
31 – Selma
30 – Foxcatcher
29 – Snowpiercer
28 – Shrew’s Nest
27 – Nymphomaniac Uncut
26 – Neighbors
25 – The Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies
24 – The Guest
23 – The Treatment
22 – The Babadook
21 – It Follows
20 – Wild
19 – The Raid 2
18 – John Wick
17 – Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes
16 – The Imitation Game
15 – X-Men: Days Of Future Past
14 – Guardians Of The Galaxy
13 – Birdman
12 – Edge Of Tomorrow
11 – 22 Jump Street
NOAH’S TOP 10 FILMS OF 2014
Looking over my surprisingly long list of films (proof that my girlfriend’s claim that I’m ‘always at a movie’ is true) I’m stunned by just how many terrible films I saw this year. I don’t know what’s prompted Hollywood – possibly the rapidly decreasing IQs of the populace or the fact that people have become so inundated with media consumption that anything that isn’t someone’s chubby cousin wearing half a donkey-suit jumping on a trampoline is worth spending money on – to just let out a steaming river of horribleness, but man, what a year for crap. This will be a year stoner film nerds harken back to when trying to pick shitty horror films for a night of bong-rips and almost-boobs. And perhaps this is why the great films of this year, and there were many, seemed to shine so bright. I’ll agree, this was one of the great years of cinema in recent memory; from blockbuster to indie comedy to big fucking art-house smash, there was so much to consume and so much of it so fucking special.
Before you start harping on my critical taste because I didn’t include Boyhood, Birdman, or Whiplash on this list, for a variety of reasons I did not have the chance to view them, either theatrically or in the comfort of my own home. Thus, they are not on this list. Still, I’m sure they’re quite good, and you can assuage your anger by going to the theater and seeing them yourselves. Now, here are my Top 10 …
10. The One I Love, d. Charlie McDowell
Sci-fi has made more and more of an impact in Hollywood, and the arrival of Charlie McDowell’s hipster-Twilight Zone piece, The One I Love is just another showcase of how far, and how good, it has gone. Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) are a couple on the verge of divorce who are instructed by a couple’s therapist to visit a retreat. Odd things happen and that’s all I’ll say. It’s a beautiful rumination on love and identity and what it means to be married and the last few scenes are genuinely creepy.
9. Gone Girl, d. David Fincher
No one on Earth takes trashy literature (and Gone Girl is most definitely a happily trashy book) and turns it into intricate deconstructions of modern humans like David Fincher. Gone Girl is a cold, cool number about one truly fucked up relationship and the tornado of intrigue and madness they stir up. Rosamund Pike is fantastic, Ben Affleck is Ben Affleck, and Fincher makes suburbia feel like the empty, creepy place it is.
8. Edge Of Tomorrow, d. Doug Liman
No more fun was had in the theater this year. Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt get dressed up like robots and fight giant hive-minded spider beasts over and over again. If The One I Love shows how good indie sci-fi is, Edge of Tomorrow showcases just how good our blockbuster sci-fi is getting.
7. Selma, d. Ava DuVernay
I’m an adamant anti-biopic supporter. They’re formulaic and often times a greatest hit collage of an important character’s life, rendering a chunk of our history almost completely without context or meaning. Selma is not that. Selma is a focused, complex look at a brief spell of very important time in both our history and Martin Luther King’s. It redefines the way we look at biopics and features perhaps the best performance of the year in David Oyelowo’s layered portrayal of MLKJr. DuVernay’s direction though, her control of setting and the wide base of characters is what really shines, she creates a film that doesn’t glorify a moment, it shows it for what it is.
6. Captain America: The Winter Soldier, d. The Russo Brothers
Did you ever want to see your favorite 70s political thriller but instead of Warren Beatty as reporter, your main character was a hulking superhero looking to save the world from an insidious group of psychos? Me too, and this is it. Marvel continues to redefine what we think of as a blockbuster, and Captain America and his battle against The Winter Soldier is a serious foray into the more serious side of comic filmmaking.
5. The Trip To Italy, d. Michael Winterbottom
I’ve been describing The Trip To Italy, Michael Winterbottom’s sequel to the equally amazing The Trip, as the British version of the Before Sunset films. It’s just two dudes, Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan, driving around, ruminating and life and poetry and doing a shitload of impersonations, but like the first, the interactions between the two men highlight the ups and downs and of a certain age. I don’t know if there’s a more moving moment on film this year than Rob Brydon, impersonator extraordinaire staring into a mirror flaying himself in the voice of Sean Connery. I want a film like this every two years. What’s next, Spain?
4. Obvious Child, d. Gillian Robespierre
Jenny Slate in an abortion comedy = sold. But it’s more than that. It’s funny, it’s poignant, it’s realistic, it’s a star-making turn for the impressively attractive Slate. And hell, it’s just a very straight-forward film about a very funny girl who’s going to get an abortion. Any other year, this would’ve been my number one.
3. The Grand Budapest Hotel, d. Wes Anderson
It’s strange for me to see the auteur backlash that Wes Anderson has garnered over his career. He made a trio of brilliant films early on and then continued to make amazing films with a similar visual and thematic leaning and all of a sudden he was a one-trick pony. Now, in 2015, he’s like an underdog story in the press – “Will Wes Anderson ever make a good movie?” Go fuck yourself hipsters, Wes Anderson makes good movies, just about every time, and this, his opus, is as good as it gets.
2. Interstellar, d. Christopher Nolan
Interstellar in IMAX was the best experience I had in a theater this year. The sort of film that grabs you by the scruff of your neck and drags you back to a day when movies had heart and spectacle and big ideas and the sort of epic, wow visuals that left you with only cheek on your seat. The amount of internet moaning about the timeline of the film and how it doesn’t make sense and yadda fucking yadda is a sure sign that our digitally-addled society is going down the tubes.
1. Inherent Vice, d. Paul Thomas Anderson
Man, what a fucking flick. See it once and you’ll walk out in a haze of weed smoke, thinking, “My brain hurts, but that was amazing.” See it twice and the plot falls into place and suddenly you realize that PTA wasn’t just making a crazy, almost slapstick piece of dramedy, PTA was acknowledging the greater themes of the 1970s. It’s a fantastic film – fun, weird, riddled with amazing performances – and one that I believe will only get better, more complex and more interesting with each watching
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Foxcatcher, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, The LEGO Movie, Neighbors, The Interview, The Babadook