I’m basing this list from what I have seen in cinema, TV and DVD. You may not agree that some of these films belong on this list but if you could see my face, you could see how much I really care. I still haven’t seen Nightcrawler, Gone Girl, Whiplash or Interstellar. So these were my favorite new releases in 2014 (what were yours?).
10. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
I was surprised at how good Rise of the Planet of the Apes was compared to the original classics. So I had high expectations for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and they were met.
We didn’t get nice guy James Franco in the lead role (or in any role for that matter) and we didn’t get an epic destructive scene of apes ambushing soldiers on the Golden Gate Bridge but we did get Andy Serkis as a powerhouse monkey. Not only did Dawn of the Planet of the Apes match up to it’s predecessor, it surpassed it.
9. X-Men: Days of Future Past
This was the welcome return of Bryan Singer as a director in the X-Men franchise. Many cast members from the first two films returned to hone their mutant powers. And Singer denies acknowledging the plot development of X-Men: The Last Stand (not that that’s a bad thing). The rightful director to the X-Men franchise returned to set the story back on the track it’s supposed to run, and he succeeded.
8. A Most Wanted Man
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, Robin Wright and Grigorly Dobrygin all gave great performances in this underrated thriller. The story (brilliantly scripted by Andrew Bovell) is not one for optimists, and the ending is not a predictable one. Hoffman really showcases his talents in this film, especially towards the end. A Most Wanted Man is a powerful film but due to its bleak hopeless comment on the times we live in, I would not seek to watch it again.
7. Guardians of the Galaxy
My first impression of this film upon viewing the trailer was that it would be incredibly cheesy and disappointing. I was wrong, mostly. Guardians of the Galaxy may not match up to the standards of Iron Man but it does veer close. The film’s hype changed pretty quickly, at first everyone was avoiding this film due to the aforementioned cheesy trailer, but after it’s release it was the most talked about film of the year. This film may not necessarily be a masterpiece but it is great entertainment.
6. 22 Jump Street
21 Jump Street was a huge crowd pleaser and an enjoyable action-comedy that surprised everyone (myself included). In fact, I believe 22 Jump Street is even better. Sequels tend to be inferior to their originals (with some exceptions) and this film goes an extra step and pokes fun at the whole idea of sequels. We saw a strong comedic performance from Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. I’d like to see them work together again.
5. Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
I was expecting this to be the best film of the year and although it is a terrific comedy-drama it did not make my #1. The director gives us many beautiful one-shot scenes in this film. Every actor pulled their weight in this production but Michael Keaton and Edward Norton were sublime. It’s not a film for everyone but theatre lovers in particular will like this film.
Foxcatcher is one of the more underrated films of the year. I thought that the scale, performances, story and suspense were enough to earn it a nomination for Best Picture (snubbed). Bennett Miller brings his filmmaking master hands to tell this tale of a wrestler being taken in and corrupted by billionaire John du Pont (Carrell), and he executes it perfectly.
3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
Wes Anderson never fails to entertain. This adventure comedy masterpiece is a perfect example of his stylistic storytelling. Anderson cleverly brings together a stellar cast to pull off an entertaining tale. It’s hard to imagine anyone in the lead role other than Ralph Fiennes. This film is wonderful, see it.
2. The Imitation Game
Benedict Cumberbatch puts in a brilliant performance as Alan Turing in this tremendous World War 2 code-breaking drama. The film centers on Turing’s invention to break the Enigma code. The screenplay jumps between years without spoiling the story in any way. This is a story of one man’s contribution to our world today that everyone should know.
Funding a film that will be released in 13 years is a big gamble, but in this case it definitely payed off. The 12 Year Project (known now as Boyhood) is a long shot epic with actors and crew who cared for the film so much, they committed for 12 years to produce what I believe to be the best film of 2014. With Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette in the parenting roles and Ellar Coltrane and Lorelei Linklater in the younger roles, this Richard Linklater masterpiece comes together beautifully. Boyhood helps us to see that not all questions in life are answered and that no one is perfect. But this film is.
So that’s my list of the top ten films of 2014, comment yours on the side, and don’t forget to check out my Instagram page.