Welcome to my list that were, in my own opinion, the top films of 2014.
I'm not going to spend too much time complaining about the fact that 2014 did prove to a tough year. There were many good films, but unfortunately, there was a lesser lot to choose from this time around that really felt beyond good and ascended into the greatness level. This list of movies did feel to me like these reached that level in terms of how much I enjoyed them. I'm not saying they're flawless nor am I saying they will go down in cinematic history as classics, but I will say that out of the films I've been able to view so far this year (and there were so many still to see), these stood out the most to me.
Let's get started!
The first batch are the films that I have not been able to see yet but still plan to. In my mind, had I seen these films, they may have been up for consideration:
1. BIG EYES
2. BLUE RUIN
3. UNDER THE SKIN
4. JERSEY BOYS
5. THE RAID 2
Next up, here are the Honorable Mentions that I felt were quite good but just felt short of the Top 10:
2. BIG HERO 6
And now, finally, the TOP 10 (#10-#6):
10. THE SKELETON TWINS
When I think Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig, I automatically gravitate to a comedy frame of mind, and "The Skeleton Twins" definitely has comedy, but it's mainly there to sweeten what is nearly a straight forward drama about two paternal twins that are both defeated and directionless in their lives. To make it even more tense, they've been estranged from each other for the last 10 years and tried to commit suicide on the same day. I'm not sure if drama is Hader's and Wiig's strong suit just yet, but to ignore the fact that they were both pretty outstanding in this film would be completely unfair. Considering some of the depressing lows that "Skeleton Twins" explores, I found it pretty amazing that the film was still illuminated with charm that didn't feel forced, nor did it sugarcoat the fact that being true to one's self can have destructive consequences on the path to the greater good.
This is one I'll be happily revisiting in the future.
9. EDGE OF TOMORROW
I mentioned in my Bottom 5 list that I try not to be the guy that leans too much towards judging a book by its cover, or in this case, a film by its lead actor. Alas, I am not perfect, and "Edge of Tomorrow" proved that point. I do not hide the fact that I am not Tom Cruise's biggest fan, and when "Edge" made its theatrical debut, the fact that he was in it caused me to write it off completely. However, after many an urging, I decided to give it a chance, and let me say, I'm glad I was wrong. "Edge of Tomorrow" is a hell of a lot of fun with a "Groundhog Day" premise mixed with impressive special effect alien combat. Tom Cruise did well at what Tom Cruise does well, but the selling point for me had to be Emily Blunt whom continues to prove she can hold her own in a testosterone driven thrill ride.
There's really not much more I can say that hasn't already been said. This one kicks ass and takes names.
8. THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
For Wes Anderson, it seems that the sky is the limit, and he is certainly trending in that direction. In the months leading up to the release of "Budapest", I wondered how Anderson was going to surpass the bar that he himself raised with "Fantastic Mr. Fox" and "Moonrise Kingdom". I wouldn't say this latest effort greatly jettisoned that momentum, but it easily kept it going in the right direction. The dialogue was quirky and witty among the all-star cast which has grown to be expected from Anderson, and the added hint of melancholy helped separate "Budapest" from his previous works. I agree with the general consensus that this film maybe won't bring any new fans to the table, but it should certainly satisfy the ones already there.
I'm anxiously awaiting the year I can put Anderson at #1.
7. THE LEGO MOVIE
Just when one might think that computer animated films were running out of tricks, here arrives "The LEGO Movie" to stamp out that pessimism. Great humor and quality voice acting is one thing, but completely going all out to make a world completely comprised of Legos and making it look amazing is another altogether. Let's just say, for how much I loved playing with Legos as a child, I'm glad I was able to just sit back and relax to watch the hard work the filmmakers went through to create this beast. Oh, and having a story that tells children to dive into their imaginations is pretty tasty icing on the cake.
A film about a morally bankrupt man whom also happens to preach about the virtues of a hard day's work? If enjoying a movie like this is wrong, then I don't want to be right! Jake Gyllenhaal was fantastic as a petty thief that finds out there's good money in filming crime in Los Angeles and then selling it to the local news station; so good, in fact, that he successfully makes you feel a little bit dirty and grimy for anxiously anticipating what comes next. The film does move a little slowly at first, but trust me, the steady build up to the last 30 minutes is well worth the wait. Let me put it this way, just when you think the character has reached his limits, you are likely to be proven wrong.
One of the best of its kind this year!
COMING TOMORROW: Part 2 (#5-#1)