Simply put, these are my favorite films of the year.
Not the “best” by traditional standards, not the most powerful, but my biased, unashamed personal picks for 2014 (and in no particular order).
Disagree? What were your favorites of the year? Comment, fools!
The Lego Movie
Nostalgia overload. I can’t tell you how many dreary rainy afternoons I spent building spaceships and command stations and battle tanks and castles. So when Charlie Day’s character bounces off the wall yelling “spaceship spaceship spaceship!” it too me back to those days in the playroom, shoveling through giant plastic tombs of miscellaneous Lego pieces, searching for that one piece that would give my ship the perfect design.
Beyond the nostalgia, the voice acting was impeccable (especially Will Arnett), visually beautiful (the ocean waves of physical Lego pieces especially), and the humor was very Muppet-like, with some lower-level stuff for the kiddos, but how many are going to understand Green Lantern’s attempts to suck up to Superman?
Everything is Awesome!
Guardians of the Galaxy
Yup, two Chris Pratt vehicles on the same list. There are so many things to love about this film. The cast (I mean, who would’ve thought Dave Bautista would be THAT good?), the soundtrack, the set pieces (Prison, Knowhere, The Collector’s musuem), the humor (Kevin Bacon), the amazing costume designs, and the visual effects that made us care for a foul-mouthed raccoon and flash a stupid grin when Baby Groot started to dance.
My only beef? Ronan was a little underdeveloped. But that’s it.
Wow. Such a surreal, absurdist experience. Iñárritu’s use of long shots is breathtaking, as scenes transition from one to the other while barely taking a breath. Conversations between characters that would normally break 5,6,7 times are done in contiguous, rotating shots that creates an authenticity that is rarely seen in film these days.
Oh, and Michael Keaton is a badass. Every scene he’s in has a deeper emotional weight than what’s on the surface.
The funniest moment is when Edward Norton, in his underwear, is wrestling with Keaton. It’s Batman vs. The Hulk.
I’ve sang the praises of this masterpiece for about 6 months now, and it’s available on Netflix, so you should know by now exactly what I’m talking about.
It’s a powerful film about class warfare, brutality, indoctrination, isolation, false idols, and how the upper classes manipulate the system to make the lower classes dependant on them. Sounds like the cry of the 99% rally? Well, when viewed through this lens, it becomes shockingly relevant.
As for awards, I hope this gets nominated for Cinematography and I hope Tilda Swinton gets a best supporting actress nomination. Her character uniquely offers a surprisingly deep metaphor about how the ruling class communicates.
I honestly cannot remember the last time I walked out of a movie dumbfounded, frustrated, and just in a state of “wait, what the fuck just happened?”
Ben Affleck’s performance as a smarmy, middle-class white guy whose social skills aren’t perfect is amazing. He disappears into the character so fluidly, it’s scary to think his next big role is Batman.
Rosamund Pike plays the “victim” flawlessly. And Fincher makes us sympathize with her, then hate her in the span of about 15 minutes.
I really wish Tyler Perry would do more roles like Tanner Bolt. Just as a bit player, he was phenomenal.
And finally, I was introduced to Carrie Coon with “The Leftovers” and absolutely adored her as Affleck’s sister. I hope there are much bigger things in her future.
Just missed the cut:
Edge of Tomorrow
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Films that I haven’t seen yet but could break into my top 5:
Into the Woods