After finally seeing American Sniper last night (my friend will apologize later for making me wait so long), I’m ready to put the lid on 2014 (Oscars aside of course) with my 10 Favorite Films of 2014. And so, without further ado…
There were some really great things about this film, the best being David Oyelowo, who was one of the few true Oscar snubs this year. It would be higher if the story was a little more driven. The film is pretty much Point A to Point B, which is fine, but it doesn’t feel propelled forward. Plus Tom Wilkinson is pretty unbelievable (in a not so good way) as LBJ. His performance is great, but he doesn’t look a thing like the former POTUS.
A little-known indie flick available to watch on Amazon Prime, this is a true sci-fi thriller. And by sci-fi, I mean actual science fiction, with actual science. It is amazing what some great editing and a small, tightly-knit cast of actors can do. I love being drawn into a film and experiencing what the characters are, and this film accomplishes that in spectacular fashion.
#8) The Grand Budapest Hotel
What a work of art by Wes Anderson. This is the most beautiful picture of the year, with great set pieces, make-up, and costumes. The cinematography was incredible as well. This is storytelling at its cinematic finest. Ralph Fiennes is perfect in his deadpan quasi-humorous lead, and the rest of the cast follow suit.
#7) American Sniper
I’m not really sure what all the controversy is about. Oh, gosh, Middle Easterners are depicted as evil people…well that’s what happens when all the good people get out of town because the aren’t terrorists and don’t have interest in staying in a war zone. Were they supposed to throw a few Australians or French folks in there to make it more fair? Anyway, this is truly a masterpiece from the heart of Bradley Cooper and Clint Eastwood. Of course, with the trial of Chris Kyle’s real-life murderer beginning today, this story is still being written.
#6) The Lego Movie
Yes, I’m a bad person for putting this above American Sniper, but this film was just a blast of fun. A hilarious script, wonderful animation, and a good story as well. It would have been so easy to go the “do whatever you want and break all the rules” route, but this film actually shows kids that there are certain instructions that need to be followed, and from there we are free to let our imaginations roam.
This film is more of an experience than a movie. I don’t think any other film has captured what growing up is like as well as Boyhood does. Its an emotional ride, a journey through a life. You can really see the American experience through the lens of this film. Broken families, broken hearts, triumph over adversity, mistakes, successes, wonderful coincidences, its all here in a tapestry of humanity.
#4) Captain America: The Winter Soldier AND Guardians of the Galaxy
I really felt it wasn’t fair to everyone else that Marvel is doing so well, so I’m putting both of their films here. What a year for Marvel Studios (again)! In a year where all other comic book films were either awful (Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Amazing Spider-man 2, and Sin City and 300 sequels) or members of the “The-Effects-Are-So-Good-I’m-Not-Gonna-Think-About-How-Lame-and/or-Nonsensical the story actually is (Big Hero 6, X-Men: Days of Future Past) Marvel Studios released two more gems. Can’t wait for their 2015 work, including Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, and their new Daredevil Netflix series.
Its true, some people just don’t understand this film. I think its because they are looking for a straightforward story, but this is more of a parable, just like Gravity last year. You know how in the Bible, Jesus always is explaining his parables to his apostles because the general public seem clueless as to what they mean? I used to think that perhaps people just were dumber back then, but now I know that isn’t true. Most people seem to have a lack of ability to see past the base foundation of a story. In the case of Birdman, people see a story about a washed up actor who kinda goes crazy. They miss the internal warfare between fame and art, the mirror within a mirror of this film. Its brilliant, it really is.
#2) The Imitation Game
I love puzzles, I love problem solving, and Benedict Cumberbatch is one of my favorite actors. He’s uncanny in this film, and so is the story. A great biopic with a sad ending, every American and Englishman should see this film and learn about the man who saved thousands of lives and helped halt Adolph Hitler’s reign of terror.
Another parable-like film that some people couldn’t wrap their heads around. Brendan Gleeson and Chris O’Dowd carry this film, which is possibly the most painful film of the year. Its hard to watch, but it perfectly encapsulates the current tumult afflicting the Catholic Church. But this isn’t a film shaming Catholics, or the Church, or victims, this is a film about sacrificial love from a person who is deeply flawed himself. Its not a crime-thriller, but it does solve the mystery of the priesthood, and why so many men are still around, still following God’s call, still standing up for truth. The priesthood isn’t convenience, its about sacrifice, down to the bitter end.
Bonus Round – My 10 LEAST Favorite Films of 2014 (#1 = Least Favorite)
- The Interview
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
- The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
- Muppets Most Wanted
- Magic in the Moonlight
- Dear White People
- X-Men: Days of Future Past