MY TOP 10 MOVIES FOR 2014

Every year I reflect back on the past 365 days and try to assemble my Top 10 Movies. I had hard time limiting myself. I always say this, but there were so many films I loved. Just because it doesn’t appear on this list, doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. However, in the interest of being concise, I did limit myself to 10. I did include some honorable mentions though, so sue me.

And with that, my Top 10 Movies for 2014: Click the titles for the full review.

1. Under the Skin
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Directed by Jonathan Glazer – Starring Scarlett Johansson, Adam Pearson, Paul Brannigan, Kryštof Hádek

The drama explores human emotion in the interactions regarding an enigmatic seducer of various men. As she relates with each individual, their personalities expose aspects of the human condition. In doing so, the picture brilliantly demonstrates the qualities that make human beings so wonderful and what also makes them monsters.

2. Snowpiercer
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Directed by Bong Joon-ho – Starring Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Song Kang-Ho, Jamie Bell

Snowpiercer is a politically provocative ensemble piece of legendary proportions. A parable that manipulates the medium in impressively dynamic ways which captivate the mind while delighting the eye. It’s the greatest kind of picture. An intelligent saga of well crafted action that creatively entertains with a loopy imagination.

3. Boyhood
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Directed by Richard Linklater – Starring Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater

The emotional evolution of a life. Rarely has an individual’s developmental transitions been dramatized so imaginatively on film. Boyhood is an outstanding achievement and a magnificent paean to the simple brilliance of the human experience.

4. Nightcrawler
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Directed by Dan Gilroy – Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton, Riz Ahmed

First and foremost, Nightcrawler is a compelling character study. Jake Gyllenhaal manages to embody a thoroughly loathsome but intriguing character that you cannot look away from. He talks with a calm reserve even when he’s saying something rather disturbing. He makes us understand how that quiet, nice boy who was so polite, is capable of such evil.

5. Guardians of the Galaxy
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Directed by James Gunn – Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel

The jaw-dropping manifestation of this universe is a marvel of modern technology, fashion, and special effects. The art direction never ceases to amaze in a world where outstanding visually impressive displays have become commonplace. And let’s not forget that soundtrack!

6. The Babadook
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Directed by Jennifer Kent – Starring Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall, Hayley McElhinney

The relationship between mother and son form an underlying subtext that elevates this horror movie into something deep and poignant. I didn’t expect to actually be moved by the events of the plot, but that’s exactly what happened. The Babadook is a film that ranks high with the very best of the genre.

7. Gone Girl
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Directed by David Fincher – Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry

The lie and the truth are simply ideas that the news manipulates to create a shared perception for the masses. The reality is always deeper than what is readily apparent. Gone Girl highlights this fact. And by doing so, not only entertains, but also educates us in how truth is merely a moldable concept of the modern media age.

8. The Theory of Everything
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Directed by James Marsh – Starring Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox, David Thewlis

More than just a mere biography of the scientific genius. The chronicle is also a romantic drama – a most unique approach to the profile of a man more famous for being an astrophysicist and cosmologist than with whom he fell in love. The method humanizes the man in a way that is altogether unexpected.

9. Enemy
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Directed by Denis Villeneuve – Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon, Isabella Rossellini

Anthony’s existence proves unsettling to Adam’s identity. There’s something sinister looming you can’t quite put your finger on. The whole production has this unrelenting feeling of dread. The narrative grows more fascinating with each new development.

10. Foxcatcher
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Directed by Bennett Miller – Starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Vanessa Redgrave

The full extent of John du Pont’s need is cryptic but it belies a tortured personality. The script subtly hints at things which are implied but never explicitly stared. Foxcatcher brilliantly handles all of these emotionally complex relationships in a skillful way.

Bubbling under the Top 10

11. Big Eyes
12. The Skeleton Twins
13. Chef
14. How to Train Your Dragon 2
15. Whiplash
16. Birdman
17. Selma
18. The Grand Budapest Hotel
19. Belle
20. The Immigrant

_____________________________________________

Worst of the Year

I find my tastes favored independent films over mainstream Hollywood fare in 2014. Is that a sign of me growing older or just that Hollywood didn’t produce as many great stories this year? Probably a little of both, but given the worst of the year, more of the latter.

1. Transformers: Age of Extinction
2. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
3. 300: Rise of An Empire
4. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

46 Responses to “MY TOP 10 MOVIES FOR 2014”

  1. magnolia12883 Says:

    We agree on some and are close or in disagreement on others… my list is on letterboxd and will appear just before midnight on here

  2. Great selection! I wish I could love Snowpiercer as much as everyone else seems to (not that I disliked it! I should revisit). Also very, very keen to see Selma.

  3. Always look forward to top 10 lists. I am really surprised at your #1. I thought your #1 would be Snowpiercer, Babadook or Whiplash. I didn’t know you hailed “Under The Skin” so high. It’s definitely a unique kind of film. I found it a bit dull and dreary, but I think I missed what the director was aiming for. Like “Only God Forgives” if I was to get an interpretation that broke down its purpose and objective, I could regard it much higher; nonetheless, even if I didn’t fully comprehend it I still respect it just b/c it dared to be different and I always like that. Maybe your bottom 5 duds need to consider that. 🙂

    I loved Gone Girl and Nightcrawler. They are definitely in my top 10. Dawn of the Apes and Fault in our Stars also make my top 10. I am waiting to compile my final top 10 list until I see Whiplash (and maybe Birman). I will probably compile mine mid to late January. Oh yeah, if you remember last year I complained about 2013 not having many great films; well, I think 2014 had a slew! I personally think this year kicked 2013’s tail! 🙂

    Good list. Happy New Year! 🙂

    • Under the Skin never left my mind after I saw it, I even went back and watched it a second time at the theater. I rarely do that.

      Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and The Fault in Our Stars are GREAT choices. I struggled to include them in my Top 20. They’re like 21 and 22.

      Glad you loved movies in 2014 so much. Here’s to 2015!!

  4. Good News: Of your worst five – I saw none of them. Think of the money saved.

    Of Your Best list – Top Ten and the 2nd group – of those I saw just two of your best, and 5 of the next group.

    Thanks for your fine posts throughout the year.

    JMM

    • Congrats on missing those turkeys. I purposefully avoid movies I figure I will hate. I actually expected to get some enjoyment from those bottom 5 films and got nothing but empty soulless product.

      There are undoubtedly even worse films out there. If so, I hope I never see them!

      • GaryLE828 Says:

        I made the right decisions, then. I skipped T4 b/c I thought it looked lame and TMNT b/c it looked like a dud. Sin City and 300 Rise of an Empire I wanted to see, but then heard bad reviews, so I skipped.

        I did watch Spider Man 2 and although it left a lot to desire, I don’t think was terrible. I actually do hope they replace Andrew Garfield b/c ever since he first landed this role, he hasn’t done much of anything else and I want to see him in some more substantial roles as he is one of my favorite actors; even while watching Spider Man 2 I thought the only true positive of the film was his acting – even though it felt misdirected at times. The ending w/ Paul Giamatti was just laughable.

        If you think about it, this is the second Spider Man film where they made bad decisions regarding Goblin. Think how memorable William Dafoe would have been as Goblin with prosthetics; instead they put a freakin’ mask over his face! Therefore they never gave Goblin a soul. Dafoe would have KILLED in that! And on Spider Man 2 I think Dane looked pretty creepy as Goblin and the focus of this one should have been Goblin and Spider Man. There was no need for Electro; and there especially was no need for Rhino at the end.

  5. Good list. A lot I haven’t seen, but glad to see Nightcrawler getting some love.

  6. Interesting list Mark. So happy to see Enemy feature. That is, without doubt, one of the very best from a very good year.

  7. Happy New Year! Love seeing Boyhood, The Babadook and Enemy here!

  8. Great list! 2014 was such a great year in movies. Loved your 1, 2, 3, 7, 9, and 10. All of those are in my top ten, save for Snowpiercer, which is one of my honorable mentions. I also really liked what I saw of Nightcrawler and The Theory of Everything. Can’t wait to see The Babadook, and I think I might just watch Guardians of the Galaxy. The critical acclaim is too overwhelming for me to miss it.

    Can’t wait to see Big Eyes. Not sure whether I would like The Skeleton Twins, but it’s worth a try for sure. Got Chef for Christmas and can’t wait to watch it. As for How to Train Your Dragon 2, I haven’t seen the first one, so I might do a double feature sometime soon. Whiplash looks amazing to me (esp. J. K. Simmons), and I wish Birdman was playing closer to me. It’s playing about 30 mins. away, which isn’t a problem, save for the fact that it’s in a really bad part of town. Anyway, I can’t wait for Selma, either, and I’m gonna try and see that the day it opens at the theater where I work. Budapest I thought was pretty good but not one I’d watch more than once (Moonrise Kingdom and Tenenbaums are among few movies I will actually watch more than just once). I should probably see Belle since the lead actress (not sure how to spell or pronounce her name) is seemingly on the road to success after that one. Still need to see The Immigrant, as well.

    As far as your worst of the year list, I actually enjoyed 300: Rise of an Empire. But I definitely did not like Sin City 2 or Amazing Spider-Man 2. I’m lucky enough to have missed out on the other two on the list!

    Great list here as always, Mark!

    • How did you happen to miss Guardians of the Galaxy? That’s like missing The Dark Knight in 2008 or The Avengers in 2012. LOL

      I’m with you. I adore both The Royal Tenenbaums and Moonrise Kingdom so much more. As much as I enjoyed The Grand Budapest Hotel, I couldn’t place it in my Top 10. It’s on virtually every critics’ list I’ve seen anyway, so I appreciate the diversity.

      You’re lucky to have missed TMNT but you DID see The Interview and that’s definitely worthy of a bottom 5. ( I saw it in 2015 after I made this list. My eyes!!)

      Thanks so much for all your comments Sean! You were my #1 commenter in 2014 and that must be acknowledged!

      Have a Happy 2015!

      • I missed Guardians of the Galaxy kinda-sorta on purpose. The trailer turned me off to it. I think I should really see it though. I was going to rent it this Tuesday, but I think that’s the day it came to DVD and the hotel kiosk didn’t have it yet.

        “My eyes!!” LOL I felt the same way! Not a good movie to start the new year with–or to watch on Christmas Eve, in my case. I went to bed so irritated. I can’t wait to read your review, Mark.

        I’m #1 commenter again!? This is the third year in a row, I think. No need to thank me, though. Thank YOU for the reviews! They’re so much fun to read.

        You have a happy 2015 as well!

      • GaryLE828 Says:

        I didn’t see “Guardians of the Galaxy” either. 🙂

  9. Great to see Under The Skin make it to your top spot and I really liked reading your summaries on all of these.

    • It’s funny because after I saw Under the Skin in April ’14, I felt like I was somewhat alone for loving it. Now it appears to have been embraced by many. That’s nice to see!

  10. GaryLE828 Says:

    Mark…PS* did you ever get a chance to watch the Robocop remake? I think you may be pleasantly surprised. It was actually pretty good. A lot of people were disappointed by it b/c it was so much different than the original; this interpretation decided to focus more on the corporations and the “why?” than Robocop going out and fighting crime and shooting-up gangsters. No way is this one on the level as the original, but it’s a good story in its own right.

  11. That’s a great list. Mine is similar but different order. Tough to choose my favorite. Great year.

  12. martin250 Says:

    your taste certainly favored independent films this year. mine continues to favor blockbuster material. but next year should be different for you. after glancing at what’s coming, looks like its going to be a big profitable year for Hollywood movies.

  13. Fantastic post. You are right, our Top’s are very much similar. I am positively going nuts over the fact I have been denied (thus far anyway) the chance to see Snowpiercer. That thing sounds right up my alley: “manipulates the medium in impressively dynamic ways which captivate the mind while delighting the eye.” Perfect for me.

    And I would have to wholeheartedly agree with your ‘Worst List,’ save for the mysterious guility-pleasure relationship I now have with the Sin City sequel. 😉

    • Wait, how have you been denied Snowpiercer? It was released On-Demand so just walk over to your TV set! LOL

      • I have not even a TV to watch it on. Hhaha! It’s a pretty trying time right now. No TV/cable, no internet at the house. I have to run to Starbucks or any place with WiFi if I want to blog these days. 😦

      • Oh wow. That makes the posts on your blog so precious. I’ll treasure those reviews even more now! 🙂

  14. I love lists!!! And well at least we agree on the worst films..almost..I would have added Laggies, Sex Tape & The Other Woman in the mix.. 😀

    • Luckily I didn’t see your picks for WORST films. Although I heard really wonderful things about Laggies. I think Carrie Rickey over at The Philadelphia Inquirer listed it in her Top 10 BEST of the whole year!!

      I only saw you give an A twice this year. Recently for The Imitation Game and earlier for the Ebert doc Life Itself. But what else made your Top 10?

      • I don’t make lists until I’ve seen all the movies and as yet I’ve not seen Unbroken or Into The Woods So I will probably do it coming shortly. .”A” films for me this year have been “Birdman” “Whiplash” “the Imitation Game” (TIG also is the only film to have made me cry both times I saw it) “Life Itself” Close runners up with B + or – “Guardians of the Galaxy” “Foxcatcher” “A Most Violent Year” “The Theory of Everything” :”Locke” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” “Big Eyes” “Nightcrawler” “John Wick” “Gone Girl” “Edge of Tomorrow” “A Million Ways to Die in the West” “X-Men: Days of Future Past” “Captain America” so I’m feeling quite fair here.. Laggies on the other hand..on being on someone Top 10 list OUCH! hahahaha as I sat with a full theatre screenings and it was noted that most wanted to slash their wrists while watching as some parts were just..so..ridiculous. http://peggyatthemovies.com/2014/11/01/review-laggies-2014/ in case you want to know what I said..ha!

  15. Yes yes yes for Snowpiercer at #2. One of the most thrilling and creative movies I’ve seen in a while. Also nice to see the love for Under the Skin, Enemy, and The Babadook.

  16. Came back to compare my list to yours. Amazingly we share only one Top 10 pick. From my perspective that shows how strong the movie year turned out to be.

  17. Great list Mark. While Under the Skin wasn’t quite my cup of tea, I understand why a lot of people are lauding it. Snowpiercer and Boyhood made my top 10 as well. I really enjoyed Guardians, Enemy, and Theory of Everything too though. Still need to catch Nightcrawler, Gone Girl, and Foxcatcher. How to Train Your Dragon 2 also circled the outside of my top 10 list. Thankfully I didn’t see any of the films in your worst 5 aside from TMNT. I did a 10 worst for my podcast recently and it was:

    1. THE NOVEMBER MAN
    2. INTO THE STORM
    3. DUMB AND DUMBER TO
    4. TRANSCENDENCE
    5. A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST
    6. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
    7. NON-STOP
    8. JERSEY BOYS
    9. SEX TAPE
    10. THE PURGE ANARCHY

    • Luckily I missed most of those. I’m surprised that Non-Stop made your worst of the year. I thought it was a pretty solid action thriller and I know a lot of people who enjoyed it.

      Transcendence was indeed awful and Jersey Boys was definitely misguided.

      P.S. I realize I’m in the minority, but I’m one of the few people that enjoyed A Million Ways to Die in the West. 😛

  18. Two months into the year and I am still finding top films of 2014 lists of interest. I am delighted to see some love for Enemy. I thought it was the best exercise in misdirection I’d seen in a long time. Hitchcock who have nodded in approval of what happened in that film. Unfortunately, I didn’t see it until after I made my list so I couldn’t include it on mine. Elsewhere I am in agreement with your choices. We have picked similar films. I included Only Lovers Left Alive and Frank in my list too. Have you seen those films? Here is my personal list for your interest. I am still discovering great films from 2014. If you haven’t seen A Most honest Man and Cavalry watch them immediately. https://darrenmoverley81.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/my-top-20-films-of-2014/

  19. Nice list Mark. I still need to see a couple of movies like Nightcrawler and The Babadook, but I enjoyed all the films on there that I’ve seen. Under the Skin was an intriguing picture; I liked it the first time around, but I suspect I’ll get more out of it from a second viewing.

    • Yeah the first time I watched Under the Skin, I knew that I liked it but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I watched it again and then I realized it truly was the best film of 2014.

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