In case you were wondering, we do get out of the house on occasion… and into the theater! (We do other things too, but they are not relevant to a movie blog.) Here are our lists of the top ten movies of 2014. In order to appear on the list, we actually needed to see it, so there may be more than a few gems that we’ve so far missed.
1. Guardians of the Galaxy – I thought I would like this risky move from Marvel, but not this much. Guardians is the most fun I’ve had at the movies in years. This cool story made a star out of Chris Pratt and made us all fall in love with a talking raccoon and a giant tree. Guardians also had the best soundtrack ever. That’s right, ever, as in best of all time.
2. Edge of Tomorrow – Say what you want about Tom Cruise, but the guy is a movie star that makes good films. Edge of Tomorrow is no exception. This action version of Groundhog Day is a thrilling ride carried by Cruise and his soldier partner Emily Blunt. A lacklustre end does not change the fact that this is the best action movie of the year by some margin.
3. The LEGO Movie – What could so easily have just been a toy commercial for Lego ends up being one of the best animated films in years, and the best film not made by Disney or Pixar since Shrek.
4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – I love how Marvel are taking risks with their films. It would have been so easy for them to recreate the first film and watch the money roll in, but they turned this great sequel into a political thriller that just happened to star Captain America. Chris Evans is again great as the soldier lost in time and he is developing some terrific chemistry with Scarlett Johansson.
5. St. Vincent – Bill Murray is great as usual, but what makes this film special is the debut performance of young Jaeden Lieberher as Murray’s school boy neighbor Oliver. The young actor gives a great performance, holding his own agaist someone as established as Bill Murray. Melissa McCarthy also gives a strong performance reminding everyone she is wasted on crap like Mike & Molly.
6. X-Men: Days of Future Past – The best part about this film is that it means that X-Men 3 and the terrible Wolverine films no longer exist. Combining the new X cast with the old could have been a debacle, but director Bryan Singer seamlessly combines the two casts and creates the best X-Men adventure since X2.
7. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Somehow a film containing large segments featuring apes using sign language to converse with each other is one of the most enthralling films of the year. Andy Serkis gives one of the best performances of the year as head ape Ceaser. The fact his motion capture acting has yet to be recognised by the Oscars is a travesty and they need to get with the times and start giving this man his due.
8. 22 Jump Street – Sequels to comedies are hard, just ask the cast of The Hangover films. This sequel to the hilarious 21 Jump Street is every bit as hilarious as its predecessor. Channing Tatum and multiple Oscar nominee Jonah Hill (gee, that’s never going to sound right) are great together. They have terrific chemistry as two undercover cops hitting college for the first time. The end credits for this film are one of the funniest I’ve ever seen.
9. Gone Girl – This mindf**k of a film had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. Ben Affleck gives a terrific performance as the husband accused of killing his wife, but it’s Rosamund Pike as the wife that steals this movie. She is perfectly detestable and conniving as the missing wife. I hope she’s kept January and February free and his some gowns picked out because she will be needed for awards season.
10. What We Do In the Shadows – This indie mockumentary from New Zealand was an undiscovered gem. Starring mostly Kiwi actors, including Jemaine Clement from Flight of the Conchords, this fake documentary chronicles the life of a family of vampires in New Zealand. It is a short film, but easily one of the funniest of the year.
Transformers: Age of Extinction – This was so bad. I have defended the first three Transformers films because they were still a lot of fun. This fourth movie fails to be fun at all and just delivers a lot of loud bangs and explosions. I hate to say it, but this films needs more Shia LaBeouf.
A Million Ways to Die in the West
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – After the first Andrew Garfield Spidey adventure was so much fun, I had high hopes for this follow up. The film feels like a commercial for what is coming next and fails to focus on what is happening now. The film’s only redeeming quality is the white hot chemistry between Garfield and real life love Emma Stone. Unfortunately, this will not be there for future instalments (Spoiler Alert!!!)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
1. Guardians of the Galaxy – Awesome movie, awesome soundtrack. See my review for more details (or better yet, just go watch it for yourself!).
2. Gone Girl – Loved, loved, loved this movie. This is one of the few book-to-film adaptations that completely succeeds. Even Ben Affleck managed to win me over, though I still think he’s a tad too old to be playing this role.
3. The LEGO Movie – This is the spot that would normally be filled by a Pixar or Disney animated feature (neither released a movie this year), but could either studio create something as quirky, touching, and fun as this? I have my doubts. The LEGO Movie is fresh and not afraid of reveling in the bizarre. Pixar’s Inside Out will delve into similar territory next year (both films explore the inner psyche of kids), and I think it will have a lot to live up to after this.
4. What We Do in the Shadows – This little mockumentary out of New Zealand has managed to breath some new life into the vampire genre. It’s hilariously funny, but I would expect nothing less from a movie starring Flight of the Conchord‘s Jemaine Clement (Rhys Darby also has a small cameo). It may be hard to find in theaters (I only heard about it thanks to an Aussie TV personality’s tweet), but definitely check it out if you can.
5. Edge of Tomorrow – Tom Cruise is starting to win me over. If he keeps doing excellent sci-fi films like this, I may even admit to liking him. Edge of Tomorrow is similar to Groundhog Day, only Cruise’s character is reliving a scenario worse than anything Bill Murray could ever imagine. I won’t go into too much detail now as a proper review of the movie is coming soon, but trust me– this one is worth watching.
6. St. Vincent – Speaking of Bill Murray, this is another quiet gem in his already impressive body of work. Yes, it’s another story about a young kid befriending an unlikable curmudgeon and both learning from each other. But Murray’s performance is what makes St. Vincent feel unique and special. Much deserved kudos to his young co-star, Jaeden Lieberher, as well.
7. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Again, check out my review for a more in depth analysis of this movie. However, it bears repeating: Marvel is not afraid to take chances. They gave The Winter Soldier a much different tone than The First Avenger, and it completely pays off. Keep doin’ what you’re doin’, guys.
8. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Andy Serkis is overdue for a Best Actor Oscar. His performance as ape leader Caesar continues to evolve (pun intended) in this film, and I cannot wait for the sequel.
9. Maleficent – Ok, you can hate on this movie because it changes the story of Sleeping Beauty too much. I may disagree, but I can see that being a valid criticism. But those who decry it for including veiled rape scene need to familiarize themselves with the source material. Maleficent absolutely nails the subtext of the folktale (albeit, in very blunt fashion). Add in a perfect performance by Angelina Jolie and some stunning visuals, and you’ve got one excellent movie.
10. The Monuments Men – This was a far from perfect movie. It gets a lot of the history wrong, the performances are mediocre, and the story is unstructured. However, I’m including it on my top ten list because it highlights an often overlooked aspect of war and salutes those who face danger to protect objects of artistic and cultural importance. We need to share more stories like this if the arts are ever going to get the respect they deserve.
A Million Ways to Die in the West – This movie was so unfunny that I’m now debating whether to see Ted 2, even though Ted was hilarious.
Muppets Most Wanted – It’s not that this was necessarily bad, it was just no where near as good as The Muppets. But I’m of the opinion that any Muppets are better than no Muppets, so I hope they keep making movies, or better yet, revive The Muppet Show.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I – Not as good as the previous two films, because nothing really happens. I don’t feel this book needed to be two movies, but Part II will be more action filled (and hopefully better).