It’s been a good year for movies, to say the least.
Honorable Mention: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Some movies get unfairly dumped on, and TMNT was one of them. Given hate solely due to the fact that Michael Bay was the producer, this movie flopped critically. But personally, I liked it quite a bit. It got the turtles’ chemistry down perfectly, and was exactly what a fun summer blockbuster Ninja Turtles movie should be.
Frat party movies aren’t generally “top movies of ___” material, but Seth Rogen has made it happen. This movie is funny, very funny, and manages to not only deliver a weirdly heartfelt story but also make Zac Efron relevant again. This movie is what’s going to keep him from turning into the usual post-Disney crowd.
14.) The Maze Runner
There are two movies on this list that got on here due solely to how well their settings were developed, and The Maze Runner is one of them. It’s got one of the most well-visualized set-pieces of the year with its titular maze, and it’s one hell of a ride seeing the kids navigate it.
13.5) (EDIT) Foxcatcher
Having seen this days after 2014 ended, I couldn’t really put it in here. But, here it is anyway. Because it’s that damn good. I’ll never want to see it again, but for a traumatic one-timer, it’s super solid.
13.) Exodus: Gods and Kings
Ancient Egypt has never looked better than in Exodus. Couple that with a well-told story featuring an impressively bearded Christian Bale, and there’s no way to deny this movie’s greatness. Seriously though, it’s the first time a “biblical epic” has actually felt epic. Noah can suck it.
Nightcrawler isn’t the most impressive movie, but it’s a tight as hell ride where every second of film counts. That sort of precision story telling coupled with Jake Gyllenhaal’s unspeakably amazing performance as Lou Bloom make this a movie worthy of all the praise it has been receiving. If Jake doesn’t win the Oscar for best actor, I’m fucking done with the academy. And they are already on thin ice with me as things stand.
11.) The Interview
Two Seth Rogen comedies this year, both of which happen to be movie-of-the-year contenders. Needless to say, it’s been a good year for comedy, and this movie had tons of it. Franco and Rogen, the dream duo, team up to take down Kim Jong-un and it’s every bit as glorious as the hype surrounding it made it out to be. I really, genuinely liked The Interview. Almost every joke resonated with me, and that’s rare for this kind of a low-brow flick.
10.) Snowpiercer (2014 U.S. release)
This is the other set-piece driven film I mentioned earlier. The titular train, Snowpiercer, makes for the coolest setting I’ve seen in years, and the action aboard it makes for a gritty and fun, if slightly full of itself adventure. Not to mention we get to see Chris Evans ham it up more than in Captain America, and that’s always good for a laugh. It’s also the first real foreign film I’ve been able to sink my teeth into, and I’ll now be paying closer attention to Bong Joon-Ho’s work.
What can I say? I had fun with Liam Neeson’s plane thriller. While it’s only good for your first time through, it keeps you guessing right up until the overblown finale. It was a very well-done thriller with more than enough tension to keep me invested.
8.) Big Hero 6
While this movie dropped the ball in terms of unique plot twists, it was still one of the best by-the-numbers Disney animated films I’ve seen in a long time… namely, since these same guys made Wreck-it Ralph. Disney Animation Studios is on a roll.
7.) Edge of Tomorrow
Tom Cruise being an action star doesn’t have to be an ironic statement anymore, as he’s back and better than ever in All You Need Is Kill’s movie adaptation. The fact that this movie is pretty much one day constantly repeating yet never becomes stale is a testament to its fantastic storytelling.
It would’ve been number one had the final twenty minutes not existed. Otherwise, Interstellar is up there with Christopher Nolan’s other acclaimed works. From its fantastic writing to its expert cast, there’s a whole lot to love in this 2014 space odyssey.
This was a fantastic movie, and I guarantee if you ask someone not blinded by nostalgia they’d agree. It’s a touching story of a man torn between mind and machine, and seeing him get torn away from his family as he becomes a mere product to a corporation is surprisingly deep stuff for what marketed itself as a cheesy action flick. It more than stands on its own two feet, being the Robocop this generation deserves.
4.) Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Like everyone else has already said, it’s probably Marvel’s best superhero film since 2008’s Iron Man. Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford and Sebastian Stan all kick major ass in this big budget action-thriller, and it’s great to see Marvel exploring new, exciting sub-genres with their established franchises.
3.) The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Now we’re getting into the best of the best, the top three. TASM2 is on here because of my philosophy towards entertainment products with established characters: if it manages to do certain aspects of the character such justice that I couldn’t imagine it getting any better EVER, then those positive attributes negate the bad entirely. I had this same feeling with a Sonic game, Sonic Unleashed, which similar to TASM2 nailed a lot of things but had major flaws, flaws which most refused to overlook. TASM2, in my opinion, manages to deliver the absolute BEST cinematic Spider-man scenes of all time, from the beautifully shot web-slinging to the coolest Spidey vs. Electro fight I could never have imagined. These two things alone are done so well that they negate the overabundance of story threads and plotholes, in my eyes.
2.) The Judge
It’s a family drama, something I’m not too fond of. But it’s done so well, with such expert-level commentary on parent-children relationships that you can’t help but tag along with Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall on their harrowing path of reviving an all-but-dead father-son bond. Not to mention it’s got some of the tensest scenes of the year, managing to beat out Non-Stop in terms of nail-biting quality.
1.) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
DotPotA does a hell of a lot right. It has the absolute best CGI I’ve ever seen in a film coupled with some of the best motion-capture work to date, complete with a twisting story that takes reminds you original plots still exist. And the one thing above all else it nails is its primary focus on the apes, rather than the humans. If Michael Bay had taken this one lesson and applied it to Transformers, that the audience is there to see the CGI creatures and not the human actors, that series would’ve gone down a much better path. But we’re not here to bash that series, we’re here to celebrate the Planet of the Apes series and its downright astonishing revival. This is the movie I will fight with friends, family, enemies and even complete strangers over, the movie I will defend night and day as the best film of 2014.