2014 was a pretty great year for movies, especially during the summer and, as usual, my weekend job at a movie theater allowed me to see pretty much all the big releases this year and I also managed to catch a bunch of smaller VOD and DVD releases as well. Here are are my picks for the 10 best movies of 2014.
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Guardians is possibly only overshadowed by The Avengers as far as the Marvel Cinematic Universe goes and the funnest, most action packed movie of the year. The casting was perfect with a predictably hilarious Chris Pratt interacting with the likes of a shockingly funny and great Dave Bautista, an ass kicking Zoe Saldana, a completely lovable Groot voiced by Vin Diesel and a sarcastic but pained Rocket voiced by Bradley Cooper. The self proclaimed Awesome Mix soundtrack was the cherry on top of this intergalactic sundae of greatness.
- The Lego Movie: If there’s one thing this year proved, it’s that I love Chris Pratt and his first movie of the year was just barely behind Guardians but still just pure, unadulterated joy and charm. Chris Lord and Phil Miller have my unwavering loyalty after they delivered this and 22 Jump St. this year and 21 Jump St and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs previously and the creativity on display in The Lego Movie is almost unparalled. The only thing keeping it from the number one slot is the third act revelation that goes a smidge too far and seems to break some of the rules of the world it established.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Cap 2 delivered some of the best action sequences we’ve seen yet in the MCU and it was so good, it made Agents of SHIELD better in it’s wake with it’s game changing climax. Chris Evans continues to be excellent as Cap and the new additions like Anthony Mackie as Falcon and Frank Grillo as Crossbones slid easily right alongside vets like Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L Jackson. Robert Redford chewing scenery as an evil government official was icing on the cake.
- Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Rise of the Planet of the Apes was the biggest surprise of Summer 2011 and Dawn improved on pretty much everything that made Rise great. The performance capture performances by the likes of Andy Serkis and Toby Kebbell are Oscar worthy and incredibly rich, better than most traditional performances from this year and the world has been expanded as the ape society is on the rise while huamanity is on the decline. Plus apes on horses shooting guns!
- Godzilla: Probably the most hyped and anticipated movie around Everything Action at the start of the year, Godzilla mostly delivered, at least where the King himself was concerned. The final Kaiju battle will go down as one of the greatest Godzilla battles ever and the big G has never looked better or more massive than in this movie. The only downside was that Aaron Taylor-Johnson was kind of a generic main human hero and the movie was a little too withholding with it’s monster action, but once it gave it to us, it was magical.
- Nightcrawler: Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance in Nightcrawler is the only one this year where I actively thought it needed to be nominated for an Oscar. He is at once mesmerizing and repulsive as the ruthlessly ambitious Lou Bloom who navigates the seedy world of LA news coverage. The lengths Lou will go and his justification for his actions get more extreme as the movie go along until a high octane finale that proves nothing is off limits for Lou to achieve his goals.
- X-Men: Days of Future Past: Gathering almost everyone who has ever appeared in an X-Man movie for a crazy, epic, time hopping adventure, Bryan Singer returns to the series to rectify the wrongs of some of the previous films and try to join the two X-men series into one whole and, while it still doesn’t quite gel, seeing the original trilogy team with the First Class group is a blast, especially with Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine going back in time to the 70’s to stop an apocalyptic future. Maybe the best sequence of the year is Quicksilver being unleashed and the future action is awesome but brutal.
- Oculus: The latest addition to my list, Oculus is a mind fuck in the best way possible as Karen Gillian and Brenton Thwaites take on an evil, demonic mirror. It’s the way that the mirror warps their perception and reality that leaves you constantly on uneven footing that sets Oculus apart and, even up to the final moments, you’re not sure what was real and was the twisted manipulations of the mirror. There are fake outs within fake outs, possible time travel and more and it’s on par with movies like Timecrimes and Triangle that twist your brain into a pretzel.
- John Wick: Keanu Reeves returns to the world of action with the uniquely brutal John Wick. With expertly choreographed action sequences with the best gunkata since Equilibrium, it also creates this interesting underworld of NYC’s assassins, where everyone is like an old college classmate and Ian McShane runs a hotel that caters exclusively to contract killers. It’s definitely the best traditional action movie of the year.
- 22 Jump St: Chris Lord and Phil Miller manage to go even more meta, weird and hilarious for the 21 Jump St sequel, which is full of jokes about how sequels are supposed to work, what their budget is and what they spent it on and probably the best end credits sequence of the year. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill have even more brotastic chemistry than in the first and Ice Cube is much more integrated and great in his spin on the typical angry police captain.
- How to Train Your Dragon 2
- Edge of Tomorrow
- The Raid 2
- Big Hero 6