Griffintainment - The Best Movies of 2014

Posted on Saturday, January 10, 2015 at 05:00 PM


The Best Movies of 2014

Review by Griffintainment X CalgaryMovies.com

Although there were more than enough good movies to make this list, I have to say that 2014 wasn't an exemplary year in movies. Even the top movies on this list weren't as good as the top movies of the last few years. That being said, 2014 was the year of the soundtrack. So many movies, good and bad, had such good soundtracks, that the soundtracks often eclipsed the movies they were meant to complement. Still, I hope the decline in content in 2014 means that everyone is saving their best stuff for next year. Time will tell. Until then, these were the best flicks I crammed into my overfilled noggin this past year.

*A note about the films of 2014: different people feel different ways about this, but for me, for a movie to qualify as a 2014 movie, it means it had to have its theatrical release in 2014. So movies like Inherent Vice, Selma, American Sniper and Unbroken, which had festival releases in 2014, didn't hit the multiplexes until early January, so are therefore 2015 movies and have a shot at next year's list.

  

20. Life Itself - Of course the first thing one wonders when watching a documentary about Roger Ebert's life and career, is whether it would've made his best of list if he were alive to see it. As a celebration of his life, and to an extent of the movies themselves, this is a moving, touching and ultimately very sad snapshot of a very influential voice in entertainment. The thank you of the year.

    

19. Locke - This was a hard movie for some to swallow. It literally involves nothing more than Tom Hardy in a car on his way somewhere, on the phone trying to deal with a work issue. That's about it. But the mixture of the writing, Tom Hardy's magnetic performance and some intelligent editing, makes this a far more compelling film that it has any right to be on paper. The cinematic one man band of the year. 

  

18. Pride - I think with repeated viewings, this film would've found itself higher up on the list. As it is, it may be the most under seen and under appreciated film of the year. A beautiful, touching and funny story that speaks volumes about the importance of tolerance and unity. Well made in all respects. The feel good movie of the year.

  

17. We Are The Best! - I saw this little gem at a film festival earlier in the year and was blown away by it. A film that will hold special resonance with anyone who grew up with punk, ever started a punk band, or knows anything about how most punk bands are formed. Coming of age at its finest. The nostalgia of the year.

    

16. Boyhood - The most ambitious film of the year. Hell, of the decade, Boyhood solidifies Richard Linklater's position as one of most intelligent and exciting filmmakers alive. A film that will truly make you feel the blink of an eye that is life itself, and the importance of making every moment of it count. The time capsule of the year.

  

15. The Babadook - Horror movies, let's be honest, suck these days. Cheap shocks and 'scares' that involve nothing more than loud bursts of shrill stringed instruments and some demonic shadow popping in and out of the background of the frame. Making people jump is not the same as scaring them. The Babadook is the first horror film I've seen in years that works on you where it counts, under the skin. It's a slow burning creep out that works on the viewers most rudimentary nerve centre, attacking childhood ideals like innocence and loss. The goosebump of the year. 

      

14. Edge of Tomorrow -  'Groundhog Day in the future' is an easy tagline, but is an oversimplification. This is an endlessly exciting, inventive thriller that keeps the viewer guessing and keeps the energy high. The first two thirds are so good, they forgive the somewhat lacklustre third act. That last scene though...perfect. The deja vu of the year.

    

13. 22 Jump Street - There aren't many situations where peeing your pants is a good thing. But when it's caused by fits of continuous and uncontrollable laughter, as it nearly was for me watching this hilarious sequel, then you welcome that warm liquid like an old friend. Better than the first in a number of ways. 22 Jump Street, the funniest film of the year. 

  

12. The Homesman - Despite the resurgence in the last decade, Westerns are still a fairly rare occurrence in theatres every year. Even The Homesman, which deserved a wide release, was only rolled out on a handful of select screens around North America. Which is a pity, because as unpleasant as it is in subject matter throughout, it's also a top shelf film in acting, writing and the beauty conveyed by director Tommy Lee Jones. Old school storytelling on a grand level. The throwback of the year.

  

11. Gone Girl - I said this in my original review, but this is why I don't read the book before I see the movie. Because then all the suspense, the intrigue, the ingenious twists the story provides, would've been spoiled before the film's first images flickered onto the screen. There are people who like to rip the corners of the wrapping paper off their presents in an attempt to see what awaits them Christmas morning, and there are those that leave the wrapping paper be, savouring the surprise. The twist of the year.

  

10. The Imitation Game - Some films feel built for awards sweeping as intricately as the machine on the poster of this fine film. It is apparent to anyone who see's it, that The Imitation Game will sweep all of the major awards ceremonies in the next few months. And that's fine with me. This is a fascinating, more or less untold story about a sad, brilliant man who in WWII built a machine that saved millions of lives and in doing so laid the foundation for the computers, and phones, and iPods, and every other electronic convince you use on a daily basis. It also says powerful things about the sorry state of tolerance towards sexual orientation found in previous generations. The enigma of the year.

  

9. Filmage / Nas: Time Is Illmatic - Number nine is a tie. Two of the best music related documentaries in many years, they also happen to be about two of my favourite artists. Yes that means I'm biased, but they are also both so well done, so compelling, that even if you aren't partial to punk rock or hip hop, respectively, there is more than enough to keep you entertained throughout. A fantastic double bill that examines two truly historic snapshots in music history. The soundtracks of the year. 

  

8. Whiplash - In case the overdose of ecstatic quotations of praise on the poster didn't clue you in, Whiplash is a good movie. It's also the most intense, anxiety inducing film of the year. A film of such acute power and focus, it's hard to shake off for days after seeing it. Features two of the year's best performances in J.K. Simmons' frothing, maniacal music teacher and Miles Teller's focused drummer with dreams of grandeur. A powerhouse film in every way. The panic attack of the year. 

    

7. Nightcrawler - Talk about powerhouse performances. Jake Gyllenhaal, dropping weight and growing his hair out in greasy strands, has created a character that is hard to forget and given a performance that is a career best. The film itself is a unique exploration of sociopathic ambition and creepy magnetism. A truly unique film about a sleazy career field we haven't seen before. The most original film of the year.

  

6. The Lego Movie - Everything (about this movie) is awesome. The awesome of the year.

  

5. Calvary - Is God dead? Calvary examines such a statement. A spiritual exploration wrapped in a murder mystery. A film that gets better and better with repeated viewings, this Irish gem has such truth within its frame, when the final act peaks, you feel it in your gut in a very real way. Brilliant writing, brilliant acting, gorgeous photography of the rolling Irish countryside. It won't give you warm fuzzies like Waking Ned Devine, but it's a classic of Celtic cinema nonetheless. The most honest movie of the year.

  

4. Interstellar - Interstellar got a bad rap this year. People were far too hard on it. It provided me with, bar none, the most exciting, elating filmgoing experience of the year. How well it translates to the television screen remains to be seen, but as far as going to the movies is concerned, this was one of the best uses of the medium I've ever seen. Nitpick about the occasional instances of narrative cheese all you like, this is a far more intelligent, thought provoking and touching story than I could ever hope to be smart enough to think up. The visual marvel of the year.

  

3. Birdman - A hyperactive expression of breathless cinematic exploration and filmmaking magic. See it the first time for the endlessly entertaining story. See it again to catch the parts of the story you missed the first time. See it a third time to marvel at the way the camera moves, and doesn't stop moving (the first cut comes an hour and forty five minutes in) throughout. After that you still haven't seen all there is to see. I have no idea how they pulled this off, visually and otherwise and in a way, I don't want to. The fever dream of the year. 

  

2. Foxcatcher - Dark, dark, dark. You know those cloudy days that are so cloudy that it feels like five o'clock all day long? Foxcatcher is a hard film to watch at times, but it's also got a magnetism about it. And the sheer craft that is on display here, in the precise voyeurism by director Bennet Miller, and the career defining performances by Channing Tatum, Steve Carrell and Mark Ruffalo, is jaw dropping. Difficult subject matter, exemplary filmmaking and storytelling. The best most difficult film of the year. 

  

1. The Grand Budapest Hotel - Take the exquisite framing of Stanley Kubrick, the quirky characterizations of the Coen brothers, the Martin Scorsese-like brilliance in the use of sound and music and the wholly original way of telling a tale that is all his own, and you have yourself a Wes Anderson film.

I've seen The Grand Budapest Hotel four times now and discover something I hadn't caught before in every viewing. Like looking at a photograph, only to discover that every time you do, while the composition remains the same, something within it has changed. That's a Wes Anderson film and that's what The Grand Budapest Hotel provides. It's one of his best. And the best film of the year. Bar none.

*****

Let's not forget...

  

0. The Other Woman - There were a lot of crappy movies this year. I generally try to avoid the films that get rotten ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, but I usually manage to catch a few. Left Behind deserves a mention in this category, but by far the worst movie of 2014 was The Other Woman. So corny, so juvenile, so annoying, so unfunny, you start to feel embarrassed for the actors on screen. Then you remember how much they're getting paid and that feeling goes away. 

At any rate, The Other Woman: the worst film of the year.

 

NOTE: The showtimes listed on CalgaryMovies.com come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to CalgaryMovies.com.