There were plenty of amazing films in 2014, but these 10 films seem to just stand taller than the rest. This is in no way a definitive list, as I was not able watch every single film of 2014 because I needed to do other things (like sleep). Anyways, here are the top 10 films of 2014 in all their glory:
This entire film is about a man making calls in his car as he’s driving to a certain destination. That’s it; no explosions, no bloody violence, no sexual tension, no special effects. Locke is a showcase for both Tom Hardy and the determination to redeem yourself from the wrongs you’ve done. Hardy is Ivan Locke, and he gives a blistering performance in this minimalist approach to filmmaking. It allows us to observe the choices that we make, reminding us that we must choose a destination in order to move forward.
“Look. Look and fucking learn. I drove in this direction and there will be a new person when I get there. Yes, because of that night.”
If there’s one film in 2014 that showed us how dark we can get, it’s Nightcrawler. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Louis Bloom, a lethally determined sociopath that becomes a crime news hound cameraman. This a thriller with a main character that will shock you with his hollow stare alone. It’s also the closest thing we’ll have to another Travis Bickle. The film definitely sticks with you after the credits roll because of Gyllenhaal’s performance. This is one of the most chilling movies of the year, even more so because there are plenty of Louis Blooms in the world.
“Why you pursue something is as important as what you pursue.”
With plenty of films focusing on violence and dread, this is a film that shines because of its good vibes. Just like rappers don’t sing too much about love anymore (Drake doesn’t count), filmmakers tend to ignore the bright side of the human condition. Chef embraces the good in us with its promotion of creativity through delicious food. Jon Favreau has penned a script that feels natural and truly captures the essence of summer, as well as paying the rent by doing something you love.
“I may not do everything great in my life, but I’m good at this. I manage to touch people’s lives with what I do and I want to share this with you.”
7. Gone Girl:
David Fincher gives us another memorable crime mystery classic on celluloid with this odd little nightmare of a story. Let me elaborate on that: Gone Girl is a man’s ideal nightmare, a car wreck that’s unique and smoldering in a way that engulfs your attention. Rosamund Pike gives a performance that will haunt you, and one that will open many more roles for her in the future. Ben Affleck also does an amazing job in this film, working well with the many levels of his everyman character. This was the thriller to watch of 2014, plain and simple.
“What are you thinking? How are you feeling? What have we done to each other? What will we do?”
Set in 2031, the world is frozen, and the only humans left are stuck on a seemingly indestructible train on rotation around the world. This is the indie aci-fi/action film of the year. It packs some bloody sequences as an appetizer for its sweeping ideas about the haves and the have-nots of the world. The social commentary it provides, especially about the manipulation of hierarchy, is just as appealing as the night-vision ax fights (you read that correctly). With an intelligent script, solid acting, and an intriguing storyline, Snowpiercer simply has it all in a brand new bag.
“I believe it is easier for someone to survive on this train if they have some level of insanity. I mean, as Gilliam well understood, we need to maintain a proper balance of anxiety and fear, chaos and horror, in order to keep life going. And if we don’t have that, we need to invent it.”
5. Guardians of the Galaxy:
Guardians of the Galaxy is arguably the best Marvel movie yet, and with that, it blasts its way onto this list. Each character is memorable, the soundtrack is awesome, it’s heartfelt, and it replaces the usual final fight scene with a dance off. How could it not make the list? A rag-tag band of losers (as in they’ve each lost something) come together to become the title of the movie. There are so many memorable moments in this film, and it was definitely the most fun flick to watch in theaters this year.
“Nothing goes over my head!… My reflexes are too fast, I would catch it.”
4. The Grand Budapest Hotel:
This quirky little gem from Wes Anderson tells the tale of M. Gustave, concierge at the Grand Budapest Hotel, and his adventures surrounding the theft of a priceless Renaissance painting. This film manages to be odd, hilarious, badass, and touching without breaking a sweat. As far as Anderson films go, this one is probably one of his best, if not the best. We get to take a look at an old world that we can only recapture through reminiscence; a world that we can’t go back to, but one that we should be thankful to have experienced.
“There are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity.”
Interstellar is a science lesson. Other than that, it’s intriguing and ambitious beyond the norm, taking risks in storytelling and opening our eyes to not just space, but the space between each other. Christopher Nolan really weaves a tale that’s unique in a way that the flaws don’t really matter overall. This is a film that will be appreciated more over time, marinating into a sci-fi classic. No other film this year had you thinking more after leaving the theater than this movie; it’s one that helps you delve into the mysteries of time, space, and life rather than escape it.
“Love is the one thing that transcends time and space.”
Michael Keaton gives the performance of his career as Riggan Thomson, a washed up actor once famous for playing a superhero, who’s taking on broadway in an attempt to be relevant again. Birdman is a technical masterpiece, as director Alejandro González Iñárritu weaves together long tracking shots to give the film a heartbeat. Keaton turns in one of the best performances of the year, showing us the universal yearning to be relevant in a world where social media slices hearty moments into appetizers. This is definitely an arthouse film, but it’s also funny as hell and is anchored by amazing performances from the entire cast. The hype is right on point with this one, and it deserves every award it’s going to get.
“Popularity is the slutty little cousin of prestige.”
Spanning a boy’s life (Mason) from age 5 to 18, Boyhood is a film unlike any other. It captures a piece of our timeline in a genuine way. Writer/director Richard Linklater has certainly raised the bar for himself with this film. It’s never gimmicky, even though it uses a gimmick; it’s intriguing and relative, making it feel like you’ve known Mason for quite a while. It’s probably the most captivating film this year with its realness through the eyes of a boy turning into a man. This coming-of-age film will definitely go down in history as something important, simply because it observes our growth and the lessons we may learn along the way.
“You know how everyone’s always saying seize the moment? I don’t know, I’m kind of thinking it’s the other way around, you know, like the moment seizes us.”