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Author Topic: Best Movies of 2014!  (Read 5634 times)
Klep
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« on: January 11, 2015, 06:52:19 pm »

The list.

2014 has been another great year for great films.  We've had two great superhero movies, a LEGO movie that somehow wasn't just a crass commercial cash-in, a groundbreaking Godard, multiple great science-fiction movies, multiple great dramas, and one of the most ambitious projects in movie history in Boyhood.  So which of these did you see?


To this date I've seen 63 of 2014's releases, with a couple yet to come later this month. I've written at least a little bit about all of them, and you can find my full rankings here.

1. Boyhood - This movie is special.  Shot over 12 years, it covers the growth of a young boy to a young man in Texas.  While it doesn't portray a completely universal experience, I think there's a lot in here that almost everyone will recognize.

2. Gone Girl - I have this higher on my list than a lot of people, but I'm a devoted fan of David Fincher to begin with.  This is an example of what happens when you pair a great script with its perfect director.  Gillian Flynn and Fincher deserve equal credit for how good this film is, though Rosamund Pike's performance is also exemplary.  Hell, even Tyler Perry is good in this.

3. Under the Skin - The best science fiction film of the year by far.  Scarlett Johansson is an alien hunting for men on the streets of Scotland for unknown reasons.  This is a film which entrancingly examines issues of femininity in our culture, and it's both beautiful and indescribably alluring.

4. Selma - Ava DuVernay is a relatively inexperienced director, but you'd never guess it from this remarkably assured movie about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Focusing on the events in Selma, Alabama, DuVernay paints a portrait of King as a man who not only is an inspirational leader, but also a cunning strategist, politician, and most importantly a fallible and self-doubting human being.  David Oyelowo's performance as King is one of the very best of the year, and I often found myself almost forgetting that he was not actually the man himself.

5. The Grand Budapest Hotel - Wes Anderson's best film yet.  If you like Wes Anderson you'll adore this film, and if you don't like Wes Anderson you're just wrong.

6. Only Lovers Left Alive - Jim Jarmusch examines the ennui that must set in among the immortal as they live on and on watching humanity repeat its mistakes.  Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton as the core couple make this one of the best hangout movies you'll see.

7. Coherence - Another great little science fiction film.  I don't want to say too much about it because it deserves you going in cold, but it's all the more remarkable how good it is for the fact that the dialog was almost completely improvised.  This is an example of how great a movie you can make on a minuscule budget.

8. Life Itself - A really touching tribute to a true lover and hero of cinema.  I was sobbing almost all the way through, in sadness at Ebert's passing and in happiness at the impact he made on people's lives.

9. Guardians of the Galaxy - Like watching Star Wars for the first time all over again.

10. The Immigrant - The best cinematography bar-none this year comes from Darius Khondji in this film, which among its many many great shots has the best shot of the year at its end.  It also features great performances from Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, and Jeremy Renner.  You haven't heard about this movie because the Weinsteins have buried it for unknown reasons.  Spite them and treat yourself by seeking it out and watching it as soon as you can.

Notable films I've not yet seen: Foxcatcher, Whiplash, Two Days, One Night, and Citizenfour.
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« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2015, 07:53:30 pm »

I saw Selma last night and it was absolutely riveting. The performance by David Oyelowo seems like a lock for Best Actor.
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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2015, 10:45:05 pm »

Sadly Selma is considered a long shot at the Oscars because the producers waited way too long to send out screeners as part of a dubious (read: stupid) promotion strategy. Too few people got to see it in time.  Still, nominations are announced on Thursday.  Maybe the Academy will surprise us.
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Meddling Mike
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« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2015, 09:48:51 am »

I had one serious bone to pick with Gone Girl.
SPOILER ALERT!
The second Amy comes home why doesn't he run for the hills? She has this big story about how he'll be ostracized and whatnot. Fine, whatever, better than living with the woman who framed me for murder and killed a different guy. It seemed like there were lots of holes in Amy's cover story. Maybe if you tell the federal investigators she tried to frame you they could investigate more effectively? Just seems like a really bad plot hole.
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Klep
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« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2015, 09:57:48 am »

I had one serious bone to pick with Gone Girl.

The second Amy comes home why doesn't he run for the hills? She has this big story about how he'll be ostracized and whatnot. Fine, whatever, better than living with the woman who framed me for murder and killed a different guy. It seemed like there were lots of holes in Amy's cover story. Maybe if you tell the federal investigators she tried to frame you they could investigate more effectively? Just seems like a really bad plot hole.
For one, the movie makes it pretty clear that only the local PD who directly worked his case would believe his story, and there really wasn't enough evidence for them to prove anything.  Everyone else just wanted to get it wrapped up and put behind him.  Remember that Amy is a master manipulator.

The second thing is that the movie definitely makes us question whether Nick really wants to leave anyway. Margo asks this of him directly, and he doesn't have an answer for her.
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« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2015, 10:22:41 am »

MORE SPOILERS!
I'm still not buying Klep. They wanted to move on and were dismissive of the local PD because he didn't say anything. They didn't believe his story earlier because he was the prime suspect. Now that he's been cleared of any wrongdoing if he comes out and tells the truth they should at least be willing to investigate. If the local detective was poking holes in her story so easily it seems like it wouldn't be much of a stretch to find some more.

IIRC, his reluctance didn't come about until after the pregnancy thing. Even considering that, if he's not willing to bite the bullet to get out of there he's crazy. It just doesn't make any sense to me whatsoever.
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« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2015, 10:36:32 am »

I enjoyed Snowpiercer
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« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2015, 10:39:25 am »

I enjoyed Snowpiercer

So did I. Technically came out in 2013 though.
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Klep
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« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2015, 10:41:25 am »

I enjoyed Snowpiercer

So did I. Technically came out in 2013 though.
Its US release was 2014, so it counts. I liked it as well, but it couldn't crack my top 10.
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« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2015, 10:51:05 am »

Scanning the list Klep posted it appears I saw only fifteen 2014 releases.  These movies fall into three categories: serious/good/quality films, comic-book/action movies, movies I see on airplanes or streaming services months after release.  (This isn't to say that comic-book movies aren't or can't be good, I just choose to consider them separately.)

My top five:
1. Inherent Vice - marrying complex plot and excellent humor is a winning formula for placing high on my rankings.
2. Birdman - marrying complex plot and excellent humor is a winning formula for placing high on my rankings.
3. A Most Wanted Man - fantastic performance by the late PSH (and the whole cast, really).
4. Gone Girl - Fincher is a master.  Affleck was a pleasant surprise in this.  I demand my Girl with the Dragon Tattoo sequel already.
5. Interstellar - The most ambitious movie I saw, and a case where falling just short is still accomplishing a great deal.

If I failed to list a movie it's because I didn't see it (except for Grand Budapest Hotel, which I did see, and which was good).  I think I do a good job correctly anticipating which movies I will most enjoy, and seeing those movies, though.  I'm not sure any other movie from this year could crack this top five.

Shoutout to the trio of excellent comic-book/action movies: Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: the Winter Soldier, and X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Fake edit: yeah, Snowpiercer was good.
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« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2015, 11:30:22 pm »

No love for Nightcrawler? I thought that was a fantastic film and Jake Gyllenhall was amazing in it. It's one of the better directorial debuts I've ever seen too.

EDIT: This was an especially great year for film and maybe the first time that there's going to be 10 best picture nominations with no paint-by-numbers filler like The Blind Side.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2015, 10:42:20 pm by Lurker101 » Logged
Klep
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« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2015, 12:03:42 am »

I did love Nightcrawler. It's at 15 on my list, but I wouldn't be surprised to see it climb when I get a chance to watch it again. That's probably Jake Gyllenhaal's career-best performance.  He's alluringly lizard-like and psychotic.  A great first feature from Dan Gilroy.
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« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2015, 11:06:23 am »

Here are the horror movies I remember enjoying, in no particular order:
  • The Babadook
  • Under The Skin
  • Devil's Due
  • Green Inferno (remake)
  • Open Grave
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« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2015, 05:08:37 am »

Lots of great films in this thread! A few others I'd like to toss into the ring:

A Field in England - Bizarre black and white film about a group of English Civil War deserters looking for a pint and finding a more surreal experience

Mr. Turner - Something about this film moved me-- perhaps its the spectacular seaside views, the little art history eggs, or the likability of such an unusual character

Edge of Tomorrow - Tied with Guardians of the Galaxy for best popcorn flick (and I totally agree with the Star Wars comparison for the latter!)
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« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2015, 04:10:22 am »

Klep, when you start these up, please link to the previous years so we can look back through the years.

2013: http://www.themanadrain.com/index.php?topic=46000.0
2012: http://www.themanadrain.com/index.php?topic=44864.0
2011: http://www.themanadrain.com/index.php?topic=43778.0
2010: http://www.themanadrain.com/index.php?topic=41758.0
2009: http://www.themanadrain.com/index.php?topic=39587.0
2008: http://www.themanadrain.com/index.php?topic=37232.0
2007: http://www.themanadrain.com/index.php?topic=35125.0

I started most of these threads, so of course I'm going to post this year.  Thanks to Klep for keeping the tradition alive.

So, here's what I've seen for 2014:

Noah
The Lego Movie
Robocop
Grand Budapest Hotel
Jodorowsky's Dune
Captain America: Winter Soldier
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Godzilla
Boyhood
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes  
Guardians of the Galaxy
Sin City: Dame to Kill For
Birdman
Dear White People  
Interstellar  
The Interview
The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
Selma

Movies I haven't seen, but are in my queue or I intend to see:

* Edge of Tomorrow
* Gone Girl
* Theory of Everything (I MIGHT see this)
* Imitation Game
* Dumb and Dumber To
* Zero Theorem (HOW THE HELL DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS MOVIE? Terry Gilliam & Christoph Waltz?  This slipped past my radar entirely)
* Into the Woods
* Under the Skin

Bearing in mind those films I intend to see, but haven't, and since I only saw 18 movies released this year (I guess the number of movies I see in the theater of plateaued finally to about this level from the high of low thirties a decade ago), here is my top 5 from 2014:

5. Interstellar

This film was profound in many ways.  Up until the last 40 minutes, I felt this was easily the best movie I'd seen all year, but it slipped off the rails just a bit.  This movie is the kind of movie that will make you think in different ways.  It had brilliant ideas, and brilliant exection.

Aside from Inception, which I thought was pretty good, but not quite as great as everyone else thinks, I'm a huge Nolan fan.  When will that guy get his due?  Sheesh.  

4. Birdman

I really expected this movie to be much worse and much more of a cliche than I thought it would be.  From the trailer, I thought I knew exactly what to expect.  And while it was in some ways what I expected, it was also much smarter than I thought it would be.  Edward Norton was effing unbelievable in this.  Great movie.  

3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

I couldn't decide whether this should be # 2 or # 3.  This was a GREAT film.   The first film in this series was smart, but this was even smarter.  This film is about othering and power.  It's about how elites use scapegoats/othering to accumulate and maintain political power, and about the price and costs of war.  This was a very deep film performed brilliantly and visually stunning as well.  

2. Dear White People

This was the most brilliant movie about race this year, and possibly for a long time - and we've had some good ones at or near the top of my list in the last decade (look at my past lists: 12 years a slave, fruitvale station, crash, precious, the help, etc).  This was nuanced, smart, and funny.  This is a film I'm going to watch again.  

1.  Boyhood

This film would not be here if it was just the gimmick.  No, this film was brilliantly conceived and executed.  I'm a fan of Linklater's "Before" series, and if you like Boyhood, I recommend watching all three of the Before films. Ethan Hawke was great, Patricia Arquette was unbelievable, and the script was perhaps the best part of all.   It was simply profound, I felt at the time I watched it, and I still feel that way.  

A few other words about some of the films I saw:

* Grand Budapest Hotel: Overrated IMO.  Wes Anderson is so hit or miss for me.  I thought Moonrise Kingdom was pitch perfect, and a darling film.  This, on the other hand, was not only overwrought, but overweight.  It was too long, and too slow, even plodding.  

* Robocop: Klep, I saw you had Robocop near the bottom of your list. I think it deserves a reappraisal.  This movie was subtly smart in so many ways, especially in the era of police violence and militarization of the police, which it nailed perfectly.  I'd put it in the top 7-8 films I saw this year.  If this movie had come out towards the end of the year, I think it would have hit our culture with alot of force.

* Godzilla: boy was this a terrible film.  It looked nothing like San Francisco.  Planet of the Apes had the Bay Area better captured than this.  The only good thing about this movie was Bryan Cranston whom *SPOILER ALERT* the idiot filmmakers killed off too quickly.  The rest of the film sucked.

 
« Last Edit: January 19, 2015, 04:18:17 pm by Smmenen » Logged

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« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2015, 04:38:31 am »

What did you think of Jodorowsky's Dune? I've got that queued up.
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« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2015, 03:31:25 pm »

I think that Robocop was crippled by studio mandates to make an accessible action picture, particularly in regards to the PG-13 rating.  It's very difficult to make an effective movie about the consequences of violent police action when you aren't allowed to actually show those consequences.  Padihla had some good ideas for the remake, but he was prevented from properly executing them and it seriously damages the film in my opinion.

What did you think of The Imitation Game Steve? I saw it yesterday and thought it was really badly flawed in terms of message, story, and structure.  I'd say I don't know how it could possibly be nominated for Best Picture except that the answer is Harvey Weinstein.  For a movie about a gay man, it spends an awful lot of time focusing on Turing's romance with a woman.
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« Reply #17 on: January 19, 2015, 04:13:09 pm »

What did you think of Jodorowsky's Dune? I've got that queued up.

I love Jodorowsky, so I found this to be very enjoyable.

I think that Robocop was crippled by studio mandates to make an accessible action picture, particularly in regards to the PG-13 rating.  It's very difficult to make an effective movie about the consequences of violent police action when you aren't allowed to actually show those consequences.  Padihla had some good ideas for the remake, but he was prevented from properly executing them and it seriously damages the film in my opinion.

I've never seen the original Robocops - or at least, can't remember them.  So i came in with no preconceived notions, despite what I remembered as a kid from snippets.

I think the symbolism and set of layered meanings in the new Robocop was pretty amazing.  For example, set in Detroit (no small thing, given what's happened in Detroit in the last 5 years), juxtaposing policing and military action, out of control violence in far away lands and in our cities, corporate profiteering/control, Michael Keaton, media (Sam Jackson's character - a conservative blowhard) - there was ALOT to like in this film.  I thought it was pretty brilliant. I rated it 4 of 5 stars on Netflix.  

I think you may have viewed it through a lens of your expectations. I just viewed it as a statement on modern issues, and very effective.  

Quote

What did you think of The Imitation Game Steve? I saw it yesterday and thought it was really badly flawed in terms of message, story, and structure.  I'd say I don't know how it could possibly be nominated for Best Picture except that the answer is Harvey Weinstein.  For a movie about a gay man, it spends an awful lot of time focusing on Turing's romance with a woman.

It was on my list of films I haven't yet seen.  Look at my OP.

BTW, I also thought Noah was very smart.  One thing I thought was so clever about Noah was that, in at least 1-2 scenes, there were hints that Noah was set in the distant future, not the distant past. 
« Last Edit: January 19, 2015, 04:19:12 pm by Smmenen » Logged

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