This year was particularly difficult when naming a top 10. In the end there were some movies that just stuck with me more than others.
Honorable mentions include “Gone Girl,” “Selma,” “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” “The Theory of Everything,” “Foxcatcher,” and “The Imitation Game.” All six of which I highly recommend you see, and definitely try and find a way to watch these top 10 unique and impactful films.
I cannot argue against some of the complaints about “The Lego Movie,” but in life there are just some forms of art that impact you personally. For me, a young man who grew up enjoying Legos and still loves Legos today; “The Lego Movie” nailed it. I could relate to every joke, to every serene moment, and I was cackling in the theater so much I sounded like I was choking on popcorn.
For a movie that could’ve been a commercialized disaster, “The Lego Movie” was one of the most original and fun movies, not only of 2014, but of this entire decade.
Now if you want to talk technical perfection, “Whiplash” was a technically perfect film. The tension and drama in this movie are so focused and real that from the beginning you are wrapped up in this plot. My heart dropped through my stomach in several scenes fearing for the protagonist and the wrath of the antagonist played by J.K. Simmons.
“Boyhood,” like “The Lego Movie,” is another film I connected with on a personal level. The movie is three hours long and probably a one-and-done for some people, but it moves so seamlessly through time, and says so much with its simplicity. There’s nothing particularly special about this boy, he has divorced parents, he moves around a lot, and he grows up. But not just with him, with all the characters, you see the way people change together as they grow old. Rarely does a film say so much by saying so little.
Those who know me know I’m a huge Wes Anderson fan. I love the colorful world of his films, from it’s glowing production design in every shot – no matter how short, to the quirky comedy and drama from his scripts. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is no exception, it’s not my favorite Anderson film, but it is absolutely gorgeous.
Speaking of beautiful movies, “Birdman” was gorgeous. It’s also a film that I had a slight personal connection with. I love the way the story tackles a humans desire to be important and the way it tackles ego in general. The third act of the movie is so freaking strong. The way the film cinematically portrays the panic/anxiety attacks of Riggan throughout the film shows us the power of film, not just cinematically, but in it’s ability to explain things that can’t be explained by words.
I don’t have to explain how beautiful the animation in “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya” is, just look at the image above! This movie retells the oldest Japanese folk lore story with so much style and so much emotion. I was an emotional wreck after this movie, it’s hauntingly poignant, I can’t exactly explain why without spoiling it though.
“Calvary” is very interesting. Normally a film introduces it’s characters before it’s primary plot, but this film gets right to it in its first scene. The rest of the movie can feel like a mystery, but it plays out more to me as a film about faith, not just in a religion, but faith in life and humanity.
I was trying to sell my mother on this movie, but she tells me that she can’t do horror movies. I kept explaining that this isn’t a gratuitous, gory monster or haunted house horror movie, but that it is a psychological thriller and one of the smartest films I have seen all year. She asks me if it’s scary, and I couldn’t lie to her, it is VERY scary. It is downright frightening, so now she may not watch it… But you should!
J.C. Chandor is one of the greatest filmmakers working today, and after “A Most Violent Year” and “Selma” I can also say that Bradford Young is one of the greatest cinematographers working today. “A Most Violent Year” tells a not-so-violent story about a man trying to run a business that attracts crime, while trying to maintain a moral code and not be pulled into a life of crime. After I finished this movie I felt kind of mixed about it. It’s a thinker because after a few days I couldn’t get this fable out of my mind.
I know “Interstellar” is not perfect, it suffers from a very sentimental storyline and from over-expositive dialogue pretty severely. But I love the movie and everything that it stands for. The space scenes glow with a beautiful organ-based score by Hans Zimmer and the movie really shines in it’s moments of sheer creativity when the plot reaches settings that mankind has yet to discover.