By Christian DiMartino
For movies, 2014 was a pretty good year. Sure, there was some garbage (most notably, Let’s Be Cops, Annie, Left Behind), but it was mostly successful. Since the Oscars were a few days ago, I guess now would be a good time to unveil my favorite films of 2014. I usually like to wait until close to the Oscars, this way I can have time to catch up. I had planned on publishing this sooner, but the weather got in the way.
Oh well, the show must go on. So, here they are.
10. Still Alice: I am happy to say that Julianne Moore won her long overdue first Oscar for her devastating performance in Still Alice, and she undoubtedly deserved it. She is receiving plenty of credit, and the film should too. While it could pass as a Hallmark Channel drama, it is a powerful and tragic film about a horrible disease. In the end, it is Moore’s tour-de-force performance that makes it special.
9. Edge of Tomorrow: If you are one of the unfortunate people who did not see Edge of Tomorrow, you are probably thinking “Huh?”, and you have every right to. This is a film that suffered from very poor marketing, but it is actually the most delightfully surprising films of the year. It is a reminder of why Tom Cruise is so great, and it shows us that Emily Blunt can kick butt. It is a lot of fun, the visual effects are marvelous, and the redundancy never grows old. This was the best of the summer blockbusters.
8. Big Eyes: I cannot understand the lack of love for Tim Burton’s Big Eyes. It may not sound that interesting, but I was so hooked I was nearly screaming at the screen due to frustration. That is when I know a film is great. Amy Adams should have received an Oscar nomination for her work as Margaret Keane, a woman whose life is totally destroyed by her lunatic, con artist husband Walter (the great Christoph Waltz). This is Burton’s best film in years, and it is nice to see him exit his comfort zone.
7. The Grand Budapest Hotel: When I saw Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel last March, I knew it would appear on this list. This is Anderson’s best film yet. It is wickedly funny, visually luscious, and very inventive. Ralph Fiennes is terrific in the lead, and I had such a blast that I wanted to go back in the second it was over. Basically, it is just too wonderful for words. I was enchanted by nearly every second of it.
6. Whiplash: Holy Lord almighty, what a great film Whiplash is. What an adrenaline rush. Miles Teller is fantastic and so is his onscreen nemesis, recent Oscar winner J.K. Simmons. The film is bonkers, but I found its craziness infectious. The film feels like it directed by a veteran, and amazingly it is the directorial debut of Damien Chazelle. I cannot wait to see what he brings us next.
5. Gone Girl: David Fincher (The Social Network, Fight Club) has brought us many great movies over the years, and I have to say: Gone Girl is among the best. The film is both a compelling mystery and also an unsettling look at marriage, and did I mention it is insane? The cast shines here, but Rosamund Pike gets the role of a lifetime and she just knocks it out of the park. This is a long film, but it more than earns its runtime.
4. Boyhood: Richard Linklater’s latest film Boyhood is a great film, and it is possibly the most ambitious film ever made. It could have gone wrong in so many ways, and it does not. It fires on all cylinders. It is a well-acted, poignant, and nostalgic film that feels almost too real. It is sort of a shame that it got shut out at the Oscars, but whatever.
3. American Sniper: Clint Eastwood’s latest masterpiece American Sniper is his best work since Hereafter. Like his best work, it is a film that sneaks up from behind you and tears your heart out. The battle sequences are expertly crafted and suspenseful, and the film is a powerful portrait of the horrors of war. Not to mention, Bradley Cooper gives an Oscar-worthy performance in the title role. So, even at 84, Eastwood still has it.
2. Birdman: I do not think I have ever described a comedy as “exhilarating”, but I cannot think of a better way to describe Alejandro G. Inarritu’s Birdman. This was, without a doubt, my pick for Best Picture, and I am so happy that it won. Michael Keaton gives the year’s best performance, and his co-stars, Emma Stone and Edward Norton, are marvelous as well. The “one take” gimmick is brilliant, the score is awesome, the film is very creative and often hilarious. I loved this movie, and as soon as it was over, I wanted to wait for it to start again.
1. Interstellar: I knew about half an hour into Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar that I was watching the year’s best film. Nolan (The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception) is my favorite filmmaker, and this just might be his most ambitious film yet. Some have written this film off as hokey, but they clearly have no soul. It is a moving and often powerful piece of work, but it is also undeniably spectacular. This is a brilliant and visually astonishing film that mesmerized me beyond belief. I saw the film two days in a row, and I could have saw it again. Nolan has done it again, and to that I say: bravo.
The Rest of the Best
Wild, Life Itself, The Skeleton Twins, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Nightcrawler, Inherent Vice, They Came Together, Top Five, The Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game, Sin City: A Dame to Kill for, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Selma, Noah, The Lego Movie
Overall, the year had its ups and downs, but it was mostly triumphant. I loved quite a few films in 2014, and I have my fingers crossed that 2015 will be just as good.