10. Top Five
I believe Chris Rock to be one of the greatest stand up comedians of all time. Though just because you’re a good comedian doesn’t make you good actor or make your movies funny. A lot of great comedians have ended up suffering that fate. Chris Rock was on that path but Top Five is a meta take about that path and it truly established how incredible he is. From afar Top Five might come off as a BET oriented movie or a stupid comedy but it’s one of the smartest movies of the year. It’s definitely one of the funniest but it’s a really great movie. The story, the direction and commentary about the stand up comic/film transition make it all glorious & unique. There are influences of Richard Linklater & working with Julie Delpy but Rock uses those to his advantage. And I applaud him for his smart directing decisions & not succumbing to typical hollywood rom-com formulas. Also it has one of the best climaxes in a movie ever. Top Five is not only hilarious but a great movie to watch.
Slow burn films can be very tedious to watch. I will be honest, I was beyond excited to see this movie before it came out but then got a little worried when I heard the “slow” criticisms. Thankfully I ended up loving the movie. The performances are indescribable the score is chilling and it’s very well directed. Possibly Bennett Miller’s best film so far. Foxcatcher has its slow moments but the story is so entrancing & the relationship between the characters is a curious one. Without the story’s flow, the tragic outcome might not have been as powerful. Foxcatcher is a very strong film, almost shakespearean in scope.
8. The Lego Movie
“Emmet, an ordinary LEGO figurine who always follows the rules, is mistakenly identified as the Special – an extraordinary being and the key to saving the world. He finds himself drafted into a fellowship of strangers who are on a mission to stop an evil tyrant’s plans to conquer the world. ”
There were a lot of moans when The Lego Movie was announced but the trailer had my curiosity. Least to say, the film exceeded my expectation. It was more than a family film, it was an awesome comedy for all ages. I couldn’t stop laughing throughout the film and I loved the little easter egg references. What made Lego Movies better than most movies? The lovable characters, the smart utilization of a childhood favorite for many people and the strong morals. The Lego movie wasn’t all about making people laugh, selling toys or capturing kids, it’s a movie about connecting with our inner child. Towards the end I found it to be very emotional but that’s when I realized this is a special movie that everyone should see. Even if it didn’t win best animated film at major award shows, this is hands doubt the best animated film of 2014.
7. John Wick
Keanu Reeves is a very lovable guy but his acting can come off very frustrating. I’ve always been rooting for Keanu & it’s finally paid off. John Wick isn’t the most advance movie out there but it’d be an insult not call it intelligent. Even though it’s an action flick it’s very self aware but not to the point of being a parody. The directors knew what it took to make a genuine good action movie. Think Bourne trilogy or Daniel Craig Bonds. Except there’s a lot more action and humor but John Wick is a joy ride. I didn’t see many flaws in it and loved every moment of it. Keanu Reeves also showed he could act and gave the best performance of his career. John Wick does bolster an awesome Keanu Reeves performance but it’s a such a smart and awesome film to watch.
6. X-Men: Days of Future Past
The Dark Knight set a precedent for superhero movies. It was no longer about simple plots and cheesy storylines and a lot of superhero films have tried to create their own identity. Most franchises so far have been action packed including the X-Men films but Days of Future Past was very different. It has action but it’s very minimal. It’s got a really strong emotional story with incredible performances that I felt this was more than a summer blockbuster. I’m a huge X-men fan and have been disappointed by a lot of the movies in the series but Days of Future Past took things to a whole new level. It is lacking on the action but Days of Future Past proved that superhero films don’t need action, jokes, explosions to be successful. Just have a strong movie. I recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of movies, even if you’re not into superheroes.
5 . The Raid 2
I loved the original Raid and have been waiting for the sequel since. I can happily tell you that I was not disappointed. I even found it to be better than the first. I will have to warn you that The Raid 2 is not a retread of The Raid. Excellent actions scenes are all throughout the movie but while part 1 was pure action, part 2 is a drama. The only thing that outshines the action of the film is Gareth Evans’ direction. Evans’ choreography of the action is still brilliant but it’s the edits,the fx, the pacing, thefleshed out characters, and the script make the film work so well. When there’s no action you’re still engrossed and when there is, you’re losing your mind. There are so many great sequences and we get some top notch acting you usually don’t see in action movies. Gareth Evans managed to make a movie where you’re not asking for action, action, action but you’re watching it for its characters & story. Also I cannot forget to mention that the final fight is one of the greatest fight scenes ever. Just wow. The Raid 2 is a huge progress for movies of all kind. It may not be 100% original but it’s a game changer.
As sociopathic as Jake Gyllenhaal’s character was, I found it to be one of the most inspiring films of the year. It’s a fun thrilling movie with beautiful cinematography & a cool score that is topped off by Jake Gyllenhaal’s brilliant performance. Nightcrawler excels in so many aspects and reminded me of late 80s early 90s cinema. It just had this great flair to it but I think what truly makes Nightcrawler great is it’s dealing with relevant themes. The american dream, willingness to work hard and how far we are willing to go to succeed. Birman is a movie that brings the beauty of New York to life, Nightcrawler really brings Los Angeles to life. Even though the protagonist isn’t a noble one, his work ethic and philosophy on life could be inspirational for some but more importantly Nightcrawler is huge commentary about the american struggle.
3. Gone Girl
It’s already a given when David Fincher directs a movie it’s going to be awesome. Yet Gone Girl still lived up to the hype. I won’t lie, the book kind of ruined the surprises for me but Gone Girl didn’t play out like a straight reading of a novel, it has its own identity and is still a crazy joyride. Fincher takes what could be considered B movie material and makes it something prestigious. There’s so much right in this film. It has one of the strongest female performances ever, the music is stellar and the cinematography, don’t even get me started on that. Gone Girl’s ending might put people off but it’s an ending that should be discussed. Gone Girl isn’t a perfect film and it isn’t Fincher’s best but there’s way too much good going on in the movie that the cons have no merit. Gone Girl is an important superbly made film that comments on the modern state of relationships and it’s something everyone should see.
2. Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Birdman was truly something and I think it’s Alejandro González Iñárritu’s best film. It’s funny, it’s acted well and it’s shot in such an amazing manner. The whole one take thing really brings a sense of surrealism. I can’t fail to mention that it takes place in one of my favorite cities in the world. It’s one of the few films that brings the beauty of New York to life and that really got me. Like my number one film of the year and Gone Girl, it has all the right elements of a good movie. It does have its flaws but nothing that ruined the movie for me. I enjoyed it beginning to end and it really got to me as well as a director & actor. It’s about the love for art and where our intentions come from. Why are we creating such art and what are reasons for doing it? The only thing that bothered me that it was a little bit to similar to Black Swan but it comes off as a companion piece. Think The Curious Case of Benjamin Button & Forrest Gump. Even with that slight quarrel, I loved Birdman. It’s a wonderful movie that I hope many can see for years to come.
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Grand Budapest Hotel is a joyride from beginning to end. It’s clever, it’s creative, it’s pretty & it’s unique. It has all the necessary requirements of a good movie and they’re all done to perfection. It also contains some of the best direction I’ve seen from Wes Anderson. There’s too much to love about this movie and I haven’t felt so many emotions after witnessing a movie in a long time. It’s very heartfelt with a strong point about our humanity. It’s original, different and at the same time, shows us in the darkest times there is good and the reason it’s number one on my list? It reminded me why I love cinema so much.
Noah, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Whiplash, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Edge of Tomorrow, Big Hero 6, 22 Jump Street