2014 was a weird year for movies. A handful of films were received well by critics and successful at the box office, but there were quite a few movies that turned out to be just “meh” when they should’ve been easy wins (like The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1). There were more bad movies than good, too. I even handed out my first “F” to Dumb and Dumber To, which was so freaking terrible I couldn’t even write a review (I probably would’ve just posted a photo of poop).
Although I still have several films to see like Big Hero 6, Snowpiercer, and Birdman, let’s take a look at my top 10 movies of 2014! (Author’s Note: Just because a movie got an A+ in my review doesn’t mean it will make my Top 10. This is a list of movies that I personally thought were great because they stuck with me after the year ended.)
10. Only Lovers Left Alive
Only Lovers Left Alive was nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival (the highest award possible). It’s one of those slow, artsy films by Jim Jarmusch centered around two vampire lovers, Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton), who have nothing tying them to the modern world but each other. Adam is a dark suicidal rocker, and Eve is his eccentric light, a point that’s only emphasized by Hiddleston and Swinton’s insane chemistry. Now, it’s not a film the average moviegoer will like, but I enjoyed it (Naked Hiddleston!)
I’ve grown tired of war movies over the years because they tend to glorify battle instead of showing its horrors. But Fury didn’t do that. Rather than triumphant brass scores and speeches about heroics, this WWII film has uncomfortable music, overwhelming violence, and a relationship between Brad Pitt’s hardened sergeant and Logan Lerman’s innocent newcomer that’s meant to show us what facing war and death does to our hope and humanity. It’s not a movie for the faint of heart, but it’s one you should definitely consider.
8. Gone Girl
The film adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl was all anyone talked about for weeks. Cheating husband accused of killing his wife, who had dark secrets of her own? You bet this makes a damn good thriller. It was so complex, in fact, that I struggled to write a review (which is why I don’t have one). But that’s okay because it seems like everyone and their mother wrote a thinkpiece on this movie. Forget about Ben Affleck’s dong because Rosamund Pike’s cold yet sexy Amy Dunne was so good that she received SAG and Golden Globe Best Actress nominations (and I’m sure an Oscar nod will follow).
7. Into the Woods
Where Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys was this year’s failed attempt at a musical, Rob Marshall’s Into the Woods was the shining beacon. This charming yet dark look into the lies fairytales teach us combines the stories of Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and others with Stephen Sondheim’s music and a hugely talented cast that includes Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Johnny Depp, Tracey Ullman, and Christine Baranski. If you like having songs stuck in your head, this is your movie.
6. 22 Jump Street
Comedy sequels rarely work, but 22 Jump Street stuck the landing. It was one of my favorite movies of the summer because it went the self-aware route (meaning it poked fun of itself the whole movie). You wouldn’t expect a movie that uses a meta line like “Do the same thing as last time, and everybody will be happy” to actually do better than the last time. But I’d argue it did. I mean, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill get to do a Benny Hill gag. That’s instantly good in my book.
5. How to Train Your Dragon 2
Hiccup and Toothless returned this year in How to Train Your Dragon 2, which was equally as fun as DreamWorks’sHow to Train Your Dragon…but much more mature. We saw new layers to their relationship, as Hiccup stepped into a more adult role as a leader for his Viking clan and Toothless became an alpha dragon. The animation is gorgeous, the action is taken to the next level, but the boy-and-his-dog story is still there.
4. The Grand Budapest Hotel
I’m so glad I finally caught this movie on Netflix because I love Wes Anderson’s delightfully wacky comedic style. The Grand Budapest Hotel tells the story of the misadventures of a hotel concierge (Ralph Fiennes) and a lobby boy (Tony Revolori), which you wouldn’t think would be interesting, but it’s hysterical. Plus, Fiennes is SO GOOD in this. And I think he deserves best movie quote of 2014: “Because, if there’s one thing we’ve learned from penny dreadfuls, it’s that when you find yourself in a place like this, you must never be a candy ass.”
3. The LEGO Movie
To be honest, I wasn’t 100% sold on The LEGO Movie when I saw the trailer. Boy, did the movie change my mind. It’s easily the best animated film of the year. With voice acting from Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman, and Will Arnett, you can’t go wrong. Not to mention, the movie’s message is all about embracing creativity and going against the norm, which is awesome for kids and adults alike.
2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Other reviewers haven’t included Captain America 2 in their end-of-the-year lists, and I think it’s because it came so early in the year that people forget it came out in 2014. But seriously, people. This was one of Marvel’s better superhero films because it was less punch the bad guys and more political intrigue. And the fact that HYDRA finally stepped out of the shadows to reveal its S.H.I.E.L.D. infiltration forced Captain America to stop being such a Boy Scout and actually get shit done. Also, bonus points for the decision to have Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow partner with Cap because their chemistry is wonderful.
1. Guardians of the Galaxy
Please, bitches. You knew Guardians of the Galaxy was going to be my number one. Hilarious, heartwarming, action-packed—Marvel took a gamble with this totally insane story about a group of space criminals coming together to save the galaxy, and it worked big time. With Chris Pratt in the lead and a seriously good ’70s soundtrack, they made it mainstream without losing its unique flair. Also, you’ll love Rocket and Groot because they’re the best characters of the movie, and they have an adorable friendship, and I SWEAR I’M NOT CRYING.
What movies would make YOUR “Top 10” list this year? Discuss in the comments!