We've seen a lot of superheroes, giant monsters, serial killers, and a speeding train racing through an icy tundra at the movies. While there were some highs and lows during the year, 2014 proved to be a very good year in movies. Here are my top 25 movies of 2014. Thanks for reading!
25 (tie). Guardians of the Galaxy (dir. James Gunn) and Captain America: The Winter Solider (dir. Anthony Russo & Joe Russo)
Marvel Entertainment kicked ass with Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Solider, which was a mature effort, while Guardians of the Galaxy was a fun change-of-pace from the typical Marvel Cinematic Universe.
24. Life Itself (dir. Steve James)
Roger Ebert was one of the reasons why I love movies so much, so any movie (especially from Steve James) about his life and love affair with cinema is fine with me.
23. Nightcrawler (dir. Dan Gilroy)
A beautiful and haunting film about media in the 21st Century, Nightcrawler delivers one of the best performances from Jake Gyllenhaal and is one of the best movies that showcases Los Angeles at night.
22. Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu)
Alejandro González Iñárritu's satire on the superhero genre and celebrity is one of the most exciting and kinetic films of the year. Read My Review from NYFF 2014.
21. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (dir. Isao Takahata)
Studio Ghibli does it again with the beautiful and exquisite animated film from Isao Takahata.
20. CitizenFour (dir. Laura Poitras)
While the documentary is dry, CitizenFour is one of the most important films of the year. It follows Edward Snowden only moments before he revealed to the world the U.S. Government's reach when it comes to privacy and how far they will go to keep Americans safe from foreign threats. It's a scary and haunting wake up call to technology and power. Read My Review from NYFF 2014.
19. The Interview (dir. Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg)
It's strange how The Interview become another important movie of the year, but here it is. If you ever doubted the power of cinema, here is The Interview, a movie that shook Hollywood to its core and shaped the way corporations kowtow to anonymous foreign threats, IE North Korea.
18. Listen Up Philip (dir. Alex Ross Perry)
Alex Ross Perry's third film is the perfect blend of literary devices and cinematic narrative. Jason Schwartzman delivers his best performance of his career since Rushmore in 1998. Read My Review from NYFF 2014.
17. God Help the Girl (dir. Stuart Murdoch)
From its brilliant music to its charming lead with Emily Browning, it's really, really hard not to have a crush on God Help The Girl.
16. The Double (dir. Richard Ayoade)
Richard Ayoade's sophomore effect firmly plants him as a director with a vision. Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska shine in The Double.
15. The Rover (dir. David Michôd)
Sometimes it's hard to remember that The Rover is a science fiction film, but it's one of those engaging and enjoyable film that you just forget about genre tropes. Guy Pearce is the only badass in cinema history that wears shorts throughout the movie. Robert Pattinson is also fantastic in an unlikely role and performance.
14. Palo Alto (dir. Gia Coppola)
Gia Coppola's directorial debut shows that she has a handle on tone and nuance on the big screen. Based on a collection of short stories from James Franco, Palo Alto highlights what teen dramas could be like in Hollywood.
13. Whiplash (dir. Damien Chazelle)
Whiplash is one of the most visceral and darkly satisfying movies of the year. Damien Chazelle has a great handle on the material and filmmaking. He also shows off what Miles Teller could do in a movie. Read My Review from NYFF 2014.
12. The One I Love (dir. Charlie McDowell)
The One I Love is one-half romantic comedy and one-half science fiction. Mark Duplass and Elizabeth Moss are big standouts in the movie, while it also shows off their range as high-level actors.
11. Two Days, One Night (dir. Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne)
What is there to say about Two Days, One Night? The Dardenne Brothers gives so much weight to the material that it would collapse in anyone else's hands. While the film's story and climax seems so small, it feels like the weight of the world depends on the film's outcome. Marion Cotillard is wonderful in Two Days, One Night, as always.
10. The Babadook (dir. Jennifer Kent)
The Babadook is an Australian horror film about a single mother raising her only son. Jennifer Kent's directorial debut is haunting and eerie, while she also uses the benefits of cinema to her advantage.
9. The Raid 2: Berandal (dir. Gareth Evans)
Gareth Evans sequel to The Raid: Redemption takes the action out of the building and into the prisons, streets, and kitchens in Jakarta, Indonesia. While most people will takeaway the film's heavy action, you should also takeaway its brilliant visual style and cinematography too. Although it would seem impossible to top the original Raid, Evans manages to do so with The Raid 2: Berandal.
8. Ida (dir. Paweł Pawlikowski)
Ida is a wonderful movie from Poland that features some of the best acting, writing, and cinematography from any movie released in 2014. The movie takes place in the 1960s and follows a nun about to take her vows, just before she learns about her family's haunting past.
7. The Grand Budapest Hotel (dir. Wes Anderson)
This is probably Wes Anderson's funniest movies in years, with a stand up and memorable performance from Ralph Fiennes. The Grand Budapest Hotel also re-affirms that Wes Anderson is a real auteur filmmaker.
6. Selma (dir. Ava DuVernay)
Selma is probably the most emotionally powerful movie of the year. It centers on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. struggle for Civil Rights in the South in 1964 with with the Voting Rights Act. While the events in the film happened 50 years ago, it seems like the country has progressed enough when it comes to civil rights for all Americans.
5. Inherent Vice (dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)
Paul Thomas Anderson's wacky detective story may not be for everyone, but if you're willing to actively engage in Inherent Vice then it could be a rewarding experience. Joaquin Phoenix plays the perfect mix of stoner and crime solver in Paul Thomas Anderson and Thomas Pynchon playground. Read My Review from NYFF 2014.
4. Under the Skin (dir. Jonathan Glazer)
2014 was a good year in science fiction and a movie like Under The Skin proves it. Jonathan Glazer's return to moviemaking is bold, considered, daring, and smartly sexy. Under The Skin makes its audience question what it means to be human, but through the eyes of a space alien.
3. Snowpiercer (dir. Bong Joon-ho)
Bong Joon-ho's English-speaking debut questions society and wealth in an easily digestible science fiction allegory. Chris Evans proves that he has leading man chops outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Bong Joon-ho's visual language tells a wonderful story of survival and social class, all on a speeding train that travels around the world.
2. Gone Girl (dir. David Fincher)
David Fincher movies are always something to look forward to and Gone Girl is no different. It's one of the few movies that came out this year that kept me guessing from beginning to end. Gone Girl isn't afraid to be genre heavy, while delivering moments of high drama and tension. It's just master filmmaking, plain and simple. Read My Review from NYFF 2014.
1. Boyhood (dir. Richard Linklater)
Richard Linklater's 12-year-long movie project is a sight to see. Just watching Ellar Coltrane go from a 6-year-old boy to an 18-year-old young man is extraordinary. Linklater gives Boyhood a sense realism that could be only captured in a documentary. It's impressive that Boyhood captures so much of childhood and the process of growing up in only 165 minutes.