Favorite 14 Movies of 2014

2014 was another mediocre year at the movies. The last exceptional year was 2007, and the last one before that was 1972. Perhaps the exceptional years come in 35-year intervals. The exceptions over the last decade have been children’s movies, particularly those from Pixar. They have been consistently superb.

The most unforgettable performance in 2014 was J.K. Simmons (Whiplash). Not far behind was costar Miles Teller. Tom Hardy must be mentioned (Locke). It’s hard to spend two hours acting in a car and still capture attention. He does more than capture. He mesmerizes.

The biopic American Sniper was the most courageous movie of the year, and Bradley Cooper was a pleasant surprise. Clearly Clint Eastwood doesn’t care anymore about what Hollywood or the film critics think about him. He’s earned enough kudos and cash to make any movie he wants to make.

The strangest major movie of the year was Snowpiercer, and the creepiest performance was by Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler)

Blue Ruin and Cold in July were indie keepers.

Philip Seymour Hoffman (A Most Wanted Man) showed why he was arguably the greatest character actor of his generation. He will be greatly missed. He paid the steep, tragic price for his long-lived enslaving addiction.

Finally: Can Christopher Nolan make a bad movie?

On to the list (and by the way, “favorite” doesn’t imply endorsement of all the sins that occur in movies; the Bible records lots of sins, too):

  1. Whiplash
  1. Interstellar
  1. Locke
  1. American Sniper
  1. Blue Ruin
  1. The Equalizer
  1. Snowpiercer
  1. Nightcrawler
  1. Guardians of the Galaxy
  1. Cold in July
  1. A Most Wanted Man
  1. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  1. Two Faces of January

Honorable Mention: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Draft Day, Gone Girl, The Lego Movie, John Wick

8 thoughts on “Favorite 14 Movies of 2014

  1. See, every year I wait for this list. Until now I could NOT know. Andrew with his list is a Most Wanted Man – Intestellar, even.

  2. I’m glad you left “The Imitation Game” and “The Theory of Everything” off the list. Neither delivered nearly as much as “A Beautiful Mind” did, and neither was really about mathematics. “The Imitation Game” made the reason behind British laws prohibiting and punishing homosexual a ridiculous, amorphous concept which destroyed perfectly good lives and which no one particularly can justify–even the cops. And it very subtly discredited Winston Churchill for winning the war and crediting people who acted without his knowledge. “The Theory of Everything” has little if anything to do with mathematics or science and everything to do with giving in to lust. It had more in common with “All That Jazz” in that respect (except I respect Bob Fosse much more than the self-appointed knower of all, Stephen Hawking).

    Nightcrawler was a pleasant surprise and should win best screenplay (except I suspect “The Imitation Game” will win most if not everything it’s nominated for. The Academy cannot resist that Siren song.

  3. Thanks, Andrew. I think Clint Eastwood’s productions have a lot in common with Robert Duvall’s independent ventures: brave, honest, and quite substantial.

  4. Hey, wait a minute, Andrew. Where’s Noah and Exodus: Gods and Kings? 🙂 Seriously though, Fury is on mine. But Interstellar? Nolan is my favorite filmmaker, so I wanted to like it, but I could not. Oh well, I’ve got a few from you up there to check out now. Chef and Birdman too.

  5. Hey, wait a minute, Andrew. Where’s Noah and Exodus: Gods and Kings? 🙂 Seriously though, Fury is on mine. But Interstellar? Nolan is my favorite filmmaker, so I wanted to like it, but I could not. Oh well, I’ve got a few from you up there to check out now. Chef and Birdman too.

    1. Brian II: Agreed! Chef is very good. It was difficult to watch calories after seeing that one. Great stuff all around.

      And though I thought Birdman had moments of surreal silliness, I think Edward Norton’s performance is Oscar worthy. Observations on acting were Bard worthy, too. Some amazing stuff there. I always like Michael Keaton’s work–especially as the Constable in Much Ado About Nothing. So funny.

      Being Alice is a good one, too. The final scene. Wow.

  6. Andrew,

    I’d add two great popcorn movies- good stories, good characters, excellent dialogue, beautifully photographed, and no sin- “The Hundred Foot Journey,” and “Madness in the Moonlight.”

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