Best of 2014

I'm back, it's been almost 6 months since I've posted, but mainly that's because I've been writing over at Daily of the Day. It's a great site that kind of has a bit of everything, check it out if you can.

So I've been neglecting this blog and you may be wondering why the hell I'm even bothering writing a best of list from last year. Well, I'm nothing if not super organized and a completist, so it would look wrong if I didn't  do a blog post about last year. And you know, 6 months time has given me a good idea of what was memorable from last year (spoiler alert: not much).

So on with the show! I plan on catching up with the movies I've seen this year for my most anticipated (there's been 15 so far that I've watched!). Stay tuned for that.

10. Birdman (Or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Normally I don't go for pretentious titles for movies, but despite that one flaw, Birdman is phenomenal. Iñárritu weaves a fascinating look at celebrity and Hollywood while also showing us someone's descent into madness. It's beautiful and extraordinary and a film that truly is deserving of all the awards and praise it got.

9. The LEGO Movie
Totally meta and hilarious for pretty much all ages, The LEGO Movie squeezes pop culture into tiny little bricks and makes them come alive. It's downright clever and absurd and the 'twist' at the end is surprisingly heartwarming. From all the cameos to the great characters (one of which - Batman - will get his own LEGO movie), this kid movie is more than just that. It perfectly represents our pop-culture love-fest we're having right now. This is bound to be a classic even though it's living in the moment.

8. John Wick
While Hollywood was busy trying to get us to love Transformers and making 80s TV shows cool again, a small, fairly independent action movie outshone all the action films last year. John Wick is exceptionally cool and gorgeous to boot. The choreography is insane and Keanu Reeves brings just enough badass to the role as a somewhat silent assassin looking to avenge the death of his puppy. It's a simple tale, but the underlying pinnings of the world Wick inhabits are fascinatingly complex. The hotel in which all the world's assassins hide out is just the tip of the iceberg. But the film never loses focus on Wick's revenge and it's all the better for it.

7. Veronica Mars
Long thought dead, Veronica Mars pretty much launched the Kickstarter craze for Hollywood and it still is the best success story out of all of them. Both a tribute to the very loyal fans and a solid mystery/drama in and of itself, Mars gets everything right. Mars comes back to Neptune to find everything has changed but stayed the same. And the complex relationship with Logan takes precedent over the very good murder mystery plot. Seeing old friends and renewing past loves has never been so satisfying.

6. Edge of Tomorrow
This movie will be used in the future as a case study on how to not market a film. From the horrible name change (its original kickass title was "All You Need is Kill") to the poorly edited generic sci-fi trailers, Edge of Tomorrow was better than the studio wanted you to believe. And Tom Cruise is brilliant in this because he's your average jerk who just wants to survive. Emily Blunt continues her dominance as the best female action hero on the planet and despite a silly, albeit downplayed, romantic angle, Edge of Tomorrow is the science fiction film we deserve but no one saw.

5. Gone Girl
I'm a David Finch homer. I can't help myself, the dude just doesn't make bad movies. And his take on Gillian Flynn's bestseller is impressive. The tone and the aesthetic of the movie and god damn, the plotting of the movie is all terrific. Some people complain about Finch's slow-moving narrative structure, but it's one of his strong suits and Gone Girl fits perfectly into his filmmaking. And Rosamund Pike is brilliant portraying Amazing Amy - her stoicism during that soon-to-be-iconic murder scene is by the far the best thing I saw onscreen last year. Captivating and rewarding, Gone Girl is Finch at his finest.

4. Interstellar
Another favorite director of mine, Christopher Nolan, hasn't had a bad movie yet either and Interstellar will be talked about years from now as one of the great science fiction movies of all time. While staying fairly true to science, Nolan manages to find a resonating emotional story within the confines of cold, deep space travel. Matthew McConaughey continues his McConaissance as he travels long distances to save the ones he loves. There's one hiccup in the movie involving Matt Damon (who knew a cameo by him would throw a wrench into the pacing of this movie?) but it's entirely forgivable because everything else makes up for it. The film is beautiful and Cooper's haunting journey to save humanity is undeniably engrossing.

3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
I had this movie much lower, but after reviewing my list, I remembered so much more about Winter Soldier than I did with some of the other movies. Not only is it a great action movie, it's the best Marvel movie yet. Captain America went from being the dullest member on the team to being the most nuanced and complex character with this film. And the Russo brothers who directed this film, highlighted all that nuance and brought a sense of real-world groundedness to these Marvel films that really hasn't been portrayed before. The action is terrifying and thrilling and looking at the big picture, the movie has the most impact that will be felt throughout the next set of Marvel movies (and TV shows!).

2. Guardians of the Galaxy
You'll have to excuse my logic here, because I did mention that Winter Soldier was the best Marvel film yet and here's GotG staring me in the face above that movie. Well, I can't quite explain it, just that GotG I enjoyed better this year, but in the Marvel Universe, Winter Soldier is the most solid of all them. GotG is a wonderful breath of fresh air from big-time Hollywood and hopefully we'll see Hollywood digging deep to find new original tales to tell. PSYCHE! Just kidding, Jurassic World's success this year has all but destroyed that idea. Anyways, Chris Pratt and the rest of the cast is pitch perfect and you can't come up with a better story than what we got from James Gunn's tale of planet-hopping misfits with a heart of gold. Fun and funny but also pretty cool, Guardians of the Galaxy is something you can get up and dance with.

1. Whiplash
Nothing was more intense, more brilliant than Damien Chazelle's adaptation of his own short film, Whiplash. J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller are pretty much the only actors in this movie and they carry it with tremendous ease. The brutal relationship they force upon themselves makes you question our ethics when it comes to competitiveness and art. I didn't have another experience in the theater like I did with Whiplash. It is fully engrossing and drew me in like no other film did. And of course the performances by the two leads are what makes this film work. Whiplash is an intimate look at a niche genre of music but tells a tale so universal and so vital to our understanding of how our society works that it's bigger than the story it tells.

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