2014 has proven to be an exciting and surprising time at the movies! 2013 produced some of my favorite movies of the last couple of years including The Great Gatsby, Spring Breakers and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Films that I have watched more than I would like to admit! But this year gave us some of the best performances and movies that I am sure we will all be watching for years to come. With six perfect 5-star ratings, several 4.5-stars and 4-star ratings, this year took me by surprise.
Of course there are those films that are absolutely gut-wrenching terrible, but luckily not too many. After seeing 180 movies (the full list can be found on my Pinterest) and compiling nearly 70 written reviews, it’s time again for my Year In Review! These films and performances left the greatest impression on me and I thought about them long after I left the theatre.
Stay tuned for my list of most anticipated films of 2015 and I’ll see you at the theatre next year!
The Best Performances of 2014
Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
Jake Gyllenhaal – Enemy
Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler
Matthew McConaughey – Interstellar
Bradley Cooper – American Sniper
Jack O’Connell – Unbroken
David Oyelowo – Selma
Ben Affleck – Gone Girl
Michael Keaton – Birdman
Miles Teller – Whiplash
Andrew Garfield – The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Chadwick Boseman – Get On Up
Channing Tatum – Foxcatcher
Steve Carrel – Foxcatcher
Oscar Isaac – A Most Violent Year
Ansel Elgort – The Fault in Our Stars
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
Jeremy Renner – Kill the Messenger
Chris Pratt – Guardians of the Galaxy
Dane DeHann – Life After Beth
Michael Pitt – I Origins
Ellar Coltrane – Boyhood
Bill Hader – The Skeleton Twins
Aaron Paul – Need For Speed
Chris Pratt – The LEGO Movie
Ralph Fiennes – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Chris Evans – Snowpiercer
Brenton Thwaites – The Giver
Dylan O’Brien – The Maze Runner
Jonah Hill – 22 Jump Street
Channing Tatum – 22 Jump Street
Keanu Reeves – John Wick
Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
Julianne Moore – Still Alice
Scarlett Johansson – Under the Skin
Reese Witherspoon – Wild
Michelle Monaghan – Fort Bliss
Jennifer Aniston – Cake
Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
Amy Adams – Big Eyes
Shailene Woodley – The Fault in Our Stars
Emily Blunt – Into the Woods
Jennifer Lawrence – Mockingjay Part 1
Angelina Jolie – Maleficent
Emma Roberts – Palo Alto
Kristen Wiig – The Skeleton Twins
Kristen Wiig – Hateship Loveship
Marion Cotillard – Two Days, One Night
Alex Essoe – Starry Eyes
Essie Davis – The Babadook
Aubrey Plaza – Life After Beth
Charlotte Gainsbourg – Nymphomaniac
Kristen Bell – Veronica Mars
Keira Knightley – Begin Again
Shailene Woodley – Divergent
Zoe Kazan – The Pretty One
Shailene Woodley – White Bird in a Blizzard
Chloe Grace Moretz – If I Stay
Jennifer Connelly – Noah
Annabelle Wallis – Annabelle
Best Supporting Actor
J.K. Simmons – Whiplash
Michael Fassbender – Frank
Michael Parks – Tusk
Bryan Cranston – Godzilla
Andy Serkis – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Miyavi – Unbroken
Michael Fassbender – X-Men: Days of Future Past
Noah Wiseman – The Babadook
Christoph Waltz – Big Eyes
Chris Pine – Into the Woods
Dane Dehaan – The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Nicholas Hoult – Young Ones
Bradley Cooper – Guardians of the Galaxy
Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
John Goodman – The Gambler
Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher
Tyler Perry – Gone Girl
Jeff Bridges – The Giver
Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
Jessica Chastain – A Most Violent Year
Jessica Chastain – Interstellar
Tilda Swinton – Snowpiercer
Emily Blunt – Edge of Tomorrow
Carrie Coon – Gone Girl
Emma Stone – Birdman
Anne Hathaway – Interstellar
Sarah Gadon – Enemy
Rene Russo – Nightcrawler
Meryl Streep – Into the Woods
Anna Kendrick – Into the Woods
Laura Dern – Wild
Maggie Gyllenhaal – Frank
Kristen Stewart – Still Alice
Carmen Ejogo – Selma
Jennifer Garner – Men, Women & Children
Eva Green – Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Emma Stone – The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Emma Watson – Noah
Megan Fox – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Zoe Saldana – Guardians of the Galaxy
Judy Greer – Men, Women & Children
Elle Fanning – Maleficent
Jennifer Lawrence – X-Men: Days of Future Past
Natalie Dormer – Mockingjay Part 1
Julianne Moore – Mockingjay Part 1
Rosario Dawson – Top Five
Kim Dickens – Gone Girl
Evangeline Lilly – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Anna Kendrick – Cake
The Most Overrated Film of 2014
Inherent Vice – What in the heck was this mess? The only reason Inherent Vice is being considered “awards-worthy” is for its director Paul Thomas Anderson, who has made incredible movies (There Will Be Blood, The Master) in the past and for its stellar cast featuring Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Benicio Del Toro, Jena Malone and Martin Short. The problem is the movie is so completely random and out of place that it ends up being about absolutely nothing. I think even Joaquin Phoenix is confused half of the time and all of the supporting actors are in the film for 10 minutes or less. Even if Thomas Pynchon’s novel is exactly like the movie, Paul Thomas Anderson’s adapted screenplay is not fit for a two and a half hour long film.
The Most Underrated Film of 2014
Unbroken – Split right down the middle at 48% on Rotten Tomatoes, Unbroken is a film that critics either really liked or hated; thought was too cheesy and over-the-top; or thought that it didn’t resonate like it should given the heavy subject matter. I could not stop thinking about Angelina Jolie’s movie when I left the theatre. Based on the book by Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken tells the story of Olympian Louie Zamperini (played beautifully by Jack O’Connell) and his near fatal plane crash over the Pacific Ocean during World War II. After spending 47 days in a raft, Zamperini is caught by the Japanese navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp where he is was beaten and tortured for two years. A patriotic film with great acting by Jack O’Connell, Domhnall Gleeson, Garrett Hedlund, Finn Wittrock and Miyavi and beautifully photographed by Roger Deakins, Unbroken is not only the most underrated film of the year but one of the year’s best. Angelina Jolie has struck Hollywood as a promising director and its exciting to see what story she will tackle next.
The Top 10 Films of 2014
Honorable Mentions: American Sniper, Big Eyes, Birdman, Boyhood, Divergent, The Fault in Our Stars, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Giver, Life Itself, Maleficent, Nightcrawler, Palo Alto, Selma, Veronica Mars, X-Men: Days of Future Past
10. Unbroken – Angelina Jolie’s film about a man captured and tortured in a Japanese prison is one of the best war dramas of the last couple of years and certainly the best war drama of the year. Jack O’Connell gives the breakthrough performance of the year in this true story about Louie Zamperini and Japanese pop star Miyavi is exceptional as Mutsushiro Watanabe, the war criminal responsible for Zamperini’s torturing. With the screenplay adapted by the Coen Brothers and the film beautifully shot by cinematographer Roger Deakins, Unbroken is a film where the performances match the gripping storytelling. A patriotic film that made me proud to be an American. My full review will be posted Christmas Day.
9. The Theory of Everything – Based on the novel “Traveling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen” by Jane Wilde, The Theory of Everything is part biopic and part love story. Not only does Eddie Redmayne give one of the best performances of the year as Stephen Hawking, but Felicity Jones is equally wonderful as his dedicated and loving wife Jane Wilde. Redmayne and Jones have a beautiful chemistry as husband and wife that make the film shine.
8. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – Perhaps the most divisive film on this list, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is led by one of the best ensembles of the year. Andrew Garfield is perfect as our web-slinging superhero and Emma Stone is just lovely as Gwen Stacy. The film perfectly balances the action components and Peter Parker and Gwen’s love story. Garfield & Stone’s impeccable chemistry make these films stand-out from Sam Raimi’s trilogy, but director Marc Webb is excellent when it comes to blending the action scenes with the love story and Peter’s personal life when he isn’t wearing the suit. Plus, Andrew Garfield in the Spider-Man suit is not a bad sight either.
7. Guardians of the Galaxy – Director James Gunn’s film about a bunch of misfit superheroes is the most surprising film of the year. Considering not many people knew about the comic book or even who Chris Pratt was, GOTG was a major summer hit for both critics and moviegoers. The film compiles one of the best ensembles of the year with Chris Pratt as Star Lord, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax and wonderful voice performances by Vin Diesel as lovable tree Groot and Bradley Cooper as Rocket. Pretty much every scene with Chris Pratt is exceptional, especially the ones where he is dancing.
6. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 – I saw this film three times in theatres, more than any other film this year, and it completely fulfilled my fangirl obsession for The Hunger Games series. It probably would have been best if Lionsgate decided to make Mockingjay into one entire film, but I guess the studio figures no one wants to sit through a four hour long movie (except me). Mockingjay Part 1 sets up the series finale and Jennifer Lawrence continues to amaze as Katniss Everdeen. Julianne Moore is also an excellent addition to the cast as District 13’s President Coin. When The Hunger Games films are finally completed next year, it will be one of the best book to film adaptation ever made alongside the Harry Potter franchise.
5. Whiplash – “There are no two words more harmful in the English language than ‘Good job.’” Shocking, intense, terrifying and brilliant. J.K. Simmons will be winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in February. The best film to come out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival and written and directed by Damien Chazelle, Whiplash tells the story of a young, promising drummer played by Miles Teller who is tested by his jazz band instructor played memorably by J.K. Simmons. Whiplash has everything a movie should have and sucks you in from the moment it begins, tossing and turning you throughout with unexpected twists. It’s a whirlwind of a ride.
4. Interstellar – Technically astonishing, beautifully acted and gorgeously scored by Hans Zimmer, Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar is the most original film of the year. What’s brilliant about Interstellar is that it is a science-fiction story set against a large backdrop, but what it really boils down to is a love story between a father and a daughter. Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain deliver some of the best performances of the year and I actually prefer McConaughey in this film to last year’s Dallas Buyer Club. The scene where McConaughey is watching the videos of his children while he is on the spaceship is one of the best scenes in film all year.
3. Enemy – With trailers being major entertainment news stories now, its nearly impossible for a film critic to go into a movie knowing nothing, but that is exactly what I did with Enemy. Jake Gyllenhaal is exceptional in this year’s Nightcrawler, but he is even better here in Denis Villeneuve’s film about one of the most mysterious and thrilling doppelganger stories that’s ever been told on film. Gyllenhaal’s performance is destined to be underrated and the response to Enemy from moviegoers has been divided, but some of the best films of the year are the one’s that can have multiple meanings and not a cookie-cutter ending. The final shot of Enemy has been discussed on several entertainment sites throughout the year and remains one of the most hauntings shots I have ever seen.
2. Under the Skin – Scarlett Johansson’s best role since 2003’s Lost In Translation and one of the best performances by an actor all year. It’s impossible to fit Under the Skin into one genre, it’s drama, science fiction and horror all mixed in to one and driven by an enchanting score by Mica Levi. Set in beautiful Scotland, Jonathan Glazer’s film about a woman who seduces men in the middle of the night eventually leads to a self discovery and understanding of what its like to be a human. In one of the most picturesque and perfectly shot films of the year, cinematographer Daniel Landin certainly makes the most out of the Scottish backdrop and in the scenes where Johansson is pursuing her victims. Johansson delivers one of the most mesmerizing performances of the year in a film that is bound to be discussed and studied for years to come.
1. Gone Girl – “I will practice believing my husband loves me, but I could be wrong.” In a screenplay adapted by the best-selling author herself, I knew David Fincher’s Gone Girl would take my number one spot for the year soon after I walked out of the theatre. It’s not only the best-adapted screenplay of the year, but one of the best novel-to-film adaptations ever. Gone Girl is everything fans of the crime novel want and more. Gillian Flynn kept the story exactly the same but added a little more depth to the ending in the film than what we got in her book and it made the film all the better for it. Led by a magnificent Ben Affleck, who is a perfect Nick Dunne and in a breakthrough performance by the outstanding Rosamund Pike as his wife Amy, its clear these two actors love the story and understand these characters inside and out. Fincher’s dark coloring tones paired with Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor’s hypnotic score goes perfectly with the mysterious story. The supporting performances by Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Carrie Coon and Kim Dickens are all spot on, the technical elements of Gone Girl are note-worthy and perfect, but what really makes Gone Girl special is the story. Flynn wrote a surprising and terrifying story of a marriage gone wrong and Fincher was able to bring it to life. Rosamund Pike’s performance as the “Gone Girl” herself is unflinching and extraordinary.
The Top 10 Worst Films of 2014
10. Dumb & Dumber To – I’ll admit that I laughed a lot during this film, but I did not feel good about it. When Dumb & Dumber was released 20 years ago, it became an instant classic and Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels make one of the greatest comedic pairs of our time. But the comedy should not have been touched or marred with a less than satisfying sequels.
9. The Monuments Men – This film could have been so so great because the story is so so great and George Clooney has made incredible films (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and The Ides of March) but this film that boasts an amazing cast was just a let down. And also, just plain boring.
8. Non-Stop – Another film with a promising cast (Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Scoot McNairy, Lupita N’yongo) that completely falls apart in its second act. I’d love to see Scott McNairy in another great leading role like 2010’s Monsters than these small supporting roles.
7. Transformers: Age of Extinction – Now I adore Mark Wahlberg and Michael Bay can make some really fun movies, I loved the first Transformers, but this fourth film in this franchise was over-long, tedious and unnecessary. We all know they are just going to keep being made because they do so well at the box office, but the franchise should have stopped after the third film.
6. Walk of Shame – In Elizabeth Banks’ first starring movie role, she deserved so much better. Much much better than this film about a woman running around town hung-over while being terrorized.
5. This Is Where I Leave You – This movie may not be so much as one of the worst films of the year, but definitely the most disappointing with a super cheesy goofball ending. Now I didn’t read Jonathan Tropper’s novel, but from what I’ve heard a lot of it was the same. Even Jason Bateman’s adorableness could not hold up this film and the rest of the talented cast was wasted in this mess.
4. Hercules – Anyone would think The Rock would be the perfect candidate as the half-man half-god Hercules. And really, I don’t think Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a bad actor, he’s super engaging on screen and really fun to watch, but this movie not so much. What the heck was with the army of green guys anyway? And that Lion headdress? Ugh, disgusting. I never thought a movie about Hercules could be that terrible….
3. The Legend of Hercules – Oh wait, then I saw this one. Two absolutely horrible Hercules films in one year, what were the studios thinking?
2. Sabotage – I love Arnold Schwarzenegger, Joe Mangianello and Josh Holloway, but this film was just awful and overly violent. The screenplay is so mean-spirited and strange and for a film where brotherhood and teamwork are supposed to be everything, yet when one member of the team is killed they couldn’t care less. Not one character is likable or redeemable, not even Arnold.
1. Winter’s Tale – I never knew I could despise a film with Colin Farrell and Russell Crowe so much. This was definitely the most bored I was in a theatre this year and this horrible “romantic” film was the most unromantic film of the year and features the most random Will Smith role in his entire filmography. It’s such a shame that A-list talent was wasted in this despicable screenplay that belittles women and the gorgeous Colin Farrell was hidden behind a bad haircut.
- Release Date: 2014