My Best/Favorite Movies of the Year 2014

It’s the end of the year boys and girls, you know what that means? It’s list time!!

 

There were some good movies and films that came out this year, and then there were movies and films that I highly enjoyed that made the list too. The list really ranges all over the place, so you’ll see a wide array of titles. But, of course, this is my list and my opinion so your list might be different and obviously it is okay.

 

The list will have the movies in alphabetical order, just to be fair, and because I really don’t want to go through the trouble anymore of picking a number one because it would be really tough.

 

Movies That I Missed That I Wanted to Watch

Wild

The Theory of Everything

Inherent Vice & American Sniper (although it was only a limited release around here)

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Joe

A Fantastic Fear of Everything

Bad Words

Under the Skin

Cold in July

Life Itself

Wish I Was Here

Magic in the Moonlight

Frank

Starred Up

The Skeleton Twins

Hector and the Search for Happiness

Tusk

Kill the Messenger

The Judge

Laggies

Horns

Rosewater

The Babadook

Stretch

Unbroken

 

(To watch a video form of the list, you can go here: )

 

Just Missed The List:

A Most Wanted Man: I love movies that keep me thinking until the end. A Most Wanted Man had elements of that but it was also of the great performance of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, and Willem Dafoe. It was odd to hear all of them put on German accents but that’s just being nitpicky right?

 

Boyhood: Don’t get me wrong, Richard Linklater’s twelve-year film following a boy from childhood to adulthood was a great experiment to see unfold. The movie had some great things in it but at the end of year, against some of the other movies that I’ve seen; I had to barely leave it off the list.

 

Nightcrawler: While Jake Gyllenhaal gave one of the best performance’s I’ve ever seen him do and his character is so complex in a compelling and frightening way, Nightcrawler was a mixed bag and while there are gaps of great scenes and what seems like unnecessary filler.

 

The Drop: While the film was filled with strong performances all around (Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Matthis Schoenaerts, and the late James Gandolfini in his last finished role), the film compared to the others is just a tad bit under the others.

 

The Rover: David Michod’s not really apocalyptic story has Guy Pearce playing a loner gets his car stolen and is eventually left with one of the thieves’ brother (Robert Pattinson) and goes after them. That’s about it for the movie. After that there really isn’t a plot and you’ll mostly catch things on second watch, but performances by Pearce and surprisingly Pattinson makes the movie watchable the first time around.

 

Whiplash: Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons gave great performances in the drama where a young man tries to become a great jazz drummer and meets his match with a well known instructor that pushes him to his limits. Again, the performances make the film worthwhile and the last performance of the movie is what the film really builds up to, but Whiplash does have some moments and decisions that made me question it.

 

Honorable Mentions

300: Rise of an Empire

Birdman

Edge of Tomorrow

Foxcatcher

Her

John Wick

Lone Survivor

The Book of Life

The Guest

The Purge: Anarchy

This Is Where I Leave You

X-Men: Days of Future Past

 

Best/Favorite Movies of the Year

Begin Again

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I hardly knew anything, if at all, about Begin Again before I saw the trailer and final film. I was completely surprised and floored by how good the film was and the original soundtrack they made for it was fantastic.

 

Big Hero 6

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Disney’s first Marvel animated property came in the form of a group that no one really knew about and they turned it into their own thing. Disney followed their formula and created a movie that tons of fun and full of heart. It also doesn’t hurt that they created a loveable character of Baymax.

 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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I think we all would be lying to ourselves if we thought Captain America: The Winter Soldier was going to be that great. Marvel and the Russo Brothers turned Captain America into a spy thriller with just some comic book elements and made – and dare I say this – the best Marvel film to date.

 

Chef

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2014 has been slightly dubbed the year of comedian actors trying to the public take them seriously. Chris Rock did it with Top Five but the best example for me would be Jon Favreau’s Chef. Favreau wrote, directed, and starred in this uplifting dramedy about a chef and father trying to find his passion again and trying to reconnect with his son. Favreau showed that he handle every aspect of filmmaking and you can tell that he has also found his passion for filmmaking doing an independent film.

 

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

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There is something to be said that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes turned out better than Rise of the Planet of the Apes since Rise was a very well done film that probably shouldn’t have been as good as it was. Dawn continued and elevated what made Rise good and expanded on them. Andy Serkis also continues to prove that he is the master of motion capture and can probably out act a real actor, but now has some competition with Toby Kebbell who played Koba and gave Serkis a run for his money. Finally, that siege scene was a work of art and fantastic to watch.

 

Godzilla

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Godzilla didn’t get a lot love, and I’ll even admit there were parts that made it uneven but the whole movie was an adventure and seeing “The King of the Monsters” back on screen was a sight to see.

 

Gone Girl

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Talk about a total mind-twisting film. Gone Girl had me guessing throughout the whole thing and if you knew what was going on, 1) I’d say you read the book or 2) you’re covering it up. Rosamund Pike was fantastic in this and I’m glad more people got to see how good of an actress she is.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy

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Much to everyone’s surprise, Marvel pulled this off. Dubbed “Marvel’s Biggest Risk to Date” Guardians of the Galaxy had it all: humor, action, heart, and a great soundtrack. The whole cast held their own and this showed us that Chris Pratt and Dave Bautista are going to be bonafide movie stars.

 

Interstellar

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I like Christopher Nolan and there are some people that don’t like for whatever reasons they have. Which is fine since that’s the way the world works, but I do know some people out there don’t like him for the hell of it. Anyway, Interstellar probably isn’t the best Nolan film but it’s still a good one and visually it’s Nolan’s best. Even if you didn’t like the premise you have to at least appreciate the acting from Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, David Gyasi and the youngest and probably best actor of the film Mackenzie Foy.

 

Locke

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If you wanted to stare at Tom Hardy for eighty-five minutes as he drives a car, then Locke was the movie for you. Seriously, the whole movie takes places in a car on one night with Hardy talking to various characters over his phone. Hardy is compelling and gives one of his best performances of his career and one of the best his year. I know it doesn’t so like much but believe me, check this out when you get the chance.

 

Snowpiercer

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Most post-apocalyptic movies (good ones anyway) are usually bleak, dark and somewhat morbid. Joon-ho Bong first American film was all of those and with a great cast behind him of Chris Evans, Kang-ho Song, Tilda Swinton, Ah-sung Ko, and Jamie Bell, the film was great from start to finish.

 

The Grand Budapest Hotel

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Wes Anderson is one of those directors not everyone gets, and I’ll admit I was one of them early on. However, I have quickly become a fan of his and his films, and The Grand Budapest Hotel is one of those films. I don’t think I laughed as hard as I did in theaters this year when watching this. It’s a great quirky film with laughs, mystery and romance.

 

The Imitation Game

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Based on the real life and accomplishment of English mathematician Alan Turing who cracked the Enigma code during WWII, The Imitation Game is a great drama with great performances by Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, and Rory Kinnear. But all of them are lead by Benedict Cumberbatch, who gives one of the best performances of the year and completely embodies the character so well that you really want to see him succeed and feel for him at the end.

 

The LEGO Movie

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Another movie that probably shouldn’t have worked, The LEGO Movie directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller managed to pull off a great movie based a huge product that literally has no story to it. The LEGO Movie has so many layers to it that every time I watch it I find something new to love. Everything is Awesome!

 

The Raid 2

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I didn’t think it would be possible for Gareth Evans to top what he did in the first The Raid, but wow, was I wrong. The Raid 2 might be one of the best action films of the year, if not the best. I know a lot of people were irked by how slow things moved, but looking at how all the things turned out, all that build up made the ending so satisfying

 

So what is on your list? What do you think of my list?

 

Happy New Year!

and here’s to another great year of movies

‘The Purge: Anarchy’ Review

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Dir: James DeMonaco

Cast: Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez, Zoe Soul, Jack Conley, and Michael K. Williams

Synopsis: Five strangers find themselves trying to survive the night during the most dangerous night of the year, The Purge.

 

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

 

When The Purge came out last year many people, myself included, thought the movie had a great premise but lacked the real execution that the movie needed. The Purge: Anarchy delivers the same premise but this time puts us outside a confined space and on the streets of Los Angeles. Does the setting change give us a better movie? Does it still make an underlying political commentary? More importantly, is it any good? Short answer, yes.

 

Although the movie is technically a sequel, it does have the feeling of being a different movie, expect with the return of one Edwin Hodge’s character in a very small role. Still set in the world where crime is legal for 12 hours we follow a new group and are placed outside in the gritty streets of Los Angeles. We get are introductions early on of all our characters. We have the mother daughter duo of waitress Eva (Ejogo) and Cali (Soul), married couple of the edge of divorce Shane (Gilford) and Liz (Sanchez) and our real main character Leo (Grillo).

 

Eva, Cali, Shane, and Liz are innocent civilians who get stuck on the street during The Purge, and Leo, although he’s on a mission of revenge, reluctantly decides to help the group.  He agrees to take them to a safe location, but first they must survive the violent street gangs (including the ones that are featured heavily in the ads), random psychopaths, and heavily armed troops wandering outside and chasing them.
 

It can’t be said enough, the best part about the sequel and probably what makes it better is DeMonaco takes the action outside this time around. Although there is nothing wrong in a home invasion or close quarters movie, Anarchy has the advantage of going to multiple places making the tension and thriller aspects of the movie stronger. You genuinely feel afraid for these characters because danger can come out of everywhere. The other great thing, even though it is cliché is what DeMonaco does with silence in the movie. There are a few pop-up moments but they don’t feel cheesy or dumb, they are actually done in a manner that’s okay.

 

Again, The Purge had some commentary on social issues that are relevant and DeMonaco still retains the commentary but this time he’s content to play it as loud as the action sequences rather than try to skillfully weave it into the story. Anarchy introduces Carmelo (K. Williams), a militant rebel leader that wants an ending to the Purge by breaking one of its unwritten rules: Don’t prevent others from purging.  He’s also one of the voices questioning the system rather than accepting the harsh reality.  He tries to make people rise up. But of course that’s the cruel twist because there’s no way to stop the violence until the leaders are brought down through violence. By the way, in case you don’t know who rules and is most protected during the Purge, it’s the rich.
 

The cast is pretty great here. Ejogo and Soul serve as the audience surrogates with their characters have a humanizing effect on Leo. They deliver believable performances as a mother and daughter thrown into this dangerous situation. The film’s other pair of Gilford and Sanchez are less effective (even though they are married in real life), serving more as a young couple in danger, although they do have one standout moment. Even Michael K. Williams character, who is really more of a cameo, has ups and downs and Williams is usually reliable.

 

But the movie belongs to Frank Grillo. I don’t think I’ve talked much about Grillo in reviews and it’s a damn shame. Grillo is one of my favorite actors and one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood, so it is nice to see him getting more attention in movies like Warrior, The Grey, and most recently Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Anyway, Grillo looks the part and grounds the movie in a gritty reality. He could have been a one-note vigilante, but Grillo finds this interesting and nice balance of being an anti-hero. He could be another older actor ready to take over the action genre like Liam Nesson in Taken. But the other thing that got to me, and this will be very nerdy, is that Grillo’s presence in the movie really made me think he’d be a great Punisher. He’s got the charisma, the look and the talent.

 

All in all The Purge: Anarchy does a lot of things better than the first. It’s got some great action sequences and a pretty impressive cast. Blumhouse Pictures is known for doing small budgeted movies and I’m amazed at how they got away with in Anarchy. Instead of a heavy handed political commentary or complex moral questions – even though there are some – it chooses to go the route of bloodlust.

The Purge: Anarchy

4 out of 5