Wow! It’s hard to believe it is time to do this again. The 2014 movie year has come and gone and now it’s time to look back on the year that was. To be more specific it’s time to look at the best films of the year. Personally I love doing these lists and comparing them to those of critics and fellow bloggers. It’s a chance to reflect back on 2014 and champion the movies that meant the most to me. Now doing a list like this is tough and it means leaving out some movies that deserve attention. To remedy that I’ll start by simply listing my #11-20 picks.
(Click on the movie title to read my full review of it)
#20 – “Edge of Tomorrow“
#19 – “Nightcrawler“
#18 – “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies“
#17 – “Snowpiercer“
#16 – “The Railway Man”
#15 – “Godzilla“
#14 – “Magic in the Moonlight“
#13 – “The Grand Budapest Hotel“
#12 – “The Immigrant“
#11 – “The Lego Movie“
Now let me share my Top 10 movies of 2014:
#10 – “The Monuments Men“ – I’m sure I will be the only person in the world with “The Monuments Men” on their Top 10 list. So be it. I had such a good time with this film and it held up nicely after a second viewing. Interestingly enough, I don’t recall hearing a single person talk about what I love most about the film – its sense of nostalgia. In several ways this film is a throwback to the buddy war movies of the 1960s and early 70s right through the closing credits. I loved that. It’s also based on a remarkable true story and it features a fabulous ensemble cast. Could it have utilized these things better? I’m sure it could, but I never got hung up on these things. Instead I sat back and watched this transporting bit of nostalgia and was thoroughly entertained from the start.
#9 – “Big Eyes“ – It has been enjoyed yet dismissed by many critics, but “Big Eyes” is a film that has really stuck with me. It’s a surprising and refreshing step outside of the box for Tim Burton, a director known for his dark, macabre style. The film is based on the true story of the popular artist Margaret Keane and her husband Walter yet it rarely feels like a biographical piece. It’s such a strange story and Burton tells it by sitting back and allowing his two top level performers to fully form these characters. Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams are tremendous. They give two very different performances, but each are perfectly in tune with who these characters are. It’s such a good movie filled with heart, heartbreak, self-discovery, courage, and of course art.
#8 – “The Lunchbox“ – One of my favorite finds of 2014 was the Indian romantic drama “The Lunchbox”. The movie was made in 2012, released in India in 2013, and finally hit American theaters in 2014. The romance genre has been plagued by dopey, schmaltzy junk without an ounce of smarts or heart. “The Lunchbox” has a lot of both and all of it from first time feature film director Ritesh Batra. There are several things I love about the film. Batra gives us real people, not caricatures. He also steps back and gives his actors room to work. And I do love the performances from his two leads Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur. Both are incredibly grounded and genuine. I also loved the deliberate pacing, the subtle humor, and the firm focus of the story. This is a real treat of 2014.
#7 – “Ida“ – One of the most penetrating films of 2014 came in a small 80 minute package from director Pawel Pawlikowski. “Ida” has the strength of being both painfully grim and stunningly beautiful. It is a story of self-discovery for a young lady who knows practically nothing about her past. It’s shot in glorious black and white and Pawlikowski tells us so much through his camera. He captures so much emotion from his characters and there are also a number of shots that are simply stunning to look at. Young actress Agata Trzebuchowska is wonderful and perfect for the lead role and she conveys so much through her expressive eyes. Agata Kulesza deserves Oscar consideration for her supporting work. “Ida” was one of 2014’s big surprises. It’s also one of year’s best films.
#6 – “Blue Ruin“ – I love it when a smaller unknown movie comes out of the blue and blows me away. Last year it was “Upstream Color”. This year it is “Blue Ruin”. Writer and director Jeremy Saulnier took a small cast and a minimal budget and crafted one of the most unpredictable and edge-of-your-seat thrillers of the year. It’s a fairly simple story about an act of revenge and the violent domino effect that follows. Saulnier tells as much of his story through his camera as he does through dialogue and you never know where things are heading. It’s smart and strikingly unconventional. The film is also helped by a brilliant and understated performance from Macon Blair. There were several films in 2014 that deserved a bigger audience, none more than the wonderful “Blue Ruin”.
#5 – “Only Lovers Left Alive“ – At the start of the year if you would have told me that a vampire movie would make my Top 10 list I would have called you insane. Well, that is exactly what happened thanks to independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch. But as I stated in my review, simplifying this as just a ‘vampire movie’ would be doing it a tremendous disservice. There is so much more to “Only Lovers Left Alive”. Jarmusch uses his vampires to reflect on a number of society’s ills from humanity’s destruction of ourselves and our world to the demise of art and creativity. But this is also a mood piece centered around two fascinating characters played by the great Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton. I loved spending time with these two. It’s cool, romantic, poetic, and hypnotic.
#4 – “The Rover“ – David Michôd earned a lot of attention in 2010 with his dark crime drama “Animal Kingdom”. In 2014 he brought us a very different but equally striking film “The Rover”. This dystopian survival drama takes place in the rugged Australian outback after a world economic collapse. But Michôd doesn’t spend time talking about how things came to be the way they are. Instead he places us with two different but equally fascinating characters, Eric (Guy Pearce) and Reynolds (Robert Pattinson). Pearce is mesmerizing, violent, and tortured. Pattinson is simple, dependent, and sympathetic. The visual style of storytelling, the gritting cinematography, and two fabulous lead performances drive this bleak but thoroughly compelling piece of cinema.
#3 – “Captain America: The Winter Soldier“ – 2014 proved to be a very good year for the big tent pole blockbuster. Several big budget movies delivered spectacle and quality to the masses. For me the very best of the lot was “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”. Through the 2014 movie year I heard several people talk about superhero fatigue. That’s not a problem for me as long as we get films of this quality. This film gets back to the basics of action movies. Yes it has its signature special effects driven finale, but so much of the film relies on traditional stunt work and hand-to-hand combat. There is also the cool spy element to the story and one of my favorite villains of the year. Add all of these things together and you have a blockbuster that really works.
#2 – “Boyhood“ – Richard Linklater’s crazy idea of filming a movie over a 12 year period using the exact same cast was an ambitious undertaking. It could have been a disaster, but it turned out to be a film that has ended up on many ‘Best of 2014’ lists. But there is a good reason for that. “Boyhood” is a coming-of-age story unlike any I have ever seen. It’s a film not focused on the big moments in life but the small ones that over time define who we are. The film is all about the characters particularly a boy named Mason. We literally grow up with him (and actor Ellar Coltrane) on screen. We also grow with his family and in a sense we feel like family. Most importantly I left feeling the importance of being a dad – of being there for my kids because as Linklater shows us, time goes by fast and we never get those moments back.
#1 – “Interstellar“ – I don’t know if any other movie from 2014 was talked about as much as Christopher Nolan’s epic space opera “Interstellar”. There was more discussion and debate over everything from the film’s meaning to the film’s quality. For me “Interstellar” transcended simple cinematic entertainment. It was an experience. It left me deeply touched and I was thinking about it for days. It’s certainly a movie thick with plot and ideas, but these things never tripped me up or hampered my experience. Instead I was caught up in the story, the deeper themes, and the pure emotional pull of a father’s love for his children. I loved “Interstellar”. I loved its ambition, its cast, its visuals, its heart, and its willingness to follow its own rules. In a year filled with good movies, “Interstellar” has been the film that most reminds me of why I love movies.
I like that your list is so diverse! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed ‘The Lunchbox.’ I missed the chance to see it while it was playing in my city, but I’ll definitely have to make sure to rent it this year.
Thanks so much Julia. It was a very diverse year anf my list is all over the place! 🙂
I found several interesting trends. One of the funniest is the number of maligned ot dismissed movies that I actually liked. Have you seen The Monuments Men? I’m fairly certain that I’m the only one championing that movie. 🙂
No I haven’t, but I wouldn’t be opposed to renting it some day. It certainly has a great cast!
Give it a shot. I think it’s so much better than the negative reviews would lead you to believe.
Happy to see Blue ruin and Only Lovers Left Alive on this list. Watched them both recently and was impressed. Main thing I would add is Whiplash.
Whiplash has grabbed a lot of attention for sure. I loved “Blue Ruin”. Many more people need to see it. As for “Lovers”, do you get the sense that it’s a movie people have forgotten. As I recall it came out earlier in the year and I haven’t heard much chatter about it lately. That’s a real shame because it is such a good movie.
Very interesting list, Keith! Many of your twenty would have made mine. I’m glad to see you included The Rover. This intense film is one I need to rent. I would have added Calgary to the pile and moved a few from your back twenty to the front, but it matters not, for it’s your list 😉
Thanks a ton Cindy. I love talking about these lists. It’s so much fun. I swear this was a difficult task. The films between #8 through #13 could change on any given week.
The Rover? Love it, love it, love it.
I am curious, which of my later picks would be higher on yours?
I would have moved Anderson’s Grand Budapest forward into the top three. I would have pushed back Winter Soldier off the list. Moved forward Nightcrawler and have added Babadook and keep Lovers Never Die right where you have it 😉
Let me share a very interesting story with Grand Budapest. When I first saw it in the theater I found it to be very disappointing and gave it only three stars. But after recently revisiting it everything clicked. I saw the Wes Anderson I really love. Since then it is only impressed me more. If I were to look back on this list next year it very well could be in my top 10.
I remember you giving it 3 stars! I was shocked since I remember many times commenting on the art of Wes and you appreciating his craft. For me, it was the dialogue. Face paced, lovely interchanges, words that I find when I read a book from that era. I thought it utterly magical and my esteem went through the roof. It’s a beautiful film and his biggest project. I could watch it over and over and discover something new. Also, I’m not depressed after watching it. I love the comedy in it, too.
And then there is Ralph Fiennes!!! 🙂
An interesting list, you have six on your list I’ve not seen, and a couple of obscure ones. I really like Monuments Men but it did not make my list. I saw Interstellar as my last film of the year and it ended up near the top. I read your comments after seeing it, very much in line with my views. Some more things to look at , Only Lovers and Boyhood are both things I hope to see.
Thank you so much for agreeing that The Monuments Men is a good movie. For me it hearkens back to some really good older movies.
Interstellar was an amazing experience for me. I’m so anxious to see it again.
Have you posted a list yet. If so somehow I missed it. Really interested in what would form your full list.
Your wish is my command.
Thanks for sharing that. I have no idea how I missed it. Heading there now.
My Monuments Men Post mentions your site and review. Since we are sharing, here is that one too.
It’s so nice not to be alone. 🙂
Very diverse list, and very unlike anything I’ll see on the rest of the web. I commend you for always sticking to your preference and not allowing yourself to be swayed by other’s opinions.
Andrew I really do appreciate that. I have to admit my list is all over the place, isn’t it? This has been a very unusual movie year. More than ever before I have really liked several movies that weren’t well received. The Monuments Men is the most obvious example.
Anyway thanks again. I do love putting together and discussing these lists.
A fine and diverse list, Keith. I’ve yet to see “Monuments Men”, but have noted it’s been on a few “Worst of…” lists I’ve read. With your advocation, I’m definitely going to fix that. Great to see “Blue Ruin” on your list. Really enjoyed this little gem. I’ve “Only Lovers Left Alive” in my stack right now, ready to go. Thanks, my friend.
Hey thanks so much my friend. I was surprised at how diverse it turned out to be, but then again it has been a very interesting and diverse movie year. This turned out to be a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. There are several movies I hated to leave off and quite honestly my #8 through #13 could swap positions on any given week.
As for “The Monuments Men”, it will definitely be on more “Worst of” than “Best of” lists. But I really stand by it. It is such a nostalgic throwback and I had a lot of fun with it. It’s not trying to be overly dramatic or epic in any way.
“Blue Ruin”cemented its place on this list the moment the end credits started to roll. It’s so good, isn’t it?
Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on “Lovers”. It’s smart, cool, and hypnotic. It’s a great movie.
Great stuff, man. Interstellar was fantastic. Such a cool experience.
Thanks man. I was really surprised that it turned out to be a divisive film. I was completely hooked from the opening moments all the way till the end. Great to hear from someone else who really liked it as well.
For sure! I didn’t quite get all the hate either. It’s the kind of film I love to see being made out of Hollywood. Big, bold and different.
No arguments here. I think that’s one of the things I love so much about Nolan. He definitely works and operates by his own creative standard.
“I’m sure I will be the only person in the world with “The Monuments Men” on their Top 10 list. So be it. I had such a good time with this film and it held up nicely after a second viewing.” — Good for you man, it’s great to see bloggers staunchly defending their positions with certain films. Always love a good discussion with people who are fair and balanced.
This is a solid, well-rounded list! Though personally I woulda bumped Nightcrawler up to the Top Ten simply b/c I thought Gyllenhaal was incredible in that. The story itself, meh. . .wasn’t really anything too memorable but that performance. . .whoa.
Thanks for that encouragment Tom, and as always thanks for your comments. I always love what you have to say.
I stand by Monuments Men even though I respect my friends who don’t see it my way. It really worked for me.
I’m with you on Nightcrawler. In fact Gyllenhaal may give my favorite lead performance of the year. That guy has really won me over.
No ‘Under the skin’, no ‘Calvary’ 😦
I know! Gone Girl, The Babadook. Several movies that I hated to leave off.
A very interesting list with a lot of titles I haven’t seen anywhere else. Think you are right about The Monuments Man as I have not seen any other lists that has named it 🙂
LOL. I’m absolutely positive you won’t see TMM on another list. But I’m standing by it. I remember when I watched it a second time. I had almost been convinced that I had watched a different movie at first. So many people were surprised at my reaction. But I thoroughly enjoyed it a second time through. I guess I have a weird perspective on it. 🙂
Anyway, thanks for checking out the list. I love doing these things.
I haven’t seen many of the movies on your list but Interstellar is also my favorite film of the year. Agreed very much with your paragraph about it. The ambition of a Christopher Nolan movie is admirable. The movie is science fiction but it is equally a drama. And on top of that, it draws thoughts about mysteries in the Universe.
I love hearing from someone else who loved Interstellar as much as I did. It truly is uniquely wonderful. It’s a film that you can pick apart if you try, but I was totally engrossed and invested throughout.
And Nolan always impresses and I love how he always does his own thing and follows his own vision. You are always getting something fresh with him.
Great to see Captain America up there and Interstellar take the top spot, both were superb but what about Dawn of the Planet of the Apes? I thought that definitely stood out and superior to the average summer blockbuster…
Oh yes, Capt. America and interstellar were both great times at the theater. I did like “Dawn” but I didn’t love it like many people did. I remember being surprised at how it borrowed plot points from other movies. That being said, it is a movie that I really want to see again.
Thanks for reading and I appreciate the comments. It turned out to be a pretty good movie year, didn’t it?
Totally, this year looks potentially awesome and some very big releases next year as well!
An interesting and very diverse list. I can’t say that I agree with all of it but it’s a great round up of the year in cinema.
No Abbi! You have to agree with them all. That’s kinda the rule! 😉
Actually I have a couple on the list and a couple of omissions that I know many people will disagree with. It was a strange year.
Really interesting list mate and a fair few there I haven’t seen yet and a couple I haven’t even heard of! Interesting to see Monuments Men on there… 😉
I gotta be honest and stand by MM. I really had fun with it. Apparently I’m one of the few though, right? 😉
Haha, I think you might be! Can’t say I was a fan to be honest, but good to see you’re sticking by it!
Clooney owes me a dinner!
Nice to see / read about your choices Keith. There are a few here that I haven’t seen that I’m keen to check out, such as The Lunchbox, Big Eyes and The Rover. I’ll get round to The Winter Soldier at some point too. Nice to see Only Lovers Left Alive and Blue Ruin so high!
Thanks for reading. Obviously I’m a huge fan of the movies you mentioned. Each of the four you mentioned seeing are so different from each other.
Only Lovers and Blue Ruin had to be high. Both movies really stuck with me and again, two very different movies than anything else on my list. I guess if I was searching for a theme for the movie year it would center around diversity. Really wild year in terms of variety.
Glad to see Boyhood at #2, agree it’s about the importance of parents, among other things.
I should watch The Lunchbox before I publish my own list!
Definitely check out The Lunchbox. Well worth it. As for Boyhood, what an achievement. It’s truly remarkable. The sheer risk and ambition of Linklater’s idea. And it’s far from a gimmick. Amazing and powerful storytelling.
Thanks for the comments. Interested to see what all will make your list.
Your Top 10 is very interesting. I didn’t see The Monuments Men or Blue Ruin. Nice to see Boyhood at #2. I adored that film.
Well don’t worry, you won’t see The Monuments Men on any other Top 10 list. Honestly I’m not trying to be a contrarian. I just love the nostalgic flavor to it. Unfortunately it didn’t work as well for most others.
Blue Ruin is an incredible little thriller. I think it may be available on Netflix streaming. Definitely give it a shot.
Hi ya Keith! Just finally got around to checking people’s posts after my weekend break. Interesting that you list #20-11 first, I usually post those as Honorable Mentions 😀
I like your diverse list here Keith, mine is pretty sporadic too, there’s even an animated movie and a documentary on there. Well, you already know how I feel about Monuments Men, but I love that you have “Captain America: The Winter Soldier“ on your list, woo hoo! My friends and I actually just saw the first Captain America movie this weekend, a re-watch for my hubby and I but the first viewing for my two friends. They love it and now they want to see the sequel!
I actually have my top 9 picked but I’m going to see SELMA tomorrow and so I decided to wait posting my top 10. I REALLY like David Oyelowo, so I’m thrilled to see him getting more attention now.
Hey thanks for checking it out Ruth. This thing was hard to put together this year. I swear I could interchange my #13 through #8 picks on any given week. Such a crazy but good year.
I know you adore The Monuments Men 🙂 and I have already conceded that far more people will be on your side when it comes to that film. As for Cap, it only gets better for me. I think it is a shining example of blockbusters done right.
Selma is one of those movies that infuriate me. I really want to see it but these dopey release schedules prevent it. They do this every year – show a handful of movies on two screen nationwide then call it a 2014 movie. LET US ALL SEE IT!!!
Sorry for the rant, but that is something that has always bugged me.
Yeah, top 10 is REALLY tough to put together. I actually have three animated films I absolutely love but I’m only gonna include one so it’s been agonizing to choose WHICH ONE makes the top 10.
He..he.. sorry man, but at least Monuments Men won’t make my WORST list, it takes something as abominable as Winter’s Tale to “deserve” that spot, ahah.
Oh I totally know how you feel about those release schedules!! Nightcrawler is another one where it’s already yanked from most local theaters as far back as November, that’s why I still haven’t seen it yet 😦 If there were no press screening for Selma tomorrow I’d have gone ahead and finish my list, but I figure since it’s still the first week of the year I figure I’d wait a bit.
I think they are doing the same thing with American Sniper – calling it a 2014 movie but it is still a couple of weeks away.
Believe it or not we don’t have any press screenings at theaters around here. I’ve talked with Philip Martin (the film critic for our state paper) and he said he is in the process of finding a remedy for that. He gets screeners but likes the idea of a theater press showing. He said I’m in if it ever comes about. Grrrr….
Wow I didn’t know that the press folks only get screeners where you are. That’s a bummer man, hopefully that gets sorted out and that’s cool that you’ll get press privileges when that happens. It’s about time! 😀
Boyhood and Interstellar back to back would probably put me to sleep, but Interstellar is still gonna be making plenty of….favorable mentions in my end of the year list 🙂
Actually I remember you weren’t the biggest fan of either of them. But what if Mark Ruffalo starred…….? 😉
Well if he were given the riveting moments of sitting in the car and talking about life like Hawke does in Boyhood I’d still be bored and even worse – consider it a waste of both of our times. And I do love McConaughey and even he couldn’t make Interstellar remotely interesting.
Very diverse and interesting list bro! Surprised to see Capt America in there. And The Monuments Men. I didn’t really catch the vibe for that one. I expected much more. Great to see Boyhood and Blue Ruin feature, though. Loved those films!
Hey bro. Thanks for checking it out. I have to say (minus its big CGI blow out ending) Captain America is much different than the other Marvel films. It’s much more personal. It has a great 1970s spy movie vibe. It incorporates a lot of traditional non-CGI special-effects. Plus it has a villain that is far more layered that what we often get in these films. I really enjoyed it.
Boyhood and Blue Ruin were automatically on this list when their credits started to roll. Love them both. I’ve actually watched them both twice and they only get better with the second viewing.
Now that you put Capt. America that way, i might just check it out. I don’t normally get too excited about superhero movies.
You’ll see some of those familiar superhero things. But I appreciate that it does do some different things that really work. It won’t be one of your favorites but it has a lot to enjoy.
Love your list here, Keith! Appears that there are many great movies on it that I have yet to see. I do want to see Only Lovers Left Alive and Big Eyes, for sure. Boyhood is next on my list to watch. I’m glad to see Edge of Tomorrow and The Grand Budapest Hotel made your top 20! I liked Captain America a lot too, so it’s nice to see some love for that film.
I think Boyhood came out on DVD and Blu-Ray TODAY! Definitely check it out. Lovers is a movie I had no expectations for, but man it blew me away. Big Eyes is so different than anything Tim Burton has done in the past.
It has really been an unusual year. Such variety.
I’ve found that to be true for 2014 too! Such an unusually variety of films for a year.
I will get on Boyhood!
Awesome. Be sure to let me know what you think about it. It was such a moving experience especially as a father.
Agreed. I so hope that the big named releases deliver for us. If they do this could go down as one of the best movie years.
I may need to give The Monuments Men another go. Seeing Interstellar at the top spot has me stoked to see it. Never had a chance to catch it in the theaters. Great picks, Keith!
Thanks man. I guarantee you I’m the only person with The Monuments Men in his Top 10. But I loved the nostalgic feel to it. Interstellar is definitely one you need to catch up with. It turned out to be a pretty divisive movie, but I think it’s exceptional.
Some great picks here, Keith! Surprised Grand Budapest Hotel didn’t sneak into the top 10, but hey, that’s why we all like different things. I’m *this* close to finally getting a copy of Blue Ruin to watch, I’ve been hooked by the premise for ages but never got around to seeing it. Looks like a cracker.
And I admit, I was surprised to see Magic In The Moonlight within the top 20, personally I felt it wasn’t worthy of half the kudos it seemed to garner. Ahh well!
Hey thanks for checking out the list. Grand Budapest is an interesting case. To start the year it was my most anticipated film but when I left the theater I felt really disappointed. I’m a huge Wes Anderson fan and I think my expectations were impossible to meet. At that point it had no chance of even making my top 20. But then I watched it again several days before doing my list and it clicked for me. I told someone else that if I were to do the same list next year it would probably be in my top 10. Weird right?
Blue Ruin is one that you absolutely should see. I find it to be fascinating. Minuscule budget and no star power, but for me it was the best thriller of 2014.
Ah yes Magic in the Moonlight. I think I’m the only one in the world who would put that film as high as I did. But I have to be honest, it really work for me. I appreciated it simplicity and I thought Colin Firth was tremendous. But again, I think I’m the only one who feels this way! 😉
Great choices Keith. I’m really disappointed that I missed Ida, but I’ve noticed that it’s available on rental this week from 4OD for £1.49! I hope I get time to check it out this weekend.
Thanks so much. Definitely give Ida a look its a short movie but it has such an emotional punch. Really caught me by surprise.
A great list with a lot I havent heard of. I’m glad to see Capt 2, Boyhood and Interstellar so high.
Thanks! Those three (while so extremely different from each other) were definitely tops for me.
They all made my top 10:
2. Song of the Sea
3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
4. Edge of Tomorrow
6. Guardians of the Galaxy
7. Captain America 2: Winter Soldier
9. Lego Movie
10. American Sniper
Some good movies there! I really really want to see Song of the Sea!!!
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