Sunday, January 11, 2015

Beta's Top Ten Favorite Movies of 2014

2014 was a hard year for me, as evidenced by my lack of updates, and while I’ll likely get into that more when I do my anniversary blog (though I doubt I’ll go into specifics as this still isn’t that type of blog) the most relevant issue I had was an inability to see movies as much as I had in the past. I used to see several films a week and now I’m averaging one every three weeks which is really upsetting for me as going to the movie theater is my favorite hobby. As a result of this trend I missed out on a lot of films that got a lot of buzz (Birdman being the obvious example). Also what movies I did see I simply didn’t have time to review. So this will likely be one of the least interesting “Top Ten Favorite Movies” list I’ve ever done. But I will do it nonetheless!

Anyway the rules are the same as ever: 1) I only count movies I’ve actually seen and I can’t see every movie so if your favorite film or some critical darling didn’t make the list there’s a decent chance I never got around to seeing it. 2) This is not a “Best Movie” list; it’s my list of personal favorites. It’s subjective and you’ll do well to take that in mind. But please, feel free to post your own Top Ten list in the comment section or even if you just have a movie that you think I snubbed. I mean, also comment if you agree with the list but seeing as this is the internet I’m not hopeful.

Beta’s Top Ten Movies after the jump.

#10: Interstellar
In the future farmers will inherit the Earth
Adorable Panda Score: ???

The latest offering from director Christopher Nolan Interstellar, much like The Dark Knight Rises, didn’t live up to my lofty expectations based on his previous work (The Prestige, The Dark Knight, and Inception are three of my favorite films of all time). While I find certain aspects of this flick to be superbly annoying and frustrating the fact is it was still a very good movie. Lots of tension and a whole lot of uncomfortable and heartbreaking moments made this flick a thrilling and enjoyable ride despite its flaws. Still am I the one bothered by how much magic seemed to be in this movie considering that it was advertised as a big “Hard Science” flick?

#9: Godzilla 
F**k you, Tri-Star!
 Adorable Panda Score: 4 out of 5 (Review)

I’m not sure how Godzilla made it on to this list but every time I looked back on this flick I find myself saying “Yeah, that movie was great” so here it is. There was a lot back and forth about the lack of the title character in the film but that didn’t bother me nearly as much as most people. This was a true Godzilla film, for better or worse, and Hollywood has redeemed itself after that terrible 90s Godzilla flick. While this is more of a fun popcorn movie than anything else it was still a thoroughly enjoyable viewing experience. The only thing that would have made it better would be if they cut out all of the scenes with Aaron Taylor-Johnson and gave the extra time to Godzilla fighting monsters and Bryan Cranston running around screaming at things.

#8: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 
Apes with assault weapons and horses?!
Ladies and gentlemen, we are boned!
Adorable Panda Score: 4 out of 5 (Review)

Despite the fact that I still think that title is redundant when compared to Rise of the Planet of the Apes I believe Dawn of was one of the better summer blockbusters of the year. It’s also one of the few movies starring CG main characters that are actually better developed than the human supporting cast (so it’s like the opposite of every Bayformers movie, basically). The writing was solid, the performances were good and the plot pretty strong. I’m not sure if it was better than its predecessor but it was such a different viewing experience it doesn’t matter. The new Planet of the Apes reboot is so far doing a great job.

#7: Edge of Tomorrow 
Pictured:  Full Metal Bitch A nice lady who I don't want to piss off
Adorable Panda Score: 4 out of 5 (Review)
I think it’s safe to say this was the biggest surprise of the year for me. Edge of Tomorrow is really good science fiction film with an abundance of emotional weight attached to its plot. Darker and grittier than one would think it also had a good balance of action, humor and tension that is extremely hard to find, especially during the summer movie season. It likely is not as gripping s the Japanese light novel it was based on (All You Need is Kill), it has a very Hollywood ending, and if you dislike Tom Cruise his performance here won’t suddenly change your mind. However if you give it a chance it you might find yourself liking it a lot more than you would have assumed.

#6: Snowpiercer
An apocalypse that involves snow?
It's like someone read my nightmare journal!

Adorable Panda Score: ???

A 2013 Korean film, shot mostly in English, finally released in the United States in 2014. Snowpiercer received a lot of critical buzz and, having recently gotten to see it, I can say it’s completely deserved. It reminds me of the old science fiction films of the 1970s and late 60s where things were significantly darker, more complex and often more bonkers than trailers and posters could prepare you for. It’s really well written, is visually appealing despite the posters, and extremely tension filled. It won’t brighten your day or anything but it will likely make life slightly better for watching it.

#5: Captain America – The Winter Soldier
...and then a few months later Sam Wilson stopped being "Falcon" in the comics
Adorable Panda Score: 4 out of 5 (Review)

Two Chris Evans projects in a row, eh? Snowpiercer is technically the better movie but The Winter Soldier is a lot more fun. There were a lot of so-so superhero films this year and the main reason for that was they had to follow this well put together affair. Completely different in tone than its predecessor Cap 2 manages to be an even more gripping and thoughtful adventure. It’s less “Indiana Jones” and more “Spy-thriller” this time. It’s mid-film plot twist even significantly alters the status quo for all of Marvel Studios films (as seen in the TV show Agents of SHIELD). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Chris Evans as Captain America is the best part of Marvel Studios.

#4: Top Five
2014 was the year Chris Rock made me feel like an asshole
Adorable Panda Score: ???

I’ll be honest: I haven’t given a shit about Chris Rock in YEARS. I long ago assumed that his career was on the decline never to reach back to its heights. As if to specifically shut me up Rock wrote, directed and starred in this awesome comedy. Rock manages to not only make a hilarious film but also gives it a lot of substance as the film deals with some pretty heavy themes, some of which are actually subtle which is a word not used very often in comedies these days. This movie made me eat a lot of crow and I am now very interested to see more behind the camera work from Chris Rock.

#3: Gone Girl 
The lesson of this film: don't get married
Adorable Panda Score: ???
Based on the novel of the same name this is the latest film from David Fincher, one of my favorite directors. As this is a mystery movie I feel I can’t go too deeply into why I loved this flick but I can say that it had me at the edge of my seat nearly the entire time I watched it. In addition it manages to blend a mix of dark humor without ruining any of the tension which is a hard thing to do (though possibly not that hard for the guy who directed Fight Club, am I right?). I’m worried about spoiling things here so let me just say this movie was great and if you like thrillers you should watch it (if you read the original book I’m led to believe you might not like the movie as much).

#2: Guardians of the Galaxy
Guess I have to take back all the nasty stuff I said about casting Bradley Cooper
 Adorable Panda Score: 5 out of 5 (Reviews)

What can I say about this movie that I, or the rest of the world, haven’t already said? Easily Marvel Studios’ most fun outing to date this flick had a little bit of everything wrapped in a Superhero/Space Opera packaging that managed to hide its flaws. Quirky, action packed, funny and extremely quotable GoG earned a lot of goodwill from comic fans and casual movie goers. With Avengers: Age of Ultron and The Force Awakens set to hit theaters this year I think it’s likely GoG will be used as the measuring stick for both.

#1: The Lego Movie
Darkness. No parents.
Adorable Panda Score: ???

It’s a kids’ movie. It’s an obvious toy commercial. These are true facts but in spite of them The Lego Movie was my favorite film of 2014 by a mile. I saw it in theaters nearly a year ago and it cemented itself at the top of this list. Every time I watched a movie this year I thought to myself “Did I enjoy myself as much as with the Lego Movie?” and every time the answer was “Not at all”. From the dumb as dirt hero, the over-the-top portrayal of Batman and the slew of cleverly written jokes hidden in the sea of madness that was this movie there’s a lot to love here. I cannot, cannot, say enough good things about this flick. It is the perfect family film: plenty of funny and/or silly stuff of kids and also more subtle enjoyment to be had from their parents. If someone were to try to distill the concept of “fun” into a film it would be The Lego Movie. 

2014 is over and done with. Here's hoping 2015 will be another good year for movies...and that I'll have time to actually see some of them.

Eleven more months...

1 comment:

  1. Well, I don't get the chance to see many movies at the theater - only a handful last year. But I did see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Guardians of the Galaxy and am glad to see that they made your list! You did give me lots of films to add to my must-see list though - thanks!


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