2014: The Year in Film and My Top 10

2014 for me was a very entertaining year. There is only one 4-star film from my point of view but lots of great, entertaining, well made films. I cheated and had to create a Top 12.

Total Films Viewed from 2014: 48

Top 10 Critically Acclaimed Films

(Source : criticstop10.com – a site that take a weighted average of about 800 lists, 350 of which are considered “Top Critics”)

  1. Boyhood
  2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  3. Birdman
  4. Whiplash
  5. Under the Skin
  6. Gone Girl
  7. Night Crawler
  8. Guardians of the Galaxy
  9. Selma
  10. Snowpiercer

Winners of The Major Oscar Categories

The 2014 Best Picture Nominees

Best Picture                             Birdman

Best Actor                               Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Best Actress                            Julianna Moore, Still Alice

Best Supporting Actor             JK Simmons, Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress          Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Best Director                           Alejandro G. Inarritu, Birdman

Original Screenplay                Alejandro G. Inarritu (et al), Birdman

Adapted Screenplay                Graham Moore, The Imitation Game

Best Animated Feature           Big Hero 6

Top Grossing Movie:                Guardians of the Galaxy (Domestic )

                                                 Transformer: Age of Extinction (Worldwide)

Really Good Films from 2014 You May Have Missed:

Draft Day


Begin Again


Life Itself

Movie from 2014 to avoid at all costs:

Transformers: Age of Extinction (anything really with the name Transformers)


The Foxcatcher (critically acclaimed, Oscar nominated, hated every second of it)

Honorable Mention

Still Alice, Edge of Tomorrow, Selma, Begin Again

Here are my Top 10 films of 2014 :

Well, there’s 12, I could not leave two out

10 (tie).  The Lego Movie

How this did not get nominated (and win) Best Animated Feature is beyond me. A fun, silly, thoroughly entertaining film taking place within a closed Lego Universe with a wonderful little twist at the end. Great voice work from Will Ferrell as the villain “President Business”.

10 (tie).  Snowpiercer

I did not discover this movie until years after its release. A post-apocalyptic film, where the earth has been laid barren and frozen in a failed attempt by humans to stop global warming. Snowpiercer is a train, built by a billionaire (Ed Harris) on which the last remnants of humanity survive. A class system has developed and the those at the front of the train want to maintain their advantage over those at the back. A wonderful English Language film from Korean director Joon-ho Bong.

10 (tie).  The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson makes weird movies. This may be his most accessible and most acclaimed but still weird. The story of Gustav, a concierge and a hotel in a fictional country pre-World War Two. A brilliant cast of eclectic characters. Winner of four Oscars.

9. Life Itself

Roger Ebert taught a couple of generations of people how to love and appreciate and examine film. I have read most of his books and read close to every review he wrote from about 1985 onward. This touching elegiac documentary about the end of his life was for me, one of the most tear-jerking movies I have ever seen. The movie is directed by Stephen James, the director of the now legendary Hoop Dreams, Roger Ebert’s choice for #1 movie of the 90s.

 “Look at a movie that a lot of people love and you’ll find something profound no matter how silly the film may seem.”

8. Gone Girl

David Fincher made some great movies this decade. Gone Girl is a twisting, dark tale that start off with a woman’s disappearance that morph’ into a murder investigation. To tell more would be to give too much away. See it for yourself it you haven’t.

7. The Imitation game

The tale of Alan Turing, a brilliant mathematician whose covert work cracking encrypted Nazi codes in World War II lead to the invention of what we now call computers. Should have won best actor for Benedict.

6. Captain America: Winter Soldier

Not the best super-hero movie of the 2010’s (that is yet to come) but easily for me the best of the Avenger movies. Between the explosions, hand to hand combat and chase scenes is a movie about a man out of time and place, trying to figure out his own world.

5. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

The movie that revived the career of Michael Keaton. It’s the story of a washed-up actor, famous for a role as a super-hero Birdman, trying to stay relevant. It is also an amazing look into the back stage of live theatre, mental health and the blurred lines between reality and fantasy.

4. Interstellar

It took me a while to really like this movie; it would have not made my Top 10 in 2014 when I saw it. Over the years, it has grown on me.  The story of a team of space travellers venturing to the far reaches of the solar system with the hopes of finding a new sustainable home. Christopher Nolan – the man only makes excellent films.

3. American Sniper

Chris Kyle, whose life this movie was based on, was murdered as production of the film began. Director Clint Eastwood did not intend this to be a memorial movie, but it ended up that way. Like all Clint’s war movies, its uncompromising and brutal to watch. When I saw this in theatres with my son, the entire audience sat, silently, through the end credits that depicted scenes of Kyle’s funeral. Clint’s most financially successful film and an Oscar Nomination for Bradley Cooper in the title role.

2. Boyhood

My son’s all-time favourite movie. And a good choice. Filmed over 12 years, its follows the story of Mason from childhood to college years. One of the few times we actually get to see an actor grow up on screen before our eyes (other notable is the Up Documentaries). This is the kind of movie that truly ennobles filmmaking as an art form.

1. Whiplash

I grew up a drummer. In my heart, I still am even though I don’t play anymore. My main music teacher was hard on us, always, knowing we could do better. He pushed every student to draw the most out he could. Let me be clear – he was tough on us but he was not that hard-assed, Navy-Seal-style abusive tyrant that JK Simmons depicts in this film. But the parallel to my own life pretty much made this a slam dunk for the #1 of the year. JK Simmons is one of my favourite actors and Miles Teller played the drums for this movie. It’s a great movie that was almost never made.

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