James’ Top 10 Films of 2014

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Hates movies, but loves films. James enjoys all genres of cinema... as long as it's well put together and brings something new to audiences.

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I’m happy to say I didn’t see very many bad films in 2014, but that also made it difficult to narrow down my 10 favorites and choose which ones I liked better than the other. Nonetheless, I’m proud of my outcome. Hope you enjoyed your movie going experiences and check out some of these films you may have missed. Before we get started, here are some honorable mentions…

Filth (What an ending)

Cheap Thrills (What a thrill ride)

Night Moves (What a creeper Jesse Eisenberg is)

The Grand Budapest Hotel (What the hell? I love it!)

The Past (What a surprise, under the radar film)

Land Ho! (What a fun time this is)

#10 –  Chef

Written and Directed by Jon Favreau

Starring: Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Emjay Anthony, Sofia Vergara

Trailer

Every year there’s one film we review on the podcast that I’m not entirely too excited to see. Jon Favreau is mostly known for his work with Marvel on his Iron Man films (which I’m not the biggest fan of), but Chef absolutely redefined Favreau as a filmmaker. Sure, I loved Elf, but if Jon continues to make movies like Chef then I’ll be sure to have more of an open mind going into his films. I like to give my #10 spot to the movies that kept me entertained and Chef was a great surprise that was fun re-watching with friends and family.  WARNING: Do not watch this film on an empty stomach. #FoodPorn

#9 – Blue Ruin

Written and Directed by Jeremy Saulnier

Starring: Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Eve Plumb

Trailer

After hearing great things about Jeremy Saulnier’s Murder Party and the critical acclaim of Blue Ruin, I was very much excited to see what all the talk was about. Surprisingly not a lot of talking in this film though, but what we do get is beautiful cinematography, a nail biting plot line, and one very uncomfortable movie watching experience. Blue Ruin is a refreshing take on the revenge genre that is played out multiple times each year. It’s streaming on Netflix now, so definitely add it to your Queue now.

#8 – Gone Girl

Directed by David Fincher

Written by Gillian Flynn

Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry

Trailer

Gone Girl unfortunately has a lot of “masterpiece” talk around it at the moment. People saying that are the kind of movie goers that only go a couple times once a month to see films like The Equalizer or Annabelle. No offense to those who like films of that nature, but Gone Girl is definitely not a masterpiece, but it certainly is one of the most entertaining and psychotic thrill rides of the year. I loved all the twists and turns in this movie and highly enjoyed Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry in roles I never expected to see them in. David Fincher is one of my favorite directors and this was his best film since Zodiac.

#7 – The Guest

Directed by Adam Wingard

Written by Simon Barrett

Starring: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Brendan Meyer, Lance Reddick

Trailer

 The Guest is a love letter to those cheesy retro action films of the 80s. It’s got the awesome soundtrack, the cool lighting, and the unnecessary over the top blood splatters.  A lot of people took last year’s You’re Next way too seriously and may do so again and see The Guest as over the top boringness, but what we really get is smart writing with witty acting. Director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett are becoming my favorite up and coming filmmakers. The Guest is The Terminator meets John Carpenter’s Halloween. How the hell would you not want to watch that? It is now my dream to see a double feature of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive paired with The Guest.

#6 – The One I Love

 

Directed by Charlie McDowell

Written by Justin Lader

Starring: Mark Duplass, Elisabeth Moss, Ted Danson

Trailer

It’s really hard to describe The One I Love without spoiling the film. It seriously is one of those movies you just have to see for yourself. The One I Love features fantastic performances from Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss. The best way to describe this film is a 90 minute Twilight Zone episode. The ending is a trip and I guarantee you will say either “Oh s***” or “what the f***?” Lucky for you, its also streaming on Netflix. Definitely go check it out!

#5 – NightCrawler

Written and Directed by Dan Gilroy

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, Bill Paxton

Trailer

Nightcrawler was a fun new story for audiences about a subject we don’t know too much about. I was aware of night crawling, but didn’t know about some of the details or actions these videographers have to make in order to sell their footage to the news. It’s grotesque and disturbing how far people will go and even worse to see that the media knows that violence sells and will get the best ratings. Beyond that though, is a very interesting story and unsettling performance from Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler.

#4 – Snowpiercer

Written and Directed by Bong Joon-Ho

also Written by Kelly Masterson

Starring: Chris Evans, Song Kang-ho, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, John Hurt, Ed Harris

Trailer

We live in a day and age where superhero films have taken over. When people think comics, superheroes come to mind first over some amazing graphic novels out there. I’m personally tired of superhero films and hate 2 out of 3 and would rather see more things like Blue is the Warmest Color, The Walking Dead, and A History of Violence make their way to the screen, all of which are adopted from comics! Snowpiercer was one comic adaptation that we got this year that I absolutely loved. I was introduced to Bong Joon-Ho this year and fell in love with all of his films. Snowpiercer certainly isn’t his best, but there’s a lot of his traits in Snowpiercer (drop kicks yo!) and it’s probably the most fun film of the year with a fun take on modern society in a futuristic setting. I’m not a fan of Chris Evans and his role certainly could have been given to more talented smaller actors (Scoot Mcnairy yo), but he was convincing enough and will help give this movie a pretty wide audience on Netflix. There’s problems with the ending, but the goods certainly outweigh the bad.

#3 – Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Written and Directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Also Written by Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo

Starring: Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts

Trailer

Birdman is one of the greatest achievements of the year. I’ve bitched about superhero films twice already in this blog and Birdman sheds light on how superhero films/sequels are all audiences and the media seem care about these days. They can give a bad representation of an actor when they’re trying to show their artistic side and redefine themselves. Michael Keaton embraces that from his real life and uses that in his amazing performance. Not only that… they made the film look as if it’s done in one shot! What a nightmare this must have been making. I love that the film is about a stage performance and seeing that it has multiple single takes, Birdman required no screw ups and lots of blocking for the camera, almost as if it’s actually being performed on stage. No doubt Birdman has the best cinematography of the year.

#2 – Enemy

Directed by Denis Villeneuve

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal (x2 lol), Melanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon, Isabella Rossellini

Written by Javier Gullon

Trailer

Jake Gyllenhaal continues to surprise me with his performances and movie roles he’s been picking. Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners was my favorite film of 2013 and he reunited with Gyllenhaal again for Enemy. What we have in Enemy is a freaky doppelganger story that goes in unexpected directions and has the scariest ending to a film I have ever seen. Enemy is not for everyone, however. It will come off as a waste of time for many viewers, but in my eyes Enemy is a phenomenal character study with surprising motifs and fascinating metaphors.

#1 – Boyhood

Written and Directed by Richard Linklater

Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Lorelei Linklater, Ethan Hawke

Trailer

Not a lot of films will be remembered for years to come, but Boyhood is one that will most likely be remembered for decades to come. Many people argue that there’s no plot and ask if it would be as good if it wasn’t filmed over 12 years? Well, who the hell cares cause the truth is, it was done in 12 years and the plot plain and simple is about a kid growing up. Sounds basic, but what we get is a nostalgia trip, almost as if reading your own journal or reminiscing the good and bad moments from your life. Three hours is a long running time for a film, but it was not enough for Boyhood. I wanted to see three more hours develop into adulthood. Short films are a great tool for film classes and Boyhood has multiple that will be used for years to come, but as a whole. Boyhood is heartwarming, beautiful, exciting, happy, and tragic and is the best film of the year.

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