The Best Movies of 2014

 

By Ray Manukay

 
birdman
 

Honorable Mentions:

 
A Most Violent Year
 
Chef
 
Birdman
 
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
 
The Lego Movie
 
Under the Skin
 
Magic in the Moonlight
 
Edge of Tomorrow
 
The Drop
 
Boyhood

 

 

And here are my favorite films of 2014…

 

 

 

#15: A Most Wanted Man

 
directed by ANTON CORBIJN
 
a-most-wanted-man-1a
 

#14: Noah

 
directed by DARREN ARONOFSKY
 
Noah_Russell_Crowe
 

#13: Guardians of the Galaxy

 
directed by JAMES GUNN
 
GuardiansOfTheGalaxy
 

#12: Begin Again

 
directed by JOHN CARNEY
 
x_tdy_beginagain2_140328
 

#11: The Imitation Game

 
directed by MORTEN TYLDUM
 
The Imitation Game
 

And my Top 10 Films of 2014 are…

 

#10: Inherent Vice

 
directed by PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON
 
Inherent Vice
 
Thomas Pynchon’s works are noted for their complexity, digressions and eccentric characters. All of those traits are present in the challenging and off-kilter Inherent Vice.
 
The film is an intentionally, awkward, mish-mash of genres that prefers to be absorbed rather than deciphered. Just when the viewer starts to get some semblance of the direction the story is taking us, Paul Thomas Anderson and Thomas Pynchon delightfully take the viewer down a different and more complex rabbit hole.
 
This is where the film can make it or break it for the viewer.
 
Although one can argue Inherent Vice fails to deliver a satisfying, traditional, and tidy cinematic story. The truth is Inherent Vice is more about the journey than the destination.
 
And it is a great journey. One that deserves and arguably requires repeat viewings to fully be appreciated.
 



 

# 9: Only Lovers Left Alive

 
directed by JIM JARMUSCH
 
Only-Lovers-Left-Alive
 
I’d be hard pressed to come up with a genre more over-saturated in entertainment than vampires.
 
But director Jim Jarmusch still manages to add his own unique, eccentric spin to the vampire mythology. Less interested in the typical blood lust and super-powered abilities that most stories about the creatures focus on , Jarmusch examines the emotional and psychological price of immortality.
 
How torturous would it be for immensely educated, centuries-old cultured beings to exist in a world full of primitive, base and short-sighted, immature humans?
 
Putting aside the philosophical element of the film Only Lovers Left Alive is just a cool movie. Beautiful look, hip feel, and just an awesome overall uniquely Jarmusch vibe.
 

#8: Blue Ruin

 
directed by JEREMY SAULNIER
 
Blue Ruin
 
Revenge. In all it’s bloody, complicated and sticky forms and consequences.
 
Arguably, some of the most suspenseful and thrilling cinematic sequences of the year.
 
The less the viewer knows about the film going in the better. I’ll simply say check it out.

 

#7:The Raid 2

 
directed by GARETH EVANS
 
raid09
 
At its core The Raid 2 features cops, robbers… and just plain, wicked, violent, gangster shit.
 
But story is not what one watches The Raid 2 for.
 
Super extended and elaborate fight sequences and thrilling non-cgi action make this the best pure action film of the year.
 
Don’t let the subtitles intimidate. Just pure, glorious, bloody action.
 

#6:The Immigrant

 
directed by JAMES GRAY
 
The-Immigrant1
 
If the reader has never heard of the film The Immigrant I wouldn’t be surprised. Released without any promotional support…at all.. the movie came and went with barely a whisper.
 
The problem is that The Immigrant was a fantastic movie.
 
Not only does the film feature excellent performances from Joaquin Phoenix and Marion Cotillard, The Immigrant is also an absolutely gorgeous film.
 
I mean incredibly, stunning and jaw dropping production design. During my screening I literally paused the film mid-viewing just to admire the scenery and cinematography.
 
At one point I became convinced that director James Gray and his cast and crew took a time machine to 1920’s New York and shot this film.
 
Shamefully under-rated The Immigrant deserves to be seen and rightfully praised. Don’t let this film slip by.
 

 

#5: Nightcrawler

 
directed by DAN GILROY
 
nIGHTCRAWLER
 
I am of the strong opinion that most television news is more harmful than helpful or even informative for that matter.
 
Nightcrawler confirms my beliefs.
 
Dan Gilroy’s look at exploitative network news is at once illuminating and morbidly thrilling. Featuring an excellent performance by Jake Gyllenhaal, the movie examines the relationship between news reporting and providing entertainment to the masses.
 
It is easy to blame the media for the seedy featured content shown nightly on news programs. But the truth is that we the audience feed that machine.
 
The villainous or arguably strangely heroic Lou Bloom, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, is simply, good or bad, a product of this machine.
 
The film is likely not receiving the usual award season buzz because of its scathing critique of the media. But if one puts all that aside Nightcrawler is an excellent film that will leave the viewer thinking.
 

#4: Interstellar

 
directed by CHRISTOPHER NOLAN
 
Interstellar-e1414703696242-1940x1090
 
Much has been said about Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar.
 
The truth is I don’t really have much more to add to that conversation other than to say Interstellar is a thrilling, fascinating and surprisingly touching movie.
 
I get where the negative criticism comes from. Interstellar can be dense with the science talk, and at times overly sentimental.
 
But there is no denying that it is an awe inspiring, thought provoking film, by a visionary director in Christopher Nolan that is at the top of his game.
 



 

#3: The Grand Budapest Hotel

 
directed by WES ANDERSON
 
Digital Fusion Image Library TIFF File
 
Wes Anderson.
 
Everyone knows what they are getting when they sit down to one of Wes Anderson’s films.
 
There are parodies everywhere of his distinct style.
 
But The Grand Budapest Hotel is likely a turning point for the director. Besides being his most mature film to date, The Grand Budapest Hotel displays the confidence of a developing master storyteller.
 
The film is uniquely his own, but unlike his previous, frivolous film Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel has surprising substance and touching, emotional depth which stays with the viewer long after its final frame.
 
Rather than just being stylish for the sake of it. Like his films usually are. Wes Anderson uses his traditional, gorgeous, eccentric, visuals to emphasize the beauty of the memories of various characters. They are precious representations of a cherished time gone by. Combined with the touching narration, it gives the film a poignancy, previously unthinkable in a Wes Anderson film.
 
Probably the most moving movie of the year. Without being overly sentimental or dramatic.
 

#2: Whiplash

 
directed by DAMIEN CHAZELLE
 

 
Whiplash-5547.cr2
 
There have been many films showing the trials and tribulations of the artist.
 

But Whiplash illustrates, probably most accurately, the sacrifice, struggle and uncompromising drive to be great.
 
J.K. Simmons delivers a performance for the ages, simultaneously, provoking disgust and admiration in his portrayal of Fletcher. But all the while keeping the character feeling real and human.
 
Is Fletcher an evil manipulator or a much needed artistic motivator?
 
That is the cinematic argument of the year and one that should provide plenty of debate and conversation amongst viewers for years to come.
 
Easily the most exhilarating film of the year, Whiplash also delivers one of the most satisfying, inspiring, cinematic experiences of all time.
 

 

And my favorite film of 2014 is…

 

 

 

snowpiercer-2-hp
 
Snowpiercer (2)
 
snowpiercer
 
Chris-Evans-Tilda-Swinton-and-Octavia-Spencer-in-Snowpiercer
 

 

#1: Snowpiercer

 
directed by BOON JOON-HO
 
Fight your way to the front.
 
Snowpiercer rightfully fought its way to the front by being the most remarkable film experience of the year.
 
Demonstrating a wide variety of genres and powerful themes, Snowpiercer not only hits the viewer in a visceral sense, but also on an intellectual and political level.
 
Snowpiercer raises challenging questions, while also entertaining viewers with breathtaking action.
 
Featuring an inspired performance from Chris Evans and a brave, eccentric one from Tilda Swinton, Snowpiercer is also arguably the best and brightest that the science fiction genre has ever offered on film.
 
Illuminating and thought-provoking Snowpiercer for me, was easily the best film of the year. And likely will be recognized as one of the best films of the decade.
 
If the viewer is looking for a movie with everything. Literally. Snowpiercer is it.
 
The perfect representation of a great, thrilling and unique year in cinema.

 

 

 

 

Inherent Vice – Official Movie Trailer 2014

Inherent Vice Poster
 
Inherent Vice stars Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Katherine Waterston, Reese Witherspoon, Martin Short, Jena Malone, Joanna Newsom and Benicio Del Toro.
 
Inherent Vice is written by Paul Thomas Anderson. Based on the novel by Thomas Pynchon
 

Official Synopsis:

 
“Inherent Vice” is the seventh feature from Paul Thomas Anderson and the first film adaption of a Thomas Pynchon novel. When P.I. Doc Sportello’s ex-old lady shows up with a story about her current billionaire land developer boyfriend and a plot by his wife and her boyfriend to kidnap that billionaire and throw him in a looney bin… well, easy for her to say. It’s the tail end of the `60s, paranoia is running the day and Doc knows that “love” is one of those words going around, like “trip” or “groovy,” that’s way too overused–except this one usually leads to trouble. With a cast of characters that includes surfers, hustlers, dopers and rockers, a murderous loan shark, LAPD Detectives, a tenor sax player working undercover and a mysterious entity known as the Golden Fang, which may only be a tax dodge set up by some dentists… Part surf noir, part psychedelic romp–all Thomas Pynchon.
 

Official Trailer:

 

Exodus Gods and Kings – Official Movie Trailer 2014

Exodus-Gods-and-Kings-Poster-Bale-and-Edgerton-691x1024
 
Exodus Gods and Kings stars Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Aaron Paul, John Turturro, Sigourney Weaver, and Ben Kingsley. The film is written by Steve Zaillian, Bill Collage and Adam Cooper. Exodus Gods and Kings is directed by Ridley Scott. It is scheduled for release December 12th, 2014.
 

Official Synopsis:

 
From acclaimed director Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Prometheus) comes the epic adventure “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” the story of one man’s daring courage to take on the might of an empire. Using state-of-the-art visual effects and 3D immersion, Scott brings new life to the story of the defiant leader Moses (Christian Bale) as he rises up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses (Joel Edgerton), setting 600,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues.
 

Official Trailer: