by: S. Scott Stanikmas
Well, another year down and another year’s worth of movies watched. While i didn’t get to see everything that I would have wanted I did see quite a few films this year. Some were good, some were okay and some were just downright atrocious.
Without further ado, I present my Best and Worst of 2014.
BEST OF 2014 – HONORABLE MENTIONS (Good but not good enough to crack the Top Ten)
- FOXCATCHER – While not Bennett Miller’s best work (I still feel that honor goes to Moneyball) this was a fine character study of the twisted relationship between Olympic Gold Medal wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) and eccentric millionaire John E. DuPont (Steve Carrell). Both actors put in career defining performances. And Mark Ruffalo as Mark’s older (and more sought after) brother David Schultz was excellent.
- HORNS – What a surprise from director Alexandre Aja. Mostly known for his horror work, here we have a wonderful love story wrapped up in a semi-horror/black comedy. Daniel Radcliffe turns in a masterful performance as the tortured Ig Perrish. Some of the best work of his career.
- 22 JUMP STREET – A hilarious comedy that not only pokes fun at itself but at the idea of sequels in general. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum have such great chemistry together and it really shows on-screen. They seem tohave a geniunely good time playing off of each other. And anything with Peter Stormare gets a thumbs up from me.
- THE DROP – The tragic final film performance of James Gandolfini. Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace were great as well. A tense, slow burn crime drama with top notch acting and a tight story from writer Dennis Lehane.
- THE IMMIGRANT – A sensational period piece that shows how far someone is willing to go for the sake of family. Marion Cotillard is brilliant as an Eastern European immigrant who is shown just what the price of the American Dream truly is. Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner turn in a pair of fine performances as well.
And now, the Top Ten…
- MALEFICENT – Angelina Jolie turns the tables and shows us the tragic backstory of the Sleeping Beauty nemesis. With lushly rendered fantasy locales and a gripping story that Jolie worked for all it was worth, Maleficent was a worthy addition to the Disney catalog.
- THE RAID 2 – The sequel to the sleeper hit Raid: Redemption took the series in a completely different direction. Taking our main character out of the police force and putting him undercover to dismantle organized crime was a risky but brilliant move. With jaw-dropping fight scenes that leave you exhausted just watching them, this movie was an adrenaline rush from the opening prison battle all the way up to the closing final fight.
- INTERSTELLAR – Sci-fi done right. Christopher Nolan’s most trippy and out there movie to date was also the most human film I’ve seen from him. The heartbreaking journey Matthew McConaughey endures throughout this movie brought tears to my eyes. A film that visually beneifted from the IMAX experience.
- NIGHTCRAWLER – Jake Gyllenhaal gave us his sleaziest character to date. The psychopathic Lou Bloom ranks right up there with such cinematic crazies as Patrick Bateman from American Psycho and Tyler Durden from Fight Club. Rene Russo also gave us one of her best performances in years as the news manager for a local TV station who will do anything it takes to bring in the ratings. A truly wonderful first effort from director Dan Gilroy, who also wrote the film.
- SNOWPIERCER – Director Bong Joon-ho took us on a journey without ever taking us off the train. A visually visceral story about a class system revolt onboard a train carrying the last survivors of the human race. unforgettable performances from John Hurt, Tilda Swinton and especially Chris Evans. It’s hard to buy the man who play Captain America as an underdog anymore, but he did it here.
- GONE GIRL – David Fincher’s finest movie since Fight Club. Ben Affleck and Rosemund Pike both do an outstanding job, so much so that I don’t think you can mention one without the other. Without Nick Dunne there is no Amy and vice versa. The unsung hero of this movie is Carrie Coon as Margo “Go” Dunne, Nick’s sister and Amy’s sister-in-law. She is our “in” to the movie, seeing things from the outsider’s perspective and reacting just how we would (or should). Adapted for the screen by the author of the book it came from, Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl is consistently solid from suspicious start to twisted finish.
- CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER – A throwback to the spy and espionage thrillers of the 70’s wrapped up in a brightly colored comic book movie shell. Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson returned to their superhero personas of Captain America and the Black Widow respectively and recruit Anthony Mackie as high flying four-color stalwart Sam Wilson a.k.a. The Falcon. Robert Redford, Sebastian Stan, Frank Grillo and Samuel L. Jackson round out a tremendous supporting cast. And the post credits tease is a great wink and nod to comic fans in the know.
- BOYHOOD – Richard Linklater’s magnum opus. A film that took twelve years to fully realize and will be talked about for decades to come for its brilliance and sheer ballsiness. Filming for a few weeks at a time each year, Linklater shows us the progression of Mason Evans, Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) from a six-year-old boy all the way up to and eighteen-year-old young man. With Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette and the director’s own daughter Lorelei Linklater making up the rest of the family, Boyhood is a family film for this generation.
- GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY – In my book, this was the action movie of the summer. After a slate of serious and sometimes bleak movies, Marvel let James Gunn run wild with this B-list team of intergalactic misfits. A colorful and exciting ride through space. Chris Pratt came into his own and broke out of the “comedic chubby guy” role he was getting typecast into. And who didn’t love dancing Baby Groot?
- BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF INGNORANCE) – This year’s most original and daring film. From the editing to the direction to the acting, Birdman was head and shoulders above everything else that I saw this year. I’m already looking forward to director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s next film, I don’t care what it is.
WORST OF 2014 – (DIS)HONARABLE MENTIONS (Not atrocious, but still pretty bad)
- GODZILLA – I was completely underwhelmed by the new Godzilla move put out by director Gareth Edwards. Not enough monster fights in my opinion, and when we did get the anti-climactic “final battle” the screen was so dark i could hardly tell what was happening until the King of Kaijus let loose with his Atomic Breath. Such a letdown.
- 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE – Bad acting coupled with a weak script made this an unworthy successor to Zack Snyder’s This is what happens when a studio wants to cash in on a popular film and make money instead of tell a credible story.
And now, the Bottom Five…
- TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES – I think now I understand how the people who grew up with Mirage Comics TMNT feel about the cartoon version that I grew up with. Every generation has to get their own version of the Heroes in a Half-Shell but this movie was horrendous. From the overly convoluted origin that had to tie everyone together to the horrible voice casting (Johnny Knoxville as Leonardo was cringe-worthy) this movie had very few redeeming qualities.
- THE NOVEMBER MAN – Its like Pierce Brosnan is just in it for the checks now. A predicatble script and subpar action sequences made me wish November was over quicker – like the month of February.
- TUSK – A rare miss from one of my favorite directors. Kevin Smith took a wierd concept and it just seemed he didn’t really know how to execute it. Did he want a horror movie, a black comedy, or something akin to both mashed together? With luke warm performances from Justin Long and Michael Parks, Tusk was almost a chore to watch.
- TRANSFORMERS 4: AGE OF EXTINCTION – What a disappointment. With the promise of a new direction and new human characters (as well as fan favorites the Dino-bots being introduced), T4: AoE was one big clunky mess from start to finish. Bad characterization and uneven acting killed this film for me long before the halfway point. The fact that i stayed until the end is nothing short of a miracle.
- INTO THE STORM – This is what happens when all your cool effects shots get shown in the trailer. Trying to be another Twister but failing miserably, this movie was by far the worst movie I’ve seen all year, if not for the past few years. From sterotypical charcaterization to bad acting/scripting to cheesy effects, Into The Storm is one film where I wish I could have gotten my money AND my time back.
And there we have it folks. Supernerd’s Best and Worst of 2014. I had a lot of fun doing this and I hope you enjoyed reading it.
Do you agree with my picks? Or am I way out there? Were my worst films truly the worst or was there something I missed? Did I rate something too high on the best of list? Let me know in our comments section!!!