For those who know me best know that I love going to the movies. To me there's no better experience than being emersed into a whole new cinematic world. It's my drug, my therapy and my escape from reality, even for just a few hours. I've had a great year watching movies in 2014. Many I enjoyed, and some not so much. Below are my top ten picks, in no particular order, based on the films I've seen so far.
TOP TEN FILMS OF 2014
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer: Jonathan Nolan & Christopher Nolan
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine
Studio: Paramount, Warner Bros.
Ever since Batman Begins, I have come to respect and become a big fan of Christopher Nolan as a filmmaker and storyteller. With so many filmmakers shooting on digital and relying on 3D for cheap thrills, Nolan is a breath of fresh air that reminds me of the great directors of old whose films have played on a grandeur scale. Interstellar is shot beautifully on IMAX and tells the story of a father and daughter, whose relationship takes us on an emotional journey throughout time and space. The set pieces, the practical effects, the cinematography, the soundtrack and strong performances are what makes Interstellar one of Christopher Nolan's best. Sorry Gravity, but Interstellar totally threw you out of the galaxy!
Director: David Ayer
Writer: David Ayer
Starring: Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Shia LeBeouf, John Bernthal, Michael Pena
Studio: Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures
Fury tells the story of a five-man crew operating a Sherman tank in the midst of Nazi Germany during World War II. As usual, Brad Pitt dishes out a great performance as Staff Sargeant Don "Wardaddy" Collier. But the one performance that really stood out for me the most was Shia LeBeouf as Boyd "Bible" Swan. The storytelling and the cinematography takes us on the grittier side of war as well as the comradery between soldiers.
3. GONE GIRL
Director: David Fincher
Writer: Gillian Flynn
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Pattrick Harris
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Gone Girl is based on the novel by Gillian Flynn and tells the mystery of a missing wife and her husband's nonchalant approach of finding her. The film is dark and intelligent and kept me guessing all throughout.
Director: Dan Gilroy
Writer: Dan Gilroy
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo
Studio: Open Road Films
Jake Gyllenhaal gives one of his best performances yet in the neo-noir film Nightcrawler. The film takes us into the cut-throat world of video journalism where anything goes and one has to push, pull and even kill to get to the story. What I like about independent films is that the story and performances are brought front and center and doesn't get washed up behind heavy special effects and multi-million dollar budgets. You'll know for sure that the movie you are seeing is good or not. Nightcrawler to me, is a really good film!
5. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
Director: Anthony & Joe Russo
Writer: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie
Studio: Marvel Studios, Disney
I loved the first Avengers film. While Captain America had his time to shine in that film, I felt he was heavily overshadowed by his fellow teammates and he seemed a bit lost in the crowd. Being that he is considered the first Avenger, I felt his role should've been more prominent. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Steve Rogers AKA Captain America is finally where he belongs - as a soldier on a mission. The film has the look and feel of a spy thriller featuring a number of awesome stunts and action sequences revolving around a string of government secrecy. The Winter Soldier is undoubtedly my favorite film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far. Looking forward to Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man in 2015!
6. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
Director: James Gunn
Writer: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper
Studio: Marvel Studios, Disney
Guardians of the Galaxy was a big risk for Marvel Studios. Like many others, I entered the theater not knowing a thing about the Guardians, and boy, was I in for a treat! All I have to say was that this film was the most fun I had at the movies this year and the best part of the film... the soundtrack! Hooked on a feeling!
7. X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
Director: Bryan Singer
Writer: Simon Kinberg
Starring: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence
Studio: 20th Century Fox, Bad Hat Harry
Bryan Singer returns to the X-Men franchise based on the Marvel Comics story arc. Days of Future Past brings together the new and original cast of the X-Men films. It was awesome to finally see the sentinels on the big screen and my favorite scene of the entire film is when Quicksilver breaks Magneto free from the Pentagon. Days of Future Past rewrites the history of the original X-Men trilogy and rights the wrongs of the third installment, X-Men: The Last Stand. Looking forward to the follow up, X-Men: Apocalypse.
8. THE LEGO MOVIE
Director: Chris Miller & Phil Lord
Writer: Phil Lord
Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Will Farrell, Liam Neeson
Studio: Warner Bros., Village Roadshow
The Lego Movie is so much fun to watch with the whole family. It brings me back to the good old days when I was a kid building spaceships and robots with my Legos. Oh wait, I still do that today! The message of this film is clear: Your imagination can take you very far!
Director: Gareth Edwards
Writer: Max Borenstein
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe
Studio: Warner Bros., Legendary Pictures
Godzilla is a force to be reckoned with. While many complained that the film didn't feature much of the titular monster, I actually like the idea of Godzilla seen through the perspective of the people surrounding him. I also love how it pays respect to the original Japanese films. Here's hoping that we get to see Mothra and other monsters in the eventual sequels. Or maybe a Godzilla / Pacific Rim crossover? Yeah, I know, it's wishful thinking!
10. EDGE OF TOMORROW
Director: Doug Liman
Writer: Dante Harper
Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton
Studio: Warner Bros., Village Roadshow
Edge of Tomorrow is a science fiction film based on the Japanese novel, All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. It features Tom Cruise as Major William Cage who is forced to wear an exo-suit and do battle against invading aliens. After dying in the battlefield, he finds himself waking up the moment before the battle and the events of that day repeats itself as he dies and resurrects over and over. Even though the timeline repeats itself throughout the film, they seem fresh each time as Cage finds other ways to get himself killed and some are even quite humorous. The film also features a strong female lead in Emily Blunt who plays the badass Sargeant Rita Vrataski.
Films I enjoyed that didn't quite make the list but still worth mentioning.
THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES (Dir. Peter Jackson)
BIG HERO 6 (Dir. Don Hall & Chris Williams)
JOHN WICK (Dir. David Leitch & Chad Stahelski)
THE LAST STAND (Dir. Kim Jee-woon)
300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE (Dir. Noam Murro)
TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION (Dir. Michael Bay)
SNOWPIERCER (Bong Joon-ho)
THE EQUALIZER (Dir. Antoine Fuqua)
THE RAID 2: BERANDAL (Dir. Gareth Evans)
THE INTERVIEW (Dir. Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg)
FILMS OF 2014 I HAVE YET TO SEE
There were so many great films that came out in 2014 that I wasn't able to see all of them. These are the films I plan to see eventually in the coming year.
BIRDMAN (Dir. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu)
SELMA (Dir. Ava DuVernay)
AMERICAN SNIPER (Dir. Clint Eastwood)
INTO THE WOODS (Dir. Rob Marshall)
DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (Dir. Matt Reeves)
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (Dir. Wes Anderson)
UNBROKEN (Dir. Angelina Jolie)
THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 1 (Dir. Francis Lawrence)
FILMS I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2015
STAR WARS EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS
AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
IN THE HEART OF THE SEA
KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE
THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.
THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 2
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 5
So there you have it! My elaborate list of films that I both love and wished to see. Happy New Year and see you in 2015!
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