Best of 2014FilmOpinion

The Top Ten Best Films Of 2014 (Staff Picks)

Griffin Conlogue ‘15 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Films are presented in alphabetical order:

Birdman

Michael Keaton in Birdman. Photo Credit: Atsushi Nishijima/Twentieth Century Fox.
Michael Keaton in Birdman. Photo Credit: Atsushi Nishijima/Twentieth Century Fox.

The best film of the year in my opinion, probably by a wide margin. As incredible as Gravity was last year in terms of technical craft, but with a much better story. Michael Keaton giving the second best performance of the year (more on that later) and a scene stealing Edward Norton combine to headline an incredibly talented cast in the movie about a struggling actor trying to make his comeback.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Chris Evans in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Photo Credit: Marvel.
Chris Evans in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Photo Credit: Marvel.

Limiting myself to only one superhero film, it came down to this and Guardians of the Galaxy for the crown. Though Guardians was probably the more entertaining film, Winter Soldier is the best superhero film since The Dark Knight. Just as much an espionage thriller as a superhero film, the Russo Brothers have crafted the best film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Fingers crossed the two sign on for the third and fourth Avengers films.

Chef

John Leguizamo, Emjay Anthony and Jon Favreau in Chef. Photo Credit: Merrick Morton/Open Road Films.
John Leguizamo, Emjay Anthony and Jon Favreau in Chef. Photo Credit: Merrick Morton/Open Road Films.

In a list of mostly depressing films, Chef stands tall as the happiest and most uplifting film of the year. Jon Favreau returns to his indie roots to make a wonderful film about a father and son as they travel across the country in a food truck. You’re gonna wanna eat a meal before you watch the movie, otherwise pausing and cooking will become necessary. It’s a touching father and son tale that will bring you endless tears, laughter, and smiles.

Edge of Tomorrow

Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow. Photo Credit: David James/Warner Bros. Entertainment.
Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow. Photo Credit: David James/Warner Bros. Entertainment.

This was the definitive best blockbuster film of the year. Has the same director as Mr. and Mrs. Smith and the first Bourne movie, but is much better than either. It’s really fun, really action packed, and features a really attractive Emily Blunt. The screenplay is awesome (the great Christopher McQuarrie wrote it) and has some awesome effects and great production design. Throw all of your ill-will towards Tom Cruise out the window and sit down and enjoy the alien invasion/time travel (sort of) joyride.

Foxcatcher

Steve Carell and Channing Tatum in Foxcatcher. Photo Credit: Scott Garfield/Sony Pictures Classics.
Steve Carell and Channing Tatum in Foxcatcher. Photo Credit: Scott Garfield/Sony Pictures Classics.

Though the film is pretty dour and the cinematography gives the film a very detached feeling, Foxcatcher’s cast and their amazing performances reign supreme. The film features a career best Steve Carell as eccentric multi-millionaire John du Pont, a career best Channing Tatum as Olympic gold medalist Mark Schultz, and the always great Mark Ruffalo as his brother and trainer Dave. Like many of the films on this list, it’s depressing and heartbreaking at the end.

Gone Girl

Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck in Gone Girl. Photo Credit: Merrick Morton/Twentieth Century Fox.
Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck in Gone Girl. Photo Credit: Merrick Morton/Twentieth Century Fox.

Perhaps the only blockbuster/Oscar-bait crossover that truly lived up to the hype this year, David Fincher’s Gone Girl is a poetic marathon of a film that thankfully isn’t bogged down by some of the pacing issues the director has had in the past. Gone Girl is probably his second best work since the year 2000, trailing only behind The Social Network. One of the best and closest to the book adaptations in recent memory, everyone should both read the book and watch the film, preferably in that order.

Men, Women, and Children

Kaitlyn Dever and Ansel Elgort in Men, Women & Children. Photo Credit: Dale Robinette/Paramount Pictures.
Kaitlyn Dever and Ansel Elgort in Men, Women & Children. Photo Credit: Dale Robinette/Paramount Pictures.

Every year I seem to love at least one film that has just as many negative reviews as positive. Last year it was the beautiful Walter Mitty, and this year it’s Jason Reitman’s Men, Women, and Children. While many argued the film was riddled with clichés and was way too overbearing, I found that the timeliness of the material as well as a connection to the characters made it one of the more important films of the year. It’s an ensemble film about social media and the internet age. It’s powerful and heartbreaking and features Adam Sandler in a dramatic role. It’s a really nice, little film.

Nightcrawler

Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler. Photo Credit: Chuck Zlotnick/Open Road Films.
Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler. Photo Credit: Chuck Zlotnick/Open Road Films.

Jake Gyllenhaal was the best actor this year. He won’t win best actor very often (if at all) this awards season, but he definitely deserves to. The way he transformed his body and personality for the twisted role of Lou Bloom in Nightcrawler deserves commendation. He plays a twisted criminal who films crimes and accidents in the Los Angeles area, and sells them to news outlets. It’s an edge of your seat thriller and compelling character study that deserves to be brought up as one of the years bests.

Skeleton Twins

Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader in Skeleton Twins. Photo Credit: Reed Morano/Sundance Institute.
Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader in Skeleton Twins. Photo Credit: Reed Morano/Sundance Institute.

The “all the feels” film of the year. Extremely heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. Typical comedians Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig play a pair of depressed twins in the dramatic indie. It’ll make you laugh and cry and feel basically every other emotion you can think of.

Snowpiercer

John Hurt, Chris Evans and Jamie Bell in Snowpiercer. Photo Credit: RADiUS/TWC.
John Hurt, Chris Evans and Jamie Bell in Snowpiercer. Photo Credit: RADiUS/TWC.

Originality is rare when it comes to films, but this film makes you feel like you are watching a story you’ve never seen before. The whole film takes place on a train that never stops moving and houses the remainder of humankind. It’s extremely witty, the cast seems to be having as much fun as the viewers, and Chris Evans shines in a role worthy of his acting ability. It’s gruesome and violent, but a really refreshing and ‘cool’ post apocalyptic film.

Do you agree with Griffin’s selections? Sound off in the comments! Here’s to another great year in film.

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