10 Best Movies of 2014 (Part 1)
This is it: the best ten movies of 2014—in my opinion, anyway. Did your favorite movies make the cut? Read on and find out!
There are a thousand other lists like this cropping up around the Internet this time of year, and this one is no more perfect or objective than any of them. This is my personal, very subjective selection—the movies that spoke to me and stayed with me as a moviegoer and a critic, movies that I wanted to watch again, movies that I wanted my friends to watch, movies that give movies a good name.
I did have a couple of limiting criteria for their selection: I've only included movies that were given wide releases in 2014 in their country of origin. That means great films like The Tale of Princess Kaguya and We Are The Best! won't be on this or any of my lists, this year, as both were released in 2013 in their home countries. For films that did come out in 2014 but only received a limited release, check out the other posts in this series.
For the rest, just keep scrolling down.
This first time (and sort of on-the-downlow) collaboration between a Marvel property and a Disney studio had a lot stacked against it: no one had ever heard of it, it had an oddball cast of weirdoes, and it took place in a strange sci-fi parallel world. (Why does this sound so familiar?) But, guess what else Big Hero 6 had: a great message, endearing characters, fantastic art, and a genuinely fun and emotionally satisfying atmosphere and denouement. Is it a perfect movie? Probably not. But I had a blast in San Fransokyo, and I bet you will too. Just bring me a t-shirt, because I want to go back.
I don't know what it says about 2014 that this is the first of three sequels on the 10 Best list, or that this is the first of two films directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller to make it onto the 10 Best list, only that 2014 was a weird year. But 22 Jump Street isn't a weird movie—okay, it is, but it's an uproariously funny action comedy and (one of?) the best and most successful comedy sequels of all time. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum's incredible onscreen chemistry bolsters their equally robust acting talents, and the brilliant script, full of strange references and comic inversions, brings the whole thing to unprecedented heights. Do you want to laugh? Look no further.
Somehow or another, Marvel Studios keep stepping up their game. (I don't know; maybe they are just really good at this movie thing.) Captain America 2 not only put us back in the feel-good boots of Steve Rogers, it also gave us a relevant, pulse-pounding spy thriller that rivals Bond and Bourne, while delivering on Marvel's promise that the ensemble cast they developed through The Avengers would pay dividends for many years to come. It is, simply put, one of the most satisfying early-summer blockbusters we've had in years.
Not that many people saw Edge of Tomorrow, despite its wide release and star-studded cast, and on the one hand, it's not hard to imagine why. It's had at least two different titles in use during its American production run, not to mention a third in its country of origin, Japan (the superior(?) 'All You Need is Kill'), and after last year's abysmally dull Oblivion, faith in a Tom Cruise summer sci-fi film might be at an all time low. Yet, Edge of Tomorrow (or whatever you want to call it) is a refreshingly funny, tightly-scripted mind-bender with no small amount of action, and a performance by Cruise that reminds us: hey, he's actually a pretty damn good actor, isn't he. Sure, an awareness of Hindu philosophy might help you to unpack its cathartic finale, but that shouldn't stop you from seeing what I hope will be a cult sleeper hit in the years to come.
Anytime a movie makes me cry, I take note. After all, if these fictional entities are going to yank on my heartstrings till they twang, someone must be doing something right. And How to Train Your Dragon 2 does so much right. So much right, in fact, that you probably won't notice some of its deep, disturbing flaws until the fourth or fifth time you watch it—and maybe not even then. We'll see in two years if the threequel stitches up what's been left undone, but in the meantime, you'd be remiss to skip one of the most gorgeous, high-flying, heart-wrenching films about an unintentional warmonger ever made.