10 Best Movies of 2014 (Part 2)
This is it. This is the end. (Not to be confused with one of my favorite films of 2013.) These are the best of the best... at least in my humble opinion. There are many opinions out there, equally valid, which is what makes this fun, right? Anyway, these are mine.
To recap my rules, I've only included movies that were given wide releases in 2014 in their country of origin. And if you missed the lower five on the list, you can read them here, right now.
Here are the rest, the last, the best.
If ever there were a textbook example of a movie that shouldn't, by any rational expectation, ever have worked, it's this one. But 'The Lego Movie' was astonishingly good on every conceivable level. What was, let's be honest, essentially a giant toy commercial, managed to instead transcend its advertorial nature and become the best family comedy of 2014. Everything really is awesome, here.
It's hard to deny that David Fincher makes movies that look great, but 'Gone Girl' goes so much further than that. Ben Affleck, love him or hate him, is perfect as the love-him-or-hate-him pretty boy with a heart of tarnished gold, but it's Rosamund Pike who completely and utterly steals the show—and she's a corpse for half the film! When it comes down to it, this might just be trash, but it's trash raised to the level of the sublime.
In a year full of phenomenal performances, none stuck with me quite so much as Jake Gyllenhaal's turn in 'Nightcrawler.' He's both skin-crawlingly creepy and borderline heroic, at least in his singleminded, ardent, and undeniably successful pursuit of his life's goal. "What if my problem wasn't that I don't understand people but that I don't like them," says Gyllenhaal's Lou. You might not like him, but you can certainly understand him. And the movie? You won't want to keep watching, but you won't be able to look away.
Whoa. There are moments in John Wick that blow away even the very best action sequences in every other movie on this list, higher or lower. I don't think I'm overreaching my ability to predict the future when I suggest that 'John Wick' has rewritten the action movie playbook, and if future filmmakers aren't paying attention, they'd better start yesterday. Plus, a performance by Keanu Reeves that reminds us all why we love Keanu Reeves—and face it, you might like to make fun of his onetime surfer dude trappings, but you love Keanu Reeves—no one else can kick ass with quite as much style.
To be honest, any of the previous three films on this list could've ended up in the #1 slot just as easily as 'Guardians of the Galaxy.' So, what set it just barely ahead? Maybe it's that it was such a dark horse, the movie no one believed would work that worked better than any other movie in America this year (at least if we're judging by box office gross). Maybe it's the elegant, eclectic juxtaposition of far-flung space fantasy with the rock and roll of the 70s that managed to speak to me on all sorts of tantalizing personal levels. Maybe I just love Chris Pratt. Either way, Marvel has consistently produced some of the most fun movies in the last decade, and this one is probably the most fun movie they've ever made, the one by which all (or at least most) future Marvel movies will be judged. That's gotta count for something, right?