Monday, December 29, 2014

My Top 10 films of 2014

I didn’t get to see that many movies in 2014. This is partly due to increase in work, partly due to watching more TV shows (like Dr. Who), and partly to a decrease in desire to write movie reviews. But here is my top 10 movies made in 2014 that I saw. (I didn’t see that many more than this.) What I did see tells more about me than about the film. There is a preponderance of sci-fi, fantasy and dystopian futures.

10 Transcendence (Dir: Wally Pfister [debut])
Perhaps a little far-fetched, but poses questions about artificial intelligence and the confluence of man and machine. And it has Johnny Depp, even if in voice only for most of the film.

9. Mockingjay Part 1 (Dir: Francis Lawrence)
Jennifer Lawrence has made this role of Katniss Everdeen hers, and carries the film. Although this final book of the trilogy has been divided into two films (ala the final Harry Potter), this still was intriguing, if only to see the great Philip Seymour Hoffman in his final role.

8. Grand Budapest Hotel (Dir: Wes Anderson)
Too many stars to name, Wes Anderson brings all his regulars together in a beautifully shot, wonderfully scripted comedy. The movie is multilayered, told through story within story.

7. Gone Girl (Dir: David Fincher)
Gillian Flynn adapted her the screenplay from her own bestseller. Telling the story of a wife gone missing through flashback from a missing diary, the film pulls back the curtains on a seemingly wonderful marriage to show the dark underbelly beneath. Did he kidnap and kill her? Or is he innocent and being set-up?

6. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Dir: Matt Reeves)
I liked the first reboot but found this to be even better. With Andy Serkis in the role of Cesar, this is the movie where the apes speak for the first time. We also find humans no better than apes, and some apes no better than humans. It sets the scene for the next installment well.

5. X-Men: Days of Future Past (Dir: Bryan Singer)
With Singer back at the helm, this seventh movie in the series brings back the cast of the original X-men trilogy along with the cast from First Class for a mash-up of past and future.

4. Non-Stop (Dir: James Collet-Serra)
Liam Neeson stars as a hard-drinking air marshall being set up in an airplane ransom. With most of the action in a claustrophobic cabin, this is not for those who have a fear of flying. And it just happens to have Lady Mary from Downton Abbey (Michelle Dockery).

3. Edge of Tomorrow (Dir: Doug Liman)
The tag line says it all: Live, die, repeat. Lima crosses “Groundhog Day” with “Starship Troopers” and comes out with a real winner. Disregarded as a typical Tom Cruise blockbuster, this epic day, fought many times over, is an adrenaline rush.

2. Snowpiercer (Dir: Joon Ho Bong)
Though made in 2013, this debuted in the States in 2014. The dystopian future has humanity’s only survivors of a global freeze traversing the world non-stop on a train, powered by an eternal engine. The film offers social commentary on the class system, and is a violent but action-packed journey.

1. Interstellar (Dir: Christopher Nolan)
Some loved it, some hated it. I loved it. Nolan sure knows how to make great films (Inception, Dark Knight, Memento). This epic story focuses on an interstellar space flight undertaken secretly as the only hope for humanity’s survival. It reminded me of 2001, another sci-fi epic that was received in bipolar fashion. The ending will keep viewers talking much like 2001’s did.

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