My (Revised) Top 20 Movies of 2014

Three of these didn’t blow.

I know I originally did this list way back in late December, but it would be kind of stupid of me to have watched all those movies I watched for Oscar season and having had my opinion evolve without re-doing the list. So, uh, here you go.

20. Big Hero 6

Dear god, do I want a Baymax plushie. Have I mentioned that yet? I don’t care, I still want one.

Genres: Animated, superhero, comedy

Directed by: Don Hall (Winnie the Pooh) and Chris Williams (Bolt)

Voices of: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, T.J. Miller, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans, Jr., Genesis Rodriguez, Maya Rudolph, James Cromwell, Daniel Henney

I’m personally still pissed that it won Best Animated Feature, but I’m also not going to deny that Big Hero 6 is an incredibly likable movie, if not the most original or unpredictable. To be absolutely truthful, this movie probably wouldn’t rate as highly in my mind if it wasn’t for Baymax, but the other characters hold their own in terms of likability, especially Hiro and his brother, though the side characters get their share of laughs as well.

They really should’ve picked one way to pronounce “Hiro” and stuck with it, though. That’s pretty goddamn annoying.

19. The Lego Movie

Genres: Animated, comedy, adventure

Directed by: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street, 22 Jump Street)

Voices of: Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman

I didn’t love The Lego Movie nearly as much as some people did, but, again, I still thought it was a great movie. I thought the buildup was kind of weaker than I expected, but the rest of the film is pretty terrific fun. It’s definitely the best piece of incredibly conspicuous product placement ever made, if nothing else.

Ant it’s not even close, realy.

18. 22 Jump Street

Genres: Comedy, action

Directed by: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (See above)

Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Peter Stormare, Wyatt Russell, Amber Stevens, Jillian Bell, Ice Cube

The second straight Phil Lord/Christopher Miller project on my list had, like The Lego Movie, kind of a weak buildup that kind of disappointed me. Thankfully, when it does pick it up, it grabs hold of the intensity knob (Heh) and turns that shit up to 11 (Out of a possible five).

“I am the unicorn wizard!!!…”

It’s not quite as good as the first movie, but as long as Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum and Ice Cube keep delivering, I genuinely wouldn’t mind seeing some of the joke sequels that were teased during the credits.

17. Edge of Tomorrow

Genres: Science fiction, action

Directed by: Doug Liman (Swingers, Go, The Bourne Identity, Fair Game)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson

Admit it, you took one look at the trailer for Edge of Tomorrow (Or All You Need is Kill. Or Live. Die. Repeat.) and rolled your eyes. “Oh great, another Tom Cruise sci-fi movie. Why can’t this Scientologist prick just fuck off into irrelevancy and take his smug-ass demeanor (As well as his tremendous talent for making action movies) with him?” Then you learnt about the plot. “Oh, fucking brilliant. Oblivion meets Groundhog Day??? Jesus Christ, are there no more original ideas in Hollywood?”

Yes. Yes there are.

And then, you actually watched Edge of Tomorrow. That made you feel pretty stupid, didn’t it?

16. The Theory of Everything

Genre: Biographical romantic drama

Directed by: James Marsh (Man on Wire, Project Nim)

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox, Simon McBurney, David Thewlis, Maxine Peake

This movie has gotten a lot of recent criticism for essentially being just another paint-by-numbers Oscar movie, but even so, I really like it. I definitely understand the complaint that it’s a merely okay movie with good performances, but when those performances are as good as the ones you get from Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, I frankly don’t see that much reason to hate it all that much. I can understand being adverse to it, but I enjoy it, personally.

15. Selma

Genre: Historical drama

Directed by: Ava DuVernay

Starring: David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson, Carmen Ejogo, Andre Holland, Tessa Thompson, Giovanni Ribisi, Lorraine Touissant, Stephen James, Wendell Pierce, Common, Cuba Gooding Jr., Tim Roth, Oprah Winfrey

It’s bullshit that Ava DuVernay didn’t get nominated. And that’s all I have to say about that.

14. The Imitation Game

Genre: Historical thriller

Directed by: Morten Tyldum (Headhunters)

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear, Charles Dance, Mark Strong

Much like (Although maybe not quite as much as) The Theory of Everything for being another “Oscar-bait” movie, and while I do generally have a problem with that term, I can see what people get at when they criticize it. That said, even more than The Theory of Everything, I love this movie, mostly for Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance.

13. John Wick

Genre: Action thriller

Directed by: Chad Stahelski, David Leitch

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Willem DeFoe

Oh, just read the entry for Edge of Tomorrow again.

12. Top Five

Genre: Comedy

Directed by: Chris Rock

Starring: Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Gabrielle Union, J.B. Smoove, Cedric the Entertainer, Tracy Morgan

Cedric the Entertainer is fucking disgusting. This movie has convinced me of that.

Also, DMX has the voice of an angel.

11. Guardians of the Galaxy

Genre: Superhero

Directed by: James Gunn (Slither)

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio del Toro

I saw this movie four times in theatres, and it got a little better each time for me. I’m sure most of you are sick to death of it by now, so I’ll just say that if you haven’t seen it yet, do so immediately.

10. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Genres: Anime, drama, fantasy

Directed by: Isao Takahata (Grave of the FirefliesPom Poko, My Neighbors the Yamadas)

Voices of: Asi Asakura, Kengo Kora, Takeo Chii, Nobuko Miyamoto, Atsuko Takahata

English dub: Chloe Grace Moretz, Darren Criss, James Caan, Mary Steenbergen, Lucy Liu

I haven’t talked very much about Studio Ghibli, as I’m just now starting to get into Japan’s answer to Disney, but The Tale of the Princess Kaguya sold me on them. As cliched a noun as “beautiful” is in describing movies, it’s a perfect word to describe this dreamlike movie. The art style in this movie is brilliantly executed, and the last fifteen to twenty minutes or so are composed of some of the best animated sequences I’ve ever seen. Also, the soundtrack in this movie is terrific. It figures that I’d get into Studio Ghibli right when they decided to go on a hiatus.

9. How to Train Your Dragon 2

Genres: Animated, fantasy

Directed by: Dean DeBlois (Lilo & Stitch, How to Train Your Dragon)

Voices of: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrara, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jonah Hill, T.J. Miller, Kristen Wiig, Djimon Hounsou, Kit Harington

As much as I loved Princess Kaguya, it just couldn’t beat out my highly developed Western ethnocentrism.

8. Nightcrawler

Genre: Crime thriller

Directed by: Dan Gilroy

Starring: Jake Gyllenhal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, Bill Paxton

It’s bullshit that Jake Gyllenhaal didn’t get nominated. That’s all I have to say about that (Again).

7. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Genre; Superhero

Directed by: Anthony and Joe Russo (Community)

Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp, Robert Redford, Samuel L. Jackson

Terrific movie, but did we ever ind out what happened to Red Skull in the first movie? That kinda seems like something you wouldn’t wanna gloss over.

6. The Grand Budapest Hotel

Genre: Comedy

Directed by: Wes Anderson (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Moonrise Kingdom)

Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Saoirse Ronan, Edward Norton, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric

The Grand Budapest Hotel is actually the only Wes Anderson movie I’ve ever seen, but it’s tough to think that any of his movies could possibly be better than The Grand Budapest Hotel. Just give me dark, whimsical, occasionally crude humour in formal, colourful environments and I’ll be putty in your hand, I guess.

5. Gone Girl

Genre: Psychological thriller

Directed by: David Fincher (Seven, The Game, Fight Club, Zodiac, The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)

Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Carrie Coon, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris

Blood…. So much blood… Poor Ben…

4. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Genre: Science fiction

Directed by: Matt Reeves (Let Me In)

Starring: Andy Serkis, Toby Kebbell, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Kodi Smit-McPhee

It’s bullshit that Andy Serkis and Toby Kebbell… Ah, fuck it.

3. X-Men: Days of Future Past

Genre: Superhero

Directed by: Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, X-Men, X2)

Starring: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicolas Hoult, Evan Peters, Ellen Page, Peter Dinkage, Shawn Ashmore

With all the love that Marvel movies keep getting, it’s easy to forget that Fox has been churning out quality X-Men movies (Brett Ratner and shitty Deadpool aside). Days of Future Past (Based on the popular story arc fro mthe comics) continues on in that tradition, combining the older actors from the original trilogy with the newer actors from X-Men: First Class. Hopefully, X-Men: Apocalypse is just as good. Also, while we’re hopin  things, I hope the sexual assault allegations against Bryan Singer turn out to be false.

One of those definitely seems more likely than the other. But hey, Channing Tatum’s gonna be Gambit and Nightcrawler is coming back, so it all works out in the end.

2. Whiplash

Genre: Drama

Directed by: Damien Chazelle

Starring: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist

Until I saw Whiplash, I thought for the longest time that there wasn’t any real competition for my favourite movie of the year. It didn’t quite get there, but hey, 2nd place ain’t bad. J.K. Simmons especially did a really good job-“

“Excuse me? You dropped my movie to second place for some fucking Hollywood circle jerk art house piece of shit?”

Oh, uh, Doctor Fletcher, I-

“Did I say you could speak, bitch?”

(Whimpers)

“If you deliberately sabotage my movie, I will gut you like a pig!”

I’m no sabotaging it, I, really loved it, I-I-

“Oh my dear god, are you actually crying? Are you one of those single-tear people?”

N–n-no!!

“You are a worthless pansy-ass who is now weeping and slobbering all over your keyboard like a nine year old girl! “

(Starts straight-up bawling)

“… Whiplash is your favourite movie. Say it.”

Whiplash is my favorite movie.

“Say it so the entire internet can hear you. “

Whiplash is my favourite movie! 

“LOUDER!!!”

WHIPLASH IS MY FAVOURITE MOVIE!!!!

” You are a worthless, friendless, faggot-lipped little piece of shit who is under the delusion that he has any writing talent to share with anybody, and who is now weeping and slobbering all over his computer like a fucking nine-year old girl! So for the final, FATHER-FUCKING time, SAY IT LOUDER! “

WHIPLASH IS MY FAVOURITE MOVIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

…Start practicing harder, Rollins.

(Resumes sobbing)

1. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Genres: Surreal comedy, black comedy

Directed by: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel)

Starring: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts, Andrea Riseborough, Amy Ryan

No, I’m not bandwagoning. I loved Birdman even before it won Best Picture. If you really want me to go into it, read my review, or my Oscar predictions, for that matter. It’s my favourite movie of this year, possibly one of my favourite movies of all time, and that’s really all you can ask out of a year in movies.

Especially when there’ no hilarious Nicolas Cage performance to rewatch. God, that movie blows/

Top 10 Best Movies of 2014

After a couple nights of sobbing, binge drinking, and being driven to insanity several times over, I was able to release my list of the worst movies of this year. Now that that’s out of the way, it’s time to set our sights on this year’s best movies. Before starting, I must admit that I haven’t seen every movie that I probably should’ve seen by now. Selma, for example, won;t be released in a theatre near me until January, I haven’t had a chance to see The Imitation Game yet and, like an idiot, I missed my chance to watch Whiplash when it was released in Edmonton. Since I can’t very well claim to have seen the best of this year until I’ve, y’know, actually seen the best of the year, I’ll probably do another list in February after awards season, when I’ll have become a little bit less of an uncultured swine.

Unlike my…Other list, I actually enjoy watching good movies. Therefor, I have a few honourable mentions to get through before getting to the actual Top 10. These are movies that would be great fits on any Top 10 list, but juuuuuust missed out on mine.They are, in no particular order:

  1. Interstellar
  2. Neighbors
  3. The Fault in Our Stars
  4. Boyhood 
  5. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 1
  6. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
  7. Edge of Tomorrow (Or Live. Die. Repeat. Whatever the hell we’re supposed to call it)
  8. John Wick
  9. Big Hero 6
  10. The Lego Movie
  11. 22 Jump Street 
  12. Top Five

Let’s give them all a round of applause, everybody!

Oh, right, before I go on, once again, this list is purely opinion-based, and if you don’t agree with it, feel free to leave your own list in the comment section. Also, I’m not going to go quite as in-depth as I did with the shitty movies (In fact, I’m only doing a caption for each movie), as I’ve already reviewed quite a few of these movies, and pretty much all of those that I haven’t reviewed yet are probably on deck for an Oscar or Golden Globe review. Alright, let’s do this!!!

10. The Theory of Everything

You will cry.

9. Guardians of the Galaxy

This is an actual thing that happened.

8. How to Train Your Dragon 2

“Nice pansy-ass white balloon robot. Check out my pet.”

7. Nightcrawler

Uhh…..Bamf????

6. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

One of the most badass posters of the year, by the way.

5. The Grand Budapest Hotel

“You’re an inanimate fucking object!!!”

4. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

I want an orangutan of my very own. Maurice is fucking awesome.

3. Gone Girl

..Ummmm… I’ll just give you two some privacy…

2. X-Men: Days of Future Past

The collective awesomeness in this poster is too much for most mortal men.

1. Birdman

What? No! Who the hell is this?!

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Movie Review)

Pictured: A scene in Captain America in which fake Robert Redford plays a character whom real Robert Redford would fight valiantly to defeat. Or at least donate a shit-ton of movie to help defeat.

And to think that if you were to come up to me after I watched those god-awful Fantastic Four movies and try to convince me that the guy who played the Human Torch would ever star in a superhero movie again, I would have laughed, and laughed and laughed…

 Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Directed by: Anthony and Joe Russo

Produced by: Kevin Feige

Screenplay by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely

Based on: Captain America by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

Sequel to: Captain America: The First Avenger

Series: Marvel Cinematic Universe (9th installment)

Genres: Superhero, Action Thriller

Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson,Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily  VanCamp, Hayley Atwell, Robert Redford, Samuel L. Jackson

 

Plot: Two years after the battle of New York in The Avengers, the cryogenically preserved title character, World War II superhero Steve Roger, code-name: Captain America (Chris Evans) is keeping himself busy trying to catch up with 65-ish years of pop culture and news, and carrying out missions for S.H.I.E.L.D., the shadowy spy agency led by one-eyed badass Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), accompanied by deadly super-spy Natasha Romanoff, code-name: Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and a lethal S.T.R.I.K.E. team led by Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo). During a mission to rescue hostages being held by Algerian mercenary Georges Batroc (Georges St-Pierre! Seriously!!!), Cap discovers that Fury tasked Romanoff not with saving the hostages, but with extracting data from the ship’s computers for Fury.

When Cap confronts Fury about this, he is briefed by his boss on the brand new Project Insight, which consists of three enormous helicarriers linked to spy satellites, designed to eliminate terrorist threats before they get serious. In other words, it’s Dick Cheney’s wet dream. Fury tries to sell Rogers on the project, but Steve, still an advocate of fun little things like “freedom” and “fair trials”, is disturbed. However, when Fury tries to decrypt the files that Black Widow stole, he is not only denied access, but, on his way to a rendezvous with fellow agent Maria Hill, he is assaulted by a hardass Soviet assassin known only as the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). After the attack, Rogers is unable to reveal any information about the attack to senior S.H.I.E.L.D. director Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), who declares him a fugitive. Rogers, accompanied by Black Widow and his friend, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) embark on a journey to uncover the truth about the Winter Soldier… And some bad apples who have infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D.

Anybody who’s going into this movie thinking that it’s gonna be your typical Saturday morning cartoon-turned superhero movie (Avengers, Thor, Amazing Spider-Man the first Captain America) should know that they will be not disappointed, but kind of jarred by the tone of this movie. Right off the bat almost, the audience is shown that this will not be a light-hearted almost-comedy like Marvel movies tend to be, as Captain America, Black Widow and the Winter Soldier often get into prolonged, somewhat brutal fight sequences with terrorists and S.H.I.E.L.D., which often end in graphic death, not exactly something you’re used to seeing in superhero movies.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s no Tarantino film, and the movie has its’ lighthearted moments. Especially the comedic scenes between Cap and Natasha, but this is in no way, shape or form a movie that I would be comfortable taking my hypothetical  children to see. When I saw it, there were parents in the theater who were clearly regretting taking their very young kids to see it.

This isn’t meant to be a discredit to the movie though. I love me some graphic violence, and it makes sense to me that the different superheroes of the MCU should each have their different film genres (Iron man gets sci-fi action comedies, Thor gets fantasies, Hulk gets tragic dramas and Captain America gets gritty semi-political action thrillers).

Sure, the plot does suffer from a little bit of the Thor: The Dark World malaise of making the plot a little bit more complicated than it really needs to be (And, in fact, the two screenwriters for this movie also co-wrote the second Thor movie), but it’s really not so bad in this case. The plot is mostly airtight, with the often risky political overtones actually feeling important to the story and not shoehorned in for a phony sense of urgency. I, personally think that they should’ve  played up the whole “spying on innocents” angle, but that’s probably just my pesky left-wing liberal bias.

And maximum kudos to the Russo brothers, who had previously been known for directing episodes of Happy Endings, Community and the good seasons of Arrested Development, for crafting a movie that is way out of their comfort zones, with some kickass fight scenes that may be some of the best I’ve ever seen, even including an awesome fight scene at the beginning between Cap an UFC fighter Georges St. Pierre. You aren’t gonna see any of that shit in Arrested Development.

As for actors, There isn’t a weak link among the cast. Chris Evans is everything you’d want in a charismatic superhero lead, and has grown a lot as an actor since his nauseating performance as Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four. Scarlett Johansson is great as Black Widow and Anthony Mackie makes a great impression as a Marvel newcomer. Robert Redford is wonderful as the somewhat shady Alexander Pierce, and Sebastian Stan’s Winter Soldier is probably the best Marvel villain so  far apart, of course, from Loki.

Conclusion: Dark and violent while also funny and entertaining, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is one of the best MCU movies released so far (I’d put it just behind Iron Man in second and The Avengers in first) and the best movie in Marvel’s second phase.

9/10