The 10 Best Movies of 2014

The biggest surprise of 2014 is that the Oscar-bait movies like The Theory of EverythingThe Imitation Game, and Unbroken failed to deliver. As the year comes to a close, most critics and cinephiles are talking about innovative indies like BoyhoodBirdman, and The Grand Budapest Hotel, as well as mainstream blockbusters like Guardians of the GalaxyInterstellar, and Edge of TomorrowIt seems as if everyone has had enough of the by-the-numbers biopic, in which actors ham it up for their peers in a lame attempt to be considered for an Academy Award. The culture has become more sophisticated, and many films from 2014 represent this shift.

This isn’t to say that there weren’t the usual duds. There’s always going to be the annual Adam Sandler movie and Transformers sequel. However, the highs felt much higher this time, with films like Gone Girl forcefully entering the pop culture conversation in a way that hasn’t been felt since Brokeback Mountain (2005). For the first time in years, the mass public engaged in a passionate debate about a Hollywood film.

The following list highlights the best films that 2014 had to offer. Most of them were released in the first half of the year, which says more about the disappointing slate of Oscar movies that came out in the fall than anything else. Unlike last year, which offered an impressive amount of mainstream fare during Oscar season, the best films this year were independent releases or summer blockbusters. Although there are a number of fantastic films that I did not include, I am certain that the ones I did choose will be remembered the most when we look back on this wonderful year at the movies.

10. Joe dir. David Gordon Green

Nicholas Cage and Tye Sheridan in 'Joe'
Nicholas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’

With Joe, director David Gordon Green reminds us why he was once considered the most promising filmmaker of his generation when he arrived on the independent scene in the early 2000s with George Washington (2000) and All the Real Girls (2003). The film is a vital return to form after a string of disappointing studio comedies, and finds Green observing the lives of downtrodden, working-class individuals he captured so well in the beginning of his career. Nicolas Cage gives one of his best performances as Joe, a short-tempered ex-con who forms an unlikely relationship with Gary (Tye Sheridan), a young boy who suffers at the hand of his alcoholic father. At the center of the film is the relationship between Joe and Gary, and like Jeff Nichols did with Mud (2012), Green showcases a social environment that is often overlooked in cinema. For instance, when Joe and Gary crack open a few beers and drive around town, it is meant to be a bonding moment between the two characters. Gary is a tough kid whose circumstances have forced him to mature at a young age, whereas Joe in many ways still has much growing up to do. The relationship unfolds in unpredictable ways, and culminates in a harrowing conclusion that in retrospect seems inevitable.

JOE Trailer (Nicolas Cage – 2014)

9. Palo Alto dir. Gia Coppola

Emma Roberts in 'Palo Alto'
Emma Roberts in ‘Palo Alto’

For some reason, audiences never really caught on with Gia Coppola’s impressive debut, Palo Alto, about a group of aimless teenagers in California. Like other selections on this list, Palo Alto is a coming-of-age film, and it is easily the darkest of the bunch. The depiction of youthful rebellion on screen is nothing new, nor is the representation of millennial malaise, but Coppola finds a way to make it all seem fresh and exciting. Perhaps this is because teenagers today come of age in a world where the future is actually hopeless (global warming, food scarcity, population growth, etc.), and now more than ever it seems utterly pointless to sacrifice the careless exuberance of youth for career planning or other goal-oriented activities. The teenagers in Palo Alto experiment with drugs, alcohol, and sex, and underlying all of this is a fear that they will soon have to give this up for adulthood, and a civilization that may collapse by the time they reach middle age. Given these circumstances, it makes sense that the stakes for today’s youth do not seem as high, and their general disposition is a combination of “why bother?” and “who cares?” You’ve seen coming-of-age films before, but none have captured youth as honestly as Palo Alto.

Palo Alto Official Trailer #1 (2014) – James Franco, Emma Roberts Movie HD

8. We Are the Best! dir. Lukas Moodysson

Lukas Moodysson's 'We Are the Best!'
Lukas Moodysson’s ‘We Are the Best!’

We Are the Best! is a lovely tribute to the anarchy of punk. The film follows three young girls in 1980s Stockholm as they form a band without any musical talent or the support of their peers. This is a delightful piece of work, and like Moodysson’s Together (2000), it is joyous and life-affirming. We Are the Best! celebrates the confusion of adolescence, as well as music’s power to transform life’s mundane moments into something magical. Moodysson is the real deal, and although We Are the Best! remains overlooked by most audiences, those who see it will not be able to stop singing its praises.

We Are The Best! International Trailer 1 (2014) – Swedish Drama Movie HD

7. Neighbors dir. Nicholas Stoller

Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne in 'Neighbors'
Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne in ‘Neighbors’

Call me crazy, but Neighbors was the most fun I had at the movies all year. This is another Seth Rogen starring vehicle, which means that the jokes will be related to body parts. Forget all of the hoopla surrounding The Interview, and relish in this over-the-top comedy about a fraternity that moves next door to a newly married couple with a baby. Rogen and Rose Byrne play the couple, and Zac Efron, Dave Franco, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse play members of the fraternity. As far as mainstream comedies go, Neighbors is a winner, and solidifies Rogen’s status as Hollywood’s funniest leading man. Efron, Franco, and Mintz-Plasse are the perfect frat boys, which is impressive considering that neither of them have a college degree. It is Byrne, however, who steals the show, and delivers the funniest performance of the year. There is one scene, in particular, that needs to be seen to be believed, and it involves her attempt to breastfeed after a night of heavy drinking. Neighbors is crude, vulgar, and very, very funny.

Neighbors Official Trailer #3 (2014) – Zac Efron, Seth Rogen Movie HD

6. Edge of Tomorrow dir. Doug Liman

Tom Cruise in 'Edge of Tomorrow'
Tom Cruise in ‘Edge of Tomorrow’

Edge of Tomorrow will be remembered for a number of reasons. It reminds us that Tom Cruise is our most consistent movie star, and that he never fails to deliver. It shows us that Hollywood can still release a blockbuster that isn’t based on a preexisting storyworld. Most important, it brings the fun back to the summer blockbuster in a year when films like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Godzilla displayed an unprecedented amount of self-seriousness. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas understood that blockbusters could be smart, sophisticated, and, dare I say it, a little silly, and as a result, they made some of the most entertaining movies of all time. These are films that adults and children could enjoy, and lately, our summer blockbusters have been overrun by wannabe auteurs with an embarrassing need to bog their films down with pretentious preaching. Frankly, I’m sick and tired of this recently established “serious summer blockbuster” subgenre, which can be attributed to Christopher Nolan’s batman trilogy. Fortunately, Cruise and Liman came along to save the day. Edge of Tomorrow is action-packed, thrilling, and even thought-provoking, but it’s also extremely funny, and contains arguably the most clever use of slapstick comedy since Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton graced the screen in the silent era.

Edge of Tomorrow – Official Trailer 1 [HD]

5. Boyhood dir. Richard Linklater

Ethan Hawke and Ellar Coltrane in 'Boyhood'
Ethan Hawke and Ellar Coltrane in ‘Boyhood’

There is nothing cool about attacking fantastic films for the sake of it, so I’m not about to jump on the backlash bandwagon and try to rationalize why Richard Linklater’s Boyhood isn’t one of the best films of the year. We all know it is, and those who have labeled it “overhyped” or “overrated” are bored attention-seekers, depressed that no one will listen to them at the dinner table. Everyone knows the story about how the film was made, but I’m willing to bet that even if the actors didn’t reprise their roles every year for 12 years, we would still be talking about Boyhood. I’m not naïve enough to claim that the making of the film doesn’t contribute to its overall impact—it certainly does—but to attribute its success primarily to the production ultimately undermines Linklater’s mastery behind the camera. Boyhood is excellent because Linklater is an excellent filmmaker, and he has always prioritized characterization above all else. After decades of consistent quality work, it’s nice to finally see him recognized in a big way.

Boyhood – International Trailer (Universal Pictures) HD

4. Begin Again dir. John Carney

Keira Knightley in 'Begin Again'
Keira Knightley in ‘Begin Again’

Begin Again is the most charming film of the year, and easily the best movie musical since Carney’s Once (2006) reinvigorated the genre for a new generation of cinephiles. This time, Carney’s film is more polished, and is graced by an A-list cast including Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, but it’s no less funny, romantic, and emotionally resonant. Earnest romantic comedies rarely get acknowledged by the Academy, which is a shame because Knightley’s performance as Gretta, a young singer-songwriter heartbroken over the demise of a romantic relationship, is miles better than her likely-to-be-nominated turn in the overrated The Imitation Game. Knightley effortlessly moves between hope and despair, and whenever she opens her mouth to sing, my heart melted a little more. Ruffalo is equally fantastic as Steve, a down-and-out record producer who notices Gretta’s talent. It’s easy to be cynical and criticize certain elements of Begin Again as unrealistic or manipulative, but where would we be without fantasy? Begin Again is one of the best films of 2014 precisely because it presents an idealistic depiction of the music industry at a time when aspiring artists struggle to receive compensation for their work, and music lovers struggle to find artists that move them. Begin Again offers the best of both worlds, and even though Gretta doesn’t exist in real life, fans of the film can rest knowing that her beautiful songs, including “Lost Stars,” exist on a soundtrack.

Begin Again – Official Trailer – The Weinstein Company

3. Gone Girl dir. David Fincher

Ben Affleck in 'Gone Girl'
Ben Affleck in ‘Gone Girl’

Thank god for David Fincher’s Gone Girl, the only mainstream Hollywood film in 2014 that delivered on its promise of offering sophisticated adult entertainment. In 2013, the major studios gave us challenging fare like The Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, 12 Years a Slave, and Captain Phillips. This year, we get by-the-numbers drek like The Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game, Unbroken, and Into the Woods. Leave it to Fincher, then, to entertain us with a provocative dissection of marriage and the media. Gillian Flynn successfully adapts her best-selling novel for the screen, and Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck are pitch-perfect as Amy and Nick, a married couple with a few secrets, to say the least. Pike has deservedly received the awards attention for knocking 2014’s most intriguing character out of the park, but Affleck’s performance has been unfairly overlooked, and is crucial to the film’s success. Since Affleck wisely plays Nick ambiguously with various shades of gray, the audience never “likes” him and thus never sympathizes with him when things turn sour. Sure, Amy is a monster, but the reason why Flynn’s story is so complex, and why Fincher’s adaptation and the performances therein are so successful, is because part of us can’t help but believe that Nick, the bastard that he is, might just deserve what happens to him. It is this unfiltered depiction of a revenge fantasy that has angered feminists and misogynists alike, and has made Gone Girl the most divisive film of the year.

Gone Girl Official Trailer #2 (2014) Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike HD

2. Ida dir. Pawel Pawlikowski

Agata Kulesza and Agata Trzebuchowska in 'Ida'
Agata Kulesza and Agata Trzebuchowska in ‘Ida’

In a year when most promising films overstayed their welcome with unnecessarily long running times (Mr. Turner, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Inherent Vice, etc.), Ida proved the old mantra “less is more” in every single way. Clocking in at a mere 82 minutes, the film may just be the only perfect release of the year, and is arguably the definitive exercise in cinematic minimalism. The camera barely moves, and the terrific actors, Agata Kulesza and Agata Trzebuchowska, hardly speak a line of dialog. Ryszard Lenczewski and Lukasz Zal’s breathtaking black and white cinematography is reminiscent of Sven Nykvist’s iconic work with Ingmar Bergman, and if the film was released in the 1960s, it would be taught in universities alongside legendary auteurs like Bergman and be included in the revered Criterion Collection along with The Virgin Spring (1960) and The Silence of God trilogy. Ida is quiet and understated, and it is not the kind of film to watch half-heartedly after a long workweek. To say that it demands and deserves your undivided attention is an understatement. It is one of the few releases in 2014 that has the potential to restore your faith in pure filmmaking, in which priority is given to the construction of the image, the pacing of the narrative, and the psychology of the characters.

IDA Movie Trailer (2014)

1. The Raid 2 dir. Gareth Evans

Gareth Evans' 'The Raid 2'
Gareth Evans’ ‘The Raid 2’

The Raid 2 is one of the best action movies ever made. At a time when the genre has been plagued with an overuse of digital effects, Gareth Evans wisely goes back to the basics. The film is void of the loud explosions often seen in the Transformers franchise; instead, Evans highlights the physicality of his performers as they beat one another to a bloody pulp. Those who can stomach the gruesome violence and non-stop pummeling (the film is 150 minutes) will find themselves having just experienced the most artfully constructed film of 2014. Action cinema is too often overlooked by critics and awards groups, and The Raid 2 reminds us that, when done right, the genre represents cinema at its most vital. The set pieces are among the most inspired and beautifully choreographed in cinema history, and they become more exciting and impressive as the film progresses. You don’t need to watch the first film to believe the hype. The Raid 2 is a new action classic.

The Raid 2: Berandal Official Trailer #1 (2014) Crime-Thriller HD

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Jon Lisi is a PhD student who writes about film, television, and popular culture. You can follow his work here: http://jonlisi.pressfolios.com/.

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75 Comments

  1. Ben Hufbauer

    Good article! But I have a small point to make about the title. This is Jon Lisi’s list of his top 10 movies. It seems overstating the case to say that these are “The 10 Best Movies of 2014.” Even the late, great Roger Ebert would just call his list for each year “Ebert’s Top Movies of 2012,” rather than “The Top Movies of 2012.” Still, I enjoyed the insights about the movies that were picked.++ This is a well-written and perceptive article.

  2. I predict that Birdman will be very high on the 2015 list. It’s pretty great.

  3. Fluensa
    0

    I’ve been dying to see Skeleton Twins, We are the Best, and expecially Whiplash for ages.

  4. I am waiting to see The Babadook which I heard is one to look for.

    • Jon Lisi

      It is pretty great. I wasn’t as “scared” by it as others, but the performances and filmmaking are fantastic, and you can tell that it is clearly about something.

  5. Mirth Light
    0

    The ones I enjoyed the most were Captain America 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Only Lovers Left Alive. I also enjoyed Maleficent, although it’s a bit of a guilty pleasure!

    Biggest disappointment for me was Days of Future Past. Faultlessly acted but the story was dull and not a patch on the source material.

    • I have to say I enjoyed your choices and the reviews of the films. It would have been great to see Guardians of the Galaxy make your list, considering it brought what I felt to be a fresh yet nostalgic face to the Marvel film empire. Still, great work!

    • Guardians of the Galaxy was really good, but there were some random forced relationships on it. For example the love affair in the movie seemed kinda random and I barely understood the progression into it. The deep friendship between Drax and Groot seemed to come up out of nowhere too.
      I will say, however, that Groot and Rocket had a really organic and easy to love friendship

  6. Gone Girl is so astonishingly bad, I can’t believe it ever got made. Watching it, I literally sat open mouthed, thinking, ‘Are you fucking kidding me?’

  7. Pretty hard to quibble with this list, especially as Boyhood and Edge of Tomorrow were my two personal favourites of the year. Really wish to see Guardians of the Galaxy though.

    • Che Medrano
      0

      I really didn’t like Guardians of the Galaxy. It feels good to actually write that down as everyone I know loved it, all the reviews online loved it, and I just didn’t at all – I’ve been hiding my secret dislike of it. I’m no hater usually, so it sits a bit uncomfortably with me that I’m so off kilter to the majority…but I thought the characters were cringey; relentlessly wise-crackingly smug or over-argumentative and idiotic. And it just went from one “crash bang wallop” episode to another. I’m all up for a bit of fun, but I really thought it was just not very enjoyable. Sorry!

  8. Pickett
    0

    ’71 was probably my favourite film of 2014 but I didn’t get to the cinema for some of the big ones mentioned here. A tense, breathless thriller and the recreation of 70s Belfast right down to the banging dustbin lids was terrific.

  9. Aaron Hatch

    2014 was a great year for movies, but at the same time a very lack-luster year. We had one hell of a year for comic book movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America 2, but the oscar bait movies like American Sniper and Unbroken weren’t very good. I wonder if this will show Hollywood that movies like Captain America 2, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Edge of Tomorrow should be nominated for a best picture oscar. They have just as good writing and storytelling as films like Gone Girl and Boyhood, so why shouldn’t they they get nominated.

  10. I would put Gone Girl emphatically in my No. 1 Worst film of 2014. Such a pity that a thought-provoking and complex book was turned into a formulaic and bizarre misogynistic narrative. Pretty much a contemporary Basic Instinct.

    My Best Film of 2014: Doc on Swden (spelt wrongly intentionally). Engrossing, compelling and chilling.

  11. aragong
    0

    Good to see Boyhood in there.

  12. Esposito
    0

    I’d actually put Ida in the top spot, and drop Raid 2 down a few places.

    But the selection is spot-on. It has actually been a pretty tremendous year for film.

  13. I don’t know why I keep seeing The Grand Budapest Hotel in so many of these ‘best’ lists; thanks for not adding it here. I wouldn’t put Interstellar or Gone Girl in the top ten either.

    A lot of the big films this year have been a let down.

  14. Inherent Vice?

  15. Captain America: The Winter Soldier, should be in there too.

    • Vina Shearer
      0

      Nope,sorry just another typical formulaic MARVEL production.
      Also the full title title is mischievously misleading.

  16. Just to go against the grain, and not to be arbitrarily contrary, but my genuine picks would be the highly unfashionable:

    1. Noah,
    and
    2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

    These films will stand the test of time when all the ones on this list will pale into insignificance. They are both masterpieces of their genre. And I’m an atheist who dislikes almost all comic book films.

  17. I really enjoyed Godzilla,
    OK the first hour was just exposition, the plot was full of contrivances, Taylor- Johnson was mediocre in the lead role, but when the big guy finally makes an appearance, it was so awesome I turned into a 14 year old.

    • cClemmon
      0

      I was heavily disappointed with this one, sadly, There were just so many stupid things in the movie. Godzilla himself was great along with the other monsters, the real stars of the film . But everything else was a disappointment. I square I will personally hunt down and kill the writers of the next film that has emp downing military combat aircraft or disabling missiles, after forcing them to read how much effort the military put into making sure their equipment isn’t vulnerable to emp and have spent 50 years preparing to face nuclear weapons which produces EMPs.

  18. Morgan R. Muller

    Awesome article, I really need to see Begin Again!! I want to read the book Gone Girl before I see the movie, but i heard it is fabulous!

  19. CriticalOtaku

    Just watched Joe and really enjoyed it. Southern Gothic is such a great genre. Will definitely look at some of these other titles too. Great article!

  20. Halverson
    0

    God, it’s over already? I feel like I didn’t see anything decent this year. Guardians of the Galaxy was a lot of fun though. Can’t wait till Birdman gets released down here.

  21. Best films seen, discovered or rewatched in (though not necessarily of) 2014, in no particular order

    Maps to the Stars, Adieu au langage, Florentina Hubaldo, P’tit Quin Quin, Under the Skin, E Agora? Lembra-me, Stray Dogs, A Touch of Sin, Feng Ai, Trys Dienos, De bruit et de fureur, The Crucified Lovers, L’homme atlantique, Les mains negatives, Mommy, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Flammes, Absences repetées, Comrades, Still in Cosmos, Les trois désastres, The Servant, Kommunisten

  22. My favourites this year (I haven’t seen quite a few acclaimed ones like Frank, Pride, Interstellar, Inherent Vice, Calvary, Birdman, Whiplash…):
    1. Guardians of the Galaxy
    2. Dawn of the planet of the apes
    3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
    4. Captain America 2
    5. Nightcrawler
    6. How to Train your Dragon 2
    7. X-men days of future past
    8. Boyhood
    9. Blue Ruin
    10. Edge of Tomorrow
    Looking at my list, seems like this was a great year for blockbusters ;-). Biggest disappointments: The Babadook, the Lego Movie and Snowpiercer

  23. Indira Trout
    0

    Really think 2014 has been a very poor year for movies. There’s not one in that listed top 10 that I’ve seen which would get anywhere near my personal top 50.

    • BS. 2014 produced many really good to great films (quite a few of which of course didn’t make this list) and was a great year for film.

  24. Worst film of the year 22 Jump Street.

  25. I’d have stuck The Raid 2 at the top, too. That definitely deserves a mention — one of the best action films ever IMO. Technically terrific, too.

  26. I am Groot!

  27. Jemarc Axinto

    I clearly have not watched enough films this year as I am unfamiliar with much of your list. That being said, I loved Edge of Tomorrow and was surprised that the film was as compelling and interesting as it was.

  28. I would like to see more movies than I do, and this article was helpful in identifying genres and distribution statuses of films I was unaware of. Still, among those discussed in this article which I did see, I was surprised by the cursory, industry-like treatment, rather than a fuller-bodied offering. For example, I found Gone Girl very disappointing as compared to the hype generated around the globe for it. This author finds it gratifying adult cinema, where misogynists and feminists alike are provoked–evidence, apparently, of the film’s balanced treatment of what I view as merely bourgeois ennui.

  29. McCaggers

    I’m really surprised by all the praise for Edge of Tomorrow. I must check it out!

  30. Brianna

    As most have said, I am unfamiliar with a few of the movies here, but I thoroughly enjoyed Begin Again and Neighbors and Gone Girl. I do think that Gone Girl should’ve been the top movie of the year though. Personally, I think the adaptation from novel to movie was fabulous.

  31. Dominique Kollie

    Solid list! I wasn’t aware of a few of these, so I’ll have to check some of them out. I, like many people, think at least one of Marvel’s big movies this year in either Winter Soldier or Guardians of the Galaxy, considering their popularity and place in pop culture. To each his or her own, though.
    Your descriptions were very succinct, yet informative enough to give me a good idea of the overall feel and why it was noteworthy. Great article

  32. Robert Gilchrist

    I thought your selection of films showed a diverse range, not focusing on just one specific genre or focusing in on movies everyone has heard of. Nice list.

  33. Jordan

    You found me some movies to watch! Thanks!!

  34. Symphogear

    A bit taken aback that Birdman is not on your list. Personally, it was my favorite movie of the year. Cinematically it was an impressive feat, it is pretty damn hard to tell where the cuts are made in the movie’s near constant continuous tracking shot. Just as importantly, the acting in the movie is spot on near perfect; everyone in the movie is in top form and turning in some of the best performances in their careers. It’s funny, compelling, and one of the most daring movies I’ve seen in years.

    Nice list overall. Gone Girl, The Raid 2, Joe, and Edge of Tomorrow were all standouts this year. I have yet to see We Are The Best, Ida, and Palo Alto, I’ll definitely have to seek those ones out.

    • Jon Lisi

      I agree with everything you say about the filmmaking and performances in Birdman, but that’s where it ends for me. The monologue Emma Stone delivers to Michael Keaton about most people not caring about his plight kind of sums it up for me.

  35. Venus Echos

    Jon, thanks for the list. I appreciate your research on these films.

  36. I feel ‘Frank’ is being cruelly dismissed in these end-of-year lists. I will admit that going into it I was apprehensive about the plot – referencing Frank Sidebottom with the paper mache head, but not actually about Frank Sidebottom? What would be the point in that?

    It is a funny, touching, heart-warming portrait of the tortured genius and mental illness. I was not a fan of Lenny Abraham’s films before this one, but he completely won me over – great music, fantastic performances and characters.

  37. Johan Rooney
    0

    ‘Gone Girl’ is atrocious. The plot is beyond ridiculous, the lead actress is miscast, the soundtrack is excruciating, the pacing’s all wrong, both actors mumble, suspension of disbelief is impossible, the sense of self-seriousness is comical, and it’s far, far too long. The ending is even worse than the book’s, which is saying something. Only decent thing about it is Kim Dickens as the cop. Fincher is a decent craftsman, but will never be an artist.

  38. can’t wait for the Oscars!

  39. I liked Gone Girl. I’ve always liked Fincher’s direction, and although it can be overly artistic at times, his cinematography paired with a great soundtrack and cast delivers some solid entertainment. I am suprised, however, that The Drop with Tom Hardy wasn’t included. Check it out if you haven’t; it’s based on an equally excellent short story.

  40. Edge of Tomorrow would be in my top ten too.

  41. I think somewhere on my list would be Richard Ayoade’s adaptation of The Double. Incredibly dark, but at points absolutely hilarious. Though it does split opinion massively…

  42. Where the hell is Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)?

    • Jon Lisi

      I admire Birdman on a technical level, and thought the performances were great, but the film lacks subtlety, and the narrative is too insular. I don’t think many people will connect to the conflict of the film, in which an actor struggles to be taken seriously. I certainly didn’t, and found Chris Rock’s Top Five a more interesting and universal treatment of this subject.

  43. Starred Up should definitely be on this list. Great performances and, although extremely violent, it did seem justified

  44. Although I have not watched all of the movies you listed, I thought Gone Girl was one of the best movies I saw this year. It was unpredictable and the whole concept was twisted, which made it that much more interesting

  45. Great article, keep it up. I, personally thought Grand Budapest Hotel and Nightcrawler far surpassed Neighbours.

  46. August Merz

    Thanks for the Joe recommendation. I admit I dismissed it at first since I hadn’t heard about it and thought it was a direct to DVD film, but after your praise I figure I’ll watch it. For what it’s worth, these were my favorite films this year.

    10. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
    9. The LEGO Movie
    8. The Imitation Game
    7. Locke
    6. Calvary
    5. Fury
    4. Noah
    3. Interstellar
    2. Edge of Tomorrow
    1. The Babadook

  47. Amena Banu

    I was looking for some movies to watch. This list is just what I needed!

  48. samcel

    Good list! I like that you added the previews. I’ve been meaning to see Palo Alto so I liked hearing your take on it. There were so many good movies this year though, it would be hard for me to pick 10!

  49. Mary Awad

    Embarrassingly enough, I have seen none of these movies! I heard Boyhood was really interesting an awesome though so I’ll definitely watch that. Thanks for the list~

  50. for me its…

    1.Nightcrawler
    2.The Grand Budapest Hotel
    3.The Babadook

  51. I really enjoyed the insight you included in this article. I feel like a lot of the time, lists like these don’t fully grasp the depth of today’s major motion pictures, and that you took a really particular, perspective, investigative route in analyzing each of these films, while still managing to keep each blurb roughly the length of a solid paragraph.

    I was surprised to see that Interstellar was left off this list, though! (Not that that’s any fault of your own, this article is your opinion piece, and I’m not here to tell you your opinion is wrong.) It was a vastly popular film this past year that, for once in a blue moon, it felt like, wasn’t a sequel, a remake, or based on a novel. It seems like, in may ways, cinema is losing its creativity through its constant regeneration of unoriginal ideas, and Interstellar was one of only a few major films that did that this year, and even did it quite well, if you ask me.

    Thank you, though, for writing such a well crafted list. The inclusion of trailers was a great idea, and your word smithery was quite the delight. 🙂

  52. As a fellow action cinema fan I am pleased to see The Raid 2’s inclusion on your top ten films of 2014. It was a well shot and choreographed action film that was seemingly one incredible fight scene after another. However, I do not agree with it being the number one movie of 2014. My biggest flaw with The Raid 2 was its running time. The Raid Redemption was a slim 101 minutes whereas The Raid 2 clocked in at 150 minutes. Usually I am a fan of long films, such as The Dark Knight, the Lord of the Rings films, Heat, etc, but while watching The Raid 2 I found myself checking my watch and only caring about when the next fight scene was coming up. It is still a well made film and probably one of the greatest action films but I do not believe it is worthy of the title “Top Movie of 2014”. That’s all. I agree with the rest of the films on the list, especially Gone Girl. There is nobody like Fincher when it comes to making intense, disturbing, poignant, and completely engaging thrillers; he is simply the best.

  53. Pretty decent list, though the Tolkien in me really wants the final Hobbit movie up there. I appreciate the diversity of you list, and your writing style, but it seems to me that the best movies (in your opinion) have very little to do with money intake. While your list was fair, on a quality standard, calling them the ‘best’ movies is simply a matter of opinion. Overall, though, nice writing!

  54. I always enjoy reading about the top ten lists of others’ film interests, so thank you for posting this and initiating some more lists generated in the comments. Cheers to a new year of film experiences!

  55. ashley gonzalez

    I’m thrilled to see that Neighbors made it on the list. I agree, it was the most fun I had at the movies this year. I brought it home for my mom, who easily dislikes any film that basis it’s self on the vulgarity that is fraternities and college activities alike…she loved it. But going back to the movies that were made this year, I really had no desire to spend the money to see them, aside from a few. I had hoped that Gone Girl or Exodus would be worth watching but Ive heard nothing short of ‘”it sucked” from everyone I asked about them. All in all, not that impressed this year.

  56. Jae Frasier
    0

    Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes – an absolutely majestic performance from Andy Serkis which makes you believe you are watching a talking Chimpanzee. The parallel stories of the apes and their human counterparts are told with real feeling.

  57. I am annoyed that they changed the name of Edge of Tomorrow to Live, Die, Repeat. I’ll admit Edge of Tomorrow does sound like a movie I’ve already seen, but changing the name does nothing to help poor US performance.

  58. I appreciate the fact that you covered a wide spectrum of genres, however, I would’ve liked to have seen Jenny Slate’s Obvious Child and Frank.

  59. Ida is one that I’ve been wanting to check out for a while now. I actually had the opportunity to see in theaters but it just didn’t look that interesting.

  60. Matt Phillips

    Interesting list––I’ve been meaning to watch “Ida.” Love the choice of “Joe,” but I really think it should be higher on the list. Personal preference of course, but it’s a stunning, working-class film.

  61. Hailtothechimp

    I was surprised how well made Joe was considering it was directed by the same guy who made Pineapple Express and Your Highness.

    The Raid 2 was leaps and bound better then it’s predecessor. A great story, great character development and phenomonal action scenes made it all one of the best. I’ve been kicking myself for the past year for not getting a chance to see it in theaters.

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