Saturday, January 3, 2015

Dactyl's Movie Roundup 2014

Happy New Year! It’s been another fun year in movies, and even though I didn’t see quite as many as usual (I’ll get around to 22 Jump Street and Captain America 2, eventually!), I liked almost everything I did see. Check out my favorites below!

Solid blockbusters, good to watch with a big disparate group: Divergent, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Neighbors
Solid indies, good to watch on your laptop when you feel like staying in: Belle, Begin Again, Dear White People
Solid musical, good to watch when you just can’t stomach Les Mis: Into the Woods
Not solid: That Awkward Moment (probably the only truly bad movie I saw this year)
I know these are good movies, but they weren’t my cup of tea: Birdman, Guardians of the Galaxy

The Top Nine

9. The Lego Movie
I don’t have too much to say about this movie other than “it was really good.” Yay for 2014 Blockbuster MVP Chris Pratt!

8. The Theory of Everything
This biopic would be pretty standard, but Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones make it shine. Come for their prettiness, stay for their performances.

7. The Fault in Our Stars
I love TFiOS. This is the kind of story that teens (and 22 year-old recent college graduates, ahem) should be lapping up, full of heart and humor and humanity. My only criticism, if any, is that the film didn’t really add much to what was already on the page.

6. What If
This 2014 take on When Harry Met Sally is utterly charming, a bright ember in the slowly dying flame of romantic comedies. I’m sad that the movie didn’t do better at the box office; the happy ending was predictable, but What If proves that movies don’t have to be dark and edgy to be great.

5. The Grand Budapest Hotel
I’m normally more of a storytelling/character-building fan, but even I have to appreciate the stunning visuals here. After seeing the Hop’s Wes Anderson film series, starting with Bottle Rocket, it’s incredible how far he’s come as a filmmaker. I think I liked the plots for Rushmore and Moonrise Kingdom a little bit better, but Grand Budapest is probably Anderson’s most fully-realized vision.

4. The Imitation Game
Going in, I was actually quite skeptical about this movie -- Benedict Cumberbatch will always be our dreamy Internet boyfriend, but the trailer made it look like blatant Oscar-bait, a la The King’s Speech. I needn’t have worried, though, because the film is excellent, and it earns every single Oscar-baity tear. What an incredible story about an incredible man, brought to life by an incredible actor. So what if it happens to win a few awards?

3. Gone Girl
David. Fincher. THIS is how you adapt a bestseller for the big screen. I don’t even have a coherent reason for why I love this movie, it’s just really f**king cool. I’ll just be here, still raving about that shot of Amy Dunne floating in a motel pool eating Fritos.

2. Whiplash
While I was watching this, I thought it would certainly be my #1 favorite movie of the year. I can’t recommend it enough -- Whiplash is absolutely riveting, and I found it a lot more accessible than a typical low-budget indie. Writer/director Damien Chazelle had an incredible vision, and I can’t wait to see what he does next.

1. Boyhood
While Whiplash was my favorite film to watch, Boyhood is the one that kind of artistically imprints on your soul. Its themes about growing up and appreciating everyday life feel like the makings of a modern classic, and I keep going to back to think about it more. Great storytelling is all about “show me, don’t tell me.” Richard Linklater has absolutely mastered that concept here, with powerful results.

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