Through Alejandro González Iñárritu's vision, Birdman achieves the extraordinary task of turning the story of a washed up superhero on its head with an undeniably great performance by Michael Keaton. Besides Keaton (who may very well win an Oscar for Best Actor for his performance), the film showcases numerous fantastic dramatics with an ensemble that may be the best of the year.
Frank is the weirdest movie of the year. I really do not think any other film can take this title away from a movie that puts Michael Fassbender in a giant paper mache head and trots its cast out to perform avant garde music. Combine that intriguing weirdness with a powerful message and thought provoking story and you have a movie that, perhaps surprisingly, is one I have not stopped thinking about since I saw it.
8. Edge of Tomorrow
Edge of Tomorrow gracefully slides into the best action movie of the year for 2014. A great premise, terrific action, and charismatic performances from Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt are more than enough to overcome a weak ending and end up on our best of 2014 list.
Probably the most suspenseful movie on my list, Dan Gilroy's directorial debut Nightcrawler manages to build tension and intrigue along a beautifully shot Los Angeles background. Jake Gyllenhall as Lou Bloom is another standout performance of the year, helping to cement Gyllenhall's recent climb towards the top of the cinematic ladder. From the humor to the creepy, intense freakyness of Lou, Nightcrawler hits on every level.
Honestly, it hurts that Interstellar is this low on my list. Coming into 2014 this film stood alone as my most anticipated but unfortunately its over reliance on somewhat bland drama and emotional beats deterred from the science and visual spectacle that makes Nolan's work so seminal. That said, this is still a Nolan movie with plenty of "wow" moments and some very intelligent plot mechanics.
5. How to Train Your Dragon 2
I knew this would make it onto my top 10 list as soon as I started to work on my list. No film this year has provided the same blend of epic storytelling and breathtaking action. In fact, I would be willing to say that my trip to the theaters for this film represented my best time at the movies in 2014. Both How to Train Your Dragon 2 and its predecessor are singular experiences in Hollywood and deserve to be seen on as large a screen as possible.
Probably the most controversial film on my list, Noah by Darren Aranofsky was my favorite movie up to the latter portion of the year. As you may be able to tell from my next three films, I award a lot of points for singular, creative visions from a talented storyteller and Noah absolutely meets this criteria.
Powerful performances from JK Simmons and Miles Teller have been garnering a fair amount of Oscar buzz in the run-up to the awards season, and for good reason. However, lets not slight the rest of the film, which features some of the best cinematography and dialogue of the year. Some of my enjoyment is undoubtedly tied to my own music education growing up but I would say anyone with a passion for art and performance could take a great deal away from this film.
2. Under the Skin
One of the last movies I was able to watch before we set our lists for the year and boy am I glad I did. Under the Skin, the third film from director Jonathan Glazer, is a rare achievement in film making. Critic Richard Roeper said it best, "This is what we talk about when we talk about film as art."
I had a pretty good feeling what my favorite film of the year would be way back in the summer months when I was able to catch a showing of Boyhood from director Richard Linklater. Boyhood is a technical achievement and is ridiculously relatable. A film that could easily have felt bland, sprawling, or pointless instead meshes perfectly into a masterpiece that I believe will be held in high regards for many years.
Grand Budapest Hotel
Games (no order):
Shadow of Mordor
Far Cry 4