[tps_title] Jon Espino’s Top 10 Movies of 2014:[/tps_title]
10) Captain America: The Winter Soldier / Guardians of the Galaxy – It was a great year for comic book based films, from X-Men: Days of Future Past to Snowpiercer. The two standouts this year come from Marvel and each are amazing, but for distinctly different reasons. Winter Soldier breaks all the stereotypes by creating a suspenseful, near-political thriller in a universe where super-powered heroes and villains run rampant. Guardians, on the other hand, plays into the bombastic nature of comic books, hitting every sweet note (with a rocket launcher).
9) The Babadook – The best horror film I’ve seen in years. This films captures us in the page of its story book and doesn’t let us go until we’ve faced all of our demons. The great use of narrative, suspense and true, not cheap scares, make it a great addition to any fan of the horror genre that is tired of gore-filled films.
8) Inherent Vice – Paul Thomas Anderson creates another flawless adaptation of a fantastic novel, this time one written by Thomas Pynchon. With a star-studded cast and a completely accurate/eccentric narrative, you’ll become immersed in this world, even if you don’t quite understand what is going on.
7) Selma – This film was full of nothing but powerful performances, but the greatest part of it was just how much the message of the struggle for equality still resonates and echoes with current events.
6) Ida – This film was gorgeously shot in black and white and deals with a heartbreaking time in world history. The performances are sensitive, thoughtful and tragic all at the same time.
5) Force Majeure – There is a fantastic discomfort that comes with watching this film. It questions the nature of a relationship and familial roles after a near death accident makes them realize they are not both on the same page. The best way to describe it is as a train wreck happening in a beautiful mountain landscape. You don’t want to watch, but there is no way you could ever turn away.
4) Under the Skin – Love it or hate it, this film is gorgeous. All the beautiful imagery, both natural (Earth) and extraterrestrial (alien), is enough to complete engross you. Scarlett Johansson’s performance adds another layer of depth to this already deep look into humanity with her eerie and haunting performance.
3) Boyhood – This film took a huge risk by keeping the same cast for 12 years and creating a film as they age in real time with the film. The risk paid off. The time span of this film alone is enough to propel it to the top of any “best of 2014” list. The story is also very good, but watching every character age before your eyes is just an inexplicable feeling.
2) The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson outdoes himself in this film by providing his signature intoxicating visual style but with a darker story. Every shot is framed to perfection, every character is expertly developed, and every cameo will fill you with joy.
1) Birdman – This film is a tour de force. It combines great technical aspects (like filming and editing everything together to make it seem like a single take), powerful performances from the entire cast (but most notably Keaton and Norton), and an engaging and successfully ambitious tiered story. There is also a little added bonus that Keaton and the film’s main character’s lives mirror each other.
Honorable Mentions: Snowpiercer, Nightcrawler, Winter’s Sleep, Whiplash, Life Itself, and A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night.