[tps_title]Evan Griffin’s Top 10 Movies of 2014:[/tps_title]
By this point people know I’ve been watching Gareth Edward’s Godzilla with rose-tinted glasses, but I also like to think that it is the best representation of what kind of films Godzilla can star in through this 21st century, and its results are so much sweeter when you’re more patient with a film like this. The tone they went for was through close, human stories to keep scale in perspective in as many shots as possible, and to tease the beasts in the right place and time, in the same way Ridley Scott’s Alien and Spielberg’s Jaws once did. It may not have been the right movie for everybody, but it certainly was for Godzilla fans.
This international blockbuster starring Chris Evans is kind of a big deal. See, the Weinstein Company was going to distribute this “Max Max on Ice” action thriller into United States theaters, prepared to cut 20 whole minutes from the film. South Korean director, Joon-ho Bong, wouldn’t have any of that, so Snowpiercer saw a limited theatrical release, but was also released in Video On Demand format the same day as theaters. As we enter 2015, we may begin to see such releases more and more, where your home is the place for viewing the grand, eventful films of the future. Snowpiercer is fun, yes, and even surprisingly deep, but what it stands for as an international film in addition to that makes it such a significant part of 2014.
Christopher Nolan, while his films have their faulty moments, is lauded for his slick style, home-brewed scripts and his unwavering love for the tradition of film, and he put all of these into his efforts for Interstellar. Its the first film to not only make me completely enthralled by a character played by The McConaughey, but to also wrangle with portraying the concept of time and wormholes as they exist in our observable universe beyond the planet earth, in a way that is digestible for a broad audience. It’s all at once imaginative and terrifying, while attempting to portray real scenarios calculated by NASA over the years, and sharing Nolan’s love of Stanley Kubrick’s prestigious space odyssey.
- Edge of Tomorrow
I would never have expected a month-of-June blockbuster starring Tom Cruise based on a Japanese light-novel, and made by a massive American studio, to turn out well… but this science fiction twist on Groundhog Day hits all the right beats at the right time, and changes up its own sequence of things before each set of repeating becomes too much. It begins with the smarmy a-hole that Tom Cruise usually plays in films, and makes him evolve into a heroic jokester by the finale, and Emily Blunt playing the most kick-ass, sword-wielding mech-warrior in all of 2014.
- Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno
Now that we’re well beyond the time that film adaptations of American comics can be taken seriously both by studios and audiences, it seems that Japan is finally getting around to doing the same with some of their most successfully published manga stories. Not only is Ruroni Kenshin a beautifully created, post-Edo Period bit of exciting samurai-action-fantasy, but it also has wonderfully dynamic characters throughout it. Its not only unique that Warner Bros. of Japan was able to produce a universally enjoyable, international blockbuster based on an anime, but made this year’s sequels, Kyoto Inferno and The Legend Ends, arguably even better than the first. I advise anyone looking for high quality action to give these films a chance.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier
As we enter 2015, something will have changed that I never actually dreamed of: people are beginning to love Captain America as a character as much as I have for years. That’s because the Russo Brothers’ incredibly executed spy thriller for the greatest man out of time portrays his greatest qualities that comic fans have known for so long: he believes in a type of freedom that we’ve nearly surrendered in the 21st century, he’s a brilliant tactician, and he can kick high quality ass with the likes of Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee in a fluid, terrifying dance of a fighting style.
- Guardians of the Galaxy
Marvel proved they aren’t afraid to try something different. A movie that promised to be something original akin to the original Star Wars, two unproven co-stars made completely from CGI, and a soundtrack filled with music from the ’70s? Nobody expected that the worrisome attributes of Guardians of the Galaxy would be its greatest triumphs. It feels adventurous, it’s genuinely funny, and with planet and species names being thrown about a vibrant color pallet, the film is kept gravitated home by Peter Quill’s nostalgic needs for his mom’s old music, and well written stories for killer aliens and CG creations like Rocket and Groot. Additionally, it sets up a whole new roster of potential stories and even grander villains for Marvel to take on in the coming years.
As if Richard Linklater didn’t already create something special with his films Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight, he took on a 12 year project, with the same cast and crew throughout, to chronicle the life of a boy growing into a young man (Ellar Coltrane). While the story isn’t what drives the film, the passage of time, and the slow and steady growth of characters does, and with a generation of filmgoers primed for nostalgia of the last decade, Boyhood hits all the right notes.
Tom Hardy stars in yet another role that proves his ability as a committed, classic actor in playing Ivan Locke, a Welsh construction manager and family man whose life as he knows it unravels around him in a single night while driving from Birmingham to London, all through beautifully performed dialogue via cell phone, written and directed by Steven Knight (Eastern Promises). A bottle room drama inside the cabin of a moving car in the dark of night, it couldn’t be any more surprising, and unbelievably compelling.
A captivating comeback for Michael Keaton, several stellar performances, and an Oscar- worthy response to the hyped up superhero genre, and all the while it successfully blends what makes film and theater so unique to themselves with incredible, long, beautifully crafted and performed shots throughout by director Alejandro González Iñárritu; shots that are so long that it can’t be denied its portrayal of the power of theater in continuous staging and performances on a stage.
Yet to be seen 2014 films that may have ended up on this list:
Unbroken, Frank, Foxcatcher, Nightcrawler, Whiplash, The Imitation Game, Calvary, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Gone Girl, John Wick, Under the Skin, Life Itself.