hey! for the past few weeks, little else than movies has been on my mind. it was sundance in utah, one of the best times of year imo. and this year was my biggest movie-watching year yet! i saw five films (mistress america, operation artic, shaun the sheep, don verdean, and the wolfpack). all good things.
movie season continues as the academy awards are just two weeks away. which brings me to another year of the best movies / my favorites / movies to see / my top ten movies of 2014:
10. the babadook
number ten was the hardest spot to fill. 2014 was a great year for movies.*** but i think the babadook won me over cause HORROR! i love this genre and, when done right, it's perfect entertainment. the story, which explores the horror of loss, is just SPOT ON. there are few horror movies these days that can tell such a meaningful and approachable story, while still being able to pack a punch in the scare department. really, this is a rare gem.
9. into the woods
i've just recently been hearing that people didn't like this movie. and i don't really understand why. sondheim is weird, i'll give you that. but i feel like it was a welcomed departure from the classic fairy tale. good lessons there! it had a GREAT cast. probably the best musical cast in recent years (russell crowe singing "stars" #neverforget #can'tforget #hauntsmydreams), it stuck to the original story, yet removed the bits that maybe we didn't even WANT to see. the costumes! meryl! what more could you want?!
8. magic in the moonlight
there could never be a year that woody allen isn't featured on this list (save 2012, to rome with love). this movie was sadly, very underrated. i saw it opening weekend, friday night, and my companions and i were the only ones in the theater! sad. emma stone is enchanting as always. woody always knows the way to my heart.
ok who's with me that jake gyllenhaal is one of the great actors of our time?! with prisoners last year and nightcrawler this year, he is really making quite the name for himself. this movie was a slow burner? i don't know if that's the right word. SUBTLE. that's it. subtle, but when it comes down to it, TERRIFYING.
6. the lego movie
my interest was first piqued when i read this article on kottke, "the wikipedia page notes the lego movie video game will be released in conjunction with the movie. which, if you're following along, is a video game based on a movie based on stacking toys & figures containing characters based on other movies that are based on comic books. i can't wait for the lego movie videogame comic book movie that comes out in 2019." HA! it was SO much better than i expected it to be. i can't say it better than edgar wright, "what could have been such a shameless, corporate, brand-heavy, cash-grab of a movie becomes a truly inspired comic adventure about individualism, imagination, and the creative spirit. " YES!
5. edge of tomorrow or i guess live, die, repeat: edge of tomorrow??
i'm not sure and that was the biggest (and only?) problem with this movie. it was marketed completely wrong. the trailer was the WORST and the title, completely forgettable. i even still forget it and it was one of my favorite movies last year. so unexpected, so not-the-normal tom cruise, funny, action oriented, and probably best of all, emily blunt doing that wicked awesome yoga move, which apparently was all her, not a stunt woman. WHATTTT.
oh boyhood. the opus of richard linklator. i'd seen the before sunrise / sunset / midnight trilogy, and was quite excited upon the idea of boyhood. can you imagine filming something over a twelve year period? huh! just that feat is worth number four on the list.
i saw whiplash january 2014 at sundance. it won "best of fest" for the audience favorite. and it darn well deserved it. oh gosh, this film. i was on the edge of my seat the ENTIRE one hundred and seven minutes. from that opening scene of him drumming, to the closing scene of him drumming. and when the end was near, i just remember thinking he was going to drop dead, at any moment. mind you, this movie is about a college jazz band ... yeah. gripping really. and jk simmons. this movie is SO good.
emily and i saw this mostly blind. well at least on my end. i had seen a couple trailers, but didn't really know what it was about. it turned out to be one of my favorite theater experiences in recent history. loved the cinematography, LOVED the music (or lack-of in some parts), and this is one of very few movies in which i enjoy anne hathaway, so that means something.
birdman was another movie i went in to knowing nothing about (catching the theme here?), so it too was an unexpected gem for me. i sometimes judge movies on how much i'm thinking about them afterwards. i was thinking and talking about birdman for weeks after i saw it. i loved the story, the acting and actors (emma stone and edward norton had SERIOUS chemistry here and zach galifianakis was the best i've seen him). i loved the commentary on what audiences want. on top of it all, i loved the one-take editing and the music. i liked it all. i liked it a lot.
i hope i wasn't premature in making this list. i still need to see foxcatcher, two days one night, and a most violent year.
find my favorites of 2013 here and favorites of 2012 here.
***runners-up: the skeleton twins, the theory of everything, and x-men: days of future past. not on my top ten, but always in my heart.