2014 in Film: Best, Worst, and More

Posted on December 29, 2014 at 4:20 pm

Copyright 2014 Paramount Pictures
Copyright 2014 Paramount Pictures

Ten is an arbitrary number, a year is an arbitrary span of time, and it makes no sense at all to try to rank movies that are so different in concept, genre, and aspiration. Nevertheless, as I always say when the topic of ten best lists comes up, they are, to quote Jan Struther, “indefensible but irresistible.” So, here I am, and here is my list. As usual, I have one at the top and then every other title on the list is tied for second place.

The best film of the year is “Selma,” brilliant in every category — as history, as drama, as biography, as advocacy. And it could not be more timely.

Runners-up:

Boyhood
Birdman
Guardians of the Galaxy
Life Itself
Belle
Dear White People
The Boxtrolls
The Book of Life
The Theory of Everything

Honorable Mention: Pride, Top Five, Rosewater, The Imitation Game, A Most Violent Year, Tracks, The LEGO Movie, Beyond the Lights, Begin Again, Snowpiercer, Wild, Whiplash, Only Lovers Left Alive, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Love is Strange, Gone Girl, Coherence, The One I Love, Believe Me, Under the Skin

Deserved a larger audience: Beyond the Lights, Edge of Tomorrow

Outstanding Documentaries: Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, Finding Vivian Maier, Particle Fever, CitizenFour, 1971, The Unknown Known

A good year for grown-up romance: Words and Pictures, Begin Again, Beyond the Lights, Only Lovers Left Alive, Love is Strange

A great year for movies about food: Luscious meals were the real stars of the delicious Chef, Le Chef, 1000 Foot Journey, The Trip to Italy, and The Lunchbox

belle-posterBreakthrough performers: Chris Pratt, Rosamund Pike, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ben Schnetzer (two films each), also Nelsan Ellis, Jack O’Connell, Jillian Bell

A great year for heroes who were smart: Big Hero 6, Theory of Everything, Interstellar, Imitation Game

A great year for animation: The LEGO Movie, The Boxtrolls, The Book of Life, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Penguins of Madagascar

Great live-action family films: Dolphin Tale 2, Muppets Most Wanted, and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

And the Hall of Shame, the year’s most excruciatingly, painfully bad films:

Blended, Left Behind, Irreplaceable, A Million Ways to Die in the West, The Other Woman, Transcendence, Sabotage, Tammy, Labor Day, Dumb and Dumber To, The Identical, Neighbors, The Nut Job, Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return, Third Person

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Commentary Critics Understanding Media and Pop Culture

7 Replies to “2014 in Film: Best, Worst, and More”

  1. My picks, of the seventeen I’ve seen:

    1: How to Train Your Dragon 2
    2: Boyhood
    3: Interstellar
    4: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
    5: The Lego Movie
    6: Gone Girl
    7: Big Hero 6
    8: Guardians of the Galaxy
    9: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    10: Muppets Most Wanted

    Worst for now is The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (still worth a 7/10 on IMDb, which is more damning than it sounds considering I give the average Neighbouras episode 8/10.)

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