Well, ladies and germs, it’s that time of the year again! When we say “hello” to one year, we also have to say “goodbye” to another, as sad and as tears-inducing as it may be.
But 2014, in a nutshell, was a pretty solid year for movies.
Although I’m sure I broke more than a few hearts awhile back by announcing a rather tiny hiatus from this blog, for the most part, I tried my hardest to keep at it with all of the movies that were constantly being flung at me. And quite frankly, I’m happy for that. Not only was I treated to many fine pieces of film, but also, I got to focus more so on what was out there in some of the smaller, less-known theaters out there and shed some light on a few unknown indies that maybe only a handful of people actually knew of. Either way, it was a good year to be a fan of movies, and it made me feel like all my laziness paid-off in the end, as is often the case at the end of every year.
Now, with all that jabber out of the way, onto the real show:
While it may not have been the most uplifting, enjoyable flick from the whole year, it definitely had some its best performances by far. Steve Carell and Channing Tatum were absolutely creepy and terrifying in every which way, showing us that there was more to their sometimes light, comedic-personas that we’d so often seen them utilize in the past. Mark Ruffalo was quite solid, too, but it was these two whom I walked away from feeling like there was a new, exciting chapter to be discovered next in their already respectable careers. Can’t wait to see how it all goes down.
Sure, maybe I’m the only person to actually person to put this in their top ten, let alone remember by year’s end, but still, there’s a reason for that and it goes by two words: Nic fuckin’ Cage. Okay, three, but whatever! What I’m trying to say here is that having been a dedicated and unabashed fan of Cage for as long as I have, it was nice to finally see him get something worthy of his talents and to make matters even better, see him roll so well with it. The movie as a whole was very emotional and disturbing to the highest-level, but if anything, Joe stood as a solid reminder as to why, when he wants to, Nic Cage can be one of the most compelling screen-presences around. He just doesn’t do it as often as he should. Hopefully, that changes and we get more of this, and less of this. Although both options do serve some level of entertainment.
After watching the first Raid, I thought it was downright impossible for it to be topped. Turns out, I was dead wrong! Not only is the Raid 2 a better action movie than the first, but it may be one of the best action movies of the past couple years or so. It delivers on every bit of action, blood, gore, and weaponry it seems to promise, and even seems to be one-upping itself constantly as it goes on. Truly a feat for any action movie, let alone one that had as good of a predecessor as the Raid: Redemption.
Here’s one that totally took me by surprise and wasn’t quite as easy to get through as I would have hoped for it to have been, however, the greatness of it is actually in that. Sometimes, there comes a movie where a character is so downright detestable, that you wonder why the hell there’s a movie revolving around them in the first place, if all they’re going to do is just make constant bad decisions and continue to piss the audience off. There’s that kind of character at the forefront in Like Father, Like Son, but it all feels honest, raw and realistic, so that when the plot does come full circle, it hits you like a ton of bricks and may even make you want to hug your nearest family-member. Most movies set out to do that, however, very few actually deliver on doing so. This is not one of those movies.
Sure, it’s maybe not everybody’s favorite movie of the year – better yet, it’s nowhere near being anybody’s favorite Paul Thomas Anderson movie. However, all that said, it’s still a wild ride from beginning-to-end and always brings something interesting, compelling, and fun to the table. Whatever they all mean or add up to is sometimes left up in the air, but the adventure that Inherent Vice sets out to create, doesn’t need a clear resolution. All it needed was to allow everybody watching it to join in on the fun and see what the hell happens next.
Not just the best summer blockbuster of the year, but the best Marvel stand-alone since the first Iron Man. While it was hilarious at times, what made GOTG so unique and spectacular was that it had a handful of strange, totally out-of-this-world characters and made them as interesting as Tony Stark or Captain Rodgers ever were. You couldn’t even make the argument that having two mega-stars such as Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper voice characters and allowing for Batista, of all people, to play a character we actually see in life-like form was something of a gimmick, but man, it was one that worked like gangbusters whenever they were in the same room, talking, or blowing stuff up. Here’s to hoping that Marvel realizes that they’ve struck gold and stray away from making every other movie seem like the same.
One of the “biggest-little surprises” I had the pleasure to see this year. While the plot may read like a terrible TV-sitcom that wouldn’t have even made it to pilot, the movie treats it as if it were like real-life, awkward warts and all. Because though it starts off like any other kind of comedy, a funny one at that, it surprisingly then turns into a lovely, emotional journey for a character who isn’t perfect, but still deserves some sort of love in her life, no matter what form it comes in. Speaking of said character, Jenny Slate is quite perfect in this role and totally shocked me as I had only known her as Jean Ralphio’s sister (or as “the girl who dropped the f-bomb on her first SNL skit“, but we like to forget about that). She nails every shade that this character has to offer and then some, making this whole film, as short as it may be, totally worth checking out and falling in love with.
Not only does it feature possibly the best ensemble of the year, but also had one of the neatest, most compelling gimmicks of the whole entire year: It’s all one-shot. Or, that’s what it’s made out to seem like. Regardless, Birdman as a whole was incredibly well-done and continued to surprise its audience, whether it be through the aforementioned shooting-device, certain performances from people we don’t expect to see put in exceptional-work, or just the fact that someone like Alejandro González Iñárritu actually had a sense of humor. All of Birdman was chock full of surprises, but what mattered most, is that it constantly found new, original ways to tell its story and kept the ball rolling, no matter how many times a character’s life seemed to be too depressing. Because, honestly, that’s just Hollywood for ya.
2. Gone Girl
Though I wasn’t initially expecting to put this one so high on the list, time served me right, and I realized that this was probably one of the more fun times I had at the movie theater this year. And without feeling guilty about being happy afterwards, either! So yeah, it was a win all around. Though many folks out there want to write this down as either a “pro-feminist” tale, or a “anti-woman” one, the fact remains – David Fincher owns just about every second of this movie. Not only is this a return to his old glory days where he seemed to have a good time directing whatever piece was in front of him, but he utilizes everybody at his disposal. Both Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck are perfectly cast here, but it’s the odd, rather bizarre supporting cast that really won me over. Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Fugit, Kim Dickens, Casey Wilson (yes, girl from Happy Endings), Emily Ratajkowski (yes, girl from Blurred Lines video), Carrie Coon, and even Tyler Perry, are among the supporters who excel so well in this movie and leave their stamp. And if you can make Tyler Perry not insufferable and seem like he’s actually talented, then you sir, always deserve gratitude in my book.
I know it’s an obvious choice for the number one spot, but honestly, how could I not choose this? It’s literally been 12-years-in-the-making, meaning that I too, have been waiting nearly 12 years for this to come out. And even better is the fact that it not only lived up to all of the hype its risky decision brought up, but it was the kind of movie after my own heart. Some people I know have complained to me about how it doesn’t seem like much is even happening in this movie, but that’s where they’re wrong; it’s life that’s happening. Sometimes you never know that it’s occurring because honestly, you’re too busy living it. Richard Linklater, for the second year in a row, has wowed me to where I can’t believe he hasn’t won any sort of Oscar yet. Depending on how this year’s Oscar race seems to be looking, it looks like his time may finally come. But even if it doesn’t, we’ll always have Boyhood – a beautiful, honest and wondrous tale of just growing up, and all of the perks that come along with it. Gosh. I wish I wasn’t an old-head.
So yeah, folks, that’s pretty much it! Thanks a lot for sticking with me in this past year (I know it wasn’t easy), and here’s to hoping that 2015 brings us all much joy and happiness!
Oh, and some good movies, too.