Oh I know, this post is ancient history already, isn’t it? 2014 is so three weeks ago, but the flu knocked me out for some time right after I made resolutions to not panic, so here I am on January 20 writing about last year. This is me not panicking and celebrating the movies that made me happy last year.
While making this list, I realized there were dozens of films I never got around to seeing. That makes me sad, but alas it's true. If your personal favorite is missing from this list, let me know about it in the comments and I’ll be happy to add it to my Netflix queue. I’m always looking for great movies to watch!
The Cabin in the Woods
This didn’t come out in 2014, but I finally saw it in 2014. Joss Whedon once again delivers the unexpected, creating a horror film that is hysterical while also deconstructing all the tropes of a usual horror movie.
People had issues with Lucy. I was not one of those people. I thought this was a fun and unexpected sci-fi story with great visuals and an intriguing lead female. The end gets a little twisty crazy, but the rest of the film is a great ride that the crazy can be waved away a little.
This is the reason I don’t do my end of the year lists in the middle of December like everyone else. I saw Byzantium at 9PM on December 31, and it was a great, low key vampire flick with feminist themes and unexpectedly emotional moments.
Only Lovers Left Alive
Yet another indie vampire flick that had more introspection and less sparkles. I don’t think Tilda Swinton can do anything wrong, and my interest in Tom Hiddleston grew as I watched him play a bored, timeless vampire musician. This is a quiet film without a lot of flashy set pieces or action, but it was still a great character drama.
The opposite of quiet character drama, Snowpiercer is a crazy, flashy series of set pieces and madness. The setup of the film makes little sense, so don’t think about it too hard, but the number of genuine surprises kept me on my toes and enjoying every moment of this weird little movie.
The LEGO Movie
I nearly forgot this movie came out in 2014. It just feels like it’s been around for ages. There is so much nostalgia wrapped up in this movie for me and I love that it’s a cultural touchstone I can share with my niece and nephew. It’s an animated movie with heart that doesn’t just seem to pander to the common denominator. Plus having the Lonely Island rap in the theme song was a move of genius.
This is the part in the count down where I declare that Marvel won the year. My top three movies from 2014 are all Marvel-related, which either means I’m really an 8-year-old boy or I just like fun movies that make me forget about the rest of the world for a little bit. I’m leaning towards that second reason.
I loved all three of these movies for different reasons and will happily watch them all back-to-back-to-back at a moment’s notice, so I can’t rank them in any particular order.
Big Hero 6, Captain America: The Winter Soldier & Guardians of the Galaxy
Woobie!Bucky! Falcon soaring! Cap beating up all those guys in the elevator! Black Widow being awesome! Pelvic sorcery! Starlord’s dance off! The awesome soundtracks! BAAAAAAAAAAAYMAX! These three movies made me feel warm and cozy in all the best ways while keeping me captivated on third, fourth and fifth watch. Baymax in his bright orange battle armor keeps vigil on my kitchen counter while my admiration for both Chrises knows no bounds. Marvel can do little wrong in my book even though I’m not blind to the issues with the female characters in Guardians. I just choose fun over annoyance and these three films all have so much heart, adventure and fun in them.
You know what the opposite of heart, adventure and fun is? The worst movie I saw this year:
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
I still haven’t recovered from this demolition of not only my childhood favorites, but also a resurgent in an adult guilty pleasure. I’ve come to really enjoy the current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cartoon, and this movie version was such a disturbing mess of terrible plot devices, destroyed canon only to be replaced with nonsense, and just general terrible life choices by everyone involved with this picture that it made me want to cry. Don’t even get me started on all the demolished and pasted together backstories that made absolutely no sense. I know I wasn’t the target audience for this film, but it still shouldn’t have been so bad that it made me feel a bit murder-y by the end of it.