Crash! Landen’s Best Films of 2014

 

 

My last post of the year… and my annual proclamation of films that everyone should see. For me, it wasn’t one of the better years at the movies, but, there were still interesting movies being made. There are actually many films that I have not seen that have varying degrees of acclaim (not that my views are dictated by what critics think), so as always, this is just a list compiled from the movies that I have seen. And as always, the release dates can make things confusing, too, but I always base that on when a film is released in my little part of the world,

There were several movies that I thought about putting in the 10 spot. Anytime Terry Gilliam makes a film, I usually have room on my list for it, but Zero Theorem didn’t quite live up to what I was anticipating. It was even a little bit of a downer which isn’t typical for Gilliam. Still worth seeing… The horribly named Snowpiercer, which came out of left field, probably deserves to be here. It has a very hokey premise; one that just doesn’t add up the more one thinks about it, but still was a very pleasant sci-fi surprise. My number 10 was a science fiction film, though… Or was it?

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10. Under The Skin Scarlett Johannson starred in one of the weirder films that I’ve seen in recent memory. I think I got what the movie was trying to say for the most part, but I don’t think it has to be understood. It’s a very artsy film that has a lot of subtle moments and sequences that are left up to the viewer to comprehend them how they will. I also don’t know if I enjoyed it, either. It;s a creepy movie and that damned soundtrack didn’t help. Worth a look, though; especially if you want to see something that’s a little different.

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9. Gone Girl This one didn’t entirely add up, but it never failed to entertain. Aside from one extremely violent (and extremely unnecessary to tell the truth) scene, you might not even guess it’s a movie by director David Fincher…. Or.. Maybe you would.

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8. The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies It’s over! It’s finally over! No more   elves! No more Hobbits and Dwarves and Gollumses! Jackson will finally have to move on! What? Oh, sorry… Yeah, I liked it, but at the same time, this was a trilogy that probably could have been a one and done. The final installment was also glaring in its shortage of scenes with…. The Hobbit. You probably could have called this last one The Mad Dwarf King. It kind of was his movie… And that human guy’s movie, too… Sure wasn’t Bilbo’s movie.

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7. Birdman Slightly Kauffman-esque (as in Charley Kaufman), this is probably Keaton’s best work since– no, not ;Batman’… Did you really think I was going there? No, since Tarantino’s ‘Jackie Brown’. Keaton is the perfect person to play this, though, given the film’s subject matter (about an actor known for playing a popular superhero trying to be taken seriously in his craft). The lovely and talented Emma Stone stands out (of a pretty good cast) as Keaton’s daughter. Just wish Alejandro González Iñárritu had not gone with beatnik style drum soundtrack.

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6. Interstellar I don’t care how many physicists helped with the ‘science’ of the film, there’s a lot here that I just have to chalk up as horseshit. Sorry. What? I just mean, I don’t believe the gravity of a  habitable planet (with no apparent nearby star to provide light and life and such) orbiting the lip of a black hole will slow time for the people on that planet, nor do I believe by dropping weight on a spacecraft being sucked into said black hole will allow you to escape. That being said and forgetting about the multiple drawn out endings, I still think this was a tremendous movie that offers more than your typical blockbuster. And it was quite dramatic, very suspenseful while the movie was unfolding for the first time. Worth seeing.

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5. Edge of Tomorrow Groundhog Day with an alien invasion. Tom Cruise has his detractors (with good reason) but his film career is unusually consistent. And I rarely say this, but I could probably handle a prequel highlighting The Angel of Verdun… But, that’s probably because of my creepy fixation on Emily Blunt… Sorry. Moving right along.

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4. The Lego Movie Silly, but funny. Liked it far more than I thought I would. Deserves to be this high on the list, despite that awful song.

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3. Godzilla Will probably make a great twin bill with Pacific Rim. Some complained that like Ang Lee’s ‘Hulk’, the audience was deprived of the title character for  too much of the movie, but as a lifelong Godzilla fan I would disagree very strongly. I also would say that this is a movie  best enjoyed on the largest screen possible. The great thing that the film did was to recreate the same sort of intent that the original film presented while embracing what the character would later become (from a metaphor for atomic destruction to something benevolent towards mankind). If you love big monster movies like I do, this may even be your movie of the year.

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2. The Past A subtitled French film about a broken Iranian family.. Or something like that. It’s actually a lot more than that, as it surprised me repeatedly with its continuing revelations about the characters and plot twists. The entire cast is nothing short of brilliant. I have seen two of the actors in other films… Berenice Bejo in  the ‘silent’ film ‘The Artist’ and Tahar Rahim in the equally dazzling ‘A Prophet’, but Ali Mosaffa made it seem like I was just a fly on the wall watching ‘real’ people, as did the rest of the cast. The child actors seemed to be living the experience instead of acting in it. The ‘resolution’ in the story (if you want to call it that) was unexpected as was the meaning of the film.

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1. The Grand Budapest Hotel Not Wes Anderson’s best movie, but good enough to place first on my list. Had lots of chuckles and a few HUGE belly-laughs. Anderson has honed a very distinctive eccentric style over the years. His movies are instantly recognizable as his. It’s probably his most artistic live action film to date and you get all of the Wes Anderson regulars (including Bill Murray) along with some new notables (that hopefully will make appearances in his future films, as well). There were many critics that asked the question ” Who knew Ralph Fiennes was a comic genius?”, but I wouldn’t have asked that. He’s a brilliant act. He has some great moments with his costar Tony Revolori. Has a few scene stealers, too… Jeff Goldblum, Saoirse Ronan, and of course, Willem Dafoe who seemed to be revisiting his character from Shadow Of The Vampire, but with funnier results. And as I said in my short review of The Grand Budapest Hotel… That poor, poor cat.

So, anyway.. Bring on 2015 and Happy New Year!

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