2015 Oscars: 2014 Movies Ranked!

With the Oscars coming up this Sunday night, this is my ranking of the 38 movies that came out in 2014 that I watched between January 2014 and February 2015. I still have not seen Still AliceWild, or Two Days, One Night, three movies that have actresses up for Best Actress, nor PTA’s Inherent Vice, up for Original Screenwriting, but I’ve watched mostly everything else worth seeing. (Sorry, The Judge).

I wish I had more time to see a few more non-Oscar movies before compiling this list, such as Calvary, Only Lovers Left AliveMr. Turner, Under the Skin, and Godzilla, but alas, I ran out of time. I’ll get to them eventually.

I will follow up this post (BEFORE THE OSCARS, I PROMISE) with one focusing just on the 8 Best Picture nominees. I have a lot to say about a few of them, so I’ll keep my comments on them in this post relatively brief.

Anyway, since I like stream of consciousness rants, here we go, from worst to best:

  • North Korea, why didn’t you bomb us for The Interview?? We certainly deserved it, and not because it showed us killing your leader. It was just an affront to the art of cinema.
  • I don’t know what Noah‘s production team was smoking. I sort of get that they wanted to make the movie feel like it was both ancient and futuristic/alien at the same time… but could their costumes have been a bit more…um, biblical? And not like they bought them at Target and made them frayed and dirty?

  • How did Foxcatcher, Into the Woods, and A Most Violent Year get ANY critical praise at all this year?ZzzzzzzzzzzzzZzzzzzZZZZzzzzzzzzzzZZZzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZzzzzz
  • DID YOU KNOW BOYHOOD TOOK 12 YEARS TO FILM? AND THAT OUR MAIN CHARACTER TOOK 12 YEARS TO BECOME AN ASSHOLE? AND THAT IT TOOK 12 YEARS FOR PATRICIA ARQUETTE TO REALIZE SHE WAS A TERRIBLE MOTHER? AND THAT IT TOOK 12 YEARS FOR ETHAN HAWKE TO REALIZE HE REALLY THREW HIS LIFE AWAY BY SLACKING OFF AND NOT BEING A GOOD FATHER? AND SO ON AND SO FORTH AND ONTO MY NEXT POST…
  • Here we go. I’m going to get a lot of flack for this. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and X-Men: Days of Future Past were all critically acclaimed blockbusters…and were all completely blown out of proportion by fans and critics alike. While none of them were bad movies, per say, they were in no means that special either.
  • I was terrified of The Babadook until I actually watched The Babadook. If that makes any sense at all.
  • I wish I remembered Joe… I liked it and thought it was decent in the moment, but thinking back on it, I can only remember the earlier Matthew McConaughey version called Mud. Hell, the same kid was in both movies!!

  • I’m sorry, but due to my sister, I… I… (I feel like Squidward being unable to say his apology to Spongebob aloud here) I…oh, hell, I happen to enjoy One Direction’s music (THERE, I SAID IT), and thus, their concert movie, Where We Are, was definitely worth my time. As it was a concert movie, though, and had no plot, it therefore ranks below most of the other movies I saw from 2014.
  • Jersey Boys and American Sniper, Clint Eastwood’s decent efforts from 2014, were enjoyable and (from what I can tell) faithful adaptations of their source material, while being a bit under par from his normal quality output. Jersey Boys had the perk of being partly shot and set in the town next to mine (though maybe being associated with Belleville, NJ, is really not that much of a perk at all), and who can beat the music of the Four Seasons? American Sniper was certainly emotionally draining, but it was in no way worth all of its hype or derision at all. That being said, Bradley Cooper’s chest deserves its own Oscar category.
  • Annabelle was a fairly straight-forward horror movie in terms of plot and character archetypes. That being said, it certainly had me on the edge of my seat at times and even caused me to yell out loud in the theater. As a lover of Mad Men, I loved the film’s setting. And after seeing the immensely superior Rosemary’s Baby for the first time a week or so later, I could tell that much of the film’s aesthetic and setting owed itself to Polanski’s seminal film. My only major complaint, which is actually my only complaint with Annabelle‘s 2013’s predecessor, The Conjuring, a movie I absolutely loved, was that the Annabelle doll was just too damn scary – absurdly so – before even getting possessed!! It was laughable to me that no one in either movie questioned why any doll like this should even exist, let alone be allowed to reside in someone’s house – AND IN A BABY’S ROOM, AT THAT!

  • The music was the best part of The Theory of Everything. Sorry, Eddie. You did a good job, but your movie just felt like an alternate take on A Beautiful Mind.
  • Ida: beautifully shot, subtly acted, and almost silent. I like when modern films are shot in black and white, and along with The Grand Budapest Hotel, this was the second film I saw that was shot at a 1:33 aspect ratio. And plot-wise, what could be better than a Polish nun-in-training learning that she’s actually Jewish from her Communist official aunt?

  • Apart from a strange modern coda that didn’t really fit the rest of the movie, Dracula Untold was an exciting, medieval actioner with vampires that actually lived up to their mythological reputation. Is it bad that I enjoyed this box-office flop much more than the “Big Four” blockbusters that I mentioned above. Is there something wrong with me, or everyone else?
  • I definitely cried at The Fault In Our Stars and thought there was genuine chemistry between Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, even though I could barely stand a chapter of John Green’s book. I guess that says something about the acting, no?
  • The Imitation Game: very good World War II biopic the first time, a bit tedious and preachy the second. More on this in my later post.
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies was at times the most entertaining of the three Hobbit monstrosities and also – by FAR – the most offensive. Nothing in the Star Wars prequels, not even Jar Jar Binks, is as absurd as Legolas (might I remind you that Legolas HAS NO RIGHT EVEN BEING IN THESE MOVIES!!) defying gravity in slow motion to run up falling rocks mid-fight as if they were a staircase.
  • I love James McAvoy normally. I REALLY love James McAvoy as a psycho, vulgar, druggy Nicolas-Cage-in-Bad-Lieutenant police detective. Jim Broadbent and Imogen Poots also make Filth a film that is definitely worth seeing, if for sheer shock value.
  • Overall, I wasn’t too impressed by the plot of Nightcrawler, BUT Jake Gyllenhaal made up for the script’s shortcomings with a performance for the ages. His gaunt, sunken, wraith-like Leo Bloom is the 2010s’ version of De Niro’s Travis Bickle, except even more reprehensible.

  • Intersteller was a much longer, mainstream version of Danny Boyle’s superior Sunshine, one of my favorite movies from recent years, though going in, I expected it to be a lot worse than it actually wound up being. I thought most of it was completely preposterous, especially the end, but the acting, visuals, and music sold the movie as a whole for me. And is it just me, or am I the only one who can’t take Matt Damon seriously? I know he was Jason Bourne and all, but all of his Jimmy Kimmel appearances are too much for me to handle. So the big reveal/cameo/twist with Damon made me laugh, not gasp.

Sunshine & Interstellar

  • Can they make a mid-quel to a film that’s already a prequel, mid-quel, and sequel to another film? Because I think Eva Green’s Artemisia NEEDS her own movie. Most of 300: Rise of an Empire was pretty mediocre, the expected stylized schlock of the first 300, but there’s a reason this was close to being in my top 10 for the year.

  • Snowpiercer is one of the more bizarre but welcome additions to the science fiction genre, and totally worth downloading late one summer night last year. Tilda Swinton makes the movie, in case you haven’t heard by now. And poor Chris Evans can’t catch a break with cold substances… first Sunshine, then Captain America, now Snowpiercer
  • Mitt was a great 22nd birthday present, so thank you, Netflix. For anyone interested in politics, whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, or independent, this documentary was an intimate portrait of a man running for President, and, in stark contrast to how he carried himself outwardly during the 2012 election, it actually showed that Mitt Romney was a man.

  • A quarter of the way through The Lego Movie, I was seriously confused about all the hype. Halfway through, I was enjoying it but only thought it a cute little Disney knockoff, a Wreck-It Ralph-lite. Three quarters, and I was eating my words, mind completely blown. Please, experience it for yourself. The ending is so worth the time and enduring that annoying song.
  • If Tom Hardy had simply used the Welsh accent he used in Locke as his voice for Bane in the awful The Dark Knight Rises, then he would have been absolutely terrifying, not the Darth Sean Connery laughing stock he wound up being. Also, to have an entire film set in a car and consist of only close ups of a single actor’s face, his dashboard phone menu, and of the exterior of his car, and STILL be as engaging and as morally profound as Locke says something about Hardy’s acting and the film’s writing.

  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virture of Ignorance) is a gimmick. But, unlike Boyhood, it is a gimmick that actually works, though I enjoyed it significantly less the second time viewing it. If the film were not shot as if it were done in a single take, the movie would of course be lessened, but its acting is still superb enough to carry it past its cinematography.
  • Selma, a movie I expected to be super preachy, would up being one of the best historical dramas I’ve seen in a while, and apart from the mention of Ferguson in the end credits’ song (my one complaint about the movie), it remained pretty apolitical the entire time. Oyelowo, Wilkinson, and Roth were all eerily close to their historical counterparts.
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel is not my favorite Wes Anderson movie (that probably goes to Rushmore or Moonrise Kingdom), but it is his most lavish and grand and possibly his most zany, and fairly perfect in its composition (literally), and it certainly deserves all the praise it’s been getting.
  • I miss Roger Ebert. I didn’t agree with him politically really at all, and even disagreed with him on a number of film reviews, but he was my go-to movie critic, as I’m sure he was for millions of others, before a movie came out, and if he didn’t like a movie, he was usually in the majority. Life Itself is a must see doc. It is terribly sad at times but also incredibly life-affirming and uplifting, and overall one of the most wonderful films I’ve seen in a long time.

  • Very few things have ever made me laugh as much as the end credits sequence of 22 Jump Street. Add in Ice Cube’s explosion during dinner and Channing Tatum’s realization over why Ice Cube was so angry, and you get my favorite comedy of the year. Yes, it was better than the first movie. By a lot.
  • A movie that can elicit anger that hurts my stomach, shock that makes me yell out loud, and triumphant joy that makes me jump out of my seat is something special. Whiplash is that type of movie.
  • Gone Girl lived up to its expectations, which was a thriller about bad people in an awful marriage doing twisted things to one another. I read the book after seeing the movie and Fincher and the film’s cast really did do the book justice. And I really hope Oscars host Neil Patrick Harris references how his dalliance with a woman did not exactly end too well here…

  • I did not have any more fun seeing a movie in 2014 than when I saw Edge of Tomorrow in theaters over the summer. What could have been another crappy, forgettable, video gamey, generic science fiction/alien invasion/action/disaster movie wound up being an emotional, well-acted, and surprisingly hilarious and fresh take on the genre. This Groundhog Day-meets-Starship Troopers-meets-Minority Report mashup reaffirmed that Tom Cruise can be a very good actor when given good material, and that badass female characters are so much cooler than badass male characters. If Eva Green was awesome in the mediocre 300 sequel, Emily Blunt was incredible in a film that will actually be remembered in a few years!

– Flipp

American Sniper, Selma, & Boyhood and the Let’s Get Offended at Everything! Awards

Okay. After watching Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, I have now seen all 8 of the films nominated for this year’s Best Picture Academy Award. And I wasn’t going to wade in on any of the controversy surrounding it, but this little tweet from The Interview‘s own Seth Rogen set me off just a bit:

He was comparing Sniper to Inglourious Basterds‘ film-within-a-film “Nation’s Pride,” which was about a German sniper’s heroic three day stand in a bell tower against invading American forces. However, commissioned by Joseph Goebbels in the universe of Tarantino’s film, it is first and foremost propaganda, with the German solider Fredrick Zoller (Daniel Brühl) playing himself in the movie, like real-life American soldier Audie Murphy did in To Hell and Back after returning from World War II. Rogen later backtracked, saying he had simply been “reminded” of “Nation’s Pride” while watching Sniper, and that he actually liked Clint Eastwood’s film. Clarification or not, however, his original tweet was one more comment in a maelstrom of controversy surrounding the movie and is still a valid point for discussion.

Fredrick Zoller (Daniel Bruhl) starring in his own film, “Nation’s Pride”

So while, yes, similarities can be made between “Nation’s Pride” and American Sniper, in that they are both about snipers who killed upwards of 150-200 enemy combatants in war and were deemed heroes afterwards, they are in no way the same movie. I simply do not understand the outcry over American Sniper. I happen to be a conservative individual, but apart from (film) Chris Kyle being a Texan who took great pride in serving his country, I cannot – for the life of me – see any sort of conservative slant to the movie. Yes, Kyle killed people in the line of duty, and while many of these deaths are brutally depicted on screen, he never gloats about them. At one point, he clearly has a nervous breakdown after coming seconds away from killing a kid with an RPG (the kid puts the weapon down and runs away), and his demons follow him home. He is distant with his wife and his kids between tours of duty and then when home for good, and prone to violent reactions to seemingly-ordinary things like dogs barking or drilling sounds. The film does not delve too deeply into his PTSD, but it acknowledges its existence, as well as showing other veterans with loss of limb or other forms of psychological problems. Heck, his own brother, also serving in Iraq, curses the sand beneath his feet before heading home after his own tour of duty. 

Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle in American Sniper

If anything, American Sniper showed a horrifying conflict in a horrifying and extremely realistic light. Complaints against it claim that it didn’t show Americans committing war crimes or that it failed to humanize the Iraqi insurgents killed by Kyle, especially the enemy sniper with whom Kyle faces off in an Enemy at the Gates-type snipers’ dual over the years, or the fact that it did not outright condemn the Iraq War itself like many previous Hollywood films had done, but this movie particularly was not meant to show all of that. It was about Chris Kyle, his drive and his dedication to his role as a U.S. soldier, and his role as a husband and father.

Personally, I was not blown away by the movie, just as I was not blown away by 2012’s similarly-themed and -plotted Zero Dark Thirtythough I did like Bradley Cooper’s portrayal and believe the film earned its many Oscar nominations. And I certainly think any outrage over the movie is complete and utter nonsense.

That being said, I also find the other side of the aisle’s (that is, my side’s) complaints against the Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic Selma to be just as unfounded. I actually thought it was one of the better movies nominated for Best Picture this year (I liked it more than Sniper), and apart from the use of “Ferguson” in the Common/John Legend song “Glory” that accompanied the end credits, I believe that it avoided taking political sides and approached the topic of Civil Rights objectively.

David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma

Selma, as well as American Sniper, has been charged with historical inaccuracies to the point of mudslinging and uproars on either side of the political spectrum as their respective horse in the race comes under fire from the other side, but The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything have somehow seemed to creep by scot-free of any major criticisms, even though liberties have certainly been taken in their adaptations to the screen as well. Is it simply because they aren’t focusing on such volatile subjects as Civil Rights and the Iraq War that people haven’t been outraged over them? Or can people just not put aside their views for two hours and try to watch two fairly objective movies in an objective light?

I’ll admit, that’s a lot easier said than done, as I panned Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, which attempted to tell a fictional story in a realistic way. Even though I appreciated the concept of filming the movie over 12 years and the work put into making it over that time, I did not like the actual movie, mainly because I could not stand the main character and the liberal slant to his worldview. Why would anyone laud how this kid grew up? He went from a cute little kid to a complete asshole, and it took 3 long hours for me to watch it happen… However, I am not outraged by the movie; I just didn’t like it. And I will leave it at that. If anyone wants to see it and love it – and hell, a lot of people have as it will probably win Best Picture – then so be it.

American Sniper and Selma were the anti-Boyhood. These two films had STORIES. They told actual stories about flawed characters that WE STILL CARED ABOUT, not idealistic impressions of them, and didn’t forgive or gloss over their characters’ flaws for the sake of having a happy “Hollywood” ending. They told historical events realistically and objectively, and for that reason alone, the should be seen by everyone. Many people just can’t seem to wrap their minds around that.

To come full circle, Seth Rogen… shame on you for speaking negatively (consciously or subconsciously) on another film after that train wreck of a…what? – it’s certainly not a movie – you call The Interview. I didn’t think I could like and enjoy a film from 2014 less than I did NoahAnd nothing I’ve seen in years is as bad as your buddy James Franco’s Gollum impression. 

-Flipp

2014 Golden Globe Predictions

Edit 3: Overall, 9/25. I should never actually gamble. However, I am happy with most of the outcomes of the evening, although I’d rather Birdman had won for Best Musical or Comedy, and while I didn’t necessarily care for Boyhood, I’ll admit that its feat should definitely be recognized. On the TV end, I really overestimated the love for True Detective, which was all but shut out by Fargo (YES!) and The Normal Heart. And I guess Amazon is the new Netflix, with 2 wins for Transparent vs. 1 win for the latter company (Kevin Spacey for House of Cards’ second season). Also, who has actually seen The Affair?? Yeah, me neither.

Edit 2: NEW CATEGORY!! The “George Clooney Award for Being George Clooney” with the only nomination and winner… George Clooney

Edit 1: With less than half of the show left to go…. my ballot is coooompletely off. More to follow afterwards…

Tonight is the 72 Annual Golden Globe awards! Super comedy duo Tina Fey and Amy Poehler return as co-hosts, and with many close races that will serve as a possible preview of February’s Oscars, it should at least be an interesting night. 

MOTION PICTURES

Best Drama

  • Boyhood √
  • Foxcatcher
  • The Imitation Game
  • Selma
  • The Theory of Everything

Best Comedy

  • Birdman
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel √
  • Into the Woods
  • Pride
  • St. Vincent

Best Director

  • Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Ava Duvernay, Selma
  • David Fincher, Gone Girl
  • Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
  • Richard Linklater, Boyhood √

Best Actress in a Drama

  • Jennifer Aniston, Cake
  • Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
  • Julianne Moore, Still Alice √
  • Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
  • Reese Witherspoon,Wild

Best Actor in a Drama

  • Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
  • Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
  • David Oyelowo, Selma
  • Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything √

Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy

  • Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Michael Keaton, Birdman √
  • Bill Murray, St. Vincent
  • Joaquin Phoenix, Inherent Vice
  • Christoph Waltz, Big Eyes

Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy

  • Amy Adams, Big Eyes √
  • Emily Blunt, Into the Woods
  • Helen Mirren, The Hundred-Foot Journey
  • Julianne Moore, Map to the Stars
  • Quvenzhané Wallis, Annie

(Really, HFPA? This is by far the most bizarre category of the night.)

Best Supporting Actress

  • Patricia Arquette, Boyhood √
  • Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
  • Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
  • Emma Stone, Birdman
  • Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Best Supporting Actor

  • Robert Duvall, The Judge
  • Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
  • Edward Norton, Birdman
  • Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
  • J.K. Simmons, Whiplash √

Best Screenplay

  • Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
  • Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, and Armando Bo, Birdman √
  • Richard Linklater, Boyhood
  • Graham Moore, The Imitation Game

Best Foreign Language Film

  • Force Majeure Turist, Sweden
  • Gett: The Trial of Viviane Ansalem Gett, Israel
  • Ida, Poland/Denmark
  • Leviathan, Russia √
  • Tangerines Mandariinid, Estonia

Best Animated Feature

  • Big Hero 6
  • The Book of Life
  • The Boxtrolls
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 √
  • The Lego Movie

Best Original Song

  • “Big Eyes” from Big Eyes
  • “Glory” from Selma √
  • “Mercy Is” from Noah
  • “Opportunity” from Annie
  • “Yellow Flicker Beat” from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1

Best Score

  • The Imitation Game
  • The Theory of Everything √
  • Gone Girl
  • Birdman
  • Interstellar

TELEVISION

Best TV Comedy or Musical

  • Girls
  • Jane the Virgin
  • Orange Is the New Black
  • Silicon Valley
  • Transparent √

Best TV Drama

  • The Affair √
  • Downton Abbey
  • Game of Thrones
  • The Good Wife
  • House of Cards

Best Actress in a TV Drama

  • Claire Danes, Homeland
  • Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder
  • Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
  • Ruth Wilson, The Affair √
  • Robin Wright, House of Cards

Best Actor in a TV Drama

  • Clive Owen, The Knick
  • Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
  • Kevin Spacey, House of Cards √
  • James Spader, The Blacklist
  • Dominic West, The Affair

Best Actress in a TV Comedy

  • Lena Dunham, Girls
  • Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
  • Gena Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin √
  • Taylor Schilling, Orange Is the New Black

Best Actor in a TV Comedy

  • Louis CK, Louie
  • Don Cheadle, House of Lies
  • Ricky Gervais, Derek
  • William H. Macy, Shameless
  • Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent √

Best Miniseries or TV Movie

  • Fargo √
  • The Missing
  • The Normal Heart
  • Olive Kitteridge
  • True Detective

Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie

  • Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Honorable Woman √
  • Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Freak Show
  • Frances McDormand, Olive Kitteridge
  • Frances O’Connor, The Missing
  • Allison Tolman, Fargo

Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie

  • Martin Freeman, Fargo
  • Woody Harrelson, True Detective
  • Matthew McConaughey, True Detective
  • Mark Ruffalo, The Normal Heart
  • Billy Bob Thornton, Fargo √

Best Supporting Actress in a TV Show, Miniseries or TV Movie

  • Uzo Aduba, Orange Is the New Black
  • Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Freak Show
  • Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey √
  • Allison Janney, Mom
  • Michelle Monaghan, True Detective

Best Supporting Actor in a TV Show, Miniseries or TV Movie

  • Matt Bomer, The Normal Heart √
  • Alan Cumming, The Good Wife
  • Colin Hanks, Fargo
  • Bill Murray, Olive Kitteridge
  • Jon Voight, Ray Donovan

-Flipp