Best of 2014

The Top 10 Movies of 2014

by Alan Rapp on January 2, 2015

in Top Tens & Lists

The Top 10 Movies of 2014

Family, friendship, and the struggle to find oneself’s place in the world were the big themes on my list this year. Looking back the year might not have offered me the clear winner to top the list (I gave out no perfect score for any film this year), but it still offered a solid list of ten movies worth noting and celebrating. As always, I tried to see as much as possible but there are a few films, most notably Whiplash and Gone Girl, which eluded me. Others like Foxcatcher, Inherent Vice, and American Sniper won’t release in my home market in 2014 (and which I was unable to view and/or review before the publishing of this list) are also not included (although you might see a couple of them turn up in my mid-year list of Best Movies of 2015 So Far next year). Enough with what didn’t make the cut, here is my list of the Top Ten Movies of 2014.

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Boyhood

by Alan Rapp on December 29, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Boyhood
  • IMDb: link

BoyhoodShot over the course of 12 years, Boyhood is one of the most ambitious projects any filmmaker has attempted to tackle. It’s also easily one of the best films of the year.

Starting the project at age 5 we witness Ellar Coltrane grow-up as Mason over the filming of Richard Linklater‘s latest film which began production in 2002 and finally arrived in theaters in 2014. Over its 165-minute running time Mason’s scripted tale delves into his relationships with both his divorced parents (Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke), the complexities of modern-day extended families, and the journey of Mason from grade school to college.

Begun without a finished script, but with an established beginning and ending, Linklater adapted the story by the changes he saw in his cast over the years. Arquette and Hawke carry much of the early scenes of the movie while Coltrane takes over a larger part of the story as he grows as an actor.

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The Imitation Game

by Alan Rapp on December 25, 2014

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Imitation Game
  • IMDb: link

The Imitation GameCode breaking is an art as much as a science and never was it needed, or more artfully accomplished, than by the British during World War II. Set during the middle of Second World War, The Imitation Game follows an unlikely group of scholars, mathematicians, linguists, chess champions, and intelligence officers who were thrown together with the singular goal of breaking Germany’s unbreakable code known as Enigma. Enter Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) who might have been the biggest hero of the war if every advancement he made in cryptology (including the creation of the first computer) hadn’t been state secrets until well after his death.

Based on the novel by Andrew Hodges and adapted by Graham Moore, the film is anchored by Benedict Cumberbatch who lends a vulnerability to the abrasiveness of Turing whose own co-workers often struggled to get along with. In one of her most understated roles Keira Knightley stars as Joan Clarke, the lone female member of the team to break Engima, even if she had to officially work as a secretary in order to do so.

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  • Title: Birdman
  • IMDb: link

BirdmanWriter/director Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s tale of a washed-up celebrity’s last chance to reclaim his career is a bizarre look at the life of a man who may, or may not, have super-human abilities who has bet his entire career on a Broadway production that is in continual struggle as opening night looms.

Making good use of Michael Keaton‘s role of Batman back in the early 1990s, Iñárritu casts the actor as Riggan Thomson best known for his role as a super-hero film series star who no one inside the industry takes seriously. Riggan is haunted by his former alter-ego Birdman who continues whispering to him in a gruff Batman tone voicing displeasure about the current state of the star’s life. In a script that ebbs and flows (and often gives us too many first-person walking shots down halls where nothing happens), Keaton keeps Birdman on track delivering his best performance since donning his own tights.

The rest of the cast and crew of the production fall into unremarkable (workmen, staff, etc.) or hopelessly neurotic (Naomi Watts, Emma Stone, Andrea Riseborough) and egomaniacs (Edward Norton).

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Big Hero 6

by Alan Rapp on November 7, 2014

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Big Hero 6
  • IMDb: link

Big Hero 6Based (very) loosely on the comic of the same name, Big Hero 6 is Disney’s first animated feature film adapted from Marvel Comics. Taking quite a few liberties with the original story (including replacing the all-Asian proven group of warriors with a more diverse cast of would-be heroes), the plot involves a group of scientists in San Fransisco-ish city brought together by the genius younger brother of one of their former colleagues (Daniel Henney) who uses their combined know-how and the medical robot designed by his late brother named Baymax (Scott Adsit) to create a super-team.

Although the story is presented from the perspective of young Hiro (Ryan Potter) dealing with loss and an uncertain future, the big fluffy robot is the real star of the film providing most of the film’s big laughs. Rounding out the team are a perky chemistry wiz (Genesis Rodriguez), a high-speed adrenaline junkie (Jamie Chung), a neat-freak (Damon Wayans Jr.), and comic-book obsessed slacker (T.J. Miller) whose williness to go with Hiro’s super-hero concept helps get the others on-board.

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