A week or two has passed now since most sites have posted their end of the year write-ups, and I still find myself debating what to put on my movie list. After much self degradation I have finally come to terms with the fact that my list will be nothing like that of the Oscar’s upcoming Best Picture race. These aren’t the “best movies,” but that doesn’t keep them from being my favorites.
Edge of Tomorrow: I will never understand why it was decided to change “Edge of Tomorrow” to “Live. Die. Repeat.” That is supposed to sell the movie better than the title it was presented with while in theaters? I don’t think so. Luckily changing the title to something worse did not impact the quality of the actual film.
Put a gun to my head to pick one movie from my pack of 2014 hits and Edge of Tomorrow would be it. Tom Cruise plays a soldier who gains the alien power to relive one day over and over and over again after he initially dies in battle on the first day. And when I say he has the power to relive one day over and over and over, I mean it. We see that day A LOT, but due to great editing and storytelling it’s done in a clever way that makes these repeated moments far more hilarious than I ever expected going in, and far from repetitive. Turns out Cruise repeatedly dying just doesn’t get old, especially when it is at the hands of an indifferent Emily Blunt, who is also great in this film. Seriously, she is ready to be a superhero. Make it happen.
The ending of the film may bring about some questions in whether or not it should actually work out the way it does, as most time travel films tend to do, but thanks to the journey I really don’t care if its “accurate” or not. The film is just too awesome.
22 Jump Street: I haven’t laughed as hard or as frequently in a movie theater as I did when watching 22 Jump Street in a long time, possibly ever. Based on the guy with the rather distinct reaction behind me, I am not alone. 21 Jump Street should have been a tough act to follow, but everyone involved makes it look easy with this one, embracing the idea of the sequel by constantly making fun of it. No really, 75% of the film is self-referential degradation, and it never gets old. You would think it would, and in lesser hands it undoubtedly would, but not here. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill continue to be the buddy cop team I want more from (suck it, The Other Guys), and Tatum didn’t even have to take his shirt off for me to say so!
And now there is talk about a Jump Street / Men in Black mash-up feature film. Goodness it better be true. The montage of sequels in the end credits of 22 Jump Street introduced us to a world of possibilities, and to live up to this joke seems too good to be true. But if anyone can do it, I will put my faith in this team.
Godzilla: Like many people with similar interests to mine, I was supposed to love Pacific Rim. Giant robots fighting monsters! What’s not to love? For me? Plenty. Eventually the huge computer rendered fights got boring, and what was left was time for me to look at just how many problems I had with the character development.
Luckily I have Godzilla to fill that hole. It’s not like the character development is any better here as the human characters fall below the monsters on the call sheet, but it didn’t feel like an empty promise of human complexity so much as just a trick used to keep the story moving along through transitional sequences as the anticipation builds towards the confrontation between the MUTO and Godzilla. That’s right, the enemy of our enemy is our friend, and Godzilla is humanity’s last hope to stand a chance against these gigantic beasts with a love of nuclear power and a belly full of babies. So bring on the big boss battles.
Big Hero 6: Like many, I am still waiting anxiously for a sequel to The Incredibles. In the meantime, Disney gives us Big Hero 6. The regular kids to superhero storyline is your standard story of the sort, but the animation keeps it from being ordinary as these kids use their love of science and technology to create their own “powers” that are both inventive and simply fun to watch. However, this film would still be nothing without the relationship between our main character, Hiro, and his Michelin man, Baymax. This inflated robot is good for funny noise jokes and awkward mobility physical gags, but he goes the Wall-E route of bringing something more to those “blank” eyes. If there is any semblance of a heart in your body, Hiro’s dead brother continuing to be there by living on through his creation will get you right in the feels.
Snowpiercer: It’s a simple concept, really. All of humanity can fit on one train, with the lower class pushed to the back as the 1% lives as lavishly as you can traveling in a tube through the frozen remains of a post-apocalyptic and uninhabitable world. This leads to resentment in the “lesser” inhabitants, and this leads to all out craziness as Chris Evans takes us up the train, fighting through one car at a time. You may think you have an idea of what to expect, but the movie quickly becomes something more; something way more out there than you expected, but something all the better for it.
Comet: It’s no (500) Days of Summer, but I will gladly make room for another quirky, jumbled timeline romantic dramedy in my life. This one is also set in a parallel universe, but I choose to ignore that fact in my own interpretation of what is shown of this dysfunctional relationship between Justin Long and Emmy Rossum. Goodness I love Justin Long… I loved him in this movie, and those feelings easily transfer to the film on the whole in large thanks because of his performance of this filterless man lost to love in a timeline that shows both self-assured confidence and outspokenness to something far more broken by emotion. And that’s just Long. Rossum holds more than her own as she bounces off of him in a wide range of scenes, from the adorably awkward meet cute to the uncomfortable heartache. It should be noted that Sam Esmail is strongly felt in this piece as he both wrote and directed it, and the look of the film makes itself known more often than not, but again, I always come back to the chemistry of the two leads on this one.
Biggest Surprise: John Wick
My name is John Wick. You killed my puppy. Prepare to die.
And die they did. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you then don’t bother giving this one a chance. It is pure action, blood and gore, with a whole lot of Keanu Reeves kicking major booty. Maybe not The Raid levels of booty kicking, but major booty regardless. All I know is after seeing this I will never shortchange Reeves again, the man holds his own. John Wick is a BA man killer, and I cannot wait to see if he has more bodies to add to the pile.
I Will Keep Defending: The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Like last year’s Man of Steel, I often find myself defending my feelings towards The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It’s not like I am blind to it’s shortcomings; I hate Paul Giamatti’s Rhino as much as the next guy (and this is far from the only problem with the roster of villains), the will they or won’t they overdramatic back and forth is as frustrating here as it is in many superhero stories, but that doesn’t keep me from still being charmed by Andrew Garfield’s interactions with both Sally Field’s Aunt May and Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy. And that death… It lived up to expectations for me. So though this is just another reason for Peter Parker to get a little more sullen and further away from the sarcastic and fun-loving crime-fighting style, I still hope Garfield is able to wear the Spidey suit once more.
And if that doesn’t go well, I still have Deadpool.
To manipulate a community into falling into the system in place, you gotta start them early. The train in Snowpiercer has just the car for that, which brings us such a weird scene that falls in such stark comparison to the previous gruesome bloodbath that this scene becomes all the more comical. However, if the pause from violence is too awkwardly uncomfortable for you, Alison Pill’s preggo teacher is also packing.
Pretty much all the best moments in Guardians of the Galaxy involve the battle-ready humanoid treeman, Groot, but the moment that takes the cake for me (other than the dancing baby Groot, of course) is when he goes full on psycho by impaling a hall full of guards before slamming their ragdolling bodies against all the flat surfaces of the passageway. Completely proud and satisfied with his actions, he then turns and smiles with a “look what I did” childish glee.
There are plenty of great moments between Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig as they work off of each other in The Skeleton Twins, but the scene where Hader tries to lip sync his way back into Wiig’s heart will make you all warm and happy inside. If Bridesmaids didn’t fill you in, then The Skeleton Twins is here to remind you that the past members of the SNL cast sure know how to fake musical glory with the best of them.
After being frozen for numerous decades, Steve Rogers has missed a lot of pop culture (as witnessed by the excitement for getting a reference during The Avengers). To make sure this doesn’t continue to happen to him, he has a to do list in Captain America: The Winter Soldier that he is constantly adding to.
Most Disappointing: 300: Rise of an Empire
Above all, 300 is the movie I will most adamantly argue for when it comes to talking to people who don’t like the film. Personally, I don’t think they give it credit for what it is actually doing, so much so as just continue to be upset that it isn’t historically accurate. Plus, it’s just beautiful, introducing me to a director I have come to love. Unfortunately Zack Snyder had no part of this one, and though it still looks pretty, the story just doesn’t hold up. So instead of feeling the need to defend this one I spend more time being weirded out by Eva Green and being completely disappointed in the lead character for not sticking to the character he introduces himself to be.
Runner Up: The Signal – Basically it is just a cool sci-fi movie that takes a dive in the last 5 minutes. So it’s still worth seeing for it’s beautiful shots and lead actor, just know that the ending might change your mind about the film on the whole.
Thank God the Series is Finally Over: The Hobbit
I don’t actually have anything more to say on the subject, really. Just thank God it’s over.
Films I still Want to See: Thanks to my rather obnoxious stomach that doesn’t always cooperate when it comes to my movie going desires, I missed a rather large amount of movies this year and am having one heck of a time of playing catchup. Here’s my list of notable misses:
Birdman, Boyhood, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, The Drop, Fury, Gone Girl, Horns, The Imitation Game, Inside Llewyn Davis, Interstellar, Into the Woods, Locke, The Maze Runner, Nightcrawler, Obvious Child, St. Vincent, The Theory of Everything, This is Where I Leave You, Wild, Zero Motivation
Wrap Up: So that’s my “best of” list for 2014. What movies would be on yours?