Tag Archives: Gone Girl

Top Ten Films of 2014

1. Whiplash

No movie wowed me and enthralled me and inspired me in 2014 like Whiplash. Featuring Miles Teller in a star-making performance and J.K. Simmons in the most memorable and iconic role of his long career, this is a tightly edited, endlessly entertaining movie that literally hits every right note. The vastly talented writer/director Damien Chazelle has crafted a near-perfect film, one that always surprises and impresses, and ultimately works in every way.

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2. Boyhood

Richard Linklater is a director to treasure. His Before trilogy is one of the landmark projects in recent film history, and he has equaled it, if not surpassed it, with his magical 12-years-in-the-making Boyhood. Who else but Linklater would have spent so long making a movie that ultimately is just about people, and their struggles, and their triumphs, both in childhood and in adulthood. Ellar Coltrane is a natural in the main role, and Ethan Hawke brings depth to his role as his father, but it’s Patricia Arquette’s emotionally affecting role as his mother that will stay with me the most.

B2

3. Nightcrawler

Jake Gyllenhaal has been slowly and quietly becoming the best actor of his generation, with startling work in End of Watch, Prisoners, and Enemy. Nightcrawler is his best, most haunting performance yet, easily the most embarrassing oversight of this year’s Academy Award nominations. He is downright brilliant as a down-on-his-luck man who resorts to crime scene videography to make a living. Rene Russo had one of the great comebacks of the year with her complex supporting role, and writer/director Dan Gilroy keeps the tension building until an end chase scene that is both shocking and disturbing.

B3

4. Gone Girl

David Fincher films have become events for me at this point, with particularly Fight Club and The Social Network being all-time favorites, and no one but Fincher could have been a better match for Gone Girl. He brings his meticulous eye for casting, pacing, and black comedy to this fascinating tale of deception and resentment. Gillian Flynn masterfully transformed her terrific novel into a wickedly entertaining movie—like Gyllenhaal, her lack of an Oscar nomination is baffling, especially given that Paul Thomas Anderson’s incomprehensible script for Inherent Vice made the cut. Rosamind Pike, like Rooney Mara in Fincher’s previous The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, gives a magnetic performance.

B4

5. Life Itself

As a lifelong fan of Roger Ebert’s film reviews, both written and televised, I have waited for the day his unique life would get the documentary treatment. Steve James, who made the monumental Hoop Dreams, does Ebert proud with this informative and hugely emotional film, one that includes insights from Martin Scorsese and Gene Siskel’s widow Marlene, as well as heartbreaking images of Ebert’s last few months alive before his death in April 2013. His fascinating relationship with director Russ Meyer is given proper screen-time, but it’s his 25-year love story with his wife Chaz that may resonate most of all. As hard as parts of it are to watch, I loved every minute of this film, and I can’t wait to see it again.

B5

6. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The one great blockbuster of 2014 is the best Apes sequel of them all. Andy Serkis returned as Caesar in this action-packed and exceedingly dark sequel to Rise. The character of Koba is a commanding screen villain, and the visual effects are truly spectacular. Matt Reeves directed one of the best horror films of the last five years—2010’s Let Me In—and with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, he shows that he can tell absorbing stories in any genre and on any budget.

B6

7. The Skeleton Twins

Easily the most underrated film of 2014, The Skeleton Twins offers an enormously effective blend of comedy and drama, with Kristin Wiig and Bill Hader in their best film roles to date. What starts as potentially indie-cliché—the gay brother who attempts suicide moves in with his estranged sister—becomes something unexpectedly moving. The scene of Wiig and Hader lip-syncing Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” is one of the 2014 movie highlights.

B7

8. A Most Violent Year

J.C. Chandor is three for three with A Most Violent Year. His debut Margin Call featured a heart-racing story and an impressive ensemble cast, while his All is Lost featured one sole actor—Robert Redford, in the performance of his career. His latest teams powerhouse actors Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain in a sometimes unbearably tense crime drama set in 1981 New York. With shades of The Godfather and some of Sidney Lumet’s best work, A Most Violent Year is captivating from beginning to end.

B8

9. Birdman

Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, and Emma Stone lead an all-star cast in one of the most beguiling and thrilling movies of the year. Emmanuel Lubezski’s stunning cinematography, which makes the whole movie look like one long shot, has to be seen to be believed, and director Alejandro Inarritu thankfully lightened up a little to tell a story that mixes tragedy with some truly biting comedy. Keaton is a revelation in a role that calls back to the actor’s own days as Batman, as well as his high level of talent that was on display in films in the 1980s but rarely in the last two decades.

B9

10. Chef

One of the best food movies I’ve ever seen, Jon Favreau’s enchanting comedy is loads of fun, blending scenes of borderline food porn with a moving father-son story. Favreau, who made the great Swingers before he moved on to studio tentpole land, made a welcome return to low-budget entertainment with this film, which features charming supporting performances from Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo, and Emjay Anthony, as Favreau’s son. Chef may not be the most insightful or unpredictable movie of 2014, but more than any other film on this list, it’s one that made me feel great.

B10

#11-20 (in alphabetical order)

American Sniper

The Babadook

Big Hero 6

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Enemy

The Fault in Our Stars

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Love is Strange

Lucy

X-Men: Days of Future Past

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Top 10 Films to Look Forward To in 2014!

There are still plenty of 2013 films I need to see before awards season heats up, and before I write my top ten films of the year article later this month. Her. Inside Llewyn Davis. Fruitvale Station. Labor Day.

But even though I’m still playing catch-up, it’s not too early to look forward to what’s to come in 2014! Here is just a sampling of what I’m excited to see sometime during the next 365 days…

The Grand Budapest Hotel (March 7)

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Wes Anderson films are always worth watching, and his newest not only boasts one of his most impressive casts — including Ralph Fiennes, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, and Bill Murray — but also looks to be one hell of a fun ride, a period piece set in a famous European hotel. The Royal Tenenbaums and Moonrise Kingdom remain my two favorite films of his. Will The Grand Budapest Hotel surpass either one?

Noah (March 28)

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Each new Darren Aronofsky film is an event, even if his newest has been plagued with some bad press and production delays, and even though it has the massive budget of the one film of his I didn’t care for — The Fountain. It’s true I typically prefer Aronofsky lean and intimate, like with Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan. But this still looks fantastic, with a great cast that includes Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, and Logan Lerman. Yep, if A Beautiful Mind and The Perks of Being a Wallflower had a child… they’d name her Noah.

X-Men: Days of Future Past (May 23)

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I haven’t been too pumped for an X-Men movie in about a decade, but there’s just too much to get excited about in the newest, imaginatively conceived installment, which blends the casts of both First Class and the original trilogy. Plus, Bryan Singer is back, having even just announced a follow-up to this film planned for 2016. My main worry is that there won’t be enough running time to hold this story and all of these characters, but my fingers are crossed it will work. This is my most anticipated movie of the summer 2014 season!

The Fault in Our Stars (June 6)

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How cool that a comedy romance about two teenagers with cancer is getting a major summer release date? John Green’s book has taken the world by storm over the last two years, so it’s not difficult to see why the studio has faith in this. The Fault in Our Stars was one of my favorite reads of 2012, but what really excites me for this is that it’s written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, the screenwriters behind 500 Days of Summer, and it’s directed by Josh Boone, who made one of my favorite movies of 2013 — the underrated Stuck in Love. I can’t wait!

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July 11)

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If there’s one other big summer movie of 2014 to look forward to — sorry, Transformers 4, I just can’t muster up the enthusiasm — it’s the follow-up to the surprisingly terrific Rise of the Planet of the Apes, from 2011. The new teaser is fantastic, and the possibilities for where this installment can go are endless. Matt Reeves, the mastermind behind Cloverfield and the brilliant Let Me In, is at the helm this time out, and it appears the omnipresent James Franco couldn’t find time in his schedule to make an appearance in this one. Long live Caesar!

The Giver (August 15)

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One of my favorite books from high school finally gets the big-screen treatment. After years stuck in development hell, producer and star Jeff Bridges finally got this project off the ground last year, with the talented Phillip Noyce (The Quiet American) directing, and with a cast that includes Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes… and Taylor Swift?!? I hope they know what they’re doing. I have a feeling this one will either be a home run or a colossal failure. We shall see in August!

Gone Girl (October 3)

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David Fincher could direct a film about dirt and I’d be first in line. Ever since I was dazzled by Fight Club at the tender age of fourteen, I have closely followed his career, and I have yet to be disappointed by any one of his projects. I finally got around to reading the book last summer, and it’s a superbly written page-turner that should make for a brilliant adaptation. With an eclectic cast that includes Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, and Tyler Perry (!), this should be one of the best movies of the year.

Interstellar (November 7)

Matthew McConaughey in Interstellar

Christopher Nolan. Need I say more? Like Fincher, every one of Nolan’s films has absolutely floored me, and the secrecy surrounding Interstellar only makes the project all the more intriguing. Matthew McConaughey has had one of the most astonishing career resurgences in recent history, with his stellar work lately in films like Mud and Dallas Buyers Club, and that should only continue with his lead role in this film. With Anne Hathaway, Casey Affleck, and Jessica Chastain also part of this magnificent cast, Interstellar could well be Nolan’s greatest masterpiece yet.

Dumb and Dumber To (November 14)

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Here I give you the biggest question mark of the year. Dumb and Dumber is one of my top five comedies of all time, a movie I’ve watched so much I practically know the whole thing by heart. I happily avoided the 2003 prequel, but I certainly won’t be able to avoid an official sequel that re-teams Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, and brings back the directing duo Bobby and Peter Farrelly. The two actors have promised in interviews they weren’t interested in coming back without a great script. Will this be a worthy sequel? Or will it be one of the big disappointments of the year? I am certainly hoping for the former!

Into the Woods (December 25)

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Meryl Streep. Johnny Depp. Rob Marshall. Musical. Christmas. Five things that make me very happy, and they’re all rolled into one project! I don’t know much about the musical this film is based on, but I have a feeling this one will be a return to form for Marshall, who stumbled a bit with Nine. Of course the only thing that really matters here is that Meryl Streep plays a freaking witch. Just that is enough for me to plop my ten bucks down. I can’t wait to see this movie one year from now, and I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store at the movies!

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