I think a good way to judge whether or not you thought the past year of film was a good one is how difficult it was to compile your top ten of the year. Did you struggle to fill spots or were there a bunch of films vying for positions? 2014 ended up in the latter category for me, which is a very good thing. I was impressed with the slate of films released this year, mainly from the smaller side. Major Hollywood studios did manage to crank out a couple of high quality, blockbuster entertainments, like Edge of Tomorrow and X-Men: Days of Future Past, which, in my opinion, is two more than they usually produce.
Obviously, we are not far away enough to know how remembered 2014 will be, and if it is, for what? Will people remember this as the year Marvel could put out whatever and people would flock to it? Will people remember the whiter-than-white Oscar nominees? Will people remember that Muppets Most Wanted was a film that came out? Do people even remember that now?
I want to get back to that notion of having more great movies than open slots in your top ten. It is a struggle to keep those off. Not a day would go by without something replacing something else when I was making this list. Luckily, we have this thing called “Honorable Mentions”, which is basically a cheating way to have a top ten films of the year post but actually have more than ten films to recommend. It is rather ingenuous, really. So, I think it would be a good idea to start with them.
The two films I think I will get the most flack for not including on the list are David Fincher’s Gone Girl and Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. These two were so difficult to leave off, especially Gone Girl. In fact, up until three days ago, it was in there. Then, you see another film, your feelings shift by the day, etc., etc. and it ends up off the list. Fincher’s sinister smirk of sleaze and Nolan’s grandeur and bombast were both extremely entertaining. They were great reminders of why I always want to see a film in a theater. In a week or two, when I reassess my list, one if not both may be back on it. As of now, they are just below the line. That does not mean they are not great films.
AN OSCAR SNUB IS ALSO MY SNUB
People got (annoyingly) outraged when the Oscar nominations came out with the exclusion of Selma in many categories and The LEGO Movie from the Best Animated Feature category. Quite frankly, it did not really bother me Selma was overlooked in a couple of places, and I was quite happy The LEGO Movie was ignored. Where my confusion lay was with the Best Foreign Language Film nominees and not seeing Force Majeure. It was easily one of the funniest and most intense films of the year, and to leave it off was very disappointing. Evidently, I am someone also leaving it off… How ironic… That’s irony, right? Or is it a palindrome? I get those confused.
2015 I SAW IN 2014
I wanted to limit myself to films that received domestic distribution in 2014. Consequently, the film I probably would have put at number one was not eligible, being The Last Five Years. The movie musical starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan does not hit theaters until February 13th of this year and, therefore, puts it outside of the 2014 release timeframe. So, despite me seeing it in 2014 and giving it an A+ review, it misses out on the list. You will definitely be able to look for this on next year’s list.
THE BEST OF THE REST
There were plenty of other films I considered for the list. They ranged from the darkest of dark comedies like John Michael McDonagh’s Calvary to the marijuana-hazed detective story from Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice. I also considered the impressive directorial debut from Charlie McDowell The One I Love, Chris Rock’s surprisingly good Top Five, the Oscar nominated Foxcatcher, the little talked about documentary Harmontwon, and the aforementioned Tom Cruise-starrer Edge of Tomorrow.
So, with that list of already eleven films I recommend you see, if you haven’t already, it is time we get to the list proper. Head on over to the next page to see what made me top ten films of 2014.