By Jack Rico
For the second straight year, I thought of making “The Best Movies Of 2014… By Genre“. Unlike most Top 10 lists you see this time of year from some websites or critics, I use a list that allows you to reference movies by your mood. In other words, if you’re feeling like laughing or snuggling up with someone, you can check our top movie in comedy or romance, etc. I believe these guides are much more to the point of the movie viewing experience. So let’s get to it!
Here are the best movies of 2014 by genre:
BEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR:
This is our pick for the absolute excellence in cinema for 2014. When I think back at all the movies I’ve seen this year, Whiplash was the only one whose true power I felt. Packed with a sophistication few directors possess, Damien Chazelle constructs a ferocious story about the true definition of greatness. Fueled by ambition, tenacity and unfettered willpower, Miles Teller and J.K Simmons explode on screen. If not with their psychotic demands for perfection, then with their unrestrained musical jazz rage. After you watch this movie, the word INTENSITY will never mean the same. Expect Oscar nods for Best Score and Best Supporting Actor for J.K Simmons.
The rest of the best: Gone Girl, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Lego Movie, Jodorowsky’s Dune and Life Itself.
BEST ROMANCE DRAMA:
We travel to India to find the best within the romance genre. Sweet, tender, genuine and true, The Lunchbox is a clever gem from novice director Ritesh Batra. Interconnecting us with confessions about loneliness, memories, regrets, fears and small joys, Batra ties us like an anchor holding on to the notion that real love can exist.
Honorable mentions: Fault In Our Stars, Breathe In
BEST ROMANTIC COMEDY:
The Longest Week
Part homage to Woody Allen and part homage to French cinema, a lazy New York billionaire during the period of a week loses his entire fortune and falls for the girlfriend of his best friend. Starring Jason Bateman, this clever and alluring film has 3 good reasons to watch it. One, the compositions of the scenes are absolutely beautiful. Two, the characters, as in Allen films, speak with a pseudo-intellectual dialogue which I love. And three, the charisma of the actors is magnetic. Although the film at times can be misconstrued as pretentious, this love triangle creates interesting winding arcs that will keep you engaged to the very end. “The Longest Week” is charmingly funny and worthy of watching.
Honorable mentions: A Summer’s Tale, Fading Gigolo, The One I Love, About Last Night, Laggies, What If?, Obvious Child, That Awkward Moment
BEST SPANISH LANGUAGE MOVIE:
A story set in Santiago and centered on Gloria, a free-spirited older woman, and the realities of her whirlwind relationship with a former naval officer whom she meets out in the clubs. Starring Paulina Garcia, she delivers a magnificent performance. The film is sweet, honest and moving. This is a film for those women who do not need men and who choose to live in the moment.
Honorable mentions: Wild Tales, (Argentina), Wakolda (Argentina)
I consider this movie to be Richard Linklater’s masterpiece and the best film of the year so far. Not so much for it’s direction, acting or story, but for something bigger than that – it’s piercing emotional connection to its audience. It has a transcendental scope and emotive sincerity unrivaled this year… so far. For some, it might not be something special. It might seem slow, not entertaining enough nor conflicting enough. But this isn’t a blockbuster juggernaut meant to fulfill our Hollywood fantasies, this is an ambitious piece of cinema centered in looking at the evolution of life from infancy to adulthood, and with it, a reflection of our own evolution as well. No film has managed to capture that so honestly. Expect Boyhood to be the talk of the Oscar season and grab at least Best Director and Best Picture nominations.
Honorable mentions: The Imitation Game, American Sniper, Unbroken, Selma, Love is Strange, Starred Up, Ida, Joe, Palo Alto
This is Chris Rock’s homage to Woody Allen. It is the urban version of Stardust Memories and Annie Hall. Rock manages to give us all the Allen trademarks, but adapted it to a more real view of New York City – diversity, a variety of socio-economical neighborhood’s and Rock’s own lauded humor of race, politics and relationships. This film is a smart, romantic, thought-provoking film, specially the jackpot scene that pays for the price of admission having to do with a tampon, hot sauce and a naked man.
Honorable mentions: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Chef, Neighbors, Muppets Most Wanted, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
This movie is a psychological dark dramedy that that tackles the subject of the fragility of success and the questions surrounding Hollywood relevancy. It is a very different movie from what Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu has ever done or from what most moviegoers are used to seeing from him. It is oddly funny, yet it packs a high dose of reality. From the wonderful acting from the ensemble to the brainy, existential script, which is full of insight and profound emotional dialogue. “Birdman” is easily one of the more intelligent and artistic films of 2014.
Honorable mentions: Chef, Dear White People, Force Majeure, The Hundred-Foot Journey, The Trip to Italy, Venus in Fur, The Double
Brought from the dark, twisted pages of Gillian Flynn’s book, stylist director David Fincher creates one of the most compelling, hypnotic and head-spinning movies of the year. This largely is due to two things: The first is the masterful direction of Fincher where much like his films Fight Club and Seven, he skillfully creates a gloomy atmosphere full of mystery, suspense with incessant consternation that makes you squirm uncomfortably in your seat. And second, the script is masterful. Flynn adroitly readapts her book into cinematic terms and some argue it could be better that her own book. She’s smart, strangely sinister and has tremendous comic timing at the same time. Using satire as a weapon, the film makes fun of marriage, modern journalism, celebrity and human falsehood. Gone Girl should be applauded for its narrative ingenuity, its complex intertwining of genres and the wonderful acting of its protagonists. This is a film that left me flabbergasted by its quality, cunning and artistic skill.
Honorable mentions: Nightcrawler, The Guest, The Gambler, The Drop, The Equalizer, The Two Faces of January, A Most Violent Year, Locke, Blue Ruin, Enemy, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
This is unlike any superhero movie I’ve ever seen. It is the most balanced film of the year: it has drama, suspense, action, nostalgia, thrills, you name it. Played out like a Tom Clancy thriller, I seriously don’t know how any director, producer or screenwriter can come up with a better story or film narrative for The American Hero. This was such a major improvement from the first one, that it almost feels like they rebooted the franchise. For my money, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is one of the best superhero movies I’ve seen and one of the best sequels ever done, period.
Honorable mentions: The Raid 2, John Wick, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, Lucy,Journey to the West, Sabotage, Fury, Robocop, Non-Stop
Guardians of the Galaxy
Along with The Lego Movie, GOTG is the most fun you’ll have at the movies this year. Its classic soundtrack, its innocent humor and its nostalgic childhood throwback sentiment is one to cherish. The fact that the characters are also very likeable and the action is entertaining, makes Guardians of the Galaxy a slam dunk in every facet of the movie experience. The retro soundtrack of classic 70’s and 80’s tunes is catchy and contagious, the charisma of the cast is irrefutable and the humour by itself is worth the price of admission. Marvel does it again!
Honorable mentions: Noah, Edge of Tomorrow, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Interstellar, Snowpiercer, The Maze Runner, The Congress, The Signal, Under The Skin
Though it possesses one of the more vexing, shrilling child characters in recent memory, this “horror” film is more about the psychological pounding it gives its audience than actual scares. It also is a detailed window into the hardships and tribulations of single motherhood. Meld that with a demon and the third act of “The Babadook” will linger in your existence for time to come.
Honorable mentions: As Above, So Below, Annabelle
The Lego Movie
“One of the most clever comedies I’ve ever seen” isn’t a sentence you’d think of when you first hear of The Lego Movie, but once you see it, there isn’t a truer statement. Brimming with exuberance, ingeniousness, nostalgia and laugh-out-loud moments, this film will perhaps end up being the best comedy of the year and an automatic frontrunner for Best Animated Movie at the Oscars. When kids and adults can laugh at the same jokes, that’s when you know a movie is special. But the idea of maybe even choking up is the kicker. The finale twist and cameo should seal the deal for all involved.
Honorable mentions: How To Train Your Dragon 2, Big Hero 6, Rio 2, Mr. Peabody & Sherman
Tie: Jodorowsky’s Dune / Life Itself
So many great documentaries this year. These two though are the standouts. Jodorowsky’s Dune made me dream again and Life Itself made me cry for what felt like a personal loss. With Dune, oh what could have been. If Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky had his way he would have created the greatest sci-fi film ever made. With the likes of Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, David Carradine and Salvador Dali, featuring music by Pink Floyd and art by HR Giger and Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud, Jodorowsky was poised to change cinema forever. With Roger Ebert’s documentary, director Steve James and executive producer Martin Scorsese recount his inspiring life and death with detail and heavy emotion. This story is personal, funny, painful, and transcendent.
Honorable mentions: Citizenfour, Tim’s Vermeer
BEST FAMILY FILM:
After a bad blind date, a man and woman find themselves stuck together at a family resort. If you are single parent with children, then this sweet and feel-good romantic/family comedy from Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore is just the thing to watch at home tonight. I admit that the movie charmed me. “Blended” is not just a comedy on the surface, underneath, it explores emotional themes such as divorce and the loss of a family member. However the film never loses its tenderness and family humor.
Honorable mentions: Maleficent
What are YOUR favorite movies of the year so far? Please write them in the comments below and I’ll give them a watch.