Best Movies of 2014
It’s that time of the year when every YouTuber and entertainment website is publishing their top ten lists of best and worst movies of the year. Personally I find those lists to be filled with nothing but Oscar bait and a bit formulaic and boring. How can you rate a bad-ass superhero movie against an on the edge of your seat thriller? They are all spectacular in their own rights. That’s why award shows have different categories, right?
Well this is my proverbial best movies of 2014 list. They are in no particular order and I want to highlight the movies that not only did I absolutely love, but also wanted to recommend to you if you haven’t had a chance to see them in theaters or home video. I’m also not limiting myself to only ten movies. I will however be cheating in a few categories, because let’s face it, there were so many awesome movies this year that one category just won’t work. Another thing to note is that I’m not going to go totally in depth with what makes each film fantastic. If you want a more detailed account for each film, you can check out my original reviews that are included with each excerpt.
So without further adieu, here is my personal best of 2014. Enjoy!
Best Directorial Debut – Bad Words
I’ve been a fan of Jason Bateman since I was a kid and watched him and Ricky Schroeder on TV’s Silver Spoons. I grew up with him and watched his career develop. Because of his dry comedic delivery and razor sharp wit, Jason Bateman has become one of my favorite comedic actors of all time.
Bad Words marks Bateman’s debut as a director. The movie is about a man who finds a loop hole in the national spelling bee and will do anything dastardly to win. The movie fires on all comedic cylinders and perfectly balances raunch and intelligence. The movie is just shot so well and the actors’ performances are really so good that you’d never be able to tell that it was Bateman’s first time as a director. The best scenes of Bad Words involve Bateman’s character and his spelling bee rival, Chaitanya Chopra played by Rohan Chand. Bad Words is fan-fucking-tastic!
Best Sci-Fi – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a fantastic movie to reboot the Planet of the Apes franchise into the new era. It had a great story and amazing CGI effects with the apes. On top of that, Andy Serkis as always did great motion capture work that really brought Caesar to life.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes took that first movie and moved the franchise into a whole other level. Once again there’s some amazing CGI work on the apes, but the effects are so realistic, that not only do they look photo realistic, but they have emotions to make you actually care about the apes. I was a a bit ashamed to be a human after watching this movie. There are really good performances by the supporting human cast, but once again Andy Serkis and his motion capture team are the stars of the show. With movies like this one, the Oscars and other award shows need to add motion capture acting to their categories.
Best Indie Movie – Cheap Thrills
This is a movie that made its rounds at independent film festivals and silently crept into the home video market. It’s a shame that this movie wasn’t mass marketed, because this movie is outrageously brutal. The movie stars Pat Healy, David Koechner, Sara Paxton, and Ethan Embry and is about a couple of guys who are down on their luck and a wealthy married couple willing to pay them money to perform outrageous stunts. The beginning of the night starts off pretty tame, but as the night progresses, the stunts get more and more sadistic and gory. This movie explores the depravity and greed of man and makes Fear Factor look like Sesame Street. If you haven’t seen this movie, go watch it now. How far would you go for money?
Best End Credits – 22 Jump Street
I loved 21 Jump Street and the sequel was not at all disappointing. Directors Christopher Miller and Phil Lord did a great job not only making the movie a blast to watch, but they made 22 Jump Street and its characters very self aware of how silly and formulaic Hollywood makes sequels. As a lot of people would say, the film is very “Meta.”
The film was funny as hell and I laughed from beginning to end, but what stood out the most was the end-credits scene that had a very catchy song and comedicly foreshadowed upcoming sequels, merchandise, action figures, contract disputes, and video games. If you left the theater when the movie ended, you missed out on some of the movie’s most hysterical jokes. Check out the video above to see what you missed. Mr. Walters says: “Don’t shoot my dicks!”
Best Direct To Home Video Release – Batman: Assault on Arkham
Did you hear the news? Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Tom Hardy, and Jared Leto will be starring in the live-action version of DC Comics’ Suicide Squad. The movie will be released by Warner Bros. Pictures and will be part of the whole Batman v. Superman/Justice League movie universe. The problem though is that you’re gonna be waiting a very long time before you can even see it, because it’s not scheduled to be released in theaters until August 5, 2016.
But if you never even heard of these guys and are curious about who these characters are, then you don’t have to wait, because WB Premiere and DC Comics have already released an incredible story on home video. Batman: Assault on Arkham is the first movie based on the popular Batman: Arkham Asylum video game franchise and tells the origin story of this bad guy team-up. Imagine if you will that The Expendables was filled with supervillains. They get sent in to do impossible missions that no one in their right mind would do. The Joker planted a bomb in Gotham and Batman is trying to find it, but in the meantime Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, King Shark, Harley Quinn, Killer Frost, and Black Spider are breaking into Arkham Asylum to steal a flash drive hidden in The Riddler’s cane. This is probably one of the most adult superhero movies I’ve ever watched. Trust me, this one isn’t for kids as some of the dialogue, violence, and situations border on an R-Rating. As always, director Jay Oliva and his team of animators and filmmakers prove once again why DC is king of animated movies. The movie is filled with awesome character designs and incredible action scenes. There is also top notch voice acting from Neal McDonough, John DiMaggio, Troy Baker, Hynden Walch, and of course the legendary Kevin Conroy who returns as the one true voice of Batman. This movie is so slick and cool that the makers of the live-action flick better watch this one and take notes on how to properly portray the Suicide Squad. Get ready to root for the bad guys!
Best War Movie – Fury
As a fan of End of Watch and Training Day, I was really looking forward to Fury. Brad Pitt and his misfit squad of Army Tankers showed the brutality of war with realism. As a veteran, I can tell you that how the soldiers act and speak is dead on. You may not like your fellow soldier, but when it comes to staying alive to fight another day, you still have each other’s back. The movie looked fantastic on the big screen and it pounded sound systems with the thunderous cannon fire and tank engines. The only thing missing was the smell of diesel. The movie makes audience members feel like they are in a war. What writer/director David Ayer did for cops in End of Watch, he does for Veterans in Fury.
One thing I do want to applaud the film studio on is that on Veteran’s Day, Sony made this movie free for all veterans both past and present. I took advantage of the free screening along with some fellow veterans. Thanks so very much, Sony Pictures!
Best Movie of 2014…
That Technically Came Out in 2013 – Snowpiercer
Directed by Bong Joon-ho, Snowpiercer is actually a foreign movie from Korea. It debuted in Asian and European theaters on August 2013. It then made it to home video in February of 2014, but it still was not distributed in America. It took the Weinstein Company to buy the distribution rights to finally get the movie to American screens in July 2014.
The movie gained a lot of word of mouth publicity and became an underground instant cult classic. Chris Evans and an all-star cast do a tremendous job telling the dystopian tale about a group of poor passengers on board a train during the second Ice Age that revolt against their wealthy oppressors. If you haven’t heard of Snowpiercer, I highly recommend checking it out as it now available on Netflix or for purchase.
Best Martial Arts Movie – The Raid 2: Berandal
If you love kung-fu, karate, and other types of martial arts films, then this is the movie you have to see. But this movie isn’t just some mindless beat-em-up action flick. It’s actually an amazingly shot, well-written story by Gareth Evans about an undercover cop who infiltrates the mob. The Raid 2 has some of the most amazing stunt work and fight scenes you will ever witness as well as a super bad ass car chase. This movie is martial arts at it’s best.
Best Money Shot – Godzilla’s Atomic Fire Breath
I was not a big fan of Godzilla. Compared to the fun and awesomeness of Pacific Rim, I thought the movie was super boring. I don’t want to see a whole bunch of humans doing dumb shit. I want to see monsters fighting other monsters to the death in the mother of all Kaiju movies. Godzilla is over two hours long and the King of the Monsters is barely in the movie for twelve minutes.
What I can admit is how bad ass the final fight scene is with Godzilla and the two MUTO’s. The battle ends with one of the coolest kills that I’ve even seen in not only a Godzilla flick, but monster movies ever made. If you haven’t seen the movie, honestly I don’t think it’s worth wasting two hours when you can easily just watch the clip above to see the best part of the movie.
Best Superhero Movie – Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Now before you get your panties in a bunch and yell at me because I didn’t name Guardians of the Galaxy as best superhero movie, I have my reasons. 1) GOTG is really a sci-fi space opera and 2) I have GOTG in a different category so be patient when you find out what I made it the best of.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is really near and dear to me because the movie was film in my hometown of Cleveland and was directed by fellow Clevelanders, Joe and Anthony Russo. I had the pleasure of meeting them and It was great to see a couple guys from my hometown do great. I was even lucky enough to attend the Cleveland premiere.
What makes The Winter Soldier so great is that it’s a sophisticated espionage thriller set within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Steve Rogers is still struggling with adapting to his new world of not just technology and culture, but also government and patriotism. Chris Evans has really matured and owns the Captain America role and Anthony Mackie as The Falcon was a great new addition to the MCU. On top of that, Sebastian Stan as the Winter Soldier is probably one of the best bad guys since Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. Captain America: The Winter Soldier proves that superhero movies are not just for kids anymore.
Best Horror Movie – The Babadook
This is one of the movies I had the pleasure of watching, but unfortunately didn’t review. The Babadook tells the story of a divorced mother with a disturbed child. To make matters worse, her son finds a book called “Mr. Babadook” and strange things start happening in their home. The Babadook is suspense and horror at its finest. It doesn’t rely on cheap jump scares or gore to be scary. The movie taps into deep psychological fears and emotions as well a become an allegory for real life pain and suffering. If it’s in a word or in a book, you can’t rid of the Babadook!
Best Documentary – Legends of the Knight
Here is another movie that I unfortunately wasn’t able to review, but I absolutely loved. Legends of the Knight is a documentary by filmmaker Brett Culp that is about how people are inspired by Batman. As a huge Batman nerd, I’m a bit biased to this film, but how can you deny that powerful stories about a marathon runner, a boy with cancer, a cop, and wealthy guy who dresses up and visits sick kids at hospitals isn’t heart-warming and inspiring. If you were not lucky enough to see this movie when it was on a nationwide tour, you’re in luck because it is currently available on Netflix.
The Best Movie No One Saw – Edge of Tomorrow
Tom Cruise is one of the best actors of the modern era, but unfortunately people have preconceived notions about him because his zany antics or his religious beliefs. Because of that, people creeped out and won’t see a movie that Tom Cruise stars in. To make matters worse, the marketing for Edge of Tomorrow was horrendous. People thought the movie was just a dumb alien invasion movie, but it was so much more. Imagine Groundhog Day meets Independence Day. Not only does this movie have amazing action sequences, but it’s actually quite humorous and co-star Emily Blunt is a strong female character that kicks a whole lot of ass. Go to the store immediately to buy this movie on Blu-ray. Unfortunately you may have to ask the clerk for “Live. Die. Repeat.” since the movie studio tried to change the title after the theatrical release.
Best Gimmick – ‘Boyhood’ Took 12 Years To Film
Director Richard Linklater made cinematic history when he created a movie that took twelve years to film. The movie tells the story of a little boy as he grows up in Texas from ages 6 to 18. The film uses the same cast and was filmed over the twelve years as the actors and actresses grew up and aged. The film stars Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane, and Lorelei Linklater. It was really cool to see Ellar as Mason grow up right before my eyes on the big screen. Boyhood is up for quite a few awards and I can say that the nominations are well deserved. The movie is truly ground-breaking.
Best Scene Stealer – Evan Peters as Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past
Best known for his roles in the very popular American Horror Story television show that airs on FX, Evan Peters is a young up-and-coming actor that should be on everyone’s radar.
The character of Quicksilver is a mutant, who in the comics, is the son of Magneto and twin bother to the Scarlet Witch. His power is the ability of super-sonic speed. Right now the character is being challenged in a custody battle between 20th Century Fox and Disney/Marvel because not only is he a Mutant which Fox owns the rights to, but he’s also a well-known Avenger which Disney owns the rights to. Evan Peters’ Kick-Ass co-star Aaron Taylor-Johnson will portray Quicksilver in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
But back to Evan Peters. Fanboys hated his casting for Quicksilver, especially when they saw what his costume looked like when it debuted on Empire Magazine. But when they finally saw the film, everyone ate buckets of crow because every single scene Peters is in is memorable. He completely steals each and every scene he is in and overshadows the main cast. If you haven’t seen the movie, check out the amazing prison escape scene above. Not only it is hilarious to watch, but the visual FX are spectacular. The scene also gives a whole new interpretation of Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle.” The popularity on goggles and Pink Floyd t-shirts also rose due to cosplayers wanting to portray this super cool character. It’s your move Avengers to see if you can make Quickersilver even cooler, because Zack Snyder and Evan Peters have set the standard.
Best Sequel – How to Train Your Dragon 2
The Dark Knight, The Wrath of Khan, and The Empire Strikes Back are all part of a short list of sequels that are far superior to their predecessors in every way. You can now add How to Train Your Dragon 2 to that list as it not only a great movie, but an excellent sequel.
The movie takes place five years after the original and Hiccup and Toothless have grown up a bit. He finds his long lost mother and battles a new enemy who wants to enslave dragons and conquer the world with them. Don’t be fooled that this animated movie is just for kids. It is has a sophisticated story and is entertaining for all ages. The movie is so heartfelt that I shed a couple tears during the film’s most powerful scenes. With the quality of film making and love that went into this sequel, I can’t wait for what’s in store for the third and final movie that will hit theaters in 2017.
Best Drama – Nightcrawler
Last year, Prisoners was one of my favorite movies of the year thanks to the the awesome performances of the cast, especially by Jake Gyllenhaal. This year his fantastic acting can be seen in Enemy and Nightcrawler.
No this is not a movie about the blue X-Men mutant that can teleport through walls. BAMF! This Nightcrawler is about a desperate man who is looking for work and finds himself in the underworld of shock news reporting. What makes this movie awesome is the brilliant performance by Gyllenhaal. He’s creepy, intense, and maniacal. His performance reminded me of a young Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver. If you want to win the lottery, you have to have the money to buy a ticket!
Most Adorable Character – Baymax from Big Hero 6
This was actually a tough decision. The choices I faced were between baby Groot dancing at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy and Baymax from Disney’s Big Hero 6. I chose Baymax because he owned the entire movie and not just an end-credits scene. Baymax is a robotic personal medical care provider that not only can mend boo-boos, but is the heart and soul of the Big Hero 6 team. He is also the foundation of the team’s humanity and soul. Whenever Hiro attempts to cross the thin line of revenge and justice, Baymax is the one to set him straight.
But what actually makes his so adorable is his child-like innocence. He’s a big fluffy marshmallow who gives warmer hugs than Olaf from Frozen. He’s inquisitive like the Iron Giant. And he’s loyal and trustworthy as John Connor’s Terminator protector from T2: Judgment Day. Everything Baymax does is ensure he provides the best medical care possible. He also gives out lollipops. How can you not love a being that gives toasty hugs and candy? Hairy baby!
Biggest Scandal – Sony Gets Hacked / ‘The Interview’ Cancelled
2014 had a lot of scandals going one. Up until recently, the biggest one was the internal leak of Sylvester Stallone’s Expendables 3. Someone leaked the finished movie on torrent sites almost two months before the theatrical release. Expendables 3 didn’t do so well at the box office and Lionsgate Entertainment is currently in litigation against the culprit pirates who leaked the movie.
If you think that was bad, it doesn’t hold a candle to Sony’s Hacking Scandal. If you lived under a rock the past few months, Sony Pictures was the victim of a huge cyber attack. The hackers infiltrated everything from internal memos, personal emails, employee sensitive information, and also leaked movie screeners like Fury, Annie, and Still Alice. Fury was already out in theaters, but Annie leaked a month before it’s theatrical release. Just like Expendables 3, the movie didn’t do so well at the box office.
So why was this done? The Interview starring James Franco and Seth Rogen makes fun of North Korea’s supreme leader, Kim Jong-un. A silly comedy about an insane leader was going to be released. It’s still unknown as to exactly who initiated the attack. Initially the American government said it was done by the North Korean government, but that’s been recently debunked. The cyber terrorists then gave Sony an ultimatum. If they release The Interview, they would promise 9/11 attacks on theaters during the busy Christmas weekend. Major theater chains refused to show the movie in fear of any liability to their patrons, so Sony pulled the movie and said they would never ever release the movie… ever, not even on home video, cable, or Netflix.
This entire debacle set an unheard level of precedence. Should the threat of violence inhibit creative expression, satire, and freedom of speech? Is a dumb movie about a knucklehead dictator worth going to war? Should future projects that deal with the subject or other subjects that people may find offensive be self-censored? Already one movie starring Steve Carrell about someone being captured in North Korea for being mistaken for a spy has already been scrapped. Paramount Pictures even pulled any showings of Team America: World Police that some smaller theaters were going to show in protest of Sony’s decision and give the proverbial finger to North Korea.
Ultimately, Sony reversed their hasty decision and allowed the movie to be played in theaters willing to and also distributed the movie online for the price of a normal rental, but the damage was done. We shall see how this will impact the future of movie making and viewing.
Best Comedy – St. Vincent
What makes St. Vincent so funny? I have three words for you: Bill Fuckin’ Murray! From his days on Saturday Night Live to Stripes, Ghostbusters, Zombieland, and other fantastic movies, Bill Murray just has the comedic Midas Touch with his impeccable timing and quick wit.
In the movie Murray plays Vincent, a grumpy old man who loves his booze, ponies, hookers, and his fluffy cat. It’s ironic that he has a cat as his best friend. It almost symbolizes that he is an evil master mind like Blofeld from the Bond movies or Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers flicks. But when you actually learn more and more about Vincent, the character warms your heart. The movie wouldn’t be complete without the other great performances from Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, and newcomer, Jaeden Lieberher who plays the little boy that Vincent babysits and mentors.
Most Overrated Movie – Interstellar
I know this category is going to piss people off, but then that just means I’m correct. I love Christopher Nolan as a director, filmmaker, and storyteller. I’ve never seen a single one of his movies I hated. Including this one. I liked Interstellar. I even drove over 100 miles to see this movie early on 35mm film, because I was excited to see. Let me restate again that I liked Interstellar, but I didn’t love it. I think what turned me off the most about the film was the unwavering and blind love of the Nolan fanboys. It’s like the Tolkien nerds getting into a rage fit if you even critique the Peter Jackson Middle-Earth trilogies.
Interstellar is a movie about man’s desire to reach for the stars and questioning the purpose of existence. The problem I had was that this concept is nothing new, it’s just Nolan’s take on it and to me, it just wasn’t that inventive or creative. The movie looked absolutely gorgeous and the acting was fine, but it’s just not this transcending masterpiece that I’m sick of people saying it changed their lives. I’m sorry but there are a ton more cinematic works out there that are ground-breaking and take risks. Interstellar was merely a Stanley Kubrick rip-off with an M. Night Shyamalan plot twist. Take that fanboys!
Best Family Movie – The LEGO Movie
Everything is indeed AWESOME when it comes to The LEGO Movie. It’s a simple story about a regular guy who does incredible things to save the world. It’s a hilarious and family friendly version of the Matrix set within the world of building blocks. The movie has everything from Batman and Superman to an Anime kitty and an 80’s Spaceman.
The voice cast was great, but wouldn’t be with out the amazing dialogue and story written by directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller who also released 22 Jump Street this year. The movie looked amazing in 3D and really submerged you into the LEGO world. The animation and texturing of the characters was also awesome as they looked like living and breathing LEGO minifigs.
What also makes this movie pure brilliance is the ingenious way the movie transitioned from the LEGO world to the real world. If you haven’t seen the movie, I don’t want to spoil anything, but the twist just made sense and personally hit home for me. The LEGO Movie is now on the short list with movies like Toy Story and How to Train Your Dragon for being one of the best animated family movies of all time. It’s my pick at this year’s awards to take the gold, but I wouldn’t be disappointed if How to Train Your Dragon 2 wins instead.
Best Thriller – Gone Girl
As a married guy of thirteen years, HOLY SHIT this movie was scary. I love, love, love director David Fincher’s past movies like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Se7en, and Zodiac, and of course Fight Club. Fincher did not at all disappoint with Gone Girl.
A woman disappears and immediately the husband is under suspicion by not only the police, but the media and the small town he lives in. Fincher was able to perfectly adapt the Gillian Flynn novel (which she herself also wrote the screenplay) into one of this year’s best movies. This is a movie that some call a perfect date movie, but I call it an inner reflection on how men and women treat each other in relationships. It also has a brilliant social commentary on how the news and other media can manipulate society’s opinion. This movie has it all. A brutal and chilling story, amazing performances by its cast, and a killer score by Oscar-winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Tread lightly watching this movie with a significant other as the end result will be either awkward silence or possibly a positive dialogue with your spouse.
Best Cast – Birdman
Birdman is one of the best movie going experiences of 2014, if not the past decade. There are not enough words to describe the multitude of levels and analogies this movie explores. The film stars Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone, and Naomi Watts. Each cast member is a perfect cog in the machine as the end result of the movie wouldn’t work if not for each actor and actress hitting their marks like clockwork and perfectly delivering their dialogue.
The cast is currently nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Cast in a Drama and boy oh boy do I hope they win. What these men and woman accomplished has never been done before and they totally deserve to bring home the gold.
Best Director – Alejandro González Iñárritu – Birdman
Birdman wouldn’t be the masterpiece that is is if not for the hard work of writer/director Alejandro González Iñárritu. When I attended my screening, I had no idea that the movie was told in one long take. I sat there in amazement as the movie felt like a roller coaster. It took me on a ride of emotions and characters as the camera swooped and zoomed throughout the Broadway theater the movie takes place in. To pull it off, Alejandro González Iñárritu masterfully guides his cast and moves the camera like an expert. As well as amazing direction direction, the movie has beautiful cinematography from director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki. The entire movie is one big magic trick and I was happy to be fooled by the illusion. This is a must own movie for any cinephile’s library. Alejandro González Iñárritu rewrote the director’s handbook with Birdman as filmmaking classes will be studying this movie for a lifetime.
Best Supporting Actor – J.K. Simmons – Whiplash
If you thought J.K. Simmons was sadistic and cruel to Peter Parker in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies, then you haven’t seen anything. Simmons as Fletcher is the music conductor you never want to mess with. He makes R. Lee Ermy’s Gunnery Sgt Hartman from Full Metal Jacket look like a girl scout. I was highly impressed with Miles Teller’s insane drumming skills, but he wouldn’t have been as feverish if Simmons wasn’t screaming in his ear. Simmons is intense, ferocious, and unstoppable. Once you learn what his motivation for being so mean is all about, you can totally understand he does it because he’s so passionate for perfection. J.K. Simmons’ performance is unforgettable! He’s my pick for all the awards shows.
Best Actress – Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
Rosamund Pike has had a great career as a supporting actress in a lot of great movies, but in Gone Girl she proves that she has the abilty to command the screen with authority. Ben Affleck was fantastic as her on screen husband, but Miss Pike transcended the role. She did for “Amazing Amy” what Rooney Mara did for Lisbeth Salander in Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and that was take a complex character and make her memorable, scary, and powerful. Rosamund Pike is currently nominated for a Golden Globe and SAG Award for her portrayal and I’d safely predict she’ll be nominated for an Oscar as well. She is my pick to win all three awards.
Best Actor – Michael Keaton – Birdman
In Birdman, Michael Keaton plays Riggan Thomas, an ex-superhero action star who is down on his luck and trying to make a comeback on Broadway. With his real-life portrayal of Tim Burton’s version of Batman, it was perfect and ironic that he was cast to portray the fictional man behind the mask. It made the movie 100% more believable. Of course Keaton never hit rock bottom like his character did, but the movie gives you a glimpse what hardships that actors like Adam West, Clayton Moore, and other typecast actors and actresses struggled with when their star stopped burning bright. This is a role of a lifetime and he’s my pick to win all the awards this year.
Movie of the Year – Guardians of the Galaxy
2014 was a phenomenal year for films. There were a lot of amazing pieces of cinematic art as well as fun and fantastical blockbusters that drove audiences to theaters. This year was really tough to decide on which was my ultimate favorite movie of this year, but when I finally come to my decision, it was actually an easy one.
This year I chose Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy written and directed by James Gunn and starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper as the misfit band of reluctant heroes.
So why didn’t I choose such cinematic masterpieces like Gone Girl or Birdman? It’s actually simple. Guardians of the Galaxy is universally like by all ages and demographics. I can watch the movie with fellow comic book nerds or my three year old son and we all just get it. The movie looks amazing, it’s hilarious, has a killer soundtracks, and the most memorable characters. To me the phenomenon that Guardians of the Galaxy created this year was the same kind that the original Star Wars had in 1977. No one really had a clue what George Lucas had up his sleeve, but when his space opera hit screens, it dominated the box office like a juggernaut. That’s exactly what Guardians of the Galaxy did. It became this year’s number one money maker with its $332,862,030 in total gross. (via BoxOfficeMojo.com)
So what made Guardians of the Galaxy so great? It didn’t take itself seriously and had mass appeal. It was fun, colorful, and crazy. The movie felt like every single actor and crew member had a blast making the movie. That’s thanks in part of James Gunn being able to make the movie with old friends like his brother Sean Gunn, Michael Rooker and Nathan Fillian as well as create new friendships with Chris Pratt. You could tell that everyone who helped in making the move cared about it. It won over the family factor because moms and dads didn’t have to worry if anything was inappropriate for the kids. It won over the comic book nerd factor because James Gunn and Marvel producer Kevin Feige made sure to capture the appeal that the characters had in the books without straying too far away from the source material. It also won over everyone else because the movie was just fun. You didn’t even have to like superheroes to like this movie. You didn’t have to read comic books to like this movie. All you had to do was sit back and watch a thief, an assassin, a maniac, and two bounty hunters embark upon an intergalactic adventure in the same way a young farmboy, a wizard, two robots, and a couple smugglers saved a galaxy far, far away.
I saw the movie three times at the theater and watched the movie a couple dozen more times at home with my kids. I love it. My kids love it and everyone else I know that loves movies has Guardians of the Galaxy on their top ten movies of 2014. It may not win an Oscar for movie of the year, but Guardians of the Galaxy has won my heart. “You’re Welcome,” James Gunn? No, thank you!
If you own the Blu-ray, I highly, highly, highly recommend watching the movie with audio commentary by James Gunn. Not only is he a great storyteller to listen to, but he expertly describes everything about what it took to make the movie including some anecdotes about really cool Easter Eggs and movie magic secrets. I learned so much about the fun and complexity of what it took to make Guardians of the Galaxy. I can’t wait to see the sequel!