Have you guys seen that new Star Wars trailer? Or the Jurassic Park one? How crazy was Arrow’s mid-season finale? Better than what Agents of SHIELD had to offer? Or The Flash’s showing? The Walking Dead killed more people! Dave Bautista and Léa Seydoux are in Bond 24, and it’s called Spectre – spooky! Idris Elba might be in Bond 25 – funny!
Disney and Warner Bros are releasing around seventy-one Marvel and DC films over the next decade! Unless Pete has another Middle-earth itch, The Hobbit saga finally finished! Jennifer Lawrence is the year’s highest grossing actor! And those damn North Koreans cancelled The Newsroom… at least I think that’s what happened.
Phew. Now that we’ve caught up on all of the most important things to have happened in life over the last two months, let’s take a look at the year as a whole. In July, I posted my top ten films of 2014 up until then. (You can read that here). The final whistle is about to go on the second half of the year. What, if anything, will make the cut? Oh, drama!
I’ll be sticking to UK release dates – the likes of Birdman, Foxcatcher and Selma aren’t out over here yet. I also haven’t seen Boyhood, but I reckon that’s the only significant omission. Click on any film title to read my review.
EDIT: I have now seen Boyhood. If you read my review, you’ll probably be able to guess where it would end up on this list.
10. Edge of Tomorrow
Edge of Tomorrow is the only film I’ve seen twice at the cinema this year. And for good reason; it’s an intelligent and engaging piece that could’ve easily gone awry. Director Doug Liman takes a chance by plucking Tom Cruise from the top of Hollywood’s good guy pile and dropping him face first on set as the slippery Major William Cage. Of course, Cruise resorts to his heroic norm soon enough, but not before the brilliant Emily Blunt gives him a few kickings.
9. The Guest
Speaking of iffy characters, this year Dan Stevens’ soldier is the pick of the bunch. The Guest is Adam Wingard’s best film to date and that is in no small part down to Stevens’ magnificent work as a mysterious visitor who somewhat miraculously charms his way into the Peterson household without much in the way of credentials. Stevens and fellow star Maika Monroe are fairly new to the big screen, and on the evidence of this retro-thriller we’ll be seeing a lot more of them both.
8. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Steve Rodgers does his best James Bond impression in The Winter Soldier, the first Marvel film to truly break away from a standard that might’ve been becoming generic. Its influence can be traced back to films based around Cold War politics and the aforementioned espionage range, but that’s not to say The Winter Solider loses its superhero drive. In his third credited appearance Chris Evans nails it as the red, white and blue shield-tosser. (As in thrower of protective instrument and not, well… you know).
7. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Matt Reeves’ sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes looks incredible, even by the lofty standards set in our technology age. But this is more than simply a visual wonderment, it’s also genuinely moving. Though Andy Serkis’ performance as Caesar is unlikely to earn him a golden statuette – in truth, those early rumblings were probably unfairly devoid of much foundation – the actor cements his position as peerless when it comes to motion capture acting. He deserves recognition, as does Dawn of the Planet of the Apes as one of the year’s best blockbusters.
6. 12 Years a Slave
Critically-speaking, this is probably the most important film of 2014. Steve McQueen’s movie is an eternally tough watch because we are an eternally flawed species. You’ll do well to find any flaws throughout this offering though, for 12 Years a Slave is an unyielding masterstroke. It rightly won Best Picture back in March and, in truth, wouldn’t look out of place far higher on this list.
5. Gone Girl
We never really know where David Fincher is about to take us during Gone Girl, and as much as our minds are racing attempting to put those pieces together, we never really want to know either. It’s all just so creepy and insane. The director pulls no punches and lives up to his obsessive nature – everything looks pristine, adding to the unsettling aura. Rosamund Pike delivers the best performance of the year and Ben Affleck is quite exceptional too.
4. Blue Ruin
I viewed Blue Ruin in a sparsely populated screening room, having entered carrying a brain filled less with critical expectation than a need for sleep. I didn’t sleep. Instead, I intently watched the tautest 90 minutes of the year play out, headlined by a manically normal Macon Blair. This revenge tale harkens back to Hitchcockian cinema; simple, frenetic and nail-biting.
3. Inside Llewyn Davis
Inside Llewyn Davis placed third in my January-July top ten, behind Blue Ruin and 12 Years a Slave. Now that the last twelve months have collectively drawn to a close, and without the benefit of having re-watched any of the three, Inside Llewyn Davis has won out as the film that continues to reverberate in my mind with the most fondness. It must be down to Oscar Isaacs’ enchanting tones. Or the Coen brothers’ musky setting. This film is also the least bleak of the trio. Hurray for holiday spirit!
2. Guardians of the Galaxy
If The Winter Soldier bucked the generic Marvel trend, Guardians of the Galaxy entered another universe. James Gunn is given the most energetic and interactive cast of the year to work with, so he has them dancing in plant pots and making jokes about Kevin Bacon. Wouldn’t you? The film is packed full of witty gags, but is not without a touching underbelly. After only one outing, the Guardians might’ve even gained more favour than those Avengers. Thor needs to pray more.
Interstellar isn’t perfect. The piece wobbles under the weight of its scientific load occasionally, and champions an ending that might exceed the justifiably grounded expectations of some. But it’s pure cinema. It’s inspiring and uplifting. Heart-breaking and mesmerising. Christopher Nolan pits the plausibility of science against the will of humanity, incorporating an effective cast and a thrilling technical palette in the process, and he subsequently conceives the best film of 2014.
I hope you’re all having a tip-top holiday!
Images credit: Collider
Images copyright (©): Warner Bros, Picturehouse, Walt Disney Studios, 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures, CBS Films
17 thoughts on “Top 10 Films of 2014”
Great stuff Adam, interesting to read your favourites from the year. There’s a few here that will be in my list too.
Cheers Stu, it has been a pretty decent year. Looking forward to reading your list!
Adam, can’t complain about your list. Wow. Seems like ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ from last January was a decade ago. Time flies! My favorite from your list. Happy New Year 🙂
I know! Seems like an age ago, especially because it was in the ‘2013’ Oscar batch. Thanks Cindy, you too! 🙂
Great list mate. Interstellar ain’t my number one but it was a pure cinematic event. The Guest is the only one I haven’t caught up with yet. It’s on the list though!
Interstellar caught me off guard. Weird to say given the hype, but I think I went in presuming it wouldn’t quite work out. Then it blew me away. The Guest is a really electric mystery/thriller! Thanks mate.
Now that, is a list that is difficult to find fault in. Of course these are all subjective anyway, so no one is ever wrong. (Though if you had excluded ‘Gone Girl,’ I might have been upset. 😉 )
Haha, we’re on the same wavelength in regard to Gone Girl. Top film. Lists are fun, but you’re right, so subjective!
Totally. they’re as much fun to put together as they are to share, i feel.
Great list, Adam! So glad you enjoyed Edge of Tomorrow that it makes your top ten list. I thought it made for such a great action thriller in 2014. I’m guessing with all the different release times, 12 Years a Slave didn’t make it your way until last year. It won Best Picture as the Oscars (for 2013), and it was one of the best films I saw the year prior as well. I also Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was quite good.
Edge of Tomorrow really surprised me. Very smartly executed and full of purpose. Yep, we didn’t get 12 Years a Slave until last January – I was flirting with the possibility of leaving anything pre-Oscars 2014 off the list but decided just to go with the twelve month period. Dawn is tremendous too. A blockbuster with soul. Thanks Kristin!
Very happy to see a few of my favorites on there. Dawn of The Planet of the Apes and The Guest are by far the most enjoyable films that I saw this year.
I still need to see Inside Llewyn Davis!
Great to hear! They’re both excellent. Hope you get the chance to see Inside Llewyn Davis soon – intrigued to hear your thoughts.
Great list! Also loved Edge of Tomorrow, but bummed I missed Blue Ruin. Looked awesome and you’ve sold it to me even more now haha! Need to see The Guest as well which I hadn’t heard of until now. Nice work!
Edge of Tomorrow is such a fun watch, and the intelligently laid-out screenplay and solid characters raise the quality level even more. Blue Ruin is excellent. If you’re a fan of Gone Girl or Foxcatcher (or anything driven by tension) you’ll like it. Cheers Jim!
While I’m definitely not one of those people who enjoyed Interstellar, I love seeing Gone Girl on the list. Rosamund indeed gave the best performance of 2014. Great seeing The Guest too, what a delightful surprise that movie was.
It’d be great if Rosamund Pike were to go on to win the Oscar, but that’s looking increasingly unlikely. The Guest sort of crept up on me too, a really bright piece! Shame about Interstellar. 😉