Monday, January 05, 2015

Top Movies of 2014

2014 wasn't really a great year for movies, until December came along with more movies than I had time to see!

When I did my 2013 movie post, there were a few I was still hoping to watch; Saving Mr. Banks, August: Osage County, the new Jack Ryan one, Philomena, Frozen, Austenland, Lone Ranger, and Pacific Rim. I did see Saving Mr. Banks (which was very good), Jack Ryan (which was good, but had a lot of unfulfilled potential), and Austenland (which was silly and good for a bit of a giggle - the second book in the series was actually better anyway). For some reason I just don't get around to watching things on DVD - it's not as much of an event as going to the theatre, I suppose.

This year I only managed to get to 10 movies in-theater, and a special mention goes to Belle, which came out in 2013, but I didn't get to see it until 2014. It's a beautiful movie - very British, with a fabulous cast and a moving story.

Another special mention goes to The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, which I didn't get to see in 2014, but which I liked more than book. I'm really looking forward to Part 2!

My least favourite movie of 2014 was one I thankfully took out of the library rather than paying to see it in the theatre - A Million Ways to Die in the West, despite its star-studded cast, is terrifically terrible. Crude, gross, and full of plot holes, it was a total train wreck. If anyone asks you to watch it with them, run away run away!

So, for the 9 movies I did see in theatre in their proper release year:

9. How to Train Your Dragon 2
This deserves its spot at the bottom of the list. I felt totally and utterly betrayed by this movie. It's up (or down?) there with Bambi and The Lion King, but the betrayal was compounded by how much I was enjoying the whimsy of the animation and the excitement of a family reunited. At least in The Lion King the dad died right away so you didn't have time to get attached...this was a TERRIBLE movie.

8. The Grand Budapest Hotel
I really enjoyed this for the most part - it was fun and whimsical. I just couldn't get over how little the adult Zero looked like the adolescent Zero. It's probably the kind of movie you have to be in just the right sense of humor to enjoy, so I cautiously recommend it - but only if you enjoy absurdity and farce.

7. Guardians of the Galaxy
GotG is a fun movie - lots of laughs. I've seen it twice now, and while I do like it, I don't see what all the fuss is about. The character development is really weak, and I had to see it the second time to really figure out the politics of the thing. The soundtrack is great though!

6. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
I was a wee bit disappointed with this last Hobbit movie - I shouldn't have been surprised that with a title like Battle of the Five Armies it was basically one giant battle scene, but I was. I don't enjoy battles, so I felt a bit numb from all the senseless killing by the time the movie was done, although I did have the urge to throttle Thorin myself. Bard and Bilbo get the best bits of the movie, and I enjoyed them. I was SUPER disappointed by the way Tauriel's character ended up - if you're going to totally create a new character - a woman who's supposed to kick butt - HAVE HER KICK SOME BUTT, not sit there in tears while someone else does all the work. Argh. In the end, I do wish Jackson had done it in just two movies, rather than three. The third one is lacking the charm of the first two, although I realize all of the deaths that shook me were written in by Tolkien. Sigh.

5. X-Men: Days of Future Past
This movie confused me, and I think it's because I'm not familiar with the abilities of a lot of the secondary characters who were popped in rather than developed. I really enjoyed having all of the actors in the one movie, although the level of violence, particularly that which Magneto inflicted on Mystique, and that which was inflicted on Wolverine (although it was nothing new for him, I suppose) left me a bit cold. There were some really fun scenes and interactions, but First Class remains my favourite of the X-Men reboot.

4. The Monuments Men
This is really charming, underrated, gentler kind of war movie that inspired my history research paper for the semester. It only brushes the surface of the work the real Monuments Men did, but it tells a super important story, and I highly recommend it.

3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
This is a great movie. So, so good. I love the friendship of equals, without any sexual tension, that Steve and Natasha develop. It's my favourite friendship in the Avengers universe, I think. It's just a really good, solid, entertaining movie about relationships and saving the world.

2. Penguins of Madagascar
I LOVE THIS MOVIE. It was everything I hoped for from the penguins, and I ADORED every second of it. I laughed, I cried. It's lovely, silly, and is also about friendship. It's a gem in a violent movie world. It was going to be my top movie of 2014, until I saw The Imitation Game...

1. The Imitation Game
This movie blew my socks off. I was going to get around to seeing it at some point, mostly for the cast...and then I scored free passes to a special screening, so that bumped it up the priority list. It's a brilliant movie. Well-acted, historically accurate, and so, so funny. Even knowing how tragically Alan Turing's story ended, it was still funny. After the screening I listened to the movie's PR person asking people what they thought of the movie, and so many people said they'd never heard of Enigma and Bletchley and Turing, which made me sad, but I'm very glad that the movie, like The Monuments Men, is shedding light on a little-known and important historical event. The Military Museums here in Calgary actually has an Enigma machine in their collection, which is awesome. I definitely recommend it. I know a bunch of people who've seen it, and I've only heard good things about it. If you only watch one movie this year, make it The Imitation Game.

Tomorrow I'm going to see Into the Woods - when I was a kid, I loved the Broadway version with Bernadette Peters as the witch, so I'm looking forward to it. And I still want to see Night at the Museum 3 - the first two highly entertained me, and this one's set in my beloved London - so seeing it before I get sucked into the new semester of school is a priority. Paddington and Kingsman both look excellent - I have passes to a screening of Kingsman later this week. I also want to see The Judge, which came out at a very inconvenient point in the school year!

In 2015 I'm looking forward to the new Star Wars, the final instalment of The Hunger Games, Tomorrowland, the new Avengers, and Mortdecai, although I'm sure there will be others as well...I really do enjoy movies - can you tell? :) Maybe in addition to the degrees in English and history I should go for one in film studies as well! :P