We’re halfway through the year so that means it’s time to pick the best movies we’ve seen this year. While it’s been a somewhat disappointing summer for blockbusters, there have been some exceptions, it’s been a wonderful year for smaller movies.
Here are the best 10 movies of 2014 (so far).
10. The Grand Budapest Hotel
In The Grand Budapest Hotel, Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes aka Voldemort) is a legendary concierge at the famous hotel. He and his lobby boy encounter a priceless painting and are thrown into a battle for an enormous family fortune. It’s your typical slice of Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom, Royal Tenanbaums): pretty, stylish, wacky and loads of fun.
9. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
When it was released in 2011, Rise of the Planet of the Apes surprised almost everyone with both its quality and success – and thus, a franchise was reborn.
This summer, the apes returned in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which surpassed Rise on almost every front. In Dawn of the Apes, the apes are led by Caesar (Andy Serkis) and are threatened by a band of human survivors. Both sides seemingly reach peace but that proves to be short lived as a war eventually breaks out. It’s gripping, smarter than your usual blockbuster and moving.
Can we give Serkis an Oscar now, please? Thank you.
8. X-Men: Days of Future Past
We all have our favourite superheroes and superhero franchise. What’s yours? Mine is X-Men. So, when it was announced that they would be bringing the legendary “Days of Future Past” comic to life after releasing X-Men: First Class, I needed a moment. I mean, they were going to bring the new cast (Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy) and the OG cast (Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ellen Page) together in this time travel extravaganza! The original X-Men director, Bryan Singer, returned to the franchise he created and delivered us the goods. I saw Days of Future Past three times in theatres, which is all you need to know about how much I like it.
Neighbors is crude, hilarious and surprisingly dark. Some of you may have appreciated 22 Jump Street more, but I found Neighbors far superior and I’m here to defend that. Not only is it surprisingly well made, but it was also pretty dark. It’s like a light, light, light version of Spring Breakers. Seth Rogen is solid as always, Zac Efron gives a surprisingly strong performance and Rose Byrne steals the entire movie.
6. Edge of Tomorrow
We’ve all moved past the “Tom Cruise Is Crazy” thing, right? Because, sure he’s still crazy but there’s nothing I love more than a good Tom Cruise movie. And since Jack Reacher and Oblivion weren’t great, I lost faith. Edge of Tomorrow, however, restored that. Edge of Tomorrow is my favourite wide-release blockbuster of the year so far. Sharp, well made, surprisingly funny and, if they just cut out the final five minutes, it could have been perfect. It’s still Classic Cruise and that’s my favourite Cruise (besides Speed 2: Cruise Control, obviously).
I love movies. I love food. So, movies about food are always high on my radar. Chef is contagious, light, fun fair. It’s a little conventional and wraps up a bit too conveniently by the end but it’s just a really simple film about finding yourself, or, rather, re-finding yourself after you’ve become a little lost.
4. Under The Skin
We don’t talk enough about how Scarlett Johannson picks great scripts (for the most part) and is always reinventing herself. Under The Skin is a very weird, polarizing movie and it’s not for everyone. Scarlett plays an alien (yes) in human form that finds her way through Scotland. Again, it’s a weird one but once you figure out what it’s trying to say, it’s really beautiful.
3. Obvious Child
The romantic comedy has kind of fallen by the waste side in recent years. Try to think of your last favourite one? Exactly (though The F Word is supposedly fantastic). Obvious Child, starring Jenny Slate, is labeled as an abortion romcom, as it includes 1) abortion 2) romance and 3) comedy. Just don’t let that strong combination be a deterrent as it’s one of the funniest and sweetest little movies of the year.
2. Life Itself
I spent most of Life Itself’s running time holding back tears. For many critics, Boyhood captures the essence of life itself – growing up, getting older and going through the trial and tribulations of life. Life Itself does the same thing, but in a much more intimate way. The documentary depicts famed critic Roger Ebert’s life exactly how he was; the vanity is stripped away and we see the very raw story that is his life and, in particular, his final days. It’s not just for cinephiles; Life Itself tells the story of someone’s life that is engrossing, captivating and incredibly moving.
In Snowpiercer, a failed global warming experiment kills off most human life and the final survivors board the Snowpiercer, a train developed to travel the globe. Inside the train, a revolt is happening (lead by Chris Evans).
I couldn’t make this list until I saw Snowpiercer – which just happened the other day. And I have nothing else to say but: OH MY GOD. Go see this movie, right now. RIGHT NOW. OnDemand it, run to a theatre near you that’s actually playing it – and just see it. It’s weird, it’s off-kilter, it’s riveting, funny and INSANE.