So as 2014 comes to a close the annual reflections of the year begin to surface, and in this post I am going to take you through my Top 50 films of the year. This year I saw 126 films released in 2014, overall I enjoyed most of them and have confidence in saying that this was a great year for film. Of course there were many films which didn’t match the standard of the rest but the less spoke about them the better, this list is a positive one. You may think that there are obvious titles missing from this list and you would be right, some of the films most widely praised this year I didn’t enjoy but hey this is my list and it is just my opinion! I hope you enjoy reading it and please do let me know what you think!
You were maybe expecting to see this movie at the other end of my list but like many other films this year Boyhood was one that I didn’t quite enjoy to the same extent as the majority. Don’t get me wrong this is still a great film and the reason why it has a place in my Top 50 is due to the remarkable way in which it was produced. Richard Linklater filmed this movie over the course of 12 years charting boyhood in a way that has never been done before. Definitely one to see in 2014.
#49. The Book of Life
The Book of Life was a visual treat and one of 2014s best animations. This animation was really distinctive and consistent in terms of its style and combined with a great voice cast The Book of Life was easily enjoyable. There were also a few musical numbers thrown in which did nothing but enhance the picture.
#48. The Imitation Game
The Imitation Game was one of the years later offerings but it helped round off the year nicely. This film was half world war II drama half biopic. This combination worked well and it was interesting to learn about the life of Alan Turing. This was all made possible due to the wonderful acting that was delivered. Both Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley were on top form here and successfully engaged their audiences into the lives of the characters that they were portraying.
#47. 300: Rise of an Empire
Whilst being a prequel, side story and sequel to 300, 300: Rise of an Empire manged to surpass its predecessor with considerable ease. I know this film wasn’t particularly well received however I enjoyed it a lot, I suppose the fact that I don’t enjoy the first film overly helped too but I really enjoyed a lot of what this film had to offer. The action sequences were good and Eva Green certainly got stuck into her role as Artemisia making for some great scenes!
#46. The Babadook
The Babadook received much praise throughout the year but as a result of this it did suffer because for me it didn’t quite live up to the hype. I didn’t think this film was just quite as scary as everyone made it out to be but I enjoyed it as a horror film and thought the performances were wonderful. However I had misunderstood the film, once I had this movie explained to me properly I was able to appreciate it for what it was and it is much more than a monster movie – go check it out!
Chef was one of the surprises of 2014, John Favreau acted in and directed this feel good movie which got your stomach rumbling from the get go. Chef obviously delivered on the scenes with food (that cheese toastie!) but it had so much more, feel good is the perfect way to describe it. Moreover it also had the power to inspire its audience and its use of modern technology within the story was great.
#44. Black Sea
Jude Law’s submarine drama earns its place in my list due to several reasons. The strength lay in the story for this one, a whole host of everyday men searching for gold in one of Hitler’s U-boats lying at the bottom of the sea. Stories of this scale are always exciting and even more so when featuring a solid performance from Jude Law as the leading man. His supporting cast also do a great job and as the film goes on its a treat to watch as the crew realise that the dangers don’t only lurk outside the submarine.
#43. The Guest The Guest had such an intriguing manner about itself, from the get go you were drawn into the story. Dan Stevens played the lead character David who was responsible for much of this intrigue. The film has influences from both Drive and the 80’s as a whole and it wouldn’t surprise me if this became a cult classic. Again I don’t think I liked it as much as most did but I am really looking forward to re-watching it and hopefully enjoying it more the second time round.
Divergent was the first of the teen-dramas that 2014 saw. Whilst it couldn’t quite live up to The Hunger Games series, Divergent still was a really enjoyable film. It presents some interesting ideas and it’s focus on fear was really good. The film also features a great soundtrack with Ellie Goulding featuring several times really setting the tone well for this movie. This soundtrack was a good backdrop for the action sequences which when they came did deliver, I’m looking forward to the next installment of the series.
#41. The Maze Runner
The Maze Runner was another teen-drama film but was slightly more enjoyable than Divergent. This film just seemed to be slightly more original than the other films in its genre. To add to this the predominately male cast meant that there was little chance for the generic romance theme and the absence of this was welcome. The Maze Runner was action heavy and hasn’t given too much away for future installments, this series could really go places especially after the success of this film.
#40. Transformers: Age of Extinction
I am a fan of this franchise, and just like those who aren’t fans who criticised the film for just being the same old Michael Bay rubbish again, I praised it for being much like its predecessors. You probably won’t agree with me on this entry but I just can’t get enough of this series. Transformers always has been exciting, ambitious and entertaining and Age of Extinction was all of these. With the addition of one of my favourite actors Stanley Tucci there was a big chance I was going to enjoy this installment and of course Tucci delivered and he was my favourite thing about the movie.
#39. Dracula Untold
Dracula Untold succeeds in making vampires cool again, it was nice to see Dracula himself back in the spotlight and Luke Evans does really well in this role. Some of the best scenes in this film come in the form of the battle sequences, especially when we get to see the full extent of Dracula’s power. I enjoyed the origin aspect to the story and hope that there is more to come with this series.
Locke was one of the more unique films of 2014 as it is set within a car for almost the entirety of the movie. Tom Hardy does so well with this role as he manages to captivate his audience so well, they have literally nothing else to watch but his performance. This is perfect though as when you have a performance as good as Hardy’s here you don’t want anything else to distract you from it. Not for everyone but if you want to watch some top quality acting you should enjoy Locke.
#37. The Lego Movie
The Lego Movie was either going to be a roaring success or just an awkward failure, thankfully it was the first. The Lego Movie combines nostalgia, humour, a fantastic cast and great action to build something any master builder would be proud of. This film only improves with repeat viewings and can be enjoyed by all ages making it such a special movie and a definite highlight of 2014.
#36. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Night at the Museum 3 was a really solid family film. It took what we loved about the previous two films in this series and added some new material, creating the perfect mix of old and new. This combination meant the film felt fresh but was still very much in touch with its earlier films. The cast is brilliant as always, with some new additions and of course the final, and very fitting, performance from Robin Williams.
#35. The Hundred Foot Journey Similarly to Chef, The Hundred Foot Journey appealed to our taste buds as much as anything else. I enjoyed this film so much mainly because of its focus on Indian food and culture, this is a culture that particularly interests me so I loved watching this story unfold. The film has more than food though, it is a charming and sometimes humourous story which should be enjoyed by many.
#34. Charlie Countryman
Charlie Countryman was a breath of fresh air in terms of the romance genre, it simultaneously presents a realistic and unrealistic look at falling in love and adventure. Due to this you should be able to relate to some aspect of the film. This film didn’t receive enough attention in my opinion and is one of the hidden gems of the year. Shia LaBeouf once again shows us how good an actor he really is and the cast that surround him do nothing but improve the quality of the film.
Noble was another of the many biopics that 2014 spawned, this film told the story of Christina Noble and her journey from Ireland to the streets of Saigon. The film felt so accurate and the performance of all three actresses who portray Noble throughout her life are wonderful, each demanding the attention of the audience. The is an inspiring true story which makes the transition to film effortlessly.
#32. The Equalizer
The Equalizer was bad-ass Denzel Washington at his best. This film was easily one of the best action thrillers of the year, the shear amount of tension throughout was just brilliant and I thought the higher level of violence was refreshing amongst a year where other films toned their violence down in order to get a lower age rating.
Oculus was in my opinion the best horror film of 2014. The film itself looked so good and the plot was solid. I enjoyed the dual timeline method of story telling and thought that there were some really nice scenes which could become iconic. Karen Gillan did really well as the lead actress and did nothing but convince me of her potential for future films. I was involved in this film and I was really routing for the characters which is uncommon for this genre.
#30. Horrible Bosses 2
The comedy sequel, often difficult territory however I think Horrible Bosses 2 was a really credible film. This sequel builds really well on the original movie, using gags from the first but never relying on its material too much. With two new additions to the cast in the shape of Chris Pine and Christoph Waltz the film only became more watchable. Of course much like the first film the chemistry between the three leads was once again the best thing about this movie.
#29. 12 Years A Slave
12 Years a Slave is much more than a film, it is a part of history encapsulated within a film. This is a powerful film and it has a lot to say. With first class performances across the board 12 Years a Slave gets the quality that it deserves. I’m not sure that I will ever watch this film again but I am glad that I saw it and would say that it is a must-see, not just for film fans, but for everyone.
#28. The Railway Man
The Railway Man was released on the very first day of the year but still manages to take a place on my list. Two of my favourites actors and actresses feature in this film, Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman (not their only appearance on this list). Both of these names deliver wonderful performances in this touching drama about the war and more specifically Firths characters experiences in a prisoner of war camp.
#27. Million Dollar Arm
Another true story sees Million Dollar Arm account the rise to fame of two Indian athletes into American Baseball. Once again this film has a focus on Indian culture meaning that it wouldn’t take much for me to enjoy the film. Million Dollar Arm is another great family film from 2014 and the performances from the entire cast have such charm that this film is simply a joy to watch.
Continuing his very own genre (Liam Neeson kicking ass) Liam Neeson took to the skies in this all action movie. Non-Stop was labelled as ‘ Taken on a plane’ but who doesn’t want to see that!? Non-Stop was one of my favourite action movies of the year, it has everything you want and I know for sure that fans of Neeson won’t be disappointed.
#25. The Two Faces of January
The Two Faces of January was a subtle thriller which was so enjoyable. All three of the leads in this film contributed fantastic performances and combined with the script made sure that this film was driven by its characters. The style and look of the film were also wonderfully crafted and they too played their part in creating such a stylish thriller.
#24. The Judge
The Judge received a lot of negativity upon its release however this was all baffling to me as I had a great time watching this movie. The Judge is a family drama with so much heart that you often forget about the court case which is the main plot of the film. There are some really great performances in this movie and a couple of scenes that bring a true reality to this story. The Judge also made for a nice change for Robert Downey Jr, allowing himself to take a more emotional role.
#23. Bad Neighbours
Bad Neighbours was one of the best comedies of 2014. This film was laugh out loud hilarious from start to finish, I have now seen this movie three times and I still laugh at some of the gags. All the actors cast do a great job and show that they most definitely have funny bones. Bad Neighbours uses popular culture references so well which makes for some classic moments, most notably that Batman debate.
#22. 22 Jump Street
Our favourite comedy cop duo returned in the most self aware comedy sequel of all time, responsible for much of its success. 22 Jump Street was easily the best comedy of the year and built so well on the original film. I have never heard a cinema erupt into laughter the same way that they did after one particular gag in this movie and I have to agree that it was hilarious. On top of this brilliant comedy that was on offer Hill and Tatum only increased their chemistry making for one of the all time greatest cop buddy comedies.
Unbroken tells the amazing true story of Louis Zamperini, the Olympic athlete who was taken prisoner during the first world war. This film featured a great performance by rising star Jack O’Connell supported by many other great performances making for a solid film. The tension created in certain parts of the film is quite something and to say that this film is inspirational would be an understatement.
#20. The Drop
Another appearance for Tom Hardy on my list, The Drop is another of 2014s finest thrillers. However it is understated. This comes across both in the story and performances. The acting talent is quite something to behold and it is a pleasure to watch the cast deliver every single line. Although it isn’t a human that steals the show but a very cute pitbull pup, well I suppose he needs a little help from Tom Hardy but this duo is one that you just can’t take yours eyes of. The Drop really was fantastic.
#19. Mockingjay Part 1
Mockingjay Part 1 cements The Hunger Games series as its genre leader. A change of structure for the film saw no games and the film being divided into two parts. Despite the endless complaints about this split I am glad that it was done, I thought the pacing in the film was perfect and there were some really epic moments in this installment. The action was great and I enjoyed how it took a different form to what we are used to. This series has gained real maturity with this film and I can’t wait for the finale.
Jake Gyllenhaal delivers one of the years most memorable performances in Nightcrawler a film which was instantly engaging. Nightcrawler is really all about Lou Bloom and his journey from rages to riches and a whole lot in between. Bloom was such an interesting character to watch and as long as he was on screen I was not at ease. This is exactly what you want from a thriller and Gyllenhaal really out did himself here, if there isn’t an Oscar nomination for him I’m not sure those awards have any credibility left.
Calvary was another thriller which packed punch. This film was basically a big ‘who dunnit?’, or more accurately ‘who’s gonna do it?’ The film allowed you to get to know a whole village of characters and make your judgements. The film dealt with so many themes and is quite powerful in points. Calvary is one of the years most interesting films and one that will be easily re-watchable.
#16. Exodus: Gods and Kings
Ridley Scott has manged to do here what I don’t think anyone else has managed to do for the Biblical epic, injected life and excitement into it! This was partially achieved with Noah earlier in the year but I think Exodus is a much better movie. The movie looks fantastic and the attention to detail really pays off, there is an awesome performance from Joel Edgerton as Rhamses and the action sequences are the best I have seen from a Biblical movie. I hope more stories from the Bible can be told in this manner in the future.
Frank is quite possibly the strangest movie that I saw this year, but strange is good, well at least where Frank is concerned. Michael Fassbender is awesome here even if he spends most of his time wearing a massive paper mache head. Frank is all about music and mental health and both are addressed well, the music albeit is wacky, but wonderful at the same time and there are more serious moments when the issue of mental health is focused on. However, Frank has some brilliant moments of dark humour too which stand up to the other comedy film moments of the year.
#14. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
2014 saw the defining chapter of The Hobbit trilogy come to a close. I am a big fan of this series and whilst this installment wasn’t as impressive as Smaug last year it was still endlessly enjoyable and entertaining. This film is all out action from the word go and the quality of this action is superb. The all-star cast once again perform to the level we are used to and there are treats included for fans of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Battle of the Five Armies was a fitting ending to our adventures with Bilbo Baggins.
Interstellar divided its audiences, but I was firmly on one side and as it is sitting at number 13 on my Top 50 list I bet you can guess which side. I have never watched a film with such grand a scale and I found myself just in awe at so much of what I was watching, Interstellar felt more like an experience than just a film. Christopher Nolan is clearly a genius at film making and there is just so much within this film that warrants praise.
#12. The Grand Budapest Hotel
Wes Anderson has such a unique style to his film making and The Grand Budapest Hotel envisions this so perfectly. This film has so much charm and it is a feast for the eyes. The variety of the cast keep things fresh but Ralph Fiennes constantly drives this film forward with a confident and entertaining performance. I find myself playing the music from this film over in my head at random occasions, this is just a conformation of how great this element of the film is and how much it has stuck with me.
#11. Edge of Tomorrow
Edge of Tomorrow was one of the best sci-fi films that 2014 had to offer. Both Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt got stuck into two roles that weren’t the normal kinds we would see them in but the result was something brilliant. Edge of Tomorrow had fantastic action, good pacing and some really dark humour. All of this combined together to make one of the best films of the year and one of Cruise’s best for a while.
#10. Lone SurvivorLone Survivor is the true story of a Navy Seal operation gone wrong. This film surprised me as I really didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. There were great performances from all four lead actors and these helped contribute to the high level of emotion that ran throughout the film. Lone Survivor also features my favourite score of the year with some really special tracks which without a doubt made this film.
Another surprise at 9, Paddington was just flawless. I think that Ben Whishaw’s casting as the voice of Paddington is the most perfect voice casting that there ever has been. This film is probably the perfect family film, not just for 2014 but for life. Paddington was funny, heart felt, exciting and charming all at the same time. The film doesn’t talk down to its audience and it takes itself seriously in what it is trying to do but not so seriously that it becomes un-engaging. Paddington was a roaring success and is a film that should bring a smile to everyone’s face.
Fury was another war themed film amongst the many others that were released this year, but it comes out top. Fury was so wonderful because it gave us an insight into war that we haven’t seen before, the crew of a tank. I also enjoyed that a large part of this film actually takes place round a dinner table again offering us a different perspective on the war drama. Brad Pitt leads a very talented cast and for me both Shia Labeouf and Logan Lerman stand out for different reasons. Fury is a very engaging war piece which offers something new to the genre.
#7. X-Men: Days of Future Past
The first appearance for a Marvel movie on my list, and boy what a great effort from Marvel it was! I love all the X-Men movies but this was something else. Basically what DOFP did was lift everything good from the other X-Men movies and include it and then remove everything bad from the past films. DOFP had everything, a high quality and quantity of mutants, top notch action and a solid amount of Marvel laughs, but not too many to make it silly. My highlight from this film was getting to see more of Fassbenders Magneto, he is so good in this role!
#6. Before I Go To Sleep
Hands down the best thriller of 2014, Before I Go To Sleep. This film was crafted so well, it is the kind of film where you are always on edge and things like car doors closing will make you jump. The tension and emotion in some scenes was unreal and all three actors out do themselves here. I had no idea where this film was going and I was able to get behind the right characters so easily. Before I Go To Sleep didn’t receive much attention in 2014 which is a shame as it really was special and is my highest ranking original film which isn’t attached to a series.
#5. How To Train Your Dragon 2
Hiccup and Toothless returned in this dragon sequel, I didn’t think it was possible to make a better film that the original but this sequel somehow managed it. I don’t think I have ever seen an animated film with so much scale before and I love the ambition that these films have. As ever the strong voice cast deliver and the combination of crisp animation and great music easily draw you into every scene. There is even more heart in this installment and it will have you using all of your emotions. I want a dragon even more now.
#4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Captain America was the first of the Marvel films in 2014 to be released and what a way to start the year. Possibly the greatest film in the MCU that there has been to date. The Winter Soldier allowed Marvel to mature slightly and take a more serious approach to its story telling breaching into political thriller territory, and it was awesome! It was great to see more of Nick Furry and Black Widow too, and how good was the Winter Soldier as the films villain!? Captain America just elevated himself straight to the top of everyone’s favourite Avenger with this outing.
#3. The Amazing Spider-man 2
If I’m honest I found it incredibly difficult to separate my top 3 and I would be happy saying that any of them are my film of the year, The reason that The Amazing Spider-man 2 finds itself here though is because it took more than one watch for me to love this movie. I know most people hated this movie but I loved it! I am a massive Spider-man fan in general and this film got my spidey senses tingling. Everything about it was perfect, I thought the new look Goblin was awesome, Electro was a great adversary for Spidey and of course the romance between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. The chemistry that Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone have is unreal and I actually enjoy watching their romance unfold and develop in this film which is usually un-heard of from me. The Amazing Spider-man amazed me and is my most-watched film of 2014 with 5 views.
#2. Dawn of the Planet of The Apes
Coming in at second place is Dawn of the Planet of The Apes. Rise was such a great reboot but seems pity-full compared to the mighty Dawn. I didn’t think it was possible to care so much about a computer generated image before seeing this movie, Caesar has to be one of my all time favourite film characters now. Dawn of the Planet of The Apes is emotional, it is full of action and spectacle and is acted brilliantly. This film deserves every ounce of praise that it received and probably more. It is a wonderful story that isn’t afraid to take risks and so far they have all paid off. A worthy winner of best film of the year as well as my number one.
#1. The Raid 2
When I say that The Raid 2 is the best action movie of all time it is no exaggeration, I simply have never seen anything like it. Well I suppose The Raid gave us a taste of what to expect but much like most other sequels this year The Raid 2 has surpassed itself. I can’t even describe how good the combat scenes in this movie are you just have to see them. I personally enjoyed the hammer and baseball bat armed assassins the most in this film but every part of action in the movie delivers. To go with this action is a well thought out plot that frames the action sequences well and gives the films violence a reason to be there. The Raid 2 has just set the bar for any future action films and I would be surprised if anything other than another Raid film were to reach it.
So there you have it, The Raid 2 is my top film of 2014. I hope you enjoyed reading my list and let me know if you disagree or if you think anything is missing! Also if you have a list send it my way. Happy New Year to you all.