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Friday, August 8, 2014

North/South Film's Top 10 Films of 2014 . . . So Far

Chris's Top 10 (In Loose Order)

10 – The Double
A puzzling film, that wasn’t quite what I expected it to be (not a bad thing). But once you settle in to its off-kilter tone and atmosphere, it gets much more enjoyable and filled with bizarre humor.  

9 – Joe
David Gordon Green is one of my favorite filmmakers. And after last year’s return to form with Prince Avalanche, he is back with another gritty, Southern coming-of-drama starring a subdued, but still electric Nicholas Cage. Read my review here.

8 – Guardians of the Galaxy
I really liked, but didn’t quite love Guardians. In any case, the film was still a lot of fun. A delightful mix of Star Wars and The Fifth Element. An energetic sci-fi tangent from the Marvel Universe. Read my review.

7 – Venus in Fur
Not a film I thought I would like going in, but I was more than pleasantly surprised with the latest from director Roman Polanski. The film, which takes place in one setting with only two characters, is a sensual and playful blending of film and theater. Read my review here.

6 – Enemy
This film utterly baffled me while watching it and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days. Dark, atmospheric, and full of twists and weird turns. Cronenberg meets Hitchcock with one of Jake Gyllenhaal’s best performances.

5 – Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The first of two great comic book movies this year (the previously mentioned third one, just falls into the really good category). Cap is quickly coming to rival Tony Stark as my favorite Marvel hero (they both pale in comparison to DC's Batman though). Read my review here.

4 – X-Men: Days of Future Past
The other great comic book movie. A brilliant, highly opportunistic melding of two of separate, but, of course, interconnected film series. Fun, ambitious, well-made, and hugely entertaining.

3 – Snowpiercer
A rich, multi-layered social commentary disguised as a summer blockbuster (minus the big box office numbers, unfortunately). The film has a really cool premise, a fantastic set piece, multiple great action scenes, and several terrific performances (Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Allison Pill).

2 –The Grand Budapest Hotel
How could you not love this movie? So elaborate, whimsical, and hilarious. Featuring a fantastic cast and probably the best performance of the year from Ralph Fiennes, Wes Anderson’s latest is a farcical homage to the classic comedies of the ‘30s and ‘40s. Read my review of the film here.

1 – The Immigrant
They don’t make movies like this anymore – classic cinema on the grandest scale, 1970s style. This overlooked early year film from director James Gray stars Marion Cotillard as a newly arrived immigrant forced into unfortunate circumstances upon her arrival in 1921 New York City.  The film also stars Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner. Barely in theaters, the film is now available on Netflix Instant, so check it out!

Honorable Mention:
Godzilla, Boyhood, 22 Jump Street, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Films I Haven’t Seen Yet That Might Have Made It On The List
Edge of Tomorrow, Locke, Obvious Child, Only Lovers Left Alive

Best Performances:
Jake Gyllenhaal – Enemy
Ralph Fiennes – The Grand Budapest Hotel

Marion Cotillard – The Immigrant
Tilda Swinton – Snowpiercer
Allison Pill – Snowpiercer 

Movies I Am Most Looking Forward To For The Rest of 2014:
The rest of the year is all about 3 movies for me – Foxcatcher, Interstellar, and Inherent Vice 
But I also really can’t wait to see: Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Pt. 1, FrankBirdman, and Whiplash.

Dan's Top 10 (In Absolutely, Definitive Order)

10 - 22 Jump Street

It didn't live up to the greatness of its predecessor, but that's okay, it still had plenty of laughs.
Jonah Hill continues to impress me and I'd love to see a third Jump Street with him and Channing Tatum as the Captains, tutoring the next generation. I'm thinking Bobb'e J. Thompson and Chloe Grace Moretz would be perfect.

9 - X-Men: Days Of Future Past
It wasn't the big reunion film I hoped for, but it still had enough cool stuff to make the list:
Quicksilver, Magneto lifting RFK Stadium, Sentinels and of course, Jennifer Lawrence. I have yet to find a flaw with J-Law or her work, so I'll keep showing up every time her name is on the marquee.

8 - Neighbors
Do me a favor? Just go ahead and put Rose Byrne in every comedy. 
She's an absolute riot and carried the film.

7 - Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Some of the best action sequences that we've seen in the Marvel Universe films.
I was glad Black Widow got a lot of screen time and thought Anthony Mackie, as Falcon, was a welcome addition to the series and I'm fully on-board with the possibility of him taking over the Captain's shield. 

6 - Lucy
Luc Besson knows how to make a movie. Last year, I loved his dark comedy The Family and with a such a diverse filmography, I have no problem calling him a master. Lucy is a wild action romp, even though it tries to be cerebral. I have a gut feeling it will have a huge afterlife on television and that we could also see some (probably terrible and straight to DVD) Lucy sequels.

5 - Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

You can go ahead and add Dawn to the list of sequels that surpass the original. Andy Serkis' performance as Caesar was brilliant and is yet another example of why motion capture and voice performances should be eligible for Academy Awards. Did you see Where The Wild Things Are? James Gandolfini brought me to tears with his work. Movies are about imagination, so don't negate great art simply because you can't see it.

4 - The Grand Budapest Hotel

The biggest challenge of Wes Anderson's career will be attempting to surpass his previous work. At this point, Grand Budapest as my least favorite film in his cannon. However, it's still a quality film with many high points (the toboggan chase, everything said and done by Ralph Fiennes) and is easily one of the year's best so far. Average Wes is still better than 90% of the films I see, but I really wanted to see a dissected shot of the entire hotel and its various, absurd occupants.

3 - Guardians Of The Galaxy
It was one of the year's biggest question marks and it far surpassed most expectations. It's the most adult film in the Marvel Universe and completed the task of introducing many new characters and worlds with ease. Chris Pratt vaulted himself into leading man status with his charisma and heart with edge. Don't be surprised when you hear his name getting thrown out there for every big project coming up (like an Indiana Jones reboot).

2 - The LEGO Movie

Everything is awesome in this movie! Fun songs, Brooding Lego Batman, very cool animation, a smart plot twist and that guy mentioned above, Chris Pratt. Throw in fun voice work from Elizabeth Banks, Morgan Freeman and Will Ferrell and a world full of crazy characters and now you've got the beginnings of an epic franchise that could go in a ton of directions.

1 - Edge Of Tomorrow

Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt both kick all kinds of ass in this sci-fi, action thriller. Even though much of the film takes place in a groundhog day scenario, it never gets bogged down and is genuinely exciting throughout. The man who gave us the streak didn't disappoint and for sure earned the "Do It To 'Em Cruisey" that I will inevitably shout out at his next release.

Dishonorable Mention:
Robocop- A truely pathetic reboot. Give me action, give me comedy, just give me something!
The Monuments Men- If Bill Murray can't make it good, something has gone horribly wrong.

Films I Haven’t Seen Yet That Might Have Made It On The List
A Most Wanted Man, Godzilla, Chef, and Snowpiercer  

Best Performances:
Andy Serkis – Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes
Chris Pratt – Guardians Of The Galaxy
Ralph Fiennes – The Grand Budapest Hotel

Emily Blunt – Edge Of Tomorrow
Scarlett Johansson – Lucy
Rose Byrne – Neighbors

Movies I Am Most Looking Forward To For The Rest of 2014:
Interstellar, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -Pt. 1, Inherent Vice and Foxcatcher
Also: This Is Where I Leave You, Nightcrawler and Gone Girl
Check out many of the trailers here.

Thanks For Reading!
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  1. You guys should add The Raid 2 to your list of movies to see. It's tops for me so far. It's like The Raid only the story is 1000 times better and so is the fighting.

    1. I did like THE RAID, but haven't seen the sequel yet. It is definitely on my list though. Thanks!

  2. I think I prefer Chris' list as it's more indie... and has "Enemy" which is one of my favorite films this year. Loved that he also shouted out "Locke" and "Obvious Child", two movies that would have definitely made his list if he would have seen them.