Thursday, January 1, 2015

My Top 10 Favorite films of 2014

Happy New Year everyone! Another year has come and gone, and with that, more films have been given to us for better or worse. So now let's once again take a look at the ones that I have enjoyed the most. Now just like the last two lists, this is not about which ones I think are the best. This is about the films that I enjoyed the most or (in the cases of some of the higher ranked films) meant the most to me from this past year. You can of coarse agree or disagree with these choices. Everyone has their own picks of movies that they liked the most from certain years, whether you agree with these or not, and these are just my choices. With that said, these are my Top 10 Favorite films of 2014.

10) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Talk about a sequel that - like Catching Fire back in 2013 for the Hunger Games franchise - got me more genuinely interested in a franchise that I didn't care that much about before. The other Planet of the Apes films that I've seen before (the original Planet of the Apes and Rise of the Planet of the Apes) weren't horrible films, but I kind of already knew the story long before I saw them, so I just enjoyed them the best I could and sort of stopped caring from there. But then I finally saw this movie only a couple of months ago with my friend Blaine, and I find myself a little genuinely curious with what they'll do for the next film. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was a much smarter and more compelling film with a story that gives a smart amount of good guys and bad guys in a way that makes everything not as black and white as you would expect it to be. The CGI was better, the action was sooooo much more enjoyable then in the previous film, it's deep, it's very well acted, it's just so much more entertaining. What more can I say?

9) The Grand Budapest Hotel
This is just one of those comedies that don't have to try very hard be funny, it just has fun with the people they have for it. And The Grand Budapest Hotel IS a very fun and funny movie that gives us this very stylish world with its editing, color and cinematography where a very amusing story takes place using one of the best and largest cast of stars I have ever seen in a movie. And...that's really it. In some respects now that I think about it as I am writing this, there is nothing more that really needs to be said. It's just a comedy with a great cast that is just a complete ton of fun. If you haven't seen it yet, do so now.

8) The Lego Movie
As I said in the end of my review to Big Hero 6; as much as I would like to see that movie win Best Animated Feature at the Oscars this year as a Disney fan, The Lego Movie is the superior animated film as an all around piece of cinema. For a movie that is basically about Legos, they but their darnest into this movie, and what comes out is pretty much a smarter film than than most of us have ever expected it to be. The animation was great, its comedy was top notch, the characters where just a fantastic amount of fun, and it's story was surprisingly well written, as well as very thoughtful during the second half of the movie. It's a great piece of animation, and I'm willing to argue that it's a great piece of all around film in general (within reason of coarse)

7)  X-Men: Days of Future Past
In my review for this film, I stated a fair collection of problems I had about some of the delivery of explanations this movie had and felt like some good questions where not mentioned at all. But I also just got this movie for Christmas, and watching it again, some questions may still bug me, but the rest of the problems I had with this movie I found made more sense or I just didn't care about all that much anymore. X-Men: Days of Future Past is arguably the best X-Men movie that we've been given yet with its much smarter action in terms of giving us all these different mutants fighting with their own unique powers and abilities, an enjoyable cast, and a story that I won't go in detail about for those of you who haven't seen this movie, but the result of the story is a huge deal and it makes me and many other people very eager for what they have in store for X-Men: Apocalypse. 

6) Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Some people like the first movie and some don't, both of which I can understand why. But almost no one can deny how The Winter Soldier was better than I ever hoped it would be. This film went big with its development on the characters, its development on the world from the point of view of Captain America and S.H.I.E.L.D., went bigger on the action, and gave us a third act that, somewhat like with X-Men: Days of Future Past, gave us something new, unexpected and took the film to a whole new deeper level that arguably makes the film the closest thing Marvel has to having their own The Dark Knight. It's a great Captain America movie, and it's a great Marvel film in general. What more needs to be said? If you haven't seen this movie yet, watch it!

5) The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
The Hobbit films as a whole have their ups and downs when it comes to how they hold as adaptations to the story. For me, there are some things I am not too keen on, but I say that they give us all around big, enjoyable adaptations in the long run. And The Battle of the Five Armies is arguably the best of these films. The action was big, a lot of the story lines where paid off, Martian Freeman I think did some of the best acting that he's done in the whole trilogy (which is saying a lot), the scene with Galadriel, Elrond, Saruman and Gandalf fighting against the Necromancer was awesome, it's just a ton of action that leads to a satisfying conclusion. Now all that's left is to see what Jackson does with an extended edition that he'll likely do later this year.

4) Birdman
If there would be one movie from this year that I would own that's not animated, or a part of a franchise like most of the movies on this list and is more artsy, then that film would likely be Birdman. This film has so much hype to it over how great it is or how its a big reason why certain people love the cinema. And while it's not a big reason as to why I love movies, I still hold it pretty high just like everyone else. This is a tremendous film about a man reflecting on his life with his acting career and his personal life while trying to set up a play on Broadway. 99.8% of this film (or so) is edited to make it feel like it is all in one shot, and it is remarkable how well they do it. And of coarse, the casting is great - Michael Keaton gives a terrific performance as Riggan, Emma Stone gave her best performance yet as Riggan's daughter, Sam, and Edward Norton gives an excellent performance to the point where it's hard to believe that he was the Hulk. I have high anticipations for all of these actors and this film altogether at the Oscars, and I hope I do not become disappointed.


Okay now with the next three films, I first want to state that ranking these films was a little hard to do. All three of them I've been unsure about where to place them and so have been switched a couple of times. But I also want to remind you that this isn't about the films I thought where the best of this year, these are just my personal favorites. And I especially say that now, because next on the list we have...

3) My Little Pony: Equestria Girls - Rainbow Rocks
Now part of me feels guilty about putting this movie on the list. Like, even the part of me that is a Brony feels like this is sort of wrong. Because the first Equestira Girls movie had such a giant backlash from the moment it was announced, and while it didn't turn out as horrible as expected, it was a big enough guilty pleasure that a lot of people like me where on uneasy terms of the concept as a whole. And as much as I hoped that its sequel would be better, I would never have hoped that it would be so good that it would have ended up on this list, let alone be ranked so high. I mean I ranked it higher than freaking Days of Future Past, The Winter Soldier and Birdman for heaven sakes! But I have to be honest with what are my personal favorite films from this past year, and the truth is this film is too much of a grand improvement to not have been such a highlight for me when it comes to films from 2014. Everything about this movie, whether in big or small amounts was done better than the last film. The animation was excellent, the comedy was smarter, the characters - most notably Sunset Shimmer - had so much more development, the villains where a million times more interesting and more memorable, and the, the music was some of the best that Music Composer Daniel Ingram has ever done in Equestria Girls or Friendship is Magic. As much as I know some of the other films on this list are better, I still find myself more happy with how this turned out.

2) The Amazing Spider-Man 2
This film has been disliked so much since it came out, but honestly, I really don't completely see why. Oh there are some flaws that I will agree to, but even then, some of the problems people have are really silly to me. I mean come on, hating Electro because his origin was a little similar to The Riddler in Batman Forever - which is really just a certain detail that was just thrown in as a plot device for one scene in that movie before just making Jim Carry a human cartoon during the rest of it? That's...just really silly to me. But I digress. Even if the big flaws that I will agree with to a degree, I hold this film as the best Spider-Man film yet. Andrew Garfield does a spectacular job with giving us both the comedy and the drama that Spidey goes through in the comics. I also love how we get more of Spider-Man interacting with civilians more and trying to be there for them in his own way. Emma Stone was wonderful as Gwen Stacy, acting more strong and independent than ever. We get much for with Sally Field as Aunt May, I enjoyed the development with Electro and Harry Osborn, and we get some story lines from Spider-Man comics that have their odd or sad moments, but where great to see nonetheless. Altogether, I understand some reasons why this movie isn't very liked as sad as it is. But at the end of the day, I don't care about the flaws. The stuff that's good about the movie, it's not just great, it's stuff that deep down I've been waiting a long time to see in a Spider-Man movie and more. As long as I feel that way from the moment the heroic music starts in the beginning in the film with the Spider-Man logo all the way to when the heroic music comes with the logo at the end, I will feel that in many respects with this film, I will always be watching the right Spider-Man  

and my favorite film from 2014 is...

1) Guardians of the Galaxy
If there was only one movie that was especially entertaining with tons of comedy, great action, excellent use of characters, and is an all around ton of fun, that would be Guardians of the Galaxy. Some people have argued that as far as big Marvel films go, this is better than even The Avengers. And while I don't entirely think that I would completely go that far, there is no denying that this film is far more impressive than Avengers in regards to the challenges that this movie faced. Avengers used solo films of superheroes to build it up to be the big film that it is now. But Guardians of the Galaxy was taking a Marvel comic sreies that few to nobody knew about, with characters that few to nobody knew - two of them include a talking racoon and a talking tree - all the while, expand the Marvel universe with spaceships, and blasters and battles that pretty much spell Star Wars to a lot of people. And of coarse, a lot of people had little to no faith in this movie, but found themselves to be completely wrong. Guardians of the Galaxy succeeded with giving us this whole new area of the Marvel universe with main characters that you easily find to be likable and memorable long before the movie is over. It takes advantage of its comedy by not taking itself too seriously, leading to tons of funny jokes. But at the same time, it has some well delivered dramatic moments too. They do make it clear about what these characters are going through. They do address the danger of Ronan or the Infinity Stone. And they give us some parts of the galaxy that are actually rather inventive. The moment especially where the Nova Corps work together to try to stop Ronan was such a great idea. And the special effects are surprisingly impressive. I for one would be pissed if this film isn't at least nominated for special effects for the CGI for Groot and especially Rocket. All in all, it's a fantastic addition to the Marvel films, and just entertaining as a film by itself. And that's why it's my favorite film of 2014.

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