I’ve built up to this one for … really no reason. I mean, I am mostly a film critic here at I Have an Opinion, but I review other stuff, too, and arguably the things I get the most views on are wrestling reviews, and those I did yesterday, but … whatever! I want to do Best Movies of the Year, all leading up to the actual best film I saw this year, as well as my thoughts on what makes that movie so good. And I suppose I'll do the Worsts, too, just for fun!
So I suppose I’ll split the "bests" into two categories: best movies I saw all year not in theaters, and then the best films OF the year. I’ll link to them all and just make life fun and entertaining while I do it. So let’s take a gander first at every film I’ve reviewed this year that I gave an A+ or higher, all with links now so I don't have to later:
Not in Theaters: Snowpiercer, A Monster in Paris, Saw III, The Human Race, Bee Movie, Altered States, White House Down, Odd Thomas, Rocky III, Rocky II, Rocky, EdTV, Someone Like You, The Wrestler, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Flypaper, Lovelace
In Theaters: Penguins of Madagascar, John Wick, Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, Maze Runner, Guardians of the Galaxy, Hercules, Oculus, Captain America: the Winter Soldier
I suppose now, I’m just going to go ahead and to the top 5, counting down to the best in each category, and talk a little more about them! It should be known that this list is going to be a cumulative list. By that I mean that it will be my best to combine both what I think is the highest quality and what I liked the most. You with me? Fantastic, let’s do this.
Not in Theaters Number 5: Rocky III
I loved watching the Rocky films this year. It was so amazing to learn that my opinion of what a Rocky film was, based on the clips of III and IV I had seen, had no real relation to what the series is actually about. That said, Rocky III did the sports drama the absolute best I’ve ever seen, without losing any of the character drama that Rocky gave us. It picked up its pace and became a fantastic film in its own rights, the last great Rocky film. Clubber Lang is an incredible character, the story so perfectly finishes up the major trilogy of the Rocky stories, and the color and film work is just fantastic. I really love the franchise now, and Rocky III just makes it into the top 5.
Not in Theaters Number 4: Lovelace
Amanda Seyfried was phenomenal. She deserved an Oscar nod. And on top of that Lovelace is a complicated film. It isn’t just a biopic about the woman from Deepthroat. It is a really well written, well acted, well plotted film. We don’t just amble along linearly, no, instead the film works its magic through excellent editing and pacing to really help us the audience get a deeper experience. Lovelace was an amazing film, and I am so happy to have seen it and to now own it.
Not in Theaters Number 3: The Wrestler
With all the wrestling talk I’ve done this year, I am so happy to have finally checked this film out. Darren Aronofsky continues to be one of my favorite directors. This is a quiet film that is real and touching. You see real professional wrestlers talking backstage, the curtain behind an industry that is still shrouded in some small bits of mystery in a fascinating way. It is a character driven film, which I always love, and Randy the Ram lives on as a real character. I believe that it is him. Watching this film and learning more and more about life for older wrestlers, it is heartbreaking and personal. It is an amazing film.
Not in Theaters Number 2: Rocky
Yeah, the third film made it on the list too. And Rocky II sits at number 6, just so you know. Rocky won Best Picture in 1976, but also Best Director, and even more interesting, Best Editing. Best editing nowadays is a joke category, generally given to the films that indeed have the most edits in them. But when really treated like it is an art form, excellent editing creates tension, it drives story, and it fuels emotion. Rocky is an incredible film, an incredible drama about one of the most likable characters in film history.
Recently, I was watching a video that pondered the question: “If aliens came to earth, and you could show all of them one film to sum up all of humanity, what movie would you show them?” And Rocky was my answer. The story of the true meaning of the human spirit, not to win or destroy, but to survive, to go the distance. The story of a man who wasn’t the brightest, nowhere close in fact, but a man who worked and tried, and was given a chance. The story of a man who fell in love, and who goes through the entire human spectrum of emotion. A perfect film.
Not in Theaters Number 1: Snowpiercer
So how can another movie top a perfect film from 1976? By being a more stylized, deeper, more thought-provoking thrill ride of emotion, color, and crisp art. Snowpiercer IS art. It is the best modern film I’ve seen this year, maybe the best actual film I’ve ever seen. It is deep, it is funny, it is violent, it is thoughtful, it is mesmerizing, it is filled with amazing characters, it is chockfull of tension, it is supremely well directed and edited, it has amazing music, it has amazing visuals, it has amazing acting, it has amazing actors. It is dark, but hopeful. It is creepy, but understandable. It is human, but entirely foreign. And it shocked me with how many clever turns and twists it could take without ever resulting in cheap storytelling or plot convenience. It is the best film I saw this year … not in theaters.
I’m incredibly happy with that list. But I have two more lists to go. First, the best films OF the year! The films that I saw in theaters that blew me away and were absolutely ones I want to own (and many of them I do!), I want to share with others, and deserve awards.
Number 5: Oculus
Just narrowly beating out Captain America: the Winter Soldier for the number 5 slot is one of the scariest, most intense, most inventive new horror films I’ve ever seen. See, I’m a Dungeons and Dragons lover, and my game world of choice is Ravenloft, a gothic horror inspired set. And Oculus hits every single one of my buttons, and does something that very few films has ever done well: it uses perception and illusion as the ultimate crux of the horror. Oculus is absolutely terrifying, and beyond that, has Karen Gillan giving a really fantastic performance. The film isn’t gory, it isn’t foul, it isn’t sexist, it doesn’t have any of the pitfalls most horror movies fall into. It is clever, horrifying, and an amazing experience.
Number 4: Maze Runner
This is probably controversial, and in fact I may be the only film critic to put this film this high on their year’s end lists. But I don’t care, I think Maze Runner doesn’t get enough credit. Maze Runner is deceptively simple, and is more than likely ignored for that fact. Its simplicity is not a negative, but a positive, as its story is fueled by its simple setup of a dystopian future. The film is societal in nature, with incredible, memorable characters, all of which were young adults! That is NOT a common statement. The film is also beautiful, with an amazing sense of size and color without feeling unnatural, even though you know it is. The last … few minutes of plot are truly unnecessary, and a bit of a let down, but they make up such a small percentage that even they don’t kill the film for me. I really suggest everyone give this clever, yet simple science fiction film a chance.
Number 3: John Wick
I want to curse and yell and shoot guns in the air! This is the best straight action movie I’ve seen in probably 5 years. It is cool and sophisticated and clever and original. It has fantastic acting from all sorts of guys that many do not give a chance, especially Keanu Reeves who is a criminally underrated actor that was finally able to really show all his skill and all his range in a film. The action sequences are tight, exhilarating, and awesome to behold. The plot is an awesome take on a pretty standard story that breathes new life into the film. The villains are vile, and our hero is almost as bad, but yet we root for him! The movie does such a tremendous job of getting us into John Wick’s head and really falling for the character. This film could have easily gotten number 2, and some days I could even argue it was the best film I saw all year.
Number 2: Guardians of the Galaxy
Of course this movie is on the list. In fact, me not putting it at number 1 might shock some of my readers. Guardians of the Galaxy is the first space opera since the original Star Wars films that actually worked. It is grandiose, it is hilarious, it is action-packed, it has just a touch of romance, it has amazing visuals you just want to sink into, it has memorable characters that will never leave the zeitgeist, and it is more than just a standard summer blockbuster. It is a smart movie with a theme and a plot that culminates not with a fire or a storm, but with a whisper, to paraphrase the bible some what sacrilegiously. Every time I watch the movie, I am in awe. It is in fact the only movie I saw in theaters more than once this year. A movie that beats this one would have to be something really special …
Number 1: Birdman, or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
Birdman is the most well-made film I saw all year. Period. Every actor, every scene, every line, every performance, every bit of the amazingly cool jazz drum score, every camera move, every special effect, every. Single. Detail. Of this film was thought out and superbly crafted. This film is one of the hardest films to talk about this year as well. It is a film that every time I talk about it and some asks me to tell them what it is about, I have to ask “do you mean ‘what’s the plot’ or ‘what’s the movie about?’” It is a deep, artistic film that covers every single aspect of the film making and dramatic process, from writing to production to acting to directing to set building to being a PA to personal lives of the creative to what it means to be past your prime to journalism and criticism to being an audience member. Every single person who has ever been a part of a play or a musical or a dance recital or in some part of the film making process needs to see this film. It is absolutely my film of the year, even more so because it represents for me a profound and dense statement about films this year, with its focus on how you interact with the world, what entertainment becomes popular, and what all work goes into a production. Michael Keaton is my actor of the year. Alejandro González Iñárritu is my director of the year. Birdman is my cinematography of the year. And it is absolutely the film of the year!
Well, that was fantastic. I love positive thoughts an opinions. And … I know everyone loves a train wreck of awfulness. So let me talk about the worst films I was forced to watch this year, and my pick for the worst film of 2014.
Just like before, here’s a wonderful list of every film I gave at least an F- to : See No Evil 2, Saw: the Final Chapter, MacGruber, Popeye, Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat, The Starving Games, Leonard Part 6, Brazil
Here we go, Top 5 worst films I’ve seen this year. God help me.
Worst Film Number 5: Saw: the Final Chapter
This movie makes me so sad. It just … it craps on every single thing that the entire six films before it had done as a franchise. Its film quality, its storytelling, its creativity, its acting … Ugh. All of the Saw films before this one had some surprisingly good actors in them. But in this film, Cary Elwes is officially a WORSE actor for having been in it, and he is the BEST PART of this abomination. How is it not any farther up this list? Because I can at some point see myself watching this again, because no matter what happens, it is a part of a franchise, and I will eventually watch it once more. The next four I will never, EEEEEEEEEEVER watch a-gain!
Worst Film Number 4: Popeye
Rest in Peace Robin Williams. With that out of the way, this film is horse-crap. It doesn’t make any sense, is filled with terrible musical moments and no dancing of any worth, none of the fun of a Popeye cartoon is in it at all, and is just plain old ugly. Even Williams’ Popeye is muttering hard to understand fool more akin to Donald Duck on Quaalude than Popeye. I will give it this, it has real nice sets. In fact, that’s the only reason it isn’t any higher on this list.
Worst Film Number 3: MacGruber
Good cinematography. Completely wasted, always moving, always fake and “cinema” looking but perfectly fine in skill cinematography. That is the only good thing I have to say about the worst SNL film ever made. They took a sketch that always took place only in the countdown of a bomb going off and wrapped an entire film around the ad libs and curse words and sex jokes of one of the least funny actors in recent SNL history. Don’t get me wrong, Will Forte is a funny writer, he wrote for That 70s Show and such. But this film is utter trite nonsense and garbage. The fact that there are two films worse than this that I saw this year clearly means that this year was filled with pain like you wouldn’t believe.
Worst Film Number 2: Leonard Part 6
Ugh. If MacGruber is a parody film done wrong, then Leonard Part 6 is all the deleted scenes from that terrible parody sprayed down with skunk stench and let out to dry. Almost literally actually, since there are ACTUAL BLOOPERS MONTAGED INTO THE FILM. This film makes Ghost Dad look like an Oscar contender for Bill Cosby. And that is not a good thing. I cannot say a single good thing about this movie except that it isn’t as bad as …
Worst Film Number 1: Dr. Seuss’ the Cat in the Hat
That is this whole movie. That right there. Look at it.
Desperate attempts to make us laugh. Mike Myers laughs so much in the movie in this vain attempt to make me believe he is telling jokes. He isn’t, though. He isn’t telling any jokes, or doing anything even remotely related to humor.
This is without a doubt the worst film I’ve seen this year. In fact, it is probably the worst film I’ve ever seen. This film is the benchmark for terrible films. If a movie is worse than this … I’m going to be very upset and very depressed, because I know I’m going to have to watch it in Torture-Jessel-a-Thon 2 next year.
And now, ladies and gentle-readers, I would like to present to you, the worst film of the year. The movie that I saw in theaters and absolutely was terrible beyond every single other film …
The Worst Film of 2014: Dumb and Dumber To
I could just post all the gifs again, but really, just follow this link. That is an entire review summed up in ten or so pictures. This movie was awful. And even worse, it wasn’t awful enough to have the courtesy and be worse than any of the other five movies on the worst list. That almost makes me madder. To be a movie that is so incredibly stupid that it is worse than Interstellar this year absolutely deserves you an award. The “Go Away and Die” award.
Thank you everybody, I hope you enjoyed this film wrap-up of the year 2014. But I’m not done. Tomorrow, I have a list of 48 categories for “best of the year” that I need to answer, including everything from “best episode of television” to “best seasoning.” Yeah, it is gonna be a weird stupid list. I’ll see you tomorrow!