2014 Year End Review : The Best Films, Scenes, Characters, and Moments from 2014

With the help of our good friend Mr. Bandito Cocklespoot, I hereby raise my glass to the year 2014. The year saw North Korea getting bad at poop jokes, missing airplanes, Google fiber, a bunch of assholes called ISIS, riots in Missouri, the landing of a freakin space probe on a freakin comet, the passing of beloved actors such as Robin Williams and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the death of 35mm film as we used to know it, and of course, an incredible year in film. What I’m going to try to do is go over my year in film and try to highlight the good, the great, the horrible, and the disappointing. I’m not doing a top ten. Listing films in some sort of order takes away from the magic. To say that one film was better than the other like that is difficult and unnecessary. Does number five really make a difference between number seven? Nah. I have my favorites of course, and I’ll be grouping them together. You’ll see how it works.

To be noted. The following films have yet to be seen. Until I start getting paid for this I’m going to obviously miss a bunch. So, please keep my discussions in mind while know that I have not yet seen the following…

Inherent Vice, Foxcatcher, Selma, Ida, Force Majeure, Dear White People, Venus in Fur, Tusk, The Guest, Skeleton Twins, I Origins, Calvary, The Dog, Obvious Child, Zero Theorem, Cold in July, A Most Wanted Man, Neighbors, Borgman, They Came Together, Hunger Games Mockingjay, The 3rd Hobbit movie, Noah, Captain America Winter Soldier, Winter Sleep, or The Amazing Spiderman 2

Let’s do this.

Worst Films of 2014
Let’s get these turds out of the way first. I hate staining an article with crap at the end.

Non Stop

This wins my vote for “worst 2nd half” in film this year. The set up was great. It was creative and original with the usage of this mysterious texter. Then, everything went batshit. I stopped caring about everybody. That’s not good when the whole film exists to create tension. Didn’t care at all.

The Monuments Men

How can a film with so many great people in it be so damn boring. Seriously one of the dullest and inane movies in a long time. I was disappointed in you George. Half the movie was a long old man joke and the rest was an attempt at trying to get me to give a shit. Snoozefest.

Robocop

Worst film of the year for me. I was astonished by how bad it was. There was no real violence in the film. Abbie Cornish was god awful. It felt like the whole thing was done in a weekend. Everything about the production was horrible. Not to mention having to deal with Samuel L. Jackson yelling at me every 20 minutes. I hated it. In fact, it’s the only film that I truly hated every single minute of.

Most “What the Fuck” Films of the Year
These films left me scratching my head in both confusion and wonder.

The Congress

A film wherein Robin Wright agrees to have her body scanned in order for the movie company to use her likeness in films for years to come. In order to do this, she must agree to never act in another film again, or even perform on stage. The company owns her image. So yeah, that’s a crazy concept. What gets crazier is after all this is said and done the whole film goes animated and takes a trip down loony tunes lane. I have seriously zero idea what the whole 2nd half of the film meant. No idea. It was a strange experience in where I didn’t dislike what I was seeing, but wasn’t grasped by it due to complete bewilderment. It’s going to take a few more viewings, even I even do so, to take this all in.

Under the Skin

This film is kind of a masterpiece. There is literally nothing like it whatsoever. It’s dark, brooking, completely mysterious. It’s the exploration of what it means to be human by a being that is most certainly not. We don’t know what this thing, played by Scarlett Johansson is, but we’re intrigued to find out. This being prowls the streets of Scotland looking for prey in the form of horny dudes. She lures them like a venus flytrap. There is so much going on in this film that I had to watch it three times in 24 hours to get close to a conclusion and I still don’t really get it. The score is haunting. The performance by ScarJo is surprisingly good. The imagery is incredible. It’s not my film of the year, but it certainly is the film I’m most perplexed by.

Enemy

I love Denis Villeneuve. His film “Incendies” is one of my all time favorites. “Prisoner” was an incredible mystery/character study on the reaches of human anger and revenge. His most recent film however is a bit more puzzling. Boasting a tour de force performance by Jake Gyllenhaal in which he plays two different characters who look exactly the same, Enemy has probably the most confusing ending I’ve seen in a while. It’s an ending that is left totally up for discussion and argument. It’s also a jarring and sometimes strangely hypnotic. I haven’t rewatched this yet, but I feel like I should.

Best Blockbuster/”Popcorn Flick”
Films that are meant to be seen with a large, fun audience which is a mirror image of the film itself

Guardians of the Galaxy

I just rewatched this the other night. It’s just as enjoyable as the first time I saw it. I’m not really into the whole super hero film thing, but this movie just kicks so much ass. It’s probably the most fun I’ve had in a theater in a long time. There really wasn’t too much wrong with it actually. Chris Pratt is a bonafide star and the supporting cast made me crack up so hard throughout the whole film. Groot and Dave Bautista just stole every scene. The effects and action scenes were incredible to see and there was plenty of intense/emotional scenes to back up the humor. I can’t wait for the sequel.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

If I were to do a top five, this would be in it. I just rewatched this today and can honestly say it may be the best action film I’ve seen in years. Andy Serkis was amazing as Caesar and deserves some goddamn award recognition. Matt Reeves knocked it out of the park with the action scenes. One in particular involving a 360 tank shot is one of my favorite scenes of the year. Koba, the films main villain, is upstaged only by JK Simmons in terms of pure villainry. I loved how layered he was as a villain, making the audience both hate and sympathize with him. I just love this film so much. Brutally shot. Wonderfully acted by both ape and human. Takes your breath away at some points. It’s almost a perfect action film.

Edge of Tomorrow

Yeah, this was awesome. Take Groundhog Day and The Matrix and combine them into one of the best sci-fi films of the last three years. Tom Cruise is still insanely watchable and Emily Blunt has sprouted into quite the action woman. I loved how Cruise took a role that didn’t involve him automatically being a badass. He has to learn to do it. Just like Bill Murray, it took him a long time to do so. The films ending could have been a little less predictable but overall it was a wild ride and a serious reassurance that Tom Cruise can still carry an action film. It’s also surprisingly funny.

The Lego Movie

This is probably the funniest movie this year and may be the funniest of the last five years. I was belly laughing in the theater. I went in not expecting much, but left with the biggest smile on my face. The last act of the film was a bit too heavy handed for me but I can totally see how it would inspire children to be themselves. Morgan Freeman cracked me up and the way they animated it was fascinating. Spaceship!!

So Close
Films that were very close to making my best of list. They were in discussion but just missed the cut. Think of them as a 5-10 on a top 10 list.

The Rover

This was the hardest not to put in the winners circle. There was just so much I loved about it. The grit. The brutal nature of nearly every human being in the film. The ending, oh man the ending. I think I may be the only one who found the ending both unique and incredibly powerful. For all the violence, it’s a quiet film. David Michod tells the story with patience and it paid off for me at the end. Robert Pattinson also gives his career best performance in role that almost makes him unrecognizable. This one is not getting talked about much, but I honestly thought it was fantastic.

Gone Girl

Definitely one of the best theater experiences I’ve had in years. I was completely locked in from start to finish. I knew nothing of the plot or premise besides the fact that Ben Affleck lost his wife. What ended up transpiring was a complete trance like state where my mouth gaped open, I forgot to breathe, and I muttered insults at characters on the screen under my breathe. Rosamund Pike was captivating as Amy and Ben Affleck may have turned in his best performance of his career. The film just goes to show you that David Fincher is a top three director working today. Also, that Neil Patrick Harris scene oh my god.

The Babadook

I just saw this last week. It’s the best horror film of the last five years and the scariest thing I’ve seen all year. Essie Davis is a powerhouse and while I wanted to murder him at times, Noah Wiseman gives a worthy child performance. Jennifer Kent layered so many different themes under the surface. It was a joy to discuss what all the symbolism meant at the end of the film. It was unsettling, gave me anxiety, and flat out scared the shit out of me.

Snowpiercer

I loved this film. The video game like side scroll adventure worked wonders for me. Each train car was like a different world and the dark humor constantly popping up had me smiling throughout. Bong Joon Ho came out on top of his other contemporaries as the best director from South Korea. Tilda Swinton was hysterical and stole almost every scene. She may be my favorite actress working today. The schoolhouse scene. The blind hatchet new years scene. Everything about this was just whacked out fun. Be a shoe!

The Best of 2014
These are my films of the year. Behold them in all their glory. I will also provide a clear winner of number one film.

Only Lovers Left Alive

The quintessential hang out film of the year for me. It’s a film that took place entirely at night and didn’t really have anything going on in it. Adam and Eve are two vampires who have been in love for centuries. They get together after Adam, played by Tom Hiddleston, gets very sad and contemplates suicide. Tilda Swinton plays Eve and makes one of the coolest couple around. I could seriously listen to those two talk all day. I love how Jarmusch kept the basic vampire tropes in the film but used them as background information rather than driving the plot of the film. The soundtrack was incredible and the shots of a decaying Detroit are marvelous. I honestly couldn’t have enjoyed this more.

Boyhood

This is a three hour nostalgia film. The things that this kid goes through during the twelve year span the film covers hit right to the core. I played Oregon Trail and was curious about sex. I lied about girlfiends and rode my bike around town for hours. I got into pot and drinking and hid it from my parents. I got into deep thinking and felt outcasted. The fact that Richard Linklater had his actors grow up in front of our eyes in series of short cuts makes it all the more better. Even at three hours, I wish there were more, which is exactly what Patricia Arquette laments near the end of the film. Also, Ethan Hawke was fantastic. It’s a special film and one that will most likely live as one of it’s kind. That makes Boyhood a top film for me.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The most delightful film of the year. Wes Anderson knocks it out of the park, again, with this film. His quirk and unique wit makes this not only hysterical, but ultimately one of the most beautiful films of the year. Ralph Fiennes may be my favorite character in film this year. He was absolutely hysterical in nearly every scene. I don’t think another actor could have done what he did. The supporting cast was also fantastic. Willem Dafoe and Adrien Brody had me in stitches. The symmetry in every shot is so Wes Anderson but wows me every time. It may be his best film to date.

Birdman

Probably the most polarizing film of the year. So much was packed into every orifice of this film. It was both exhausting and insanely entertaining. The film marks the triumphant return of Michael Keaton and the reassurance that Edward Norton is amazing at everything he does. It was hysterical, mesmerizing, and incredibly tragic. It also happens to be filmed to make it look like one long unbroken shot. That makes the film nerd in me jump for joy. If Lubezski doesn’t win for best cinematography I’ll call the cops. It would be a crime. The ending of the film wasn’t the best but the rest of the film was so good it didn’t matter. I loved it.

Whiplash

Yup. Film of the year for me. The wave of emotions I went through in the theater, twice, is unmatched. Every single minute of this film is captivating. JK Simmons gives probably the performance of the year as a drum instructor that takes his band to the limits of their talent in the most diabolical ways possible. Miles Teller gives a powerhouse performance that will go unnoticed but deserves serious recognition. The music is incredible and the ending to the film is one of the most FUCK YEAH moments I’ve ever experienced. It’s just a complete film. I don’t think it’ll get much more than a small nod at the Oscars, but no film this year affected me in such a way that Whiplash did. It’s a film about obsession, career goals, and how far somebody is willing to go to be the best. It was exactly my fucking tempo.

………………….

Honorable Mentions!
Films I enjoyed that I couldn’t fit into a category.

The One I love
Blue Ruin
Nightcrawler
Oculus
The Wind Rises
Locke
Joe

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Favorite Scenes

– The attack on the human compound in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. 360 Tank shot.
– The ending to Whiplash
– The ski chase in Grand Budapest Hotel
– The bedroom scene with Rosamund Pike and Neil Patrick Harris in Gone Girl
– The last shot of The Immegrant
– The whole training segment in Edge of Tomorrow
– SPACESHIP! in The Lego Movie
– The end of The Rover
– Groot knocking the shit out of some henchmen in Guardians of the Galaxy and looking back at the camera and smiling.
– Matthew McConaughey looking at videos of his family over the years in Interstellar
– “That fucking faggot!” in The Grand Budapest Hotel
– Escape scene in X-Men Days of Future Past

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Performances of the Year

– Michael Keaton in Birdman
– Tilda Swinton in Snowpiercer
– JK Simmons and Miles Teller in Whiplash
– Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest Hotel
– Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler
– Edward Norton in Birdman
– Ethan Hawke in Boyhood
– Tom Hiddleston in Only Lovers Left Alive
– Essie Davis in The Babadook
– Shia LaBouf in Fury
– Tom Hardy in Locke
– Andy Serkis in The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

THAT’S IT! Thanks for reading and let’s have another fantastic year of film in 2015!

Film Review : Whiplash (2014)

IMDB Score – 8.4
Rotten Tomato Score – 97%
Grand Jury Prize Winner at Sundance

Directed By – Damien Chazelle
Starring – Miles Teller, JK Simmons, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist, Austin Stowell, and Nate Lang

A promising young drummer enrolls at a cutthroat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential.

Wow.

Fucking WOW.

I have only clapped at the end of one movie(which was this year…Boyhood), but now I can say I clapped to two. I couldn’t help myself. The theater couldn’t help itself. Whiplash was that good. I turned to my friend with absolute glee and shouted “THAT WAS FUCKING AWESOME”. I was, and still am, completely blown away by this film. The plot is simple. Andrew (Teller) is an aspiring jazz drummer in the most prestigious school in the country. He is hand picked by Terrence Fletcher (Simmons) to join his competition band comprised of some of the best musicians in the country. While there are a small amount of secondary characters including the return of Paul Reiser, the film mainly focuses on the relationship between Andrew and his teacher; a relationship that grows more volatile by the second.

There just isn’t enough to say about this one. It’s an emotional rollercoaster that doesn’t let up from the starting drum roll to the final curtain. I was captivated the entire time. I’ve had experiences with all the parties involved. I saw Chazelle’s first film “Grand Piano” earlier this year and found it to be entertaining but ultimately forgettable. Miles Teller broke onto the scene with his role in “The Spectacular Now” but is mostly known for his college party films such as “21 & Older and Project X”. JK Simmons is a brilliant character actor who was perfectly cast as Jonah Jamison in the Spiderman films and always delivers an interesting performance. All three combine to give the highlights of their careers in this film. Teller is remarkable. He completely sells Andrew’s strive to be the greatest drummer the world has ever seen. He is passionate, dedicated, and driven. Simmons is a force of nature. It is, without a doubt, the performance of the year so far. He dresses in all black. His face is stone cold and the boom of his voice is thunderous. Not even the smallest mistake makes it past his ears and of you don’t fix it on the next try, you’ll be sorry. The thing is, never was anything he did, no matter how terrifying, ever over the top. Simmons played Fletcher with a frightening sense of realism that will notch him into the lists of greatest villains of all time. This thing was full on psychological horror film for most of its running time, and I couldn’t get more of it.

The films writer/director, Damien Chazelle, knocked this out of the park. The editing was perfect. The pace was perfect. The dialogue and story were engrossing. There was symbolism in the cymbalism. The sound design was amazing. The music was amazing. The man has made a perfect film. It’s always a good thing when as soon as the credits begin to roll, I want to go out and buy a ticket to the next showing. The final 20 minutes was one of the most batshit emotional tornado I’ve ever experienced. In minutes, I was on the verge of tears to almost jumping out of my seat with excitement. His script is uplifting, scary, and ambitious. It tells the story of people who try to be the best and try to get the best out of people. If you have EVER been REALLY REALLY good at something, this film will show you just how much you have to go.

I just…can’t say enough about this film. I know this review is kind of short, but I really just can’t talk about this film in too much detail. I’ve noticed that most of the films I review that I consider fantastic pieces of film, have short reviews. I want you guys to experience these movies with a general idea of what to expect but to still be blown away by completely unexpected events. This film is not a masterpiece. This film is like your grandma’s cooking. It may be lasagna, but there isn’t a thing you can find wrong with it or a thing you would change. I can’t wait to see this again. I can’t wait for it to be released in more theaters so others can experience it.

Fuck it. This is my film of the year. So earned. It was just my fucking tempo.

5/5




Biscuits & Trail Mix

Sorry for the wait. It’s been a while since my last post. I’ve been pretty busy lately with work, friends, family and things like finally picking up a book and and football starting (NINERS! YEAH!). Here’s some biscuits…

– I have seen a few movies recently that I chose not to write about due to lack of either interest or procrastination. These films include Freaks, The Arbor, and Blow Up. I just didn’t find a lot to write about with these ones even though I really did enjoy Freaks. The Arbor and Blow-Up were a bit disappointing.
– Has anybody been to the fucking movie theater recently? Ugggghhhh I hate September. Thankfully there are some great films coming out soon including The Drop, The Skeleton Twins, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, and Tusk. Some of those trailers and more will be below.
– Did I mention football? I may be more 49er fan than movie nerd. It’s been a passion of mine for about fifteen years now. They kicked the shit out of Tony Romo yesterday so I’m pretty happy.
– Please check out my 2014 Films page and see if you missed any great films from the beginning of the year. They may be out on home video now. I know that Only Lovers Left Alive and Enemy are. That is reason enough.

Here are some trailers until I get some time to watch my next film. I should be watching “Korengal” tomorrow night. The first are all coming out in the next three weeks.

September 12th

Yeah, I literally can’t wait for this. I love Tom Hardy. I love James Gandolfini. I love Noomi Rapace. I love and own “Bullhead”. I love Dennis Lehan adaptions. You know, this is probably going to suck and ruin all this hype I built up for myself but I’ve read that there were standing ovations at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival” so I’m expecting brilliance. Plus, that puppy is adorable.

September 12th

I laughed…A LOT…during this preview. Two of my favorite funny people being funny. Sign me up.

September 12th

There’s something about this one that intrigues me. Maybe it’s the acting or maybe because…

The project has one of the most unique structures in cinema. It was shot as a two-part movie, which follows the story of the couple played by James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain from both of their point of view. The two films premiered in 2013 at the Toronto Film Festival. After the premiere, although it received rave reviews, Ned Benson started cutting the movie again, as a one feature, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. All three movies received a theatrical release.

I have no idea how I’m going to see this but I’m going too.

September 19th

Justin Long acting like a jackass? Haley Joel Osment as a fat radio DJ? Walrus experiment? Michael Fucking Parks? Sign me up.

September 19th

Looks weird as shit. I love Gilliam. I’ll be seeing this. From the trailer, it looks like Christoph Waltz was made for this role. Also, did I see Tilda Swinton with another mouth piece and weird accent? Every movie should be doing this now. Every one.

October 10th

Looks like a crazy psychotic ride on the JK Simmons train. Miles Teller is turning into a great actor and this should be his best role yet. It won the grand jury prize at Sundance by the way.

October 17th

This is my movie. If this isn’t my favorite movie of the year I’m going to be very disappointed. The return of Michael Keaton to actual prominence. It is apparently edited to look like a single take, like, the entire fucking film. I’m going to nerd out ALL over this.

October 31st

I think this film is going to disturb and entertain me while also driving in the fact that Jake Gyllenhaal is only beginning to become one of the best actors of our time. He looks bonkers in this film and I love that.