July 5, 2014

The Top 10 Movies of 2014 (so far)

2014 is just flying by, isn't it? It feels like something of a lackluster year. There is just something about it that just feels low key, as if it is just waiting to take off. It just needs the right film to ignite it all. Then I go and take a look at some of the movies I have seen this year, and there in amidst the junk I have sat through are the good movies. Seriously, there have been a lot of good movies this year, although in many cases I look at my favorites so far and feel like I may be the only one who likes some of them. That is quickly followed by the good thoughts. I see films my way and that is often different from a lot of other people. Well, enough of this pointless preamble, you want to see the list. Read on!

10. Only Lovers Left Alive. Jim Jarmusch takes the vampire into the arthouse. The movie plays like the mirror universe of Queen of the Damned, a rock and roll vampire movie that works. It is a slice of life film with a the twist of vampires. We are dropped into the lives of a vampire couple at a crossroads in their relationship, we spend some time with them, and then it ends. It is surreal, believable, and a bit silly. It is a movie that is rewarding, but takes time to reveal itself as so.

9. Oculus. Here is a movie that really surprised me with how much I liked it. Here is a movie that, at first glance, looks like just another haunting or possession movie. It isn't. This is a movie that weaves past and present into a seamless thing that draws you in. It is a different take on the horror, it is someone going after it head on. However, there are still questions that linger, this movie is not all about the answers. It is surprisingly quite good.

8. Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Wow. What else is there to say, really? This is a big improvement on the original Cap film, which I liked, and really begins to build the Marvel Universe. It is more than an action movie, it is an interesting look at a character trying to find his place in the modern world. It is an action movie that is not merely about the action, it is actively working to be a piece of a bigger picture. I have never been a big fan of Captain America and always doubted the ability to make him an interesting character in a live action film, this erases any remaining doubts I had.

7. X-Men: Days of Future Past. The X-Men movie franchise has had such a strange run. Good movies, bad movies, and a certainly messed up timeline. This movie goes a long way towards righting the ship. It is a reboot that isn't a reboot. It is a cleverly done movie that goes and rewrites the history of the series, but more than being a new beginning, it is a good a movie! It has humor, reallyu good action, and a cast to die for. This is a very entertaining film that looks at character as much as it looks to mutant action.

6. Godzilla. I have seen so many reactions on both sides of the coin. Funny thing is that I can understand both sides. I loved it. This is a big, massive film that had me emotionally hooked from a very early time. Characters may have felt a bit underdeveloped later on, but they worked as extensions of that initial emotional hook. Then there is the monster, a force of nature, a massive pile of muscle, bone, and attitude. They held back the reveals for the climax, forcing us to wait, to anticipate. It did not disappoint. The movie is just very entertaining and a nice new start for everyone's favorite monster.

5. How to Train Your Dragon 2. Here is an animated sequel that surpasses the original. That has to say something as I really liked the original. This film takes it to the next level, delivering some gorgeous scenery (some of the best I have seen in a CG animated film), and develops our characters through impressive action sequences, and heart. This movie delivers on many levels, and does things you do not often see in family animation, it thow the idea of safety out the window and deals with things in a non-pandering fashion. It is utterly delightful.

4. The Rover. This is an intense film that is about very little, but has a lot of content. This is a movie that is beautifully shot and has a lot to offer. You could also look at is as the movie where all the protagonist wants is his car. Brilliant. This movie is as grim as they come. This movie is not about having a good time, it is not about a character revealing themselves in dialogue. It is not about a happy ending or exploratory flashbacks. It is a man with nothing left to lose trying to get back that one thing for reasons he does not need to explain to anyone. It is a fascinating excursion across a bleak, dusty landscape where there is no hope left.

3. Under the Skin. Every once in awhile a movie comes along that defies explanation. A movie that does not seem to make much narrative sense. A movie whose story dances around the edge of the frame. A movie that is light on details. A movie that is challenging, if you allow it to be. A movie that is easy to make a snap judgment against it. A movie that does not make any compromises. A movie that gets under your skin, lingers there like an itch you can't scratch. A movie that draws you in before clamping down like a vise. A movie that tempts you with danger and mystery. That is Under the Skin and it is fantastic.

2. The LEGO Movie. is something that works, I did not expect it to, but it does. It is immensely enjoyable, suitable for all ages and proves there is plenty of creativity still out there. Clever sight gags abound, there is enough material here for both children and adults, and if the climax does not affect you, well, there must be something wrong. The movie is a serious amount of fun, it is manic, zany, and all over the place, but it all comes together so well. I was honestly surprised by this movie, and it is the immense heart that it has that pulls it all together.

1. The Raid 2. This a mind shattering experience. It is a movie that takes the groundwork of the first film and just takes it in an utterly epic direction. There are more characters, more bad guys, more thrills, more fights, more drama, more everything. The masterful thing about it is that it takes a familiar framework and drops in their own drama and fights making this mutant action/crime thriller mash that is instantly recognizable yet endlessly entertaining. This movie sits among the top action films of the past decade (and probably longer). It is brutal, heartfelt, and uncompromising. Simply spectacular.

That about wraps up the first half. What are some of the best you have seen this year?

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