Favourite movies of 2014. And why.
1. Guardians of the Galaxy (Directed by James Gunn)
No surprise here. Gunn took an unlikely B-grade space opera comic book story and transformed Star Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot into a family of heroes fighting for the galaxy. In doing so, Gunn infused comedy and drama brilliantly to convey all the wonder of a ‘real’ comic book experience.
2. Predestination (Directed by the Spierig Brothers)
Sleeper of the year! Low budget scifi at its best. Sterling performances from Ethan Hawke and Sarah Snook coupled with a very tightly woven tale makes for an enthralling film. Very faithful to its source material (Heinlein’s -All You Zombies-), Predestination is way up there with all the best ‘mindfuck’ flicks like 12 Monkeys & Inception. Keep a close watch on Michael and Peter Spierig.
3. Nightcrawler (Directed by Dan Gilroy)
An intense study of sociopathic attitudes (as embodied in Jake Gyllenhaal’s Lou Bloom), debutant director Gilroy presents a scathing commentary on the modern law of the urban jungle. In the mind of Bloom, survival of the fittest takes on ominous tones and Gyllenhaal’s masterful performance is both chilling and impressive. Gilroy is another directorial talent to look out for.
4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Directed by the Russo Brothers)
Despite the narrative flaws (if one applied a strict cause and effective analysis), CA: TWS is one of the most effective Marvel movies since Avengers with the Russo Brothers juggling the concepts of SHIELD v HYDRA and the return of Bucky Barnes very well. Equally impressive were the utilization of Nick Fury and the Black Widow (not to mention the introduction of The Falcon) as supporting characters for Cap. Chris Evans has made this iconic character his very own and overall the performances were very very good.
5. Boyhood (Directed by Richard Linklater)
The main attraction of Boyhood is the fact that Linklater shot the film over a decade so that the characters would age naturally over the course of the story. That said, it’s more than a mere gimmick as this adds resonance to the tale even as we marvel at how the characters’ appearances change over the years. And… it’s the heartfelt coming of age narrative that ultimately connects. A unique film that should not be missed.
6. X-Men: Days of Future Past (Directed by Bryan Singer)
Singer finally redeems himself and bids a fond farewell to the original X-franchise characters in a competent adaptation of the Claremont/Byrne comic book classic. Nothing ground-breaking but the sheer star power available was managed well (even if the overall story creaks with implausibility) and for X-Men fans, that was good enough.
7. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Directed by Wes Anderson)
Quirky but what else could expect from a Wes Anderson film? Good fun throughout.
8. St. Vincent (Directed by Theodore Melfi)
Basically a vehicle for Bill Murray to do what he does best i.e. be Bill Murray, St. Vincent is a enjoyable and thoughtful expression of Murray’s character Vincent’s friendship with the young Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher). Expect typical story tropes along the way but also excellent performances from Melissa McCartey (in a ‘straight’ role as Oliver’s mom) and Naomi Watts (as Vincent’s hooker/girlfriend).
9. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Directed by Matt Reeves)
Overall, this reboot of the classic Planet of the Apes series has much to recommend itself by. With the motion captured ape Caesar (Andy Serkis once more in an outstanding performance) as the main character, Reeves has done a good job in bringing a sense of human pathos into the proceedings – the story builds up with a slow intensity before exploding into violence (inevitably) but never descends into the battle porn so evident in much inferior films like the Transformers and Hobbit franchises.
10. Edge of Tomorrow (Directed by Doug Liman)
Up till the denouement, Edge of Tomorrow did everything right. Tom Cruise was a believable protagonist with Emily Blunt providing an excellent foil. Some of the science might have been wonky but not too much for the suspension of disbelief to be threatened. But the poor ‘feel-good’ ending almost spoiled the entire movie. In that respect, it was very similar to Cruise’s last scifi outing – the disappointing Oblivion. But definitely enjoy the ride.
… still there’s more …