Greetings fellow cinephiles and Sock Talk fans alike! As 2014 comes to a close, we end one of the best years in cinema in a long, long time. This year has been SO astounding, that a top 10 is impossible and a top 15 is required. Hell, 15 is almost painful. This list was excruciating to make as there are so many movies that I had to exclude, but by the end of this post I hope to mention them all.
So, with that in mind, let’s get started with Sock Talk Jon’s 2014 Best of the Best and some of the rest! (Click here if you want to check out Sock Talk Jon’s 2013 best of the best and some of the rest)
15. Guardians of the Galaxy
I saw Guardians of the Galaxy nine times in the theater. NINE. TIMES. I saw better films this year for sure, but none I enjoyed nearly as much as Guardians. Therefore, it gets a spot on the top 15, it’s at the very end, but it sure isn’t for lack of being incredible.
14. The Guest
Sometimes movies try to be retro and manage to fail on every conceivable level because they simply don’t understand WHY something is awesome. Well, The Guest sure does. What starts off as a quasi-serious film, starts to get subtly ridiculous, but it manages to do it in a way where you’re completely on board for it all. By the time the over the top absurd ending comes around, the film has made no bones about what it is and it feels well paced and well worth it. A truly great 80’s style throwback film in the most ridiculous/best way possible. One of the best times I had watching a movie with friends all year long.
James McAvoy is fast becoming one of my favorite actors out there and Filth is a great example why. Simply put, he can do anything. Filth is just as serious as it is hilariously tragic and McAvoy chews the scenery throughout the entirety of it all. Highly recommended.
12. Young Ones
Good sci-fi is extremely rare these days, so I feel truly blessed to have seen not just one, but several pieces of sci-fi fare that blew my mind this year. Young Ones is very subtle in its integration of futuristic technology in this post apocalyptic world, but that’s what makes it feel so real. This is a plausible world and the characters struggle (over the shortage of water) is realistic and their intentions whether good or bad are so well told that you can empathize completely. Nicholas Hoult is really starting to become an actor whose work I’ll go out of my way to see and I’m excited to see what he brings to the upcoming Mad Max: Fury Road next summer.
11. Cold In July
Similar to The Guest in tone, Cold in July manages to pull off being a gripping drama and a brilliant comedy all at once. The violence is over the top and the characters all have such a great acceptance of what is going on around them, no matter how absurd the situation is. Again, it’s a film that has an old school, almost Walter Hill type of vibe to it, that is all too rarely seen done right these days.
10. Dom Hemingway
Going into 2014, alongside Guardians of the Galaxy, Dom Hemingway was actually my most anticipated film of the year, and it sure didn’t disappoint. The opening scene alone is one of the best character introductions ever in cinema. It has some balancing issues towards the end, as it shifts tone a bit and gets more serious, but it’s well done and I personally didn’t find it distracting. Jude Law does such a great job with this character, that you absolutely feel for him as he simultaneously tries to reunite with his estranged daughter, and come to terms with being an ex-con set loose on the world again.
9. Grand Budapest Hotel
I can get on board with Wes Anderson films around 85% of the time. There are only a couple I havent been a huge fan of. Grand Budapest Hotel is not one of those. Masterfully shot. Comedically brilliant. Flawlessly acted. Oh, and Willam Defoe plays probably the best goddamn goon I’ve ever seen.
8. The Raid 2
Simply put, The Raid 2 is the best action film EVER made. EVER. MADE. EVER. I don’t know how to sell you on this film any better. Make The Raid 2 a permanent part of your collection immediately.
Now, I’m not particularly fond of Nicholas Cage. Outside of Raising Arizona, Wild at Heart, Leaving Las Vegas and Bringing out the Dead, I generally can’t stand him. Joe is an exception. Joe is marvelous. Cage plays Joe, a world weary, ex-badass gone legitimate business owner, who is just a cauldron of seething rage waiting to explode. And he does it SO well. Also, that new kid who was in Mud last year, Tye Sheridan, that kid is great. I will actively seek out anything he does as his career progresses. This movie is definitely not for everyone. It is very dark and most of the characters aren’t very good people, but there is such a realism here that is so masterfully shot and acted, that it makes this film flow so organically and worth revisiting numerous times.
I’ve been a fan of just about anything with Brendan Gleeson in it since I was first introduced to his work in Braveheart. He always takes solid roles and is one of the better actors working today. Calvary is easily his best performance since In Bruges and like that movie, Calvary is very much a dark comedy/drama. The tone of this film might seem conflicting to some, there are some really heavy handed issues being dealt with in this film, but there is also a sardonic humor to it all that just makes it magnificent. Can’t recommend this one enough.
5. The Rover
This movie threw me the unfathomable notion of having to acknowledge Robert Pattinson as a legitimate actor. And a GREAT one at that. The Rover is a dark, sad, post apocalyptic tale, that won’t leave you feeling good (think The Road level of sorrow here). But it is a great film that absolutely should be seen.
4. Gone Girl
Gone Girl really surprised me, because based on what I was hearing, I knew it was a movie that I had to see, but I didn’t really want to. It just seemed like it was sort of a romance/drama. I was so very wrong. Gone Girl surprised me with just how much I liked it that I wound up seeing it in the theater twice . Just a great tale of a fun loving, sociopathic couple and their wacky marriage. And that ending…THAT. ENDING.
I had Birdman so highly anticipated, that once reviews of it came around that were less than flattering, I became skeptical. How wrong I was to doubt. Michael Keaton gives the performance of his lifetime, in a movie that handles the concepts of what it means to be alive and the fragility of the human ego better than just about any philosopher could. It is also immaculately shot, with continuous takes that go upwards of 15 minutes a scene. Brilliant filmmaking that really pushes what the medium can do.
2. The Signal
Now, The Signal might seem like such an uncanny choice for my #2 film of the entire year in a sea of great films…but, my god did this film stick with me. I relish in the opportunity to watch this with anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. Brilliant sci-fi with so many great ideas and subtleties. It also doesn’t hurt that it happens to be filmed gorgeously. While it’s pretty much impossible to mention any plot to this film without ruining it completely, I will say this, watch the trailer, then watch The Signal. Then watch it again.
Jake Gyllenhaal has had a couple of really solid years acting in quality films like End of Watch, Prisoners (I unfortunately didn’t get to see Enemy yet, but hear its great) and now here in Nightcrawler. He plays the sleaziest, most despicable sort of sociopathic opportunist imaginable, and still somehow manages to make him seem marginally likable. There is an undeniable intensity and focus to him as he manipulates accident scenes and breaks into peoples houses just to get a better shot of their sorrow to sell. A really poignant look at TMZ style human interest stories and the ghouls that lurk behind the cameras waiting to profit on others misfortune.
THE BEST OF THE REST
As I mentioned, making a list of just 15 movies this year was almost impossible. There was so much greatness to watch this year. I sincerely hope that you will give all of these films a purchase, or at the very least a rental.
My Name Is Jonah:
If you thought for a second that the film I had a hand in making, that took 5 years of my life, that debuted here in 2014, won a couple of awards and has been seen on 4 out of 7 continents on this planet wouldn’t make the list, well, you apparently don’t know the size of my ego. Seriously though, thank you to everyone who has supported My Name Is Jonah throughout the past 5 years. It has been a long road and we wouldn’t have had so much success without your support.
Also check out these other great films from 2014 that I saw, but I just couldn’t make fit into a list of only 15.
As Above, So Below
Big Bad Wolves
Captain America Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Edge of Tomorrow
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Only Lovers Left Alive
300: Rise of an Empire
-Sock Talk Jon-