Best and Worst of 2014 in Film

2014 was a strong year for Hollywood.

We got our usual crop of strong superhero movies that continue to dominate the box office. We experienced the release of a movie twelve years in the making that is a Best Picture frontrunner. Movies that we were pessimistic about turned out great and movies that the whole world couldn’t wait to see disappointed.

More importantly, more than ever before, we saw films that reflected the times as far as ongoing movements (Wild and feminism), enduring societal troubles (Selma and Michael Brown) and ostensible character examinations that may or may not have been totally accurate (American Sniper and this and this and this).

As always, movies made us laugh, cry, smile, hope, and walk out of the theater demanding our money back.

Just like any other year – or any timeless film from any other year, decade, century – the greatest movies moved us, challenged our way of thinking, sometimes had us relating it to the real world to such a deep extent that we eventually had to return to it.

It was a strong year for movies, strong enough that it was hard coming up with a “best of” list.

But I tried. And I present it to you know.

 

Best Movies of 2014

  1. Birdman

Right from the start, you know Birdman is going to be different. It simply grabs you by the horns and does not let up with its insanely honest and hilarious story of trying to be relevant in the modern era of twitter and viral videos. Birdman is one of the most complete films of the year, with the addicting score, masterful camera work, perfect writing, and Oscar-worthy acting all coming together to create a truly modern masterpiece, with themes and concepts meant to be analyzed with as much brainpower as when you read The Great Gatsby in high school.

2. Boyhood

There has never been anything like Boyhood, and there will probably never be again. What makes Boyhood so captivating is one in the same with how it was filmed: over a period of 12 years, utilizing the same actors, telling a seemingly simple but intensely relatable and deep story of life, and why it’s important to bask in every minute of it.

 

3. Selma

There could not have been a more perfect time for the release of Selma, a film that is as much about social discrimination and “justification” of wrongdoing as it is about Martin Luther King’s fight for getting African Americans the right to vote. Brilliantly directed, inspiring and, hopefully, educational, no movie released in 2014 entertained viewers as much as moved them in quite the same was as Selma did.

 

 

4. Guardians of the Galaxy

What was Marvel’s biggest gamble to date is also arguably their best movie to date, combining Star Wars and The Dirty Dozen to create the best superhero movie of the year.

 

 

5. Snowpiercer

An excruciatingly underappreciated dystopian film at a time when dystopian stories are all the rage. Snowpiercer is the latest allegory of the 99 percent versus the 1 percent, and also one of the gripping action flicks of the year.

 

What, I didn’t mention this all happens on a train?

 

6. Wild

Reese Witherspoon is a marvel in this real-life drama that turns standard movie tropes on its head. Wild is both unexpected and extremely satisfying.

 

 

7. Gone Girl

One of the most anticipated films of the year, moviemaking maestro David Fincher delivered on all fronts, giving us the most morbidly cool and terrifying movie ever made about the perils of marriage.

 

 

8. Foxcatcher

Led by revelatory and perspective-shifting career performances by the seasoned Steve Carell and Channing Tatum, who you just knew was going to break out soon. Although many considered it too aesthetically drab, few wouldn’t call it tantalizing, engrossing, and probably the monster movie of the year.

 

 

9. Interstellar

Christopher Nolan continues to go bigger with every film, and although many weren’t satisfied with the ending after such a daunting and emotional journey, he should receive credit alone for the sheer ambition of his latest work. It was also, remarkably, one of the LINK most accurate films of the year. Imagine that.

 

10. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby

Eleanor Rigby was the most emotionally draining and realistic love story of the year. You want to find out so bad what made Conor and Eleanor (played brilliantly by James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain) split apart, but when you do, you realize it’s all about what happened beforehand, and of what could come later.

 

 

Honorary Franchise Standout Award

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Just when you thought all hope was lost after X-Men Origins: Wolverine…

The latest entry in the enduring superhero franchise is right up there with X2: X-Men United with its near-flawless blending of action, drama and time-traveling suspense.

X-Men: DOFP is the first superhero movie (at least in quite a while) that can stand proudly alongside the better films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and also gave us one of the most memorable movie scenes of 2014, regardless of genre.

 

Most Unexpected Movie of 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the The Dark Knight to Rise of the Planet of the ApesBatman Begins.

Surprisingly dark, incredibly entertaining, and as gripping as its motion-captured villain, Dawn was the popcorn flick of the summer….at least until Guardians came out.

Judging how much of an exponential improvement in terms of narrative and style Dawn was over the okay-but-not-great Rise, the next entry should be one of the most anticipated films of the foreseeable future.

 

Eventually….

Before you gasp and comment your disdain and “how could you!”s after checking out the aforementioned films and think I left something just as good, possibly better off, here are some standout films that I wanted to catch, but just never got around to. Some day though.

Nightcrawler

Whiplash

The Imitation Game

The Theory of Everything

The Lego Movie

CitizenFour

Under The Skin

 

Alll better now?

 

The Worst Movies of 2014

Because what good would Hollywood be without some disasters?

1. Transformers: Age of Extincion

Michael Bay, how could you (again)?

We TRUSTED you, Mark...

We TRUSTED you, Mark…

 

2. Blended

Adam Sandler, how could you (again)?

Do you like being a perennial Razzie contender, Adam?

Do you like being a perennial Razzie contender, Adam?

 

3.Divergent

Shailene Woodley, why?

This pretty much cancelled out The Fault In Our Stars, Shailene...

This pretty much cancelled out The Fault In Our Stars, Shailene…

 

4. Lucy

ScarJo, c’mon now….

This should have been you after reading through Lucy's completely nonsensical script, Scarlett...

This should have been you after reading through Lucy’s completely nonsensical script, Scarlett…

 

5. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

Do us all a favor, Peter Jackson…stick to the marketed mantra of your film “One Last Time”, por favor.

Are you saying goodbye to Middle-Earth, Peter? Or your Academy Award credibility?

Are you saying goodbye to Middle-Earth, Peter? Or your Academy Award credibility?

 

 

Here’s to 2015. 

force-awakens-6

 

 

 

 

 

David Lynch likes to talk about and write about movies, sports, and important happenings around the world. He can be reached at alex.695@hotmail.com or on Twitter @RealDavidLynch.

Fincher and Flynn – a macabre marriage resulting in Gone Girl

David Fincher is part of a special group of modern filmmakers, a group that includes the likes of Wes Anderson, Christopher Nolan, and Alfonso Cuaron. These directors are elite in their craft due to their consistency; they commit themselves to a certain style that is purely their own.

Masterpieces of modern film are usually the result. These directors are able to seamlessly create entire, engrossing worlds and convey moods more effectively than most.

But Fincher got off easy. The world of Gone Girl had already been created in Gillian Flynn’s exceptional 2012 novel from which the film is adapted.

Fincher just had to do what he does best: Bring Flynn’s macabre world to life using his style that fits it just right.

In essence, he was the perfect man for that job.

Gone Girl is part crime-procedural, part marriage drama with the disturbing foundations of a Tarantino film. It follows Nick Dunne as he has to manage being caught in multiple headlights when his wife, Amy, disappears on their 5th wedding anniversary. The did-he-or-didn’t-he suspicion plays out for about a third of the film…until the big twists start coming into play.

 

A collaboration for the ages

The genius minds of Fincher and Flynn couldn’t have synergized at a better time. In fact, why did it take this long?

There was some concern over how well the narrative style of Flynn’s novel would transition to the big screen. Would it be able to retain the suspense without giving away certain characters’ motives?

Worry no more. Flynn, who was actually chosen to write the script for the film, brings to life every detail of her conniving characters and the deceit-filled world they live in magnificently. Flynn’s signature dark wit, morbid atmosphere, and memorable characters, it’s all there. And the way the plot unfolds works is an absolute work of art, one that will leave you second-guessing everyone involved.

The Dunne's are in a pickle.

The Dunne’s are in a pickle.

Gone Girl is lengthy, clocking in at just around two and a half hours, but Flynn’s world is so sprawling that the film’s editors should get lots of credit for keeping it that short. There is nary a moment where the film drags; it paces along excellently and swiftly and it is one of the film’s many strengths.

 

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it

Fincher (The Social Network, Fight Club, Se7en) has brought many dark worlds, dark attitudes, and dark characters to life, to memorable effect. Gone Girl is no exception. It’s almost too easy for him at this point, because Flynn’s story is right up his alley.

Fincher employs his trademark tone and cinematic style to grandstanding effect. The way light sets the mood. The snappy dialogue. The numerous dramatic build-ups. The sweeping and intimate cinematography. His attention to detail is once again 20/20 and the result is a film as disturbing as the novel it is based upon, and that is saying something.

Did he? Didn't he? Could he? Would he?

Did he? Didn’t he? Could he? Would he?

The score plays a huge role in that disturbance. For the third time Fincher collaborates with Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – they won an Oscar for 2010’s The Social Network soundtrack – and for the third time, it is a fruitful partnership. The music in Gone Girl is unrelenting, it’s eerie, and it’s downright frightening at some points. The score has become a staple of Fincher’s films, as it should be.

Acting is also a huge part of Gone Girl’s success. Ben Affleck (Argo, The Town, Good Will Hunting) begins a career renaissance spanning multiple years. He is cold, naïve, and mysterious as the helpless Nick Dunne. Rosamund Pike (Pride & Prejudice, Jack Reacher) however takes it to another level altogether. She is terrifyingly visceral and viscerally terrifying from the onset as the damsel in distress Amy Elliott-Dunne. Forget watching Annabelle, Pike will haunt you with her performance. Her seething, goosebumps-inducing narration as the plot unfolds. Her unrelenting stare which will leave you guessing what emotions she’s feeling. Pike is Flynn’s Amy come to life in every way imaginable, and it’s a sight to behold, possibly multiple times.

Gone Girl will easily be the most polarizing film amongst audiences in 2014, a la The Wolf of Wall Street to a certain extent. The subject matter is especially interesting considering numerous current events, and Flynn’s themes are heavy-handed. Everything you know about the damsel in distress story will be turned on its head in the most devious and know-you-sideways way possible.

Of course, if you read Flynn’s hit novel, you are aware of said subject matter.

If you haven’t yet delved into the wonderfully sinister world of Gone Girl, buckle up.

It’s gonna be a fun ride.

 

In a Nutshell

Fincher continues a torrid run of creating masterpieces from existing historical and literate material. No other director could pull off Flynn’s gem of a novel as well as he does. Think you know what’s coming? Think again.

9.5 / 10 or Ever wonder how bad a marriage can get? Almost as bad as missing this film.

 

 

Gone Girl is rated R for a scene of bloody violence, some strong sexual content/nudity, and language 

Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike

Directed by: David Fincher

2014

 

 

 

 

Five Movies To Catch In The Closing Months Of 2014

 

2014’s summer movie season is officially over and it can be safely said that it was a disappointing one. Hollywood’s offerings overall were not as bombastic as yesteryear, save for some gems in the bookend months of May and August. Audiences didn’t swarm to the great number of lackluster films, and the numbers showed that. When adjusted for inflation, which by God it should be all the time, box office totals were the lowest in 22 years.

Bollocks.

The good news is that fall and winter are on their way, which most critics very well know is when quality films arrive in theaters. Films worthy of the Oscar season, which is just around the corner.

So don’t fret! Great movies are a’coming, of all genres and for all audiences. Here is just a sample to get you excited for spending cold days at the multiplex.

 

 

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby

First appearing at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, The Dissapearance of Eleanor Rigby has garnered nothing but excellent reviews by those who have seen it. Starring Jessica Chastain (The Help, Zero Dark Thirty) and James McAvoy (X-Men: Days of Future Past, Wanted) – two actors who prove more versatile and engaging with each film they are in – Eleanor Rigby tells the story of a young couple trying to find the spark which brought them together so long ago.

What makes Eleanor Rigby unique is the pioneering way in which it was made. Writer/Director Ned Benson actually made two films, one titled Him and the other Her, both around an hour and a half long. Each film tells the story of Conor and Eleanor from each of their perspectives, and from the sound of it, it works magnificently.

For wide release, Benson made a third film titled Them which combines portions of the two films to get the full story. But if you’re near a theater which will release both individual installments of Him and Her on October 10, you would do well to check them out.

Releases September 12th

 

Gone Girl

The latest offering from acclaimed director David Fincher, Gone Girl is an adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel of the same name. Told using the same macabre tone and noir style that Fincher so excellently employed in The Social Network and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl will be a surefire hit with the critics, as well as a contender at the Oscars.

The resurgence of Ben Affleck (Argo, The Town) continues as he is perfectly cast as Nick Dunne, the “did he or didn’t he” husband of Amy Dunne, who goes missing under suspicious circumstances. Rosamund Pike and Tyle Perry co-star, as well as Neil Patrick Harris in a rare dark role.

For those unfamiliar with the novel but have seen Fincher’s previous films, you know the quality of his works. For those not familiar with Fincher’s style but have read the novel, know that he is the perfect director to take on the dark and dreary world of Gone Girl.

For those unfamiliar with both the excellent novel and Fincher…consider this a welcome introduction to both.

 

Releases October 3rd

 

Interstellar

What’s NOT to be excited about with this movie?

For starters, the tantalizingly brilliant and criminally underrated Christopher Nolan – who brought us Memento, Inception, and The Dark Knight Trilogy – has yet to make a bad, or even mediocre film. Interstellar continues the renaissance of Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club, Mud) who has been arguably the best actor to have appeared on both the big screen and TV screen in the past year. Plus the rest of the cast is a rock n’ roll ensemble with Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, and Michael Caine to name a few.

As with Nolan’s previous films, most details about Interstellar are under wraps. The gist of the plot is that McConaughey’s character leads a group into the far reaches of space using wormholes to save their own, dying Earth.

Which brings us to the biggest reason to be stoked about Interstellar. It’s about OUTER SPACE! Which, as Gravity showed us, can be as lethal as it is beautiful. And you can bet that Nolan is going to make the experience as engaging and dazzling as technology will allow.

 

Releases November 7th

 

Big Hero 6

For the first time since 2005, Pixar skipped out on releasing a movie this year.

Betcha didn’t even notice, huh?

And we all know that a year without a Pixar film is going to be extremely weak in the animation department. Indeed it has been thus far in 2014, save for The Lego Movie early in the year as well as How To Train Your Dragon 2.

But fear not, because Big Hero 6 is on the way! Made by Disney and based on the Marvel property, the film introduces Hiro and his robot Baymax as they uncover a criminal plot and save the world. This will be an interesting one to catch as it is the first Disney animated film to feature Marvel characters since the famous/infamous acquisition in 2009.

If the trailer is any indication, it will be a blast.

Releases November 7th

 

The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies

I don’t really need to explain, do I?

It’s Peter Jackson’s (maybe) final farewell to Tolkien’s fantasy universe of Middle-earth.

It’s the sequel to an installment which improved in every facet on the first.

Even more importantly, it’s the return of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Smaug, as well as our last chance to cheer on Martin Freeman’s (Sherlock) hero hobbit, Bilbo, and Sir Ian McKellen’s impeccable Gandalf.

Do yourself a favor: don’t miss this movie.

 

Releases December 17th