Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Taken 3 review

I love Liam Neeson. He's a great actor and he's done some great films in the past. Schindler's List is exceptional work, and I've even liked some of the stuff that he's done in the post-Taken era (Non-Stop, A Million Ways to Die in the West). Not to mention that he will soon be appearing in Martin Scorsese's Silence, which should definitely be a career rebound. He'll need it after Taken 3, one of the worst studio action films in recent memory. This dull, bloated, terribly filmed mess of a movie is a chore to sit through and a new low for the Taken franchise. Swapping out the simplicity of the kidnapping thriller for a convoluted and idiotic whodunit, Taken 3 is a laughably bad misfire that is an embarrassment to all involved.


Taken 3 continues the adventures of Bryan Mills (Neeson), the former soldier/government agent with a history of family issues. He's settling down to his quiet life, when his ex-wife (Famke Janssen) is murdered and the blame falls on Mills. With a driven cop (Forest Whitaker) on his tail, Mills must his "particular set of skills" to stop the bad guys, protect his daughter and clear his own name. The trail of violence leads Mills to a gang of Russian mobsters, a lot of money, and a crucial betrayal from a friend. 

In all seriousness, Taken 3 is one of the most tedious and awful movies I've ever seen. Seriously. It's that bad. Liam Neeson is the only good thing about this movie, and even his presence is not enough to elevate this movie at all. You would think that a film with Neeson, Forest Whitaker, Famke Janssen and Dougray Scott would be at least mildly engaging, but that is certainly not the case with Taken 3. It's a cliche-ridden with more unintentional laughs than genuine thrills. It's so incompetently made and I feel absolutely awful for everyone involved.

Let's start with the directing. It's so bad. When I was watching this movie, I started to notice something. There were a lot of cuts during the action that made the film very hard to watch. At that point, I remembered Chris Stuckmann's warning. In his review of the film, Stuckmann noted how poorly filmed and borderline incomprehensible the action was. And he was spot-on. The choppy, dizzying action is nauseating to watch and you often can't tell what's going on or why. The shot length is definitely under a second and there's a chance that you could blink and miss a lot of stuff. It's just awful.

Awful pretty much just describes this film in general. The story is also miserably bland and uninteresting with twists that don't do anything interesting and characters that are terribly boring. The biggest problem with Taken 3 is that it thinks we care about the characters and their stupid little problems. A subplot about Mills' daughter struggling to tell him that she's pregnant is just plain idiotic and I was laughing through much of the silly domestic drama. Forest Whitaker's character is also poorly written and completely laughable (he figures out that Mills didn't commit the crime by eating bagels from the scene). The screenplay is simply flat-out terrible with grating dialogue and even more ridiculous characters.

I know that my reviews are typically much longer than this. But with Taken 3, I don't even feel that I need to say much more. Taken 3 is simply atrocious. I love Liam Neeson and a lot of the talent involved, but I hated every second of this movie. It's overlong by about a half hour and every moment was disastrously boring. It switches between serious and goofy (the final scene features Neeson fighting a Russian mobster while the mobster is in nothing but his underwear) on a dime and the action is hard to watch. Although I think that there's more to be done with Neeson as an action hero, his days as Bryan Mills are numbered. This simple, interesting premise has turned into one of the worst action franchises in Hollywood, with a final installment that provides the last nail in the coffin.

THE FINAL GRADE:  F                                                 (2/10)


Image Credits: Variety, Screen Rant

Chris Pratt eyed to star in Disney's reboot of 'Indiana Jones'

When Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, the studio immediately put a third Star Wars trilogy into production along with several spin-off films for George Lucas' classic space franchise. But many fans continued to wonder about the fate of Lucasfilm's other iconic series: Indiana Jones. In 2008, Paramount, Lucas and Steven Spielberg attempted to resurrect the franchise with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but failed after the installment came under a lot of hate from fans. It seemed that Crystal Skull co-star Shia LaBeouf was set to don the fedora in future installments, but LaBeouf's antics caused a lot of problems. Despite tentative plans for Indiana Jones 5, nothing came through. Now, it appears that Disney is looking to reboot the Indiana Jones franchise with one of the most popular actors alive right now.


According to Hollywood scoop site Deadline, Disney is looking at Guardians of the Galaxy star Chris Pratt for their planned Indiana Jones reboot. Deadline's Mike Fleming says that all of this is still in early planning, but that the studio definitely wants Pratt for the role. However, other journalists brought up great points: Pratt's slate is full. With Guardians of the Galaxy 2, The LEGO Movie 2, Antoine Fuqua's The Magnificent Seven, possible sequels to Jurassic World and maybe even Avengers: Infinity War, Pratt's schedule is jam-packed. Will he have any room for Indiana Jones? I hope so. Pratt is one of the most charismatic and entertaining entertaining actors in Hollywood and I really hope that he takes on the role of Indy. I've been looking forward to more Indiana Jones films for a while now, and I hope that Disney is finally ready to deliver. 


Image Credits: Nerdist, The Film Stage

Monday, January 26, 2015

'Birdman' shakes up Oscar race with wins at the Producers Guild and Screen Actors Guild

For a while, it seemed like the Oscar race was completely over. Boyhood was winning everything and there was little competition across the board. But a few things in the last few weeks have made the race much more interesting. First off, American Sniper has surged in the ranks after its massive box office success and hotly debated controversy. And now, it looks like Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Birdman is now back at the forefront of the race after big wins at the Guild awards this weekend.


On Saturday, Birdman won the Producers Guild Award for Best Picture. Over the last several years, the Producers Guild has been one of the best prognosticators for Oscar season, with the last eight PGA winners going on to win Best Picture at the Oscars. Last year, 12 Years A Slave and Gravity tied for Best Picture at the PGA's, which was one of the first ties in the history of the guild. Those two films ended up fighting it out until Oscar night, with 12 Years A Slave coming out on top. At this point, it looks like Birdman and Boyhood will be battling until the very end.

And last night, Birdman solidified its status as a major Oscar contender with its win at the SAG Awards. Granted, most people expected Birdman to take the SAG Awards (it's the ultimate actors movie and movies like that always win the SAG award) but this is still another critical win for the film. However, American Hustle took the SAG last year and ended up getting completely shut out at the Oscars. So this award is certainly not a guarantee for Birdman, but it's another step in the right direction for the black comedy.

While most of the other SAG's last night went to the expected winners (J.K. Simmons, Julianne Moore and Patricia Arquette continued their awards sweep), Eddie Redmayne pulled a shocking upset and topped Oscar favorite Michael Keaton. Redmayne and Keaton have been going back and forth all year, and it appears that Redmayne may be the front-runner now. Most are also expecting Redmayne to win at the BAFTA's so he might be able to carry that momentum all the way to the Oscars. With only the Directors Guild, Writers Guild and the BAFTA's left before the Oscars, it's crunch time for these major contenders. It will definitely be an intriguing few weeks.


Image Credits: Wired, Screen Rant 

'American Sniper' leads again with record-breaking $64.3 million at weekend box office

American Sniper has been one of the year's biggest surprises at the box office so far this year, grossing a stellar $107.3 million in its first four days. Sniper had another incredibly impressive showing this past weekend, grossing $64.3 million. That's a mere 28% drop from its debut weekend, and the film's total now stands at $200.1 million. According to many pundits, American Sniper is on track to gross more than $350 million and become the highest grossing film of 2014 (Sniper is technically a 2014 film, since it debuting in four theaters at the end of the year). Sniper's second weekend was also the eighth-highest grossing of all time, behind a slew of superhero properties. 


Universal's The Boy Next Door was the top newcomer of the weekend, pulling in $15 million in second place. The Jennifer Lopez thriller received a poor "B-" Cinemascore, but it only cost $4 million to make, so all is good for Universal. In third place was Paddington, which grossed $12.3 million this weekend. The surprise family hit has snagged $40 million so far, an impressive showing for the $70 million British import. 

The Wedding Ringer finished in fourth place with $11.6 million. That's only a 44% drop from last weekend, which means that this film has legs. The R-rated comedy has now grossed $39.6 million. Not as impressive as some of Kevin Hart's previous debuts, but solid nonetheless. Fox's Taken 3 continued to impress in fifth place with $7.6 million. The atrocious action thriller has grossed $76 million thus far and will likely cross the $100 million mark before the end of its run.

The Imitation Game has held better than most of the major Oscar contenders. This weekend, the British drama grossed $7.1 million in seventh place, which is up 4.9% from last weekend. The film has now made $60.6 million. Disney's Strange Magic was one of the other new releases this weekend, but it did not fare well. The bizarre, poorly reviewed kids flick snagged $5.5 million in over 3,000 theaters, for one of the worst wide debuts ever. The film also received a poor "B-" Cinemascore, which means that this one is going to crash and burn.

Paramount's Selma continued its solid run in eighth place with $5.5 million. Unlike American Sniper and Imitation Game, Selma has not been able to build off its Oscar buzz. The film has grossed $39.2 million thus far. Lionsgate's Mortdecai was the final wide release of the week, and it flopped hard. The Johnny Depp comedy grossed $4.1 million in ninth place, one of the actor's worst debuts ever. The "C+" Cinemascore and terrible reviews also indicate that nobody has liked this one so far. Odds are that we won't ever hear from this one again. And finally, Into the Woods rounded out the top ten with $3.8 million. The film has grossed $121.4 million. 

Next weekend sees the release of Project Almanac, The Loft and Black or White. Here are my predictions:

1. American Sniper- $48 million
2. Project Almanac- $18 million
3. Paddington- $9.1 million
4. The Wedding Ringer- $7.5 million
5. The Imitation Game- $7.3 million
6. The Boy Next Door- $6.7 million
7. Taken 3- $4.6 million
8. The Loft- $4.5 million
9. Black or White- $3.8 million
10. Selma- $3.6 million


Image Credits: Rama Screen, /ABC News,  Hollywood Reporter, Screen Rant

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

American Sniper review

Clint Eastwood has been on a career slump lately, making bland musicals like Jersey Boys and critical misfires like J. Edgar and Hereafter. But Eastwood bounces back with American Sniper, the tough, intense look at the life of famed sharpshooter Chris Kyle. While the film isn't perfect (flashbacks to Kyle's childhood feel especially cliched and boring), Eastwood manages to deliver a nuanced look at the effects of war and PTSD along with some truly brutal and spectacular battle scenes. Bradley Cooper anchors the movie with poise and confidence, while Sienna Miller does a great job as his wife. This may not be one of the best movies of the year, but it's a highly entertaining film that has a lot to say about war and the toll it takes on people.



American Sniper tells the story of Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), the US gunman who is considered to be the deadliest sniper in American military history. The film tracks Kyle from his roots as a young boy in Texas to his days as a rodeo cowboy before he finally becomes a Navy seal. Along the way, Kyle meets Taya (Sienna Miller) and they start a family together. But soon after the 9/11 attacks, Kyle's entire life is changed forever.

Once the war in the Middle East begins, Kyle does four tours in Iraq and quickly becomes a legendary war hero. His precise skills and ability to handle pressure situations helps him save the lives of hundreds of soldiers and kill nearly 160 terrorists (possibly 250 depending on how much you believe what Kyle says). However, Kyle can't quite leave the war at home and the after-effects of war seep into his home life. American Sniper chronicles Kyle's journey through his four tours in the Middle East and his life on the home front before his tragic death in 2009.

American Sniper's sudden resurgence in the Oscar race and at the box office has put the film at the forefront of the entertainment industry. Sniper's merits as a biopic have been hotly discussed over the last few days, but I'm going to try to put those aside and look at American Sniper as just a movie. And on those grounds, it's pretty good. It's a harrowing, intense look at combat and the effects of war. I wouldn't say that it's one of the best war films I've ever seen or even one of the year's best films, but I enjoyed this film immensely and I found that the 134 minute runtime went by pretty quickly.

Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller are the principle players in the story for most of the film, and there are very few supporting characters that the audience has the opportunity to get attached to. But that's okay, because Cooper and Miller create fascinating characters that manage to be consistently compelling throughout the entire film. Cooper's performance is both an impressive physical and emotional transformation. He looks and feels like Chris Kyle and he brings nuance and pathos to a rich and interesting man. Cooper also gained quite a bit of weight to play the husky Kyle, and that brings a strong touch of reality to the film.

While Cooper's performance has been praised by many (and rightfully so), Sienna Miller delivers equally mesmerizing work as Taya Kyle. She has to go through so many emotions when Chris returns home, and Miller is able to do so much with this character. It's a sweet and heartfelt performance and I feel like Miller should have definitely received some Best Supporting Actress attention.

What I found to be most interesting about American Sniper was the way that its plot was structured. The film opens with the tense and exciting battle sequence that has been heavily prominent in the TV advertisements and then quickly cuts back to Kyle's childhood (some of the weaker parts of the movie). There's a little bit in between about the time when Kyle met Taya and his Navy seal training, but we're quickly thrust into the Iraq. After that, battle sequences and Kyle's home life alternate, providing an intriguing look at the way the war affected Kyle and his family. Most films would deal completely with the war aspect and address the PTSD at the end, but American Sniper decides to take a much more interesting and route that benefits the film in the end.

The war sequences are intense, bloody and sometimes exciting. However, I found them to be strikingly redundant. None of the scenes feel overly distinguishable from each other, but I think that might be the true point. Each scene features Kyle going after a group of terrorists, before something awful happens and all hell breaks loose. Seemingly friendly Iraqi citizens betray his platoon and horrific acts are committed by a man known as "The Butcher." Throughout every tour, it's pretty much the same thing and you understand what kind of toll that takes on someone. During the final scene, as a storm of sand, bullets and helicopter fire surround him, Kyle finally says "I'm ready to come home." And you truly understand why he says that. It's a sad and powerful moment.

Clint Eastwood's direction is often really good, but occasionally lacking inspiration. There's an intensity that is pervasive throughout all of the battle scenes and that intensity is often carried over to the home life. But I have to say, I'm getting sick of Eastwood using the same color palate over and over again. The film has a distinctly bland look that makes it devoid of any style or flash. Most of the time, Sniper is able to overcome that because it is such an emotionally involving film, but I found some of the early scenes to be rather dry.

Part of the blame for that should probably go to Jason Dean Hall's script, which is good, but certainly not great. He stages the action perfectly and I loved how he explored the effects of war and PTSD. However, there are certainly some really cliched moments in this film that become distracting to a point, especially in the early goings.

Despite those minor flaws, I still believe that American Sniper is special because it is so different from the other war films I've seen. Most have a pretty clear-cut, anti-war message: war is hell, look how bad it is, etc. American Sniper takes a different approach that I found to be endlessly fascinating: it's both a pro-war and an anti-war film. It has the stance that the war in Iraq was justified and that Kyle's actions were perfectly heroic, but the film also knows that war has a terrible effect on people that can't be shaken easily.

American Sniper is a very good film that provides a unique look at the Iraq war. It takes a little while to get going and some scenes are painfully awkward, but what you'll eventually get is an engaging and powerful look at two strong people affected by a war that is tearing them apart. Accompanied by great performances from Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller, American Sniper is engrossing and compelling war cinema that delves into the psyche of one of modern warfare's most iconic figures.

THE FINAL GRADE:  B+                                            (7.8/10)



Image Credits: Hollywood Reporter, Rama Screen, NY Post , Variety, Forbes, Screen Rant

Nominations for the annual Movie Guru's Blog Awards

After the reveal of my Best and Worst films of 2014 yesterday, it's time to reveal the nominees for the 3rd annual Movie Guru's Blog awards (slight name change). They're like the Oscars, only on a much smaller scale. Anyways, check them out below:

BEST PICTURE


Boyhood
Foxcatcher
Gone Girl
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Interstellar
The LEGO Movie
Neighbors
Nightcrawler
Snowpiercer
Whiplash

BEST DIRECTOR

Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
David Fincher, Gone Girl
Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, The LEGO Movie
Christopher Nolan, Interstellar

BEST ACTOR


Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Brendan Gleeson, Calvary
Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
James McAvoy, X-Men: Days of Future Past
Channing Tatum, Foxcatcher

BEST ACTRESS

Amy Adams, Big Eyes
Emily Blunt, Edge of Tomorrow
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Shailene Woodley, The Fault in Our Stars

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR


Josh Brolin, Inherent Vice
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Zac Efron, Neighbors
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Carrie Coon, Gone Girl
Sienna Miller, American Sniper
Rene Russo, Nightcrawler
Katharine Waterston, Inherent Vice

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY


Calvary
Foxcatcher
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Interstellar
Whiplash

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Gone Girl
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice
The LEGO Movie
Snowpiercer

BEST ANIMATED FILM


Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
The LEGO Movie

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Gone Girl
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice
Interstellar
Nightcrawler

BEST COSTUME DESIGN


Big Eyes
Foxcatcher
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice

BEST FILM EDITING

Edge of Tomorrow
Gone Girl
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Interstellar
Whiplash

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING


Foxcatcher
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Gone Girl
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice
Interstellar
Nightcrawler

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS


Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Edge of Tomorrow
Godzilla
Interstellar
X-Men: Days of Future Past

BEST SOUND

American Sniper
Fury
Gone Girl
Interstellar
Whiplash

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN


Foxcatcher
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice
Interstellar
Neighbors

BEST ACTION FILM

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Edge of Tomorrow
Fury
Guardians of the Galaxy
X-Men: Days of Future Past

BEST COMEDY


22 Jump Street
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Interview
Neighbors
Stretch

BEST RISING STAR

Ansel Elgort
Mackenzie Foy
Jillian Bell
Katharine Waterston
Tony Revolori

BEST TRAILER


American Sniper
Interstellar
Inherent Vice
Gone Girl
Whiplash

MOST ANTICIPATED OF 2015

Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens
Spectre
The Hateful Eight
Furious 7
Mad Max: Fury Road

Those are the nominations for the Movie Guru's Blog Awards. Check back on Oscar weekend for the winners.

Image Credits: USA Today, Nerdist, Indiewire, Roger Ebert, Forbes, Hollywood Reporter, NY Daily News, Mother Jones, Neighbors Movie, Forbes, 

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Movie Guru's Top Fifteen Films of 2014

Here we are, folks. It's finally time for me to reveal my picks for the fifteen best films of 2014. I spent weeks putting this list together and agonizing over which films would make the list and in what order. However, it all came together nicely and I'm proud of this list. It was an incredible year for cinema and there were some truly spectacular movies this year. I put together this list with six honorable mentions, one special exception and my fifteen favorite movies of the year. Without further ado, here are my picks for the fifteen best movies of 2014 along with some honorable mentions.

22 JUMP STREET

I didn't expect much from 22 Jump Street, but I was pleasantly surprised. 22 Jump Street has some truly hysterical moments and is undoubtedly one of the best sequels ever made. One of the year's best comedies and a movie that barely missed my top 15 list.

BIG EYES

An emotional roller-coaster with a terrific performance from Amy Adams, some great costume designs and a brilliant score from Danny Elfman, Big Eyes is Tim Burton's best in years.

CHEF

After Cowboys and Aliens and Iron Man 2 missed with fans and critics, Favreau definitely bounced back with this terrific little film.

THE INTERVIEW

The Interview will likely go down in history as the movie that almost got canceled because of terrorist threats and that's kind of unfortunate, because it's also a terrific little comedy with great action and funny performances.

STRETCH

This zany, bizarre Hollywood comedy has great energy and is a blast from start to finish with some of the best voice-over in years.

THE RAID 2

The Raid 2 features some of the most vicious carnage ever depicted on a movie screen with some truly cringe-worthy moments.  The crime elements are also fantastic (this film is like The Godfather if Michael was a martial arts expert) and that's what separates The Raid 2 from other action films. It's smart, it's intense and it's one awesome, bloody ride.

And one special exception......

LIFE ITSELF


Life Itself was an incredibly powerful film, one that shook me deeply to my core. I loved the film so much, but I really wasn't sure about where to put it on my list. And then I saw one critic, I don't remember who it was, place it as an overall honorable mention because he simply couldn't rank it and compare it to other films. So I'm sorry dude, but I'm going to copy you there. Steve James' documentary about the late great Roger Ebert is such a personal film for me and I was so affected by it. In all likelihood, I will never watch it again (it's simply too hard to watch a great man go through so much pain), but when I did watch it, I was mesmerized. It was a brilliant tribute to a great man.

Now finally, for my top fifteen films of the year.

15. INHERENT VICE


Inherent Vice is a deep dive into a world of bizarre and lovable characters that manages to be funny, smart and deeply felt. This was the most recent movie that made it on this list, but I just couldn't shake it. The characters, the atmosphere, the soundtrack- I simply could not shake this film. I had so much fun with Inherent Vice and I simply loved this movie. Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin and Katharine Waterston were all terrific in the film and Paul Thomas Anderson's direction is brilliant. Sure, the plot is difficult to follow, but there is so much great stuff going on that you won't care. You might not get all of it, but it's a very enjoyable ride.



14. CALVARY


Calvary is one of 2014's most under-seen and underrated films, a dark, uncompromising look at humanity, religion and death. Brendan Gleeson anchors this film as Father James, the priest who's life is threatened by an unknown parishioner early in the film. Father James spends the rest of the film trying to help people in his known, but eventually, he realizes that some just can't be saved. John Michael McDonough's film is full of rich dialogue and great characters- not a moment on screen is wasted. Calvary is an ambitious film achievement that takes on so many interesting subjects and uses them to create a complex, interesting film.



13. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER


Captain America: The Winter Soldier was the most impressive Marvel Studios film yet, because it didn't play it safe. There was real action, real characters and real consequences. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo created a terrific paranoia thriller with some brilliant action pieces thrown in. Simply put, The Winter Soldier solidifies the Captain America franchise as Marvel's go-to series for intriguing, unique action flicks. If Marvel continues down the path that The Winter Soldier set, we're in for several treats over the next few years.



12. EDGE OF TOMORROW


It's a shame that this movie didn't do well at the box office, because it was a real treat. Edge of Tomorrow is a darkly funny action flick with wit and charm to spare. Despite the box office disappointment, Edge of Tomorrow will likely go down as the film that helped to rebound Tom Cruise's career and solidified Emily Blunt as an action star. Some of the action in this movie is truly amazing and the overall look and feel of it is great. Edge of Tomorrow didn't quite hold up as well on rewatch, but that doesn't make it a lesser film by any stretch of the imagination.



11. X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST


You never truly know what you're going to get with the X-Men franchise, but thankfully, Bryan Singer delivered an emotional and action-packed installment into the series with X-Men: Days of Future Past. This reboot/sequel for the superhero franchise features some truly spectacular action (Quicksilver's scene is one of the better set-pieces this year), a frightening vision of the future and some spectacular performances. James McAvoy delivers one of the most pained and terrific performances that I've ever seen in a superhero film. He knocks it out of the park. And the supporting cast is brilliant, with Michael Fassbender, Hugh Jackman and Jennifer Lawrence all giving stellar performances. X-Men: Days of Future Past is the best entry into this series so far and puts the X-Men franchise on a path to success.



10. NIGHTCRAWLER


Dan Gilroy's sick and twisted media thriller is both a wickedly smart satire and a disturbing character study and it all hinges on Jake Gyllenhaal's incredible performance as sociopath Louis Bloom. Gyllenhaal gives his all to the polite, driven and downright creepy media journalist that will do anything and everything to become successful. This film sticks with you and it's a good test to see how far any audience will go before they absolutely despise a main character. With a strong script, great acting, an electrifying score and cinematography that perfectly captures the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles, Nightcrawler is a film that will not be forgotten any time soon.



9. NEIGHBORS


Neighbors might seem a little out of place among all of these dark, disturbing masterpieces, but there was no way that I could leave this absolutely hilarious comedy off my list. Neighbors is one of the funniest and most ribald comedies in years, a film that simply goes for it. The party sequences are stellar, the themes are actually pretty mature for a raunchy R-rated comedy, and the actors are terrific. Where most comedies play it safe, Neighbors goes way out there with jokes that are unpredictable and incredible. It's a great comedy and a film that I will be watching for a long time.



8. BOYHOOD


You can't talk about Boyhood without avoiding the fact that the film is a stunning achievement of cinema. This movie was made over the course of 12 years and that certainly was a major draw for me. But we also can't deny the fact that Boyhood is also a great film and one of the most quietly powerful films of the year. It has great performances, a fantastic soundtrack and individual scenes that are poignant and beautiful. Boyhood is a cinematic masterpiece that won't soon be forgotten.



7. SNOWPIERCER


One of 2014's biggest surprises for me was Snowpiercer. I had heard about the film before, but when I rented it, I had no idea that I was about to watch one of 2014's most stunning films. Chris Evans is fantastic in this disturbing and incredible trip through a messed up society that is ravaged by class issues. The action scenes are invigorating and some of the individual moments (Evans' monologue is awesome) are fantastic. This is a great sci-fi film from director Boon Jong-ho, one that has brains and brawn in equal measure.



6. FOXCATCHER


Bennett Miller has proven in the past that he can direct mature, precise flicks about complicated characters, but he does some of his finest work yet with the disturbing psychological drama Foxcatcher. Anchored by three terrific performances, stellar directing and cinematography and an awkward atmosphere that sucks you into the film, Foxcatcher is one of the more rewarding experiences of the year. It's painful, intense, sad, darkly funny at times, and absolutely devastating. It's a knockout punch from one of the best directors in Hollywood.



5. WHIPLASH


If Whiplash is any indication, we're going to be talking about Damien Chazelle for a very long time. Chazelle's Whiplash is a beautifully directed film and it has one of the better scripts of the year. Not to mention the two knockout performances from Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons. Those two are the most electric screen pairing of the year and Teller's character has a very compelling story arc. This is a film that manages to feel both small and epic, terrifying and inspiring. That is so hard to do and it makes Whiplash all the more impressive.



4. THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL


Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel is probably the film on this list that I've watched the most. Out of all the films I've watched this year, I've been most frequently drawn back to The Grand Budapest Hotel (and The LEGO Movie). It's a beautifully designed, terrifically acted comedy with wit, charm and a dash of sadness that is simply perfect. The Grand Budapest Hotel is an excellent film and another masterful addition to Wes Anderon's already amazing filmography.



3. THE LEGO MOVIE


The LEGO Movie was the most fun I had in the theater all year. It's also the funniest film of the year by a country mile. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller created one of the best animated comedies in recent memory, an instant classic that appeals to adults as much as it does to kids. If you don't walk out of The LEGO Movie singing Everything is Awesome, something is wrong with you. With great visuals, amazing voice work and a brilliant score from Mark Mothersbaugh, The LEGO Movie truly was awesome.



2. GONE GIRL


David Fincher has made some masterpieces in the past, but Gone Girl might just be his finest achievement. A twisted, jaw-dropping satire of marriage and the media, Gone Girl is one of the most entertaining movies of the year. Rosamund Pike delivers a truly disturbing performance and Ben Affleck is the best he's ever been (and so is Tyler Perry). Even when you know the mystery, Gone Girl is still a great time and that is thanks to Fincher's direction and Flynn's witty screenplay. I adored Gone Girl and I can't wait to see more films from this team in the near future.



1. INTERSTELLAR


It's a boring pick. I've been thinking that for the last few weeks. Interstellar was my most anticipated movie of the year, and now, it's my #1 film of 2014. Was there really nothing that truly surprised me in 2014 and made me say "Wow, that was incredible." No, there certainly were films that dazzled and amazed me. But Interstellar simply lived up to the hype. Big time.

I saw Interstellar three times in theaters and each time I came away with something new and fresh. The first time around, I was deeply shaken by this film. I had just seen something, but I wasn't sure exactly what I had seen. The second and third viewings allowed me to get a deeper understanding of the densely layered plot (most of my confusion was a result of mishearing something or mixing up different things) and I was able to fully appreciate the vision that Nolan put on screen. Interstellar is one of the most ambitious films in history because it explores things that have never been done before. It's a 169 minute film that feels like an hour and a half. With great performances, a gorgeous score and amazing cinematography, Interstellar is another Nolan knockout. This bold, beautiful vision is my favorite film of 2014 and one of the best films of the decade so far.



Those were my picks for the best films of 2014. Let me know what you thought in the comments below and also, what were your picks for the best films of 2014?

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