Two End-Of-Year Lists: Hillary and Haven’s Favorite Movies of 2014

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Below is a cut-and-paste conversation of my brother and I discussing our top ten favorite films of 2014. It turns out we only have one in common, and our reasons for liking things are all over the map.

Both of us admitted we weren’t as zealous about going to the theater this year, so undoubtedly some great films remained unseen and slipped through the cracks. This list doesn’t necessarily refer to films released in 2014, but the best ones we saw in the past 12 months.

Also, enjoy. Also also, you’re welcome.

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10 edge of tomorrow

10) Edge Of Tomorrow (2014)

Haven: “I tend to think that Tom Cruise is weird but I still end up liking a lot of his movies. I get a feeling like he is just full of himself and always has to be this showboat hero. But in this movie, he’s pretty much a fumbling retard for a lot of it. Kind of broke my theory. But yes, I will say this: I saw a lot of summer blockbusters like X-Men: Days Of Future Past and Guardians Of The Galaxy, to name a few. However Edge Of Tomorrow had the best story of all of them- the most interesting story- and it had Emily Blunt. And it ends perfectly… Literally perfectly.”

10 the place beyond the pines

10) The Place Beyond The Pines (2013)

Hillary: “Ryan Gosling hardly speaks in this movie, which is pretty much written in his contracts now. Also, the critics seemed to hate this movie. ‘It’s trying too hard! It’s melodramatic! Why is it in two pieces?!” I actually liked the way the film heads off in unexpected directions, switching points of view and jumping forward in time. The score and soundtrack selections were gorgeous (I downloaded many of them). It was also the third film I’d seen with Dane DeHaan in it this year. I’ll keep an eye on him because he’s got an edge and he’s odd. Case in point: he will be playing James Dean in Anton Corbijn’s Life next year.”

09 enough said

9) Enough Said (2013)

Haven: “I liked Gandolfini and I love Julia Louis-Dreyfus. She was so authentic in it. I just liked how authentic everyone was in that movie. It was very true to life. Even though it’s about people in their 40s/50s, I identified with it a lot.”

09 bronies : a brony tale

9) Tie: Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans Of My Little Pony (2012) & A Brony Tale (2014)

Hillary: “The internet comments about both of these films are very sad, as well as some of the attitudes toward its subjects. There’s an incredible stigma about this group of people. In my opinion they’re just another fandom, and for the most part they aren’t hurting anyone. The main complaint is that this fandom is weird. Guess what? Every fandom is weird. Also, the biggest fear is that these fans are perverted. Guess what? Every fandom has perverts. The real issue is a society ashamed of the idea that men can embrace and respect something that is female and child-friendly. If someone has problems with Bronies I only have one thing to say: ‘Get over it.'”

08 the conjuring

8) The Conjuring (2013)

Haven: “I watched it alone at 2 a.m. That was a bad idea. It was a really effective horror film. Honestly, I’m not one for horror, or one to get scared easily, and I tend to feel a lot of horror films that include some sort of religious exorcism process tend to get a little too ‘weirdly spiritual’ or preachy. But this one focused on the story really well. Like The Exorcist, the film includes religious aspects about the story but they don’t really make it a religious film. The Conjuring followed that very well. Unlike The Haunting In Connecticut. That movie was a fail. A yucky fail. This movie also left me feeling creeped out, which I have to tip my hat to, because that is hard to do. I just don’t believe that kind of stuff. But after this movie I could only sleep after watching a solid 20 minutes of cute cat videos. If a movie can effectively scare me, and not be too pretentious, and also have a decent story line that keeps you interested/doesn’t get boring, then the horror film did a good job. Very few horror films have done that for me. Very very very few.”

08 the wolf of wall street

8) The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013)

Hillary: “This was the first film I saw this year. I’ve heard it’s three hours long, but you have no idea where the time goes. You’re too distracted by the barrage of awful behavior, like you’ve fallen face-first into a cocaine-fueled version of The Wizard Of Oz (1939). To say I liked it would be a lie. I was floored by it. Each scene seemed more ridiculous than the last. And it was all true. What made me include it on this list was mainly the performances. Believe it or not, they do have merit: 1) Jonah Hill as Donnie Azoff, a performance that haunted me for weeks; 2) Leonardo DiCaprio opening car doors with his legs; 3) THE ANGRIEST BENIHANA VOICEOVER EVER WHY WHY GOD WHY?!!!!.

07 grand budapest hotel

7) Grand Budapest Hotel (2013)

Haven: “The movie was filmed as if every scene was a portrait. It was really weird, but then you realize that the whole movie is about this huge argument over a dumb portrait. It was this small thing Wes Anderson did that had this hilarious little jab to it. Also, of course: Anderson’s deadpan humor. Every character in the movie is so ridiculously over acted, it’s just funny. Also there’s this one scene where people are chasing each other while skiing and when they show the chase from above it’s obvious they’re just two little toys chasing each other down a mountain. A little tiny toy mountain. And that made it 4 stars.”

07 filth

7) Filth (2013)

Hillary: “I was familiar with Irvine Welsh’s novel since Ilana used to have it lying around. I mean, this book is beyond words. It ends with first-person narration of a tapeworm sliding out of a dead man’s ass. So when I found out James McAvoy had been tapped to play Bruce Robertson I was shocked. I thought ‘How the hell is he going to do this?’ To say the least I was surprised. It’s one of his best and most complex performances, and the film was the most dynamic and entertaining adaptation of a Welsh novel since Trainspotting (1996). And the ending? Wow. It was like getting punched in the face. Best ending of a film I saw this year.”

06 12 angry men

6) 12 Angry Men (1957)

Haven: “I thought it was brilliant. To keep an audience interested in a movie that takes place in one room the whole time, and the dynamic of all the jurors together… Many movies have come out since that have tried that and failed.”

06 the yards

6) The Yards (2013)

Hillary: “I watched this because I remembered something Joaquin Phoenix said in an interview years ago, right after it came out. I’m not sure why it stuck with me, but he revealed he felt incredibly disturbed and empty after he finished filming, especially concerning his scenes with Charlize Theron. When I saw it I understood why. For some reason James Gray has a way of capturing how people make tragic mistakes. It was the same with The Immigrant, another Gray/Phoenix collaboration I saw this year. Some of those scenes stay with you for a long time.”

05 enemy

5) Enemy (2014)

Haven: “I was so blown away by it. It’s one of those movies you can watch and pick up a million things the second time around that you missed the first, little things hidden that you don’t even realize until you see it again. It’s kinda messed up though. Simple premise: Jake Gyllenhaal finds his literal doppelgänger and he tries to meet him, then a bunch of things get crazy and there are random spiders everywhere. The end is the biggest WTF ending ever. But I loved it. Reminded me of Kubrick.”

05 the pervert's guide to ideology

5) The Pervert’s Guide To Ideology (2013)

Hillary: “I had no idea who Slavoj Žižek was until I saw this, but his specific way of deconstructing films is fascinating, regardless of whether you agree with him or not. You jump from scene to scene, watching Žižek appear in films that are all too familiar (Taxi Driver, Zabriskie Point, The Searchers, The Dark Knight, Titanic) imbuing them with the philosophical idea that films and storytelling are more than what they seem. ‘I am already eating from the trash can all the time,’ Žižek states while standing near a dumpster in John Carpenter’s They Live (1988). ‘The name of this trash can is ideology.’ Once you hear that it’s kind of hard to ignore it.”

04 a royal affair

4) A Royal Affair (2012)

Haven: “A Royal Affair is one of those movies that just did everything right. The story, the pacing, the acting, the cinematography, the art direction; all of these come together and give this movie a feeling that fits perfectly with the story. The three main players, Mads Mikkelsen, Alicia Vikander, and Mikkel Folsgard are all perfect in their performances and in their chemistry with each other. Each and every scene is lit, shot, scored, and directed to give you a feeling that matches what the characters feel. It is BRILLIANTLY shot. The scenery, the lights and the colors are almost as supporting characters who accentuate the mood of the actors. Easily overlooked (at least in America), this is probably one of the best films from last year. My top picks for 2013 were Gravity, 12 Years A Slave and Short Term 12; and in retroactive praise, I add A Royal Affair to that list.”

04 what maisie knew

4) What Maisie Knew (2012)

Hillary: “There are many films that show a story from a child’s point of view, but there was something about What Maisie Knew that was immediate and engrossing. You become completely immersed in her world, shuttling between her self-involved, bickering parents (Steve Coogan and Julianne Moore) who have little desire to care for her. Watching her cope is the centerpiece of the film, clinging to any normalcy she can find. Onata Aprile’s performance of Maisie is remarkable for her age, and I also enjoyed watching Alexander Skarsgård play someone different from the usual. Along with Melancholia, I’ve discovered that I prefer to see Skarsgård play well-meaning, fumbling human beings instead of Eric Northman.”

02 the lego movie

3) The Lego Movie (2014)

Haven: “The Lego Movie was a random movie to give the kids and I something fun to do outside of the house. I had heard it was good and had some free movie tickets, so we went and saw it. We ended up seeing it 4 more times in theaters, then bought it right away when it came out on Blu-ray. It goes beyond what a kids movie normally does. It took a story about Legos and translated it into what we experienced as children and as adults. It could have been some hokey movie about toys fighting other toys, but the movie reaches out to anyone who has ever touched a Lego and said, ‘Hi, we wanted to make a movie not just about Legos, but also about you, and how much they meant to you then and now.’ Not only does it make the effort to connect with the audience, but it’s also hilarious for kids and adults. There have been some great kids’ movies, and they just keep getting better. The Lego Movie, in my opinion, is another reinvention of the kids’ movie genre.”

03 the act of killing

3) The Act Of Killing (2012)

Hillary: (Warning: Spoiler Alert) “A part of your soul dies while watching this documentary. Then, surprisingly, you see another part resurrecting in the mass murderer it’s profiling. Watching him stumble, cower and retch on the rooftop where he systematically killed countless people is a cathartic and tragic moment- the moment a man actually realizes the monster he is.”

02 black swan

2) Black Swan (2010)

Haven: “The part where Natalie Portman spins as the black swan and then extends her arms and they turn into wings- I literally got goosebumps everywhere. The lighting, the music, the camera work, the acting, the sounds, everything- all of it in that moment. I peed a little. Actually I think I peed all the pee out at that moment. I think it was an iconic moment in filmmaking.”

02 the lego movie

2) The Lego Movie (2014)

Hillary: “This film was not only made for kids, but for every stoner and nerd who had access to a television or the internet. Did it please all demographics? Yes. It was a spectacle to watch and the story was incredible for a movie about inanimate building blocks. If you had told me there was going to be a Lego movie a few years ago I would have rolled my eyes and talked about the decline of the filmmaking industry. Instead I was treated to something totally unexpected, namely the opposite of Battleship (2012).”

01 interstellar

1) Interstellar (2014)

Haven: “I’m not putting Interstellar as #1 because I am a Christopher Nolan fanboy (and I am a Christopher Nolan fanboy), but because when the movie was done I sat in the theater alone for an extra 5 minutes saying ‘WOW’ out loud to myself while everyone was leaving. I would say I had similar jaw dropping experiences with all the movies in my top 5, but that movie was just perfect for me. A lot of people were too confused by it. I’ll try not to judge too harshly. But that movie made me want to make movies. Period.”

01 locke

1) Locke (2013)

Hillary: “It’s Tom Hardy (and only Tom Hardy) driving around in a car, so of course it’s amazing. He’s one of the most interesting actors around, and when I first read the premise I wasn’t worried about how he would pull it off. It’s rare that a single performer can sit in one place, hardly move and keep your attention for that long. Since it was Hardy I knew he had it in the bag. When the film ended I still wanted to stay with his character, curious about what would happen next. That almost never happens to me, so Locke is without a doubt my #1. I wonder why I don’t own it on DVD already.”

(Update: I own it on DVD now.)

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One thought on “Two End-Of-Year Lists: Hillary and Haven’s Favorite Movies of 2014

  1. Pingback: End Of The Year Almanac #1: Best Films Of 2016 | The Holy Shrine

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