Here is a final look back at film in 2014. The best that came out and the films that will stay in pop culture and Hollywood history for decades to come.
Grand Budapest Hotel
As Above, So Below
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
At first watch Interstellar might not seem like much, but then the plot digs into your mind and you're left asking questions about the universe. Christopher Nolan seems to do that in most of his films. What could have been a generic science fiction epic, turned out to be an odyssey that focuses on time, life, death, and . . . gravity? Nolan has us tear apart a story and search for answers to an ending that we don't fully understand. Is Cooper really alive? Or is he having his final dying thought?
9. Captain America: Winter Soldier
Winter Soldier is Marvel at its absolute best. Chris Evans finally embraces every side of the titular hero, while the story keeps the audience entertained with Cold War-era influences and spectacular action sequences. Anthony Mackie and Scarlett Johansson round out a superb cast. Unfortunately, the Marvel formula is still at work with a villain that doesn't really have much character and a recognizable third act, but there's enough amazement that you can glaze over the problems.
8. Jodorowsky's Dune
There are many lovely documentaries about film out there, but nothing like this. It's a film that follows the unsuccessful efforts of Alejandro Jodorowsky as he tries to adapt Frank Herbert's novel Dune. It's all about the brilliance and auteur vision that went behind the making of one of the greatest films never made. Jodorowsky's Dune also puts into perspective the Hollywood system and the great lengths and failures that directors go through to create their masterpieces.
7. Live.Die.Repeat/Edge of Tomorrow
Studio marketing snafus aside, Edge of Tomorrow was the little gem of 2014, that was completely ignored by audiences, but astonishing nonetheless. The film follows Tom Cruise as he re-experiences the same day over and over. It's a science-fiction version of Groundhog Day with robots, mechanized suits, Tom Cruise kicking butt, and an ending suitable for any film theorist to gawk over.
Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki show off their skills in this powerhouse of a film. Inarritu calls upon Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, and Naomi Watts to give phenomenal performances all the while commenting on the state of Hollywood, Broadway, and the ego of billion dollar actors.
Dystopian science fiction films are hard to create, because they've all been done. Leave it to The Host (2006) director Bong Joon-ho to bring dystopia to a train carrying the remaining human population. The film is interesting in the way it builds a whole world within a train. The cinematography is gorgeous, shifting between the rusty back of the train to the shiny and glorious front of the train flawlessly. A great look at class and government structure.
Nightcrawler has a bland, dark vision. Luckily, Jake Gylenhaal takes on this vision with an even darker character. Gylenhaal is the definition of slimy. What makes Nightcrawler amazing is the acknowledgeable depth, but noticeable thinness of everything. Director-screenwriter Dan Gilroy gives his audience just enough character development and story to fuel great performances and a stark look at Los Angeles that will haunt your mind.
3. Gone Girl
It's a film that has one insane twist after another. David Fincher creates a murder-mystery epic that showcases Ben Affleck's best acting talent, while creating a star out of Rosemund Pike. The music, cinematography, and acting are just some aspects of what makes this film great.
2. Only Lovers Left Alive
Hipster vampires, a minimalist story, a blood hungry Mia Wasikowska, count me in. The film follows Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton as vampires trying to survive in the modern world. It's a bleak look at survival, guitars, and indie rock. Only Lovers Left Alive also comments on the fast-paced, but forgettable future society is heading towards. The film brings back the glamore and glory of vampires, dumping the pop culture.
While this movie has everything right with it, the quality comes from the genius that Richard Linklater has filmed on screen and off. Linklater filmed Boyhood over a 12 year period. What's more impressive than that? Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, and Patricia Arquette all act with a passion that is unmatched by any other. Boyhood is Linklater's magnum opus, and will remain an achievement in film for years to come.