Keith’s Top Ten Movies of 2014

This year, far too many prominent movies shackled themselves to real-life stories – with all the unfortunate compromises that entails.  Many of the most critically praised movies (Birdman, Boyhood, The Lego Movie) were disappointing.  And the blockbusters often seemed more accomplished – and more resonant – than the “serious” films.

The first five spots on this list were easy to fill; after that, I had to do some digging to come up with movies I could feel comfortable praising.  Does that make it a bad movie year?  Possibly.  But then again, I saw only 34 new movies in 2014, so maybe it’s all my fault.

#1: Whiplash


A breath of fresh air, a punch in the gut – a tight, propulsive, delicious thriller, and a blaring announcement of director Damien Chazelle’s arrival in the ranks of major filmmakers.

#2: Life Itself


A rich and moving celebration of Roger Ebert, the art form he loved, and the exceptional life he lived.

#3: Edge of Tomorrow

edge of tomorrow

Tense, funny, imaginative, and thrilling – everything a Hollywood action movie should be.

#4: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1


Another piece of sharp and ruthless storytelling from the series that’s probably the best franchise going.

#5: X-Men: Days of Future Past


A welcome return to form for Bryan Singer, who brings a great deal of precision and style to the now-crowded superhero genre.  Some of this movie is clumsy, but what’s good is really good.

#6: The Theory of Everything


Of all this year’s shameless glut of biopics, this is the most warmly human – and Eddie Redmayne’s performance is jaw-droppingly good.

#7: I Origins


Imperfect, but distinctive and thought-provoking – as well as a tribute to how effective low-budget sci-fi can be.

#8: The Grand Budapest Hotel


Nobody makes a Wes Anderson movie like Wes Anderson.  Is there something inescapably precious about the whole undertaking?  Absolutely.  But is there real feeling underneath the compulsive dazzlement?  In this case, I think so.

#9: Foxcatcher


It’s an icy little number, and a bit too deliberate – but it’s superbly made.

#10: Boyhood


Yeah, I know I said it was overrated – and I stand by that.  But it’s also a warm-hearted portrait of a loving American family, and I’d say there are worse things a movie can be.


Honorable Mention: Penguins of Madagascar.  Not a deathless classic, but lots and lots of fun.

Worst Movie of the Year: The Monuments Men.  So bad and so smug that I wish it were a person, so I could slap it in the face.

Most Overrated: Birdman.  “Half-baked” is the best word.


For the record, here’s the full list of 2014 movies I’ve seen to date:


American Sniper

Big Eyes



Captain America: The Winter Soldier


Edge of Tomorrow


A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

God Help the Girl

Gone Girl

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Guardians of the Galaxy

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

I Origins

The Imitation Game


The Interview

Into the Woods

John Wick

The Lego Movie

Life Itself

Low Down

The Monuments Men

A Most Wanted Man


Penguins of Madagascar


The Skeleton Twins

The Theory of Everything

Two Days, One Night

The Two Faces of January


X-Men: Days of Future Past

Published in: on February 22, 2015 at 4:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

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