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Brandon’s Top 14 Films Of The Year That Was 2014

Brandon's Top 14 Films Of 2014 THUMBAll right, its my turn.  Up front, there’s a few movies I didn’t get to.  I haven’t been able to get out and see Whiplash yet.  Selma and Inherent Vice don’t open here in my fair city until the year reads 2015.  In 2014, my little bundle of wonderful daughter was born, so like 2012 when my son came into this world, I didn’t get to the theater with as much frequency.  Not a big deal though, having them is worth much more to me than having to wait for something to hit Blu-ray.  Once again, 2014 was a hard year to break down into a limited set of favorites, but I feel I’ve got it down to a somewhat concise list.  In the year ’14 having 14 titles seemed aptly appropriate.

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Top 14 Chef

14. Chef

Damn, I REALLY want that grilled cheese Jon Favreau makes in the film (Oooooh that crunch, made my mouth water).  This was a really great coming of age, father & son, road trip movie that I found myself plenty taken with.  It’s a nice little comedy drama and I really felt it did give a good feel of the hard work and effort that goes into working as a chef or in the restaurant/food truck business.  Plus, even with plenty of drama, this movie is still a lot of fun.

Top 14 Gone Girl

13. Gone Girl

David Fincher bounced back pretty efficiently, with one of the year’s most talked about films.  The film had a good intriguing mystery for a portion of it, and then became a terrific thriller to finish it out.  The film not only featured an outstanding performance from Rosamund Pike, but also some great supporting turns from Carrie Coon and Tyler Perry.  Another good score from Trent Reznor too.

Top 14 Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

12. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

I’m already sad this is sitting “so low”, as I’m a huge fan of this franchise.  This second film topped Rise and held true to the nature of the original series, placing itself high in that canon of films.  I loved loved loved that this film starts out with like 15 minutes of just apes hanging out and signing.  I’m more than confident they could make a great apes film with no human involvement but, I know, that’d be risky.  Where does this go from here?  I don’t know.  Maybe some mutants?

Top 14 Marvel

11. Marvel – Guardians Of The Galaxy & The Winter Soldier

Marvel sure kicked some ass this year, as two of its best efforts ever came out.  Winter Soldier was a hell of a political thriller and features some of the best action scenes in the Marvel universe (The opening is one of the bests of the millennium).  Then we had the “risky” Guardians which just hit the spot with movie goers and is now a modern classic.  They don’t even need to mix them with the rest of everybody, their universe is fun enough to keep exploring if you ask me.

Top 14 Dune

10. Jodorowsky’s Dune

This documentary of a film that never got made was one of the most fascinating watches of the year.  Alejandro Jodorowsky speaks with such enthusiasm about his failed project its hard not to get totally sucked in.  It comes complete with plenty of art from the film as well as storyboards, photos and discussion of casting and meetings.  In the coming years, I hope some talented individual finds inspiration from this and take’s Alejandro’s blessing to make an animated film based off of this super trippy sounding rendition of Frank Herbert’s novel.

Top 14 Congress

9. The Congress

Speaking of trippy.  This little science meta fiction film sure does have a big story to tell.  Its based off of something that is rumored actors have been doing in preparation for “the future”.  Robin Wright gives a fantastic performance that I imagine could have been quite the difficult task to endure as it is very rough and very personal.  It’s a wild and weird film, but I’m sort of into those things if you haven’t noticed.  I watched this one the very next day after the evening I first saw it.  It received plenty of praise, but I’m surprised there wasn’t a bigger conversation about it.

Top 14 Birdman

8. Birdman

My last 3 choices are nicely weaving together here as I talk about another sort of meta kind of tale.  Michael Keaton headlines a performance driven film with everyone in tow fully pulling their weight.  The film takes on a “the whole film is one-shot” aesthetic that gives it an extra thrill and bit of fun throughout.  It reminded me of the kind of work of Michel Gondry.  Keaton is outstanding in it and deserving of every bit of praise he’s receiving.

Top 14 Guest

7. The Guest

I frickin’ LOVED this movie.  It evokes the kind of John Carpenter, first Terminator sort of storytelling.  Dan Stevens isn’t going to get any award nominations for this movie and that’s a shame.  He HAS to work and be incredibly convincing as well as understand the material in order for this film to work, and he does so leaving a blazing trail behind him.  This movie features awesome one-liners, action moments, some comedy and decent character study.  Oh, and I need to get this damn score, too.  Its super duper awesome and adds character to the film.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

6. The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson lover here.  This one might be his most Wes Anderson-y film he’s made yet, but its absolute perfection in that regard.  There was no film shot better than this one in 2014, so I guess it wins Brandon’s cinematography award.  It takes the old 4:3  framing and looks incredibly well thought out, balanced and executed.  Its one of those films where every shot is so gorgeous it could be a painting you buy to put up in your house.  Everything from the props to the costumes to movements are carefully planned and beautiful orchestrated on the screen.

Top 14 Blue Ruin

5. Blue Ruin

I fell quite in love with this little film from the guy who made Murder Party.  This simplistic little John Carpenter-esque film takes the revenge genre and flips it on its head.  Macon Blair also delivers one of my favorite performances of the year as the sort of “unlikely badass” going out for blood.  The film is full of some good jumps, gore, action and all around intrigue.  I’m excited for Jeremy Saulnier’s follow up film, Green Room, next year.

Top 14 Snowpiercer

4. Snowpiercer

I’m glad I got to catch this while it had a smaller limited run in theaters, because the film really lends itself to that kind of viewing space.  While an adaptation, it feels of a rich, fun, crazy and original concept that knows how to twist turn and punch you in the gut.  In another side of things, I’ve taken some enjoyment in complaints about the film having a “silly concept”…a concept which to me is awesome and wonderfully imaginative…which lends me to wonder if people have really lost the suspension of disbelief when they go to movies anymore.  Snowpiercer is one of the MUST SEE films of 2014…or whatever year you want to count it as.

Top 14 Nightcrawler

3. Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler takes you to some deep dark depths.  You feel dirty, but you can’t take your eyes away, you want to keep going and you never want to leave for some reason.  We follow despicable character that we just love seeing push things and people to different extremes.  Gyllenhaal gets a lot of praise for the film, but I think Renee Russo puts in some of her career best work here too.  Its one of those movies that ends and you really want to keep in your seat and live through the adventure over again.  And its weird because of how dark and morbid this movie is.

Top 14 Boyhood

2. Boyhood

I’m really not sure who would watch this movie and not immediately see how great it is, but I’m sure those folks are out there.  This is a film I have been incredibly interested in seeing ever since I heard murmors of it back around 2006 when A Scanner Darkly came out I think.  I had just been hearing that Linklater was doing some sort of film with Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette where everything ages naturally, shooting a little bit each year.  He wound up turning in a masterpiece when it was all done.  While I think the prospect of seeing natural aging within a movie is terrific, you also get to see Richard Linklater become a stronger and richer filmmaker as the years progress too.  It starts off okay and a little on the nose, but with strong drama and builds its way into one of the strongest coming of age/family dramas ever seen on film.  Linklater is one of our best working filmmakers now in his third decade, and its nice to finally see him start to garner the acclaim.

Top 14 Interstellar

1. Interstellar

By far my favorite theatrical experience of 2014 was Interstellar.  The visuals, model work, planets and technology all completely swept me up and captivated me.  2014 was a great year for sci fi in all sorts of different aspects (I mean, look at my list).  Interstellar is the kind of ambitious space movie I had been waiting what seems like forever for.  Whether good or bad, I was waiting for a filmmaker to go all out on something like this.  I found everyone in this movie to be on the same wavelength and going all in as the performances are pretty great (Anne Hathaway I think is great and understated).  It features some great emotional work as well and I found myself moved in many places in the film as it touched at some of the family and parental aspects very well.  The film did its job in promoting conversation and debate over its material and merits long after the credits finished.  It’s a film that had ungodly expectations that were never going to satisfy some, but I’m confident that with time this one will be looked back as the strong film that it is.  For me, if there was one film that needed to be seen in theaters and on the biggest screen possible, it’s easily Interstellar.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

4 Responses to “Brandon’s Top 14 Films Of The Year That Was 2014”


  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    Very cool list. Lots of greats!

  2. Brian White

    Yeah you really caught me off guard here with Interstellar. I never knew you loved it that much. We are tied with Nightcrawler in 3rd place. You been sneaking around my business? LOL…jk.

    Kind of shocked you did not have Blue Ruin higher, butI forgot about your love of that pesky Snowpiercer too.

    I need to see Chef yet!

    And happy to see that you recognize the importance of Boyhood. What a successful experiment!!!

  3. Brandon Peters

    Oddly enough…I didn’t realize that about Interstellar either until I sat to make the list. So I too was surprised. I had a top 10 (14) this year that I feel most of it could be interchangeable. There are even ones not on this list that I loved but didn’t make it but could tap in (X-Men, Edge of Tomorrow, Lego, How To Train Your Dragon 2). I ranked them, but many of them are equal in my enjoyment.

  4. Brian White

    It was very saddening to leave outstanding merited films like Edge of Tomorrow and John Wick off my list 🙁