TOP 10: Brian White’s Favorite Heavy Hitting Films of 2014

TOP 10 - Brian White Favorite Heavy Hitting Films of 2014It’s that time of the year again.  My how time flies by, huh?  I generally hate this time of the year not because of the holidays, but because it means nothing but cold and deadness outside and in a reviewer’s world, the dreaded TOP 10 lists as well.  Ugh!  I’m not going to lie.  I have struggled with these in the past few years, but something quite remarkable happened this year, at least for me.  There was an influx of good movies released theatrically this year, at least in my eyes there was.  You can definitely feel free to disagree with me.  In my opinion, that’s what these TOP 10 lists are for, to create controversy.  You want those “oh my God” moments where your readers will exclaim to themselves or sometimes out loud, “he or she picked what?”  As a reviewer you want to stir that pot of controversy and create that inevitable dish of debate that follows in the comments section, at least I do.

So here we are, not much has happened in the world of scientific and/or medical breakthroughs this year, but at least we have that Ebola virus kind of nipped in the butt should you be able to afford that medicine.  It kind of has the makings of a Snowpiercer-like scenario, doesn’t it?  I don’t know about you, but like in real life, I’ll be at the back of that train fighting like hell to make it to the front where the affluent upper class lives.  Such is the story of my life, but we’re not here to talk about my hardships in life today, we’re here to talk about my TOP 10 favorite heavy hitting films of 2014.  Sadly, Snowpiercer isn’t one of them, but it finished oh so damn close.

This year marked a departure from the norm for me.  I saw a lot more movies in 2014 and thus in doing so I kept my mind open wider to try to experience films that were beyond my primal one-sided interests, to stretch my boundaries I guess you can say, but no matter what, I’ll always have a large heart as an action-movie junkie.  However, in some cases my risks actually paid off as you’ll see down below, and in others my initial gut feeling proved right.  However, such is life, right?

So without wasting a lot more of your time, and if you haven’t already skipped past all this superficial, inflated text and started scrolling through my TOP 10 prime cut selections down below, let me take a quick moment to feed you my usual annual verbiage rant.  The below films, listed in order, are ranked that of my own personal tastes (as unconventional as they may be).  They do not reflect the thoughts of the general movie going populous nor or of the mainstream critics (as evidence from my number one and two selection below).  These are solely the films that I obviously saw this calendar year and for one reason or another I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs over them.  Regrettably, Selma and Inherent Vice didn’t screen in my viewing area in time for the below TOP 10 list so if you’re wondering why they’re absent below, that is my disclaimer to y’all (it sucks that LA and NY get all the love).  So with that being stated there is also this field at the very bottom of the page where readers can leave “comments” at.  I invite you to do so whether you disagree or agree with any or all my selections.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts.  Thank you!  I’ll see y’all next year, same time and place.




The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest HotelI promised myself this year that I wouldn’t do this.  I did not want to be one of those guys who did a TOP 10 list, but then had a long laundry list of all the other films in that very same post that all claimed to be “Honorable Mention” worthy.  However, The Grand Budapest Hotel is just too damn good not to be mentioned here and thus an exception was made for it.  I hope you can forgive me, but there’s really a lot to love about this title.  There really is.  Not once did I ever think that I would fall for this Wes Anderson led effort, but its witty and charming brand of humor about a story within a story completely won me over after only one viewing.  Wes has this uniqueness about the way he directs, presents and tells his stories and in thus doing so he almost rightfully carves his own genre.  Everything about The Grand Budapest Hotel is quaint, exquisite and beautiful.  Do yourself a favor.  Don’t be like me initially with this title.  Don’t judge a book by its cover.  Go inside, check in and stay a little.  I bet after one viewing  that you’ll become a regular patron of the Hotel.

Aaron’s Film Review HERE and Blu-ray Review HERE



10) Under The Skin

Under the SkinHere’s a title that I was really excited about seeing this year, but because it wasn’t playing anywhere decent in Austin, TX I had to wait to pop my cherry with it on the Blu-ray format.  So I’m not going to lie.  I was initially interested in this one because…err…well it may have had something to do with Scarlett Johansson being naked throughout and luring unsuspecting sex-starved men to their grimly demise.  And oh yeah…she’s an alien in this one too!  Cha-ching!  That sounds like box office magic to me.  Doesn’t it to you?   Once you get a few views under your belt and immerse yourself in the infectious score throughout you might just follow Scarlett hypnotically into that black, inky goo too.  I know I did as this is one of my most watched films of the year.  Call it a guilty pleasure.  Call it what you want.  Under The Skin has a lot to offer once you get past that first viewing, strip back and dissect all the layers and really think about what you’ve just seen, trying to experience our world for the first time through the eyes of an alien.  I frickin’ love it!  If nothing else, for anyone that’s still confused after a few viewings, the Blu-ray’s supplemental features offers some great insight into the story and the making of.

Aaron’s Film Review HERE and My Blu-ray Review HERE


9) The LEGO Movie

The LEGO MovieEvery year I seem to fall prey to this trap where I dismiss a film without even seeing it simply because I don’t think it would ever be something that I would like.  You would think I would have learned my lesson from all the Life cereal commercials back in my childhood days, but alas my mistakes in life still shamefully plague me even in adulthood.  As I said up above, I promised myself this year would be different and I would be bolder in my decisions to check out films outside my normal comfort zone like The Muppets: Most Wanted or The LEGO Movie for example.  LOL.  What bold choices, huh?  In the case of the latter title, the words ‘sheer brilliance’ instantly comes to mind.  Truth be told, I think I pick up on different jokes and gags with each subsequent viewing.  I always find myself laughing uncontrollably.  The Chris Miller and Phil Lord screenplay is absolutely ingenious here in my opinion.  How the hell do you get someone to love your film about LEGOs when they don’t give a flying shag about LEGOs in the first place?  The short answer is you make a film like this that transcends the generations and tackles pop culture head on.  It truly is a film the whole family, young and old, can enjoy.  And most importantly, it’s tits on the Blu-ray format!

My Film Review HERE and Blu-ray Review HERE


8) How To Train Your Dragon 2

How to Train Your Dragon 2Amazingly, I have not one but two animated features this year in my TOP 10.  That totally trumps last year, which left me with a big goose egg in the animated feature viewing department.  As a huge fan of the first outing, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is the perfect film no matter how you slice it in my opinion.  It has action, heart and above all…emotion.  It’s that emotional roller coaster ride it takes you on that rivals any film in its genre in recent years.  Like the first film, it’s a darker entry for children movies and it’s unmistakably a war flick so parents must be aware of that before dragging young ones in simply because it’s animated and they think it will be cute.  However, for fans of the first one or children old enough not to be afraid of dragons and other dark moments (subject matter such as abandonment, death, etc.), there’s no way you’ll depart from this feature disappointed.  In fact, it topples and knocks down all of your pre-conceived expectations.  The producing team could have taken the easy route and pulled out an Empire Strikes Back and saved the redemption moments for the final film in the trilogy, but the filmmakers give you your money’s worth here and so much more as you’re taken on a high flying adventure in which tales of classic storytelling heroes are made of.  In fact, the story’s so rich you literally forget you’re watching an animated film.  It’s a sad, but enlightening experience that will leave you wanting more.

My Film Review HERE


7) Boyhood

BoyhoodLike The Grand Budapest Hotel up above, Boyhood is another title that I’m shocked to be including here in my TOP 10 and even as I type this list up, I am chuckling because never in my wildest dreams did I think I could fall for this one.  However, sometimes it is blissful in life to be so wrong about things, thus is the tale of Boyhood, a charming and ambitious 12-year retrospective that chronicles the life of not only a boy growing up in this harsh world, but of everyone around him too.  There’s something for everyone to love and learn from here, young and old.  I guess if you should need any further reason as to why you should at least check out Boyhood as soon as you can, please remember the following.  This is President Obama’s favorite film of 2014 according to People here.  Armed with that knowledge how could you not enjoy Boyhood?  Haha.  I’m just kidding.  I believe in the golden philosophy of to each their own.  Like time does in real life, Boyhood‘s longer runtime literally flies by for me.

Aaron’s Film Review HERE and Brian’s Blu-ray Review HERE


6) Birdman

BirdmanBirdman, I must admit, is not one of the films that I would typically “flock” to the theaters to see.  Truth be told, I was curious about it when I first heard of its production, but the trailer did little to whet my appetite when it came to making me want to spend my hard earned money on it.  It was actually word of mouth that ultimately made me succumb to partaking in a viewing and I’m glad I listened to all those others instead of the naysayer in me.  Birdman is like none other.  The acting is exceptional, but even more impressive is the cinematic way the story is delivered and how it all ultimately unfolds on camera.  It’s a rare treat when you can take in a movie in awe, drool over the cinematography, roll with all the slick camera tricks and relish in the raw beauty of it all from the performances to the mounting tension just ready to pop thanks to the rhythmic rat-ta-tat-tat of the drumming score.  Make no mistake, Birdman is not for everyone, but my significant other and I enjoyed the hell out of this one and debated the controversial to no end afterwards in the bar.  Michael Keaton is back!  Cacaw!

Aaron’s Film Review HERE


5) Interstellar

InterstellarThis is my little film review that could, or at least my second crack at it was.  You see, Interstellar was one of those films that I instantly dissed in my initial review simply because A) it did not jive with what my preconceived expectations of it were going to be and B) I was way too tired (working a full-time job and more will do that to you) during my first screening to completely understand what the hell was going on when we started to get into that fifth dimension mumbo jumbo.  However, what’s the first step in overcoming your problems?  It’s admitting you have one and that I did as I took the time to adjust my review and in parts completely re-wrote it after my third viewing of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar (seen twice in IMAX and once in XD).  I never said I was perfect, and neither is this film, but it is a mind-blowing good time coupled with emotion, a Hans Zimmer rousing score and enough sci-fi goodness crammed in to keep you busy for days trying to understand it all.  It’s the anti-Babadook in my opinion where its subject matter means a little more to me than that of mental illness, which I’m pretty sure I already have, and I’m not afraid to go back again and again and revisit all the areas that didn’t make complete sense to me my first pass through.  This ladies and gentlemen is Interstellar.  Don’t be afraid to make this trip.  After three theatrical viewings, it’s still a fantastic, interstellar voyage that I can’t wait to go on again and again with its eventual Blu-ray release.

My 2nd Film Review HERE


4) Gone Girl

Gone GirlWelcome to the twisted and highly manipulative, but really fun world of Fincher’s Gone Girl.  It’s a brilliant mystery while also at the same time almost a near perfect caper with many humorous moments and performances throughout, mostly involving Affleck and his hysterical facial expressions, that just reel you in and never let you go.  It’s riveting in that way.  There are crimes committed and relationship lines broken, but all in all it’s an accurate portrayal of something so real that I could feasibly see something like the events in this film tear two formerly happy people apart and yet at the same time show us the lengths at which (I could use the adjective crazy here) someone would go through to make their spouse suffer, whether it’s warranted or not.  It takes a very sick and diabolical mind to pull off some of these feats you’ll see transpire onscreen here and that’s why I love this one because there’s so much to love about the shock and bitter sting in it all.

My Film Review HERE


3) Nightcrawler

NightcrawlerNightcrawler was one of the films I missed during it’s initial press run here, but due to everyone’s proverbial raving of the movie I raced to the theater as fast I could the first chance I got to soak in all its brilliance.  Here’s the thing, remember that film Drive we all loved back in 2011?  Well, Nightcrawler is Drive‘s little brother.  I make that statement with so much love and affection because everything I loved about Drive kind of spills over into the mad genius that is Nightcrawler, the city at night, the violence, the noir style and so much more.  It’s one of those rare films like The Equalizer (Aaron will curse my name out loud while reading this comparison) or John Wick that you just have so much fun with that you honestly never want to see end.  I think I shredded a tear or two when the screen went black in Nightcrawler and the credits rolled, not because I was disappointed with the ending, but because I could have spent many more hours trapped in the creepy world of Nightcrawler and its protagonist portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal, who in my opinion after seeing his performance here could have easily rivaled his Brokeback Mountain co-star Heath Ledger as the Joker in The Dark Knight.  However, I digress.  All I know is come February I’m going to eat this film up on the Blu-ray format and watch the sh1t out of it.  You can take that to the bank.

Aaron’s Film Review HERE


2) Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the GalaxyLike Interstellar up above, here’s another title where my initial review was way off from the final score I have awarded it here in the coveted position of second place.  Initially awarded a four out of five film score from me, it’s quite a feat to see Guardians of the Galaxy so high now in my rankings at the end of the year, but it’s no mistake.  Guardians of the Galaxy means a heck of A LOT to me.  It’s A) the funnest time I had at the theater all year long (even after three theatrical viewings), B) behind Under the Skin as my most watched film of the year, C) the closest product I have ever seen that has captured the magic, good times and awe of Star Wars from my childhood (thank you for that James Gunn) and D) I named my damn dog after the feature’s main hero, Star-Lord, which we rescued after coming out of a Guardians of the Galaxy screening on my birthday.  There’s also the story.  Sure it’s no Selma or A Most Violent Year, but there’s that undeniable charm of the five strangers, who all have their own conflicting flaws, brought together to save the galaxy from the thwart of Thanos’ puppet, Ronan.  It’s “Screenwriting 101” in my opinion, also known as movie magic, which ultimately translates into box office gold for Disney.  Then there’s the world of Guardians of the Galaxy, which on the surface may look like any ordinary space opera, but after a quick inspection under the hood you’ll see it’s anything but not.  For further proof of all the fine details and the small militia that it took to make everything you see in Guardians of the Galaxy, make sure to check out this art book here.  The amount of exquisite detail, blood, sweat and tears that went into making this final, polished product that made it to the big screen is extraordinary and well worth your time to learn about for a deeper and further appreciation of one of summer’s greatest draws, Guardians of the Galaxy.  Not a bad year for Disney, huh?

My Film Review HERE and Brandon’s Blu-ray Review HERE


1) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the ApesYou can take the boy out of the action, but you can’t take the action out of the boy.  Also, I was just thinking that’s it’s kind of odd that three of my favorite films of 2014 are all heavily animated, most notably the second and third place ones, but let’s face it…this first selection is pretty heavily CG-laden too, don’t you think?  However, don’t let the fact that these apes aren’t really real fool you.  This one packs quite a wallop and provides plenty of Kleenex-driven, sopping emotional moments.  That’s right!  Caesar, Rocket, Koba and Maurice are all back on the big screen in a bigger, more bad-a$$ grand spectacle of awe, battle and above all else…ape awesomeness!  Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to not only catch an early screening of this, but also attend a panel discussion with director Matt Reeves and actors Andy Serkis and Gary Oldman, which can be seen here.  The latter pair needs no introduction for their contributions, but even to this day some six months later I sit in awe of Matt Reeves and all that he did to make this the best Apes picture ever.  I go more into it with my complete film review, but let’s just say after I awarded Rise of the Planet of the Apes as my top choice back in 2011 my expectations we’re at an all-time high and as you can tell without me writing any more elaborate prose here…this sequel did not disappoint thanks to the leadership, direction and creative visions of Matt Reeves, but I digress.  I’m looking forward with much anticipation to what he comes up with next for the next outing in the franchise, but until then…I’ll be enjoying this one as much as lovingly possible.

My Film Review HERE and Blu-ray Review HERE


Well, that’s all folks…another year over, another dollar spent at the movies.  I want to thank everyone that read through my entire list up above and whether you agree or not, I’d love to hear any of your thoughts below in the Comments.  I also want to take a quick moment to thank all the wonderful and accommodating press and studio representatives in the Austin, TX area that have made it possible for me to attend every screening I was able to make, and to all my new friends in the Austin press whom I have met your acquaintance with over the past calendar year.  Y’all know who you are.  With that being said, I’ve been looking forward to one particular film in 2015 for over thirty years now (hint…hint).  Between Avengers: Age of Ultron, Furious 7 and more, I hope to get my fill of action in 2015.  Until then…Happy New Year!


Brian's TOP 10 Films of 2014



Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

2 Responses to “TOP 10: Brian White’s Favorite Heavy Hitting Films of 2014”

  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    Well this is a swell list of movies. My only real surprise is that you saw The Grand Budapest Hotel and liked it enough to mention it.

    Bring on Brunch of the Planet of the Apes!

  2. Brandon Peters

    Nice Top 10 (11)! As difficult a time you said you were having this shaped up mostly as your tastes were hinting at. Good list regardless. Guardians told me it’s ok with #2 because it made more Brian White dollars at the box office.

    Oh and correction: the best Planet of the Apes movies was made in 1968. There was a great one that came out this year tho