Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: This Year in Movies [that I saw]

It's that time of year again... time to go into movies I saw this year, both in theaters and at home.
First, I'll start with some of the movies I saw at home that I thought were especially good.

Six movies I credited myself with seeing were random movies my dad turned on TV. Either from SyFy or a random HBO/Showtime channel.
Of those six, the only remotely good ones were a Resident Evil movie (subheading "Extinction") and "The Rock" (which had an eerie relevance to it and took an interesting twist on your typical "getting assess to nuclear weapons and holding a city hostage" storyline).

As for the rest, the 17 non-theatrical films that REALLY stood out are as follows:

-yeah, it does go without saying that "Rocky" is a stand-out movie.

The Heat
-unexpectedly hilarious. Sure, Melissa McCarthy practically plays the same character in every movie, but her counterbalance to Sandra Bullock... loved it, as well as the twists and turns this movie had

The Way, Way Back
-not one of Steve Carell's best roles, but added to my growing appreciation for Sam Rockwell that began with "Seven Psychopaths" the year before. Again, he played one of those characters I wish I'd thought of myself

The Normal Heart
-great acting all around, interesting to see Jim Parsons in a different role (as a huge "Big Bang Theory" fan), still think Matt Bomer should've won something for it

-on this note, I should mention "Dallas Buyers Club," and my quick thoughts on it
"Early on, McConaughey doesn't play a very likable character, but as he gets a grasp of his situation, he does a complete 180. Jared Leto easily steals the show as Rayon, such a lovable character that won't be so soon forgotten."

Thunderball & Goldfinger
-"Thunderball" kept me on my toes with the plot, lots of great moments
-"Goldfinger," I had to watch again cuz I had trouble staying awake the night before and it was definitely worth the revisit
-Daniel Craig was great in "Skyfall," but nothing quite beats Sean Connery in his prime

Enough Said
-a really well done made-for-HBO movie with Julia Louis Dreyfus and James Gandolfini in a well-written lovable penultimate role

The Wolverine
-loved the incorporation of Japanese culture and yeah, Hugh Jackman looks great without a shirt.

Expecting Amish
-granted, it's a Lifetime movie and the clichéd circumstances of the 3rd act could have been avoided if the stars thought to USE PROTECTION...
but it was a stand-out because it was the best role Jesse McCartney ever played. He wasn't a jerk (Beware The Gonzo) and he wasn't emo (Keith). He was just a nice handsome guy and a very supportive boyfriend/baby daddy... the kinds of person I hate to say is too good to be true in real life

- lots of kick-ass action, a great story and a killer titular character you'd like was invincible

Footloose (remake)
-I found the original really depressing, so it was great to not only see a lot of great dance scenes in this movie in the vein of "So you think you can dance" and also that there was more to Kevin Bacon's character (here played by Kenny Wormald)

Godzilla (remake)
-saw right after the original, which I found dragged and Raymond Burr was its only plus side
-despite how little we see of the titular monster, it was a great story with action so compelling that those were some of the fastest 2 hours I ever experienced.

Endless Love (remake)
-hadn't seen the original and really don't want to
-while I HATED how flawed the father character is in this movie, I loved those first 30-40 minutes of bliss the relationship had... and after a couple disappointments, I finally saw Alex Pettyfer in a role worth of his hype of being "The next Robert Pattinson"... both great looking, but don't always get the best roles

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
-more great heart-stopping action
-more great work from Tom Cruise and Jeremy Renner

-this was a long movie, but it didn't feel that way to me. Easily one of the best Oscar winners I'd ever seen :D great acting from George C. Scott in the lead role and there were some good laughs (usually at other people's expense) to break up the tension

August: Osage County
-very dramatic, but again had laughs to break up the tension
-great acting from Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts' character I didn't like very much (it started going downhill for me when she disapproved of her daughter watching "Phantom of the Opera")
-interesting to see Benedict Cumberbatch in a not-so-self-assured role

No Strings Attached
"I had zero expectations after seeing "Friends with Benefits" since both had the same premise and were released the same year. The fact Liz Merriweather (one of the creative forces behind "New Girl") wrote it convinced me to give it a shot.
Once I got past the first 5 minutes of flashbacks, I really enjoyed this. It was refreshing to see Ashton Kutcher in a less self-assured role and the supporting cast (Jake Johnson, Mindy Kaling especially) stole the show for me."

Wreck-it Ralph
-along with "The Way, Way Back," probably my favorite movie I saw this year for the first time
-great animation and imagination with the worlds
-I finally found a capacity where Sarah Silverman was tolerable
-some of the best unexpected plot twists EVER... notably the reveal about the "true" villain

Now for the theaters...
"Into The Woods" would be here except that it's playing 20 minutes away and I don't feel like traveling at the moment.
Hopefully this week, weather permitting of course...

I only saw 10 movies this year, probably the fewest cinema trips I'd taken in a year since I started keeping track in 2010.
So instead of doing a top five, I think I'll just count backwards from 10 to 1. Which were my favorites and had the most impact.

10. Mockingjay Part 1
-not without its moments by any means. I still found it compelling and the time went by rather quickly. The ending [or lack thereof] just wasn't great, but that's just me letting my conflict over this part of the book get in the way. The fact I'm not rushing for the DVD kinda suggests that

9. Let's Be Cops
-for personal reasons, I rank this higher than the latest Hunger Games.
-This movie isn't the best movie ever made by any means, but I really enjoyed myself watching it despite that (and perhaps myself as a "New Girl" fan)
-the first time I ever had a theater all to myself... and considering how much I talked to the screen, that was probably a good thing, lol

8. The Hobbit: There and Back Again
-another fast 2.5 hours
-the movie got a little monotonous and lacked a lot of focus, but it got better when the scale shrunk to one-on-one battles

7. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
-I was disappointed with the direction this movie took. Perhaps when I watch it again, being aware it's a Jason Bourne type deal, I can raise it higher than:

6. The Lego Movie
-this isn't the kind of movie I can confidently put in my top 5 :P just isn't possible
-however, it was a great unexpected surprise all of us really enjoyed

5. How to Train your dragon 2
-one of the best animated sequels I'd seen in a long time (probably since "Toy Story 3") with some jaw-dropping visuals and great escapism
-it's ranked lower because it didn't stay with me quite as strongly as the others

4. The Grand Budapest Hotel
-I'd rank it higher if it didn't drag in a couple places
-however, GREAT cast, some great comedic moments (especially the unexpected ones)

3. The Judge
-yes, my personal bias puts this movie in my top 3, so sue me...
-great acting all around
-the story gives you a lot to think about, you want to get to know the characters or you already recognize them in people in your own lives

2. Guardians of the Galaxy
-it got a little blasé in the beginning (with all the exposition) and the final battles dragged a bit
-but great memorable cast and characters, action and comedy
-not to mention a really good soundtrack

1. Divergent
-the escapism aspect had me for [almost] the entire movie
-one of those movies I wish I could live in, but grateful that I don't (considering all the stuff that goes down, especially in the 3rd act)
-loved the chemistry between Shailene Woodley and Theo James
-kudos to Theo James for winning me over because I wasn't 100% confident about him as a casting choice for Four

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