Top 10 Best Movies of 2014

Now we’re working our way to the top. There are several great movies that I have missed in theaters this past year, like Whiplash, Nightcrawler, The Theory of Everything, John Wick, Foxcatcher, and St. Vincent. But I was lucky to catch lots of fantastic movies in theaters. Here is my list of the best movies of 2014.

Honorable Mentions: 22 Jump Street, American Sniper, Belle, Big Eyes, Big Hero 6, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Chef, Edge of Tomorrow, The Fault in our Stars, Fury, Godzilla, How to Train Your Dragon 2Interstellar (even though it was overhyped, there was plenty to like about this movie), Into the Woods, The LEGO Movie, Noah, Wild

Snowpiercer10. Snowpiercer – This is one of the best movies that got snubbed in this year’s Oscars. Korean director Bong Joon-Ho makes a futuristic picture with a George Orwell vibe. Global warming has been reversed, which causes humanity to be killed off. The remaining survivors aboard a train that is separated by three classes. Sitting in the caboose, one of the survivors (Chris Evans) leads a group of low-class citizens to make their way to the front of the train. Featuring an all-star cast, thought-provoking themes involving society, brutal action, and amazing special effects, Snowpiercer is worth the train ride.

hobbit-battle-armies9. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – I personally consider The Hobbit as the most underrated film trilogy. It was great going back to experience the magical world of Middle-Earth while reuniting with characters that I’ve known, loved, or loved to hate; as well as meeting new faces. This trilogy has been a long, unexpected, and downright exciting journey. Even though the trilogy changed the main focus to be on Thorin Oakenshield than Bilbo Baggins, it still stays true to J.R.R. Tolkien’s book. Being the shortest film in the franchise (144 minutes), The Battle of the Five Armies ends the trilogy with a bang. A lot of emotion, breathtaking battle scenes (especially the final battle being the best since The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King), and an amazing song by Billy Boyd playing during the end credits is enough to become one of the year’s best. Thank you, Peter Jackson, for making two of the best film trilogies in recent years.

THE IMITATION GAME8. The Imitation Game – Benedict Cumberbatch is becoming one of my favorite actors. From playing detective Sherlock Holmes to the dragon Smaug in The Hobbit trilogy, now he plays Alan Turing in an exquisite performance. If you don’t know who he is, he was a leader of the breaking of the Enigma code during World War II. Then, he became convicted for his homosexuality, which was considered illegal in the U.K. in 1952. Despite the problems he went through, he became the inspiration for the computer that I’m typing my blog posts on. I don’t give a damn if this movie is historically inaccurate. A historical piece doesn’t have to be accurate. I loved every bit of this funny, heartbreaking, and moving historical piece.

X-Men-Days-of-Future-Past7. X-Men: Days of Future Past – Bryan Singer came back to direct the sequel to X-Men: First Class eleven years after X2: X-Men United. Not only is it one of the best movies from the summer, it’s also the best in the X-Men franchise. It’s great to have Brits Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen reprising their roles of Professor X/Charles Xavier and Magneto/Erik Lehnsherr. But the focus is on Logan/Wolverine, as always excellently played by Hugh Jackman, as the team uses his consciousness to send him back to 1973 to prevent robots from taking over the world. Along the way, he encounters the younger versions of Xavier and Lehnsherr (James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender) to help him to save the past to prevent the future. This movie had just enough action, special effects, character development, and humor. Not to mention the scene involving Quicksilver in the White House kitchen with Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle” playing in the background has to be the funniest and the coolest action set piece of the decade. I cannot wait to see how Quicksilver would be portrayed in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. I don’t know if Joss Whedon will make him as funny as Bryan Singer did in X-Men: Days of Future Past. We’ll see.

Dawn-POTA6. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Three years ago, Rupert Wyatt directed Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a reboot of the 1968 classic Planet of the Apes. I couldn’t have asked for a better climax – with similarities of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes – building up to its sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Matt Reeves takes the franchise to a completely different level. Even though it has similarities of Battle for the Planet of the Apes, this throws the sequels out of the water. This movie reminds us why there is motion-capture. I hope Andy Serkis gets a special Academy Award for bringing motion-capture to life. His performance as Caesar is as powerful as in Rise. The scene in which he watches a video on a fully charged camcorder of himself as an infant being taught by Will the scientist is one of the most emotional scenes of the year. I think that’s why I prefer Rise and Dawn over the original Planet of the Apes films. Because they offer more emotion.

GuardiansOfTheGalaxy5. Guardians of the Galaxy – One of the biggest surprises of the summer, indie director James Gunn introduces a group that a lot of people have never heard of. He puts enough wit and charm into these characters to make us connect with them. I saw Guardians of the Galaxy three times in the theater, I had a blast each time I saw it. When Peter Quill (Chris Pratt, in an awesome performance) turns on his Walkman and dances to Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love” on an abandoned planet, I knew I was in for a treat. Even though it features breathtaking visuals and exhilarating action, the main focus is the memorable characters and the witty dialogue. Not to mention the best soundtrack in recent memory. Cannot wait for the sequel.

Ben Affleck in Gone Girl4. Gone Girl – There are several movies this past year that made me speechless once the credits started rolling. Gone Girl is one of those movies. Based on Gillian Flynn’s bestselling novel, Ben Affleck delivers the performance of his career as Nick Dunn, who becomes a suspect of his wife’s disappearance. I always like a good mystery. But there was rarely one where it had me on the edge of my seat from the first image. Kudos to a great marketing campaign, David Fincher and his team make an atmospheric thriller that gives a realistic glimpse of the media. With dark humor, many twists and turns, and a haunting score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Gone Girl has the feeling of a film noir. The gorgeous Rosamund Pike plays the craziest wife I’ve ever seen in a movie. She is an enigma to the characters as well as the audience through narration and flashbacks. I want her to beat Julianne Moore for the Best Actress Oscar.

07GRAND-articleLarge3. The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson is one of my favorite filmmakers. I love almost all of his films. Unlike most filmmakers, he has his own unique style. Moonrise Kingdom is the first film that introduced me into his colorfully surreal world of zaniness. After seeing all of his early films, I wasn’t disappointed with The Grand Budapest Hotel. Wes Anderson has made the funniest film of his career. I couldn’t picture anyone else playing a better performance as Monsieur Gustave H. other than Ralph Fiennes. He has so much wit and charm as the flirtatious concierge who embarks on a journey to clear his name after being accused of murdering his former lover. His timing is spot-on. With a terrific ensemble featuring F. Murray Abraham, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Tom Wilkinson, and newcomer Tony Revolori, The Grand Budapest Hotel is definitely worth the visit. I’m surprised it got nine Oscar nominations (including Best Picture) this year.

Birdman2. Birdman – Nominated for nine Oscars including Best Picture, Birdman, or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance is the greatest film that Alfred Hitchcock or Alfonso Cuarón never made. Alejandro González Iñárritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki make the most technically ambitious film of the year, using various film and editing techniques to make it look like it’s one continuous shot. The scene where washed-up actor Riggan Thomson holds a grudge on a New York Times theatre critic who is going to give his play a negative review before opening day proves that Michael Keaton might win the Oscar. This is a funny, satirical, bizarre, philosophical, and moving picture that reminds us why movies are made.

Boyhood-11. Boyhood – There has never been a film from 2014 that moved me as much as Boyhood did. Richard Linklater started production on this 12-year project in 2002 using the same actors and the same crew. It feels like he didn’t just make a film, but rather a lesson on adolescence. Linklater naturally depicts how kids and teenagers behave. Even though there aren’t any subtitles on what year we’re in, the audience sees the main character Mason (Ellar Coltrane, in a wonderfully convincing performance) grow up right before their eyes when his voice deepens, his hair grows longer, or if there is a conversation about the war in Iraq. This is a film that made me relate the fun times and hard times I had as a child and the responsibilities I’m going to have as an adult.

There are times in the film where Richard Linklater references his early films. There are scenes involving Mason having conversations with his father (amazingly played by Ethan Hawke) about a possible Star Wars sequel, getting advice, and talking about their day. They connect to Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight. Patricia Arquette needs to earn her Oscar as Mason’s mother who is trying to do the best she can for her kids.

To quote Richard Roeper: “There are so many things that could have gone wrong with this project when you really think about it. What if young [Ellar] Coltrane grew up to be a terrible actor in his teens? What if Lorelei [Linklater] decided five years ago she didn’t want to be in her dad’s movie anymore? Fortunately, for Linklater, and for us, it all came together beautifully.”

Boyhood is the most special movie-going experience I’ve ever had at the movie theater. Not only is it the best movie of 2014, it’s also the best movie of the decade so far and one of my favorites of all-time. This is a movie that should be seen by everyone.

I hope you enjoyed reading my choices for the best films of 2014. Feel free to leave a comment on what your favorite films of 2014 are. I cannot wait to see more great films this year. Take care.

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2014 Summer Movie Review: Edge of Tomorrow

Tom Cruise goes through a time-loop in "Edge of Tomorrow"

Tom Cruise goes through a time-loop in “Edge of Tomorrow”

Edge of Tomorrow made it to the silver screen on June 6th. In this case marking the 70th anniversary of D-Day, which is very fitting. Director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) captures the year’s most gripping action set piece as a metaphor for the attack on Normandy. Both of them taking place on a beach with enemies on different sides, and fighting until one is left standing. That’s only the beginning about this year’s best action film.

Based on Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s novel All You Need is Kill, the movie takes place in the not-too-distant future where aliens (known as Mimics) are at war against humanity. Every military unit has been trying to fight them off for five years. Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is summoned to London to meet up with General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson). Brigham forces him to be with the military unit after showing him a map in which the Mimics are invading Europe.

Cage is sent to the base where he will deploy the following morning. With absolutely no combat experience, Cage must follow  to follow orders by Sgt. Farell (Bill Paxton). When he lands on beach, he gets killed within minutes. He wakes up at the same place, the same day, and the same time. Realizing he is caught in a time-loop, Cage gets help from Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), a Special Forces warrior, to increase his combat skills and therefore saving humanity for good.

Even though it has a similar concept to Groundhog Day, screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie uses it in a different approach. Thus, making Edge of Tomorrow complex, smart, action-packed, and surprisingly funny at times. Of course, it might sound like the perfect concept for a video game; not to mention the movie’s tagline (“Live. Die. Repeat”). I forgive McQuarrie because that’s what makes the movie fun. With a complex story featuring impressive effects (i.e. the Mimics), it’s fair to pay full attention to what’s going on while Cage is in a time-loop. Even how Liman sums the story up is quite satisfying.

Almost hitting the age of 52, Tom Cruise can succeed in portraying just about anybody. In his career, he has played a vampire, a secret agent, a rock star, and a man with an older autistic brother. There is one gifted talent that he can do that most actors cannot; that is to perform his own stunts. Whether if it’s rock climbing in Utah or climbing the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, Cruise can literally push the boundaries. In Edge of Tomorrow, he never seems to run out of breath with co-stars Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton (up to par with R. Lee Ermey from Full Metal Jacket), and Brendan Gleeson. This is one of 2014’s best films.

4/4

2014 Summer Movie Preview: June

Happy Memorial Day, everybody! I hope you are enjoying your cookouts, or maybe you’re just wondering what I think about some upcoming summer movies. You’re in the right place! The summer movie season is off to a very good start. We’re almost in the month of June. I’m about to graduate from high school, and begin my new road to life. Perhaps, pursue a career as a movie critic. This month has movies that look really good. Here are my thoughts on what the month of June has in store for movies.

June 6

Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow – I’ve been hearing early buzz from critics. Some of them are calling Edge of Tomorrow “the best action movie of the summer.” It does look like it will be really good. However, the concept sounds a lot like a video game. Not to mention the movie’s tagline: “Live. Die. Repeat.” To this day, it boggles my mind how people think Tom Cruise is a horrible actor. I think he’s one of those actors who can do anything he could get his hands on, like doing his own stunts. I’m quite skeptical how this movie will turn out to be.

The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars – Based on the #1 New York Times bestseller, here’s a love story that looks sweet but not syrupy (*ahem* Nicholas Sparks). We haven’t had a great mainstream romance movie in years. I’m down for it.

June 13

22 Jump Street

22 Jump Street – The sequel to one of the biggest surprises of 2012, 21 Jump Street, might have the exact same concept. We reintroduce Jenko and Schmidt going undercover again. This time, as college students. I think this will contain as much laughs, as much chemistry from Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, and as much fun that made the first movie great.

How to Train Your Dragon 2

How to Train Your Dragon 2 – Another sequel coming out on the same weekend as 22 Jump Street…hell yes! I think How to Train Your Dragon is the best animated film that DreamWorks has ever done since Shrek. It was funny, touching, and visually breathtaking. The sequel looks FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC! Hurry up, June 13th!

June 20

Jersey Boys

Jersey Boys – Clint Eastwood directing a musical? How strange. Or, maybe strange in a good way?

Think Like a Man Too

Think Like a Man Too – I’m not into black humor. I’ve only seen a few episodes of Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, and I stopped watching it. This movie is no exception on how I feel. Kevin Hart is one good reason why I’m going to save my valuable time and money on this tripe.

June 27

Transformers - Age of Extinction

Transformers: Age of Extinction – Do we need another Transformers movie? The first one was good, no matter how stupid or overblown it can get. The second one sucked big time, and I wouldn’t see that obscene image of two wrecking balls clinging each other the same way ever again. How excruciating! The third one made up for what made its predecessor a big downer, but it was still not very good.

Mark Wahlberg is a likeable actor, but I don’t think he belongs in a bloody Transformers movie. Director Michael Bay might look back at some of the problems from the previous films, and perhaps make a good movie for once. Or, maybe he’ll focus on blowing s*** up rather than developing the human characters. We all know how bad of a director Bay is. Do we need to know what purpose he’s going bring into this movie? I guess it’s time to bring the Advil and water, because you will need a lot of it.

Recap:

Most Anticipated: How to Train Your Dragon 2 and 22 Jump Street

Least Anticipated: Transformers: Age of Extinction and Think Like a Man Too

I hope you enjoyed reading on what my thoughts are on the upcoming movies for the month of June. Tell me in the comments on what are your most anticipated movies for the month of June. Now I have to go study for my final exams. Stay tuned for a movie preview for the month of July on the last Monday of June. Take care.