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.

2014 Summer Movie Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past

Logan a.k.a. the Wolverine goes back to the past in "X-Men: Days of Future Past"

Logan a.k.a. the Wolverine goes back to the past in “X-Men: Days of Future Past”

Before seeing this movie, the only X-Men movies I’ve seen are X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class and The Wolverine. While X-Men Origins avoided sharing the origins of Wolverine, the latter two prove they can be more than just your typical superhero action films. They are fascinating character studies about how the mutants use their powers, and end up being conflicted. X-Men: Days of Future Past continues with this pattern. The idea of bringing the old characters from the original trilogy and their younger selves from First Class is awesome. This movie contains enough action, character development, and historical evidence to make it the best movie of the summer so far.

Two years after the events from The Wolverine, Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Erik Lehnsherr (Ian McKellen) call upon the mutants when a threat comes to ravish the world. The threat is a group of robots called the Sentinels, where they have the power to adapt with the mutant’s powers. Logan offers he would send his consciousness back to 1973, kudos to Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page). In 1973, he joins the young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and young Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) to save the future by changing the past.

There is no other actor who can play a better Wolverine than Hugh Jackman. Like in The Wolverine, you forget that he is playing the immortal mutant most of the time. Without him, there wouldn’t be any X-Men movies. Jennifer Lawrence steals the show as Mystique, the blue-skinned, orange-haired mutant who can shape-shift into anybody. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender return delivering great performances as the younger versions of the two leaders of the X-Men clan. You could tell how much suffering Xavier deals with after Lehnsherr ended their friendship in First Class. Although they aren’t in the movie a lot, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen had enough screen time as the older Xavier and Lehnsherr.

What I liked about these movies is how it connects to the historical events. It gives an in-depth look of how the characters’ stories became originated. The movies do a good job connecting to the American Civil War, both World Wars, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War. X-Men: Days of Future Past does a great job with handles the time-travel theme so well that it makes it easy to find out what is going on. The movie is really funny at times, including one scene involving Quicksilver that had me in stitches. If you liked the original X-Men movies, you’ll love this movie. If you liked X-Men: First Class, you’ll love this movie. Or, if you are new to the franchise, you’ll love Days of Future Past.

Bring on X-Men: Apocalypse!

4/4

2014 Summer Movie Preview: May

2014 started the year off with a bang for movies. It included a lot of bad-looking movies that I was glad to skip (I, Frankenstein and Pompeii). There was a movie that gained a lot of controversy before its release (Noah). Lastly, there were  movies in which I loved to death, and can’t wait to see again (The LEGO Movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Grand Budapest Hotel). Today, is the beginning of the summer movie season. The season in which the most anticipated blockbusters come out to see what they have to offer.

I have a feeling this summer is going to have entertaining movies. Over the next four months, I’m going to give my thoughts on the highly anticipated summer blockbusters and some independent films. Without further ado, let’s get started on the month of May.

May 2

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – I really enjoyed the 2012 predecessor – The Amazing Spider-Man. It felt like a much more realistic take on Spider-Man’s origins than in Raimi’s trilogy. Director Marc Webb revisits some of the plot points from the 2002 film, and giving them a vivid glimpse of what happened. Andrew Garfield was the definitive choice to portray Peter Parker than Tobey Maguire. He acted more like any teenager would; funny, charismatic, and a bit of a smart-Alec.

I am looking forward to seeing him springing into more web-slinging action in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, despite the mixed reviews it has been getting. It might head into that Spider-Man 3 territory where there will be too much going on, but I’m still hoping for it to be good. Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn and Jamie Foxx as the main villain? Couldn’t be much better than that.

belle

Belle – With it coming out today in limited release, this will expand across the country throughout the month of May. Belle is one of those films that gives history I never heard of. It follows the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, a mixed race daughter of Royal Navy Admiral, trying to end slavery in England while being raised by her aristocratic great-uncle. Featuring a stellar cast including Tom Wilkinson, Emily Watson and Tom Felton (Malfoy from Harry Potter) nifty-looking sets and costumes, Belle looks like a brilliant period-romance piece.

May 9

neighbors

Neighbors – There hasn’t been a lot of hilarious comedies lately. If you think the comedy genre is, for the most part, dead, it looks Neighbors – the latest from the creators of last year’s overrated comedy-horror ensemble This Is the End -will probably bring back the big laughs. A raunch-fest with Seth Rogen as a dad with a newborn baby against Zac Efron and his frat boys, a variety of amusing movie references, and a lot of energy? I’m so in!

May 16

Godzilla

Godzilla – This looks like this year’s Pacific Rim, but without the giant robots. Although I have yet to watch the original 1954 Japanese version featuring the iconic radioactive lizard, this version simply looks jaw-dropping. From the destruction to the look of Godzilla, the special effects look outstanding; giving the movie a realistic feel. This movie cannot get any more awesome even with it starring Bryan Cranston (of Breaking Bad fame), Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, and Ken Watanabe.

million_dollar_arm_ver2

Million Dollar Arm – Don Draper as a sports agent training cricket players from India to play in Major League Baseball? I don’t know about this. Even for a sports movie by Disney, it looks standard.

May 23

X-Men - Days of Future Past

X-Men: Days of Future Past – The only X-Men movies I have seen are X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class, and The Wolverine. Although I didn’t enjoy X-Men Origins, the latter two were more than just superhero movies, but rather interesting character studies. With Days of Future Past being about the original characters from the X-Men trilogy going to the past to team up with their younger selves, this looks unbelievably fascinating.

blended

Blended – Remember when Adam Sandler used to be on Saturday Night Live? Making everyone laugh so hard that tears would roll down their face? Now that his SNL days are behind him, his comedy is starting to become boring. His new movie Blended is no exception. It’s a shame, because I liked him, alongside Drew Barrymore, in 50 First Dates. Boy, I never felt so embarrassed from watching the trailer. I’m definitely giving this one a pass.

May 30

Maleficent

Maleficent – It seems like every classic Disney cartoon is being remade into a live-action Disney film. With Maleficent and Cinderella, I think it’s unfair for the original cartoon. It’s not to say Maleficent looks bad. The movie looks visually stunning, although looking like Alice in Wonderland, Snow White and the Huntsman, and Oz: The Great and Powerful combined. Angelina Jolie is downright perfect for the role of Maleficent. Elle Fanning is not a bad choice for Princess Aurora, but her fake English accent ruins it. However, this dialogue between the two characters gets me pumped up for the movie:

Aurora: “Don’t be afraid”

Maleficent: “I’m not afraid”

Aurora: “Then come out.”

Maleficent: “Then *you’ll* be afraid.”

million_ways_to_die_in_the_west

A Million Ways to Die in the West– Written, produced, directed, and starring Seth MacFarlane, the idiot who can’t cancel Family Guy, A Million Ways to Die in the West looks like a grittier version of Blazing Saddles. It seems to satirize the Western genre in a disgusting way. Even though it has a great cast including MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Neil Patrick Harris, Amanda Seyfried, and Liam Neeson, the trailer didn’t make me laugh. It might be good, but it doesn’t look any good, in my opinion.

Recap:

Most Anticipated: Godzilla

Least Anticipated: Blended

I hope you enjoyed reading on what my thoughts are on the upcoming movies for the month of May. Tell me in the comments on what are your most anticipated movies for the month of May. Stay tuned for a movie preview for the month of June on Memorial Day.