Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Cindy Prascik's The Best and Worst and In-Betweens of 2014!
Dearest Blog, here we are at the end of another year. Some folks are saying it was a bad year for cinema, but I sure had a good time with it. Following are my top ten films of the year, along with assorted random thoughts.
Disclaimer: A movie's placement here will not necessarily be commensurate with its original Weasley rating. Some films fared better under repeat scrutiny, some worse, and some have not yet had the opportunity to do either. Kindly bear in mind, too, that I live in a little place that doesn't always get movies all that quickly. The chance to see Pride and Inherent Vice (which almost certainly would have made the list), Whiplash and Foxcatcher (which might have), and Boyhood (which, if we're being honest, never would have) has not yet presented itself.
10. "You're only a monster if you behave like one."
Shut up, okay? Just shut up. I know you hated it. I know everyone hated it. I had enough also-rans kicking around the final spot on my list that I easily could have saved face and left this one off, but, you know what? I love it. I loved it at the cinema, and I've loved it the 20+ times I've watched it since. I'm not saying it belongs on any awards shortlists, but the effects are solid, the story is different, Aaron Eckhart is great, and it has Bill Nighy...which almost earns it a spot regardless of any other factors. The movie knows what it is, doesn't pretend to be anything else, and lived up to my very high expectations. Someday I, Frankenstein will be a genuine cult classic. Remember I told you so!
9. "You were a movie star, remember?"
Unlike number ten, my number nine is on pretty much everyone's best-of lists, and deservedly so. Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, and Emma Stone are extraordinary in a strange, fascinating little story with a frustratingly ambiguous, yet somehow perfectly suitable, ending. This one is sure to share more of its secrets upon repeat viewings...can't wait for the DVD!
8. "I will never ask you to do anything that I wouldn't do myself."
Is there anything more fun to watch than when Jake Gyllenhaal does creepy? Nightcrawler has Creepy Jake in spades, headlining the riveting tale of a freelance videographer who crosses the line between covering news and becoming part of it. How far would YOU go to reach your goals? Nightcrawler will leave you wondering.
7. "Tadashi is here."
Big Hero 6
I'm not sure what I can say to adequately express the awesomeness that is Big Hero 6, but I'll start with: it bumped The Lego Movie out of this list. The Lego Movie is definitely the more buzz-worthy of the two and will probably win all the "Best Animated Feature" awards, but, for my money, Big Hero 6 is more fun to watch, better to look at, and more memorable. It also hits a sincere note that The Lego Movie doesn't quite match. If we're being fair, The Lego Movie *was* one of those knocking around my number-ten spot, but it doesn't come close to Big Hero 6 in my heart.
6. "We are Groot."
Guardians of the Galaxy
It was really hard not to make this number-one on my list, harder still to choose just one quote from the year's most quotable movie. Ever since that first trailer blew up the Internet back in the spring, GOTG has been 2014's big news. A relatively unknown property that put its biggest stars in roles where their faces are never seen, the fact that this thing took off and became the year's highest-grossing domestic hit makes someone at Marvel look like a true genius. Toss in a terrific soundtrack filled with hummable 70s nuggets, and you've got one for the ages.
5. "Gotta be who you are in this world, right? No matter what."
Alright, people, how this not on all the best-of lists?? The Equalizer is a perfect movie...or, at the very least, a perfect movie for me. It's not brain surgery, but it's smart, action packed, engaging from beginning to end, and boasts a fantastic cast featuring Marton Csokas, Chloe Grace Moretz, Bill Pullman, my best gal Melissa Leo, plus another incomparable turn by the world's greatest leading man, Denzel Washington. What's not to like??
4. "Before we get started, does anyone want to get out?"
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Equal parts spy thriller and superhero yarn, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is so much more than it had to be. It's a layered story where almost nothing is quite what it seems, and Steve Rogers' unshakable morality is challenged at every turn. The cast is uniformly phenomenal, and the writing is so smart that even Honest Trailers had a hard time finding things to mock. In a year with no Batman, CATWS did a nice job filling the gap!
3. "The world is gonna hear that voice."
The big-screen version of Jersey Boys was met with a resounding ho-hum from critics, yet it was one of only two movies to earn a perfect nine Weasleys from me in 2014. It's got a great cast, a great story, and most importantly, a bunch of truly great songs that have stood the test of time. I saw it twice at the cinema, and both times every single person in a packed house walked out smiling and singing. If that's not the reason you make a movie, then I don't know what is.
2. "Will you follow me...one last time?"
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
I'm honest enough to understand that I see the Hobbit franchise through Rose (Cotton)-colored glasses. The Battle of the Five Armies doesn't match the original LOTR trilogy, but it's a far better film than its predecessor, and I'm pleased to say I was in love with it from my first screening. I look forward to hundreds more. Thanks, Peter Jackson, for the ride of a lifetime.
1. "I think forgiveness has been highly underrated."
As it turns out, the year's best movie is one you probably didn't see if you live on my side of the pond. Brendan Gleeson turns in the finest performance of 2014 as a Catholic priest given a week to set his house in order after his life is threatened in the confessional. Calvary is a grim movie with a great heart and a surprising number of truly funny moments. (Graveyard humor, to be sure, but hilarious nonetheless.) The locations are magnificent, the cast is impeccable, and Calvary is untouchable as the best movie of 2014.
The Lego Movie
A truly fun family movie that provided my only Batman fix of the year!
Well, of course. It is MY list, isn't it?
Lovely animation with a decidedly dark feel, perfectly spooky entertainment for the whole family.
Edge of Tomorrow
A smart, surprisingly fun sci-fi outing featuring fantastic turns by Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt.
A twisting, turning, expertly executed yarn that keeps you guessing right to the very end.
My Most Pleasant Surprises:
Fans of the original had plenty of complaints about this remake, but I found it extremely entertaining. Bonus points for bringing one-hit wonder Focus' hit Hocus Pocus to a whole new generation...in digital surround-sound! Double-bonus points for being the more watchable of Gary Oldman's two dubious screen outings this year.
Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Both big, dumb fun that I enjoyed immensely. Transformers is way too long, but it's also the worldwide top money-maker of 2014, so take that, critics.
Super action from start to finish, gorgeous cinematography, and Keanu Reeves. Win.
The Purge: Anarchy
What an upgrade from the original! Frank Grillo is Hollywood's new number-one badass.
And the number-one "That Wasn't as Bad as I Expected" film of 2014: Divergent
Literally every single review of this movie included some expression of that sentiment. We all might as well have said, "Hey, it's no Hunger Games, but at least it's not Twilight, either!!"
My Biggest Disappointments:
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Andrew Garfield is such a perfect Spidey...won't someone please write him a good movie?
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The first HTTYD is one of my top films of all time. The sequel was rumoured to be even better, but it left me completely flat. I warmed to it a bit on second viewing, but, still, I expected to love this so much more than I do.
The Book of Life
This should have been awesome. All the pieces add up to awesome. It is decidedly not awesome.
Does anything scream "great movie" more than Colin Farrell and Russell Crowe in the leads? Well, apparently not always.
It was a very bad year for Johnny Depp.
It was a very bad year for Russell Crowe.
It was a very bad year for the Bible.
I haven't been this bored since Your Highness.
If you were going to see Unbroken, rent or buy The Railway Man instead.
Six years after The Dark Knight, how is it that two of the year's best-reviewed titles (by critics and fans alike)--Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy--will not be considered in any of the major Best Picture races simply because they are genre films??
Is Bradley Cooper eligible for a Best Supporting Actor nod for Guardians of the Galaxy? His "I didn't ask to be torn apart..." speech is the best acting I saw all year.
Luke Evans and Aidan Turner, you are going to be big, big stars. Please always stay as awesome as you are right now.
So, that's my year-end wrap for 2014. Kindly discuss in the comments if you're so inclined!
2015 is already shaping up to be a great year at the movies, so I'll hope to see everyone at the Highlands Marquee Cinemas!
Until next time....Cindy Prascik