Best Movies of 2014

Tom Wilkinson (left) as President Johnson
and David Oyelowo as MLK, Jr. in "Selma"
The biggest story of 2014 was The Interview and the threats surrounding it, including the Sony hack. It sparked a country-wide debate about national security when a terrorist group called Guardians of Peace threatened physical harm if Sony released the Seth Rogen and James Franco comedy on Christmas Day. The major theater chains caved and forced Sony to cancel the release. The debate was sparked, but eventually the movie was released in independent theaters and on VOD and digital platforms, making it the most successful VOD release at $15 million, besting Arbitrage at $14 million and Snowpiercer at $7 million.

One major story in cinema in 2014 was the creation of Richard Linklater's Boyhood. It took him 12 years to craft, not because of troubles or delays. Linklater intentionally laid out a decade-long plan to follow a family and particularly a young boy and actually watch him grow up on screen under the guidelines of a scripted scenario he made.

Speaking of film craft, the direction and camerawork of Birdman was the talk of a lot of cinephiles. Director Alejandro González Iñárritu decided to shoot Birdman as if it were the Russian Ark, which is all in one, long, continuous take, most likely to capture the theater experience, given the film is set entirely inside a Broadway theater in New York City. Iñárritu, during press for the film, made a polarizing statement. He called super hero movies "cultural genocide."

There's a lot to unpack in that statement, but Iñárritu wasn't the only major film director who made a controversial statement. Lars Von Trier released a movie this year, but ironically he wasn't the one who uttered something controversial, unlike in years past. No! This year, Ridley Scott stepped in it. Scott directed Exodus: Gods and Kings and that film was criticized before its release for its white-wash casting. In response, Scott said, "I can’t mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Muhammad so-and-so from such-and-such." It's unfortunate because he's perpetuating a racist tendency and bias in Hollywood when he could be instrumental in changing it.

Both Roger Ebert and Edward Snowden's lives were immortalized with powerful documentaries. Jimi Hendrix and James Brown also had biopics dedicated to them. Yet, when it comes to movies about musical figures, more people are raving about JK Simmons' performance in Whiplash.

Two female directors had two important historical films vaunted for award consideration. One is Angelina Jolie's Unbroken about Louis Zamperini and the other is Ava DuVernay's Selma about Martin Luther King, Jr. One is commercially more successful, while the other is critically more successful.

Unfortunately, box office trumps in Hollywood. In terms of domestic numbers, Guardians of the Galaxy was the top film of the year. Worldwide, Transformers: Age of Extinction dominated with $1.084 billion, making it the #10 film of all-time, according to Box Office Mojo.

One interesting trend this year were the number of films about science or scientists. Mark Wahlberg, for example, played an inventor in Transformers: Age of Extinction. Then, there was Big Hero 6, Interstellar, Transcendence, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game. There were all about men, or in  one case a dog, using their brains to solve problems over their brawn and being celebrated for their brains. I doubt this will be a trend that will continue in Hollywood, but one can only hope.

I love films. Always have, always will! This year, I've collected a list of films that most people probably have not heard or care to know, but they were great and special to me, and I simply love sharing them. So, here are the best movies of 2014.

Best Documentary

12 O'Clock Boys by Lotfy Nathan
The Dog by Allison Berg & Frank Keraudren
The Fluffy Movie by Manny Rodriguez & Jay Lavender
The Kill Team by Dan Krauss
Keep On Keepin' On by Alan Hicks

Best Comedy

Wetlands by David Wnedt
Gloria by Sebastián Lelio
Pride by Matthew Warchus
Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa by Declan Lowney
Mr. Peabody & Sherman by Rob Minkoff
G. B. F. by Darren Stein
Dear White People by Justin Simien
Big Hero 6 by Don Hall & Chris Williams
Ernest & Celestine by Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar & Benjamin Renner
Space Station 76 by Jack Plotnick

Best Drama

Selma by Ava DuVernay
For Those In Peril by Paul Wright
The Imitation Game by Morten Tyldum
A Most Wanted Man by Anton Corbijn
Lilting by Hong Khaou
Stranger By the Lake by Alain Guiraudie
Bethlehem by Yuval Adler
Coherence by James Ward Byrkit
Where We Started by Christopher J. Hansen
Bird People by Pascale Ferran
Captain America: The Winter Soldier by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo
The Immigrant by James Gray
Cesar Chavez by Diego Luna
Two Days, One Night by Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne
Oculus by Mike Flanagan

Best Overlooked DVD or VOD

Blue is the Warmest Color by Abdellatif Kechiche
Alien Boy by Brian Lindstrom
The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete by George Tillman, Jr.
Things Never Said by Charles Murray
Let the Fire Burn by Jason Osder
Free Fall by Stephan Lacant
The Trials of Muhammad Ali by Bill Siegel
Hours by Eric Heisserer
Getting Go, the Go Doc Project by Cory Krueckeberg
Batman: Assault on Arkham by Jay Oliva & Ethan Spaulding
You Should Meet My Son! by Keith Hartman
Monster Pies by Lee Galea
Love, Concord by Gustavo Guardado, Jr.
Bayou Blue by Alix Lambert & David McMahon
Meth Head by Jane Clark


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