Top Ten Films: 2014 – Answers


My end of year favorite movie quote game was really popular in years past, but for some reason not so much this year. Are people over it? Was it too difficult? Or maybe people haven’t seen enough movies? If it’s the latter, lets correct it! Here are the answers, my favorite movies from 2014! I recommend them all, so see the ones you are interested in!

Before we get to the list, if you want to play the quote game, click here. And if you don’t follow the link, you should know that I still have not seen A Most Violent Year, American Sniper, Leviathan, Mr. Turner, Big Hero 6, Two Days One Night, or Winter Sleep, all of which could end up on this list once I do finally see them.

Okay, here goes:

10. Selma – Not only was this film timely, important, and way past due, but it was also very well made. I learned a lot about the Civil Rights movement, particularly the supporting characters in the film. Those are always my favorite parts about films like these (for example, I thought Thaddeus Stevens was much more interesting than Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln). The film was basically a reenactment of the events in Selma without much artistic flair, but it was very good nonetheless.

9. Snowpiercer – Joon-ho Bong is the man! This was the first film I’d seen from him, but since seeing it, I’ve seen them all. I love his visual literacy, using cinematic language to make his films that much more powerful. I also love how raw and unique his characters are (Tilda Swinton was amazing in this film! So was Alison Pill!), how he so effectively shifts between humor and drama, and mostly I love how he fills his films with symbolism and allegories, how there is so much depth and meaning beneath the surface, giving audiences so much to think about and digest. He’s definitely one of my favorite filmmakers working today.

8. Top Five – This movie is hilarious! But more than that, it is powerful, a strong story with interesting characters and some nice cinematic elements too; it’s not just a silly joke-a-thon like Chris Rock’s previous films were. My funniest moments? The George W Bush headshot and Jerry Seinfeld’s cameo. The film is worth seeing just for Seinfeld; he’s the best!

7. Night Moves – Be careful, this is an art film. A really artsy one too. Kelly Reichardt is one of my favorite filmmakers; her work is always amazing. Such deep character studies, strong statements on society and the people living in it. This particular film, her first thriller, was thrilling! It didn’t seem like much while I was watching it, but after it ended I was completely out of breath! Not to mention the last scene, I’m still thinking about it and what it means months after I saw it!

6. Interstellar – With The Dark Knight Rises and repeat viewings of Inception (a great film the first and second time I watched it, but not as much after that), I was losing my appreciation for Nolan, who I felt was more interested in action and spectacle made sense by clunky dialog than in cinematic storytelling. And while Interstellar might have some of that clunky dialog and may still be a spectacle, I loved it! I loved the hard science element of the film. I love that it wasn’t an action film, but more of straight science fiction a la 2001: A Space Odyssey. And I loved the robot characters, they were my favorites!

5. Edge of Tomorrow – This is probably a surprise showing up here. I’m not normally into summer blockbusters, especially ones that don’t have much loftier goals than to simply entertain. But this film was great! Superbly acted and directed, and it was so cinematic, the editing in particular was really fun and exciting, as was the script, so smart and unpredictable, and the creature design, so unique. The third act may have been conventional and the ending a little too clean and pat, but I didn’t care, this film was so much fun; it was amazing!

4. Gone Girl – Fincher is the best. This I think is the most Hitchcockian of his films, what with the mystery, the more plotty nature, and the dark humor that came out of nowhere. Combine that with the commentary this film has, on life and marriage and society, and this is one excellent film! The first and third acts in particular were stellar, learning about Nick, forcing us to question what seemingly and formerly happy people are capable of. And then the end, where we get to see Amy Dunne in all her glory, the ultimate femme fatale (I love noir), and she’s where the real commentary started pouring out (her and the media/lawyer angle, which was tons of fun); I was blindsided by it, and I loved it!

3. Birdman – The craft on this film is perfection. Lubezki takes the long takes he played with in Children of Men and Gravity to a whole new level, the film has wonderful performances, a daring score, unpredictable writing, smart dialog and biting critique of Broadway and Hollywood. Oh and this was another film that was hilarious, the fifth one on this list (that’s a lot for me!). My only qualm was that while the whole film-as-one-take element was amazing, I’m not sure what it meant in terms of story. It seemed flashy and was distracting at times and while it was a great achievement, I hope Lubezki and Inarritu now move onto the next thing and don’t get too enamored with this one film technique.

2. Whiplash – Unlike Birdman, this film had weaknesses, mainly in the plot. But the strengths were so strong they completely overcame them. First, the acting. Everyone is talking about JK Simmons and yes he is amazing, but Miles Teller is who really did it for me. He was fantastic, so raw and emotional, putting everything he had on screen. The music in this film is also fantastic (as it should be, since the film is about music), the film is super thrilling (a music film that’s a thriller? That’s hard to do), and most of all, I loved the energy this film had. The writer/director held nothing back, he put everything he had into this film and you could feel it; the film was so intense, so filled with vulnerability, it’s like the director himself was up there naked for us all to see. This is what I try to do in my filmmaking and it is so difficult to achieve, but when it is achieved it is worth it, it blows me away.

1. Wild – Another surprise. Wild? Favorite film of the year? This was a fantastic film, very artsy, very powerful. I think the subject matter more than anything got to me, a non-sugar coated, no pulled punches, honest portrayal of depression. This was a huge surprise, one because I had not read the book and therefore had no idea what the film was about, and two, Reese Witherspoon almost always chooses sugar-coated roles. But she was fantastic here and this was a really powerful film, especially for me with where I am right now. So while objectively this probably isn’t the best film of the year (although it is definitely a top ten one), this isn’t an objective list, it’s a personal one, and this is my personal favorite film of the year.

Honorable Mentions (movies I recommend that could easily end up in your top ten, even if they didn’t make it into mine):

Boyhood – A small intimate film that at the same time was the greatest and most ambitious cinematic achievement of the year (decade? ever?). Unfortunately, looking past the ambitiousness, the film itself was a letdown. After the first hour there wasn’t much conflict and other than the mom they didn’t go nearly as deep as I wanted. By the end, I wasn’t as moved as I would have liked to have been, which was only made worse by the perfectly pat ending. But even so, this film is a must-see, even if was a disappointing one.

Foxcatcher – Fantastic directing, fantastic acting, fantastic editing/cinematography/music/sound design. The story is powerful too, but unfortunately I felt that the spine was missing. The film seemed to wander, instead of progressing towards a conclusion, it spent too much time trying to find one. I think another draft on the script and this could have been a great film.

The Imitation Game – Benedict Cumberbatch is amazing! The film itself is good, molded in the same model as The King’s Speech but not as good as that film. Some of the fictionalized scenes bothered me; the story is amazing as is, so why Hollywood it up with fake drama? But man Benedict Cumberbatch was amazing. One of the best actors of our generation.

Dear White People – A very fun, funny, poignant film. My only qualm was it felt more like a TV show than a movie. If they adapted this to television, it could be great!

Nightcrawler – An interesting, unique, totally unlikeable film, but deliberately so, so that makes it good right? I’m not sure, some times I felt like it was trying too hard to rub me the wrong way, it got unbelievable and unenjoyable in parts. But this is an interesting film, highlighted by some excellent acting (and great dialog to go with it) and a strong critique on capitalism. This film is also very similar to Drive, but not as good (Drive is a master work of filmmaking in my book).

Locke – Another car film, this one with only one actor, taking place in real time over an eighty minute car ride. Tom Hardy was amazing, and despite being confined to two actions (driving and talking on his cell phone) and one location (the driver’s seat of his car), the film was very powerful and thrilling. I just wish the contained aspect added more to the story, yes it created it but it didn’t raise the stakes or otherwise give the extra oomph that would have made this film great.

Inherent Vice – If you are a fan of PT Anderson, Robert Altman, The Long Goodbye, and maybe also The Big Lebowski, then you might like this film. It’s so out there, I didn’t understand a thing, but I knew that going in so I just relaxed and let it wash over me. Enjoyed the funny moments, as well as the dramatic and mysterious and sexy ones, and I actually enjoyed the film, even if I don’t feel the need to see it again and have no idea what it was.


About Gabriel Bruskoff
I make movies! See for more information.

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