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2014 Movies

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I think I saw more movies last year than in any before it, due largely to my weekly gig at the local theatre. Still, when the Oscar nominees are announced, I suspect I won't have seen or heard of half of them. Hopefully the community can help me out by sharing their assessments of 2014 in film.

 

I will go ahead and rate the ones I saw, in hopes of generating some discussion.

 

 

Wild (6/10): Well shot, well acted, but somehow unsatisfying, particularly to a lover of nature.

The Homesman (8/10): A Western should be bleak, and this delivers.

Rosewater (6/10): Fine for a debut, but ultimately trite for being based on a true story.

The Good Lie (6/10): The first half is stunning, but I have trouble believing their American immersion.

Birdman (8/10): Deftly breaks rules left and right, but you better be ready for the ride.

The Judge (7/10): Predicable but well constructed, with strong performances all around.

My Old Lady (7/10): An interesting look at an unusual approach to homeownership.

Pride (8/10): Heartwarming, engrossing, and almost certainly glossing over the true story.

Skeleton Twins (5/10): I couldn't quite get over SNL actors in a comparatively serious piece.

Fury (8/10): A spare but visually stunning war movie with enough humanity to keep it rooted.

Hundred Foot Journey (7/10): Food brings people together, apparently.

Magic in the Moonlight (5/10): Not as good as "To Rome with Love", much less "Midnight in Paris".

Words and Pictures (5/10): I wish this formula piece was as good as the sum of its parts.

Finding Vivian Maier (7/10): An interesting portrait of a woman who would have resented it.

The Grand Seduction (8/10): Everything works out, and that's okay because you're rooting for them.

Chef (6/10): Maybe I saw too many food movies, but this one seemed oddly paced and a bit flat.

The Immigrant (6/10): Just one moment of humor or lightheartedness would have been nice.

Belle (7/10): Like "12 Years a Slave", it leans a little too heavily on the strength of its premise.

The Lunchbox (9/10): An unusual and captivating love story that will leave you craving Indian food.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (9/10): One of Wes Anderson's best and least esoteric works.

Her (7/10): Interesting, but not nearly as groundbreaking as it thinks it is.

The Book Thief (8/10): An excellent adaptation, but as usual it loses something from the book.

Saving Mr. Banks (6/10): I probably would have enjoyed this more if I liked Mary Poppins.

Dallas Buyer's Club (7/10): A dark topic made bearable by McConaughey's usual lovable scoundrel.

Inside Llewyn Davis (2/10): I can't stand the main character. He never does anything right.

August, Osage County (3/10): A dysfunctional family falls apart over the course of two hours.

Nebraska (9/10): Everything A,OC could have been and more.

Guardians of the Galaxy (7/10): Typically Marvel, contrived but thoroughly enjoyable.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (5/10): Too contrived to be enjoyable.

Edge of Tomorrow (7/10): Surprisingly engrossing if you can suspend disbelief.

 

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​Guardians of the Galaxy: 6/10 - Meh

Interstellar: 4/10 - Huh?

Mockingjay - Part 1: 4/10 - There is only a single significant plot development the entire movie.

Hercules: 2/10 - Predictably stupid. Don't let friends convince you to go to movies with them; I don't seem to learn that lesson.

 

I regularly browse Rotten Tomatoes and whatnot, but 2014 didn't offer a whole lot of films that piqued my interest.

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LEGO Movie 6/10

Muppets Most Wanted 6/10

Noah 7/10

Maleficent 7/10

Alexander and the No Good Very Bad Day 7/10

Hobbit Battle of the Five Armies 8/10

 

Will see Annie shortly, would also like to see The Imitation Game, but it hasn't been in theaters in my area.

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The only movie I saw this year (well, the only new movie) was Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I greatly enjoyed it and thought it was fantastic!

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ok yeah sure let's do this thing

 

Lucy - the premise is obv ridiculous but besides that it's just not a well-made film. i was expecting a dumb flashy action movie because luc besson but it didn't even really deliver that, all the tension had drained out of the movie by around halfway through once it was obvious the protagonist was effectively invincible. rating: at least the popcorn was tasty

 

Divergent - i watched this on the plane on the way to america. it's a young adult dystopia because obviously that's something the world of fiction didn't have enough of already. the depiction of the Bleak Oppressive Future is about as cringeworthily hamfisted as you'd expect and i'm probably about 15 years too old to enjoy this kind of thing so i really have nobody but myself to blame. still more watchable than lucy. rating: marginally better than staring at the back of the seat in front of me

 

Edge of Tomorrow - another one i watched on the plane. surprisingly not actually terrible. there's some weird pacing, with some parts feeling rushed and others feeling drawn out, and the ending is a little contrived but whatever, i got to see tom cruise die a lot and in the end that's what's really important. rating: OT III

 

Guardians of the Galaxy - i saw this one in a drive-in theatre, because apparently those still exist. formulaic and tiresome: felt like it was trying too hard to sell itself as more than it was. on the bright side my company was delightful so it's not like it was a wasted evening. rating: if you go to a drive-in and pay attention to the movie you're doing it wrong

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I think the only film from this year may have been Guardians of the Galaxy. Literally the only one. I'm not really qualified to review it, you know?

 

—Alorael, who narrowly missed going to see Selma with a woman named Selma who lived in Selma during the events of the film. That would have been worthwhile.

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(checks Wikipedia) It seems the only film I've watched from beginning to end is Interstellar. There are a few others that were being played while I was nearby, mostly kids' movies, but that's it. Interstellar is a very weak recommendation: if you like science fiction and you like Christopher Nolan films, then watch it, otherwise give it a pass. There were some aspects I really liked, others I didn't, and a whole lot of little things that just bugged me. Eh.

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Usually in these threads, I look back on the year and I'm surprised at how many movies I've watched. This was not one of those years.

 

The Lego Movie: Awful. The "meta" plot was disgustingly sappy and completely unnecessary in my opinion. The romance was rushed and made no sense. The jokes were lousy, with a very small amount of exceptions.

 

Amazing Spiderman 2: Very good. If you like superhero movies, watch it. If you don't, watch it anyways and understand it as exemplar of the genre.

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I think I've only watched two movies from 2014, Gone Girl and The Homesman. They're both real good and I completely recommend them.

 

Gone Girl is a crime drama revolving around a failed marriage between two [censored]ups. It's got a ton of twists throughout and ends up nothing like it first appears. It's serious and dark, but both of the [censored]ups end up being tragic, relatable(or at least understandable) people. It's also got people both condemning and hailing it as both feminist and misogynist, which is a good sign of actual complexity.

 

The Homesman is a western in which a frontier lady has to cart three of her neighbors back to civilization because they've gone insane and can't be cared for. She gets a guy to help her along the ~5 week journey through wild, unsettled country. It's generally reserved and mostly about those two characters and their relationship(not like that) and what the three ladies they're taking care of bring out in them.

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I don't see as many movies in the theater since I moved away from a larger city. I used to see 2-3 a week sometimes, but now I'd have to drive 3 hours to get to a decent art house theater. Which sucks as while I love going to the movies, I just don't watch as many at home. I'm way too ADHD to watch movies at home, which is why I love theaters as they force me to pay attention for the duration.

 

Anyhow, I haven't seen everything released this year at all, but so far my favorites were:

 

1. Ida--Instant classic and gorgeous to look at. Very Ingmar Bergman-esque, only much prettier than any of his films.

 

2. Snowpiercer--Awesome action film from the guy that did "The Host." On one level it's a Marxist allegory, but its politics are nuanced enough that I don't think it's an easy political screed for one perspective or another.

 

3. Under the Skin--Unforgettably strange portrait of extreme loneliness and social isolation. Basically about an alien preying on humans, but that's kind of beside the point as the film's not really about its plot or anything. Didn't think much of it when I saw it, but I couldn't stop thinking of it after and it really grew on me.

 

4. Nightcrawler--Another strange, creepy, film about a social outcast. Jake Gyllenhall is completely loathsome in this.

 

5. The Grand Budapest Hotel--My favorite Wes Anderson movie since The Royal Tenenbaums. It has more heart than his usual stuff, which too often comes off as cold, stylistic, exercises.

 

6. The Babadook--Horror film that's not really like other horror films. It's basically an exploration of grief over the death of a family member, only that grief is externalized via a monster that you are never really sure if it's real or in the protagonists' heads. Has a neat, anti-climactic, ending, which is kind of refreshing in the horror genre.

 

6. Nymphomaniac--this isn't anywhere near his best, but I'm really a sucker for Lars von Trier.

 

 

Other stuff worth noting

 

Art film Disguised as Summer Blockbuster: Noah--I really liked this movie and kind of marvel over how it was made at all. It deviates from Genesis significantly and has rock giants, true, but probably the most daring part was mashing up the story of Noah with the story of Abraham and Isaac in a very talky, actionless, second half on the boat. Again, kind of shocked a major studio would finance and release it wide.

 

Way better than I thought it would be: Amazing Spider Man 2 (tonally strange film that, nonetheless, ended up being pretty darn fun. And I really, really, loathed Amazing Spiderman 1)

 

Disappointing, but worth seeing anyway: Interstellar

 

Most Overrated: Guardians of the Galaxy (another Marvel mediocrity)

 

Good films almost ruined by an awful ending: Edge of Tomorrow, Birdman

 

Most Boring: Captain America (seriously, at this point Marvel films are really more about corporate synergy than anything else. They are basically all just advertisements for eachother. They will never do anything creative or original out of fear of messing up the elaborate universe continuity, which means they all come off as assembly line mediocrities regardless of who directs them).

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I've just now watched Nightcrawler, which was also pretty good. It's about a ruthless psychopath building a successful small business.

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I think the only 2014 movie I saw was the third Hobbit movie. It was okay, maybe 6/10. I wasn't horribly bored by the action scenes like in the second movie.

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