The Gold Knight: Top 10 films of 2014Written by James A. Molnar | The Gold Knight | firstname.lastname@example.org
The best films of 2014 feature a cast of memorable characters: some real, some fictional, some heroic, some animated, some time-shifting and some that will just make you cry. Above all, these are the characters that stayed with me.
10. “Lone Survivor”
While technically released in 2013, I wanted to include on my list because this story must be told and the movie must be seen by any American over 18. The heroism and bravery exhibited by those in service is remarkable. The humanity exhibited in the hostile territories overseas is remarkable and breathtaking. (You can also find a similar film in Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper,” in theaters now.)
9. “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”
Joe Letteri, your Oscar is on its way. The visual effects supervisor on “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” along with New Zealand’s Weta Digital, creates a visual masterpiece with this latest movie in the rebooted franchise.
Reese Witherspoon plays a damaged woman on a life-changing journey on the Pacific Crest Trail. The audience grows as she hikes more than 1,000 miles from the Mojave Desert in California to Oregon and Washington state. It’s a worthwhile journey for everyone and one of the best films of the year. Laura Dern plays her mother quite splendidly. Both rightly deserved their Oscar nominations.
7. “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1″
This girl really is on fire and so is this series. The addition of Julianne Moore’s Coin is perfect. Some may complain about the separation of the last book into two movies, but the more the merrier!
6. “The Theory of Everything”
A fantastic true story that is equal parts heartbreaking and inspiring, “The Theory of Everything” chronicles the life of Stephen Hawking from student to world-renowned astrophysicist, along with his struggle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
An absolute adventure on the big screen from director Christopher Nolan that is one of the best experiences of the year. The 70mm IMAX Experience is second to none.
4. “Big Hero 6″
“Big Hero 6″ is the best animated movie of the year. Not since “The LEGO Movie,” which came out in last February, have audiences been so touched and teary-eyed. “Big Hero 6″ is reminiscent of the animated gold standard of Disney/Pixar films like “The Incredibles” and “Toy Story 3.” (Read my full review here.)
3. “Edge of Tomorrow (Live. Die. Repeat.)”
Tom Cruise does it again, choosing a fantastic movie to star in with thrill and bombast. It’s “Independence Day” meets “Source Code” and it’s the best original blockbuster of the year.
2. “Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine”
I saw this documentary at this year’s Cleveland International Film Festival and it has resonated with me since. The real Matt Shepard painted on the big screen is kind, gentle and loving. He touched many lives and 15 years later, his memory lives on, with a little help from his friends. This movie is a must see. (Read my full review here.)
The best film of the year is from director Richard Linklater. It’s a masterpiece that tells a groundbreaking story over 12 years with the same actors and actresses. Audiences grow up with them, especially the main character Mason (Ellar Coltrane). We see his best moments and his worst. There is no CGI, no complex plot. “Boyhood” is about growing up and learning along the way. It does what any great film aspires to do: it helps us reflect on our own lives. There is a scene in the movie where Mason talks to a girl about seizing the moment. But they contend that, contrary to the popular phrase “carpe diem,” the moment seizes you. “Boyhood” will seize you and take you along its three-hour journey in a flash, just how time seems to do.
Honorable mentions: “The Imitation Game,” “August: Osage County,” “Not Another Happy Ending” and “Gone Girl.”
Dishonorable mentions: “Noah,” “Need for Speed,” “That Awkward Moment” and “Planes: Fire & Rescue.”