A look into the best, the brightest, and most overlooked films of 2014.
Throughout 2014, and many other years in the past, some important films have been overlooked in the end of the year tallies of bests. This stems from a result of budget issues, poor word of mouth, and many other factors.
My top ten list refuses to overlook films that did not get blockbuster release. I feel that this list represents the best of the best in film this year.
10. Obvious Child
Starring Jenny Slate as a twenty-something navigating life in New York City, Obvious Child is a fresh and comical indie film. Slate shines even when her character hits rock bottom. Her performance is simple, yet incredibly powerful and relatable to young women (at least in my opinion as a young man). The story revolves around the sensitive subject of abortion, all while delving into the concept of being an adult and what that idea means.
9. The Skeleton Twins
The more I reflect on this film, the more I remember how good it really was. Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader give incredible, layered performances as troubled siblings. With the comedic tone just beneath the surface, they are able to show off their dramatic acting skills. The story itself is a bit morbid, but it shows how a family needs each other in times of great sorrow.
The two leads, Miles Teller and JK Simmons, give astonishing performances. The score, direction, and themes all make this movie phenomenal. It explores the notion of achieving greatness and what one has to give up in order to do so.
The thrilling Nightcrawler offers much to its audience. The film revolves around Lou Bloo, a sociopath who finds solace in filming breaking news stories. In addition to the plot itself, the film provides a commentary on the media of today and a brilliant performance by none other than Jake Gyllenhaal. Directed by Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler serves multiple purposes, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats for the full two hours.
The introspective book-turned-film is deep, thoughtful, and poignant. Reese Witherspoon raises her already high bar to bring the true story to the screen. Her performance of the pensive Cheryl Strayed was groundbreaking. What was best about the film was its ability to get viewers to reflect on their own life and ponder its meaning. Wild is a film to be watched multiple times.
5. Gone Girl
Never in my life have I witnessed a film with more twists and turns than Gone Girl. The convoluted plot makes one’s hair stand on end, and it certainly had me anticipating the main characters’ next moves. As a fan of David Fincher, I had high expectations,which were exceeded. His direction made the film smooth and sharp. Although the ending is sure to produce some “WHAT!?!” reactions, the film is a fantastic look into the modern marriage (even if it does go to extremes).
Birdman is incredibly unique, original, and layered. It analyzes what actors are like behind the scenes, society’s need for the blockbuster superhero film, and man’s need for a purpose in life. Michael Keaton provides a great performance, as the film was more or less a parallel to Keaton’s real life. Birdman is laudable because of its all-star cast, brilliant script, and amazing camera work.
3. The Drop
Although he has yet to be nominated, 2014 was the year of Tom Hardy. While I’m not a huge fan of mafia-related films, The Drop blew me away. Hardy, though British, portrayed a New York bartender in a believable manner. His performance alone carries this film. He keeps secrets throughout the entire film, finally revealing who he really is and what he is capable of. If you haven’t seen The Drop, you are surely missing out.
2. Begin Again
Begin Again was what I saw as the best film of the summer and close to the best film of 2014. With an all-star cast and soundtrack, the film shows how an unlikely duo can fix their broken hearts through their shared love of music. Of course, the film takes place in none other than the beautiful New York City, and it is just a downright happy film. Many professional reviews on Begin Again compare it to the film Once, also directed by John Carney. If this film doesn’t put you in a good mood or urge you to buy the soundtrack, you are missing out.
Locke is no doubt the best film of this year. It took filmmaking to a place it has never been before. With a single car ride, the audience meets Ivan Locke, finds out about his background, employment, family, and personality. Once again, Tom Hardy portrays this man with brilliance. Essentially a one man show, Locke uses one setting to tell a simple and seemingly insignificant story, yet it is so compelling that you won’t mind at all.