Sure, movies can be a matter of taste.
But sometimes, things are pretty objective. (For instance, we’re always right.)
Any critic worth their salt agrees that Clueless should have swept the Oscars in ’95 and nobody can get through a Lord of the Rings movie without admitting that David Blaine’s chinstrap knows more magic than Gandalf.
While we’ll admit that we didn’t dive too deep into the “indie” and the “international”, with so much great stuff at our fingertips, we wanted to make sure you had an easily accessible list of must-watches.
And believe us: you must watch these…
10. EDGE OF TOMORROW
So he thinks he’s an immortal spirit and he jumped on Oprah’s couch. So what? We’ve been filmed doing weirder stuff on couches. The point is, the guy can act and a lot of his movies kick ass. Like this one, which is one of the best overall action movies we’ve seen in years. Think Groundhog Day meets District 9 meets Mission Impossible meets OHMYGODTHISMOVIEISF-INGAWESOME. Then throw in Emily Blunt for good measure and confirmation that chicks are still really hot in the future. It’s funny, it’s fast-paced, it’s well acted and it’s incredibly shot. Do yourself a favour and don’t wait ‘till tomorrow to check it out.
9. FORCE MAJEURE
Imagine you were a woman on a skiing vacation with her husband and two children. Then, what appears to be an avalanche starts hurling towards the restaurant deck on which you are enjoying your afternoon lunch. You turn to make sure that everyone is safe and you realize that your husband has run for shelter without you. No disaster strikes, everyone is ok, and now you and a bunch of other chalet patrons have to continue their vacations knowing that your husband is essentially an emasculated coward. Now imagine exactly what would transpire in that situation…and then make it five times wittier, more insightful, more entertaining, and pleasantly uncomfortable. Enjoy.
This movie is less-than-coincidentally characterized by the very food that turns around the life of the protagonist: simple but perfectly prepared – and delicious under all circumstances. If you want a deep film about the physical strain and existential complexities of the culinary sphere, this is not your movie. If you want a smoothly-written, feel-good comedy with a killer soundtrack, get on this ASAP. And if you love cooking, you will get your eye-candy. And we’ll call it now; at some point, you will be more than happy to watch it a second time.
7. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
“I am Groot.” Three more important words have never been spoken in this galaxy or any other. This movie was a surprise to most people, including Disney. The starring crew of delinquent pseudo-heroes is not one of the most recognizable to hit recent screens, the marquee cast names aren’t exactly massive and one of the key characters is a talking racoon. But they nailed it. It’s legitimately hilarious, the action is amazing, the characters are all interesting and work together perfectly, and it maintains a great balance between fun and suspense. It was also the top grossing movie of 2014, pulling in over $330 million. Whether you’re a fan of the genre or not, see this movie. It’s the least you could do for the people that ensure the safety of our planet. Just don’t feed the racoons.
6. THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
While most of us understand quantum physics even less than whatever the hell Russell Brand is ever talking about, we can certainly understand the concept of an Oscar shoe-in: Eddie Redmayne. The story is very well told, the emotional undertones are perfectly captured, but most of all, this is likely the best acting you will see all year. While you’re watching this movie, it’s almost impossible to remember you’re watching a ‘movie’. And that’s exaclty what makes it such a good movie.
5. ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE
This almost made the list simply for the fact that it’s actually an amazing vampire movie that doesn’t feature two hours of Kristen Stewart looking like a malnourished 16-year-old who’s parents just made her sit on Santa’s lap. Tilda Swinton reminds us that she might be the best actress on the planet, Jeffrey Wright, Tom Hiddleston, and John Hurt are just their usual awesome selves and the cinematography and design are stunning. It’s no Buffy, but it is definitely one of 2014’s best.
One word: Respect (spoken in optional Ali G voice). Respect to Richard Linklater for actually taking 12 f****** years to make a movie about life. In this film, you literally watch the growth and evolution of two children and their family as they navigate the world of childhood, divorce, high school, and everything in between. Even the soundtrack grows up with them. Just think about the complications, shifts in technology, and unforeseen events that would arise during the filming of a movie like this. Then watch it and appreciate how seamlessly it is all woven into a relatable, engaging story about a family from Texas you feel like you might just be meeting in person. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette play the parents and they are both spectacular. But overall, you need to see this because you’ve actually never seen anything like it. Nobody has.
Jake Gyllenhaal is straight up one of the most memorable, creepiest movie creeps ever, right after the pervert from Silence of the Lambs and everyone in The Lego Movie. The combination of his character, the plot, and the events that unfold make for one of the most unique movies we’ve ever seen that didn’t feel like it was trying too hard with anything. It’s also one of those movies where you’re permanently in suspense but not always sure why because there is so much going on even when there’s not much going on. After this movie, you won’t look at a lot of things the same way.
Best. Ending. Ever. And only the second feature Damien Chazelle has ever directed. If you love music, you’ll be glued to the screen. If you love percussion, you’ll be glued to your seat. And if you just love movies, you’ll be glued to literally everything else. J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller are spectacular. The unfolding of the story is phenomenal. The tension is physically exhausting. The way it’s shot is bang on (onomatopoeia pun-points for us). And the ending. Oh man, the ending. This movie might not get a lot of action at the Oscars, but don’t let that fool you; it’s about as good as it got in 2014.
If it wasn’t for Linklater’s easily absorbed dozen-year dazzle (#4 on our list), Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel, Biutiful) should be the front-runner for Best Director, not to mention the strongest candidate we’ve seen for Best Picture. What Iñárritu does with this film is just astonishing and it’s the only film of the year in which the Director lifts a pretty basic story to remarkable levels of unpredictable creativity and ingenuity – on top of a flawless screenplay that he co-wrote. No big deal. What’s even more amazing is that Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, and Naomi Watts all layer on Oscar-worthy performances. Does Riggan have special powers? Maybe, maybe not. But this movie sure as hell does.
*Note: Mommy, American Sniper, and A Most Violent Year we not available to us at the time this piece was written…but they all look pretty amazing too.