2014 was an incredible year for the movies. After a bumpy start, this year delivered home-run after home-run from incredible thrillers to beautiful animated films. This year offered pictures that can keep you up at night in fear, fill your heart with love, and even change your life. One film after another reminded me why I wanted to be a critic, but more importantly, why I am a film lover. This is my Top Ten Films of 2014.
1. Nightcrawler: One of the greatest thrillers of all-time and my favorite film of 2014. Jake Gyllenhaal delivers my favorite performance of the year, in a movie that will haunt you way after the credits roll. However, it will also cause you to question and think about the media and our society, as this harrowing story is also the most thought-provoking film of the year. Throughout every great film I’ve seen this year, this is the movie that has remained inside my mind. No matter how many near-perfect pictures I’ve seen, I’m constantly thinking about it, this character’s journey of “crossing the line” and fulfilling his amoral and ruthless ambitions.
2. Boyhood: A true achievement in filmmaking. A movie that gave me the experience of truly growing up all over again. Director, Richard Linklater, brings audiences a movie that was 12 years in the making which truly talks about the changes people go through in life, and how we become the people we are. A truly intimate portrait about a boy growing up that is powerful enough for this film to be cherished for years to come.
3. The Theory of Everything: Simply one of the greatest love stories of our time. With marvelous performances, this touching, and well-directed film answers the question, what is the simple, elegant equation to explain everything in the universe? Love.
4: Whiplash: An exhilarating film about passion, illustrating what it means to truly put blood, sweat, and tears into something. It also offers one of my favorite performances of the year, delivered by J.K. Simmons, who demands respect the moment he steps onto the screen. A memorable picture with a spectacular story and a heart-pounding finale.
5. The Babadook: One of the best scary movies I’ve ever seen. Australian director, Jennifer Kent, brings viewers one of the freshest horror pictures in years. A creepy and hair-raising film that goes above and beyond most horror movie criteria by telling a truly compelling story about a mother and her son. After watching this, you won’t be able to sleep without the light on.
6. Selma: It is a near perfect film. Well-acted, well-edited, and well-directed, but more importantly this film isn’t there for entertainment, it’s here to say something—something very important.
7. Gone Girl: One of the most exciting, yet breathe taking thrillers I’ve ever witnessed, offering great direction and performances, especially from Rosamund Pike. It is filled with manipulation, deception and it will keep you guessing the entire 150 minutes. From the opening moments, it is a vicious mind-game that viewers will continue to play even after the film is over.
8. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: A film filled with jaw-dropping special effects, a great story, and one of the most interesting characters of 2014. The film is one of the best I’ve seen all year, and one that I can’t get out of my head. This is a dawning you don’t want to miss. All hail Caesar.
9. How To Train Your Dragon 2: A near perfect balance of raw emotion, gorgeous visual effects, and a powerful score. This is so much more than a “kid’s movie,” as it ends up being one of the best animated films ever made and my favorite animated film of the year.
10. Foxcatcher: Filled with compelling and chilling performances, this movie is one of the quietest thrillers ever made. A very slow-paced and disturbingly silent film about two troubled people coming undone, until an explosive ending that will stun the audience.