Now that the final slew of movies have arrived for the Christmas Holiday, we here at Screen Rant can look back over the year 2014 in movies and offer you our Top 10 Movie Moments of the Year.
NOTE: It’s important to remember that what we’re counting here are the best moments in 2014 films. That means even an otherwise terrible movie could make our list if it had a particularly great moment; conversely, you will find some of what people consider the year’s best movies do NOT appear on the list, if we didn’t think a particular moment from that film stood out as worthy of distinction. Just something to keep in mind as you read.
WARNING – MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW FOR ALL MOVIES!!!!!
10. Clocktower Death Drop – Amazing Spider-Man 2
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was a major disappointment for a lot of fans, due to mishandling of a multi-pronged storyline that was supposed to result in the formation of a larger Spider-Man movie universe. But if there was one thing the rebooted franchise had going for it, it was the casting of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. The chemistry between the actors pretty much carried the first film, and in the sequel that chemistry was even stronger, given that Garfield and Stone had became a real-life romantic couple between installments.
However, there was one big elephant in the room: Gwen Stacy’s iconic death. Most of Amazing Spider-Man 2‘s runtime came with a “will she die or won’t she?” subtext for Gwen – and when that fateful moment finally did come, it was pretty hard-hitting.
As Gwen fell from a treacherous height during Spidey and The Goblin’s clocktower battle, it was heartbreakingly gorgeous watching the sequence play out in 3D slow-motion. The poetic visual of a webline’s reaching tendrils just missing Gwen only drove home the tragedy that Peter Parker was about to experience – and the sound of Gwen’s head making fatal impact with the floor echoed throughout a solemnly silent theaters. A fitting ode to Spider-Man’s greatest heartbreak.
9. Koba, Learn, Gun – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
In Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Caesar’s top lieutenant and friend, Koba (Toby Kebbell), developed into the best kind of villain – not quite evil as much as sorely misguided, thanks to a life of cruelty being experimented on by human scientists.
When the Apes learned of a human settlement nearby, the (literally and figuratively) scarred Koba took it upon himself to investigate. That two-part recon assignment culminated in a truly chilling sequence where Koba re-approached two human guards he previously fooled into thinking he was a dumb circus ape, only to trick them out of their guns and murder them in cold blood.
Aside from the sequence showcasing Kebbell’s range as an actor (a man pretending to be a cunning ape, who is pretending to be a dumber kind of ape), the sequence balances humor and horror perfectly, with the iconic image of an ape learning the deadly operation of a firearm, a sight that speaks to the underlying themes of the entire Planet of the Apes franchise. It was such a good moment in fact, they decided it was worth ruining in the film’s trailer and TV commercials. If it had been saved as a surprise for the actual theatrical experience, we probably would’ve ranked it higher.
8. Real Life Reveal – The LEGO Movie
When The LEGO Movie was first announced people were skeptical – as they tend to be about any movie based on a popular toy line. After all, we were all wondering: What the heck could a LEGO movie possibly be about? When geek-fave directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord (21 Jump Street reboot) got attached, it was clear the LEGO Movie would have a burst of creative spirit behind it – but few could guess just how well the pair would do with the material.
Not only did Miller and Lord find a great hook for approaching the film (an entire LEGO world and master builder mythos), they actually managed to work in relevant themes for both kids and adults (creative freedom and artistic expression vs. conformity and greed), which is enough to elevate a good animated film to great heights. But oh, Miller and Lord did not stop there.
In the final act of The LEGO Movie, we discover that all of the movie’s events and themes are actually metaphors for the real-world struggle between a father (Will Ferrell) and his son, over whether or not the son can play with the uptight father’s carefully designed LEGO sets pieces. That twist – grounding an animated fantasy in real-life events and emotions – was a bit of genius that made the message behind The LEGO Movie more serious, touching, and insightful than anyone expected.
7. Atlas Didn’t Shrug – Unbroken
Unbroken is pretty much a roller-coaster ride of emotion, with a story that includes Olympic sports triumph, amazing survivalist thrills and harrowing prisoner of war drama. So it’s even more impressive that director Angelina Jolie could still find a way to cap it all off in proper grandeur.
WWII serviceman (and former Olympian) Louis Zamperini had already been through hell, only to have to suffer twice under the cruelty of one of the Japanese army’s worst POW camp wardens, “The Bird.” With a special place in his heart for hurting an American Olympian, The Bird tried everything he could to break Louis’ spirit. If you can’t guess from the title of the film, he failed.
In a scene of symbolic climax, The Bird orders an exhausted Zamperini to hold a heavy wooden beam over his head; if he drops it, he will be shot and killed. With nothing but his spirit fueling him, Louis (Jack O’Connell) holds that beam beyond all conceivable limits, eventually stopping the entire POW camp with his feat of strength. Eventually it is The Bird who cracks, losing his composure and beating Louis mercilessly.
Sure, on a physical plane it was another bad day for Louis Zamperini – but on the plane of the human soul, he had proven that he was every bit a champion, and (like America on his shoulders) he would never give up. Cue cheers from the audience.
6. Coop & Murph Future Reunion – Interstellar
Some critics accuse Chris Nolan’s directorial style to be too cold and cerebral for the very emotion-driven story of Interstellar, but it’s hard to deny that part of film’s finale really tugs at the heartstrings.
After crossing vast spans of space and making it back from the depths of a black hole (and the 5D future human constructs therein), Coop (Matthew McConaughey) found himself rescued and on an orbital colony decades in the future, facing one big last step on his journey to save humanity: reconnecting with his estranged daughter, Murph.
The sight of Coop finally meeting an elderly version of Murph (Ellen Burstyn) on her deathbed, surrounded by loving kin, was enough to make parents everywhere choke up from the sheer enormity of that anachronistic event. It was hard for anyone not to get teary-eyed when Murph demonstrated her own evolution from child to parent, telling Coop she no longer needed him, and that an entire life was waiting for him beyond her, out there in the stars.
It was sad, poetic, beautiful and moving all in one small moment. And it demonstrated that Mr. Nolan definitely has a heart behind that brilliant filmmaking mind.
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