It's time to look back at all of the movies that 2014 offered. A number of smash-hits delivered massive box office numbers in 2014 and several more films are poised for additional attention in the upcoming awards season (during the early months of 2015). Yet, in spite of broad critical acclaim or record breading ticket sales, some movies just resonated with the Screen Rant editorial team.
As we've mentioned in previous years, the entertainment industry is a subjective medium, so each year we present our individual Top 5 "Favorite" (not necessarily "Best") movie choices. The end of year retrospective isn't designed to put together a comprehensive list of award-contenders, it's to share the movies that touched us, wowed us, and reminded us why we love going to the theater.
Admittedly, some of the year's "Best" movies won't make all (or any) of our "Favorite" lists - so make sure to look over our movie review archive to find out what we thought of your own personal choices - as well as share your own Top 5 Favorite Movies of 2014 in the comments! Then, check back soon to hear us discuss our personal picks on an upcoming episode of the Screen Rant Underground podcast!
8 Kofi Outlaw
1. Fury2. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes3. Birdman4. Inherent Vice5. Gone Girl
I like to pick films that not only show off great filmmaking technique or good narrative (story/character arcs) - I like films whose themes speak either to our current lives and times, or exemplify something fresh in an old discussion. To that end, Birdman, Inherent Vice, and Gone Girl are smart looks at artistic struggle for modern actors, the shifting times of American culture, and the convoluted nature of marriage (respectively).
Meanwhile, Fury and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes provide great insight into the spiritual corrosion of war and the fragility of societal relations (respectively), while also providing impressive mainstream blockbuster movie experiences on top of those strong and impactful stories.
7 Ben Kendrick
1. Birdman2. Theory of Everything3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes4. Chef5. BoyhoodHonorable Mention: Guardians of the Galaxy
In previous years, I've highlighted movies that captured my imagination with eye-popping visuals and immersive worlds (e.g. Guardians of the Galaxy); however, in 2014 several indie films captured my heart - with impactful tales of reinvention.
Batman (1989) defined my childhood moviegoing, so I relished in the meta-storytelling (not to mention the sharp performances and innovative cinematography) of Birdman. Additionally, the year delivered several charming stories of self-reflection and determination but the sharp performances of The Theory of Everything, the decade-spanning achievement of Boyhood, and attention to detail (and tenderness) of Chef resulted in especially memorable and evocative viewing experiences. Finally, proving that a film with groundbreaking CGI can also tell an emotional and thought-provoking narrative, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes set a new bar in 2014 for blockbuster moviemaking (and provided one more reason to nominate Andy Serkis for an Oscar).
6 Rob Keyes
1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier2. John Wick3. How to Train Your Dragon 24. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes5. The Equalizer
I've yet to see Birdman - and I'm told it's great - but of what I've seen so far, Captain America 2 was the highest quality and most complete comic book film of the year (while Guardians is the funniest). John Wick gave me a beginning-to-end awesome and unique action film that I want to see more of and The Equalizer successfully delivered an amazing modern western, that'll hopefully lead to Denzel's first ever sequel.
5 Anthony Ocasio
1. Snowpiercer2. Guardians of the Galaxy3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes4. Interstellar5. Edge of Tomorrow
Comic book movies dominate the box office, there’s no question about it. Somehow, however, during all of this rebooting and cinematic universe planning, the sci-fi genre received a bit of a silent reboot in big Hollywood. Before now, indie film and moviemakers like Brit Larson (Another Earth, Sound of My Voice) were the ones helping keep things a float when even the television network named after the genre itself (Sci-fi) changed its name (Syfy) so that it no longer has to air that “type” of programming. (They recently modified their position.)
James Gunn’s crazy adventure of Bert Macklin (Chris Pratt) and friends easily provided the most enjoyable theatergoing experience of the year (also Dave Bautista, c’mon!). Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a triumph for motion capture, while the film itself is able to capture something terrifying and real about the advancement of life and the struggle for survival. Edge of Tomorrow is much more enjoyable than Interstellar and proves Tom Cruise is as much of a movie star as ever (which can't be said for others). Still, there’s something about the Nolan brothers daring to dream that big, on that scale, which needs to be championed. As for Snowpiercer? I side with the train.
4 Sandy Schaefer
1. The LEGO Movie2. The Grand Budapest Hotel3. Gone Girl4. John Wick5. Get on Up
I love how both The LEGO Movie and The Grand Budapest Hotel, in their own idiosyncratic ways, combine witty storytelling with clever filmmaking techniques while offering larger (and very relevant) social commentary (as well as humanist messages) about the importance of personal expression and creativity, in the face of oppressive forces.
Gone Girl was both a smart thriller and a biting satire of the times we live in. John Wick was not just a terrific B-movie, but for me it embodied the spirit of a comic book world better than a number of actual comic book movies. And Get on Up messes around with the biopic formula in a way that does justice by the wild roller coaster life of James Brown.
3 Andrew Dyce
1. Edge of Tomorrow2. Fury3. Interstellar4. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes5. Guardians of the GalaxyHonorable Mention: Gone Girl
It may have gone largely overlooked, but few movies held my attention from start to finish like Edge of Tomorrow. Time travel, CG aliens and a sprinting Tom Cruise aren't ingredients for a flawless story, but (for me) its Live, Die, Repeat style ranks it among the most polished and clever science-fiction films in years. After what felt like years of underwhelming or half-baked big screen spectacle, surprises like that arrived one after another.
Fury, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Guardians all gave a memorable thrill that begged for a second viewing (and third, and fourth...) and oozed personality at every turn. Interstellar may have been divisive, but I'll never forget how many moments left me stunned, speechless, and gutted (physically, mentally, and emotionally). Clever sci-fi, stirring WWII drama, talking apes, talking raccoons, and talking robots; what more could a movie fan want?
2 Ben Moore
1. The Guest2. Grand Budapest Hotel3. John Wick4. Gone Girl5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
After a pretty paltry crop of films in 2013, 2014 was a major improvement (thank the lord).
The Guest was an excellent mix of action and horror in the vein of Halloween and The Terminator. It was scary, it was funny, it was fun, and Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) turned in a surprisingly convincing performance as a polite southern gentlemen (among other things).
Meanwhile, Grand Budapest Hotel was one of the most beautiful films of the year, and it utilized humor and whimsy to tell a surprisingly emotional story. John Wick proved that Keanu Reeves is still an action star, and its fantastic world building and action scenes made it the most surprisingly entertaining film of the year. With Gone Girl, David Fincher deftly blended humor and suspense, mystery and social satire, to create a film that Alfred Hitchcock himself would've enjoyed. And Captain America 2 was my favorite Marvel movie - thanks to the great action, the funny dialogue, and a story that tried to do a little something more than your typical "good guy vs. bad guy" superhero plot.
1 Hannah Shaw-Williams
1. The Babadook2. Guardians of the Galaxy3. Gone Girl4. Horns5. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
It's been a great year for movies, but The Babadook takes the top prize purely because I can't stop recommending it to people. Fraught with tension and a gruelling watch from start to finish, The Babadook forgoes cheap jump scares in favor of conjuring supernatural horror out of everyday horror.
Guardians of the Galaxy was easily my favorite Marvel movie so far, and the two book adaptations that I'd most been looking forward to - Gone Girl and Horns - were exactly what I had hoped for. Rounding off my list is Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, purely because no other movie I saw in 2014 had a slo-mo shot of an ape on the back of a horse riding through a wall of flame while firing a machine gun, and that's something we should get to see more often.
At the end of 2014, we want to thank all our supporters (once again) for reading Screen Rant and listening to the Screen Rant Underground podcast.
As we look toward what 2015 has to offer, make sure to check out other end of the year features that we've recently published:
Plus, take a look back at our picks from 2013: Screen Rant’s Top 5 Favorite Movies of 2013.
We're interested to hear what films were your favorites in 2014, so make sure to list your own choices in the comment section!
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future feature articles as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.