Alright, this is coming a little bit late but I had to see a couple of last minute movies in the past week or so. Overall, it’s been another really fantastic year for cinema. While there were some great smaller movies that ended up on here, this summer was one of the best for great blockbusters. Keeping with the tradition, I didn’t take something off the list because it was a big box office hit or an obvious choice. If I had a great time watching it, or was moved by the characters or story, it’s probably on this list (which is in no official order). Also, I haven’t seen a couple of movies that could have very well been on this list, like Inherent Vice or Foxcatcher. So here is my Top 8 for 2014, as well as an ‘honorable mentions’ at the bottom because there were just too many damn good movies. Feel free to criticize my picks or let me know what you think!

This year saw Marvel really pushing themselves forward and distancing themselves from the standard superhero movie formula. With an intriguing story that resembles more of a political-thriller than a superhero movie, great performances by Chris Evans and Anthony Mackie, and brutal action scenes, Marvel really stepped up their game with Winter Soldier.

While Grand Budapest Hotel came out very early in the year, I knew right after watching it that it’d probably be on this list. I have never been a huge fan of Wes Anderson, but this is far and beyond his best movie to date. With some of the best production design I’ve ever seen, great characters (Ralph Fiennes is amazing) and a fast-paced plot with some real darkness behind the whimsical facade, this is one of the most creative and unique movies I’ve seen in a long time.

Boyhood was probably the most personal and relatable movie I saw this year. Filmed over 12 years, we see the main character Mason grow up, as well as his family going through changes that everyone watching can relate to. At around 3 hours, it’s a long movie, but in the end you just want to see it keep going. It breezes by, just like all those years growing up.

I had been waiting for this one for awhile, and it didn’t disappoint. I’ve already talked at length about how much I love this movie, so I’ll just let it rest. This is my favorite Christopher Nolan movie yet, and likely my overall favorite movie of the year.

With Nightcrawler, Jake Gyllenhaal created in ‘Lou Bloom’ another iconic character destined to be a classic. With lizard-like eyes and greasy slicked-back hair, Lou Bloom is a sociopath willing to do anything to get ahead. This movie has one of the best endings I’ve seen this year, which says something very honest and disturbing about the reality of how our country operates.

Joon-ho Bong’s first English language film doesn’t lose a thing in the translation. Similar to his movie ‘The Host’, Snowpiercer balances great characters, intense action (the fight scene in the dark was one of the most badass ever) and a plot that has a lot on it’s mind. Few movies have this much imagination and passion put into them, and I can’t wait to see what Joon-ho does next.

Who would have thought a movie about jazz drumming would have been one of the most intense thrillers of the year. The relationship between Miles Teller’s character and his mentor (played by JK Simmons) is one filled with tension and terror. The movies message about what it takes to be great also really hit home. As J.K. Simmons says in the movie, “There are no two words in the English language more harmful than ‘good job’.”

This is just the most fun I’ve had at the movies in years, evident by the fact that I saw it three times in theaters. James Gunn, famous for dark indie films like ‘Super’ and ‘Slither’ makes the transition to Hollywood blockbusters in a huge way. I just love that a movie with a talking raccoon and sentient tree can be the number two grossing movie of the year. The fact that the movie is also full of humor and heart goes a long way as well. Marvel just created a Star Wars for a new generation.

Honorable Mentions

  • The Babadook
  • Selma
  • The Imitation Game
  • Birdman
  • Gone Girl
  • The Drop
  • Starred Up
  • Jodorowsky’s Dune
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • Noah
  • The Lego Movie
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