Although not quite as popular at the box offices as big Blockbuster hits, “Boyhood” earns a spot on the list simply because no filmmaker has attempted to make a narrative feature film that requires the cast and filming to extend intermittently throughout several years—12 to be exact! The making of director Richard Linklater’s project is unprecedented. Filming one child alongside Hollywood elites—Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette—the film was shot intermittently throughout the span of many years. The end result is one that shows the nuances of time and how our lives are shaped by the experiences and interactions with those around us. Linklater is obsessed with the concept of time and his massive undertaking of capturing people throughout years gone by is fantastic.
99. “This is Where I Leave You”
It’s refreshing to see a movie where the focal point of the story is not the typical Hollywood ideal of the perfect family—the kind that includes unattainable beauty, charisma and symbiosis. But daily dysfunction, hysteria and crazy shenanigans that only families can understand make up the Altman family of the “This is Where I Leave You” plot. This film is a story of grown up siblings who are reunited and brought together by the death of their father. The plot is masterfully woven together with awkward moments, undeniable loyalty for one another and comic relief by an all-star cast, which includes Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Jane Fonda and Rose Byrne, amongst others.8. “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”
No, the story isn’t going to bowl-over the audience, as it’s the age-old “them versus us” storyline, but the special effects, acting and the depth of the connection between the apes and humans will. With a nod to the “Planet of the Apes” film dynasty of the past, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” was a big cinematic force in 2014. In the top 10 highest grossing films this year, each second of its 131 minutes was worth it. Telling the story of the state of the human race and a post-ALZ-113 virus world, the film captures the complexities of a power struggle between two species, which may illicit deep thoughts about current social issues between races, sexes and more.7. “Guardians of the Galaxy”
OK, so another Marvel film for the stack. “Guardians of the Galaxy” has no real “grit” per se, but the plot, scenes and overall storyline are too funny and awesome not to include on the list. The humorous plot and fantastically futuristic, sci-fi world is ripe for 122 minutes of crazy antics and impressive ass kicking. The film is a definite good time; one where you’ll be free of serious, thought-provoking cinematic screen time. Peter Quill, a space adventurer and main character who is played by Chris Pratt, must—along with the bevy of four other galaxy misfits—save the universe.6. “Interstellar”
Christopher Nolan is back in true form after the “Dark Knight” trilogy and in the wake of one of his best-received films, “Inception.” “Interstellar” is a think-y sort of movie that, despite its slightly overt themes, captures real human drama in the face of a dying planet. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) moves through time and space as a rogue astronaut, all for the potential good of the human race, leaving behind his sharp-witted daughter and loyal son, not knowing if he’ll survive the wormholes, black holes and the all-out luck it will take to find a new planet suitable for human life. Plot holes and loose ends are forgiven for remarkable performances by McConaughey and Anne Hathaway. Its 169 minute runtime somehow doesn’t seem long enough.5. “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Wes Anderson is a tremendous force in the movie industry. As the director of some of the most off-kilter and quirkiest films of our time, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is once again a testament of his utter genius. A giggle-worthy story that follows a sexually fluid, dandy hotel manager (Ralph Fiennes) who is caught in the threads of intricate encounters with hotel guests and staff is worth award-winning praise. Quick scenes are accompanied by a brilliant, complementary soundtrack that moves just as fast. From beginning to end, the film is so effortlessly Anderson. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is a film that keeps one step ahead of the audience, even with an ending that is marvelously sad. This story will make you wish that the places and the idiosyncrasies portrayed in the film would exist in real life.4. “Wild”
Even in today’s female-forward culture, it’s rare to see movies that fall on the acting chops of a woman alone. But Academy Award-winning actress Reese Witherspoon is brilliant, proving that a film that is a rooted in self discovery, tests of will and real life substance has its place amongst the ranks of male-dominated films. Based on the true story of a woman who dives headfirst into a tailspin of self-destruction, Cheryl Strayed resuscitates her life by making a decision to halt her downward spiral. Strayed, with no previous outdoors experience, sets out to conquer the terrain of the Pacific Crest Trail. With only a backpack, she is tested beyond her expectations, and the result gives way to breathtaking cinematographic shots and emotional clarity.3. “Edge of Tomorrow”
Live. Die. Repeat. Live. Die. Repeat. Reliving the same day again and again seems unimaginable in reality, but “Edge of Tomorrow” is no “Groundhog’s Day.” The film is a fest of awesome special effects, incredible action shots and so many sci-fi twists that the audience will be on the edge, enthralled in each and every moment of the storyline, dying (pun intended) to know what’s next—not to mention the inability to take eyes off the two beautiful actors, Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. The film takes the audience to the depths of “what if” when given a second chance—a second chance that allows you to make smarter, better decisions time and again.
2. “Gone Girl”
As one of this year’s most highly-anticipated films, “Gone Girl,” based on the 2012 thriller novel written by Gillian Flynn, was worth the wait. The plot execution was satisfying and engaging, and there’s a reason the movie grossed nearly $164 million. Its success is largely due to masterful acting and detailed direction from production. Together, they nailed it. Directed by David Fincher, this adaptation isn’t one that hardly parallels its origin from bound pages. Instead, it mirrors the captivating storyline, detail by detail. This film, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, takes the audience to the edge of insanity and sheer manipulation. The movie is fraught with palpable marital frailty, insecure characters and tenuous relationships. The ending unravels in an unexpected way, which leaves the audience with more satisfaction than if stereotypically concluded.1. “The Theory of Everything”
A true story of a truly remarkable human being is encapsulated in the best film of 2014, “The Theory of Everything.” The film is a touching portrayal of the brilliant man and scientist who has surpassed all expectations and a seemingly debilitating disability, Stephen Hawking. The film gives a detailed look into his life, his profession, his brilliance and his loss of normalcy after the diagnosis of motor neuron disease. Hawking has changed the world of science with his achievements as a theoretical physicist and cosmologist who studied the connection between space and time and later discovered that black holes emit radiation, among many other scientific discoveries and advancements. Coupled by luminous acting and production, this gorgeous film is one that centers on love, loss, courage and resilience.