As the year winds down, the pop culture junkies around the Shout! Factory offices didn’t want to feel left out of the obligatory bombardment of Top 10 Lists. We pooled the opinions of our very own cinephiles to compile a list of the 10 Best Movies of 2014!
10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Snowpiercer got a respectable number of votes from our employees, but the quality of another Chris Evans film took a lot of people by surprise. Superhero sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier stands not just as one of the finest Marvel movies, but as a compelling thriller in its own right. Plus he throws that shield around, so that’s pretty cool, right?
9. Only Lovers Left Alive
Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston have marvelous chemistry as a devastatingly cool artist couple (who happen to be vampires, don’t judge) in Jim Jarmusch’s lush and seductive tale. Using vampirism as a metaphor for the unrestrained passion needed for creating great art, they traverse the globe in search of inspiration. As the malaise of immortality and their growing need for new sources of inspiration continues to mount around them, they seek refuge in art (and, perhaps not coincidentally, wind up starring in a great work of art themselves). It’s a vampire movie that isn’t really about vampires, so you can enjoy it even if you totally hate Twilight.
Featuring brilliant performances from Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons, Whiplash is a high-tension thriller, the story of a jazz drummer and his teacher at an elite music conservatory. Uncompromisingly kinetic and incredibly engrossing, the film is a devastating look at the drive to achieve greatness. Bonus: it inspired us to start taking drum lessons, and we’re getting the band back together!
Moviegoers who mistakenly went into this movie expecting to see a teleporting German super-mutant who occasionally fights with the X-men instead wound up seeing Jake Gyllenhaal’s most unsettling performance as a nocturnal crime journalist who seeks out scenes of maximum morbidity to advance his career.
We’d call that a win.
6. Gone Girl
Ben Affleck is on a streak lately: just two years ago he released Argo and won the Academy Award for Best Picture, soon after that he was announced as the next Batman, and now he stars in yet another acclaimed movie, this time directed by David Fincher and based on the best-selling novel by Gillian Flynn.Gone Girl is filled with twists and turns and great acting and — oh, did we mention Ben Affleck is Batman? He probably just sits at home, polishing his Oscars, thinking about how awesome it is to be able to say that.
“Epic” is a word thrown around often these days, but for those moments when it starts to lose its meaning there are movies like Interstellar. Christopher Nolan’sepic film about exploring the far reaches of space to find a new home for the human race is not only a visual feast (and one of the most immersive space movies in recent memory along with Gravity), but a look at what happens when scientific and emotional worlds collide. It shows us visual representations of scientific concepts beyond our current frame of reference, but never lets go of its humanity in the process. It’s got a little something for everyone, particularly people who love crazy rectangular robots that shapeshift and roll around and stuff.
4. Guardians of the Galaxy
Who would have thought that Chris Pratt, an anthropomorphic racoon and a talking tree taking part in action-packed outer-space hijinx would make for such a fun — wait, we just heard those words coming out of our mouths and realized there’s no way this movie wouldn’t wind up being our #4 favorite of the year.
3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
Visual flair is a thing that Wes Anderson likes to indulge in, but there are many layers to his movies hiding under their quirky exteriors. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes describes The Grand Budapest Hotel as “deceptively thoughtful,” which means it’s one of those movies that you’re enjoying as you watch, but then you leave the theater and realize you were tricked into using your brain a whole lot more than you initially expected. That’s the kind of movie we fall in love with: entertaining now, brain filled with thoughts later.
2. Edge of Tomorrow
I remember seeing the trailer for Edge of Tomorrow and thinking, “Great, a run-of-the-mill sci-fi movie with Tom Cruise that rips off Groundhog Day.” After hearing an unusual amount of positive word-of-mouth, I reluctantly went to see it. I walked out of the theater thinking, “Great, an awesome sci-fi movie with Tom Cruise that rips of Groundhog Day!!” Cleverly written, endlessly entertaining and very imaginative, Edge of Tomorrow is full of action, thrills and even laughs. Many other Shout! Factory employees felt the same way, and it was voted the #2 film of the year.
Have you ever been distracted when one character in a movie is played by several actors that look nothing like each other? Well, Boyhood overcomes that distraction by filming the same group of actors over a 12-year period, seamlessly leapfrogging large stretches of time between scenes and adding the fascinating layer of knowing you’re literally watching someone grow up in front of you. Of course, the gimmick wouldn’t be worth much if there weren’t an emotional weight to a film filled with many seemingly-mundane human interactions, but luckily that’s where director Richard Linklater has always excelled. The result is one of the essential movies of 2014.