The Grand Budapest Hotel
In the funniest movie of 2014, Ralph Fiennes leads an ensemble cast as the eccentric concierge of the Grand Budapest. Wes Anderson’s flair, symmetrical camera work and dollhouse approach to film making are all present and work together to create some truly memorable scenes. Despite being a comedy, there is an underlying theme of sadness that permeates throughout the movie, with most characters reflecting on halcyon days gone by. By including these feelings, Anderson has managed to create a silly film, full of his eccentricities without it becoming too wacky or losing its heart.
Adapted from a trashy thriller, full of twists, turns, betrayals and contrivances I should have hated this movie. The fact I didn't throw my popcorn at the screen is amazing, the fact that it made my top five list is nothing short of a miracle. David Fincher's savvy cinematography and sly editing around two unreliable protagonists, show how he is one of the most skilled directors working in Hollywood today. Much in the same way he made a movie about Facebook interesting, here he extracts the larger themes of gender politics and power from an airport novel. Fincher clearly has the ability to make champagne from shit and I can't wait to see what he does next.
The Lego Movie
If ever the idea for a movie appeared to be conceived during a conversation between two soulless suits in marketing, to be shat out onto an unsuspecting general public, it was The Lego Movie. With some trepidation I went and saw the film at the behest of a friend (if only so I could tease him later for his poor choice in movies), and to my great surprise was treated to the best animated film since Toy Story 3. By mocking the idea of the Everyman protagonist, story tropes and even Lego itself, directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller deliver a rare carrot into the gruel that is the genre of children’s movies.
The Guardians of the Galaxy
2014’s “fuck you we can make money from anything” seemed like a risky play on Disney’s part. Creating a film with tenuous links to the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe, while introducing five (relatively unknown) characters and a whole lot of lore seemed a near impossible task. James Gunn however delivered colourful characters, witty dialogue, a killer soundtrack and ultimately a fun movie. (Remember fun? That thing we used to have before even a Superman film had imagery reminiscent of 9/11?)
Silly yet serious, far fetched yet plausible, funny yet heart-achingly sad, Spike Jonze’s film on the human condition asks questions about humanity in a way few movies do. This beautiful work about a lonely person falling in love with an AI, is what other film makers should be aspiring to, as near to perfect as a film can get.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Marvel adapts some of the least known heroes of their universe and turns it into one of the most entertaining, action-packed, memorable and FUNNY superhero movies of recent memory. I’m not even a big superhero movie fan, and actually put off seeing this for well over a month (needing to kill 10 hours in Melbourne because of Lumpsky’s bizarre cost-cutting habits forced my hand somewhat) but this was just pure bliss from beginning to end, and another notch in the year of the Pratt.
Edge of Tomorrow
Unfortunately the victim of a horrendously misleading ad campaign, Doug Liman’s adaptation of the popular manga “All You Need is Kill” turned out to be one of the smartest, action-packed and entertaining sci-fi action film of recent years. Tom Cruise’s cowardly officer who is forced to learn to become a brave soldier by living the same battle over and over again (in a stunningly depicted invasion reminiscent of the D-Day landings), Emily Blunt’s incredibly badass hardcore bitch, incredible visual fx, and an incredibly entertaining script filled with a surprisingly large helping of humour definitely makes this one of the most underrated movies of the year, which is a shame, because Hollywood needs more like it.
Dawn of Planet of the Apes
Another sequel, but this improves on the original in every way. For a film franchise where we already know the ending, this is incredibly entertaining the entire way through and is just so insanely hard to find fault with. Andy Serkis’ Caesar is just an incredible force to be reckoned, the battle sequences expertly handled, the emotional aspects of the story for both human and ape were dealt with equally and masterfully, and for the first time ever in my experience, the CGI was so incredibly real that I actually forgot that those weren’t real apes. I beg anyone who watched to say otherwise.
The Lego Movie
This was screaming a whole lot of nope, just another shameless cash grab and 90 minute advert to sell a bit more merchandise. How wrong everyone was. This is the best animated film in as long as I can remember, from the perfect voice casting (Pratt is just killing it this year, Morgan Freeman is absurdly funny and Will Arnett’s Batman will almost make you soil yourself), stunning animation, incredibly ingenious and imaginative script, and probably the biggest hit of the feels towards the end that leaves every Pixar film in the dust.
EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!!!
David Fincher’s breathtakingly intense adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s bestseller is without a doubt one of the best thrillers, and best films, that I have seen in years. Perfect casting, Oscar-worthy performances, nail-crunching tension, stunning cinematography along with masterful direction, when the credits started rolling, Lumpsky and I were left in a stunned silence for a good five minutes.. I have no doubt it was equal measure at the calibre of film making we just witnessed, and the realisation that we both never wanted a girlfriend again.