It’s been quite a year. I got married. My wife and I put together a little home together. I directed one play, I’m currently in rehearsals for another. I wrote a new book that — God willing — will be available relatively early in 2015. And in the meantime, I managed to see a few movies.
Not all the movies, mind you. There are still several 2014 releases I haven’t seen yet, often because the aforementioned activities got in the way of my movie time. I still haven’t seen Boyhood, for instance, and I’m dying to. I’m delinquent in keeping up with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, and despite all my efforts to the contrary, I’ve yet to get around to The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.
So consider this list highly incomplete. These are all the films from 2014 that I have seen, in order of my favorite to my least favorite. This includes direct-to-video and made-for-TV movies. I’ll leave comments for the ones where I have comments to leave.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Marvel has had a good year — a good couple of years, actually — but this to me was the movie that really elevated their universe beyond simple superhero action into something with greater depth and meaning.
- Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Similar to Captain America, this film took what Rise of the Planet of the Apes began and ran with it, creating a larger world and a highly intelligent, powerful science fiction film.
- Guardians of the Galaxy. This was just pure fun.
- X-Men: Days of Future Past. Easily the best X-Men film to date, and so good that it actually erases some of the sins of the previous films.
- The LEGO Movie. Again, pure fun, but with a surprising amount of heart to it.
- Gone Girl. Incredibly tense and engaging.
- Interstellar. One of the most engaging, entertaining pure sci-fi films in years
- Godzilla. Fantastic reboot of the franchise.
- Edge of Tomorrow. Great movie hurt by atrocious marketing.
- Big Hero 6.
- Stripped. Fine documentary about the comic strip form.
- I Am Santa Claus.
- St. Vincent.
- Doc of the Dead. Interesting documentary about zombie fiction.
- Stage Fright. Little seen but actually entertaining musical horror comedy about a slasher killer attacking a theater camp. It’s on Netflix streaming right now. Meatloaf is in it.
- A Merry Friggin’ Christmas. One of Robin Williams’s final performances, alongside Community‘s Joel McHale.
- Son of Batman.
- Justice League: War.
- Mr. Peabody and Sherman.
- Big Driver.
- Chilling Visions: 5 States of Fear. Okay anthology, but the premise holding the segments together is paper-thin.
- JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time.
- Maleficent. Could have been a great remake from the villain’s perspective, but a horribly invasive voice over and some poor performances really hurt.
- Print the Legend.
- Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.
- Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. The original remains one of my favorites. This film seems like further proof that Frank Miller has lost his mind.
- Robocop. Unnecessary, lifeless remake.
- Lucky Duck. Treacle-filled animated kiddie film I watched with my niece. Just because a movie is targeted for children is no excuse for making it bad.
- The Amazing Spider-Man 2. After a first movie that I thought was just as good as — maybe better than — the Toby Maguire films, I couldn’t believe how utterly this one fell apart.
- I, Frankenstein.
- Happy Christmas. “Hey, you know all those dull, unscripted movies about obnoxious people who can’t get their lives together? Let’s make one at Christmas. And put Lena Dunham in it.”
- Sharknado 2: The Second One. In fairness, they weren’t trying to make a good movie. They succeeded.
- Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever. All I can say is that the title was accurate.