The Ten Best Movies I Watched in 2014

by - Tuesday, December 30, 2014

I'll be honest, it was not a great year for movies for me. I think this is for two reasons- first, I put off a lot of the movies from my list that I knew I wouldn't like until now (MASH, Patton, I just don't like military movies much) or were surprised to really hate (Sophie's Choice is THE WORST and I will not forgive Meryl Streep for it).

Secondly, while prego, for whatever reason, I really could only digest a little bit of new material at a time, and I liked the familiarity of shows, so I just watched the same set of things over and over again. I wasn't as adventurous pop culturally as I usually am. Hopefully, this year I will do better, but I really wish that so much of what I have left weren't just dude movies. I really am sick of freaking dude movies. 

I still saw some great stuff this year, so let's focus on that!

from anordinaryhandbag.blogspot.com
 10. Thelma and Louise-So great from start to finish, and though the ending is the most famous part, the violence they allow their heroines impressed me most. It reminds me of Bonnie and Clyde in so many ways, but I imagine that was intentional on their part. I love Susan Sarandon in this film. It also makes me wonder if we as a culture are actually getting worse about confronting rape and trauma in film. Dark and fun, deserving of its status as a classic.

9. The Lego Movie-Oh Andy Dwyer, the year you have had. His sweet affable persona works perfectly in this film about breaking out of the mold and hanging out with Batman (my favorite part for sure). The film's themes of anti-corporate sentiment practically work, which is a miracle when you realize the whole thing is basically an ad for a toy. The movie's last 15 minutes are so ballsy I can't stand it, even if on longer reflection it doesn't make much sense. It's like if another movie's dream sequence was courageous enough to become a plot point (if Dumbo's pink elephants came to life or The Artist continued to play with moments of sound). Plus, it embraces the toy's status of being both for children and manchildren, which is very true to my experience of legos.

8. Moonrise Kingdom-I know this is late, but we watched this movie early in January with Paige when she came to visit. The first half is sad and lovely- it's worth seeing the movie just for the sequence on the beach.  You can master some serious ennui just for getting through it. Like any Wes Anderson movie, Moonrise Kingdom is a feast for the eyes, and the pre-teen romance centers the funnier sequences (Edward Norton as the boy scout-esque leader cracks me up).

7. The Sapphires- It feels a lot like many upbeat music movies you have seen before, the one it weirdly makes me think of is That Thing You Do. Except the Sapphires is also about racism towards indigenous people in Australia and the war in Vietnam. I promise you, it tackles these issues in a way that feels more fun and breazy, with lots of great motown music and Chris O'Dowd (I am suspicious that the male writers saw his character as necessary, but who can fight his gangly cuteness?

from pichad.webs.com
6. Battleship Potemkin-The Stairs of Odessa is a film class staple,but the whole film has all kinds of montage-y goodness. I would take Eisenstein politics over DW Griffith racism any day, though hopefully net year my silent film watching can be more Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd.

5. Broadcast News- I loved and hated it, mostly due to its glaringly 80's viewpoint, but I do love a love triangle where the woman at the center decides to leave both losers. Albert Brooks is weirdly sexy as the nice guy, and Holly Hunter kills it as a brilliant producer. But still, so 80's.

4. Invasion of the Body Snatchers-This film proves you don't need big money or special effects to be creepy and effective science fiction. In fact, this movie works better because of its almost total lack of flash. It feels dangerously close to normal. Best sci fi I saw all year (even better than Gort).

from erwinreviews.com
3. In a World...- Lake Bell's smart indie comedy about voiceover work is way more awesome than it seems like it should be. I finally establishes the romantic persona of Demetri Martin, and it tells a great story about an interesting, actually well-written female character breaking through barriers in a way that doesn't beat you over the head with its feminism. Plus, it is a whole culture that I know I never even thought about before. This gem is on Netflix, so be sure to check it out. So, so good.

from empireonline.com
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel- Any movie with a running Egon Schiele gag automatically wins in my book. I didn't realize we had such an Anderson-y year, but this buddy caper was the best thing we saw in theaters all year, with or without brutal Goldblum murders. Beautiful to look at and exciting to watch. And the funniest one since Tennenbaums- Voldemort killed it.

from http://durnmoosemovies.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/large_the_apartment_blu-ray_2x.jpg
1. The Apartment- The best thing I watched all year I saw for the first time the first week of January. I have watched it probably five times since then, and it easily lands in my All Time Top Ten. Only Billy Wilder can write a beautiful romantic comedy that is sad enough to include two suicide attempts. Shirley Maclaine and Jack Lemmon both give such rich, funny, and sad performances. I love Lemmon in this movie- he is sad quiet magic. It may not be a coincidence that our child is now named after one of Lemmon's other characters. It makes me think about how loneliness is what makes love important, and it still makes me laugh every time. It's also beautifully shot (especially scenes in the office) and features great cusp of the 60's style. This film is one of those that pops on and off of Netflix every couple of months, so when you see it on there, watch it.

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