Note the use of the word “my” in the title. This is because this will not be a list of the movies I consider the best of the year. Rather, this is a list of my favorite movies to come out this year: the ones I enjoyed the most. For example, Boyhood is an excellent movie, easily one of the best of the year. But it’s also fuckin’ boring. That’s not the type of movie I’m talking about here. This list is for films more along the lines of…
I don’t think anyone expected much from Neighbors. In fact, that seems to be a consistent factor in Seth Rogen’s success: that people don’t expect anything of him. If we really started respecting him as a filmmaker, he’d probably stop impressing us. As it currently stands, though, Neighbors is impressive. While most of the weight is on Zac Efron, who delivers what I can say without hesitation is the best performance of his career, that’s not to detract from the movie’s other strong suits. Rose Byrne also does a great job, the cinematography during the party scenes is really cool, and it’s just a very funny and well-structured movie in general. Easily my 2nd-favorite Seth Rogen movie this year (spoilers).
#9: The Penguins of Madagascar
I’d say Madagascar is a franchise that keeps getting better. I really liked the first one when I was a kid, but it… hasn’t aged well. And while I did like the third one quite a bit, very little about it sticks out in my mind today. So imagine my surprise when I go to see this one and the very first joke is a Werner Herzog reference. Trust me when I say this is one of the wittiest movies DreamWorks has ever put forward. While Shrek 2 was definitely funnier, Shrek 2 was really more of a social experiment than a movie, a test to see how many jokes and references they could cram into a single children’s movie. Penguins is more deliberate, and I’ve often heard the worst types of people say it’s “too smart for kids.” Kids are smart. Let them have their action-packed silly penguin movie.
And yes, I do ship Skipper and Private.
#8. Top Five
On the surface, Top Five seems like a pretty simple movie. An interviewer helps a Hollywood big shot get back to his roots. However, only about 30 minutes of the movie take place on that surface. The rest of it is primarily spent focusing on the two leads, Chris Rock and Rosario Dawson. I’ve always found Dawson to be an underrated actress, and this is just another impressive performance from her. Which isn’t to belittle the star, Chris Rock, who seems to do best with his own material, and not that of, say, Adam Sandler, who happens to make a cameo in this movie as the same disgusting Adam Sandler archetype the man either is, or is way too fond of playing. That sentence may seem out of place in a top ten list, and it most certainly is, but this is a hilarious, heartfelt look at modern Hollywood. It’s sort of like a tamer, Chris Rock-er version of Tropic Thunder, in its name we pray.
#7: The Interview
Let me start out by saying that The Interview is the textbook definition of “overhyped.” It’s hard not to be when you almost started World War III. That being said, it’s very good. Most people probably expected a more politically-oriented comedy, and while there is a biting layer of satire, it’s still a Seth Rogen movie at heart. But that’s not a bad thing. Seth Rogen is funny. Seth Rogen is outlandish. Seth Rogen takes risks no other mainstream filmmaker would take. It works as a broad comedy, it works as a piece of satire, it works as an action parody, and above all, it works as a film.
Birdman is not a perfect movie. It’s a movie that’s made to be liked, a movie that exploits its audience into seeing a point that isn’t there, a disjointed movie that dips its toes into magical realism and then cannonballs right in, a movie that is essentially Black Swan. But while you’re watching, unless you’re really nitpicking, you don’t notice any of that. You’re be engrossed in the characters, the monologues, the cinematography. You’re too busy watching Michael Keaton and Emma Stone deliver earth-shattering performances despite the admittedly amateurish script to worry about what it’s really trying to say. It’s just such an engrossing movie. Often, a good film, or at least an enjoyable one, is not one that has no flaws, but one that sneaks them by you. And if viewers are paying attention to the right thing, they’ll find the massive flaws, and those are the people who hate the movie. But most don’t notice, at least at first. That’s Birdman. And I like it.
#5: The Grand Budapest Hotel
If this was a list of the best movies of the year, GBH would be a strong contender for #1. But, this is a list of the ones I enjoyed the most, and while it is a very funny, engaging movie, it’s simply not the movie I had the most fun with this year. That being said, there’s a lot to like about it. In fact, there’s not much to dislike about it. Good meme, Wes Anderson. (Yes, I consider each entire Wes Anderson movie to be a single meme)
#4: 22 Jump Street
While watching 22 Jump Street for the fourth time a few months ago, I took note of how it wasn’t actually that good. Yeah, it was funny and clever, but I didn’t observe much else to it. But then I started thinking about it again. And on a satirical level, it’s the best parody movie of at least the past fifteen years. I started thinking about every scene, and how it relates to the themes of the movie, and whether it’s just a funny scene, or a parody of some action movie trope, or a parody of the first movie, or a crucial plot element, or all five. It’s hard to analyze this movie because it’s not a movie that beckons to be analyzed. But it’s a movie that can be enjoyed not just while you’re watching it, but when realizing how clever it is several days or even weeks later.
#3: Guardians of the Galaxy
People tell me this movie isn’t as good the second time you see it. To which I reply, “I’ve seen it three times, and here it is on my top ten list.” The thing is, I definitely see where they’re coming from. Each scene stays pretty fresh in your mind, so there’s little enjoyment to be had the second time around, and unless you stop and think on the smaller touches in between viewings, you’ll miss them yet again. The biggest complaint I’ve heard from people is that the villain, Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), is a generic Marvel villain. That’s also what I thought, the first time I saw it. Pretty soon into the second time, I realized how over-the-top he was, and the third time, I laughed my ass off at him. Calling Ronan a generic villain is like saying The Wolf of Wall Street glorifies criminals. Some people can’t stop and consider that a movie isn’t being serious.
#2: They Came Together
Have you ever seen a movie so smart it seems dumb? Watch They Came Together. Now you have. How great was that? This is a movie that sets the mood to give you a shitty romantic comedy and then gives you the shittiest romantic comedy you’ve ever seen. Some jokes are taken as bizarre, non-sequitur humor (Molly’s parents are white supremacists, Joel almost fucks his grandmother), but in those cases, they’re actually parodies of scenes or tropes from certain rom-coms. Other times, like in the shot shown above, it’s just bizarre, non-sequitur humor. But it’s always unexpected, and if you’re in a good mood, it’s always funny. Throw in some wordplay and one of the most likeable casts in the history of film, and you’ve got a recipe for success.
Before I get to my favorite movie of the year, here’s some honorable mentions:
Edge of Tomorrow
Jimi: All Is by My Side
The Book of Life
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (i can explain)
The Skeleton Twins
Dear White People
And my favorite movie of 2014 is…
#1: The Lego Movie
I didn’t want this. I dearly hoped that something would surpass the 2nd movie I saw in 2014. But here we are. I didn’t see any movies this year that I liked more than The Lego Movie. No one’s ever been able to convince me of a single flaw in this movie. Very few have tried, because it’s The Goddamn Lego Movie. On a technical level, it’s a masterpiece on par with The Nightmare Before Christmas. On a storytelling and pacing level, there’s never a dull moment. This movie works on every goddamn level, and it does an excellent job of it all. Every year, I declare one or two movies to be among my all-time favorites, and The Lego Movie is pretty high up there right now.
And thus concludes my favorite movies of the year. If you disagree with me, please stop; it is not allowed. Like this post if you like it, follow me if you follow me, you can also follow me on Twitter @BreakingPOORLY, and as always…
liek ids if u cry evrrtime