Friday, January 2, 2015

Five best movies of 2014...

Now that the mad dash of Christmas and the New Year are over, it's finally time to reflect on the most memorable movies from 2014. In total I saw around 35 new films at the cinema and at least one on demand, which was the highly imaginative Snowpiercer, which really should have received a wider theatrical release.

Captain America Winter Soldier movie billboard
Last year Marvel's Captain America movie sequel delivered the perfect action movie mashed-up with superheroic espionage and finally gave us a villain who wasn't so one dimensional.

Not only did Chris Evans totally rise to the occasion as the star-spangled Avenger, making me believe a super-soldier with a shield is supercool, but it was also like a mini 'Black Widow' movie giving the character much needed room to breathe and some fantastic stunts, beyond solely providing the superhero sexiness.

I also throughly enjoyed the introduction of The Falcon and thought their friendship was totally believable and his flying abilities brilliantly realised. Samuel L. Jackson's 'Nick Fury' also got something substantial to do with some epic car chase scenes and the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the rise of HYDRA had repercussions which helped kick-start the TV universe into overdrive.
Captain America Winter Soldier billboard
Probably one of my favourite scenes in the movie was Jenny Agutter cutting loose as a disguised Black Widow which was totally surprising on first viewing and certainly got whoops from the cinema audience each time I saw it.

Captain America 2 was action-packed, fun and compelling, and I can't wait to see what the Russo Brothers do to top it with Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War Parts 1 and 2.

Guardians of the Galaxy movie billboard
Just when you thought Marvel Studios couldn't top Captain America 2, along came Guardians of the Galaxy.

This film probably had the most freedom with these cosmic comic book characters being C-List at best and was probably the most risky taking the cinematic universe into unknown space, but the gamble paid off in a big way, grossing over $772 million worldwide to date.

With great performances by the cast, including a super-buff Chris Pratt and better-than-expected Dave Bautista, plus amazing vocal work by Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel combined with excellent CGI, which made me believe that 'Rocket Raccoon' and 'Groot' were believable three dimensional characters in every sense.

Original movie costumes from Guardians of the Galaxy
Original Guardians of the Galaxy movie costumes
Even though the final showdown against a villain is becoming a tad predictable with the Marvel movies, I still managed to see this slice of superhero sci-fi three times at the cinema and got something new from it every time.

If you're a fan of the movie, be sure to check out these original Star-Lord and Gamora costumes from Guardians of the Galaxy on display.

Fingers crossed we'll see more 'Cosmo' the telepathic Soviet Space dog astronaut in the sequel.

In a year when everyone took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, including me, The Theory of Everything was a revelation about the life of Stephen Hawking as he's struck down with the degenerative motor-neuron condition early in his college life.

Eddie Redmayne certainly deserves recognition for his touching portrayal of the genius theoretical physicist and cosmologist, but Felicity Jones also delivers an amazing emotional performance as his first wife, Jane, whose memoir this film is based upon.

Original movie costumes from The Theory of Everything
Theory of Everything movie costume exhibit
Also being set in 60's Britain, there's something about the movie that tugged at our heartstrings with all the countryside and nostalgia, and helped the tears flow even more easily during this sweet, but also incredibly inspirational movie.

If you loved the film too, be sure to check out these original movie costumes from The Theory of Everything and more besides, that were on display at ArcLight Hollywood and Sherman Oaks cinema locations.

This is Where I Leave You movie billboard
For me, one of the most underrated movies of the year was This is Where I Leave You. This black comedy with its large ensemble cast about the loves, lives and irritations of a family after the death of their patriarchal figure was a joy to watch and really touched a sentimental nerve.

I think I expected something more plodding and depressing from this adaptation of Jonathan Tropper's 2010 novel of the same name, but I was more than pleasantly surprised.
This is Where I Leave You movie poster
Jane Fonda especially had me cracking up and she really did steal the show as the mother of the clan which boasted Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Corey Stoll and Adam Driver as squabbling siblings. If you've not seen the film, I highly recommend it.

Imitation Game movie poster
It really has been a year of biopics, but for me The Imitation Game about World War II's Enigma Code-breaking gay genius, Alan Turing, was the real delight of the bunch.

Benedict Cumberbatch continues to prove he's one of the most enigmatic actors out there at the moment (I can't wait for his portrayal of 'Dr. Strange') and Keira Knightley was also a joy to watch as the smart, female codebreaker in a man's world.

For me this film was made only more poignant by the fact that Turing helped end the war and yet afterwards was persecuted by the very country he'd help save. It makes you realise how many great men and women have suffered and even lost their lives for being gay (and still do around the world) and yet have still made an amazing contribution to the very society that didn't accept them.

Original movie costumes from The Imitation Game
Imitation Game movie costumes
If you're a fan of the film, be sure to also check out these original movie costumes worn by Mark Strong and Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game.

So these were my five favourite movies of 2014, although Muppets Most Wanted, Interstellar, Pride, The Fault in our Stars and Big Hero 6 were also highly entertaining too and almost made the list.

Be sure to check out my five best films from 2013 and stick around in the days to come for my five least favourite movies from last year...

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