2014 as a pretty big year for me. Graduation, a stint in LA, finally got a credit card (and finally understood why people complain about interest — it’s because it comes out of nowhere and it’s stupid). I also shifted my focus from television to film this year. It started as a way of looking for influences in writing for television but once I got started, I found I was watching less pilots and watching more of those classic movies I keep hearing about. I would watch at least seven movies a week and noticed that my ability recall the themes and structure of each film was stronger to recall my ability to recall the episodes of television I binge. (Whenever I want to rewatch the episode of Mad Men where Pete throws out the chicken, it takes me twenty minutes to remember which episode number it is).
I also got to hear a vast variety of different voices during a week, which I’m glad to have done, because otherwise I might have never known what someone from Korea’s view of global disasters will that we will all be living on the same train or what someone from France’s hour and a half-long view of her mortality was. There really is a world of films outside of American cinema and I think it behooves anyone to absorb as much culture outside of their own to get a better perspective of the similarities and boundaries between us all.
So I decided to put a list out of all the films I saw. Some films were understated gems that I thought needed a shout-out, others were just great movies that I wanted to re-iterate how great they were. The list only includes the films I saw during the 2014 calendar year. I didn’t count the films I’d already seen before or the films that were not released in any country yet. Also, the formatting and concept is borrowed heavily from Cut The Crap Movie Reviews (this blogger puts up all the movies that came out in the 2014 calendar year that he saw — definitely check it out).
Without further ado, let’s jump back into 2014!
132. That Awkward Moment (2014) — Tom Gormican
Oh, the horror of that awkward moment when the girl you’re sleeping with asks if you’re dating.
131. Three O’ Clock High (1987) — Phil Joanou
A great premise that loses itself in gags that belong on Saturday morning TV. How Indiewire put this on their “best high school movies” list is beyond me.
130. A Birth of a Nation (1914) — D.W. Griffith
As good as a movie can be when these guys are the heroes.
129. Palo Alto (2014) — Gia Coppola and James Franco
Franco steps up to the plate and misses again. Some pretty b-roll though.
128. Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story (2014) — Rob Gardener
If you’re making a movie about a Muslim deciphering Nazi war codes, you don’t need a PBS-style narration to explain every single thing that happens onscreen. Would love to see this as a narrative.
127. Divergent (2014) — Neil Burger
An unnecessary and convoluted third act spoils what was on its way to being a great movie.
126.O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) — The Coens
It’s fun to see these actors clowning around, but not really sure why people like this movie.
125. Ghostbusters (1984) — Ivan Reitman, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis
Great song and plot, but something doesn’t about it doesn’t sit right with me. I get a “big business triumphs all, fuck the environment” vibe from it, but that just might be me reading too much into it.
124. The Game (1997) — David Fincher
Had me hooked until the ending. I guess you only get to live life like an action movie if you’re rich.
123. No Regrets for Our Youth (1946) — Akira Kurosawa
There’s some great editing here, but I wish Kurosawa would have taken this compelling historical account in a less straightforward way.
122. An Affair to Remember (1957) — Leo McCarey
A charming romance, but the movie loses steam for me when their spouses don’t fight hard enough to keep them.
121. Muppets Most Wanted (2014) — James Bobin and Nicholas Stoller
Not as electrifyingly funny as the original, but the whole sequel is worth it to see Tina Fey sing.
120. Touchy-Feely (2013) — Lynn Shelton
Missing a climax, but Shelton’s examination of anxiety behind touching and feeling earns its eponym and then some.
119. Gods of the Plague (1969) — Rainer Werner Fassbinder
It ain’t easy being straight. And hot.
118. Greenberg (2010) — Noah Baumbach
Maybe I’ll appreciate it when I’m older, but for now, I just feel like it’s a less funny Frances Ha (although not without it’s moments). What Listen Up Phillip would be like if Jason Schwartzman wasn’t successful.
117. Wolf on Wall Street (2013) — Martin Scorcese
I can’t deny Dicaprio’s presence during this movie, but I still can’t help but feel that the film’s attempt at critiquing Wall Street/douchebags was overshadowed by the jest it takes in the corporate misogyny and manipulation Belfort’s company demonstrates.
116. Interstellar (2014) — The Nolans
It’s always great to see 70mm and the McConaissance, but come on. The solution to ruining our planet is to go and find a new one? This is probably the least helpful movie in dealing with climate change, although it may be the prettiest.
115. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) — James Gunn
The Walkman (and Bradley Cooper) sets this superhero movie aside from the others, but it’s hard for me to see the characters’ gungho attitude about blowing shit up as model behavior. I give props to this for subverting all of our expectations that it wouldn’t be just another stupid superhero movie, but do we really need fifteen more years of our Hollywood money going into films that ultimately add up to explosions dealt by “heroes” who later say “That was awesome!”?
114. Laggies (2014) — Lynn Shelton and Andrea Siegel
SPOILERS: The soapbox will end here, I promise you, but how exactly is Keira Knightley ending up with a rich dude a solution to her inability to hold down a job? That being said, this movie is hilarious and disgustingly accurate in its depictions of Washingtonians.
113. Arranged (2007) — Stefan Schaefer and Diane Crespo
Two girls from different cultures both search for marriage, but their real struggle is explaining to other people it’s not weird for a Jew and a Muslim to be friends. Some scenes are a misfire, but the chemistry between these two leads is solid the whole way through.
112. Secrets of Women (1953) — Ingmar Bergman
Four women muse about their husbands while cooking dinner. While it doesn’t have the pop some of Bergman’s later works have, you see some of his iconic filmmaking take form here.
111. The English Patient (1996) — Anthony Minghella
As sexy as people say, but a bit grandiose. Props for being the first movie I’ve seen where a Sikh man isn’t the butt of everyone’s jokes.
110. 21 Years: Richard Linklater (2014) — Michael Dunaway and Tara Wood
Could have gone a lot deeper into Linklater’s personal development as an artist, but how can I not gush at the stars of Richard Linklater’s best movies set aside time to talk about Richard Linklater?
109. The Heart of the City (2014) — Dylan Freehauf
Who said movies can’t be done by one person?
108. The Immigrant (2013) — James Gray
Don’t feel the hype, but damn, can Marion Cotillard bleed (literally) for her art.
107. The Invisible Woman (2013) — Ralph Fiennes and Abi Morgan
Fiennes’ directorial debut about the romantic life of Charles Dickens falls into the biopic trap of having a subject too large for one film, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t look great.
106. Holy Motors (2012) — Leos Carax
In contention for the weirdest movie I saw this year. If I had to guess what this movie’s about, I’d say it depicts how one must play different roles in order to be successful at their job. If your boss tells you to bite Eva Mendes’s hair off, you do it.
105. School Daze (1988) — Spike Lee
While the narrative gets a little too loose, this movie contains a jaw-dropping musical sequence, savvy racial critique over KFC and Giancarlo Esposito. What else could you ask for?
104. Catch Me if You Can (2002) — Steven Spielberg
Probably the longest and funnest chase scene ever done.
103. The Good, the Bad and The Ugly (1966) — Sergio Leone
Really picks up after the first hour (out of three…), this movie stands out through its fantastically timed action sequences and the sobering backdrop of the Civil War. Also, Tuco.
102. Coffee and Cigarettes (2003) — Jim Jaramusch
Some of the vignettes drag, but that’s what smoking is. Cigarettes and coffee are often seen as bonding experiences, but it doesn’t mean people actually bond. Especially when they’re Steve Coogan and they have their bitch face out.
101. The Artist is Present (2012) — Jeffrey Dupre and Matthew Akers
Probably not as fun than the actual MOMA show, but is a great introduction to the charming and visionary Marina Abramovic.
That’s it for now! Stay tuned for the final 100!