my 2014 at the movies

2014 at the movies
As I mentioned in my 2014 end of year round-up, this year has been a very light year for movies. Mostly this was caused by the massive amount of time I spent playing Assassin's Creed games (yeah, I know, I don't seem to have shut up about that much over the last couple of weeks), but I also tended to gravitate towards TV shows, including The Legend of Korra, The Newsroom, Teen Wolf, Face Off, True Detective, Game of Thrones and The Great British Bake Off.

All up, I only ended up watching about 87 movies, only 18 of which were things we saw at the movies (well, technically 19, but I mostly slept through the last one, so it doesn't really count). Which is a massive drop from the close to 200 movies I've averaged over the last three years.

But that also doesn't count the movies I just put on for colour and movement while I was doing other things, or that I dropped into halfway through on TV. But overall it was a light year.

Like last year, 78% of the movies I kept a track of were ones that I hadn't seen before, partially helped by the fact that I went through a bit of an anime (and more specifically a Studio Ghibli) and animation (the DC superhero movies predominantly) phase during the year.

There did seem to be a higher proportion of good movies we saw in the cinema though, with two movies scoring 5/5 and another six scoring 4/5. And literally the only thing that separated the two 5/5 movies was their rewatchability.

My top five movies for 2014 are:

the lego movie - the story of a nobody who saved everybody
1. The Lego Movie

What I wasn't really expecting from a movie as funny as The Lego Movie was that it would make me cry. I really don't want to give anything away, because it was something I had no idea about, but it was beautifully moving, and it was definitely designed to speak specifically to a certain type of adult Lego collector.

chef - starting from scratch never tasted so good
2. Chef

Where this movie really, truly excels though is in Favreau's story. The plot never gets out of hand, even at the moments where it's the most heightened (although the Downey Jr scenes do skate the edge) and the relationships, particularly between Carl and Percy, are wonderfully written.

captain america: the winter soldier - in heroes we trust
3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I swear that Marvel just goes from strength to strength with their movies... and Captain America: The Winter Soldier is one of the strongest entries in the catalogue.

the maze runner
4. The Maze Runner

What I got was a movie that was a lot darker and had a much more interesting concept. And there also wasn't a single dud performance from the young cast.

the boxtrolls - heroes come in all shapes and sizes...even rectangles
5. The Boxtrolls

And it also goes to show what you can do when you just give the audience credit for having brains in their head and realise you don't need to explain every little thing and then underline it.

As usual there are the honourable and dishonourable mentions, but there's also a new category, possibly just for this year... The Movie I Gave A Shitting Rating To At The Time But Then Recommended To People And Generally Loved More As Time Went By... which is a little big to use as an actual mention, so we'll call it the Slipped Through The Cracks mention:

Honourable mentions: Guardians of the Galaxy (which only didn't appear on the list because I felt that Captain America had the better overall story, plus all the cute interactions between Cap and Black Widow), How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Saving Mr Banks.

Slipped Through The Cracks mention: Predestination... as I said at the time, I don't think I have every enjoyed a movie where the plot was so blatantly obvious fairly early in the movie as much as I enjoyed this one... and watching it again on New Years Eve proved that it holds up to a second viewing.

Dishonourable mentions: It's all M's this year... Maleficent, The Monuments Men and Magic in the Moonlight. All of which squandered their premise and suffered from being less interesting than they should have been. Of the three, Maleficent kind of comes out as the worst just because it was full of elements that were right, as they say, in my wheelhouse, and they still fucked it up.

From the other 68 movies that I saw for the first time in 2013, these were some of the stand-outs...
  • Wolf Children (2012): A sweet movie about a widow who was married a werewolf and has two wolfie children who moves to the countryside to raise them. It feels VERY Ghibli, even though it's not, but it is beautiful.
  • 1984 (1984): While it's not as rich and deep as the book, this does present a wonderfully bleak looking version of Orwell's story and is definitely worth a watch.
  • Summer Wars (2009): A weird mix of Ghost in the Shell and any of the Ghibli movies set in the real world and the virtual world, this movie introduced me to the card game Hanafuda Koi-Koi which I played obsessively (but not very well) on my phone for several weeks afterwards.
  • Veronica Mars (2014): Had this actually come out in the cinema here, I would have gone to see it, but alas it didn't so I had to resort to other means (and then bought the DVD as soon as it came out). And really... Veronica Mars/Kristen Bell, this was always going to be on the list. I was just sad that they couldn't find a way to work Duncan into the story somehow.
  • From Up on Poppy Hill (2011): I went through most of the Studio Ghibli catalogue this year, and this was probably my favourite from the "realism" genre. A close second, but from the "total fantasy" genre was Pom Poko.
  • Sharknado (2012): It's not often that something this monumentally awful ends up on my list of stand out movies. But this was SO appallingly bad, that it not only circled all the way around from bad to good because it's bad, it did a second lap and ended up at mind boggling and captivating because it's genuinely horribly bad. Bad acting, bad writing, bad directing, bad editing, HIDEOUS special effects... it's just bad wrapped in bad, smothered in bad. The only thing better than watching this is watching it on TV while live tweeting it along with everyone else. It's a compelling car crash of a movie.
  • Interior. Leather Bar. (2013): While this is presented as though it's a "documentary", the whole thing is one giant scripted essay from James Franco on sexuality, prejudice and, at times, general arthouse wankery. Or alternatively it's just an excuse for Franco to make (and/or watch) gay porn... and watching him watch one guy blowing another guy is almost worth seeing the movie. It's intriguing and also incredibly pretentious at times.
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