- Gone Girl and Paddington (tied): Gone Girl absolutely blew me away. Everything about that film – the directing, the cinematography, the soundtrack, the acting, the script, the plot…everything was masterfully done. It’s a group of experts doing their best work in tandem, and I really didn’t think anything could top it.And then, based on its ludicrously high Rotten Tomatoes rating, I took my siblings to see Paddington.
There’s absolutely no reason Paddington should work. It’s a live-action adaptation of a beloved children’s franchise (which normally don’t go so well), the main character is brought to life through computer animation to engage in slapstick humor…and it’s written by the guy behind Mr Bean’s Holiday and Johnny English Reborn.
But the film works. It has a near-perfect plot with a near-perfect message, hilarious action sequences which lead straight into the next hilarious action sequence, it’s helmed by The Mighty Boosh’s director and produced by one of the men behind the Harry Potter series (and Gravity), and it somehow manages to update the Paddington story for both the modern age AND the big-screen without losing a single ounce of charm (or even content) from the original.
I saw it twice in cinemas – once with my grown-up family, and once with my girlfriends’ cynical teen siblings…and both groups absolutely loved it. It should be a disaster. Most people are judging it by the poster and giving a miss, but I’m telling you – whether it’s on DVD or in cinemas when you read this, go out and watch it right now. It’s worth it.
Gone Girl is a masterpiece as well. But you probably already knew that.
- Her: Spike Jonze’s films have always been a highlight for me – his last effort, Where the Wild Things Are, topped my 2009 list, and Her threatened to do the same (until Paddington and Gone Girl were both so damned good.) I managed to go into this film knowing absolutely nothing about it except that it involved AI somehow, and if you’re happy to ignore the huge holes in the film’s logic, you’re left with a beautiful love story (containing tinges of polyamory, which I particularly enjoyed) that had me thinking about it for weeks afterwards.
- Edge of Tomorrow: 2014 was such a great year for cinema. Edge of Tomorrow is a fun film featuring Tom Cruise doing what Tom Cruise does best (playing an unlikeable jerk who learns to be a good guy) in a fresh spin on Groundhog Day that – again – I didn’t know anything about going in. I’ve gotten into the habit of avoiding trailers, and so the film’s basic premise was a total surprise to me. It would be better without the last five minutes – we all know it would be better without the last five minutes. The filmmakers probably knew it would be better without the last five minutes…but it is what it is, and that’s the best action film of the year.(Except maybe Paddington.)
- Muppets Most Wanted: My firm belief is that the point of this kind of list-making is to avoid just taking the year’s hits and ordering them by their Rotten Tomatoes rating, but to instead make it a unique list of films that particularly appealed to you. And I love The Muppets. This one wasn’t quite as good as their return in 2010, but it was certainly close, and if they can keep churning out films of this approximate quality, I’m going to be very happy for many years to come.
- Let’s Be Cops: As I said, Top 6 Lists are about individual preference, not just movies that are considered “objectively good”? Let’s Be Cops tickled me. I don’t know why, but its premise – two guys pretend to be policemen – appeals to me so much that my standards apparently lowered, because I really loved this film. I could watch two guys pretending to be policemen for hours and hours without ever getting sick of it.The film delivers on its premise from start to finish – it never strives for anything harder, it’s just a comedy about guys pretending to be cops…I can’t imagine this will ever make another “Top Films” list, but man I enjoyed it. If the trailer is at all intriguing to you, go and see this film, because it’s basically a 90-minute version of that. Fortunately, that’s all I wanted it to be.
- The Other Woman: I went and saw this film pretty much exclusively so I could write a negative Bechdel Test review about the way it treated women. Instead, I was amazed to find a hilarious film with three strong female leads (“strong characters” in the sense of being flawed and interesting, not “strong females” in the sense they beat people up while being perfect) who were each hilarious in their own ways. I didn’t connect with it quite as strongly as any of the above, but it was a close call for a while!
- Interstellar: I am a guy who loves his space porn, and this film spent a full hour doing nothing but providing me with space porn. The action sequences are incredible (it’s Nolan – what else do you expect?) and one of the two female characters (and yes, there are only two) is amazing, but ultimately the 2001: A Space Odyssey direction he decided to take put me off, and bumped this off the list.
- 22 Jump Street: I didn’t see 21 Jump Street when it was in cinemas (because it looked terrible) and so it never made it onto any of my lists, but it was hilarious, well-cast, and one of my favorite comedies. As such, I was spectacularly excited to see the sequel. It didn’t quite have the charm or laughs of the original, and it missed out on what I felt was the obvious direction for one character to go, but was otherwise a great movie, and one I’ll pick up on DVD and watch a lot. Especially for those end credits. Those end credits, man. Amazing.
- The Lego Movie: Another from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller – these dudes are extremely talented, and moving fast, and I only wish they’d put women in their films. I liked The Lego Movie a lot when I saw it in cinemas, but upon rewatch the jokes didn’t really hit and the thin plot grated a bit. Still an extremely fun film, and well worth checking out (or putting kids in front of for hours on end.) but there’s really no need to own a copy of this.