Justin Kueber's Top Ten Films of 2014

It’s that time of year again! The time of year when critics from all across the globe compile their coveted “Best Of” lists...being as I’m a closeted critic, aspiring filmmaker, and opinionated asshole I figured I might as well share with you My Top 10 Films of 2014.

Besides the onslaught of comic book movies and sequels that should never been made (Transformers *cough*), 2014 was a good year for film. So good that it was extremely difficult to put together a Top 10 List. Unfortunately, some of the films I really enjoyed did not make the cut on my top 10 list but still deserve a mention. These films include:

The Lego Movie

Edge of Tomorrow

22 Jump Street

Ida

The Babadook

Chef

X-Men Days of Future Past

Guardians of the Galaxy

 

And of course, there were also some films I didn’t see (but really wanted to) because I'm a starving artist and I don’t get free passes to films when they come or special "critic" screenings. These include:

 

Whiplash

20 Feet from Stardom

Leviathan

Winter Sleep

Only Lovers Left Alive

Mr. Turner

The Imitation Game

Inherent Vice

Mommy

Citizenfour

Most Violent Year

Red Army

 

Now, the time you’ve (all three of you reading this) been waiting for. Here is my Top 10 Films of 2014:

 

10. Life Itself

 

I am a huge Roger Ebert fan. He was the one critic I could always count on – generally, if he liked a film, I would probably like that film as well. This documentary showcased and celebrated the extraordinary life of Roger Ebert. Ebert is a personal hero of mine and his legacy will forever be etched into the world of cinema. 

 

9. The Grand Budapest Hotel

 

Wes Anderson loves Wes Anderson more than Wes Anderson loves Wes Anderson. Huh? And, well, I love him for that! Grand Budapest is a hilarious little treat from the master of quaint cinema. TGBH isn’t my favorite Anderson film but it’s pretty damn close. Fantastic performances all around – especially from Ralph Fiennes – make it one enjoyable tale. Thank you, Mr. Anderson, thank you!

 

 

8. Gone Girl

 

David Fincher’s newest film, an allegory for troubled marriage and the increasing role of social media in today’s society, hits all the right notes and lasting effect….that effect being it made me never want to get married. Ever. But, nonetheless, Gone Girl is a smart film with excellent performances from Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike and surprisingly, Tyler Perry, and has one of the most violent neck slash scene I have ever seen. Yikes! Fincher is spot on with his direction (like usual) and I would argue one of the best directors in mainstream Hollywood cinema today!

 

 

7. Snowpiercer

 

One of the more thought-provoking films I've seen this year. Packs the punch of a blockbuster action movie and also has meaning and heart - something sci-fi movies have been lacking lately. A good sci-fi film offers a critique of the current world in a new and exciting way and Snowpiercer does just that with its symbolism and a critique of the social class system in today's society. If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend you do so!

 

6. Nightcrawler

 

Jake Gyllenhaal gives one of the best performances of his career. Period. I would have said he deserved the Best Actor Oscar but that was before I saw Steve Carrell in Foxcatcher. Regardless, the film echoes early De Niro Taxi Driver and has this creepy tone that gnaws at your skin long after the film has finished. It presents a range of themes of corruption and greed but the one that jumped out at me was the shadowy nature of personal ambition; the lengths that one human being will go to make something of themselves – and it happens both in the newsroom and with Gyllenhaal’s character. Very smart film that will be talked about for a very long time.

 

5. Birdman

 

A great film that blatantly chirps comic book movies, social media and offers a good look into the role of the celebrity in modern society. The cinematography is fantastic; the entire film looks like it was done in one shot and I couldn’t see this film being shot any other way. Michael Keaton is superb and even Zack Galifianakis was great in a more serious role. Look for this film to clean up on Oscar night 2015.

 

 

4. Force Majeure

 

I didn’t really know what to expect when I went into this film. When I walked out I was a changed man! Force Majeure is funny, it’s smart and it’s a real treat from start to finish. FM has similar themes to Gone Girl but it is offered in a funnier, comedic way unlike the Fincher film. The aspect I liked most was the deconstruction of the “family man”/ male as the family protector. It looks at the preconceived notion that men are supposed to protect their family and then flips it on top of itself when the Man (Brady Corbet) runs away from his family during an avalanche. The rest of the film follows his struggle as he comes to terms with his family not seeing him as the protector they want him to be. Highly recommended film!

 

 

3. Foxcatcher

 

I don’t even know where to start on this one – it’s creepy, it’s frightening, it’s marvelous! Steve Carrell is terrifying, displaying one of the best performances of the year. If he doesn't win Best Actor I will be very surprised. I don’t really know what else to say on this one. It is a perfect film. Perfect in every aspect from the acting to direction and cinematography. I'm still shaking and I saw this film only a week ago. Very highly recommended! Perfection! 

 

2. Boyhood

 

Every now and then there comes a film that can only be described as special; that film, is Boyhood. I have never seen a film this ambitious, with this grand of a scope ever. Richard Linklater is a one of the most underrated brilliant directors in the game today. I recommended this film for everyone - especially the people of my generation as it is like looking into a time capsule of our youth. Boyhood is going to win Best Picture, mark my words!

 

1. Under the Skin

 

There are certain questions I ask myself when I am ranking my top films: was it intriguing? Did it make me think? Was it something unique?

 

Under the Skin is without a doubt the most unique, intriguing and thought-provoking film of the year and quite possibly the last few years. I’ve watched this film four times now and I finally have a good grasp at its meaning – I know, took me long enough hey? But, that’s what makes it a good film. It can be interpreted in many different ways. Under the Skin is like 2001 but multiply that by one hundred. It’s weird, it’s unnerving and just special. Scarlett Johansen is fantastic and very sexy as an alien – it’s kind of ironic calling her sexy because the film explores themes of beauty and coming to terms with our skin, our bodies. It isn’t about what’s on the outside but rather, on the inside….and in her case she was an alien! Who knows, maybe we are all aliens in one way or another? (Cue Twilight Zone music)

 

In all seriousness, this was my favorite film of 2014. It offers an interesting, realistic look into some serious issues and presents them in a unique and stimulating way. This film is going to be looked at and studied for a very long time! 

 

Happy New Year everyone! 

Posted on December 30, 2014 .