Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 Movies - A Bunch of Good Movies!

I really enjoyed these movies, but I didn't mark them down as a top ten film when I watched them. In a different year, many of them could have made it.

I watched Philomena and Captain Phillips after they were nominated for Best Picture. I briefly wrote about both here, and I don't have too much to add other than both are still in my memory after a year. I think they both hold up well, and I still recommend watching either one. The Philomena case is still an interesting one that people should be aware of. The action scenes from the end of Captain Phillips were quite intense.

Muppets Most Wanted was a surprise for me. I didn't expect to like it very much, and if it had been released later in the year I probably wouldn't have seen it. Much like the previous Muppets movie, it comes down to the music. I like it. This is the opening song from the movie, "We're Making a Sequel." Take a quick listen. The opening of the song sound like typical Muppets fare. In that clip, it starts at 13 seconds. But then at 40 seconds, when you reach the chorus, it feels like Flight of the Conchords.I loved that mesh from the first movie, and it works again here. That particular song has a good line from Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, who points out that this is actually the seventh sequel.

I also enjoyed "I'll Get You What You Want", which is pure Flight of the Conchords (Bret McKenzie even sings it). None of the songs are as catchy as "Life's a Happy Song," but it's all fun.

22 Jump Street was another great surprise. People talk about sequels being bad. Some movies even open with a song describing just that. But the real culprit in the bad sequel department is comedies. They don't often measure up to the original. I wrote this about 21 Jump Street: "21 Jump Street was funny enough. I don't think I ever saw the TV show. I considered putting this on the overrated list, because some fools have gone a little too apeshit for this. But I liked it enough to leave it off of there." The sequel is better than the original. It's does some of the stuff from the first movie, but funnier. The new stuff is funnier. The pre-closing credits sequel based montage is funny. If I'm ever in the conversation about Best Comedy Sequel, I'll have no hesitation throwing 22 Jump Street into the mix. It deserves it.

Boyhood was a good movie. It was an interesting experiment that mostly worked. I hope that it gives other writers and producers ideas for future movies. That should be its legacy.

I feel like its going to be an Oscar favorite. I won't be actively rooting against it, but I don't feel like it really deserves it for Best Picture (for Patricia Arquette or Ethan Hawke? Yes.). It's too long. Not too much of interest really happens. And the kid doesn't grow up to be the greatest actor.

I certainly didn't dislike Boyhood. I liked it quite a bit. But there are plenty of others singing its praises out there. It's good, but not amazing.

St. Vincent is another movie that's bring blown up a bit too high. I think there are a lot of people who went to see this thinking that they're witnessing the brilliance of tiny, independent movies. Eh... not really.

But I enjoyed it. Bill Murray is great. Of course. When isn't he? And this role was made for him. Look at the poster to the right. There's nothing that feels out of place for Murray, and that pretty much shows you his character.

The relationship between Vincent and the kid is pretty good, even if the ending is a bit hokey.

Big Hero 6 did a few good things with its marketing. They let you know the feel and mode of the movie without giving away much of what happens. It wasn't like the bait and switch from Frozen last year (though I approved!) because you still knew what kind of movie you were getting into.

I haven't read any of the comics this is based on, but apparently not too many other people have either. I understand that the changes were significant so that this has become its own entity. I wonder if they can still try to make the rest of the MCU fit into any possible sequels. Can an animated Iron Man show up for Big Hero 6 2?  Big Hero 7? I don't see why not.

And oh yeah - it's a lot of fun!

Speaking of movies that totally change a character from the comics, Nightcrawler was also very good. This movie is all Jake Gyllenhaal. He's creepy, and his weight loss for the film exaggerates that even more. His eyes are practically popping out of his face, something that would be necessary to have his night vision.

This movie really takes some chances. It goes places that you don't want it to go with a character you don't really want to go with. Its biggest strength is just that. You don't root for this guy. You don't want to be with this guy. But you stick with him to see exactly what he's going to do next, a lot like watching that grisly news story that guys like him captured for you. Bamf!

Finally, The Theory of Everthing showcases a performance that should win Eddie Redmayne an Oscar nomination, and very possibly the win. He redeemed himself from his Muppet-like Les Mis singing a few years back. And for that reason, I enjoyed watching this movie.

But much like a couple movies above, I feel like people have been over-singing the praises of this movie. First of all, something seemed off with me near the beginning of the movie that pulled me out of the film. Seeing that it was a biopic, I was confused. Did they change the story?

You see, Stephen and Jane meet at a party. He enters and they see each other across the room. They start talking, and things progress from there. Not such a big deal at first, but you also have to remember this. Hawking was a nerd. A huge nerd. And he acted like it in social situations. Jane was a cute girl. Now rethink the scene with those ideas. That just doesn't happen for huge nerds. There HAD to be something more to the story. When I got home, I investigated to discover that they had actually been introduced because she was a friend of his sister. Ah - that makes sense. And that paragraph may also explain why I personally felt like it wouldn't happen that way.

My second issue with the movie was that it was good. But it never wanted to be great. Here is a review that states what I was feeling in such a better way. I pretty much agree with every word Lemire writes, though I think I liked it better than she.

Again, remember that I included The Theory of Everything on this list instead of my disappointed list. It's good and well worth watching. Redmayne's performance was almost good enough to land it on my top list. And if you went to see some crappy movie like Ouiji or Saving Christmas instead of this movie, you're worse than Hitler.

Next: The top 14 begins!

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