2014 in review

2014 was a bit of a disappointment to me in terms of going out and seeing movies. Usually I am the person my friends come to talk about movies that have recently come out to get my input on, but for some reason or another I didn’t get out that much. So, putting together a top ten list was a bit of a struggle for me and I hope you don’t hold it against me. As always please feel free to tell me what you think about my list!

10. Fargo

FARGO -- Pictured: Billy Bob Thornton as Lorne Malvo -- CR: FX/Matthias Clamer

Although it is not a movie, Fargo is easily one of the best shows I saw in 2014. It had the perfect blend of humor and violence, with masterful performances from Billy Bob Thorton and Martin Freeman. It was a tough battle between this and Game of Thrones, but ultimately I think that I was more surprised by how thrilling Fargo. Certain parts of the show literally left me on the edge of my seat and a lot of the time I was actively rooting for Martin Freeman’s character to literally get away with murder. Here’s to hoping they can keep it up with the next season.


9.  The LEGO Movie


I remember a friend of mine saying he was excited to see this movie and I’m pretty sure I made fun of him relentlessly for it. I would like to take this time to apologize to him because The LEGO Movie was insanely fun to watch. What works for this movie so well is that the writers could let their imagination run wild with what the characters could be in it and what objects they could build. It also helped that they were able to get a pretty stellar cast for their voice acting. With budding star Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, and of course one of the best voices out there in Morgan Freeman, how could you possibly go wrong. Also, they have Lego Batman which is honestly a better Batman over Val Kilmer and George Clooney.


8.  Neighbors


I really don’t know why this type of movies hasn’t come out sooner. It’s The Odd Couple on steroids after shot-gunning a few Natty Ice’s in your frat house. Seth Rogan comedies have been pretty solid lately (excluding The Interview). After scoring a major hit with the end of the world style comedy This is the End, it was good to see a more down to earth, realistic comedy. The biggest surprise to come out of this movie for me was that besides having a killer body, Zach Efron can actually act a little bit! He kept up with Rogan and at some parts actually was funnier to me. One of the negatives for me was Dave Franco. I can’t wait till he falls off. Here’s hoping that happens in 2015!


7. 22 Jump Street


One of those rare sequels that were better than the original in my opinion was helped out by the fact that it doesn’t take itself seriously at any point. It breaks the fourth-wall early on as well, knowing that it’s going to be a bigger movie since the first one did so well, it takes it over the top on several occasions and it worked very well. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill team up again and their chemistry is just as strong as in the first installment, with Tatum coming into his own as a comedic actor. I’m sure we will be seeing a third Jump Street movie within the next few years, and I hope they continue to top each one.


6. X-Men: Days of Future Past


The best thing this movie did was to erase the disasters that are X 3: X-Men United, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Although the movie took liberties with the source material, some of it works and some of it doesn’t work, but overall it was well done. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender work well together as the reluctant allies of Professor X and Magneto respectively, and the additions of mutants like Bishop and new fan favorite Quicksilver definitely brought new life to the franchise that has really relied on Wolverine. I am also looking forward to seeing how FOX will try to expand the X-Men universe with the next movie X-Men: Apocalypse.


5. Interstellar


I wish this movie could have gone a little higher on my list but unfortunately a couple of things wound up disappointing me which kept it from making it to the top three. Overall it’s an epic movie in its scope and visually. I would expect nothing less from a Christopher Nolan movie, but ultimately I think he might have relied a little too heavily on visuals and it lacked a little in story. Matthew McConaughey continues his hot hitting in this movie with another strong performance, but other than that no one else really delivers. Another thing that bothered me was the actual science of the story. Everything that I have read and from what people tell me, everything in this movie is scientifically accurate but I just can’t wrap my head around how a black hole can lead you behind a book shelf. But that’s just me.


4. Captain America: Winter Soldier


If it wasn’t for another Marvel movie, this might have been a little higher, but alas that is not the case. After the first Captain America ,I wasn’t really expecting much from one of the weaker characters to come out of Marvel’s pantheon of heroes, but to be honest this might be one of the best Marvel movies to date. I enjoyed the spy/espionage style that they took with the character and his supporting cast, and it brought back the best villains ever…Nazi’s!!!! Chris Evans has really owned the role of the Captain, and it was good to see the Black Widow character fleshed out more after her third Marvel appearance. Winter Soldier might also be the most important Marvel movie to date, setting up some major implications that will ultimately culminate in his next installment, Captain America: Civil War.


3. Godzilla


I’ve grown up watching the old Toho Godzilla movies as a child and I always enjoyed the campiness of them. A lot of people were confused when they saw that Big G was actually the hero of the movie instead of stomping around and destroying a city, but after the original movie Godzilla was usually a protector fighting off other monsters that wanted to destroy mankind. Another thing that seemed to annoy people was something I thought was its greatest asset: not showing a lot of Godzilla. I thought the idea to only show him sparingly and most of the time while he’s in the shadows brought an aura of mystery to the legendary monster, and reminded me of how Steven Spielberg presented the shark in Jaws.


2. Gone Girl


I really don’t know what to say about this movie other than it was excellent. From top to bottom, this movie knocks it out of the ball park, starting with Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike’s performances as the embattled husband and the potential victim. At first you really believe that Ben Affleck is the neglectful husband who is at his wits end in a loveless marriage and wants to end the relationship at any cost. Just when you think Affleck is going to get what he deserves, we find out this massive twist and we as the audience is thrown through a big loop, and the movie doesn’t let up until the end. The detail that Rosamund Pike goes into making the world think that her husband murdered her is incredible and it’s a lot of fun to go along with the mystery as it unravels. The true message of this movie: don’t piss off your wife, fellas.


1. Guardians of the Galaxy


Easily the biggest surprise of the year was also the most popular. I remember hearing about this movie a while back and thinking to myself, why on earth would Marvel take this big a risk? I mean, a team that has both a talking tree and a talking raccoon? There’s no way that this would pay off. This film took every chance it could possibly take in making a huge summer blockbuster. Using a relatively unknown actor like Chris Pratt to be your lead could have spelled disaster, but the amount of humor that he brings greatly improved both his performance and the overall feel of the movie. Everything just clicked for this film, from the humor to the casting of David Bautista as Drax and Bradly Cooper as Rocket Raccoon. I guess the old saying holds true, fortune favors the bold.


Follow Dan Aquino on Twitter