With 2014 coming to its end, it’s time for us to make a conclusion of the movies we have met in the cinema. Today, I would like to share 10 most popular movies of 2014 below. Speak out if you have different opinions.
Under the Skin
Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin is a film about a beautiful, scary alien that is itself beautiful and scary and alien: it’s an entirely extraordinary, outrageously sensual film that Glazer’s previous excellent work had really only hinted at, partially and indistinctly. His Sexy Beast (2000) was a visually accomplished, exciting and intelligent crime thriller that was way ahead of the woeful mockney-geezer mode of the time. Birth (2004) had Kubrickian ingenuity and chill, with some remarkable moments; it was a movie that deserves cult-classic status but has yet to achieve it. Then a decade went by, and it seemed that Glazer might be a stylist for whom a sustained cinema career would perhaps not be achievable (and heaven knows, it can happen to the most talented).
There are no two words in the English language more harmful than good job. Such is the philosophy of J.K. Simmons' monstrous music instructor Terence Fletcher in Damien Chazelle's thrillingly brutal masterpiece Whiplash. With his bullet-shaped bald head, mad-dog eyes, and bite that's every bit as bad as his bark, Fletcher is like a vicious Marine drill sergeant at Parris Island. His latest recruit is Andrew Neiman (brilliantly played by Miles Teller), a cocky jazz-drummer prodigy whom he puts through a meat grinder of physical and verbal abuse. We've all seen movies like this before: A naïve kid is beaten down only to then be built back up. But Chazelle has more on his mind than 106 minutes of bebop, bleeding palms, and bluster. He's grappling with Big Ideas—ambition, alienation, and the psychological toll of pursuing perfection—via two actors who boil over with bare-knuckle intensity.
The One I Love
What if your love story could start over? Would it do more good or harm? "The One I Love" tackles these questions through a premise so unusual we'd rather not explain it. Let's just say that during a weekend away, a couple (Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss) stumbles upon a bizarre way to return to the glory days of their now-crumbling relationship. Its surreality makes "The One I Love" a comedy. Still, you'll be surprised how long the movie's quiet existentialism leaves you thinking.
Let's admit right from the get-go that the degree of difficulty in pleasing everyone who devoured Gillian Flynn's bruise-black beach read was off the charts. And I certainly get why some fans of the novel walked out of the theater disappointed. Movie adaptations never mesh with the way we envision characters on the page. But I loved David Fincher's Gone Girl. I loved it as a bleak account of modern love after it's curdled, as a wicked satire of cable-news scandal-mongering, and as just a good old-fashioned dark-as-hell thriller. Fincher's film managed to tease us, play with our loyalties, and sucker punch us with surprise twists most of us already knew were coming. There was no film this year that left me with a sicker smile on my face.
Wes Anderson's films have always been easier to admire than embrace. They're like hermetic, handcrafted dioramas in which every last detail, no matter how tiny, has been exquisitely attended to—often at the sake of real emotional engagement. But with The Grand Budapest Hotel, a deliriously funny and wistfully romantic fairy tale about a time long lost to history, the director finally found the human touch. It suits him. Set in the fictional European nation of Zubrowka sometime between the world wars, the film tells the story of a world-class concierge and gigolo named Monsieur Gustave (a marvelously persnickety Ralph Fiennes) and his ever-loyal lobby boy (the droll, deadpan Tony Revolori). A grab bag of dizzy intrigue swirls around them and the supporting cast of colorful oddballs, all while the ominous specter of fascism looms just outside the frame. For once, Anderson has created a confectionary universe that not only dazzles your eye but also breaks your heart.
"Nightcrawler" is so good, it should have come out in 1999, when maverick filmmakers like David Fincher, David O. Russell, Paul Thomas Anderson and Spike Jonze were connecting with big swings. Dan Gilroy's directorial debut is an amalgam of "Network," "Psycho" and "Bringing Out the Dead," a biting satire about the media and the American dream in 2014. At the center is Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou Bloom, a tightly coiled lost boy who finds his calling as a freelance news videographer. Lou's a Horatio Alger for the modern age, and the lengths he goes to remain a success are horrifying and hilarious, often at the same time.
When it comes to superhero movies, I have become an agnostic. I have neither the faith of a fanboy nor the knee-jerk derision of a men-in-tights heathen. But if there's one movie that's come the closest to making me a believer, it's James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy. Marvel's merry band of squabbling misfits goosed anarchic life into a genre that tends to get mired in existential heaviosity. And what's not to love about a posse of anti-heroes that includes Chris Pratt's cocky Star-Lord and Zoe Saldana's green-skinned assassin, plus a mound of muscles, a foulmouthed raccoon, and a grunting tree named Groot? Guardians works precisely because it's so unlike every other comic-book movie. At last, an excitingly unpredictable blockbuster.
Hollywood trades in car chases and shoot-outs, worm-holes and tornadoes to distract us from the pure white-knuckle thriller that is everyday life. The cinema is our sanctuary, our palliative. It is where we go to escape the high-stakes horror of the working day or the churning drama of the domestic hearth. There is nothing quite so scary or galvanic as everyday life.
Roger Ebert was a towering cultural figure. So much so that he sometimes bordered on being a thumb-waving cartoon. But in Steve James' beautiful documentary about the late film critic's extraordinary life, he's unforgettably human. Despite the Pulitzer Prize he won at the Chicago Sun-Times and the small-screen fame that came from his on-air partnership with Gene Siskel, Ebert was a populist. He spoke plainly, he never pretended to be smarter than his audience, and his enthusiasm (and occasional lack thereof) was infectious. He was one of us. But he was more than that. In Life Itself, we learn that Ebert was a recovering alcoholic who could be prickly—until he met his beloved wife, Chaz. The most poignant moments in the film are the small, intimate ones shared by the couple as Ebert undergoes a grueling series of surgeries to battle the cancer that stole his voice but never succeeded in quieting him.
Easily the geekiest and most obsessive documentary I saw all year, Frank Pavich's Jodorowsky's Dune is an exhumation of the weirdest movie never made. In the mid-'70s, eccentric Chilean auteur Alejandro Jodorowsky (El Topo) tried and failed to adapt Frank Herbert's sci-fi talisman Dune. The false starts, bizarre detours, and cult luminaries attached to the project are probably more interesting than the film would've been. But Pavich argues (convincingly) that Star Wars, Alien, and The Terminator wouldn't exist as we know them were it not for one man's epic fail. A delightful celebration of a visionary whose dream never got the chance to live outside his head.