Top 10 Movies of 2014

Caroline Rogers, Staff Writer

This year, I enjoyed my fair share of blockbusters and even some more obscure movies at Downtown West. Here are my top 10 movies of 2014.

  1. Million Dollar Arm – Disney movies and sports movies are notoriously sappy and unoriginal, and in all honesty, this movie was too. But unlike most Disney/sports movies, this film takes the classic American sport baseball halfway across the world to a completely different culture and scenery, in India. India is absolutely beautiful and a drastic change from Los Angeles (where the main character JB lives). It’s refreshing to see such a change of pace in a Disney sports film. Jon Hamm plays the charming JB, and while it was a bit weird to see Don Draper pretending to be a baseball coach, the actor did a good job.
  1. Winter’s Tale – From director Akiva Goldsman, Winter’s Tale is a beautiful movie featuring an all-star cast. Colin Farrell, Jessica Findlay, Will Smith, and Russell Crowe star in this winter fantasy. The story follows Farrell’s character Peter Lake through time as he tries to save his dying love interest, Beverly Penn (Findlay). Beautiful scenery is present throughout the entire film. It is set in early 20th century New York during the winter. The characters spend lots of time in beautiful mansions and snow covered streets. The storyline is interesting, but a bit hard to follow, and many questions are left unanswered. The acting is good, but the writing is sometimes too cheesy to take seriously.
  1. If I Stay – Based on the novel by Gayle Forman, If I Stay is a romantic drama about two unexpected late teens that fall for each other. Mia Hall, played by the effortlessly talented Chloe Grace Moretz, is a shy high school senior who spends nearly all of her time playing cello. She’s the black sheep in her family, with two rock n’ roll minded parents and a mischievous younger brother. She meets Adam, the older, charming lead singer of a rock band. When the Hall family gets into a car wreck, Mia’s whole life changes. This movie is packed with great music and great laughs. The story is so relatable for teens, especially high school seniors. Mia struggles to balance her love life, school, and family. She learns about love and loss, and finds herself amidst the wreckage of a tragic car accident. It’s a great coming of age story that many can relate to.
  1. Monuments Men – George Clooney directed, wrote, and starred in this World War II drama. Honestly, is there anything he can’t do? The movie focused on the Nazis stealing art from around Europe, which was a refreshing change from traditional war movies. The dialogue is effortlessly funny and charmingly real. The story is fairly historically accurate with a few artistic liberties being taken. Award-winning actors including Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, John Goodman, and Bill Murray bring real emotion to their characters. Lastly, the scenery is beautiful. Most of the movie is set in famous European cities filled with art, so it’s a great movie just to look at if nothing else.
  1. Guardians of the GalaxyGuardians is one of the best Marvel movies to come out recently. It features a talking raccoon, a heart-warming tree… traveling through the galaxy trying to save the world. This film is hilarious, charming, and intense at the same time with a great soundtrack in the background. Zoe Saldana and Chris Pratt pull off the superhero characters like no other.
  1. Dear White People – Every person in the world needs to see this movie. Regardless of race, gender, age, socio-economic status, etc., this movie will present relatable and thought-provoking issues. The film is fictional, but based on real stories, and all of the events are extremely realistic. The writing is hilarious, and the acting is wonderful. Tessa Thompson and Tyler James Williams play politically active college students, while Dennis Haysbert (the Allstate guy) portrays the strict Dean Fairbanks.
  1. Interstellar – Space, alien, and apocalyptic epics have been all the rage in Hollywood recently. Many lack scientific accuracy, genuine emotion, or anything other than explosions and special effects, but Christopher Nolan brings a refreshing change to the trend in his most recent film Interstellar. This space odyssey features a heartbreaking love story between a father and daughter. Matthew McConaughey’s portrayal of NASA pilot-turned-farmer Cooper pulls at the heartstrings while he travels through space and time, trying to save the world and get back to his daughter Murph (Jessica Chastain).
  1. Her – Spike Jonze creates a wistful, quirky, clever film about modern human relationships. Set in the near future, Her follows Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) as he develops a fascination with, and eventually a love for, an intuitive operating system. Scarlett Johansson voices Samantha, the operating system. Her husky, gravely voice is easy to fall in love with. Phoenix perfectly portrays the heartbroken, brooding, romantic Twombly. Then there’s Amy Adams, who plays Twombly’s quirky best friend. Adams’s acting is so effortless and flawless, it barely seems like she’s acting.
  1. Grand Budapest Hotel – 1930s Europe serves as a beautiful backdrop to this mystery/drama/comedy film. The storyline follows Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes), a legendary concierge, and Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori), the lobby boy and Gustave’s friend through warring European countries as they try to recover a priceless Renaissance painting. The dialogue is charmingly witty, while the blocking is reminiscent of a Three Stooges movie. On the surface, this movie looks like a silly British comedy with a gorgeous landscape, but the film delves into deeper issues like love, loss, war, and greed.
  1. The Theory of Everything – Stephen Hawking is famous for his groundbreaking research in astrophysics, but this story looks beyond Hawking’s brilliant mind, and into his heart. The movie focuses on Hawking’s relationship with his first wife, Jane, and how it is affected by the fact that he has ALS. Eddie Redmayne (Les Miserables) and Felicity Jones (The Amazing Spiderman 2) are two of the most gifted young actors, and their portrayals of Stephen and Jane Hawking are absolutely breathtaking. The Theory of Everything tops my list because of the brilliant writing, acting, and cinematography.