Tuesday, December 30, 2014

DC Outlook's Top 10 Movies of 2014

Matthew McConaughey stars in Interstellar

Interstellar Rules the Galaxy in 2014

For the second year in a row, DC Outlook has delved into "outer space" to crown its Top 10 list of best movies. Interstellar grabbed the baton from last year's #1 (Gravity) and literally left its competition in the dust. No easy task when you consider how good The Raid 2, Whiplash and other movies were in 2014. This year's Top 10 was relativity easy to compose; but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention The Equalizer (another home run for Denzel) and The Homesman... two runners-up of the highest order. Without further adieu, here's the best of the best (in one humble man's opinion.)

10. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): Unexpected indeed. Movies that cross paths with Broadway rarely resonate with me; but it's impossible not to love Michael Keaton and an all-star supporting cast. Birdman is daring, entertaining, funny and best of all... smart. It also captures the craziness that is theatre.

9. Lone Survivor: We didn't screen this in time for 2013 Oscar consideration; but that didn't stop us from adding it to this year's Top 10. No other film comes close to matching the intensity and bravery on display throughout this 2-hour masterpiece... even if it does come close to pushing our patriotic buttons, a little too often.

8. The Grand Budapest Hotel: Birdman is smart. Budapest is even smarter. Wes Anderson could be the most creative filmmaker in Hollywood; although his movies tend to feel similar to each other. Not quite on par with The Royal Tenenbaums, but darn close. Ralph Fiennes is (refreshingly) hilarious.

7. Fury: Some folks say Brad Pitt is overrated: I'm not one of them. He's dynamite as the cool, calm and gritty leader of a WWII tank crew. Great action and even better casting (hats off to Lindsay Graham and Mary Vernieu.) War is Hell: Fury (and director David Ayer) manages to translate part of it to film.

6. Gone Girl: Any other year, and Gone Girl could have finished #1, 2 or 3. At #6, it only confirms how good a year it was. You want suspense? Thrills? Emily Ratajkowski? Gone Girl has them all. Can we finally put an end to bashing Ben Affleck? He's a terrific actor. Gone Girl is a terrific movie.

5. Nightcrawler: Got creepy? Jake Gyllenhaal does (and then some) in Dan Gilroy's haunting directorial debut. Both filmmaker and star push the envelope at every corner, and the end results are nothing short of spectacular. You'll never look at local news in the same light ever again.

4. Edge of Tomorrow: Tom Cruise eases back into matinĂ©e idol-mode in the wonderfully original Edge of Tomorrow. Cruise is boyishly charming, heroic and vulnerable... proving he still has plenty of gas left in the tank (at 52 years young.) Emily Blunt's awesome too; and Doug Liman pushes the gas like a NASCAR driver.

3. Whiplash: I finally took Arch Campbell's hearty recommendation and saw Whiplash a couple of weeks ago. The rest is history. If every school in America had Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) teaching in their classrooms, those kids would learn a lot... or else. Talk about tension: Simmons rattles the cage of equally impressive Miles Teller in the best musical (it's a stretch, I know) since Grease. Not for the faint of heart; but don't you dare miss it.

2. The Raid 2: You want action? Gareth Evans' latest spectacle has more than any other movie since The Matrix Reloaded. That's lofty praise, especially when you consider The Matrix sequel was my top movie of the 2000's; but The Raid 2 (also a sequel) deserves every accolade and then some. Iko Uwais is charming and unassuming as the deadliest one-man wrecking crew since Frankenstein; and the movie moves at a crisp pace, pausing just long enough to showcase one cooler/slicker episode of violence than the one before it.

1. Interstellar: We're halfway through the decade; and I wouldn't be surprised if Christopher Nolan's latest masterpiece winds up as our #1 film of the 10's. Great sound, even better visuals and a story that's equal parts creative and hypnotic. After all, it's the end of the world; and all of Earth's eggs are in one collective basket, held ever-so-carefully by Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and a few other brave souls. I could rattle on; but suffice it to say... It's spectacular.