How is it already the end of the year? I didn’t have nearly enough time to watch every movie I wanted to or see several awards-bait titles that haven’t opened here yet. That being said, here are my top 10 movies of the year.
1. “Guardians of the Galaxy”
Call me a fanboy all you want, but I didn’t have more fun at the movies this year than with these misfit space heroes. The music was nostalgic, the action exciting and the humor spot-on. And the film even said bigger-picture things about friendship and loyalty. We are Groot, indeed.
2. “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
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Part dark comedy, part profound drama, part fantasy. But it was all a daring, imaginative ride about a washed-up actor (Michael Keaton) trying to reinvent himself. It was masterfully designed to look like it was shot in one long take, which put us right in the middle of the brilliant, searing performances. A cinematic feat.
Richard Linklater’s passion project was a novel idea: Film the same core cast over a period of 12 years and tell the simple, intimate story of a family and its son growing up. It was rich storytelling that was ultimately life-affirming.
This riotous story of a brutal jazz music instructor’s emotional effect on an overly eager drummer was riveting in only the way that underdog movies can be. J.K. Simmons was explosive as the teacher, but Miles Teller was equally as good as the student. I left the theater soaring.
5. “The Imitation Game”
It reeks of prestige bio-pic, about English mathematician Alan Turing, who cracked the Enigma code during World War II then was persecuted for being gay, but it does it well. The film is completely enthralling with great moments of humor. But it’s a captivating Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing that gives the film its heart. He’s an unapologetically flawed human being who was greatly wronged. Most of all because he never got the chance to love.
Christopher Nolan’s space epic was certainly ambitious, but not just in its scope – a team of explorers go through a wormhole to explore other galaxies – but also in its theories without dumbing anything down.
7. “Gone Girl”
We were never sure what was going to happen next in David Fincher’s dark drama about a man (Ben Affleck) accused of being the cause of his wife’s disappearance. But as the pieces started to fit together, it all became mesmerizing.
8. “The Theory of Everything”
Eddie Redmayne (“Les Miserables”) was astonishing as physicist Stephen Hawking, impressively disappearing into the role as Hawking slowly succumbs to a crippling disease. But Felicity Jones was the heart of the film as his dutiful wife. Both shined radiantly.
The film was dark and seedy, as the title would suggest, about the cutthroat world of TMZ-style sensationalist journalism, but it was Jake Gyllenhaal’s creepy performance that hooked us. His character was unlikeable and pathetic, but we couldn’t take our eyes off of him.
10. “Starred Up”
This blisteringly intense Scottish indie import boasted a roiling performance by Jack O’Connell as a violent teenager sent to an adult prison where his estranged dad is a feared inmate. The tension is almost unbearable at times and the violence disturbing. But O’Connell sold it and showed us the hurt beneath his character’s tough exterior.
The year’s top 10 grossing movies
(Domestic totals in millions)
1. “Guardians of the Galaxy,” $333
2. “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1,” $294
3. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” $260
4. “The LEGO Movie,” $258
5. “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” $245
6. “Maleficent,” $241
7. “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” $234
8. “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” $208
9. “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” $203
10. “Godzilla (2014),” $201
Source: Box Office Mojo