Monday, December 29, 2014

My Top 20 Favorite Movies of 2014

Compared to previous years, I was not able to watch a lot of movies this year and unfortunately I was not able to catch this year's Cinemalaya, Cinema One Originals and even MMFF so I don't have a lot of local films for my list this year. Also, there are some 2013 movies listed because they were shown here this year and I only included movies that I saw in the theater. For reference here are my lists in 2013, 2012 and 2011. And now here's my top 20 favorite movies of 2014 :)

20. Muppets Most Wanted 
While the movie is not as emotionally satisfying as 2011's  The Muppets, this sequel is still an enjoyable flick mostly because of Bret Mckenzie's songs where he experimented in variety of genres to great results.

19. Guardians of the Galaxy
I'm not a comic book reader so I was not aware of this series so I was pleasantly surprised how entertaining this movie is. The soundtrack also added to my enjoyment of watching this ("Hooked on a Feeling" was my LSS for weeks!)

18. X Men: Days of Future Past
It was a treat to see the characters and actors of the two eras of X-Men movies together. And the way the movie ended  effectively erases the perceived mistakes of the earlier movies to offer a clean slate for its next installment in 2016. 

17. The Trial 
While Star Cinema's attempt to do a legal drama is not flawless, the film is still worth the trip to the theater as it tells a very compelling story of how our quest for approval and perfection can ruin our lives.

16. Interstellar
While it's not as entertaining and flashy as Inception, Christopher Nolan's space saga still stood out with its mind-bending twists and amazing visuals.

15. The LEGO Movie
I didn't expect the twist in the third act so I was quite pleased that this movie isn't just an excuse to sell toys as it had something worthy to say about letting your mind explore and not just go beyond what is instructed.

14. Big Hero 6
 Its pure family entertainment that not only kids will enjoy. While there's nothing groundbreaking with the story, it's not a big downside as Big Hero 6’s effervescent charm will win your heart.

13. Beauty in a Bottle
A smart  satire on the Filipino standard of female beauty. Watch out for Angelica Panganiban's part as it was  the funniest and sharpest segment. 

12. Gone Girl
David Fincher's adaptation of the bestselling novel is a captivating look  on the nature of sensationalized media and how a deteriorating marriage can bring out the worst of anyone.

11. 12 Years a Slave
This year's Oscar winner was shown in local theaters right after it won the award.12 Years a Slave is definitely not an easy film to watch as it deals with one of the darkest moments in history in such a raw and powerful manner. It might not deliver the cathartic experience most movies bring but it is a film which won't likely be forgotten in years to come.

10. Starting Over Again
Starting Over Again totally understands the complications of relationships. It's a heightened reality for sure but it's the type of movie where a lot of people will be able to relate to as it knows that one way or another we have experienced or witnessed the lessons and experiences showcased in this movie

9. Her
Another 2013 film that was shown locally this year. The current champ of the Best Original Screenplay Oscar tells the story of man who is dealing with loneliness after his marriage broke down. The concept of falling in love with a "voice" might sound silly but this film absolutely made it work and you will find yourself empathizing with the film's impossible  romance.

8. Snowpiercer
 Just as I thought I've already seen enough dystopian movies, Snowpiercer comes in to deliver a fresh attack of the class wars. Even if the film is mostly confined inside a train, the film still delivers with its riveting action and emotional punch in the end

7. The Book of Life
Backed up by its dazzling design and supported by its wonderful fusion of stories, The Book of Life is one of the most pleasant surprises I've seen in the theater this year. The movie tells a charming tale that fuses cultural myth and heartwarming personal saga so effectively that only a a heart made of stone will not fall for its charms.

6.  Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
This is the longest film I've seen inside the theater (4 hours) so this definitely is one of my unforgettable movie theater experience of all time. While I admit that there are certain parts of the film that I was uncomfortable with, the film's depiction of crime and justice in the Philippines will provoke your mind after you finished watching it.

5. Whiplash
I think they were just five people who I saw this movie with in the theater so the intensity of this film is felt even more.  I know nothing about jazz and yet this film's music captivated me. This is the type of film that will command your attention no matter what

4. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is not just a showcase of visual effects spectacle but it uses advanced technology in telling one of the most haunting and harrowing story why a war inevitably happens despite the best intentions of both camps to maintain peace.

3. Begin Again
My favorite song of 2014 came from this movie. Apart from its amazing soundtrack, Begin Again also explores how people can drift apart and while there are a few who can successfully reconnect again, it's not always the case and there are just instances where simply moving forward is what is needed to grow.

2. How To Train Your Dragon 2
How To Train Your Dragon 2 is simply a perfect example that an animated film catering to children can go beyond simple kiddie pleasures just as long as you have a focused story that's not afraid to break the status quo.

1. Boyhood
This film does not have a straight story so to speak as it just follows the life of boy over the course of 12 years and in real time at that.  But what fascinated me about this movie is how it was able to capture growing up not just in the physical sense but the emotional and, yes, spiritual journey one has to go through as one matures. One of the most remarkable line of the movie is "I thought there would be more" which was uttered by the mother after she realized that after successful sending her kids to college, she does not know if there is still waiting for her or will she just pass time until she reaches the final milestone of  one's life - death. The film will make you think about your life and how the past can shape up your present and most importantly the future.

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