Kubryk’s Top 10 Films of 2014 & Year End Review (Monday Morning Critic Special Edition)

2014 was a disaster of a year by any stretch of the imagination for Hollywood. No film crossed $400 million in domestic box office revenues for the first time in a long time, overall film quality is down and this year’s Oscars are going to look like the 1984 Summer Olympics. I mean SOMEONE has to win at the end of the day but we’re going to look at most of the Oscar winners from March of 2015 with a shrug in the years to come. I mean we’ll have to call Mo’Nique an Academy Award winner but does anyone really think she was all that good still? That’s what we’ll think on a much grander scale for the year de cinema 2014.

This was an odd year for me. I walked away from Inside Fights after three years of trying to make it as an MMA journalist. I transitioned jobs in the real world, as well, and as I finish up year two of home ownership I find myself in a much different place than when I started writing for this website nearly 11 years ago. Part of me thought I’d springboard to a full time writing career, leaving this place behind like so many others, and yet I found that I like having health insurance and a regular paycheck. Thus I’ve transitioned from viewing this as something to build a writing portfolio around to my very fun hobby that people think is way more glamorous than it really is.

Adulthood is alternatively awesome and hilariously stupid.

It took me until last month to find 10 films I could place on this list. After the 150 or so that I’ve viewed this year in theatres alone it was really hard to narrow it down to 10, if only because I didn’t want two or three on there that I couldn’t justify for any other reason but to have that sanctified number. This year was a struggle to find 10 and I really didn’t have a firm 10 until around Thanksgiving; I didn’t have five until October and I was doing a healthy viewing schedule.

Now, with a full column already in the books this morning, here comes my year end wrap up/Top 10 for 2014.

Kubryk’s Top 10 Films of 2014

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10. Birdman

I reviewed this in theatres.

It’s wild to think that Michael Keaton is now at that stage of his career where he’s reflecting on being a movie star, and wanting to be an actor again. And it might be somehow amusing to me if he gets an Oscar nomination that it could be for playing an actor debating on whether or not to portray a comic book character again for the money.


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9. Edge of Tomorrow

I wrote on this film, and Tom Cruise’s redemption as a movie star, here.

Perhaps Tom Cruise shedding another marriage turned his career around as he’s had some of his best work as of late. He’s had a spectacular ability to take roles, and films, in the past couple years and this adaptation of a Japanese YA novel was marketed poorly but was a brilliant movie. This is one of the few roles in recent memory where Cruise didn’t play the bad ass who saved the world; it’s a much different role that allows him to show off that movie star charisma only few have. The opening sequence, with Cruise as this talking head trying to sell us, would’ve been the highlight of a lot of movies.


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8. Dear White People

I reviewed this in theatres.

This is the sort of film Spike Lee wishes he could make. Lee, never my favorite director to be fair, doesn’t capture the sort of nuance Justin Simien finds in race relations in one of the great subversive films of the year.


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7. Nightcrawler

I can’t stand it when people confuse weight loss with acting, which is what a lot of people focused on for Jake Gyllenhaal’s headliner about a creepy guy who becomes a news video footage peddler. His brilliance is in how soulless he becomes, about that level of creep that oozes through the screen. We become voyeurs alongside him as he wanders through the world of night time crime footage; Gyllenhaal being this tiny little creep is one thing but it’s in his eyes, and the way he talks, that is genuinely disturbing.


6. About Last Night …

I wrote about this in theatres.

The original is one of the ultimate 80s films, and one of the great Chicago films, so I went in expecting to dislike it. Thing is it managed to take a great Chicago film and modernize it into a great film about L.A. It’s a terrific cast and takes the same basic premise, about a great romance and finds us in the six months after phase, and develops it exceptionally well.


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5. John Wick

I wrote about this in theatres.

Ahem, The Expendables 3 marketed itself as an old school balls to the wall action film. In reality it was a gigantic turd. The real deal was John Wick, Keanu Reeves returning to action films to show us what’s up.


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4. Gone Girl

I reviewed this film right here.

It’s hard to pull off the unreliable narrator as a major plot device, especially if it’s coming from a novel adaptation, but David Fincher manages to pull off one of the great mid-movie twists in recent memory and then drive it into a finale of absolute brilliance.


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3. Stretch

I wrote about this in a column.

I’m still baffled how this went direct to Netflix and didn’t at least get a limited release into theatres. Exceptionally brilliant, Joe Carnahan continues his streak of great film-making that somehow can’t find an audience.


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2. Guardians of the Galaxy

I wrote about this before it was released potentially Marvel’s greatest challenge, ever, as a film studio and it succeeded by any reasonable standard.

Subversively funny and exactly the sort of film missing from the genre, James Gunn was a huge longshot and turned out one of the best films of the year by making what essentially amounts to a crime caper in space. Plenty of comedy, great action and Vin Diesel in his first tolerable role make this one of the first must sees of the year.


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1. A Most Wanted Man

I wrote about this in theatres.

Le Carre novels have been adapted twice in the past couple years and both have been brilliant. In an era where the modern spy film is closer to a Bond ripoff, a good old spy thriller is hard to find. And this is a slow thriller that ends in such delicious fashion.

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