1. Gone Girl
When Nick’s wife, Amy, goes missing he is frantic to find her, the police don’t have any leads and soon the search becomes a media circus. In a short time suspicion falls on Nick and public opinion turns against him. Caught in a nightmare Nick with only his sister standing by him, doesn’t know where to turn. Flashbacks give us a look at the marriage of Nick and Amy through her diary. When the police find that diary things really start to look bad for Nick. At this point you begin to think it’s just a well done story about a man who killed his wife and tries to get away with it but then maybe it’s not. The entire cast is very good, Ben Affleck is perfect and Rosamund Pike is remarkable. The adaptation of the bestselling novel “Gone Girl” has a twist that you won’t see coming.
2. The Imitation Game
In 1952 a minor robbery leads to the downfall of war hero, Alan Turing. Benedict Cumberbatch gives a brilliant performances as Turing and the rest of the cast is equally great. Based on the true story of the man who shortened World War Two by at least two years by creating what would eventually become computers. Turing led the team that broke the Nazi’s Enigma code allowing the Allies to know what Germany was doing. How he did it makes an engrossing story that everyone should know. The story of his life is fascinating and tragic.
3. Edge of Tomorrow
Aliens have invaded Europe and appear to be unstoppable. Major Cage suddenly finds himself in a unit about to hit the beach in an all out assault on the alien invaders. He is killed in the first few minutes but wakes up with a jolt the previous day unable to stop events from repeating themselves. After a few times of this happening he lives long enough to see a war hero, Sgt Rita Vrataski, die in an explosion. The next time he saves her and she tells him to find her when he wakes up again. As he repeats more days he survives longer and eventually he and Rita determine they might be able to win the war by working together. The cast is great, its well written, effects are very good and not overdone.
4. Guardians of the Galaxy
Peter Quill is kidnapped as a child and taken to a strange galaxy. Years later he is an intergalactic thief calling himself ‘Star Lord’, but no one else does much to his disappointment. He steals an orb that everyone wants and he ends up having to save the galaxy from a madman bent on revenge and the ultimate evil that is controlling him. He teams with an alien temptress and three criminals: a strongman with a grudge, a genetically enhanced raccoon and walking, talking (sort of) tree that he meets in prison. There is plenty of action but it’s the humor, music and style that make this a great action movie. I can’t wait for the sequel and to see how it all plays out in the Marvel universe. Disney and Marvel have done it again.
5. The Lego Movie
There is something wrong in Lego Town – everyone seems too happy. The evil Lord Business has a plan to end the Lego world as we know it. Emmet, a completely ordinary Lego mini-figure, is mistaken for a master builder and recruited to join the underground movement to overthrow Lord Business. All the Lego characters are here including Batman, Superman, Iron Man and many of the older characters like Shaq. There are a lot of laughs with many quick one-liners and the animation is spectacular. This is the best animated movie of the year.
6. Begin Again
Dan has just been fired from the record label he founded when he stumbles into the last of a long line bars only to find Greta performing at an open mic night. She thinks she was terrible but he sees something in her. They decide to work together with him producing her first album. With limited funds Dan comes up with the idea to record it on the streets of New York using the natural sounds of the city. Dan is trying to reunite with his estranged wife and teen daughter while Greta is trying to get over the love of her life who has gone on to be a big rock star. This is a wonderful film with amazing music. The cast is perfect and the writing is genuine.
Riggan once played an icon super-hero in a trilogy but has seen his career fade since then. Now he is risking everything to mount a Broadway play as both the director and lead. He must reign in his own ego, as well as that of his more famous co-star. When his troubled daughter, who happens to work on the production, gets involved with a cast member it makes things worse. The super-hero he played talks to him encouraging him to do the crazy things. There are surreal moments to this film as the everything comes to a head on opening night. “Birdman” is more than a film about actors, it is about life.
8. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
When we last left Bilbo and the company of dwarves they had retaken their homeland, the kingdom under the mountain, from the dragon Smaug who attacks Laketown with fire and destruction. The survivors retreat to the empty village next to the mountain where an elvan army arrives led by the Elvan king. The dwarves barricade the entrance to their city preparing to fight. Gandolf arrives and warns of an orc army marching toward them, soon a dwarf army arrives and the scene is set for an epic battle with the survivors of Laketown caught in the middle. Meanwhile, Bilbo keeps a secret from the dwarves. The final chapter in the Hobbit trilogy is a perfect ending that leads to the beginning of another amazing trilogy.
A small town priest in Ireland hears a confession that includes a threat to kill him in a week. The usually good-natured priest is deeply troubled and conflicted on how to proceed. Over the next week he continues on with his duties meeting the members of his parish but discovers the things he usually deals with more disturbing. When his daughter arrives, he came to the priesthood late in life, he must confront what is happening to his town. The performances are outstanding and the story keeps you engaged while not going where you think it will.
10. The Hundred Foot Journey
When Hassan and his family are displaced from their home and restaurant in India they end up in Europe. While travelling through France their car breaks down and the father notices an empty restaurant for sale. He decides they will settle there, the only problem is that directly across the street is a Michelin starred restaurant run by Madame Mallory who is obsessed with getting another star and does not take kindly to the new competition. Hassan’s natural talent as a chef is soon apparent to everyone and when an incident changes everything Madame Mallory changes her tune. Meanwhile, Hassan and his father both embark on possible romantic adventures. The Hundred Foot Journey is a wonderful film about family, friendship and food.
Honorable Mention (in alphabetical order): American Sniper, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Chef, The Drop, Fury, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, Locke, Penguins of Madagascar, St. Vincent, This Is Where I Leave You.
THE TOP TEN FILMS OF 2014