People love to tell cinema lovers like me that they won’t get to consume as many movies as they like once they embark on parenthood.
Perhaps this is true, but one thing 2014 helped me realize as I became a first time mother was my passion for film could only grow with a new perspective on life. This year was a great one for fully realized, character led stories about people who are forced to confront their inner demons, who are torn between what they should do and what they want to do, or who just need to thrive in a world they feel may be too small for them.
Some of these characters populate my following 2014 Top Ten Best Films of the Year list, which also contains some gems that are vibrant and alive and remind you why you love the movies. As of press time, I wasn’t able to catch some of the films released at the end of the year, so if you are interested, check out my definitive Best Films of the Year, including my Top 5 Worst Movies of the Year list posted New Year’s Eve on my blog here: https://beckydanna.wordpress.com/
For my 140 character movie reviews and my pop culture musings, you can also follow me on Twitter at @hwoodminotaur.
10. The Imitation Game
Benedict Cumberbatch achingly portrays cryptanalyst, Alan Turing, in this true account of a team of covert mathematicians and scholars who are hired by MI6 to crack an unbreakable code created by Nazi Germany in World War II. It’s a fascinatingly layered film, which if you didn’t already know about this true story, is completely unpredictable and surprisingly poignant. The use of time jumping between Turing’s past and present was a touching device and an ingenious way to parallel the themes of cracking a code to helping the viewer solve the puzzle of what drove Turing to be the man that he was.
9. Jodorowsky's Dune
An engaging documentary about director, Alejandro Jodorowsky's failed attempt to adapt the science fiction novel, Dune in the 1970s. Jodorowsky’s vision is epic in every sense of the word. He persuades the best actors, musicians, artists and special effect wizards in the world to join his project. It’s glaringly obvious that a film that was projected to have a running time of 14 hours and bear the cost of a small country’s GDP would not end up being made, but the ambition and talent behind it cannot be dismissed. Our greatest genre films, like Alien, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Star Wars, may have never come to be were it not for the visual effects teams repurposing some of their best designs from or being influenced by Jodorowky’s vision for Dune.
8. Edge of Tomorrow
A smart, entertaining science fiction movie in which Tom Cruise is flat out great. He’s funny, charismatic, and relatable, and we can’t keep our eyes off him as his character, Major William Cage, dies repeatedly and is forced to live the same moment over and over in an attempt to gain intel to fight an alien race set on destroying Earth’s inhabitants. Emily Blunt (and her badass arms) portray a revered soldier who helps Cage harness his gift of immortality, and her chemistry with Cruise is electrifying. Doug Liman infuses the film with quick doses of adrenaline and eye-popping special effects and keeps it at just the right pace from every feeling boring or clichéd. Edge of Tomorrow helped renew my faith in throughly entertaining summer fare.
Richard Linklater’s moving portrait of a boy as he moves from adolescence to adulthood is truly remarkable. To dream up the bold idea to film a cast over the course of 12 years, in an ongoing and believable narrative, and then to execute it as flawlessy as Linklater does, entitles him to all the accolades and rewards he will no doubt receive. You can't help but feel nostalgia for all the small moments in your own life as you watch this boy grow into young adulthood, because you know that no matter how unassuming those moments may be, they are what make you who you are. Boyhood is an emotional, subtle and sometimes quiet ride, and one that I believe becomes even more powerful as a parent.
One of the things I love most about cinema is how a singular film can affect someone in its own unique way. I have heard many vastly different reactions to Whiplash, a story which follows a talented drummer, played expertly by Miles Teller, who endures intense physical and emotional abuse at the hands of his teacher in a pursuit to be the best jazz drummer in the world. Some are of awe of the drummer’s commitment to his craft; others are horrified by J.K. Simmond’s character’s teaching methods; while others think both men are both unstable. My reaction to this movie was of total heartbreak. This story stayed with me for days, and what I found that resonated with me the most was how the path to greatness often times leads one to sacrifice everything- family, friends, or even that which humanity desires the most: happiness.
That's it for now. Check back tomorrow for the top five films on Becky's list!