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10) The Wind Rises

It was tough to say goodbye to a director I admire, but luckily for me, director Hayao Miyazaki delivered a fitting farewell with The Wind Rises. One that I think will grow with age and reflection, The Wind Rises is different from most of Miyazaki’s work yet utterly the same. Moments of sincerity coupled with gorgeous scenery made this film a testament to animation and the work that this master did with it.

More in my review.

 

9) Edge of Tomorrow

The video game movie not based on a video game, Edge of Tomorrow wasn’t a movie I had on my radar until massively positive press hinted that the movie could be more than just another Tom Cruise vehicle. Instead, it was a thoughtful, entertaining, and intelligent movie that not only was an engaging action flick but a showcase for a fantastic performance by Emily Blunt. The concept of sci-fi Groundhig Day seems odd, but totally works in all the best ways.

More in my review.

 

8) The Lego Movie

Easily one of the most fun time at the movies I’ve had in awhile, The LEGO Movie took the concept of corporate sell-out blockbuster film and made it something human and fun. While it was subliminally trying to sell you toys, it also put the idea of existence and finding your place in a human way that was refreshing and fun. Director/writers Phil Lord and Chris Miller continue to craft pop culture-laden films that speak to both the head and the heart and this one may be their best feature yet.

More in my review.

 

7) Enemy

One that after viewing it would not of been a though to be included on my list, this film stuck with me weeks after watching it because of the themes and traits it exerted throughout. A film that understands its ambiguity and takes hold of it without any reason, it feels like a wild ride that doesn’t make any sense, yet makes all the sense in the world. Jake Gyllenhaal may have given his greatest performance to date in this double role that is both surreal and oddly realistic. While it isn’t for everyone, Enemy provokes thought, contemplation, and discussion which something incredible.

 

6) Ernest & Celestine

A film that is brutally underrated, this French animated film is both touching and insanely intelligent for a movie that looks as if it is a moving picture book. It shows off the beauty and grace of hand-drawn animation much like a Miyazaki film does, but finds its own niche to be apart of. The themes hidden beneath the cuddly characters are deep and strong while the aesthetics of the film compliments. It was not seen enough by the Academy at last year’s Oscars and will be a treasure hidden under the obscurity and unfamiliarity of this animation style and the branding around it.

 

5) Only Lovers Left Alive

At times it can feel atmospheric and pretentious, but in its core, Only Lovers Left Alive is a testament to film and art today and finds an appreciation in people’s passions and how they want to display their craft. Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston create the greatest hipster vampires and complimented with a beautiful soundtrack make a love story that feels more about the weight of age rather than the physicality of being together. It is a story about love and the everlasting time to be with someone rather than a fairy tale romance dressed up to make people feel better.

More in my review.

 

4) Guardians of the Galaxy

I liked the way I summarized this movie in my review as the one we would be most nostalgic about in the coming years. Both self-aware and utterly engaging, Guardians of the Galaxy is the Star Wars film we were never given and one that had me cheering the entire time. The humor, the action, and the ambiance felt everything like being in an original trilogy Star Wars movie but with a little more modern flair. Chris Pratt is great as the swashbuckling lead with scene-stealing work by Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel as Rocket and Groot respectively. This is the film I will most definitely go back and re-visit time and time again after this summer is over and the one that I will be thinking about most if summer blockbusters get oversaturated with superhero movies in the coming years.

More in my review.

 

3) Grand Budapest Hotel

The film out this year’s crop that I have seen the most, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a cozy world that allows you to be whisked away to a land with a quirky set of characters and their problems for an hour and a half that works about the same as a Spielberg blockbuster. Ralph Fiennes delivers an outstanding performance in the lead role that is still one of my favorites of the year. Director/writer Wes Anderson continues to build these boxes for us to get in for a little bit of time and this one, while one of his most orchestrated, is also one of his most fun.

More in my review.

 

2) Boyhood

I think this movie is something special and with more time it will only grow to become better and better. It may seem odd and jarring at first look but I think that is because it isn’t like most movies, it is a life. It doesn’t have a first, second, or third act but one large act of life and people come and go with not many consequences carrying over throughout the years. But what director/writer Richard Linklater has created is a portal into the past that is like the best case of nostalgia ever. It is sad, happy, but most of all, it is a decade of memories that you share with other people but feel like your own.

More in my review.

 

1) Life Itself

A film that I have seen three times now and inspires me and almost brings me to tears, Life Itself is much more than just a film for critics or film fans, it is a film for fans of life and how it should be lived. Roger Ebert may not have been the role model we all thought he was when it came to living life, but his life, put on display here, is something special and one that makes you think. I knew the minute this film finished that it was instantly my favorite of the year so far and I’m not sure it will be replaced. It touched me deeply and I think about being more like the lessons I learned in it every day.

More in my review.

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