The box office might have shown a lack of overall sales in theaters this year... but that doesn't mean that we didn't see an obvious improvement in film making.
In 2013 we saw better films compared to the previous years, but in my opinion, 2014 has stood out as a very special year for film making. I made sure to catch many of this years most celebrated releases. I'm sure there's a couple stragglers I'll catch in 2015, but feel confident in knowing that I'm offering up a small list of feature films that will not be a waste of your time… Hopefully. And in doing so, I will offer up one favorite for 5 different genres.
1. Drama - Boyhood
Directed by the humble pie wizard of filmmaking, Richard Linklater. The film explores a boy's life growing up in Texas and follows his journey through boyhood. The most interesting part about this film is that they shot it over the span of 12 years in reality and you literally watch the characters grow up on film. You can catch some great performances from some familiar faces like Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette. It's an amazing experience and I suggest that everyone check out this ground breaking classic that explores the lesser moments of life.
2. Action - Snowpiercer
Directed by the South Korean Master, Bong Joon Ho. This epic takes graphic novel inspired films to a whole new plateau. It's about the last of humanity surviving an ice age on a non-stop train that runs on a track stretching around the globe. Such great imagination executed in this film, the likes of which I have not seen since some of Terry Gilliam's earlier flicks. This film has so many wonderful ups and downs, it's a total roller coaster ride and I loved every minute of it. Chris Evans gives one of the best performances of his career along side some equally amazing performances from veterans like Tilda Swinton, Ed Harris, Song Kang Ho, and John Hurt.
3. Horror - Tusk
Directed by the lovable foul-mouthed comedy genius, Kevin Smith. All I've got to say is... Wow! Cheers to Mr. Smith who has won new respect from me with this off-the-wall horror classic that brings a lot of laughs to the table. It's about a cocky podcaster named Wallace desperate for a story who visits an old man claiming to have plenty of intriguing stories to tell... but soon finds out that the old man is not who he seems to be and has an obsession that could land him in a watery grave. I get the feeling that there was no holding back while developing this film and it is truly inspiring to know that whacky cool films such as "Tusk" can still be made in this day and age.
4. Comedy - Wish I was here
Directed by the scrubbed-out comedy star, Zach Braff. This is his follow up film to 2004's Garden State and it has surpassed his debut by far. Braff knocks it out of the park with this down home look into the modern life of a Jewish family struggling to make ends meet and keep their hope alive. The main character Aidan, played by Braff, is at a major crossroads in his life which causes him to revaluate his career and family. The film explores many stereotypes and sets the record straight in a lot of ways. The film is chalked full of brilliant performances from Mandy Patikin, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, and the young Joey King.
5. Sci-fi/ Adventure - Guardians of the galaxy
Directed by the dynamic filmmaker James Gunn. I loved it! This film hit all the right spots at all the right times. I haven't seen a film adaptation of a comic turn out this well since... in fact this is the best adaptation of a comic book that Marvel has released to date. An unlikely group of five rebels are stuck together through circumstance and are struggling to keep possession of a relic that can destroy worlds. I was pleasantly surprised by the smooth shifts in tone and the playful vibe that the film carries throughout. The soundtrack was stellar and I loved how the walkman was worked into the story. The films color palette is very vibrant and has not been seen in a Sci-fi film since The Fifth Element. This one has laughs and thrills for everyone, young or old. An instant classic!
Just remember to relax and enjoy a feature film. Try not to get caught up in expectations and politics. Let the film simmer and at the end... make up your own decision about these works of art.