2014 IN REVIEW: My Top Films of the Year

February 22, 2015 Leave a comment

The LEGO Movie - Batman and Benny

I saw so many movies this year, I honestly couldn’t pick the best movie. The selection was so wide because I saw so many, I honestly couldn’t pit movies I just enjoyed versus films I admired. So, this year, I’ve decided to do something different — I separated them into genres. it’s not exactly what you might expect – Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t in sci-fi, for instance, because it’s much more of an adventure film in space.

I’ve ordered these based on gut instinct overall, however, and so you’ll be able to see what I (currently) favored over others. That being said, however, all of these movies are fantastic.

I’m tired of explaining things, honestly. The process of doing the year in review this year was a lot longer than I intended. So, yeah. You know the drill. Read below! Read more…

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2014 IN REVIEW: The Worst Movies of the Year

February 15, 2015 1 comment

The Purge: Anarchy - gangster

This 2014 in Review series is taking me a lot longer than I anticipated, but such is life and work. After this, we’ll be getting to my favorite films of the year, but before I do that, it’s time to pass judgment on some of the worst films released in 2014.

These are the movies that bored me, that angered me, that were so bad they left me bewildered as to how they even got released in the state they’re in. For your reference, this year I have also included the Rotten Tomatoes score for each movie. While I cannot say that the order I’ve placed them in is definitive, even for me, they are arranged roughly from worse to worst, ending with my pick for the #1 worst film of the year. I have more picks for 2014 than I ever have in the past, but it was a pretty easy and obvious pick, though some of you might be thinking of the movie I put in the #2 slot. I have my reasons why it went there and not at the top, but you’ll just have to read to find out.

Read more…

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2014 IN REVIEW: Everything in Between That I’ve Seen

February 7, 2015 1 comment

Under the Skin - Eye

Finally, we come to the films that I actually did see! As with the films I didn’t see, these films will come at you in three parts: the films that were just somewhere in the middle in terms of quality, the films I greatly disliked, and the films I really enjoyed.

I use those qualitative terms just to avoid confusion over what I’m ranking here. The films in this section range from generally bad to generally quite good, but never elevating to excellence or making me fall in love with them or making me hate them with a passion. That being said, I didn’t expect to like some of the films here as much as I ended up liking them, and, of course, I was letdown by others I actually was kind of looking forward to.

If you don’t see the movie here and didn’t see it in the list of films I didn’t see, then you can almost certainly be guaranteed to find them on one of my next two lists, as this is just a portion of the 121 total films I ended up seeing from 2014 as of this writing, whether in theatres, on DVD/Blu-Ray, or through streaming. Read more…

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2014 IN REVIEW: The Films I Didn’t See (September – December)

January 31, 2015 2 comments

The Skeleton Twins - Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader

I’m not going to waste too much time this year on introductions. For this third and final part of my review of films I didn’t see, we’re going through the prestige Oscar-baiting season. You know — hammy acting, controversial subjects, beautiful cinematography, politics… It’s often a mixed bag, and for every stunning masterpiece, there’s often a lot of films that misstep and come off like a cheap cheeseburger dressed up to look like prime rib. … I’m hungry.

This is by far the biggest portion of films I didn’t see, largely due to a lot of them coming out so much more recently and not being available to rent, if I missed them in theatres.

Yes, 2014 may have been a record year for me seeing the most movies from that year, but there were still movies I never got around to or never even had the ability to see due to either foreign or limited release. I still like going over them, however, as this process often leads  to me finding some unexpected gems that I might enjoy. Some of these I might become so interested in that I see them before I even get to the films I did see, so there is actually a possibility you might see these films reappear in this 2014 in Review series if that becomes the case.

Anyway, here are many of the films from September to December 2014 that I didn’t see, for one reason or another. It’s by no means complete, but that’s what you get when you’re using Wikipedia and Best of/Worst of lists from other sites. Read more…

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2014 IN REVIEW: The Films I Didn’t See (May – August)

January 24, 2015 1 comment

Maleficent - Angelina Jolie

I’m not going to waste too much time this year on introductions. For this second part of my review of films I didn’t see, we’re going through the summer blockbuster season, which is typically where a lot of hopeful franchises and big, loud, action-packed spectacles are typically placed. That doesn’t mean that they’re stupid or anything, as some of them look quite good, but don’t expect too many of them to be all that deep or groundbreaking.

Yes, 2014 may have been a record year for me seeing the most movies from that year, but there were still movies I never got around to or never even had the ability to see due to either foreign or limited release. I still like going over them, however, as this process often leads  to me finding some unexpected gems that I might enjoy. Some of these I might become so interested in that I see them before I even get to the films I did see, so there is actually a possibility you might see these films reappear in this 2014 in Review series if that becomes the case.

Anyway, here are many of the films from May to August 2014 that I didn’t see, for one reason or another. It’s by no means complete, but that’s what you get when you’re using Wikipedia and Best of/Worst of lists from other sites. Read more…

Categories: Year in Review Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2014 IN REVIEW: The Films I Didn’t See (January – April)

January 15, 2015 1 comment

Joe - Tye Sheridan, Nicolas Cage

I’m not going to waste too much time this year on introductions. We all pretty much know this is the dumping ground for lesser films prior to the summer blockbusters and awards season after that. Still, it’s worth mentioning that this was a slog to go through, and I didn’t even see these movies; I just charged myself with reviewing why I never got around to them.

Yes, 2014 may have been a record year for me seeing the most movies from that year, but there were still movies I never got around to or never even had the ability to see due to either foreign or limited release. I still like going over them, however, as this process often leads  to me finding some unexpected gems that I might enjoy. Some of these I might become so interested in that I see them before I even get to the films I did see, so there is actually a possibility you might see these films reappear in this 2014 in Review series if that becomes the case.

Anyway, here are many of the films from January to April 2014 that I didn’t see, for one reason or another. It’s by no means complete, but that’s what you get when you’re using Wikipedia and Best of/Worst of lists from other sites. Read more…

2014 IN REVIEW: It’s The Viewer’s Commentary’s Fourth Annual Year in Review!

January 6, 2015 Leave a comment

Guardians of the Galaxy - Awesome Mix Vol. 1

It’s January! That means that we’re all looking forward to a year of new movies while looking back on the year past and nitpicking all the stupid things that we think Hollywood should avoid in the future while totally ignoring the fact that they’re all really going to just keep doing the same stuff over and over again.

And that really was the general consensus regarding 2014, from what I can tell. While 2014 had plenty of films we hoped were going to be good, there weren’t very many movies that we could look forward to with certainty of their excellence, either. Examples:

  • There was a freaking movie based on LEGO blocks…
  • Marvel was hedging their bets on two of their most ambitious films yet. The first was a sequel that completely changed up the series’ tone from the retro sci-fi cheerfulness of its predecessor to a more serious, pessimistic, and shockingly violent espionage flick, despite it being helmed by a duo who were heretofore better known for working in TV comedy and directing You, Me, and Dupree. The second was a film set at a far point in the galaxy with all sorts of weirdness going on, including a talking raccoon and a tree with an extremely limited vocabulary in two of the lead roles.Divergent - Shailene Woodley
  • Hunger Games fever was seeing its first major me-too film adaptations in The Giver, The Maze Runner, and Divergent while the actual Hunger Games film series continued with the first part of the cash-grabby, two-part Mockingjay adaptation. What’s next? Hobbit knock offs?
  • Disney was following up their smash hit, Frozen, with their first ever Disney-branded Marvel adaptation in Big Hero 6, which took serious liberties with the X-Men-related comic book source material, including moving the story from modern day Tokyo to the far future hybrid city of San Fransokyo.
  • No Pixar film, while DreamWorks was churning out an update to a classic cartoon in Mr. Peabody & Sherman, a sequel to How to Train Your Dragon, and a spinoff of Madagascar starring the Penguins of Madagascar… titled Penguins of Madagascar.
  • Teenage romance films in the same vein as the seemingly never ending Nicholas Sparks adaptations, one of which was a remake of a crappy 1980s teenage romance film, one involving a girl on the brink of death while roaming around in a ghostlike form, and, perhaps the most egregious sounding of the three, an adaptation of a novel about two kids with cancer who happen to also fall in love.

The Fault in Our Stars - Ansel Elgort, Sam Trammell (foreground)

  • More reboots:
    • Godzilla. Another one. Made by Americans.
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, courtesy of producer Michael Bay, who was meanwhile continuing his Transformers series with a reboot of sorts, too.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past, which actually managed to make erasing the previous series of films from the new timeline a part of the storyline.
    • Veronica Mars, which was a crowsource-funded restart of a cancelled TV series.
    • Left Behind, which also managed to shove in freaking Nicolas Cage in there in one of his most baffling roles of his career. Speaking of which…
  • Christian films reached both an all time high for popularity, at least as far as theatrical release goes, and a nadir for quality, the most offensive being the latest Kirk Cameron atrocity.

Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas - Kirk Cameron's dancing...

Yeah, 2014 looked like it was going to be a pretty bland year, even if you weren’t into the serious dramas and independent film scene, which… I honestly don’t keep up with nearly as much as I probably should when it comes to pre-release buzz.  I can’t imagine that there are that many who do beyond actual paid professional critics, of which I am tragically not.

In the end, it was indeed a pretty off year for films, but I’m actually not so sure that’s a bad thing. While there were plenty of terrible movies, most of those were easy to spot from a mile away, and many of those uncertain major films actually managed to prove themselves to be a non-issue, while some of them actually turned out to be pretty fantastic, in fact! Yet more unexpected gems also emerged from the darkness to surprise everyone with how good they were… or, at the very least, they surprised me. Looking back, 2014 was a year that the expected gave way to the unexpected — and it was refreshing and satisfying.

Godzilla (2014) - It's coming...

On a personal level, 2014 was also pretty great for my film habit, by the way. I managed to buy myself a surround sound system finally thanks to a nice Christmas bonus. (Yay for being freaked out about whether the neighbors will complain!) It was the first year in which I rented a film that was also still playing in theatres — some of them either not available in my area and some just because I was a lazy bum who didn’t want to make the trip. I don’t anticipate me doing this for every release in the future, though, as I still love going to the theatre, and the prices for these films are pretty much comparable despite my TV and sound system not matching that of a theatre, but for things like documentaries or limited releases that are playing just too far away from my apartment, it’s proven to be a pretty convenient medium — particularly when I managed to get some free Vudu rental credit.

Life Itself - Roger Ebert

Consequently, this was also the year that I broke a personal record for the number of films I saw before the year’s end: a whopping 104, either through theatrical release or rental. By comparison, in 2011, the year I started blogging, I’d only seen 32 from that year in total, with some spillover into 2012 for the viewing time frame. With the added incentive of blogging from the very start, 2012 saw an increase to 58 by the time I posted my last year in review entry. 2013 again saw an increase to 68, meaning my 2014 viewing habits increased by nearly 53% from the previous year — and I’m not done yet, as there are still some films I want to see that I’ll likely watch before I complete this review series. I don’t know whether I should be proud or not… but  I choose to be proud. I’ve already told my friends and family, anyway, and it still didn’t inspire them to stage an intervention, so I think I’m good.

So, yeah, I’m actually pretty excited to talk about the films of 2014. I anticipate that it’s going to be interesting and pretty different compared to past years. As always, I’m going to roll this out in stages, first with three entries discussing the films I didn’t see, then an entry discussing just the middle ground films I saw, an entry on the worst films I saw, and, finally, my favorite films from the year. (I say “favorite” because, while they’re all good, in my opinion, I do not rank them in order of excellence but rather personal favor. The “worst” list works pretty much the same way, pretty much, but in the reverse.)

The LEGO Movie - Batman and Benny

For a rough schedule, here’s how I anticipate it working out, though it’s subject to change if I need to space it out (I will have seen over 104 films, after all, and I might choose to break up the middle ground film entry just due to numbers):

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