Thursday, February 05, 2015

Top 10 Movies of 2014 That I've Only Got to Watch in January

This is the first time I’m doing a top ten list on movies of a particular year which I’ve only had the opportunity of watching during the January of the subsequent year.  This won’t necessarily be a regular thing.  Probably only when I’ve got to see enough movies from the previous year of a January, and most of them are notable and compelling enough to make a list for.  Just like the case with this time, there are several good movies that weren’t able to make my best 2014 movie list because I wasn’t able to see them last year but I got to see them this past January.

At first, I thought that the premise of Into the Woods – a musical mashup of some Grimms’ fairy tales – was an original Disney idea.  I found the whole concept creative and was impressed.  But I learned later on that this was actually an adaptation of a Broadway musical.  I don’t know why, but this discovery somewhat lessened my admiration for this movie (hence, it’s only number 10).  Nonetheless, this movie offers solid performances from a charming cast, a pessimistic but relatable take on “happily ever afters”, appealing musical numbers, and pretty production values – resulting to a fine piece of entertainment for the whole family.


I’ve always been a Doraemon fan (I love the anime and the character), and I had been always meaning to watch this movie last year but I somehow forgot to check it out.  It was only in January that I remembered all about it.  

I first thought that this would serve as the finale of the Doraemon story, but it’s merely a loose adaptation of the whole thing, which is kind of a bummer.  The story isn’t that special, but the gorgeous visuals made watching this movie a truly delightful experience.


There are three reasons to watch this movie: First, Steve Carell; second, Channing Tatum; and, third, Mark Ruffalo.  One would expect a comedy film with these three names headlining a movie.  But what they did in Foxcatcher is quite the opposite of their goofy reputations as these three delivered stellar dramatic performances in this movie that tells the tragic story between the multimillionaire John E. du Pont and wrestling Olympic gold medalists, brothers Mark and Dave Schultz.  I was stunned that they – especially Carell and Tatum – are actually capable of such kind of acting depth. 

By the way, I also want to commend the flawless make-up job done on the characters (especially on Carell).    


This is far from Primer, but it has the same simple but smart “time-travel” charm (thought it’s not really a time-travel movie) as that cult sci-fi favorite.  The plot revolves on three friends (one of which is Caitlin from The Flash) who discovered a machine that takes a picture 24 hours into the future and used it to improve their fortunes.  The narrative is not exactly mindblowing, but it’s consistently intriguing all throughout.    


It’s technically a 2013 Japanese film (produced by the wonderful Studio Ghibli), but it was in 2014 that it was widely screened in theaters and film festivals.  It also had its DVD and Blu-ray release in 2014.  Hence, it only become widespread, if not also accessible, in 2014, so I will consider this as a 2014 film.  

I’m already aware of the plot of the folk tale this animated movie is based from, so I didn’t have the benefit of having the narrative be new and surprising to me.  But I still completely enjoyed watching the story unfold due to the “watercolor book” appeal of its animation approach.


Same with the previous entry, The Wind Rises is a Studio Ghibli film that was released in 2013 in Japan, but became only widespread in 2014 (though this movie qualified to be nominated for last year’s Oscars, while The Tale of Princess Kaguya is nominated for this year’s) so I will consider this as a 2014 film.  The Wind Rises is a fictional biography of real-life person Jiro Horikoshi, the creator of the formidably deadly Japanese Zero fighter planes of WW2. 

Jiro, in the film, was portrayed as a passionate airplane enthusiast, whose dream of becoming a pilot was taken away from him because of his poor eyesight.   Still, he managed to get to work with his beloved planes by becoming an engineer.  His passion and pride for making planes led him to design powerful war planes, something he would greatly regret.  Aside from his heartbreak with airplanes, his love story turned out to be tragic as well.   So Jiro really ended up as an engrossing, well-layered character that made the ones watching the movie utterly invested to his sad, glorious story.   


Birdman tells the story of Riggan Thomson (fantastically played by Michael Keaton), a washed-up Hollywood star – who had made his name decades ago by playing the superhero, Birdman, in a series of movies – struggling to accomplish artistic validation by producing, writing, directing, and starring in a Broadway play.  Throughout the movie, he is plagued by the voice of Birdman, mocking him of his career choices, as well as seemingly conducting acts of telekinesis and levitation – though greatly implied in the middle of the movie as the workings of his delusional, overwrought mind.  However, in the final scene, the supposition of his powers merely being imaginary is thrown out of the window (pardon the pun – you’ll get it if you’ve seen the movie), so we’re not really sure if his powers are real or not.  It’s an amazingly crazy and unique movie made more notable because of its inspired cinematography style (that gives the illusion that only one camera is used to follow the story, and that the narrative is captured in just one continuous shot). 

I admit that I’m particularly excited about watching The Imitation Game because it stars Benedict Cumberbatch, who is probably my most favorite actor right now.  Cumberbatch’s demeanour as Alan Turing was wonderfully almost similar to his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes (the character that propelled him to this level of fame) in the brilliant Sherlock TV series.   This might not please everyone, but it totally worked for me.  Despite the similarities, Cumberbatch’s Alan Turing still turned out to be a distinctive character.    Hence, it effectively worked in making the movie an excellent character-driven historical thriller on Alan Turing, the cryptoanalyst and pioneering computer scientist, who significantly contributed in breaking Germany’s Enigma code back in WW2.       


This is probably Keanu Reeves’ greatest movie since The Matrix.  Reeves plays the titular character, John Wick, a retired Russian mafia hitman who went on a vengeance spree after the son of his former  employer – the head of the Russian mob in New York – unwittingly assaulted him and killed the dog that his recently deceased wife (the reason he abandoned his former life) had left him.   The movie features a compelling action hero, a chic plot, a good amount of magnificent action sequences, and an interesting interpretation of the New York underworld.  Man, I hope John Wick is the start of a franchise.      


This is definitely one of 2014’s most important films – a must-watch.  This film tells the adventures and struggles of the deadliest sniper (255 kills, 160 of which are confirmed by the U.S. Department of Defense) in US military history, Chris “The Legend” Kyle.  The collaboration of Bradley Cooper and Clint Eastwood – the former portraying the lead role, and the latter directing the movie – resulted into a beautiful, gripping, and thoughtful biographical war drama.  It both celebrates the heroism and skills of a soldier going to war, as well as laments the psycho-emotional scars that he has to unfortunately suffer.  It’s simultaneously testosterone-pumping and heart-wrenching.  It’s truly a powerful, complex, well-made movie that deserves every accolade it is now receiving.   

1 comment:

Jireh_SOP said...

nice! gonna try out your suggestions...
I already watched some...

Time Lapse (always been a fan of Time Travel Films ever since the trilogy of "Back to the Future" & "FAQ About Time Travel") hehe...

The Imitation Game (like you, I’m particularly excited to watch it, because of Benedict aka Sherlock)...

American Sniper (not really a fan of war dramas, there's no much action/strategy)

... I didn't know that there was a Doraemon 3D adaptation. Thanks! I'm gonna try it... ^_^