An epic slice of Texas life.
|“Boyhood” literally examines all the points that make up a boy’s formative years. While viewers are free to extrapolate it to any boy, this movie is about one boy. Writer and director Richard Linklater first cast Ellar Coltrane as Mason at age 6 and filmed him and his movie family for the next 12 years. It is a flawless, moving piece of life in general that encapsulates all major moments and emotions.||2014 |
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Screenplay by: Richard Linklater
Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke and Lorelei Linklater
|See full review of Boyhood|
Flying away from the weight of ego, success and celebrity with humour, intelligence and ambition.
|“Birdman” the incredibly ambitious film about celebrity, fame, popularity, acting, creating, fatherhood, relationships, death, media and the overwhelming weight of ego is indeed about all of that. Micheal Keaton as Riggan Thomson is the titular Birdman, a popular fictional superhero in the vain of Batman, Spiderman or Iron Man, but that was decades ago and now Riggan is a washed up former superhero hanging onto to the last vestiges of celebrity and who he knows himself as.||2014 |
Directed by: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Screenplay by: Alejandro Gonzales Inarrituo, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo
Starring: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Zach Galifianakis and Emma Stone
|See full review of Birdman|
#3 Night Moves
Dark and gripping atmosphere filled with guilt and paranoia permeate this tale of activism.
|Josh (Jesse Eisenberg) and Dena (Dakota Fanning) are two young environmentalists. They’re activists who want to change the world with one big plan. But “Night Moves” presents that big plan in a small way, focusing entirely on the characters and their actions and becomes so much bigger than an “environmental movie.” This is more universal than being about eco-terrorists. This is about anybody who commits a crime and thinks they’re righteous.||2013 |
Directed by: Kelly Reichardt
Screenplay by: Jon Raymond, Kelly Reichardt
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard
|See full review of Night Moves|
#4 Obvious Child
Surpassing the romantic comedy genre with hilarity.
|“Obvious Child” stars Jenny Slate as Donna Stern. She’s an aspiring stand-up comedian, and night after night she bares her soul for everybody to see who she is, to relate to her, to laugh at her, and to laugh with her. Her material is certainly risqué but it’s also just life. She challenges everybody with acknowledging the facts of life and then just laughing at the absurdities of it all.||2014 |
Directed by: Gillian Robespierre
Screenplay by: Gillian Robespierre
Starring: Jenny Slate, Jake Lacy and
|See full review of Obvious Child|
Each drum beat raises the intensity and the stakes of achieving greatness.
|“Whiplash” stars Miles Teller as Andrew Nieman, a promising young drummer attending a prestigious music school in New York City. He's an earnest, hard-working guy determined to achieve greatness. And that's exactly where the film first shows how unique and different this is going to be. While Andrew appears to be a sweet but shy guy deserving of our sympathies, his drive for greatness is going to drive the audience to edge of their seat and the edge of sanity.||2014 |
Directed by: Damien Chazelle
Screenplay by: Damien Chazelle
Starring: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons
|See full review of Whiplash|
A brilliant character study underneath the layers of filthy superficiality.
|In “Filth”, Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy) is a Scottish cop who’s determined to solve a murder case. But more important than that, he’s also determined to get promoted to Inspector. And more important than that, there’s lots of women to bed, drugs to imbibe, alcohol to drink and general debauchery to embark on. He has zero concern for the people around him and the laws that govern society.||2013 |
Directed by: Jon S. Baird
Screenplay by: Jon S. Baird
Based on the novel "Filth" by Irvine Welsh
Starring: James McAvoy
|See full review of Filth|
Cheering along with a film full of passion.
|Set in the 1980s when gays and lesbians struggled to gain acceptance and equality in society, “Pride” manages to find another segment of society undergoing similar hostility from the police, Margaret Thatcher and the government. Book-ended by the 1984 and 1985 gay pride parades in London, the time in between was marked by the major miner’s strike – causing massive turmoil for everyone involved.||2014 |
Directed by: Matthew Warcus
Screenplay by: Stephen Beresford
Starring: Ben Schnetzer, Dominic West, Jessica Gunning, Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton
|See full review of Pride|
#8 About Alex
About an ensemble that gives a new generation a film to call their own.
|“About Alex” is advertised as “The Big Chill” (1984) for Millennials or Gen Yers, but in an effort to not sell this film short, it’s for anybody who was too young to be able to call “The Big Chill” their own. The main actors are all over 30 and the social media references weren’t over-done. It also boasts an indie cast to die for. I’m a big fan of pretty much all of them and they are cast perfectly for their skills.||2014 |
Directed by: Jesse Zwick
Screenplay by: Jesse Zwick
Starring: Jason Ritter, Nate Parker, Aubrey Plaza, Max Greenfield and Maggie Grace
|See full review of About Alex|
#9 Gone Girl
Implores you to not take appearances at face value as the characters cut a dark tale of marriage.
|The titular gone girl is Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike), wife of Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) and he’s the prime suspect in his wife’s disappearance. Not just because it’s always the husband, but also because their marriage is failing, she’s kept a diary detailing all the horrible things he’s done and all clues lead back to him. The great thing about “Gone Girl” the thriller is that these clues aren’t meant to deceive but to lead the audience. It’s simply a story of what happened, but with twists aplenty.||2014 |
Directed by: David Fincher
Screenplay by: Gillian Flynn
Based on novel by Gillian Flynn
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike
|See full review of Gone Girl|
Comedy and romance and adults growing up.
|Megan (Keira Knightley) is approaching 30, but doesn't seem to have her life figured out the way her friends do – but that's because her friends are naming their baby girl Juppiter and her boyfriend think it's okay to propose at her friend's wedding. In addition, her father's having an affair, and everybody's encouraging her to attend a career seminar where the most important part of professional success is figuring out what animal you are.||2014 |
Directed by: Lynn Shelton
Screenplay by: Andrea Seigel
Starring: Keira Knightley, Sam Rocwell, and Chloe Grace Moretz
|See full review of Laggies|
#11 The Imitation Game
Codes, war and homosexuality in an interesting balancing act.
|A bio-pic of English Mathematician Alan Turing (played here by Benedict Cumberbatch), “The Imitation Game” has to juggle his extreme ego (probably played up for the purposes of entertainment), his achievements of solving the Enigma code and winning World War II for the Allies, and his homosexuality – a crucial element that makes the interesting film engaging and emotionally-affecting. Focusing on the war years, the film achieved the critical balance.||2014 |
Directed by: Morten Tyldum
Screenplay by: Graham Moore
Based on the book by Andrew Hodges
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode
|See full review of The Imitation Game|
#12 Jersey Boys
Get out of Jersey, get ready for some feel-good fun.
|“Jersey Boys” is the rise and fall of The Four Seasons based on the true story and the stage musical. Director Clint Eastwood incorporated the feel of the stage musical in a subtle manner and it gave the film some great framing. They’re New Jersey boys torn between crime and anything other than crime in the early days. Tommy DeVito (Vincent Piazza) knew Frankie Valli (John Lloyd Young) could sing and putting him in the center, they might find their way out of jail.||2014 |
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Screenplay by: Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice
Starring: John Lloyd Young, Vincent Piazza, Erich Bergen, Michael Lomenda
|See full review of Jersey Boys|
#13 Begin Again
Straddles the line between indie and Hollywood well; delivering a feel-good, enjoyable story.
|“Begin Again” features a young, formerly idealistic singer-songwriter ready to abandon her dream in New York City and an older, completely cynical indie music exec ready to abandon the abandonment of his dream. Keira Knightley plays singer-songwriter Greta, alone in New York City after her boyfriend made it big and abandoned her. Mark Ruffalo plays Dan, in the midst of drinking his life and career away just for the fun of it.||2013 |
Directed by: John Carney
Screenplay by: John Carney
Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley
|See full review of Begin Again|
#14 Murder of a Cat
A deceptively clever and very funny murder mystery.
|Fran Kranz is Clinton - a young man who lives in his mother's basement, wears a robe all day long, has his mother drive him around town, laughs at “Who's the Boss” re-runs, and refers to his cat Mouser as his best friend. The comedy angle is clear and it works. Kranz's ability to portray a comedic every-man lends Clinton a perfect amount of familiarity but mixed with an over-the-top ridiculousness that allows the film to take us wherever it wants to go.||2014 |
Directed by: Gillian Greene
Screenplay by: Christian Magalhaes, Robert Snow
Starring: Fran Kranz, J.K. Simmons, Greg Kinnear and Nikki Reed
|See full review of Murder of a Cat|
#15 American Sniper
A complex character portrait of a complicated issue.
|What we have here is an anti-war film disguised as patriotism, a character study under the guise of action and war, and a character declared as a hero who may or may not be a hero. Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) is the celebrated Iraq War veteran, a deadly sniper with over 160 kills. “American Sniper” is his tragic story revealing the mess that war leaves behind. Not just wife Taya (Sienna Miller) and children, but the psychological remnants of murder.||2014 |
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Screenplay by: Jason Hall
Based on book by Chris Kyle
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller
|See full review of American Sniper|
#16 Fading Gigolo
A very funny absurdist comedy featuring male prostitution, pimps and Jewish court.
|Murray (Woody Allen) was the owner of a failed rare book store (“Only rare people buy rare books these days”) and Fioravente (John Turturro) works part-time at a failing flower shop. Murray also knows Dr. Parker (Sharon Stone) who’s looking for a man who might be interested in a ménage-a-trois. For a price, Murray says he does.||2013 |
Directed by: John Turturro
Screenplay by: John Turturro
Starring: John Turturro, Woody Allen
|See full review of Fading Gigolo|
#17 Magic in the Moonlight
A whimsical air of love and magic.
|There are two movies within “Magic in the Moonlight.” One is a plot-driven, thematically-heavy comedy about a realist magician desperate to unmask the secrets of a spiritualist. The second is like a romantic drama asking if opposites can attract. The former is much better but knowing that Woody Allen isn’t going to include unconnected ideas, the film can be quite good for his die hard fans.||2014 |
Directed by: Woody Allen
Screenplay by: Woody Allen
Starring: Colin Firth, Emma Stone
|See full review of Magic in the Moonlight|
#18 Devil's Knot
An affecting film of injustice, corruption and hopelessness in Arkansas 1993 (or Salem 1693).
|“Devil’s Knot” is the story of the West Memphis Three. Three young boys murdered in West Memphis, Arkansas, and the three teenage “devil worshippers” hung out to dry, oh, I’m sorry, I mean accused of the crime. It’s an unfortunate story and an odd movie and one that doesn’t let go until you’re convinced that the world is going to hell in a handbasket.||2013 |
Directed by: Atom Egoyan
Screenplay by: Paul Harris Boardman, and Scott Derrickson
Based on book by Mara Leveritt
Starring: Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon
|See full review of Devil's Knot|
Beautiful portraiture of equality and a woman desperate to find her place in life.
|“Belle” is the story of an illegitimate mixed-race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral raised by her aristocratic High Court great uncle in England in the late 1700s. Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsay (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) has a curious, but heart-warming place in society and in history, and the film tells her story beautifully. Her story isn’t entirely known, but the film fills in the missing times between the factual touch-points with a mix between the expectations for the time and what the audience would want to see.||2013 |
Directed by: Amma Asante
Screenplay by: Misan Sagay
Starring: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sam Reid, Tom Wilkinson and Sarah Gadon
|See full review of Belle|
The dark past of the Catholic Church turned into a darkly comedic tale of morality.
|“Calvary” starts dark and never lightens up, but gives you plenty of humour and food for thought along the way. Father James (Brendan Gleeson) is a Catholic priest in a small village in Ireland. The opening confessional has one of his parishioners telling him they’re going to kill him in exchange for the molestation that he experienced at the hands of a priest when he was a young boy. Father James is innocent, but does that make him a good person?||2014 |
Directed by: John Michael McDonagh
Screenplay by: John Michael McDonagh
Starring: Brendan Gleeson
|See full review of Calvary|
Brilliant character study navigating the decisions between good and bad.
|“Locke” stars Tom Hardy as Ivan Locke. He’s a construction manager by day and by night, well, this particular night, he’s driving. The film is the hour and a half trip from his construction site to London, and it’s going to take him as far away from his previous life as he could get in that time. He makes and receives a series of phone calls that define his life and start shaping what his life is no longer going to be when, or if, he reaches his destination.||2013 |
Directed by: Steven Knight
Screenplay by: Steven Knight
Starring: Tom Hardy
|See full review of Locke|
#22 They Came Together
Skewers romantic comedies without insulting its fans leading to a very funny comedy.
|“They Came Together” is a comedy, but not a romantic comedy. That distinction should be made very clear because as the former, it works very well, but as the latter it really doesn’t work at all. It is of course a satire of romantic comedies and begins with Joel (Paul Rudd) and Molly (Amy Poehler) telling the story of how they met and fell in love, which of course fits the plot of a movie perfectly!||2014 |
Directed by: David Wain
Screenplay by: Michael Showalter, and David Wain
Starring: Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler
|See full review of They Came Together|
All aboard the Snowpiercer for a revolution.
|Set in 2031, 17 years after a climate change experiment went awry and froze the entire world, all that is left is a technologically advanced train called the Snowpiercer and its occupants. It’s a post-apocalyptic movie, and yet it’s historically accurate. Take any revolution in history, place it on a train in the future, and you have “Snowpiercer.” It’s an action movie, but it’s also a thoughtful character piece.||2013 |
Directed by: Joon-ho Bong
Screenplay by: Joon-ho Bong
Based on Le Transperceneige
Starring: Chris Evans, Jamie Bell and Tilda Swinton
|See full review of Snowpiercer|
#24 The One I Love
One part reality, one part mystery, one part love.
|“The One I Love” stars Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss as a married couple desperately trying to recapture the spark, magic and love of their marriage. Their therapist suggests a weekend away is all they need. A house, a gardened backyard, a pool and a guest house is theirs to make use of as they will. While both are willing to try, I would venture that both are looking outside.||2014 |
Directed by: Charlie McDowell
Screenplay by: Justin Lader
Starring: Mark Duplass, Elisabeth Moss
|See full review of The One I Love|
#25 Authors Anonymous
A clever, documentary-styled addition to the romantic comedy genre.
|“Authors Anonymous” presents a group of writers desperate for the next great idea and their moment of success; either order would be fine with them. It’s a comedy presented in documentary style, but it’s not really a mockumentary because it doesn’t parody the genre—it parodies the characters. These characters are all selfish, stupid or stubborn, or all of the above.||2014 |
Directed by: Ellie Kanner
Screenplay by: David Congalton
Starring: Kaley Cuoco and Chris Klein
|See full review of Authors Anonymous|