Top 10 Movies of 2014

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Posted February 13, 2015 by ian nichols in Movies

2014 was a lackluster year at the box office, and a year of anemic storytelling. But we can all agree that action, adventure and sci-fi continued its high streak, both at mainstream theaters and buried deep in the underground. In fact, we here at We the Nerdy agreed on ten films that wowed us and captured our imaginations. Whether its searing dramas, quirky comedies, or blockbuster smashes, we found 10 amazing films that we consider to be the top of 2014. Here is We the Nerdy’s Top Ten Movies of 2014.

10. Under the Skin

Under the Skin. Director Jonathan Glazer’s sci-fi thriller could not have a more fitting title. It is exactly what this smart, stylish, sexy, strange film does to you – it gets under your skin. Glazer’s intelligent abstraction both requires and demands your full attention, leaving an indelible impression. Visually arresting, with phenomenal cinematography, contrasting shots are juxtaposed. There are scenes that leave you wondering whether what you saw was your mind playing tricks or if it was something actually shot on film. 

The score is much less a score in the traditional sense. It’s more of a superb manipulation of sound editing. Composer Micah Levi’s “score” completely deserved an Oscar nomination for Best Score. Mimicking human breathing and a heartbeat, mixed with an alien sound, it enhances the eerie atmosphere and reflects the themes of what it means to be human–how we all search for something in our lifetime. 

Ultimately, this movie challenges. Jonathan Glazer does an exceptional job of challenging your senses, challenging your belief in what cinema should be. What does this film mean? Each individual will have their own opinion – theories include human beings’ disconnection, the human naivete, etc. Perhaps the film is about the ideas of what makes us human, and how far this person and, by extent, we will go to prove our humanity.

This film is much more than a film – it is an experience that will go down in history as one of the greats of our generation.–Kevin Pourmostofi

Under the Skin

9. X-Men: Days of Future Past

In 2011, 20th Century Fox released X-Men: First Class–the perfect series beginning. It has a great basis for continuing storylines, but the actual movie wasn’t amazing. However, I was very excited to see where the sequel would go, especially when Fox revealed a storyline that included modern day X-Men along with the younger versions.

All of the ads for X-Men: Days of Future Past make the movie appear to be a jumbled mess, but the end result is very entertaining. Watching Logan go back in time to reunite Professor X and Magneto is intriguing, and it’s great seeing him interact with all of the younger characters. And who doesn’t like the scene in which Professor X brings up Logan’s introduction from X-Men: First Class? 

Of course, the best part of Days of Future Past is the prison scene with Quicksilver in which he rushes around the room disrupting bullets and knocking out guards. Director Matthew Vaughn made Quicksilver an entertaining kleptomaniac. He ends up being the best character. Plus, who doesn’t love seeing Peter Dinklage as a villain? Oh, and those sentinels. Awesome.–John Newby

8. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

When Rise of the Planet of the Apes came out, people were hopeful about the revival of the Apes franchise. Dawn saw this hope come to fruition, as the series was taken to a new height. Its unique tone, especially in the first hour, makes it one of the best blockbusters of 2014. Gary Oldman gives the best human performance, portraying a character with complex motives and development. But without a doubt, the apes are the real stars of this movie. Andy Serkis is great as always but it would be remiss to not mention Toby Kebbell’s performance. All of the brilliant performances are augmented by a tight, engaging script and amazing cinematography. Some shots are cinematic marvels that suck the audience into the world of the Apes. Hopefully more movies will emulate its cinematographic and storytelling choices. If a movie without substantial dialogue in the first half hour can be so thrilling and engaging, it must truly be something special.–Roshnan Krishnan

7. The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a marvel to watch. Say what you will about Wes Anderson, but the man is an outstanding director, and The Grand Budapest Hotel exemplifies this. Seeing him craft a film that, in terms of cinematography, is unlike anything else–for that, if nothing else, the film earns massive style points. Grand Budapest provides an exceptional performance for Ralph Fiennes, playing a quirky, comedic role. The rest of the cast complements Fiennes, delivering all of their cleverly written lines perfectly. Thanks to said writing, both the plot and the character journeys are absolute joys to watch unfold, even when the movie becomes decidedly darker at certain points. But the tonal shift doesn’t feel forced–in fact, nothing about this film does. It has a perfect flow, and everything feels like a natural progression of previous events.–Jean-Luc Botbyl

Edge of Tomorrow

6. Edge of Tomorrow

No other film in 2014 handled the complex workings of time as well as Doug Liman’s (The Bourne Identity) Tom Cruise actioner-meets-Groundhog Day. After a bit of alien-blood infuses with some of his own, Cruise discovers that when he’s killed he doesn’t die. He wakes up at the beginning of the day all over again. In the darkest of feminist critiques, it takes Emily Blunt’s war hero to keep killing Cruise so he can wake up the same day and figure out how to successfully end the alien occupation of Europe.

Liman hasn’t made a movie this fun, fresh, and frenetic in years. With Cruise making a return to action star form, fresh talent from the tough and formidable Blunt, and the telling of a crisp, canny plot, Edge of Tomorrow rides like pure thrill.–Ian Nichols

5. Guardians of the Galaxy

While Captain America was a surprise due to its tonal shift from the first movie, Guardians was Marvel’s breakout movie of 2014. The movie has a lot of heart, and this ragtag group of space adventurers found a place in most family households. The movie isn’t just important for Marvel’s plans for its cinematic universe, but also shows that the audience has a need for an action-adventure movie set in space, possibly paving the way for similar movies in the future. The character development, humor, action and, of course, the music made Guardians one of the powerhouses of the summer. Chris Pratt’s likable Star-Lord tries his best to get by in the Galaxy. But Bradley Cooper’s Rocket Racoon and Vin Diesel’s Groot clearly steal the show. This duo secures a sequel to the original almost immediately. Guardians of the Galaxy is a lot of fun to watch.–Roshnan Krishnan

4. Whiplash

If there’s one movie that stands out like a sore thumb on this ten-digit list, it’s Whiplash. Coincidentally, it also stands out among so many movies from 2014. With a pace as fast as Miles Teller’s double-timed jazz percussion, director Damien Chazelle’s tense drama about a young musician and his conservatory’s professor (a stand-out, walloping J.K. Simmons) was one of the most emotionally (and aurally) rattling movies of the year. As Teller’s talent improves, Simmon’s expectations grow. It all builds up to the film’s final bang-of-a-beat. — Ian Nichols

Interstellar

3. Interstellar

An emotional thrill-ride. The beautiful cinematography; Hans Zimmer’s fantastic score; the phenomenal cast. Mackenzie Foy as Murph is better than most child actors. McConaughey and Hathaway’s relationship was so dynamic. The extent to which McConaughey will go to save their families is what, among tons of other things, sets this movie apart. Nolan makes the audience empathize with the characters. Every choice made by every character in this movie is understandable–even if they were not the best ones possible at the time. It’s a feat given Nolan’s 169-minute runtime.

The score is, as you would expect, perfection. Hans Zimmer’s genius perfectly fits the atmosphere.
The penultimate scene, where Cooper is in the space-time room place was thought provoking and, much like Memento, something that forces you to think about again and again.

Despite a convenient ending, Christopher Nolan reminds you of why he is such a good storyteller. He shows he understands raw emotion and the naked nature of the human condition. It’s a stunning film that makes you feel something rare–it’s almost spiritual. It’s undoubtedly worth seeing again.–Kevin Pourmostofi

2. Birdman

Without seeing a single trailer, or reading a synopsis, you’d have no idea what to expect of Birman. Apparently Emma Stone is in the movie. You’d probably read/heard the movie’s overwhelmingly positive impressions of friends and acquaintances. As a result, I went in with sky-high expectations, which is usually not a good thing. Yet, somehow, Birdman managed to exceed all of my expectations. Everything about this movie is absolutely genius, from the acting, to the directing, to the writing. Birdman is simultaneously an excellent analysis of self-worth and a critique of the entertainment media that we consume on a day-to-day basis. This allows the film to be extraordinarily meta, something that could have easily fallen apart, and yet, never does. Everything about Birdman was phenomenal. — Jean-Luc Botbyl

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier had a difficult task to fulfill in 2014. Cap’s return to action needed to improve upon the fantastic first film while also adding interesting new aspects, and tie into Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. without feeling forced or cheesy. Ultimately, Captain America: The Winter Soldier blew every other movie out of the water.

TWS revolved around the apparent assassination of Nick Fury by mysterious assailant The Winter Soldier. This assassination focuses SHIELD on Captain America, sending him on the run. The director of SHIELD (Robert Redford) labeled both Captain America and the Black Widow as traitors against America and placed a capture/kill order on them.

Instead of being a simple superhero or action flick, The Winter Soldier functions as a 70’s-style spy movie. Robert Redford is the perfect villain because of his devious actions. And the new characters all fit together to make a vastly entertaining film. Additionally, the quiet scenes with only Captain America and the Black Widow are just so sweet and heartwarming.

Don’t be fooled though. The Winter Soldier is jam-packed with great action sequences, and Cap and Bucky’s fights are epic. More importantly, the return of Hydra was a complete shock. This movie is so good! — John Newby


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ian nichols