25. Edge of Tomorrow
Another Tom Cruise blockbuster? Not exactly. Edge of Tomorrow is smart and edgy. But its best trick? Getting you so excited about watching the same thing over and over and over and over and over and…
24. Wish I Was Here
It doesn’t carry the same indie or critical cred, but Zach Braff’s spiritual follow-up to Garden State feels far more genuine than its predecessor.
23. Only Lovers Left Alive
It’s the role Tilda Swinton was born to play: counter-cultural vampire. But in all seriousness, Only Lovers Left Alive is a dainty, classy romance with lots of dark humor.
Brendan Gleeson turns in one of the most under-appreciated performances of the year in this heart-stopping mystery that explores a small-town church community through the eyes of its quiet priest.
21. Inherent Vice
If I told you Paul Thomas Anderson recruited Joaquin Phoenix to make a movie, you’d think, “Well that’ll be weird.” If I told you Paul Thomas Anderson recruited Joaquin Phoenix to make a movie about a drugged up detective in the 70’s, you’d think, “Well that’ll be weirder.” If I told you it’d be extremely hard to understand, a little slow and a trippy good time…well that wouldn’t be as weird.
20. X-Men: Days of Future Past
Bryan Singer returns to the X-Men franchise to make the best film since X2. Best running superhero film team + combining generations = Can’t wait until Apocalypse!
19. The Lego Movie
The Academy snubbing of last year’s animated masterpiece will only grow it’s legend. It’s the smartest and most impressive animated (SPACESHIP!) movie since Toy Story 3.
Think if Wes Anderson combined with Carrie Brownstein/Fred Armisen to make a movie discussing the nature of art…yeah, you get it. But if you’re into those two things, you’ll love it!
It’s not spectacular in any one way. But this may be the quintessential “greater than the sum of its parts” film: the story of an inspiring person for people who want to be inspired.
It’s not a horror film, unless you’re a journalism major *cough*. But Jake Gyllenhaal gave the creepiest and most transformative – sorry Steve Carrell – performance of the year.
15. Guardians of the Galaxy
Remember how I said X-Men is the best superhero film franchise currently running? Maybe let’s not remember I said that after Guardians 2 and 3?
I’m pleased to say that this movie was the best surprise I had all year. I expected a great performance from Witherspoon (which she delivered), but dang…what a film. It’s a beautiful piece that will cut to the heart of any person who feels like they’re searching for something in life.
13. Tim’s Vermeer
This is the best film you didn’t see last year. It’s a documentary for people who don’t like documentaries and those who do. Oh, and did I mention it’s thought-provoking? Bonus!
12. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
People who will like Birdman: those who really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really love movies. And Michael Keaton
People who won’t like Birdman: those who don’t like to think at the theater.
11. The Skeleton Twins
Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig should be required to make a movie together every other year. Because there’s a lot of room for improvement in The Skeleton Twins, and it’s still one of the emotionally powerful stories of the year.
10. Gone Girl
Hello! Do you love feeling uncomfortable for the majority of 2 and a half hours and…oh, you already like David Fincher films? Oh, well than yeah, you’ll love it.
It’s like the Polar Express except more murder, injustice and dirty people. Oh, and Captain America has a beard! (For real, though, one of the most original and entertaining films I’ve seen in a while. It’s on Netflix. Get on that.)
8. The Imitation Game
Without Benedict Cumberbatch, this film wouldn’t have made the list. With him, it’s a dynamic and heart-breaking picture of one of the most innovative men to ever live.
7. American Sniper
Don’t get caught up in the controversy. Bradley Cooper’s subtle and gripping portrayal of Chris Kyle makes American Sniper a complex character study and think piece.
If there were ever a movie to be considered an actor’s showcase, this was it. But just to see Ruffalo, Tatum and Carrell all turn in career performances is worth the weighty story.
It’s a travesty Ava DuVernay and David Oyelowo aren’t nominated in their respective fields. The Academy is supposed to award the finest work of the year. And this is a big, big miss on their part. Selma is a perfect companion piece to last year’s 12 Years a Slave, except you want to watch it again as soon as it’s over.
4. The Grand Budapest Hotel
One of these days, Wes Anderson will get his Best Picture and Best Director Oscars. Want to know why? Because his movies consistently are improving. The Grand Budapest Hotel is the most relatable film in the Anderson canon, delivering laugh after laugh before a heart-wrenching finale.
It’s not Christopher Nolan’s best film, but it is his most ambitious and most impressive, making it the best blockbuster of the year.
Miles Teller’s excellent turn as a motivated jazz student connects you to the character while J.K. Simmon’s work as an abusive teacher deals a harsh emotional blow. In any other year, this would be the most profound achievement in film-making by a landslide.
To say it any other way would be foolish: Boyhood is a landmark moment in film history already and will forever be considered one of the movie industry’s brightest moments. Excellent, visionary directing combines with a nearly perfect cast to create a non-story that’s more compelling than any story in recent memory.