Every year I do this (spoiler free) list. Just to refresh, here were my 5 favorites from last year.
5. Despicable Me 2 // 4. 12 Years A Slave // 3. Prisoners // 2. Mud // 1. Gravity
This year was tougher than last year. So many great films came out. Now, I must preface this list by saying that I have not yet seen two of my most anticipated movies of 2014, Foxcatcher and Birdman - not sure I'll be able to see them by years end, so I'm writing this up now, and may add an addendum later. Anyway, here are the five movies I enjoyed the most from 2014.
Get ready for Jake Gyllenhaal's Oscar nomination for best actor for his portrayal of Louis Bloom. It's equal parts American Psycho and Taxi Driver, with a transformation only Gyllenhaal could pull off. He's terrifying and likable at the same time, something rarely accomplished on screen.
4. Cold In July
If you were wondering what Michael C. Hall was up to after Dexter, here you go. The story of a small town Texas home invasion goes to places you never think it'll go. It's as unpredictable as it gets.
3. The Raid 2
Simply put, this is one of the most impressive action films you'll ever see. The scenes are so well done and so brutal, that you can't help but feel some of the impact from your seat. The fight between our main character and 'Bat Boy & Hammer Girl' will probably be in my top 10 fight scenes of all time for a while.
2. The Guest
I went into this movie not knowing a thing about it, but assumed it was a horror movie. While creepy, it's definitely not a horror movie. It's like a Terminator movie if John Carpenter had directed it. It's also soaked in an infectious 80's synth soundtrack that will have your foot tapping as things turn south on screen. So much fun.
Just hand J.K. Simmons the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and let's skip the drum roll on Oscar night. His portrayal of Fletcher, the music teacher who pushes his students as far and he can is about as terrifying as teachers get. If you'd have told me in 2013 that my favorite movie of the year would be a drama about the trials and tribulations of a jazz drummer and his coach, I would have laughed. However, this movie delivers. I couldn't stop thinking about it when I left the theater, and typing this now just makes me want to see it again. The last 15 minutes of this movie contains one of the greatest climaxes I've ever seen on film. Hands down. Miles Teller impresses as well as a kid looking to become the next Charlie Parker.
Honorable mentions: The Lego Movie, Enemy, Joe, Grand Budapest Hotel, Gone Girl, 22 Jump Street & Captain America: The Winter Soldier