The Best Films of 2014

2014 was a pretty great year for movies, and despite adding a second child to the mix, I happened to see a lot of them thanks to a more flexible work schedule and a number of new movies hitting VOD and streaming services pretty quickly. There’s a lot out there, and a number of them below are now available free-ish on the streaming. Here’s my Top 10:

1. UNDER THE SKIN-Dark, haunting and an experience unlike any I had in a theater this year. It also happens to ting my child-endangerment senses off the charts. If you enjoy Kubrick and Lynch, do yourself a favor and check out this flick, now streaming on Amazon Prime.

2. IDA-It’s interesting to probably nobody but me that what I believe to be the two best movies of the year are both about young, pretty and naïve “women” going out into the world for the first time and being utterly changed by the experience. “Ida” is about a young Polish woman about to profess her vows to a religious order when she’s told to first talk to her aunt about her family history. Filmed in black and white with very little dialogue, this movie is starkly beautiful in what’s not being said. And it’s up on Netflix and Amazon Prime!

3. WHIPLASH-You’ve probably seen your share of teacher/student relationship movies, but this is less “Dead Poets Society” and more “Full Metal Jacket.” An intense experience, and the final concert is one of the best scenes of the year.

4. SNOWPIERCER-Between this, “Under the Skin,” “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” 2014 has been a tremendous year for sci-fi movies. Chris Evans leads an amazing cast as the leader of a downtrodden group trying to make their way through a train that carries the last group of humanity on Earth. It’s on Netflix!

5. THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL-Enjoying this movie is probably completely dependant on your tolerance for Wes Anderson, but I loved spending time in this alternate-World War II Europe where decorum and intelligence are still considered the most redeeming traits in a film.

6. BOYHOOD-I wasn’t over the moon about this as a lot of other people, but it’s still staggering achievement to film one boy growing up over a 12 year period. The best attribute of this movie is how we recall the small moments of our childhood with as much weight as the milestones.

7.  BIRDMAN-This flick probably appeals more to theater nerds, but “Birdman” is a fascinating study on how far we have to go to produce great art, and whether it matters at all in the end.

8. THE LEGO MOVIE-I’m not going to say I had a minor panic attack watching my kids put Duplos together in a different way from the instructions, but this is a pretty good movie.

9. FORCE MAJEURE-Have you ever wondered how would you react in a split-second crisis situation? Welp, it’s exactly what happens to one family on a ski vacation, and it threatens to tear them apart. Mostly dramatic and psychological, but also darkly funny.

10. THE ONE I LOVE-Here’s one thing I discovered in 2014: I tend to enjoy movies a lot more when I literally know nothing about them. So the only thing about this movie I’ll say is this: it’s about a married couple heading off to a cottage retreat to work on their relationship problems, and then “some Twilight Zone shit” starts happening. It’s on Netflix.

THE BEST OF THE REST: Nightcrawler, Stranger on the Lake, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Raid 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, Life Itself, Wild, Only Lovers Left Alive, and Big Hero 6.