EDITORIALS

Mid-Point 2014: Ethan Picks His 10 Favorite Films of the Year So Far

by
July 3, 2014

Best of 2014 So Far

This year has been flying by, and it's hard to believe that it's already July. We've still got six more months of great movies on the way, including the latter half of summer and the entirety of awards season releases, but that doesn't mean we haven't seem some truly spectacular films hit the big screen so far. Therefore, it seems like a wholly appropriate time to countdown my 10 Favorite Films of 2014 So Far. It's hard to say whether or not any of these films will make my final list at the end of the year (but I feel good about a few of them), but these are definitely the ones I've enjoyed the most at this mid-point of the year 2014. See below!

#10. X-Men: Days of Future Past

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Now I'm pretty sure this won't be on my year-end list, just because there's so many awards season films that will end up wowing me before 2014 is finished, but I couldn't help but throw this on my list of favorites from the first half of the year. Having seen the film in theaters twice now, not only is this my favorite X-Men film out of all of them, but it's one of the more clever ways to retcon some of the garbage that happened in X-Men: The Last Stand, while also ignoring the abomination that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It's a pseudo franchise reboot with great action, a story that is pure comic book spectacle, and just flat out fun.

#9. Chef

Chef

It's nice to have Iron Man director Jon Favreau go back to his indie roots with something as charming as Chef. The film could actually stand as a metaphor for Favreau's experience with the motion picture industry, especially considering his problems with Marvel for Iron Man 2. In some ways that makes it more interesting for those who love cinema as much as I do, but for those who don't read the film in this fashion, it's still a delightful story about a father reconnecting with his son over a passion for delicious food, photographed in such a way that will make you hungry for hours after it's over. Plus, it's awesome to see John Leguizamo get some significant screentime in a great supporting role.

#8. Blue Ruin

Blue Ruin

This was a film that I went into at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival absolutely blind, knowing very little and having seen no trailers, and it couldn't have been a more satisfying experience. This quiet, grounded and stirring revenge thriller features a remarkable breakthrough performance from Macon Blair, and an intense game of cat and mouse as a man disheveled by the murder of his parents seeks out those responsible, and delivers his own brand of justice. It's basically a contemporary western, complete with a satisfying appearance by Devin Ratray, who you might know as Buzz from Home Alone.

#7. They Came Together

They Came Together

There's going to be plenty of haters when it comes to this particular pick, mostly because the trailer for David Wain's latest comedy wasn't particularly flattering. But trust me when I tell you that this is a brilliant send-up of romantic comedies that calls back to the masterful comedy of Airplane! and Young Frankenstein. This isn't some awful Friedberg & Seltzer spoof, but a parody that has an affection for what's being skewered while still having brilliant comedic edge that knows just when it's all right to be completely random and nonsensical. This might even be better than Wet Hot American Summer.

#6. The Raid 2

The Raid 2

Action sequels are hard to crack, and rarely live up to the standards set by the first film. But with The Raid 2, director Gareth Evans not only ups the ante, but goes all in with some of the most incredible action I've ever seen on film. It's swift, hard-hitting, bone-breaking and bloody, and it has a seedy, gritty criminal underworld to go with it. Seriously, some of the action scenes in this movie are simultaneously beautiful and exhausting. You feel every punch, kick, slice and smash, and it makes me think that Evans needs to teach some kind of class so some American filmmakers learn how to really direct an action movie again.

#5. 22 Jump Street

22 Jump Street

All right, there's a lot of sequels on this list, but it's been an absolutely great year for the second chapter of new franchises from the past few years. And this time, it's all the more surprising because comedy sequels are even harder to make than other follow-ups. Thankfully, Phil Lord & Chris Miller bring the thunder all over again with a hilarious movie that also sends up the tropes of sequels in the perfect tongue-in-cheek fashion. Channing Tatum might actually outdo Jonah Hill on the comedy side of things this time around, but they both make for some gut-busting action comedy. Plus, that end credits sequence is the best.

#4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Yes, one more sequel, but again, this particular second installment in the Marvel franchise had just as much to love as a film in general as opposed to just another comic book sequel. First time feature filmmakers Anthony & Joe Russo took their love of 70s political thrillers and injected it into the Marvel universe with spectacular results that make the longer running time go by like a breeze. This sequel has substance, superb action, fantastic performances and if it wasn't for the presence of superheroes, could easily be mistaken for a Jason Bourne or James Bond adventure. Hail Hydra.

#3. Life Itself

Life Itself

It's bittersweet knowing that legendary film critic Roger Ebert gets such a lovely life story told in this documentary by Steve James, and even moreso knowing that he didn't live to see how his story impacts the very critics that he inspired over his impressive career. Moving, honest and full of life, this documentary is sentimental without being phony, because that's what Ebert would have absolutely hated. With talking heads from cinema's finest like Martin Scorsese and Werner Herzog, this is a must-see for anyone who loves filmmaking. And yes, this doesn't release until July 4th, so it's a bit of a cheat on this mid-point list.

#2. The LEGO Movie

The LEGO Movie

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, Phil Lord & Chris Miller landed twice on this list. When the idea of a movie using LEGO bricks was announced, everyone thought that Hollywood had jumped the shark and nuked the fridge. But then the movie hit theaters, and we were all blown away. With the same self-aware comedy that made 21 Jump Street and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs so good, The LEGO Movie was imaginative, splendid and likely the best possible way to use the LEGO brand to inspire a film. Will Arnett's Batman is even better than either of the versions Joel Schumacher made.

#1. Boyhood

Boyhood

Everyone is going to have to cut me a break with my top pick, because it doesn't hit theaters for general audiences until July 11th. However, I was lucky enough to catch the film at Sundance in January, and it's played at several other festivals since then, so I figured it wasn't really cheating. Plus, this film is just so damn astounding and magnificent that everyone needs to know how much it beckons to be seen as soon as possible. Richard Linklater shot the film over 12 years, with the same actors, making for one of the most raw, genuine and moving coming-of-age tales ever told. There's never been a narrative film like this, and there may never be again. This is a cinematic achievement and treasure that should be held in the highest regard, and will mostly likely end up with some Oscar love next year.

So there you have it. These are my favorite films of the year so far. Keep in mind that there are some limited releases and whatnot that simply haven't come close enough for me to see. For example, I'm not seeing Snowpiercer until this weekend and also missed The Rover, The Double, Under the Skin, Only Lovers Left Alive, Locke, Enemy, Cold in July and more. Also, before anyone complains, The Grand Budapest Hotel would have been #11 with Obvious Child coming right behind it at #12 and probably Neighbors at #13. Now it's your turn. What are you favorite movies of 2014 so far? Tell us below!

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  • Jon Odishaw
    1.Godzilla 2.Godzilla 3.Godzilla You get the idea
    • http://www.firstshowing.net/ Ethan Anderton
      Man, you must really like I, Frankenstein.
      • Jon Odishaw
        Yep. I'm one of the 4% rotten tomatoes reviewers. Was godzilla the it the best movie of the year? No but I was under the impression we were listing our favourites not the best.
        • http://www.firstshowing.net/ Ethan Anderton
          No, I enjoyed Godzilla! Saw it twice. I was just poking fun at the fact that you listed it 3 times, and I decided to sarcastically pretend that you liked one of the worst movies of the year instead.
          • Jon Odishaw
            Interesting...I also saw godzilla twice. There were other great films this year so far(grand Budapest, cap America, 22 jump) but didn't love any as much as godzilla.
      • DAVIDPD
        Ethan, you cheeky bastard!
    • http://www.sonicmayhem.com Sascha Dikiciyan
      Good for you. Prob one of the worst movies i've ever seen. Complete and utter trash. That this director gets to direct a SW movie now still blows my mind.
      • rickvanr
        you must not watch a lot of movies.
        • Jon Odishaw
          Right? To complain that it wasn't very good or that you didn't enjoy is one thing but to compare it to the worst movies ever made? Ignorant.
  • dab394
    1. The LEGO Movie 2. The Grand Budapest Hotel 3. Joe
  • John Everitt
    10. Muppets Most Wanted 9. Edge of Tomorrow 8. Noah 7. The Raid 2 6. 22 Jump Street 5. The Grand Budapest Hotel 4. X-Men: Days of Future Past 3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier 2. The Lego Movie 1. How To Train Your Dragon 2
  • DAVIDPD
    THE RAID 2 was a great surprise for me. But seems like a good list. I have not seen a few of these but I can dig it.
  • TK
    Surprised to see The Grand Budapest Hotel didn't make your list. 1. The Grand Budapest Hotel 2. The Lego Movie 3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier 4. Chef 5. How to train your dragon 2 6. The Raid 2 7. X-Men Days of future past 8. Snowpiercer 9. 22 Jump Street 10. Edge of Tomorrow
    • Avi
      good list...
    • Bo
      What a moronic list. You clearly have a sub-standard IQ.
      • TK
        I'm glad to see that you are at least reading my list Bo. I put them on here purely for entertaining the mindless pretentious troll, who for some reason, can't fathom the fact someone might have a differing opinion to theirs. I found it funny that on your other post you talked about childish name calling. Oh the irony.
  • Terry Craig
    Wow, judging from this list it has been a pretty lousy/mediocre year for movies so far : ( I don't have a personal top 10 yet, but it would definitely include Only Lovers Left Alive, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and also Boyhood. Furthermore, I have very high hopes for The Rover, The Double, and Under the Skin.
    • http://www.sonicmayhem.com Sascha Dikiciyan
      Yes, Under the skin is really weird but in a good way. :)
    • avconsumer2
      They always skip a year in amazing movie years. Last year was awesome, this year meh, next year will be cra-mazing. (crazy amazing)
  • Bl00dwerK
    The only one that's impressed me, so far, is Captain America...
  • NathanDewey
    I haven't seen many movies this year but my favourites (in no particular order) are Noah (saw it twice), Edge of Tomorrow, and Raid 2. My least favourite of the one's I've seen is probably Non-Stop. I think Enemy and Afflicted came out in 2013, but I saw them this year and loved them too.
  • Avi
    I didn't see every movie your mentioning but for me was the raid 2 absolutely awesome!
    • Jon Odishaw
      If that was a Leon lett reference and not a typo then bravo
      • Avi
        you are the first who who makes a comment about my writing on this site! That is a compliment because I am from the Netherlands! Thanks!
        • Jon Odishaw
          Hahahaha okay you're welcome sir
          • Avi
            oke! :)
  • http://www.sonicmayhem.com Sascha Dikiciyan
    Are you still not over that superhero rubbish? Come on. Only top 5 for me. 1. Under the Skin 2. jodorowsky's Dune 3. Particle Fever 4. Budap Hotel 5. Wolf of Wall street (seen it in 2014) Its prob easier to make a top 10 of my least favorite movies so far. With top 5 slots going to Godzilla alone. What a piece of shit. In every way.
    • Jon Odishaw
      In every way? It was not without it's flaws but even everyone who hates it appreciated the final battle. You're just being...well a twat, for lack of a better word.
      • http://www.sonicmayhem.com Sascha Dikiciyan
        Brah, your too cool!! Its funny how Garbage attracts Garbage. While your at it, go watch it 2 more times, so you can have a top 5, Brah!
        • Jon Odishaw
          That was painful to read
        • HotSauce
          you're*
      • Bo
        You call a guy a twat because he tells it like he sees it? And it's obvious that he's just a tad bit more intelligent than you are! Know when to let it ride and keep you mouth shut with the immature name calling. Like, think about growing up.
        • Jon Odishaw
          Calling him a twat is calling like I see it. So that sort of nullifies your argument...twat.
          • Bo
            Amazing....really amazing...and it's not calling it like you see it, it's name calling...like 5 yr. olds do on the playground...and of course this crude, immature reply from you makes my point! You, Jon, are a waste of time and I shall not waste mine any longer. You have the intellectual understanding of a small child!
          • Jon Odishaw
            It is of little consequence to me. Do and think as you please.
          • Bo
            Shut up. Your mom probably has Down's Syndrome and was raped by a priest.
          • Bo
            Jon, this is the 'real' Bo who has been in disagreement with you. I apologize for this above comment regarding Down's and priest. I DID NOT send that and am disgusted by it and that someone would send it using my name. This internet chat room stuff has gone too far for me this time. Again, I did not send that to you and whoever did really has a very serious problem. I send only my best to you and hope the offending comment above didn't cause too adverse a reaction within you. It's hard to not have some type of reaction...I sure did. Again, my apologies and I hope you can tell from my previous comments and post that I've never sent anything that ugly before.. Peace to you.
          • Sascha Dikiciyan
            That's the most messed up thing I've ever read. You need some serious mental help Bo. It sickens me that people like you exist on the internet.
          • Bo
            Jon, please read my reply below to the 'offending' reply from a 'false Bo' regarding Down's and priest. It is below. I am lame on computer and have tried to make sure you get my apology as I did not write that. I don't know how someone did using my name and am very wierded out by it. I did not write that and never would something of that nature. I am sorry something that ugly was sent to you.
        • HotSauce
          So if somebody posts that same list of movies that automatically makes them smart in your book? HAHAHAHA You sir are literally too stupid to insult.
    • Bo
      Interesting top 5 and certainly more high brow and intelligent than most of the posters and writers on this site. Under the Skin was certainly different and I had a few problems with it, but I'd rather struggle with something as worthy as that film than spend any time with the 'superhero rubbish' you refer to. Or Godzilla, for God's sake. So, thanks for your post(s) which I usually find stimulating and ignore the childish name calling from the immature people who comment on this site. They lack the mental and intellectual capacity to understand where you are coming from.
      • HotSauce
        And the award for "Pretentious D-Bag of the Week" goes to....
        • Bo
          Get a gun....blow your brains out
  • DavideCoppola
    Haven't seen that many, but The Grand Budapest Hotel is my favorite so far. I can't wait to see Boyhood and Under the Skin :)
  • carindlee
    my Aunty Allison recently got a nice 6 month old Jaguar by working from a macbook.this website C­a­s­h­d­u­t­i­e­s­.­C­O­M­
  • Pop Ninjas
    In no particular order.... Only Lovers Left Alive The Fault in Our Stars The Grand Budapest Hotel Edge of Tomorrow Ping Pong Summer 22 Jump Street X-Men: Days of Future Past Captain America: The Winter Soldier Joe Cheap Thrills
    • Bo
      Your list makes you an idiot.
      • Pop Ninjas
        You're response indicates your father should have pulled out. What's your point?
        • Jon Odishaw
          Hahahah nice
          • Bo
            This has really gotten ugly. The grown up , mature Bo, me, is extracting himself from this. Hopefully Jon, you'll see the differences from this second Bo. If not, so be it. I'm gone from here. Again, sorry about the dumb Down's and priest remarks made by this second Bo. This has become way too lame form me with imposter's using same names, etc.
        • Bo
          I just sent a coathanger through time...it has a date with your mom
        • Sascha Dikiciyan
          Bo might be posting from a mental ward or something
      • Bo
        Who are you? Why are you commenting using 'Bo'? Have you seen that me, Bo, has been using that name for a long time on this site? Plus you comments are really rude and crude and I don't appreciate them as people here may get the impression its me, the Bo who's been here a while. If you're going to keep doing this please realize that there are now going to be 2 Bo's. Perhaps you'll reconsider and change your name as you came after me?
      • Sascha Dikiciyan
        Damn Bo, you need help.
    • Pop Ninjas
      I saw Chef and Snowpiercer over the weekend, so now i need to decide which of my original list no longer qualifies as top ten for me. Chef is my favorite film of the year so far.
      • avconsumer2
        Wow!? Chef = favorite so far?! Sheesh. Underestimated that one pretty badly (though I love Favreau's stuff). Guess I'd better see it!
        • Pop Ninjas
          I have a culinary background so this certainly resonated for me. Perfect Summer flick. The story is sweet and benign, it's really all about the food....oh the glorious food.
          • avconsumer2
            Ah - haha - gotcha.
  • monicadashby
    as Thelma explained I cannot believe that a stay at home mom can make $7420 in four weeks on the internet . more info here R­e­x­1­0­.­C­O­M­
  • rosatskidmore
    my classmate's aunt makes $68 every hour on the computer . She has been fired for 7 months but last month her paycheck was $15495 just working on the computer for a few hours. visit the site R­e­x­1­0­.­C­O­M­
  • Tuomas Lassila
    i might be the only one, but I was really dissapointed with The Lego Movie.
  • magalysthompson
    upto I saw the draft of $7025 , I be certain ...that...my mom in-law woz like they say truley making money part-time on their apple labtop. . there sisters roommate had bean doing this less than 8 months and at present repayed the debts on their house and bought a brand new volvo . look at here now M­o­n­e­y­d­u­t­i­e­s­.­C­O­M­

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