Brad’s Top Ten (and More!) of 2014

| February 8, 2015

I think we’re all in agreement that 2014 was a down year for movies. For the first time in a while, I wasn’t looking forward to the next Friday, but rather dreading our motto to give every movie a chance. Maybe I was just burned out from making my own, but overall, few films from 2014 stuck with me. Let’s recap…

Vital Statistics
Total ticket sales (at $10.50): $777.00

Total films attended: 76

Alamo Drafthouse: 34
Landmark Esquire: 17
Highlands Ranch 14: 7
Landmark Mayan: 4
Colorado Mills: 3
Denver West: 3
Denver Pavillions: 2
Chez Artiste: 1
Sie Filmcenter: 1
Colorado Center 9: 1
Landmark Greenwood Village: 1
Aurora Movie Tavern: 1
Harkins Northfield: 1

Repeat Viewings: 3

New Release: 53

Re-Release: 20

Midnights & Alamo Specialty Programming

Been waiting a while to add this classic to my ticket collection. Such a bad-ass movie.

Last Action Hero
Another classic added to the collection. Such an under-rated parody of action films of the time.

Streets of Fire
A weird, goofy musical/road movie.

Pretty Woman
Saw this as part of a movie interruption with local comedians, which I think might be the only way to watch it. Didn’t see the original appeal.

They Live
Weird movie. There’s that silly extra-long fist fight.

Big Trouble in Little China
Another goofy film and another midnight I fell asleep in.

Dressed up as the Keaton Knight for back=to-back nights. Much fun.

Groundhog Day
Started out fun enough but it’s pretty long for a comedy and, again, fell asleep toward the end.

Hawk Jones
A cliche adult action film but the characters are played by children. Good fun.

Back to the Future
Always to eager to catch this one.

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Never expected to see this in theaters. One of the best Batman movies around.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Whenever this one makes the rounds, I attend. The best adventure.

Sharknado (Rifftrax Version)
Adam took me to see this for my birthday. Ridiculousness made even better with the MST3K guys poking fun at it.

Princess Mononoke
It’s been a while, but watching it again confirmed it’s still my favorite of the Miyazaki films.

The Room
It’s a wonder how I’ve managed to see this once a year. It doesn’t deserve it, but seeing it with friends and a crowd is the only way to do so.

The Land Before Time
Surprised they got this into the midnight series and it wasn’t much like I’d remembered it from all those years ago.

Howard the Duck
Pleased to get this ticket added to my collection. Watched it with commentary by comedians but even they found a hard time making fun of it. Maybe because it’s actually not that bad?

They’ve got it all on UHF!

Batman Returns
Always a good time when you see both Burton Batmans in the same year.

New Releases

Evangelion 3.0
After the second film got me so excited, this one brought things back to being vague and confusing. I guess Evangelion is just inherently confusing.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Chris Pine does a good job taking up the role of Jack Ryan but it’s more of the Kenneth Branaugh show with little action and heavy espionage-babble.

An interesting look at relationships. For anyone who’s ever been dumped, it hits pretty close to home.

Not bad despite ditching the over-the-top satire of the original in favor of more subtle, currently relevant commentary. The horrific reveal of Alex Murphy’s remaining parts is the only real stand out, shocking moments of the movie.

The Monuments Men
While experiencing a WWII film from a mostly non-combative perspective might seem like an interesting premise, the execution feels flat and derivative.

Taken on a plane. Really.

Anchorman 2 (R-Rated)
The jokes are so random and disposable that 750 new ones didn’t change the experience. Also, barely R-rated.

300: Rise of an Empire
In the years since the original, the formula has been copied and driven into the ground. Nothing is fresh or surprising except how cartoonish Eva Green’s character appears.

Muppets Most Wanted
The Muppets are still fun but this one is lacking much of the self-referential humor that made the previous so charming.

Bad Words
Funny, raunchy opportunity for Bateman’s character to be an unrelenting asshole but maybe his turn-around wasn’t that satisfying.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
A pretty solid action film with a decent, world-changing story. Much improved from the previous film. Although, the convenient expositional computer sequence was a bit lazy.

Cheap Thrills
Seemed like a promising premise but the challenges weren’t as shocking as advertised. They could have taken this premise further.

The Raid 2
While the story is meh, the action is incredible every time. There’s a car chase sequence that will make you wonder how no one is actually dead from it.

Under the Skin
A haunting film with almost no dialog about an outsiders examination of being human.

With the pedigree behind it, it’s a wonder how it turned out so boring.

Draft Day
Pretty much the NFL version of Moneyball, but still has likeable characters.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Sorry Ryan, but with the exception of the already established Death of Gwen Stacy storyline, the movie is a mess. Electro might be the most one-dimensional super-villain in a comic book movie. And why would there be lightning bolt decorations on his suit?

A fun comedy of escalating pranks.

Blue Ruin
A detailed look at the pursuit of revenge.

Almost two and a half hours and Godzilla appears in about 8 minutes of it. Maybe I’m crazy to want a Godzilla movie to be about Godzilla and not some dude trying to get home to his wife after you kill Bryan Cranston off early.

A Million Ways to Die in the West
It was funny at the time but once it’s over, you move on.

Edge of Tomorrow
Much better and more clever than the advertising would lead you to believe.

I didn’t enjoy this a much as everyone else. Most of the time I was bored or trying to reconcile how the world works in it.

Reminiscent of forgettable mythological movies from the 90-00’s.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
Obviously, this was the most disappointing movie of the year for me. After being initially sold as an edgier, faithful adaptation of the original comics with Kevin Eastman’s endorsement, the result is the predictably Transformers version of TMNT. Shredder might as well be Megatron and the turtles feel like supporting characters in a movie about April O’ Neil.

The Expendables 3
After embracing the over-the-top fun of 90’s action films in EXP2, this movie goes back to the blandness of the first. I don’t even remember how Mel Gibson was defeated at the end. Punching? Yeah, let’s say punching.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Much like 300: Rise of an Empire, this feels like an extension of a style and premise that’s been lampooned into the ground. I didn’t even realize Brolin’s character was Owen’s (Dwight) until the end.

Doctor Who: Season Premiere
My first full exposure to Doctor Who was mostly this new Doctor questioning who he really was and trying to convince his companion he was the same person he always was. I was lost most of the time.

Let’s Be Cops
Had some funny parts but otherwise it didn’t stick with me.

While I appreciate Smith’s pursuit of turning a podcast conversionation into a full film, the result isn’t as shocking and perverse as it could have been given the premise of surgically turning a man into a walrus. Parks is great and weird but everyone else is pretty unlikeable and the walrus suit is too well-lit to appear disturbing at all. Parks dawning his own suit was hilarious though.

The Skeleton Twins
Pretty simple “indie” film about a brother and sister who’ve grown apart due to a traumatic event in their past, with great performances from the cast. It’s all about the acting in this one.

Gone Girl
It’s an impressive execution of a faux-murder mystery. Just when I thought I knew how things were going to go, they flip the premise and reeled me in.

The Judge
Reminiscent of simple 90’s dramas, the Judge is another film where the appeal is the strong acting from its great cast.

The ABC’s of Death 2
Like the first, each short is so quick and disposable, only a few stick with you once it’s over.

Gyllenhaal’s performance is trancendant which, while it’s so good, his character is so unlikeable it makes you question whether you should be enjoying the movie. It also skewers the state of sensationalist modern journalism.

Dumb & Dumber To
There were lots of disposable comedies this year. Maybe it’s just me. While I liked the original, it’s never been iconic for me. This was a funny continuation of the story for me.

A bit complex to wrap my head around, but a beautiful experience to behold. We need more exporative space movies… Star Trek!

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
While I’ll concede Catching Fire was an improvement over the first movie, Mockingjay crashes right into the ground with 2 hours of Katniss standing in rubble looking concerned and questioning whether or not she can or should make a difference. I’m pretty sure this part of the story is completely useless. I predict you’ll be able to watch the whole series and skip this film everytime and get the same trite experience every time.

Carell gets most of the accolades for his amazingly hauting performance, but everyone else does a great job too. It’s a very disturbing look at the isolated world of the elitists.

An enjoyable journey of people holding themselves back in life. Rockwell is funny and it’s funny to see Knightley play an aimless slacker.

The Frame
Denver represent! For the first hour or so I was disinterested in the “two TV shows watching each other” plot, and then it became a completely different movie about an outside presence manipulating the characters’ lives. It was cool to see familiar Denver locations and friends in the film.

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
This one brought me back to enjoying the middle-earth films, even though it’s structurally odd. It’s the most I’ve enjoyed this series since Fellowship.

Horrible Bosses 2
More of the same, but still funny.

Big Eyes
It’s nice to see Burton back on a movie that doesn’t require tons of CGI work. Also, Adams and Waltz’s performances are terrific especially once the ruse spirals out of control.

The Imitation Game
Already a facinating film, the dilemma that appears once the enigma machine is cracked is devastating.

The Interview
The most-controversial movie of the year… actually isn’t a big deal. It’s pretty funny, but like “This Is The End”, it’s Franco and Rogen just having stupid fun at everyone else’s expense.

The Top Ten of 2014

10. Fateful Findings

In the vein of “The Room”, this is another terrible train wreck you can’t look away from. It’s on the list because it was so much fun to ridicule.

9. Frank

When an aspiring musician falls in with another group musicians, his lack of true artistic inspiration poisons the group and it was infuriating to see him co-op their distinctiveness for his own aspirations. A true cautionary tale of the dangers of making art without a soul.

8. X-Men: Days of Future Past

After the X-Men 3 debacle, bringing Singer back in to right the ship was the best solution. While the story was tried and true in the comics, the execution on screen finally looked mature again.

7. Birdman

As an aspiring filmmaker, watching this made me feel inferior in my efforts as I’m pretty sure I’ll never be able to achieve the complexity of this film. Fires on all cyliders from acting, to cinemaphotography, to storytelling.

6. The Lego Movie

Everything is awesome!

5. Guardians of the Galaxy

Not being much of a Marvel fan, I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed this property without any prior knowledge of it. And that opening sequence was actually awesome in 3D.

4. The Grand Budapest Hotel

Well, Anderson never fails to delight me. With each fill he exercises even more exacting control over the world he creates into unique whimsy.

3. 22 Jump Street

Definitely the funniest thing all year. Once it arrived on blu-ray I watched it back-to-back-to-back-to-back.

2. The Diary of Anya Frank

I was almost ready to call this my last 48 Hour Film but we won an award for “Best Use of Line of Dialog” and enjoyed a relaxed weekend of filmmaking. It was re-invigorating.

1. Jean Claude Van Damme’s Damn Van

Of course I’m gonna make the film I spent 8 months making my favorite film of the year. No Hollywood experience can top working with your friends and learning how to make your films better.

About the Author:

His earliest memory of nerdiness is discovering the Star Trek motion pictures when his parents (presumably) accidentally rented the first one on laser disc. He attended his first convention at the age of 12 and has been to many Star Trek conventions since, as well as SDCC, NYCC, and E3 twice. He’s also an avid TMNT fan who has each of the first four issues of the original comic book signed by Eastman AND Laird. Brad also favors Batman and loves Nintendo so much he still plays his Virtual Boy from time-to-time. When he’s not immersed in nerd media, he’s out competing at bar trivia or working on several creative projects like podcasting, producing short films, publishing books, and drawing cartoons. His favorite film of all-time is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie and with over 600 DVD’s and blu-rays in his collection, Brad is surely a Reel Nerd.
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