In the year the McConaissance was confirmed and Annie turned hip-hop, cinemas kept the superhero movement going and The Interview was pulled, there were lots of great movies to choose from, as well as the usual cringefests. Here is my little review of the best and a little of the worst.
Firstly, the year’s superhero movies. Without doubt, the best of the lot was Guardians of the Galaxy. Chris Pratt came into his own with smooth dance moves and abs, and somehow he’s still only the film’s second most-loved star – after Groot of course, as played by Vin Diesel whose voice is only heard in different iterations of ‘I am Groot’. Who knew a tree could show so many emotions? Call it a Star Wars wannabe if you must, but that doesn’t reduce Guardians’ might.
Next up, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. This was Marvel’s grittiest offering yet, an espionage tale with welcome injections of humour and it was a clever reference to 80s crime thrillers and the Cold War. Then there was X-Men: Days of Future Past, which cleverly mixed the old and new X-Men casts and featured some brilliant cameos. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was incredibly enjoyable, particularly the chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, but there are a few too many flaws that are particularly noticeable on a second viewing, particularly with the villainous Electro.
Comedy wise, 22 Jump Street has to take the prize for its self-aware nods to being the sequel of a remake and even the end credits sequence alone. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill – and Ice Cube! – generally just knock it out of the park. Surprisingly good was Bad Neighbours, which was infantile in the usual Seth Rogen way but with plenty of character, laughs and chemistry between the rivals.
As far as children’s films went, there were two that are so good I would rank them with the ‘serious, adult’ films on the list: The Lego Movie and Paddington. The former I can only urge everyone to watch for countless reasons that will become clear, and the latter is a charming recreation of a classic bear with a charming supporting cast, especially in Hugh Bonneville and Peter Capaldi.
Two book adaptations blew me away this year. The Fault In Our Stars made me weep, really cry, like no other film has ever done before. Ansel Elgort in particular deserves to go far and I’m so pleased that John Green’s tearjerker was adapted so well. Secondly, of course, is Gone Girl, the twisted thriller that saw Rosamund Pike terrify men everywhere.
And my favourite film of 2014 was The Wolf of Wall Street. Leonardo DiCaprio absolutely outdid himself, it was uproariously outrageous and both funny and plain interesting. If it were slightly shorter, I’d watch it all the time.
NB: Films I missed that would otherwise probably be on this list: Boyhood, The Imitation Game, Inside Llewyn Davis