Best Movies of 2014

10. SNOWPIERCER

190 LISTS | 12 TOP SPOTS
Joon Ho Bong | 126 mins | Action/ Drama/Sci-Fi
Chris Evans | Jamie Bell | Tilda Swinton | Ed Harris

“A startling, inventively realized class-struggle allegory, Bong Joon-ho’s first English-language feature is somehow both gritty and elegant. Set on a high-speed train circumnavigating the globe in the aftermath of an environmental apocalypse, the film is composed of a series of striking set pieces, as the have-nots in the back of the train make their way to the privileged cars in the front. Throughout, Bong mixes grinding, gory action with sociopolitical and existential mystery, creating something terrifying and oddly cathartic. Snowpiercer felt like nothing else at the movies this year, a gripping, rousing fable with true real-world relevance.” – Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

9. SELMA

194 LISTS | 18 TOP SPOTS
Ava DuVernay | 128 mins | Biography/Drama/History
David Oyelowo | Carmen Ejogo | Tim Roth | Lorraine Toussaint

“This is not typically the sort of movie I enjoy. Big historical docudramas that attempt to capture important moments in time too often fall flat under the weight of their own hubris. Not so with Selma, making it seem all the more miraculous that this is the first major motion picture about Martin Luther King, Jr., to be made at this scale. Yet Ava DuVernay’s deeply moving film takes King out of the history books and resurrects him for an era when the intolerance he battled against seems to have revealed newer, nastier faces. The conclusion of Selma is as cathartic as anything you’ll see in a movie theater this year, but it doesn’t suggest, for one second, that the work King began is over.” – Emily Todd VanDerWerff, Vox

8. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

200 LISTS | 17 TOP SPOTS
James Gunn | 121 mins | Action/Adventure/Comedy
Chris Pratt | Vin Diesel | Bradley Cooper | Zoe Saldana

“There have been several defining moments in comic book movie history. Films like X-Men, Spider-Man 2 (2004 not 2014), Iron Man, and The Dark Knight have influenced everything that has followed on screen. In 2014, there was a potential for comic book movie glut. Instead, we were given a film that has effectively rejuvenated the genre and will undoubtedly shape the next decade of films in both the Marvel and D.C. universes. – Mike Foss” – USA Today

7. NIGHTCRAWLER

260 LISTS | 18 TOP SPOTS
Dan Gilroy | 117 mins | Crime/Drama/Thriller
Jake Gyllenhaal | Rene Russo | Bill Paxton | Riz Ahmed

“Jake Gyllenhaal gives what can really best be described as a fascinating performance in Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler. His character, Lou Bloom, is an absolutely terrifying, sociopathic monster, and whenever he smiles it generates a disturbing level of dread – both in the audience and in the atmosphere of the movie. Scary as Lou is, however, you can’t help but feel utterly compelled by his voyage into darkness and the world of crime TV journalism, where the slogan is “if it bleeds, it leads.” It’s utterly hypnotic unlike any other movie released in 2014, and without question one of its best.” – Eric Eisenberg, Cinema Blend

6. GONE GIRL

264 LISTS | 12 TOP SPOTS
David Fincher | 149 mins | Drama/Mystery/Thriller
Ben Affleck | Rosamund Pike | Neil Patrick Harris | Tyler Perry

“I can’t really excuse my lasting affection for Gone Girl. Its sexual politics are pretty retrograde, and it’s not as deep a film about marriage or the state of contemporary gender relations as it thinks it is. David Fincher’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s best-seller (adapted by Flynn herself) is just a slick, manipulative, great-looking erotic thriller, a slighter higher-shelf version of the Fatal Attraction/Basic Instinct trend of the late ’80s and early ’90s. But I like that kind of movie, and I liked the way Gone Girl played with my head. I truly hope the imminent eradication of the patriarchy (which we should really get going on in 2015) will not have to involve the repudiation of deliciously amoral cinematic femmes fatales like the one Rosamund Pike plays to perfection here. You’ll have to pry Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity from my cold, dead hands.” – Dana Stevens, Slate

5. UNDER THE SKIN

292 LISTS | 61 TOP SPOTS
Jonathan Glazer | 108 mins | Drama/Horror/Sci-Fi
Scarlett Johansson | Jeremy McWilliams | Lynsey Taylor Mackay | Dougie McConnell

““Interstellar” got lots of comparisons to “2001” this year, but the film that really connects the dots to Kubrick is “Under the Skin,” the long-awaited return to filmmaking by writer-director Jonathan Glazer (“Birth,” “Sexy Beast”). Scarlett Johansson, in her best work to date, stars as an enigmatic young woman who drives around Scotland in a van, picking up men for nefarious purposes. Is she an alien? What is her mission? Why does it apparently change? This gorgeous, challenging film makes the audience piece together the clues, and this puzzle remains compelling throughout.” – Alonso Duralde, TheWrap

4. WHIPLASH

316 LISTS | 32 TOP SPOTS
Damien Chazelle | 106 mins | Drama/Music
Miles Teller | J.K. Simmons | Melissa Benoist | Paul Reiser

“A tightly ratcheted thriller disguised as a coming-of-age movie, Damien Chazelle’s second feature puts two sociopathic musicians—a drill-sergeant-type jazz instructor and a teenage drummer who’s got more than a little Travis Bickle in him—into a film-long duet of abuse, obsession, and self-destruction. Blood spills, sweat pours, folding chairs are thrown, slurs are loosed, and, in the end, during a climactic full-band performance that’s our pick for the best scene of the year, what they finally produce is less music than the sound of two people attacking and wrecking each other with everything they’ve got. Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons play their characters as captivating monsters: repulsive, but oozing unspoken vulnerability. Like our 14th-place pick, Listen Up Philip, this is a movie about men who have no qualms about alienating everyone around them in the pursuit of art; however, the stakes here are both higher and more esoteric. The kind of perfectionist, collegiate big-band music taught by Fletcher (Simmons) and played by Andrew (Teller) is neither hip nor popular—it’s something to obsesses over, an enabler for a person’s worst anti-social impulses.” – Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, AV Club

3. BIRDMAN

364 LISTS | 60 TOP SPOTS
Alejandro G. Iñárritu | 119 mins | Comedy/Drama
Michael Keaton | Zach Galifianakis | Edward Norton | Emma Stone

“Sixtyish actor Riggin Thomson (Michael Keaton) hates that he is remembered only for a comic-book movie hero, Birdman, that made him a star decades earlier. He figures that headlining and directing a Broadway play based on a Raymond Carver story will convince the world of his serioso chops. But when nearly everything goes wrong in previews, Riggin realizes he can trust only the Birdman voice in his head. Assembling a dynamite cast (Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Stone) and employing Gravity cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki to shoot the two-hour story as if it were one continuous take, director Alejandro G. Iñárritu turns a familiar backstage dramedy — say, All About Eve plus All That Jazz times Fellini’s 8½ — into a spec-technical tour de farce. Keaton, who played Batman in two Tim Burton movies, locates Riggin’s frantic weariness, which could sag into suicidal defeat or ascend into mad apotheosis. Not to worry: the actor and the movie end up soaring.” – Richard Corliss, Time Magazine

2. THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

434 LISTS | 28 TOP SPOTS
Wes Anderson | 99 mins | Adventure/Comedy/Crime
Ralph Fiennes | F. Murray Abraham | Mathieu Amalric | Adrien Brody

“Wes Anderson’s films have always been easier to admire than embrace. They’re like hermetic, handcrafted dioramas in which every last detail, no matter how tiny, has been exquisitely attended to—often at the sake of real emotional engagement. But with The Grand Budapest Hotel, a deliriously funny and wistfully romantic fairy tale about a time long lost to history, the director finally found the human touch. It suits him. Set in the fictional European nation of Zubrowka sometime between the world wars, the film tells the story of a world-class concierge and gigolo named Monsieur Gustave (a marvelously persnickety Ralph Fiennes) and his ever-loyal lobby boy (the droll, deadpan Tony Revolori). A grab bag of dizzy intrigue swirls around them and the supporting cast of colorful oddballs, all while the ominous specter of fascism looms just outside the frame. For once, Anderson has created a confectionary universe that not only dazzles your eye but also breaks your heart.” – Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly

1. BOYHOOD

555 LISTS | 195 TOP SPOTS
Richard Linklater | 165 mins | Drama
Ellar Coltrane | Patricia Arquette | Ethan Hawke | Elijah Smith

“The smallest, quietest, least pushy film of 2014 is also the year’s best and biggest emotional powerhouse. For Boyhood, writer-director Richard Linklater carved out shooting time over 12 years to tell the story of a then-six-year-old Texas boy (stellar newcomer Ellar Coltrane) growing up as the child of divorced parents, indelibly played by Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette. But what about the risk if the actors got sick or worse? Who does that? Linklater does that. Boyhood, sculpted from the highs and lows of his own life, is his landmark, his purest personal expression.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

Full Top 50:

RTITLEL#1ARL%#1%TCLTCL1TCL%TCL1%
1Boyhood5551953.4468%26%2468966%26%
2The Grand Budapest Hotel434284.1053%4%1871350%4%
3Birdman364603.8544%8%1452839%8%
4Whiplash316324.1538%4%1281535%4%
5Under the Skin292614.1736%8%1383037%9%
6Gone Girl264124.6432%2%97426%1%
7Nightcrawler260184.8632%2%95526%1%
8Guardians of the Galaxy200174.8424%2%62017%0%
9Selma194184.5524%2%98726%2%
10Snowpiercer190125.7823%2%79321%1%
11Ida189174.7123%2%103928%3%
12The Lego Movie18095.4322%1%67318%1%
13Only Lovers Left Alive17594.8721%1%89424%1%
14Inherent Vice167184.3120%2%921425%4%
15The Babadook14665.8118%1%61416%1%
16Force Majeure14235.1617%0%80122%0%
17Interstellar140155.3817%2%48613%2%
18Two Days One Night124114.4615%1%68518%1%
19The Immigrant117115.3914%1%70619%2%
20Foxcatcher11154.7014%1%57315%1%
21The Imitation Game10535.4313%0%36210%1%
22Edge of Tomorrow10406.3613%0%41011%0%
23Citizenfour10284.9612%1%52314%1%
24Mr. Turner9285.3611%1%63617%2%
25Goodbye to Language88173.6411%2%491013%3%
26Stranger By the Lake8784.6110%1%3439%1%
27A Most Violent Year8454.8210%1%3419%0%
28We are the Best!7925.3210%0%50213%1%
29Life Itself7725.109%0%2717%0%
30The Theory of Everything7554.749%1%2828%1%
31Locke7425.429%0%40111%0%
32Dawn of the Planet of the Apes7236.009%0%1915%0%
33Wild7155.449%1%2818%0%
34Calvary6964.618%1%3249%1%
35Listen Up Philip6634.988%0%36210%1%
36Blue Ruin6625.578%0%3229%1%
37The Raid 26435.888%0%1514%0%
38Love is Strange5935.527%0%3239%1%
39Captain America: The Winter Soldier5825.467%0%1103%0%
40Obvious Child5336.366%0%1725%1%
41Leviathan (2014)5163.956%1%2928%1%
42Winter Sleep4834.186%0%2717%0%
43Stray Dogs4524.375%0%2116%0%
44American Sniper4365.775%1%1825%1%
45Manakamana4315.265%0%2416%0%
46Norte, The End Of History4354.695%1%2236%1%
47Jodorowsky's Dune3805.435%0%1905%0%
48Enemy3816.635%0%1604%0%
49Chef3516.174%0%902%0%
50Starred Up3405.534%0%1805%0%

Lists Included 821 | Top Critics’ Lists Included 371

R Rank
L Total number of lists where the film was selected as one of the top 10 films of the year
AR Average position on ranked top 10 lists
#1 Total number of lists where the film was selected as the best film of the year
L% Percentage of total lists where the film was selected as one of the top 10 films of the year
#1% Percentage of mentions where the film was selected as the best film of the year
TCL Number of times that the film was selected as one of the top 10 films of the year on top critics’ lists
TCL1 Number of times that the film was selected as the best film of the year on top critics’ lists
TCL% Percentage of times that the film was selected as one of the top 10 films of the year on top critics’ lists
TCL1% Percentage of lists where the film was selected as the best film of the year on top critics’ lists

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