2014 Recap: Top 10 Best + 5 Worst Movies of the Year


Well, well, well, it’s that time of the year again where us film bloggers agonize in making these Top 10 list. Yes, agonize is not a hyperbole as it’s REALLY quite an arduous task not only selecting which 10 films would make the list, but also ranking them. But once I decided on my top three, ranking the other seven was a bit easier to do. I did make a Top 10 list from the first half of 2014, and it’s interesting to see which ones stay on the list and which ones are now relegated to my Honorable Mentions.

The same with the previous years, when I say ‘top movies’ it’s sort of a cross between a ‘best of and favorite’, so the criteria is that these films made an impression on me, combining the virtue of being entertaining, deeply moving, thought-provoking, and indelible. Re-watchability is also a factor here and I’d readily re-watch most of the films listed here, in fact, I have seen a few of them at least twice already. The [dis]honor of the WORST films of the year is at the end of the BEST list.

Ok well, without further ado… I present you …


10. The LEGO Movie


Everything is awesome! And still is. This is actually one of three animated features I absolutely LOVE from last year, but I decided I only wanted to include just ONE. The LEGO Movie wins by a narrow margin, beating out How To Train Your Dragon 2 and Big Hero 6 to make it to my main list. It really comes down to Emmet being such an adorably goofy protagonist, surrounded by spin-off-worthy supporting cast like Lego Batman and Good Cop/Bad Cop, it’s really a fantabulous geekstravaganza that would likely hold up with repeated viewings. Plus, that music is simply, well, awesome! That unabashedly vivacious song makes my Top 5 Songs of the year as well. (full review)

9. The Grand Budapest Hotel


This is the first Wes Anderson movie that ever made it to my Top 10 of the year list, so I guess you could say it’s now my favorite of his collection. It captivated me from the opening scene all the way until the end and it’s more fast-paced than his previous films. But of course it has all the things you expect from Wes: the quirky characters, the perfect symmetry of every single scene, playful music, etc. The ensemble cast is wonderful once again, led by Ralph Fiennes in a rare comedic role who’s an absolute blast to watch. I also enjoy F. Murray Abraham and newcomer Tony Revolori as Zero Mustafa, the ever-so-resourceful & loyal lobby boy. Mischievously whimsy, but with heart. Like a charming hotel, it’s one I wouldn’t mind revisiting again and again. (full review)

8. The Imitation Game


This is no doubt one of my favorite films at last year’s Twin Cities Film Fest. It won a TCFF 2014 Awards for Best Feature Film and both Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley also won acting honors. It’s a biopic on Alan Turing, a mathematician whose pivotal role in cracking the enigma code during WWII helped the Allies won the war against the Nazis. It’s an important film to be sure, boasted by a fantastic all-British cast led by a terrific Cumberbatch as the unsung hero. Though it may be a bit formulaic and by-the-numbers (pardon the puns), it’s still a highly entertaining, as well as emotionally-poignant film that stays with me after the closing credit. In a year of great ensemble-cast films, this is no doubt one of my favorites. I especially love Mark Strong & Matthew Goode here, two underrated performers who ought to get more leading roles of their own.

7. Citizenfour


I only saw a few documentaries last year but this is the one that stuck with me the most. It seems like ages ago when we’re introduced to the name Edward Snowden, and since then some see him as either a traitor or a hero. Filmmaker Laura Poitras got an unprecedented access to one of the first of many meetings between reporter Glenn Greenwald (who at the time worked for The Guardian) and Snowden in a Hong Kong hotel room. It’s more of an eyewitness type documentary, allowing us the viewer to be a fly-on-the-wall so to speak as Snowden revealed the mechanics of those NSA intelligence leak. I remember vividly when his first photo was broadcasted all over the media and here we saw him wearing the exact same brown-ish shirt he wore for that shot. The doc may contain what’s seemingly mundane series of events of people talking in a hotel room, but it was utterly engrossing to me. It’s the implication of those conversations, and what it means to the central character and all of us who’s watching it that makes the scenes all the more captivating.

6. Selma


“Selma is at once a peek into the past and a snapshot of the present.” I like the title of this AVClub review because it sums up the film perfectly. I’m glad there’s finally a big-screen adaptation of Martin Luther King’s story, but I’m glad this film isn’t a conventional biopic. Instead, director Ava DuVernay and writer Paul Webb effectively focused on the pivotal event of his life and made this more about the collective struggle for voting rights. Much has been said about the historical inaccuracies about Lyndon B. Johnson’s portrayal, which isn’t the first time liberties are taken on films based on real-life events. But I think apart from that, this is a powerful and gripping film, uncomfortably tense at times, especially during the Bloody Sunday sequence. The issue of police brutality couldn’t be more timely considering the events in Ferguson and NYC, which makes it all the more poignant and heart-wrenching. David Oyelowo embodied the role of King, convincing in both the fiery moments of his speeches, as well as the quieter moments with his wife (portrayed brilliantly by Carmen Ejogo).

5. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes


I haven’t re-watched this film since I saw it back in July, yet I still remember much about how I felt about the main character, Caesar. The fact that he’s not even a human being says a lot about how good the character development of the last two ‘Apes’ films and this sequel took us a step further into Caesar’s journey. The ‘king of mo-cap acting’ Andy Serkis once again delivered a phenomenal portrayal of the apes leader. His eyes convey so much that they’re practically hypnotic. Director Matt Reeves created a suspenseful & atmospheric piece here that’s immediately engrossing. At times it’s so sinister and eerie that I felt like I was watching a horror film, as well as genuinely poignant moments that tug my heartstrings. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is not just one of the best offerings of the Summer, but of the entire year. It succeeds because the special effects punctuates and supports the story/character instead of the other way around. (full review)

4. Belle


I feel like a broken record when it comes to miss Gugu Mbatha-Raw, but she’s truly one of the best talent discoveries in a good long while. She’s the heart and soul of this film, displaying a nuanced and charismatic performance in nearly every scene. I’m also glad to have discovered director Amma Assante, who shows such dexterity in her sophomore feature, crafting a beautifully layered and affecting historical drama. There are so many things to love here, and after having seen this four times already, I’m still mesmerized. Visually it’s just a stunning film, the gorgeous lighting brings out the best of the costumes, set pieces, etc. But it’s the rich, engrossing story and brilliant performances by the all-British cast that make this such a rewarding film to see over and over. (full review)

3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier


I knew this film would make my final Top 10 from the first time I watched it. This is another movie on this list I’ve seen more than twice and I still absolutely loved it! It’s one of the rare sequel that easily surpasses the the first one. Billed as a ’70s political thriller masquerading as a superhero movie’, The Winter Soldier delivers on that promise and gives us something that’s genuinely intriguing and massively entertaining. It’s filled with adrenaline-pumping geek-gasm scenes without being banal or vapid. Chris Evans‘ much more confident in the role which makes him even more watchable, and Robert Redford + Anthony Mackie are great additions to an already-fantastic cast. This one has become my favorite Marvel stand-alone feature and Cap my favorite Marvel superhero! (full review)

2. Gone Girl


It’s a testament of a great film when it clocks in at 2.5 hours and it went by like a breeze. Dark, twisted, stylish, and even mesmerizing, Gone Girl is one of those movies that play like a thrilling roller coaster ride. Instead of a straight who-dun-it type of thriller, David Fincher and writer Gillian Flynn made this more of a psychological character study of a couple in a crumbling marriage that turns more sinister by the minute. Rosamund Pike was nothing short of amazing as the year’s certifiable female anti-hero you love to hate. She gave an intense and haunting performance that’s absolutely Oscar-worthy. Props to Fincher and Flynn for making a story that might not translate well to film into something cinematic, gripping and wildly entertaining. (full review)

1. Birdman


This is an easy pick for number 1. It’s one of the most unique and unusual films I’ve seen in a while, and the level of artistry that goes into it is off the charts. Technically it’s simply astounding, especially in terms of cinematography. The use of the continuous long takes helps tell the story in such a unique and immersive way that completely absorbs you. But the story itself is rich and full of thought-provoking allegory, brought to life by Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s adept direction. It’s one of those rare films where style actually meets substance, as the story brilliantly blends fantasy & reality, drama & comedy in a way that can be both deep as well as entertaining. It has its darker and even vulgar moments I don’t typically embrace, but it never overpowers the protagonist’s journey, which is the heart of the story. On top of all that is the phenomenal performances across the board, led by Michael Keaton in the lead role, one that I’ll been rooting for the entire award season. (full review)



Some of these movies were actually in my Top 10 list of the first half of 2014. I marked those with an * (asterisk), this time I’m NOT ranking these, so they’re listed in alphabetical order:

  1. Begin Again
  2. Big Hero 6
  3. Chef
  4. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them
  5. Edge of Tomorrow*
  6. Foxcatcher
  7. Guardians of the Galaxy
  8. The Grand Seduction*
  9. How To Train Your Dragon 2*
  10. The Hundred Foot Journey
  11. John Wick
  12. Locke*
  13. The Machine*
  14. Time Lapse
  15. X-Men: Days of Future Past*

What I missed from 2014:

Boyhood, Calvary, Ida, Mr. Turner, Nightcrawler, Only Lovers Left Alive, Theory of Everything, Still Alice, Under the Skin, and Whiplash.


Now, I wish I could get my 2+ hours back from each of these awful movies! Ok I saw most of these at press screening, so thankfully I didn’t have to pay for them, but still they’re such a waste of my time. Avoid these if you can help it, consider yourself warned.

Bullets Dodged:

Glad I missed some terrible ones like  I Frankenstein, Pompeii, Blended, Transcendence, The Best of Me, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, etc.

So that’s my Best/Worst list of 2014. Thoughts on my picks here? I’d love to hear it!

88 thoughts on “2014 Recap: Top 10 Best + 5 Worst Movies of the Year

  1. I would totally put Winter’s Tale in any list of the worst films ever while I want to add The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in that list. One of the worst films I had ever seen. I’m glad I didn’t see it in the theaters.

    1. Oh yeah! If I were to make a Top 10 WORST list, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 would definitely be there, it was awful! Any thoughts on the BEST list? 😉

  2. WOW! Birdman at #1. We taljed about it a little earlier. I knew you loved it.

    Love Captain America at #3. Same spot as on my list! Great movie.

    Two on your list I need to see – Belle and CitizenFour.

    I’m assuming The Monuments Men is right around #11, right? 😉

    Oh, add The Other Woman to the ‘Worst of’ list. My gosh that thing is horrible.

    Anyway, great list Ruth. Very cool selection.

    1. Hello Keith! Yeah I had been working on my Top 10 for some time, and I knew Birdman would make my top 3, but I do think it deserves the top spot. I can see why some people think it’s pretentious but I don’t feel it that way, but it does have some vulgar parts that I don’t think are necessary/doesn’t add much to the film.

      High five on The Winter Soldier! Did you like the first film too?

      Please please do see BELLE, it’s so grossly underrated but what a beautiful & enchanting film!

      Oh, you actually saw The Other Woman? Sorry to hear that Keith! But hey I did see Transformers, ugh!

      1. Really liked the first Captain America film. I think one thing I appreciate about that series is that it feels a little different than all of the others. That’s a bit refreshing.

        Transformers? Uuuuggghhhhh!

  3. Ruth, you need, need, need to see Whiplash. I think that could very well sneak into your top ten. It’s that good.

    Oh, and I agree with you on Birdman. One of the great films of all time, that one.

    1. Hi Rodney! Ok I will as soon as it’s out on rental, I’ll hold you to it if I don’t like it, ha!

      Glad to hear you love Birdman as much as I did!

  4. We’re both definitely on the same page on Birdman, wonderful film. If it had been released over here last year then it would have staked a claim for my number 1 spot. Citizenfour sounds really interesting, not one I’ve come across to be honest!

    1. Hey, speaking of which, I still need to see your Part 2 list. Citizenfour somehow doesn’t get a lot of buzz, which is odd considering how intriguing the subject is.

  5. I’ve seen three from your top 10. I’m glad you loved The Grand Budapest Hotel(me too), such a beautiful and fun ride.
    I’ll wait until late Feb with my list, since a few awards films are not out near me until then.

    1. Hi Chris! Yeah I still missed some movies that ended up in a lot of people’s Top 10, esp. Boyhood. But I feel quite strongly about these 10 that I’m ok with posting it now.

  6. Stu

    Nice to see your top 10. I haven’t actually seen 7 of them (though, in my defence, Selma isn’t out here yet); my ever-growing list that means I will get round to them all at some point, but Belle and Citizenfour in particular are two that I want to watch.

    1. Hey Stu! It’s a bummer about those release dates, eh? Wish we can all see them at the same time wherever we live, or at the latest 1-2 weeks apart. I REALLY hope you’d check out Belle, it’s such an underrated film featuring a gorgeous performance by my current girl-crush Gugu Mbatha-Raw!

  7. What a great selection of movies! I particularly like that you included Belle on your list, this film really deserves more recognition, it was wonderful. And Man, Woman and Children among the worst films of the year…I couldn’t agree more.

    1. Hi Veronika, welcome to my blog! Thrilled to hear you love BELLE too, I so agree it deserves so much more recognition!

      Men, Women & Children had so much potential but the execution is just awkward and boring.

    1. Hi Cindy! Whiplash is on my list of the ones I haven’t seen 😉

      Citizenfour should be seen by anyone who’s ever been online, regardless of how you feel about Snowden.

  8. Brittani

    Nice list! I’m really looking forward to Citizenfour. I hope it comes out before the Oscars, at least. I’ve already seen three docs on the short list.

    I hope you love Nightcrawler and Theory of Everything when you get around to seeing them!

    1. Hi Brittani! I don’t know if Citizenfour will open theatrically around MN but it might be available on streaming. It’s really a captivating & timely doc everyone should check out!

      Looking forward to seeing Nightcrawler and Theory of Everything as soon as they’re out on streaming!

    1. Hello Drew, fellow miss Gugu fan 😉 Belle and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes are excellent indeed, I love the emotional gratification those films bring.

  9. I’ve seen six of your top 10 and loved five of them. I’m just not a big fan of Grand Budapest Hotel even though I really like the director. I think I’m going to give it another go to see if I was just in a bad place (sleepy) when I watched it. Right now, Gone Girl is in my top slot, but I haven’t seen Birdman, yet. Very happy to see the love for The Lego Movie. Great post.

    1. Hi Dell! Not surprised to see a polarizing view on Grand Budapest Hotel, I don’t usually love Wes’ films but this one just works for me. I do think when and what mood we’re in when we watch a film does affect our enjoyment. Oh Birdman is sooo good, that might alter your #1 spot 😉

      1. So many! Just to give you an idea, I’ve only seen 2 from your top 10 and 4 from your honorable mentions. The ones I would like to check out soon are Grand Budapest Hotel, Lego Movie, X-Men and Edge of Tomorrow. Everything else is still too new for me to be able to see. But I’d like to see Whiplash and Foxcatcher if they stay in theatres long enough for me to find some time to go 🙂

        1. Hey, Belle has been on iTunes for a while now 😉 But you can’t go wrong w/ those four you mentioned. Foxcatcher is a good one for rental I think, it’s just so somber but it has some great performances.

  10. Irene McKenna

    Ha ha. I love the “bullets dodged” category. I give you credit for being brave enough to sit through the Transformers movie. 🙂

    I am really looking forward to Birdman!

    1. Hi Irene! Ahah well I’ve been seeing quite a few WORST list and so I had to include that category. I don’t think I was brave in seeing Transformers, more like stupid, mwahaha!

      Hope you’ll enjoy Birdman!

  11. Great list! There are some on here which I still need to see such as Birdman… really have to get onto that.
    I will disagree with you on Imitation Game, I wasn’t blown away by that. Did you see The Theory of Everything?

    1. You should check out Birdman soon James, for sure it’ll get an Oscar nom tomorrow 😉

      I wasn’t blown away by Imitation Game either, but it was still good enough to merit a spot in my top 10. I was hoping it would land in my top 5 initially though.

      1. I know I should, I have my fingers crossed that I can find the time to see it next week!

        Yeah i had really high hopes for it, and it was fine, but it didn’t exactly meet my hopes.

  12. Im always amazed how many films I miss when i see these lists. I like your “bullets dodged” section 🙂 I was surprised to see Captain America so high but no Guardians! I loved that one as well as Grand Budapest Hotel.

    1. Hey Gene! No worries man, you can always catch up on ’em later, I still have a lot I haven’t seen either. Guardians made my Honorable Mentions. I like it but not as much as The Winter Soldier as it’s not just simply entertaining but it’s also got some intriguing espionage aspect to it.

  13. Great list, Ruth!! It’s probably nice to have finally composed it and posted it, eh? I’m still holding out for a film or two before posting mine, but I’m hoping to post later this week or early next week!

    Wow, you’ve seen Belle four time?! I will definitely have to rent that one STAT here then! I’m also not familiar with Citizenfour, so I’m curious to see what that is about.

    I’m really glad you put The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Lego Movie, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes on your list. I do think a few of your titles will be shared on my top ten list as well! 😀

    1. Hey Kris! It took me nearly a week since I started this list, creating the graphics, etc. but the longest time was RANKING them!

      Yes I have seen Belle four times and maybe more as I like to watch some clips of it on Youtube. I love that movie so much, and Sam Reid is quite drool-worthy too 😉 For sure you know who Ed Snowden is right? It’s basically about that whole NSA leak.

      Looking forward to seeing your list!

  14. Nice to see Gone Girl up so high on your list! Birdman is also one of my favorites of the year. I just caught The Imitation Game the other day and I liked it a lot, even if the filmmaking is not as remarkable as the story it’s telling, it’s still a really good film. Especially liked Kiera Knightley in the role, one of my favorite performances of hers for sure. Great list!

    1. Hi Melissa! It’s too bad Gone Girl doesn’t seem to be a lock for Oscars as it’s a really competent film w/ phenomenal performances. I think in terms of execution, it’s far better and bolder than Imitation Game which is more conventional. It’s odd considering how edgy director Morten Tyldum’s previous film Headhunter was. Yes Keira was good in it though I like her even more in Begin Again.

  15. I only saw two on your list, Captain America and Dawn of the Apes, I’d put Captain on my top 10 too. I just re-watch Dawn of the Apes, bought the 3D disc, I still enjoy it but didn’t think it’s as good as the first time I saw it.

    Will definitely see The Grand Budpest Hotel, Gone Girl and Birdman.

    1. Hi Ted! You haven’t seen Gone Girl yet? Somehow I thought you have. I think you’d like Birdman, well I hope you do anyway 🙂 Are you a fan of Wes Anderson movies in general?

      1. No, ever since I missed the screening, I totally forgot to check out Gone Girl in theater. But it’ll be on Bluray soon and I’ll just rent it. I want to see Birdman but I hate seeing these kind of movies at a theater, too many damn annoying people wouldn’t stop yapping about things, so I’ll just wait till it hits Bluray.

        Not the biggest fan of Wes Anderson’s work, some of his I like but most of them I can live without. I’ll see if Grand Budapest Hotel will be as good as everyone said. Although watching the movie on Bluray will be kind of weird on my widescreen since most of the movie was shot in 4:3 aspect ratio and my screen is 2.35:1.

  16. Interesting list Ruth. Can’t argue with Birdman for #1. It’s was a very impressive flick. It’s in my own list as we speak but a little further down. As it goes, the first two films you mention from the list that you missed (Calvary and Boyhood) sit in my top three at present.

    1. Hi Mark! I might’ve missed your top 10 so would you send me the link to it?

      So you like both Boyhood and Birdman then as both are in your top 10? I look forward to seeing Calvary, I remember your stellar review & I always like Brendan Gleeson!

  17. I only saw 6 of your top list and 1 of your worst 5 (but watch the rest you missed)… poor me, I haven’t watched the #1
    It’s been on everyone’s top list but I haven’t seen haha but glad I saw Boyhood, and that’s gonna make the list.
    Anyway, is this the final list?

    1. So Birdman hasn’t opened yet in Indo yet? I suppose it’s an indie so it may take more time, bummer! Well I haven’t seen Boyhood so I guess we’re even, ha! And yes, it’s my final list 😀

  18. Great picks! I got around to seeing Birdman and enjoyed it a lot, your recommendation was spot on. If I were to do a top ten list, I’d also would want to pick one of those 3 animated movies … hard for me to pick between them though since they’re all great, entertaining movies. 🙂

  19. Hello. Great list you have there. I’ve seen 8 out of 10. Belle and Citizenfour are my gaps which I hope to fill soon. Belle is an interesting story for a costume drama. And I think the director of Citizenfour is brave for making the film. Speaking of documentaries, have you seen the Roger Ebert one, Life itself?

    I like and even love some of these films especially Birdman and Gone Girl. I am surprised you haven’t seen Boyhood.

    From the worst of the year list I’ve seen only Men Women and Children. What a mistake that was. I’ll stay away from the rest on your list. A bit intrigued by Transcendence though. Is it that bad?

    1. Hi Christian! No I haven’t seen Life Itself yet but I hope to soon. It’s quite shocking it didn’t garner a documentary nomination at Oscar, given how loved Ebert was.

      Boyhood somehow didn’t appeal to me but now I’m curious because of all the accolades but I hope it’ll live up to it.

      Men Women and Children is really awful wasn’t it? It just made me cringe! Haven’t seen Transcendence but I heard it was REALLY bad.

  20. As usual, a fine and diverse list, Ruth. So glad to see Captain American: The Winter Soldier in your top three. The Grand Budapest Hotel is also high up on my list. Whiplash, Nightcrawler, and (believe it or not) Maleficent are there, as well. Snowpiercer, Guardians of the Galaxy, Top Five, The Lego Movie, Under the Skin, Interstellar, Gone Girl, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Edge of Tomorrow (or whatever it’s known as this week), Calvary, Life Itself, and X-Men: Days of Future Past make up most of mine. But, as you can see, I’m still catching up to a lot of film as we near awards time. A lot that are on your list. Looking forward to them all. 🙂

    1. Hi Michael! Glad to see we share lots of faves but I too have a lot of films I’ve missed: Top Five, Nightcrawler, Calvary, Under The Skin and Life Itself.

      Boy it seems that given how much praise Nightcrawler’s been getting, pretty much unanimously amongst bloggers, the Oscar snub is so egregious! I haven’t even seen it yet and I felt that the movie AND Jake G’s performance were grossly overlooked. Are you planning on seeing SELMA? Curious to hear your thoughts on it.

  21. We share top 2! I’m so psyched so many people loved Birdman. It is honestly the best movie I’ve seen since Black Swan. It’s not even that the mindblowing cinematography can makes things uneven unlike with so many movies with one outstanding aspect because everything in Birdman is outstanding.

    1. I really didn’t expect to love Birdman so much as I thought it might be too dark and weird but I’m glad it did! So are you saying Birdman actually beat Gone Girl on your Top 10?? That can’t be!

        1. Ah cool, can’t wait to check it out! Yeah, the GG snubs is one of my main gripes of the Oscar noms, along w/ the Best Director and Actor from SELMA.

    1. Hi Nov! I have a feeling you’d like Gone Girl since you like darker films. I’d think the dvd has been available for some time in Jkt 😉

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  24. Whatever you do, keep steering clear of Transcendence.

    As for your top ten and honourable mentions, great picks Ruth! I adored The Winter Soldier and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and as much as I liked Gone Girl, I don’t seem to have loved it as much as most. It was, however, a fine return to form for Fincher.

    There are still a few movies on your list that I am looking forward to, hope to catch them soon!

    1. Hi Zoë! I’ll keep that in mind girl! Y’know, I ran across it a few times on iTunes and almost watched it but there’s always something that kept me from clicking it. So maybe my ‘awful movie’ radar was on 😉

      Y’know, the fact that I have seen The Winter Soldier several times and loved it every time, I should’ve put that one as my #2 instead, but really my top 5 is REALLY impossible to rank.

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