Josh’s Top 10 Films of 2014
1. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
This was a lock. A fantasy spectacle that ties together Peter Jackson’s second Tolkien-inspired trilogy, and the saga as a whole, perfectly. With big action, plenty of character drama and a lot of emotional wrapping up, it’s impossible for me not to have The Hobbit at the top spot of the year. I face the same crossroads I did back in 2003, I don’t know where my life goes from here, without any more Middle Earth adventures to look forward to.
2. Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Birdman is art. I hate that phrase, it’s pretentious and annoying. But it’s true. Michael Keaton absorbs the role of Riggan Thomson, a flawed 80’s superhero movie star who desperately needs to revive his career and be taken seriously. It’s poignant and honest, funny and sincere, and takes a real look at fame, family and mental stability. Shot beautifully, with camera tricks around every corner, Birdman is one of the absolute best films made in the past decade, if not ever.
Man, do I wish I could drum! Whiplash shows me, however, just how futile that desire may be. When I think of Jazz, I don’t think of the brutality of putting yourself through physical and emotional punishment in the desire to be the best, but that’s all changed. Over dramatized for sure, but pairing this story with the music and the amazing performance from J K Simmons makes Whiplash a movie that I cannot get out of my head. The final 10 minutes of this movie was some of the most pulse pounding and sweat-inducing cinema I’ve ever witnessed. Everyone needs to see this.
4. John Wick
I was all in on John Wick from the jump. The trailer had me hooked, sold on the pure brutality and style of the film’s action. The fact that this movie ends up as a top 5 movie of the year for me screams “guilty pleasure”, but that’s ok. Throw the plot out the window and just enjoy the endless stream of bullets flying through Russian gangsters skulls. It’s awesome adrenaline.
5. The Imitation Game
Biopics are great. Taking the extraordinary lives of real life innovators and turning them into compelling entertainment can be a risky venture, but when it hits, it hits hard. Benedict Cumberbatch transforms into Alan Turing and brings it with a brilliantly nuanced performance that conveys the turbulent nature of one of last century’s most important silent heroes.
6. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Winter Soldier is, simply put, Marvel’s best film to date. While it doesn’t have the spectacle of The Avengers, the Captain America sequel turns the comic book world on its head by turning it into a spy genre thriller, and becomes the biggest game changer in the MCU to date. It also gets bonus points for helping Agents of SHIELD to get out of its freshmen growing pains to become one of the best shows on tv.
7. Gone Girl
Gone Girl continues the impressive run of David Fincher’s career. A great psychological mystery anchored by two great performances. While that mystery may be revealed just under halfway through the film, it didn’t prevent the story from being engaging and enthralling. Additionally, I never thought it could be possible, but it turns out I liked Tyler Perry, if only in this role.
8. Guardians of the Galaxy
How can anyone deny Guardians of the Galaxy? It’s simply the most fun I had in a theater this year. Marvel proved that no property is beyond their reach, and the box office supported that thought. Chris Pratt is in the middle of becoming a monstrous star, and this film completely sold me on the idea of Dave Bautista being in every film ever, going forward.
9. Edge of Tomorrow (Live, Die, Repeat)
I love Tom Cruise! Unabashedly, I love that man. And Edge of Tomorrow may well be his best movie. The pure adrenaline in the action, the spectacle of its effects, and the nuance of Cruise and co-star Emily Blunt help to elevate Edge of Tomorrow into a special category for science fiction in the current era.
Fury surprised the hell out of me, and I was really looking forward to it going in. To be able to pull five equally brilliant performances out of this story shows the deft and skill director David Ayers possesses. The future is bright for everyone involved here.
Josh’s Top 10 Games of 2014
1. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
Combining the best parts of the Arkham games and Assassins Creed and setting it in my favorite movie universe ever, it’s hard to imagine me not absolutely loving this game. Mordor also decided to add the most innovative gameplay mechanic I’ve seen in years in the nemesis system, and I cannot wait for more games to adapt and add it.
2. The Last of Us: Left Behind
Left Behind gave me more context to one of my favorite characters in gaming history. Filled with amazing and memorable moments that will thrill, make you laugh and even cry, it’s the best piece of DLC ever, and that’s saying something big.
I’ve poured too much time into this addictive MMO-style shooter to deny its place on my list. Story problems aside, I find myself still being unable to stop playing for more than a day at a time, and I continue to count down the days leading up to the games next big expansion.
4. South Park: The Stick of Truth
Take the funniest animated series of all-time, add a time-honored game mechanic and make it the length of an entire season of television and you have a winning combination. South Park is the funniest game I’ve ever played, and it has the advantage of also being a damn fun game.
5. Child of Light
Child of Light is a fairytale. A perfect fairytale. It’s painterly style fits the UbiArt engine perfectly, and the game being written in poetic rhymes was a brilliant touch. A must for any classic RPG fans.
6. Velocity 2X
No game gave me more pure gameplay enjoyment than Velocity 2X. It hit the need to top the leaderboards and perfect every level to the letter. Half SHMUP, half metroid-esque side scrolling shooter, Velocity is absolute enjoyment.
7. The JackBox Party Pack
You Don’t Know Jack has always been pure fun, but throw in four more new party games and the amazing accessibility of everyone’s phone being their controller and you have the best multiplayer experience of the year.
Is it a game? A demo? A commercial? It doesn’t matter, no gaming experience has frightened me more, nor had me sharing my playtime with others more than PT, ever. If this is the direction of Silent Hills, count me in, just don’t mind the smell of soiled pants in my house, I swear it’s unrelated.
Despite it having a downgraded experience than what was initially promised, Watch Dogs still stood tall as a good first entry in a new franchise. The hacking mechanic added something unique and fun to the overpopulated open world genre.
Threes takes the simplistic idea of a mobile puzzler and creates a truly addictive and easy game. I sank more time into Threes this year than I care to admit, and I don’t see myself stopping any time soon.