Torrey’s Top 10 Films of 2014
1. Guardians of the Galaxy
Marvel with the help of the talented James Gunn brought to life in an amazing, fun and charming way an obscure group of characters that most people, including comic book fans knew nothing about. On top of that he delivered a movie that fits very well into and supports the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but also stands incredibly well on its own as a film that brings a nostalgic, old school, exciting feel back to the summer blockbuster.
2. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
The first installment in the series, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, was a huge surprise that kickstarted the return of one of the greatest sci-fi franchises of all time. Director Matt Reeves captures what made the original movie so great, and gives us a modernized, exciting, and emotional franchise film.
I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting too much from a film starring the recently slumpy and boring Brad Pitt, and child actor turned troubled “non famous” actor Shia LaBeouf, but not only did both of their emotional performances (especially Shia, where is his Oscar nom?) make for an exciting, terrifying, and deep best films of the year, but one of the greatest war films of all time.
Whiplash as a film did every single thing right. Acting, cinematography, direction, editing, everything about it was perfect. Add in music, specifically drumming, and this movie becomes a perfectly made movie that I can relate to and feel refreshed, astonished, stressed out, and motivated when I finish watching it.
5. Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
One of the most interesting movies I have ever seen, Birdman delivers plenty of laughs, social commentary, incredible cinematography, and even more incredible ensemble cast making it some of the most fun had at the theater this year.
This one came out of nowhere, with Jake Gyllenhall at the lead playing a creepy, manipulative, yet endearing character how can it not be good? Gyllenhall’s performance astounds as the action draws you in and doesn’t ever let go. Nightcrawler is a thrill ride from beginning to end. (Also, hey look!, its Bill Paxton!)
7. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Marvel holds two spots on this list not only because they are the best in the game at world building, and what they have accomplished, and what they have yet to accomplish is fascinating, but the follow-up to one of my favorite Marvel films is an action packed, political thriller filled with emotion, not to mention the effects of the movie can be felt deep throughout the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, most immediately Marvel’s TV venture, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Another one that came out of left field. Chef I bought on a whim because of my love for indie cinema, Jon Faverau, and food. What started as an impulse buy turned into one of my favorite films of 2014. The music, the emotional father/son dynamic, and the writing all make Chef a must see film.
9. The Imitation Game
Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of WWII code breaker and father of the computer, Alan Turing, is one of the most defining performances of this era of film. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the screen as Cumberbatch worked his magic and helped to create the best biopic of 2014.
10. The Grand Budapest Hotel
Wes Anderson’s crazy, quirky, and unique style and symmetry are so exaggerated and over the top in his latest offering, but I say that in a good way. With a screenplay that feels like you’re reading a book and a solid performance from Ralph Fennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel stands out as Anderson’s best film.
Unfortunately, the list is too short to include all of my favorite movies from 2014. These movies were fantastic, left and impression on me, and deserve to be recognized as well:
The Lego Movie, Gone Girl, John Wick, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Big Hero 6, Snowpeircer, The Theory of Everything
Torrey’s Top 10 Games of 2014
1. Shadow of Mordor
We finally got a Lord of the Rings game that was actually good. Shadow of Mordor took everything good about Assassin’s Creed (there’s not much good about it), and the Arkham games, and packaged it together with a fun, and totally new innovative system that immerses you in the game world very deeply
2. TellTale’s The Walking Dead: Season 2
I was at first a little skeptical about playing as Clementine, but ten minutes into the first episode of the season those fears were put to rest. Having Clementine as the protagonist gives the game incredible depth, and doesn’t take away any of the emotional value that the difficult choices carry. I couldn’t make it to the end of the last episode without crying.
3. Dragon Age: Inquisition
Taking the best parts of the previous two games, Dragon Age: Inquisition combines two of my favorite things, Mass Effect and Swords. The customization options are very deep, leading to hours of enjoyment.
4. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
After last year’s highly disappointing outing with Ghosts, new developer Sledgehammer was looking to reinvigorate the franchise, and they did just that. The multiplayer was spot on and very reminiscent of the original Modern Warfare, and the campaign was very solid.
5. Grand Theft Auto V (Re-release)
The only reason this game isn’t higher on the list is because it is a rerelease. Rockstar does what Rockstar does, super fun, super deep open worlds. The amount they’ve done on the remaster from new textures, upgraded visuals, the first person mode, and even adding to tracks to Los Santos’ radio stations. When it released, I spent a good two hours doing nothing but driving around on a motorcycle in the wilderness in first person mode because of how beautiful this game is.
6. Far Cry 4
Far Cry 3 was a masterpiece. Far Cry 4 expanded on that in every way. The CoOp is fun, the single player is fun, and the world is beautiful. Throw in the trademark insane villain, and you’ve got yourself a crazy fun game. NOW GIVE US BLOOD DRAGON 2!
7. Wolfenstein: The New Order
Count this one as the biggest surprise of 2014. The story was engaging, the combat was fun, and the game was actually good. A breath of fresh air in the Wolfenstein franchise. Also, there’s just something incredibly fun about running through a hospital dual wielding AK47s and killing Nazis.
Bungie’s super ambitious game definitely had a lot of problems, if you were playing the game alone, it left some to be desired, but throw a couple of friends in the mix, and you’ve got the most fun CoOp multiplayer of the year.
9. Fantasia: Music Evolved
Harmonix certainly knows how to create fun musical experiences. If you have an Xbox One but no Kinect, I highly recommend going out to buy a Kinect for this game. Not only is directing the crazy amount of musical choices a ball, but the ability to remix the songs to your liking on the fly is incredibly cool. This one is a must have for any music fan.
10. Infamous: Second Son
Infamous probably had one of the most fun open worlds that wasn’t Rockstar made this year. Take what was great about the first games, and add more diverse super powers and the franchise freshens up. Infamous is the best new Playstation exclusive this year.