My favourite films of 2014

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Hello there!

After watching this brilliant YouTube video by Miguel Branco that looks back on all the brilliant bits of cinema that happened in 2014, I was inspired to share with you my favourite films of this year. Again, if you've ever seen my Tumblr blog you will know that much like when it comes to television shows, I have an ever-growing list of movies that I like. This year saw some amazing films that have made their way onto that list and into this blog post.

Note: There is an abundance of superhero films on this list. If you don't like superhero films, then we can't be friends. Joking, but seriously, who doesn't like superhero films?


CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER

I was absolutely blown away by the second film in Marvel's Captain America franchise. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is set after the cataclysmic events of New York seen in Avengers Assemble. Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, is trying to adjust to life in the modern world. He even has a list of all the things he has to catch up on which ranges from Thai food to Nirvana to Star Trek. 
Whilst Steve is attempting to embrace the modern world, he must face a threat from old history. Joining forces with Natasha (Black Widow) and Sam Wilson (Falcon), Steve battles the mysterious soviet agent, The Winter Soldier.

CA: TWS is edgier and has more action packed fight scenes than it's predecessor. The plot was reminiscent of an old-style conspiracy thriller made more frightening by new technology. 
It explores government overreach, the real and perceived threats to national security and how true American values will always win out over false ones. Also, Steve Rogers just might be the most badass 95-year-old out there!
Sebastian Stan, who plays The Winter Soldier, may have very little dialogue but that doesn't take away from just how powerful his scenes are. He really steals the show as the tortured assassin who was once Steve Rogers' best friend. I really liked the addition of the Falcon and his rapport with Cap.
One thing I particularly enjoyed was the soundtrack. Henry Jackman did a breathtaking job in creating pieces that really added to the drama of the scenes. Whether it was the tense Winter Soldier scenes, which were accompanied by my personal favourite on the soundtrack, The Causeway, or the rather sombre scenes with Steve and Bucky, the music was always on point.

Suspenseful, full of action and rather emotional at times, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is one of my top favourite films of Twenty Fourteen.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

It's unlikely that anyone reading this will be unaware of the fact that Guardians of the Galaxy is the second-highest grossing film of 2014, and its most successful superhero film (indeed, Marvel Studios' third-most successful film of all).

The film follows space outlaw Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) who finds himself the quarry of relentless bounty hunters after he steals an orb coveted by Ronan the Accuser, a powerful villain. To evade Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with four misfits: gun-toting Rocket Raccoon, treelike-humanoid Groot, enigmatic Gamora, and vengeance-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when he discovers the orb's true power and the cosmic threat it poses, Quill must rally his ragtag group to save the universe.

It's funny and confident – and never concerned about exactly which demographic it's appealing to, because it's too busy appealing to several of them.
Much like CA: TWS, I loved the soundtrack to Guardians. From Hooked on a Feeling to the final scene with an adorable Baby Groot grooving to I Want You Back by the Jackson 5. 


It's not a perfect film – with so many planets and location changes it is hard to keep up with, Karen Gillan, who saved her hair for the role, sadly didn't get much screen time, sometimes the characters are insensitive towards one another. Yet, there is so much love and affection towards this film. It's a comedy whose characters are spot on.

Every one of them is almost impeccably written and cast with pitch-perfect performances. Who would have thought that Dave Batista would be one of the film's comedy heroes, or that a tree would get you so emotional?

I can't settle on one favourite character. Each of them are incredibly brilliant both individually and in a group dynamic. Who was your favourite character in Guardians of the Galaxy?

THE MAZE RUNNER

I had bought the book last Christmas after having it on my reading list for what seemed like forever. The book, which I read earlier on the year and the review of which can be found here, was fantastic and I couldn't wait for the movie.

It didn't disappoint. There were quite a few things that were different that book, but other than that I thought that Wes Ball, the director, did an incredible job.

A teenager called Thomas arrives in a glade at the center of a giant maze. Like the other young boys dumped there before him, he has no memory of his previous life. Thomas quickly becomes part of the group living in what is called the Glade and soon after demonstrates a unique perspective that scores him a promotion to Runner status -- those who patrol the always-changing maze to find an escape route. Together with Teresa, the only female, Thomas tries to convince his fellow Gladers that he knows a way out.

I thought the casting was especially perfect. Dylan O'Brien, who I've been massive fan of since 2011, was brilliant as Thomas. It was nice to see my fellow Brit, Will Poulter reprising his baddie status as I haven't seen him play a mean character since he was in Narnia. I loved him in We're The Millers. So, to see him go from lovable dork Kenny to rise-and-shine-I'll-make-your-life-a-living-hell-Greenie Gally was shocking, but enjoyable nonetheless as I kept getting flashback moments to spider balls.

I've mentioned music in the first two films of this post primarily because it's important to me that an action film has a badass soundtrack. I used to use The Avengers theme from the 2012 film as my alarm in the morning, so I woke up feel empowered and like I could take on Loki and his army. Thankfully, The Maze Runner had an epic soundtrack that added to the intensity of the film especially when they were trying to escape the frightening and gruesome Grievers.

The Scorch Trials, the sequel and second installment to The Maze Runner franchise is out next year.

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST

Don't say I didn't warn you that this was going to be a superhero flick orientated list. 

The ultimate X-Men ensemble fights a war for the survival of the species across two time periods in X-Men: Days of Future Past. The characters from the original X-Men film trilogy join forces with their younger selves from X-Men: First Class in an epic battle that must change the past - to save our future.

Convinced that mutants pose a threat to humanity, Dr. Bolivar Trask (played by Peter Dinklage) develops the Sentinels, enormous robotic weapons that can detect a mutant gene and zero in on that person. In the 21st century, the Sentinels have evolved into highly efficient killing machines. With mutants now facing extinction, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) volunteers to go back in time and rally the X-Men of the past to help change a pivotal moment in history and thereby save their future.

It's not my favourite superhero movie ever or in the entire X-Men franchise. I did think that First Class was a lot better, but nevertheless it still made for an action-packed, exciting watch.

While the ins-and-outs of time travel in Days of Future Past is a bit muddly, the story is great. The cast are incredible and the action scenes are amazing. This movie did exceed my expectations, though it didn't manage to make Jennifer Lawrence any more likable to me but a film can't do everything. The tone of this movie was a bit darker, but it had it's comedic moments too mostly in the opening act where Wolverine recruits Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and Quicksilver (Evan Peters) to help him bust into the Pentagon.
Quicksilver's infinitely fast moves effectively trump every other power and superpower which left me both baffled and rather upset that Quicksilver doesn't appear in much more of the film. Especially since he stole the show with a glorious "bullet-time" scene during shoot-out in which Quicksilver ambles around, catching the bullets as they float towards the cowering, freeze-framed Magneto and Xavier – and all to Jim Croce's yearning song If I Could Save Time in a Bottle. Here's hoping Quicksilver has a bigger role in Apocalypse! Primarily, because I'd like to see more Evan on my screen but also because I loved his character.

 If like me, you liked the other X-men movies, you will definitely like this one.

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

Adapted from John Green's best-selling novel of the same name, The Fault in Our Stars tells the story of Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley), a sixteen-year-old cancer patient who is forced by her parents to attend a support group, where she subsequently meets and falls in love with Augustus Waters, played by Ansel Elgort.

I went to see this one with friends and let me just mention that there was not a dry eye in the house. I even cried and I rarely cry at movies. I didn't even cry at Marley and Me I know, I'm a coldhearted monster. Even to this day, I'm not quite sure what triggered such an emotional reaction from me. Maybe it was the rather sweet eulogy that Augustus had left Hazel at the end mixed with the contagious crying of the entire row I was sat in.

I was never massively in love with the book, I thought it was good but it isn't up there with my top favourites. The film adaptation probably isn't up there with my top favourite romance movies either.
You're probably wondering what on earth it's doing on the list among movies that feature master assassins and explosions, but hey, I enjoyed The Fault in Our Stars. After making me bawl like a baby which caused me spend the entire bus ride home suffering with the inevitable headaches I get after crying, I feel like it deserves it's place on this list. 

Shailene, while I'm not a massive fan of her work, was a fantastic Hazel. However, I was more shocked by Ansel Elgort as Augustus. After the initial casting news, I had quite wrongly rubbished him and thought that he would be a terrible Augustus but I have to say I was blown away by his impeccably moving performance as the king of metaphors. I was pleasantly surprised by how fitting the casting was.

Lastly, what I've mentioned with the majority of the films on this list, is the soundtrack. The Fault in Our Stars boasts a soundtrack filled with big musicians and sweet melodies. From the magnificent Wait by M83 to one of my personal favourites, All I Want by Kodaline, to it's closing song All of the Stars by Ed Sheeran which I've decided was the reason I cried. It's such a beautiful song. Whoever put together the soundtrack for this film deserves a pat on the back because it is truly something.

It's not the best romance movie you will ever see, but it's teen tragedy and perfect for the moments when you just want to cry. It truly is, as the slogan advertises, one sick - and heartbreaking - love story.

There we have it! Sam's favourite films of 2014. There are probably a few more, but I didn't want to risk this post becoming the length of a Bible so I'd thought I'd limit myself to five movies.

Please watch this fantastic YouTube video by Miguel Branco that I mentioned in the introduction which re-caps all the films made this year and shows just how great of a year Twenty Fourteen was for cinema.

Hope you have a great day! Happy film watching!
Until next time,
Samantha

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