Ranking 2014 fall-winter movies
The last few months of 2014 saw a very abnormal trend for movies. The fall season produced its usual mixture of top-notch thrillers, sci-fis and teen franchises. On the other hand, December, normally the Mount Olympus of movies for the year, was one of the weaker release periods of the year.
Welcome to my eighth annual movie rankings list, as long as ‘annual’ means ‘whenever I feel like it every few months.’ This list will determine the order of the movies I’ve seen and may or may not have reviewed since last September. The nominees for Logan’s favorite (and least favorite) movies are, in order of release:
- The Maze Runner
- Dracula Untold (Not reviewed)
- Gone Girl
- Big Hero 6 (Not reviewed)
- Interstellar (Not reviewed)
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (Not reviewed)
- The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
- Into the Woods
- The Interview (Not reviewed)
Unforunately, that’s a lot of movies that I never got the opportunity, time or patience to review. For those movies, I’ll try to make their write-ups more like mini-reviews. For those I reviewed, I’ll include a link to the full post.
Scroll down to read and prepare to be offended by my horrible opinions:
- Dracula Untold
Why are vampire movies so prone to being awful? In retrospect I’m disappointed I didn’t review this one, because this would have been one of the few times I exercised my right to brand a movie with a ranking within the 1-star range.
Dismally shot in a faux-Middle Age landscape, the film follows the story of Dracula (Luke Evans), or so we’re told. In all actuality, very little of what happens in the movie was mentioned by Bram Stoker in his original Dracula tale, so this movie kinda just throws whatever slabs of plot they can come up with at the screen while slapping Dracula’s name over it to give people a reason to see their so-called ‘reimagining.’
I can usually come up with some bright spot to talk about for a film, but with Dracula I really can’t. I vant to suck your blooood. No? I’m at a loss of what to say about a movie where the main character single-handedly slaughters an entire army of humans at the movie’s midpoint, then shoves a climax at us where it’s that same main character fighting a single human being. And somehow, Dracula is losing. And they expect us to be emotionally invested.
I’m gonna spoil the ending because no one cares anyway: It ends with a cliffhanger and a promise to resume this version of Dracula’s story in a modern day setting. Oh my God guys, I cannot wait for this sequel. PLEASE let it happen. This is my favorite franchise, like, ever.
- The Interview
Also known as Free Promotion: The Media Event, The Interview is lucky it got one of the most entertaining/interesting news events of 2014 to advertise its release. Though Seth Rogen probably wanted that to happen anyway. No other movie that I know of has had a war threatened over its release, so there’s something to be said about that.
Unfortunately, there’s very little else to say about the movie itself. Seth Rogen plays… I don’t know, a television producer? He and his wacky charismatic talk show host Dave Skylark (James Franco) are invited to North Korea to interview Kim Jong-un (Randall Park). They are contacted by the CIA and ordered to kill the world leader, because that’s realistic. Attempted hilarity and plentiful racism ensues.
There’s a few ‘snort through your nose louder than usual’ moments and maybe one or two laugh-worthy gags, but the movie fails as both a comedy and a structured story, and even a political satire. Gotta give it props for the Sony hacks, though.
I can’t think of a single successful live action adaption for a fairytale recently, and this clustermess only cements that. Emily Blunt acted and sounded great in this movie, but Golden Globe worthy? Once December rolls around, do Golden Globe voters just glance at the “Now Playing” list on IMDb and nominate whatever they see? Heck, even the lamented Annie got nominated for a Globe, and critics hated it. If either of these musicals had come out in March or April, there’s no way they would have gotten the nominations they did.
Nothing against Blunt, again. The best part of Woods was seeing actors you wouldn’t expect showing off their pipes (yes, the guy from Star Trek too).
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1
And the Globe for most annoying movie title goes to…
This is a startling drop for Katniss, as both of her previous endeavors made the final 2 of their respective lists. Unfortunately, she couldn’t make it out of the arena unscathed this time around. With the exception of trendsetter Harry Potter, I’ve never not been annoyed by a book being split into two (or more) movies. Splitting books is like the live action fairytale adaption of teenage book-movies. I actually have no clue what that sentence means, but it’s more exciting than the majority of Mockingjay.
Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is super sad because the Capitol captures Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) after their second Hunger Games are sabotaged. Katniss only decided to actually care about Peeta after he gave her a shiny pearl, but that’s not the point, and she’s really really sad now. Occasionally she’ll surface from the underground District 13 to gasp and cover her mouth at things or disobey orders, AKA serving as the ‘Mockingjay’ rebellion figurehead.
The action scenes are just as good as they were in the previous two films, if only they weren’t so scarce. Easily the worst part of the movie is ‘The Hanging Tree’ that Katniss sang. As soon as she started singing, I was like, “Oh dear God, there’s going to be a dance remix of this.” And now there is.
A dance remix based on a 20-second sound bite… about hanging yourself.
With the exception of trendsetter Harry Potter, I’ve never not been annoyed by a book being split into two (or more) movies. I added that “(or more)” to foreshadow the 7th place finish for The Hobbit, which completes the unintentional trend of all three Hobbit movies finishing in 7th on their respective lists.
I’ve written three articles on how bloated this series is, and unlike Peter Jackson, I know when to stop. All I’ll say is probably the best thing to come from this series is Orlando Bloom not needing to take public transportation anymore, because now he can just grab onto passing animals, vehicles or people and swing across the city to wherever he needs to go. Welcome back to the real world, Orlando. Remove your Legolas wig and remember where you are.
- Big Hero 6
So maybe I intentionally knocked this animated sugar rush down a peg so its placement matched the number in its title, but I can justify this by pointing out it has an even more cartoonish, caffeinated cast than Disney movies usually have, and that’s saying something.
Still, the movie has a slightly more mature tone to it, thanks to its story. Hiro (voiced by Ryan Potter) is a 14-year-old genius who uses his talent with robotics for illegal robot fights until his brother Tadashi (voiced by Daniel Henney) brings him to his engineering college, or “nerd school.” There, we meet the aforementioned group of backup characters who belong more in a mental asylum than in a college, but we also meet Baymax (voiced by Scott Adsit), the world’s first and most adorable robotic healthcare companion. Sure, the back up cast sucks, but the main cast – especially Baymax – makes up for them.
The plot twists and turns and soon Hiro realizes he could be something great (like a SUPERHERO) with Baymax at his side. They call themselves Big Hero 2, and the movie stops before anyone else can join their crusade, or so I wish. Despite (or maybe because of) a story more mature than usual Disney fare, the movie struggles to find solid footing and a consistent tone to keep its youngest audience members laughing, but that doesn’t stop it from trying.
You know what’s actually wild? Number 5 on the list and we’re still in meh territory. At least it’s upper to mid meh. Which is exactly what I felt walking out of the theater to Wild, after watching one woman’s amazing physical but underwhelming emotional journey through some mountains and tragic but common life events.
Something else wild: This was the highest placing movie that came out in Oscar season (which I deem to be December). Yeah.
It was entertaining for one watch, but I know I’ll never have any desire to watch it again. The worst part is I can’t think of any jokes so we’re moving on.
In the season of Oscar bait, I have ranked a dystopian teen fiction in the top 4. Don’t blame me – Maze Runner sprints past a lot of movies in terms of atmosphere (creepy, scary, trapped) and consistency (it stays creepy and scary, and…. I guess not really trapped). Still, 2 out of 3 is enough to get it this far.
Unfortunately, we’re not quite out of the maze yet – WATCH OUT FOR THAT ARMY TANK –
Also referred to as its subtitle “God Dammit American Sniper,” Fury is a great war movie that got its niche sniped away just in time for Oscar season. No wonder it’s named Fury – imagine how mad Brad Pitt must be!
Still, even if this is one of the numerous fall movies that were swept aside despite being better, there’s one thing this movie taught us – Shia LaBeouf is still alive somewhere, waiting, watching. Gathering power.
This movie inspired me to read all three of Gillian Flynn’s books, which range from great to fantastic. What I like about Flynn’s writing style is she finds the most honest way to describe something you wouldn’t usually think about describing, always with biting negativity.
Her writing style translates well to the screen in Gone Girl, which was the perfect movie for David Fincher to direct. The plot slinks across the screen, giving you tiny pieces of the whole picture until the truth is revealed.
And it doesn’t stop there – the main plot twist happens halfway through the movie. Flynn plotted the book and movie (she adapted the screenplay) like a plot twist itself, tricking viewers into thinking they have the mystery solved, then revealing the mystery wasn’t even the point of the story. Gone Girl is a storytelling gem, and Ben Affleck and Oscar-nominated Rosamund Pike (yes! They got something right!) only enhance it.
I’m sorry, but does your movie attempt to answer the mysteries of the universe itself? No? Well then it has no right not being number one at any list ever created, whether the list has anything to do with movies or not.
Interstellar starts off boring. The film looks grainy and dim, and most of the beginning takes place on Cooper’s (Matthew McConnaughey) cornfields. Cooper is an ex-astronaut attempting to grow food in an era where dust storms are common, destroying crops and leaving the world hungry. His universe revolves around his kids, and that’s precisely why he leaves them to venture back into space in hopes to find a new universe on which to safely live.
The plot is too complicated to efficiently summarize in these little blurbs, but the movie somehow explores the depths of the universe (from something as common as cornfields, to something as foreign as a planet covered entirely in water). Interstellar is a journey unlike any I’ve ever been on. Writing this makes me want to see it again.
And there we have it: a carefully documented list on why the Oscar nominations aren’t good this year. Check back soon for my review of American Sniper!