Thursday, January 22, 2015

Best Popular/Mainstream Films of 2014

This year I thought I would make two separate lists, one with independent and foreign films and this one with mainstream films. Mainly, I wanted to do this because there are very different expectations for art house films than there are for the typical films that play in a suburban multiplex. As a whole this was a solid year for all different types of films, and there were several popular films I really enjoyed.

1. Guardians of the Galaxy. Funny, smart, perfect pacing, and great music. This movie has everything but the kind of big ideas I prefer in films--which is why most people liked it. As both an English teacher and a human being, I loved Drax's inability to comprehend metaphors. He takes everything completely literally. Nothing goes over his head, or so he says. I'm not sure if anyone else noticed this, but I wonder if there is a subtle but unintentional racist message in giving almost all of the Kree parts to African American or black actors. The Other is the Other. Anyway, still loved it.

2. X-Men: Days of Future Past.

3. The Lego Movie. I'm not sure if it's a smart anti-capitalist satire or a really long capitalist commercial for Legos and the DC characters, but I didn't really care when I watched it. Yes, the infectious "Everything Is Awesome" song will stay with you like an unshakable cold, but it's all good fun.

4. Gone Girl. For the first 20 minutes or so, I thought this movie was going to be terrible, but I should have had more faith in its director David Fincher (Seven, Fight Club, The Social Network). It takes lots of twists and turns, and it asks some pretty interesting questions about love and relationships in America today.

5, Edge of Tomorrow. I like action movies that also grapple with ideas, and this is one of them. I would have probably liked it more if it didn't have Tom Cruise, but...

6. The Trip to Italy. OK, I know. This Steve Coogan film isn't exactly mainstream or hugely popular. But it should be. It's a sequel to The Trip, a film in which Coogan and Rob Brydon play versions of themselves as they travel the Lakes District in England, stopping at lots of restaurants and doing imitations of Michael Cain and others. The Trip to Italy isn't a great film, but it is funny and entertaining. I haven't laughed as hard or as loud in a long time.

7. Captain America: Winter Soldier. I liked this one better than the original.

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