2014 was a huge year for movies that dared to be different. In a world of cinema rife with spinoffs, reboots, and sequels, it was refreshing to see filmmakers try to operate outside of those bounds. The end result was a year full of compelling genre-breaking instant classics. Releases like the new Transformers made this more than necessary, helping to stock our theaters with movies worth seeing that weren’t simply devoted to explosions over things like plot and characters.
Some that we feel made this year in cinema worthwhile may even find themselves taking home some Oscar gold, while others yet may miss the Academy’s attention. Regardless, there’s no denying the positive effect they had in 2014.
Whiplash follows the journey of an aspiring jazz drummer played by up-and-comer Miles Teller as he strives to be the greatest. His mentor (JK Simmons) pushes him to his very limits in a story that many would say has been told 1000 times. For this 1001st telling though, we get none of the typical glamor or uplifting montages you’re accustomed to. Instead we see the mentor story turned on its head, as Simmons essentially portrays a borderline sociopath who grinds Teller into the ground. It’s a creative take on a played-out concept that succeeds in feeling completely and utterly different. 96% Rotten Tomatoes Score.
2. The Lego Movie
Known for the Tegan & Sarah theme song “Everything is Awesome,” Lego Movie is your typical hero’s journey told in a completely not typical way. We follow along with Emmet (Chris Pratt) as he teams up with Batman, Morgan Freeman, and a girl with a name that sounds like it belongs to a DJ, in an animated adventure that taps into everyone’s nostalgia for their days creating adventures with their toys. It leans on the idea that everyone is the master of their own universe, lending a supposed kids movie a whole heap of crossover adult appeal. 96% Rotten Tomatoes Score.
Director Bong Joon-Ho is no stranger to making movies that are anything but normal. The Korean’s 2007 monster flick The Host was wholly unique, so it comes as no surprise that his latest offering Snowpiercer manages to do the same. In the not-so-distant future portrayed by Joon-Ho, climate change has frozen the world over, with the remaining 1000 survivors living aboard a train circling the globe in one year increments. The oppressed lower class lives in the back, the rich upper class reside in the front. That being so, it’s far more than simply a classist allegory, and truly is a “seeing is believing” type of movie. 95% Rotten Tomatoes Score.
In today’s society, it’s hard not to be inundated by the scores of tabloids telling us all about washed-up celebrities. Told less from an objective narrator’s point of view and more from the angle of a man slowly losing his mind, Birdman shows us the dark side to what we expect out of our movie stars. Michael Keaton plays a washed-up former franchise actor trying to put on a play, and as he begins to break down, all of his insanity is visualized for us, the audience. Many are saying it may very well take home the Best Picture nod, and we have a hard time arguing with that even a little. 93% Rotten Tomatoes Score.
5. Guardians of the Galaxy
Harkening back to the days of the great space operas of the ’70s and ’80s, Guardians of the Galaxy takes the cake as quite possibly Marvel’s best movie yet. It’s set to an ’80s soundtrack (entitled “Awesome Mix Vol. 1), and gives us a look at a group of alien superheroes who come off as feeling all too human for their own good. Without giving away too much, you’ll never care more about a talking raccoon and a giant tree than you will with this. 90% Rotten Tomatoes Score.
More From Entertainment Cheat Sheet:
- It’s Time to Cut Down on Spin-Offs, Reboots, and Sequels
- Will ‘Guardians of the Galaxy 2′ Add More Female Characters
- Golden Globes: ‘Birdman’ Continues Awards Domination
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