Looking back, 2014 was a surprisingly good year for me. It was a year of transition, a year of change, a year of building a foundation for the future. As a result of that year, I now have stable employment, a roommate, a bachelor’s degree, the complete first draft of a novel, and a fiancé. So as far as years go, I think it was probably the best one thus far.
On the other hand, it was also a year of bad hockey teams and surprisingly sub-par films. But amidst all the movies whose plots slipped out of my mind the minute I left the theatre, or even the movies that were “just fine” (I’m looking at you, Maze Runner and Divergent), there were the odd few that stood out, a handful of needles glittering deep within the haystack. Some I expected to be incredible, while others were a surprise to me, as you’ll soon see.
Keep in mind as we begin, I still haven’t seen The History of Everything, The Imitation Game, Into the Woods, or Big Hero 6, so however good they might be, I won’t be including those in my top picks. (Give me a break; it’s been a crazy year.)
Top 5 Movies of the Year
5. The Hobbit
Putting aside my disappointment that Smaug was gone after 20 minutes and my heartbreak that my favourite characters were brutally killed, this was a visually exciting movie with lots of battle scenes, lots of Tolkien mythos, and no small amount of moments to make me gasp out loud. It was a wonderful link between the origins of Bilbo Baggins and the 60-years-later quest to destroy the Ring. Read my review here.
This was like Star Trek, except take out most of the aliens and add a massive dose of human nature. It was at the same time mind-bogglingly enormous and deeply intimate. It was space, vast and beautiful and breathlessly magnificent, paired with everyday problems and a titanic struggle with science (very little of which I understood) that decides the fate of the human race. Also, Anne Hathaway was there and Thom can suck it.
3. The Fault in Our Stars
For the record, Mr. Yee, I was, in fact, “all over that.” I just didn’t review it because, much like the next entry in this list, it was a faithful adaptation of the source material and didn’t do anything new to add to the story. But the movie still makes my list for being a lovely film with just the right amount of romance, heartbreak, and Shailene Woodley. (Although I would’ve liked it better if they’d kept the John Green cameo scene.)
2. Mockingjay Part 1
Again with the “faithful adaptation” thing. But that being said, we still got to see a new side of Katniss Everdeen: crouching atop a street of bones, blowing up airships with her arrows, rising to the challenge of becoming a revolutionary leader… It might not have done much new with the story, but what it did was incredible nonetheless. I applaud Jennifer Lawrence, who I’m a little bit in love with, and implore you to read the review here.
1. Guardians of the Galaxy
This also falls a little bit under “biggest surprise of the year” for sneaking up out of nowhere to take the whole thing. I laughed, I cried, I was made incoherent by Chris Pratt’s physical attractiveness. It was the perfect blend of humour, action, and ’60s and ’70s rock. It was without question my favourite film of the year and one I intend to watch for a long, long time. Read the simul-review here.
Top 3 Shows of the Year
3. Sherlock: Series 3
We saw the return of Sherlock Holmes, the rise of Charles Augustus Magnussen, and a profound shift in the relationship between Sherlock and John. It was a poignant reminder that life doesn’t stand still when we step away from it; if anything, it changes even more in our absence. And let’s not forget the amazing setup for series 4, which still doesn’t have a set date for its return and is thus driving me crazy. Read my review here.
2. Game of Thrones: Season 4
Everyone was terrible and a lot of people died (including Joffrey, which was simultaneously wonderful and tragic for complicated reasons). We saw insane levels of character development, battle, violence, and, of course, gratuitous nudity. It was a season driven by intrigue and self-interest and survival and lust and revenge, and it was probably the best season yet. Read this season’s daily reviews here.
1. Supernatural: All of It
After years of avoiding this show because scary clowns, I finally worked my way through all 10 seasons. And you know what? It was amazing seeing two brothers go from young, naive hunters into brutal psychopaths who are the nightmares that monsters tell their children about. It’s dark, it’s funny, it’s dramatic, and everyone dies (sometimes more than once). Reviews to come, if I ever find the time to do every individual season.
Top Re-evaluations of the Year
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Eight months after seeing the movie, I was going through this site and was like, “Oh, yeah, that movie came out this year and I went to see it and I wrote a review about it. And I don’t remember anything.” I’m unimpressed with the serious lack of lasting impact like the first one had, so I’m bumping this down to a B. Because even though it was entertaining at the time, it’s not memorable enough to deserve that A-. Read the original review here.
Guardians of the Galaxy
I could not tell you why I gave this movie an A-. Maybe it was because of the lame names that some of the places had, or maybe it was because of Karen Gillan. But whatever it was, I am completely willing to overlook it because this movie had such amazing staying power and stuck with me for the rest of 2014. So I’m moving this up to a solid A+, which is the highest praise I can give.
Biggest Surprise of the Year
The Lego Movie
All right, so I was skeptical when it first came out. Everyone was saying how amazing it was, how deep and moving the story was. So I watched it, and for the majority of the movie I was unimpressed because it seemed so hugely unbelievable. And then it turned out to be the imagination of a child and the story of him connecting with his father through a shared love of LEGO. That’s both branding genius and cinematic excellence. Well done.
Biggest Disappointment of the Year
How I Met Your Mother
This still rankles. I can’t have a conversation with people about this show without immediately raising the noise level to 100 decibels of “But we already know that Ted and Robin don’t work, so by throwing them together at the end, it completely negates the need for Ted to meet the Mother at all and disgraces her memory!” If you’d like a complete rundown of why exactly this was such a horrible disappointment to me, you can read the review here.
Favourite Things of the Year
One of the big things for me this year was music, especially music that’s been featured in movies. So I’m gonna share with you a couple of songs that I absolutely can’t stop listening to, and hopefully you’ll feel the same way about them as I do.
“Gone, Gone, Gone” from The Amazing Spider-Man 2
“The Hanging Tree” from Mockingjay: Part 1
So that was my 2014. I hope yours was a good one and that you enjoyed reading our reviews. My fall hiatus, which I took in order to wrap up my book and get my life in order, is now over. I’m back and ready to take on 2015’s films, including upcoming potential greats like Insurgent, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Pitch Perfect 2, The Fantastic Four, The Scorch Trials, Mockingjay: Part 2, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
I hope you’ll be there to keep reading with us!