Blog: 2014 - Halfway There (But not Livin' on a Prayer)

We're halfway through 2014. Whether it was a great or a disappointing year for film depends on what you saw, but for me it's been a good one. Not a great one, but there's still time to change that. For now, here are the 10 best and worst films I have seen from the first half of 2014.


10. Blue Ruin, an intense and moody 90 minutes motivated by revenge, showing director Jeremy Saulnier and star Macon Blair will be ones to look out for in the future. If only the antagonists could have been better characterized.

9. The Grand Budapest Hotel, the latest Wes Anderson flick. A bit too fast paced at times, but the moments of whimsy and heartfelt emotion more than make up for it. All throughout, you'll be sure to see three things: fantastic acting from a star studded cast with no weak links, gorgeous cinematography and a score to die for.

8. The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which is a step-up from 2012's reboot thanks to the great mix of performances from returning actors and new cast additions. It may have three villains, but things don't feel overcrowded, and the moments of action hit just as hard as the moments of emotion.

7. Cheap Thrills, which is more than Cheap, or another round of torture porn. In fact, it offers some fantastic social relevance and brilliant performances, turning this into a twisted black comedy that you certainly won't forget.

6. X-Men: Days of Future Past, which marks Bryan Singers triumphant return to the franchise he brought to the big screen. The future cast may be mostly there for nostalgia and as fodder for the Sentinels to destroy, but the cast in the 70s segments are phenomenal. In short, the franchise is revitalized to a place where the future is the most hopeful it's been in years.

5. Calvary, a film that tackles difficult topics regarding the Catholic Church and religion in an utterly engrossing manner that will make you think. John Michael McDonagh delivers one of 2014's best scripts, coupled with a beautiful view of Ireland and a cast of strong performances, especially in Brendan Gleeson.

4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the latest entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe that stands out thanks to its political thriller tone and ramification to its own universe. It also helps that it boasts impressive action sequences a fantastic cast.

3. The Double, the second feature film from The IT Crowd star Richard Ayoade. The supporting cast are on top form, there is a good grasp on both the thriller and black comedy aspects and both the cinematography and the score are absolutely beautiful. But what stands out the best is the fantastic dual performances from star Jesse Eisenberg, which is more than deserved of awards recognition.

2. Snowpiercer, a breath of fresh air in a summer full of Hollywood blockbusters. Not only does it deliver inventive and exciting action sequences, but also becomes an effective tale about classism with a fantastic performance from Chris Evans.

1. The LEGO Movie, a film which could have merely been 90 minutes of Product Placement, but instead became a tale full of heartfelt emotion, hilarity and thoughtful moments. Thank goodness Phil Lord and Chris Miller helmed this film. Plus, let's not forget about Everything Is Awesome.

Honourable Mentions go to Only Lovers Left Alive, which has one of the years best romantic couples come out of something so beautifully written, and Edge of Tomorrow, which falters by not ending earlier, but is successful with Cruise and Blunt's acting, the moments of black humor, and especially the action.


10. Ride Along, an Ice Cube and Kevin Hart starring-vehicle that offers nothing new to the buddy cop genre. All the duo offer is boredom and an over the top performance which veers between annoying and temporarily comedic.

9. Almost Home, a short which was made available online to give a taste of the upcoming Dreamworks film, Home. If the overall film resembles this 4 minute short, than prepare for a painfully unfunny animated film that panders to kids with simplistic humor, and relies on its big name voice actors. How joyous.

8. A Million Ways To Die In The West, Seth MacFarlane's big-screen follow-up to Ted which fails at its attempts of being a comedic Western with wit. Instead, it opts for Neil Patrick-Harris defecating in two hats and a flower being planted in Liam Neesons crack. Charlize Theron steals the show, only because everybody else is bland and dull.

7. Maleficent, the latest in the trend of remaking an animated film in live action. Sure, Angeline Jolie gives a wonderful performance, but the film squanders any potential for an interesting take on villainy for many dull moments. Also, those bloody fairies are among the most irritating characters of 2014.

6. Sabotage, a David Ayer film that's grim and gruelling with little purpose. It would have helped if the characters were given more of a personality or made more likable, as opposed to having stupid nicknames be one of the few things to define them. It's all the more a shame that one of Arnies best performances, post politics, comes out of this.

5. I, Frankenstein, where the best thing that can be said is how they don't make the common mistake of naming the creature Frankenstein. What we're left with is a dull film that tries continuing on the famous Mary Shelly tale, only with a script and effects that needed much more work.

4. Blended, Adam Sandler's latest flick which reunites him with previous collaborator Drew Barrymore. Unfortunately, moments of dramatic honesty are interrupted by poor moments of comedy, thanks to a lack of focus by the two.

3. The Legend of Hercules, a film which can't find its own identity because it's two focused on becoming something like Gladiator or 300. While the two had strong performers in Russell Crowe and Gerard Butler, this has Kellan Lutz, a poor lead with few expressions.

2. The Other Woman, a poor excuse for a film that acts petty, childish and misogynistic, and then tries to pass it off as female empowerment.

1. A Haunted House 2, another poor entry to the spoof genre that switches between forced attempts at ripping off horror films and poor humor, which includes scenes of spousal abuse, toilet humor and dog killing.

Dishonourable Mentions go to The Monuments Men, which wastes its interesting story, potential and one of 2014s best ensemble casts into something dull and easily forgettable, and Pompeii, which may not have anything remarkable come out of the acting, but it's the only thing which saves this poorly written and directed disaster from becoming one of the years worst.