Another year has ended and with 2015’s entry comes the inevitable flashback to weigh and measure the films of the past year. Most of 2014’s best films were released late in the year but it was a great year for movies from start to finish.
Littering the calendar are enormous career comebacks (Michael Keaton, Birdman), career-changing performances (J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller in Whiplash, Steve Carell and Channing Tatum in Foxcatcher, and Shia LaBeouf in Fury) and spectacular directorial work. Richard Linklater spent over twelve years creating the fan-favorite Boyhood. Alejandro Iñárritu took a major step forward and crafted a creative marvel with Birdman. David Fincher, already a staple in the industry, seems to gain more control over his craft with every film, although he has not received the admiration many expected with the release of Gone Girl.
Familiar names like Ben Affleck (Gone Girl), Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), Edward Norton (Birdman), Amy Adams (Big Eyes), Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year), and Emma Stone (Birdman) continue to provide consistently amazing work while less well-known talents like David Oyelowo (Selma) and Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) forced us to pay attention. Even somewhat-established figures like Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, The LEGO Movie) Jason Clarke (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), Oscar Isaac (A Most Violent Year) and Miles Teller (Whiplash) delivered performances that position themselves for break-out years with work in upcoming blockbuster franchise films (Jurassic World, Terminator Genisys, Star Wars: Episode VII, and The Fantastic Four respectively).
Liam Neeson starred as an alcoholic NYPD police officer, an alcoholic Air Marshal, an erratic police officer with split personalities and as a murderous raccoon (A Walk Among Tombstones, Non-Stop, The LEGO Movie and The Nut Job respectively).
Seth Rogen went to war with a fraternity (Neighbors) before he and James Franco almost started a real war with North Korea (The Interview).
This year’s blockbusters started new film franchises (Guardians of the Galaxy, The LEGO Movie), added new twists to already beloved ones (X-Men: Days of Future Past, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Godzilla), and brought dark days to others (The Amazing Spider-Man 2, RoboCop, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, 300: Rise of an Empire). One long-standing box-office giant dropped the curtain (The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies) while another made us wait a year for the franchise to take a bow (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1).
This year featured:
- One Frankenstein movie: I, Frankenstein
- One Dracula movie: Dracula Untold
- Two Hercules flicks: Hercules, The Legend of Hercules
- Two teenage post-apocalyptic popcorn movies without Jennifer Lawrence: Divergent, Maze Runner
- Two Chris Pratt movies that made over $250M in the US: $333M for Guardians of the Galaxy and $257M for The LEGO Movie. These were the #1 and #4 highest grossing domestic films, with Guardians trailing only Transformers 19 for the worldwide gross title.
- Two pseudo-religious films: Noah, Exodus: Gods and Kings
- Three super-religious movies: God’s Not Dead, Heaven Is For Real, Son of God
- Three buddy cop(-ish) comedies: (22: Jump Street, Let’s Be Cops, Ride Along
- Three fairy tale films (at least): Into the Woods, Maleficent, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters 2
- Four Marvel superhero flicks (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Guardians of the Galaxy)
- 29 sequels (according to Dwight Schrute and one IMDB list).
- 34 separate films hitting number-one weekend box-office takes.
- And more Hollywood deaths than anyone would want to count.
2014’s movie roster was deep but top-heavy, filled with sequels, reboots, remakes, praise-worthy dramas and trash-worthy money-makers. Some of the year’s best films are in theaters now so there’s still plenty of time left to see potentially Oscar-winning performances. We still have to wait a few more weeks for one of this year’s Oscar favorites to come out as Julianne Moore’s Still Alice gets its US release on January 16, 2015. J.K. Simmons figures to be another sure-bet as his work in Whiplash will likely send him home with the Best Supporting Actor Award. Last week Flashback/Backslide proclaimed Whiplash was the year’s best although I needed to see a few more films before I could be sure. How quickly things change.
Listed below are the inaugural Flashback Awards given to films released in 2014 (according to USA release dates). Those films listed under “Notable Omissions” represent the films I have yet to see due to lack of showtimes, funds or interest. Although the films omitted are getting Oscar buzz, I’m confident this list will not change once I see the films. Sadly, as happens most years, I still have to see some of the films gaining Best Actress buzz. I will have to make up for it before over the next few weeks.
THE FLASHBACK AWARDS:
WINNER: Michael Keaton, Birdman
RUNNER-UP: Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Jake Gylenhaal, Nightcrawler
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Ben Affleck, Gone Girl
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
WINNER: Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
RUNNER-UP: Essie Davis, The Babadook
Emily Blunt, The Edge of Tomorrow
Amy Adams, Big Eyes
Felicity Jones, Theory of Everything
Reese Witherspoon, Wild
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Best Supporting Actor:
WINNER: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
RUNNER-UP: Edward Norton, Birdman
Riz Ahmed, Nightcrawler
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
Shia LaBeouf, Fury
Best Supporting Actress:
WINNER: Carrie Coon, Gone Girl
RUNNER-UP: Tilda Swinton, Snowpiercer
Emma Stone, Birdman
Kim Dickens, Gone Girl
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
WINNER: Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu, Birdman
RUNNER-UP: David Fincher, Gone Girl
Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
Richard Linkalter, Boyhood
Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Imitation Game
The LEGO Movie
X-Men: Days of Future Past
WINNER: Edge of Tomorrow: Live Die Repeat. Or whatever we’re calling it now
RUNNER-UP: John Wick.
The LEGO Movie
Movies I Sadly Missed:
(Not counting films still in theaters)
WINNER: Blue Ruin
Big Hero 6
Under The Skin
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Airplane vs Volcano
Movies I Happily Missed:
WINNER/LOSER: Winter’s Tale
Transformers: Age of Extinction
Exodus: Gods and Kings
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The Expendables 3