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Editor’s Choice: Top 10 Movies of 2014

Here are our choices for top 10 movies of 2014. (Click here for our Staff’s Movie Picks.)

snowpiercer tilda swinton

Snowpiercer
Snowpiercer finally got a U.S. release date this year, after a long and difficult battle with Harvey Weinstein. You can watch it now on Netflix. Unique storytelling and lots of extended action sequences — I have to say it was one of the most ambitious movies I’ve ever seen. For that alone, I have to give it props. No doubt the plot has holes, but the journey — the exciting process of watching these characters (led by Chris Evans) get from one side of a nonstop train to the other — is what makes Snowpiercer so remarkable. It has a very comic book feel. Not to mention Tilda Swinton as “Mason” is one of the most memorable characters of the year. [Hera]

dawn of the planet of the apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
After a virus wipes out a huge portion of humanity, Caesar (Andy Serkis) returns in this follow-up to Rise of the Planet of the Apes. On the outside, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes looks like nothing more than another sequel to another attempt at a long-term money-making franchise. So it took me by complete surprise how much I ended up loving this movie, and how much I grew to care about these apes, especially Caesar. The special effects are outstanding, and they added to the human-like quality of Caesar and the other apes. The world-building felt rich and fully-realized, and the themes really resonated with me. [Hera]

nightcrawler

Nightcrawler
Jake Gyllenhaal gives probably the best performance of his career in Nightcrawler. He makes a full transformation as Lou Bloom and I’m not just talking about the weight loss (and sunken cheeks), but everything from the way he carries himself to the way he stares at people shows how invested he is in this performance. And his performance alone is enough to recommend this movie, but Nightcrawler also touched on a lot of interesting themes about capitalism and trying to achieve the American Dream. While Nightcrawler depicts a very heightened reality regarding L.A. crime journalism, the motivation to get a job and succeed when no one will give you a break is very true to life. [Hera]

gone girl

Gone Girl
If you read the novel by Gillian Flynn, then you knew what to expect going into Gone Girl. But director David Fincher did a really good job eliciting the same feelings of shock and horror I had when I first read the novel. Gone Girl isn’t your cut and dry murder mystery, and while I wish the movie adaptation had expanded on a few things from the novel, I can’t say anyone could have done a better job than Fincher. I had my reservations about Ben Affleck, but he filled Nick’s shoes really well. Kim Dickens, Carrie Coon, and Tyler Perry give really underrated performances. The standout, of course, is Rosamund Pike who’s been nominated for a Golden Globe and will most likely get a Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Amy is a very complex character, and Pike does a fantastic job portraying all of her nuances. [Hera]

edge of tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow
Unfortunately, Edge of Tomorrow—based on a Japanese novel called All You Need Is Kill—was a box office bomb, but it also happened to be one of the year’s best sci-fi action movies (second only to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes). The time-travel element was executed really well, and I’ve never seen that Groundhog Day formula of having your main character repeat the same day over and over again applied to a sci-fi action movie. And despite Tom Cruise’s character dying (in often humiliating ways) and then having to relive the same day again and again, it never feels tedious or repetitive. I also loved that Emily Blunt got to be a total badass as Rita Vrataski. Those muscles! I had some issues with the ending, but overall it was a really enjoyable ride. [Hera]

guardians of the galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy
Not only did the film’s first trailer make a splash by coupling action and humor with Blue Swede’s “Hooked On A Feeling” (sales of which skyrocketed after the trailer’s release), but when it came to the film’s actual theater release, Guardians of the Galaxy delivered in spades. Sure, the plot is a little weak, and the villains weren’t as fully realized as they could have/should have been, but between our initially reluctant but always lovable heroes and a banging 70’s pop soundtrack, Guardians of the Galaxy ended up being a ridiculously fun moviegoing experience, and one of our favorite films of the year. [Christine]

the one i love

The One I Love
Starring Mad Men‘s Elisabeth Moss and The Skeleton Twins‘ Mark Duplass, The One I Love is an excellent movie with a weird premise and fantastic performances. Moss and Duplass have great chemistry and play off each other well — a necessity, since they’re the only two actors in the majority of the film. It’s best to go into The One I Love knowing as little as possible (seriously, don’t even watch a trailer) so all I’ll say about the plot is that it deals with a troubled couple going on a retreat to fix their marriage. [Christine]

belle

Belle
A gorgeous period piece starring the electric Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Belle follows the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, a young biracial woman brought by her father to live with her relatives, the wealthy, privileged, and white Mansfields. The film deals with issues of race, class, and gender, all while tying in a star-crossed romance and an (apparently embellished) account of the Zong massacre court case, which helped contribute to the end of slavery in Britain. This one’s a must-watch for Mbatha-Raw’s performance alone. [Christine]

the babadook

The Babadook
This is some really, really good horror. Not only does The Babadook introduce a creepy new monster to haunt your nightmares (Ba ba-ba dook. Dook. Dook), it also delves into some real-life horrors involving parenthood and humanity. The storytelling is excellent, brought to life by Essie Davis’ performance as Amelia, a harried single mother mourning her late husband and struggling to raise a troublesome child. [Christine]

two days one night

Two Days, One Night
Over the course of one weekend, Sandra (Marion Cotillard) must convince a group of her coworkers, all with their own personal struggles, to turn down a bonus at work in order to save her job. Cotillard does a great job conveying her character’s desperation and vulnerabilities, as does the film as a whole in demonstrating the struggles of the working class and the effects of depression. [Christine]