Qt3 Movie Podcast: Best of 2014

The year-end podcast , where Dingus and Kelly discuss their favorite movies of the year as well as their most surprising and most disappointing movies that came out this year. After intense study with Tom, Dingus handles the math duties for the podcast and aces it. What were your favorite movies of 2014? If you would like to share which movies you enjoyed the most and want to say a little bit about them, join the discussion.

For any choices which had a podcast, I’ll link to that podcast. I’ll also link to Tom’s post for Enemy if you want to give it a look after you’ve watched the movie.

10. Begin Again
9. Edge of Tomorrow (Live Die Repeat)
8. Enemy Tom’s piece
7. Whiplash
6. Birdman
5. Nightcrawler
4. Guardians of the Galaxy
3. Locke
2. Under The Skin

  1. The Rover

10. Enemy Tom’s piece
9. They Came Together
8. The Babadook (Check the comments section of the podcast if you’d like to read something that Tom wrote about the movie)
7. A Most Wanted Man
6. Foxcatcher
5. The Guest
4. Birdman
3. The Rover
2. Whiplash

  1. Under The Skin

10. Calvary
9. White Wash
8. Night Moves
7. Enemy Tom’s piece
6. Guardians of the Galaxy
5. Locke
4. Lucy
3. 300: Rise of an Empire
2. Under The Skin

  1. The Rover

Most surprising movie:
Dingus: 300: Rise of an Empire
Kelly: Interstellar
Tom: How much Tom liked the Transformers: Age of Extinction movie

Most disappointing movie:
Dingus: X-Men: Days of Future Past
Kelly: The Interview
Tom: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Best Miscellaneous Thingy of the Year:
Dingus: Quicksilver in the kitchen - X-Men: Days of Future Past
Tom: Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo sparring in Foxcatcher

Most Surprising Disappointment:
Kelly: The Interview

Most Surprising Moments:
Kelly: Aaron Paul in Exodus: Gods and Kings
Kelly: That Dingus and Tom liked The Other Woman

Best Applause Line:
Kelly:TARS’ fanbelt’s tweaked again, over - Interstellar

I had a really hard time whittling my list down to just 10 this year, too. Those silly clickbaiting critics pull that “this was not a good year for movies” nonsense every year. They just have golden age syndrome all the time. I even had to start my top 10 list all the way back in February this year! Speaking of…

  1. The LEGO Movie - Nine months is a long time. This movie came out exactly nine months before Interstellar, and I saw both opening weekend. So when I had to eat my own words that Interstellar was “easily my favorite movie of the year,” after watching The LEGO Movie again, I was willing to forgive myself (a little bit) for forgetting how awesome this movie is. This thing is the ultimate Chris Pratt engine. It’s funnier than Muppets Most Wanted, paced even better than 300: Rise of an Empire, and plotted as perfectly as anything else this year. I even like the controversial ending, which I suppose is a running theme with me this year.

  2. Interstellar - There are two reasons I love Interstellar. Neither of them has to do with it being a standout movie as filmmaking goes (it isn’t), but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the hell out of it. The biggest reason is that I’m a sucker for a well-constructed time travel story. I even wrote a horrendously long post explaining why I think it does such a good job with this. I don’t mean to say that you have to explain the movie before it makes sense (although I’m willing to bet Christopher Nolan only got it right by accident), since it made perfect sense to me as I was watching it, but I do think it’s a fun thing to do after the fact. Suffice it to say I liked this controversial ending, too. The other reason is that this movie pushed many of the same primal emotional buttons that Gravity hit so well. I was truly exhilarated the first time I saw this, and still mildly so the second time.

  3. The Rover - I literally just watched this (finally!) in the middle of the podcast, since I didn’t want any possibility of the slightest of spoilers for a David Michôd movie. As soon as I finished listening to the podcast, I started writing this post. My thoughts may not be fully collected yet, but I can easily call this a perfect movie. It was certainly worth staying up through the middle of the night to watch (present incoherence aside). Another great ending, this time agreed on by everyone.

  4. Gone Girl - Even more than The Rover, Gone Girl is this year’s shining example of why I don’t watch movie trailers anymore. The tonal shifts are so well done that it literally shifts genres throughout. The performances aren’t quite up there with The Rover, but they’re easily the second best of the year. The movie itself is another perfect construction (what a great year!), and yet again I loved the controversial ending.

  5. Boyhood - Richard Linklater might be my favorite flawed director. There are very few of his movies that I like without reservation, and this one is no exception to the rule. It’s a shame that the movie itself is so uneven when it’s so utterly staggering. (Although it’s hard to imagine a better result when filming over 12 years on a small budget.) There are scenes that transported me, scenes that made me laugh with the movie, and scenes that made me laugh at it. It never hurts that Linklater films in my hometown either, especially when a mildly nostalgic tone is part of a key scene, as when Mason reflects back on his own childhood. As has been said of the movie, the event is the non-event of it all, and it’s impossible to resist despite its missteps.

  6. Force Majeure - Here’s another low key family drama that absolutely worked for me, this time with very few reservations. My partner often complains to me that most movies are too melodramatic*, and this is the movie I’ve been pointing to as an example of how to do it right. It’s not devoid of emotion (indeed, emotions are essentially the only plot points), but it never overplays any of them for a second, even when one of its characters tries to schmaltz it up to make himself feel better. Wallowing never looked more pathetic, and that’s the point. This movie has only grown on me since I first saw it, and I can’t wait to see it again.

  7. Birdman - Now a movie that blends the melodramatic with the understated. It’s Broadway after all. (Is it Broadway? Or Off Broadway? I don’t really know anything about NYC theater.) Leaving aside questions of unreliable narration, which are ultimately irrelevant to the enjoyment of the film, the method of storytelling here is just fascinating to watch. Like Boyhood, the spectacle of the way it was filmed actually contributes thematically to the movie. Also like Boyhood, it’s a little bit uneven, although here the difference is between merely good & great scenes, not good & bad scenes. I had originally considered this to be no more than extraordinarily well-crafted entertainment, like Gone Girl, but Kelly & Dingus’s thoughts in the podcasts, both for the movie & all of 2014, have maybe convinced me otherwise. I’ll have to watch it again to see if it really does resonate at a deeper level. “A thing is a thing, not what is said of the thing,” after all.

  8. Calvary - I didn’t think this movie would make my top 10 list when I saw it, but it’s stuck with me a lot more than I expected. Michael McDonagh’s first film, The Guard, was enjoyable but not on the same level as older brother Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges (the movie so good it convinced me to start walking in blind to almost every movie). His second attempt is far more solid, and very Irish. I’m doubly impressed when a movie whose viewpoint differs from mine manages to capture my attention anyway. This is such a movie.

  9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier - I didn’t like this quite as much as The Avengers or Iron Man 3, but those are really high bars to clear. The best part of this movie, apart from it being a solid superhero flick, is the topicality of its morality play with modern government. It’s hard to say whether that aspect of the film is incidental to a superhero movie, or if it’s the other way around like Birdman.

  10. Frank - I debated swapping this out for The Grand Budapest Hotel, which I think is probably a better movie, but Grand Budapest was a disappointingly formulaic Wes Anderson movie (if that’s not an oxymoron). This movie genuinely surprised me, and several times at that. It has a manic energy that at times is irresistible. It’s a very uneven movie, sadly. I felt the third act went completely off the rails, which particularly disappointed me given its setting, but the final scene stuck with me. Michael Fassbender literally gives the most expressive performance in the film from inside a giant fake head. He does this mostly through body language & voice acting, and it’s an impressive feat beside an equally manic Maggie Gyllenhaal. He singlehandedly makes the last scene so poignant that it saved my impression of the whole movie.

My biggest surprise of the year was 300: Rise of an Empire, and my biggest disappointment was Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. They’ve inverted themselves from my opinions of the first films in each franchise, which is particularly interesting given that they’re both based on Frank Miller comic worlds. Sin City’s wonderful visual effects were literally the only thing it did right. And while 300: Rise of an Empire’s visual effects might not have stood out, practically everything else about it did, at least in comparison to the original 300. Its pacing is flawless; its tone is more grounded in reality, still over the top but no longer a self-parody; it has the best soundtrack of 2014; it’s the Eva Green machine Sin City wishes it had been; and it does it all while being willfully big & dumb.

I saw a lot of movies I loved this year, but I still have a really long backlog to clear. I checked The Rover off the list tonight/this morning, but a few other hopefuls I missed this year include The Homesman, Leviathan, and Only Lovers Left Alive, alongside others I’ve already heard mentioned on the podcast.

*(Edit: In fact, we just had this argument again when she saw Interstellar on my list. Which she also likes, but I think she wanted it to be more like 2001. I’m glad it wasn’t that dull.)

My top ten:

10. A Most Wanted Man
The subject matter of spies and betrayal probably took on more meaning for me because this was Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final performance, but everyone is amazing in it. A fantastic slow burn to the amazing ending.

9. Under the Skin
I haven’t seen Jonathan Glazer’s other movies, but I will now. This movie is creepy, fascinating in an almost morbid way. Its also one of Scarlett Johansson’s best performances. See this, don’t see Lucy.

8. The Tale of Princess Kaguya
The animation at first seems cheaper and cruder than what you’re typically used to from Studio Ghibli, that is until you see the characters move. It’s a very deliberate stylistic choice, to lend this folktale a storybook look that pares down the art to its bare essentials. It’s incredibly beautiful, and for a thousand-year-old story about a girl whose happiness is suppressed by those around her, it is amazingly relevant for 2014.

7. The Grand Budapest Hotel
Because it is so lighthearted and childlike, I think it’s easy to dismiss this as “Minor Anderson”. But accomplishing this kind of tone is incredibly difficult. I think it’s Anderson’s best movie since Darjeeling Limited. And who knew Ralph Fiennes had such good comic timing?

6. The Babadook
You know, I was scared shitless watching this, but the scenes which actually disturbed me more were the ones where the mother deals with grief and insanity with borderline negligence. Amazingly polished for a first time director, and it has a truly great child performance as well (the kid has to be simultaneously sympathetic and really, really annoying).

5. The Lego Movie
My kids have watched this probably a hundred times (we have it on a DVD player in the car) and it hasn’t gotten old for me yet. The animation is top notch, the humour is endlessly amusing, and the whole thing is just kind of joyous and rewatchable in the way few movies are.

4. Enemy
Hard to say whether Jake Gyllenhaal is better in this or in Nightcrawler, but Enemy is the better movie overall. It’s unsettling and fascinating from start to finish. I’ve heard many different interpretations of this movie; mine is that it’s about a guy who keeps getting pulled back into his own nightmare of infidelity and loneliness. It’s also got the best ending of any movie this year.

3. Guardians of the Galaxy
The best comic book movie this year, and maybe the second or third best ever made depending on how you rank Dark Knight and Avengers. I love the characters, the over-the-top plot, and the crazy Space Opera settings. It’s sheer fantasy pulp entertainment. The 12% of a plan scene is also the best scene in any comic book movie.

2. Gone Girl
It’s a gleamingly polished and darkly entertaining thriller that is as well-crafted as any you’re likely to see for a while. I’ve already had a ton of good conversation about this with lots of different people, and it has inspired a variety of interpretations and topics. Did the filmmakers intend for all of this or none of it? That’s part of what makes it great. Rosamund Pike should be a shoo-in for a best actress nomination, and it’s also the first movie I can remember where I thought Ben Affleck was well cast. Terrific supporting performances from Carrie Coon and Kim Dickens as well.

1. Boyhood
“I just thought there would be more.”
After I saw this I knew it was the best movie I had seen this year. Probably in several years. And then reading how popular it has been with so many reviews and people who have seen it online, I wasn’t really surprised. I defy anyone to see it without feeling its impact. At almost three hours, it still feels too short. It feels like the culmination of what Richard Linklater has been working towards his entire career and it’s kind of a miracle that it works as well as it does, or that it was even made. I just feel thankful for having seen it.

Time for my annual complaint about movie release schedules: I hate that so many good movies around award season don’t actually get released near me in time for me to see them before everyone’s compiling lists! Maybe I’ll just toss the calendar constraints. Maybe I won’t get to find out if Whiplash makes it onto my list, but I’ll name Her the best movie of 2014. Take that!

Everyone who saw In Bruges! But seriously, Ralph Fiennes & the music are my two favorite things about Grand Budapest. He’s a delight.

Great list, sinnick. Queuing up The Tale of Princess Kaguya accordingly.

10. Guardians of the Galaxy - When Groot went over and grabbed that yellow thing on the wall. That’s when the movie had me, all the way to the end.

9. Bang Bang (Hindi) - A high budget Bollywood remake of Knight and Day? A box office flop staring Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise? What the hell? Who approved this project? I haven’t seen Knight and Day, but I actually really enjoyed this one. Both the main stars (Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif) are charming and the movie is just a lot of fun. The only parts that made me roll my eyes were the parts where that seemed so inappropriate for Katrina’s Indian character, but seemed lifted straight from a character Cameron Diaz would play.

8. 2 States (Hindi) - A romantic comedy where a boy from Punjab tries to wed a girl from South India. The culture clash itself was a bit silly (especially with the ridiculous over-the-top Boy’s mother), but with the song and dance and fancy sets, the movie was very entertaining nevertheless.

7. X-men: Days of Future Past - I love how they used Superpowers in this one. And I love how despite an external enemy, they were still mostly fighting each other. Unexpected and very absorbing.

6. Bewakoofiyan (Hindi) - A light-hearted romantic comedy. But I loved the twist that the boy and girl are trying so hard to win over the girl’s father, but slowly drift apart. Then it is the father that is more invested in their relationship than they are.

5. Lego Movie - Everything is awesome! In a year of fun movies, this was perhaps the most fun!

4. Captain America: Winter Soldier - Best action scenes of the year by far. There was this sort of real-feeling to each of the action sequences that grounded them in reality despite being an over-the-top comic book film. I loved that combination. It was irresistible. I will watch anything these two directors make from now on.

3. Haider (Hindi) - An Indian remake of Hamlet? But I hate Hamlet! How did this end up being so good? The only scenes I really didn’t like were the over-the-top melodramatic scenes translated almost directly from Shakespeare. But I loved the setting of Kashmir as the setpiece of this conflict. It gave me a context and made me care about the Hamlet story for the first time.

2. Edge of Tomorrow - I’m a real sucker for a great time travel story. And this one is near perfect. Well done.

1. Highway (Hindi) - I can’t say enough good things about this one. Filmed all over India, it is first of all, gorgeously filmed. A girl is in the wrong place and is accidentally kidnapped. By the time her captors realize the world of shit they’re in, it’s too late to just let her go. But as they travel across India with her, she begins to love and embrace her journey. The acting, the cinematography, the music, it’s all so good, this was my favorite theater experience this year by far. Some reviews called out the ending as being weak, but I think it was brilliant. I saw the movie in February in the theater, but I still can’t get it out of my mind 11 months later. It’s very simple, but so well made, it’s haunting. This director’s next movie is slated for a December 2015 release, and I want to reserve my seat right now. And the actress, Alia Bhatt? What a debut! I actually went to see 2 States (see above) just so that I could see her in another movie.

Well, that list was certainly unique, Mr. 8man! Of those Hindi language movies, which one would you recommend to someone utterly unacquainted with Bollywood?


Wait, what? I know those words!

I guess I should get around to watching this one. Although from what little I know, it’s more Groundhog Day than The Terminator.

Given your descriptions of the other Hindi movies, I’m picturing Highway as the Bollywood version of The Rover. I had to stop reading after a couple sentences to avoid even minor spoilers, but I’m hoping my wild guess isn’t far off.

Well, I do love Highway the best. But if you don’t mind Shakespeare remakes, Haider is really well made too. I’m pretty sure you remember how in Hamlet there’s a performance for the Danish Royalty, and how Hamlet inserts his story into it? Well, in Haider, that’s a really well produced Bollywood musical number, and it was riveting to watch. The grounded Kashimiri story about a Doctor who treats all patients (including freedom fighters) was so much more relatable than a story about the King of Denmark. The movie does go on for a bit too long though, in order to conform to Hamlet’s basic story outline.

I’m such a sucker for a good road movie though. Highway even knows that I’m there partially for the beautiful vistas, so during the opening credits they show some of the beautiful scenery they shot on the roads all over India, just to give you a taste. If you can, watch both.

So…“Once” didn’t do much for me, not like it seemed to for other musically inclined moviegoers in my orbit.

Same director did Begin Again, which…OK, I guess. Another music-related movie. Keira Knightely? OK, sure. Adam Levine? Eh.

Oh wait. Mark Ruffalo? Interest rising.

Music by Gregg Alexander? HELLO!

So, is Begin Again worth my digital dollars?