The best films and performances of 2014

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We’ve come to the end of the line, ladies and gentlemen. 2014 is about to be put into the books, with 2015 upon us in mere few hours. To close out the year, I wanted to pile on to the seemingly never ending group of articles filled with Top Ten lists and the like. I don’t want it to just be my list though, so below you’ll see that, but also my thoughts on the year as a whole, along with my picks for the best performances of the year as well a few specific category awards. Basically, this would reflect sort of what my Oscar ballot would look like in the major categories, though I’ll perhaps save that full look at a personal ballot for a more specific piece when voting comes to an end in a few weeks. We’ll see. Anyway, time to get this show on the road!

The cinematic year that was 2014 has been considered by some to be a real high water mark of late, while others felt that it was a severe let down. Me? I’m stuck in the middle. I had less films that I feel completely in love with than usual, but at the same time I had more films overall that I liked than in many of the prior years. As such, the movies sort of feel on par with the last few years to me. The very best of 2014 was incredible to me, featuring a few modern classics, so I can hardly call it a down year. Perhaps it was just that a handful of the most praised titles were ones that I didn’t go as nuts over, so that contributes to an odd feeling about 2014? Whatever the case, there were plenty of flicks that I adored, despised, and just plain scratched my head over. That makes for a full meal of a film year, so I can’t complain. That’s the year in a nutshell to me though…more of the same.

Obviously, there are a ton of things to look forward to in 2015, so perhaps at this time next year we’ll all be remarking about how much better of a cinematic slate it was, but at the same time, there’s always the chance of a big let down. In that case, we’d be reminiscing about the halcyon days of now. It’s all a shot in the dark when you’re dealing with things sight unseen, much like with early Oscar predictions. There’s no reason not to be excited though. There’s yet to be a year where I couldn’t come up with a respectable Top Ten list, so I doubt we’ll be in for a particularly rough patch. If recent history is anything to go off of, it’ll be at the very least an average year. Fingers crossed for better than that, of course.

Now then, let me reveal my Top Ten list to you, showing what I felt to be the best of 2014:

1. Interstellar
– Also,Editor’s choice The Imitation Game
2. Men, Women & Children
3. Life Itself
4. Whiplash
5. Boyhood
6. The Fault in Our Stars
7. Begin Again
8. Gone Girl
9. Wish I Was Here
10. Obvious Child

Honorable Mentions

11. The Skeleton Twins
12. Chef
13. The Pretty One
14. Under the Skin
15. Fury
16. Draft Day
17. Foxcatcher
18. Love & Air Sex
19. Godzilla
20. About Alex
21. The LEGO Movie
22. Rosewater
23. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her
24. Selma
25. What If

The Best Performances of 2014

Male

1. J.K. Simmons in Whiplash
– Also,Editor’s choice Benedict Cumberbatch in Imitation Game
2. Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything
3. Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler
4. David Oyelowo in Selma
5. Miles Teller in Whiplash
6. Josh Brolin in Inherent Vice
7. Ben Affleck in Gone Girl
8. Oscar Isaac in A Most Violent Year
9. Edward Norton in Birdman
10. Matthew McConaughey in Interstellar

Female

1. Shailene Woodley in The Fault in Our Stars
– Also,Editor’s choice Julianne Moore in Still Alice
2. Scarlett Johansson in Under the Skin
3. Jessica Chastain in Interstellar
4. Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything
5. Patricia Arquette in Boyhood
6. Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl
7. Kaitlyn Dever in Men, Women & Children
8. Kate Hudson in Wish I Was Here
9. Zoe Kazan in The Pretty One
10. Laura Dern in The Fault in Our Stars

2014 Awards by Yours Truly (winner in bold, runner up in italics)

Best Picture – Boyhood, Interstellar, Life Itself, Men, Women & Children, and Whiplash

Best Director – Damien Chazelle (Whiplash), David Fincher (Gone Girl), Richard Linklater (Boyhood), Christopher Nolan (Interstellar), and Jason Reitman (Men, Women & Children)
– Also,Editor’s choice Morten Tyldum

Best Actor – Ben Affleck (Gone Girl), Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler), David Oyelowo (Selma), Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything), and Miles Teller (Whiplash)
– Also,Editor’s choice Benedict Cumberbatch in Imitation Game

Best Actress – Scarlett Johansson (Under the Skin), Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Zoe Kazan (The Pretty One), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), and Shailene Woodley (The Fault in Our Stars)
– Also,Editor’s choice Julianne Moore in Still Alice

Best Supporting Actor – Josh Brolin (Inherent Vice), Edward Norton (Birdman), Mandy Patinkin (Wish I Was Here), Adam Sandler (Men, Women & Children), and J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
– Also,Editor’s choice Robert Duvall in The Judge

Best Supporting Actress – Patricia Arquette (Boyhood), Jessica Chastain (Interstellar), Laura Dern (The Fault in Our Stars), Kaitlyn Dever (Men, Women & Children), and Kate Hudson (Wish I Was Here)
– Also,Editor’s choice Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game

Best Adapted Screenplay – The Fault in Our Stars, Gone Girl, Men, Women & Children, Rosewater, and Under the Skin.
– Also,Editor’s choice Gone Girl

Best Original Screenplay – Boyhood, Draft Day, Interstellar, Whiplash, Wish I Was Here

Best Ensemble – Birdman, The Fault in Our Stars, Gone Girl, Interstellar, and Men, Women & Children
– Also,Editor’s choice Foxcatcher

That’s a wrap on 2014. Here’s to a great cinematic 2015!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He also contributes to several other film-related websites.

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