TC Candler

The Top 10 Films of 2014

1. Under the Skin

I am not sure there has been a more unnerving or uncomfortable film made in the past decade.  Scarlet Johansson is an other-worldly being driving around Scotland in a white van, picking up men surreptitiously, and disposing of them in her lair.  It is creepy and austere.  The visuals are distinctly memorable and the soundscape is eerie.  Everything about this film is strange and wonderful.  You should go out of your way to find and watch this gem. 

9.6 / 10

2. Life Itself

Roger Ebert was one of my favorite people.  His writing and passion for film, art, politics and entertainment was second to none.  He helped to cultivate my love for the cinema.  One of my most treasured moments in life was when he quoted me after visiting my movie reviews.  This beautiful documentary is filled with the treasures of his life.  It moved me to tears and ranks as one of the best films of 2014.  Roger will forever be missed.

9.5 / 10

3. The Drop

I wasn’t expecting much from this film.  It seemed to get lost in the whirlwind of major releases.  However, “The Drop” is intense and surprising around every turn.  Tom Hardy is ridiculously good in the lead role.  If this film eluded you, make sure to double-back and catch it at home.  You won’t regret it.

9.4 / 10

4. Interstellar

I don’t worship at the teat of Christopher Nolan like 99% of the “Batman” fanboys out there.  He has been hit and miss for me.  That being said, he does do epic drama better than most.  He is able to capture the enormity of a situation very well… and what can be more enormous than the end of the world and the fate of humanity?  “Interstellar” is a trove of magnificent scenes — most notably a breathtaking sequence involving a rotating docking sequence.

9.4 / 10

5. Force Majeure

This is a devilishly dark comedy about a family on vacation at a ski resort.  As they have a quiet lunch by the mountains, an avalanche explodes down the mountainside, approaching the restaurant at a terrifying pace.  In the chaos and panic, the husband and father abandons his family to save himself and his ski boots.  The rest of the film plays out in the painfully awkward aftermath of that decision — exploring the guilt, the blame, the morality and the dynamics of marriage and fatherhood.  This is brilliant and insightful.

9.3 / 10

6. Boyhood

No one writes authentic dialogue quite like Richard Linklater.  Once again, the director teams up with Ethan Hawke on a 12-year project to film a boy at the center of a dysfunctional family.  The gimmick pays off amazingly well, giving the audience a superb overview of what feels like an actual life.  This film is ambitious and lovely.  The project could have fallen apart at any time over the 12 years… but Linklater keeps it together and delivers a powerful story.

9.3 / 10

7. Gone Girl

Ben Affleck pulls every cat out of the bag and manages not to screw up this thrilling movie.  This classic old-school murder mystery is brilliantly directed by David Fincher, who gets a towering performance out of Rosamund Pike as the missing wife in question.  It is slick, fast-paced, well written and, despite not quite hiding the twist as well as hoped, “Gone Girl” is one of the better entries in the genre.

9.2 / 10

8. Whiplash

Damien Chazelle masterfully coaxes A+ performances from both Miles Teller and JK Simmons in this tale of obsession and genius and the cultivation of talent.  The film has relentless energy and a rhythm that matches the music on offer.  I also felt that the premise could have led to a million crappy endings — but it found the one possible ending that avoided all the cliches and tropes that we might expect.

9.2 / 10

9. The Two Faces of January

Here is a film than I am betting 95% of readers will have completely overlooked.  “Two Faces” is a gloriously entertaining Hitchcockian thriller starring Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac.  Murder, betrayal, lust, love, twists and turns — this film is filled with intrigue from credits to credits.  All three leads deliver great characters.  Every step of the plot is believable and exciting.  This is a fantastic hidden gem.

9.2 / 10

10. Wild Tales

This Argentinian production is a compilation of six short films, all dealing with the subject of revenge and the thin line between civilization and barbarism.  It is equal parts funny and scary.  It starts off with an 8-minute gem… and each film gets gradually longer.  The finale is a 30-minute wedding reception that goes absolutely ballistic.  My personal favorite was the desert road dual.  Loved this film.

9.2 / 10

(Please Scroll Down the Page for More — Acting Awards / All Movie Ratings / The Worst 10 List… etc.)

10 Best Actors

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10 Best Actresses

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(Other Good Films Released This Year)


I have a thing for films set in one location.  It is a minor miracle if the director can pull it off.  Here is a great example.  Tom Hardy takes phone calls while driving in his car for 90 minutes.  That’s it.  That is the plot.  And it is more exciting and riveting than all the Marvel movies combined.  Hardy is exquisite as the only face on screen.  The other actors are all distant voices over the phone.  It is all so much grander and more exciting than the premise might seem. 

9.1 / 10

Blue Ruin
A Most Wanted Man
Two Days, One Night
Hello Ladies: The Movie
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them
Skeleton Twins
The Immigrant
Jeune et Jolie
The Trip to Italy
The Equalizer
The Double
These Final Hours
The Admiral: Roaring Currents (KOR)
Night Moves
John Wick
A Long Way Down
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Edge of Tomorrow
A Walk Among the Tombstones
Cold Comes the Night
The November Man
Stranger By The Lake
The Gambler
Magic in the Moonlight
Goodbye to All That
A Most Violent Year
The Signal
Secret Sharer

The Average

(Forgettable Films in the Middle of the Pack)

Red Knot
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
The Hundred-Foot Journey
Sea Fog (KOR)
Walk of Shame
The One I Love
The Imitation Game
The Longest Week
The Captive
Blood Ties
Penthouse North
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
St Vincent
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
The Unknown Known


(Movies That Just Didn’t Work on Any Level)

Bad Words
The Purge: Anarchy
The Maze Runner
The Other Woman
Inherent Vice
Adult World
American Sniper
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Bag Man
Dumb and Dumber To
The New Girlfriend
The Expendables 3
3 Days to Kill
22 Jump Street

The Worst of the year

(Hate-Filled Pieces of Crap)

Welcome to the Jungle
Tokarev (Rage)
Grand Piano
A Million Ways to Die in the West

Yes… There is a Section Lower than the Worst Movies of the Year!
I Present a List of Films That I Absolutely Refuse to Watch… (Because I am a Pretentious Film Snob).




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