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Most Enjoyable & Most Disappointing of 2014

by Tony Medley

Here are my lists of the most enjoyable and least enjoyable/most disappointing/most overrated films I saw during 2014. The negative category includes some films that, while not the worst, were disappointing or overrated, or, while enjoyable, had huge flaws. The positive category is just how much I enjoyed them, not rated as I would rate an Oscarģ-winner. The "Most Disappointing" are listed by rank of how much I loathed them with #1 the most loathsome.

Some Oscarģ nominees are not on my list. I didnít see Boyhood. Iím no fan of director Richard Linklater and the idea of sitting through a two hour 45 minute Linklater film is nauseating. I did see Wes Andersonís The Grand Budapest Hotel, but to nominate this for a Best Picture award is ludicrous, no matter how inventively filmed it is. As to Birdman as Best Picture, get serious. The only thing it has going for itself is the unique Oscarģ-quality cinematography. The idea of considering any of these three as a Best Picture (I would be stunned if Boyhood were anything enjoyable because whatís past is prologue, but Iím willing to be proven wrong, just so I donít have to see it) would have been laughed at in 1939.

Most enjoyable:

  1.  Magic in the Moonlight: Woody Allenís delightful comedy rivals Midnight in Paris.
  2.  American Sniper: At the top of the list of best war movies ever made.
  3.  The Theory of Everything: Despite the soft soap, this is a wonderful romance, even if itís not true.
  4.  Breathe In: A magical performance by Felicity Jones highlights this film of steamy sexiness.
  5.  Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles: The great man comes to life again.
  6.  What If: Zoe Kazan sparkles in this sweet, romantic film of morals.
  7.  Rudderless: William H. Macy makes a smashing directorial debut in this unusual film with a fine twist.
  8.  St. Vincent: Great performances by Melissa McCarthy and Bill Murray in a fine, heart-warming movie.
  9.  Horrible Bosses 2: As good as the first, and thatís saying a lot.
  10.  Wild: Pacific Crest Trail comes close to stealing this film from Reese Witherspoonís Oscarģ-worthy performance.
  11.  Imax Journey to the South Pacific: Spectacular photography.
  12.  The Judge: Bravura performances by Robert Downey, Jr. and Robert Duvall.
  13.  Life Itself: Touching documentary about Roger Ebertís last days shines new light on the critic.
  14.  The Pretty One: Zoe Kazan again in another Indie that comes close to perfection.
  15.  Beyond the Edge: A fine documentary about the first conquest of Mount Everest.
  16.  Blended: Try as he does, Adam Sandler canít ruin this charming comedy with an exotic, spectacular South Africa setting.
  17.  Big Eyes: Amy Adams makes this something special.
  18.  Into the Storm: Wonderful special effects in this film about tornadoes.
  19.  Jersey Boys: The best musical in years.
  20.  Le Chef: Worth seeing if only for the scene of Jean Reno and MichaŽl Young when they invade a competitorís restaurant dressed as a Japanese and his geisha.
  21.  The Railway Man: Basically the same story as Unbroken but much better made, realizing that the story wasnít the agony of imprisonment but the miracle of forgiveness which director Angelina Jolie completely missed in Unbroken.
  22. Edge of Tomorrow: Tom Cruise makes this time-warp fantasy a winner.
  23. Enemy: A complex thriller that does not let the viewer relax one iota.
  24. Fury: Realistic WWII movie.
  25. Get on Up: Chadwick Boseman lip-syncs to the voice of James Brown and the result is a great story and wonderful concert.
  26. Gone Girl: Not as good as the book, but good enough.
  27. Nightcrawler: Los Angeles and TV station KTLA co-star with Jake Gyllenhaal in this unique thriller.
  28. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb: A heck of a lot funnier than I anticipated and miles above the first two.
  29. Non-Stop: The annual Liam Neeson thriller, not as good as his others, but, like Gone Girl, good enough.
  30. The Purge: Anarchy: A good script and fine acting elevate this above what one might be expecting.
  31. Two Faces of January: A simmering thriller that could have been made in the Ď40s; too bad they donít make them like this anymore.
  32. Laggies: A terrific coming of age movie for a 29 year old with a fine performance by Keira Knightley.
  33. Rob the Mob: This is a well-acted, fine-paced mob comedy, based on a true story, up until about the last 15 minutes when it loses all its pace and slows down to a plodathon.

Most Disappointing:

1.   Mood Indigo: Enough nonsense and phantasmagoria to make one bilious.

2.   Neighbors: Another Seth Rogen vulgar F-ing idiocy with an equally idiotic f-ing performance by Zac Efron.

3.   22 Jump Street: Channing Tatum dragging Jonah Hill down to his level of incompetence. Creator Stephen J. Cannell must be rolling over in his grave.

4.   Sex Tape: The three listed above have to be truly awful to be worse than this.

5.   Tammy: Melissa McCarthy takes a detour from excellence to stink this thing to high heaven.

6.   The Monuments Men: Pitiful.

7.   Annie: Rivals Camelot as one of the worst musicals ever made.

8.   300: Rise of an Empire: Not even a good performance by Eva Green makes this worth seeing.

9.   Dom Hemingway: Jude Law canít save this awful movie, but neither could a young Marlon Brando or Jack Nicholson or any other human being.

10.            The Interview: A good performance by Randall Park is completely wasted in this typical Seth Rogen vulgar nonsense.

11.            Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit: So superficial and flimsy that it has to resort to every clichť known to the genre.

12.            Ride Along: So puerile, so full of plotholes, so unfunny, so hackneyed that it would have been rejected as a B movie back in the Ď40s.

13.            Dracula Untold: Thereís a good reason why it was untold.

14.            Exodus: Gods and Kings: Historical silliness about men in skirts.

15.            Fading Gigolo: Writer/director/star John Turturo is no Woody Allen and he hires Allen as an actor to prove it to him!

16.            Godzilla: Even if new director Gareth Edwards had ever heard of the word ďedit,Ē and had the perspicacity to cut an hour from the film, the remaining 60 minutes would still have been too long.

17.            Miss Julie: Ingmar Bergman would be proud of his protťgť, Liv Ullman, because this is as long and boring as anything Ingmar ever produced.

18.            Under the Skin: Even though Scarlett Johansson bares all and several men are shown in a state of sexual excitement, which normally calls for an NC-17 rating, this is a film with no point and no reason to see.

19.            The Love Punch: It really takes talent to make a movie this bad with Emma Thompson and Pierce Brosnan leading the cast.