Another year has gone by and Reel Reviews has been to more than 100 movies for The Morning Star. A few of them were pretty good and probably deserve to go into the Christmas stocking of a movie lover near you.
Here now, in no particular order, is part one of The Best Films of the Year, most of which are available on DVD.
The Fault in Our Stars 9.5/10 – Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort (Divergent) team up again this time as star-crossed lovers Grace and Augustus who have cancer. It’s a fantastic movie that will make you laugh and cry. It is one of our favourite films of 2014. It’s not just for girls!
The Railway Man 8.5/10 – Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) is Eric Lomax, a British veteran of a Japanese work camp during the Second World War. Through falling in love with Patti (Nicole Kidman) and working through his post-traumatic stress disorder with friend and fellow POW, Finlay (Stellan Skarsgard), a beautiful and amazing story unfolds. The Railway Man is a true tale that will restore your faith in the power of forgiveness.
The Grand Budapest Hotel 9/10 – Quirky, dark, funny, beautiful and sad are just a few of the words we used to sum up the tale of the amazing story of scandal and intrigue that took place at The Grand Budapest Hotel. Ralph Fiennes, Jude Law, Jeff Goldblum and Bill Murray are just a few of the many actors in this fantastic film. If you enjoyed Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums or The Life Aquatic then this is right up your street. This might be the most perfectly shot film of the year.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 8/10 – Just out on DVD is this exciting, fun and surprisingly serious film about super-smart chimps and other apes, trying to eek out an existence in the forests near San Francisco. When a few surviving humans, somehow immune to the virus that has wiped out mankind, discover they might be able to restore the power by repairing a hydro dam near the ape’s community, fearful warrior types of both species ensure there will be no peace amongst primates and men.
Guardians of the Galaxy 7.5/10 – Also recently released on DVD. We think this is probably the most fun we’ve had at a superhero movie this year. Space traveller, adventurer and sometimes criminal Peter Quill, aka Star Lord (Chris Pratt), is joined by Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Groot (Vin Diesel), Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) to stop Ronan the Accuser from taking over the galaxy.
The Lego Movie 8.5/10 – This was probably the most loved movie of the year, for kids of all ages. The jokes come fast and furious, the animation is inventive and fun and it’s basically the same story as The Matrix without the philosophy or baddies: A young man with self doubt reveals the truth about reality and saves the day, as the prophecy had foretold. No one disliked this movie. It is a guaranteed win.
A Walk Among the Tombstones 9/10 – Surprising both of us this year, Liam Neeson appears in a good film for a change. Here is a film that harkens back to the gritty cop movies of the late ‘70s. It’s a gritty, simple and elegantly captured, realistically perverted tale of a private detective hired to determine who is kidnapping the family members of drug dealers, who can’t go the police. Not since Silence of the Lambs has there been a thriller this effectively disturbing.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 7.5/10 – In yet another kid’s movie about how peace is preferable to war, wimpy Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) and his trusty dragon steed Toothless will gain the respect of the citizens of Berk, by eliminating the warmonger, rather than fighting the war. It’s colourful, entertaining and very young kids seemed to eat this one up.
Part Two of our Best of 2014 will be in Sunday’s Morning Star.
Peter Howe and Brian Taylor are film reviewers based in Vernon, B.C. Their column comes out every Friday and Sunday in The Morning Star.