The Best Films of 2014 (So Far)

The great people here at The Cinematic Katzenjammer got together a list their favorite five films this year so far. We could choose any movie with a recognizable theatrical and/or VOD release date from the beginning of the year until now (film festivals only don’t count). What we came out with was something that not only celebrated our individual film tastes, but united us with some common threads (see the common themes that emerged at the bottom of the post). Each writer elaborated on their number one pick to give you an idea on just why it garnered so much favor. Enjoy:

The Lists

Nick Powell (Founder & Editor)

5. The Lego Movie

4. Godzilla

3. Edge of Tomorrow

2. 22 Jump Street

1. The Grand Budapest Hotel

Combining The Looney Tunes with Schindler’s List, Wes Anderson returns to his quirky, pastel colored universe in his most mature effort yet. It’s an absolutely beautiful film filled to the brim with terrific characters, including one of Ralph Fienne’s finest performances. Boy with Apple is worth the chase.

Colin Flanagan (Editor)

5. Cheap Thrills

4. The Lego Movie

3. Noah

2. Chef

1. The Grand Budapest Hotel

It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that another Wes Anderson film has found its place at the top of my list for the best films of 2014, so far. However, I expect that to change, and this list to drastically shift in the coming months. As for The Grand Budapest Hotel it is the most Anderson film we have yet seen from the master filmmaker; from the models, to costumes, the humor, the cast, and the screenplay. This is pure fun for him, as it is for the filmgoers as well. Not to mention how shockingly violent it is. There is a shot that made my audience gasp, and even had me surprised. While this is not my favorite Anderson, it is still the best film to have come out within the first six months of this year.
Vivek Subramanyam (Senior Writer & Editor)

5. The Raid 2

4. The Grand Budapest Hotel

3. 22 Jump Street

2. The LEGO Movie

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Everyone knows I have a soft spot for Marvel, but films like this are the reason why. With an age-old iconographic character adapting to a world spun almost a century past him and trying to keep the values that inspired the founding of S.H.I.E.L.D. alive in the post-“New York” present day, The Winter Soldier is the best of the MCU solo lineup and one of the most well-crafted political, action, and sci-fi thrillers in years. This film stands among the best that modern blockbusters have to offer – a testament to how intelligent, compelling, and awe-inspiring a movie about a superhuman dressed up in the American flag can be. If the remaining crop of 2014’s films is even half as good as this movie, we’re in for a great six more months.

Sverrir Sigfusson (Senior Writer)

5. Edge of Tomorrow

4. The Grand Budapest Hotel

3. 22 Jump Street

2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

1. The LEGO Movie

Perhaps one of the most surprising cinematic gems of the new millennium. Who would’ve thought something based on a toy without any inherent story could turn out this good? The LEGO Movie is jam-packed with such overflowing amounts of goodness and joy, it cemented Phil Lord and Christopher Miller as the champions of unlikely successes. Funny, smart and absolutely gorgeously animated, a look that is wholly its own. Even more surprising is probably its touching storyline, meaningful themes and social commentary. A practically perfect cinematic delight.

Atli Sigurjónsson (Senior Writer)

5. Nymphomaniac Vol. 2

4. We Are the Best

3. Only Lovers Left Alive

2. Nymphomaniac Vol. 1

1. The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson has done it again. The Grand Budapest Hotel is another brilliant Anderson joint that both has him very much doing his regular thing while also trying on a few new things. It’s got the same offbeat humor, symmetrical framing, wacky characters and such but it’s his first that centers itself in history (albeit a fictionalized version of history and a fictional country, but still very much alluding to real events). He also does things like vary the aspect ratio and this is first film with an actual plot! It’s clever, exciting, heartwarming, hilarious and overall, quite lovely.

Shala Thomas (Contributor)

5. The Grand Budapest Hotel

4. Belle

3. Locke

2. Obvious Child

1. Enemy

Enemy is a film that hinders on suspense, be it a more trippy experience. Enemy centers on the interesting relationship of the four main characters (but is there really four?) and represents one of Jake Gyllenhaal’s best roles to date. What is great about this film is that Villeneuve ventures out of the lines of a straight adaptation of the novel and confounds this already dark and moody story with Fight Club-esque psychology and unsettling surrealism. And with that, with probably five minutes of new art house material that bookends the film and a couple of small deletions from the main novel plot, Villeneuve creates a unique experience all his own and shapes a very different kind of story. This is a film that is its own amazingly weird entity, that feeling of something undetectable crawling on your skin captured on-screen.

Louise Grimshaw (Contributor)

5. Edge of Tomorrow

4. Mr. Peabody & Sherman

3. The Lego Movie

2. The Grand Budapest Hotel

1. X-Men: Days of Future Past

For a blockbuster, X-Men: Days of Future Past is a beautifully crafted film of mind-bending proportions. It is a film that is so character-based that you become very easily invested in the plot and in the way that it unfolds. This film completely undoes everything that has gone before in the X-Men series and effectually hits a reset button on the story as we know it. It’s my No.1 of the year so far because of how impressed/surprised I was with the story and the acting. It surpassed the previous films in the franchise and made me realise why I like the X-Men so much. As well as that, Bryan Singer had a great directorial pace and handled the drama and action so well. He almost outdid himself on this one.

Joseph Falcone (Contributor)

5: The Rover

4: Under The Skin

3: Enemy

2: Locke

1: The Trip to Italy

The much anticipated sequel to Michael Winterbottom’s critically acclaimed cult smash The Trip. This time around, the delightfully egotistic duo of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon head to Italy during mutual downtime to explore the stunning vistas and delectable cuisine Italy has to offer, whilst taking a few comedic jabs at love, life, and of course…each other. Yes, what truly sets this film apart from the rest of 2014s best and brightest is the undeniable chemistry and charisma of its two immensely talented leads. Undoubtedly, each film on my list, and the select few that didn’t quite make the cut (Nymphomaniac, Only Lovers Left Alive), have qualities that put them above all else, but The Trip to Italy struck me like no other. A twinge that somehow simultaneously magnifies the fragile exuberance of living and the incomparable pain that accompanies it.

The Themes

Wes Anderson is not only the king of twee, he’s the king of 2014. With a new cast of characters, a murder to solve, a hotel to manage, and a priceless work of art to recover, Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel is winning with us.

The LEGOs Movie isn’t just here for nostalgia. For most of us it not only was a callback to those carefree childhood days, but The Lego Movie also had enough sass, witt, and beautiful animation to stand tall among many other films this year.

Don’t count Tom Cruise out. People contend that Tom Cruise’s popularity has waned over the years, crippled greatly due to his “hero complex” that he has to bring to his films. I think they may be right, but all things considered, Edge of Tomorrow was inviting, fun, and a Cruise-headed film we can get behind.

There is room for indies at the top. Move over blockbusters. Indpendent films continue to dominate the carefully crafted films and well-received films; well over 50% of the spots on these lists were independent films. Enemy, Locke, and of course The Grand Budapest Hotel were recurring favorites among our group.

Written By Shala

Shala is a lover of films, especially independent cinema, and has carried this passion over to blogging, attending film festivals, connecting with film industry types, and (appropriately) stalking actors. Her favorite movie is “Memento” as she feels Christopher Nolan is a cinematic genius. Her love for Ryan Gosling has no bounds; she is still waiting for him to whisper “Hey Girl” in her ear.

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  • rich

    now i need to see “grand budapest” even more than i already needed to see it.

  • Rodney

    Grand Budapest would tie with Lego Movie at the top, for me. Both are terrific films in their own right, and it’s only utter nostalgia that would tip the blockheads over into topspot.
    Edge of Tomorrow would be in my top 5, as would The Raid 2.
    I haven’t seen all of 2014’s other 1st half films yet, but I am dead keen to see Godzilla.

  • fernandorafael_c2c

    Cool list, guys and gals! I’m posting mine soon and there are definitely some coincidences, Happy to see so much love for Budapest.

  • moviesandsongs365

    Great roundup!
    A few of my fav of 2014 so far:
    The Grand Budapest Hotel
    The Double
    We Are The Best!
    The Past
    The Trip To Italy (3 hour tv version on dvd)
    A Touch Of Sin
    A Story of Children and Film (sequel to 2011’s The Story Of Film: An Odyssey)
    The Wind Rises

  • Natalie

    Great lists. Grand Budapest takes the top spot in my list too but it’s closely followed by Locke and Under The Skin. Very much looking forward to Boyhood this month – maybe that will sneak in there too.

  • rich

    i wasn’t thrilled with the lego movie. the ending was a disappointment, but there really was nothing else they could do with it. the jokes were wearing thin and it couldn’t sustain itself in the lego realm because there was no way to end it there, not with the direction they chose. they could have ended it in the lego realm if the girl was really the chosen one. then everything could have been saved and all that crap. it might have seemed predictable, but that wouldn’t have been a bad thing. not great, but not bad either.

  • Vivek Subramanyam

    “King of twee.” What a perfect description.

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