I have a love-hate relationship with lists. They are just so subjective and, no matter what, you are going to end up reading someone else’s best of list and shaking your head at just how wrong that person is.
So perhaps I am a glutton for punishment, but I just couldn’t help myself. I felt compelled to put compile my 10 favorite films from the past year. Please head to the comment section to let me know just how wrong I am …
10. Star Trek Into Darkness
I know that some hardcore Star Trek fans took issue with the action movie sensibilities and the reveal of who Benedict Cumberbatch’s character really was, but I think that overall J.J. Abrams put together a film that feels satisfying to both longtime Trekkies and newbies just looking for an entertaining popcorn flick. Plus, Benedict Cumberbatch was great as the villain. And, most importantly, despite a few stumbling blocks (and some painfully unsubtle fan service moments), it was just a fun little film.
These days, Disney is known more for buying up other popular companies like Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilms than for actually making great films of their own, but Frozen was a nice reminder that there is still a place for Walt Disney-style children’s films. What impressed me most is the way this movie was able to take the familiar trappings – like princesses, magic and songs – while making a film that still felt modern thanks to strong female a protagonist and beautifully-rendered computer animation.
8. This Is The End
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg may have written and directed this one, but it definitely feels like a classic Judd Apatow film. Which is to say that the films feels about 40 minutes too long, but that’s only because they chose to keep in all of the funny scenes instead of killing their darlings in the name of proper pacing. I definitely laughed the hardest at this film out of any that I saw all year and it is probably the most likely candidate on this list to end up getting played in the background while me and some friends share a few beers and bullshit with one another.
7. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Once again, Benedict Cumberbatch’s velvet voice makes its way onto the top 10 list. I had a lot of issues with the first Hobbit film and with Peter Jackson’s greedy decision to split the short book into three separate films, but in the second installment of the trilogy he seems to have found a sweet spot. It’s a great looking film that feels suitably epic and – most importantly – the dragon is fantastic.
6. The Way, Way Back
Knowing the Academy, Sam Rockwell will sadly probably be overlooked for an Oscar nomination, but he is truly great as the mentor every kid wishes they had in this sweet film by Jim Rash and Nat Faxon. If you missed this movie in the sea of summer blockbusters, I really recommend tracking it down and giving it a shot. If you enjoyed The Descendants, I think this movie is an even better showcase for what Rash and Faxon can do with their unique blend of comedy, quirkiness and drama.
5. Inside Llewyn Davis
I love the way the Coen brothers are able to create these vivid cinematic worlds that feel lived in. All of the little details in Inside Llewyn Davis are just right. The music in particular is great, thanks to the help of T Bone Burnett, but Llewyn’s entire world is so well plotted out and fully realized that you feel utterly immersed in his story. I also expect big things from Oscar Isaac from here on out.
If you can forgive the pretentiousness of me quoting my own review, I think this sums up my feeling for Gravity quite nicely:
Gravity feels like someone commissioned Ray Bradbury to write the most epic, intense Universal Studios simulator ride. It is a harrowing 90-minute visceral experience that immerses the audience in the experience of floating through space untethered while desperately trying to find a way to survive.
3. The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete
Look, I’m a realist. I know that none of you saw this film and most of you have probably never even heard of it. But you really should do yourself a favor and watch it. It is one of the most moving and sweet stories I’ve seen in a long time and it features some of the best child acting I’ve ever seen. The world needs more movies like this.
2. The Wolf of Wall Street
I know this movie has been getting a lot of flack for glamorizing a real-life Wall Street scumbag, but it’s such an enjoyable film that I have trouble caring. If we can accept antiheroes like Walter White and Tony Soprano, we can stomach Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort. I enjoyed American Hustle, but after seeing this film a few days later, I was reminded that there truly is only one Martin Scorsese … and he hasn’t lost a step.
1. The World’s End
I’m pretty stingy with giving out five stars for movies, but I had no hesitation giving them to the final film in the “Cornetto Trilogy.” I enjoyed Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright examining the dangers of the nostalgic pop culture obsessions their characters tend to exhibit and the overall maturity and complexity of this film. But most of all, I just enjoyed how funny is was and how epic it felt. It’s the perfect summer film.
Honorable mentions: American Hustle, Dallas Buyers Club, 2 Guns
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. Follow Joel on Twitter @FreeMisterClark or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.