Simply put, which is the best way to put it, 2014 was a pleasing year for the avid movie-goer. Now that it’s nearing its end, I thought it fitting to give the Mockingbird reader a list of personal favorites in a two-part top ten list. Disclaimer: Alas, I am not yet a member of the Academy. I do not get the year’s best films delivered to my doorstep free of charge. I will admit, there are many (presumably) good films that I have just have not seen yet, because, well, movies cost money. But here are the bottom five of Joe Nooft’s personal, paid for, top ten favorite films of 2014 (so far)! Check back soon for the top five.

10. Snowpiercer (available on Netflix)


Snowpiercer was South Korean director Joon-ho Bong’s (The Host) first english speaking film. An independent film packed with blockbuster quality action, Snowpiercer hoovers a magnified glass over our HPtFTU. After a failed attempt to reverse global warming, humans actually propel the earth in the opposite direction, turning our planet into a frozen marble too cold to sustain life. Survivors are encapsulated in a perpetually moving bullet train where civilization has been divided in two; Rich people in the front of the train, poor people in the back. As is the case with any group of reputable underdogs, an unlikely team of Robin Hoods seek to overtake the 1% with a storming attempt to gain control of the front of the train. With each section of the train conquered, the team faces an even more heartbreaking reality than before, and their losses continue to increase. By the time Snowpiercer approaches its finale, my hope for humanity’s future was as bleak as the metaphorical tundra outside of the cabin. Snowpiercer will shock an audience similarly to the way Hostel did in 2005, only it’s not a horror film, and it’s nowhere near as repulsive. It’s a film so outlandish that, once conditioned, the viewer will accept whatever is thrown at him/her. It simply focuses on one question; a question other films of 2014 have echoed: Is mankind even worth saving?

9. The Babadook


If it’s in a word, or it’s in a look, you can’t get rid of The Babadook. The movie’s tagline is a bit off-putting by itself. The Babadook outshines any other horror flick out of 2014 in the way that it allegorically associates the fantastical fears of a child with the pragmatic fears of an adult. Pairing equal amounts of fright with a robust enough storyline, the film represents a rare breed in the horror genre that inspires a second and third viewing outside of the month of October. The Babadook monster himself is an inkling of the classic boogeyman. A ghoul who haunts a single mother and her six-year-old son as the enactment of their repressed fears and emotion. His utmost desire; to tear down their paper-thin walls, pasted up to the standards of a hollywood sanctioned comfort. He wants to reveal who they really are, a family submerged, drowning under years of suffering. The true horror concealed in The Babadook lies in the supporting cast; how the world chooses not to look at nor care for a single mother who is begging to be seen. By this means, The Babadook echoes eerily, in contrast, the undertones seen in Jesus’ interactions with the woman at the well. It is quite the rarity for a horror film to grace as many “Top __ Movies of the Year” lists as The Babadook has, so if you can stomach it, it’s a must see.

8. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes


After seeing Dawn of the Planet of the Apes I tweeted, “How can a movie about talking monkeys make me feel so much???” Expectations were obviously exceeded. The truth is, Apes gives viewers loads more to care about than, maybe, the franchise’s indigenous fans had hoped to consider. A Franco-less sequel pushes the saga as apes and man struggle to coexist. The apes, a bright and young new species of community seek to outshine their precursory evolutionary successors. In order to do so, they need the law. “Ape Not Kill Ape,” the shrewdness’ most worshiped law must be obeyed if the colony is to succeed where man has failed. Of course where there is law, there is failure, there is pain, and where there is failure and pain, Grace abides. Director Matt Reeves teams perfectly with Up composer Michael Giacchino to offer fantastic criticism to societal brokenness both visually and musically to compose what may have been the biggest surprise in film, of the year for me.

7. Gone Girl


Perhaps the only thing David Fincher does better than crafting his own stories filled with disturbances and twists may be re-crafting an already written story to, not only hi-light, but beautify their agitations on levels the original author struggled to tap in to (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Social Network). It is possible that not since the recently late Mike Nichols’ adaptation of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, has a film so viciously wrecked society’s jaundiced views of marriage. Gone Girl takes such a traumatic approach that affords the viewer to visualize the candidly real and poisonous tremors of relationships by painting them with heinous acts. Betrayal, apathy, feelings of disregard and loneliness stenciled in as murder (or fake murder?) and conniving actions that seek to redirect a relationship to its proper identity: imprisonment behind inescapable white picket fences. As I walked out of the theater, after seeing Gone Girl, I overheard a woman exclaiming her dislike of the film, “What a shitty ending!” I couldn’t help but nod with her, not because I too thought the film had a poor ending, no, quite the contrary in fact, but because concealed deep in her charge was the likeness of a more corporate, more American allegation: that a hyperextended faithfulness is often and unfortunately considered a real shitty relational ending.

6. Whiplash


Whiplash is an incredible film. One of the best portrayals of the starch contrast between the ambush of Law and the freedom of Grace I have ever seen in film. I question my validity not placing it higher than number 6 on my list, but I was just too stubborn to move any of my other top five placeholders. Your anticipation is boiling hot now, I know. Honestly, I couldn’t sum this movie up any better than our very own Will McDavid already did. So I will implore you to read his commentary on Damien Chazelle’s directorial début here, and leave you with this excerpt:

Whiplash does not glorify this slavish adherence to the Law of Perfection, but takes it to its extreme in an act of dark satire. The music is mere material, little more than a means to perfection for Andrew, and relationships, family, and friends all fade out in pursuit of his goal. That the music becomes more than this to the viewer is one of the film’s few uplifts.

Check back soon for the top five films of 2014, according to me at least. Until then, enjoy this playlist of songs from the soundtracks of the films listed above.