Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Slackers' Top 10 Movies of 2014

It was sure fun to get back into the list-making business, even if only for a couple of weeks. As you've seen over the previous days, each writer of this site unveiled their personal top films of 2014. As now becomes tradition anytime we post our end-of-the-year lists, afterwards, I tally up each of our selections and construct a ranking that reflects where we stood, as a group, for the year. Overall, there were a lot of great titles represented, though this list was more top-heavy than probably any previous years were or would have been. Some of us had very differing opinions on certain films, but most of what was at the top of our lists was pretty consistent for all five of us. So while there is probably little surprise about a few of the films towards the top, seeing how the exact ranking played out was still a lot of fun. And that's my favorite aspect of this site's setup - along with having five unique perspectives on these lists, we're also able to then take those numbers, that data, and plug them into a composite chart, providing a master ranking of the films we favor. It's really a great combination of information, which hopefully provides you, the reader, a better understanding and perspective of some of the films that most resonate with us, both individually and collectively.

The process of calculating these totals was very simple. Point values were assigned to each writer's picks based on the placement on their individual lists. As each of us submitted 15 titles for the year, 15 points were awarded to each film in the #1 spot, 14 for the film in the #2 spot, and so on. Once those totals from all five lists were added up, the film with the most points earned the #1 spot, and so on in that regard. This took all personal agendas and feelings out of the equation; it was simply math at that point.

A few more things to cover before we jump into our final list. One, keep in mind that these kinds of lists - and just about everything on this site - are more about favorites and enjoyment than what we deem the "best" or most important on the year. Remember, we're all about having a good time when you watch movies. Second, no descriptions were given for any of the selections below, because every film on this list was featured on multiple personal lists over the last week. If you want more insight on any specific title, please reference our individual lists. Finally, only a Top 10 list was generated below because there was so much variety outside of those ten. There were too many films in the 11-15 range that only appeared on one person's list, and that was defeating the purpose of this exercise.

Anyway. Now that all five lists are in and the all the number-crunching is completed, it's time to unveil our site's Top 10 Films of 2014!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Andy's Top 15 Movies of 2014

As others have said before me, "things change". I always knew it would happen, but never realized how it would happen. I enjoy most of the same things I used to enjoy, I just happen to enjoy them a little differently now. I find myself enjoying the comfort of my own home and hanging out with my wife more than going to the movies alone anymore. This has dramatically changed the way I've watched movies, and how I've adjusted to life beyond the movie theater. In many ways, it's unfortunate that Netflix and Amazon exist, because now I can watch so many movies right from the comfort of my own home. These services have given me even more of an excuse to change my theater-going habits. In some ways, it breaks my heart because I love the thrill of the theater and the people who I go to those theaters with. We are kindred in that moment; for an hour and a half (two or more if you're making your movie worth my money) we are family. It pains me that as I grow, I feel I continue to slowly lose more and more of that family. I'll still always watch movies, but that's been the biggest shift in my watching preferences recently.

As such, my list is severely lacking in many major entries that I simply didn't have time to see, or didn't make time to see. As I said before, going to the theater has just dropped on my priorities list recently. This new style of life has affected my list in many ways, but I still feel that I have a strong tie to a many of the titles below. I expect some criticism for a few of the selections on here, but I have made peace with that. I had to make cuts and make exceptions, that's simply the way the game is played. So here goes...

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Nathan's Top 15 Movies of 2014

By almost all measures, 2014 was a down year for me, as far as movies go. The number of films I saw was down drastically compared to previous years - I feel comfortable with the films represented in my list though. I was still able to see most of the big blockbusters and many of the award show darlings. In regards to the total field of movies I did see, I sum it up as a year where there was a lot to like, but not a lot to love. Over the past five years or so, it’s been extremely easy to pick my #1 film. Whether it was by a sequel to a franchise I already loved and was highly invested in (ex: the Harry Potter films, The Dark Knight trilogy) or a film that came out of nowhere and blew me away (ex: Kick-Ass), there were always at least one or two films that were way ahead of the pack. This year didn't have that. I didn't know what I was going to put in my top spot until I was going through my pre-list and crossing films off until I had only one left. There were a handful of films I knew would be in that top group, but no film really separated itself from the pack at any point this year.

In a lot of ways, not knowing my favorite movie of the year for so long could have been a good thing. It made ranking my films a lot more interesting because even I didn't know what it was going to look like when I was done. Like I said before though, the surprise in my rankings also came from not having those one or two films that I absolutely loved and it’s a bummer that this year is missing that. I had a few films going into the year that I was extremely excited for and thought were going to be those standout films, but it didn't work out that way.

Overall, though, there were still a lot of really good movies this year. There were plenty of films that exceeded my expectations, new actors that I will be excited to watch in future projects, films that I hope will have their universe expanded, and films that continued to make me want to keep coming back to their already-established franchises. Yes, there were also those films that didn't meet expectations, or just flat-out bombed, but that’s all part of the experience of film. If you only go to see the films you know you’ll love and never risk stepping outside your comfort zone, you'll miss out on some amazing films.

With that being said, let’s get to it:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Derek's Top 15 Movies of 2014

Getting married proved to turn 2014 into an eventful year for myself. The hustle, bustle and major adjustments in life caused my movie viewing to drop a bit this year. Plus, I find myself becoming pickier with what I decide to see in the theater. Take for instance comedies; I was interested in seeing Anchorman 2 and Dumb and Dumber To, but I figured I’d just wait for them to show up on Netflix. Anchorman 2 did show up on Netflix - it had its moments but not once did I regret waiting. I’m guessing I’ll feel the same way with Dumb and Dumber To. I also never mustered up the energy to see the third Hobbit movie. What’s it called again? I love the LOTR franchise with all my heart but was completely let down by the first two Hobbit movies; I found them to be endurance tests more than anything. I endured the first two in the theater, but couldn't gather the initiative to see the third. Now I’m regretting that decision. I could have endured the entire movie had I made it to the theater, but at home? I’m terrified that I’ll be multitasking the entire time, which I absolutely loath during first time viewings. We’ll see how that one goes.

Lets get to the movies I did see. As for my 2014 list, it’s more a reflection of my favorite movies more so than what I feel was the best of the year. Though, some blending of those two ideas does take place when making any subjective movie list. Take a look at my Top 15 of 2014 after the jump.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ben's Top 15 Movies of 2014

Unfortunately, I've been too busy to catch a lot of movies this year, including but not limited to "Interstellar" and "Inherent Vice". I don't necessarily want to assume anything, but it's probably safe to say that "Interstellar" would have made a spot on this list. So my tardiness is regrettable. Also, on a personal note, you should know that for the past year or so I've been feeling pretty jaded when it comes to movies, so I don't have the same hustle and bustle I used to have to go to the theater every week. I don't know if it's because there is so much standard fare floating around or if I'm just losing interest in something that has occupied a good portion of my life and am experiencing a late-20's midlife crisis.

However, even the most jaded of film lovers can be pleasantly surprised by something new they come across - one of which even made their Top 15 Films of All Time. I know, it surprised me too, but it can happen. Hit the jump below to see my top picks from 2014 and which film made my Top 15 of All Time.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Alex's Top 15 Films of 2014

I scuffled through like four versions of this first paragraph trying to figure out how I wanted to introduce this segment. Originally, I wanted to talk about how my views on life have changed in recent years, and how those feelings have affected my movie preferences. And also about why I feel the general quality of film has fallen off in recent years. But in those details, I kept going off on wild tangents - like, the space beyond the edge of our known universe type tangents. It was bad, even for me. So while I failed to come up with anything "real" to describe in this space, luckily my previous efforts made for this little anecdote that fills the space nicely. It's cheap, but I've made peace with it.

Initially, I felt the quality of films was quite low this year, but as I let the dust settle, I realized that the top entries this year were all some that I believe will stick with me for quite some time - and that's something that we definitely do not see every year. I feel a pretty good connection for the fifteen titles I selected below, but especially those in my Top 5. Each of those five picks I think will rival any Top 5 through the rest of the decade. Trust me, hold me to that. Still, outside of the fifteen titles below, little else stood out to me this past year (oh, also this post).

As for the catalog of 2014 titles, I do feel I've seen just about everything that needed to be seen to this point. This might have been my best year to date in terms of seeing everything I needed to see before compiling this list. So any omissions below are more likely due to my preferences than me not having seen something.

And remember, this list focuses more on what my "favorites" of the year were, not necessarily the "best" (though the two frequently intersect).

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Top 5 Movie Guide: Best Picture Nominees That Didn't Win, 1980 to 2013

For this edition of the Top 5 Movie Guide, we went with a category a bit more broad than usual. Tomorrow will hold the 87th Academy Awards ceremony, where dozens of films will be vying for top awards, and none more prestigious than Best Picture. The award is considered the most important not only of the Oscars, but of the entire awards circuit (due to the largest base of voters selecting its winner, from all different guilds and factions). In our lists below, we pick some of our favorites that didn't take home to trophy - and we're restricting it to 1980 and up to try and keep some form of structure.

The Academy Awards began in 1929, and Best Picture is one award that has remained constant in every year since, though its official name has went through many incarnations (originally Outstanding Picture, through five more official titles before most recently settling on Best Picture in 1962). In the first few decades of the award, there was as many as twelve films nominated, but that soon changed to a limit of five nominees, a rule the Academy stuck with until very recently. In 2009, the Academy made the decision to change the field to ten total nominees instead of five, as something of a throwback to the earlier years (though, many refer to it as "The Dark Knight Rule" - it didn't receive a nomination in 2008, and there was strong backlash against the Academy for constantly omitting more entertaining/accessible films). After only two years having a field of ten, the Academy changed it again, to how it currently is now: at least five nominees and up to ten.

To date, there have been 520 films nominated for the award, 55 available for this list (58 total nominees in this span, but both nominated The Lord of the Rings films as well as "The Shawshank Redemption" have been enshrined on this site, making them ineligible below). Still, that left a large, very strong field to choose from, and ultimately one of the more unique groupings of films we've ever featured in one of these lists. Hit the jump to see which films each of us selected!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Top 5 Movie Guide: Richard Linklater

For this edition of the Top 5 Movie Guide, we take a look at the films from writer/director Richard Linklater, whose 2014 film, "Boyhood", is one of the front-runners for Best Picture this year. Linklater was born and raised in Houston, TX. In his early 20's, after dropping out of college, he left Texas to work on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. It was there that he really started thinking about film seriously and decided that he wanted to be a director. After a few years offshore, he returned to Texas, founded the Austin Film Society, and begin making movies. A completely self-taught filmmaker, his breakout film was 1991's "Slacker", a virtually plotless film, that garnered high praises throughout the festival circuit, including accolades at Sundance.

A couple of Slackers with Richard Linklater a few years back at Ebertfest.
Linklater has only grown his reputation and filmography in years since, becoming one of the most successful filmmakers to emerge from the "American Independent Film Renaissance" of the 1990's. He's known for presenting subjects that take place over a 24-hour period, and preferring dialogue to action in almost any scene where it's an option. The fluid, casual feel that most of his films emit lead many to believe there's much improvisation happening in the scenes. But on the contrary, Linklater admits that he rarely has the time or money to explore alternate takes, and nearly every word in his films come from the written scripts.

He's directed only 17 feature films to date, writing the screenplay for all but five of those productions. He's so far been nominated for five Academy Awards, but has yet to win one. Respected in the industry as one of the most genuine and approachable premiere filmmakers working today, there's no doubt many will be rooting for him to take home his first trophy during next week's ceremony.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Alex's Top 15 Over-Looked & Under-Appreciated Films of 2014

In anticipation of my Top 15 Films of 2014 (which will be coming next week), I wanted to roll out a slightly different type of list.

Throughout most of my adult life, my friends and I have composed our end-of-the-year, best-of movie lists. We typically rank our 15 favorites, but without fail, there are always films left off that I wish I could better showcase. Typically, these are smaller, independent releases; films I feel made a nice impression on their genre or niche, but were under-seen by the masses. With this post, I'm hoping to showcase some films that I felt were really great this last year, but that might not get the recognition they deserve. There are plenty of films outside of this list that I still want people to see, but these are more the ones I feel have the potential to fade away if not caught while we're in the moment.

This philosophy obviously is very objective and potentially skewed – just because, from my perspective, a particular film does or does not feel properly appreciated, on your end, this could be completely different. I don't know everyone's situation personally; this is based on how the market read from my end. Also, I realize there are so many more films out there like the ones listed below that I just wasn't able to get to. But ultimately, my thought is that at least this is another set set of films we're talking about - hopefully that purpose can be appreciated. Even if you disagree with the inclusion of some of my selections, maybe a few titles that you might have missed otherwise will pique your interest.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Top 5 Movie Guide: Michael Keaton

For this edition of the Top 5 Movie Guide, we finish up our nominated actors segment with one of the front-runners in the Actor in a Leading Role category, Michael Keaton. Keaton, born Michael John Douglas, changed his name soon after moving to Hollywood to avoid confusion with the more popular actor of the same name. Keaton studied Speech at Kent State, but dropped out before graduation to pursue a stand-up comedy career in Pittsburgh. After an unsuccessful run at that, he went on to work as a cameraman for a cable news station. It was here that he realized he wanted to work in front of cameras.

Keaton worked primarily in television for the first part of his career, with his first acting credit coming from "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood". His first film break was co-starring in "Night Shift" (1982) alongside Henry Winkler and Directed by Ron Howard. Keaton took off in the 80's after that, scoring roles in films like "Mr. Mom" and "Gung Ho", and catching Tim Burton's attention with his performance in "Beetlejuice". This led to Keaton's most prominent role to date, that of Batman/Bruce Wayne in Burton's big budget adaptation of the caped crusader. Fan outrage for the casting decision was deafening, but Keaton ultimately proved capable of the role. Two years later he reprised that role in "Batman Returns", the first film to ever earn enshrinement on this site.

Keaton's career continued steady throughout the 90's, but has consisted mainly of supporting roles since. Keaton's filmography and near-filmography features some pretty interesting titles/roles. Among those he turned down were Seth Brundle in David Cronenberg's "The Fly" (the role eventually went to Jeff Goldblum), Egon Spengler in "Ghostbusters" (Harold Ramis), and the lead role in "Splash" (Tom Hanks). A few roles he was considered for but missed out on include the leads in "Police Academy" (Steve Guttenberg), "Kingpin" (Woody Harrelson), and even Jack Sparrow in "The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" (Johnny Depp).

Still, Michael Keaton has had a long and varied career, with even a few iconic, era-defining roles. He might not be the eccentric, unconventional leading man that he once was, but he's always made his presence known on screen. Hit the jump to see which roles we consider our favorites!