Best of 2014: 10 FURIOUS FILMS

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NIGHTCRAWLER (Dir: Dan Gilroy)

In this intense neo-noir thriller Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Lou Bloom, an eccentric loner who is searching for a job in Los Angeles. When Lou comes upon a local news crew covering an accident, he becomes inspired and decides he’s found his new calling. Lou quickly buys a camcorder and police scanner and begins learning about the world of street reporting. He immediately sells some of his amateur footage to Nina (Rene Russo) a TV news director seeking the real nasty stuff. In need of some help on the job, Lou hires an assistant Rick (Riz Ahmed) who joins him in recording the most heinous and shocking incidents that are occurring around the city. The more Lou works, the more his obsession with success and power grows. He stops at nothing to get the breaking stories and his do or die determination to prove himself as an ace reporter soon moves into very dark territory. This is the kind of character you can’t help but want to follow. As you watch, you question how far will you go with Lou in his pursuit of hitting the big time. Nightcrawler is brilliantly written and directed by Dan Gilroy with stunning cinematography by Robert Elswit. Jake Gyllenhaal is in top form as the creepily compulsive cameraman Lou Bloom. These are the greatest kinds of roles for actors to play in cinema and you can see that Jake ran with it and made a very remarkable transformation that I guarantee will captivate and impress anyone who watches the film.

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DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (Dir: Matt Reeves)

10 years after the events of Rise of The Planet of The Apes (2011) the ALZ-113 virus has wiped out most of civilization, resulting in economic collapse and civil unrest. In the Muir Woods, north of San Francisco, Caesar (Andy Serkis) lives with a new society of of apes. When his son Blue Eyes encounters a human walking in the forest, it leads to a tense confrontation. The human leader is Malcolm (Jason Clarke) who is seeking to restart a hydroelectric dam in the Apes’ domain so the city can have power again. His goal is to make peace with Caesar and get safe passage to work on repairing it with a few others. When Caesar finally sees Malcolm is trustworthy, he agrees. Meanwhile, Koba (Toby Kebbell) Caesar’s Iago-esque second in command has his own vengeful agenda that involves destroying the peaceful truce and causing war between the apes and the humans. The CGI Apes in this film are simply breathtaking to behold. It’s amazing how far things have come since the original Ape movies with the rubber masks and even Tim Burton’s 2001 remake that also employed prosthetics. Now we can watch movies like this one with computer rendered images that look every bit as real as the live ones.’Dawn’ sustains a constant teetering suspense between the weary, desperate humans and the uneasy apes throughout the entire running time. A superb benchmark sci-fi thriller from 2014.

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CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (Dir: The Russo Bros)

Where Cap 1 was inspired by movies like Raiders of The Lost Ark and The Rocketeer, this sequel mixes shadowy espionage/conspiracy thrillers like The Manchurian Candidate, The Parallax View and Three Days of The Condor with modern counterparts like Mission Impossible. Those elements injected with the heightened, pulp science fiction of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and some very cool easter eggs) make it a very satisfying experience for film and comics fans alike. Across the board, this second installment of the Cap saga is a knockout as it breaks new ground and raises the stakes for the players involved and the ongoing MCU…READ FULL REVIEW

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BIRDMAN (Dir: Alejandro González Iñárritu)

Michael Keaton plays Riggan Thompson an actor known for a superhero role from his past (not unlike Keaton himself) who is now trying to regain relevance and prove his worth as a serious actor by putting on a dramatic stage production. Birdman features a lot of comedy which could be argued as its primary genre, but the film also contains incredibly strong dramatic elements as well. It has a very good grasp of its tones and blends them wonderfully…READ FULL REVIEW

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NOAH (Dir: Darren Aronofsky)

After almost four years of waiting, Aronofsky returns with this epic and controversial reimagining of the Old Testament’s beloved tale, Noah’s Ark. Obliging the overwhelming demand for darker and grittier blockbusters, Aronofsky proves that he can indeed hold his own in the popcorn arena without totally turning his back on his art-house past. Truth be told, Noah has a colossal visual scope that is never short of spectacular. It’s immensely stylish, with a number of talented thespians nailing their respective roles…READ FULL REVIEW

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GONE GIRL (Dir: David Fincher)

In this captivating psychological thriller based on a 2012 novel by Gillian Flynn, Ben Affleck plays Nick Dunne whose wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) has suddenly gone missing on their fifth wedding anniversary. The shocking incident begins to attract heavy media attention due to Amy’s celebrity as the inspiration for a popular children’s book series. The loving, concerned husband Nick appears to be at first is questioned when he becomes a prime suspect due to his odd behavior which alarms the authorities. A brilliantly directed cinematic whodunit that delves into the world of news media and the darker corners of modern marriage. Co-starring Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit.

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CHEF (Dir: Jon Favreau)

Following a public dispute with a food critic, Chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) quits working at an upscale Los Angeles restaraunt and decides to move back to his hometown of Miami to start over. Carl buys a food truck, gets back in touch with his estranged ex-wife Inez (Sofia Vergara) and their son Percy (Emjay Anthony) who then joins him on the cross country journey to Florida selling his tasty Cubano sandwiches along the way. This furious, feel good food geek gem follows in the tradition of gastronomic themed films like Big Night and Favreau’s own smaller scale past efforts like Made. Co-starring John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Oliver Platt, Bobby Cannavale, Dustin Hoffman and Robert Downey, Jr.

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LIFE ITSELF (Dir: Steve James)

A must see documentary spanning the life and career of the late great film critic Roger Ebert. Featuring classic clips from Siskel & Ebert, talk show appearances as well as interviews with his family and good friends including wife Chaz Ebert, Directors Martin Scorsese, Werner Herzog, Errol Morris and Ava DuVernay.

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GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (Dir: James Gunn)

An epic, bombastic sci-fi action-adventure that delivers an amazing amount of humor, tender emotion and asskicking aplenty. It’s the kind of experience that will have you shedding a tear one minute, laughing the next and cheering for revenge right after. Guardians is Marvel at its pulpy, colorful, hysterical, thrilling, daring, irreverant best…READ FULL REVIEW

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JOHN WICK (Dir: Chad Stahelski and David Leitch)

I guess you could definitely say Keanu Reeves is back in top form in this exciting tale of an infamous underground assassin out for revenge on a gang of mobsters after they kill his cherished dog. It’s an action packed tour de force that was heavily influenced by everything from Japanese anime to French Crime films to Hong Kong gun operas to spaghetti westerns. A truly furious film experience that will deliver the hard hitting, wall to wall adrenaline charged thrills you’re seeking but with a fresh twist. Co-starring Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo and Willem Dafoe.

What were some of your favorite films of 2014? Let us know in our comments section!

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Peter

Editor-In-Chief of The Grindhouse Cinema Database/Furious Cinema contributor. Pete is a rabid movie geek who enjoys everything from wild n' crazy exploitation/cult flix to big budget mainstream classics. His other interests include: graphic design, cartooning and music.

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