We Got This Covered Critics Pick The Best Films Of 2014 (So Far…)

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As on any entertainment website, the movie critics here at We Got This Covered don’t always agree with one another when it comes to the latest and greatest at the multiplex. Was Godzilla a trainwreck or one of the best monster movies in years? Was X-Men: Days of Future Past a waste of time or a future classic? And is The Lego Movie awesome, or is it COMPLETELY FREAKING AWESOME? (Not much arguing on that front, actually).

Here we are at the half-way point in 2014, and so it’s time for We Got This Covered’s fine roster of critics to count off their top five best movies from this year. In the mix? A tiny found-footage horror flick with the kick of a mule, Marvel’s latest and possibly most marvelous outing yet, a brilliantly complex sci-fi head-scratcher, an insightful doc about one of the most vilified political figures in U.S. history, Wes Anderson’s dazzling and most personal film to date – and many, many more.

Lending their voices to the discussion this year are critics Matt Donato, Isaac Feldberg, Adam Donaldson, Dominic Mill and James Garcia. With no further adieu, here are their picks for the best films from 2014 so far…

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Matt Donato

1) The Lego Movie

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While every movie I’ve seen this year hasn’t exactly been “awesome,” Phil Lord and Chris Miller are surely doing everything they can to atone for 2014′s lesser movies. While 22 Jump Street didn’t exactly strike me the same way it turned other critics into cackling hyenas, The Lego Movie won me over from the very first explosive second. We’ve come to expect more from children’s animated movies thanks to studios like Pixar, but this story about Master Builders and unlikely heroes re-defines our expectations yet again, besting recent favorites such as – dare I say – Toy Story 3?

Based on visual merits alone, The Lego Movie‘s animators deserve gold medals for re-creating the glossy feeling of America’s favorite building blocks while also creating a sleek, vibrant, seamless transition to 3D technology. Every tiny detail is calculated and adapted into the imaginative Lego world, leaving me dumbfounded by superior craftsmanship.

A dynamite voice cast only enhances the aesthetic beauty that Lord and Miller oversee, as talents like Chris Pratt, Will Arnett, Morgan Freeman, Elizabeth Banks, and Liam Neeson lend their voices to our pint-sized heroes and villains. Pratt of course is privileged enough to play Emmet, an everyday citizen who wants to be something special – which is where our heartwarming story picks up. Brimming with social commentary and positive messages, the script’s more challenging material makes younger audiences think and builds them up instead of spoon-feeding them rainbows and marshmallows – while also keeping older viewers in stitches.

Plus, has there ever been a better Batman than Will Arnett’s version?

2) The Raid 2

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As a follow up to The Raid, Gareth Evans does everything necessary to ensure sequel success for The Raid 2. His violent universe is expanded upon, characters become more vibrant, more outlandish freedoms are taken, and the intensity is heightened by a handful of even more expertly choreographed fight-sequences that at times make Iko Uwais’ original badassery seem like child’s play. Have you ever tried fighting a twenty-person prison gang while stuck in a bathroom stall? Wish I had those skills while I was stuck in high school…

To quote myself (out of nothing but sheer laziness), The Raid 2 is a “beautifully brutal ballet” – like Swan Lake but with a lot more broken bones and crushed craniums. Each fight sequence is like an intricate dance, favoring grace and fluidity over bodyslams and haymakers. There’s a calculated science to the way Iko goes from henchman to henchman, incapacitating them with a flurry of fists and kicks – as Evans captures each scene with equally graceful editing. I dare you to locate a single errant cut throughout The Raid 2.

Evans goes bigger, badder, and more explosive, making me wonder how in the hell his next sequel, and the end of this Raid trilogy, will possibly top the magnificent work established thus far.

3) Godzilla

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I understand wholeheartedly my love for Godzilla isn’t globally matched, but I absolutely loved what Gareth Edwards was able to accomplish by rebooting one of the most famous creature franchises in cinematic history. Long gone are the memories of Roland Emmerich’s atrocious Matthew Broderick vessel, as Edwards ushers in a new era of the mean green machine that once again portrays Godzilla as the monstrous brawler he deserves to be. In this corner, weighing god knows how many tons and shooting blue fire out of his mouth, the “Stomper of Cities” himself…

Honestly, I get where people were turned off. I do. Bryan Cranston’s curious character arc, Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s every-white-male leading character, not enough Godzilla (although that complaint doesn’t sit well with me), Elizabeth Olsen and Ken Watanabe’s uselessness – but Edwards told the Godzilla story that NEEDED to be told. This movie is starting yet another franchise, and we had to go all the way back to square one. You can’t just jump into Godzilla throwing down with the M.U.T.O beasts – there had to be a gradual lead-in to the epic conclusion where Godzilla turns into a WWE wrestler.

Listen, if we’re to believe Edwards’ future plans, we’ll be dealing with the Monster Island soon enough, and Godzilla will be the action hero everyone wants him to be – but for all intents and purposes, this year’s Godzilla was a damn near perfect re-introduction of such an iconic behemoth. Bravo.

4) Chef

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Jon Favreau built his reputation on being a phenomenal indie filmmaker before being given the keys to Marvel infamy, but after playing the blockbuster game with Iron Man and Cowboys & Aliens, he finally decided to return to his roots. Chef is a delicious return to form for the five-star director, using the world of culinary wonders as a direct vehicle for his own road to big budget stardom and consequential want for independent freedom once again. It’s a rather brilliant pairing, filmmaking and cooking, as the two creative arts share so many of the business aspects and original beauty – making for one of the years best feel-good stories so far.

The whole cast does a phenomenal job of grounding their characters, with John Leguizamo and Bobby Cannavale providing the comedic relief, but it’s child actor Emjay Anthony who really surprises the most as one of the stand-out stars. Playing off of Favreau’s father figure character, the two have a dynamically sweet relationship that builds a compassionate side to battle the distressed feelings of a suffocated food connoisseur, heightening human elements to decadent levels. Oh, and the display of mouthwatering food prepared throughout Chef is thanks to the tutelage of actual chef Roy Choi, who will leave your stomach crying for a Cuban sandwich when it’s all said and done.

Much like a bite of the most tender, succulent bite of steak, Chef does nothing but leave a gigantic grin on your face thanks to a medley of flavors working to form a robust, tantalizing harmony.

5) Afflicted

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Surprise, surprise – Mr. Horror Guy sneaking a horror movie into his Top 5. While some might argue this is only because of my outrageous genre love, please understand that Afflicted DESERVES to grasp such a spot. It’s the best horror movie I’ve seen in 2014 so far, and I’m fairly confident it won’t be outdone by the time I write my end-of-the-year horror recap because of how revolutionary it is. A lot of lost faith was restored by Derek Lee and Clif Prowse thanks to their indie horror darling, atoning for the sins of so many similar genre movies that came before.

I’m going to remain fairly vague, as I have any other time this movie has been brought up, but Afflicted is a movie that NEEDS to be seen with absolutely no reveals at all. Just imagine this – Chronicle with some type of infection, and much meander baddies later on. Yes, one of our characters gets souped up and starts toying with his new form, but past that is when the true horror kicks in. Lee and Prowse also star in the film, and it’s Lee’s performance that harkens back to some true body horror chills accomplished in old-school movies – a nostalgic touch when mixed with *ENJOYABLE* found footage filming methods.

No annoying shaky cam, crisp shots, and technological prowess are the icing on the cake that is Afflicted, a true horror treat in every sense of the word.

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Isaac Feldberg

1) The Grand Budapest Hotel

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I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing Wes Anderson’s latest and greatest cinematic confection twice now (theatrically and on Blu-Ray), so I’d encourage you to check out those reviews to get a more complete picture of my thoughts on The Grand Budapest Hotel. However, here I am giving you my best films from 2014 so far, and the fact that I’ve picked this extraordinary movie as my number one should say a lot.

Boasting absolutely decadent visuals, a sterling cast, a brilliant script and a deeply emotional center, The Grand Budapest Hotel is Anderson’s best movie to date, simply put. It’s certainly a masterpiece – whether it’s his only masterpiece remains to be seen. Every frame is stuffed with rich symmetry and peculiar sight gags, and every line of dialogue is both madcap and achingly poignant. It’s Anderson at his most idiosyncratic, but it’s also the director at his most personal and thoughtful.

The story, in which a young lobby boy (Tony Revolori) helps the witty concierge (Ralph Fiennes) of an iconic hotel in the wartorn nation of Zubrowka to clear his name of murder, is a series of delightfully whimsical escapades – but that’s not to say that it doesn’t leave an emotional impact as well. More than any of Anderson’s previous contraptions, The Grand Budapest Hotel fires with both cylinders on comedic and dramatic levels. There’s sweeping tragedy, gripping adventure, nutty characters only Anderson could conjure up, wonderfully imaginative visuals and a dazzling sense of scale - The Grand Budapest Hotel really has it all.

2) The Lego Movie

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What can I say about The Lego Movie that its own theme song doesn’t say for itself? Everything is indeed awesome in this gloriously imaginative, immaculately animated ode to creativity. Let’s start with the voice cast – Chris Pratt brings a boyish sense of wonder to protagonist Emmet, Will Arnett delivers the goods as an overdramatic Batman, Elizabeth Banks nails every nuance of her fiery Wyldstyle, Alison Brie mines her bipolar Unikitty for every laugh, and Will Ferrell is a riot as the evil President Business, to name just a few.

The script, too, is a treasure trove of witticisms perfectly designed to appeal to kids and the adults in tow (who’ll find themselves just as enraptured by The Lego Movie as their little ones). Never sacrificing its giant, beating heart or remarkably upbeat spirit for the sake of a cheap laugh, The Lego Movie offers some of the sharpest writing you’ll see in a movie theatre this year – no joke. Thank Phil Lord and Chris Miller for understanding the unqualified joys of playing with Lego bricks and crafting a movie imaginative and original enough to be worthy of them. Thank also the animators, who succeeded in capturing the look and feel of Legos even as they built an entire universe out of them (the rolling Lego seas are a personal favorite).

Whether or not the already-greenlit sequels will live up to this insta-classic remains to be seen, but The Lego Movie is already the best animated movie of 2014 – and if it doesn’t take home Oscar gold at next year’s ceremony, I might have to construct my own Lego Academy Awards ceremony just to set things right.

3) Coherence

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Like the better episodes of The Twilight Zone, Christopher Nolan’s Memento and Shane Carruth’s Primer before it, indie sci-fi Coherence is a brilliantly staged and sharply written mindscrew of a movie, one which stuck with me long after the credits had rolled. To describe most of its narrative would be a cinematic war crime on par with telling someone what was in the box in Se7en, so I won’t, but I can tell you that Coherence opens on eight friends who come together for a dinner party on the night of an astronomical anomaly – Miller’s Comet. The evening unfolds in a deeply unexpected fashion as the comet draws closer to Earth, influencing the friends in strange and dangerous ways.

For Coherence to dazzle me with its razor-sharp, thought-provoking script would have been enough – but in the hands of writer-director James Ward Byrkit, the movie possesses a giant, beating heart too. Unlike with Primer, I actually cared about its cast of characters – particularly dancer Em, played with grace and deep-rooted pathos by Emily Foxler, the closest thing that Coherence has to a protagonist. By combining heady sci-fi thrills with palpable emotion, Byrkit has delivered that rarest of films – one that makes you think and feel in equal measure.

4) Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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Possibly the most marvelous film from Marvel yet, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is to its predecessor Captain America: The First Avenger what The Empire Strikes Back is to A New Hope – yes, I’m not kidding, it’s that much better. Both a thrill-a-minute action spectacle and a gripping political thriller, it’s the type of super-powered outing that makes every Iron Man 2 and Man of Steel worth it – one that blends breathtaking action with thoughtfully developed characters, a brainy story (not to mention one with real political heft) and an unmistakable heart.

Credit directors Joe and Anthony Russo, who inject The Winter Soldier with a shot of adrenaline, delivering many smooth, dynamic and eye-catching action sequences, and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, whose script is the finest to come out of a superhero movie since The Dark Knight. A stellar cast, including the stoic Chris Evans, the simply terrific Scarlett Johansson, a well-cast Robert Redford and an extremely pleasant surprise by the name of Anthony Mackie, just sweetens the deal. The Winter Soldier is the best superhero movie of 2014 (and I don’t see Guardians of the Galaxy changing that).

5) Palo Alto

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It’s hard to pin down the essence of Palo Alto, the deeply affecting directorial debut of Gia Coppola. Centering on three troubled teens suffering from apathy and affluenza in the titular California suburb, it’s less about following a narrative and more about capturing certain feelings. Though the film is tranquil and dreamlike on the surface, what really sticks is the aura of dread and confusion surrounding all the characters. Coppola immediately establishes herself as a major talent with this debut; she and cinematographer Autumn Durald deliver some lovely, evocative cinematography, and the charged atmosphere is almost as remarkable as the performances.

Virginal and depressed April (Emma Roberts, doing the best work of her career thus far), aloof Teddy (Jack Kilmer, making one hell of a debut) and wounded bird Emily (Zoe Levin, quietly devastating) are the main players, but the out-of-control Fred (Nat Wolff, simply terrifying) also leaves a huge impact. Coppola takes a documentarian approach in recording their struggles, their shortcomings, their darkest moments – but, importantly, she never passes judgment, and one can tell that she feels for each and every one of them. There’s a beautiful, grim poetry to Palo Alto, as it almost effortlessly taps into the cultural zeitgeist to craft a small and crucial film about what it’s like to be a teenager finding yourself in the world. I’m convinced it’s worthy of mentioning in the same breath as teen classics like The Breakfast ClubDazed and Confused and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

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Adam Donaldson

1) Under the Skin

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Jonathan Glazer continues his filmmaking trend to confound and amaze with Under the Skin, the touching and creepy tale of an alien seductress who trolls the streets of a city in Scotland looking for virile young men to… Um. That’s not exactly explained, but it’s gross and beautiful at the same time. The hypnotic intersection of the alluring and the frightening is what drives Under the Skin, a rare movie that presumes a) you’re either smart enough to follow along without exposition, or b) that you’re objective enough not to mind being lead around without any clue or hint as what’s coming next, or where the story’s going.

As a bonus, Under the Skin achieves on two counts, the technical and the artistic. Glazer had to develop new technology to allow for the film’s cinéma vérité inspired first half, as a number of regular everyday Scotsmen find themselves unwitting co-stars. The (un)lucky few who end up heading back to the alien lair are toast, but the audience are treated to lush photography and simple but effective “how’d-they-do-that” camera effects that sells the alienness of the situation in a way that’s not overly elaborate.

But the real credit for Under the Skin’s success is Scarlett Johansson, who as the film’s unnamed protagonist is required to be robotic and expressive, both emotionally and physically naked, and by portraying something other-worldly while instilling characteristics we can all recognize. Johansson might have a pretty face, but Under the Skin deftly and permanently proves to her critics that she’s far more than that.

2) The Grand Budapest Hotel

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Although it sounds like something tailor made for the DVD cover, I’ll go right ahead and say it anyway: The Grand Budapest Hotel is Wes Anderson’s best since Rushmore. Maybe his best ever. I’d have to go back and re-watch both Rushmore and Fantastic Mr. Fox before passing judgment, but it might not be too much to say that it’s Anderson’s best yet. Why? Thank Ralph Fiennes. He may be one of those actors, like Bill Murray, that really gets Anderson’s aesthetic and attacks it with exuberance. Fiennes’ portrayal of Gustave H, the cultured and courteous concierge of the titular establishment, is the glue that holds Anderson’s madcap romp of a thousand characters together.

Of course, “madcap” is relative. Anderson has produced here what is more likely to be described as a black comedy, one so dark that it wears its gallows humor so well that it makes you to look into the ugly face of war and dares you not to laugh. Some have interpreted Anderson’s aesthetic as cold and distant, but I think he’s so sentimental that his longing for a bygone age can never be fulfilled, and so he realizes that longing in films so meticulously designed that movie theaters are sent specs for optimum projection. True, there are some dark turns and some dark inferences in The Grand Budapest Hotel, but the lesson is that we, like Gustave H., can offer some faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity.

3) The Lego Movie

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This movie… Should. Not. Work. It should be everything we hate about modern filmmaking with a brand name, media crossover potential and “four-quadrant appeal,” not to mention the fact that it’s based on a line of toy building blocks. Leave it to directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord to take lemons and make delicious fruit punch with The Lego Movie, a jovial, energetic and maddeningly creative kids movie that has enough fun and zaniness for six films while juggling some surprisingly adult themes.

What works? What doesn’t work?! Our supposedly ordinary hero Emmet brought to life with tremendous glee by Chris Pratt. Will Ferrell’s brilliantly over the top villainy as Lord Business, (and his unexpected but delightful cameo). The biggest collection of licensed characters brought together in one film since Who Framed Roger Rabbit? The purposely bland yet still addictive ditty “Everything is Awesome!” The hilariously misidentified “artifacts” like The Kragl and the Sword of Exact-Zero. Really though, the amazing part is that Lord and Miller took a project that could have simply been a 90-minute toy commercial and turned it into a fable about the power of creativity, the limitations of conformity, and that you’re never too old to learn how to share.

Rarely is a movie so genuinely delightful, and unapologetically so.

4) Only Lovers Left Alive

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Vampires are done, right? Twilight went out with a whimper, True Blood is hobbling to the finish line, and The Vampire Diaries is spinning around an endless maze of its own mythology that occasionally intersects with a revolving door of dead characters brought back to life. And then there’s Jim Jarmusch. Thank God! His vampires don’t pine for teenagers they think they’ve fallen in love with at first sight. They don’t get a work around where they can hang out in daylight. They are creatures of the night, and what music they make. Literally. Because one of the vampires in Only Lovers Left Alive is a musician.

Tom Hiddleston easily shakes off the eager super-villainy of his Avengers character to play the much more melancholic Adam, who lives in a Detroit neighborhood that’s been vacated by all but himself. Tilda Swinton brings her decidedly other-worldly charm to Eve, Adam’s wife of several hundred years who comes to the Motor City in the hopes of releasing Adam from his omnipresent ennui. Adam and Eve’s perceptions on the fall of civilization are echoed by the eerily empty streets and buildings of Detroit, as the film makes you truly think about what kind of terrible miracle immortality might be. Is there life after you’ve seen everything, done everything, and said everything? Can you still be surprised, or are the occasionally surprises even predictable because of life’s limited number of options. A thinking person’s vampire movie? Perish the thought.

5) The Unknown Known

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He’s the documentary subject you want to hate, but can’t help but to love: Donald Rumsfeld. The former Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush is grilled by filmmaker Errol Morris about all aspects of his career, from his days as an advisor to Richard Nixon after Watergate broke, to his policies on war and military prisoners during his years at the Pentagon. It makes a nice bookend with The Fog of War, another Errol Morris’ interview with a former Secretary of Defense, specifically Robert McNamara. But while Fog was about regret, Unknown is… not.

If you’re one of the majority who saw the Iraq War as an adventure in hubris, over-reaching, and misspent power and authority, and you’re expecting any sense of contrition from one of its main architects, sorry, this movie will not give you what you want. Still, Rumsfeld is a charming and well-spoken subject, and the fact that you came in wanting to see him hung by his own petard makes you hate to love him and love to hate him all the more. This is not a show trial, and I’m not sure that was Morris’ intent, but like any good documentary it challenges your perceptions and shows you something you’ve never considered. In this case, a human being named Donald Rumsfeld.

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Dominic Mill

1) The Raid 2

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The Raid was a surprise hit a few years back. The Indonesian martial arts film – directed by a chubby guy from Wales and starring a former truck driver – delivered brutality by the bucketload, melding phenomenal choreography with blistering editing in an orgy of pure, unadulterated badass. There were high hopes when aforementioned Welshman Gareth Evans returned to the fold for a sequel, this time backed by a bigger budget and the good will of martial arts fans everywhere, and boy did he deliver.

Where The Raid was a contained 90 minutes of sparse dialogue and copious violence, The Raid 2 is a sprawling crime epic – but with even more violence. Many of the fight scenes in The Raid were undeniably brilliant, but the pitched battles that punctuate its sequel are peerless. I struggle to think of the last time I saw something this jaw-dropping on celluloid – not to mention that it looks absolutely gorgeous. If The Raid turned things up to 11, its follow-up turns things up to 20, with stunning cinematography, a vast wealth of eccentric characters, picturesque locales and more punches than you could shake a million sticks at. In my mind at least, this stands as the greatest action film ever made.

2) The Infinite Man 

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A sleeper hit at SXSW this year, The Infinite Man is a distinctly Australian slice of genius. A piece of self-aware brilliance wrapped in a genuinely affecting love story, Hugh Sullivan’s feature length debut is equal parts effortless smarts and aching humanity. Reworking the standard bottle piece with near endless ingenuity, The Infinite Man is a time travel comedy that actually understands time travel.

The actors are on point, the jokes are weighed perfectly against the drama and the script must have been an absolute nightmare to write. The story of one control freak guy trying to construct the perfect weekend getaway sprawls into a vast, decade spanning, multi-layered epic addressing everything from Tantric sex to Greek philosophy. It’s the earnest romcom to Primer‘s low-key thriller, and I love it to pieces.

3) Snowpiercer

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Movies like this just don’t get made any more. Boasting a stellar cast, a bonkers concept and a steam punk pirate version of John Hurt, Snowpiercer is something special. The screenplay may clunk and the action may defy comprehension, but it’s a perfect storm of bat-shit insanity that keeps on giving. Chris Evans is gruff as hell as the man inciting revolution on the last bastion of human society – a train that has devolved into a bonkers Marxist nightmare as it circumvents a globe in a permanent apocalyptic winter.

Tilda Swinton is magnificent, Jamie Bell does his best Colin Farrell impression and Alison Pill plays the organ in a world that is equal parts Gilliam and Glukhovsky – and if those aren’t selling points I don’t know what is. Following the the box office flop of Danny Boyle’s Sunshine, major studios seemed reluctant to invest in another ambitious sci-fi, but boy am I glad they shelled out for this one. I love me a crazy movie, and Snowpiercer is about as crazy as you can get.

4) Blue Ruin 
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I can’t remember the last time I saw a film this perfectly constructed. Every aspect of Blue Ruin has been filed down to an exact point – there is not a single line of dialogue, not a single shot, not a single moment that is not key to the plot. This is lean and mean filmmaking at its leanest and meanest – Blue Ruin is a film without dead zones or excess. It gets in, tells its story and leaves you gasping for air.

The cinematography is gorgeous, Macon Blair looks like an even wussier version of Joe Lo Truglio, and the shocking violence is matched by a pitch black sense of humor. Writer-director Jeremy Saulnier’s sophomore project comes across like the work of an old and grizzled pro. The tale of pan-generational violence may not be new, but it has rarely been told this well – and never with such proficiency.

5) The Lego Movie

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Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are pretty much running the universe at this point. 22 Jump Street tickled our funny bones all over again this summer, but it was The Lego Movie that stands head and shoulders above the rest of 2014′s mainstream fair. The film seemed all but destined to be a colorful mess of product placement and Star Wars references when it was first announced, but what we got instead was zaniness of the highest order. The cameos are numerous, the jokes even more numerous and the humor reaped from hearing Morgan Freeman shout “Cover your butt” is near endless.

Just to make things even better, The Lego Movie then went on to stand for all the right things. Above all else this was a film that emphasized creativity and individuality – hurling the controlled and contrived worlds of the Lego Star Wars and Harry Potter franchises out a very high window and replacing them with those crazy, stupid and excessive contraptions we all spent our childhoods intricately constructing. It’s funny and heartfelt, and it made me feel like a kid again.

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James Garcia

1) The Lego Movie

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Like so many children around the world, I grew up loving LEGO, and have carried that love with me into adulthood. I do LEGO photography for a hobby, and still have all of the LEGO bricks and minifigures I played with as a kid. So, to say that I was excited for The Lego Movie is a monumental understatement.

The Lego Movie is one of those films that’s way better than it has any right to be. Phil Lord and Chris Miller took what could have been a glorified toy commercial, and they turned it into a fun, inventive, unique adventure that’s unlike any animated film I’ve seen before. I’ve seen it several times now, and find myself loving it more and more with each viewing. The fact that the entire film, and the universe it takes place in, was constructed out of those beloved little bricks is absolutely incredible, and the story really highlights the things that made me love LEGO in the first place: the freedom and celebration of imagination.

2) The Grand Budapest Hotel

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I always liked Wes Anderson, but didn’t love his work until Fantastic Mr. Fox. After seeing it, I went and revisited his filmography and began to see just how great of a filmmaker he really is. The Grand Budapest Hotel takes the things I love most about Anderson, and amplifies them in a way that’s truly impressive. His visual style is cleaner and more defined, his dark comedic touches are funnier and a bit more shocking, and the cinematography is just dazzling, weird, and, well, so Wes Anderson.

3) Edge of Tomorrow

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I’m going to be honest here… I never expected Edge of Tomorrow to end up on a list like this. I wasn’t excited for this film at all and thought it looked like your average, generic, forgettable summer blockbuster. Luckily, it’s none of those things and is in fact one of the best blockbusters I’ve seen in years. In fact, it’s one of the best science fiction films I’ve seen in years. It has so much replay value that I know I’ll be continually impressed and enamored by it for years to come.

This movie is just a ton of fun, and it really breaks my heart that it’s not getting the box office earnings it deserves. Hopefully it will find its audience on home video, because this is one film that does not deserve to disappear anytime soon.

4) X-Men: Days of Future Past

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I also wasn’t too excited for Days of Future Past, not because I don’t like the X-Men, but because I had been let down by the franchise too many times to really get my hopes up. I liked First Class but wasn’t blown away by it, and I was a bit nervous about how well Bryan Singer would be able to balance out the immense cast, time-travel storyline and larger themes coherently – but man did he pull it off.

Days of Future Past is not only my favorite X-Men film, but one of my favorite superhero films of all time. The more I think about it, the more I like it. The cast is just incredible, and Singer’s direction is top-notch. I would honestly say it’s his best film since The Usual Suspects, as well as a triumphant return to the superhero genre, which he himself helped kick off 14 years ago.

5) Godzilla

godzilla 11 539x360 We Got This Covered Critics Pick The Best Films Of 2014 (So Far...)

This #5 slot is tough, because there have actually been a lot of films I enjoyed this year. Captain America: The Winter Soldier could have easily taken this spot, but Godzilla takes the cake simply because it’s the most fun I’ve had in a theater since seeing Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse on opening night.

I’m a huge fan of monster movies, and was so hopeful for the King of Monsters to make a comeback. The film may have been a bit slow in parts, and yes, it didn’t show Godzilla for a while… but I loved its slow, deliberate pace, and I was impressed by Gareth Edwards’ direction and sense of tone. I had a smile on my face from start to finish, nearly cheered out loud a few times and walked away wanting to see it all over again. In the end, that’s what we want from these big summer movies, isn’t it? Godzilla definitely delivered.

What are your favorite films of 2014 so far? Let us know in the comments!

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  • N

    The Lego Movie wasn’t that good

  • SmileyOfChaos

    Here are my top 5:

    1. Captain America 2 – Flawless
    2. The Edge of Tomorrow – Great
    3. 22 Jump Street – Funny
    4. X-Men: DoFP – Good but not quite great
    5. Maleficent – Way better than expected

    The LEGO movie was cute and got a lot of laughs, but the terrible pacing shoved it down the ranks. I also hated Godzilla for the relative lack of Godzilla action, the cheap Cranston death, and the reliance on dark night scenes when anything important happened. I usually skip dramas and whatnot, so Palo Alto, The Grand Budapest Hotel, etc are movies I never watch. I have heard good things about The Raid (1 and 2) and Snowpiercer, however, and might watch those sometime soon.

    • Aquartertoseven

      Flawless?? You need your head checked; no-one changed by the end of the movie and the story was completely underdeveloped, basic. How have standards fallen this much since the likes of TDK and Spiderman 2, when superhero films were actually deep and full of character development. All the masses need now is an overdose of action and a minimal amount of substance, and they’re overjoyed.

      • SmileyOfChaos

        I personally found it to be a great political thriller. It captured the subjugation of human rights for security that so plagues the US today, and also pushed forward the Agents of SHIELD tv show and changed the entire MCU by essentially making all of SHIELD, the Avengers included, a totally rogue unit for future movies. The story was far from basic for me, though seeing Captain America and friends kick ass was definitely a bonus.

        • Aquartertoseven

          Like I said, there was no character development. The story had potential, but they went nowhere with it. I could easily tell that the writers did Thor 2.